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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Cruz Gets Booed Off the Stage at RNC; Roger Ailes Stepping Down As Head Of Fox News; Anti-Trump Protests On Final Day Of GOP Convention. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired July 21, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[16:31:30] SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: -- the country by standing together for shared values, by standing for liberty. Each and every one of them --
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TAPPER: All those boos, all that heckling, I thought we were in Cleveland, not Philly.
Welcome back to THE LEAD. We are live from the RNC in CLE.
Ted Cruz getting mercilessly heckled off of the stage last night.
Let's get to our panel. We have with us today, John King, Gloria Borger, Michael Smerconish, Nia-Malika Henderson, Mary Katharine Ham, national spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, Katrina Pierson, Hillary Clinton supporter Bakari Sellers, and Donald Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord.
Let us start with Senator Ted Cruz and that speech last night, that non-endorsement. Here is Ted Cruz this morning trying to explain why he did what he did.
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CRUZ: I'm not going to get into criticizing or attacking Donald Trump, but I will just give you this response. I'm not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and my father.
And that pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi, that I'm going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and said thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Katrina, there you have it from Senator Cruz. I guess the big question is, was it worth that retweet that Donald Trump made that was insulting Heidi Cruz? Was it worth it going on "Fox and Friends" and spewing that nonsense about Lee Harvey Oswald and Ted Cruz's dad?
KATRINA PIERSON, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN NATIONAL SPOKESWOMAN: Well, what I'll say is this is politics. You know, the media didn't really cover all the attacks against Melania Trump. But that's behind us now.
And I'll also say, this is just a simple excuse. If you go back to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, there are way far attacks. These were light compared to what we've seen history. At the end of the day, Senator Cruz made a pledge, and he pledged to support the nominee. And the fact that he wants to use this excuse to get out I think it is absurd and we've seen the Texas delegation disapproved as well.
TAPPER: Let's talk about that pledge, because in March, Donald Trump appeared on a CNN town hall, and he discussed it. Let's roll that tape.
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DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Honestly, he doesn't have to support me. I'm not asking for his support. I want the people's support.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you continue to pledge whoever the Republican nominee is?
TRUMP: No, I don't anymore.
COOPER: You don't?
TRUMP: No, we'll see who it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Jeffrey Lord, how can the campaign claim there is an important pledge when Donald Trump said he was not going to honor it, he didn't care if Ted Cruz supported him and the pledge was no longer operative?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I hate to confess this, but I have been around the block and I've seen many primaries come and go, and they get very heated and people say things. When you get to the convention, you're supposed to rally.
I'm sure my friend Bakari over here has seen this with Democrats as well. Go back in history and, you know, all sorts of people were called all kinds of things. That is absolutely correct.
So this is the time to unify. Ronald Reagan stood up there in 1976. He was not happy. He was mad at Gerald Ford. He didn't interestingly use the word "endorse" in that famous speech from the podium that night. He called on Republicans to support the platform and to unite. And he went out there a champion.
[16:35:02] He was not booed off the stage. I think Ted Cruz blew a big opportunity here.
TAPPER: Bakari Sellers, your name has been invoked. Fifteen seconds to respond.
LORD: Good Republican that he is.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he gambled on himself last night. I mean, he did what he does best. He did what he does, which is why many United States senators in his own party do not like him. He put himself first.
If Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, then Ted Cruz will still be powerful. He would still be his worst enemy in the United States. But if Donald Trump does not win, as many of us think that he won't, then Ted Cruz is the last person who stood up to Trump. He is now the conservative icon.
I've heard him called a lion, I heard him called an icon for conservatism and constitutionalism. I mean, he is that right now and it all depends -- he put all of the chips on Ted Cruz.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: And he is the most compelling figure I think to come out of this. If you look at the folks who are sort of auditioning to be the last man standing post-Trump, we had Scott Walker who did what Scott Walker does. He gave a good speech, not too memorable. Mike Pence certainly got overshadowed by everybody. Marco Rubio does what Marco Rubio tends to do, which is sort of play both sides and phone it in.
So I think he did himself some good. I mean --
TAPPER: Marco Rubio, poor guy.
HENDERSON: I think in that way, he did emerge as something different in this entire process. We'll see if it works out.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're having a conversation today, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz? This is supposed to be the turning point to the general election against Hillary Clinton and we're still looking in the rear view mirror of the contentious Republican Party. We won't know until after the election to Bakari's point. If Donald Trump wins, Donald Trump loses, that will play itself out. Ted Cruz a hero, Ted Cruz a goat, we wont know.
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me put a word in for the conservatives that felt like somebody was speaking for them. Look at where we are, look at where we started. The idea in this election that you sort of erase in any normal way that you make up at these events, I don't think applies this year. It's never applies.
And, yes, there is self interest for sure here, he wants to emerge as leader for this. But there's also an issue where Donald Trump is a candidate who goes -- crosses every line, but ideologically and character-wise, and then does the bare minimum to nothing to make up for it. He didn't ask for an endorsement, he didn't take the tweet down. I mean, these are things that are knowable and easy. A little magnanimity --
HAM: Got it, would go a long way and neither one of them is good --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: So, here is my point. Why didn't Cruz do what Kasich did? Just don't come.
TAPPER: Because he came in second.
BORGER: OK. Well --
KING: Because he got a national TV platform.
BORGER: And he had hundreds of delegates. But I think your answer is, he wanted the national platform, because he is making a bet on 2020 which is that Donald Trump is going to lose. And if Donald Trump loses, he's gong to be seen as the conservative who kept himself pure. On the other hand, lots of Republicans, particularly those Trump supporters, might just blame him for the loss. So, this is a real gamble for Ted Cruz and he took it.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Can I say --
TAPPER: Was it a good thing that Ted Cruz did that ultimately?
SMERCONISH: Ultimately, I think it was not a good thing for Ted Cruz. He's able to say that he maintained his virginity in this respect, but I happen to think he did a favor. Thank you, Nia.
SMERCONISH: I think he did a favor for Donald Trump. I think he looked sour. Crud did last night. Trump vanquished him last evening.
Donald Trump was waiting in the wings. You know, it was like being at veteran stadium in the old days where everybody stood up and we could not see, is there a fight, what's going on? Now, we know, Trump came in --
TAPPER: Good times, by the way. Good times.
SMERCONISH: Trump came in right at the critical moment he knew when it was time to take the spotlight away from Cruz, and in the end, Jake, he has thrived with managed chaos. So, every time he makes a mistake, he comes like a winner.
TAPPER: Let's talk about what we need to hear from Donald Trump this evening, we meaning Trump supporters. Jeffrey, what do you want to hear from Donald Trump tonight?
LORD: I want him to continue to get his message out to talking broad message them. He didn't have to get into the weeds of policy. (INAUDIBLE) I just want him to make a broad brush and message out there, communicate to America where he wants to take the country and be done.
TAPPER: Katrina, we heard from Dana that themes like crooked Hillary will be in the speech. Is this a red meat speech for his base, or is there going to be any part reaching out to the skeptics here, or the skeptics at home?
PIERSON: Not so much for the media, but what I can tell you is the general philosophy that he's had will be continued and reaching out to a lot more of the disenfranchised Democrats and independents which he's been leading in the polls for months now.
[16:40:00] It is that philosophy. It's a bigger philosophy because it is completely different than any previous Republican in the past, and very different from Hillary Clinton. We're talking about from trade reform to education reform to immigration reform.
TAPPER: Bakari, you were wincing like you were --
SELLERS: One thing that Donald Trump has not done is broaden the Republican Party. In fact, he's made the Republican Party smaller.
SELLERS: This year they have the fewest number of African-American delegates at the RNC than they have had in over 100 years. Donald Trump in this whole convention had engaged to the people in this room. Tonight, if Donald Trump wants to be president of the United States, he has to come out as Ronald Reagan, he has to come out and show some magnanimity. He has to come out and show things he has not shown before.
Contrary to what Jeffrey is saying, that requires substance. And there's some element of the country (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump lacks depth, and that is critical if people say that you're not qualified --
TAPPER: The kind of person that I'm wondering if he can reach out to is Mary Katherine Ham. What can -- no, I'm serious. You're a Republican, you're skeptical of him, you don't know what you're going to do in November.
What does he need to do as they say when you go to a car dealership, what do I need to do to have you drive away in this car?
HAM: Nearly unimaginable for me, but I'm going to keep an open mind. But I think there are people who are easier to convince than I am, and let me address them. I think if he resists the urge to go out and spank Lying Ted on the stage, which he should do, resist than, and then talk more like Donald Trump Jr., put a little bit of policy in there, sound like he's a bit more conversant, have a great entrance that entertains people, and I think here's a possibility that many reluctant conservatives and voters who think, well, he is the lightly better joys, I think he could win or something like that. That would enough.
KING: Enough to win them over. It's not enough to win the general election.
HAM: That's always been the question.
KING: If that's the only group he wins over, but I think that's part of it. He is -- the speech is Trump from the primaries. Build a wall, ban Muslims, or have an anti-refugee policy, it's the trade deals. Trade deals, you can reach out to Democrats.
But I think the key is can he explain them in a way that gets back at what the Democrats have been saying for months. He's against you and he's against you and he's against you and he doesn't care about you. This is all about him. Can he make it -- you know, the old Bill Clinton way, can he connect the policy proposals to the people watching at home? Not the people in his hall. He still needs to win some people over. That's the problem, but can he do that?
BORGER: We always hear Donald Trump talk about himself. We know Donald Trump. We heard him a lot.
He needs about how great he is, how healthy he is, he needs to talk about the American public, what he saw and what he can do for the American people. That's kind of a shift for him. He has to get off of the primaries. Stop with Ted Cruz and John Kasich with everybody else, and he has got to, you know, go in a different direction.
Look, there are big moments. The vice presidential didn't go so well for him. He's got a convention speech, and then he has the debates. He has got to kill this tonight, and let the American people see a different side of him, and let them know what he is going to do.
HENDERSON: And I think just from the presentation side, he's got to figure out how to maintain some Trump looseness while still reading from a teleprompter. But he isn't good at reading from a teleprompter.
TAPPER: Speaking of teleprompters, I got to turn to this one. Big, big news just in to CNN. Roger Ailes, the man the mastermind behind FOX News, he is out. He is gone. He is leaving the network, and the real surprise is the person taking over. That story is next.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We are back with some breaking news, a media bomb shell, and it is not inappropriate that I'm sitting at the Republican National Convention as it happens because it is of a lot of interest to a lot of conservatives.
Roger Ailes, the chairman, CEO, and mastermind of Fox News Channel, is now officially out after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced. Joining me now is CNN senior media and politics reporter, Dylan Byers plus CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter. Brian, first to you, obviously this is a huge deal. Gretchen Carlson first made the allegations, Fox News said that they are going to -- they assigned some investigators and lawyers, did that report come back and say horrible things?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: The report initially informed the Murdochs, who owned Fox, that Ailes had to go. We know that the investigators spoke with multiple women. We don't know exactly how many, but clearly the initial findings were damaging enough that the Murdochs decided they had to escort Ailes out.
So he is resigning immediately. He will stay on with to help Rupert Murdoch if Rupert needs a help, but for now, Rupert Murdoch, the founder of 21st Century Fox, the biggest media mogul in the conservative media world is going to run Fox himself.
We are talking about a man, Ailes, who reshaped television news and Republican politics at the same time. Fox News is a virtual public square for conservatives thanks to Ailes and yet now he will no longer be running the show.
DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER, MEDIA AND POLITICS: I would just say, like you said, it is quite ironic almost that it happened here because really the fact that Donald Trump could get the Republican nomination. The fact that he will accept the nomination tonight is something that could have only taken place in the climate that Roger Ailes and Fox News created.
Roger Ailes for so much of the 20 years he was at Fox News spent so much time sort of stoking and sometimes leading the national debate over racial divide, culture wars, issues like that, and Donald Trump has really capitalized on that.
So there is an irony here that the fact that Donald Trump is accepting the Republican nomination at the very same time that Roger Ailes is stepping down.
TAPPER: After Gretchen Carlson, boy, I can't even imagine being Gretchen Carlson today. I mean, she must have felt like David going against Goliath and she actually won.
[16:50:05]But after she made her allegations, Fox News anchor after anchor after anchor came out and backed Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity --
STELTER: Greta Van Susteren and the list goes on. The only one on the list was Megyn Kelly.
TAPPER: She did not say anything.
STELTER: Megyn Kelly, 9 p.m. host has remained silent, and according to "New York" magazine and others she actually spoke to the investigators. BYERS: Yes, and in fact, we've been able to confirm, she did speak to the investigators. She played ball with the investigators and she mentioned details. We have to see what exactly she said, but all evidence points to the fact that there were multiple women within Fox News who came forward to the investigators and then that put the nail in Ailes coffin.
STELTER: And yet Ailes is continuing to vigorously deny these allegations. I've heard from many sources at Fox including some in this arena who don't believe it. They don't believe it, they say this is not the Roger Ailes I know. They believe this was a pretext for the Murdoch sons to push him out.
They are of a younger generation and they may want to change the Fox News brand overtime. But for now, Rupert, the father, is in charge, which means it will probably remain much of the same for now.
BYERS: But as concerns the Murdochs and the business, you have to think whatever feeling the sons have, and we do know that James Murdoch was not necessarily a huge fan of Roger Ailes, that is a business that brings in a billion dollars a year.
TAPPER: They were fans of the money that he brought in.
BYERS: So they don't want instability and speaking of instability, I will just say there are a lot of Fox News anchors, producers, talent here tonight, who are very uncertain about their own future and the future --
TAPPER: Some of them had contracts that were tied to Roger Ailes being the CEO --
STELTER: Yes, this is absolutely fascinating. It's a key man clause, a key man clause means that if the key man leaves, you can leave too. In this case, Roger Ailes, you can leave the network if he leaves.
The means Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and others could leave theoretically right away if they wanted to. I'm told that's unlikely. There is a lot of reasons why they won't. Fox News is a power house.
But now the question becomes what does Ailes do? He is in mid-70s. He's had health problems, but he is a political mastermind as well as a television mastermind. Some have openly wondered if he would actually join the Trump campaign.
I shouldn't laugh when I say that, even though, it sounds amusing to me because we know that Trump campaign already has a campaign manager, has staff, has spokes people, but Roger Ailes conceivably could help Trump in a more open way then he has so far. We know they talk on the phone, but could he actually join the Trump campaign.
BYERS: There is a theory, and it's a fair one, and the reason that Roger Ailes is going to stay on in an advisory role to Rupert Murdoch until 2018. There is a theory there that it might be to prevent him from taking a more active role with the Trump campaign.
STELTER: Last week, Trump supported Ailes. This week, Trump has no comment.
TAPPER: Fascinating stuff, what a treat to have both of you at the same time for the biggest media story of -- I mean, since Brian Williams, thank you so much, really, really appreciate it. Brian Stelter and Dylan Byers.
With just a few hours to go until the biggest speech of Donald Trump's life, the number of police officers outside of the Q is growing. They are worried about one thing in particular, what is it? That story, next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. While Donald Trump is getting ready to take the stage behind me, a band is in the middle of a sound check. Hundreds of people are protesting outside and police are bracing for the crowds.
Let's go to CNN Sara Sidner. Sara, are Ohio's open-carry laws, open- carry for gun laws, which the police asked to be suspended during the convention. Is that an issue out there at all for police?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, but they're very careful to pay attention to guys like this who have their rifles strapped to their backs. There are a couple of guys that have assault-type rifles that have shown up there. The police watch them come in and walk around, and there are police literally everywhere surrounding this place.
I mean, if you look back there, you will see California Highway Patrol. You got State Patrol there from Ohio. You have mounted police behind them. If you keep walking through here, you will see police from many, many, many different cities who are here.
You also have bikers for Trump here. You have the Westborough Baptist Church that is here protesting. They've been every single day.
On the other side, if we go through this area here, you have code pink that was here earlier, about plenty members of the media. But again, every time you turn a corner, you bump into a whole new line of police officers and they are watching.
If you have a back pack, they're going to see if you're pulling anything out of that and sometimes they stop people with their back packs on and they say we need to take a look at that, or you need to back up a little bit.
So they are here in force and if there's ever a problem, they come in very, very quickly and sort of separate the groups if there's ever a tussle between the two of them. We saw a little bit of that yesterday, Jake.
And this is a public square. It was renovate six months ago and there are dozens and dozens of people around here, but really those huge protests everyone thought might materialize have absolutely not materialized. There are just small groups here that are trying to get their voices heard -- Jake
TAPPER: All right, Sara Sidner out there. Thank you so much. That is it for THE LEAD right now. I am Jake Tapper. You can follow me on Twitter @jaketapper, the show @theleadcnn or go to our Facebook page. We actually read your message and tweets. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Anderson Cooper starts right now --