Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Donald Trump, Republican presidential nominee, joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss the 2016 race.
For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.
MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”
Donald Trump on State of the Union: Part 1
Donald Trump on State of the Union: Part 2
Trump on his rivalry with Cruz: “Look, I expect to get it on because I’m leading by a lot – I’m leading him by a lot… Because I’m more capable. Because I have a much better temperament. Because I actually get along with people much better than he does. You know people don’t know that about me – I actually have a great relationship with people. In fact, I was criticized in the beginning because I get along with Democrats, and liberals, and Republicans, and conservatives – I get along with everybody… No I don’t think he does, and I like him. He’s been so nice to me. I mean, I can say anything, and he said, “I agree, I agree”. But I think the time will come to an end pretty soon, it sounds like.”
Trump defends his ban on Muslims travelling to the U.S: “I have many friends that are Muslims, and I will tell you, they are so happy that I did this because they know they have a problem…Hey, look I’m about security. I’m about safety. I’m about borders. One of the reasons I’m sitting here, and one of the reasons I’m so high in the polls is because it all started with the borders. …I want to at least know where it’s coming from. Why is it happening? And it’s from a group of people. It’s from a specific group of people. Ok? Why is there such total hatred? We have to know the answer, or we’re never going to have a safe country. And if we continue to be politically correct that we don’t want to talk about it, it’s something that has to be talked about…[TAPPER]: But they don’t support the ban? [TRUMP]: Not really. I mean, why would they support the ban? But without the ban, you’re not going to make the point. You’re not going to be able to make the point.”
Trump discusses the possibility of a brokered convention: “Well you know I watched what Ben said, I agreed with him 100%. I even wrote him a little note, I thought it was excellent, and frankly he may be right. I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve been hearing about it – I’ve been hearing about the closed-door meetings, and I don’t like that. That wasn’t the deal I made. I signed a pledge, but the pledge was a double deal. It was supposed to be honorable. So we’re going to find out – if it’s that way, they’re going to have problems. But I hope it’s not going to be that way. I hope it’s not going to be that way.”
Trump responds to Justice Scalia’s comments on affirmative action: “Well I thought his remarks were very tough. I mean, I don’t want to comment on them – he’s a respected Supreme Court judge – but I thought his remarks were actually very, very tough… I thought it was very tough to the African American community, actually… I don’t like what he said. I heard him, I was like “let me read it again” because I actually saw it in print, and I’m going – I read a lot of stuff – and I’m going ‘Whoa!’… One thing I will say, and I will say this, and I say it to everybody. Barack Obama has done very little for the African American community. You look at unemployment, you look at all of the problems. But yea, I was very surprised at Scalia’s statements actually.”
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Two major new polls out this morning showing Senator Ted Cruz mounting a major challenge to Donald Trump.
In Iowa, Cruz now leads, beating Trump 31 points to 21 points in a “Des Moines Register” poll, nationwide, Trump still on top, but Cruz is biting at his heels, trump at 27, Cruz at 22 in a brand-new poll hot off the presses.
Now, Trump leads more substantially across the country as well. Recent polls in New Hampshire and South Carolina still show him leading. And the CNN poll out of Iowa shows him in first place, but make no mistake, Cruz is surging and mounting a major challenge to the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump.
Now, until now, the two have played nice with each other, but even before Cruz officially pulled ahead in Iowa, according to that “Des Moines Register” poll, Trump seemed to be previewing a new line of attack, perhaps designed to play to the state’s religious conservatives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We’re doing really well with the evangelicals. And, by the way — and, again, I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba, in all fairness. It’s true. Not a lot come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I sat down with Mr. Trump that night in Des Moines, and I asked him about his newest rival and much, much more.
TAPPER: Ted Cruz, it was just reported that, behind closed doors, even though he says only nice things about you publicly, behind closed doors…
TRUMP: And he did after he made the statements.
TAPPER: Yes. But he didn’t deny that he said it.
He said that Paris and San Bernardino had given a seriousness to the race that, in his view, would hurt you because of — quote — “the question of judgment,” which he says is a challenging question for you.
TRUMP: Yes, well, I will tell you what. My judgment and great. I built a multi-multi-multi-billion dollar company, some of the greatest assets in the world, tremendously big, number one bestsellers, including “The Art of the Deal,” which may be the biggest and best in terms of the business books, tremendous television show called “The Apprentice” that lasted for 14 seasons.
And, by the way, NBC came — they would beg me to do it again, as you can imagine.
TRUMP: And I said no, and they’re going to sign or they signed Arnold Schwarzenegger.
TAPPER: Well, I don’t think he’s questioning that you’re — you’re successful.
TRUMP: No, but — no, no, no.
You don’t make that kind of success without judgment. Don’t forget this. I was against the war in Iraq. I told everybody. And you have all the documents back…
TAPPER: In 2004, yes.
TRUMP: Yes, in 2003 and 2004. But I was against…
TAPPER: Couldn’t find anything in 2003, but 2004.
TRUMP: I was against going into Iraq. That’s good judgment. I was for bombing the oil long before anybody else thought about it. That’s good judgment.
I have good judgment. I have great judgment. I would say I have far better judgment than Ted, and I think I have really great temperament. It’s a strong temperament. But, you know, when they chop heads off of Christians in the Middle East, and other people also, when they chop off heads and when they treat people the way, when the world — we’re like medieval times. Having a strong temperament is good.
TRUMP: Jeb Bush said his tone is very tough, about me.
TRUMP: My tone is very strong. I said, isn’t that a good thing?
TAPPER: But Ted Cruz is really your — one of your chief competitors right now. Jeb Bush has really fallen off the map.
And he’s — he’s taken these shots at you behind closed doors, even though, in front of the cameras, he’s only saying nice things.
TRUMP: Well, I hope he — I — look, I expect to get it on, because I’m leading by a lot. I’m leading him by a lot.
TAPPER: Why — why should voters go for you over Ted Cruz?
TRUMP: Because I’m more capable, because I have a much better temperament, because I actually get along with people much better than he does.
You know, people don’t know that about me. I actually have a great relationship with people. In fact, I was criticized at the beginning, because I get along with Democrats and liberals and Republicans and conservatives. I get along with everybody.
TAPPER: And he doesn’t?
TRUMP: Because, as a world-class businessman, that’s what you have to do.
No, I don’t think he does. And I like him. He’s been so nice to me. I mean, I could say anything, and he said, I agree, I agree.
TRUMP: But I think the time will come to an end pretty soon, it sounds like.
TAPPER: Let’s talk about the reason why a lot of Republican leaders are — say they’re expressing such anxiousness these days, and that is your call Monday for a — quote — “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.”
There’s now some polling information — and you cite polls all the time. You say, what can you go by if not the polls? And a majority of Americans, 58 percent, reject this call, reject this proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.
Now, I know your supporters agree with you, but this is a poll of the American people writ large.
TRUMP: Jake, I didn’t do it for polls, so I don’t even care what the polls say. I didn’t do it for polls.
Now, my polls happen to have gone up a lot since this announcement. A lot of people thought it would go down. I didn’t do it for that reason. But, with that being understood, when you’re getting a phone call from a polling agency, and they’re saying, well, do you support, you know, the banning of Muslims, et cetera, do you think you’re going to say — who’s going to say yes?
I don’t think the polls are accurate. At the same time, I have many friends that are Muslims. And I will tell you, they are so happy that I did this, because they know they have a problem. There is a problem.
TAPPER: Your Muslim friends are happy — are happy?
TRUMP: Radicalized — I have many friends, and at the highest level. And they — I have partners that are Muslim. I have unbelievable relationships.
TAPPER: And they support a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.?
TRUMP: They said — no, they said, it’s about time that somebody spoke up as to radicalism.
You have radicalism in this country. It’s here. And it’s trying to come through. I just read where ISIS has gotten ahold of a passport-printing machine for the migrants to get them into the United States.
Now, maybe that’s true, and maybe it’s not. It’s an early report. But how crazy are we, allowing ourselves to be subject to this kind of terror?
TAPPER: Well, I don’t think anyone doubts that radical Islam is a big problem. But I think the question is, is your proposed solution a good thing or not? Let me just…
TRUMP: Well, you know — in my solution, you know it’s a temporary — it’s a temporary solution.
TAPPER: Until when?
TRUMP: And, obviously — well, until we get our hands around the problem. We have a real problem.
We have people coming into the country, getting into airplanes and flying them into the World Trade Center. Look at Russia. That was a problem. I mean, we — with the airplane coming down. We have, all over — you look at California, this woman comes in, this horrendous woman comes into the country, radicalized. She gets through on a fiancee passport.
I never even heard of a fiancee — a fiancee visa. And she comes in. She’s with the guy, and they just killed 14 people, with more to come, because there are people so badly hurt that they’re going to be dying also.
So, we have to get our act together. Again, my relationship with the Muslim community is excellent. I have had people call me at the highest level, saying, you’re doing us a favor, because they know they have a problem very well. I mean, they really know they have a problem.
TAPPER: But they don’t support the ban, you said. They don’t support stopping all Muslims from…
TRUMP: Look, they just like the idea that somebody’s talking about it.
You know, nobody talks about it. It’s not politically correct. It’s like the guy that saw all the bombs lying on the floor of the apartment in California. He didn’t want to do it. You know why he didn’t want to do it? He didn’t want to report them, which is nonsense. He said it was racial profiling.
TAPPER: Well, I think that was a story about — it was from a local CBS about a woman who had seen a lot of young Arab or Muslim men.
TRUMP: I didn’t see…
TRUMP: Do you believe — honestly, do you believe that racial profiling…
TAPPER: But that was about a group of…
TRUMP: Because they didn’t want to be accused of racial profiling.
TAPPER: But they didn’t see bombs, is the point. It was because they saw a lot of young Muslim men.
TRUMP: They saw something. They didn’t want to call because they thought — they didn’t want to be accused of racial profiling. It sounds like a lawyer gave them that idea.
TAPPER: Well, let’s talk about this from a national security perspective, because I was talking to an official who said, look, suppose there’s a 22-year-old Muslim American out there who is already feeling alienated, and he turns on the TV, and he sees the leading Republican presidential candidate by far saying total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S., and the room goes crazy.
TRUMP: By the way, it’s not total and complete. And it’s temporary.
But let me just tell, we’re going to have exceptions.
TAPPER: But that was a quote, total and complete.
TRUMP: No, no.
You’re going to have exceptions. You’re going to have people coming in, and you are going to get people in.
TAPPER: OK, but let me just finish my question, which is, this 22-year-old sees that. And what the official said to me is, do you think that 22-year-old, seeing Donald Trump saying that, with all those people cheering, do you think that disenfranchised, disaffected 22-year-old Muslim American is less or more likely to turn to ISIS?
TRUMP: Jake, we have got to stop the problem.
We can talk about it. We can talk about it forever. There’s a real problem. And it’s called radical Islamic terrorism.
TAPPER: But are you making it worse, is the question.
TRUMP: Wait a minute.
And we have — look, what’s worse? Is it worse when they shoot 14 people and kill 14 other people and many others laying in the hospital? What about in Paris, where they have hundreds of people dead in Paris? Same thing. It’s Paris, but same thing — and many more people going to die. They’re laying in the hospital practically dead.
We have got to stop the problem. There’s a real problem. Now, since this, you know, Paris has been very tough on the mosques. They have been very tough on surveillance. All of a sudden, they’re becoming tough. But we have got to stop the problem.
TAPPER: So, there…
TRUMP: Now, we can be politically correct, and I could say, oh, well, no, there’s no problem, and we will go on forever. Why are people…
TAPPER: Look, I’m not — I’m agreeing with you there’s a problem. I’m agreeing.
TRUMP: Jake, why are people blowing airplanes out of the air?
TAPPER: I’m agreeing with you.
But my question is, is potentially alienating 1.6 billion Muslims, is that a solution to the problem? Or does that create more problems?
Let me put it this way. I read a story today about women of accomplishment in 2015 who hadn’t gotten much press attention. Two of the first listed were women I’m sure you would admire. One is named Niloofar Rahmani. She is Afghanistan’s first female pilot in the air force…
TAPPER: … since the Taliban fell.
TAPPER: The other one was Kubra Khademi. She walked through the streets of Kabul wearing metal armor to protest the harassment that she and other women would go through in Kabul on a daily basis.
These are two women who do more to combat Islamic extremism than I do, than you do. And yet they would be banned.
TRUMP: How do you know that? How do you know that? Who told you that?
TRUMP: Who told you that? I mean, you just tell me about one is a pilot, one is — who told they do more than you do…
TAPPER: Well, I’m just saying, I see it on what they do. One of them is fighting insurgents.
TRUMP: Because you read it. Good. I think that’s good. I think it’s good.
TAPPER: But you would ban them from coming into this country.
TRUMP: Look, look, I don’t know anything about the women you just mentioned.
TAPPER: But the point is, they are…
TRUMP: When the woman came in — just so you understand, when the woman came in as the fiancee…
TRUMP: … everybody said, oh, isn’t that lovely? She’s a fiancee. She came in. She was radicalized.
Whether she radicalized him or they were both — I think they were probably both. But all they had is bad intentions. I’m only saying this. There’s a group of people. It’s a problem. And everybody knows it’s a problem. And nobody wants to talk about it.
And a lot of people agree with what I’m saying. If you read a lot of the papers, especially the international papers, where they do have massive problems with this, I’m getting a lot of support.
Now, it’s temporary, but we have to get our arms around the situation.
TAPPER: Who are you getting support from?
TRUMP: Let me just tell you — well, take a look. Read the newspapers. Read international newspapers.
TAPPER: I did. But I saw Netanyahu put out a statement distancing himself from you. David Cameron did.
TRUMP: Well, when you — no, not distancing himself. I had a meeting with Netanyahu, who I could be at the meeting right now.
TAPPER: But he condemned your remarks, is all I’m saying.
TRUMP: He did. And that was sort of interesting.
He modestly condemned them. And I thought it was somewhat inappropriate that he condemned them, but that’s OK. He wanted to condemn them. That’s what he does, OK?
But we have a problem. I’m not looking to be politically correct. I’m doing this to do the right thing, this and other things. When I say this, I’m running to do the right thing. I’m doing the right thing.
Our country has a problem. People are in fear. They’re waiting for the next attack. We have a president that won’t even mention the name of the problem. He will not utter the words. It’s ridiculous. We have a president that…
TAPPER: You know why he won’t, though, right? It’s the same reason Bush was reluctant to.
TRUMP: I don’t believe that…
TAPPER: Because they…
TRUMP: I don’t believe that — he’s not doing it. And Hillary Clinton won’t do it either.
TAPPER: But their explanation is that it feeds into what ISIS wants, which is this to be a showdown between the West and Islam. And so…
TRUMP: OK. And I say it differently.
You have to identify the problem, OK? It’s a real problem.
TAPPER: I call it radical Islam too, but I’m just saying, that’s why he does it.
TRUMP: Well, he’s wrong.
You have to identify the problem. He’s not identifying the problem. He’s wrong. She’s wrong. Hillary Clinton is wrong. She’s been wrong about a lot of things. But she’s wrong. And if you don’t identify the problem, you’re never going to solve the problem.
TAPPER: I just want to ask you one more question about that, and then I want to move on to some other topics, which is the question about whether or not this is constitutional.
Two-thirds of the American people, 67 percent, says that banning Muslims from entering the country would go against the founding principles.
TRUMP: Well, first of all, they’re not citizens, OK? I agree if you’re in the country.
And, as you know, if you’re in the country, I’m not talking about that.
TRUMP: Although I am saying you have to surveil. There has to be surveillance.
TAPPER: But courts have found that constitutional principles do apply to people who are not American citizens.
TRUMP: Hey, look, I’m about security. I’m about safety. I’m about borders.
One of the reasons I’m sitting here and one of the reasons I’m so high in the polls is because it all started with the borders. And let me tell you, when I came out and announced that I was running for president, I took much more heat when I said illegal immigration and the borders, the southern borders, and the wall, and all of that, than I ever took for this.
And I think you will probably see that, but maybe a lot of people don’t remember that. Within four weeks, all of a sudden, everyone started saying, you know, Trump is sort of right.
Then time went by, and you had the killing of Kate and Jamiel, and the — you had the female, incredible woman, 66-year-old veteran…
TRUMP: … who was raped, sodomized, and killed by an illegal immigrant.
All of a sudden, they’re saying, wow. And you have thousands of cases that are a disaster, and jobs and economy and everything else, people pouring across the border.
Now, when I first came out, you said, and everybody said, wow, that’s heat. I took more heat than anybody who is — that was much more so than this. Now it’s become everybody’s trying to get in on that whole thing.
TAPPER: So, do you think your Republican colleagues are going to be sounding like you on this issue in a few weeks?
TRUMP: I think they are.
And I think that maybe different — in different ways. But I think they are. And I think it’s something that had to be brought to the forefront. I think it’s a very important thing to do. I don’t like doing it, but I think it’s something that had to be.
It’s temporary. You have exceptions. You’re going to have people — we want to — we want to find out what’s going on.
Here’s what I want to ask. Why is there such hatred? Why is there such death? Where does this hatred come from?
TAPPER: But that — when you get the answers to those questions, that’s when you’re going to…
TRUMP: No, no, but where — I want to at least know where it’s coming from. Why is it happening?
And it’s from a group of people. It’s from a specific group of people. OK? Why is there such total hatred? We have to know the answer, or we’re never going to have a safe country. And if we continue to be politically correct and we don’t want to talk about, it’s something that has to be talked about. And…
TAPPER: You said you were all about security.
TRUMP: And we should — listen, when my friends call me up, and they call me up very strongly and they say, it’s something — and these are Muslims. And they say, it’s something, Donald, that has to be talked about.
TAPPER: But they don’t support the ban?
TRUMP: Not really. I mean, why would they support the ban?
But without the ban, you’re not going to make the point. You’re not going to be able to make the point.
TAPPER: But can I just make one last final point on this issue, and then I do want to move on to others, which is you, said — I was asking about the Constitution, and you said you’re all about security.
So, you’re all about security, even if it’s against the Constitution?
TRUMP: No, no, no.
I’m the biggest believer in the Constitution. But the Constitution also provides security. I mean, we have — we have a Constitution that says, as an example, we — Second Amendment. If you…
TAPPER: Yes, but I’m talking about the First. I know you like the Second Amendment, but I’m talking about the…
TRUMP: I love the Second Amendment. And I love the First Amendment.
But I love the Second, because, if they had — as an example, in California, if a couple of people like me had guns taped to their ankle or their waist, and these two horrible people came in, you wouldn’t have all the death. You wouldn’t have it.
So, look, I’m a big believer in the Constitution, OK? But, I’m a big believer in safety. We have to have the right people coming into our country. We can’t have people coming in. When I hear that ISIS has now a passport machine to make false passports, counterfeit passports…
TAPPER: Syed Farook was an American citizen, born in this country.
TRUMP: Well, they — he got radicalized. Why did he get radicalized?
How about the Boston bombers? They came in, they very young, and they were radicalized, OK? And they did the horrible thing with the Boston Marathon. The point is, there’s something really bad going on. We have find out why. And it’s with a very specific group of people.
TAPPER: Coming up next: A meeting of top Republican officials with talks of a possible brokered convention, it has Donald Trump rethinking his pledge to support the party’s nominee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have been hearing about these closed-door meetings, and I don’t like that. That wasn’t the deal I made.
If it’s that way, they’re going to have problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Welcome back. I’m Jake Tapper live in Las Vegas, where we are just two days away from the final Republican debate of 2015.
This week, top Republican officials met for a regular dinner, but discussed an irregular topic, a possible brokered convention. With polls divided among the top candidates, a split convention to pick the Republican nominee is now a real possibility.
Candidates such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson are threatening to bolt the party and take their supporters with them if Republican officials try to subvert the will of the voters, in their views.
I asked Trump about this when I caught up with him on the campaign trail in Iowa.
TAPPER: Big week for you. And I know there are a lot of polls out there showing you still have a commanding lead.
As you know, the Republican establishment seems more distressed about you than ever, Speaker Ryan saying behind closed doors that he thinks your rhetoric could doom the party.
And now there’s this story out there about Republican bigwigs talking about, you know, a brokered convention and trying to keep you from becoming the nominee.
What’s your reaction? Do you listen to their concerns, or is this just something that you reject altogether?
TRUMP: Well, they’re going to have to live with it.
We’re doing fantastically well. We’re up by 20, 21 points, 25 points. One just came out where I’m 42. And that’s pretty big. You know, when you have 15 people in a race and you’re at 42, it’s been amazing.
CBS just came out with “New York Times,” and that one’s at 35. And it’s up very substantially. So, I think they are going to have to get used to it.
You know, I was disappointed when I heard Speaker Ryan. He said a little stuff. And, you know, frankly, I’m disappointed that he’s weak on immigration, he’s weak on the borders, and he’s in favor of amnesty. So, I have my disappointments with him.
But, overall, I think we’re getting a great response. And what’s really important, you see the big crowd here. It’s always sold out. And what’s most important is, the crowd likes me and the people like me, and they want to see our country be smart again and great again. And that’s what’s going to happen.
TAPPER: What do you think about the idea of the brokered convention? When Dr. Ben Carson heard about it, he got very upset, said it sounded like people were trying — people in power in the Republican establishment were trying to subvert the will — will of the voters.
TRUMP: Well, you know, I watched what Ben said. I agreed with him 100 percent. I even wrote him a little note. I thought it was excellent.
And, frankly, he may be right. I haven’t seen it yet. I have been hearing about it. I have been hearing about these closed-door meetings. And I don’t like that. That wasn’t the deal I made.
I signed a pledge, but the pledge was a double deal. They were supposed to be honorable. So, we’re going to find out. If it’s that way, they’re going to have problems. But I hope it’s not going to be that way. I hope it’s not going to be that way.
TAPPER: During oral arguments at the Supreme Court this week, Justice Scalia raised the issue of whether it might be better for some African-American students to go to a — quote — “slower-track school where they do well” — unquote — as opposed to a more elite college.
Now, you have said that you’re fine with affirmative action, though it is coming to a time when maybe we don’t need it. What did you think of Scalia’s remarks? And where are you today on affirmative action?
TRUMP: Well, I thought his remarks were very tough.
I mean, I don’t comment on them. They — you know, he’s a respected Supreme Court judge. But I thought his remarks actually were very, very tough.
TAPPER: Tough in a bad way or in a good way, or…
TRUMP: Well, I think they were very, very tough to a certain community. There’s no question about it.
TAPPER: To the African-American community.
TRUMP: I thought it was very tough to the African-American community, actually.
TAPPER: That sounds like you’re not supporting what he said.
TRUMP: I don’t like what he said, no. I don’t like what he said.
I heard him. I was like, let me read it again…
TRUMP: … because I actually saw it in print. And I’m going — I read a lot of stuff. And I’m going, whoa.
TAPPER: So you still support affirmative action?
TRUMP: Look, I have great African-American friendships. I have just amazing relationships.
And so many positive things have happened. One thing I will say — and I will say this, and I say it to everybody — Barack Obama has done very little for the African-American community. You look at unemployment. You look at all of the problems.
But, yes, I was very surprised at Scalia’s statements, actually.
Donald Trump, thank you, as always. You always sit down. You always take the questions. Appreciate it.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
TAPPER: Thank you so much, sir.