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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Romney Takes Michigan and Arizona Primaries; Looking Ahead to Super Tuesday
Aired February 29, 2012 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Good evening. Wolf Blitzer and the CNN team will be back in a moment on a big night for Mitt Romney as the candidate is breathing what I'm sure is a huge sigh of relief. He wins in the make-or-break state of Michigan and he comes out on top in winner-take-all Arizona.
Listen to a very happy Governor Romney tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First thank you. It was the first state to call it. Thank you, Arizona. A great victory in Arizona tonight.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: And thank you, Michigan. What a win. This is a big night. Thank you, guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Rick Santorum is putting his best face tonight, only second place finish in Michigan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We came into the backyard of one of my opponents. In a race that everyone said, well, just ignore, you have really no chance here. And the people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates and all I have to say is, I love you back. Thank you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I'm looking ahead to Super Tuesday, the big Kahuna, just one week from tonight, a night that could change the face of the race completely. With 10 states voting and 416 delegates at stake.
I'm back now with our CNN stellar A-team, led by the king himself, Wolf Blitzer, John King, who's another king, and Gloria Borger, a new name, de facto as the queen.
Welcome to you all.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.
MORGAN: I've been watching the, as usual, brilliant coverage all night and my sort of gut feeling is I know when a win is a win, and Mitt Romney obviously won Arizona. We expected that. And he did sneak through in Michigan. But to only win by 3 percent in your home state when Rick Santorum was outspent, what, five, six to one, it's not a thumping victory, isn't it? Not a ringing endorsement.
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: As you know, and who knows better than you do, Piers, in any kind of soccer or football match or baseball, a win is a win. And you can't deny that he did win. And it was only a week or 10 days or so ago before the last CNN debate that Santorum was ahead in Michigan.
I don't think that last debate necessarily helped Rick Santorum. So Mitt Romney did come back and he did win. We'll see how that delegate split breaks down in Michigan. But for now, look, it's a big sigh of relief for him. He can go forward to Super Tuesday with some momentum. Winning in Arizona, winning in Michigan, he will probably win in Wyoming tomorrow, and we'll see what happens a week from today.
MORGAN: John King, talk me through --
JOHN KING, ANCHOR, JOHN KING, USA: I think part of that debate is -- go ahead.
MORGAN: Yes, I was going to say, John, talk me through Super Tuesday in terms of what we can confidently expect to happen. There are only 10 states this time up for grabs. It's normally 16. So it's a smaller Super Tuesday than normal. What do you think -- if your brain path for this kind of thing, what can we confidently predict?
KING: Nothing. I think the one lesson we have learned in this election cycle is we should confidently predict nothing. We should not even not confidently predict anything because of the volatility. And I think that is the fascinating drama here.
Look, you mentioned, it's a small win for Romney in Michigan. No question about it. Consider the alternative. Had he lost, there would be a trap door under the Romney candidacy. Tonight he goes forward with some momentum. We will debate how much momentum. But he has momentum.
So he goes into Super Tuesday. His home state, his other home state, I guess, of Massachusetts votes, Vermont votes, put those in the Romney column. Virginia, only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are on the ballot. So let's assume a Mitt Romney win in Michigan. That gives him three of the 10.
BLITZER: In Virginia.
KING: Newt Gingrich -- Virginia. Newt Gingrich should win in Georgia. That's his home state. How much? We'll have to see. Give that one to Gingrich. So that -- where are we going to fight? The biggest battleground is Ohio. Ohio next week is the Michigan of tonight. A big November battleground state, right in the industrial heartland. The economy, by far, issue number one.
Then we'll fight it out in Tennessee. Santorum had the edge coming into tonight in Tennessee. Let's check the polling in 48 hours. Oklahoma, the other big state they will all fight for. Then some smaller states out in the West. Ron Paul might get one, Mitt Romney might get one. But the big battlegrounds next week will be Ohio, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and then the question mark of whether Gingrich can come back for a fourth or fifth life, whatever the count is right now, by winning his home state of Georgia.
MORGAN: And Gloria, I mean, how damaging -- it seems to me there were three damaging hits on Rick Santorum. You know he went from this great position, he had a bad debate, I thought. He was very weak that night. Secondly, this ridiculous statement that, you know, President Kennedy made him puke. I mean, come on. I mean that seems to be bad politics.
BORGER: I think he needs to throw up.
MORGAN: And then he ends up with this -- well, we call it puke in Britain. It's the same thing, isn't it? It's the excretion of vomit and something which if it's President JFK, I mean, come on. And then the last thing I thought was really I though completely wrong, badly timed, inappropriate, and damaging was this thing about the president being a snob for wanting people to go to college.
I couldn't fathom what political capital he would get from such a statement.
BORGER: Well, look, it's clear what he was going for. He was going for some of the voters that he actually got, which are the most conservative voters, the evangelical voters. But what he did in the process was turn off a lot of women voters. Mitt Romney won with women. He turned off some Catholic voters who happen to like JFK. And he didn't do himself any favors with the Republican Party at large who started worrying about his electability as a presidential candidate.
You know, a very good populous economic message but it kind of got overtaken by this emphasis on the cultural issues and the social issues. You know I had one Republican strategist say to me the problem with Rick Santorum was he kept going down these rabbit holes instead of talking about his economic message, and that only served really to help Mitt Romney.
And I think what we saw tonight is that he's trying to dig his way out of it and get back on his economic message, particularly as he tries to win that important state of Ohio on Super Tuesday.
MORGAN: You know, Wolf, where does President Obama sit tonight, do you think? I mean is he going to be vaguely disappointed that Mitt Romney didn't get beat in Michigan? Would that have been a good thing for the president?
BLITZER: It probably would have been but I think they've assumed from day one that Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican presidential nominee. That's why they've been going after him almost exclusively and all the Democratic campaign commercials and their statements. They worry mostly about Mitt Romney. They really didn't think that Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or Ron Paul for that matter had much of a chance.
So they assume it's going to be a fight that Mitt Romney -- that Mitt Romney will be the nominee. They want to do whatever they can to weaken him as much as possible. But they're getting ready for a tough fight and I can assure you, and all of our viewers out there, Piers, that no one in the Barack Obama campaign or at the White House or Democrats are just, you know, sort of saying this is going to be a cake walk.
This is going to be tough. This general election, assuming it will be Mitt Romney, we don't know it will be, it's going to be bitter, it's going to be fierce, it's going to be ugly. And all the acrimony that we've seen so far is child's play compared to what is about to take place in a general election campaign. I can assure you it's going to get very, very nasty.
MORGAN: And finally, John, if we work on the assumption this is virtually a two-horse race, or that Newt Gingrich would dispute that, where would you see Newt Gingrich is or Ron Paul's if he pulled out unlike the other that he might? If either of those candidates pulled out, where would their votes go?
KING: Ron Paul is not going anywhere, Piers. He's going to stay in this race. But the Gingrich question is a fascinating question. And if Rick Santorum had won Michigan tonight, it would put a lot of pressure on the Newt Gingrich campaign, and the Newt Gingrich voters, because you'd hear the argument let's rally around one conservative.
This will be a conversation we might be having at this time next week. Newt Gingrich has to win Georgia, I would say, he has to win it significantly. The question is, can he win somewhere else on Super Tuesday? Because then if you look at the calendar down the road, you have Mississippi, you have Alabama, you have Arkansas, you have Louisiana. Then you move into Texas.
These are southern states. The bedrock of the Republican Party. If you have Gingrich and Santorum stay in, it increases Romney's chances of winning a share of the delegates proportionately and hanging in the race and winning. If one of them drops out, then you have a very different contest. So Newt Gingrich has a lot to prove next Tuesday.
Winning Georgia alone likely not enough. Does that mean he'll get out? Maybe not. He says he wants to stay in to win it. But look, he understands the math here. You have to win not only at home, you have to prove you can win other places. So essentially the Gingrich challenge is very similar to the Romney challenge. Prove you can win outside of a place that's your backyard. BORGER: And Piers, I think that's a huge challenge for Mitt Romney. He just can't give up on the south. He's got to prove he's a candidate with some breath and that means not only winning in the Midwest but winning in the south which is very, very strong for Republicans. He's got to prove that on Super Tuesday somewhere.
MORGAN: He certainly has. It's fascinating stuff. Another great night's coverage. Thank you, Wolf, John, Gloria. Much appreciated, as always.
BLITZER: Thank you.
MORGAN: Mitt Romney picks up 29 delegates in Arizona tonight. Jan Brewer is the conservative governor of that state. She endorsed Romney a few days ago and she joins me now.
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Thank you, Piers, it's nice to be with you.
MORGAN: Well, it's my pleasure. And how are you feeling tonight? I mean it's not a thumping victory. It's not the kind of devastating onslaught against old comers that you would imagine would lead to a cessation of the race. So how are you feeling overall about it?
BREWER: Well, I'm feeling like it was a big win in Arizona and we're just really pleased that the people rallied around the man that we believe can move forward and beat President Obama.
MORGAN: I mean, look, he did well in Arizona but I guess not with much opposition. The others didn't try that hard. And in Michigan it's been a pretty close race given it's his own state. What is the fundamental problem with Mitt Romney not being able to end this race, do you think? What would you be advising him to do?
BREWER: Well, I think that the bottom line is that he's -- you know, he's leading in the race. He's -- you know, and elections are long and hard, and sometimes they take a lot longer than what you think that they should but the bottom line is, is that it's no different than what happened in 2008 and we'll just keep moving on.
But I think as people see the difference in the candidates, that they will rally around Mitt Romney and they will understand that he's the man for the position at the right time in America when we are so in so desperate need of leadership.
You know, Piers, our country is upside down and has not gotten any better. And we heard lots of promises the last election that haven't been delivered and now we need -- we need a change. And I'm hoping that it's going to be my man, Mitt Romney.
MORGAN: I mean if your man Mitt does win the nomination, he takes on Barack Obama. We've already seen you in spectacular fashion on the tarmac jabbing him in the chest and threatening all sorts of things. Is that what you want to see from Mitt Romney when the battle royale starts?
BREWER: Now, Piers, you don't know what I was saying. The president -- I know what I was saying but you weren't there. I was not threatening him. I was talking to him and he was a little bit taken -- he took offense to the book that I wrote, which is a truth- telling book, by the way. And I went there with a happy heart to welcome him to Arizona and to tell him about the Arizona turnaround which I'm so very proud of, of what we've been able to accomplish here in Arizona.
You know, growing our unemployment and growing our job growth and everything that we've done with education has been marvelous, and I asked him when he came down off the plane, I said -- I welcomed him to Arizona and I said to him, you know, I would like the opportunity if we could to sit down and talk about the good things that we've done here and he said that the last time we sat down I went out and I told the press that it was cordial. When I wrote my book, that I painted he didn't like I portrayed him. And I indicated that it was a truth- telling book. And he walked away from me and I said, did you read my book? And said, excerpts. You know?
The book is truthful. You know I was a little bit unnerved. I think he was a little thin-skinned and, you know, but he did help the economy. The book sales went up. So I'm grateful for that.
MORGAN: Just to be serious, I mean if Mitt Romney does win and is the nominee and he gets to take on Barack Obama, should he be making some kind of advantage of the apparent thin-skinned that you've identified?
BREWER: Oh, no. I don't think that would be nice. And I don't think that it would be the right thing to do unless he exhibited thin skin. You know, you have to call them like you see them. You have to be a truth-teller.
MORGAN: Well, I had to laugh when you said that Mitt Romney, you know, wouldn't play on this apparent vulnerability because it wouldn't be nice. I mean Mitt Romney has done some of the most vicious, far from nice commercials we've ever seen in election politics. So I mean he's got it in him, isn't he, to really stick the knife in?
BREWER: Well, you know, I will be honest with you. I don't know if any of those, whatever commercials you're talking about have been played here. I'm not familiar with them so, you know, it would be hard for me to make some kind of judgment in that regard. But certainly if you're thin skinned, you're thin skinned. But if somebody asks you about it, you're going to -- you're going to talk about it. But to play on it? I don't think so.
MORGAN: Well, I suspect you will, don't you? Anyway, Governor Brewer, thank you very much for your time.
BREWER: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: With Michigan and Arizona decided tonight, the next stop is Super Tuesday. Ohio is a key state with 63 delegates up for grabs.
Joining me now is Ohio's attorney general, Michael DeWine, who started out supporting Mitt Romney then two weeks ago he switched to Rick Santorum.
Welcome, Mr. DeWine. So why did you switch?
MIKE DEWINE, OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, you know, I originally, I think, bought into the conventional wisdom that Governor Romney was the strongest candidate against Barack Obama. But you know we have elections and primaries and caucuses for a reason and it's become abundantly clear that he is not going to be the strongest candidate against Barack Obama. I think Rick Santorum is.
What I'm seeing on the ground here in Ohio is a great deal of enthusiasm for Rick Santorum and, you know, very little enthusiasm for Governor Romney.
MORGAN: I mean given that Mitt Romney has won both in Arizona and Michigan tonight, I mean, do you feel a bit that guy that put everything on red in Vegas and then came out black?
M. DEWINE: Well, I don't think Governor Romney can be very happy with his performance in Michigan. This is his home state four years ago. He did very, very well there, overwhelming victory. He's eking out a victory apparently tonight after spending a massive amount of money to defend his home state. So I think it shows, quite candidly, the inherent weakness of Governor Romney.
And when he gets to Ohio he's not going to have this home state advantage. And I think Rick Santorum is going to carry Ohio.
MORGAN: An offensive problem for Rick Santorum is the infrastructure that he has and the financial fire power, he's dwarfed by Mitt Romney's battle group, if you like. What are you going to do about that?
M. DEWINE: There's a great deal of enthusiasm. And what I'm seeing is people just like Santorum. I've started hearing this a few months ago when people would come up to me and say, they really know him but see, they come up to me and say, hey, that Santorum guy, I watched him on TV. I watched him on debate. I think he's telling me the truth. I think he's honest. I think he's straightforward. I like him.
And that's what I'm hearing all over the state of Ohio. So Romney's clearly going to come in with the big guns. He's already on TV. But I think in Ohio Santorum is going to win.
MORGAN: Did President Kennedy's speech about the separation of church and state make you want to throw up and do you think it's snobbish for the president of the United States to want people to go to college?
M. DEWINE: Well, I think -- I think Senator Santorum has explained exactly what he meant. Let's take the colleges. I think that what he has said is the same thing that you would agree with and I think almost every American, I hope, would agree with, is we want our children to live up to their greatest potential.
My wife Fran and I have eight children. They are all different. We want them to do the best that they can. That may mean college for some children. And some kids it may be going to an art school. It may mean going to a school where they're doing things with their hands and any number of ways.
So I think that's what Rick was saying. And it's been kind of misconstrued. It wasn't the anti-education. Here's a guy who has, you know, certainly has a lot of education as does his wife Karen. So I don't think that was it.
You know, as far as the whole question of church and state, I think Rick's position is pretty simple and that is that when someone walks into their office, their -- whether it's the oval office, or Senate office or mayor's office, they don't leave behind their beliefs. They don't leave behind their values, their morals, their ethics, their religious beliefs. And their public positions are informed by what those beliefs are.
I don't think that's a revolutionary thought. And I think that most Americans would agree with that. I think Governor Romney's campaign, frankly, at least so far has been -- has been kind of stuck at -- you know, can't really break much beyond 40 percent in any state despite how much money he spends.
MORGAN: And Mike DeWine, if we could turn now just to this terrible shooting in your state at the Chardon High School, obviously more and more details are emerging about this. Are you any clearer about what the motive may have been for this senseless killing?
M. DEWINE: It's not clear at all what the motive is, what the motive was. I think it will come out slowly as the interviews continue with people who were close to the assailant, family members and others. And I think over time we may be able to piece something together. But as of now no. I don't -- I don't really -- can't tell really anything about the motive. You know, there was no real red flags that were going up to people.
As people we talked to yesterday, you know, people weren't saying, oh, I knew this was going to happen. At least we haven't found people like that yet.
MORGAN: Mike DeWine, thank you very much.
M. DEWINE: Thank you.
MORGAN: When we come back, can Mitt Romney wrap up the nomination on Super Tuesday? And will it be Newt Gingrich's last stand?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's clear that Governor Romney can raise more money because he can go to Wall Street and get money from all the people who got bailouts from the taxpayers. So in a sense, your money is coming back to you in the form of negative ads. I can't match that. But what I can do is match it with people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Newt Gingrich taking a shot at Mitt Romney over money. Newt Gingrich had a poor showing tonight. Says he's banking on Super Tuesday. And one of his biggest pride is to hire Kevin DeWine. He's a chairman of that state's Republican Party and joins me now, along with "Politico's" Mike Allen.
Mr. DeWine, I spoke to your cousin earlier, and who obviously defected. What did you think of that defection? Is there a family rift about it?
KEVIN DEWINE, CHAIRMAN, OHIO REPUBLICAN PARTY: No, not at all, Piers. In Ohio there's two DeWines. One Mike, the attorney general, does an outstanding job taking care of the taxpayers here in the state. He has -- he has endorsed Senator Santorum. As the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party my job is to make sure that we beat Barack Obama in the fall and let the voters choose the nominee come next week. So no family rift at all.
MORGAN: Ohio is clearly going to be crucial here on Super Tuesday. What is your sense about the way it's going?
K. DEWINE: Well, I think, I think Ohio is going to be a lot like we saw with Michigan over the course of the last week and I would suggest to your viewers that -- that they just throw out any poll they have seen so far. That any poll that they have looked at so far, and any poll that comes out before Thursday or Friday is probably worthless. And you've got the Gingrich super PAC is making a buy Romney's folks, TV folks are up, Santorum is up, Santorum's doing mail.
So there's a lot of campaign that's going to be unfurled onto the Ohio GOP family over the course of the next five or six days. So no telling what this thing is going to look like come next Tuesday night.
MORGAN: I mean, if you're Rick Santorum tonight, I don't how disappointed you'd really be? I mean, let me bring in Mike Allen here. Because, you know, yes, Mitt Romney won. But to only scrape through in your own home state, when you've outspent your main opponent, 5-1, Rick Santorum has said earlier he had a bit of a rough week and bad debate. He made a couple of what most people called to be gaffes. But you've got to still be feeling reasonably confident that despite all that you're still really very close to beating him.
MIKE ALLEN, POLITICO CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, you're absolutely right. Rick Santorum essentially declared victory. Tonight he even jumped out and spoke ahead of Mitt Romney. We're told from the Romney folks that they weren't watching TV. He was with family and friends. They were kibitzing.
Rick Santorum called to concede even before it had been announced, before CNN and other networks had called it, and he jumped out and spoke. And a story you're going to see unfolding in the next couple of hours is he may get almost as many delegates as Mitt Romney. They're split up by congressional districts. The math is still being done right now but the split in delegates may be even closer than the actual vote.
MORGAN: How damaging do you think the triple whammy, as I put it earlier, was to Rick Santorum's chances of actually winning in Michigan? I mean do people there care about his snob remark, about the attack on President Kennedy's speech, about his poor debate? Do those things really matter on the ground in somewhere like Michigan?
ALLEN: They absolutely do. He was off his message. He looked like a winner. He looked like he had momentum. Mitt Romney all of a sudden got worried about Michigan when he was down eight, nine points. They poured resources, poured money, time into Michigan which they didn't want to have to do to come up with this, as you call it, scrape.
But to answer the question that you asked in the bridge, can he close the deal on Super Tuesday? No. Mitt Romney is not getting a momentum effect out of these wins. And I can tell you the campaign is very frustrated and worried about it. They feel like the goal posts keep getting moved. They feel like they can't get on top of the storey to have a clear win and looking ahead to Super Tuesday.
Our reporters think it can kind of split. There's 12 -- 10, 12 contests there that you just showed on the map. Santorum and Gingrich could win several of those. So the Romney campaign now recognizes this could go on six weeks at least.
MORGAN: And Kevin DeWine, I mean all that is palpably true. How damaging is this to the Republican chances against Barack Obama if he just continues and continues and continues as he could given the -- pardon, the geography all of this this time around with only 10 states that's up on Super Tuesday and so on? How damaging is a prolonged race or could it be like the Democrat race four years ago where actually it ends up being quite helpful?
K. DEWINE: Well, I think it -- I think it could be helpful but I'll tell you what. There's a lot of of the GOP faithful who are -- who are ready for this thing to be over and are ready to train their resources and train on the target, and that is, and that is defeating Barack Obama when you -- when you look at the president's record, 22.5 million Americans who are unemployed or underemployed. Spent $5 trillion more -- tax dollars that we sent. We've sent to Washington 42 cents of every dollar we spend is spent on a credit card that some future generation has to pay.
We're anxious to get to -- to having the fight with the president, we're anxious to be able to carry that message to Ohio voters who candidly, Piers, they're not happy with the president. He's got a 42 percent approval rating in the state of Ohio. A majority of independent and Republican voters in the state believe he doesn't deserve a second term. And so we're kind of anxious to get to the real game and get this primary over and get to holding the president to task for the -- for the policies that he's put on the -- put on the Buckeye State and put on this great country.
ALLEN: Yes, there's no indication --
MORGAN: Well --
MORGAN: After you, Mike.
ALLEN: I was just going to say, there's no indication that this is helpful and, in fact, none of these other candidates show any indication of getting out. I agreed with John King who said earlier that Ron Paul will carry it all the way. I think Newt Gingrich might get out if he loses his home state of Georgia on Super Tuesday. If it looks like a dead-ender, if he looks like he's helping Barack Obama by staying in, I can see him getting out.
He's rehabilitated his image. He'll be a popular speaker, author. He doesn't want to have a bad end. But Rick Santorum, I can tell you this, is staffing up. He's not gearing down. He's looking ahead to a national campaign. That's why you heard him talking to Reagan Democrats in this race. He says to beat Obama in the fall you need to get back those Reagan Democrats, the Catholics, the blue- collar workers in industrials straits. He's already looking at a national message.
MORGAN: Yes. And you can't blame him.
Mike Allen, Kevin DeWine, thank you both very much.
ALLEN: Good night.
K. DEWINE: You bet.
MORGAN: When we come back, my super panel weighs in on what conservatives want from the GOP.
MORGAN: Now my favorite part of any primary night, when I bring in my super-panel. They are, of course, Amy Holmes of Glenn Beck TV, Carol Roth, author of "The Entrepreneur Equation," conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, and Michael Reagan, author of "The New Reagan Revolution." Welcome to you all, looking, I must say, as bright and sparky as you were three hours earlier, last time we did this. So congratulations. Particularly you, Andrew. You seem to have cultivated this whole new smart image for me.
ANDREW BREITBART, CONSERVATIVE BLOGGER: Cleaned up and got my hair into an aerodynamic fashion for you.
(LAUGHTER) MORGAN: Michael, let me --
MICHAEL REAGAN, AUTHOR, "THE NEW REAGAN REVOLUTION": You're an hour early!
MORGAN: Michael, let me start with you here. I mean, fascinating night. I mean, I think it's a bit of a stretch for Mitt Romney to stand there and go, I am the champion, this was an amazing night -- because it wasn't, was it.
REAGAN: You might remember Newt did that once. Now look where Newt is. He got what, 7 percent of the vote tonight. When you do that, it usually does not help you when you stand up and act like that.
And it wasn't, you know, that great of a night for him. He won by 3 percent. Should have won big, going away. He did not do that. So next week is even more important for Mitt Romney.
MORGAN: Andrew Breitbart, how much was Rick Santorum to blame for his own slight failure to win in Michigan? Because, you know, I gave him a bit of a hammering earlier, perhaps a little unfairly. He had a poor debate, by common consent. People didn't like the attack on Kennedy's speech, even though he clarified it later and sort of backtracked a bit. And nobody seemed to like this "snob" attack on President Obama for the college thing, even though friends of his tried to explain what he really meant.
The triple whammy wasn't helpful, was it.
BREITBART: I would argue that he missed an opportunity. Newt Gingrich is the candidate who during his flurry there a while back was attacking the mainstream media. And this week, they came out to try to frame him. Just as Herman Cain was known as the 9-9-9 candidate, they very well made Santorum the 6-6-6 candidate, the guy that's worried about Satan and all that type of stuff.
He could have used this moment to pivot to the issue of religious liberties in this country and where many conservatives are feeling that Barack Obama is attacking the concept of the separation of church and state. But instead, he played to, unfortunately, form.
MORGAN: Yes. I mean, Amy Holmes, it seems to be the way that Rick Santorum's trying to play this because he is positioning himself as the real conservative here. And I think Andrew's right there, that if you're going to do that, you've got to keep pounding away on a clear, coherent message, haven't you.
AMY HOLMES, NEWS ANCHOR, GLENN BECK'S "THE BLAZE": I think you do need to do that. And tonight, in Michigan and Arizona -- Arizona in particular -- those voters who thought that the economy was the number one issue -- and it was a percentage that was by far the largest -- they went for Mitt Romney. And I think that Rick Santorum sort of going -- you know, getting pulled off message with the social issues, that it did muddy his appeal to those Michigan voters. But do remember that polls showed that Mitt Romney -- or Santorum, rather, was up 9 points just over a week ago. Mitt Romney had to make up those points, and he added another 3.
So he has -- he came from behind, got that 12-point close. I don't think it's -- you know, obviously, it's not a ringing victory this evening, but it's no small thing.
MORGAN: Carol, let me come to you. And obviously, Michigan is a huge car industry place and a big debate raging. You and I debated this the other night. I assume you've now come round to my way of thinking about this. The president came out today and said the auto bailout was a thumping success. Have you changed your mind?
CAROL ROTH, BUSINESS STRATEGIST, "NY TIMES" BEST-SELLING AUTHOR: I have not changed my mind, Piers. Have you changed your mind?
MORGAN: Well, no. But I ask you one question because I'm fascinated by this. Those that argued that it should have been some kind of, you know, managed --
MORGAN: -- way of saving the industry that wasn't a bailout -- yes, a managed bankruptcy, they can't produce any evidence that there was any private equity available to do that. And if you didn't have that, then you couldn't do a managed bankruptcy.
So I mean, are you in possession of information that I'm not in possession of?
ROTH: Well, look, if you think about what being bankrupt is, it isn't going out of business. It's going through a process, which these companies ultimately did. Right now, American Airlines is in bankruptcy. They still have planes in the sky. The steel industry went through this a decade ago. So just because you go through a bankruptcy doesn't mean you're out of business.
So you know, I do not know all the private equity firms, but we have some empirical evidence that there are other companies that have gone through this. And I don't think, Piers, that you want the government to be a hedge fund, which is what happened here.
They ended up putting taxpayers' money not only into the debt, but they ended up investing in the stock of the company. And The Wall Street Journal basically said, You know what? From the $30 billion we invested in the stock, the stock needs to get to 53 for the shareholders to break even! So we don't know if that's going to happen --
MORGAN: Hang on. Hang on. Hang on a second. Just imagine for a moment Mitt Romney wins the nomination and he has to go and fight in Ohio against Barack Obama. Is it really sustainable to keep this position going that the whole bail-out was a total failure, when by then, I suspect, tens of thousands more people will have got jobs in the auto industry, and the general chatter about it will be it's been a success?
I mean, it's not a winning proposition for any candidate in a presidential election, is it?
ROTH: Yes, but it's not -- it's not a success. We don't know what the outcome is because we don't know how much the taxpayers are going to end up losing on this, Piers. And I think that that's the challenge here, is that we don't have the empirical evidence to know what's going to happen.
What we do know has happened is that the government has taken the money and put it into the stock market. They're basically gambling with the taxpayers' money. So they're not creating wealth per se, they're transferring wealth.
And I think that that's the mindset that Mitt Romney needs to go after, is that we have a government that likes to shifts wealth from one place to another. They want to have one pie and slice it up in different ways, instead of growing the pie or teaching everybody to make pie! And I think that's the way that Mitt Romney needs to go.
HOLMES: And Piers, if I could just jump in --
MORGAN: Well -- yes?
HOLMES: If I could just jump in and --
MORGAN: Yes, Amy, go on.
HOLMES: -- with the politics of it? Mitt Romney did write an op-ed on Valentine's Day in Michigan, in the Michigan newspaper there, saying why he opposed the auto bail-out. It was a risky move. It was a gamble. And tonight, he won Michigan. So we can see, at least in the primary politics here, Mitt Romney took this chance and Michigan voters still gave him the GOP primary.
Whether or not it'll work in the general, I have no idea, but it worked tonight.
MORGAN: OK. Take a break. Let's come back and talk super- Tuesday, or could it be fatal Tuesday for one of the candidates?
MORGAN: Mitt Romney has super-PACs. I have a super-panel -- Amy Holmes, Carol Roth, Andrew Breitbart and Michael Reagan. Welcome to you all back.
Michael, let me come to you about super-Tuesday. Newt Gingrich has been pretty quiet, didn't really compete in Arizona and Michigan, quite deliberately. Has he got a way back in here? We've written him off so many times.
MORGAN: You know, has he got a way back?
REAGAN: The professor always has a way back in. It seems to be through the South. Georgia is as important to him as Michigan was to Mitt Romney tonight.
MORGAN: Well, would it --
REAGAN: He's got to win Georgia --
MORGAN: Would it be enough, even if he wins in Georgia?
REAGAN: Oh, Newt'll probably think it's enough, but he should probably try and win one or two more on that same day. You know, there's a lot of states that are up for grabs that night. At least he has an area he can look at and say, I can win there. Where's Santorum going to win on Super-Tuesday? And you're right, super-Tuesday is going to be a make or break for someone.
MORGAN: I mean, it might be, Andrew, or it might just be a real old mish-mash, where they all pick up victories. No one has really moved forward. Maybe Romney wins the most. But everybody has little victories. They're all making victory speeches. And we end up after super-Tuesday thinking, Well, that was a waste of time.
BREITBART: Yes (INAUDIBLE) big victory if that happens, just as this week, as Barack Obama who continues to allow for the Republican Party to be fighting each other. What I find interesting about next week is there is the possibility of a brokered convention based upon what we're finding --
MORGAN: Is it a real possibility?
BREITBART: Well, it -- now at RightClearPolitics, it's up to 20 percent, when it was down in single digits before. And it'll be interesting how they interpret tonight's numbers to see how -- and they look at the polls for next week because if there is a genuine sense that Mitt Romney can't close the deal, people are going to start getting nervous.
REAGAN: It's 1,144 delegates. You got to get there. And if you have Santorum splitting the delegate county with Mitt Romney, he's not going to get the 1,144 he's going to need to go into that convention.
MORGAN: I mean, Amy Holmes -- Amy Holmes, if somebody was to jump in here, who is the most likely candidate out there that could possibly do that? I mean, is there anybody realistically who's going to stick their neck out now and take on Barack Obama in an election that many think they couldn't win?
HOLMES: You know, it's really hard to see who that person would be. Chris Christie -- he's said over and over, No, no, no, he's not going to do it. Jeb Bush just recently said he's not sure even if he has anything in common with the Republican Party anymore. So I don't see him jumping in.
But in terms of the brokered convention, I mean, so much can happen, obviously, between now and then. Mitt Romney could reach out to Rick Santorum and, you know, have a conversation about joining him on a Republican ticket. So I think that's so down the road, it's not even worth, you know, making predictions about.
But as far as super-Tuesday goes, of course a lot of eyes are going to be on Ohio, Ohio being a swing state. It's a state that was red, flipped blue for Barack Obama. So this is going to be a real testing ground for the Republicans in the, you know, GOP primary, the contenders, to see, you know, between Santorum, I think, and Romney as the sort of the front-runners, which one of those two is going to be able to take Ohio.
MORGAN: And Carol, I mean, a ticket of Romney and Santorum would be quite interesting, wouldn't it. I mean, that could be quite a formidable double act.
ROTH: Oh, I don't know. That doesn't sound like a good idea to me. I think, certainly, Jeremy Lin of the Knicks would be the obvious choice for momentum here, and he went to Harvard.
ROTH: But Chris Christie or Marco Rubio are clearly the front- runners here. I think Romney and Santorum is just not a good idea in any way, shape or form.
MORGAN: Michael, you're jumping in here.
REAGAN: Having been down this road more than anybody else in the building, nobody ever votes for the vice president of the United States. They vote for the top of the ticket every single time.
Everyone always comes up and says, I'll take this person, I want that person, I'll vote (ph) -- put that person out there. No. Who's at the top of the ticket?
BREITBART: Sarah --
REAGAN: That's the one that drives it.
BREITBART: But Sarah Palin changed everything in the last election cycle. There was a moribund campaign, and when McCain picked somebody that was magical -- I'm not -- I just don't think there's anybody who could be that magical person.
REAGAN: I know Sarah Palin. She's a friend of mine. And there ain't no Sarah Palin's out there.
MORGAN: But actually, conversely, isn't she the very reason why there probably won't be anybody jumping in because the problem was she came out of nowhere, then all the vetting started, then all the media scrutiny. And by the time they walked (ph) her out, or walked her over --
BREITBART: What media scrutiny?
MORGAN: Well, there was enough --
BREITBART: I'm kidding. I'm kidding.
MORGAN: -- enough to cause another problem.
REAGAN: But you don't choose a vice president that gets more media attention than you do. You're at the top of the ticket.
MORGAN: You also -- Michael --
REAGAN: -- H.W. Bush.
MORGAN: You are experienced at this. You also don't chose someone at the last minute as your potential nominee who hasn't been thoroughly vetted for a while by the media, do you?
REAGAN: One of the other --
MORGAN: It's a huge gamble.
REAGAN: One of the other hundred people that he, in fact, asked should not have turned him down. There should have been more available.
MORGAN: Well, I'm going to put you on the spot now. I want to have one name for who you think right now will be the nominee. Michael?
REAGAN: Most likely Mitt Romney.
BREITBART: Mitt Romney.
HOLMES: Oh, boy, you know, I had predicted Hillary Clinton in 2008, so I'm not sure my prediction is worth much. Mitt Romney.
ROTH: I'm voting for you, Piers.
MORGAN: Obviously, I'm not able to stand --
REAGAN: Listen, I'm supporting you! BREITBART: I want to see your birth certificate!
REAGAN: I'd love to see Newt jump in it and do great next week and go on and win it. But he's got to be in the race to do it.
MORGAN: He has.
REAGAN: He can't just --
MORGAN: You've got to be in it to win it.
Panel, thank you all very much. We will reconvene on super- Tuesday. It'll be a fascinated evening. My guess is we'll end up none the wiser after super-Tuesday, but we shall see.
When we come back, a former member of Mitt Romney's inner circle. Did he lose his job for being too good?
MORGAN: Mitt Romney won two states tonight, but he's still struggling to pull away from the pack while stumbling over comments about his extreme wealth. How can he convince voters he's just like them?
Brett O'Donnell is Romney's former debate coach. And welcome, Mr. O'Donnell. Why did you and Mitt Romney part company just after the Florida debate, where by common consent, you'd got him back on track?
BRETT O'DONNELL, FMR. MITT ROMNEY DEBATE COACH: Well, I'm not going to, you know, comment on the details of what happened with the Romney campaign, but I was very honored to be able to work with him.
And you know, sometimes the role of advisers is way overblown. I mean, at the end of the day, it's candidates that have to go out there and perform, do the debates, do the interview, give the speech.
And I think Mitt Romney's proved that he's more than capable in debates. He had a great debate last week against Rick and Newt and Ron Paul, and I think he proved that's why he's the victor this evening. I mean, he won all -- you know, that debate. He won the Florida debates. And those have propelled him to victory. Six in ten voters in Michigan said the debate last week mattered to them in making their mind up.
MORGAN: I mean, there's no doubt these debates have definitely been making lots of voters' minds up as we go, but it wasn't a massive victory for Mitt Romney, even in Michigan, his own state. Why is he still struggling to really cement this front-runner position, do you think?
O'DONNELL: Well, I mean, I think, you know, this race has been all about momentum, and there's been a lag between some of the contests. You saw that Rick Santorum won four states before these two contests, and he wasn't able to sustain that momentum. And in fact, if you look at this evening in context, I mean, really, you know, Arizona has been discounted, but Mitt Romney won 29 delegates there. By the end of the evening, he will have won 44, 45 of the 59 delegates that were at stake this evening.
And he made a pretty amazing comeback in Michigan by turning a race that he was 9 or 10 points down about, you know, a week-and-a- half ago into a 3-point victory. So I don't think that that's, you know, anything to underestimate.
Now, whether or not that momentum will carry into next week remains to be seen, but do I think that he's in a better position now. I mean, the more and more he keeps winning, then the more inevitable his candidacy and his nomination will become, and I think that that will sustain him over the long haul. I mean, your panel proved it, really.
MORGAN: Knowing Mitt Romney -- yes. I mean, knowing Mitt Romney as you do, what is it that he's struggling to get out there about his character, his personality, that perhaps he isn't selling well enough yet?
O'DONNELL: Well, I mean, I think it's the personal side. I mean, I think that, you know, Governor Romney, when he talks about the economy, there is no doubt there's no one in the race that I think is better able to handle the economy, and I think that he has convinced a lot of voters about it. I mean, if you look at the race the way the exit polls broke down this evening, he certainly was winning on the economy.
But you know, in terms of the personal side, I think that he's got to do more to just show voters and have a conversation with them about who he is. And I think he's been doing that over -- you know, over the last week and doing a better job at it.
I think that, you know, sometimes he is definitely talking too much and parsing words a little bit too much. And when he starts telling stories about himself, I think it's a lot better.
MORGAN: Well, I hope he comes on this show and tells some stories to me. Do him a power of good. Thank you very much, Mr. O'Donnell.
MORGAN: We'll be right back.
MORGAN: And there's no denying it, Mitt Romney won two for two tonight in Michigan and Arizona.
We're back at our regular time later tonight with a man with strong opinions and magic. Penn Jillette is as well known for his libertarian views as he is for sleight of hand. And last time between us, things got a little heated. So hopefully, they will again tonight. That's 9:00 Eastern.
That's it for us. Good night, or good morning, depending on where you are in America.