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Rep. Emanuel Cleaver calls protesting Trump a 'dumb move'

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 29, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  Just for those of you just tuning in, you are watching Donald Trump speaking in Burlingame, California, to a large group of supporters to get ready for the state Republican Convention where they're selecting their delegates, 172 in all, when all is said and done, who are going to go to the Cleveland Republican Convention.

To the right is a view outside this, where we had quite a few protesters coming in.  And it got a little hairy there.  

I want to get a read from all of this with Emanuel Cleaver, the Missouri congressman, Democrat from -- I guess well-schooled at prior incidents and problems on both parties when it comes to gatherings and protests.  

Congressman, if you had to advise protesters of any sort, what would you tell them?  

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER, D-MISSOURI:  Well, I would tell them that it is not the protest that turns people off.  It's the fight-fest.

And, look, I'm not going to vote for Donald Trump.  There's no way I would vote for him under any circumstance.  However, I think that the protesters may as well send him some money, because I think they're going to push people into his camp.  

I think it is a dumb move, particularly when they get violent and disruptive.  I grew up in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  I believe in protests.  I think this is something that is going to backfire.  
It's not the thing to do at this point.  Let the man speak.  Let him give his address.  

And he shouldn't have to worry about fights on the outside of the facility where he is speaking.  But I am convinced that this plays into the hand of Donald Trump, because it just reflects what he has been saying in his speeches, the country is going to Hades in a basket, and I think the public, looking at this, says, boy, he's right.  

CAVUTO:  Do you think, though, that it -- I always think when I see this, Congressman -- and, of course, you have throughout your whole life.  

There's such a thing as stating your case and then just sort of going too far, getting violent and losing the message.  But I wonder -- and you have addressed this before, that we have got to ratchet down the heat on both sides here.  

But I wonder, given the approaching conventions for both parties and the concern that the establishment of both parties might be unfairly controlling things -- I talked to Jane Sanders, Bernie Sanders' wife, yesterday, who is still grimacing about these superdelegates, not to the point that she advised any of her husband's backers to run to Donald Trump if he were the nominee, but that it does anger a lot of them, just as on the Republican side, those Donald Trump supporters who feel that the system is rigged against them.  

Sometimes, just the feeling alone is enough to lead to this palpable rage. How would you advise both parties going forward to deal not only with each other, but with themselves?  

CLEAVER:  Well, first of all, I think the winner on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, must be magnanimous, and the loser, which is going to be Bernie Sanders, must be gracious.  

I think we're in a situation where the health of the nation is at stake. We're being watched in every capital city on planet Earth right now. People around the world are wondering what is going on with us.

And the people in this race, in the Republican side and the Democratic side, need to come to grips with the fact that we need to present the image of the United States to the rest of the world as the one that we want.  We have a chance to design.

And we have got to -- I think all of us, Republicans and Democrats, must condemn when things go too far.  And some of the things I have been seeing on television today and then last night are simply going too far.

And in the final analysis, somebody's got to stand up and be professional.  Somebody has got to say, in the race, that that does not reflect who we are.  That's not the best of who we are.  

CAVUTO:  No, I would agree with you on that point.  I think you have always been saying let's calmly and rationally and clearly debate our differences.

But its happens in a political year -- and you and I also have chatted about this, Congressman -- in which Black Lives Matter group members have disrupted a number of Democratic campaign events, to say the same of Republican events, but getting up on the stage with Bernie Sanders, getting in Bill Clinton's face, Bill Clinton famously getting back in theirs, kind of having to dial it back the next day, all but apologizing.  

But how do you advise those groups, let's say the Black Lives Matter group as well, to go ahead and protest, but also hear?  

CLEAVER:  Well, the protests -- the Black Lives Matter group actually started in Missouri in Ferguson, after the shooting of Michael Brown.

And I met with a group of them in a church in Ferguson and said to them, this is good.  We need to have young people involved.  When I was 18, 19 years old, I was marching and sitting in and doing all of the things that I thought at the time would help change America, and it did.  

We had a goal.  And so everybody needs to work toward a goal.  What we don't need to work toward is polarizing America any greater than it is. Look, I'm up here in Washington, D.C., in the Congress of the United States, and we have all day a lot of verbal vomit that is doing enormous damage.

And we don't need people out in the country creating a semblance in around the country of what we're doing here in Washington.  And so I think these are some very delicate times, very delicate, and we got to make sure that the adults in the country -- I don't care what political affiliation to which one belongs -- this is a time for us to say, let's debate, and debate very hard, but let me say one other thing.  

The language has changed.  When I grew up and watched the campaigns of John Kennedy, even with Richard Nixon, there was a lot higher level of civility. Now we describe a disagreement as an attack.  Donald Trump attacked Ted Cruz on Social Security.  

And it would reduce the tension to say they had a disagreement.  But we have pumped up the adjectives.  And adjectives are dangerous, and we have got to all be careful.  I think the media, those of us in public office, this is a very delicate time for our country.

And all you need to do is travel abroad to see just how delicate it is here at home, based on what people are seeing around the world.  

CAVUTO:  Do you think this could be another 1968, Congressman, that things are that out of control, or do you hope and expect cooler heads to prevail?  

CLEAVER:  Well, I hope people realize that, in the end, it's going to hurt. And if people want to hurt the country and want to hurt their own political party, help yourself.  Go at it.  

It's not going to be of any long-term value.  There will be a footnote to history.  We talk about the '68 Democratic Convention.  I was too young to really know a lot about it, but -- and didn't even watch it, but I have read about it, and I know enough about it to know that it damaged the Democratic candidates.

And this could -- we could end up in this thing with having damaged both sides.  I want people to protest.  I will get in a protest with people.  When they start starting fires and throwing bricks or jumping on police cars, I'm out.  

CAVUTO:  Emanuel Cleaver, thanks.  I think we all needed to hear that, both sides, Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri Congressman.  

END

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