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Sunday Morning Futures

Reince Priebus: Nothing nefarious about an open convention

This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," March 20, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  High drama on the road to the Republican nomination.  A lot of it surrounding this candidate, Donald Trump, who's making headlines campaigning ahead of critical contests in Arizona and Utah this upcoming Tuesday.  

Hi, everyone.  I'm Maria Bartiromo.  Welcome to "Sunday Morning Futures" this Sunday.  

Here now some of that chaos on the campaign trail.  Just yesterday in Arizona, anti-Trump protesters jammed traffic, blocked the only main road leading to Trump's rally in Fountain Hills, all of this raising questions about the possibility of even more turmoil as we get closer to the GOP convention in Cleveland coming up this July.  

Let's talk about it all right now with Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.  

Mr. Chairman, it is good to have you on the program this morning.  Welcome.  

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE:  Good morning, Maria.  

BARTIROMO:  Can you lay out the road ahead for us?  Tell us what an open convention may look like.  Do you expect we would get an open convention?  And what are the scenarios that could lead to that?  

PRIEBUS:  OK.  Well, first of all, at the RNC, we're preparing for any scenario, so we'll be ready.  We've got candidates that have a pathway to getting to the majority of delegates before Cleveland.  But if that doesn't happen, obviously, we'll be prepared to run the most open and transparent, open convention in the history of our party.  Obviously, it doesn't happen very often.

So we're getting ready, and we're getting ready for any possibility, Maria.  

BARTIROMO:  So, you think anything can happen?  You know, you speak to the Cruz campaign, and they think they have a real road to the nomination.  They feel that if he does well in Utah, in Arizona, which they say he is doing well, that he may very well get the delegates need.  You think that actually is a possibility?  

PRIEBUS:  Well, I mean, it is a possibility.  It's a possibility that another candidate can get to the majority before the convention, and Donald Trump, it's possible that Ted Cruz can get to the majority before the convention.  And it's also possible, I would imagine, that any number of scenarios could happen at the convention.  

But look, our job is to make sure that we take the mystery out of what an open convention would look like, if we should go that direction, and I'm trying very hard to make sure people understand that a majority of delegates, empowered by the votes in the states, choose the nominee of our party, and there's nothing nefarious about that.  

BARTIROMO:  What do you say about all of this violence that now is breaking out?  I mean, you look at what happened over the weekend at Trump rallies.  And you know, Donald Trump's camp is going to say, look, this is not us, we are simply having our rallies.  We have the opportunity to have free speech, and yet, you know, these groups like Black Lives Matter are coming, creating all of this violence.  

Do you attribute the violence to Donald Trump?  

PRIEBUS:  Well, listen, I think that there's plenty of blame to go around, but certainly, you do have people that are coming in to these events seeking to make a statement, and people shouldn't react with violence.  I mean, so, obviously, violence begets violence, right?  And so, we don't condone violence.  I don't think anyone involved condones violence.  I think the temperature should be ratcheted down, but I also think some of these things should be left up to law enforcement, you know.  People shouldn't take to their own hands resolving these differences.  

I think that people should respect the law.  I think law enforcement should do their job, which they are, and you know, that's where we should leave it, but violence is not the answer.  Violence is not something that our party condones, and I don't think anybody involved condones violence.  

So, no, I think it should end, but I also think people should kind of reflect a little bit and take the temperature down.  

BARTIROMO:  And take responsibility for it as those see fit.  Let me ask you about the GOP backlash against Donald Trump, or some Republicans, anyway.  I mean, do you worry that there is going --

PRIEBUS:  Some, right.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes, some, underline some.  Do you worry there is going to be some backlash against a portion of the Republican Party, given this, you know, this pushback on Donald Trump?  I mean, look at Mitt Romney posting on Facebook this week, this weekend.  

He said, "In the Utah nominating caucus, I will vote for Senator Ted Cruz.  Today there is a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism.  Through the calculated statements of its leaders, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, vulgarity, most recently threats and violence.  I'm repulsed by each and every one of these."

So, he's obviously come out real strong.  Do you worry that people are going to say, look, Donald Trump is resonating with 35 percent to 40 percent of the Republican people.  He's obviously touching something.  He's resonating with people.  You are ignoring the will of the people if you push back.  

PRIEBUS:  Well, obviously, Mitt has a slight opinion on the matter, that goes without saying, and he has a right to an opinion.  And just like anyone involved has a right to an opinion, and that's the process that numbers going through, Maria.  And no one's disenfranchising anybody.  

The fact is, is that delegates are empowered by the outcomes of these elections in the states.  So, depending on how well you do in the states, it will have a direct reflection on how many delegates you have at the convention.  

And so, when you have a close contest like this or a heated contest with a lot of drama and a lot of intrigue, obviously, emotions run high.  But ultimately, what the goal here is, is to defeat Hillary Clinton, who might be indicted, whose image is in the ditch by the American people that don't trust her.  

So, that's what's important.  You know, Supreme Court seats are important.  Passing a budget that Paul Ryan and Tom Price have put together, that's what's important.  So, saving our country's what's important.  

So, all of this comes together, and it's our job at the RNC, and it's my job in particular -- and it's obviously not easy -- but you've got to get to a place where you have an open and honest and clear process.  Even if it means an open convention, so that when people come together through Cleveland, they can at least say, look, it was straight, it was honest, and this is the outcome that we had, and it's now time to come together and defeat Hillary Clinton.  That's what has to happen.  

BARTIROMO:  That's absolutely right.  And when you look at voter count, people actually coming out, it's very exciting on the Republican side versus voter output down on the Democratic side.  You also look at the fund-raising dollars --

PRIEBUS:  That's right.  

BARTIROMO:  Right?  The Republican National Committee had a great month in February, raising $11.5 million, cycle raised to $126.4 million to date.  

Tell us about this money, what a good month you've had and where this money goes.  How's that allocated?  

PRIEBUS:  Well, that's the whole thing.  I mean, people are so interested in the presidential game, which is -- I know it's where a lot of the fun is at, but the truth is, we're so much better than we were four years ago.  We didn't have a program four years ago that made a lot of our folks proud because we didn't have the ability without getting into the details of that for years earlier.  

But the truth is, we've got thousands of people on the ground, we're so much better in our data and turnout operation, we're so much better than the DNC.  We're out-raising them every single month, whether it be major dollar donors or people who just write a $50 or $20 check.  We're doing better than the DNC.  

And at the very least, I know it's not the fun stuff, but on the mechanics and the ground game, the things that a good national party ought to do, people out there would be proud of where we're at, whether you're for Trump, whether you're for Cruz, whether you're for Kasich, you need a national party that has its act together, and that's where we're at.  

Now, we need to take this to the convention, continue to do a good job and make sure people understand that there's nothing mysterious about having a vote on the floor of a convention and saying, look, the majority of delegates are going to decide the nominee.  

And we may not get there, you know?  We have candidates that could get to that number before Cleveland.  So, look, we're talking right now and we're doing our best to explain the process to everybody.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  I think you make a really great point and very well said.  It's going to be an exciting run.  Reince Priebus, good to see you, sir.  Thanks very much for joining us.  

PRIEBUS:  Thank you, Maria.  

BARTIROMO:  We'll see you soon.  The chairman of the Republican National
Committee.

Tomorrow, we look at the other side.  Tune in to Fox Business Network tomorrow morning on "Mornings with Maria" when I sit down with the DNC chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  That's tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern on the Fox Business Network on my morning show, "Mornings with Maria."

Protesters crowding Donald Trump's events as he heads to the Southwest.  We will speak with a Trump campaign adviser, his senior policy adviser, as the front-runner's policy platform.  You can follow me on Twitter @mariabartiromo, @sundayfutures.  Let us know what you'd like from Stephen Miller, who's next, live.

Stay with us as well look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."

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BARTIROMO:  Welcome back.  

Donald Trump once again making big headlines this weekend as he campaigns ahead of critical contests in Arizona and Utah this Tuesday.  People protesting his rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona, yesterday, doing everything in their power to stop the front-runner from speaking, even blocking the road on the way to the event.  Later, violence erupting at another rally in Tucson.  

Here now is Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser with the Trump campaign.  

Stephen, good to see you.  Thanks so much for joining us.  

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR POLICY ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN:  Hey, it's great to be here.  Thank you.  

BARTIROMO:  To what do you attribute this violence?  What's your take on what we're seeing as Donald Trump campaigns over the weekend and we're seeing these people try to stop him?  

MILLER:  Well, you've definitely see some far left disruption.  You've seen it in Chicago, you've seen it in Arizona.  It's a very small, angry group of people who support open borders policies, who are anti-cop, anti-law enforcement, who support chaos and disorder.

And that's really not what the American people support.  It's not a mainstream view.  It's not a popular view.  And it just underscores, again, that you have a silent majority in this country who want a return to law and order, rule of law, a prosperous economy, and you're always going to have a group of people who are aggressively opposed to that.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes, which is why Trump choosing immigration as one of his main campaign issues, really resonated with so many people.  And in fact, it's one of the issues that is dividing the Republican Party.  

I want to talk to you about this, Stephen.  I know you've done a lot of work on immigration, having worked with Jeff Sessions from Alabama and worked on the immigration reform.  And you and I have spoken about this in the past, and you say this is really fundamental for any election because it is about who gets to live in America, who gets to work in America, and who gets to participate in our democracy.  

MILLER:  Exactly.  That's exactly right.  

And you know, I heard you read the quote earlier from Mitt Romney, and he said on his Facebook post that this election is about Republicanism versus Trumpism.  

Well, of course, that's absolute nonsense.  The choice that we have is between the national interest and the special interests.  And what do I mean by that?  Do we have an immigration policy of uncontrolled migration that saps wages, that increases unemployment, that leaves millions out of work, that strains our schools, our hospitals, our budgets, or do we control the pace of immigration to create a rising income for the American family, to create a tighter labor market where people can get jobs, to make it easier for our schools to keep up with growing demands?  

That's the choice that voters face.  And of course, we have large donors who tell Mitt Romney what to do, who want to keep the border open, who want to keep incomes low, but that's not what the American people want, and that's really what this election is coming down to.  

BARTIROMO:  But how do you push back on those people who say, look, free trade has helped the economy in America?  And the fact that we have immigrants in this country tells who this country is, that we're all at the end of the day, immigrants.  

MILLER:  That's a great question.  Well, nobody gets hurt more by open borders immigration policies than immigrants themselves.  The first people hurt by uncontrolled migration are always going to be the recent immigrants looking to get a pay raise and a better job.  

But I find it amazing when people say, oh, free trade's working out great, don't change anything, more, more, more.  The reality is, we haven't really had free trade.  What we've had I'd probably call trade surrenderism.  

And what do I mean by that?  China manipulates its currency, we do nothing.  Japan refuses to sell American cars, we do nothing.  And what happens is, is that American industry slowly dies and disappears.  

And you see entire communities have vanished.  And when those communities go, it wipes away all the institutional memories of those towns, and it just destroys a beautiful way of life in America.  

And the question is, can we have a prosperous economy that's only a services economy?  And I don't think any American believes that we can't have a strong economy unless we have manufacturing here in America.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes.

So, what do you -- go ahead, Stephen.  

MILLER:  I mean, a great example of this would be the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, or what's called the TPP.  Ted Cruz has supported it, John Kasich has supported it.  

The TPP, to just give one example, makes it easier for the Japanese to import their cars to the United States, but it doesn't do anything to make Japan open their markets to American cars.  So, what's going to happen?  Our trade deficit with Japan is going to grow, and the American car industry is going to be destroyed.  

BARTIROMO:  So many important points here.  And you know, a lot of people are looking to Donald Trump for more substance on these policy issues.  You have a lot of knowledge and background in this issue.  Is this going to be the paramount issue that he is going to look to govern around?  I mean, what are going to be his most important policy changes, if, in fact, he were to win the election?  

MILLER:  OK, well, he's obviously going to implement the core aspects of the conservative agenda that we know well -- tax reform that keeps jobs and wealth in America, regulatory reform that makes it easier for the small business to compete with the large business and easier for the large business to grow and add jobs, too, but we're also, on top of those core conservative positions, we're going to change our trade and manufacturing policy to grow the middle class and get pay higher.  

And again, we're also going to change the immigration policy to focus on the needs of workers instead of the needs of large donors who, let's be honest -- and I've been here in Washington for a number of years now, not as many as some -- but the donors control Washington, D.C. and I see it every day.  So, we're going to change our immigration policy so that it works for working Americans, not just large donors and corporations who give the orders to Mitt Romney.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  So, tax policy, you mentioned, that is going to be a priority then.  Do you think he'll get tax reform done in year one?  

MILLER:  Absolutely.  And this is a really important point.  For the conservative agenda to get enacted, we have to grow the party.  We have to win states like Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan.  

BARTIROMO:  Right.  

MILLER:  Where Mr. Trump is polling so well.  

If you come in with that kind of mandate, if you're able goat the voter earning under 50k and under 30k, and you have a mandate, then you can get tax reform accomplished.  And if you fix our tax policy and our trade policy and our immigration policy, you're going to rebuild our middle class so that pay is going up for once, and unemployment is going down, and the labor force is finally getting back to work.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  Real quick, Stephen, do you think it's going to be an open contest going into the convention?  

MILLER:  Well, I don't know at this point.  I think that we're on track to win 1,237, and that's the bottom line, and we have many states that are coming up that are excellent for Mr. Trump, like New Jersey, like New York, like Arizona on Tuesday, where he is going to win on a message of border security, and then, of course, California.  

So, we're very optimistic.  But the bottom line is this, this is an election that comes down to a simple question -- do you want our government to work for the people or only very large donors who want to keep their profits up at the expense of everyday working people?  

BARTIROMO:  You make a lot of good points, Stephen.  Good to see you.  Thank you for joining us this morning.  

MILLER:  Thank you so much.  

BARTIROMO:  Thank you, Stephen Miller, joining us, senior policy adviser to Donald Trump.  

Up next, former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson will weigh in.  The thoughts on the GOP establishment trying to push the front-runner out.  We're looking ahead this morning on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES.  Stay with us.  

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HERMAN CAIN, FORMER GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Let me get this straight -- Anonymous and Black Lives Matter want to determine the Republican nominee.  I don't think so!  Especially if it's Donald Trump.  Secondly, he hasn't sewn up the nomination yet, but I happen to believe that he'll go into convention with 1,237 delegates in order to secure the nomination.  

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BARTIROMO:  That was Herman Cain earlier this week on "Mornings with Maria" on the Fox Business Network, talking about the road ahead.  

And as we stand right now, three is proving to be a crowd in the GOP race.  John Kasich and Ted Cruz are telling each other to drop out as they both fight to gain ground on Donald Trump and emerge as the alternative candidate.  

Retired neurosurgeon and former GOP presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson, joining the conversation.  

Dr. Carson, good to see you.  Thanks so much for joining us.  

DR. CARSON, R-FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you.  

BARTIROMO:  What do you think?  Do you think we go into Cleveland with an open convention?  How do you see it?  

CARSON:  Well, I hope not.  You know, the reason that I came out with my endorsement when I did is an attempt to prevent that from happening, because I hope people begin to really think through the implications of going in and messing with the will of the people, trying to stop the will of the people and manipulate the situation.  

You're not going to get those enthusiastic people if you have another nominee, other than the one that has brought them to the party.  And that's going to basically hand the nomination or hand the election to the progressives.  And we don't need more progressives and more progressive Supreme Court judges.  

BARTIROMO:  Right.  And when you came out and endorsed Donald Trump, a lot of people questioned why you were doing that, because during the whole campaign season, you know, he was attacking so many people, yourself included.  And you told another network, you said, well, even if Trump turns out not to be such a great president, we're only looking at four years.  That's --

CARSON:  Yes, I'm a very pragmatic individual.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes, you are!  

CARSON:  And you know, if, in fact, you've got Hillary or somebody who appoints two of the four Supreme Court judges, we're not looking at four years, we're looking at multiple generations, we're looking at the loss of the American dream, the changing of who America is.  People need to step beyond step one.  

We're not playing checkers here, we're playing chess.  And unless you can really look at that, you're going to be bamboozled and fooled by those stop Trump people who, you just need to recognize, what is the consequences.  

And you look at the other people who are running.  You know, Kasich, he doesn't have a path to the nomination.  And you look at Cruz, he does not have the ability to draw moderates and people from the other side of the aisle.  It's not going to happen.  So --

BARTIROMO:  Yes, actually, you make a really good point about drawing the moderates, because that seems to be the real sticking point with Ted Cruz.  

But I've got to tell you, I mean, I've spoken with the campaign, and they say they have a real path to victory.  They say Trump struggles in closed primaries.  There are closed primaries in the next couple of months.  Trump cannot beat Cruz head to head.  Cruz will perform well in Utah and in Wisconsin.  

Cruz's ground game can and will dominate conventions and caucuses.  And they think he's going to win big, by the way, on June 7th, when we have some major contests as well.  

CARSON:  Yes, but what about November the 8th?  That is the question we really need to be looking at.  If you're not going to be able to draw moderates and draw people from the other side, you're going to lose, and you're not going to have any coattails.  You're probably going to lose the Senate.  

We're talking about America going from a nation that is of formed by the people to a nation that is of formed by the government.  We're talking about selling our children and our grandchildren down the stream and becoming a socialist-like nation.  Is that really what we want?  We need to think this thing through.  

BARTIROMO:  We just heard from Stephen Miller, who is senior policy adviser to Donald Trump's campaign.  He made a lot of smart and specific points about immigration and about trade.

What does Donald Trump need to do to change people's minds on the Republican side, to get them to rally behind him in terms of specifics and specific policy?  

CARSON:  Well, you know, I think he needs to continue to be who he is.  But it is time, I believe, to really begin to talk about some of the real issues.

You know, I think people may actually be ready to listen.  When I was running, nobody wanted to hear about the issues.  But I think now is the time to really talk about the policies, to talk about why, you know, we've been put in a difficult position, trade, because of the policies we've used and how the president can make a big difference with that.  

Some of these trade policies need to be renegotiated so that they're favorable to us, or at least neutral.  I think he's willing to do that.  He needs to talk about the economy, the economic engine, how do you stimulate the economic engine.  

We need to be talking about how do you provide ladders of opportunity for all people in this country, because that ultimately strengthens the fabric of the nation.  If we can take all the downtrodden people in our nation, and they've seen a lot of hope, but they haven't seen a lot of change.  Let's give them some real change.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  

CARSON:  That gives them the opportunity to climb that ladder.  That will make a big difference.  You need to articulate that.  

BARTIROMO:  Well, when you were campaigning, I remember talking with you about your tax plan, which I was very impressed with.  Are you going to try to get Donald Trump to use some of your specifics on a tax plan?  

CARSON:  Yes, absolutely.  You know, for me, it's about finding a way to improve life for the next generation.  

I know there's been all this crap about me angling for vice presidency.  Heck, I could care less.  It would be difficult for me to care less about that.  

I'm interested in how can we fix this country for the next generation.  That's what my life was all about, improving life for children.  

BARTIROMO:  So, what role would you take in a Trump administration?  

CARSON:  I would be happy just to continue talking with him, you know, providing advice.  I have no desire for title or position.  Quite frankly, I'd be delighted to move back into the private sector and continue doing the kinds of things that I was doing with education and with just informing people about the things that are going on in our nation.  

BARTIROMO:  All right.  We will leave it there.  And you do that so well, sir.  Thank you so much for joining us this morning.  

CARSON:  Thank you.  

BARTIROMO:  Dr. Ben Carson there.  

Tomorrow, don't miss a "Hannity" special.  Donald Trump will sit down with Sean at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.  That's right here on the Fox News Channel.  So, don't miss it, tomorrow night, 10:00 p.m. with "Hannity."

Some cracks seem to be forming in the GOP's blockade of the president's Supreme Court pick.  How will this nomination fight play out?  We will talk with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey as we look ahead this morning on "Sunday Morning Futures."  Back in a moment.

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BARTIROMO:  Welcome back.  

Now we move to the battle over the vacancy on the Supreme Court.  Now there seems to be some cracks in the GOP stand against nominee Merrick Garland, with these three Republican senators breaking ranks.  And Senator Kirk of Illinois taking a strong stand and calling for a vote, saying, quote, "Just man up and cast a vote.  The tough thing about these senatorial jobs is you get yes or no votes.  Your whole job is to either say yes or no and explain why."

Joining me right now is Judge Michael Mukasey, former U.S. attorney general, and, of course, a firm at Debevoise and Plimpton.

Did I totally mess up your name?  

MICHAEL MUKASEY, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL:  That's fine.  

BARTIROMO:  My apologies.  Mr. Attorney General, good to see you.  

MUKASEY:  Good to see you.  

BARTIROMO:  Thank you so much for joining us.  

Now, we've spoken about this in the past, and you said actually, obviously, this is not unprecedented, that the president would nominate a Supreme Court justice and that the Senate would say, no, we're not doing a hearing on this.  

MUKASEY:  It is not unprecedented.  In fact, it happened in precisely this kind of a situation when Millard Fillmore nominated somebody who was a Harvard Law school graduate, same as Merrick Garland, was said to be very well-qualified and was held up by the Senate because they felt that somebody else was going to take over the White House.  Sure enough, somebody else did.  

BARTIROMO:  But do you think that in some ways, people will see this as the Republicans being obstructionists again?  The fact that, look, the president has a responsibility to nominate somebody.  Maybe Senator Kirk is right, man up and just do the hearing.  

MUKASEY:  Well, Senator Kirk, I'm sure, has an argument, but the Republican response to that is that you can man up and say later.  And if you feel that the election is going to go the other way, particularly when you're replacing somebody who was perhaps the most intellectually influential Supreme Court justice in a generation, you really ought to figure out whether the White House is going to change hands.  And if so, delay that consideration until a new president can be heard.  

BARTIROMO:  And I think there was a quote from Justice Scalia at one point in his life, where he said, look, if I ever have to be replaced, I would hope that you replace me with someone that shares my thinking on some of these big issues.  

Tell me about Judge Garland.  

MUKASEY:  Judge Garland is a fine judge, brilliant lawyer, very capable.  And certainly, he's one of many judges who are qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.  

BARTIROMO:  What's the reason not to do a hearing?  

MUKASEY:  The reason not to do a hearing is that --

BARTIROMO:  They want to wait for the people to decide.  

MUKASEY:  Right, but it's a political process, and it was put there by the people who drafted the Constitution.  

There was a proposal that was pushed forward by the person who is known as the Father of the Constitution, who said that he thought that the president's pick ought to go forward, unless the Senate voted it down within a couple of days.  And that proposal was voted down at the constitutional convention because people felt it was giving too much power to the president.  So, there's no requirement that the Senate vote.  

BARTIROMO:  And now this becomes an election issue.  The stakes are that much higher, because we know whoever is in the White House is going to be naming the next Supreme Court justice.  

MUKASEY:  Right.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  So, how do you think this plays out?  Do you think at the end of the day, having heard from the Senate, Mitch McConnell and his colleagues, there will be no hearing?  I mean, are we just playing football with Judge Garland's life?  

MUKASEY:  There's a variety of -- that's one of the unfortunate features of this, and that is that any nominee for any office has the spectacle of watching his own -- of watching people play football with him, and that's not pleasant.  

But there's a variety of ways it could play out.  One is that if it looks as if a Democrat is going to be elected president, the Senate could always come back in a lame duck session and confirm Judge Garland, despite the statements that they don't want to do it, simply because he is perhaps more acceptable to people than they think the nominee of a Democratic president with Clinton or somebody else.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes, that's a really important point.  All right.  We will leave it there. Judge, good to see you.  

MUKASEY:  Good to see you.

BARTIROMO:  Thank you so much.  Michael Mukasey joining us there.  

Let's check in on "MediaBuzz" at the top of the hour.  Howie Kurtz joins us live.  

Howie, good morning to you.

HOWARD KURTZ, MEDIA BUZZ:  Good morning, Maria.  

Well, we'll continue that conversation about the Supreme Court battle looking at the coverage of whether it's tilted toward the White House version of events, saying that Judge Garland deserves a vote, but also all the explosion of reporting on the stop Trump movement, the continuing violence, outbreaks of fighting at some of his rallies, his comments about there could be riots if he's denied the nomination.  Plenty to chew on this morning.  

BARTIROMO:  All right.  We will see you in about 20 minutes, Howie.  We will be there.  Thank you so much.  

The GOP race heads to the southwest.  Our panel is up next as we look ahead on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES.  Join us, next.  

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SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Let me be very, very clear: as president, I will not be neutral.  

(CHEERS)

America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.  

GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We see people who are concerned and anxious about the future, but, you know, the last thing we need to do is pour gasoline on a fire.  I mean, I think we can be in a room and we can acknowledge the problems, but we can also offer solutions that can unify the country.  

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BARTIROMO:  Ted Cruz and John Kasich both making their cases against front-runner Donald Trump this weekend ahead of critical contests in Utah and Arizona coming up this Tuesday.  

Let's bring in our panel on this.  Ed Rollins is former principal adviser to President Reagan.  He is a FOX News analyst.  Eboni Williams with us this morning, Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor. And Doug Heye with us this morning, former deputy chief of staff for communications for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and the former communications director of the Republican National Committee.  Good to see, everybody.  Thanks so much for joining us.

ED ROLLINS, FOX NEWS ANALYST:  Good morning.  

BARTIROMO:  John Kasich has been on this program a lot, and he is one of the few out there that actually has a plan with the economy and can articulate that plan.  

Does he have a road ahead?  

ROLLINS:  I don't believe so.  John's been a friend of mine for 30 years.  I think he's probably the most accomplished guy that was running in this case, but there is no formula.  The other two candidates could get out and he couldn't get the delegates needed.  

My sense is I can't understand why he's hanging around, unless he want to be vice president or something.  But, clearly, the contest is Trump, who is way ahead of everybody else, and Cruz is the only one who could possibly challenge him.  

BARTIROMO:  So, Cruz has a path, according to his campaign.  He says, the campaign basically believes that these are going to be closed primaries and Cruz does better in closed primaries.  

ROLLINS:  He does.  Cruz is really running a campaign in the traditional sense.  And what Trump is running is a marketing plan, and he's the marketer, and obviously, as "The New York Times" did a story last week, where he's had almost $2 billion in free time on television.  No one comes near that.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  

ROLLINS:  You can't imagine that in a campaign.  So, he spent less money than anybody and he's way, way ahead because of that.  

BARTIROMO:  It's true!  Even his most recent ad, Doug, about Hillary Clinton that Trump took out, he just released it on YouTube.  And there you go!  And it got a lot of play, but he didn't pay for it.  

DOUG HEYE, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO ERIC CANTOR:  He didn't pay for it.  Look, I don't say a lot of good things about Donald Trump.  I thought that was a great ad --

BARTIROMO:  Smart.  

HEYE:  But it's also something that the Hillary campaign could have taken that footage, thrown in footage of Donald Trump doing or saying silly things and used it against him.  

And that's ultimately one of the problems about Donald Trump.  There is so much material.  If instead of getting attention, he gets scrutiny, which he hasn't really gotten until recent weeks, for nine months now.  If he gets that scrutiny, he could be in trouble.  

EBONI WILLIAMS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  To Doug's point, Maria, that's what the Hillary campaign did.  Take the ad of her dog barking and mirrored it and inserted Trump flub, as they would call it.  

Yes, certainly, the brilliancy of Trump can't be ignored to Ed's point.  The numbers don't support Cruz catching him delegate-wise, but looking at Arizona, right, where Trump is expected to win ultimately because so much early voting has already taken place.

What the Cruz campaign can do is say, look, he's closed this margin, and certainly, he's getting closer and closer.  So, if it's a contested convention, they can have an argument, at least, Ted Cruz's people, that this thing is still contested, Donald Trump has not run away with this, so this is indeed worth kind of arguing about.  

BARTIROMO:  If it's a contested convention, does the supporters of Trump go backlash big on the Republicans, Doug Heye?  I mean, are we going to see them basically come out and say, you stole the election from Donald Trump?  

HEYE:  If Trump has earned it fair and square, gotten to 1,237 delegates, they'll have every right to do that and they should do that.  The challenge for Trump is, if he doesn't get there, if he hasn't closed the deal, then it's incumbent on Donald Trump to be the greatest deal-maker in history that he's told us he is, for nine months now.

If he can't close that deal, if the great dealmaker can't close the deal, it's incumbent on him to then step aside.  Who knows if that will happen obviously?

ROLLINS:  At the end of the day, if he says on the path he's on, he's going to win these big states that matter, he's going to win Florida, he's going to Michigan, he's going to win New York, he's going to win Pennsylvania, probably going to win California, and then how do you argue that I came close but I didn't make it?  

WILLIAMS:  But that threshold argument to Doug and Ed's point, you know, us insiders, we get -- if you don't get to 1,237, you're not at 1,237.  But to the greater electorate, I don't know if they will appreciate that nuance in the same way.  

BARTIROMO:  Well, I mean, there's a reason it is 1,237, right?  If he doesn't get to 1,237, Ed, it's totally justifiable for the other side to say, you didn't get the 1,237, it's an open convention now.  

ROLLINS:  The part of the story that no one knows, unless you've lived in the party for a long time as I have, is a lot of these delegates aren't Trump delegates.  They're picked by the party and the state.  

BARTIROMO:  They're Republicans.  

ROLLINS:  And they're Republicans in their pledge and they put members of Congress and they put big donors and what-have-you, so anything can happen.  

The critical thing here is, Trump, as I said, does not really have a campaign.  He has to have a convention operation that is very, very significant.  We lost in -- I was a Reagan person -- we lost in 1976 when Gerald Ford, we lost by 117 votes, where he was the president.  

He used every tool in the federal arsenal.  He put grants out and did everything out to turn that around.  Nobody has that advantage and nobody basically is as skilled at the closed convention because we haven't had one since '76.  

BARTIROMO:  All right.  Let's take a short break.  When we come back, we're going to talk about the other side, word that the president is pushing Democrats to rally around front-runner Hillary Clinton.  Senator Bernie Sanders is reacting, and our panel will react on it all as we look ahead on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES, next.  

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SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-VT, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We are half-way through the Democratic nominating process.  As some of the largest states in this country, states like California, states like New York state, Oregon, Washington state, they have not yet cast a vote.  So to my mind, it would be extraordinarily undemocratic to tell the people in half the states in America, oh, you don't have a right to get involved.  

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BARTIROMO:  That was Senator Bernie Sanders addressing a New York Times report that President Obama recently urged donors at a private event to rally behind Hillary Clinton.  And that Sanders' White House bid is nearing an end.  

Back with the panel right now.  

Eboni William, let me kick this off.  A lot of Dems out there basically saying I wanted a better choice, but now, I'm reluctant to get behind the front-runner, Hillary Clinton.  

WILLIAMS:  You're exactly right, Maria.  I mean, I'm a registered independent.  I look at the Democratic ticket first.  I voted for Barack Obama twice.  

Hillary Clinton very unappealing to me and many of my friends that feel similar.  But what's interesting about Bernie's point and I think he's right.  Look, he's not running to be president, I think he's running a movement and he should continue to do it all the way to convention.  He's right about that.

The president is saying, look, realistically, Bernie has no path to get to the nomination.  But he also pointed out in that same press release, Maria, the president, that Hillary has weaknesses that need to be addressed -- a lack of enthusiasm and an overall perception of untrustworthiness.  

And whether President Obama says that, you know, you've got to pay attention.  And the Dems should be worried about voter turnout and enthusiasm.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes, you're absolutely right, because voter turnout is way up on the Republican side and way down on the Democratic side.  It's really fascinating, Doug, what's going on.  It's very similar to the Republicans, because on the Republican side, half of the Republicans are not behind Donald Trump.  

HEYE:  Yes, we can see that two nominees being the most unpopular nominees in our nation's history.  

And while Republicans are getting more voters and it is something they can be enthusiastic about, Donald Trump bringing in new voters never got him to 50 percent in a primary.  And so, if Ted Cruz gets over 50 percent in Utah and he will, he has a new argument he can use and if he also does somewhat well in Arizona, they're in a good position to move in Wisconsin.  They feel if they do well in Wisconsin, they're going all the way to Cleveland.  

BARTIROMO:  So, you have said if the past, you can't look at me in the eye and say you're going to vote for Donald Trump.  You just won't do it.  

Will you get behind Ted Cruz?  

HEYE:  Absolutely.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes.

Ed, let me ask you about Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, because as this whole thing is boiling up, you wonder what's going to happen next with the FBI investigation.  

ROLLINS:  You do.  

BARTIROMO:  Of Hillary Clinton.

ROLLINS:  I think this -- as the attorney general said on your show before, there's very legitimate issues here and there is clearly questions of whether she abided the law or not.  

I think the fundamental question here is she going to be able to Bernie Sanders young enthusiastic voters back into the mix?  I assume she will.  But are they going to have that same intensity?  

What I thought was damaging by the president, by saying she wasn't an authentic candidate and comparing her to George W. Bush, he said, well, he wasn't very authentic either.  I mean, how can the president of your own party say you're not authentic when you're going to obviously have to defend and run for his third term?  

So, I think the critical thing here is Obama wants to get in this mix.  I think it will be a disastrous mistake for Hillary to basically have Obama out there campaigning for him.  He needs to finish his term, and if it's a third time of Obama's, a lot of people are going to vote against that.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes, because the real secret is, Obama apparently and Hillary Clinton don't really like each other very much.  

WILLIAMS:  They don't.  And to Ed's point, he's absolutely right.  Many people don't want an Obama third term.  

But Hillary Clinton desperately needs the Obama coalition of millennials and people of color to put her into a White House position.  And right now, she's struggling with those people -- millennials, certainly young women.  So, those are groups she's got to get after somehow.  

BARTIROMO:  There is speculation that if she were to get the nomination which is probably likely, that she would -- and if she were to win the election, she would name President Obama to the Supreme Court.  

WILLIAMS:  I doubt it.  I doubt it.  I doubt I would take it.  Certainly, there is no way I see President Obama being confirmed by this current U.S. Senate.  

ROLLINS:  Worse than that, can you imagine former president of the United States -- we had one, we had William Howard Taft who obviously sat on the court.  Can you imagine him sitting on the court with eight other judges and then trying to argue, you know, I taught part time constitutional law on Fridays from 10:00 to 11:00.  I'm going to basically compete with some of the best --  

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS:  Yes, and we'll also be revisiting many of the president's signatures in legislation, whether it's Affordable Care Act or different things.  So, I think that will be incredibly conflicting.  

BARTIROMO:  All right.  Let's go throughout contests ahead.  You've got Arizona, Utah, on Tuesday.  Tell me what's most important as we head to the convention?  

ROLLINS:  Arizona is very important.  Then, you go through a kind of a down period for a couple weeks, in which you don't have much activity.  And then you really start getting into the Northeast, Pennsylvanias, New Jerseys, and for the first time in my lifetime, California is closing last days of the primary, the big California primary and New Jersey and others are going to matter a lot.  It's 300 delegates in that last day.  And that may be the margin.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  That's really important.  We'll see what happens in California.  

ROLLINS:  Right down to the bitter end.  

BARTIROMO:  All right.  We'll take a short break.  Then the one thing to watch in the week ahead on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES from our panel, next.  Stay with us.  

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BARTIROMO:  We're back with our panel.  

Looking at the one big thing to watch in the week ahead.  And for me, it is the birthday, the anniversary, second year anniversary of "Sunday Morning Futures."  

I want to thank my panel and all my guests in the last two years, we've had a terrific show.  And so, happy birthday to us.  

ROLLINS:  Thank you.  

HEYE:  Happy birthday.

ROLLINS:  Thank you.  

BARTIROMO:  Two more great programs.  First political Sunday morning program new show in decades.  

ROLLINS:  Great job.  

BARTIROMO:  So, thank you so much.  

Anything else to watch ahead for the week ahead?  

ROLLINS:  The big speech tomorrow.  The AIPAC speech that Trump is making and he's having some private meeting with some congressional leaders.  So, it's big day for him tomorrow.  

BARTIROMO:  All right.  Anything else?  

WILLIAMS:  I'm watching media, Maria.  I'm watching -- to Ed's point -- this is a media campaign, by and large.  I'm looking at Ted Cruz's ability to capitalize and Hillary Clinton's.

BARTIROMO:  All right.  

HEYE:  Ed stole my answer.  

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO:  That is "Sunday Morning Futures."  I'll be back tomorrow morning on the Fox Business Network.  

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