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Meet the Press - April 24, 2016

Meet the Press - April 24, 2016

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, what ever happened to the "Stop Trump" movement?

DONALD TRUMP:

We're winning by a lot. We're kicking ass, I'll tell you.

CHUCK TODD:

Trump keeps winning. G.O.P. leaders are falling in line, and neither Cruz nor Kasich are gaining momentum. Is it possible this "Stop Trump" movement has been stopped? Plus, my sit-down with Bernie Sanders.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

I will do everything that I can to make certain that-- Donald Trump is not elected president.

CHUCK TODD:

The senator from Vermont on Trump, his chances of winning the nomination, and why he thinks he's losing to Hillary Clinton.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well because poor people don’t vote. I mean, that’s just a fact that’s a sad reality of American society.

CHUCK TODD:

Also, is the U.S. helping to cover up a Saudi Arabian government role in 9/11? There are 28 pages that may have the answers. Should they be declassified? And joining me for insight and analysis this Sunday morning are Robert Costa of The Washington Post, MSNBC's Joy-Ann Reid, Republican strategist Nicolle Wallace, and Jose Diaz-Balart, of NBC News and Telemundo. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning, with Bernie Sanders’ prospects for taking the Democratic nomination from Hillary Clinton getting slimmer by the day. Sanders told me yesterday that he's fallen behind because in his words, poor people don't vote. There's a lot more in that interview, and we're going to get to it later in the show. And we're going to get to the Democrats as well. But we begin with the Republican race.

It is no stretch to conclude that when it comes to Donald Trump, the Republican party has slowly been working its way through the classic five stages of grief. The first one was denial, "Trump can't be taken seriously," the second one, anger, "What makes this guy think he is even a Republican or a conservative anyway?" The third, bargaining, "Let's take it to the voters, they'll reject him, right?" The fourth, depression, "Oh my God, he's actually winning this thing."

And now the fifth stage, the hardest one of all, acceptance. Why? Trump just won big in New York. He's expected to win big in the five primaries that are held this Tuesday, which include Pennsylvania, where our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll has Trump with a double-digit lead, sitting at 45 percent, over Ted Cruz at 27, John Kasich at 24. And yes, if you add up Kasich and Cruz, it's a majority. Which of course, is going to make the "Stop Trump" people hit their head against the wall.

For the anti-Trump loyalists who are counting on Indiana nine days later to be their firewall, consider this: the only poll we've seen out of Indiana in the last week came out Friday. And it shows Trump leading by just six points. But the fact that he's ahead is a big deal, 37-31, Kasich sitting at 22, again, Cruz and Kasich, together, over 50. Throw in a Republican establishment though that seems more cowed now by Trump than energized to defeat him, and the G.O.P. does look more and more as if it's ready to accept the man whose name often appears after the word, "Never."

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

And presidential's easy.

CHUCK TODD:

With "Stop Trump" going nowhere, this week, three signs that Republicans are now tiptoeing towards acceptance, coming to terms with the fact that Donald Trump may be the party's nominee. Sign number one, evidence of surrender by the party's leaders. At the R.N.C. spring meeting in Florida, Republican chairman Reince Priebus warned "Stop Trump" sympathizers to get in line.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Politics is a team sport. And we can't win unless we rally around whoever becomes our nominee.

CHUCK TODD:

And the party went out of its way to disprove Trump's charge that it's rigging the game. It rejected changes to convention rules. After Mitch McConnell seemed to relish the idea of Trump losing a multiple-ballot convention--

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL:

I'm increasingly optimistic that there actually may be a second ballot.

CHUCK TODD:

--he quickly walked that back.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL:

What I said somewhat inartfully is that we'll have a nominee once we get to 1,237.

CHUCK TODD:

With Republicans, including former nominee John McCain, threatening skip to convention, House Speaker Paul Ryan urged his party to be there.

SPEAKER PAUL RYAN:

I think it could be a great, historical exercise. I mean, it could be something that you'll remember for the rest of your lives.

CHUCK TODD:

Sign number two, the "Stop Trump" movement isn't spending. Not a dime on TV ads in New York. Just $300,000 in this Tuesday's primaries, which Trump is expected to dominate. Instead, holding its fire until the May 3rd Indiana primary.

MALE NARRATOR:

To stop Trump, vote for Cruz.

CHUCK TODD:

Sign number three, the failure of an anti-Trump alternative to launch.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

John Kasich is an honorable and decent man, whose only role in this election is as a spoiler.

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

If he was saying that if I couldn't mathematically win the nomination, I should get out, he can't mathematically win it.

CHUCK TODD:

To make acceptance easier to swallow, Trump's team is softening his image, promising a more disciplined, professional candidate who can work with the party.

PAUL MANAFORT:

We’re here really to let them know that we're going to run a traditional campaign with them.

CHUCK TODD:

And behind closed doors, Trump's new campaign chief went further.

PAUL MANAFORT:

And when he's out on the stage, when he's talking about the kinds of things he's talking about on the stump, he's projecting an image that's for that purpose. You'll start to see more depth of the person, the real person.

CHUCK TODD:

But on Saturday, the new Trump sounded a lot like the old Trump.

DONALD TRUMP:

Lyin’ Ted Cruz, right? He said, "He is saying," you know, with that horrible flourish, you know the hands? He walks in, bible held high, then he puts the bible down, and then he lies. He's a liar.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Oh, good old Trump. I'm joined by Katie Packer. She's been a key figure in this "Never Trump" movement. She runs an anti-Trump PAC called Our Principles PAC. And Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee. I want to bring in the panel in a few moments here. But Kate, let me start with you.

You're the most-prominent face these days from "Never Trump." Why are you the most-prominent face? I say that with all due respect. You're not an elected official, you're not running for president, you've worked for people that have run for president. Why are Republican officials afraid of being the face of a "Never Trump" movement?

KATIE PACKER:

I'm not sure. I'm not sure I can answer that question. I think that a lot of them frankly are sort of hoping upon hope that this goes another direction and that they don't alienate the supporters of Trump in the process. But certainly, there are a lot of people behind closed doors that are expressing real concern.

CHUCK TODD:

Because they tell you one thing. And then you say, "Great, tell the people."

KATIE PACKER:Sure--

CHUCK TODD:

And they’re like "Well, geez, I've got scheduling commitments."

KATIE PACKER:

Well, these are smart people. And they understand that with Trump at the top of the ticket, we not only lose the White House, we definitely lose the Senate, we very likely lose the House, and we probably lose elections for a generation because we have somebody that’s known to be a sexist, very likely a racist at the top of our ticket, and it's very damaging to the party.

CHUCK TODD:

Michael Steele, you and I have had conversations. You seem to be in a different place here, that yeah, you're not enthusiastic about him, but you're accepting the idea that he's going to be the nominee.

MICHAEL STEELE:

Yeah, look, this has been a process that has unfolded, starting, going back to June of last year. And all that time, there have been a myriad of efforts and opportunities to stop Trump. But they haven't worked. Why? And the one thing about these movements and the folks that we're talking about seem to don't understand or be able to answer the question, why do people continue to vote for him? What is it about what he's saying and doing that still attracts the core base of the G.O.P.?

Yes, it's 35 percent, 45 percent, whatever, it's less than 50 percent. But when when you look at the totality of the movement and the effort that he's put out there, there is a response to it. So why aren't they responding to Kasich? Why aren't they responding to Cruz? Why aren't they winning and Trump is? And that's the core question that nobody in Washington seems to want to wrap their head around. Which is why Donald Trump is in the space he's in.

CHUCK TODD:

Katie, I guess you seem to be running, The Hill I think captured it really well, they had a headline that said, "Never Trump," in quotes, referring to your group, essentially, your goals are colliding with the goals of Kasich and Cruz. And we saw it here, you know? Cruz has the best shot in Indiana, so you're hoping Kasich doesn't campaign there. Kasich has the best shot at Maryland, you're hoping Cruz doesn't campaign there. But the two campaigns aren't listening.

KATIE PACKER:

Well, and that's a frustration for sure. What we've seen historically though is by this point in time, the election does come down to two candidates. It was Romney and Santorum, it was McCain and Romney. And at that point in time, somebody begins to coalesce support. Somebody begins to win a majority. Trump is nowhere near that. If you look at McCain and Romney's numbers as they progressed through the primaries, they were ramping up. Trump is in a total flat-line.

CHUCK TODD:

That’s fair, but Cruz and Kasich have not been able to galvanize either side.

KATIE PACKER:

Absolutely, absolutely. And it's a total frustration. But, our message is, let's take it to the convention. Let's let this process play itself out. If you don't like Ted Cruz and you don't want to vote for him, that's okay. You're not going to give this to him by voting for him. He's not going to get to 1,237 before the convention. But let's do what we can to get this to an open convention, and then duke it out.

CHUCK TODD:

Michael Steele, and I want to bring in the panel after this. But it was Chairman Priebus this week that I felt like started to wave the white flag when he said, "We're not going to make any rules changes." If the party wanted to stop Trump, why not make a rules change?

MICHAEL STEELE:

Yeah, that's effectively how you would do it. I mean, look, we saw them do it to Ron Paul in 2012.

CHUCK TODD:

If they want to stop somebody, they can.

MICHAEL STEELE:

If they can stop someone, they can stop him.

CHUCK TODD:

They chose not to?

MICHAEL STEELE:

But it goes back to what Katie was saying. They recognize that what Donald Trump has done is galvanized a whole new level of voter out there. Folks who've sat on their behinds for the last six, eight years, not participated, now coming out. But the other thing to keep in mind is just because Cruz and Kasich are at 51 percent together, don't assume that those voters, Trump isn't their second choice either. So don't assume that that 51 percent is going to be there should one of them drop out.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me bring in the panel, and they can start to bother you with some questions. Nicolle Wallace, of course, Republican strategist and NBC News analyst, former President Bush/John McCain strategist. Jose Diaz-Balart, a colleague of mine both at NBC News and Telemundo, Robert Costa of The Washington Post, and Joy-Ann Reid, also a colleague of mine at MSNBC. Nicolle, you've been in acceptance mode of Trump for quite some time.

NICOLLE WALLACE:

Yes, thanks to you and your colleagues I have had to live out all five stages in weepy real time. I think that one of the-- I'm very sympathetic to what you're trying to do. I think that one of the challenges is that the solution to the problem that you rightfully diagnose isn't any more appealing than the problem itself. Republicans aren’t any more enthusiastic or more optimistic about the outcome of Cruz at the top of the ticket. So what do you say to them?

KATIE PACKER:

Well, I would say just what I said to Chuck. That the goal here is to drive this to an open convention and--

NICOLLE WALLACE:

And skip Trump and skip Cruz and get to door number three?

KATIE PACKER:

Potentially. Potentially. If you're not happy with any of the choices, the last time we had a convention like this was 1976. But it was very different, because everybody was virtually in one camp or the other. There are a lot of people that are in none of these camps. And to those voters, we’d say, "If that's the camp you're in, you're not happy with your choices, then vote for Cruz, vote for Kasich, because that'll get what's behind door number two." And we don't know what that is, but it's better than the option we have in front of us.

JOY-ANN REID:

But isn't the main problem here though that any of the solutions that you would come up with that's not Donald Trump, is going to take that, let’s say it's 30 to 40 percent of the Republican base that are white, blue-collar voters, white working-class voters who are clearly enraged, primarily at the Republican party. Any outcome but Trump may alienate those voters in such a way that it dooms the party in November no matter what.

I think the problem is, is that the party is the problem. It's the 40-some odd years of promises that were not fulfilled even by the tea party, because eventually they even went Washington to a lot of these voters. So I think that these voters are so angry that you almost have to give them Donald Trump in order to satiate that anger.

KATIE PACKER:

Well, I think that's naïve though to suggest that you're not going to have 35 to 40 percent of the party that stays home if it's Trump. I mean, we've got real data to demonstrate that, that there's real frustration, and people saying, "I'm not going to vote for Trump in the general election, even though I'm a Republican."

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

Let's remember that this process started with about 200,000 Republicans running for president. There were more people running for president than you see at a quinces party in Little Havana. And yet, the voters during that process, whittled it down to three, and really, down to one. So this concept that now somebody else is going to come up, there were 17. There was African-Americans, there was two Latinos, there were, you know, women. And yet, it's all down to Trump. Let's not forget that.

ROBERT COSTA:

And the scene at the RNC, it told us so much. I was standing outside of the meeting room when Paul Manafort stepped out. And I was looking at my notebook, what I had recorded that day, and it was all RNC members giving out their business card to the Trump campaign. In Hollywood, Florida, white sand beaches, everyone's relaxed.

CHUCK TODD:

Hey, Mr. Manafort, don't forget my name. Really? Oh my word.

ROBERT COSTA:

And I sat up in Priebus’ suite. And what is the first thing he told The Washington Post was he had a great phone call with Donald Trump this past week congratulated him on New York.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let me throw something out here in a bit. Do we believe there has been a new Trump? I'm going to play for you. Cruz doesn't believe it, and then you'll hear Trump's response to it. Here it is.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEN. TED CRUZ:

They were saying, these are their words, that all of this was just a show. That he doesn't believe anything he's saying. He's just trying to fool gullible voters, and he's not going to do any of it. He's not going to build a wall, he's not going to deport anyone. He is telling us he is lying to us.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Well, Trump, of course, the new Trump, was the old Trump. Take a listen.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

So Cruz picks it up, Lying Ted, he goes, "Donald Trump is kidding everybody. He's different on the trail." He said, "And he said that he's going to do things differently and he's not going to build the wall." What the hell does this have to do with the wall? Believe me. I'm building the wall.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Michael and Katie, I want to hear from the two of you first. Michael, is this a new Trump?

I mean, Paul Manafort promised a more-- Trump with more depth. That didn't stop, that sounded like the old Trump.

MICHAEL STEELE:

Well, it's new wine and an old wine skin. I mean, basically, the outward side of Trump is still going to be Trump. He's still going to go riff on the party and riff on the politics of the party. But when he needs to be in that zone, where he wants to specifically communicate, I think you will see it. And I think we've already seen him at times try to do that. Where he uses the notes and he--

CHUCK TODD:

But he mocked it. Okay, Katie, well, look--

MICHAEL STEELE

He mocks it but that’s what people like Chuck, they like that.

CHUCK TODD:

Listen to what he said about being presidential. Watch this.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

Presidential's easy. You know what presidential is? I walk on. So you walk on. Ladies and gentlemen, of Waterbury. It is a great honor to be with you this morning.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Katie, he mocks the process. And he actually mocked his own guy, Manafort.

KATIE PACKER:

Well, it would be funny if it weren't so frightening. I mean, this is a guy that's running to be the leader of the free world. He's not running to play a part on a reality TV show. And I do think he's mocking the process. And the notion that you're going to take a guy that's 70 years old, and he's going to adopt a whole new personality, he doesn't even know that what he's doing is offensive. So the idea that he's going to somehow change it along the way is impossible.

JOY-ANN REID:

You can’t beat something with nothing. You cannot beat something with nothing. And at the end of the day, you can say that, you know, that these voters are diluted, that they're being taken in by show biz, but you cannot beat that with nothing. And the problem with the "Stop Trump" movement is that you're offering nothing.

You're saying, "Just don't give us this guy because there's something wrong with him." Well, obviously the voters who are preferring him are saying he's offering an Occam's-razor solution to their existential crisis of economic want, of feeling that they've been left behind by the party. He's offering them something. And your side is offering them nothing.

ROBERT COSTA:

Most Republican strategists though, they worry. As much as Trump changes his temperament, in a general election, he still has to carry the burden of the Muslim ban, he still has to carry the burden of his policies on the wall. Those are not temperamental changes.

NICOLLE WALLACE:

And the real conversations, you both know this, that are taking place are how we lose. Do we lose with Cruz? I mean the reality we can try to-- We can try to spin it into something else. It's do we lose with Cruz, who we know will not appeal to the people who determine the outcome of elections, largely women, largely independents and swing voters, or do we roll the dice on Trump? Trump's strength is pulling the curtain down on the process. The process is a lot of poof.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Final question and word to the two of you, Michael I'll go with you, and Katie get the last word. John Kasich is the only candidate we can find that beats Hillary Clinton in our Pennsylvania poll.

NICOLLE WALLACE: Doesn’t lose--

MICHAEL STEELE:

That's it.

CHUCK TODD:

Hillary Clinton has double digits over both Cruz and Trump. Why isn't this "Stop Trump" movement uniting behind the one guy that has the electability argument in his favor? First Michael, then Katie.

MICHAEL STEELE:

I have to admit, that is the one thing that has made no sense to me at all, because the guy standing in front of you, which every poll shows can defeat, and that I've heard from Democrats who say, "Look, if you'd nominate Kasich, this becomes a different race for me in November." And yet, the "Stop Trump" folks want to focus on people who cannot win a general election against Hillary Clinton. It is befuddling. Which is why again, the voters look at what they're doing and go--

CHUCK TODD:

All right, so Katie, last word. Why aren't you guys the pro-Kasich movement, not the "Stop Trump" movement?

KATIE PACKER:

The "Stop Trump" movement is about keeping Donald Trump's head down and keeping the pressure on him and hopefully one of these candidates will do what they need to do to draw voters to them. But the reality is, that in a state like Indiana, Kasich isn't going to beat Trump. So we have to put our support behind Cruz and hope that those voters come together behind Cruz. You know, it's not a choice that we'd like to be making. I don't know why our voters ignored the 15 candidates that might have been able to beat Hillary Clinton and narrowed it down to a couple that probably can't. But that's where we are.

CHUCK TODD:

Four years from now, we will have the quinces caucus first. I think that is the one thing we’ve determined there. Anyway, Katie Packer, Michael Steele, thanks very much. I think Katie, you got bombarded here left and right on your movement. But you took it well. Thank you for joining us.

KATIE PACKER:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, my sit-down with a conciliatory of sorts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Take a listen.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Look at the polls. Bernie Sanders runs better against Trump in almost all of these polls than does Hillary Clinton.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

If you listen carefully to this interview, you might hear Sanders accept that he's not likely to be the Democratic nominee. Coming up.

* * *COMMERCIAL BREAK* * *

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Bernie Sanders is spending the weekend campaigning in Maryland ahead of Tuesday's primary. It's been a tough week for Sanders. His chances of beating Hillary Clinton received a near fatal blow after he was convincingly beaten in the New York primary. Sanders has vowed to fight on. But he needs to win the remaining contest by some big margins to have any chance of catching Clinton at the Philadelphia convention. I sat down with him in Baltimore yesterday, and I started by asking him about his differences that still remain with Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Hillary Clinton the other night in her victory speech after New York said this:

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

And to all the people who supported Senator Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Do you agree with her on that?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

I think there is a lot that unites us. I think there's a lot that divides us. I think the fact that all of us are in agreement that Donald Trump would be a disaster for this country if he became president unites us, the fact that we understand, for example, that climate change is real while our Republican opponents ignore that reality unites us.

But on the other hand, I think what divides us is the understanding on the part of millions of people who are supporting my candidacy that it really is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics. We have to deal in a very substantive way with income and wealth inequality. We need to understand why we're the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people, not to have paid family and medical leave. And that we have to deal aggressively with a corrupt campaign finance system which allows big money interest to buy elections. Those are areas I think of difference.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it's interesting you say they're differences. If she were here she'd say, "I agree with you on campaign finance. I agree with you on Medicare, I agree with you on--"

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

No, no. You're-- no, but that's not--

CHUCK TODD:

She would say she would agree with those goals.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, but we all agree with goals. I mean, I suppose everybody has general understanding, you know, that we don't want to see a nuclear war and so forth. But I think that I believe in a Medicare for all, single-payer program that guarantees health care to all people.

I have not only shown by talk, but by walking the walk that you can run a campaign -- a strong, winning, national campaign -- getting millions of individuals to make small campaign contributions. That has not been Secretary Clinton's approach. We have not been dependent on big money interest. And that is perhaps the most important thing. Because I'm not quite sure that you're ever going to change this country, you're ever going to take on the billionaire class, ever going to create a government that works for the middle class, so long as you're dependent on Wall Street money and big money interest.

CHUCK TODD:

You wake up the day after the convention and you're not the nominee. Do you look in the mirror and say, "This was a successful campaign?"

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, obviously our goal now is while we have a narrow path to victory, we're going to fight for and through that path. We hope to win. But I think the fact that we have shown that there is massive dissatisfaction in this country with the status quo, that people want to think bigger, that people understand that when you have 20 people in this country owning more wealth than the bottom 150 million people, that people are showing in this campaign-- the desire to stand up and fight back.

The fact that we have brought millions of young people who I think many of the pundits had thought were kind of apathetic, not interested in politics. Well, you know what? These young people know they're the future of this country. They want to shape the future. And I'm very proud that we have been able to bring them into the political process.

CHUCK TODD:

You just described it as a narrow path.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

So what is it? Explain it to me?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, we're going to have to do-- obviously win big in the number of the primaries and caucuses that yet remain. A poll came out yesterday that has us within striking distance in California, a larger state. I think we can do very well in California.

CHUCK TODD:

But it starts with winning some states here, winning a Pennsylvania, winning Connecticut--

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

It means-- well, bottom line, the arithmetic is you got to win delegates, that's what it means. We have won twelve--

CHUCK TODD:

And in this case, it means big primary wins?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Right. We have won 1,200 delegates. And by the way, when we talk about the campaign, you know, we started this campaign 60, 65 points behind Secretary Clinton in national polls. Now many of these polls have us even, a few points ahead perhaps. Many of the polls now show us-- and this is an important point, Chuck -- when Democrats look out into the horizon, what unites us is the understanding that Trump would be a disastrous president. Look at the polls. Bernie Sanders runs better against Trump in almost all of these polls than does Hillary Clinton.

CHUCK TODD:

But she runs well, too?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

She runs well, too. But, well, in some --

CHUCK TODD:

I mean, so does that hurt your cause a little bit? It's like, yeah, you do better. But she runs pretty well, too.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, I think the answer is depending on the polls. And polls are polls. I don't want to go crazy on polls. But I think many Democrats are convinced that what is most important is defeating Donald Trump. And I believe the objective evidence is that I'm the stronger candidate.

CHUCK TODD:

So, I was just going to say, at the end of the day, you feel like you were given a fair shot at this nomination?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Yeah, we took advantage of the opportunities in front of us. We are in this race. We are not writing our obituary. We're in this race to California, and we're proud of the campaign we ran.

CHUCK TODD:

We crunched some interesting numbers here. So 17 of the 25 states with the highest levels of income inequality have held primaries. Sixteen of those 17 states have been won by Hillary Clinton, not by you. Why?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, because poor people don't vote. I mean, that's just a fact. That's a sad reality of American society. And that's what we have to transform. We have one-- as you know, one of the lowest voter turnouts of any major country on Earth. We have done a good job bringing young people in. I think we have done-- had some success with lower income people. But in America today -- the last election in 2014, 80 percent of poor people did not vote.

CHUCK TODD:

You feel as if you could find a way to get people that are fighting at that poverty line-- you know, either just below it or just above it, if they were getting engaged in the process, you would do better?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

If we can significantly increase voter turnout so that low income people and working people and young people participated in the political process, if we got a voter turnout of 75 percent, this country would be radically transformed.

CHUCK TODD:

President Obama's getting a little bit of criticism in the U.K. for speaking out against-- he doesn't want to see British citizens vote to take the U.K. out of the E.U. First of all, where are you on that? And second of all, would you insert yourself into this campaign?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, let the British people make their own decisions on that.

CHUCK TODD:

So you don't think the president should be commenting on this?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

The President has every right to comment on what he wants. Though I'm a candidate for president right now, I'm not going to.

CHUCK TODD:

So as president you would not have a--?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

I didn't say that, no. He is the president. I am a candidate for president.

CHUCK TODD:

Right, do you have a view on this?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Not a significant one, no. Let the people-- I think the European Union obviously is a very, very important institution. But ultimately, the people of Britain are going to make their own decisions. I would hope that they stay in, but that's their decision.

CHUCK TODD:

Why are you against the consumption tax-- the soda tax in Philadelphia--

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

I'll tell you why.

CHUCK TODD:

--that would pay for Pre-K? Universal Pre-K. Hillary Clinton's for it.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Yes. I'll tell you why. Because it is a totally regressive tax and right now, at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, when the wealthy are getting wealthier-- many of them pay an effective tax rate lower than working people. You have large multinational corporations not paying a nickel in federal taxes. That's where you get the money. Somebody's making $20,000 a year and they buy a bottle of soda, I don't think you charge them $0.30 more for that bottle of soda. Now, the goal of universal childcare--

CHUCK TODD:

Pre-K, yeah--

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

--absolutely something that I strongly agree. And I applaud the mayor there for coming forward. But raise the money in a way that is progressive, not on the backs of low income or working people.

CHUCK TODD:

So you must be against cigarette taxes, too, then?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

No, I'm not. Cigarette taxes are-- there's a difference between cigarettes and soda. I am aware of the obesity problem in this country.

CHUCK TODD:

I don't think Michael Bloomberg would agree with you on that one?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, that's fine. He can have his point of view. But cigarettes are causing cancer, obviously, and a dozen other diseases. And there is almost the question as to why it remains a legal product in this country.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me wrap up the question this way. Do you feel as if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and you're not, but Donald Trump is the opponent, do you have a responsibility to do what it takes to get your voters to support Hillary Clinton?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

I will do everything that I can to make certain that Donald Trump is not elected president. But if that scenario plays out, the major responsibility will be on Secretary Clinton to convince all people, not just my supporters, that she is the kind of president this country needs to represent working people in this country, to take on the big money interests who have so much power, to fight for what the American people want.

CHUCK TODD:

Your supporters are, for the most part, very skeptical of Hillary Clinton. Very, very skeptical. Tougher on her, frankly, than you ever are. You know, people talk about all this back and forth. What do you think she-- what's your advice to her on winning your voters over?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, I think she's going to have to be very explicit about supporting a program, which stands up for the needs of the middle class and working families, which, most importantly, makes it clear that she is prepared to take on Wall Street in a very clear way, take on the billionaire class, come up with a program that makes health care for all in this country a right within the next several years. I think those are some of the issues she's going to have to bring forth.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

So did we just hear, intentionally or not, the Bernie Sanders exit interview? We'll get to that later in the show. Also, why did Donald Trump's magic number to win the nomination, why is it that it might be lower than 1,237? I’ll explain.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

And we are back. Data download time. We've been hearing a lot about the so-called magic number of delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination. It's 1,237. It's pretty much tattooed on the foreheads of everybody in the NBC News political unit. But Trump's magic number could be less. In fact, it could be a lot less, because he's likely to pick up these so-called unbound delegates.

These are the people that can do whatever they want on the first ballot. They can vote for whoever, regardless of how their state voted. So how does it all happen? Here's our back-of-the-napkin math. We're going to start with this magic number of 1,237, and then subtract from that the number of unbound delegates that we're estimating Trump's likely to pick up.

So we're going to start with nine unbound delegates from the collection of Colorado, Wyoming, and Guam contests. They haven't been awarded to a single candidate yet. So in our breakdown, we're going to assume that Trump can negotiate his way to three of those folks. Now, there are the Rubio delegates. NBC has reported that 34 of the delegates Marco Rubio earned during the primary season will be unbound on that first ballot, negotiating his way to some Rubio supporters, we think Trump can pick up seven of those folks.

Not a lot, but a handful. Well, now we go to the 54 Pennsylvania delegates who won't be bound to any candidate after Tuesday's primary. About 60 percent of those running for delegates have indicated publicly that they will either support Trump or whoever wins their congressional district. Which if you believe our polls is likely to be Trump.

So we're going to put 34 out of those 54 delegates in Trump's column for now. So all told, that's 44 unbound delegates Trump could pick up, a conservative estimate mind you. So subtract that from 1,237, and we get a new magic number: 1,193. So that's probably the maximum that he needs here. That's the real number Trump will need before he starts picking up what we think are those unbound delegates.

Now again, we think this is a conservative estimates. It's possible Trump can win more of these votes. Because Trump's expected to sweep all five states on Tuesday. And then momentum could take over. He could pick up more of those folks and then his magic number could drop from 1,193 down to 1,150 after the last primary. And in fact, it may be very hard for the "Stop Trump" movement to keep Trump below 1,150.

Either way, while Trump technically still needs 1,237 in that first ballot, it's clear he does not need that many pledged delegates by the end of voting in June. And that's what makes the "Stop Trump" forces even more nervous.

Up next, Donald Trump's campaign says he's just been playing the part of a candidate. That we'll soon see a new Trump. Well, if that's true, how do you explain this moment yesterday?

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

He can't win with the popular vote, because he's got zero personality, because he lies like a thief, okay?

(END TAPE)

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The panel is back. Let's start quickly with some reaction to Bernie Sanders. Joy? Poor people don't vote?

JOY-ANN REID:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

An interesting new excuse from Bernie Sanders. And then some Hillary supporters have pointed it out, "Oh, first it was the South, now it's poor people."

JOY-ANN REID:

Yeah. And it really got a huge reaction, just when the preview of the sound came out in just my social media world. And I think part of the problem is the word you use, the excuses. That you're saying you're running a political revolution, but you keep parsing, "Well, we don't have just the right kind of voter motivated enough or informed enough. You know, they're too old-fashioned, or they're too conservative."

And in this case, sort of putting it off on poverty, I don't think he meant to disparage, clearly, people, and impugn people who are poor. But the idea is if you are truly running a revolutionary movement, based on lifting up people at the bottom, then they should be hearing your message or you might not be doing something correctly.

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

You know, look, I think at another time and in another conversation, this would have been an important conversation to have. I think it's a fact of life that in the United States, the amount of people who were citizens in the United States, who aren't registered to vote, and could vote, are huge.

And this country would look differently if from our elected official if everybody voted. I mean look, at Telemundo, we have a campaign, yo resido , it's bringing in people to register to vote. It would be a different country if everyone was registered to vote. It's just that conversation at the time you had it.

NICOLLE WALLACE:

But the only people who give excuses for why they're losing are the people who should probably be out. And I can't understand why there isn't more pressure on him to get out. When she was--

CHUCK TODD:

You're surprised?

NICOLLE WALLACE:

When she was in his position in 2008, there was a crushing cacophony of voices from the media, and the dem--

JOY-ANN REID:

She didn’t, though.

NICOLLE WALLACE:

Well, she did. And she was still winning.

JOY-ANN REID:

She didn’t. She went to the end.

NICOLLE WALLACE:

I can't imagine what reason there is, other than chaos--

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

Forty million plus a month?

NICOLLE WALLACE:

Other than the chaos on the Republican side for him staying in and doing her damage. He's not making--

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

Nicolle, he's getting millions and millions of dollars in small contributions.

NICOLLE WALLACE

To what end? He can't be the nominee, and he can't win.

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

People believe in him.

NICOLLE WALLACE:

But to call her unqualified, to question her ethics is something that if the Republicans were in a stronger position, this is where the despair on the Republican side comes--

JOY-ANN REID:

But you know what, the reason for him to continue though is that you still have, you have a small number of states left. But we've come this far in the process. And I think the voters--

NICOLLE WALLACE:

There's nowhere to go, Joy!

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

What about California? California.

JOY-ANN REID:

Democratic voters have made it very clear that they all want to weigh in. I think, you know what? Let's give people a chance--

NICOLLE WALLACE:

That’s fine.

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

It's called democracy.

JOY-ANN REID:

It's called democracy.

NICOLLE WALLACE:

He's not going to be the nominee.

CHUCK TODD:

Go ahead, Bob.

ROBERT COSTA:

If you listen to the end of the interview, he's quite positive about the future of the party.

CHUCK TODD:

He's oddly conciliatory at the end. Yes.

ROBERT COSTA:

He's conciliatory. And he said--

NICOLLE WALLACE:

Because he knows he’s going to lose.

ROBERT COSTA:

But he's also willing to offer the branch to Secretary Clinton and say, "If she wins the nomination, Trump is the main target for Democrats, and the party will come together." And I was just struck by that moment at the end, in spite of all the animus we've seen, that's his closing statement.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, I want to go, let's turn back to the Republicans here. I want to play, it was interesting to see, is Trump pivoting to a general election, and it had to do with comments he made about Caitlyn Jenner and bathrooms. First of all, let me play that excerpt from The Today Show town hall earlier in the week.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

You leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble.

MATT LAUER:

So if Caitlyn Jenner were to walk into Trump Tower and want to use the bathroom, you would be fine with her using any bathroom she chooses?

DONALD TRUMP:

That is correct.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Well, the Cruz campaign has unloaded on those comments. Nicolle, let me show it to you.

(BEGIN TAPE)

ANNOUNCER:

Guess who's joined the ranks of the P.C. police?

DONALD TRUMP:

People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.

ANNOUNCER:

Donald Trump can't be trusted with common sense. Why would we trust him in the White House?

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Nicolle, we haven't seen an attack ad from Cruz on Trump in a long time. It feels like it's been a while. And that's what he chose to do. Effective or no?

NICOLLE WALLACE:

Well, here's where Trump is an insult wrapped in a riddle wrapped in an opportunity. I mean, Trump's answer made so much sense, and I think what is also on the line in this cycle is the power and the saliency of social issues. And I think if Trump wins, it delivers a massive blow to the idea that you have to be up and down on social issues to be the Republican nominee.

CHUCK TODD:

I was just surprised by Cruz's decision to do that. Robert?

ROBERT COSTA:

To be able to win these coming states, Cruz needs to rouse the social conservatives. I think Trump's answer tells us a lot about how he would be in a general election. This is someone who has not climbed the ladder, forming relationships with social conservatives along the way. He's someone forged in New York's tabloid business culture, he has relationships with all kinds of people, he's not just someone who surrounds himself with Republicans and conservatives. And that actually strangely worries Democrats, that he wouldn't be appealing to moderates.

CHUCK TODD:

Joy-Ann, I'm going to have you chime in, but I want to play what Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton has a web video out, also using The Today Show moment to make a different point from Ted Cruz. Watch.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

I will be changing very rapidly. I'm very capable of changing to anything I want to change to.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

And then they go on to play it, and it's a very long thing, they want to call it an Etch-A-Sketch, in a reference to Mitt Romney--

JOY-ANN REID:

I think it--

CHUCK TODD:

--and Santorum back in the day.

JOY-ANN REID:

Well, because Donald Trump is clearly, he has exposed the fact that a lot of the base of the Republican party are not movement conservatives who have spent their entire lives pouring over the doctrinaire minutia of conservative beliefs. And what he said was common sense. I think that is the big risk of Trump. He could be anything in the general election. He could pivot back on social issues to a place where he's not offending Democratic voters.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, this is the thing--

NICOLLE WALLACE:

But women--

JOY-ANN REID:

But that’s on that, but he'll offend African Americans, women, Muslims, and everyone else, some issues--

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

Don’t forget, most of the immigrants across the border are rapists and murderers.

CHUCK TODD:

But, I think what's fascinating is that--

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

That would come back.

JOY-ANN REID:

And that would come back.

CHUCK TODD:

The bathroom issue brought Cruz and Clinton together. Sort of.

NICOLLE WALLACE:

But I think Trump's answer-- Trump’s answer got him a lot of credit with a lot of people.

CHUCK TODD:

It did. All right, I've got to take a quick break. When we come back, U.S. insists there's no evidence that any high-level Saudi Arabian government officials played a role in plotting 9/11. So why does the American government refuse to release 28 pages of a congressional report that could tell a different story?

* * *COMMERCIAL BREAK* * *

CHUCK TODD:

President Obama's been on the world stage this week, meeting the Queen of England, and a future king, Prince George even stayed up past his bedtime to meet the President. But he got a somewhat chilly reception early in the week in Saudi Arabia, where he was greeted on the tarmac by a relatively minor member of the royal family. Just the governor of Riyadh, roughly the equivalent of the United States sending a local governor to greet a major foreign leader when they land on U.S. soil.

U.S./Saudi relations are strained, to put it mildly, at the moment. With renewed calls in Washington to declassify 28 pages of a congressional report on 9/11 that some believe allege some direct links to the Arab kingdom when it comes to the 9/11 attacks. It's a link the Saudis have strenuously denied for years.

Well, I'm joined by one of the chief proponents of declassifying those 28 pages, former Senator Bob Graham of Florida. He served as co-chair of that congressional inquiry, was chairman of the intelligence committee for that period of time, a familiar face at that period of time. Senator Graham, welcome back to Meet the Press.

SEN. BOB GRAHAM:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let's go right to the specifics of these 28 pages. What is in them that the American-- high levels of American officials and Saudi officials fear will change things if they become public?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM:

Chuck, to me, the most important unanswered question of 9/11 is did these 19 people conduct this very sophisticated plot alone, or were they supported? I think it's implausible to think that people who couldn't speak English, had never been in the United States before, as a group were not well-educated could have done that. So who was the most likely entity to have provided them that support? And I think all the evidence points to Saudi Arabia. We know that Saudi Arabia started Al Qaeda. It was a creation of Saudi-- of Saudi Arabia..

CHUCK TODD:

And when you say Saudi Arabia, are you saying the government? Or are you saying wealthy individuals who happen to be Saudi Arabian?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM:

That is a very murky line. Saudi Arabia has made it murky by its own legal action. Whenever a U.S. group sues a Saudi Arabian entity, whether it’s a bank, a foundation, a charity, immediately, the defense of sovereign immunity is raised. The Saudis don't recognize the difference between a royal decision and a societal decision in the same way that other countries might. So I think it covers a broad range, from the highest ranks of the kingdom through these, what would be private entities.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. If this gets released publicly, and again, I know you don't want to say what's in it, you don't want to-- but let me ask you this. One description that has been made of these 28 pages is that it's basically an initial police report that if you looked at it, you would say, "Wow, we should investigate that, that, that and that more." Is that the best way to describe this?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM:

No. This report was 850 pages. This is 28 pages out of that. There's been no questions raised about the professionalism and quality of the other 820 pages of this report. And this chapter followed the same standards that they did. Instead of debating what might be there, why don't we let the American people read the 28 pages, and the other thousands of documents that have been withheld that relate to the Saudi involvement in 9/11. And then make up their own mind.

CHUCK TODD:

What keeps this from-- why do I feel like candidate Barack Obama or Senator Barack Obama might be in a different place? What is it within the minute somebody gets into the executive branch, Republican or Democrat, there is this consensus publicly to protect Saudi Arabia?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM:

I think it goes back to the fact that 60 years ago, Franklin Roosevelt and the King of Saudi Arabia entered into a special relationship. We provided them with security, they provided us with petroleum. And that has affected the culture and the attitude around this relationship.

But I think it's fundamentally changed, it's changing almost on a daily basis, as we are less dependent on the Saudis for petroleum, as some of the things that the Saudis are doing are so dramatically adverse to our interests, such as training the next generation of the young terrorists in their mosque in schools -- their madrasas. The schism between the United States and Saudi Arabia is now very apparent. And I think this is the time to inject the truth of that relationship in the process of deciding what we should be doing in the future.

CHUCK TODD:

The president, can he order the declassification on his own?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM:

Yes. The president has the full responsibility and the authority to do so. And I hope that he will do so and again, not only for these 28 pages, but there are 80,000 documents in a federal courtroom in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, relative to an investigation that took place on a relationship between Mohamed Atta, the leader of the 19--

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SEN. BOB GRAHAM:

--and two of his henchmen, and a prominent Saudi family living in Sarasota.

CHUCK TODD:

On a scale of one to ten, the release of these pages, how would you rate the impact on U.S. - Saudi relations if they go public?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM:

7.838.

CHUCK TODD:

Very accurate there. So pretty, you think it will have a high level negative impact?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Senator Bob Graham, I'm going to leave it there. You'll see, you think you'll get it done? You think you'll get these released?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM:

I think so. The President's staff at least has said that they will make a decision by June. And I hope that decision is to honor the American people and make it available.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Bob Graham, thanks for coming in. Good to see you, sir.

SEN. BOB GRAHAM:

Thanks, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

We'll be back in just 45 seconds, a little endgame segment. And the game that at least gets played late in presidential primary campaign, veep stakes. It's a weird one this year. Who will Hillary Clinton pick as a running mate? We'll be right back.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Endgame time, the panel is here. Boy, part of me wants to delve more into the Saudi thing. You know, there's a lot there. But let's go to The New York Times threw out the first of the veepstakes when it comes to at least Hillary Clinton. And I think we have an idea of what the Hillary Clinton short list is, and then the people that they have to publicly say they're vetting.

Let me put up the first five that were mentioned, because this feels like an actual Clinton official saying, "This is who the first five preferences are." The two Virginia senators and former governors, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, obvious Virginia swing state.

Sherrod Brown, progressive activist, and from a swing state in Ohio. Former Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, somebody that many Obama people wish ran for president. And the Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who Joy, I want to start with you, and I want to start with him. Because he has basically earned his way onto the Clinton campaign's decision to make him on the shortlist. This came from a Clinton official. And it was Perez that they put on there initially. You're not hearing as much about Julián Castro, the HUD secretary that everybody fell in love with as the Latino V.P. of the future.

JOY-ANN REID:

Yeah, and I think with Julián Castro, I think maybe the idea of the age, sort of the juxtaposition of him with Hillary Clinton,

CHUCK TODD:

Too much so?

JOY-ANN REID:

Tom Perez is somebody is very much respected by Obama world, clearly. And so I think that there is this thinking that either the Clinton campaign, in just in sort of talking to the Clinton world, that they either feel like they need to have a Latino to pair with him, to galvanize the Latino electorate, or they need to fix what you could call their "white male" problem. And go with somebody that is a progressive white male like a Sherrod Brown or like an Al Franken even, somebody like that that would be outside the box that could help her there.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me put up, I should put on that the Clinton campaign then said, "Oh sure, we might look at Elizabeth Warren." She's on this list. There were other names that were thrown on there, Julián Castro, Elizabeth Warren, I think publicly have to get vetted for political reasons. Somebody threw out an Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey. And then there was Bill Nelson, which I may have made, and it seemed to be thrown in there, Jose, you're the Floridian here, but it was--

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

For Florida.

CHUCK TODD:

For Florida, but it was thrown in for another reason. Apparently, Hillary Clinton loves the idea that both Bush and Obama have had running mates who basically were not going to pursue the presidency while being vice president. And she kind of liked that.

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

That's interesting. I think Ross Perot said when he was running for president that in his corporate life, he never hired anybody who didn't want his job, because that's the way they all grew. This is the antithesis of that. You don't want to hire someone who wants your job. And maybe that would be someone like Senator Nelson of Florida.

But don't rule out Secretary Castro either. He's an extremely charismatic person. And I've got to tell you something, Tim Kaine speaks perfect Spanish, reaches out to the community through, the Hispanic community through Telemundo regularly. These are people who may be hidden, have hidden weapons.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm hoping it's Brown, because I can do a Sherrod Brown. Just for impersonation. Deval Patrick though, that was intriguing to me.

NICOLLE WALLACE:

The identity politics just reek of incredible cynicism to me.

CHUCK TODD:

Oh, and you don't think we're going to see identity politics on your side?

NICOLLE WALLACE:

Well listen, the debate on the Republican side isn't who will they pick, it's who would do it. I mean, I'm sorry, we're in a totally different place.

NICOLLE WALLACE:

Being honest. But the identity, this is where Republicans pull their hair, there's such an opportunity on the Republican side, because this is all about identity politics. It feels very cynical, it feels very Clinton-esque.

JOY-ANN REID:

Wait a minute, the entire Marco Rubio boomlet was about identity politics and about saying, "If we just throw a Latino at the electorate, it will mesmerize Hispanics."

NICOLLE WALLACE:

You saw how it ended, Joy. Republicans don't fall for it.

JOY-ANN REID:

But Republicans ostentatiously did identity politics.

CHUCK TODD:

Well no, I think she's right. The leadership did, the voters rejected it. Robert, where is running mate going on the Republican side?

ROBERT COSTA:

In 1976, Ronald Reagan running against the incumbent president, Gerald Ford, picked Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania heading into the convention. Down at the RNC, a lot of the RNC members and campaign associates were saying Cruz and Kasich are considering picking a running mate heading into Cleveland to try to get a bounce for their campaigns.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Well, that is going to be fun. We get four veepstakes instead of two. Anyway you guys are terrific. I appreciate it. Finally though, in memory of Prince, Bruce Springsteen started his show last night by playing a Prince classic, Purple Rain. So we're going to end our broadcast the same way, with Bruce playing Prince. And of course, as always if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *