Donald Trump's opponents pull out all the stops

This is a rush transcript from "Journal: Editorial Report," April 30, 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," after Donald Trump's eastern sweep, all eyes are on the Hoosier State.  Is Indiana Ted Cruz's last stand? And will the Kasich alliance and V.P. pick help or hurt his chance?

Plus, a presidential pivot for the Republican front runner as Donald Trump lays out his America First foreign policy.

And as Hillary Clinton looks ahead to November, is she running the Obama economy?

Find out after these headlines.


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

All eyes are on Indiana this weekend, the state that could make-or- break Donald Trump's chances of reaching 1,237 delegates before the Republican convention in July.  And after his five state sweeps in the east Tuesday, Trump's opponents do everything they can, including a somewhat rocky alliance between his two remaining rivals, and then an early vice president pick for Ted Cruz.  Will it be enough?

Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; columnist, Bill McGurn; editorial board member, Joe Rago; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.

So, Kim, Trump won five of the last six races with more than 50 percent of the vote.  Does this signal to you that maybe the Republican electorate is coalescing around someone to get this primary campaign over?

KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST:  That might be part of it, although, you also have to remember, Paul, all six of those races you're talking about, which he dominated, were geographies and demographics that were always going to be good for Trump.  The northeast, this is from where he hails.  This is a kind of electorate that we've seen in other states tends to like him more.

GIGOT:  Right.

STRASSEL:  So part of it may be coalescing, but the real test is going to be Indiana, which is coming up soon, and that's going to be more the kind of general, more conservative primary electorate that Trump has struggled with more.

GIGOT:  Yet, Joe, when you look at three weeks ago, a big victory for Ted Cruz in Wisconsin, yet he was really trailed off and had wiped out in the northeast.  I know those were not supposed to be the best Cruz states, but you'd think you could build off that momentum.  And then Kasich did not do well either.

JOE RAGO, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER:  No, Kasich just completely crashed. He lost Greenwich, Connecticut, he lost Montgomery County in Maryland, places where --

GIGOT:  Suburban counties.

RAGO:  Suburban counties, wealthy counties, affluent, well-educated, these were kinds of places he was to be in the race to win.  I think we did see in the northeast a shift in the race.  The big question -- I think, Kim is right -- is whether it's permanent or temporary.

GIGOT:  What about Ted Cruz's attempt to come back in Indiana?  The V.P. pick, clearly, a Hail Mary long shot, the so-called alliance with John Kasich where Ted Cruz would have free running room in Indiana.

BILL MCGURN, COLUMNIST:  Right.  He didn't have much choice.  And the Carly pick might have been a good idea earlier.  He doesn't have a lot of choice.  She's known in California. She won a primary there.  I think the big thing she could have done is not so much helping with women, but earning free media.  People are tired of John Kasich and Ted Cruz and tired of the race.



MCGURN:  I don't think they are really coalescing around Donald Trump. They're just exhausted.  You see the other two guys are just always at the microphone with their talking points.

GIGOT:  The changing the conversation as the whole point about the --

MCGURN:  I'm not sure it succeeded, but --


GIGOT:  And I don't know, Dan, the alliance seems to have collapsed already.  I mean --



GIGOT:  -- and hitting one another.

HENNINGER:  If there's a phrase people keeping using these days over and over, it's "Hail Mary."  Cruz threw a Hail Mary.  But the problem is he threw the Hail Mary and John Kasich ran down and stopped at the 50 yard line and goes, well, wait a minute, I want to talk about this.


And the ball landed in the end zone.


I mean, you've got to be all in if you're going to take a chance like that, and they simply were not.  And now we're going into Indiana.  And this is going to be really interesting.  As Kim just suggested, a very conservative state.  Last two governors, current Mike Pence, Mike Daniels, very conservative governors, nine congressional districts, seven held by Republicans.  A Democrat in Indiana is Evan Bayh, a centrist Democrat.

GIGOT:  So this should be fertile --


HENNINGER:  This is fertile territory for Cruz.  And I think it's a do-or-die state for him.

GIGOT:  Joe, what do you make of John Boehner's intervention in this primary where he called -- and this a direct quote -- "Lucifer in the flesh," referring to Ted Cruz.  Ted Cruz turned around and said, see, you know, he's --Donald Trump and John Boehner are golfing buddies.  I'm the anti-establishment type.  It just goes to show you, though, just how much dislike there is for Ted Cruz in Washington.

RAGO:  Yeah, I mean, he's spent the last three or four years running against the Republican Party, the institutions of the Republican Party, breaking down those relationships, and now what he needs to do is expands his appeal.

GIGOT:  Hard to do.

RAGO:  Come not establishment and say, vote for me because I'm not as bad as Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.  He needs to appeal to central moderates in the bubble counties of Indiana. He's not been making the effort.

GIGOT:  Kim, is this the consequence of Ted Cruz running for the last two years against the Republican Congress and Republicans in Washington?

STRASSEL:  Yeah, absolutely.  Look, there's some legitimate question out there about whether or not Boehner comments help or hurt Ted Cruz because the argument is that a lot of people don't like Boehner, so this must help Cruz.  But this shows the depth of hostility among his colleagues there.  And it also gets to a bigger Ted Cruz problem with the electorate, which is, you look out there at why he just can't break through in some of these states, for instance, why he did so badly in the northeast was that he appeals to a very narrow crowd of conservatives and he is off-putting to a lot of other voters out there, and it's something you hope Carly Fiorina can help him with, but I don't know if she's the best fit for that.

GIGOT:  He really does have to win some of those Indianapolis counties or he's not going to win the state.

All right.  When we come back, Donald Trump taking on the Obama- Clinton foreign policy and adopting a more statesmanlike stance in his first big speech on the subject.



DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Our goal is peace and prosperity, not war and destruction.  The best way to achieve those goals is through a disciplined, deliberate and consistent foreign policy.  With President Obama and Secretary Clinton, we've had the exact opposite, a reckless, rudderless and aimless foreign policy.


GIGOT:  Donald Trump Wednesday taking on the Obama-Clinton foreign policy and laying out his own vision for the world.  Aids say it's the first of several major addresses as the GOP front runner attempts to shift to a more presidential demeanor.

So, Bill, some in the campaign saying we'll see a more presidential Trump. Others say, no, you're going to see Trump -- he's always going to be Trump.

MCGURN:  Right.

GIGOT:  The Trump you have seen is the Trump you get.  I tend to think the latter are right.  But he did give the speech.

MCGURN:  Right.

GIGOT:  So what did we learn?  Did we learn anything?

MCGURN:  We learned again the man is the message, and that's the strength for Trump.  The generalities when he speaks sometimes make him sound like Reagan, making America great again, building up our military, supporting our friends, but it's the specifics that are a lot more like Barack Obama, you know.


MCGURN:  We're going to dis NATO.  I don't think the NATO members paid their fair share in the Reagan years or anything.

GIGOT:  They never did.  Never have.

MCGURN:  We're not going to be there for the allies in the Middle East.  I think people here hear different things with Trump, and I think his supporters, what they hear is, I'm going to keep you safe and I'm not let political correctness get in the way and I'm not going to get in a long war.

GIGOT:  And certain American nationals.


And we all say that, you know, there's no details, so that's his strength because people hear these general pitches, which I think sound strong -- we're going to put America's interest first and so forth -- and the details just are a lot more similar to Barack Obama's.

GIGOT:  Dan, is that going to work politically, do you think?  Can he get away with the generalities?  It's a tough critique of Obama's foreign policy record --


GIGOT:  -- which I think adds a lot to it, and is correct in a lot of the fundamentals, but Hillary Clinton is going to try to separate herself some from Obama, and them she's going to go at them and say, you don't know what you're talking about.

HENNINGER:  She'll do that in a conceivable presidential debate.  And Hillary Clinton, you may dislike her or not, but she can talk about foreign policy and she can talk in detail and sound as though show knows the subject.  I think Trump would show up and not do a very good job in a platform like that.  I -- you know, two things in the speech.  He just said in the clip, we need a more consistent foreign policy, and he then went on to say it should be more unpredictable, right?

GIGOT:  Right.

HENNINGER:  And Trump is a maverick.  He is an instinctive outsider, and I think the idea that he's acting like a statesman is just -- runs against the grain of his personality.  And he says that explicitly.  So the question is, which personality is he going to sustain going forward?

GIGOT:  How much a break is what Trump is saying a break from traditional Republican foreign policy going back to, say, Nixon?

RAGO:  I think it's a pretty significant break.  I mean, the larger theme of the speech was that American foreign policy, since the end of the Cold War, has been unbroken stream of disasters. And you saw Trump positioning himself in that speech to really to the left of Hillary Clinton, who has much more interventionist tendencies than President Obama, in the larger Obama administration.  It's going to set up a very interesting debate assuming he's the nominee.

GIGOT:  When you say a break from the Republicans, you mean in his lack of interventionism?  Because he does talk about tough on the -- he's going to builds up the military?  What you're saying is he's saying I'm going to build up the military, I just won't use it?

RAGO:  Right.  He's saying it was a mistake to go into Iraq.  It's the easy hindsight wisdom, but he's also saying we should have done something in Syria to help the Christians.  Sometimes it's hard to figure out the specifics, but certainly on the larger themes, I think, it's a withdrawal from the kind of internationalism that characterized George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Nixon.

GIGOT:  And, Kim, that's certainly true on trade.  No question he'd withdraw from that.  But yet, Bob Corker, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the speech, that it was terrific.

STRASSEL:  Well, I mean, look, here -- the reality is that, Corker aside, this is also a risk for Republicans.  Look, it's only been the last couple of years that Republicans have been willing to have a debate on national security and foreign policy after a decade of hiding because of the difficulties in blowback that they got after the Bush years.  They came out, had an opportunity of really being able to draw contrasts with Barack Obama.  The Trump views put them in a little bit of a pickle, in particular, if he's the nominee.  I think Corker was trying to make lemonade from lemons, but this is potentially a problem for the wider Republicans running for re-election.

GIGOT:  Never mentioned Afghanistan, Bill.


GIGOT:  We're going to have something like 10,000 troops there. Briefly.

MCGURN:  No.  Further to Joe's points, the generalities sound strong, Reagan-esque, make America great, missile defense, back Israel, and so forth, but when you get to the specifics, the "how" questions, you get a lot of Barack Obama.  You know, war was a mistake, a big mistake in Iraq, we're not going to be there for other people.  It depends which Donald Trump you want.

GIGOT:  All right.

When we come back, Hillary Clinton trying to distance herself from the Obama economy as she pivots to the fall campaign.  So could it be a winning issue for Republicans in November?



BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The problem is 80 percent of the American people are still living on what they were living on the day before the crash, and about half the American people, after you adjust for inflation, are living on what they were living on the last day I was president,  15 years ago.  So that's what's the matter.


GIGOT:  Former President Bill Clinton stumping for his wife in Indianapolis Tuesday and attacking, once again, the Obama economy.  So is the Democratic front runner trying to distance herself from the current administration?  You could hardly blame her after this week's news that the U.S. economy grew by just a half percent in the first quarter, the slowest pace in two years.

Dan, you wrote this week that you thought that quote from Bill Clinton was Hillary Clinton's pivot to the general election.  How so?

HENNINGER:  Well, yeah.  I think the great Clinton pivot has begun. In that victory speech Tuesday night, she started sounding exactly like Bill talking about how people have been telling her stories of their struggles, struggling to get by, they can't find enough good jobs, we aren't creating enough good jobs.  You're sitting here going, wait a minute, wasn't Barack Obama president for the last seven and a half years?


And she has got to -- she and Bill recognize that Donald Trump is cutting into this base of blue collar voters, Reagan Democrats, and she has got to make some inroads there and recognize reality.  So she's now going to run as a combination of Franklin Roosevelt -- yes, times are tough -- and Bill Clinton's successful economic and Democratic policies.

GIGOT:  That's not the easiest thing to do, Joe.  Because, as Dan says, she's been with -- it's been Obama's economy for seven years.  How is that going to work, exactly?  Is she going to say, look, Obama saved us from depression but we still have a long way to go?  And is that going to work?

RAGO:  I have my doubts.  The policy mix in the 1990s, the last great American economic boom when you had growth over --

GIGOT:  4 percent.

RAGO:  -- for a very sustained period, it had a very different policy mix.  It is not the modern Obama liberalism that has produced it.  I think she's in a tough spot if she's going to say I'm going to criticize the results of the policy but not the policy that produced those outcomes.

GIGOT:  Bill?

MCGURN:  Yeah, I agree with that.  Look, the problem is what she's pivoting to is a critique of the Obama policy, but also her policies are anti-what her husband did.

GIGOT:  Right.

MCGURN:  Bill Clinton gave us the air of big government's over.  Mrs. Clinton is certainly promising to bring big government back.

I'll give her credit for this.  She stole a lot of Rubio's language about opportunity.  Republicans should be making this argument.  And it's ironic that Bill Clinton has made a much more forceful indictment of the Obama economy than the Republican camp.

GIGOT:  Let me give a quote from Bill Clinton that The New York Times is running -- not from Bill Clinton but President Obama about his record: "I actually compare," the president says, "our economic performance to how historically countries that have wrenching financial crises perform. By that measure, we probably managed it better than any large economy on earth in modern history."

Kim, the president isn't modest about his achievements.

STRASSEL:  First of all, that's not even true.  If you look at the way most countries come back from recession, they tend to bound back from it. In fact, Obama policies have kept us in a sort of moribund state ever since we got through the recession.

But look, Hillary Clinton's bigger problem, she is pivoting away from the president.  She is pivoting to the left.  Basically, her argument is going to have to be, Obama policies, they just weren't strong enough, bold enough, big enough, watch me double down on them.  Is that something that a blue collar electorate will take on questions like energy policy, Obamacare, taxation?  I'm not sure they will.

GIGOT:  That's the thing, Dan.  She's not going to do tax reform.  She hates fossil fuels.  She's not going to do any regulatory reform.  In fact, would probably add to regulation.  So her argument will have to be, I want to change the status quo, yet her policies will be status quo-plus.

HENNINGER:  She's in a box that Barack Obama put her in.  The Democratic Party under his term has separated from the private economy. They are not going to be allowed to do anything that allows it to flourish.

But the big question here now, that first quarter growth rate, .5 percent, if this persists, Republicans, from Donald Trump all the way down ticket, are going to be able to run on the economy.  That's going to put Democrats under a lot of pressure.

GIGOT:  I looked at a poll, Bill, that says the economy is a Republican advantage this year, except when Donald Trump is put upon the top of the ticket, then that advantage diminishes.

MCGURN:  Right.  Look, they have hardly started campaigning on the economy.  The translation of the Barack Obama comments is, if you were as smart as I am, you would realize how good you have it under my rule.

GIGOT:  Hillary Clinton knows she can't run on that.

MCGURN:  Right.  That is a ripe target, and Republicans should do it. The problem with Republicans is not the policies but the language.  We have to connect growth, which is the best thing for ordinary incomes and for upward mobility, to ordinary people, their dreams and so forth.  That's what they haven't done.

Bill Clinton did it in his way.

GIGOT:  And we will see if they can do it this time.

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


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

Kim, start us off.

STRASSEL:  Paul, a miss to the Secret Service, which, of course, has been roiled by scandal over the last few years.  The service has decided the answer to its organization woes is to take a leaf out of Donald Trump's playbook and suggests building a giant wall around the White House or rather to almost double the size of the current fence to 12 feet and install anti-climbing devices.  This strikes me as sort of the lazy way of dealing with what ought to be a root-and-branch overhaul of the agency.  
But on the upside, maybe they can get Mexico to pay for it.


GIGOT:  All right. Bill?

MCGURN:  A hit to Japan, for beginning to realize people are the most precious resource you have.  Japan is one of the most closed nations in the world.  Immigration is a taboo subject.  But the LBP, ruling party, is considering it.  They are not using the name, because it's so sensitive, but they recognize that if they are going to have economic growth, they need to open the door to more foreign workers.  This is, again, a sensitive issue in Japan.  But it's hard to see what a Japanese Donald Trump would do.  No sense in building a wall because Japan is all island surrounded by water.

GIGOT:  All right.


HENNINGER:  A big hit to the New York City Police Department, which, this week, pulled off the biggest gang bust in the city's history, arresting about 120 gang members in the northern Bronx, where people live with the threat of violence every day.  The cops have come in for a lot of criticism about what they do in inner city neighborhoods --


GIGOT:  Not just in New York, but across the country.

HENNINGER:  Across the country.  Something like this shows why they deserve everyone's support and why they deserve our respect.  Dangerous job, and they are doing it.

GIGOT:  All right, thanks, Dan.

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

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


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