JOHN DICKERSON: Clinton and Trump solidify their front-runner status, but the stop-Trump movement vows one last stand. I’m John Dickerson, in for Gwen Ifill, tonight on Washington Week.
DONALD TRUMP: (From video.) It’s over. As far as I’m concerned, it’s over.
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From video.) With your help, we’re going to come back to Philadelphia with the most votes and the most pledged delegates.
MR. DICKERSON: So close they can taste it – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the verge of locking up their nominations and looking to the fall campaign.
MR. TRUMP: (From video.) I think the only card she has is the women’s card. She’s got nothing else going.
MRS. CLINTON: (From video.) If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.
MR. DICKERSON: The latest battle line – gender. We’re likely to hear about that issue again and again after the primaries, while at the same time Trump lays out his vision for the U.S. role in the world.
MR. TRUMP: (From video.) America first will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.
MR. DICKERSON: What that means and how that’s different. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz and John Kasich scour the playbook for anything that might help them block Trump’s nomination. And Cruz goes one step further.
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): (From video.) If I am nominated to be president of the United States, that I will run with my vice presidential nominee, Carly Fiorina. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. DICKERSON: Will it do any good?
Covering the political race this week, Jeff Zeleny, senior Washington correspondent for CNN; Lisa Lerer, national political reporter for the Associated Press; Jennifer Jacobs, national political reporter for Bloomberg Politics; and Indira Lakshmanan, contributing writer for POLITICO Magazine.
ANNOUNCER: Award-winning reporting and analysis. Covering history as it happens. Live from our nation’s capital, this is Washington Week with Gwen Ifill. Once again, live from Washington, sitting in for Gwen Ifill this week, John Dickerson of CBS News.
MR. DICKERSON: Good evening. It was a good week to be a front-runner. Donald Trump swept all five of the Republican primaries in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. He now has a more than 430-delegate lead over his closest competitor, Ted Cruz.
Hillary Clinton won four of those five states, losing to Bernie Sanders in Rhode Island.
MRS. CLINTON: (From video.) We’re going to imagine a tomorrow where hard work is honored, families are supported, streets are safe and communities are strong, and where love trumps hate. Let’s go forward. Let’s win the nomination. And in July, let’s return as a unified party. Thank you all so much. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. DICKERSON: Clinton has a more than 300-delegate lead among pledged delegates, which grows to 800 if you add her lead in superdelegates. This inspired some real talk from Bernie Sanders.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): (From video.) I am very good in arithmetic. (Laughter.) And I can count delegates. And we are behind today.
MR. DICKERSON: By some wishful thinking.
SEN. SANDERS: (From video.) But you know what? Unusual things happen in politics. And with your help, we are going to win the pledged delegates. And with your help, superdelegates may well reach the conclusion that Bernie Sanders will be the strongest candidate against Donald Trump.
MR. DICKERSON: Jeff, Bernie Sanders is sounding – making it sound there like he’s got a shot. Does he?
JEFF ZELENY: I think, as the week comes to a close, he knows that he does not. I mean, that was the optimistic Bernie Sanders still trying to allow his many supporters – and he does have many, many supporters – you know, the idea that they should still vote and their vote still matters. But they know here tonight that the pathway is essentially closed, albeit some catastrophic event happens, quite frankly. So they know that the dream has sort of ended.
But the Democratic race this week came full circle. I think this was the most consequential week in the campaign really since Iowa. Really everything is sort of coming together as we thought it would, on the Democratic side, at least. And you could see these divisions in the Bernie Sanders campaign really throughout the week. That – some people wanted him to go forward and fight, and others said, you know, let’s sort of dial it back a touch. And I think he’s been wrestling with that.
We’ve seen Jane Sanders out, his wife. She is his closest adviser, his top political adviser without question, and there’s been some dissent internally. And it’s understandable. He goes out and has these huge rallies, bigger than almost anyone else other than Donald Trump, and so why aren’t they winning? And, yes, these are closed primaries, maybe not totally fair, but he’s running as a Democrat. But they – as this week ends, he knows that it is essentially over. And we heard him actually just yesterday in Oregon talking about how he can change the Democratic Party, how he can influence the platform. So he is not going after Hillary Clinton nearly as much as he was just a couple of days ago, and not even slightly as much as he was a couple of weeks ago.
MR. DICKERSON: Yeah. So, Lisa, what – and there were those mixed signals. I mean, on election night –
LISA LERER: Right.
MR. DICKERSON: – he was talking about everything but Hillary Clinton, suggesting he’d moved on. But then they put out a press release that said he was in it to win it, using that phrase –
MS. LERER: Right. (Laughs.)
MR. DICKERSON: – that she had used in 2008. So what would he want now? Will he stay in all the way through? He said he’ll go to the convention. So how might it look if he’s moving into a kind of a different phase now?
MS. LERER: Well, certainly, I mean, part of the issue here is nobody ever wants to get out of a presidential race, particularly when they have money. And he has an awful lot of money. And the money keeps flowing in, perhaps not at the pace that it was in January, but he has enough to continue doing this.
So I suspect that he stays in through the end of the primaries. Whether he goes all the way to the convention or not is not totally clear. Obviously the Clinton folks want to get him out of the race as soon as possible, you know, not only to –
MR. DICKERSON: But they can’t – they can’t rush it, right?
MS. LERER: But they can’t.
MR. ZELENY: Yeah.
MS. LERER: That’s exactly right. And pushing him out of the race in any sort of open way would look really bad for them, because they now are faced with the issue of bringing these Sanders supporters back in the fold. And the question becomes how do you do that? And the question then becomes what exactly does Bernie Sanders want? And nobody knows the answer to that yet.
I’m not even sure Senator Sanders himself knows the answer to that. Does he want to lead a movement? Does he want a position in a Clinton administration? The latter is a little harder to see. But that’s sort of what the signs that we’re all watching for in the next couple of weeks. Whether the California race – does he fight hard there? Does that become kind of a unity moment for them? What does that look like? And, you know, President Obama – the White House has made very clear that they will not get into the race until Senator Sanders is completely out. The Clinton campaign wants to get the president in the race. They think he could be a really strong advocate for them, so they’re eager to have that happen as soon as possible.
MR. DICKERSON: So, Jeff, if Hillary Clinton reads this as you two do, and she’s ready to move now on to the general election, she has changed her focus a little bit. There’s reports today she’s also hired staffers for the general election in New Hampshire, Colorado and Florida, all purple states. How is she turning to the general election?
MR. ZELENY: Well, she did it first and foremost by going back to her home and taking a break and planning for how she’ll take on Donald Trump. And I’m told by someone very close to her that she’s just fine with this period of a month, of Bernie Sanders staying in the race. It gives her some time and some space.
MS. LERER: Right.
MR. ZELENY: He is not spending nearly as much money as he planned in Indiana. He has scaled that way back. The Clinton campaign on Wednesday – it was the first day since August that they did not spend a dime on TV anywhere in the country. So they are fine with this sort of break period here, because they need time to ramp up for the general. But they, you know, are watching him very carefully. They certainly don’t want to lose in California. That would be – she would limp to the nomination. But they are transitioning. And I think that, you know, she signaled sort of her road map to taking on Donald Trump in an interview that she did today with CNN, with Jake Tapper. And she –
MR. DICKERSON: I’m going to interrupt you, because we have that interview.
MR. ZELENY: Oh, great.
MS. LERER: Well.
MR. DICKERSON: And so –
MR. ZELENY: Even better than me describing it.
MR. DICKERSON: Thank you. Yes, that was a nice alley-oop there, Jeff. Let’s play that interview and then we’ll come back to you.
MRS. CLINTON: (From video.) You know, remember, I – I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation in the way they behave and how they speak.
MR. DICKERSON: Now, just a little context there. What she’s talking about is Donald Trump said that she’s only gotten as far as she has in life because she’s a woman, and she was responding to dealing with people like Donald Trump.
MR. ZELENY: She was. But, you know, she left open for interpretation perhaps, you know, her experience dealing with men. But I think she’s made very clear, at least in this interview, that she is going to take at least the mature, steady, high road at this point and show people that she’s presidential. She’s not going to get into the mud with Donald Trump.
I think she, you know, is perfectly capable of doing that if – as this race goes along. But I think at this moment her campaign is going to remind every voter exactly what he has said. We saw a campaign video out this week really running through a laundry list of everything that he has said throughout the course of the last six or nine months or so. And that’s what they’re going to be doing.
MR. DICKERSON: Lisa, go ahead.
MS. LERER: Oh, I was going to say basically the Democratic attacks plan against Trump breaks down to three pieces: Credentials – go after his credentials. Is this the guy you want with his finger on the button? Controversy – all those controversial statements that he’s made about Latinos and women and Muslims. And, of course, his business dealings; attack his record. Is he the businessman that he purports himself to be?
So you’re going to see those lines of attacks – attack coming out. The first one they debuted this week was, really, do you want his finger on the button? You saw a relatively strong Democratic response to his foreign-policy speech, questioning what he was putting out there. But all those attacks depend on Secretary Clinton, as you say, taking the high road, which certainly her campaign intends for her to do. But, gosh, don’t you think it’s going to be hard?
MR. DICKERSON: Oh, it’s impossible.
MS. LERER: It’s going to be really hard. You’re going to have to –
MR. DICKERSON: He’s going to goad her as much as possible.
MS. LERER: He is going to make it as hard as possible.
MR. DICKERSON: She did respond on this women’s thing. She talked about deal me in on playing the women’s card. Then they issued an actual card.
MS. LERER: Right.
MR. DICKERSON: So they seem to be OK with having that little fight right now.
MS. LERER: Yeah. I mean, they think that that’s a fight that’s good for them – not only, of course, with female voters, who make up a big part of the Democratic constituency, but they also see an opportunity to break off some independents and traditionally Republican voters, particularly Republican women. I’ve seen some data put out by Democrats, internal things that say they think 20 percent of Republicans could be amenable to – persuadable to voting for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. So that goes right at, you know, these suburban moms in Columbus or Aurora. That’s exactly who they’re aiming that at.
MR. DICKERSON: Indira, we’re going to talk about Donald Trump’s foreign-policy speech in a minute. But you wrote a long piece about Hillary Clinton and her evolution over time as a candidate. Do you think this primary fight she’s had with Bernie Sanders has made her a better candidate? How has it affected her over time?
INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: You know, I think she has to make lemonade out of lemons. She has to say it’s made her a better candidate. And that’s what Jen Palmieri and the whole campaign has to believe has happened. But I can definitely say factually – I covered her in 2008 – she was not a strong candidate. She’s a better candidate now than she was then. She still has some of the same tics. She still can be quite wooden on the campaign trail. She still, you know, tends to revert to talking about policy.
She cares a lot about policy. I mean, that is her passion. She would say I’m being passionate. This is not me being a robot or an automaton. This is me talking about health care and children and Social Security and workers and all the things I really care about. The thing is, she talks about it in a very kind of this is my 10-point plan for paying for college way, which is not the same kind of inspirational speech that we got used to from candidate Obama in 2008 and which a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters have responded to.
What I focused on in my piece is how very, very different she is once she’s actually an official in office versus how she is as a candidate. And I think what we’ve seen in 2016 is she’s reverted back to sort of campaign Hillary, whereas for four years I got to cover her as Secretary Clinton and she was a very different person, much more confident in her skin, much more comfortable, much more able to rile up and excite people and really have crowds eating out of the palm of her hand. The difference was they weren’t American crowds. They were people overseas.
MR. DICKERSON: She had to unlearn the lessons she learned as secretary of state.
Jennifer, let’s pivot now. We’re going to turn to the Republicans. Set the stage for us in the Republican race. Is Donald Trump in as good a position as Hillary Clinton is on the Democratic side?
JENNIFER JACOBS: Interestingly, you know, as she is preparing for the general election, he this week, for the first time, said, yeah, I’m the presumptive nominee. So that raised questions of how prepared is he for the general election? How much planning is he doing? So we did a little check on that, and it turns out that there are some pretty basic organizational building blocks that his campaign is still lacking.
He doesn’t have any sort of process in place to vet a vice-presidential candidate yet at all. He doesn’t have a fundraising operation in place to raise money for the general election, and that could be a billion dollars that he needs to raise. And so this was 30 days into the tenure of his new chief strategist, Paul Manafort, who was charged with really bringing some structure and some professionalism to the campaign.
So we did a little checkup on Paul Manafort’s first 30 days, and it turns out there are some people within the campaign who think he has made a big difference. He has imposed a more regular meeting schedule. He’s changed the budgeting somewhat from month to month to more longer-term. He’s spending much more money and hiring. And he’s got a policy shop that he’s creating in Washington, D.C. There’s many things that he’s doing. Other people in the campaign say, look, if we had just waited, if Mr. Trump had waited, I think that Donald Trump still would have won the last six states that he won, and perhaps we wouldn’t have needed to restructure the campaign, because winning is all that it’s taken.
So I think people will be looking in the next – in the coming weeks as he goes around saying I’m the presumptive nominee. You know, how much bandwidth does he have to deal with, not only fighting the primary fight but that general to start turning that way?
MR. DICKERSON: So, yeah, a couple of questions about the general election. We saw that Donald Trump did very well in getting the votes. But then Ted Cruz outmaneuvered him in the delegate-selection process. Ted Cruz knew and knows the kind of inside game on that. Well, in the general election, can you – does Donald Trump have a kind of magic that makes some of those things that you found he’s not ready for not matter, or are they really going to – are they really going to matter? Does he need that kind of structure?
MS. JACOBS: It’s a good question. I think he definitely needs that kind of structure to do that get-out-the-vote effort and things like that. He has gone around saying I’m going to win Democratic states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware. And there’s been a lot of skepticism about that. But then, you know, Paul Manafort has said he’s got that unique Donald Trump magic, and perhaps he can win enough white working-class voters to really make a dent in the general election.
Also, you know, people say he’s alienated women and Hispanics to the point that, you know, he cannot recover. But who knows with Donald Trump what he’s going to change and, you know, turn into for the general election?
MR. ZELENY: I was struck this week. When he was in Indiana, he was specifically going through the list of states where he thinks he’ll be competitive, and really, you know, focused on Michigan. And if you talk to smart Democrats in both Michigan and Pennsylvania and other places, they’re not laughing at Donald Trump anymore. I mean, those days are over. They know that he is potentially bringing new people into the electorate who haven’t voted before. So maybe some states are out of reach – Nevada, Colorado – that have a high percentage of Hispanic voters. But, you know, some of those white working-class voters, you know, he could – he could get them. And they know that.
MS. LAKSHMANAN: He – yeah.
MR. ZELENY: And Hillary Clinton is not beloved. She’s ending this primary fight with her negatives aren’t as high as his, but she’s not nearly in the position that she’d hoped to be when she was secretary of state, when she came out in such a robust –
MS. LAKSHMANAN: Well, she had – she had, like, 65 percent approval rating.
MS. LERER: Right.
MS. LAKSHMANAN: Her highest approval ratings – I looked at, you know, the last 25 years of Hillary Clinton’s approval ratings. And you won’t be surprised that her highest approval ratings were at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, right after that, and at the end of her time as secretary of state. Actually, frankly, all through the four years as secretary of state she had above 60 percent approval ratings. Now that’s virtually flipped. But I was thinking about what you were saying about the woman card and about how –
MS. LERER: Right.
MS. LAKSHMANAN: – you know, the Trump campaign wants to – you know, the Hillary campaign thinks that they can pull off Republican women. The interesting thing – and this is key – is that women in America vote at a higher rate than men do.
MS. LERER: Right.
MS. LAKSHMANAN: And women are still at this point favoring Hillary over Donald Trump. That’s going to be an advantage for her.
MS. LERER: Well, that’s why this Hillary-Trump race, for those of us who love this stuff, will be so interesting, because it could scramble the map. If Donald Trump has a pathway, it is, as you point out, through the Rust Belt, through the Upper Midwest. If she has a pathway – I mean, look, if it’s Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump, I can tell you – I talked to people close to the Clinton campaign yesterday, and they were telling me maybe we’d think about playing seriously in Arizona. Maybe we’d think about Georgia. The map could look different. You could see Republicans break off and back Clinton. You could see some Sanders supporters go for Trump. Things could get really unusual. It’s an unusual year. It could get even more unusual.
MR. DICKERSON: Jennifer, let me ask you about that, breaking off to get behind Donald Trump, because after his big victories there was a little bit of some acceptance happening within the Republican Party moving behind Donald Trump. Tell us a little bit about that.
MS. JACOBS: Well, you did see some members of Congress endorse him this week. He got three new members of Congress to, you know, join Jeff Sessions, his only U.S. senator. But he also got a governor. He got Mike Pence of Indiana, which is – you know, Indiana is a very key state. It’s a make-or-break state coming up next week. But then he –
MR. DICKERSON: Make-or-break state for the stop-Trump movement.
MR. ZELENY: Exactly.
MS. JACOBS: Exactly. Exactly – and for Ted Cruz as well if he wants to, you know, really, you know, continue on. But then you had that anti-endorsement from, you know, former Speaker John Boehner from neighboring Ohio and –
MR. DICKERSON: Who compared him to Lucifer.
MS. LAKSHMANAN: Lucifer in the flesh.
MS. LERER: In the flesh, right.
MS. LAKSHMANAN: Said he was just an evil person.
MS. LERER: But even that Pence – I mean, that was – if that’s not the –
MS. JACOBS: Awkward.
MS. LERER: That was like the weakest coffee of endorsement.
MR. DICKERSON: He’s governor of Indiana.
MS. LERER: It’s not the double espresso of endorsements. (Laughs.) It was like –
MS. JACOBS: He praised both Donald Trump –
MR. ZELENY: He endorsed Ted Cruz.
MS. JACOBS: – and said I’m going to vote for Ted Cruz, but I – you know, I really like Donald Trump –
MS. LERER: Right.
MS. JACOBS: – and he’s doing a great job.
MS. LAKSHMANAN: Well, the one I’m more surprised about is the reaction that Senator Bob Corker gave after Donald Trump’s –
MS. LERER: Oh, that was – yeah.
MS. LAKSHMANAN: – foreign-policy speech, because Bob Corker is someone who I’ve covered quite closely. And in 2008, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he was really a conservative Republican. And when he replaced, you know, Lugar in that position, we all thought, oh, what’s going to happen to the Republican side? Over the last several years he’s actually worked pretty closely with the Obama administration on a number of things, including the Iran deal. He didn’t end up scuppering it, even though he was unhappy with it. And to have him, after Donald Trump’s foreign-policy speech, come out and say I liked a lot of what I heard, that was a surprise because Bob Corker has become the Republican establishment in the Senate on foreign policy.
MR. DICKERSON: Let’s listen to a little of Donald Trump speaking this week about foreign policy in this speech.
MR. TRUMP: (From video.) It’s time to shake the rust off America’s foreign policy. It’s time to invite new voices and new visions into the fold, something we have to do. My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else. Has to be first – has to be.
MR. DICKERSON: So, Indira, what did you make of the whole speech?
MS. LAKSHMANAN: It was incredible, actually, to be in that room. He had about a hundred guests who were invited, all part of the foreign-policy establishment, people who were former Republican members of even Reagan’s Cabinet. We had – National Security Adviser Bud McFarlane was there in the audience. The Russian ambassador was in the audience. So he invited in a bunch of people and he gave a speech, the theme of which was America first. And he used those words.
Now, what strikes me is any student of history is going to remember America first. That was the 1930s in America. Those were the isolationists, the people who didn’t want to get into World War II, who were essentially Nazi appeasers. And that movement went really strongly until the bombing of Pearl Harbor. So for him to resuscitate that term, America first, was a little bit jarring to hear it.
He then said his – that the foreign policy of the Obama administration – you’re not going to be surprised – he said it was bad, very terrible, the worst-ever policy, and that he was going to bring in the best-ever policy, using his simple language, stitching together lines from all of his stump speeches and sort of making that into his foreign-policy speech.
He said that his foreign policy is going to be the first coherent foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. However, it’s also going to be completely unpredictable. So I sat there in the audience sort of scratching my head and thinking you’re going to be coherent and unpredictable at the same time? Then he said we’re going to really spend much more money on the military, make it much stronger, but we’re not going to use the military unless we absolutely have to. But we are going to be tough on ISIS. We’re going to hit them. We’re going to go to war. But we’re only going to fight wars if we can win.
I mean, it was a lot of saying what everyone wanted to hear. There was something for everyone.
MR. DICKERSON: So, Jennifer, what’s the point of this speech if it’s going to be that vague? He gave it behind – you know, you saw the flags in the background, the teleprompters. What was he going for?
MS. JACOBS: The message that came through to voters was that two-word slogan, America first. And people really responded to that. You saw it on social media. People – they just loved it.
MR. ZELENY: What was most striking to me, though, this is, OK, we’re at the end of April and he’s, you know, almost the Republican nominee. That was his first foreign-policy speech. I mean, you know, generally in political – in presidential campaigns, people have laid out their foreign policy before. So I think the fact that he was giving his first really substantive speech was –
MS. LAKSHMANAN: Well, has Bernie Sanders really laid out his foreign policy? I mean, I –
MR. ZELENY: Certainly more than that.
MS. JACOBS: More than this.
MR. ZELENY: I think absolutely more than that, yeah.
MS. JACOBS: More than this.
MR. DICKERSON: One thing I want to get to before we’re done. Ted Cruz picked a vice president this week.
MR. ZELENY: (Laughs.)
MR. DICKERSON: Quickly, in the last minute, give us your sense. Is that going to do anything to help him in his effort to stop Donald Trump, picking Carly Fiorina?
MS. JACOBS: Well, it changed the flow of information. And, you know, she’s popular with donors. Women, Republican women, like her. So it did – it did do something to change the conversation and to, you know, put Cruz back into the forefront again. So it didn’t hurt. I mean, she –
MS. LAKSHMANAN: And it’s a counterpoint to the woman-card comment, this insult –
MS. JACOBS: She’s a she.
MS. LAKSHMANAN: – about the woman card, and it’s like she’s a she, although he said of her she sings with my girls; she texts with my girls. He almost made her sound like an aunt, not a running mate.
MS. LERER: It just felt like they’re throwing everything against the wall. He has to win Indiana. He has to make a lot of progress in Indiana or it’s done for him, so let’s throw it all up against the wall, including Carly Fiorina.
MS. JACOBS: It’s five weeks until –
MS. LERER: Right.
MS. JACOBS: – you know, until California. That’s an eternity in politics. Anything could change. So, you know –
MR. ZELENY: It could. But, I mean, the math is where it is.
MS. JACOBS: The math is –
MR. ZELENY: He should have done this a long time ago, I think, to stop Trump.
MR. DICKERSON: All right, we’re going to have to end it there. Thanks to all of you.
That wraps it up for us tonight. But be sure to check out the Washington Week Webcast Extra, where we’ll discuss, among other things, who’s been the biggest spender in the presidential race so far. Would you believe it’s not Hillary Clinton? That’s later tonight and all weekend long at PBS.org/Washington Week.
Be sure to keep up with the newest developments each night with the PBS NewsHour. And we’ll see you around the table next week on Washington Week. I’m John Dickerson. Good night.