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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Clinton, Sanders Faced Off in Debate; Republicans Attend Forum at Bob Jones University; Cruz Pulls Ad Featuring Soft-Core Porn Actress; Trump Promises New "Positive" Tone on Trail. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired February 12, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[11:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want me to get you water?

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. I want you to get me some gravity.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

(SINGING)

MOOS: -- New York.

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CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Wow.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.

(HEADLINES)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.

The rumble in Milwaukee or something like that. Last time it was who is the more progressive. Now it's who loves President Obama more. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders facing off in last night's PBS debate.

BOLDUAN: In fact, Hillary Clinton seemed to be trying to set up the entire race as an Obama primary. And unlike New Hampshire, she is trying not to lose this one by 22 points.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The kind of criticism that we've heard from Senator Sanders about our president, I expect from Republicans. I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama. ((APPLAUSE)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That is -- Madam Secretary, that is a low blow. One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is in Denmark, South Carolina, following the Clinton campaign.

Good morning, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. It was quite a debate. Academic in some parts but there were some flashes there. Hillary Clinton speaking boldly to the Democratic base, aligning herself with President Obama, taking on Bernie Sanders for his suggestions that the president had let down the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Sanders responded, in part, that as a member of the United States Senate, it's his obligation, essentially, to articulate when he disagrees with policies that emanate from the White House.

I think another important moment was the discussion over Bernie Sanders' signature issue of Wall Street. Mrs. Clinton once again on the attack saying she's not a single-issue candidate. This is not a single-issue country. Bernie Sanders saying that in his view the voters are not fooled by the reasons why Wall Street puts so much money into American politics.

There was also that interesting moment where they talked for quite a while about the pros and cons of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger under President Nixon. I think the take away from that, once again, if any, is another dustup over foreign policy and which candidate is more plugged in. So a lot to chew on there.

Hillary Clinton coming here to South Carolina later today for an event on education. Bernie Sanders is out in Minnesota talking also about issues of race there along with economics.

Back to you.

BOLDUAN: Joe Johns, that's right. A lot to chew on.

Joe, thank you so much.

Let's continue the discussion and bring in "CNN Politics" executive editor, Mark Preston; and CNN political commentator, Van Jones. Van Jones worked in White House for President Obama as an adviser.

Guys, great to see you.

Van, first to you.

It seems that President Obama was the topic, one of the big topics of the day at the debate. It was Obama, Obama, Obama. I love him more. No, I love him more. I'm going to carry on his legacy, no, you won't. What you make of that strategy?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was amazing. They mentioned him 21 times. I mean, more than any other topic, I believe, was the Obama, but maybe Wall Street from Senator Sanders.

Hillary Clinton is playing this so smart. She knows how beloved Obama is, especially for African-Americans. She's going to South Carolina. Now, she doesn't mention the fact that she actually disagrees with Obama on a number of things. She doesn't agree with his trade policy. She's against TPP. Obama is for it. She has critiques of his health care. She doesn't like the Cadillac Tax. She doesn't like his foreign policy. She wants a no-fly zone. All of that she put away and just hugged Obama like she was Hillary Rodham Obama and drove this wedge between Sanders and the president. She is very, very good when it comes to the smart politics inside of this party. It was on display. But the reality is she has critiques too. She didn't talk about them last night.

[11:05:15] BERMAN: Mark, not only did she say I'm with Obama, she said clearly that Senator Sanders, in many cases, is not. And she said outright there are times when Bernie Sanders sounds like a Republican in his criticism of Barack Obama, to which Bernie Sanders said that was a low blow. Was it a low blow?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Yes, in many ways. To say Bernie Sanders is a Republican is absurd, unless you want to go full circle and come around with his policies --

(LAUGHTER)

Look, but I think Bernie Sanders, two things he said last night. The first thing was he said, listen, I didn't run against him, which I thought was an interesting line of attack by Bernie Sanders. And he also, he was also very focused on his whole income inequality fight and really trying to make a dent in Hillary Clinton's effort to try to pull in Barack Obama, specifically, you know, with African-American voters. So Bernie Sanders -- listen, Hillary Clinton no doubt, through the cloak of President Obama over her, but Bernie Sanders threw it over himself as well. He made one point, John, which was interesting. He said I'm a U.S. Senator. Aren't U.S. Senators supposed to disagree with the president? And yes, they are, because we do have a government, three branches of government.

BOLDUAN: So also before the debate, Van, we heard that Hillary Clinton was going to be far more aggressive. The Clinton campaign was going to be far more aggressive toward Sanders. You also heard repeatedly during the debate that she targeted Sanders for, again, not explaining how he's going to follow through on his promises. The way she termed it was we need to level with the American people. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: This is about people's lives. And we should level with the American people.

You need to level with people about what they will have at the end of the process.

I feel like we have to level with people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: I mean, he has been vague on how he will pay for a lot of the programs that he is promising. Do you think this is going to catch up with him in Nevada, in South Carolina?

JONES: It could be, but part of what you're doing here, she knows that one of her negatives when you look at the polling data, is trustworthiness, authenticity. I think Sanders was 91 percent of people, who were voting on trustworthy in the last contest, voted for Sanders. When she's saying level with, level with, she's trying to pull apart this idea that he's this authentic guy and trustworthy. He's not leveling with you. He's selling you soap bubbles and snow flakes. I'm telling you the truth. It's very smart of her to do that. She's negative on trustworthiness. She has to reassert herself as the real truth teller.

BERMAN: A lot of what was happening on that state last night was reaching out to minority voters in Nevada and also South Carolina, which is why I want to ask you about something else that happened before the debate. It was during the show that the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee endorsed Hillary Clinton yesterday.

A little bit later, Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon from Georgia, he had some pretty harsh words about Bernie Sanders, and Bernie Sanders saying he was part of the civil rights movement in the '60s. Listen to Congressman Lewis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D), GEORGIA: I never saw him. I never met him. I was chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years. I was involved in the Freedom Ride, the march on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and directed a voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Again, that's a civil rights icon and he's been in politics for a long time. And he knows how to be tough.

JONES: I tell you what, John Lewis is a legend. He's an icon. He's the last living person who was on the stage with MLK at that march of Washington.

I think that was a bit unfair on his part. First of all, as we know, Bernie Sanders was not a part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was part of CORE (ph), a different organization with different tactics in different cities. And number two, it's just this weird thing where even when Obama was running against Hillary Clinton, John Lewis was against Obama and for Hillary Clinton until the very end. So there's some real strong bond that they have, but it's very unfair to take away the arrest that happened with Bernie Sanders. Nobody can take that away from him. He was one of the few white males who was willing to take the fights on early. I think it was unfair for John Lewis to do that to him.

[11:10:11] BERMAN: All right. Van Jones and Mark Preston, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Let's turn to the Republicans. You might say it was the only thing missing from this campaign, soft-core porn. No longer. The campaign ad controversy rated NP 17 at least.

BOLDUAN: Plus, secret weapon or biggest liability. President George W. Bush joining his brother on the campaign trail next week. But Donald Trump isn't waiting for it. He's already on the attack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Happening in just a few minutes, most of the Republican candidates make their cases to a key voting block at a key campaign stop in a key early primary state. They will attend the Faith and Family Presidential forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.

BOLDUAN: Bob Jones is the Christian school that has been a frequent campaign stop for Republican candidates over the years.

And South Carolina's Attorney General Allen Wilson is joining us now. He's co-moderating the forum that will be starting in about an hour from now.

BERMAN: Is that snow in South Carolina?

BOLDUAN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

[11:15:09] ALLEN WILSON, ATTORNEY GENERAL, SOUTH CAROLINA: Good afternoon. This is not New Hampshire. I am in Greenville, South Carolina, right now.

BOLDUAN: No flip-flops today. That's for sure.

Attorney General, thank you for joining us.

What do you want to get from the candidates today? What are you hoping to hear from them?

WILSON: Well, 40 percent of the electorate in South Carolina is in the Upstate, South Carolina, and one of the things that often gets overlooked in the campaign is the component on faith. Faith has been a very powerful element here in South Carolina. Last summer, in the wake of a horrible and tragic murder at Mother Emmanuel Church, it was faith that brought a community together and brought a nation together when the nine families forgave the murder who murdered their loved ones. And so faith is a major component of the electorate in South Carolina. So we want to talk about issues not just about faith- related, but we want to give a platform to the candidates to talk about their faith and what it means for them as they run for president of the United States.

BERMAN: It seems faith has already been a big part of this campaign. We saw it in Iowa with outreach to evangelical voters there. Jerry Falwell supporting Donald Trump. Ted Cruz bringing out all sorts of people on his behalf. Now we're seeing again it in South Carolina. It's getting nasty. Trump just put out a tweet that said, "How can Cruz be an evangelical Christian when he lies so much and is so dishonest." How do you think that plays?

WILSON: You know, what we're focusing on right now is giving the candidates a platform to talk directly to the voters here in South Carolina and how the candidates talk to one another, I'll leave that to them. Right now, we want to create an atmosphere will people can come in firsthand, not in 60-second or 90-second clips like in the debates. But in long, drawn-out, or I should say, longer answers to questions that people really want to know where the candidates stand on some of the issue. We're going to be talking about their views on what kind of judges they would want to see on the Supreme Court. What are their views on the world of federal government as it relates to the states? The reviews on the environment? Their views on law enforcement and the military, Veterans Affairs. Views on the family and their faith, obviously, as I just talked about. The people are here to hear from the candidates, not to hear the candidates talk to each other, but to hear the candidates talk to them.

BOLDUAN: In your state, there's been a flood of endorsements recently for candidates, from elected officials in your state. You have not endorsed yet. Will you be endorsing a candidate?

WILSON: Well, right now, I have a forum today, and then I have a forum next week in which I will be in Aiken, South Carolina. My role in this electoral process is to remain neutral so that I can have these forums so that the constituents of South Carolina and the citizens of this state can get to hear the platform for all these other candidates. Whether or not I'll make an endorsement, I won't know until probably next week. As for right now, my role is to be a guy in the black-and-white striped Jersey, not a player on the field. I'm going to continue to help every candidate who wants to talk to the state to convey their message.

BERMAN: When you make that decision, call us and tell us first. We would appreciate it.

We were checking your record. Four years ago, you endorsed Jon Huntsman for president out United States. Is that correct?

WILSON: That is correct.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Well, the reason I'm asking -- (CROSSTALK)

WILSON: -- I was with Governor Huckabee.

BERMAN: Let me ask about the John Huntsman thing, because he was seen largely as the middle-of-the-road candidate in the Republican field, a guy not unlike John Kasich this time around. They share a lot of the same campaign staff. People have said John Kasich can't compete in South Carolina. Do you think that's a fair assessment? Do you think John Kasich can compete in your state?

WILSON: I'm sorry. I could hear that last thing.

BERMAN: I was asking if John Kasich in some ways is similar to Jon Huntsman four years ago. Do you think John Kasich can compete in your state?

WILSON: Listen, I'm not prepared to call this. Every prediction I've made has been wrong. South Carolina has its own mind. The citizens in this state will make a decision in a week and a half, and I can't tell you which way I think it's going to go. I think every candidate here has a shot to make a huge impact on the election. Anything I that say will probably be proven wrong in the long run. So, yeah, I think Governor Kasich, Governor Bush, and all the others, I think they all have a legitimate shot.

BERMAN: We know the feeling, anything you say will be through --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: That is the 2016 campaign.

BOLDUAN: -- on live television.

Mr. Attorney General, we appreciate it very much.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Go back inside. I hope you're not wearing shorts today, sir.

Thank you.

WILSON: Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

BOLDUAN: All right. Bye-bye, now.

Coming up for us, Marco Rubio has one less attack ad to deal with today after the Ted Cruz campaign pulled this commercial from the air waves -- a commercial from the air waves. What is so controversial about it? Not the message but the messenger. How a porn star made it into a Cruz campaign ad.

[11:19:51] BERMAN: Donald Trump's new strategy, be nice. Donald Trump's newer strategy, stop being nice. One of his top advisers joins us next and we'll ask him to choose. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: So, friends, file this one under the holy "you know what" column? The Cruz campaign pulling an attack ad against this one, against Marco Rubio because it was revealed that one of the actors in the ad has also played roles in soft-core important movies in the past.

BOLDUAN: In titles such as "Carnal Wishes," "Insatiable Desires" and "Private Sex Club." And now adding to that repertoire, the road to the White House 2016.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: We want to bring in senior media correspondent, host of CNN's "Reliable Resources," Brian Stelter.

Somehow this is also your beat.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE RESOURCES: Of course, it is.

BOLDUAN: I didn't know.

STELTER: Of course, it is.

BOLDUAN: So revealing.

[11:25:05] STELTER: I've learned a lot in the past couple of hours. I reached out to the "Buzzfeed" reporter who broke this story last night. They're not revealing anything about how they found out. But I wonder if this is the first dirty trick of the South Carolina primary season. Maybe one of the other campaigns noticed this or maybe it was a researcher who spotted this in the commercial and recognized this actress.

She is speaking out now on Twitter and said she's disappointed by the Cruz campaign's decision to replace the ad with a different one. Her quote was, "Extremely disappointed that Ted Cruz pulled the national campaign spot that I was in." The hashing you see was #myvotecounts. She also said more to come, so I wonder what she'll be saying in the future.

But she told "Buzzfeed" she was deciding between Cruz and Donald Trump. She wasn't sure who she was going to vote for. Maybe this will tip her toward the Trump campaign.

BERMAN: She said she showed up for a casting call. An ad firm, they had casting calls.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: She shows up at the casting call, she got cast in the ad. The Cruz campaign, the reason this matters to them, of course, they're running on social values, reaching out to evangelical voter.

BOLDUAN: Right.

I wonder if they needed to pull it. Can the Cruz campaign be held accountable for having --

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: You have to wonder how widely would it have spread if they wouldn't have pulled the ad.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: I can answer that. A lot.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: We would have been talking about it for the last six hours.

STELTER: They're blaming the consulting firm. They're blaming the third-party firm that didn't do the research into the background of this woman. She's has appeared in non pornographic films as well. She continues to be an actress. Nothing wrong on her side when it comes to this, but you can understand why the Cruz campaign would back away, especially when "Buzzfeed" is writing about it and CNN is covering it.

BERMAN: I'd like to know if any other campaigns bring it up.

Brian Stelter, thanks for being with us.

BOLDUAN: Let us see.

BERMAN: Really appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Brian.

Get back to your day job, Brian.

BERMAN: Exactly.

Donald Trump is also pulling one of his campaign ads, though, for a completely different reason. It is not pornographic. The ad is too negative. They're replacing the attack ad on Ted Cruz with a spot that, for the first time, focuses on the positive.

But last night in Louisiana, while Donald Trump promised to cut the vulgarity, the hits on Ted Cruz and Jeb kept coming.

Joining us to discuss is Trump's national campaign co-chairman and policy advisor, Sam Clovis.

Great to see you.

SAM CLOVIS, NATIONAL CO-CHAIRMAN & POLICY ADVISOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Great to see you guys in person. BOLDUAN: Live and in person.

CLOVIS: Live and in person, wow.

BOLDUAN: The Cruz campaign has a bit of an important problem today.

(LAUGHTER)

CLOVIS: You can't make this stuff up.

BOLDUAN: To that point, my friend, did anyone in the Trump campaign, were they researchers any actor's past gigs?

CLOVIS: Nobody in our campaign would have been able to identify her for anything she appeared in. So we'll just leave it at that.

BOLDUAN: Are you looking at the actors in your ads now, too?

CLOVIS: You bet.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Look, you were over there laughing during the whole segment.

(CROSSTALK)

CLOVIS: I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: This is one of those things that happen in campaigns. The ad, it's over, but it is a moment to be sure.

Back to South Carolina and what's going on down there right now. South Carolina is getting a big visitor Monday night, George W. Bush, former president of the United States. He's going down to South Carolina. He is popular there.

CLOVIS: He is popular.

BERMAN: And he's going to campaign with his brother, Jeb Bush. Donald Trump, though, has not pulled his punches, despite the fact that George W. Bush is popular there. Let's listen to Donald Trump has said about George W. Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I see he's bringing his brother in now. He tried the mother, who is a nice lady. He tried the mother. That didn't work out so good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: George W. bush, as you said, he's popular in South Carolina. Do you think -- will we see more of Donald Trump going after George W. Bush in South Carolina?

CLOVIS: I don't know what Mr. Trump will do, but I don't think George W. Bush is on the ticket. He's trying to get on the ticket. I'm not sure it will help because you have to take a look at the Bush campaign and the candidate. If the candidate is not doing well and not performing well, then I think that's the real issue. You can bring in whoever you want and it's not going to help.

BOLDUAN: It seemed like Donald Trump was foreshadowing last night that the hits were coming for George W. Bush. He started there and said I'm going to hold that because I'm going to have more to say about that come next week. But let's be honest. If Donald Trump had a brother who was formerly a president and had high popularity in a state, he'd be carting him out, too.

CLOVIS: I'm sure that's would be the case. But the family has been brought forward in the campaign has been Mrs. Trump and the children and their spouses. And they've done an incredibly effective job. I think this is the Christmas card everybody wants to see is the Trump family in the White House.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about something Marco Rubio has been saying in the campaign. Marco Rubio finished fifth in New Hampshire, going now to South Carolina.

CLOVIS: I'll try to stifle my laughter going forward. Go ahead. I'm sorry.

BERMAN: How interesting.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Marco Rubio is talking about all the candidates, but one of the candidates he's started talking really more than ever is Donald Trump. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has zero foreign policy experience.