Republican Party's path to uniting around Donald Trump

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 6, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.




TRUMP: I don't know. He called me two, three weeks ago. It was a very nice conversation. I figured routinely he'd be behind it. And he -- the other day just in a big surprise because I have had so many endorsements.


CHRIS WALLACE, GUEST ANCHOR: Donald Trump just moments ago still surprised by House Speaker Paul Ryan's statement he's not ready to endorse Donald Trump and it's mostly up to Trump to unify the party.

Let's bring in our panel: Charles Hurt of The Washington Times; Amy Walter from The Cook Political Report, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Ryan's statement, and I've got to say that was a pretty remarkable thing to see Paul Ryan being booed at a Trump rally. His statement didn't just surprise Trump but most of the political world. I should say that Ryan walked it back slightly today, saying that he's very happy he's going to be meeting with Donald Trump on Thursday. But where do things stand right now, Amy?

AMY WALTER, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: This is a party, we've been talking about this for some time now, Charles, especially, that is broken apart. And I don't know how it gets put back together. And it's not just Paul Ryan that has said that he doesn't know if he's going to endorse. We have Jeb Bush saying he's not going to vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. We're going to see more high profile Republicans finding a way to distance and detach themselves.

I don't know what Ryan's next move is on this. On the one hand, he's doing it to protect his vulnerable members many of whom are terrified with running with a very polarizing figure on the top of the ticket, and saying you can insolate yourselves. You can try to run away from him. But at some point, there's going to have to be a coming together of the two sides. It's going to be quite an awkward convention to see Paul Ryan up there leading his party. He's the chairman of the convention not supporting the person who is getting the nomination. But at the end of the day, I think this is a Paul Ryan making sure that Donald Trump comes to him, not the other way around.

WALLACE: Can he do that, Charlie? Who has got the leverage here?

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: I think Donald Trump has the leverage here. You know, and I think Amy is exactly right. Obviously, you know, Paul Ryan wants to do everything he can to protect his members. Both people in the House and Senate who are having to run for reelection in places that are not Donald Trump country.

But none of this bodes well for the leadership or the party. But when it looked like Donald Trump wasn't going to get to 1,237 and there was going to have to be some sort of massaging to get him over the hump, everyone was talking about you have to obey the rule, go back to the rules, look at the rules. And now that it looks like he is going to get it, they're all picking up their marbles and trying to walk away.

And so I think that Donald Trump absolutely because it does look like he's going to get the 1,237 by the rules, does hold the cards here. And the sooner that the party gathers around, I mean, what are they going to do, do a third party? How does that help Republicans?

WALLACE: You know, it's interesting as you two talk about the quandary, President Obama is taking some delight in this divide inside the GOP. And he weighed in on that today.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Their standard bearer at the moment is Donald Trump. And I think not just Republican officials, but, more importantly, Republican voters are going to have to make a decision as to whether this is the guy who speaks for them and represents their values.


WALLACE: He really is quite happy in this situation, isn't he?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes, he's watching this with delight. Look, I think it's true that there are tactical reasons for Ryan doing this to protect his members. The more cynical comments have been about he's looking for his own run in 2020 in the future. He's trying to appease his donors. I think that's rubbish.

I think what's happens here, if you step back for a second, the Republicans have experienced the biggest ideological earthquake of a major party in our lifetime. And 50, 60 years of conservatism has now yielded to a leader who is not a conservative, but who is a populist. That's a big deal.

And I think what the Ryan statement is, the Ryan equivocation is, he's saying if the party is now going to be split between the leader, the populist, and the old line conservatives, whether they're establishment or not doesn't matter -- you've got establishment and non-establishment -- he wants to establish a center of power and a kind of home for the conservative wing. He wants to do it through policy, which he'll propose. That's who he is. He's a policy wonk. He's a reform-icon, the young reformers who have ideas on how to fix the country from the point of view of a conservative philosophy.

And what he's saying to Trump, yes, you won. You won the popular vote. You deserve what you have. But you're going to have to reckon with the conservatives, even if you aren't one. And that's what the meeting will be about. Will there be a change in policy and adjustment in the platform as a way to say we're going to try to make the two philosophies coexist.

WALLACE: But could you have a situation, forget a third party, where Trump runs his campaign for president and the Republicans, the tried and true Republicans, the conservatives in the House and the Senate, run their own campaign?

KRAUTHAMMER: That's what I think is the leverage that the conservatives have. Yes, Charlie's right that Trump has the leverage because he'll control the convention. He controls the apparatus. He's going to have all the money. He'll be dominating the news.

But the other guys have a kind of negative leverage, which is they don't have to run a third party. All they got to do is stay home, or show interest only in the down ballot races, not out of malice but simply as a way of saying he's not a conservative. So I don't have a vested interest, I don't have an interest in seeing it prevail and preempt conservatism as the ideology of the party.

WALLACE: And then there is liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren who went on what's being called a "Twitter tirade" today. Let's put some of those up. "Here is what else is real," she tweeted. "Donald Trump has built his campaign on racism, sexism, and xenophobia." And then there was this, "I'm going to fight my heart out to make sure Donald Trump's toxic stew" -- that's a delicious thing, toxic stew -- "of hatred and insecurity never reaches the White House." Amy, I guess we can put her down as a definite maybe on Trump.


WALTER: She's in the "I don't know, I'm weighing my options."

KRAUTHAMMER: She's in the Ryan camp.

WALLACE: Not ready.

WALTER: This is the challenge that Donald Trump has going forward, which is he has a divided party that's not sure they're going to get on board with him. I've looked through the data here. "National Journal" did a whole story, for example, saying that if Donald Trump wants to turn out these new voters, and he can. There may be new voters for him to turn out. But without the people that voted for Romney, plus the new voters, even when they added that all up, it didn't equal enough to win these swing states, especially in rust belt states. He'll need to win over the kinds of voters that Mitt Romney didn't win either, which is Latinos, younger people, and women. And that's exactly what Elizabeth Warren is doing right there is to say let's make sure we keep Donald Trump's numbers, as low as we possibly can among those groups so that he is as toxic with the growing part of the electorate that needs to turn out for Hillary Clinton.

WALLACE: In about 15, 20 seconds is it possible after all he's said and done to win back women, to win back Hispanics?

WALTER: I don't think so, no. You don't get to win them back after what you said. And what Elizabeth Warren is going to do and what Democrats are going to do is make those words come back over and over and over again. You don't get to erase them. That's not possible.

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