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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 4/27/2016

Guests: Michael Cohen, Tim Miller, Bob Kasten, Phyllis Bennis, Tom Nichols, Karine Jean-Pierre, Robert Traynham

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: April 27, 2016 Guest: Michael Cohen, Tim Miller, Bob Kasten, Phyllis Bennis, Tom Nichols, Karine Jean-Pierre, Robert Traynham

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: We will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST -- turns out to be upsetting and disgusting and tragic.

But it also turns out not to be over yet. Watch this space. And that does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Rachel. This is the day where I heard the phrase hail Mary more than I`ve heard since any Super Bowl game.

MADDOW: Guilty --

O`DONNELL: Yes, you know, I want to kind of reclaim it. Hail Mary was the very first prayer that the sisters of Saint Joseph taught me in first grade at Saint Brendan`s in Dorchester.

And Rachel, there was not a whiff of desperation in that prayer.


Not a whiff. It`s a lovely, little, you know, child`s prayer, nothing, but pleasantry in it. Let`s not let them have that.

MADDOW: We need something more desperate sounding. We need --


MADDOW: To leave Mary --


MADDOW: Out of this --

O`DONNELL: We need -- yes, and I`m not sure what the desperation prayer is, but it isn`t -- it isn`t hail Mary. It isn`t.

MADDOW: From here on now, let`s just call it hail Carly.

O`DONNELL: Yes, you can -- there you go --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: There you go, much better.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel. Well, Donald Trump is not the only one who thinks that Ted Cruz`s performance with Carly Fiorina today reeked of desperation.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re just about ready to put it away, folks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His candidacy just got five states less funny.

TRUMP: Now, we`re down to two stragglers, let`s be nice, two stragglers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s John Kasich`s game?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kasich is still polling very high in the state of denial.


TRUMP: A new relationship has started, Cruz and Carly.


Cruz can`t win. What`s he doing picking vice president?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), MSNBC HOST: Our girls have come to adore Carly.


CARLY FIORINA (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know two girls that I just adore. I am so happy I can see them more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a desperate act of a desperate campaign.

FIORINA: This is a fight for the soul of our party and the future of our nation.

TRUMP: They talk about the elites in Washington. You think they have a better plan than I have? I don`t think so.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC MSNBC HOST: I don`t think Donald Trump has any (INAUDIBLE) whatsoever.

TRUMP: Who do you want? I mean, look, we know -- we know.


FIORINA: We get to play. We get to play.

SANDERS: Hillary Clinton and I agree, we will do everything we can to make sure that a Republican does not win the White House.

TRUMP: Me, I don`t back down.



O`DONNELL: And we begin tonight with rule number one for desperate political campaigns.

That rule is do nothing, absolutely nothing that looks desperate. The Ted Cruz presidential campaign broke that rule today in absolutely spectacular fashion.


CRUZ: An extraordinary leader, my friend and the next vice president of the United States, Carly Fiorina!



O`DONNELL: Today, Ted Cruz found the only way he could have made last night`s big win by Donald Trump seem even bigger, choosing a vice presidential candidate 82 days before the Republican convention when he is far behind the frontrunner in delegates and states won.

And Ted Cruz chose for his vice presidential nominee who will never be the Republican vice presidential nominee, a candidate who cannot add one ounce of fuel to the Cruz campaign.

Judging by resumes alone, Carly Fiorina is the least qualified choice for a vice presidential nomination since Sara Palin.

Ted Cruz could not have thrown an easier softball for Donald Trump to hit out of the Republican park today.


TRUMP: Today, I`m in the plane and I see on television they have a new relationship has started -- Cruz and Carly.

He`s mathematically eliminated. He has set a record, though. He is the first presidential candidate in the history of this country who`s mathematically eliminated from becoming president who chose a vice presidential candidate.


O`DONNELL: Well, at least he got his place in history. Last night, Donald Trump passed Mitt Romney`s Republican primary vote total from four years ago.

Donald Trump now has over 10 million votes and as of now is on track to break the record for most presidential primary votes of any Republican candidate in history.

But Donald Trump is still more than 2 million votes behind Hillary Clinton`s vote total in the presidential primaries.

Today, Donald Trump continued to attack the Ted Cruz-John Kasich alliance in which John Kasich has agreed not to compete in Indiana this week and Ted Cruz has agreed not to compete in two states that are voting later in the calendar.


TRUMP: Cruz, when they did this little marriage of the two of them, boy, did that backfire, right?

What a disaster. They were embarrassed, they`re getting terrible press, and what it is, is an act -- it`s collusion.

It`s an act of desperation. But you know, in business when you collude, they put you in jail.

Politics is such a rigged deal that it`s probably one of the few places that you can collude and get away with it.

It`s a really bad idea that they`re doing this because it shows total weakness. They`re admitting that they`re done. They`re done.

By the way, neither of them have a path to victory. There`s no path and we`re going to win as you know.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Michael Cohen; columnist at the "Boston Globe", he is the author of the new book "American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division".

Also with us, Bob Kasten, former Republican senator from Wisconsin, he supports Donald Trump.

And Tim Miller, senior adviser for Our Principles, an anti-Trump PAC. He was a former spokesman and communications director for Jeb 2016.

Michael Cohen, when you -- when you look at the list of possibilities for Ted Cruz to choose a VP, very shortlist because no one in their right mind with a political future would ever take it --

MICHAEL COHEN, COLUMNIST, BOSTON GLOBE: Yes, I think he was the first person who said yes, probably --


COHEN: Was how Carly Fiorina got the job. I can`t imagine wanting -- who wants this job, you`re not going to become vice president. You`re just going to be basically a punch line, that`s the point.

O`DONNELL: And it seems to me, it just emphasized the Trump big win last night.

Instead of, you know, the move you`re supposed to make, it`s something that seems like really big news for you after your bad night, it seems to be the opposite.

COHEN: No, absolutely. I mean, this has made Trump -- made Cruz look desperate, absolutely desperate.

And this is a move that doesn`t make any sense. I mean, he was mathematically eliminated last night from contention to win the convention -- the nomination outright before the convention.

So, you know, why is he picking a vice presidential candidate?

O`DONNELL: Tim Miller, the pressure is on, the "Stop Trump" movement more intensely than ever before. The job looks more difficult by the day. Where does it stand now?

TIM MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER, OUR PRINCIPLES PAC: Look, I think you guys actually underestimate the value that adding a woman to the ticket, somebody who`s taken on Donald Trump --

O`DONNELL: Yes, I guess we do. I guess we do --

MILLER: Yes, you look, he -- Carly took on Donald Trump better than anybody else in the presidential primary debates, and you know, I think that she deserves credit for that.

And I think that she is -- you know, there`s going to be an asset to Ted over the next week. Indiana is of course important.

And look, Donald Trump I think underestimates the fact that he has not reached the 1,237 delegate mark.

And so, there`s still a long campaign ahead of us. We have five weeks until California in June when there are a lot of delegates at stake.

And Donald Trump certainly has demonstrated that he can make plenty of mistakes between now and June 7th that will give us an opportunity to beat him both in Indiana with Ted Cruz and then looking forward in states like Nebraska and California.

O`DONNELL: Bob Kasten, there are now three phases to the "Stop Trump" movement, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich. What does that change?

BOB KASTEN, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: Well, I think first of all, it`s been a -- it`s been a great 48 hours.

Both of these marriages, whether it`s the Cruz-Kasich marriage, which was two or three news cycles ago or now the Cruz-Fiorina marriage, both of them I think have backfired.

Both of them make Cruz look desperate as we`ve all talked about and both of them have basically set Cruz back a half a step.

The emphasis is shifting once more on to the results and look at what happened in five different states last night with huge victories.

So, the fact is that yes, Cruz might have gotten a new cycle here or there. But the important fact is that Donald Trump is winning day after day.

And in fact, I think today, Cruz helped Donald Trump a lot by making these mistakes in terms of trying to somehow or another change the subject and unsuccessfully change the subject from the fact that Donald Trump is winning and Ted Cruz is losing.


MILLER: Lawrence, I think it`s funny, Donald, the surrogates just -- if you look at the clips you played today, are obsessed with talking about the political process because he offers nothing of substance.

And he was supposed to do his big presidential pivot today with a foreign policy speech that had absolutely utterly no substance at all.

And he might as well have pantomime the speech and it was completely contradictory on a number of levels.

And so, I think that demonstrates just how shallow his candidacy is and that`s the best that he has to offer at this point.

O`DONNELL: And, oh, Michael --

COHEN: I think you have to look and -- look and --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead --

COHEN: See what`s happening. Look and see the results.

O`DONNELL: Michael, I just want to be fair to the -- to the Cruz-Kasich alliance.

It was aimed at Indiana, it had nothing to do with what happened last night, but Donald Trump gets to declare it a failure because of what happened last night even though it didn`t have anything to do with --

COHEN: It didn`t, part because there`s no hope for Kasich-Cruz to win anything last night. And --

O`DONNELL: Right, and it was -- it was announced -- it was announced way too late --

COHEN: Sure --

O`DONNELL: To affect anything that happened last night --

COHEN: I mean, it should have --

O`DONNELL: But the test of it is in Indiana.

COHEN: Absolutely, but I think to some extent, it doesn`t really matter.

I mean, even if he doesn`t get 1,237, there`s just no way that you can deny him the nomination if he has the most delegates, and he will have the most delegates going ahead in Cleveland.

And I just think that -- Republicans who think that they can -- they can stop Trump or that they can find someone else to come in and be the nominee, they have two choices.

Either Trump is the nominee or they basically inflame and upset all of the Trump supporters and probably lead to a third-party run from Trump or a ride in candidacy --

O`DONNELL: Trump won`t do a third-party run --

MILLER: Well, Trump can run third party --


COHEN: He might do a riding candidacy --

O`DONNELL: It will be -- it will be too late, he won`t be able to do it and he also cannot afford it.

But Tim, the problem I think that you`re saying that the party has is, it either goes down in some sort of, you know, figurative flames by denying Trump with the nomination even though he has almost enough delegates.

Or it goes down in flames by letting him have the nomination.

MILLER: Right, and look, Trump as the nominee would get absolutely massacred by Hillary Clinton in the general election.

And then a poll after poll shows that he`s losing to Hillary in Arizona by eight points. Arizona only two times in the last 100 years has a Democrat won Arizona.

So, I think that`s one example. And look, I think that it`s interesting that we always have to worry about disenfranchising the people that voted for Trump.

Or what about the over half of the Republicans in the party in the conservative base that has said no to Donald Trump throughout this process.

He is not consolidated before last night in any state over 50 percent, and he needs to do that throughout the whole country to get the majority of delegates like every other Republican nominee has done.

O`DONNELL: Bob Kasten, if your candidate Donald Trump does get the nomination, he will have done so as the weakest nominee in terms of success in primaries and delegate collection of recent memory.

And he will also be getting it apparently in the face of polling that shows him losing substantially to the Democrat.

KASTEN: Well, I think both are changing. The fact is that Donald Trump has been underestimated from the very beginning.

His job was to win in a group of 17, he`s done that. We`re now moving into the general election.

We`re moving toward the race against Hillary Clinton, and I think it`s important to look at what happened just last night in Pennsylvania when large numbers of Democrats and independents registered as Republicans.

There`s a possibility now that a lot of labor union, blue collar Democrats and independents are coming over and joining the Trump coalition.

I think you`re seeing --

MILLER: There`s no --


KASTEN: On Capitol Hill --

MILLER: There`s just no evidence --

KASTEN: You`re seeing more and more different people --

COHEN: That that happened --

MILLER: There`s no data to back that up --

KASTEN: In winning the group, and I think overall, we`re seeing a tremendous amount of consolidation already.

O`DONNELL: Right --

KASTEN: Now, it is -- it`s going to start to happen when we get to Cleveland. It`s going to start to happen before we get to Cleveland.


In the last 24 hours.

O`DONNELL: Let Bob, OK, we get your point, Bob, Michael, you`re saying that`s wishful thinking.

COHEN: It`s wishful thinking.

O`DONNELL: Based on the evidence so far --

COHEN: There`s no polling evidence at all that he`s appealing to anybody but Republican voters.

Democrats, independents overwhelmingly view him unfavorably. There`s no evidence that there`s this great, massive, white, blue collar voters that are coming to vote for him.

It`s just not going to happen. He inflames minorities, he inflames women, he`s a toxic candidate.

And I think anybody who thinks he -- and beat Hillary Clinton in November is crazy. I mean, this is not --

MILLER: And --

COHEN: Going to happen.

MILLER: And general election, Lawrence, doesn`t bring amnesia with it. Try -- these voters --

O`DONNELL: Right --

MILLER: Now --

COHEN: Yes --

MILLER: Have seen him for the past year. They`ve rendered a judgment on him, he`s been on TV every night, and these voters don`t like him.

His unfavorable ratings are at unprecedented levels for a potential nominee. That`s not just going to go away because all of a sudden Donald Trump tries to change his persona.

O`DONNELL: Bob Kasten, we`ve never seen --

KASTEN: Step by step, win by win --

O`DONNELL: Bob, let me --

KASTEN: We`re seeing this change.

O`DONNELL: Bob, let me ask you this. We have never seen a candidate perceived successfully to a nomination and let`s presume for a moment that Donald Trump is proceeding successfully to a nomination.

KASTEN: Right --

O`DONNELL: While at the very same time doing more damage to that candidacy in the general election and driving up a general negative feeling about him in the country.

We`ve never seen anything like it, we`ve never seen a disapproval rating of a candidate as high as his in the history of polling.

How can that candidate if he somehow pulls off that nomination by a couple of delegate votes in Cleveland, how can that candidate --

KASTEN: I think --

O`DONNELL: Possibly make up the ground by November?

KASTEN: I think he`s making up the ground already. I think he`s made up ground between January and today.

And I think the results, particularly the results in Pennsylvania last night showed that.

To win all the counties? I mean, it`s one thing to win the states. But to win 60 different counties.

I know this is a Republican primary campaign right now, but the change, the growth, we`re now down to -- I mean, the movement is going in the right direction.

And I absolutely think there were some numbers today that I was looking at showing Trump and Clinton very close in Florida.

There are a number of things that are happening. It`s happening --


Fast in the country. The change is taking place. The movement is in the right direction, and you first of all got to look at the winning votes last night.

O`DONNELL: All right, Bob Kasten is going to have to get the last word on this segment tonight because we`re out of time.

Michael Cohen, former Senator Bob Kasten and Tim Miller, thank you all very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it --

KASTEN: Thank you --

O`DONNELL: Thank you --

MILLER: Thank you, Lawrence --

KASTEN: Nice to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a Republican will join us who sees the Trump campaign this way. This is his quote, "the Trump campaign is a test of character and many Americans are failing it."

And why did the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee praise Donald Trump`s foreign policy speech today?

Could it possibly have had anything to do with Donald Trump winning that senator`s state in the presidential primary campaign?

And tonight in the war room, our first strategic look at the general election campaign and later election confessions.

They`re going to be really fun tonight.


O`DONNELL: In election confessions tonight, wait until you hear what one woman said she will do if her husband votes for Donald Trump.

Our latest installment of election confessions coming up.



TRUMP: And then there`s ISIS. I have a simple message for them. Their days are numbered. I won`t tell them where, and I won`t tell them how?

ISIS will be gone if I`m elected president.


O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump reading a foreign policy speech on a teleprompter in Washington today. Here`s what Donald Trump himself thinks about that kind of speech.


TRUMP: Actually, I didn`t read -- I don`t use teleprompters, I don`t like it, they`re too easy.

Other people use tele -- maybe when you run for president you shouldn`t be allowed to use a teleprompter.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump didn`t just have a simple message for ISIS, he had a simple message for Russia, a simple message for everyone else in the world.

A message that would have been laughed out of any Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, but was publicly taken seriously by the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was very pleased with what I heard. I thought it was a great step in the right direction. I thought it was full of substance.


O`DONNELL: Senator Bob Corker knows that his re-election two years from now in Tennessee will depend heavily on Donald Trump supporters.

Donald Trump won the Tennessee primary, and so you can expect to hear more supportive words from Senator Corker and other Republicans in states where Donald Trump`s supporters are the strongest.

Joining us now, Phyllis Bennis, a fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, and Tom Nichols, professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College.

He is also the course director for security strategy and forces. Phyllis Bennis, your reaction to the Trump foreign policy speech today?

PHYLLIS BENNIS, ACTIVIST & POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, for someone who claims he was trying to look presidential, you had to dig really deep to find a statement of policy somewhere in there.

I found one. I did find one. You had to dig, it was sort of towards the end. And the policy was essentially that we will strengthen and promote western civilization, not anything that remotely looks like universal values.

That I think was very important. That`s where his so-called foreign policy such as it is links with his anti-immigrant xenophobia.

The anti-Muslim rhetoric, the anti-Mexico rhetoric, the claims about building a wall, that`s where all that fits in.

We`re not talking any longer about a foreign policy that acknowledges whether we want to agree with them or not.

That there are such things as international law, the United Nations, human rights, those are off the agenda.

What`s on the agenda is America first as we`ve been hearing and this notion that America will be strong and a reliable ally and I`m not going to tell you how I`m going to do it.

It was very reminiscent of Nixon`s call when he was running for president and said, I have a secret plan to end the war.

The secret plan of course turned out to be escalation. And I think, although it`s clear that somebody like Trump does not come to this.

He has a streak of isolationism on the military front. He doesn`t come to this moment with an ongoing commitment towards regime change as the default position of U.S. foreign policy as some other candidates do.

But he does have an absolute inability to articulate anything remotely resembling what diplomacy might look like.

What a non-military approach might look like, what a successful way of dealing with ISIS might look like.

So, one has to wonder with -- if he were in a position of power, which I think would be a very dangerous reality, what we would then see is, I think an immediate grip for towards the military.

That would be his instinct because he doesn`t have anything else.

O`DONNELL: The -- his secret plan to make ISIS instantly disappear when he becomes president is not the only secret wrapped into this speech.

Let`s listen to what he said about making a deal with Russia.


TRUMP: Some say the Russians won`t be reasonable. I intend to find out. If we can`t make a deal under my administration.

A deal that`s great, not good, great for America, but also good for Russia, then we will quickly walk from the table.

It`s as simple as that. We`re going to find out.


O`DONNELL: And what we didn`t find out is, what would the deal be about? Is it a trade deal?

Is it a negotiation about arms? Is it about Ukraine? We have absolutely no idea. And Professor Nichols, you get the impression that Donald Trump believes that the United States of America has deals.

Just these things called deals with all the big countries and maybe all the countries in the world, and you just negotiate that deal and then that country is taken care of.

TOM NICHOLS, PROFESSOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, U.S. NAVAL WAR COLLEGE: I think Phyllis is being too kind. She actually found a message somewhere in there. I looked --

BENNIS: I had to dig for it --

NICHOLS: And I found nothing. I think that`s imposing a certain amount of intellectual order on a speech that was just a lot of chaos in words solid(ph).

BENNIS: No, it was only one line --

NICHOLS: I think --

BENNIS: Just one line.

NICHOLS: I think Trump has never expected to get this far. I think this is a candidacy that got far down the pike much further than his advisors or he expected to.

And I think a bunch of his advisors got together and said, well, we`re this far down, you`re supposed to give a foreign policy speech.

So, here, here`s a bunch of slogans, say that you`re going to make everything better, you`re going to make everything awesome, you`ll make some deals, you`ll fix it.

You won`t be President Obama, you`re going to be awesome and that`s his foreign policy.

There was nothing to hang anything on in there. That was the first thing I thought about that Russian deal.

We`ll make a deal with Russia, about what? We will make deals with China about North Korea.

We`ll make deals with Mexico -- there`s no content to any of this as is true of most of Trump`s statements.

O`DONNELL: Well, but Phyllis, there`s this spot where we`ll make a deal with China because China is going to like Donald Trump better.

And then there`s the spot where we will have a trade war with China.

BENNIS: Yes, and you know, this goes to the question of substance. There`s no clarity, there`s no actual policy here.

It`s interesting. I mean, this is coming from a man who thinks somehow that ISIS is getting rich off Libyan oil when anyone who knows anything about either Libya or ISIS or Syria knows that the oil that ISIS is able to sell comes from Syria.

In Libya, the ISIS forces, whether they`re tied to ISIS in fact or not, those who claim to be part of ISIS are nowhere near any oil production.

So, he just -- he doesn`t seem to know the difference between Libya and Syria.

NICHOLS: I seriously doubt that -- I seriously doubt that Donald Trump can find any of those places on a map --

BENNIS: I would agree with you --

NICHOLS: Or cares about them --

O`DONNELL: Tom, you`ve written speeches, drafted speeches for Republican senators in the past about foreign policy issues.

When I look at this and I realize, there was staff involvement in writing it, I can`t imagine what that was or who those people are.

And it certainly feels like there was a heavy editing hand by Donald Trump to make it simpler than whatever it was they delivered to him.

NICHOLS: Well, he clearly went off script in a couple of places. He wasn`t going to make just good deals, he`s going to make great deals.

He threw in his trademark, "believe me". And the speech itself read like people had just cut up articles from various conservative journals and the "New York Times" and the "Washington Post" and whatever they read that day.

Threw the hat, picked it up and then pasted it on a -- on a teleprompter. But that`s -- again, when Donald Trump gives a speech -- if he`s not talking about himself, if he`s not talking about his polls.

If he`s not talking about how awesome he is, he gets lost very quickly. And I think, truthfully, I don`t think he understood half of the things he was actually saying in that speech.

I think he was struggling to keep up with it, because I think most of those subjects are just over his head.

O`DONNELL: Phyllis Bennis and Tom Nichols, thanks for joining this discussion tonight, appreciate it.

BENNIS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, in the war room, the Trump strategy for the general election. But first, what you might have missed on the campaign trail today.


O`DONNELL: So Donald Trump is now encouraging Bernie Sanders to run as a third-party candidate. Donald Trump knows that that is never going to happen, but he`s trying to inflame division in the Democratic Party. That is part of his general election strategy and that`s coming up on "THE WAR ROOM" tonight. But first, here is the way it looked today on the campaign trail.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Politics is very strange and funny things happen.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Moments from now, Donald Trump will deliver a formal foreign policy address.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster.

MITCHELL: It will be scripted.

TRUMP: We must, as a nation, be more unpredictable.

MITCHELL: He will use a teleprompter.

TRUMP: Believe me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The remarks, we`re told, were initially written for Mr. Trump, but that he rewrote them today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lindsey Graham said that this speech made no sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we`ll be looking at is this presidential persona, almost as important as the content of what he says today.

TRUMP: Lying Ted, right? Lying Ted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cruz is hoping to change the conversation.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The next vice president of the United States, Carly Fiorina.

TRUMP: Aye aye aye. I have such a headache. You get a headache watching this guy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Critics are calling the timing of this announcement desperate. Is it?

FIORINA: No, it`s not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you guys seen Hoosiers before?

TRUMP: Then last night he called the rim a ring, so he doesn`t know too much about the basketball world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you respond to that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a hoop, right? It`s a hoop.

CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC HOST: NBC`s Chris Jansen sat down with Sanders exclusively just a few moments ago.

SANDERS: We are the underdog, but I think that we have a narrow path to victory.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thirty percent of Senator Sanders` supporters think they`re not going to support her in a general. Secretary Clinton has a challenge on her hands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m sorry that people are going to have to see this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you score on Bernie? No, you did not.

SANDERS: It`s pretty strange here, I think it`s fair to say.



O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s War Room. The war room is, of course, the most important place in a presidential campaign. It`s where the senior campaign strategists plan their next moves, their big ad buys, their attacks, their defenses against the other attacks. Tonight, Trump campaign war room is focused on winning Indiana. It has to be, but it also has to be focused on the fight for California because that is the only state that in the end that can deliver him enough delegates to win the Republican nomination on the first ballot at the convention and there`s one more little thing that the Trump war room has to be focused on every day and every night, something that he seems to have been ignoring, and that is the general election battle to actually win the presidency in November. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal general election poll, presuming Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the nominees, has Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump by 11 points, 50 to 39. Last night, we got a peek at one of the Trump strategies for the general election -- try to keep the Democrats divided.


TRUMP: The Democrats have treated Bernie very badly, and frankly I think he should run as an independent, OK? I think they`ve treated him very badly.


O`DONNELL: Joining us in The War Room tonight, where the only rule is, to get in this war room, you have to have been in a real presidential campaign war room, Karine Jean-Pierre, a senior adviser and national spokesperson for the 2016 elections for, a former deputy campaign manager for Martin O`Malley`s presidential campaign, and deputy battle ground states director for President Obama`s 2012 campaign. Also joining us, Robert Traynham, Republican strategist and MSNBC political analyst and a former senior adviser to Bush/Cheney 2004.

Karine, Trump wants Bernie to run as an independent, which of course he knows is a joke, but he wants to do everything he can to keep the division, that Hillary versus Bernie division in the Democratic Party.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER AND NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON FOR THE 2016 ELECTION CAMPAIGNS, MOVEON.ORG: Yes, I think that`s actually a smart play. Normally I`d be like, oh, this is like a Trump antics that he`s normally doing, but this is -- what he`s trying to do is definitely stop the potential coalescing behind the nominee. So if I was a strategist on the Hillary Clinton campaign, my concern would be, hey, I want to make sure that we do not alienate Sanders` voters, these youth voters that we keep hearing about that are usually apolitical, but now they`re out here and they`re voting and they`re enthused and they`re excited. Got to make sure that these guys are able to cross over and go to Hillary Clinton if she`s the nominee and once that happens at the convention, and there`s a couple of ways of doing that as a strategy.

Number one, she needs to continue talking about her story of 2008 and how she was able to go into the trenches, really convince her supporters who about 40 percent at the time said they wouldn`t vote for Obama, and continue doing that and say, hey, I did it, I know I`m not your number one pick, I know I`m not your number one choice, but I did it for Obama, Sanders can do it for me. And also, there is like doing a mini campaign that`s targeted towards youth voters, which is going to college campuses, bringing back Chelsea Clinton if she can, right, because she helps to humanize her and really talk about her being a grandmother and a mother and I think that really, really worked. And also, bring back Val on "Saturday Night Live". That seems to have worked as well. And one last thing -- the White House correspondents dinner is happening this Saturday. I know it`s an inside ballgame, but Obama did a great job doing his dinners and maybe she can get a cameo there, that would be a lot of fun, and we saw him skewer Donald Trump in 2011 which --

O`DONNELL: That`s why Donald Trump`s not going this year. I just want to listen to something that Donald Trump said on "MORNING JOE" today about this kind of using the Bernie divide. Let`s listen to this.


TRUMP: I`m going to be taking a lot of things that Bernie said and using them. I can reread some of his speeches, I can get some very good material. He said, in many ways she shouldn`t be there. He said some things about her that are actually surprising that essentially she has no right to even be running and that she`s got bad judgment. When he said bad judgment, I said, sound bite.


O`DONNELL: Robert, I always watch these primaries with an eye on, what have the Republican candidates said that can be used against the Republican nominee, what have the Democratic candidates said that can be used against the Democratic nominee. I have never heard more ammunition unloaded against Donald Trump if he`s the nominee than what has come from the Republican campaigns themselves this year. Marco Rubio with the con man line, and right down the line. You could just fill up the Democratic Party advertising with just sound bites of Republican candidates talking about Trump.

ROBERT TRAYNHAM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course. Look, when you`re in the war room, it`s us against them, and I call it the message box. What are you saying about yourself, what is your opponent saying about you, what is your opponent saying about others, and what are others saying about your opponent. And look, at the end of the day, we like to say that Ronald Reagan`s eleventh amendment, thou shall not speak ill of another Republican, is the gospel, but the reality is, you are really in a fight with your brethrens, if you will, and a lot of these brethrens, if you will, whether it be Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz or you go on down the list, really do not think that Donald Trump is a true conservative, and so they`re saying to themselves, what`s going on here? I can`t believe I`m losing to this guy. I have better ideas, I have much more substantive ideas, and so therefore I`m going to try to take him down. Now obviously they`ve failed so far because Donald Trump has really ignited something in this country, but the reality is is that it really is a survival of the fittest and when you`re in the bunker or when you`re in the war room, you`re trying to make sure that you`re the last man standing, and as of right now, it looks like it`s Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ted Cruz.

O`DONNELL: And Robert, I have to say, hearing what Trump said today about Bernie Sanders, it`s the first time that he seems to me to have actually been saying something that shows he`s thinking a little bit about the general election. Prior to now, he`s always been thinking about next week and nothing beyond next week.

TRAYNHAM: Yes, well he said two things last night which I think were interesting. The first thing he said was look, I assume that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, so he`s clearly pivoting to the general election and that`s not a bad thought because he clearly is trying to contrast himself with Hillary Clinton. The second thing that he said, and obviously this was this morning, was trying to pivot to a deep foreign policy speech, which in my opinion wasn`t very deep, but the reality is, he`s trying to appear much more presidential. But I would have to slightly disagree with you, Lawrence. I don`t think what he said on "MORNING JOE" this morning was very original. I think it was more of a carbon copy where he said it was great material that he can read, and I`m paraphrasing here, he can read from Bernie Sanders` speech. I don`t know exactly what that means. What he really should be doing is contrasting himself -- literally, if you`re in the bunker here, why am I different from Hillary Clinton from a policy standpoint? How can I convince voters in these battle ground states, and at the end of the day, it`s still going to be the battle ground states of Michigan, Ohio, Florida, probably Virginia, probably North Carolina, and maybe Colorado. How do I make sure that those states flip to the Republican column, because at the end of the day, I need 270. So Donald Trump really needs to think strategically here about how he`s going to contrast himself on the issues with Hillary Clinton, because talking in platitudes and -- if I was his strategist, talking in platitudes and talking about yourself, and about how you`re number one and the whole nine yards, it doesn`t matter. What really matters here is the substance and that`s what Donald Trump and I think his advisers really need some help on.

O`DONNELL: Karine, the Republican war room, the Trump war room, has a problem that I don`t see at this point in the Hillary Clinton war room, which is, Donald Trump`s going to have to change in many ways who he is in order to appeal to a majority of voters. In the Clinton war room tonight, are they looking at the general election and saying, here are some of the fine-tuning adjustments we need to make from the primary message to the general election message?

JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, most definitely. I think it`s been happening for some time now.

O`DONNELL: What would be an example of that?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I think it`s basically, OK, we know that, for example, Trump has said, hey, the woman card today, and she said deal me in -- it was last night she said it -- she said, deal me in. And I think -- his negatives are at 69 percent. That`s a great place to go to start really thinking about, OK, how are we really going to push that? What`s the opposition research that`s out there that`s still out there on Trump? Who are some surrogates that we can put out there? I think Madeleine Albright was on the internet today just tweeting about Donald Trump and everything that he`s saying about women, and I think that`s one way, that`s definitely an entry point that they need to continue to explore and really take that on.

TRAYNHAM: Lawrence, can I say something about that?

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Robert.

TRAYNHAM: Because I think this is really important. What Hillary Clinton did this morning, actually, and last night, was absolutely brilliant from a strategist standpoint. What she did is she took a personal attack that Donald Trump made about her about quote unquote, the woman card, and then she turned it about all women. So in other words, you attack me, you`re not attacking me, you`re attacking a huge swath of people. So yes, you`re attacking me as a women, fine. If you`re going to say that I`m standing up for equal pay, if you`re going to say that I`m standing up for women`s rights to choose and so forth, so she`s personalizing in a way that it`s very, very human that all women can say, that`s my woman, that`s my girl, she`s fighting for my beliefs.

JEAN-PIERRE: And she`s energizing the base.

O`DONNELL: She personalized it and turned it into policy, which is the thing Trump would never be able to do in that kind of moment. Karine Jean- Pierre and Robert Traynham, thank you both very much for joining us in THE WAR ROOM tonight. Really appreciate it.

TRAYNHAM: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Up next, voters share their deepest, darkest -- this is really weird stuff, I`m telling you, we`re going to have to dim the lights -- election confessions.


O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s election confessions. We have a secret ballot in this country, but how secret are you about who you`re voting for this year? It seems more people are keeping more secrets about this election than ever before and election confessions, an NBC News experiment, is collecting those secrets. You can call or text your election confessions to 424 353 2016.

Now, to tonight`s sample. We should dim the lights for this. Sterling, can we take this down, a little more intimate thing here? OK. It`s -- this stuff is amazing. Here is a small sample of what we`ve collected for tonight and this first one is, I am 57. My husband is 75. Been together for 35 years. He said he is voting for Trump. I told him if he does, I will not take care of him when he gets older.

Boy, this is getting tough. And then there`s this -- I never really liked Hillary before, but now I find I am pulling for her to win and I am a registered Republican. What is happening?

And our next confession, I`m going to vote for a woman president even though I know that Bernie is the candidate who supports what I believe in.

And our last confession for tonight, and there`s plenty more to come -- usually vote Democrat, but voted for Trump. Sanders is a charlatan and Hillary might have legal issues and I want the Republican Party to implode. Having lots of fun watching it all. By the way, have two degrees and voted for Trump.

You can see more election confessions at Coming up, a Republican who doesn`t want anyone voting for Trump and who is finding some of his friendships strained because of it.


O`DONNELL: Have you ever lost a friendship over politics? I never have. I have Democratic friends, Republican friends, liberal friends, conservative friends, socialist friends, Hillary friends, Bernie friends, Obama friends, Romney friends, McCain friends, but, I have not yet been put to the ultimate test in friendship -- surviving politics, because I do not have, as far as I know, anyway, a Trump friend. I don`t have any good friends who are supporting Donald Trump. And that doesn`t mean I`m completely isolated from society living in some fantasy bubble, because most Americans do not support Donald Trump. Sixty-one percent have an unfavorable view of Donald Trump. Only 10 million people have actually voted for Donald Trump in a country of over 300 million people, that`s less than 3 percent of the population, but for conservatives and members of the Republican Party, the Trump candidacy is becoming an ever growing tension in relationships. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin who used to be full of praise for each other have hit a tough spot, with Glenn Beck now saying that Sarah Palin has abandoned her principles by supporting Donald Trump.

Our next guest is a Republican who says, if my opposition to Trump is going to cost me friends, then all I can say is, so be it. Back with us, Tom Nichols, professor of national security affairs at U.S. Naval War College. Tom, I want to just read a part of what you wrote about this and about Trump supporters. You said, the Trump candidacy isn`t really about politics, which is why it divides people so deeply. Trump and his views are ghastly in a way that goes beyond politics. They challenge our human decency and patriotism, that`s why they test not only our political associations but our friendships. Tom, we`ve never seen anything like this in politics.

NICHOLS: Well, we`ve had highly divisive kinds of candidates before. Remember if you went back to the 1970`s and watched a comedy like all in the family, every episode was about the whole family arguing about Nixon, and having pitched shouting matches over people like Richard Nixon. What`s different this time is that it`s not about policy. Donald Trump`s character is front and center because that`s all he has. He doesn`t have policies, he`s made this into more or less a referendum on himself as a TV star where people feel they know him and they feel comfortable with him and so it strains friendships because Trump does things that are despicable that we would never accept from anybody else, and it causes a lot of tension because people then end up arguing about the terrible things Trump has done rather than any kind of policy or any kind of question about what he would do as president. And I think that that is something that is unique, and I think especially the fact that it`s being fought out on social media where everybody is just ruder and louder than they would normally be, I think, has really added to that, and Trump, of course, is the loudest and rudest -- one of the loudest and rudest voices on social media.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and you make a distinction between some people who will vote for Trump as the lesser of two evils, they`re not enthusiastic about it, and then you concentrate on the enthusiastic Trump supporters and you say this -- Trump supporters are now like roaring drunks in a bar fight, people who you might have tried to reason with five drinks earlier, but are now just lashing out at everyone in every direction. The blind madness puts both political and emotional distance between Trump supporters and the rest of us. And we do see that on social media and elsewhere.

NICHOLS: The other problem too is that -- the kind of arguments that we might have had, and we did -- at least some of us in the conservative movement had with Trump supporters back in say August, were different, because people back then could say, well, yes, I know he`s a little outrageous but maybe deep down he`ll be presidential, he`ll change -- it`s been a lot of months since then. There`s nobody who can really claim that they don`t know what Donald Trump is, and that makes things very tense between even people who are friends, because Trump is just so divisive as a personality.

O`DONNELL: Tom Nichols gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thank you very much for joining us.

Chris Hayes is next.