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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Jeb Bush Speech in S.C.; Will S.C. Senator Jim Clyburn Endorse Clinton; Cruz Talks with Reports in S.C. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 10, 2016 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:31:55] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: John Berman and Kate Bolduan, here in New York.

I want to show you live pictures from South Carolina.

Please show us Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Please.

BERMAN: That's where Senator Ted Cruz is holding his first event in the next 10-day scramble for South Carolina. Jeb Bush also holding an event in the town of Bluffton just minutes from now. This really is the kickoff for the next stage of the campaign, the race for South Carolina, a full-contact sport in that state.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. For more on this, let's bring in political director, David Chalian.

David, we're going to hear from Jeb Bush. We'll hear from Ted Cruz.

Jeb Bush, we know, has deep roots in South Carolina. Doing very well there. Do you think -- what is Jeb Bush going to do to harness that, though? What's the first thing that will come out of his mouth? I'm still here, buddy?

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Listen, we already know about the Jeb Bush campaign in South Carolina.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Wait, David, no sooner you start talking and then Jeb Bush started talking. Let's listen to the former governor.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- can't be trusted. And her ambitions are what drive her. I think we need someone with a servant's heart, who focuses on solving problems for people. Now, if you believe that, I ask for your support coming up here.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: My life experience has been 32 years in the private sector, and I'm proud of it. I didn't have four bankruptcies, by the way, during my time.

(LAUGHTER)

We built the largest full-service real estate company in Florida. I had eight years to be a fore-minded conservative governor where I consistently applied the conservative principles of limited government, trying to create entrepreneurial capitalism where we challenge how government so everybody had a chance to rise up.

In Florida, we had eight hurricanes and four tropical storms in 16 months. You might have had one around here. I don't know. I don't know if you had -- seems almost impossible for a hurricane to come through here, but they do. Eight hurricanes and four tropical storms changes everything. You don't have to -- then the agenda changes.

(AUDIO PROBLEM)

BERMAN: All right. We just lost Jeb Bush's audio down there but he's talking in Bluffton, South Carolina.

You can see the energy Jeb Bush had there. We saw Jeb Bush in New Hampshire. Likewise, a lot of energy leading up to the vote in New Hampshire. He clearly thinks he has a new opportunity in this campaign to keep ongoing. He finished fourth and beat Marco Rubio there, his one-time protege. That's very big for his campaign.

BOLDUAN: I think we have the audio back. Let's dip back in.

BUSH: -- in Florida, eight hurricanes and four tropical storms. You know what? Because when there was a problem, I didn't blame FEMA. I didn't blame the president. I didn't say the dog ate my homework. I ran to the challenge. And we forged a consensus to solve it. There were no excuses.

That's what we need in the presidency right now. We have a president who pushes us down all the time. If someone disagrees with him, it creates this gap. And Hillary Clinton would do the same thing and so does Donald Trump. If you want someone with a servant's heart, someone who solves problems, someone who is focused on applying our conservative principles consistently, you're looking at the next president of the United States, with your help.

(APPLAUSE)

[11:35:28] BUSH: How you doing?

(LAUGHTER)

The next president is going to have a great challenge, which is to keep us safe. In fact, that is the first obligation of the president. And today, the world is a lot less safe than it was the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated. Here's my commitment to you. I'll stop talking with grandiose talks with teleprompters, talking about red lines and never following through. I won't say that Russia is a regional power and allow them to invade Ukraine 30 days later. I won't pivot to Asia and allow the Asians to wonder where we were because they haven't seen the pivot, and the rest of the world to wonder, why are you abandoning us? I won't call ISIS the J.V. team and allow the development of a caliphate the size of Indiana, 35,000 to 40,000 battle-tested jihadists organizing to destroy our way of life and just let it happen. We need a president that has a steady hand, that knows that the military needs to be rebuilt.

My commitment to you is we will end this sequester. We'll rebuild our military and provide the training and support for the greatest fighting known to man and we'll reduce the number of deployments and we will train and equip our military, not to use it as the world's policemen but use it to keep the peace. You all know this.

(APPLAUSE)

BOLDUAN: Listening right there, Jeb Bush, as John said, with a lot of energy at this first event in Bluffton, South Carolina.

Let's bring David Chalian back in to discuss this a little bit more.

David, you heard it right out of the gate. Taking on Hillary Clinton, maybe not surprised. But the other person that he took on right away, Donald Trump, as he touts his conservative credentials and his support for the military.

BERMAN: And his lack of bankruptcies, by the way.

BOLDUAN: Right. That, too.

CHALIAN: That, too. But it's the military moment that you're talking about that you're going to hear so much of in the South Carolina primary. It's a big military state. You're going to hear Jeb Bush talk about national security credentials, who has the goods to be the commander-in-chief, the temperament to be commander-in-chief, the plan to take care of veterans. All of that is going to be a large part of the conversation in the South Carolina primary.

There will also -- remember, part of South Carolina is not that dissimilar from the Iowa caucus electorate. There's a big evangelical chunk in the South Carolina electorate as well. That's where Ted Cruz and Donald Trump will battle for a lot of voters as well, while Kasich, Rubio and Bush are battling more along the coast and the mainstream establishment-type Republicans.

BERMAN: You know, you bring up a great point. I wish we had the graphic because 2008 is an interesting race, where John McCain beat Mike Huckabee in South Carolina. And they ran two completely different races. John McCain ran the race that Jeb Bush is running at here. You're looking at him talking about the military commander-in- chief issues. John McCain won about every vote you could win in that lane. But Mike Huckabee ran as a social conservative. He won about every vote you could win in that lane. I think two points separated them at the end, David, which means in the next 10 days, they will be fascinating.

CHALIAN: Do the math. If three guys are competing for the McCain lane now and only two guys are really competing in the Huckabee lane, you know, if I'm in the Trump and Cruz camps, I'm liking that math a little bit.

BOLDUAN: So the rough-and-tumble politics that happen in South Carolina could be getting even nastier when you look at that map, David.

CHALIAN: Yes, no doubt. We've already seen the ads launch. I think the Trump/Cruz battle is going to be epic in these next 10 days. And I think that the Bush/Rubio battle -- I'll leave Kasich to the side right now, because he's trying to run a positive campaign and we've got to see if he can create the moment that he created for himself in New Hampshire. But I think we're going to see these two really epic battles over the next 10 days in South Carolina.

BERMAN: Epic. Doesn't get any better than that.

David Chalian, thank you for being with us.

CHALIAN: Sure.

[11:39:27] BERMAN: Very interesting analysis. We'll watch Ted Cruz when he takes the stage as well.

So a whole host of Democratic power players under pressure to decide between Hillary Clinton and now Bernie Sanders. A major player in South Carolina is reportedly very close to making a decision. We'll lay out the details of what could be a big endorsement, next.

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BOLDUAN: The fight for South Carolina is a mad scramble for big-name endorsements there. We've already seen a whole bunch of high-profile leaders throw their support behind candidates, though. Senator Lindsey Graham left the race and backed Jeb Bush. Senator Tim Scott is supporting fellow Senator Marco Rubio. Donald Trump has picked up the backing of the state's lieutenant governor. And Congressman Jeff Duncan has endorsed Ted Cruz.

BERMAN: This morning, a key power broker on the Democratic side is facing new pressure to get off the sidelines. This morning, South Carolina Representative James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democratic in the House, powerful in the House, powerful in South Carolina, reportedly considering endorsing Clinton. He's not there yet. He has said that he would remain neutral through the Democratic primary.

Let's bring in a man who knows the scene in South Carolina, Andy Shain, political reporter for "The State" newspaper.

Andy, thanks so much for being with us. Jim Clyburn, around the country, may not be a household name but in South Carolina, a huge name. Do you think he'd pull the trigger and endorse Hillary Clinton? What's the consideration right now?

[11:45:15] ANDY SHAIN, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE STATE NEWSPAPER: Well, he's indicated that he might go ahead and reveal who he's going to vote for in the February 27th Democratic primary. I think all indications are that he is leaning towards Hillary Clinton at this point. But, you know, again, he has said he was going to remain neutral. So, you know, it remains -- right now, it remains to be seen. But whoever he endorses, it's a big endorsement in our state among Democrats. He's the only Democrat we have in the congressional delegation, so it's very important.

BOLDUAN: I think it's been an interesting question throughout this primary season of the meaning and the weight that endorsements bring. What is the sense in South Carolina of how much -- of how important these endorsements are for the candidates who are going to be battling it out big time?

SHAIN: I think they help but I don't think it's the crucial thing. One of the things is that 2016 you can though out all of the conventions out the window. Donald Trump doesn't have the biggest ground game in South Carolina yet he's leading the polls by holding these massive events at arenas where he's getting thousands of supporters and fans to come on out and hear him talk. So, you know, I think in some cases it's going to -- it sort of solidifies things. If Hillary Clinton really is doing very well as well as she's doing with African-American voters here in South Carolina, getting Clyburn's endorsement, as I said, puts an exclamation point on it.

BERMAN: We often talk about South Carolina politics, presidential politics being a blood sport. What does that mean particularly in the Republican race going forward? What kind of a fight do you think we'll see? And we talk about Donald Trump. Donald Trump knows how to fight. He does it in business.

BOLDUAN: Yeah.

BERMAN: But politics is a different thing and I think a South Carolina campaign is a different thing, too, for a guy like Trump.

SHAIN: Well, I mean, you know, I think all politics is blood sport. We have just enjoyed this reputation that we've had for a number of years. I think it's going to get rough because we've now narrowed the field down to what appears to what it's safe to say to be five or six candidates. You sort of have -- as somebody mentioned earlier to me, you have two races going on. The race going on between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, to a certain degree, and then the race for the establishment wing of the party, between Rubio, Bush and now John Kasich. So I think you're going to see a little bit of the rough and tumble but I think you saw that in Iowa and New Hampshire, and we'll have a very interesting debate come Saturday in Greenville.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Andy Shain, stick around with us.

Real quick, let's go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where Ted Cruz is speaking. Let's listen in.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're fed up with campaign conservatives and politicians who give us empty promises but haven't walked the walk. And we're looking for someone we can count on to be a fiscal conservative, a social conservative, and a national security conservative, someone who will be faithful to the constitution. Our team on the ground here in South Carolina is remarkable and I am really glad to be back in the Palmetto State.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator, last week you left off Marco Rubio's third place finish in Iowa. You said bronze is apparently the new gold. How is this third-place finish different for you?

CRUZ: I'm looking forward to a wall-to-wall coverage of FOX News with the news that Rubio got. I'm sure that's what we'll see on every show on FOX today, the shockingly impressive third-place finish of Cruz. Listen, part of the reason is, number one, we won Iowa, despite all of the predictions, and we beat Donald Trump. Number two, listen, everyone said a conservative cannot compete in a more moderate New England state like New Hampshire. Those predictions proved wrong. This is a national campaign. And one of the most important conclusions coming out of these first two states is that the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump is me. The other candidates are unable to do so. So if you don't believe Donald is the right person to be the Republican nominee, if you don't believe he's the right person to go head to head with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, if you don't feel he's the right person to be the commander-in-chief, what we're seeing conservatives uniting behind our campaign. Iowa and New Hampshire together played a critical role in that. And then South Carolina is going to play an even more critical role.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator, how do you think that sits with more establishment people beating Trump? They're still in the race. By all descriptions, they're not dropping out. How do you get them to coalesce?

[11:49:50] CRUZ: Listen, one of the realities is you cannot beat Donald Trump running from the left. When you see more establishment candidates saying, gosh, Donald, we need more amnesty, gosh, Donald, don't be so tough on radical Islamic terrorists, that is not going to work. That will not beat Donald Trump. The only way to beat Trump is to highlight the simple truth of his record. It is not conservative.

If you want a true conservative, don't listen to campaign rhetoric. Who has walked the walk? For example, on health care. There are significant glaring differences between Donald Trump and me on health care. Donald had called for expanding Obamacare, for adopting Bernie Sanders-style socialized medicine. In Donald's own words, he is very liberal on health care. He wants to put the federal government in charge of everyone's health care. And what we've seen looking across the world, every place on earth that's tried socialized medicine, the result is rationing, is the government decide dog you get a hip replacement? Do you get a knee replacement? End-of-life care rationed.

Now Donald is entitled to campaign on the same health plan Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton support but I don't think Republicans in South Carolina are very interested in expanding Obamacare. And there's a clear difference. If I'm elected president, we will repeal every single word of Obamacare. That's the choice the men and women of South Carolina have.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you want people in South Carolina know moving forward to the Republican primary.

CRUZ: This is the most consequential election of our life times and we can't get burned again. The stakes are too high. We keep electing politicians that go to Washington that don't do what they say. The only way to prevent that is to ignore the campaign rhetoric and look to the record. If you want a president who will repeal Obamacare, ask who has led the fight against Obamacare. If you want a president who will stop amnesty and secure the borders, ask who has led the fight to stop amnesty and secure the borders. If you want a president who will defend life and marriage and religious liberty, if you want a president who will defend the Second Amendment, our right to keep and bear arms, ask who has led the fight to defend the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, to stand for life, to stand for marriage, to stand for religious liberty. The reason --

BERMAN: That's Ted Cruz speaking in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, right now. A little gaggle with reporters.

Joining us again, Andy Shain, from "The State." Also with us, Maeve Reston, CNN political reporter.

Andy, explain to me Ted Cruz and his situation in South Carolina right now. How big is his organization down there? What are you hearing?

SHAIN: He's got a great ground game down here, I'm being told. He's using the same methods that he used in Iowa to identify evangelical social conservative voters, to -- so that he can really maximize his support. An interesting fact that I learned is that, in 2015, from his contributions, most of them came from the Charleston area, an area that normally goes towards more of a moderate or Libertarian candidate as opposed to the Upstate where Greenville is, where that is sort of the base of our evangelical voters. He seems to be doing a good job identifying the folks that will support him on February 20th.

BOLDUAN: So, Maeve, game this out, what this will look like between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. If you heard anything in that giggle, in that press event, he's taken on Donald Trump and taken him on hard. What does this look like in South Carolina?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. Isn't this fascinating? We saw that fight recede a bit in New Hampshire, clearly, because there wasn't as big an evangelical population, but now you'll see that battle play out again with Ted Cruz arguing that Donald Trump is not an authentic conservative, that he does not share the values of these evangelicals that will be so important in South Carolina. So you'll see the two of them battle for those voters Upstate.

At the same time, you have fascinating threads where you'll have Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush coming in trying to sweep up the vote along the low country, along the coast, pump up the veterans' turnout the way John McCain did in 2008, so there's a battle going on. The Bush people also feel like they have a shot to go hard after that evangelical vote as well because of the Bush family history. We know W. will be on the trail as well. There's a lot of wildcards here.

At the same time, the other thread we're looking at is all of these guys going after John Kasich. I know the Rubio campaign and Bush campaign don't think Kasich is a good fit for the state because he expanded Medicaid in his state, because he has been more of a budget hawk than defense hawk. And so we'll watch that play out, and it should be a fascinating battle.

BERMAN: Maeve Reston, Andy Shain, thank you for being with us.

BOLDUAN: Moments from now, John Kasich and Marco Rubio will be speaking in South Carolina for the first time since New Hampshire. We'll learn much more about their strategies and what the fight looks like going forward.

[11:55:10] BERMAN: All happening now.

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