The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 4/14/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: April 14, 2016
Guest: Bob Kasten, Kenneth Cuccinelli, Lindsay Walters, Ken Blackwell,
Charlie Sykes, Steve Schmidt
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Anyway, that does it for us tonight, we`ll see
you again tomorrow, now Lawrence O`Donnell`s special look inside the Stop
Trump movement starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who knew this was going to
happen with Trump, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is picking this Republican nominee, the delegates
or the voters?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Both.
TRUMP: I`m millions of votes ahead, they never even mention it. They talk
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You got to go out and
hunt delegates. That`s part of what this is about.
TRUMP: We`re supposed to be a democracy.
CRUZ: What is this democracy of which you speak?
TRUMP: It`s a rigged system, folks.
REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, I mean,
it`s clearly not.
TRUMP: These are dirty tricksters.
CRUZ: You may have noticed Donald is very unhappy.
TRUMP: Lying Ted!
PAUL MANAFORT, LOBBYIST & POLITICAL CONSULTANT: You see the Gestapo
tactics, it`s unfortunate, but –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gestapo tactics?
MANAFORT: Yes, they are –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a strong word.
TRUMP: They should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this kind of crap
CRUZ: We`re going to beat Donald in Cleveland.
KASICH: It will be up to me to convince the delegation to overrule –
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Here`s why it works to overrule the voters –
KASICH: No, we`re not overruling anybody, you`ve got to get the magic
MATTHEWS: OK –
KASICH: You don`t – I mean, what are you kidding me?
TRUMP: McCain fell, Romney fell, and I said this time, we`re going to do
it ourselves, OK? These are my people!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: This is the year of things we`ve never
seen before. We have never seen a self-described independent socialist
running a very competitive race for the Democratic presidential nomination
against a woman who began the race as a seemingly unbeatable frontrunner.
And we have never seen a candidate with no experience in government or the
military rocket up to the frontrunner position for the Republican
We have never seen anything like Donald Trump in presidential politics, and
we have never seen anything like the campaign to stop Donald Trump.
Tonight, we`re going inside the “Stop Trump” movement. There are two
choices left on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders,
and there are four choices left on the Republican side.
John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and “Stop Trump”. We have never seen a
serious campaign staffed by experienced campaign professionals funded by
big political donors aimed entirely at stopping a candidate, just stopping
And they are trying to stop a candidate within their own party. The
frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, we`ve never seen
anything like Donald Trump in presidential campaigning and we`ve never seen
anything like the opposition to Donald Trump.
Everything Donald Trump has said in the course of this campaign that helped
fuel his rise in Republican primary polls has also fueled opposition to
him, intense opposition to him within his own party.
When he announced his candidacy, he was in single digits in the polls and
his candidacy was considered a joke.
When he doubled his position in the polls by talking about building a wall
on the southern border and deporting millions of people, he still wasn`t
taken seriously by his Republican rivals whose first strategy was to ignore
As Donald Trump surged ahead of them in the polls, his Republican rivals
could no longer ignore him, but they still could not figure out how to
campaign against him.
As it increasingly appeared that no Republican candidate was going to be
able to stop Donald Trump, the “Stop Trump” movement was born.
A campaign without a candidate. A campaign like we`ve never seen before.
Joining us now, a leader of the “Stop Trump” movement Ken Blackwell, a
former Ohio secretary of state who is now a senior adviser to the “Stop
Trump” PAC called Our Principles.
Also with us, the man who many credit with stopping Trump in Wisconsin,
Charlie Sykes; the Wisconsin radio talk-show host whose interview with
Donald Trump changed the campaign dynamics in Wisconsin.
Also with us, Steve Schmidt who was the senior campaign strategist and
adviser to John McCain`s 2008 presidential campaign, he`s an Msnbc
And joining us from the Republican National Committee Lindsay Walters, who
is the national spokesperson for the RNC.
Lindsey, you have a job like no other before you, the RNC is in the center
of the storm, I just described.
It`s something no party has had to deal with before. Normally, the
Republican Party and at this stage the Democratic Party apparatus are
They are officially neutral on this primary going on. How do you maintain
both that image of neutrality for the party and the belief among Republican
voters that you really are being neutral when you have one candidate out
there all the time saying it`s rigged and the bosses are rigging it.
LINDSAY WALTERS, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: The
RNC is here to be the facilitator in this process.
You know, the primary process and the delegate selection comes down to the
individual states and their state party rules.
And so how delegates are allocated and elected and selected in these
different states is all determined determined upon what those state party
And to hear the RNC, we`re just to ensure an open, fair and transparent
process as we head into the convention and then we come out of the
convention with a nominee.
O`DONNELL: But with this perception or this argument that`s being made out
there that somehow these rules are deliberately written by the bosses as
the argument goes.
They`re deliberately written to confuse, they`re deliberately written to be
hard to follow, what is your response to that?
WALTERS: These are rules that were written last year, submitted to the RNC
and then made available to all of the campaigns and the candidates.
And it`s up to the individual campaign`s candidates and their staffs to
ensure that they understand this process.
And this is not easy, this process is an organizational huge, and you have
to understand it.
And that`s on behalf of the campaigns and the candidates to ensure that
they know the information that`s been available since last October.
O`DONNELL: Ken Blackwell, why did you get into the “Stop Trump” movement?
KEN BLACKWELL, FORMER CINCINNATI MAYOR: Essentially, I think the
Republican Party has to be a conservative alternative to the more liberal
Donald Trump is not a conservative and he`s only recently become a
Republican. He has supported liberal Democratic candidates including
And so, this is a process to establish our principles and to make sure that
our standard-bearer is true to our principles.
But it`s been fascinating to watch the Trump campaign. They`re using what
I call the old Billy Martin, you know, go out and harass, get in the
And so, he runs out and he kicks dirt all over the umpire to get in the
umpire`s head to try to get the umpire to give him a break sometime later
in the game.
And that`s what he`s doing, but there are those of us who have been around
the bases a couple of times ourselves and we`re going to in fact play by
the rule book and we`re going to go into Cleveland and I think that we`re
going to stop Trump from getting the 1,237 that he needs.
O`DONNELL: Charlie Sykes, as I said, many credit you with stopping Trump`s
momentum certainly in Wisconsin.
Trump lost that state. It was his opening moment in that Wisconsin
campaign, was with you on your radio show.
You were – it was one of those interviews that I think everyone who heard
it really remembers.
You simply kept stopping him on everything he said to you that you thought
was untrue, marking it as untrue.
You kind of hung in there with him in that interview and set down what it
seemed to me were the kinds of principles to use in both discussing the
issues with Donald Trump and in your case trying to stop him in your state.
CHARLIE SYKES, RADIO HOST: Well, this is a target rich environment for
anyone in the media who questions Donald Trump.
Because all you have to do is drill down on any one of his positions, and
what you`re going to find out is that there`s no there, there.
And yes, I mean, I do think it`s political malpractice that Republicans
have waited this long to be able to confront the disgrace that Donald Trump
represents, the disaster he represents.
I think they`ve been out of touch. I think Steve Schmidt is right when he
says that the Republican establishment has suffered from affluenza.
But the reality is that the Republican Party cannot nominate Donald Trump
if it wants to preserve any sort of intellectual principled, conservative
This is one of those existential threats not just to the conservative
movement, not just to the Republican Party, but to actually, you know,
anyone who follows presidential politics.
And that`s why this – whether it`s a movement or not, why this is not
going to go away any time soon.
O`DONNELL: Steve, I`m going to ask you as a strategist throughout the
program to wear different hats.
At some point, I`m going to ask you to wear the Trump campaign hat and what
they should be doing in terms of delegate and stuff.
For the moment, wear the “Stop Trump” hat for a second. When should a
“Stop Trump” movement have started and what if it could have run this whole
thing over again, what would it have – what should it have done
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: I think that there is a
profound disconnect in Washington D.C. among the establishment.
The leaders of the Republican Party with regard to the impact of the great
recession, the economic collapse on Republican voters.
So, we look in the seventh year of the Obama presidency, but we also look
at that in the context of eight years of a Bush presidency and even before
Wage stagnation for blue collar working Americans haven`t seen a wage
increase in 20 years.
Low economic growth. The devastating cultural impact of the great
recession as people lost their homes.
They lost their savings, they lost their retirements. And the party has
had no policies to remedy it. And so sometime, when we voted to repeal
Obamacare for the 45th or the 50th –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
SCHMIDT: Time, these voters said, this is all kabuki theater –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
SCHMIDT: It`s play-fighting. So, we have the severability between
conservatism and issues.
And the test of who is a conservative, and it has been for some time in the
party hasn`t been on the intellectual basis or the policy basis that
Charlie Sykes talked about.
It`s who has fidelity to the person usually with the most incendiary
And if you look at Trump`s tone in this campaign, this tone shouldn`t be
surprising to anybody who has listened to talk radio and to some of the
most celebrated talk radio hosts in the country over the last 10 to 15
When somebody –
O`DONNELL: This is why some guy(ph) running for president –
SCHMIDT: When Mark Levin has a caller he disagrees with, he famously told
her to find a gun in the house, point it to her head and blow her brains
We`ve seen this for a long time coming, and the dismantling of the
intellectual architecture of the conservative movement has been building
over the last decade and more.
O`DONNELL: So, Charlie, what`s your response to that? I mean, this is –
Steve is taking the “Stop Trump” movement back a couple of years.
If you really wanted to stop Trump, you were going to have to start before
SYKES: Well, he`s probably right. You know, on the other hand, you know,
it`s – and by the way, you know, once we stop Trump, we can go back and we
can do that kind of an autopsy.
You know – you know, who was responsible for starting this prairie fire?
You know, what kind of irresponsible rhetoric?
But I do think that ultimately though, you have to step back and say, look,
it`s one thing to lose an election, it`s another thing to lose your soul.
And right now, if the Republican Party nominates Donald Trump, it will
fundamentally change everything it stands for.
It will change itself for a generation and Republican leaders will not be
able to walk back from a Donald Trump nomination and say you know what?
We really are a principled party, we really do care about minorities women.
We do care about these ideas that we claim to care about.
If they embrace Donald Trump, they will have shown themselves to be
absolutely and completely cynical about all the things they claimed to
Now, he`s right when he talks about the disconnect between the problems
that, you know, average working Americans have experienced.
But this is a little bit like, you know, treating a heart attack by, you
know, Ebola. You know, the answer to these problems is not Donald Trump.
And I think that`s where Republicans have to make the case. The issues are
legitimate. The candidate is not.
O`DONNELL: Ken Blackwell, please reply to Steve`s point that there was a
vacuum, a policy vacuum in the Republican Party on economic policy as
regards middle class interest that Donald Trump was able to step into.
BLACKWELL: Well, I don`t think there was necessarily a policy disconnect.
I think it was an inability to deliver on promises even when we had the
I think the policy was there, but the will to follow through was not there,
and that has created a disruption between the leadership of the party and
And so whether or not Mr. Trump is the solution to it is the issue before
I don`t think that he is and I would agree with everyone who has spoken so
far about the existential threat that Mr. Trump actually poses to
principled conservative leadership and thoughtful policies that are under -
- under-guarding of American exceptionalism.
O`DONNELL: Lindsay, normally long before the convention, there`s a
presumptive nominee, John McCain, Mitt Romney who is in a position to begin
to take control of the convention and decide what`s going to happen at that
convention, and how it`s going to look, including who is going to speak,
when, that sort of thing.
If we do not have a presumptive Republican nominee going into the
convention, who is in control of that convention?
WALTERS: So, as it`s happened, every convention prior, you will have –
you`ll get to convention the first day and they will meet and elect a
And then once the delegation is in place and they`ve gone through the rules
committee and the credential and the platform and the criminal
Then they will elect the permanent chair, and that`s how the process has
always been. And this convention will be the same way.
And we are preparing for two scenarios right now. We have two candidates
who could viably make it to 1,237 or we could end up in an open convention.
But regardless of the outcome, we will be prepared and this process will go
off smoothly and the RNC will be here to facilitate and work with the
convention committee to make sure that we come out of Cleveland united as a
party with a nominee.
O`DONNELL: Lindsay Walters, thank you very much for joining us and good
luck, remain in Switzerland between now and the convention.
Thank you very much for joining us and Charlie Sykes, thank you very much.
Ken and Steven are going to stick around for more talk.
Still to come on inside “Stop the Trump” movement, the debate on what the
movement means to the future of the Republican Party.
One Donald Trump supporter, one Ted Cruz supporter will join us. And is
Donald Trump actually benefitting from the system that he calls rigged?
O`DONNELL: Tonight, Donald Trump continued his attacks against the
Colorado Republican Party.
Yesterday, Donald Trump tweeted, “rules did change in Colorado shortly
after I entered the race in June because the pols and their bosses knew I
would win with the voters.”
Joining us now, Msnbc political correspondent Steve Kornacki who is going
to take a closer look at exactly what Donald Trump is complaining about.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: Well, he`s right, Lawrence. The rules did change
last August. Last August is after Donald Trump got in the race, but that`s
not why they changed the rules in Colorado.
The irony is, the rules were changed in Colorado at the behest of
grassroots conservatives who were afraid that the Republican Party
establishment had too much power.
So, what did they want? They wanted a system that put the power in their
hands that were rewarded organizing time commitment.
People willing to show up, give up their weekends for precinct caucuses,
district conventions, state conventions.
That`s the process that Ted Cruz and his supporters used to sweep the
delegates, we`ll show you what happened here, to sweep the delegates on the
Republican side that were at stake in Colorado.
You can look at it here. Colorado, 34 delegates so far have been given out
in that state. All 34 are pledged in formally or formally now to Ted Cruz,
Donald Trump got zero.
So, Donald Trump says that`s unfair, but the thing to keep in mind here is,
the rules are different in every state.
That`s Colorado. Take a look at another state here. Take a look at South
Carolina, remember Donald Trump won South Carolina.
Look, it was – he got 33 percent of the vote here, 67 percent of the
Republicans in South Carolina didn`t vote for him.
But the way they do the delegates, every congressional district – there
are seven here. If you win a congressional district, you get three
delegates from it.
Donald Trump won all the congressional districts, with about that
percentage, he got all 50 delegates from this state.
A 100 percent of the delegates for 33 percent of the vote. And if you look
at this across the board, there`s a pattern here Donald Trump has gotten.
And you can see it here, he has gotten more delegates, he`s gotten about 47
percent of all the delegates that have been given out on the Republican
side with 37 percent of the actual vote.
So, overall, these rules vary by state, but overall they`ve benefitted
O`DONNELL: Steve, thank you very much. Joining us now, Nbc`s Hallie
Jackson who covers the Cruz campaign and Katy Tur who covers Donald Trump.
Back with us, Steve Schmidt. Steve Schmidt, if you`re running the Trump
campaign, on your to-do list on the calendar, what would be the separation
between announcement day and the day we start working on our delegate plan.
SCHMIDT: Nine to ten minutes, maybe –
O`DONNELL: OK –
SCHMIDT: At the most. Look, it`s not a rigged process, it`s a complicated
process and there`s a difference between the two.
You need to understand the rules. In the Hillary Clinton campaign, very
famously against the Obama campaign in 2008 when the campaign was launched,
was very clear the Hillary Clinton campaign didn`t understand the rules
around which the Democratic nominee was chosen.
And allowed for Barack Obama to get ahead –
O`DONNELL: Can I –
SCHMIDT: In the caucus state –
O`DONNELL: Can I talk to you, here? When you say that, a professional
presidential campaign –
SCHMIDT: Right –
O`DONNELL: Did not understand the rules about delegates, how can that be?
SCHMIDT: There`s a communication exercise and it`s a –
O`DONNELL: But campaigns –
SCHMIDT: Get the votes –
Get the votes exercise, but it`s also a delegate counting exercise. It is
the allocation of the delegates.
I mean, these parties are the institutions by which we advance democracy in
America, but they are not in and of themselves small `D` democratic
And so, it is not voters who determine who the nominee is, it is delegates.
Voters pick some of the delegates, but not all of the delegates.
And so campaign must have a strategy to get the requisite number of
O`DONNELL: Hallie, when did the Cruz campaign start on the delegate plan?
HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS: So, he announced at the end of March, June 2nd,
they were holding meetings about delegates strategy.
This was before Donald Trump was a factor, this is what I`m told by a
source close to the campaign.
They were looking at Scott Walker and Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. But they
were thinking about it very early on.
Again, it`s a contingency plan, nobody necessarily thought in June that we
were going to be here where we are now in April.
But they also held a sort of progress report meeting in December to talk
about this. I`m told that when you – you know, any campaign that starts
putting together these organizations state-by-state early.
So, Cruz campaign did in places like Iowa and New Hampshire very – sort of
early on in the process.
You naturally are doing kind of delegate hunting. Because the people that
get involved in an organizational level are the grassroots activists, the
people who will ultimately become delegates.
So, it`s been – something that`s been at least in the back of the mind
from day one, and I think the campaign is starting to believe they are
seeing the fruits of their labor now.
O`DONNELL: All right, Katy, you`ve been around the Trump campaign from the
beginning. When did you first hear the word delegate from anyone at the
KATY TUR, NBC NEWS: My God, I think it was January –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
TUR: Maybe February, maybe right when Iowa happened and when they realized
that they weren`t going to get all of the delegates in that state.
This was – I mean, you say, a professional presidential campaign. The
reality is, Donald Trump`s campaign was not a professional presidential –
O`DONNELL: Oh, no, that one wasn`t –
TUR: Campaign early on –
O`DONNELL: I mean, it stuns me that the Clinton campaign last time around
could have made any errors about it.
You know, and obviously the Cruz campaign knew exactly how to do this right
from the start.
The Trump campaign, everyone knows is a – is a start up in politics –
TUR: They were – they were a protest campaign –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
TUR: From the start, and they were a protest campaign that took everybody
by surprise, including their own candidate.
And when he started resonating with voters and when he started building
these crowds, the campaign started to realize that they needed to build
more of a structure around him.
But the reality is, he was doing so well because there wasn`t a structure
around him, because he was allowed to go be himself.
So, they didn`t anticipate that they were going to need a delegate strategy
until I think very recently.
They`ve been projecting for a while that they were going to get 1,400
delegates, 1,450 delegates.
Early on, Donald Trump like, what is your – in New Hampshire said, I think
this is going to be over really soon.
You thought – they thought this would be over pretty quickly after the SEC
states votes –voted and it hasn`t.
So, they`ve learned as we`ve gone that they`re going to need to put
something in place in order to woo these delegates.
And that`s why you`re seeing, you know, Paul Manafort and Brookover and a
number of others that have joined the campaign.
But there`s real – there`s real tension right now because there are those
who don`t realize the need for delegates and are letting Donald Trump go
out and talk about or trash the Republican establishment.
And the delegates are mainly loyal to the Republican establishment. And
there are those like Paul Manafort and team sources say that are – that
are really vehemently telling their campaign that they need to work on the
strategy and work on the delegates, not necessarily the voters.
O`DONNELL: Hallie, I always learn something when Steve Kornacki goes to
the board, but this time when he just put up those boards showing that this
process has actually benefitted –
JACKSON: Right –
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump more than Ted Cruz. And that Ted Cruz`s vote
percentage is closer to his delegate percentage than Donald Trump`s is.
Why haven`t I heard that from the – from the Cruz campaign?
JACKSON: Right, it`s a smaller margin, I think you didn`t get the Cruz
campaign talk about it. Because who wants to talk about process and –
O`DONNELL: Right –
JACKSON: Rules –
O`DONNELL: Right –
JACKSON: Ted Cruz is a disciplined candidate and he wants to talk about
his message which is currently focused on the economy.
He gets out there, every speech and talks about jobs, freedom and security
and he sticks with it.
So, for a campaign to get bogged-down into discussing percentages, they
don`t have big boards, right? At these stops –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
JACKSON: That they`re making. They want to try to communicate to folks a
little more simply.
And frankly, this discussion about the rules might be tough – it`s tough
to see how it would benefit the Cruz campaign.
It`s easy for Donald Trump to come out and say, hey, the system is corrupt,
I`m fighting –
TUR: Yes –
JACKSON: The system. As you said, a protest candidate. That`s a very
sort of visceral message for people to relate to. It`s a little tougher
when you get bogged-down –
O`DONNELL: So –
JACKSON: Into processing –
O`DONNELL: The Cruz campaign is just going to leave it to Reince Priebus
for his nightly tweet, saying, the –
JACKSON: Well –
O`DONNELL: Rules were written a year ago, and that`s it. That`s been –
JACKSON: We heard Ted Cruz in his town hall – town hall even was choked,
say, hey, it`s a democratic process.
O`DONNELL: Yes –
JACKSON: You know, small `D` democratic –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
JACKSON: To Steve`s point.
O`DONNELL: Steve, the Cruz campaign as we know was on this, and now it
turns out, the “Stop Trump” campaign is really getting into delegate
We had this report in “POLITICO” this week, it was absolutely fascinating
that they`re phone-banking delegates now.
They`re trying to track down exactly who will be the most friendly
delegates to anyone but Trump. We`ve never seen anything like that before.
SCHMIDT: We haven`t seen anything like it, and of course they`re
anticipating that Donald Trump will not get the requisite number 1,237.
So, let`s look ahead on this calendar, Donald Trump likely to win big in
New York. Let`s look to California.
Winner take all by congressional district. Not a lot of Republicans in
Maxine Waters` district.
O`DONNELL: Right –
SCHMIDT: Not a lot of Republicans and Nancy Pelosis. So, the campaign
that can organize in heavily Democratic districts to get a small number of
Republican votes is able to win those delegates and come out of it.
California has got about 175 delegates, and unless Donald Trump does very
well in California, California will be the state that holds him back from
getting to 1,237.
So, California is a state where the Republican Party on the basis of its
positions on immigration will become smaller than the decline to state
registrations in late 2017 will be the decisive state for Republicans on
the nomination process.
O`DONNELL: Hallie Jackson and Katy Tur, thank you both for joining us
tonight. Coming up, which will hurt the Republican Party more?
That`s the question they`re facing, Donald Trump getting the nomination or
Donald Trump not getting the nomination? That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have taken the vote away from
great people. We have disenfranchised people. We are going to stop it.
We are going to bring it back and here is what is really important. On
Tuesday, you have to get out and vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump today speaking on Long Island, New York.
He was asking for votes on Tuesday`s Presidential Primary here in New York.
If the republican`s “Stop Trump” movement is successful and stopping Donald
Trump from getting the presidential nomination will that damage the party
more than Donald Trump actually getting the nomination?
Joining us now, former Republican Senator from Wisconsin, Bob Kasten, who
supports Donald Trump. Former Attorney General for the state of Virginia,
Ken Cuccinelli and back with us Steve Schmidt. Senator Kasten, Donald
Trump is facing a “Stop Trump” movement.
You are supporting a presidential candidate who is facing something that no
other presidential candidate has ever had to face within his own party.
And, if he gets the nomination the “Stop Trump” movement will become a
Democratic Party effort. What are you advising the campaign as their best
strategy for directly fighting the “Stop Trump” movement?
BOB KASTEN, (R-WI) FORMER U.S. SENATOR/TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, right now, I
am optimistic. And, I think that if you look at New York, the first thing
we have to do is to win New York and win New York big and that seems to be
what is happening. And, the effort – there are lots of things going on
around us and around the Trump campaign including the unheard of “Stop
But the fact is one step at a time, which is why Donald Trump has been
successful so far despite being an outsider and that is that we have been
taking one step at a time and they generally have been positive steps. So,
I think the first thing we have to do is do well in New York.
Steve is absolutely correct that in the end California is going to be very,
very important. Then the question is what is going to happen with the
party if someone comes in with something less than the 1,237 that is
needed. Certainly, the person that is closest to 1,237 would be favored,
but there is some questions as to what would happen. So, right this minute
win New York, win New York big. Go on to the next states and keep moving.
And, at the same time, do what the campaign has been doing since the very
beginning when there were 17 different candidates and that is continue to
grow, continue to work and to continue expand. And, politics is a process
of addition. And, what we want to do now is to keep growing and to keep
expanding, but most importantly win in New York and win big.
O`DONNELL: Let us listen to what Ted Cruz said tonight to Chuck Todd in a
town hall in MSNBC in Buffalo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, NBC HOST OF “MEET THE PRESS” PROGRAM: Who is picking this
republican nominee, the delegates or the voters?
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Both. But, look, it is a
democratic process. It has been in place from the very beginning. We are
campaigning here with the voters. It is the people who are electing the
Now, if we go to a contested convention, where nobody has the majority, it
will be the delegates who are elected by the people who make the final
decision. But they have been elected by the voters in the first place and
this is a battle to earn the support of the American voters across the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ken Cuccinelli, if your candidate, Ted Cruz, goes into the
convention significantly behind Donald Trump in delegates, but Trump does
not have a majority and your candidate Ted Cruz comes out of that
convention on who knows how many ballots with the nomination, is it a
nomination worth having?
Do not you fear Trump supporters just fleeing the Cruz nomination? Do not
you fear the democrats exploiting a fractured party as you go into a
KEN CUCCINELLI, FMR. ATTORNEY GENERAL/TED CRUZ SUPPORTER: Well, certainly,
that is a phenomena every contested contest and coming out. You want to
come out as strong and as united as you can and you have been hearing Ted
talk for more than a month now about uniting the party, growing a
I agree with the senator, you win by addition and Ted is doing that. It is
why he is racking up wins like Wisconsin. It is why people like Jeb Bush
and Carly Fiorina and Rick Perry are coming on board of Ted`s campaign.
That is a sign of a coalescing that is going on. And, it is going on
around Ted Cruz`s campaign and no other on the republican side.
That is serving him very well of course. We have done very well so far in
April and whether it has been in a straight up voting in a primary like
Wisconsin or whether it has been in the delegate contest to win the hearts
and minds in conventions, we have been doing very well. And that is
because of the foundation that Ted Cruz built on a principal basis and that
is serving this nation very well.
O`DONNELL: Steve, if Donald Trump arrives at the convention with the most
delegates, but not enough, not the magic number, what is the best outcome
for the party? Is Donald Trump getting the nomination the best outcome for
the party or s Donald Trump not getting the nomination the best outcome for
STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: There is an old John Kennedy
quote, “Just because there is a problem, does not mean there is a
Look, I think that first of, when we look at a fractured party and the
party would be very badly fractured if the person who went in with the most
votes, the most delegates was denied the nomination. And, Ted Cruz is
exactly right. It is a combination of the voters. It is the combination
of the delegates, really hard to explain, really hard to explain to these
first time voters, who think this is a one-man, one-vote process.
Now, we underestimate though, I think the ability of Hillary Clinton, if
she is the democratic nominee or Bernie Sanders to bring republicans back
together behind whomever the nominee may be. And, I also think it is a
false choice to believe that if they do not have the requisite number of
delegates that this becomes a choice between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz or
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
The rule could be easily changed that says that you have to have one eight
states to be placed in a nomination. And, it could well be that a person
who has not run, walks out of the republican convention if it is divided
enough with the nomination.
Now, I heard Paul Ryan, showing that statements, my view of it after
hearing him speak, the chances of him walking out of a contested convention
is the nominee went up not down after that statement.
SCHMIDT: Because I think he do not protests too much and I think he is
smart enough to understand that the requirement is to say –
O`DONNELL: But, why would he want – Is not it the worst republican
SCHMIDT: I think you have to be in it to win it and Hillary Clinton has a
lot of flaws as a candidate. She is a beatable candidate in the general
election, but you know one of the things if you go back and listen to what
Charlie Sykes was just talking about.
I mean, truthfully, a lot of people are talking, you know, in line of what
he is talking about, which is the lose with Cruz strategy, which is that
Ted Cruz could be the nominee. He is likely not to win a general election
based on the numbers, but he preserves the institution of the Republican
Party and the party can rebuild four years from now with another candidate.
Because no one can answer the question what states he wins that John McCain
and Mitt Romney lost. So, you know, if you go into the convention and you
have the two choices or badly trailing Hillary Clinton, the numbers are
very badly upside.
And, there are other candidates in the race that are conservative enough to
appeal to the delegates, but have a better chance to win, the Nebraska
Senator Ben Sasse for example.
Anything is possible as you go into an open convention. The rules can be
easily changed to have a process where anybody can compete to get the 1,237
delegates, which is the number necessary to be nominated.
O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt makes this more interesting with every sentence
he speaks. Senator Kasten, when we come back, I want to ask you if there
is an open convention and Donald Trump has to make a plea to the delegates
from that stage.
I want you to suggest what he should say to those delegates that we have
not heard him say before. We are going to get a quick break in her. We
are going to come back with that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: We have to be united. We have to stand together if we are going to
win this nomination. And, we have to be united and stand together if we
are going to win the general and beat Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We are back discussing inside the “Stop Trump” movement. And,
Bob Kasten, as a Trump supporter here, imagine the convention in which
Donald Trump has to stand before those delegates and ask for their votes,
that it is an open convention. What can he say – what would you suggest
he say to that convention, to those delegates that they have not already
KASTEN: Well, let us just begin with what Steve just said and I think he
is exactly right. The Cruz candidacy, the Cruz candidacy for president has
very little upside among republicans. And, I think republicans all over
the country understand that. Some people are concerned about Donald Trump.
Ted Cruz has become a vehicle to block Trump, but there is not a movement,
a pro-Cruz growing kind of movement. So, the question is, lose with Cruz
in Ohio, lose with Cruz at the convention. And, forget about Cruz. I do
not think people are coming to the republican convention in 2016 with the
dice of losing.
So, if you start with the premise of lose with whoever. So, the Donald
Trump message is going to be, I have an upside. I have the opportunity to
reach out to people not only who are not delegates, and many people who are
not republicans and people who are completely outside the system, which is
one of the reasons I have not been successful in reaching our magic 1,237
But, I working with you and with the other candidates and with other
republicans across the country have the opportunity to reach out to a
wider, broader, newer group of people, not unlike the Reagan democrats that
came and joined us when we put together the coalition we put together in
And, the idea of losing for republican delegates coming to Cleveland is
going to be just absolutely unacceptable, especially against the Hillary
Clinton who is going to be – I mean, just look at what is going to happen
to her in the next couple of days in New York.
She is going to win New York. But the morning she wakes up, she is going
to be more of a bruised broken up candidate as a winner, because it is just
a tough, tough slog. She is going to be vulnerable. We do not want to
lose with Cruz or lose with anyone else and with Trump we can be
O`DONNELL: Ken Cuccinelli, Ted Cruz clearly will face an argument that the
convention possibly from a majority of delegates that we will lose with
Cruz as Bob Kasten just said. What is your response to that?
And, then also the scenario that Steve Schmidt laid out here of the
possibility of another candidate, including someone who has not run for
president, including the possibility of Paul Ryan despite everything he
said about not wanting him.
CUCCINELLI: Well, first of all, a lot of the complaints – concerns about
Ted are very similar to ones you heard about Ronald Reagan, “Oh, gosh, a
conservative cannot win.” In fact, since I was born no republican who ran
not embracing being a conservative has won, 100 percent loss rate. That
would include Donald Trump if we nominated him.
And 100 percent of candidates who embraced being a conservative have won,
100 percent. You find a statistic like that in politics very often. It
does not happen very often. Ted fits that mold. He has been running on a
platform of bold colors, not pastels as Reagan would have said.
He is not back off of the economic growth positions. He has laid out
expending freedom protecting the constitution in the family in the Supreme
Court, and yet his coalition is growing. I heard the senator talk earlier
about growing a coalition. Well, there is only one candidate in the
republican contest right now, who continues to see his coalition grow, and
that is Ted Cruz.
And, yes you have to continue doing that into the fall to win, but you also
have to establish a meaningful, principled difference with the democrats.
Not just the allowed showmen, which is what we are running against here.
And, we have built a grassroots machine that will help the rest of the
republican ticket, not like Donald Trump, who will cause wreckage down the
O`DONNELL: Bob Kasten, Ken Cuccinelli and Steve Schmidt, thank you all for
joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
KASTEN: Thank you.
SCHMIDT: Thank you.
CUCCINELLI: Glad to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Steve Kornacki, he is going to go back to the board.
He is going to show us what Donald Trump might be able to do to stop the
“Stop Trump” movement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Lying Ted Cruz talked about New York values at the debate and he
talked about it with anger and really hatred. He is I guess number three
in the polls in New York and many of the other states and nobody even knows
who number two is. They do not know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: More of Donald Trump on Long Island today. Congressman Chris
Collins from the suburbs of Buffalo, New York, who supports Donald Trump
said today that he believes republican voters will be the ones who stop the
“Stop Trump” movement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHRIS COLLINS, (D-NY) CONGRESSMAN AND A TRUMP SUPPORTER: We talked
about 1,237. But I can tell you, we got to 1,265 in a conservative way and
I think we all know that, that is the key. We went state by state and the
math added up to 1,265. And, I am comfortable. Again, it is not
guaranteed. We are going to know a lot more Tuesday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki is at the board. He is going to show us what
Donald Trump would have do to stop the “Stop Trump” movement.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Yes, 1237, to get over that number at the
primary season, actually it is very possible for Donald Trump. There are
four steps that he would need to take here. One, starts in New York next
week. Looks like he is going to win. The question is, how close to this?
How close to all 95 delegates does he get? On a really good night, he gets
them all. On a bad night, he will be around 75. That is one of the things
to keep an eye on.
Second step here is a week later, it is in Pennsylvania. We put an
asterisk here because in Pennsylvania the catch is this. You get 17 if you
win the state. Trump is polling well, that looks good. Here is the big
catch in Pennsylvania, 54 unbound delegates. They are individuals who are
going to run on that primary ballot. They are going to be directly elected
to be delegates at the convention. They are going to be unbound.
They are going to be free agents, but a lot of those candidates for unbound
delegates are now saying, they will vote at the convention for whoever wins
their congressional district, whichever presidential candidate wins their
district in the primary. So, if Trump is winning Pennsylvania as big as
the polls suggest, he may pick up a lot of those unbound delegates if he
does. That is a big game changer in terms of the math.
The third step here, we are calling it “The whoser state mystery.” The
first contest in Indiana, there is no polling in the state. We do not
know. You could make a case for Trump, you could make a case for Cruz, but
here is why it is so important.
Those 57 delegates, if you win the state by even a point or two, you are
probably walking away with 45 or more. If you lose the state by just a
point or two, you are probably stuck with nine somewhere around there.
Huge, huge swing in the mysterious state.
And, finally, the last key for Donald Trump out in California, you
mentioned there is 53 district, winner take all by district. Basically, if
Trump is winning 35 or more of these districts, Lawrence, he is in pretty
good shape out of California.
O`DONNELL: Steve, no poll in Indiana? I beg your pardon. We must have a
poll. Thank you, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, will the “Stop Trump” movement ever stop trying to
O`DONNELL: And, now for tonight`s “Last Word” on the “Stop Trump”
movement. Back with us Ken Blackwell, the Senior Advisor for “Our
Principles for “Stop Trump Pack.” He is also the former Ohio Secretary of
Ken, if Donald Trump in California in June 7th wraps up enough delegates,
more than enough delegates, more than majority to go to the convention and
get the nomination. The convention will still be five weeks away. Would
the “Stop Trump” movement stop them or would the stop Trump movement keep
going, keep trying to wrestle that nomination away from him?
KEN BLACKWELL, SENIOR ADVISOR, OUR PRINCIPLES RNC/STOP TRUMP SUPPORTER: I
think there is a segment of the “Stop Trump” movement that would say he is
the nominee. You do have some folks who say never Trump. I do not know
what they would continue to do.
But, the reality is, is that if you get at his projected 1,270 that they
are talking about winning, you have to see him go from winning about 45
percent of the votes cast to about 68 percent. I do not think that that is
– that is going to happen.
I think once again, 140 years ago we had a contested convention in Ohio.
RB Hayes won it on the seventh ballot. I think that is going to go
multiple ballots in Ohio and I do not think Donald Trump is going to make
O`DONNELL: Ken, as you know, the reason Ronald Reagan did not want
republicans criticizing other republicans other republicans in primaries is
because the democrats would use all that criticism against the eventual
Here you are running a campaign to do nothing but hurt another republican
candidate„ Donald Trump. Obviously, everything you are doing, if Trump is
the nominee will be used by democrats against him in the general election.
BLACKWELL: I do not even think that can overtake the negatives that
Hillary Clinton will bring, because she represents a third term of Obama.
And, I think this country is ready for a fundamental change. They do not
like the low labor participation rate. They do not like the fact that we
are not respected internationally.
They do not like the fact that this country is a country without boarders.
I actually think that what is going to happen is that the republicans will
produce a strong nominee and just as George Bush and Ronald Reagan got over
their differences in economics, we are going to see a win in November.
O`DONNELL: These sound like bigger differences to me. Ken Blackwell gets
tonight`s “Last Word” from inside the “Stop Trump” movement. Thank you,
BLACKWELL: Thank you, sir.
O`DONNELL: Our live coverage continues next with a special edition of
“Hardball with Chris Matthews” with analysis of tonight`s democratic
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