JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: The mystery continues about what took EgyptAir jet out of the sky. And Democrats brace for a messy fight at the finish line.
Days after EgyptAir Flight 804 went down in the Mediterranean Sea, more clues emerge, but still no answer as to whether or not it was a terrorist act. We will have the latest on the investigation, plus analysis from CBS News aviation and safety expert Sully Sullenberger.
Then, we will turn to politics, as Bernie Sanders just won't let go, despite overwhelming odds against him. We will ask the senator about fears he's hurting Hillary Clinton's chances against Donald Trump in the fall.
We will have new Battleground Tracker numbers about the state of that general election race in two key states and analysis.
Plus, a personal word about our colleague Morley Safer.
It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.
A U.S. drone strike ordered by President Obama killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in Pakistan this weekend.
CBS News foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan is traveling with the president and joins us from Hanoi.
Margaret, what does this strike tell us?
MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, this drone strike against Taliban leader Mullah Mansour is a clear signal that the war in Afghanistan is far from over, even though President Obama declared more than two years ago that the U.S. combat mission had ended.
Now, this operation reportedly involved several unmanned drone strikes and destroyed the car Mansour was traveling in. It is the first time that a senior Taliban leader was hit on the Pakistani side of the shared border.
Now, Mullah Mansour's death could provide a boost to the Afghan military, which has been struggling to keep a resurgent Taliban from retaking territory. And the U.S. has been forced to join in that fight. There are still nearly 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan. President Obama has wanted to bring that number down, but it is not all clear that he will be able to the end of his term.
DICKERSON: Margaret Brennan with the president, thanks, Margaret.
We turn now to the crash of the EgyptAir jet.
CBS News foreign correspondent Holly Williams, who is Alexandria, Egypt, this morning -- Holly.
HOLLY WILLIAMS, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: John, what caused EgyptAir Flight 804 to plunge into the Mediterranean Sea around 180 miles north of here is still a mystery.
The first pictures of debris from the crash show wreckage from the plane, a life vest and luggage. Egyptian authorities say they also found human remains. It was some time after 2:00 a.m. on Thursday that the passenger jet swerved wildly, turning 90 degrees to the left and spinning in a circle the right, all the while plummeting and then falling off the radar.
A U.S. intelligence source has told us that the plane's flight recorders, the so-called black boxes, have been approximately located emitted by the pings emitted by their beacons. An Egyptian government source has told us the same thing, but so far there's been no official confirmation.
Egypt's president, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, says they're sending a submarine to the search area. The black boxes may help explain what went wrong, but retrieving them from the area of the crash in waters up to 10,000-feet-deep and with rugged underwater topography could be difficult.
Data published by "A.V. Herald" -- that's an aviation industry magazine -- appears as though automated transmissions from the plane shortly before it disappeared from radar screens. And they show smoke in the bathroom and in the avionics bay and then alerts from the plane's flight control systems.
Mechanical failures, human error and terrorism are all possible causes of this crash. And, John, so far, none of them have been ruled out.
DICKERSON: Holly Williams in Alexandria, Egypt, for us, thank you so much, Holly.
Joining us now from San Francisco is CBS News aviation and safety expert Captain Sully Sullenberger. Sully, take what we know so far right now and put it in perspective. What do things look like to you?
CAPT. CHESLEY "SULLY" SULLENBERGER, CBS NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: An intentional act is one of many possible causes still on the table.
In many walks of life, it's just human nature to shoot from the hip or jump to conclusions. But, in safety-critical domains like aviation, like medicine and some others, it's the evidence, facts that we must rely upon to reach conclusions.
And it's following the facts, following the truth wherever it leads us that helps us eventually to solve even the deepest mysteries.
DICKERSON: So, in this, as you look at it, there's nothing that suggests in the fact pattern so far -- and we don't have much to go on -- but that suggests this would be terrorism over just a crazy accident that happened while the plane was in cruise?
SULLENBERGER: You know, in the light of recent events certainly in that part of the world and others, it's natural, it's human nature to think of terrorism as in the forefront.
But there have been, even though a level of flight in cruise is statistically the safest portion of the flight, accidents in the cruise portion of the flight, including, of course, Air France 447 over the South Atlantic in June 2009, and in climb near cruise altitude AirAsia Flight 8501 just recently.
So, there are possible reasons that an airplane in cruise could come into grieve.
DICKERSON: And based on what you have now seen, though, at these reports, the fault messages, the reports about radar, what do those signals tell you about some of the possible outcomes?
SULLENBERGER: Well, of course, we will know a lot more once aircraft wreckage has been recovered and examined.
We will know much more, of course, when the digital flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder are analyzed, hopefully soon. But what we can say right now is that, whatever the triggering event was, it was not sufficient to immediately destroy the entire airplane, that for several minutes, conditions allowed electrical power to still be supplied to certain systems in the airplane that could detect faults and automatically transmit those bits of information to the ground.
DICKERSON: And what was transmitted to the ground, there's talk of fire and smoke. Does that give you any indication about what have happened?
SULLENBERGER: Well, it suggests that there was some catastrophic event, whether it was a fault, an electrical arc, an incendiary device or an explosive device, that began to start a series of cascading failures. Other than that, all possibilities are on the table.
DICKERSON: Separate and apart from black boxes and the voice recorders, is there -- what else would you be looking for in terms much the investigation here to figure out whether it's just an accident or an intentional terrorist act?
SULLENBERGER: Well, as with any aviation accident, the investigators will be talking to as many people as they can, trying to interview everyone who had anything to do with this flight, everyone who touched the airplane.
And I should tell you that, as aviation safety has become better, as aviation accidents have become more rare, their causes have actually become more unique. And so, because aviation has done such a good job of reducing and eliminating what used to be many common causes of accidents, what we're left with are more black swan events.
And so I think they will be looking at many different areas. And as aviation safety has gotten better, I think there has to be more focus on aviation security, whether or not this happens to be an intentional act or not.
And for about 30 years, one of my biggest concerns is what would be called all the activities behind the scenes, in the back of the house, so to speak, the people who service and clean and cater the airplane. Sometimes, those services are outsourced to third-party vendors, where they have high turnover.
So I think, whether this is a terrorism event or not, the global experience tells us that we need to do a better job of looking at everybody who touches the airplane, including in this case.
DICKERSON: All right, Sully Sullenberger, thanks so much for your expertise.
Next up on the mystery of EgyptAir 804, former Homeland Security Adviser to George W. Bush Fran Townsend and former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman and CBS aviation safety analyst Mark Rosenker, who is in our London bureau.
Mark, we want to start with you.
Based on the fact that -- what you know now, what is this investigation going to be like? How long is it going to take?
MARK ROSENKER, CBS AVIATION SAFETY ANALYST: Well, this is going to be a very long investigation. This is a major accident investigation. And they typically in the United States take about a year.
The Egyptians are telling us that their preliminary report will come out in about a month, which is about when we will find most of the facts. There will probably be very little analysis coming in that report, but at least we will have a lot more information to be able to try to understand exactly what happened here. DICKERSON: you think it could be a month before we get to the central question of whether accident vs. intentional act?
ROSENKER: Absolutely, unless there is something which, to use a silver bullet or a smoking gun. We're going to have to wait awhile to do the forensics necessary to do a meticulous, methodical examination of everything that we recover and particularly we have to find those black boxes.
They will reveal much of what we really need to know.
DICKERSON: And, Mark, what about the fact that the Egyptians are taking the lead on this? How does that affect the investigation?
ROSENKER: Well, they're entitled to lead this investigation, based on the ICAO and X13.
ICAO, of course, is the International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialized agency of the U.N. It's a treaty that all major countries that are flying aircraft sign to and agree to the rules and regulations.
DICKERSON: Frank, I'm going to turn to you now.
On the question of terrorism, nobody has claimed credit for this yet. Usually, don't they? What does that tell you?
FRAN TOWNSEND, FORMER WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Well, we don't -- we're not clear what it tells us, right?
So, either it's odd because, of course, we have seen ISIS in the last 24 hours claim credit for attacks in Iraq. And they haven't said anything about this. Or, on the other hand, we have always been concern understand that if a terrorist organization developed a method, an explosive method that they could get past screening and detection, that they might not claim credit for it because now they know they have ability to place a device successfully on a plane and they can bring a plane down.
And so it's not clear yet. I would go back to what Sully said and our other colleague. The fact is, what we need to understand are the facts. And so rather than frighten people or have people be concerned it's terrorism, we saw early claims by both the Egyptian and the French that terrorism was more likely. And everyone has backed off that, because what we're looking for now are facts.
DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the Egyptians.
Does it get into a place here in your experience with dealing with other countries on national security -- this is called Egyptian Air -- that they -- that the investigation gets clouded a little bit by national interests, by national pride?
TOWNSEND: Well, and there's an example of that with EgyptAir Flight 990 in 1999. An Egyptian air pilot intentionally downed that plane. And we got the cockpit voice recorder, and it was clear that he was -- it was an act of suicide on his part.
To this day -- the NTSB claimed that an act of terrorism, an intentional act. And to this day, the Egyptians claim that that was a mechanical failure, and so absolutely, although the Egyptians at least in this case seem more open to the idea that it may have been terrorism.
DICKERSON: Mark, in these kinds of investigations, is there a cost to these quick claims by politicians and others that immediately it's terrorism, and does that get in the way of the investigation at all?
ROSENKER: Well, not really, because the truth is done by the scientific examination, a meticulous, methodical process that in fact will reveal the truth.
So, people can say what they wish to say. But the reality is, is they may look like they were ignorant of what really happened. That's the danger.
DICKERSON: And in terms of the U.S. role in this, Mark, what is the U.S. role in this investigation?
ROSENKER: Well, at this point, the Egyptians will be leading the investigation. The French are already participating. They have sent a number of investigators. And Airbus has sent its technicians to Cairo to begin the process of in this investigation.
The United States actually would have a role, should they wish to participate and be invited to participate, by virtue of the avionics that are on board this aircraft and the engines. The engines are part of a consortium that Pratt & Whitney is a major player in.
DICKERSON: Fran, based on what we know, the two countries involved, France and Egypt, what does that -- does that raise any red flags for you? Does that -- what questions would you be looking into in terms of those airports on the terrorism question?
ROSENKER: Well, John, I think we have got to expand sort of the question. Right?
This plane in the 24 hours before was in Eritrea, was in Tunisia, was in Paris, and made two stops in Cairo before it made that ultimate last leg of its flight. And so back to the point about the investigation, investigators are going all the way back to everybody who touched that plane in the last 24 hours, the security around the aircraft, the personnel who touched it, all of that.
It's not just about France and Egypt, but it involves all those countries.
DICKERSON: All right, Fran Townsend, thanks so much.
Mark, thank you.
And we will be back in one minute with Senator Bernie Sanders. Stay with us.
DICKERSON: We turn now to politics and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who is on the campaign trail in San Diego.
Senator, thank you very much for getting up so early to join us.
DICKERSON: I hope you have coffee.
So, you're out there trying to get delegates. And Hillary Clinton is saying that there is no way she's not going to be the nominee.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think that Hillary Clinton has not looked at a lot of the national polls out there, which have me doing a lot better than she is against Donald Trump, and that's true in almost all of the state polls as well.
I think she may not have noticed that in the last three contests, we won, and we tied in Kentucky, and that we have excellent chance to win a majority of the states coming up in the next two weeks, six states, and we think we can win most of them, including California.
I think when you have a situation, John, where over 400 superdelegates declared for Hillary Clinton before anyone else was in the race, before the first ballot was cast, before anyone had a sense of how the campaign was going, I think we have chance to win over some of those superdelegates who see me as the strongest candidate against Trump.
And also I think we can, if we do very, very well -- and it's an uphill fight -- if we do very well in the next six states, we will have a majority of pledged delegates or come very close to that.
DICKERSON: Let me ask you about that uphill fight.
On the question of pledged delegates -- we will leave superdelegates for a moment. Just on the pledged delegates, the way the math works out is that you need to win in those remaining contests by 40 percent. That's not just a steep hill. That's almost vertical, Senator.
SANDERS: Well, it is a steep hill. But we have won races by more than 40 percent. California has 475 delegates. We are here in California. I think there's a very positive response in one of the most progressive states in the country.
So, John, this is an uphill fight. We have got 46 percent of the pledged delegates right now. My hope to make it to 50 percent. You know, John, when we began this campaign, we were at 3 percent in the polls. We were 60 points behind Secretary Clinton. We have come a long way. It's been an uphill fight. We're going to continue to fight until the last ballot is cast.
DICKERSON: What is your feeling about the process so far? Do you think it's been fair to you?
SANDERS: Well, this is what I think. I think that the issues that we are raising, the fact that we have to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, that people sense there's something wrong in American society, where they working longer hours for lower wages almost, and almost all new income and wealth is going to the 1 percent, where we are the only major country on Earth that doesn't guarantee paid family or medical leave, health care for all. We're the only major country.
And I think that what people are sensing is the need for real change in this country, and establishment politics or establishment economics is not doing it. In terms of the process, well, you know, we have taken on entire Democratic establishment.
In virtually every -- not virtually -- in every state that we have run in, we have had to take on entire Democratic leadership. And yet we have now won 20 states. I think we have real chance to win a lot more in the next couple of weeks.
So, in some states, it has been great. People have been absolutely fair. Other states are perhaps not so much. In terms of the debates, for example, we're still waiting. Secretary Clinton agreed way back when to do a debate in California in May. We are hoping that the Democratic National Committee will ask her to keep her word and allow that debate to take forward -- to go forward.
DICKERSON: One of the things I hear from a lot of your supporters, people who are part of this movement you have created, is they really think that you -- that it's rigged against you, that the system -- it's not just that you're fighting the establishment, but that the establishment has essentially bent the rules to defeat you.
Do you buy into that idea?
SANDERS: Well, this is what I will say, John.
The world that I see going out on the campaign trail, where people are working two or three hours, where they can't afford to send their children to college, where young people want real change in terms of climate change and a tax on carbon, is such a different world than where the political establishment is, it is really -- it's like two parallel universes.
And what we have done -- and I'm very proud of it -- is bring, I think, millions of people into the political process who formerly were not in it. Right now in California, what I'm reading is that there's a tremendous surge in people registering to vote.
So, you know, when you take on the entire political establishment, when you take on the financial establishment, when you take on the media establishment, John, it is very hard in this campaign -- and CBS does better than most, I have to tell you -- to allow serious discussion about serious issues, which is a handicap to us.
If I were insulting somebody, we'd get lot of attention. But real discussion about why the middle class is disappearing and income and wealth inequality is growing, somehow, for corporate media, not so much interested in that.
DICKERSON: Let me ask you about a member of the establishment, the head of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Your campaign manager suggested she had helped Hillary Clinton in what she'd done. You said you wouldn't leave her in the job if you were to be president.
SANDERS: That's right.
DICKERSON: There's a lot of anger about the system. Have you now put kind of a target on Debbie Wasserman Schultz?
SANDERS: No. I have known Debbie for many years. Personally, I like her.
Do I think she's the kind of chair that Democratic Party needs? No, I don't. What we need right now is to revitalize democracy in America, to bring millions of young people and working-class people into the system, to a significant degree.
Frankly, what the Democratic Party is about is people running around to rich people's homes and raising obscene sums of money from wealthy people. What we need to do is to say to working-class people, we're on your side.
We know that you need the ability to send your kids to college, and you can't afford it right now. We know that, in many cases, the income that you're making has gone down. We are prepared to stand up to Wall Street, whose greed has done so much harm to our economy, to corporate America, who will send your job to China in five minutes if they can make $2 more in profits.
That's the kind of party we need to be, a vital party of working- class people who are hurting, of young people who have a dream that this country can be much more than it is today...
DICKERSON: Let me...
SANDERS: ... not just party where we have our folks raising money for wealthy people.
DICKERSON: Let me ask you about that pitch to working people.
There is some discussion that your supporters might, in a general election, if you don't make the nomination, that they might go over to Donald Trump. What do you make of that argument? SANDERS: Well, I make the argument -- the argument that I make is that Donald Trump (AUDIO GAP) got to talk to the needs of people. That's how -- that's what democracy is about.
And I believe that any candidate, Secretary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, who is prepared to stand up say, you know what, we have to take on the billionaire class, that it's absurd that almost new income and wealth goes to them, that we need health care for all people as a right, like every other major country does, that we need to make public colleges and universities tuition-free by putting a tax on Wall Street speculation, that we need a carbon tax on the fossil fuel industry, because climate change is threatening this whole planet.
I think any candidate who comes up with that perspective will excite people and will win the election. Donald Trump is a disaster in my view. And I will do everything that I can, whether as the candidate or not, to see that he's defeated.
DICKERSON: As of right now, how far will you take your fight?
SANDERS: Well, we're going to the convention. We are going to the convection. At the very least, if we do not end up winning the nomination -- and we're going to fight to win it -- I want to have a platform of the Democratic Party which is very strong, the strongest ever representing working people.
I want changes in the rules of the Democratic primary process, such that we have open primaries where millions of people are not disenfranchised because they are independents. So, there's a lot of work to be done, whether or not I am the nominee.
DICKERSON: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, we will see you at the convention. Thanks so much for being with us.
And we will be back in a moment with a tribute to CBS News man Morley Safer.
DICKERSON: Our colleague Morley Safer died this week.
As a kid growing up, ours was one of the families that arranged their Sunday evenings around "60 Minutes." So, I learned early on to watch out for any story by the guy with the hard-to-place accent and the antique name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORLEY SAFER, CBS NEWS: I'm Morley Safer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DICKERSON: The story that was coming was going to be wry and human, and take a sideways look at life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAFER: Suppose you had a few dollars and you had to get from Paris to Istanbul. Then this is how you would go--first class on the Orient Express.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DICKERSON: But I didn't know about until I was older was what Morley Safer had done before. He's the Vietnam reporter. He'd been on the frontlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAFER: Just got on the hill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DICKERSON: Shot at more than once. And taking down the stories of young, scared soldiers moments before they were killed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAFER: Seconds later the boy is dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DICKERSON: Maybe because he had reported up close about death he became a reporter who celebrated life. His was a heck of a life and he enriched ours. Morley Safer was eighty-four.
DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now. But, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including brand-new general election Battleground Tracker poll numbers in Ohio and Florida and our panel.
Stay with us.
DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We are joined now by the director of elections at CBS News Anthony Salvanto.
Anthony, welcome back. Let's start with Bernie Sanders. Why is the math so hard for him? ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: Well, you know, he points out that he does better-- he does well in a lot of polls head to head against Donald Trump. He's right about that. But in order to get to that General Election, he does have a steep hill, which is to say he needs to get about seventy percent of the remaining pledged delegates that are out there. Ninety percent of all the uncommitted delegates that are out there in order to catch Hillary-- Hillary Clinton and, you know that also presumes that Hillary Clinton's support will just evaporate and so far it shows no signs of doing that. So it is tough for him. DICKERSON: He talks about maybe convincing the superdelegates when he gets to the convention. He's also got a pretty steep-- he's also got a steep hill to climb there as well.
SALVANTO: Yeah. Superdelegates are about persuasion, not just about math. And these are party leaders and elected officials who can support whomever they like. And right now the majority of them are with Hillary Clinton, and, again, they haven't shown any signs of switching.
DICKERSON: Let's now join-- go to the General Election map, that big map where we'll just start off with reminding us where things stand in a General Election, where the two parties are, what things look like going into the General Election?
SALVANTO: Sure. Well, as we pivot to the general, you start to look at a collection of states where, and, remember, the presidential election is a state by state contest. Although, we will see many national polls which are useful. This is won state by state. Now the Democrats have in recent years held on to a number of states that add up to slightly more electoral votes, then the Republicans have sort of reliably in their corner, which is to say that Democrats do very well along the coast--New York, California, places with big urban centers. And the Republicans tend to do very well right around the south through the plain states. That's where you start. But in the middle of all of that, in the middle, is our number of states we usually call them battleground states, and we'll track them all. And these are places that are more closely divided, where partisanship evens out or tends to be close to even between Democrats and Republicans. And, of course, many of the times you hear them mention, you always hear Ohio and Florida mentioned in that-- in that sentence. And so that's why we've started there.
DICKERSON: Right. So the election in America really takes place in about a dozen states. It's not a national election. It's really about a dozen states. You looked in Ohio and Florida, so what did you learn?
SALVANTO: : So one of the things that underpins that entire map, because it does tell a story--is the idea that partisans ultimately come home? They, ultimately, vote for the nominee of their party. Now, they do that reliably in a lot of those deep blue and deep red states that we mentioned but the key is will they come home in some of these battleground states? In Ohio and Florida we already start to see that, in fact, that they are. So that you get now eight and ten Democrats who decided they are going to vote for Hillary Clinton and eight in ten Republicans and this is important because they've talked so much about unifying the party. Can he unify? Who will say now that they will vote for Donald Trump?
And, importantly, what their-- the motivation behind them is not entirely that they think that either of these folks is the best candidate. There is a big part of their motivation that says they're out to stop the other side.
DICKERSON: So let me ask you about that in a second. But just to-- a lot of people say that Donald Trump will be like Barry Goldwater in 1964 who got crushed by Lyndon Johnson. What you're suggesting is that there is a kind of systemic change in the structure, that Republicans support Republicans. And so Donald Trump is always going to get barring some calamity. What appears from your finding so far is that he's getting the kind of normal Republican vote already despite all the talk of Never Trump.
SALVANTO: He-- he is. And well, you're exactly right about the way this has shaped up, historically. Now, you go back to the sixties--you go back to seventies, even the eighties and you would see a quarter of partisans switching over to the other side. President Reagan got a quarter of Democrats. And we saw that pattern a lot. But over recent years, it's become much more hard and fast where partisans, if six or seven percent of them cross over that's a big number. So, you're right, that this is recent and this is a phenomenon where we see partisans voting for part-- voting for their candidate and that's right. It does appear now that Donald Trump is going to get many of those Republicans, at least in these battleground states to start falling into line with the Republican nominee.
DICKERSON: One of the arguments Hillary Clinton is making about Donald Trump is that he is risky. What have you found in the polling that tells us about people's tolerance for risk?
SALVANTO: Yeah. There may be some. We found that a third of folks say that things are so bad that the country can afford to take a chance on its next presidential pick. And it so happens with Donald Trump is winning, dominating among those voters. Now, that's not everybody. That's a third. And some of those are Republicans and independents who may be looking to rationalize a choice and maybe a controversial one. But the-- the thing is for Hillary Clinton, she has to watch that that idea does not expand out. That that idea does not take hold in a wider segment of the electorate because Donald Trump is already leading on the ability to bring change. Yes.
DICKERSON: Wow. And some Republicans have been saying to me, big risk, yes, but maybe big reward.
DICKERSON: Let's-- on the last question here, we're talking about the map as it's kind of traditionally been in 2012 and so forth. What are the chances that the map could change outside of these battleground states that we're familiar with? What are you looking for in terms of what we should look forward to in terms of the map changing, if it does?
SALVANTO: I think it's a good chance. I mean, look, if we've learned anything that's here, John, is that we should challenge our assumption, right? DICKERSON: Might be a whole new continent.
SALVANTO: Yeah. So-- so what we've got here is we're starting with a map and what we've seen from partisanship that's based on the last couple of cycles. But you start to look-- again the map tells a story about what kinds of voters each of these candidates can win. And take, for example, Donald Trump, who does very well with white working class voters. Well, if he continues that as he did in the primaries and there's some evidence out of these polls that he can, well, then, his map could expand. He could put places likes Michigan, certainly Pennsylvania, maybe even Minnesota in play. But then the Democrats push back and they say, well, wait a second, there are states like say, Georgia that have been reliably Republican. They are having high growth. They have a larger segment of minority voters now maybe we can put those states in play. So I think that that if demographics is destiny and that's part of whether or not this-- this is all the case, then we can start to look at maybe a very shifting playing field and that's one of the big things to watch over the next six months.
DICKERSON: All right. And we'll have you on to discuss all of that, Anthony. One other thing is we missed the Florida matchup that is in our new poll. That shows that Clinton is at forty-three and Trump is at forty-two and with that we'll be right back with our panel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE MCKINNON, COMEDIAN: Well, bartender, I've done it. I've won the nomination. I mean, no, I haven't-- I keep losing states, but, mathematically, I've done it. To math. All right. I think I'm going to head home. Don't you work too late now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I won't Mrs. Clinton. I'm actually closing up the bar right now. So everybody's got to go. That means you too, Sir.
LARRY DAVID, COMEDIAN: No freaking way. I'm not going anywhere. I can stay here as long as I want.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Sanders, I'm sorry. But the night is over.
DAVID: No, it's not over! It's not over until I say it's over!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DICKERSON: That's Kate McKinnon and Larry David from "Saturday Night Live."
Now for some political analysis we're joined by Molly Ball of "The Atlantic," Ezra Klein of vox.com, Ramesh Ponnuru of "The National Review," and Ed O'Keefe of "The Washington Post." We're going to get to the Democratic race in a moment.
But, Ed, I want to start with you. There's a new "Washington Post" poll that shows the race is very close. Our battleground tracker showed that too. So what do you -- what struck you in this poll?
ED O'KEEFE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": So this was a national survey and it puts Donald Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton for the first time, 46 percent to 44 percent. A statistical tie in -- in polling terms. But -- but notable that he got ahead. . I think the two things that stuck out to me, forty-eight percent of Clinton's backers now mainly voting to oppose Trump, while 53 percent of his supporters are with him to oppose her. So it shows you that this is one of those elections where it's not about that guy, it's about the other person.
The other thing that sticks out, I think, throughout this whole thing, if you -- if you dive deep into it, 52 percent of voters right now telling us they want an experienced candidate, while 43 percent (INAUDIBLE). That number has tightened.. As if it continues to tighten, I think it continues to show the real challenge potentially for Mrs. Clinton because nobody in this race but her, you know, speaks to the establishment, the experience, sort of type of candidate that people would prefer. If the outsider number continues to climb it would suggest that Trump will do much better.
DICKERSON: That negativity you suggested is coming in this race, no surprise to any of us. But we found in our poll in those -- in Ohio and -- and Florida, seven in ten people thought the race would not be worthy of the presidency.
DICKERSON: Molly, are-- are we surprised by these numbers that it's so close?
MOLLY BALL, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, I think it has been somewhat surprising. A lot of even Republicans I talked to are surprised that the party has come home to Trump so quickly. And-- and that's really what we're seeing in a lot of these polls. You know the-- before Trump won the nomination, there were these hypothetical General Election matchups where Clinton was way far ahead of him. And that has tightened up principally because of the coalescing of the Republican Party and the failure to coalesce of the Democratic Party. So I think the real open question is whether once Hillary Clinton does decisively win the Democratic nomination whether her party comes home to her the way Trump's party has come home to him, which is not necessarily a sure thing.
DICKERSON: Ezra, of course, this is a long way off from, and we have an actual election but the way Democrats were talking about Trump's vulnerabilities with women, with younger voters, with voters of color, you would have thought that those would be just-- that you wouldn't have numbers this close so far or right now. Do you feel that way?
EZRA KLEIN, VOX.COM: So I think the-- the question is one Molly just raised. Are we seeing a period of time right now where Trump has been able to begin consolidating the Republican Party because of their primaries ended? But Hillary Clinton has not been able to consolidate the Democratic primary because their primary has not, yet, ended. There have been a lot of polling showing that Clinton is really sagging right now because Bernie Sanders' supporters are so negative on her. The Democratic primary has become more bitter, more angry in its final months. So I think the-- the thing that I am waiting to see is once that ends and at some point it will end, does hurt-- do her numbers jump back up and we go back to seeing what we've been seeing for a while, which is a six-seven point lead for Clinton over Trump in the polls.
DICKERSON: Ramesh, does this kick a leg out from under the Never Trump movement, which was already having difficulty because one of their arguments is, oh, he's going to get slaughtered in the General Election. It's going to be a disaster. But if polls are this close, Donald Trump, he often talks about the polls, will say, hey, I'm already ahead, so let's keep rallying behind me.
RAMESH PONNURU, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I think it undercuts the Never Trump movement in two ways--one, because it shows that he's not a sure loser. Two, because it shows that there isn't necessarily this huge audience of conservatism in Republicans who are dissatisfied with him enough to want to bolt. It helps in another way, though, and that it shows that these are two extremely unpopular candidates. Two people that most voters don't like and so it shows that there is maybe an audience for somebody who is going to be a third party candidate. That's what the Never Trump folks are going to be clinging to anyway.
DICKERSON: But do you think, Ezra, that a never -- that a -- that a third party candidate, I mean there are polls that show there's an appetite for one. But an appetite is a lot different than building an organization in the 12 battleground states you need to win, right?
KLEIN: And getting on the ballot and doing all of that work. I think "The Post" poll, if I'm not wrong --
KLEIN: -- tested what would happen if you put in Mitt Romney as the third party candidate and-- and he was running behind Clinton and Trump and he was, I think if I remember correctly, around twenty percent, twenty-two percent of the vote.
O'KEEFE: Two percent.
KLEIN: So there-- there is potentially appetite, but appetite does not, as you say, move into organization. And the problem for the Never Trump folks is that the immediate effect of that would be to destroy the Republican chances in the-- in the election because what happens even in that Post poll is that Mitt Romney takes more from Trump, obviously, than he does from Clinton.
DICKERSON: Molly, let's switch to the -- did you want to jump in here?
BALL: Well, although it was actually surprising to me how much he took from Clinton and how little it affected the overall. It did, however, change it from a narrow Trump win to a narrow Clinton win.
KLEIN: The single -- I mean reasonably significant Clinton won. But, yes, you're right about that.
DICKERSON: Let's talk about the Democrats here, Molly. How bad is the family fight in the Democratic Party right now? BALL: I think it's gotten a lot worse. I have actually been surprised at the level of acrimony. And-- and you know, the Clinton campaign believes that this is not a significant obstacle for her once we get to the General Election that the part of the reason it's become so acrimonious is that the-- the last sort of hard core that clings to a losing candidate is always going to be the most ardent and bitter and-- and-- and unable to see reality, perhaps. But it has, you know, we saw with the Nevada convention, some really ugly things being hurled at the state chairwoman there by the Bernie Sanders' supporters, and I think that shows you that-- and, you know, going back to this question about do Democrats come home the way Republicans come home, it's actually a different question for Hillary Clinton than that because so much of Bernie Sanders support has come from independents in open primaries. So she doesn't have to only bring in-- to bring in his supporters she doesn't only need to bring home Democrats but a lot of independents and a lot of young people who may never have voted before who have been absolutely immune to her charms in this Democratic primary.
DICKERSON: Is there anything, Ramesh, that -- that they -- that Republicans can exploit from the current tension in the Democratic race?
PONNURU: Well, Donald Trump says he's going to try to appeal to Sanders voters; and I suppose he's going to try to make the kind of, I'm going to shake up the system just as he is trying to. I-- I agree with him on trade. That's something that he's explicitly said and where the polling suggests that most voters are very receptive right now to an anti-trade message. I don't know in the end if it's going to cause a large percentage of Sanders voters to vote for them but we just need a large percentage.
DICKERSON: What about Ramesh's point that they can -- that these voters can --
O'KEEFE: Well, I think-- I think they're very easily Republicans going to be able to exploit the fact that now we have a member of the Democratic Party who's running for President saying that the party chairman needs to get out, that she deserves to be primaried, that his supporters are clamoring for him to get involved in other congressional races. You're starting to see now the makings of what began in the Republican Party a few years ago, where they started going after party leaders, they started calling for primaries of prominent members of the party. That very well may be part of what Sanders or at least his supporters end up doing in the coming years.
And the party may be preparing itself now for a little more of a split than we've seen in the past. And-- and polling continues to show that-- that Trump may poll, you know, a double-digit at least bit of-- of Sanders support into his camp as the campaign continues. That would mostly be the disaffected economically distressed or economically concerned voter. They're out there and they're out there in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, places where if the map begins to shift this race will be fun.
DICKERSON: Although we have, Ezra, in-- in the most recent CBS News-New York Times poll found that seventy-two percent of Sanders voters would vote for Clinton in the general. In May of 2008 only sixty percent of Clinton supporters said they would support Obama. So the Democratic race for all of the excitement this week, at least as the polling shows is not as hot as it was in '08.
KLEIN: Yeah. I-- I think what we're seeing right now and I agree with Molly, it's gotten more acrimonious, but it is not unusual. I mean I remember PUMAs of the 2008 convention--Hillary Clinton supporters would never under any circumstance ever support Obama. But, of course, he got a very, not just normal but very healthy share of the Democratic vote in-- once the general election actually went down. And I think you see it with Trump. I mean we were saying earlier it's surprising how quickly Trump has consolidated the party. From a place of real acrimony and fear of people talking about third party runs what's been going on on the Democratic side has had much smaller differences than Trump versus the establishment of the Republican Party. And so, it is hard for me to see why it would be a much more difficult gap to bridge.
DICKERSON: OK. We're going to take a little break right now, but we'll be right back with more of Ramesh, Ed, Ezra and Molly, in a moment.
DICKERSON: And we're back with our panel. Let's switch to talking about the Republicans, Ed, Donald Trump this week released eleven Supreme Court names. He might pick a Supreme Court nominee or two from that. And he also was getting endorsement from the NRA. How does that help him?
O'KEEFE: This-- this is-- this is sort of base maintenance at its best. I mean he went out there and very quickly he settled an issue that had been a big concern to a lot of these Republicans who were skeptical about his conservatism picking, eleven folks who basically pass muster with-- with your audience I would think. And the NRA endorsement is notable because of what he has said in the past about gun control. He was-- he was pretty supportive of restrictions and-- and-- and he tweeted in the past right after the Newtown tragedy, for example, that the President had spoken for all of the country in the wake of that gun violence and, yet, this weekend stands on the stage in Kentucky, at the NRA convention and even openly suggests that because she's so anti-gun, perhaps, Mrs. Clinton should go without her Secret Service protection, that's exactly what a lot of Republicans want to hear. That's why I think we're beginning to see the consolidation work. And if you think about the last few weeks, he came to Washington, gets the blessing of a lot of congressional leaders. He-- he releases his Supreme Court nominations. He-- he goes to the NRA and gets their blessing. He's even made some pretty half hearted but enough to say that he's tried attempts of getting Hispanic voters, or at least Hispanic conservatives. All of this designed to assuage the fears of Republicans that he's incapable of being their nominee.
DICKERSON: Ramesh, I have talked to Republicans who are supporting Donald Trump, and I'd say, where are you on the-- his ban of new Muslim immigrants? They don't agree with that. They don't agree with the deport-- with deportation. They don't think he'll build the wall. But does any of that matter if he's got the right opinions on Supreme Court nominees and the Second Amendment?
PONNURU: Well, it depends on who you're talking to whether it matters. And you got to remember with the-- the ban on Muslims, with the wall, he's also said these are negotiating positions. So a lot of Republicans who don't agree with it can support him anyway because they think, well, that's just campaign rhetoric. What's interesting here is that typically the Republican nominee courts conservatives during the primaries--
PONNURU: --and then broadens the message out here. Here you got a guy who's talking how we're going to please conservatives of the Supreme Court and on guns after he's clinched the nomination, which is a very unusual position for Republicans.
O'KEEFE: But I think it's-- it's fantastic counterprogramming at a time when Clinton and Sanders are still fighting with each other. Here he is spending, you know, the two months before his convention consolidating the support, checking all the boxes, going to all these different groups while they're still fighting it out. Again, I think that's part of why we're seeing the support he's now enjoying.
PONNURU: But the last-- the last bit he hasn't gotten is the donors. The Republicans donors are still--
DICKERSON: Right now--
O'KEEFE: And that will be-- that will probably be the hardest of all.
DICKERSON: Molly, The New York Times says in a piece today and says all the big donors, well, not all, but a lot of the big donors in the Republican Party are not supporting Donald Trump. Is that a problem or can he get around that somehow?
BALL: Well, it is a problem if he will not have the money that he needs to compete in this campaign. Although I think what he would say was he didn't have the traditional money or structure for the Republican primary and that was fine. I mean I would say a couple of things about this. First of all, you're talking about the traditional donor base of the Republican Party, and what Trump is aiming to do is bring in a nontraditional donor base of his friends who may be sort of eccentric billionaires who haven't been really involved in politics in the past. His finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, is someone who's given more to Democrats, you know? Trump knows people like Carl Icahn, who said he's going to put a hundred and fifty million dollars into this election. So there may be some-- there may be a whole new donor base that's available to Trump. Also the RNC, you know, has been preparing to be the machinery of the nominee's campaign, whoever it is, for the last four years, and to do all of the-- you know, digital field organizing, all the little stuff that Trump doesn't seem interested in. DICKERSON: The eccentric billionaire's PAC it has a ring to it. Ezra, let me ask you about Guy Cecil, who is the head of Priorities USA, the Super PAC helping Hillary Clinton said, that calling Donald Trump risky is may be not such a smart idea because with the notion of risk is also paired with it that the idea that, hey, maybe there's a big reward out there. What do you think about that in terms of Democratic messaging?
KLEIN: So the way that-- that-- that the Clinton orbit, which includes Priorities USA is trying to think about this election, is that there are two ways they think you can win it. One way is that you can try to run a traditional Democratic-Republican election, split the-- that-- split the voter elect-- split the electorate into two groups and hope yours is a little bit bigger. That's what Obama does in 2012. They think there's a possibility, and maybe that possibility is not real. But they think it might be real that you can go a bit bigger than that, by making Donald Trump unfit for the presidency, that you can somehow convince people that this is not someone who is just fundamentally qualified which is something you see, by the way, in the post poll.
KLEIN: A lot of people believe he is not fundamentally qualified. And if you could do that, then you get a landslide-level victory. And so I think the thing they are trying to work through is what are the messages that are the least alienating to those independents and even potentially Republican moderates who they want to pick up, things like risk, as you say, they might have a downside of potentially saying, well, Donald Trump might be better than you think, but they're trying to work in that group of-- of ideas that are about being unqualified, unfit for the presidency.
DICKERSON: Ramesh, Donald Trump met with Henry Kissinger this week to fix, I think, that qualification question, right? How-- how-- how-- what if he lines up ten of those meetings you've seen talking-- does that help-- does it help with the foreign policy establishment in the conservative side?
PONNURU: I think it helps, but, fundamentally, it's going to require the candidate himself, not just to meet with people but to-- to sound different when he's talking about issues. I think Ezra's right about what the-- the vulnerability that the polls show. Even when they show Trump ahead they show a majority of Americans, with majority of registered voters who don't think he has the right temperament to be president, who don't think he is qualified to be president. Now, obviously, based on the overall numbers, not enough people are-- are weighing that concern heavily enough for the Democrats. But what they're going to try to do is get them to weigh it a little bit more heavily.
DICKERSON: All right. That's going to have to be the last word. Thanks to all of you. Thanks very much for watching. And we'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DICKERSON: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching. Until next week for FACE THE NATION, I'm John Dickerson.
for more features.