tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN March 17, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT
>> all right. power laces, all right. nike just announced that shoes with self-tying power laces will go on sale later in 2016, just in time for the holiday season. a sensor in the shoes heel detects when someone puts them on so they'll tighten around your foot just in case you have to run away from biff's grandson and his lackeys. turning you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, conservative uprising. the republican right ignores donald trump's warning of riots, mobilizes to stop his march to the nomination. could the gop be looking at a nasty battle on the convention floor? miami vice. marco rubio speaks out for the first time since dropping out of the gop race after his embarrassing defeat in florida. will he try to get on the ticket as the vice presidential pick? is he ready to make an endorsement? picking his poison. another republican dropout,
lindsey graham, once said choosing between donald trump and ted cruz would be like choosing between being shot or poisoned. he's now made his choice. and american jihadi. kurdish authorities are holding a man they say was captured trying to leave isis territory and flee home, to america. we're digging into the background of this mysterious alleged isis fighter. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the stop trump movement is gathering steam. a group of conservative leaders met behind closed doors today to discuss how to deny the republican front-runner the delegates he needs to clinch the nomination. there was talk of a unity ticket and a final battle to be fought on the gop convention floor. trump has warned of riots if he's denied the nomination, earning a sharp rebuke today
from the house speaker, paul ryan, who acknowledged that an open convention is now more likely. the anti-trump effort seems to be coalescing around senator ted cruz. senator lindsey graham, who backed jeb bush after his own presidential campaign fizzled, is now backing cruz. that's the same lindsey graham who once said choosing between trump and cruz is like choosing between being shot or poisoned. even senate democratic leader harry reid said today that at least cruz, in harry reid's words, stands for something. reid slammed trump's quote, vile rhetoric but said trump is a product of the gop's leadership's reseptembntment an hatred of president obama. our correspondents, analysts and guests will have full coverage of the day's top stories. let's begin with the stop trump movement and our chief political correspondent, dana bash. dana, it's picking up steam but is it too late? >> even republicans, wolf, who
vehemently oppose trump admit it may be too late but that's not stopping them from scrambling for an alternative and making for some very strange bedfellows. >> this is how intense tit is right now. >> lindsey graham raising money for ted cruz, backing cruz for president after years of open disdain for his gop colleague. >> if you kill ted cruz on the floor of the senate and the trial was in the senate, nobody could convict you. >> i've known you and wachd you, particularly with ted cruz. i'm actually waiting for pigs to start flying down the street. >> it tells you a lot about where we are at as a party. i've had many differences with senator cruz's tactics and the way he's behaved in the senate. >> but key for graham -- >> i think his campaign is on xenophobia, race baiting and
religious bigotry. i think he's a disaster for our party. while senator cruz is not my first choice, he's a conservative person i could support. >> conservative activists meeting to prevent trump from winning the delegates needed for the gop nomination. trump it way out ahead with 678. cruz has 418. rubio still has 171 and kasich 145. for trump to get the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, he would need to win more than half of the delegates left, which is difficult, but doable. cruz would need to win about 80% of the remaining delegates, which would be a big challenge. as for kasich, he doesn't even have a mathematical path before the convention. he'd need 108% of the remaining delegates. it all adds up to a likely fight at the gop convention this summer, which house speaker paul ryan, who will chair the proceedings, admitted today.
>> i will have to obviously bone up on all the rules and all of those things. my goal is to be dispassionate, to be switzerland. neutral and dispassionate and make sure the rule of law prevails. it's more likely to become an open convention than we thought before. >> former house speaker john boehner has been floating ryan as a consensus candidate. >> i saw boehner last night and i told him to knock it off. it's not going to be me. it should be somebody running for president. >> trump supporters insist that will be the billionaire. >> when we get to cleveland, he's going to be our nominee. you know, some of these guys are going to have to decide how much damage they're willing to do to the party. >> marco rubio, back in the senate today did offer an informed opinion. >> i think in an ideal world you have a nominee and people coalesce around the nominee and it gives you a stronger position in the general election. i don't think donald trump will ever be able to do that. >> and then there's john kasich. most republicans consider him
the most electable against hillary clinton at this point, but if there is an open convention, kasich will almost surely arrive there well behind in the delegate race, which could make it harder for him to catch up. that is why people who like kasich are trying to be practical, like lindsey graham, for example. that's why he is supporting cruz. all the while, everybody that i talk to realize that some of this, most of this may be in vein because the trump juggernaut is so hard to stop. >> all right, dana, thank you. with fresh support from fellow republicans who want to stop donald trump, ted cruz is stepping up his push for delegates. let's go live to sunlen serfaty who's joining us from houston right now. the cruz just went up with a six-figure tv ad. what's the strategy here? >> that's right, wolf. two new ads in two states that the cruz campaign is laser focused on right now in utah and in arizona. in arizona, this ad all about illegal immigration. it almost takes a page from donald trump's playbook in the
format hitting an emotional point featuring a father who lost his son to an undocumented immigrant. here's that cruz ad right now. >> my son's death was completely preventible. i trust ted cruz. he believes in our constitution. he believes in the rule of law. >> reporter: going up there is a big push in utah and arizona. they feel good about their chances in utah. it's a caucus state. they have the endorsement of senator mike lee. they are kind ofdo downplaying their expectations for arizona. they say trump is way ahead but they are making a big go at it. senator cruz will visit arizona tomorrow and is expected in utah over the weekend. wolf. >> sunlen, what's the cruz plan to overtake trump at a contested convention if it comes down to that? >> it's interesting, they're running on these two tracks.
first a track they say they still have a real shot. they say over 50% to actually win this outright by getting the 1237 delegates needed and will focus on closed states and caucus states. but certainly behind the scenes they are preparing for the potential contested convention. they have lined up a team, put a team in place to really go over scenarios. they are making sure that they are -- making sure that the delegates that are already committed to them stay committed to them and playing offense a bit too, going after marco rubio's delegates that are now unbound, all about laying this groundwork in case this gets pushed into july. >> all right, thanks very much. sunlen serfaty reporting for us. let's discuss all of this and more. joining us is sean spicer, the chief strategist, communications director for the republican national committee. sean, thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you. >> we did some math today. so far more than half of the states, they have already voted in primaries and caucuses.
among republicans, take a look at these numbers. donald trump has 2 million more votes than ted cruz. he's got 7,500,000 to cruz's 5,400,000 or so. rubio has his 3,390,000 but right now he's out of the race. kasich is down at 2,700,000 so you've got 2 million more votes for trump over cruz. why isn't the republican leadership, establishment embracing this leader? he's way ahead. >> because we have a process. that process is you have to get 1237 delegates to become the nominee. and when that happens, we will embrace that person. we've had 31 of 50 states -- 56 states and territories vote. just over 1400 of the delegates have been selected. but we have about a thousand to go. the process still has a ways to work itself out. when someone gets to that magic number, whether it's through the process or at the convention, our job is to embrace it but not
until that point. >> you heard paul ryan now says a contested convention, an open convention as some are calling it is more likely. is it? >> mathematically every day that goes by it becomes a little more likely. like i said, we've got 1400 delegates selected, 1,000 to go. we've had 36 of the 56 states and territories go. there's more people to have an opportunity to have their voice an vote heard. i think we'll go to cleveland with a nominee. if we don't, then we will prepare like every other contingency and have an open, transparent democratic process where our delegates will go and elect a nominee and we'll go out united and win in november. >> as you know, there are anti-trump movements under way now to try to stop him, even at this late date, from getting the nomination. one movement met behind closed doors here, anti-trump establishment republicans have been meeting. where does the rnc stand on these anti-trump gatherings that seem to be gaining some steam,
even though it's very late? >> our job is plain and simple. it's to provide that playing field to ensure our candidates have an opportunity to have their voice heard. it gives more states and more voters the opportunity to get their voice heard and let the candidates accumulate the delegates necessary to win the nomination. that's it, plain and simple. candidates have an opportunity to go out and run the strategy they want to attract more people. some candidates and organizations run some, some are against a particular candidate. our job is to wait until our republican voters decide who that nominee will be, embrace them, provide the resources and outreach and tools that we have been building on the last four years and ensure they have the capabilities to win. >> some of these anti-trump elements, though, you've heard this, they're even going so far as saying maybe they would support a third party. if it's trump, let's say, versus hillary clinton, they would come up with a third party alternative. wouldn't that just guarantee
hillary clinton's election? >> almost. and i think that we all republicans need to do two things. one is unite behind whomever the voters select as the nominee. when that happens, we as a republican party need to glow, not subtract. we don't have that option as a party. we need to bring more and more people in if we want to defeat hillary clinton. when we walk out of that convention in cleveland united, we need to keep our eye on the prize. hillary clinton will take this country in a very different direction than any of the individuals that are still in the race. we all need to understand that as much as you may like one of those three remaining candidates, the bigger prize is to stop hillary clinton from succeeding barack obama in the white house. there are potentially four supreme court justices alone. that alone should make every conservative, every independent and even some democrats take pause and realize what's at stake in this election. to come back and unite as a party. >> so from the rnc's perspective, any third party alternative to donald trump would be a disaster? >> any third party against anyone. the only way we win with any one
of those three candidates is united as a republican party and working to grow. >> stand by, sean, we have more to discuss. i want to get your reaction to what we heard yesterday about the possibility of riots erupting at that convention if he's denied the nomination. stand by. much more with sean spicer right after this. 2016 chevy malibu. wow, it's nice. let's check it out. do any of you have kids? i do yes. this car has a feature built in called teen driver technology, which lets parent's see how their teens are driving. oh, that's smart. it even mutes the radio until the seat belt is fastened. will it keep track of how many boys get it in the car? (laughter) cause that could be useful. this is ahead of what my audi has for sure. wish my beamer had that. i didn't even know that technology existed. i'm not in the market for a car but now i may be.
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nominee must have a majority of the delegates in eight states. you're familiar with that rule. >> i am. >> trump has that already. >> can i -- if i may, let me correct you. what you're referring to is rule 40 b. that rule was from the 2012 convention. every convention, the week prior to the convention, the delegates elect a rules committee that lays out the rules for the convention that we're about to enter. so what people are citing right now are the rules the delegates wrote for the 2012 election. there were rules for the 2004 election, 2000. so when delegates get elected right now, two from every state and territory, will go to cleveland the week before the convention and write the rules -- >> so in other words, this rule -- you're not going to guarantee that this rule will stay in effect for this convention because a lot of the trump supporters are saying you guys are already starting to fiddle around with it. >> in 2008 the rule was you had to have a plurality of five states. then in 2008 it was changed to a
majority in eight states. every convention the group of folks that go write the rules. just so we're clear, this isn't unique to the republican national committee, it's true for a kiwanis club, student government, house of representatives. groups that have any organizational structure, that's how they are governed. they say we'll write the rules for how this organization that we belong to. where it's a philanthropic club or civic organization, almost every normal organization follows the same thing. >> so you're saying this rule may be changed a week before the convention. >> a new set of rules must come into play. that's how every organization, including our convention, the house of representatives is organized so that you write the rules for the session that you're about to go into. it may be the same, it may be tweaked, it may be vastly different. but the elected representatives of the republican voters will make those decisions. >> so the bottom line, let's say cruz does not have a majority of the delegates in eight states, they change the rules, he's still eligible to be the
nominee? >> whoever meets the criteria that the rules committee for the 2016 convention writes will be eligible, plain and simple. >> the accusation will be that you're accused of changing the rules to hurt trump and help cruz. >> we're not changing the rules. they're elected delegates by the voters and this is the process that's worked all the way back to the 1800s for every civic organization, convention, the house of representatives. this is about how every organization works. >> all right. so you may change the rules but that's normal procedure. that's what i hear you saying. let's talk about this clip. this is donald trump yesterday here on cnn. >> if we're a hundred short and we're at 1100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400, because we're way ahead of everybody, i don't think you can say that we don't get it automatically. i think it would be -- i think you'd have riots. i think you'd have riots. you know, i'm representing a tremendous -- many, many millions of people.
>> that's pretty serious stuff. yesterday you didn't think he was being literal when he thought that there would be riots. you thought he was speaking, what, metaphorically? >> there's three points that i make. number one, whoever gets 1237 is the nominee, plain and simple. that's how the process works. >> let's say that he comes in with 1100 and cruz has 600. >> then we'll go to a ballot and have the delegates decide. this isn't horse shoes, this is a nomination. >> but nobody gets 1237 on the first round. on the second round are all those delegates free agents? >> it depends. a supreme court case has to win a majority. if it's a 4-4 tie, the way that the rules are written which is if you get a majority, you win. that's how this will work. in certain states you are bound through multiple ballots. after the second ballot some states start to make their delegates unbound. to the other two points that i'd make, cleveland has been an amazing host city. they are so welcoming and ready
for this convention. we are going to put on a world class convention. it's going to be for the world to watch how amazing this process works. it's going to be very open, very transparent, very democratic. we don't have a bunch of super delegates like the democrats do. all of our folks who are elected will go there in a very orderly, open process and elect the next president of the united states in cleveland through our nomination process. >> when donald trump said i think you'd have riots. and he said it a second time, i think you'd have riots. that sounds very, very ominous. >> all i know is that republican voters and the people of cleveland are looking forward to an amazing convention that will be done in the most orderly democratic process the world has seen. a number of people will have a record number of people that watch that. you pointed earlier to the number of votes. people are energized, they like what they're seeing. i think our record, our attendance and our viewership for cleveland will exceed everyone's expectations because people are excited about what's happening on our side.
>> and if he's the nominee, will the republican party rally around him? >> 100%. >> thanks for coming on. >> happy st. patrick's day. >> love the pants. you're a good irishman, i must say. sean spicer of the rnc. we are getting more information coming into "the situation room" right now. we've got a panel of experts sticking around. we'll be right back.
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political commentator s.e. cupp, mark preston and our political commentator ana navarro. mark, he's got 678 delegates. we say right now he needs 1237. how likely is it that trump reaches that number by the time of the convention? >> listen, he has about a 55% chance of doing it, i guess. that it could possibly happen. look, a lot has to do with his rhetoric over the next few weeks heading into the next few contests. he has got to be a uniter. he needs to get the establishment behind him. if he's capable of doing that, he'll have an easier road. if not, we are heading to a contested convention. as you were talking with sean spicer earlier, there are going to be riots outside and it is going to be ugly. >> is there a credible path for ted cruz to reach 1237. >> i think it's extremely difficult at best for him to do so. for him his best play is to play it out, himself try to get the establishment behind him and try to win it on the second ballot. >> gloria, you've been doing a
lot of reporting on this meeting under way in washington, these anti-trump faith conservative leaders as they are being called. they're looking at the viability even of a third party option to challenge trump. how plausible is that? is that something that really we could see emerge out of cleveland? >> well, look, i think the third-party option is the nuclear option for these people. it was a mixture of faith-based conservatives, fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and i was told that there was a general consensus in the group that they had to do whatever they could to stop trump from getting to the magic number of 1237. there was also some talk, wolf, about actually recommending kind of a unity ticket of cruz and kasich, but they stopped short of doing that because i was told of the egos involved, and so they just sort of stepped back from that a little bit. but there was discussion and a lot of disagreement i would add, about going to some third party
and running a candidate, say, on the libertarian ticket, for example, which they all know would kind of hand the election to hillary clinton so they don't want to mention it yet. but there are some ardent, ardent anti-trump people who would even be willing to do that, but they're not there yet. >> isn't it a little late, s.e., for any of this to have an impact? >> yes. these are the kinds of conversations that influential people should have been having months ago, before states started actually voting. everyone at this table knows the importance of winning and how that builds momentum. trump getting a win somewhere was the first evidence that he could actually do this thing. every win just built up and built up and built up and the more people stayed in, the more others consolidated around him. it's too late to be having these conversations about stopping him. you know, the horse is out of the gate at this point. >> ana, kasich, he has virtually
no chance of reaching 1237 before the convention, right? >> right. >> given the small number he has right now, he would need more than 100% of all the remaining delegates emerging from all the primaries. >> it would have to be a mathematical miracle. >> so why is he still in the race? >> because none of them have a sure shot of reaching 1237. if donald trump reaches 1237 -- >> trump does have a good chance. >> 55% is a reasonable chance, it's not a good chance. >> but reasonable is better than no chance. >> well, yes, but if you've got -- listen, if nobody reaches it, everybody is basically on the same level playing field. >> is that true? trump says if he's close, he's ahead by 500 or 600 delegates, let's say he has 1100 and somebody has 500 or 600 -- >> i'm sorry, wolf, that's how donald trump may want it to work. >> he said that could lead to riots. >> well, there's a lot of things he says. that's how donald trump says it works but it's not. you've got to get 50% plus 1.
that's not a random number. i think john kasich is the only guy who beat donald trump on tuesday. >> i mean that's what we all know the rules and that's the way the party and the delegates will approach it. but if you are a trump supporter, that means squat to you. if donald trump goes in with 1,000 delegates and the party is seen as wanting to rejigger all of the delegates around someone who comes in with, say, 200, i don't think that they'll take kindly to that. >> you just heard sean, mark, say a week before the convention these guys show up and could rewrite the rules. >> and they will and they always have done that, so it's not nefarious in the sense they're going to hold the meeting. it could be nefarious how they write the rules. but let's pause and look where we are right now and where woe thought we would have been. we had 16 or 17 people running for president of the united states, many of them governors. we said this field was so much stronger than it was in 2012. if they can't choose a nominee and it turns into a big fight on the floor, what does that say about the republican party as a
whole and the direction the republican party -- >> not to mention the rules last time to changed to avoid this very thing. let me tell you, i have talked to people in the trump campaign who said they were looking at this in 2012, 2013, the very changes that he could exploit. trump didn't accidentally wander into this election. >> stand by, everybody stand by. gloria, we'll get right back to you. everybody stand by. we're going to take a quick break. we'll be right back.
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we're back with our political experts. following the efforts of some republican conservatives to deny donald trump the nomination. gloria, what do you think will happen at the gop convention? >> i think it's going to be probably a contested convention unless donald trump sews it up and wins california and all 172 delegates there, which could, of course, happen. if i were in a campaign right now and i were talking to a couple of people in opposing campaigns today, i would be looking at these delegates in this campaign and i would be saying after the first ballot, do they love me? okay. for example, what has donald trump done to make sure that his delegates are really his own on a second ballot? that's what the campaigns are doing right now. it takes a lot of organization. there are different rules in different states about when you're -- when you can be unbound and all the rest.
it's very complicated. right now that's what these campaigns have to be doing, wolf, because it's completely unpredictable so far. >> ana, your friend marco rubio said he was not endorsing anyone for the time being. what happens to the 171 delegates that rubio has? >> i think most of them are bound to him on the first ballot. now, after the second ballot, they're going to be free agents. the question is how much does what he wants them to do influence what he wants them to do. some of them will go with cruz, some will go with kasich, depends on who courts them the most. i saw some of marco rubio's top donors, people like wayne berman, and they are now with john kasich. i think this asums everybody is going to the cruz camp is wrong. i was really happy to see marco come back to work today. i think he's now liberated from politics. i hope as a florida senator he finishes strong, he works his butt off and votes his
conscience. >> we looked at the numbers and added them up. right now trump has 2 million more votes than cruz does. trump has 7.5 million, cruz 5.4 million, kasich is down with only 2.7 million. if he's denied because of some loophole, new law, some rule they put into effect, there are millions of republicans that will feel disenfranchised. >> he has voters that are previously democrats, voters that are independents that have registered republican to vote for him. >> that was all legal. that was all open -- >> absolutely, absolutely. this is the way democracy is supposed to work. and i think he's absolutely right that there will be riots. now, it's very unpolitic of him to say. look, i would be really upset if i had been as loyal and as committed to a candidate and at the very end, you know, party leaders came in and sort of rejiggered it for someone more palatable and more desirable to the establishment.
>> we'll be all set at the convention, we've got our location, all of our seats, we're ready to go. >> the question is do we have security. >> there will be a situation room over there. all right, guys -- don't go too far away. we'll have more on the conserve after revolt against donald trump. can they come up with a way to deny him the republican nomination? also, we're getting new details, but a man who may be the first american fighter to defect from isis in the field. ♪ ♪ for your retirement, you want to celebrate the little things, because they're big to you. and that is why you invest. the best returns aren't just measured in dollars. td ameritrade®.
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takes us to the provincial capital where rebels have been attacked by isis, by the syrian regime and by the russian air force. schools, courthouses and hospitals, they are in the area and they have been hit. we need to warn our viewers, some of this footage is graphic. >> reporter: it is an all too common sight in rebel-held parts of syria. the moments after an air strike. for days survivors stagger from the rubble. those still trapped call out for help. the target this time, the court house. activists say the bombs were russian. when rebels took the provincial capital, they saw it as a crucial opportunity to demonstrate that they could build their own state, and they believe that's exactly why the russians bombed this courthouse, to undermine that effort.
any civilian infrastructure is a potential target, including hospitals. last month four were hit in a single day. one was supported by doctors without borders. this is what remains of it now. at least 25 people were killed. this doctor was the general manager. he told us that russian and regime forces target hospitals cynically and deliberately. >> translator: they want to kill the maximum number of people. also they want to forbid the area from having medical service. if there's no doctor, no nurse, no hospital, then there is no health care for the people and people will flee. >> reporter: is it possible that they did not know that this was a hospital? >> translator: everyone knows this is a hospital. there was even a sign that said
this is a hospital. but if they didn't know, this is an even bigger disaster because if you are bombing a building like this without knowing it's a hospital, it means you are hitting totally indiscriminately. >> reporter: against the backdrop of this vicious war, islamist factions have gained the upper hand here. among them an al qaeda affiliate. the landscape is peppered with signs shunn western democracy. one encourages women to cover up completely. this doctor works at the only hospital still standing. he's no militant, but sees this conflict in black and white. >> translator: the whole of the syrian people is against isis and against extremism, but we see that the russians are bombing far from isis and are focused on civilian areas.
>> reporter: i asked him why he doesn't leave syria. >> translator: if i did that, i would abandon my conscience. this is our country, we can't desert it. if we left, then we have sold our morals. who would treat the people? i can very easily leave, but we will remain steadfast. i am prepared to die rather than to leave. and i will carry on, no matter what. >> reporter: carry on in the faint home that for the next generation of syrians it will be better. >> clarissa ward is joining us now live. clarissa, really an incredible report, thanks so much for doing
it. what did the russians the russi about all these atrocities that you eyewitnesses? >> the russians, we reached out to the ministry of defense and they have said they do not target civilian infrastructure, that they had never killed any civilians on the ground. but if you look at a report from doctors without borders, from 2015, it says that in fact, 82 medical facilities were hit in the space of 2015 in rebel-held areas. and if you look at the breakdown, there is an enormous spike in the month of october that, of course, is just after the russian military intervention began in syria. so based on what we saw on the ground and what we heard from people we talked to, it is simply unfeasible that russia has not been involved in hitting some of these civilian targets, wolf. >> how frequently are hospitals hit? >> hospitals are hit all the time. 82 medical facilities hit just
last year. of those, 12 of them were completely destroyed. and i just want to read you a couple of other figures from this report because they're so staggering. in northwestern rebel-held areas, 462 children under the age of 5 were killed in 2015. in rebel-held areas in and around damascus, 1,420 women and children, all of which goes to show you that it is civilians who are bearing the brunt of this conflict. >> clarissa ward, a courageous journalist. thanks very much. doing a great job for us. there's other breaking news. a man who kurdish authorities now say was captured trying to leave isis territory is speaking out and says he's a u.s. citizen from virginia. cnn's brian todd has been digging into the background of this mysterious alleged fighter. what are you learning? >> kurdish tv just aired an interview with thus young man while in captivity. he described how he got to iraq and became disillusioned with isis. this young man is very likely
the first american fighter to defect from isis in the field. the moment of capture. interrogated by kurdish forces, the man says he's american. that his father is palestinian and his mother is from iraq. >> where are you from? >> united states. >> kurdish officials say his name is muhammad jamal qweis. they captured him trying to flee home. he said he traveled through europe late last year to syria and then to mosul, iraq. life was hard and the people who command isis aren't good muslims. he said he didn't agree with their ideology and that's why he wanted to escape. analysts say he could be a gold mine for u.s. intelligence on the inner workings of the terror group. >> what's most interesting about this case is how he traveled. what routes did he take? that will give us an insight of how other americans are trying
to travel to syria and iraq. >> cnn went to see his father. >> wrong information. >> but the man clearly seemed upset and later told reporters this. >> i cannot ask him what he's doing, what's he's coming from. he's in iraq, he's not. i know he is -- he will never go there. >> he graduated from edison high school in alexandria, virginia, in 2007. harrison weinholt, a friend from high school, recognizes him from the driver's license. he said he was a normal teenager who made fun of people who were religious. >> what do you make about this news of your friend? >> it's upsetting. really sucks. you feel for his family. it's just not something that you would ever think would happen. definitely wasn't the type of person, wasn't an angry person. wasn't an outcast by any means. just a normal guy. we did normal stuff in high school. >> reporter: another friend told
cnn kweis was a friendly and goofy kid who often joked around. if he was with isis, why would he have abandoned them on the battlefield and walked into the arms of the enemy. >> it wasn't what he thought it would be. he saw the infighting and killing of other muslims. >> reporter: a primary task for law enforcement tonight may be to figure ot whether muhammad kweis acted alone in moving toward isis and who might have recruited him. another key question, is he going to be charged with material support for terrorism? tonight the fbi, wolf, not commenting on any of that. >> on the question of him move alone or not, brian, he did say what he had a female companion at one point? >> that's right. he met an iraqi woman on the way to syria while in turkey. it's not clear if this woman had any hand in recruiting him. she may have helped him get inside the border to syria at one point but unclear beyond that. >> i suspect we'll hear more about this muhammad kweis in the
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watching tvs get sharper, oh remotes, you've had it tough. bigger, smugger. and you? rubbery buttons. enter the x1 voice remote. now when someone says... show me funny movies. watch discovery. record this. voila. remotes you are back. the x1 voice remote is here. x1 customers get your voice remote by visiting xfinty.com/voiceremote. happening now -- breaking news. stealing third. prominent conservatives meeting behind closed doors plotting an uprising against front-runner donald trump. panicked republicans calling for a contest ed unity ticket or forming a third party.
uphill climb. president obama's supreme court nominee meeting with democrats on capitol hill. republican leaders adamant that judge merrick garland will not get a hearing. now some saying they are willing to meet with him. are there cracks in the republican wall of opposition. president obama telling donors at a private fund-raiser that democrats will soon need to unite behind hillary clinton. tonight the white house pushing back saying the president didn't indicate a preference for hillary clinton or bernie sanders. which candidate does president obama want to see win the nomination? and terrorist control. the u.s. military sharpening its focus right now on isis hideouts inside iraq and syria and doubling down on the number of arab fighters willing to take on isis. is the war nearing a turning point. >> we want to welcome our viewers around the united states and around the wormd.
i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> dramatic developments in the republican race for the white house as details are emerging of a closed door meeting of top conservatives determined to stop donald trump. with a growing number of gop officials openly talking of a contested convention. the group led by blogger and radio host erick erickson is pinning its hopes on a convention fight that would allow a unity ticket to eventual lie win the nomination over trump. the group is also leaving a door open to supporting a third party if republicans are unable to stop trump from becoming their nominee. and there's breaking news in the democratic race as well. the white house now pushing back report saying president obama privately told donors the party will soon need to unite behind hillary clinton. tonight, a spokesman says the
president does believe the party needs to come together around the eventual nominee, but did not specify clinton or bernie sanders. we're covering all of this. much more this hour with our guests, including senior trump adviser steven miller, our correspondents and expert analysts. they are also standing by. let's begin with the republican race. cnn's sunlen serfaty is in houston with the latest. the stop trump movement within the party seems to be growing tonight. what's the latest? >> it does appear to be picking up steam tonight among conservative republicans. emerging from that meeting in washington, d.c., that anti-trump meeting was this call for potentially a unity ticket between kasich and ted cruz teaming up together. and, yes, the possibility of running a third party candidate in an effort to stop donald trump. >> we have to bring our party together. >> reporter: as trump calls for unity, the stop trump movement is huddling in washington, d.c.,
today to do anything to stop him. sources tell cnn there was absolute consensus in the closed door meeting on trying to prevent frump from getting the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination but that there was a real division about launching a third party challenge if trump ultimately becomes the nominee. tonight paul ryan is brushing off the idea that he could be drawn in to the presidential race. >> it's not going to be me. it should be somebody running for president. people are out there campaigning. >> reporter: but the house speaker is not stepping away from the prospect that his party might be heading towards a contested convention. >> this is more likely to become an open convention than we thought before. so we're getting our minds around the idea this could become a reality. >> reporter: trump's team encouraging republicans ork posed to trump to rethink their strategy. >> get to cleveland, he's going to be our nominee. and, you know, some of these guys will have to decide how much damage they are willing to do to the party because they
don't like that. >> reporter: marco rubio, meantime, is back on capitol hill speaking for the first time today since announcing his departure from the race but not letting up on the gop front-runner. >> hopefully there's time to still prevent a trump nomination which i think would fracture the party and be damaging to the conservative movement. >> and avoiding questions about a possible endorsement. the potential for a contested convention is pushing the gop candidates into effectively waging two campaigns side by side. still working to win outright but also scrambling to prepare their backup plans if the nominating fight is still unsettled before republicans gather in cleveland this july. >> if donald comes in -- donald and i come in neck and neck and neither at 1237, then it's a battle for the remaining delegates. that's how a convention operates. >> it's unlikely that anybody is going to achieve enough delegates to avoid a convention.
>> reporter: the campaigns are closely watching the delegate map. candidates need to get to 1237 delegates to clinch the nomination before the convention. donald trump wrould need to win a little more than 50% of the remaining delegates. ted cruz would need roughly 80%. for john kasich, it would be mathematically impossible. he'd need about 108%. south carolina senator lindsey graham tells cnn's dana bash that he sees cruz as the best hope for stopping trump. >> i think the best alternative to donald trump, to stop him from getting 1237 is ted cruz. and i'm going to help ted in every way i can. >> reporter: and lindsey graham will work to raise money for senator cruz. he'll be headlining a fund-raiser in washington, d.c. fund-raising now even more essential given this prospect of this extended primary. wolf? >> good point, sunlen serfaty.
another major political battle unfolding. president obama's nomination of judge merrick garland to the u.s. supreme court. senate republicans are still ruling out a confirmation hearing, but some are now saying they're at least willing to meet with judge garland. our justice correspondent pamela brown has more. judge garland has been up on capitol hill today. how did that go? >> it's been a very busy day for judge garland. he met with democratic senators. and some republicans softened their positions, and they say they are considering at least meeting in private with the president's nominee. senate minority leader harry reided in president obama's new supreme court nominee merrick garland met privately today with reid vowing he won't back down. >> the fear we have is why can't the republicans just do what they are supposed to do. do their jobs. >> republican leaders in the
senate are refusing to budge on giving judge garland a hearing saying it's not about the person. it's about the principle of not confirming a nominee in a presidential election year. but there are subtle cracks in the gop blockade. majority leader mitch mcconnell won't even sit down with garland. a handful of republicans are open to meeting with him, including some who are up for re-election like chuck grassley. >> if i can meet with a dictator in uganda, i can surely meet with a decent person in america. >> reporter: senator mcconnell writes in an op ed in "usa today" the american people deserve a voice in such a momentous decision. but president obama says the voters did have a voice when they elected him. on a phone call with supporters today, he said they didn't add a caveat that said we want you to be president except for your last 300 days in office when you
don't have to fulfill your duties. on the steps of the supreme court, democrats contend republicans are putting politics above the law. >> judge garland is a widely respected legal mind who puts the law above ideology. exactly the type of nominee that republicans profess to love when it comes to the supreme court. you simply can't lay a glove on him. >> democrats are holding out hope with republicans going back home for recess today they will face public opposition to their vow of not giving a hearing and change course. meantime, wolf, republican leaders today ruled out confirming garland in the lame duck if a democrat is elected president. >> pamela brown, thanks. let's get more on all of this including the race for the white house. steven miller, senior trump adviser is here. he was a top aide to senator sessions until recently. now you're working with the trump campaign. >> that's right. >> do you think he can get enough votes to get the
nomination outright on the day he arives there in cleveland in july? >> we're feeling very confident right now. we had a great night. obviously a huge victory in florida winning the biggest prize of the night and every county in the state but one. now we're heading into a part of the race where it's going to be favorable for mr. trump. huge delegate states like new jersey, new york, california. we expect we'll get what we need to get to 1,237. >> what do you think of these conservatives meeting here today, establishment conservatives. they are meeting, looking for a way to prevent donald trump from getting that nomination. they are hoping for a contested convention in which somebody else would emerge. >> the most important thing to keep in mind is they aren't just trying to deny the nomination to donald trump. what they are truth to do is deny tens of millions of patriotic americans control over their own economic futures. they are worried the gravy train is going to shut down if donald trump is the nominee. that's what this is all about.
>> what do you mean by the gravy train? >> i worked for jeff sessions. but i had -- >> who supports trump. >> who supports trump. i had an up close seat to the corruption in washington, d.c. and i saw first hand -- i'll give you a good example. one of the groups opposing donald trump is the club for growth. in 2011 we were pushing a bill to stop chines currency cheating. the club for growth fought against us to preserve offshoring of jobs to china. you have groups that make a killing off of bad trade deals, bad immigration bills that are trying to keep trump out of the white house because he's going to cost them and their corporate clients money. make no mistake. all of the groups against trump, their motivation is selfish economic interest. >> how much of a threat does it represent to donald trump? >> i don't think it does. one of the names mentioned today is erick erickson. most people watching today are thinking, who is erick erickson? really, who is erick erickson? >> he's a popular blogger, radio
talk show host. used to be a contributor on cnn. i think he's a contributor now to fox. >> erick erickson doesn't have control over who the gop nominates. he doesn't get to decide who the future of the republican party is. the reality is the average republican voter has been killed by offshoring of jobs, by an open border, by a terrible foreign policy that has resulted in all kinds of issues. give us relief from these terrible policies. >> there are even some threats out there that he does get the nomination, a third party candidate could emerge in a general election. so it would be donald trump, hillary clinton clinton, a third party conservative would emerge that presumably would only help hillary clinton get elected president of the united states. >> right. what you see in this desperation is people are terrified that they are losing control of a party they once ran. these people, agone, i worked with them for many years.
they are used to calling the shots. and they are mad that instead of being able to issue orders from their fancy lobbying fur ining d.c. you know who is going to be in charge? the steel worker. the guy who goes to work every day for $12, $15 an hour. that's who is in charge, not the person with a $2 million salary lobbying in washington, d.c. >> if he is shut out of the nomination at the convention, do you think donald trump would run as a third party candidate? >> donald trump is going to run at the republican nominee. he's been clear on that point. weer path to get 1,237 delegates. and i just think it's critical that people understand the stop trump movement is about one thing only. it's about people trying to retain their own power. >> stand by. we have a lot more with stephen miller coming up. what the speaker of the house is saying now about new developments. we'll take a break and be right back. pet moments are beautiful, unless you have allergies.
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you may have ibs. bloating? ask your doctor if non-prescription ibgard is right for you. ibgard calms the angry gut. available at cvs and walgreens. top republicans now talking openly of a contested convention as panic seems to develop over a possible donald trump nomination. top conservatives meeting in washington today are hoping a unity ticket will defeat trump in multiple convention ballots. the group did leave the door open to potentially supporting a third party ticket if republicans are unable to stop donald trump. we're back with a senior trump adviser stephen miller. paul ryan is saying a contested convention is more likely. you agree? you think that's true? >> i don't agree. people can speculate whether it's more likely or less likely. we think we're on path to get 1,237. >> you're pretty confident? >> yes. >> you heard shawn spicer told
me last hour that the leadership, they basically show up in cleveland a week before and they can come up with new rules for the convention, change the rules, if you will, as they did in 2008, 2012. i assume that's okay with you? >> i think what would be the right thing to do would be for the republican party to embrace the chance to grow. the gop has been shrinking for years. i have been here in washington for ten years. we keep shrinking and shrinking and sclichrinking. we're pushing away blue collar voters. >> if they change the rules -- >> they're going to shrink the party even more. it will turn into a regional party if they do that. it would be insane to try and deny trump the nomination. even make the effort would be insane. we're growing the party. we're going to win in pennsylvania, ohio, new york. we're building a bigger republican party by reaching out to blue collar voters who have been turned away from both parties and bringing them into
our tent. >> here's donald trump yesterday on "new day" speaking with our chris cuomo. >> if we're 100 short and we're at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400 because we're way ahead of everybody, i don't think you can say that we don't get it automatically. i think you'd have riots. we have -- i'm representing a tremendous, many millions of people. >> do you think he regret using the word riots? >> i think he was speaking figuratively. but i think i really do want to underscore for you and everyone else that you used the word earlier, panic. who is panicked, and why are they panicked. the rich and powerful are panicked because they are losing control of the gop. it's being returned to the voters. senator lindsey graham, he told our dana bash he's now supporting ted cruz. he's going to have a fund-raiser for him on monday. he said the trump campaign is
built on xenophobia, race baiting and religious bigotry. what's the trump campaign's reaction? >> if lindsey graham would write a book it would be, how to shrink the republican party by lindsey graham. he's the expert in shrinking the republican party. i wonder if ted cruz will reject the endorsement. lindsey graham is the one who came up with the foreign policy that's been such a disaster for the gop. lindsey graham came up with the immigration policy that's basically hollowed out the middle class. lindsey graham is a great person if you want to learn how to make the republican party smaller and less appealing to blue collar voters. >> this is a video from the pro-hillary clinton superpac. they put out a response to a trump video which we showed earlier. let me play this little clip. ♪
>> who were you consurlting with consistently so that you're ready on day one? >> i'm speaking with myself, number one, because i have a very good brain, and i've said a lot of things. [ laughter ] >> yesterday with hillary clinton barking like a dog. that was the trump ad. this is an anti-trump ad. your reaction? >> i think hillary clinton comes out very poorly in the ad. did her campaign actually make that ad? >> no it was a superpac. she had nothing to do with it. it's a pro-hillary clinton superpac. >> the superpac did a bad job because it ends with that clip of a very natural moment from the candidate. that's strange, but donald trump is going to have a huge election against hillary clinton because the issues the democrats depend upon, donald trump is going to control, like the trade issue. he's going to hammer clinton on her support for the tpp, the trans-pacific partnership. we're going to bring in the blue
collar voters. >> looks like hillary clinton is spending more time focusing in on a possible run against donald trump. is the trump campaign spending more time focusing in on a possible run against hillary clinton, forgetting about the other republican challengers, at least somewhat? >> well, job one right now is to go ahead and get 1,237. you saw that we're giving a little sampling. a little appetizer of how we're going to go after hillary clinton in the general election. again, it's going to be a huge . hillary clinton is going to side with big business and corporations. with lindsey graham endorsing ted cruz, that's a remarkable development because it means the people who favor offshoring and interventionism and a failed legacy on trade are lining up behind ted cruz because they don't want anything in washington to change. >> stephen miller of the trump campaign, thanks for joining us. more on the effort by some
leading conservatives to stop donald trump from becoming the republican presidential nominee. can they succeed where the party so far has failed? plus, hillary clinton and her supporters increasingly setting their sights on donald trump. how effective will their latest campaign ad be? aren't moving in the right direction,bers it can be a burden. but what if you could wake up to lower blood sugar? imagine loving your numbers. discover once-daily invokana®. with over 6 million prescriptions and counting,
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hoping to deny trump the nomination by putting forward a unity ticket. and barring that, the group is also leaving the door open to backing a third party ticket against donald trump, should he become the republican presidential nominee. let's get more, joining us, our chief political correspondent dana bash, senior political reporter nia-malika henderson, commentator, washington correspondent for the new yorker magazine ryan lizza and the senior editor of the atlantic, ron brownstein. dana, you had an interview with lindsey graham today. and all of a sudden, he's backing ted cruz. let me play a little of that. >> you said it was -- which one did you choose? >> i said if trump improves in the general election it's like being shot of poison and you're probably going to die anyway. given hillary clinton's problems and they are mounting by the day, i think a ted cruz has a much better chance of beating hillary clinton than mr. trump.
i think mr. trump is trying to create division in the country that will not sell. >> dana, his decision which must have been a painful decision for him based on everything he said until now. what does it say about the state of the republican party? >> as i said to him separately. i thought i was going to see pigs flying down the street because i couldn't believe i was hearing lindsey graham who has been openly against and disdainful of ted cruz, not so much personally but his tactics in the senate, saying he believes he's the most likely conservative to win. maybe not the best but most likely to win. that poison question, he was comparing ted cruz to donald trump. it wasn't that long ago saying it's basically picki your poiso. they think the best way to stop trump, not necessarily get ted cruz enough delegates before the convention to be the nominee but stop trump from doing so is to back ted cruz because he's in second place when it comes to
the delegates. >> if they can't stop donald trump, the third party ticket which presumably would split the republican vote and ensure that hillary clinton, let's say she's the nominee, wins the presidency. >> it's hard to see a situation different from that where the third party doesn't play a spoiler role and hillary clinton is the beneficiary. also the other alternative with trump being the nominee, that's also probably a bad choice for the republican party. it would alienate a whole swath of voters. we're seeing essentially two parties here. we're seeing one that's led by trump and one that is the anti-trump wing that doesn't really have a leader at this point. i was texting with one republican. i said what's going to happen with your party? he said maybe it just needs to burn to the ground to be reborn. in some ways it feels like -- that's what it feels like if you have a convention, imagine the upheaval that comes out of that convention if they try to bring somebody else in, if they steal
the nomination from donald trump. a lot of troubled waters ahead for this party. >> you wrote an article about the future of the republican party. rests with donald trump you say. is it too late for the republicans to stop donald trump, or is there math that makes that possible? >> well, i think there's a difference between what's mathematically possible and practical. it's totally plausible he'll get to cleveland without the 1,237 he needs. i think it's not plausible that somebody is going to get there with nearly as many delegates. he's had a bigger, broader coalition than any rivals. ted cruz is too dependent on evangelical christians. not dependent upon voters not evangelicals. john kasich is confined to moderates. he is only at 38%, 37% of the total vote so far and you are seeing this digging in against him. we talked about this before. if anyone else won the kind of
states he's won in the last few weeks we'd see the party talking about consolidating behind him. for a variety of reasons, including the threats of him as a general election nominee, you are seeing the opposite. it's very troubled waters ahead. either they nominate trump and have a fracture or deny him and likely have a fracture. republicans are facing a difficult set of choices in the weeks ahead. >> how do you see this? >> it's a hardening on both sides. the pro-trump faction is more behind him than ever. the kind of things we're talking about a third party run or denying him the nomination at the convention as a conspiracy of the washington elites. same thing trump has been running against. what nia said is exactly right. this division in the party is between traditional conservatives, despite the debates someone like ted cruz and lindsey graham has between them on foreign policy, on a whole array of issues. they are more closely aligned about what it means to be a republican than donald trump. so even lindsey graham would
rather have someone like ted cruz. lindsey graham personally dislikes ted cruz. he would rather have ted cruz than donald trump who would turn the party on foreign policy into something totally different. on trade, something totally different. more eth no nationalist and make it into a party that would alienate a lot of non-white voters. that's the two visions. >> it really is stunning that the people who were at this meeting today here in washington, the conservative activists led by erick erickson, the founder of red state an influential conservative blog. he was one of the early republican or conservative republican disruptors making it tough for the establishment republicans here in washington. >> yes. >> now he finds himself on the same side as them because that kind of anger and push to shake things up here has gotten -- >> too far. >> towards trump. >> and really has solidified
those blue collar white workers who are a mix of things whether it's about trade. even some are for single payer health care. it's a real mix. no republican orthodoxy that the republican party has used typically to attract these voters. all of that checklist is just really out the window. >> ryan, you wanted to weigh in? >> that's an important point. trump is engineering an historic shift of power in the party. he is -- the heart of his coalition are these working class white voters. he's won most of them in 17 of the 20 states with exit polls. only won most college-plus voters in 8 states with exit polls. half of the republican electorate are different than the national leadership. they support entitlement programs for the elderly, oppose free trade and deeply hostile to immigration and the cultural and demographic diversity of the country. what we're seeing is a shift in
the balance of power in the party and the reaction to that is the backlash that you are seeing against trump on the other side. >> today we heard from senator marco rubio who was back in the senate doing his job. he said he met with reporters. he's not going to run for the senate again. he's going to give up a seat at the end of the year. not going to run for governor of florida. doesn't want to be vice president of the united states. wants to become a private citizen. what happens to his delegates? those 130, 140, 150 delegates that are pledged to him? 171 actually. you see it there. 171. that can be critical. >> it could be critical. on the senate, before i move on to the delegates, he had to choose, by law, in florida whether he'd run for president, be on the ballot for president or senate. by party rules down there. that's why he chose the presidency and decided not to run for re-election. on the delegates, it's a complicated answer because basically a state by state rule as to whether or not when a
candidate suspends his campaign, whether or not those delegates in that state are freed up or whether he can still have control over them and different states have different rules on that. but the bottom line is he personally can't come to the convention. let's say there's an open convention and say, my 171 delegates, i want you to go to ted cruz. it doesn't work that way. >> we're going to take a quick break. just getting some breaking news on the democratic side. what's going on between bernie sanders and hillary clinton? we'll share that with you right after this quick break. this is how banks saw me.
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this is cnn breaking news. >> we're getting in the breaking news. we're finally able to report that hillary clinton is the winner of the missouri primary. she finished 1531 votes ahead of senator bernie sanders who now says he will not contest the vote count in missouri. all this comes as the white house is now denying a "new york times" report that president obama is urging democrats to unite behind hillary clinton. jeff zeleny is joining us with new details. what are you learning? >> with this missouri win, the sound from democrats is increasing. it's time for this primary fight to wrap up. you won't hear hillary clinton asking bernie sanders to drop out. she needs his voters.
some 6 million have already supported him in the primaries. some democrats aren't waiting to start taking on trump. donald trump was one of the best democratic punch lines around. >> he's making the most out of it. i'm having a good time watching it. i find it -- >> the democratic party is no longer laughing. as the primary fight between hillary clinton and bernie sanders goes on, "the new york times" is reporting president obama told donors in texas last week it's time for democrats to rally behind clinton. an an assertion the white house denied today. there's little question the party is turning its attention to trump. >> our commander in chief has to be able to defend our country, not embarrass it. >> reporter: liberal groupss are sounding the alarm. suddenly taking trump seriously as a general election foe. from labor unions to environmental groups, the democratic machine is spinning
into action. trying to do what the republican establishment could not. >> most of us cannot fathom how he rose so far and so, so fast. his vile rhetoric is embarrassing. his proposals are dangerous. >> reporter: senate democratic leader harry reid delivered a speech today focused solely on stopping trump. >> republican leaders created the drought conditions. donald trump has simply struck the match. >> reporter: nearly two dozen progressive groups signed a letter this week saying it's time to unite. they are calling this a five-alarm fire for our democracy. one day after trump released this video making fun of clinton -- [ barking ] >> reporter: the clinton superpac returned fire. >> who are you consulting with consistently so that you're ready on day one? >> i'm speaking with myself. >> reporter: but clinton hasn't won the nomination just yet. sanders is trailing in delegates but far from folding. but clinton is running a dual
track strategy, keeping one eye on sanders and another on trump. >> i've gotten more votes than he has. i think he has, if you really analyze it, a pretty narrow base. but we'll find out. if he gets nominated, we'll have a very vigorous general election if i'm the nominee. >> reporter: but it isn't here yet. sanders believes he'll win serc several of the next contests, starting with arizona. some democrats are growing impatient and are beginning to invest tomb n money into defining trump early, something they believe republicans failed to do. >> jeff zeleny, thanks very much. let's get back to our political experts for some more analysis. what does it say that the president of the united states pushing back on this notion he's effectively saying rally around hillary clinton. but he did say, the white house is saying the president believes the party should come together behind a nominee. talking like that to a bunch of political donors.
>> this "new york times" story which they push back on underscores what we've known for a while which is that barack obama, president obama has a dog in the fight and it's hillary clinton. his aide jay carney, former aide, was on our air in february saying that hillary clinton is president obama's choice. it's not a surprise. but i think it also reflects a larger conversation and push in the democratic party. let's wrap this up. let's move forward and turn to the general election. >> ryan, for bernie sanders, a lot of us know him. it's not just getting the democratic nomination. it's also getting his message out. he's 74 years old. very passionate about these issues. if he walks away now that message is not going to get out the way he wants it to get out. >> there's a view in that wing of the party and sanders campaign that to keep hillary clinton sort of on the right path, to keep her on the left, she needs political pressure all the time. this is the fear elizabeth
warren applies when trying to get something out of the white house or hillary clinton and the theory of the sanders campaign. they'll focus it more into a message campaign. he's well funded. he's going to have a lot of delegates if he goes through to june 7th. he's going to have more influence in the party if he can show that's it's an historic run. >> and the bernie sanders campaign and all his supporters are not wrong. they have been able to pull hillary clinton to the left. they have been able to play a lot of this democratic conversation on their turf. >> yeah. >> which nobody ever thought was going to be able to happen which is kind of amazing for them. the good news for hillary clinton is that this is kind of where the political spectrum meets in the middle. when i say this i mean donald trump and bernie sanders on some of the issues hillary clinton has gone left on, like trade, for example. if donald trump is her opponent,
it won't hurt her that much to be anti-trade against a republican. traditionally republicans are free trade. not donald trump. >> ron, you've studied these numbers about as close as anyone. who would come out on top presumably in a general election between donald trump and hillary clinton? because he says he would expand the republican party. he would put in play states like his home state of new york, or much, new jersey, pennsylvania. for a republican, that would be huge. >> luckily we get eight months to watch this play out. but i think looking at the primaries, you have to say a couple of things. donald trump has shown the ability to master modern communication. he's dominated the news cycle. he's also shown the ability to connect tremendously with blue collar voters. that is the core of his support in the republican party. he's dominating among those voters. the single biggest reason he's the front-runner at this point. but the structure he's built
does create demographic headwinds. those blue collar voters he's relying on in the republican primary have declined as a share of the electorate in every election since 1980, except one. just since 2000 their share of the total vote has declined. and the polarizing positions he's taken is he has astronomical negatives among the groups that are actually growing as a share of the electorate. millennials, college educated quite women. unfavorables in the 70 to 80% range. they'll all be a bigger share of the vote in 2016 than they were in 2012. there may be a path for donald trump buit's a narrow one unless he can undo some of the damage he's done with the growing groups in the electorate. >> given his unconventional campaign, shall we call it, the thought is he could, if he's running against hillary clinton, throw her off base. >> uh, yeah. and then some. i was talking to a clinton aide
about this very thing this week. and the point being that, you know, look. she's a good candidate. she just is. she's gotten better and better as the weeks and months have gone forward here. but what she's fighting with bernie sanders is conventional war. this is going to be the most unconventional political war we have ever seen. we've already seen it on the republican side. but that's probably going to look like baby stuff compared to what we would see in a clinton -- >> we've seen already that with him bringing up stuff about her husband, for instance. that's something we hadn't really seen from other candidates who faced hillary clinton and now the republicans. it's almost like the looney tunes the tasmanian devil. just for -- he's the master of media in general. that's something the hillary clinton campaign will have to elite to. >> he'll be tweeting a lot.
>> thanks. don't go too far away. just ahead, other breaking news we're following. this time out of north korea. u.s. officials have just confirmed that kim jong-un's regime has launched a ballistic missile. we'll have more right after the quick break. ♪ type 2 diabetes doesn't care who you are. man. woman. or where you're from. city. country. we're just everyday people fighting high blood sugar. ♪ i am everyday people, yea, yea. ♪
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>> u.s. intelligence officials and the military confirming that the north korea fired a missile 500 miles into the sea of japan, threatening both japan and south korea. the latest in a series of provocations by north korea, including what is socially an icbm launch, their space launch earlier this year, and more recently just two weeks ago short-range missile launches. >> let me bring in barbara starr. >> u.s. officials have been watching the signs of a possible launch in the last couple of days. what is so interesting about this is this missile was launched off a mobile launcher. especially a huge truck. very difficult for u.s. spy satellites to track. it means the north koreans can launch off a mobile launcher with little to no warning for u.s. intelligence. right now, it is considered by
u.s. military officials a sign, if you will, of additional north korean provocation sending a message to the u.s. we can do this. don't forget. we know how to do this. at the same time u.s. intelligence officials and u.s. military officials tell me they have been watching for signs that north korea in fact, even as they did this, maybe preparing for yet again another nuclear underground test. >> elise, what are you learning? >> i just spoke with a senior u.s. official just a few minutes before coming onto the set. the official said none of these provocations that north korea is doing are good. it did go into the sea. the u.s. doesn't want to make a big reaction of it. it's not a big deal because each one of these tests that north korea does definitely gives the north koreans more knowledge for their long-range missile tests
and more knowledge for their nuclear program. while the u.s. isn't concerned about any one provocation right now, they are worried that north korea is going for the ultimate and what is that? a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile that can fit a nuclear warhead on a missile and deliver it to the u.s. >> do they have that warhead capability? >> u.s. intelligence says they do not know for sure, but they have to assume that's possible. north korea has not successfully tested that capability, but they are making progress every day. a space launch is an icbm. none of this is good news. >> the timing of this is significant. the u.s. and south korean allies that have been engaging in this massive war games, if you will, these training exercises, the north koreans do this. every time the u.s. and south korea do it, the north koreans
try to do something. >> we're in a provocation cycle. north korea making all these threats about a nuclear attack, about a missile attack. they want to send a message. launching a mobile missile does that because they know that the u.s. can't really track it as well as it wants to be able to, so they send that message. this is really very interesting. they picked a missile tonight that they knew would likely work. this is an existing missile in their inventory. they are working on two additional mobile missiles that they haven't tested yet. the u.s. did not think they would use those untested missiles because kim jong-un would not want to be embarrassed in front of the world if those missiles did not work tonight, tomorrow morning obviously in north korea right now, so he went the safe route. he picked a missile he knew would work, but he picked a mobile missile knowing that he's sending a message to the u.s. military, i can do this.
you may not be able to track what i'm doing exactly. wolf? >> such is the message to the u.s. military, to south korea, to china, to japan. it comes after the north koreans have sentenced a young american to 15 years of hard labor for ripping off a propaganda poster. that's another message that the north koreans are sending. >> it's another message all around that the u.s. is not basically in the driver's seat here. you have a former ambassador, bill richardson, who is working on trying to get his release, but certainly this complicates matters with the u.s. the united states doesn't have a real hand and is unfortunately going to have to give some concessions to get this gentleman back, but right now the concern for the u.s. is these provocations. will the u.s. not be able to stop some miscalculation?
>> the u.s. has a huge stake involved over there. all right, guys. thanks very much. stay with cnn for more information. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. next, breaking news. hillary clinton wins missouri sweeping all five super tuesday states. plus, prominent republicans plotting against donald trump as marco rubio speaks out for the first time since dropping out of the race. and democrats worried about facing donald trump. let's go "outfront." >> good evening, i'm erin burnett. outfront tonight, the breaking news. a clean sweep for clinton. cnn can now report that hillary clinton wins the missouri democratic primary. clinton had already claimed victory in the other four states at play on tuesday. until now missouri too close