Face the Nation transcripts April 3, 2016: Trump, Priebus

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks with "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson in an interview that aired April 3, 2016.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: bumps in the road on the Donald Trump's way to the nomination. We will talk to him about it in extensive interview.

As the presidential candidates make a last push for voters in Tuesday's primary in Wisconsin, our new Battleground Tracker poll shows a close race on both sides.

And we sat down with Donald Trump and asked him about what has been seen as a terrible week for his campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I have had many bad weeks and I have had many good weeks. I don't see this as the worst week in my campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DICKERSON: If Trump loses in Wisconsin, are Republicans headed for a contested convention? We will ask the head of the party, Reince Priebus.

Plus, analysis on all the political news.

It's all coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.

New CBS Battleground Tracker polls in Wisconsin show a tight race on both sides. Bernie Sanders is ahead of Hillary Clinton by two points 49-47. And among Republican primary voters, Ted Cruz leads Donald Trump by six points, 43-37, with John Kasich far behind.

But Trump is up by large margins in both New York, which holds its primary on April 19, and Pennsylvania, where the primary is on April 26.

It's been a rocky week for Donald Trump, as he attempts to lock up the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination.

We sat down with Mr. Trump on Friday at Trump Tower in New York, which has a very large indoor waterfall which you will hear in the background.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DICKERSON: There's been a lot of commentary this week that this has been the worst week in your campaign. A little of people want to stop you. Are they succeeding?

TRUMP: I don't know that it's been the worst week in my campaign. I think I have had many bad weeks and I have had many good weeks. I don't see this as the worst week in my campaign.

But certainly I have had some weeks -- and you have been reporting on them -- where that was the end, and then the next week, you see poll numbers where they went up and everybody is shocked. So, yes, people want to stop me because I'm leading by a lot.

DICKERSON: You had a week where abortion rights -- where everybody on both sides of the abortion issue didn't know what your position was. Your campaign manager was...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: That was asked as hypothetical question. And he said, if abortion is illegal. The bottom line is that it is -- it is the doctor's fault. But that was asked as a hypothetical.

DICKERSON: Well, I want to get to that in a minute, but your campaign manager is charged this week. That's not a good week.

TRUMP: Do I love it? No. But am I going to ruin a man's life by firing him when I look at a tape that I supplied? That tape was from one my facilities. We have cameras all over the place for security. I do a good job with security.

We have cameras. And I looked and I said, what is it? What did he do? Do you destroy a man's life? You look at her, and you look at her initial statement, she grabbed my arm, obviously. Everybody sees that. She grabs my arm. But then when you look at her initial statement, it was that she was almost thrown down to the ground.

And, by the way, if she were actually thrown down to the ground and all those things happened, I would have fired him in instantaneously. But I don't want to ruin a man's life over a tape that looks like practically nothing happened.

DICKERSON: But here is what happened. Your campaign manager said she was delusional when the report came out. He said it didn't happen. When the report first came out, did you talk to him?

TRUMP: Well, I could see maybe not even knowing that it happened because...

DICKERSON: But did you talk to him about this event?

TRUMP: I looked -- I did speak to him. But here's the thing.

DICKERSON: And what did he say?

TRUMP: It was such a minor incident that he might not have even known what was going on. I'm not sure that he knew her. I think he said he really didn't know her.

DICKERSON: What did he say when you talked to him about it?

TRUMP: I don't think he knew too much about it. I talked to him very briefly, to be honest with you. I never thought this was going to be turn into be -- into a thing.

Actually, when I really got engaged was after I saw this tape, because if you look at the tape, practically nothing happens. And when you look at her early statement, before she knew we had a tape, if you -- because I supplied it -- if you look at her early statement, John, it was like she was really, really accosted.

And I will tell you this. If what happened on her statement, if that happened, I would have fired him.

DICKERSON: I would like to talk about his statement, since he works for you. You want to be...

TRUMP: I will, but nobody wants to talk about her statement.

DICKERSON: She doesn't work for you, though. He works for you. And you're the boss.

TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me.

Her statement was like this horrible thing happened. Then you look at the tape, and people are still trying to say, like, what happened?

DICKERSON: But, Mr. Trump, he said he didn't touch her. He said she was delusional. You said she was making it up. The videotape shows she wasn't making it up.

TRUMP: Well, you know, if you look at the videotape, you don't even see a grab. You see her almost being blocked out.

DICKERSON: So, you...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And, by the way, by the way, she grabbed me, just so you understand.

And you can see me going like that. She was not supposed to be asking any questions. The news conference was over. She bolted in from nowhere. She went in between Secret Service. She grabbed my arm, which everybody sees.

I went like that, like, who is this person? And she started asking questions. She wasn't supposed to do it.

DICKERSON: Did Corey Lewandowski tell the truth when he said he didn't touch her?

TRUMP: I don't know, because I can't tell you in what context. The event...

DICKERSON: You don't know that he touched her or not?

TRUMP: The event to me, to me -- what do I know? The event to me...

DICKERSON: Well, it's on the tape.

TRUMP: ... seemed so minor -- well, that's why I look at it.

The only thing I have to go by is the tape. The event to me seems...

DICKERSON: And when you see it, does it look like he touched her?

TRUMP: Well, he blocked her out. I don't see her grabbing. I see her being blocked out because she wasn't supposed to be there.

But you also see her touching me before he ever even got involved. So, here is the thing. Do I ruin a man's life? He's got four beautiful children. He's got a family. Do I fire him and ruin a man's life over something that, when I looked at the tape, I said, what's going on?

You know, when I was in Wisconsin, I had a large audience. And I said, how many people saw the tape? And many people raised their hand. I say, how many people think, of those people that saw the tape, think that he should be fired? Not one. And you have it in your cameras. Not one person raised their hand.

DICKERSON: Is it OK for a man to put a hand on a woman?

TRUMP: Well, I don't think -- I'm not even sure he did that.

DICKERSON: Just in general principle?

TRUMP: No. I would say not.

But when you're in the, I think you people professionally call it a scrum or something, where people are being knocked around all over the place, I have heard people in your business say, wow, I have gotten hit a lot worse than that. They get hit in the face with cameras.

They get hit -- you know, we were walking out. I was walking outside. She shouldn't have been there. She shouldn't have grabbed me. And he really was doing...

(CROSSTALK)

DICKERSON: You felt threatened by her?

TRUMP: I didn't really feel threatened. OK? I guess I could say I should sue her. I didn't really feel threatened. But I didn't like somebody grabbing me. And I didn't like somebody asking me questions when that was all over. DICKERSON: Here is a question. It comes out, a video shows that he did grab her, what he said was not -- turned out not to be true, you said she made it up.

TRUMP: But what she said wasn't true, John. Excuse me.

DICKERSON: But the main point is, did he touch her or not? He did touch her.

TRUMP: I think this.

DICKERSON: But the question is, for you, as the person with the power in this relationship -- you have got all these people working for you. You have got all these big, huge buildings. Why not be the bigger person and say, she was treated roughly, she was my guest, I apologize to her, and let's move on?

TRUMP: Well, it's not my job to apologize to her. I have nothing -- I just happened to be walking through.

DICKERSON: But you're the man running the show.

TRUMP: Excuse me.

I think that maybe if he didn't know, it could have been because the incident was so minor, that he didn't even know what they were talking about. That's what I think. It will get solved. It will get taken care of. Let's see what happens.

DICKERSON: You talk about...

TRUMP: I just -- I have to be honest. I'm a loyal person, and I will be very loyal to the country and I will be very loyal to the people of this country.

I don't think I can destroy a man's life. And you will destroy his life. I don't think I can destroy. It's already had a big impact on him. I don't think I can destroy a man's life by what I saw on that video.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you next about abortion. What would you do to further restrict women's access to abortions as president?

TRUMP: Well, look, I just -- I know where you're going. And I just want to say, a question was asked to me. And it was asked in a very hypothetical, and it was said illegal, illegal.

I have been told by some people that was an older line answer and that was an answer that was given on the basis of an older line from years ago, very -- on a very conservative basis. But...

DICKERSON: Your original answer, you mean.

TRUMP: My original.

DICKERSON: About punishing women. TRUMP: But I was asked as a hypothetical, hypothetically, hypothetically.

The laws are set now on abortion. And that's the way they're going to remain until they're changed.

DICKERSON: Because you had said you wanted -- you told Bloomberg in January that you believed abortion should be banned at some point in pregnancy. Where would you do the ban?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I would have liked to have seen this be a states' rights. I would have preferred states' rights. I think it would have been better if it were up to the states.

But, right now, the laws are set. And that's the way the laws are.

DICKERSON: But do you have a feeling how they should change? There are a lot of laws you want to change. You have talking about them, everything from libel to torture. Anything you would want to change on abortion?

TRUMP: At this moment, the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.

DICKERSON: Did you think it's murder, abortion?

TRUMP: I have my opinions on it, but I would rather not comment on it.

DICKERSON: You said you're very pro-life. Pro-life views it that it's abortion -- that abortion is murder.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: But I do have my opinions on it. I would rather -- I just don't think it's an appropriate forum.

DICKERSON: But you don't disagree with that proposition that it's murder?

TRUMP: What proposition?

DICKERSON: That abortion is murder?

TRUMP: No, I don't disagree with it.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the abortion question, which you have explained, the hypothetical nature of it, and also your answer on the spread of nuclear weapons. You said you were against proliferation, but then you said you seemed to be OK with South Korea or Japan maybe getting one.

TRUMP: No, it's totally misquoted.

DICKERSON: Well, people are so confused.

TRUMP: I loved my -- I know they're confused, they shouldn't be, because all they have to do is watch.

And I spoke with Anderson Cooper. And I spoke to Chris. I spoke to all of them. And I spoke to "The New York Times." And I thought it was a very good piece in "The New York Times."

Look, nuclear is a horror show. I would be probably the last to even think about using it. People say, you promised never, ever to use it. You can't do a thing like that. You have to have cards on the table. But nuclear is a horror show.

Just like I said I don't want to go into Iraq -- and I said that a long time ago. I wasn't a war hawk. There were a lot of other people. Nuclear is a disaster. With that being said, we are taking care -- and if you look into NATO as example. We are funding and taking care, disproportionately, of the costs of many countries, many, many countries that are taking us for a ride.

We have to do something with NATO. When it comes to nuclear, you are going to have to ask yourself at what point and at what cost do we continue to protect Japan and Germany and many other countries?

And now, they're not paying for this protection in any way near what it's costing us. We owe 19 trillion. At what point do they get involved and they say, we have to pay more money for this kind of protection?

Now, at some point, they may have to protect themselves. Do I like that? Not particularly. But we cannot afford it as a country. We owe -- John, we owe $19 trillion, going to $21 trillion because of the horrible omnibus budget it, which was a horror show.

DICKERSON: Right.

TRUMP: We cannot continue to do this.

DICKERSON: When people looked at your answer on abortion, on proliferation, they got the sense you were just winging it on foreign policy -- on policy issues.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I'm not winging it.

DICKERSON: Have you been studying up?

TRUMP: I have. I have.

DICKERSON: You have.

You met with your foreign policy team in your hotel in Washington.

TRUMP: Yes.

DICKERSON: What did you ask them?

TRUMP: More than anything else, I discussed nuclear. To me, the single biggest problem that this world has -- and we will knock out ISIS fast and we will do a lot of things -- but the single biggest problem that the world has is nuclear.

DICKERSON: In what way do you mean that's the biggest?

TRUMP: I think, if somebody gets nuclear weapons, that is a disaster.

DICKERSON: What worries you the most about that?

TRUMP: I think that probably worries me the most.

DICKERSON: Which country, though, of all the ones...

TRUMP: I think it could be many people. It's not even countries. It's splinter groups. It's people.

DICKERSON: Did they say anything to you that you have been saying and said, you probably shouldn't say that?

TRUMP: Not at all. In fact, many of them -- and I will give you full list of the people that were there, and the list is being added on, and we have many people that are top people that want to come on board.

Many of them were surprised at my knowledge, and they were surprised at the feel that I had for it. I have a feel. I have...

(CROSSTALK)

DICKERSON: Define that feel.

TRUMP: I will tell you what the feel is.

The feel is, I was asked on a certain competitor's show of yours about NATO. Now, as an entrepreneur, I have never been really asked too much about NATO. NATO is not exactly -- when I'm doing deals or building buildings in Washington or New York or wherever I may be building them, but the question was asked about NATO.

Knowing a little bit about NATO at the time -- this was a couple of weeks ago -- I said, in my opinion, NATO is obsolete. It's many, many decades old, like now 68 years, but it's many, many decades old. And NATO is too expensive, because we can't afford this anymore. And people are being brought in for a free ride.

It turned out I was right on every single subject. The problem is -- and I had a very good interview with David Sanger of "The New York Times" and I was covered very, very fairly by "The New York Times," which is unusual for them, if you want to know the truth. But I was covered by him very, very fairly. And people were surprised at the instinct that I had, because it turns out that we are spending too much money on NATO, and it turns out, very importantly, that it is obsolete. NATO is not talking about terrorism.

DICKERSON: Let me talk about another meeting you had in Washington with the Republican National Committee.

TRUMP: Yes.

DICKERSON: Did they treat you fairly? Are they treating you fairly?

TRUMP: Well, I would rather let you know in about six months from now. I don't know. I mean...

DICKERSON: Well, you said they haven't been treating you. Where are you on that question?

TRUMP: I think Reince is a very nice person. I get along with him, but I'm going to have to tell you, I think what is unfair is, I won the state of Louisiana.

I went, I made speeches, I had that last evening in a hangar where you had thousands of people. It was incredible, and a big airplane hangar, a Boeing hangar. And I said, this is unbelievable. And I wasn't expected to win Louisiana, and I won Louisiana, right? I won lot of states.

I won, I think, 22 states. And I won Louisiana, and I got less delegates than the guy who lost.

DICKERSON: But isn't that proof that the people who took the delegates are beating you at the game?

TRUMP: No. No. No. That's not...

(CROSSTALK)

DICKERSON: Wouldn't Donald Trump do that?

TRUMP: No. That's not America.

DICKERSON: You wouldn't play every angle to win?

TRUMP: When I win the state, I'm not supposed to get less delegates than somebody that got beat.

DICKERSON: But as a businessman, you play every angle you can within the law.

TRUMP: No, but that's not America. Sure. Sure.

DICKERSON: And he's playing every -- Cruz is playing every angle within the law.

TRUMP: But it's not America.

You go in, and you win, and you get less delegates. OK? Now, I just won Missouri. That just came out. And there was a whole thing going on there, too.

But let me just tell you something. When I go in and win the state of Louisiana and I get less delegates, that's not the way the system is supposed to work.

DICKERSON: Are you saying it's unfair or it's illegal?

TRUMP: Well, I think it could be illegal, if you want to know the truth. And that's my question.

(CROSSTALK)

DICKERSON: Because the pros say, he just beat you. They just say Cruz beat you at that.

TRUMP: No, no. Give me a break.

Let me just -- I go in. He campaigned, I campaigned. I got the votes, and then I get less delegates?

DICKERSON: There was reporting, at this meeting at the RNC, that you seemed a little upset with your own team's delegate operation, that they're not in this fight as much as they should be. Is that right?

TRUMP: That's false reporting, other than I mentioned that Louisiana, which really bothers me, because the people of Louisiana were amazing to me.

I was not expected to win Louisiana. And I did look at my people. I said, well, wait a minute, folks. You know, we should have maybe done better, except I also said, I won the state, and I think there's a real legal consequence to winning a state and not getting as many delegates. That's nonsense. And you know what? Everyone agrees with me. Everyone agrees with me.

DICKERSON: Well, a lot of people in the game who know this game, who play it...

TRUMP: I don't care about the game. I care about the people. And when you go in and win a state, and then you don't get the delegates?

DICKERSON: One of the things you're saying...

TRUMP: Now, I got some. I go some. I got many, but I didn't get the number that I should be entitled to.

DICKERSON: Your argument about the presidency is, you will come into a new system, learn about it fast, and win like nobody has ever won before. With this delegate fight, it's a new system, you got to get up to speed on it. Do you feel like you're going to win like never before, because Ted Cruz just took these delegates in Louisiana?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: John, you're talking about one state. Excuse me. Excuse me.

DICKERSON: Yes. It's one state, but...

TRUMP: Ted Cruz was going to win Alabama and Arkansas and Mississippi, and he was going to win Kentucky, and he was going to win all of these states. I won them all. So, let's not get carried away what we don't know what we're doing. I have won 22 states. He's won six or five or seven.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I have won 22 states. So, let's not get carried away with we don't know what we're doing.

The one state that I told you about was Louisiana. But I have won a tremendous -- now, on top that, I have almost 300 more delegates than him. So, I think I know something about what I'm doing. And more importantly in a true sense, from a democracy sense, I have millions of votes more than anybody else. Millions. Millions.

That should mean something, too. I know in the system, it doesn't mean anything. But I have millions more votes than Ted Cruz.

DICKERSON: Where are you on the pledge that you took to support the party and the nominee?

TRUMP: Well, look, I want to support the party. I don't think I have to comment too much on it right now. I want to support the party.

If Ted or somebody doesn't want to support me, that's OK. That's OK. But if they don't want to support me, honestly, that's OK. And I can understand how they feel. That's one of those things.

DICKERSON: But you have got a huge following. If there's another nominee, would you tell that big following, hey, we're all Republicans, go support that nominee?

TRUMP: I will tell you when we meet at the convention. We will see how we're treated. I want to see how we're treated. I want to see how we're treated.

Look, I signed the pledge. They wanted me to sign the pledge. And I'm the one that is being discriminated against. Everybody was worried about me. And then because maybe lot of people didn't expect this to happen -- I'm not a politician. I'm self-funding my campaign. A lot of people are very upset about that, because people want to give money, because when they give money they control the guy that runs for office.

You understand that better than anybody. I don't want their money. I don't take their money. So, I'm self-funding. People don't like that. People don't like a lot of the things that I'm doing.

But you know who does like it? People that are voting. And people are coming from Democrat, and people are coming from independent, and you know who is coming unbelievably? People that never, ever voted before. People that are 30, 40, 50, 60 years old that never voted before, they're voting in droves.

DICKERSON: We are going to that have to leave it there. Mr. Trump, thanks so much.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DICKERSON: After our interview, Trump campaign communications director Hope Hicks clarified the candidate's comments to us on abortion, saying -- quote -- "Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today, and made clear it must stay that way now, until he is president. Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn. There is nothing new or different here" -- unquote.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DICKERSON: Joining us now in the chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, who is at the party headquarters here in Washington this morning. Mr. Chairman, I want to ask you. Donald Trump says he's going to wait to see how Republican Party treats him. How do things look from your end? How is he treating the party? He was quoted this week as saying, "I'm not sure which is worse, dealing with the party people or dealing with the press."

That's a low blow, being compared to us.

(LAUGHTER)

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Right. It sure is, John.

Look, he is being treated fairly. And, look, I think some of this is posturing. We have been -- I have been talking about this particular issue, I think, for about nine months now. If candidates make commitments to the values and the principles of our party, we expect them to keep it. If they don't, then all they need to do is just tell us.

And, look, I think if candidates don't want to be loyal to the party that they seek the nomination from, I think they just -- they make it more difficult for themselves, because it's actually the party and our voters that are voting in our party primaries that choose the nominee. So, it only makes sense to be true to the values and principles of our party if you want to be the nominee of our party.

DICKERSON: Part of this agreement that he's made is not just -- it's almost contract with the party to get information from the party about supporters and that kind of thing. If he said he didn't want to support the Republican Party anymore, would you cut off whatever the party gives to him as a candidate?

PRIEBUS: Well, if any candidate actually declared that they don't want to support the party, of course we would. But that's not what's happened here.

This is a hypothetical and it's also something that is more of answer of, we will wait and see. I mean, even in regard to the other candidates' comments, no one has broken any pledge, no one has broken their commitment to our party. But at this point, it's a bunch of talk and we will wait and see.

DICKERSON: You had meeting with Donald Trump this week. Do you think he's familiar with the whole delegate process, the various stages, as familiar as he should be with it?

PRIEBUS: Well, I don't think the candidates themselves have to know every little detail how selection of delegates occurs and what the percentages are in each of these states.

But the team needs to know that information. They need to obviously work within the confines of the rules that are laid out. It's just like any -- and I'm -- I was playing a game, board game with the kids last night. And we have all done it. The first this you do is open the box, and take out the rules and read them, and try to figure out how to play the game.

Obviously, rules matter. And we adhere to rules and principles in our party, unlike the Democrats, and we respect the rules. And so we're going to respect the rules of our party.

DICKERSON: Donald Trump says, in Louisiana, he thinks that they have not followed the rules. Do you see any evidence there that that is the case?

PRIEBUS: I don't, but I don't know every detail of what happened in Louisiana.

But what I do know is that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are receiving the exact amount of delegates that they were awarded based on the outcome of Louisiana. Those delegates are bound to the candidates, so they have to vote for the candidate.

Now, the chase is on for unbound delegates. And so when Marco Rubio dropped out, he had unbound delegates in Louisiana. That's when those campaigns have to get into those states and make the case to the state party and all those particular people running for those slots. And from what I understand, that's where the argument is. DICKERSON: All right, we're going to have to take quick commercial break, Mr. Chairman.

We will be right back with more in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DICKERSON: There's been an Amtrak derailment just south of Philadelphia, in Chester, Pennsylvania, this morning.

According to CBS affiliate KYW, the train was traveling from New York to Savannah when it was hit by a backhoe on adjacent track. There have been two fatalities, both of them from the backhoe. And there are reports of passenger injuries from the train. Service between New York and Wilmington, Delaware, has been shut down. We will continue following this breaking story on our digital network, CBSN, and tonight on "The CBS Evening News."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including Reince Priebus of the RNC. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.

We're back with more from the chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus.

Mr. Chairman, I want to ask you about the polls which suggest that a majority of voters agree with Donald Trump, which is, if he goes to the convention and he has the most delegates, even if he doesn't have the magic number, that he should get the nomination.

PRIEBUS: Well, that's why we're working really hard at educating folks as to what the rules are. And most of the time people don't care about the rules of a convention or how nominees are chosen. But there's nothing that's going to change that rule. A majority of delegates is needed, just like it was for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. It's needed today. You have to have a majority. Everything in -- everything in America is decided on a majority. It's no different than electing a judge, a governor, a president based on electoral college majority, but a majority matters in America and you have to have a majority. And it's -- it is a magic number because it's 50 percent plus one. That's not going to change.

DICKERSON: As part of this education process, though, why does there need to be this second stage? People think, well, the voting took place, that's all that needs to -- to happen. Why is there this second change where everybody goes to a convention and talks about it one more time?

PRIEBUS: Well, you know, a long time ago what used to happen is delegates would just run for office or run for the position within each of the states and they'd show up at the convention and they'd vote for whoever they wanted to. But somewhere along the line, John, someone decided that, you know, wouldn't it be great if we expanded the reach of our party and we had contests and primaries in each of the states and we would bind the vote for these delegates for one or two ballots. And then after a couple ballots, people could go back to the old days of voting the way they wanted.

It's sort of a hybrid of that today, which is, we have these contests. The votes happen. The votes bind delegates. The delegates are then chosen in the states. Those delegates are bound to the outcome in most cases from those votes in those states and they go to convention. That's what we're doing here today. It really isn't that complicated. But if you're not familiar with it, it just sounds very different. And that's why we have to be out in front and we've got a few months to try to educate as many people as possible.

DICKERSON: There's been a lot of talk this week in Republican circles about, if Donald Trump is the nominee, he would have special challenges in the general election with two groups, with women voters and then also with Hispanics. As somebody who cares about the health of the party, how much of a challenge, a special challenge, would Donald Trump be as the party nominee?

PRIEBUS: Well, look, I mean every candidate has positives and every candidate have -- have challenges that you have to overcome in the general election, you know. But the fact is, Donald Trump has also brought in millions of new voters to our party. We're ahead of Democrats on registration. We've had a 70 percent turnout increase. I mean some of these things are historic for our party.

You look at the Democrats, John, they're in the ditch. And what about Hillary Clinton? Have you seen her numbers with women? I mean some of this stuff is pretty startling.

I mean I understand that we've got some drama on our side of the aisle that we're going to have to contend with and we'll be prepared to like never before, but I think if you look at the Democrats, I think they're in for a fiasco, especially if Comey comes in and indicts Hillary Clinton and they have an open convention and who knows -- I've heard people talking about Joe Biden coming back into the fold.

So, look, there is drama but we're prepared and we're going to win and we're going to -- we're going to retake the White House in November.

DICKERSON: All right, we'll have to leave it there, Mr. Chairman. Thanks so much for being with us.

PRIEBUS: You bet. Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: Now we turn to CBS News director of elections Anthony Salvanto for more on our CBS News battleground tracker poll.

Anthony, let's start in Wisconsin. Donald Trump is behind Ted Cruz there. How big a deal is that? What does it tell us?

ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS DIRECTOR OF ELECTIONS: Well, Wisconsin is really tailor made for someone like Ted Cruz. His strength all along has been, he does very well with the very conservative. And that's what most Republicans in Wisconsin say that they are. They say they're looking for the most consistent conservative in this race. So in that respect, it's very important, maybe even a must win for Cruz.

But you put Wisconsin in context now. As we head into April, we turn to states like New York, like Pennsylvania. Ted Cruz is not going to find quite as receptive an audience, so he does really need to make hay in Wisconsin if he's going to hope to derail Trump a little bit.

DICKERSON: So, those who have been looking at Wisconsin as a test of whether Donald Trump's bad week is going to send a signal about his overall health might be over reading things?

SALVANTO: I -- you know, his overall health at this point is stable, maybe not exactly where a frontrunner wants to be, and that's because his supporters say, and they admit in the polls, that sometimes they think he goes too far in what he does and what he says. And that's a little bit extraordinary. We don't often find supporters of a candidate who are willing to say that about their chosen candidate. They're with him anyway. So that -- that's baked into the cake.

Now, for those who are on the fence about Donald Trump, that may be limiting his growth a little bit because they're the ones who are more likely when they think he's going too far not to be persuaded to maybe come over to his side.

DICKERSON: And based on who's supporting Donald Trump, on this back and forth on abortion, do you think that actually matters much in terms of who's already supporting Trump or Cruz?

SALVANTO: Not a lot because the people who are most strongly pro- life were not with him anyway. They were voting for Ted Cruz.

DICKERSON: All right. All right, let's step back a second and talk about the delegate math here. Let's imagine for a moment that -- that the -- that Ted Cruz wins Wisconsin. That's 42 delegates. How -- how much of -- does that change things for Donald Trump?

SALVANTO: It -- it pushes him off course a little bit. It really puts the pressure on him to run the table in New York and some of those Atlantic states coming up towards the end of April. So, in all of these states, and most of these states, the delegates are given out by district. So in New York, you know, Ted Cruz would have to go in -- he'll be going into hostile territory looking for pockets of friendly territory where he can pick up a few delegates. Trump's -- Trump will be having to try to really run up the score there in those states to make maybe 60 (ph) -- two-thirds of the delegates along the way to get back.

Look, I think, John, this will all be decided in one of two places. It will be decided in California in June, last big primary, or we're going to Cleveland and it will be decided there.

DICKERSON: And so what you mean there is either Trump will get to the magic number of 1,237 by however many delegates he gets in California, or he will fall short of that and everybody will head to Cleveland. Nobody will have the majority and it will be a contested convention. If that's the case, that second idea, open convention, is that why Donald Trump's conversation about Louisiana and these back room efforts to secure the delegates, is that why that's so important?

SALVANTO: Yes. That is why that is so important. And here's what happens. You know, when we see -- we watch on election night, somebody wins a state, we say they're going to get x number of delegates. Those are delegate slots. Now, who actually fills those slots? Who packs their bags and heads to Cleveland, right? That process goes on in the states, at the counties, at the state party conventions.

Now, each of the campaigns would love to have their loyalists filling those slots because what will happen is, if this does become an open convention, after that first ballot where most of the delegates are bound to vote for whichever candidate won those slots, now they're going to start arguing and brokering. Now they can do, most of them, whatever they choose. So you want your loyalists to fill those slots. It's like, you know, it's like when you get that -- that plus one and guest invite to a ball, you can go with -- you know, you can take somebody who just wants to go or somebody who really likes you. And they want somebody who really likes them and will go fight for them in Cleveland.

DICKERSON: And then we have about 30 seconds, Anthony. And -- if there is this fight in Cleveland, how divided is the party at this moment just to give us a sense of tempers and where they'll be if there's a big fight in Cleveland?

SALVANTO: The -- the polls show that the supporters of Ted Cruz would be upset if Donald Trump would get the nomination, and that Donald Trump's supporters would be upset if anyone else gets the nomination. So, yes, they are somewhat divided. You know, Trump is saying, well, he's brought a lot of new voters to the process. That does seem to be the case. A lot of his voters say they're interested in this because of Donald Trump. So the balancing act then is not to try to alienate those voters, but also play the ones who would be upset if it is Trump.

DICKERSON: That's right. And we saw Chairman Reince Priebus trying to hold off that balancing act today.

Anthony, thanks so much for being with us.

We'll be right back in a moment with our political panel. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DICKERSON: Joining us now is "Wall Street Journal" columnist and CBS News contributor Peggy Noonan. Mark Leibovich is the chief national correspondent for "The New York Times." Ruth Marcus is a columnist at "The Washington Post." And Ed O'Keefe covers politics for "The Washington Post."

Welcome to all of you.

Peggy, I want to start with you. What kind of a week was it for Donald Trump?

PEGGY NOONAN, CBS NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think he had a terrible week. I think he took a pounding, in part from the press, but mostly from his own mouth. I think he added to the aggregate of the strange or outrageous or not fully thought through comments that he makes. That -- that at a certain point, I think this is the point, by the way, are starting to give pause even to his own supporters. He ought to be growing and instead my sense is he's sort of stuck because of how he talks and how he does not bring forward a presidential dignity and so doesn't show that there might be a plausible president inside.

I do think, however, we're seeing an act two of Trump. Act one was the rise. Act two is try to survive. A, try to survive his own mouth, and, b, try to survive what is quietly happening around him, which is the race for delegates that people are quietly pulling like -- like strands away from him.

DICKERSON: Right. We have a two tier process, the public process and then these --

NOONAN: Yes.

DICKERSON: Fights for the tiny (ph) delegates.

Mark, turning point for Donald Trump?

MARK LEIBOVICH, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: We've said that so many times, it's hard to say.

DICKERSON: We're in a circle, we've had so many turning points.

LEIBOVICH: I -- I would say this.

NOONAN: It's a good point.

LEIBOVICH: There was -- there have been many weeks like this. I don't think there have been weeks this bad. But really from the outside of the campaign, we -- there has been this exhilaration around Donald Trump, which I think at this point seems to be giving way to some weariness. You know, again, it's hard to quantify this. But this seemed like a -- a week or a time when, you know, tone really, really matters. And he should be -- I hate this other word -- but pivot. I mean he should -- I mean you would think that this is a reach out period of the election. And I don't think he lost many voters this week. He might have. But I think, look, he's at 33, 34, 35 percent. I mean this is a growing time for him and it should be. And I think for as long as it isn't, he's in some trouble.

DICKERSON: Ruth, it looked like that Donald Trump was trying to pivot. He met with the RNC. He talked about unity. He met with his foreign policy advisors at his hotel here in Washington, showing that he has -- can have a conversation about these important issues that a president will face. So he is trying to do part of the pivot.

RUTH MARCUS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": He's trying, but he's the victim of friendly fire, which is he's shooting himself. And, you know, when you have a week where the -- your campaign manager is accused of battery against a reporter and that's not the worst thing that happens to you in the week, that's a really bad week.

And I thought the abortion answer continuing with your questioning of him was really revelatory and a problem for Donald Trump on three different levels. First, it illustrated -- we've been talking a little bit on the conventional wisdom that's been emerging, Donald Trump doesn't know enough of what he's talking about when he's talking about when he's talking about foreign policy. That's not correct. Donald Trump doesn't know enough of what he's talking about when he's talking about policy, period.

Number two, he says something and then when it turns out to be wrong, it's not his fault, it's the questioning. It's the questioning. It was hypothetical or it was convoluted.

And the third part is, managing to alienate both sides simultaneously, which is really quite magnificent because I really -- I have to just point out, that if you look at Donald Trump's position on -- actual position on abortion, it is less extreme than Ted Cruz's position on abortion. Ted Cruz would not have exceptions for rape or incest in cases of abortion. And where Donald Trump said, including to you, that he'd like to leave it to the states, Ted Cruz wants to make it illegal everywhere.

ED O'KEEFE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I would just say, you know, you're talking about wariness, Mark. I think this whole week for Trump comes not only a bad time for him, but really a rough time for the Republican Party overall. There was real evidence this week of the struggles that they're facing on so many different fronts. There was a Supreme Court case they should have won regarding labor unions in California that resulted in a 4-4 split because of the death of Antonin Scalia. You've had two southern governors coming up with different answers on questions to gay rights and transgender rights and facing pressure from the business community, which has traditionally been with the party but now is splitting with them on social issues.

Then you had all this stuff with Trump on abortion. But I think even more troubling to a lot of Republicans were his comments again on nuclear weapons and nuclear power. The idea that Japan should have a nuclear weapon. That South Korea might think about it. That he might consider using nuclear weapons against Europe, or at least won't take it off the table. All of that added up together suggests a really rough time for the party. And that's why I think there's growing concern in these later states that maybe we really do have to do something to at least slow Trump's momentum and force it to a convention.

DICKERSON: Although it look like in -- in New York and Pennsylvania, at least as far as our polls and others, Donald Trump's got a fine firewall. Things may not go for him in Wisconsin, but he's up by 30 points in New York.

LEIBOVICH: He is. And I actually -- I think I agree with Anthony in that this will -- I mean California, Cleveland, I think, are probably the keys. I mean I think Wisconsin is an extremely important state. As long as Ted Cruz can win in Wisconsin, this will be a muddled race. And muddle is a friend to Ted Cruz and to John Kasich to a point because it means it will continue and Donald Trump will be denied these straight ahead, you know, sense of destiny that he's striving for.

DICKERSON: And, Peggy, doesn't Donald Trump still have in his back pocket that he speaks to an irritation with even the kind of questioning he's getting now, it's about -- who cares what his positions are on these little things, who cares what his campaign manager did, he speaks a bigger truth for me and that other stuff is just small in -- in comparison to that big thing he does, which is talk about rebalancing the world so that it helps for me, the voter, that likes him.

NOONAN: I kind of think at a -- at a certain point attrition happens if he doesn't turn around the way he acts and the way he speaks. I think the key word for him is professionalize. And it's followed by a question point. Can he professionalize his campaign operation so that he has some real governing voices and minds around him who can say, boss, don't do that, or, boss, just did the wrong thing, we're going to have to turn it around on the next stop, or, boss, you know that iPhone you love, I'm taking it from you. You can't be tweeting like a madman any more. So he needs professionalized that way. And then he needs a whole deep organization in which he can serious overlook this whole delegate thing. The Cruz people are very honest about, you know, they say, you're all looking at poll numbers. We're going in here and there and we are getting our hands on those delegates.

MARCUS: That's --

DICKERSON: Yes.

NOONAN: Trump has to stop that if he's a serious guy.

DICKERSON: Talk about the delegates, Ed.

O'KEEFE: Well, this is -- this is the -- this is the weird thing. While he has staffed up, he's hired a few people in the last few days who have some experience with this, the problem is they have experience doing this in 1976 and 1980, the last time we had a contested convention.

NOONAN: Yes.

O'KEEFE: What he doesn't have that Cruz has is a team that understands these rules back and forth and has been cultivating these what they call unbound delegates in the states that didn't have contests or where there are unbound delegates to be had. Places like North Dakota, Colorado next weekend. Places like Louisiana.

NOONAN: Yes.

O'KEEFE: We had this fight. And then even in Tennessee yesterday, where, you know, the idea that you've been fighting against the party establishment will now come back to bite you a little bit because he's done nothing to cultivate these people who ultimately will have to show up in Cleveland and make a decision. And if you get to round three, round four --

NOONAN: Yes.

O'KEEFE: There's no allegiance to him and there's no reason from them to stick with them.

MARCUS: You -- you really do need to have been reading those rules on the back of the game box, just like Reince Priebus said. And Peggy makes an important point, which is, Trump's failure to increase, failure to coalesce.

NOONAN: Yes.

MARCUS: You look at the polling in Wisconsin and you see Trump was ahead of Ted Cruz by ten points a month ago.

NOONAN: Yes.

MARCUS: Now he -- now Ted Cruz is ahead and Trump's number has stayed flat. He is not bringing additional people in.

DICKERSON: All right, we're going to hold it there. Pause, everyone. And we'll be right back with more from our panel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DICKERSON: And we're back with our panel.

Mark, I want to -- on the last question on Republicans here, if there is a contested convention, Donald Trump has something that nobody else has, which is a megaphone. And if he says, this is unfair, I have more delegates, I don't care if I didn't get the majority, I should get it because I have more in Cleveland, isn't that a strong argument for him?

LEIBOVICH: Sure it's a strong argue. I mean it's a procedural argument. It's an argument that is all about Trump, basically. I mean we -- I was just saying, we were saying during the break, that I mean their -- what was important about this election going in -- I remember talking to Governor Christie about this when he was thinking about running. I did a story on him I guess a couple of year ago. I said I hoped he ran because it was important to see a debate play out in the Republican Party about who they wanted to be. As it turned out, I mean so much oxygen, so much talk, so much argument has been given over to what will happen with Trump here, what will happen in Cleveland. You know, I -- I do think that that's sort of part of the weariness we were talking about earlier.

NOONAN: Yes. DICKERSON: Let's switch, Ruth, to the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton, in a moment, by the rope line, had a very pointed retort to somebody who was charging her about taking money from oil and gas interests, which is a line that the Sanders campaign -- it was a -- it was a -- what did you think of that moment?

MARCUS: I never think it's a good idea to be wagging your finger at people when you're in politics. It does not translate well.

NOONAN: Yes.

DICKERSON: Which is what she did in this exchange.

MARCUS: And it was what she did and it's a lesson -- and I don't want to get in trouble for doing it to you.

DICKERSON: No, no, believe me, that's (INAUDIBLE) --

MARCUS: It wasn't hostile. And -- and it was illustrative of a frustration that she's feeling that's totally understandable. She was on the other side of this transaction eight years ago when she stuck in the race when it was rather clear that Barack Obama was going to be the nominee. It's reasonably clear, though not certain, that Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee.

But Bernie Sanders is an irritant. He has won a series of primaries. He may well, probably more likely than not, to win Wisconsin and he is getting under her skin.

DICKERSON: Ed, the Clinton campaign would say, she's not irritated that he's getting under her skin, but that he keeps saying that she's captive of these interests and she's not. That would be what --

O'KEEFE: Right.

DICKERSON: Their argument for why she --

O'KEEFE: And the double standard that, you know, why don't you go look at his fundraising history or his voting history. Why are you always looking at ours. What it did more than anything is expose the real private frustrations they've had over the course of the last few weeks that while he has all this money and he's still running, they can't turn totally to focus on Donald Trump and Republicans, which they'd really like to do.

And, you're right, the shoe's on the other foot. But, you know, I think there's some concern that if they don't start trying to define him now before he defines her, there could be a real trouble for them later in the summer.

NOONAN: Can I say, I have a feeling we should keep our eye on New York. I know -- I think Anthony just said she's ten points ahead or eight points --

DICKERSON: Fifty-three to forty-three, yes. NOONAN: All right, ten points ahead. However, I went to one of her rallies in New York at the Apollo Theater the other day. People were enacting the appropriate enthusiasm, but this was not why Hillary love, the sisterhood of the traveling pants suit is not there. Then I see --

MARCUS: Well --

NOONAN: Then Bernie goes to the Bronx and he's got x thousands of people, yeah, really cheering.

MARCUS: Well, look --

NOONAN: There's something -- I feel like -- I'm a New Yorker. Something's going on in New York and we're not seeing it in the polls yet maybe but --

DICKERSON: Well, I -- right.

LEIBOVICH: No, I -- I totally agree. I mean I think there's like there's been this almost annoying smugness around the Democratic Party, just to think that all of the mishigas is sort of wrapped around the other party and it's all around Trump. I mean -- look, I mean, this is -- I mean this kind of reminds me of the "Simpsons" episode where Lisa Simpson start -- wants to be a vet and she saves her first nuisance animal. I mean the Clinton campaign seems to be treating the Sanders campaign like a nuisance animal at this point where, in fact, the debate sort of rages and this is a debate the Democrats need to have.

DICKERSON: Speaking of a debate, they're having a debate now over the debates, which is --

LEIBOVICH: Right.

MARCUS: Yes. And -- and -- and how could it interfere with a basketball game, which, you know, in my house is a really big deal. I mean it just goes to the -- the continuing nuisance factor. But I think that the thing that's so fascinating is, if you imagine a Clinton-Trump race, it's not a popularity contest, it's an unpopularity contest. Both of them are -- are negative with voters. You know, we talk about -- we normally talk about enthusiasm gaps --

NOONAN: Yes.

MARCUS: But here the gap would be, for both of them. I mean he is more -- way more unpopular than she is. But it would be a kind of remarkably sort of dreary race.

NOONAN: Wow.

MARCUS: Sour.

DICKERSON: Well --

NOONAN: Who do you dislike least? All right. DICKERSON: Well, it's springtime. Unfortunately, we're going to have to end on that support of depressing note.

MARCUS: Sorry about that.

DICKERSON: So, thanks to all of you for joining us here.

And we'll be right back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DICKERSON: Tomorrow is the official opening day for Major League Baseball. And here at FACE THE NATION, we're pleased to report on the role that politics has long played in our national pastime.

It's doubtful William Howard Taft would have been anyone's first draft pick, but when the portly president heaved the first pitch at the Washington Senators game in 1910, he started a tradition. Whether righty or lefty, Democrat or Republican, every subsequent occupant of the White House stood in the stands and let one fly. That is until Ronald Reagan. The former actor knew how to put on a good show and he moved the tradition to the mound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he wants to throw another one. I don't think he was very happy with the location of that first one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, that was much better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DICKERSON: Bill Clinton, not known as an athlete, proved to have a strong arm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That looks like a strike to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DICKERSON: But even the most athletic president can struggle to find the strike zone, or the broadside of a barn.

In hard times, the first pitch has become a symbol of resilience and renewal.

Proof that in an era where cooperation is threatened, there's a time where everyone is on the same team.

Speaking of baseball, Ken Burns will be here next Sunday to preview his PBS documentary on Jackie Robinson.

Until then, I'm John Dickerson for FACE THE NATION.