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Interviews

NY GOP chairman talks past friction with Donald Trump

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 15, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  All right, you`re looking live at both candidates, I believe both candidate now, addressing the troops.

You have Ted Cruz doing that, then Donald Trump signing autographs, still in Plattsburgh, New York.  This is a common feature in both events.  When the candidates get done, they normally have folks who want them to sign stuff, and they almost always oblige, if their schedules will allow it.  

But it is the battle in New York and those 95 delegates and how exactly they will be apportioned out.  

New York Republican Party chairman Ed Cox is joining us.  

And, Ed, I was thinking of you, from the last time you were on, the friction that looked like existed between you and Donald Trump.  Maybe it goes back a couple yours ago, when Donald Trump was entertaining running for governor of New York, and then he was going after you as someone who had looked at the same office:  He has never won anything, so he doesn`t know how to win.  

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO:  That was then.  This is now.  I`m not saying you speak glowingly of one another now, but the hatchet does seem to have been buried.  What happened?

ED COX, NEW YORK REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN:  Well, it wasn`t much of a hatchet.  I was just doing the right thing.  And even this supporters on the state committee agreed that, if you wanted to run for governor, you had to be willing to compete.

And I went down to Mar-a-Lago to explain to him, and we had dinner together, just how system worked.  And it was clear that he just didn`t want to have any competition.  If you don`t -- or if you`re not willing to compete, you really don`t want it.  And I don`t think he really wanted it in the end.  And now he is very happy that he didn`t do it.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO:  No, you`re right about that...

COX:  So, he says, you`re right.

CAVUTO:  ... because he has since acknowledged -- no, he has since acknowledged, things have kind of worked out for me.  

But Carl Paladino, who did ultimately run for governor, said of you that he is very much an establishment puppy.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO:  He gets his signals from Washington, from the elite down there.  

Now, of course, Paladino himself a big backer of Trump.  I raise this not to embarrass you or Donald Trump...

COX:  No.  No.

CAVUTO:  ... or Paladino, but to say that I suspect that a lot of that friction between, for want of a better term, the establishment and Donald Trump remains.  

COX:  Well, it`s different with Carl.  

I mean, Carl and I, he said to me, "Ed, you will be any friend for life," after I really gave him support when he got the nomination 2010.  

But since then, he has sort of gone this way and that way.  And I think he needs some -- anyway, the bottom line was, Carl...

CAVUTO:  Yes, because it sounds like he doesn`t like you now.  

COX:  Well, no, actually, we get along very well privately.

CAVUTO:  Really?  OK.

COX:  Yes.  

CAVUTO:  All right.  

COX:  And he tries -- he`s trying to do good things out there.  He`s trying to reform the Buffalo schools.  We`re both for charter schools.  We really like charter schools.

CAVUTO:  No, no, but that`s another thing I`m seeing here.  

I`m seeing overtures made by guys like you, for want of a better word, establishment figures.  I don`t know whether increasingly there is the sense that, all right, he could be inevitable.  I see it in the New York Post endorsement.  I see others who are backing away from criticizing Donald Trump.  

I`m not saying resigning themselves to Donald Trump, but opening themselves up to the possibility it will be Donald Trump.  

COX:  Well, first of all, here`s the point I would make about Carl Paladino.  He has got his own agenda.

And one thing candidates do not like is that people who supposedly represent them have their own agenda.  It`s not good for Donald Trump.  And I think Donald Trump, well, he has given chairman Priebus a pretty rough ride, so I can`t quite say at this point that he`s reaching out.

CAVUTO:  Do you share Reince Priebus` concerns, though, that Donald Trump is trying to make it look like the establishment is going after him, referring to the stealing, that is Trump`s term, of the Colorado delegates, that this signal troubles for your convention?  

COX:  Two points about that.

First of all, this is good for Donald Trump, in that it gave him a big red alert that his campaign organization needed to be beefed up if he were to win the nomination, if he were to unite the party at the convention, and particularly if he were going to have an effective general election campaign.  He was basically running the campaign himself.  

CAVUTO:  No, I know that, but it`s also reminded people -- and, again, you can make lemonade out of lemons in that case.  And he did...

COX:  Yes.  

CAVUTO:  ... and made this a populist sort of argument that the parties are running in lockstep to their bosses.  

Now, that has been a similar rap he raised just in his speech in Plattsburgh today about poor Bernie Sanders, who doesn`t get quite the number of delegates as he does the popular vote and this winning streak that he is on, but it is not reflected in delegates, to that effect.

COX:  Well...

CAVUTO:  In other words, he`s trying to play this off to be, I`m the only purist out there.  I am man of the people, and not guys, not like you, but you know what he is saying, guys like you.

COX:  He wants to -- he wants to be more the outsider than Ted Cruz.  

Here was a time when Ted Cruz benefited from this, and so he could put Ted Cruz on the defensive and still play the real outsider.  Good politics. And he is proving -- look, this is the first time he has really been running for elective office.  He came up to the line, almost got in on several occasions, including running for governor for New York two years ago.

He finally got in.  And I have to say, he has proved to have a real talent, almost a genius level, to craft a message and then put it in terms that he really makes it stick well.  

CAVUTO:  So, you think guys like you -- certainly, you are open and amenable to Donald Trump.  You think that the party would fall in line if it looks like Donald Trump gets to the convention with more than those 1,237 delegates and support would be there and everyone would be OK?

COX:  I have been saying for several months what the Post editorial board said this morning.  

I think he could be a very effective general election candidate.  He`s going to have to pivot a lot to do it.

CAVUTO:  Yes.  

COX:  But one thing he wants to do, Neil, is to win, and he has got a lot of talent.

And that -- and his themes have been very general, which -- and it leaves him a lot of latitude to maneuver to present himself well in a general election

CAVUTO:  Yes, but, Ed, that was kind of a damning editorial, in so far as you mentioned the pivot argument, but get up to speed when it comes to matter of trade, get up to speed when it comes to how we deal with the Chinese.

I`m paraphrasing it, but to make the point, it was an endorsement, but not a rousing one.  

COX:  Well, he has learned that he has got a lot of work to do with this organization, the way he is presenting with issues.  

But the political talent is there to carry those issues if he gets his organization up to speed.  

CAVUTO:  All right.  We will watch closely.  

Ed Cox, it`s always an honor.  Thank you very much.   

COX:  Pleasure to be with you.  

CAVUTO:  All right.  

END

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