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Journal Editorial Report

Why isn't Trump winning over voters in Wisconsin?

This is a rush transcript from "Journal: Editorial Report," April 2, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST:  This week on the "Journal: Editorial Report," all eyes on Wisconsin ahead of Tuesday's pivotal primary.  Could the Badger State be a major obstacle on Donald Trump's path to the nomination?  

Plus, last weekend's three-state sweep puts the wind back in Bernie Sanders' sail.  So could Democrats be facing some convention chaos of their own?  

And conservatives feeling the loss of Justice Antonin Scalia as a divided Supreme Court hands big labor a victory.

But first, these headlines

(FOX NEWS REPORT)

GIGOT:  Welcome to the "Journal: Editorial Report."  I'm Paul Gigot.

All eyes on Wisconsin this weekend where Donald Trump's two remaining rivals are hoping to throw up a road block on his path to the Republican nomination.  A new FOX Business poll is the second of this week showing Texas Senator Ted Cruz with a 10-point lead in the Badger State.  So would a loss there be enough to stop Trump's momentum, and could it deny him the 1237 delegates he needs going into the GOP convention in July.  

Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; and columnist, Kim Strassel; and Jason Riley.  

Kim, what is going on in Wisconsin?  Why is that proving to be such a stumbling block for Donald Trump?  

KIM STRASSEL, COLUMNIST:  Donald Trump has got a lot of problems there. One, he's up against a Republican electorate in Wisconsin that's been through a lot of battles over the last few years over Scott Walker's big government reform, Senate recalls, gubernatorial recalls.  These people are very savvy.  They're very energetic and informed.  They are very into conservative principles.  And they are not quite sure that they are taking to Donald Trump.  

GIGOT:  Well, is it because they are not sure Donald Trump is a conservative.  The conservative talk show host there, in contrast to some of the national radio talk show hosts who have been in Trump's camp, in Wisconsin, these are real conservatives who are saying, look, we are not sure if Trump is one of us.  

STRASSEL:  That's right.  And they are very influential in that state. It's another aspect of Wisconsin.  There's three or four of these radio talk show hosts, a lot of conservatives get most of their news from them, and most of them have been in the "Never Trump" movement in the start.  So there is a lot of vented-up hostility for Donald Trump in that state.  

GIGOT:  Not a good week, Jason, for Donald Trump, generally and nationally. That also may be part of this.  You had his abortion misstep where he said initially min response to Chris Matthews, that the women should be punished if abortion were illegal, and then he took that back.  That was not just liberals criticizing, but people on the right of the abortion.  

JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST:  It fits the pattern, the comments in the women in the past, and now this.  People don't like to see that.  It is not just that issue though.  He has done these town halls where he's shown he's out of his depth talking issues like NATO, nuclear proliferation.  Donald Trump does not seem to have a decent grasp of the issues, let alone the type of grasp of issues that a conservatives electorate would like their candidate to have.  

GIGOT:  Yeah.  There a question of performance, Dan.  Coming out of Super Tuesday, it looked like he was in a position to consolidate his support and grow it.  He gave a speech at AIPAC in Washington where he spoke from a text, where he focused on the substance of the issue.  Yet, that kind of dwindled away with these off-the-cuff remarks that raised questions about whether he could sustain a campaign against Hillary Clinton.  I don't care how much you support Donald Trump, there has to be a doubt about performance.  

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR:  Right.  There's a couple of things going on here in Wisconsin.  First, it is the first post-Marco Rubio primary, in which you've only got the three people running.  The question was always where are Rubio's voters going to go?  The polls suggest that they are being redistributed between Cruz and Kasich with Donald Trump against sitting there at his usual 30, 35 percent.  The second issue is we are nine months into -- it's been nine months since Donald Trump joined the campaign.  We have seven months to go.  Now, that we are down to three people, it was inevitable that the campaign was going to start focusing on other issues like nuclear weapons, which he stumbled on this past Tuesday at the town hall at CNN.  

GIGOT:  But he would say, look, I didn't stumble.  I said Japan and South Korea and Saudi Arabia should probably develop nuclear weapons.  Why should we protect them, continue to protect them?  

HENNINGER:  But to your earlier point, he's gotten this far mainly by talking about building a wall on the Mexican border and by doing something about trade with China.  These two issues he's been able to repeat over and over again in the context of a larger campaign with more people.  He's not going to be able to go forward with just two issues anymore.  Once he's pressed on some of these things on which he seems not to have educated himself, he's going to run into problems.  

RILEY:  The abortion comments were particularly telling, Paul.  This is obviously a huge issue to U.S. politics to anyone who's been paying attention over the past 30 years.  For him to make that big of a mistake was extremely telling.  

GIGOT:  But you don't question his anti-abortion bona fides?

(CROSSTALK)

RILEY:  Yes, I do.

(LAUGHTER)

GIGOT:  I think he's actually sincere about it.  I would credit him with sincerity.  I think he has not absorb the argument deeply enough to understand the sort of --

(CROSSTALK)  

RILEY:  I think you are giving Donald Trump a little bit too much credit. This is a man who has spent his professional career putting his finger to the political wind and pulling out of his checkbook to advance himself financially.  

GIGOT:  All right.  Let's talk about Ted Cruz, Kim.  You've got the Republican establishment of Wisconsin wrapping their arms around him but not necessarily because they love Cruz but because they want to stop Trump.  

STRASSEL:  Yes, they have taken the polls here and they realized that he has got a better chance of beating Trump than does John Kasich, or at least that's a betting (ph).  I would argue that a lot of those endorsements that you see coming like Scott Walker and coming not necessarily because they endorse Ted Cruz but because they want Donald Trump to be halted before the convention.  

GIGOT:  And John Kasich -- it's fascinating, Dan.  John Kasich is being attacked -- Ted Cruz is not focusing on Trump so much.  He's attacking John Kasich, who is third in the polls in Wisconsin and who he says has no support.  Why is his super PAC hitting Kasich?  

HENNINGER:  He's hitting Kasich because I think he's worried that Kasich can challenge him in some of the mid-Atlantic states, especially Pennsylvania, the next one up, or places like New York or Connecticut or Maryland.  He would just assume have John Kasich out of the race because everyone now knows this is going Cleveland where the delegates are going. He does not want Kasich there spoiling for him.  

GIGOT:  I agree, he does not want Kasich to be in the convention.  If they don't pick Trump or Cruz, maybe they'll turn to John Kasich.  

HENNINGER:  Yea.

GIGOT:  OK.

When we come back, the GOP may not be the only party facing convention chaos.  After last weekend's three-state sweep, will Bernie Sanders take his fight against Clinton all the way to Philadelphia?  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-VT., DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think the momentum is with us.  A lot of these super delegates may rethink their positions with Secretary Clinton.  A lot of them have not yet declared.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is claiming momentum after winning big in all three western caucuses last weekend.  Heading into Tuesday's Wisconsin primary, a new Fox Business poll shows him a five-point lead over Hillary Clinton, 48 percent to 43 percent.  Taking nothing for granted, Clinton stumped in her home state of New York this week where a new poll shows her with a significant but shrinking lead ahead of the April 19 primary there.

So, Jason, is Bernie Sanders the racehorse going to catch up on the inside and beat her in an upset?  

RILEY:  Not likely.  I think he's more like the Rodney Dangerfield of the race for Democrats.  He's not getting the respect he deserves.

GIGOT:  And he deserves it.

RILEY:  He deserves a lot of respect, especially while in the caucus states, winning 10 of 12 caucus contests.  His problem is he's running out of caucuses.  There are only a couple more left.  He does not do as well in the primaries.  

GIGOT:  Why doesn't he do as well on the primaries?  

RILEY:  Well, that's an interesting question.  Depending on geographically on where the primaries are located, he has a problem with expanding, you know, racially and ethnically, his base of support.  Clinton does a much better job of bringing in different types of people.  And Bernie Sanders does not have the ability to do that.  And that --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  Well, New York -- if he wins Wisconsin, even if it's narrowly, he won't get a huge delegate boost but he will get momentum.  That makes New York really important.  It's Hillary Clinton's state where she was a Senator, where she lives and --

HENNINGER:  And the spectacle of her campaigning hard now in West Chester County against the Senator in Vermont.  

GIGOT:  Where the Clinton's live.  

HENNINGER:  Yeah.  I mean, the Democrats have a problem, Paul.  And I think Bernie Sanders has already done the damage.  He's got enthusiastic support. He's not going to get the nomination.  But now the question becomes the same one that the Republicans have with Donald Trump supporters, will Bernie Sanders turn out -- his supporters turn out and vote for her in November.  Are they going to be enthusiastic enough or will they stay home. Keep in mind, a lot of them are college students.  College students are hard to turn out.  If they get upset, and her turn out falls, they've got a big problem in November.  

GIGOT:  Yeah.

Kim, let's talk about the super delegates because that's -- Bernie Sanders is targeting them now.  But there are 712 of those and it is about a third of the delegates you need to win the nomination to get the majority.  So far, the count that A.P. has, the Associate Press, is 469 for Clinton and 29 for Bernie Sanders.  How could he turn those around?  

STRASSEL:  Right.  He likely can't.  This is why the Democrats do have a big problem.  Give Bernie credit, he plays to win.  He's out there and he's trying to turn those super delegates.  But these are party stalwarts.  They are the establishment, as it were.  They want Hillary Clinton to win, which is why they are behind her, because they think she's got a better shot in the general election.  They are not likely to be turned.  That's going to bruise a lot of feelings among all those people voting for Bernie Sanders.  
They'll feel as though the election was stolen in some way from them.  

GIGOT:  Think how different the Republican race would be, Jason, if they have super delegates.

(LAUGHTER)

RILEY:  Yeah.  But, Hillary's got a little of dilemma here, which is that the enthusiasm is with Sanders.  She wants that enthusiasm with her, at the end of the day, so she has to find a way to keep him happy.  I think he's going to make certain demands at the convention.  Hillary Clinton is not opposed to super PACs.  She does not want free tuition for everyone in America.  Bernie Sanders does, I think, but --

(CROSSTALK)  

GIGOT:  What are the conceptions?  Are they to the platform?

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  She's already moved to the left substantially.  

RILEY:  I think he's going to want not only a prominent speaking slot at the convention, but yes, changes in the platform.  

GIGOT:  Here is a signal that I have been looking at, Dan.  Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts, darling of the Democratic left, she has not endorsed Sanders.  If Sanders really were going to win the nomination or it was that close, I think she would be endorsing him, because she shares more values with him than with Hillary Clinton.  Instead, she praised Sanders and said nice things about him.  But I think she's waiting to the end to be a broker somehow between the Sanders faction and Secretary Clinton and maybe get on the Clinton ticket.  

HENNINGER:  I think so.  Senator Warren is very much someone to watch. She's an important player here.  And she's the one individual who does want to move this party left in a substantive way, more substantively even than Bernie Sanders.  And I think that's the deal that they'll extract from Hillary Clinton, either you're with us or we won't be able to support you.

GIGOT:  Kim, are we approaching the moment of truth here on the FBI and on Hillary Clinton's e-mails?  

STRASSEL:  We're getting much closer.  We had a second federal judge now grant discovery to people that work for Hillary Clinton and the State Department.  That's going to give some of these outside groups a much better chance than they have ever had to finally get down to what happened on this e-mail scandal.  

GIGOT:  All right.

When we come back, conservatives are feeling the loss of Justice Antonin Scalia as the divided Supreme Court hands big labor a big victory.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  The loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is being felt by conservatives this week as the remaining eight justices split 4-4 in one of the most closely watched cases of the term.  The results will let big labor continue to seize fees from public employees even if they choose not to join a union.  This, as Illinois Senator Mark Kirk because the first Republican to meet with Merrick Garland on Tuesday, leading some to wonder if there are cracks emerging in the Republican Party blockade of President Obama's Supreme Court nominee.  

So, Dan, let's take this case for us, the 4-4 split.  This was a free speech case, or a free association case about whether you oblige even if you don't belong to a union to pay dues of fees to the union whose causes you may not support.  

HENNINGER:  Yeah, that's right.  This was called the Fredericks (ph) case, and it was decided 4-4, and so it goes back to the precedent of the lower courts, which is the status quo.  The status quo is based on a 1977 case called Abaaoud (ph), which allowed the unions to deduct these fees.  
Supreme -- Justice Roberts, the chief justice, was trying to change this law incrementally, a little bit at a time, and he thought Scalia would help him do that in deciding this case.  Scalia's loss makes it clear that those kinds of cases, if you get another liberal justice on the court, will be a slam-dunk for the other side.  

GIGOT:  Samuel Alito, Justice Samuel Alito, two years ago, clearly, in his opinion in another case, wanted to go all the way and overturn Abaaoud (ph).  But he couldn't -- apparently, Justice Roberts, or maybe it was Justice Kennedy, didn't go along, so they brought it up two years later. And now there's no majority for it.  

And that's what we're going to see, Jason, across so many other cases, isn't it?  

RILEY:  Yes, yes.  The 4-4 means, as Dan says, it's going to be pushed back down to the lower courts and the precedent will stand.  Yeah, we're in for this until a ninth justice joins the court.  

(LAUGHTER)

GIGOT:  And let's take up that.  Is, Jason, there cracks in the Republican opposition to Garland?  

RILEY:  I don't think there are cracks that will be large enough to change the position of the majority.  But, yes, you do have some Senators out there up for re-election in states that Obama won and, in some cases, won twice, and they're feeling the pressure on the re-election campaign to not be seen as an obstructionist, and they want some cover.  So you're going to see your Portmans in Ohio, Senator Portman from Ohio, Senator Toomey in Pennsylvania, and Kirk in Illinois, and in other states, you're going to see them want to give the appearance they're not obstructionists when it comes to this, and maybe hearings should not be out of the question.  

GIGOT:  And, Kim, does this suggest that maybe the president's strategy of appointing, nominating Merrick Garland, who is a respected jurist, wide experience on the D.C. circuit, not a progressive flame-thrower, was pretty savvy, because it's easier to open up some of these areas of disagreement?  

STRASSEL:  Yes, but only on the margins, I would make the case.  I mean, I think that the left and the media have overblown what's going on here. What you essentially have is about 20 Republican Senators who have now said they'll have a meeting with the guy.  I mean, because it's pretty hard to say that you won't even meet with someone.  That has been the main movement that you've seen.  You still only have about three Republican Senators who are publicly out on the record as saying that they want a hearing.  And the reality is, Paul, most of these guys, it would hurt them in their election campaigns to come out and get on board with a hearing or a vote for him. And they all know that in the end.  

GIGOT:  And the Senate leadership, Dan, Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, and Chuck Grassley, who is Judiciary chairman, and Orrin Hatch, former Judiciary chairman, they're all lined up solidly against having hearings, even though I think Orrin Hatch, for example, rather likes Merrick Garland and, you know, might be willing to vote for him under different circumstances.  

HENNINGER:  Different circumstances.  I mean, Hatch also said that he thought that if they were to hold hearings, it would be a circus.  And I agree with him.  It would just add another ring to the 10-ring circus we've already had so far.  

GIGOT:  Yeah, Jason?  

RILEY:  This is a risky strategy, Paul.  It's a risky political strategy.

GIGOT:  How so?  How so?  Kim's point is it would hurt Republicans more if they appeared to be considering Garland for approval.  

RILEY:  Here's the risk.  If Hillary Clinton becomes the next president, Republicans know they can do a lot worse than Merrick Garland.  Hillary Clinton may also have a Democratic Senate to work with.  Merrick Garland is 63 years old.  She'll appoint someone younger and further to the left, almost guaranteed.  

GIGOT:  All right.  All right.  But if you have the election, and then afterwards, and Hillary Clinton wins, why not just approve Garland then, while you still have control over the Senate until January?  

RILEY:  If everyone plays along with that.  If President Obama doesn't withdraw his name, out of respect to his successor.  A lot of other things would --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  Do you think that's likely, Jason?

RILEY:  -- would have to align.  But this is a strategy that does entail some risks.  

GIGOT:  I think President Obama would still want to have his appointee approved by the Senate.  

All right.  We have to take one more break.  When we come back, "Hits and Misses" of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  Time now for our "Hits and Misses" of the week.  

Kim, start us off.  

STRASSEL:  So the good news is the Justice Department announced it used the help of an outside, unnamed company to finally crack the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorists and access the data.  This is nonetheless a miss for the FBI for its miserable handling of this affair.  It claimed for weeks that only Apple could help it do that.  It took it to court.  It disclosed sensitive information.  It made threats against Silicon Valley.  If the FBI wants help from Silicon Valley on this vital issue of encryption, it is going to have to be smarter in the way it handles these things.  

GIGOT:  All right, thanks, Kim.

Jason?  

RILEY:  This is a hit for Robert de Niro for choosing not to screen a film at his festival this year that links vaccines to autism.  It's junk science, it's been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked by study after study, and spreading this sort of misinformation can do great harm to public health.  It was the right call.  

GIGOT:  All right.

Dan?  

HENNINGER:  Barack Obama is going to spend his whole presidency missing on the Guantanamo Prison issue.  He has just announced the release of 12 more prisoners to two unidentified countries, this, in the wake of the Brussels massacre.  

GIGOT:  Unidentified?  Wow.  

HENNINGER:  That's right.  And meanwhile, back in Colorado, the Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, has said there is no way they're taking any prisoners in Colorado, because, guess what, the people there don't want to live nearby.  So a hit for Governor Hickenlooper.  

GIGOT:  And Senator Michael Bennett, up for re-election, a Democrat, he's also saying don't bring them to Colorado, man.  Even though it's a super max prison there, he says no way.  That's because he doesn't want to -- he thinks that's a loser politically.  

HENNINGER:  Yes, so Barack Obama won't even tell us which countries he is shipping them to.  

GIGOT:  All right.  

And remember, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure to tweet it to us at JER on FNC.  

That's it for this week's show.  Thanks to my panel.  Thanks to all of you for watching.  I'm Paul Gigot.  Hope to see you right here next week.  

END

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