Will Trump's comments about the judge have a lasting impact?

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 7, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESUMPTIVE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We thought we would win the case. I don't care if the judge is Mexican or not. I'm going to do great with the Mexican people because I provide jobs, so I don't care about Mexican. But we're being treated very unfairly, Bill, very, very unfairly.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE PAUL RYAN, R-WIS.: I disavow those comments. I regret those comments that he made. I don't think, claiming a person can't do the job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It's absolutely unacceptable.

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY.: It's time to quit attacking various people that you competed with or various minority groups in the country and get on message.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: There you hear Donald Trump and some Republicans reacting to this whole dustup about what he said about that judge in the Trump University case. Trump putting out a statement today in part saying this, "It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial. But based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial." It goes on from there.

The focus here on California is obviously on the Democratic race, but this issue has been the focus in the media for the past several days, and we'll see if this changes. Let's bring in our panel here in San Diego, Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard, Kirsten Powers, USA Today columnist, we welcome Dr. Gina Loudon, host of "The Dr. Gina Show" out here in San Diego, and Dana Perino, co-host of "The Five."

Gina, we hear from all of these folks all the time, so welcome. What do you think, what do you make of this statement? Does this turn the corner? Does this, as Senator Corker said, is this the pivot that Trump needs?

DR. GINA LOUDON, "THE DR. GINA SHOW": I like the statement. I think it's fine. I think a lot of people are watching this feeling like he'll probably tee this up like he did the veterans situation. It seems like there are two groups, Bret, that are particularly obsessed with race, and it's the left and it's the media. The center and the right, not so obsessed with race. And so I think this was a good way to make the statement to kind of reiterate what he meant in the first place, and I think it will resonate well with voters.

BAIER: Dana, does this turn the page?

DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS: It might turn the page in terms of the media page so that tomorrow maybe they're talking about something else. But I do think this will have a lasting impact.

One of the things you just saw in the clips opening up this panel is you have Paul Ryan today trying to announce his big push to alleviate poverty. He did it in D.C. And there he is trying to make the statement, and the questions are about Donald Trump and whether he's racist, OK? That happened to Mitch McConnell. It happened to every Republican that is out there. That will happen between now and November, not just on this issue, but on all the ones going forward. I understand that Donald Trump is trying to turn the page on this one. It might work for Republicans, maybe, but it's not going to work for the left.

BAIER: Steve, a couple of things. One is he said his statements were misconstrued. I think people looking at the original statements and a couple times wonder how we may have misconstrued what he was saying. But for Republicans like Paul Ryan who say "I have a real problem," and "this is the definition of racism, but I'm still endorsing him." Mark Kirk is the only person who said I'm not endorsing him.

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think that's a huge problem for Paul Ryan. I think it's a huge problem for Mitch McConnell. I think it's a huge problems for Republicans more broadly.

There's obvious tension between the fact that you're calling out the top Republican in the country's comments as racist, labeling them as such, I think accurately, and at the same time saying but he has to be the next president of the United States.

I went back and I was rereading some the past controversies about Donald Trump and race and ethnicity, his comments about the same judge back in February where he made similar allusions to the judge's ethnic heritage. His refusal to condemn the KKK and David Duke, which led Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell at that time to say I really hope that -- that the Republican party doesn't become the party that stands for bigotry or trades in bigotry, and they condemned those comments unequivocally.

The only difference between what they said then and what they seem to be saying now is they're saying we condemn the bigotry, but the person we're accusing of this bigotry has to be the next president of the United States.

BAIER: All right, Kirsten, here's what Chris Christie said after he voted in New Jersey today about this whole dustup.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: I know Donald Trump. I've known him for 14 years. And Donald Trump is not a racist.

If you have this many microphones and cameras in front of you on a regular basis and you're not a preprogrammed, robotic politician, you're going to make some statements at times that you wish you could take back. I've done it, he's done it. And anybody who is honest in this business has done it.


BAIER: To Gina's point, is this something that kind of just makes people mad, that there's this much focus? Is that statement enough to move on to issues he wants to talk about?

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY: I think one of the problems of saying it's the left or media that are consumed with this is that you saw all of these high-profile Republicans come out and condemn it. So obviously Republicans are concerned about it as well. It's not just the left who is offended about it. In fact if anything it's more Republicans who seem to be really upset about it.

So I think that Chris Christie also saying that, well, the preprogrammed politicians, but Trump really dug in on this. It wasn't as though he just said it and later on said, oh, I'm sorry, I misspoke. We have the reporting about the call he had with supporters basically telling them go and attack the journalists. He wasn't really backing down.

It may be true what Christie is saying that he's not a racist. But when he says things that people think are racist, that's the problem. I don't think it's about what his heart is saying. It's about what he continues to say that people find offensive.

BAIER: Gina, do you hear from Trump supporters on your show about concern over Donald Trump kind of doubling, tripling down on something they wish he would back off on. Or do you think this doesn't factor from what you're hearing?

LOUDON: From what I'm hearing from people, Bret, the American people understand that he's not a politician and that the establishment on both sides has been attacking him all the way along. That's what happened today. That's what people expect to happen the next time.

I think what people really appreciate about him is that he's willing to stand up for what he believes, even when he does it clumsily, right. Even when the whole country seems to be attacking him for it he'll continue to stand. And I think that's the leadership and the sort of outsider perspective that people have been looking for a long time. So I don't see this issue doing damage to him. And I could see him coming back, like he did on the veterans issue, and being, see, I told you, this judge really is corrupt. He really did refer to plaintiffs' attorneys that gave $650,000 to the Clinton Foundation. He is related to La Raza. This is a problem for people who understand what that means in this country.

BAIER: Shannon Bream did the whole difference between the attorneys group and the National Council La Raza and we talked about that.

Let's move on to the Democrats, though, and Bernie Sanders, who said today, today, after the Associated Press said Hillary Clinton has already got this nomination in the bag that he is not relenting no matter what happens here in California, Dana.

PERINO: Apparently there is a big split amongst Sanders supporters and on his team, one saying that, look, we have come so far. We should take what we can, get a good spot at the convention and continue this movement and to push the nominee, Hillary Clinton, to the left as far as we can. Another says fight on, Bernie. You can't disappoint all of these voters across the country. It is remarkable what Bernie Sanders has been able to do, but he does not have the ability to become the nominee, and I'm thinking that President Obama is going to try to put some strong pressure on him and try to unite this party so that she can win.

BAIER: Kirsten?

POWERS: Yes. I think that's right, and the White House has indicated there's an imminent endorsement coming from President Obama of Hillary Clinton. But the thing to remember about Bernie Sanders is he's not really a Democrat and he's not invested in the Democratic Party. So you don't have the normal issues at play here. I think that he's more invested in his agenda and wanting to get certain issues on the table at the convention, and people who are supporters of his said they really want to see a fight on Israel, Israel and Palestine. They don't like what Hillary's position is, and they want to make sure they get the VP that they want. So they don't have a lot of incentive, he doesn't have a lot of incentive to get out.

BAIER: But Hillary Clinton, meantime, I get the sense that she really would like to take advantage of what are disenfranchised Republicans and reach out that way but yet still has to reach to the progressive side of her own party to unify after Bernie Sanders is doing what he's doing.

HAYES: Yes. And I think that's part of the risk. You also know that Hillary Clinton would like to be celebrating the fact that she is the first female nominee of a major party in the United States, and that's kind of being taken away from her by what Sanders is doing.

I think the real risk for Democrats here is that Bernie Sanders has run an energetic campaign based on the idea that the system is rigged. He's continuing to make that argument and he's making it in the context of Democratic Party politics.

It's not really rigged. It's a bad system, the super delegates stink. All of those things are true. But she also beat him. She's going to win. She's going to win fair and square by the rules as they were set forth. And the longer he keeps making that argument, the more he feeds that perception among his supporters and the less likely it becomes that they ultimately rally to Hillary Clinton.

BAIER: Quickly here, Gina, the thing that we'll hear the most tonight about breaking the glass ceiling for a woman taking the nomination in a major party, for your listeners, for people on the conservative side, is the antipathy for Hillary Clinton just overwhelming that they don't celebrate that?

LOUDON: I think that is the truth. I think that Hillary just is not a very likable candidate. Bernie came in at just the right time. And I think that his supporters are going to feel like this election was taken from them regardless of anything else. I think she's going to have a real fight on her hands.

BAIER: Panel, thank you very much in this gorgeous setting.

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