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Face the Nation transcripts May 8, 2016: Clinton

JOHN DICKERSON, HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: It's Donald Trump's party now. The Republican nominee is set. Hillary Clinton has more work to do, but the battle has begun.

We caught up with the Democratic front-runner on the campaign trail in California and asked about her likely campaign against Donald Trump.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I'm not going to run an ugly race. I'm going to run a race based on issues. I don't really feel like I'm running against Donald Trump.


DICKERSON: Donald Trump has a different view. He's already launching attacks on both Clintons.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's married to a man who was the worse abuser of women in the history of politics. And Hillary was an enabler and she treated these women horribly. And some of those women were destroyed not by him, but by the way that Hillary Clinton treated them after everything went down.


DICKERSON: Is that the road to success? We will talk to our political panel about the general election landscape six months out.

Then, can Trump unite the Republican Party behind him, or do Republicans have to join the party of Trump?


TRUMP: This country, which is very, very divided in so many different ways, is going to become one beautiful, loving country.


DICKERSON: Plus, conservatives weigh in on the new era.

It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.

We sat down with Hillary Clinton Friday for a lengthy interview about her general election strategy against Donald Trump, whether it was time for Bernie Sanders to get out of the race, and the latest developments on the FBI investigation into her e-mail server.


DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, you have said that Donald Trump is a loose cannon. You have said he's dangerous. Are you suggesting he's not of sound mind?

CLINTON: Well, I think that being a loose cannon means saying that other nations should go ahead and acquire nuclear weapons for themselves, when that is the last thing we need in the world today.

Being a loose cannon is saying we should pull out of NATO, the strongest military alliance in the history of the world and something that we really need to modernize, but not abandon. I think saying that he's a loose cannon really focuses on some of the statements he's made which I find concerning, going back to torture, killing terrorist families, which would be a war crime.

And those are just some of the concerns that I hear people talking about which I think does fit the definition of a loose cannon.

DICKERSON: But you're not -- you're not making claims about his underlying stability?

CLINTON: I'm talking about what he has said in this campaign and continues to say and the kind of agenda he's putting forth for our country, which, obviously, I think would not be in the best interests.

DICKERSON: What do you take away from the Republican race, now that it's over?

CLINTON: Well, I have to say, the Republicans themselves are raising questions about their presumptive nominee. And I think that's in large measure, John, because they do understand how hard the job of being president is.

When you have former presidents, when you have high-ranking Republican officials in Congress raising questions about their nominee, I don't think it's personal, so much as rooted in their respect for the office and their deep concern about what kind of leader he would be.

DICKERSON: You have said that he should be asked hard questions now that he's in the general election, essentially. What are the -- give me three hard questions you think he should be asked.

CLINTON: Well, when he says that Americans don't need a raise and that's why he doesn't believe we should raise the minimum wage, what's that based on? Because, if you look at the evidence -- and more than evidence, if you listen to the stories, as I have now for more than a year, of so many Americans who haven't had a raise in 15 years, it raises serious issues about how well he understands what's happening in the economy to working people.

DICKERSON: So, his answer would be, he want to create jobs and those jobs will raise wages. That would be -- so he has been asked that question, and he just has a different view.

CLINTON: Well, he doesn't have a view. He has a slogan. And he needs to be really pressed on that.

When he says climate change is a Chinese hoax, what does that mean? Has he ever talked to a scientist, or is he just again assuming a slogan? When he says women should be punished for having abortions, what does that mean, and how would he go about that, or rounding up 11 million, 12 million people, which he again repeated, which would entail the most comprehensive police and military action inside our borders that is imaginable?

And you combine that with a lot of what he's said about foreign policy and then recently economic policy, when he said he'd renegotiate the national debt. Maybe he just doesn't understand that running our government is not the same as making real estate deals, that putting the full faith and credit of the United States of America at risk would be a horrible outcome.

And it would raise interest rates. It would wipe away savings. It would cause a financial global meltdown. People need to be pressing him. And I don't think people get, especially in the media, at least so far, into other than just the response, which then is not followed up on.

DICKERSON: One of the things that people said about this race, either with respect to Donald Trump or even with respect to your race against Bernie Sanders, is that specifics and details -- voters want what they want. And details sometimes and specifics are brought out there and they're discussed, they're fact-checked, and yet people still want the candidate that they want.

CLINTON: Well, I can only tell you my experience, which has led to my putting out specific plans, saying how I would pay for them.

And as we sit here today, I have three million more votes than Senator Sanders and two million more votes than Donald Trump. So, clearly, there is a constituency for a candidate who says, look, we don't just diagnose the problem. We offer solutions for the problem, because I want to run on an agenda that the people of America can hold me accountable for.

And you can go to my Web site,, and you can read about my plans to make college affordable, to improve the Affordable Care Act, what to do about climate change, how to create more infrastructure and manufacturing and clean energy jobs and everything else that I have laid out and exactly how I would pay for any new initiative.

You see, at the end of the day, John, I really believe that Americans take their vote for president seriously because they know it's not only the president, but the commander in chief who they are selecting. And I have a lot of confidence in the common sense of the American voter. And I'm going to continue to talk specifically about what I will do, draw contrasts with my opponents, and particularly with Donald Trump.

DICKERSON: When people look at what a general election might be like -- and we will get to the race that you still have going in the Democratic race -- but they see, Donald Trump has high negatives, high unfavorable numbers. You also have high unfavorable numbers.

And they think this is going to be a very ugly race. Why are they wrong?

CLINTON: Well, I'm not going to run an ugly race. I'm going to run a race based on issues and what my agenda is for the American people.

I don't really feel like I'm running against Donald Trump. I feel like I'm running for my vision of what our country can be and to knock down all the barriers that stand in the way of Americans getting ahead. I have heard about those. I have said sat across the table from so many Americans.

I have been in large and small crowds. People grab my hand and talk to me about how hard it is to make ends meet. They have got two minimum wage jobs and they can't pay their rent, or their child has an addiction problem, or they can't afford college.

I know what is really racking the hearts and minds of Americans. I'm going to stay focused on that. And I hope that that's what the voters will want to hear.

DICKERSON: Some of your aides talk about something called Republicans for Hillary. They think that, with Donald Trump getting the nomination, it opens a certain kind of Republican voter to you that may not have been available before.

How do you get that voter, the skeptical -- voter who is skeptical of Hillary Clinton, but that you might be able to get now? What's the pitch to them?

CLINTON: Well, obviously, I'm reaching out to Democrats, Republicans, independents, all voters who want a candidate who is running a campaign based on issues, who has been willing to put out plans and explain those plans and talk about how to pay for those plans, who has a track record of getting results for people, who understands that, although we do live in a dangerous world, there's nothing we can't meet in terms of the challenges we face if we put our minds to it.

And so I think that, for a lot of people, again, who take their vote seriously and who really see this as a crossroads kind of election, I'm asking people to come join this campaign. And I have had a lot of outreach from Republicans in the last days who say that they're interested in talking about that.

DICKERSON: When you -- Bernie Sanders -- when you talked recently, you said, in 2008, you could have kept going, but you knew Barack Obama was going to win and so you kind of got out of the way.

It sounded very much like you were trying to lead Senator Sanders to the exit. Is that what you were trying to do?

CLINTON: Well, I was talking about my experience, because I think it's a useful reminder that I was much closer to then Senator Obama. We were neck and neck in the popular vote.

His lead over me in the pledged delegate numbers was much, much smaller. As I say, I'm three million votes ahead of Senator Sanders, nearly 300 pledged delegates ahead of him. He has to make his own mind up.

But I was very heartened to hear him say last week that he is going to work seven days a week to make sure Donald Trump doesn't become president. And I want to unify the party. I see a great role and opportunity for him and his supporters to be part of that unified party, to move into not just November to win the election against Donald Trump, but to then govern based on the progressive goals that he and I share.

We both want to raise the minimum wage. We both understand you have got to rein in bad actors on Wall Street and in corporate America to make sure they don't wreck Main Street. We have a lot of the same goals. And I hope we can unify around them.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about developments in the investigation into your e-mail server. Apparently, the FBI's contacted your team in terms of talking to you. What can you tell us about that?

CLINTON: No one has reached out to me yet, but, last summer, I think last August I made it clear I'm more than ready to talk to anybody anytime.

And I have encouraged all of my assistants to be very forthcoming, and I hope that this is close to being wrapped up.

DICKERSON: So, they -- so, nobody said, Hillary Clinton, we'd like to sit down and talk to you from the FBI?

CLINTON: Not at this point.

DICKERSON: If there is this moment where voters are looking now in a general election context, looking at you vs. Donald Trump, some voters may be paying attention now in a different kind of way. What is your answer to those people who think, gee, FBI inquiry, that's a big deal? What do you say to them?

CLINTON: I say what I have said now for many, many months. It's a security inquiry. I always took classified material seriously.

There was never any material marked classified that was sent or received by me. And I look forward to this being wrapped up.

DICKERSON: What about people who think, well, she might be president; what has she learned from this whole...


CLINTON: Well, that was a mistake. And I have said that. And I will say it again, as often as I need to.

It seemed like a convenient idea at the time that certainly wasn't. And so I always take classified material seriously. There's no argument about that that I'm aware of. And I will continue to do so, and within whatever parameters are required for the president, which I know a little bit about, having served with President Obama.

DICKERSON: Is there a broader lesson, though, outside of e-mail, just in terms of just a broader lesson that comes out of this process?

CLINTON: Well, look, I think that, if you don't keep learning, you are going to stagnate and just not move forward.

And I know I have got to do my very best to answer any questions that are raised about me in any context. I have been doing that for 25 years, so I do have a lot of experience with it. But I also think it's fair that anybody who is vying for president be asked the same hard questions.

I have got 33 years of tax returns in the public domain. And Donald Trump won't release his tax returns. And his claim they're being audited, just by any analysis, doesn't hold up. So what's there? And he owes it to the American people and the press owe it to us to make sure that those kinds of questions are posed to everybody.

DICKERSON: A general election voter will know, when Hillary Clinton is the president in the office, and a convenient option arrives, maybe she will think twice about it?

CLINTON: Well, as I have said many times, there was -- I was absolutely permitted, and I did it. And it turned out to be a mistake. It wasn't the best choice.

And if you look at, though, the very difficult decisions that I was involved in, even as secretary of state, putting together the sanctions on Iran that led us to the negotiations that put a lid on their nuclear weapons program, ending one of the conflicts in Gaza by negotiating a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, you can look at my record and you can see that -- you know, we just passed the fifth anniversary about bin Laden.

I have a very serious and very focused approach to taking care of the nation's business. And I did it as senator. I did it as secretary of state. And you will even find a lot of Republicans who, when I was in those jobs, were saying nice things about me.

DICKERSON: David Ignatius has a piece in "The Washington Post," speaking of foreign policy, where he suggests that Donald Trump is pulling away from U.S. commitments abroad.

Is part of this campaign going to be you making the case for why the United States has to have a very active role overseas?

CLINTON: Well, I will certainly stand up for what I think American values, interests and our security require.

I don't see Donald Trump having any kind of coherent foreign policy or theory of national security. He kind of makes statements that I find concerning, whether it's about nuclear weapons or torture or anything else. So, I think the burden is really on him to try to make a case why, when you have had 70 years of American policy under both Republicans and Democrats trying to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, he is so cavalier, even reckless and dangerous, about how he talks when it comes to nuclear weapons.

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, thanks so much.

CLINTON: Thanks, John.


DICKERSON: And we will be back in one minute with our panel.


DICKERSON: We're back with our political panel.

Ruth Marcus is a columnist for "The Washington Post." Ben Domenech is the publisher of "The Federalist." Amy Walter is national editor of The Cook Political Report. And Jonathan Martin is national political correspondent for "The New York Times."

Jonathan, I want to start with you, which is, where are we this week? We were once talking about open conventions, and then, boom, it is over. Trump is the nominee.

JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It seems that way, John. It seems that way.

Unless something totally crazy happens and the delegates decide to try to change the rules and deny Trump the nomination, which seems to be very unlikely at this point, this is now Donald Trump's party. And that has I think come as a huge shock to a lot of folks in the party.

I think one of the reasons why this week there was so much uncertainty about what to do about Trump, that is because there was this widespread assumption that Cruz would stay in the race through California, and that at least for a month or so the party could collectively figure out how to approach a Trump nomination.

Then, boom, Tuesday, Cruz is out. Wednesday, Kasich's out. And they immediately have to say, what do we respond -- how do we respond to this? What do we say? And do we endorse him, do we hang back, do we not endorse him? And that's why I think you saw this real state of confusion this last week.

DICKERSON: Amy, Paul Ryan is a part of the state of confusion. The speaker of the House is not ready to embrace the nominee essentially of the party, and yet you have got the chairman of the party, Reince Priebus, saying everybody should come together.

Is this just -- as Jonathan said, there's a lot of kind of -- this came faster than people thought, or is there a genuine...

AMY WALTER, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: I think there's a genuine break in this party. And I don't think the party is going to look the same in 2017 as it does today.

And there's a break on ideology, there's a break on tone, there's a break on style that been brewing. Jonathan wrote about it this week. This is not new to the Republican Party. There have been factions that have been fighting with each other for quite some time about the direction and the tone of the party.

Donald Trump didn't invent it, but he walked into the room filled with gasoline and he threw a match on it, and now it's exploded and people are going to have to decide where they end up in this. I think Paul Ryan is making it pretty clear he's going to do two things, one, in the short term, protect his members from what could be a very difficult fall with Trump on the top of the ticket, especially in swing suburban districts, and also to say, here is where I stand. This is where I am in the party.

I'm going to stand over here. Trump wants to be here, that's fine, but this is my part of the party.

BEN DOMENECH, PUBLISHER, "THE FEDERALIST": To Amy's point, in August of last year, I wrote a piece for "The Federalist" that outlined basically the choice that I felt there was within the Republican coalition between a traditional message of freedom, limited government, the things that Paul Ryan stands for, and a new branch of essentially European-style white identity politics.

I think the Republican Party has decided to go in a certain route. And now Paul Ryan has to make a decision for himself, but he's looking out for his own members, defending them because he can take it within the context of this criticism.

And that's something that he's going -- a role he's going to have to play for them likely through the fall if Trump runs a campaign that actively undermines their agenda.

RUTH MARCUS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": But this was a pretty extraordinary week for the Republican Party.

If you're a Republican voter, you're watching three out of the last four guys you voted for, for president saying can't go there, and the fourth looked not too happy about saying he was going to be for the nominee.

You looked at the speaker of the House saying what he had to say. But I would actually suggest that, at least in the short term, this week might be peak anti-Trump moment, that just because the pressure is what the pressure is. Reince Priebus has a job to do in uniting the party. And you are going to see more and more members put to -- and members of the establishment and members of Congress put to the test, kind of swallowing and going down the Trump road.

MARTIN: The assumption was that the safe place politically to be was to find a way to get behind Trump.

But I think Trump is making that calculation more difficult now. If you look at his behavior in the last five days and what he's saying, it's very clear that he's not changing his approach, that this is somebody who only knows one song, and that's what he is going to play.

And if you're a Republican and you see that, and you see him mocking Elizabeth Warren for not being a true native of America.

MARCUS: Goofus.

MARTIN: Calling her goofus, savaging Lindsey Graham, and -- and Paul Ryan offers a fairly mild critique, and he just lashes back.

If you see that behavior and you have already said that you -- quote -- "endorse the nominee," you have to be feeling a little bit uneasy this weekend.


DICKERSON: Let me just -- hold on. We're going to take a look at something Donald Trump said recently about women that gets at this unpredictability that Jonathan has just talked about.


TRUMP: She's playing the women's card. She's going -- did you hear that Donald Trump raised his voice while speaking to a woman?

Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.


TRUMP: I mean, all of the men, we're petrified to speak to women anymore. We may raise our voice. You know what? The women get it better than we do, folks, all right? They get it better than we do.



DICKERSON: Amy, let me -- Hillary Clinton said she's not going to be -- she's not going to run a negative campaign against Donald Trump, but he's running one against her.


Well, she has some great options, which is, she doesn't have to. She is going to have a lot of people doing it for her, namely the super PACs. Plus, Donald Trump is her best hope right there. If you look at where Donald Trump is right now with women voters, we keep talking about this over and over again, he's at minus-75 percent, minus-79 percent just in terms of favorability ratings.

But, more dramatically, Hillary Clinton is doing that much better among white women. I think it's 21 points better with white women voters than Obama did against Mitt Romney. And this is the challenge for Donald Trump going forward.

However, I will way, I did sit down recently. There are focus groups of women voters in suburban Philadelphia, suburban Pittsburgh. They're not in love with Hillary Clinton, OK? And a lot of -- even the Pittsburgh -- these were Republican women who we talk about maybe she peels them off.

They are finding an easier way to excuse his behavior than to accept Hillary Clinton.

MARCUS: But he just seems to me to be making his bad women situation worse by the day.

He's got three arguments against Hillary Clinton. One seems to be actually a very strong and resonant argument, which is crooked Hillary. But the other two, she's not qualified, she's only there because she's a woman, is insulting, I think, not just to Hillary Clinton, but to other women who are hearing it.

And then the argument that we can't even talk back to, we can't say anything about women and they have got it so much better than us, not going to work. And he -- I think we're seeing the contours of this election come together, crooked Hillary vs. dangerous Donald.

But he'd do much better to sort of concentrate on crooked Hillary and leave the other stuff alone when it comes to women.

DOMENECH: It seems to me that the real problem and the real question for Donald Trump right now is if he's even interested in unifying his party, because he seems to give a lot of indications that is he more in the category that says I'm going to win despite the people who are maybe currently opposed to me.

Part of the issue, to Jonathan's point earlier, is that normally after parties have fractious elections like this, the divides are over ideology. they're not over whether your wife is ugly and your dad helped killed JFK. It's more the kind of thing...

MARCUS: And your husband's a philanderer.

DOMENECH: Exactly.

And the other thing is that there's a situation now with Trump where a lot of these politicians who have to think about their long- term future are looking at Trump, worried about the idea that they're going to be on stage with him while he is saying something like this, and they will ultimately have to defend him. That's something that for politicians who are looking in the long game, in the very short term, there's going to be pressure, but the more that he says these things, the easier it is to say I'm going to wait...


MARTIN: He's making this a which side were you on moment for the Republican Party.

MARCUS: Yes. Yes.

DICKERSON: Meaning everybody has to speak up and say, are you for or against Donald Trump?

MARCUS: It's going to a rolling which side were you on moment. How do you feel about this comment and this comment and this comment?

DICKERSON: We are going to hold that right there.

We're going to have more comments from all of you and the rest of our panel discussion.

Stick with us. We will be right back.


DICKERSON: We have got a lot more coming up, including a discussion with key conservatives about what it will take for Donald Trump to unite the Republican Party.

Stay with us.


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 a look at mothers and presidents and politics.

Stay with us.



We're back with Ruth Marcus of "The Washington Post" and Ben Domenech of "The Federalist," Amy Walter of "The Cook Political Report," and Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times."

Jonathan, want to start with you. Paul Ryan's going to meet with Donald Trump this week. So is he going to get to "yes"? are we going to have unity by the end of the week?

JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I think it's possible. I think Trump's making it harder on Ryan. I think the most telling moment of this last week was how Trump responded to Paul Ryan. Berceuse Paul Ryan said he couldn't support him yet but he wanted to. he wanted to hear more about Trump's convictions. And instead of responding in a sort of gracious way, or ignoring it entirely, he responded first with a paper statement saying, I'm not sure I can support the Ryan agenda. And then on the stump, you know, constantly bringing up Ryan and saying, I thought we were OK. Well, what's going on here. Trump is proving that he is unable, at least so far, to make the pivot that some of his folks were talking about was going to happen.

And so I think if Ryan does this, it's going to be for purely partisan reasons.

DICKERSON: This being getting behind Donald Trump.

MARTIN: Support Trump. Trump has made clear that he's not going to change his mind. He told us first story today that he's not going to change his agenda to satisfy Paul Ryan because the people want his agenda not Paul Ryan's. And their agendas are totally different. And on tone, certainly Ryan and Trump differ. So what's the rationale beyond partisanship?

DICKERSON: That's right. I mean Trump does have the more recent validation from the voters.

MARTIN: Oh, absolutely.

DICKERSON: Over 10 million of them.

Ben, what Jonathan says is right on trade, on entitlements, on down the line. Paul Ryan is just on the opposite end on issues from Donald Trump.

BEN DOMENECH, "THE FEDERALIST": Yes. And the - and the troubling aspect of the situation is that if Trump has a path, and I do believe he has a path to the presidency, it requires him to appeal to rest belt states where an economic agenda that is actually even further left than where he currently is, is going to be appealing. That's why I believe you already saw him shifting on the minimum wage conversation and things of that nature that are going to lead to even more breaks with Ryan down the line, that's going to make it harder and harder to have these agendas paired up against - paired up against each other, one from the House Republicans and one from the nominee of their party.

DICKERSON: Amy, what do you think the map does look like, the electoral map? We're now talking about a general election. Does Donald Trump put new states in play?

AMY WALTER, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: So, you can go to, put that -

MARTIN: Good plug.

WALTER: For our plug for our new map where we have it starting right now with Hillary Clinton with 304 electoral votes. Obviously you need 270 to win. DICKERSON: Well over the 270.

WALTER: Well over the 270. Because what she is able I think to cement in the new map is - in our map is those diversifying states like Virginia, North Carolina and she also holds on to the rust belt states. I think the challenge for Trump with the rest belt states is that "The National Journal" did a great look at this. they said, if we gave - they did a study and they said, and dug into the voter files - if we gave Trump every single vote that Mitt Romney won in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and then added on top of that every white voter who does not turn out in 2012 and who's an irregular voter that they don't turn out consistently, he would still lose those states because they are not monolith. There are not enough white working class voters, even in rust belt states, to win the nomination. Now, does it help him win a place like Iowa, New Hampshire? Yes, perhaps. But the big, big states with the electoral votes, Florida, et cetera, those are tough to win with just white voters.


What do you think, Ruth, about this idea of a third party? There's been talks Mitt Romney has been talking to Republicans about running as a third party candidate. Do you think there's anything in that?

RUTH MARCUS, "WASHINGTON POST": No. I think - I think that, you know, it's - it's sort of good therapy for the people in the Republican Party who are understandably concerned about Trump as the head of their party.

MARTIN: Stages of grief.

MARCUS: To be talking about. But the practical realities of getting on the ballot and - or, you know, hijacking another party to get on their party just don't make sense. And the implications probably of who gets elected there and who it helps and who it hurts probably don't make sense. And so -

DICKERSON: Meaning that it would help Hillary Clinton.

MARCUS: That it would - it would help Hillary Clinton and what Republicans really want to be consumed with that. And just to sort of ratify what Amy said about the - the map, the problem with the theory that Trump can expand the map is that the exact - the places that he could expand the map have a shrinking pool of people that he could appeal to. So those white working class voters are diminishing.

DOMENECH: I - I certainly - I certainly agree with you that it's a challenge, but I also think that in this conversation about the third party side, there's - there's two aim that you would have with that. One would be to prevent either candidate from getting to the point where they have enough electoral votes.


DOMENECH: So it could throw it to the House of Representatives - MARTIN: The House.


DOMENECH: Along the lines of what happened in the early 1800s. But you could also see a situation with that where they simply want a candidate on the ballot so that Republican voters who are opposed to Trump will turn out supporting down ticket candidates.

WALTER: But I think you also have - we also have to recognize that, you know, there are challenges too for Hillary Clinton. And I think that, you know, what she's very good at is she's a good fastball hitter. But Donald Trump isn't going to throw fastballs.

MARTIN: Right.

WALTER: He's going to throw a lot of junk. He's got a file in his - in his glove right now. He's filing the ball down and he's putting Vaseline on it and hitting those is going to be a lot more complicated than just the fastball.

MARCUS: I wonder if -

MARTIN: The Clintons - the Clintons are going to be forced to account for his affairs with other women in a way that they have not for a long time because Trump is going to keep bringing that issue up again and again and again. And the question is, with, you know, Bill Clinton being one of her most prominent surrogate, how do they respond to that? How does President Obama respond to that question when he's asked that question too? I mean this is going to be part of the conversation now and Trump's going to ensure that.

MARCUS: You know, I just want to say one quick think about that.

MARTIN: Jump ball, exactly.

MARCUS: You know, Hillary Clinton told you that she didn't feel like she was running against Donald Trump. She is sure going to feel that way by the end of this campaign.


MARCUS: But I think for Donald Trump to be constantly bring up Bill Clinton's affairs is going to turn out kind of like it turned out for Republicans in impeachment, not a winning argument for him.

MARTIN: But it does create more of an un uncertain campaign for her. It's what Amy said, it's this jump ball approach that, how do you hit that stuff because it's just not very familiar for her.

DICKERSON: But, Ben, if I'm a Republican running in a purple state that Barack Obama won and there's all of this craziness at the presidential level, what am I going to do?

DOMENECH: Yes, that's the real question that they're all dealing with right now and they haven't really figured out the answer yet. I think what you're probably going to see is perhaps something that looks along the lines of what you saw in 1996 as it got closer to the election. People started talking openly about ticket splitting, the idea that you need to re-elect us so that we will keep -

MARTIN: Check.

DOMENECH: Either a President Trump honest or that we'll keep Hilary honest. That kind of thing. And that's going to be a very difficult thing for a lot of these different Republicans who are - who are running and who are currently having to make a decision about their own path going forward.

Just one more point though on the Democratic side. It's fine to say that Hillary Clinton is better positioned, and she certainly is at this point. But the truth is, that the ideological divide within the Democratic Party actually proved to be more significant than I think almost anybody expected this time around with Bernie Sanders' success. The fact is that Donald Trump dispatched -

MARCUS: And they're all getting on board.

DOMENECH: Donald Trump dispatched with -

MARCUS: They're all getting on board.

DOMENECH: I think he'll - I think it will be interesting to see how many young voters find it difficult to be turned out by Hillary Clinton in this election. I think it will be something that she's going to have to work on. It won't happen automatically.

DICKERSON: All right, we're going to have to leave it there. Thanks to all of you.

We'll be right back.


DICKERSON: Can Donald Trump unite the Republican Party?

Joining us now are key conservatives, Jennifer Rubin is the author of "The Washington Post" "Right Turn," Dr. Russell Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Leslie Sanchez is a Republican strategist and a contributor to our digital news network, CBSN, and Matt Schlapp is chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Jennifer, I want to start with you. You wrote or you said that this was the worst week of the GOP's existence.



RUBIN: It's about to come apart. And the lines are not necessarily only ideological. What is interesting is that you have, in support of Donald Trump, very conservative, very moderate, so-called establishment, non-establishment figures and you have the same ideological mix very much opposed to him. And that, I think, is because fundamentally the problem with Donald Trump is not ideological. Yes, it is huge. Yes, it is vast. But it is really fundamentally an issue of character. When people look at Donald Trump and they see how he treats women, they see his views on foreigners, they see his lack of personal self-control, his meanness. Just this week he was back lying again. He said that he had extensive conversations with Marco Rubio about being vice president. Never spoke to him. He said he had called Paul Ryan after the New York primary to congratulate him. Never happened. It's those fundamental character issues that many Republicans cannot and will never get past.

DICKERSON: Matt, how do you see it?

MATT SCHLAPP, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: Well, I guess the Hillary Clinton brigade is going to run on morality and character, which I think is going to be an awfully tough lane for them. obviously her husband was impeached. She's under an investigation by the FBI. She is somebody who has been caught in scandal after scandal after scandal.

What I would say to Jennifer and to others is like, get real. You know, we often criticize Democrats for living on their emotions and thinking on their emotions and we Republican, we're supposed to think about just the facts. Here are the facts. In America, we elect Democrats or Republicans to the presidency. And you have to make a choice. You don't get to have your perfect candidate. We did that. We had 17 of them. Now we have our candidate. Is he better or worse philosophically than Hillary Clinton? You can make the argument. But people aren't' going to go with you on that. He is clearly for conservatives the better choice.

RUBIN: He is not. He's unfit for the office. And you first have to look at that -

SCHLAPP: The Constitution doesn't say that.

RUBIN: He is unfit. He believes that we should sprinkle nuclear weapons around Europe and the Far East. He believes we don't have to stand by the sovereign debt of the United States. He is unfit.

And Republicans do have a chance and a choice. And that's why this arrogant attitude that you have to be with me because I won the states is wrong. First of all, they have a choice to stay home.

SCHLAPP: Did you just -

RUBIN: Secondly, they have a choice to form a third party. And I would say, John, that it's much more possible than many in the media believe to launch a third party candidate.

DICKERSON: To have a third party.

Leslie, let me ask you, conservatives for a long time have had to look to John McCain and Mitt Romney and they've been told, well, that's your nominee, you deal with it. Well, why isn't it fine now for Donald Trump to say, Paul Ryan, I got a lot more votes than anybody would have thought. I beat all these veterans. You deal with it.

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think to some extent he's got a fair point. What I think the problem is, is a lot of people want to be invited to the party. They feel that there's not a communication between anybody at the campaign. As a matter of fact, it's an anemic campaign that doesn't have any recognizable faces, any political operatives, any money kind of operatives as well that know how to run the infrastructure of a national campaign. Let's just talk about winning, but then governance. What would that possibly look like? Very much to that point.

But I do believe kind of bridging these two together, that there can be another alliance 2.0 that could actually work in terms of solidifying what those solutions could actually look like. Mitt Romney didn't do that. Nobody ever knew what he was talking about in 2012. I think you can actually tether some of these reforms Donald Trump is talking about to real policy that can be moved on The Hill.

DICKERSON: You're a bridge builder.

Let me - let me ask you really quickly, Jennifer mentioned the character question.


DICKERSON: For a long time conservatives have talked about a cultive personality with people like Barack Obama and they've also talked about the role the president has in the culture.


DICKERSON: Where do you think Donald Trump fits into voters who have made a big deal about that over the years?

MOORE: Well, that's exactly the problem. One of the key aspects of conservativism is to say, character matters in public office and in the citizenry and virtue has an important role to play in our culture and in our politics. And now we have a Republican Party that seems ready not only to surrender on the culture wars but to join the other side. I mean what we have in the Donald Trump phenomenon, as well as in the Hillary Clinton phenomenon, is an embrace of the very kind of moral and cultural decadence that conservatives have been saying for a long time is the problem.

And so when you have conservatives who were saying in the previous Clinton era that character matters, rightly so, who now are not willing to say anything when we have this sort of reality television moral sewage coming through all over our culture and conservative who previously said we have too much awful cultural rot on television, who now want to put it on C-SPAN for the next four years and to give a model to our children really with either of these two candidates of an amoral sort of vision of America that isn't what we believe in.

DICKERSON: Is the rebuttal to that, Matt, it's just the - it's about the court? That Donald Trump would pick somebody who's going to put conservatives on the Supreme Court and therefore it's going to -

SCHLAPP: That's true. It's about this other branch of government. But it's about something else, which is, there are a lot of Republicans, increasingly large numbers, who have grown discouraged over the Republican strategy on those very issues. I would describe myself with you, that the culture is incredibly important. And I want my president to be somebody we can look up to in terms of his character, in his stance on these issues. But the fact is this, we're - we have somehow lost Republicans and conservatives across this country who are sending Washington a very clear message, it's broken, it's not working. We're willing to try something else. And for all of you who think that there's a third party option, appreciate the fact that you're a journalist, these deadlines are past. Texas is going to be past -

RUBIN: They're not - they're not -


SCHLAPP: Texas is - let me finish. Texas is going to be passed here in a very short period of time. No one's going to be elected on the right without having Texas. And, by the way, the last time we tried this, it was Ross Perot.

MOORE: But they--

SCHLAPP: You show me the liberal Ross Perot support. It cost us the White House to Bill Clinton.

MOORE: The answer to that is not to tell social conservatives just start keeping up with the Kardashians -

SCHLAPP: I agree.

MOORE: Because you've been disappoint in the past. And that's what the Donald Trump campaign is saying.


RUBIN: True. But they're - I think what - the leader of an organization that is the conservative action party, it's a very bizarre position you're taking. You're simply saying we're without conviction. This guy has the vote, so we're going to follow him. There are candidates and there are elected officers, like Paul Ryan, who got into politics because the content mattered. This isn't simply about winning. And it's a false hope.


RUBIN: Let me just finish a minute. They - it's a false hope that you can win with this for exactly the demographic reasons we talked about. He maybe gets some new white working class voters, but the people he is losing overwhelmingly are women, are Hispanics, are married women. He cannot win with this formula. So chasing after someone without principles because it will work will get you neither.

DICKERSON: What about the Hispanics?

SANCHEZ: I - well, I - well, I think there's a couple of different things and I think we're talking about the media game of projection of what could happen in November when we're - you know, we're still only in May and I think we were all - we all realized how wrong we were in those perception. I think a lot of ground can be made up depending on what the Trump campaign does moving forward. It's a really serious think. I think this week when he had taco-gate, you know, #tacogate, the taco -

DICKERSON: Explain to people what taco-gate is.

SANCHEZ: Well, that's what I'm calling it, anyway. It's when he took this really ridiculous photo eating a taco salad, which is lovely I'm sure, you know, from Trump Tower and he said, I love - the best taco salads are in Trump Tower. I love taco salads. I love Hispanics.

DICKERSON: This was to celebrate cinco de mayo.

SANCHEZ: To celebrate cinco de mayo, which is a Mexican - you know, it's a Mexican effort, not Hispanic. It was completely tone deaf. It would be like going into the Irish or Boston, you know, neighborhoods shillelagh, you know, and green bowler. It makes absolutely no sense. And it - to put it -

DICKERSON: Although they do mention beer once a year - because as an Irishman I -

SANCHEZ: Yes, it wasn't very nice of me. You know, (INAUDIBLE) -

DICKERSON: They do mention beer now and again.

SANCHEZ: Now and - but you can't have - this is not the 1960s where you had viva Kennedy and you had taco - you know, you had the beer fest and the big beer busses coming out. That - we have moved a long way from that. But, John, the real critical point, in 1999, George W. Bush went out to Iowa, was doing Spanish print ads. He was organizing Latinos to come to the straw poll. By 2007, that was seen as risky business. If we cannot get it together in terms of how we talk about an inclusive party, it's going to be obsolete moving forward.

MOORE: I agree.

SCHLAPP: Yes. I really agree.

DICKERSON: What does Trump do? I mean what - what - what - how does he fix some of the challenges he has?

SCHLAPP: Look, I agree with many things Leslie is saying, which is, he's got to court people. He has said things that have been patently offensive to all different types of people and he's got to go out and get them back. I also think he's right when he realizes he's not going to get them all back. But he's got to do a lot better than what he's doing with conservatives and with Republicans. And he's going to bring in record numbers of independents. And I think he's going to make some of these - you know, I love the fact that we're focusing on Republicans, but let's look at all those polls on the Democratic side where 30 percent of Bernie Sanders' supporters are saying they don't want to support Clinton inc. - Clinton incorporated.

Here's what's going on in this country, right? There's a transformation of politics on both sides. And what I hate seeing is these elitists in Washington, D.C., who turn to the candidate, who's gotten - who will have the most Republican votes in the history of the primary system, right, where our turnout is up 63 percent, and they look at all those people across America and they say, no, no, no, no, no, we know better. We're going rig the system and find a new candidate.

RUBIN: No, it's not rigging -

SCHLAPP: Stop. Stop, you're hurting the whole agenda.

RUBIN: It's not rigging the system. It's saying, we don't have to go along. You may have gotten the votes. That's great. Get your nomination. But we don't have to vote for you.

SCHLAPP: That's America.

RUBIN: And, listen, when have you 84 percent of the Republican Party behind you, you are going to lose overwhelmingly. We have not had a Republican who has won the presidency with less than 91 percent of the Republican Vote. It doesn't need -

SCHLAPP: Jennifer, we haven't had a vote yet. We haven't even had a vote. You think it's all over. It's not over.


RUBIN: Yes, the demographics I think are over. I think the demographics are over.

DICKERSON: Russel, there was - there was a worry during the George W. Bush years about the evangelicals who stayed home in his election in 2000. Is that a worry here for Donald Trump?

MOORE: It completely is, especially when you're looking at under 50 evangelicals who are looking and saying, we cannot, in good conscious, support either of these two candidate because what we end up with at the end of the day is one sexual revolutionary party that is hostile to everything that we believe in.

Now, the question going on right now is what then do we do. And so I think there are going to be some conservative evangelicals who vote for Trump because they - they believe the Supreme Court is on the line and they feel guilty for doing that. And there are going to be many other evangelicals who simply don't vote in that election or who do find a third-party candidate or a write-in candidate to vote for, not because they think that candidate will win, but because they think there's something more important than politics, which is one's conscious.

RUBIN: The Supreme Court I think is a phony issue. We don't have any idea what kind of justice that Donald Trump is going to support. Look at the people he's -

SCHLAPP: He gave us the names.

RUBIN: Look at the people he surrounds himself -- and you believe him?


RUBIN: He changes his mind three days, you know, out of four. He is completely unreliable and unpredictable. It's not simply one seat. There may be others. And do you really trust this man to choose anything? I think it's completely a pipe dream to think he's going to pick conservatives for the court.

SANCHEZ: I think what - what - I think it's really important to keep in mind, this is going to be a comparative election. This is not an isolation. This is against Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee.

MOORE: That's right.

SANCHEZ: So you're talking about flip flops on every issue. Let's just look at about open border and amnesty. She's had every side of that issue. She's trying to navigate and court the Latino community. And just kind of bring it back to Latino again. There's a lot of frustration and anxiety with Donald Trump, but there is open ground when people talk about border enforcement. You have a lot of Latinos that --

DICKERSON: Although his negatives with Latinos are close to 80 percent.

SANCHEZ: His negatives are high but they're - but he's picking up conservative Democrat Latino so - who are former military. So it's mixed, John, as we're seeing.

DICKERSON: What about that unpredictability point, Matt?


DICKERSON: In terms of down ballot Republicans? I'm - I'm a Republican running in a purple state. What do I do?

SCHLAPP: Yes, I mean, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz won his district by double digits and the reason why Paul Ryan's doing what he's doing is because he's got lots of members coming to talk to him. I don't want to be ignorant to the fact that Donald Trump has serious issues with Republicans. Let's put them out on the table and let's deal with them. But the fact is, is this, which is, at the end of the day, in America, there's a choice here. And any Republican or conservative who doesn't stand with Donald Trump as the nominee is simply helping Hillary Clinton. We've been there. We've done that. This country's going to be in scandal immediately. It's how they play the game. They think there's a second set of rules. If you care about the Second Amendment, if you care about the unborn, if you care about the size and scope of government, if you care about the Supreme Court, it's not a perfect choice, but have simply have one choice. If you want to start having different choices, go move to a European country. Go join a parliamentary system.

MOORE: But when - but when -


DICKERSON: Unfortunately, we're going to have to go here, but we'll have you all back. For the movement, we've got to go, so. So, thanks for being with us. We'll be back in a moment with a political look at moms. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Finally today, a word about motherhood. No matter how partisan or tough things get in politics, it's always OK to praise your mother. Our greatest presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both credited their success to their moms. Lincoln is quoted as saying, "all I am or ever hoped to be I owe to my angel mother." Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived under his mother's roof even after he was married. Eleanor didn't like that at all. Still, Sara Roosevelt sat next to her son during his first fireside chat and delivered her own address to the nation on Mother's Day. Richard Nixon gave this tearful appraisal of his mother as he resigned the presidency.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Nobody will ever write a book probably about my mother. Well, I guess all of you would say this about your mother. My mother was a saint.


DICKERSON: President Obama often refers to his single mother and to his grandmother, who decide on the last day of his 2008 campaign.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America, who, they're not famous, their names aren't in the newspapers, but each and every day they work hard.


DICKERSON: And now we've got a mother and grandmother running for commander in chief.


DICKERSON: When you're out campaigning -


DICKERSON: Are you following the example of your mother or thinking about the example you're setting for your daughter and granddaughter?

CLINTON: Well, I think about my mother a lot because she campaigned with me and for me in 2008. And she was the most formative influence in my life by far. And her encouragement, given her own very difficult life to get back up when you're knocked down and to serve people and to think about ways that you can improve the world, you know, I hear that voice all the time.


DICKERSON: So Happy Mother's Day. Without mom, none of us would be here.

Back in a moment.


DICKERSON: That's it for us today. Be sure to join us next week when we'll be sitting down with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. For FACE THE NATION, I'm John Dickerson.

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