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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Coverage and Analysis Of The Republican National Convention; Anti-Trump Forces Fighting To Change Convention Rules. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired July 18, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MIKE SHIELDS, FORMER RNC CHIEF OF STAFF: You saw the start of the Ted Cruz 2020 campaign down on the floor of the convention there.
Essentially, there was a rules committee that met last week. They passed the rules. It was going to be passed by a voice vote on the floor here. And there was a protest that erupted to try and stop that from happening.
There's been an effort among the Cruz folks and some -- Ken Cuccinelli sort of corralling them together to get seven states, to have a majority of seven states' delegates to force an open roll call vote, where you went through and named every single person as they vote for the rules. And if that happens, you can then open it up for amendment.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And so this would not be a roll call event to nominate Donald Trump. This would be a roll call vote just on the rules of the party.
TAPPER: And then they would attempt to add amendments.
And presumably some of the people offering amendments would offer amendments that would -- quote, unquote -- "unbind the delegates," allowing them to vote their conscience as opposed to voting for whom their state voted for.
SHIELDS: I don't think unbind or conscience was ever on the table, because they would have lost their votes and it would have strengthened Donald Trump's standing here.
TAPPER: What amendments would they have put...
SHIELDS: They were looking to change the 2020 nomination rules to benefit Ted Cruz by having closed primaries.
And that was what negotiations have been going on for a couple of days to try and get that effort. And this was a standoff that resulted from those negotiations not going anywhere because people didn't want to have closed primaries on the other side of this.
TAPPER: Of course, I should point, that presumes that Donald Trump will not win.
SHIELDS: Well, of course.
TAPPER: So that is the...
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Or that Ted Cruz doesn't challenge president Donald Trump.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And it makes you wonder whether Ted Cruz is going to keep his speaking slot at this convention, because Ken Cuccinelli has been the nemesis of the Trump campaign all along in the delegate count, if it were false.
And this is sort of saying, you know what, we don't want independent voters to vote in our primaries. We want to keep it all Republican, because the independents or people who could in either primary, were the ones that got Donald Trump this nomination. And we as conservatives, like Ted Cruz, cannot allow this to happen again.
This is, as John was saying, Ted Cruz, 2020. Meantime, embarrass Donald Trump. But they failed.
TAPPER: They failed.
John, let me just ask you as matter of math. I did not ask you ahead of time to crunch these numbers, so you might not have them. But if every primary would have been closed, would Donald Trump still not be the nominee?
By that, by the way, let me just make sure all our viewers understand. A closed primary means only members of that party can vote. Many states had open primaries, allowing independents or even allowing people to change their party that day. Donald Trump did very, very well with independents.
KING: Ed can make the argument against this. And Trump supporters might say, well, in that field he would have done this or that.
But Donald Trump when he announced he was running, he understood the rules at the times. He knew Democrats would cross over. He knew some of those primaries were open. Could Donald Trump in that field of 17 candidates have emerged as the Republican nominee if they were all closed primaries?
My bet today is no. But it's a wacky year. It's a wacky year. Ted Cruz certainly planned on the Tea Party elections in 2010 and 2014, evangelical voters. I will get that conservative slot. In a crowded field, Donald Trump might have won some just Republican primaries. We can't answer that. But there's no question he benefited from the fact that independents and crossover Democrats could play in the Republican primaries. TAPPER: Ed?
ED BROOKOVER, SENIOR DONALD TRUMP ADVISER: Mr. Trump won overwhelmingly with Republican votes and with independent votes.
And he did expand our party, which is what winning in the fall is all about. I would argue, John, that when you look at the states in the South, you look at the states in the Midwest that he won, very conservative states. He won those whether they were Republican primaries or open primaries. They were conservative primaries. And he won those primaries.
KING: No doubt he won them, Jake, fair and square. It was at that point that most of the Southern ones had the very crowded field. We just don't know. We just don't know.
TAPPER: It's a mystery.
KING: The game was played by the rules and Donald Trump won fair and square by the rules in place in 2016, period.
TAPPER: A mystery wrapped inside a riddle.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that language, he won fair and square, was exactly what I heard a delegate say.
She was approached this morning by people trying to get her to sign the petition and go with the never Trump movement. And she was a Jeb person initially. But she said, it is time to get on with it. Donald Trump won fair and square and there's no need to delay, that he's going to be our nominee, and she intended to back him for it.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Jake, can I just say, I'm a radio guy? Sometimes, my mouth doesn't, but my ears do. I know what I heard. The ayes didn't have it. They certainly didn't have it on the first vote and the second vote was tied at best.
TAPPER: So you think...
SMERCONISH: I think the chairman was quick to throw down the gavel, the congressman, to get off that stage. They didn't know what they did. But to say that ayes have it, that's not what I heard.
BORGER: But they had the numbers.
SHIELDS: The people that were whipping and talking about this, they were going to lose unbind. They were going to lose conscience.
SMERCONISH: But on the voice vote -- it was a voice vote. I know what I heard.
SHIELDS: I think there is another interesting point here.
Let's go back to the Colorado Republican caucus. I don't know if you remember that. It was a very, very, very close caucus. The Trump campaign was saying at that point, the rules were rigged.
And the Cruz people were saying, the Republican rules are fine. This is perfect. They have literally switched places now. And the Cruz people are shouting. And what you are going to hear them saying after this is, we got screwed. We're victims.
BORGER: Right. Right.
SHIELDS: And Trump people are going to say that we played by the rules. We passed it in the rules committee. We went on the floor and got gaveled down by a...
TAPPER: The exact opposite that they had in the primaries.
KEVIN MADDEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What Michael heard was the energy of the anti-Trump movement. These folks are very animated about their resistance to Donald Trump.
And I think that the folks that are pro-Trump right now, and this is a big problem for this convention -- or at least I should say a challenge -- one that can be overcome -- is that right now many people that are in this room that are supporting Donald Trump, they are resigned to it. They don't have a great passion for it. That's something that is going to be settled here.
TAPPER: We have to take a very quick break.
When we come back, we're going to sit down with a man who is going to be given a prime speaking slot this evening at the Republican National Convention.
Stay with us. We will be right back.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to CNN.
We are live on the floor of the Republican Convention.
And I have with me here Senator Mike Lee of Utah, somebody who was trying to push for that roll call vote.
Senator, you lost your effort. Why did you try so hard? Why was it such a big deal to do this?
SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: At any political convention and every Republican Convention, one of the first things we do is adopt a rules package.
There were a number of changes to the rules that were not in this package. There were a number of things in this set of rules that a lot of delegates didn't like. So, for that reason, majority of delegates in, I believe, either 10 or 11 states, we're not sure which yet, submitted petitions calling for a roll call vote on the rules package, so we could have additional debate and discussion on the rules.
It is not clear what happened. At one point, the chair walked off the stage. I have never in my entire life seen anybody do that in any parliamentary setting. Then what happened afterwards still has yet to be explained.
BASH: Well, they got three states to change the signatures, so that your off would be -- so they quashed the effort.
BASH: My question is, as we were waiting to come on the air, there was a Trump delegate was screaming at you, sour grapes. Was this about trying to embarrass Donald Trump?
LEE: No, absolutely not. This is about the rules of the convention.
This is about the future of the party, about the ability of delegates at the convention, where grassroots from around the country, being able to come together at the national convention this year in Cleveland and have their views heard and talk about their view for the future, about how we expand the party, how we expand the tent, how we make sure that we have good candidates.
And this is not about Mr. Trump. This is about having a good, fair rules process.
BASH: And is it fair to say that part of what you would hope to do if you opened up the process was to change the rules it make it easier for a conservative like Ted Cruz to get the nomination in 2020?
LEE: We're always looking, as conservatives, to make sure that our rules are good...
BASH: So, is that a yes?
LEE: ... to make sure that we get good candidates in the future.
Sure, I would like to have conservative candidates in the future. This is not about this year. It is not about any one year. It is about the future of the party. Now, it is not our understanding that there were only nine states. We
believe there were either 10 or 11. If that is the case, and if in fact three states -- we still haven't heard which states -- but if three states withdrew their petitions, if we're correct, then we either had seven or we had eight remaining who would still have their petitions in.
So, I'm still looking for answers. I'm still trying to figure out whether there were in fact nine states or -- as they say, or 10 or 11, as I have been told, and regardless which states withdrew their petitions.
BASH: But the bottom line for people who -- what is sort of coming up from the weeds here, I think, on what this means for the Republican Party, for people out there looking at this with a lot of screaming and a lot of chanting, a lot of yeas, a lot of nays, and division here on the floor, what should people take from this about how the Republican Party is right now?
LEE: When this convention comes together or any like it, they have to agree first on the rules by which they will be bound. Now, all we're asking for is a vote.
BASH: But what does it say about the state of the Republican Party that you have this kind of division, which we haven't seen in a generation on the floor?
LEE: It says that there is an honest disagreement about the rules and that we want a vote on the rules. That's all it says.
BASH: But the rules are about the fundamental direction of the party.
The rules are about all kinds of things. And that's my point, is that there are people who are trying to make this a simple debate between people who favor Donald Trump and those who don't. And what I'm saying is that we ought to be able to have a vote. Our rules allow us to have a roll call vote on this. We knew that it was going to be close.
You heard, when they had a voice vote, that it was difficult to tell which had it, the ayes or the nays. And that's why we wanted a roll call vote. We knew that it would be...
BASH: And I just want to tell our viewers that, while you and I are talking, some Trump -- clearly Trump supporters and Trump delegates are surrounding us, saying, "We want Trump," to try to drown you out.
LEE: That's great. And that's their right to do that.
My is, I want to talk about the rules. We want rules. We want rules to govern our convention. We want our delegates from all over the country to be able to decide and have a hand in what rules govern the convention, what rules will govern the convention now and in the future.
BASH: Senator Mike Lee, thank you very much for your time. Appreciate it -- Jake, back to you.
TAPPER: Thanks, Dana.
That was Utah's Republican Senator Mike Lee, part of that remarkable display we just witnessed on the floor, never Trump forces, or at least Cruz 2020 forces, trying to jam through a state-by-state roll call vote on the rules, trying to change the rules, trying to close the primary process, so only Republican voters can vote, no independents, only to be denied by the convention chair.
Not the show of unity that the Trump campaign wanted.
We have with us right now -- hold on one second. Let's listen in. Something is going on, on stage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE) resolution approving the platform and the rules.
The chair recognizes the delegate from Guam for the purpose of offering a resolution.
TAPPER: The delegate from Guam offering a resolution. I believe they are going to be discussing the party platform right now.
But let's take the opportunity to talk to the former Republican Mayor here of New York City Rudy Giuliani.
[16:45:07] Mr. Mayor, thanks so much for being here. First of all, what do you make of this Utah Governor Mike Lee saying this is just about the rules?
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: The rules, rules, rules.
TAPPER: Was this just about the rules to you?
GIULIANI: This is why Donald Trump won. That was inside the beltway. American people who are frightened about terrorism, frightened about police officers being killed, worried about their jobs, worried about their future. That's who they want us to talk about. Not rules and all this intra-warfare that's going on.
TAPPER: What do you make of the never Trump forces and the fact that so many notable republicans, including friends of yours, Bushes, McCain, Romney, et cetera, are not here.
GIULIANI: Well, you know, they have a right. They have their own view. Look, 33 percent of the Democratic Party in the last poll that I looked at isn't voting for Hillary Clinton. So what's new? The same thing is true in their party as ours. Most Republicans support Donald Trump. Some don't. Most democrats support Hillary. Some don't. That the way it is.
TAPPER: Let's turn to your address this evening. The theme of tonight is, I believe, make America safe again.
GIULIANI: Yes, that's what I'm going to talk out.
TAPPER: It's a national security message. What are you going to say?
GIULIANI: Well, that's something I know about. I changed it from the largest crime center of America to the safest large city of America. I'm going to talk about how we have to support our police, how we have to take into consideration the injustices that people feel.
We have to do more about it. How our party can do more about it, but that doesn't justify ambushing and killing police. I'm also going to talk about how we have to be a lot more assertive against Islamic terrorism. We can't be afraid to use the word Islamic extremist terrorism.
We can't stand in line like Obama did and back down. We need a president who will stand up. Anyone who knows Donald Trump knows he will not draw a line in the sand and back down. We need a president like that, a leader.
TAPPER: So let's talk about your message. You just did make a nod towards the fact that there aren't many people in minority communities who feel that they are being treated unjustly including I'm sure you heard Republican Senator Tim Scott, African-American senator from South Carolina, talking about being pulled over time and time again.
GIULIANI: How would I not know that coming from New York City, growing up in New York City and going to high school at Bethridge Iverson, of course, I know that and I know we have to do more. I think we have the answers.
I think we have the answers in choice, vouchers, charter schools, which the teachers' union dominates the Democratic Party and refuses them to allow black Americans to get the education they should get.
I think we have the answer with free market economics and with Donald Trump who can negotiate better than anyone else to bring jobs back to America. So that African-American and other minorities can have job opportunities.
I took 600,000 people off welfare in New York, 500,000 with jobs. Most of them were minorities. Why do you think crime went down 85 percent?
TAPPER: You have my vote. You have my vote, sir, but you're not on the ballot. You said last week that Black Lives Matter is inherently racist. Do you think comments like that unite the country or further divide the country?
GIULIANI: I think they unite the country because --
TAPPER: To say that Black Lives Matter is racist?
GIULIANI: Well, when you do not include that all lives matter. When you take someone like the governor of Maryland and intimidate him after he said all lives matter to say no black lives matter that's dividing the country by race.
TAPPER: I can't speak to the governor of Maryland. But Paul Ryan was asked this question, we did a town meeting and someone, a New Yorker, Republican, pushed him. Do you understand what people mean? Do you understand why people say that?
He said you're saying Black Lives Matter because people feel they are being discriminated against and they are not safe because of the color of their skin so that's profound.
Because people believe that we have to listen to that and we have to hear about it and understand it and the instead of just talking, let's go try solving it. That's not what I hear from you or from Mr. Trump.
GIULIANI: I agree with that 100 percent. What I don't agree with when they yell out in their demonstrations, as I've heard them do, kill the police, kill the pigs, destroy police. They have people among them who were doing that. I don't find that when they say --
TAPPER: That is a minority of the demonstrators, don't think?
GIULIANI: Well, then they should get rid of that minority demonstrators. They stand up against it and they should also say black lives matter, all lives matter. Police lives matter. We're one country. Where is the Obama who said there's no black America or white America, there's one America.
TAPPER: Are you be saying that this evening?
GIULIANI: I don't think I will say it that way, but where is that Obama? What happened to him? I remember his first speech when he said there is no black America, black lives matter. White America, white lives matter, there is one America. That is what I think we should be aiming for. Not dividing people. The minute we start putting racial tags on things, we are becoming divisive and getting close to racism.
TAPPER: We have to break unfortunately. I think the point is that African-Americans, many of them feel that they are having racial tags put on them by people stopping them --
GIULIANI: Then that should stop and that should end and there is no excuse for that. But there is no excuse, none, for assassinating police officers and putting targets on their backs. We are seeing a repeat of the Black Panther movement where police officers are lured to come and help black people and then are assassinated.
TAPPER: That was a horrific in Baton Rouge and Dallas.
GIULIANI: And don't tell me the atmosphere this in this country isn't creating it.
TAPPER: I don't know what is creating it, but it is horrific and I hope it stops on behalf of all the police officers --
GIULIANI: You know when it happens when we go back to there is one America. Not a black America or a white America --
TAPPER: Do you think Mr. Trump is the best person to do that?
GIULIANI: I think Mr. Trump is the best person do that. This is a man without prejudice. This man sees black and white as the same as I do. I want to work and fight for black people to have all the opportunities that white people have.
TAPPER: You saw the recent poll that had Mr. Trump. I know it's just a poll, but Mr. Trump getting zero percent of the African-American vote?
GIULIANI: That's because the African-American community has been tied to the Democratic Party forever. What have the Democrats done for the African-Americans in Baltimore, in this city, Cleveland? What have they done for them in Detroit?
In the cities in which African-Americans have had Republican mayors like me, they have been enormously successful. Harlem is much more successful now than it was before. I put them to work. Because I got them better education, better jobs and because I reduced crime by 65 percent.
TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, I'm looking forward very much, as I'm sure viewers, to your address this evening and thank you so much. It's always good to see you. Tell us what you really feel next time. Don't hold back.
Just after this we'll be back with the man who tried to push Republican Party unity to the brink right on the convention floor. That story is next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We are live at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. We just witnessed something I can't remember in all my years covering politics, though I suppose it happened when I was 7.
An attempted revolt on the floor, Never Trump forces tried to defy the convention chair and force a state by state roll call vote on the rules. With me now, one of the men who led that effort, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. So, first of all, I know that you oppose --
KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: You just said anti- Trump forces.
TAPPER: Did I say that?
CUCCINELLI: You just read it.
TAPPER: So I know many of them are anti-Trump forces.
CUCCINELLI: Yes, but we're not.
TAPPER: Explain to me why you object to being called anti-Trump?
CUCCINELLI: Well, as you know Jake --
TAPPER: You're voting for Trump.
CUCCINELLI: I said since Ted Cruz got out of the nomination that I would vote for Donald Trump.
TAPPER: You would vote for the Republican nominee.
CUCCINELLI: I would vote for the Republican nominee. Once Ted got out, that was going to be Donald Trump. Now we have the situation where you've got unbinding people who are anti-Trump.
TAPPER: And you're not one of them.
CUCCINELLI: I'm not one of them. The majority of most of those states that ask for the roll call vote.
TAPPER: Time-out, just to explain.
CUCCINELLI: You guys just had a banner under Rudy Giuliani that said it is all anti-Trump forces.
TAPPER: I get that you reject that. And you say you can vote your conscience, you don't have to vote -- OK, they are part of the binding. What are you looking for?
CUCCINELLI: We wanted to see better grass roots rules. We have an anti-establishment candidate, he's run that way for a year. So with all of the delegates coming, a unique opportunity to change the rules to sort of flatten out the power in the party instead of centralizing it we want to decentralize it. That's not what they did here.
TAPPER: What does that mean?
CUCCINELLI: That means not letting the chairman pick all of the committees. It means taking political power out of the hand of the chairman and spreading it around even among the members of the RNC. It also means incentivizing states to close their primaries to Republicans which grass roots Republicans are very supportive of.
TAPPER: Let's explain this a little bit. Unpack this a bit for the folks at home. Donald Trump won -- first of all, he won, period.
TAPPER: But he also did really, really well in states where it was not just Republicans who were allowed to vote in the Republican primary. It was also independents and anyone else that might switch on that day.
CUCCINELLI: On that day. TAPPER: So the theory from people who are supporters of Ted Cruz and other conservatives is Donald Trump won because he brought people into the process who aren't Republicans.
CUCCINELLI: Look, this isn't a new desire on the grass roots party.
TAPPER: I got it.
CUCCINELLI: This stuff didn't just show up in 2016. It isn't about Donald Trump. This is an opportunity for the grass roots to finally spread power out in the party, unlike 2012 and instead we have a redo at 2012. We have chairman gaveling through. People who legitimately obeyed the rules to get a roll call vote. This is disenfranchisement, dare I say.
TAPPER: This is disenfranchisement.