Return to Transcripts main page


Bush/Trump Spar in S.C. as GOP Gets Nasty; Cruz, Trump Calling Cruz a Liar; Cruz Responds to Rubio Calling Him a Liar; Clinton Meets with Civil Rights Leaders, Activists. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 16, 2016 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: You have a former president, George W. Bush, standing up and supporting the establishment against an insurgent in the race, and then Bill Clinton trying to keep an insurgent out of the Democratic race. The stakes are high here not just for the candidates but for the future of the parties.

JACKIE KUCINICH, SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, yeah, absolutely. This has been -- 2016 has been quite a race. To bob's point, Trump did not give a great debate performance, but nothing seems to be able to kill Donald Trump. One of the interesting things he says about Cruz is he holds up the bible and he's not telling the truth. He's talking to evangelicals in South Carolina who favor Cruz. He's trying to pull the vote. It'll be interesting if he does. Cruz is the closest to him. We've seen in the past these numbers shrink as you come down that final pike.

BERMAN: Barry, what about the tone now? I've covered a lot of campaigns. People occasionally say you're lying, you're a liar. The way it's being said now seems more than I've heard before.

Let's listen to Cruz talking about Donald Trump again.


SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, Donald Trump held a press conference. He apparently lost it.


CRUZ: I mean, he was just going on and on about how I'm the most horrible person in the world because I keep repeating the things he said.


BERMAN: He says Donald Trump has lost it, Barry. How does that play, generally speaking? I'm not asking you to pick sides, but when you hear people say words like lost it or basket case in a campaign, what are voters making of that?

BARRY BENNETT, FORMER BEN CARSON CAMPAIGN MANAGER & TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: I think they're making the voters numb to all of this. It used to be all you had to do was strap a fight and as soon as the two sides argued over who was telling the truth, the campaign was pretty much over. Nobody was persuaded. Now we've gone beyond that. We're lying or unhinged. You've lost it. People are numb. There's so much advertising in South Carolina. It doesn't matter. It's all about the grass roots game. I think people are numb to all this.

BERMAN: You know, Bob Dole said George H.W. Bush, stop lying about my record, in 1988, and the campaign was over. It was such a big deal. Now if you don't say liar every 30 minutes, people think you're not talking at all.

Jackie, let's talk a little bit about Donald Trump. We are waiting a CNN poll later today. It could be revealing. He won in New Hampshire. If he wins in South Carolina, does that set him up to run the table? How do you stop him then?

KUCINICH: It's a question that I think a lot of Republicans are asking themselves. You're right. Yeah, if he goes into the south, into that march -- into the Super Tuesday primaries with the momentum from South Carolina, he is going to be very hard to stop, and I think that's why you see some of the other campaigns sort of ramping up their operations in these other states down the line. But certainly, it is an open question. How do you stop Donald Trump? And it also opens the possibility of a broker convention. All of us dream about that and it hasn't happened the last couple cycles.

BERMAN: The broker convention, the holy grail for a political reporter.


Bob Beckel, you've run a lot of campaigns. Not a lot of campaigns in Republican primaries. I'll give you an opportunity. Bob, if you were running one of the other campaigns, how would you stop Donald Trump assuming he wins South Carolina?

BOB BECKEL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We're going to give him enough rope here to eventually lynch himself. But keep in mind, he doesn't do better than 35 percent. Maybe 40 percent. The question about broken convention is self-fulfilling. The way you stop him is probably at a convention. The rallying around him, once you clear the stage off with only three candidates, and Trump continues to double down like he did like I was amazed about Bush, it become a question about do you really want to turn this over, whether you're telling the truth or not, and whether you're stable enough. And those are the two things I think they'll go after Trump with.

BERMAN: And every candidate questioning both those things with every other candidate.

Bob Beckel, Jackie Kucinich, Barry Bennett, thank you.

A thought to leave you all with, how many political strategists know how to deal with a broker convention? Zero. There's almost no one alive who has done it, or done it well. That will be fascinating.

Thanks, guys. All right. Hillary Clinton, she did something that raised a lot of

eyebrows. I'm going to say it. Yes, she barked. She barked like a dog. Why? We'll have to explain coming forward.

[11:35:43] Plus, moments ago, Marco Rubio called Ted Cruz a liar. Yes, a liar. Hear what he just said, and if it will change the state of the race.


BERMAN: New attacks in the Palmetto State pile-on, affectionately known to some as the South Carolina primary. Moments ago, Senator Marco Rubio, he said it out loud, Ted Cruz is a liar. Listen.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL) & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's lying. And I think it's disturbing. I said that at the debate. He's making things up. I don't expect he's going to apologize. It's part of their strategy to not tell the truth. It's troubling.


BERMAN: Donald Trump also adding to the charges against Cruz, threatening to sue Cruz on his eligibility to be president unless he, quote, "Takes down his false ads and retracts his lies." That's Donald Trump.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, following the Cruz campaign, where Cruz has staked out more territory this morning, too, Sunlen?

[11:40:13] SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Ted Cruz right now is really stuck in this multi-front battle with these claims and allegations from Trump, and revealed that he's a liar and distorting their record. The Cruz response has largely been to just paint this as his opponents getting rattled here in South Carolina, and dig in, double down on the claims he's making about their records, saying they're more liberal than they would present to South Carolina voters. This, despite the characterizations being disputed by his opponents.

Today, for Cruz, it's about re-pivoting a bit, refocusing on the issues. He spoke in front of the "USS Yorktown," appealing to the heavy military footprint in South Carolina. 12 percent of population voters here are veterans. Many who voted in the 2012 in the Republican primary are also veterans. Clearly trying to appeal to them on this level, releasing his plan to rebuild the military, something he called, today, more tooth and less tale.

Something I found interesting in his remarks a few moments ago, he took on the culture of political correctness at the Pentagon.

Here's a small part of what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: That's why the last thing any commander should need to worry about is the grades he's getting from some plush-bottomed Pentagon bureaucrat for political correctness or social experiments --


CRUZ: Or providing gluten-free MREs.


SERFATY: So Ted Cruz there not going for the gluten-free vote in South Carolina but the argument of political correctness does work with many conservative evangelicals voters. We've heard many other candidates argue as well. So, John, as Cruz tries to focus on his plans to certainly this battle that's brewing around him that will continue to rage on -- John?

BERMAN: Sunlen Serfaty in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Beautiful backdrop with the air craft carrier.

Sunlen, thank you.

Let's bring in senior advisor to Marco Rubio, Jason Roe, who is in South Carolina, as well.

Jason, thanks so much for being with us.

Marco Rubio calls Ted Cruz a liar. We've heard that now repeatedly since Saturday night. Let's play a little bit of what Ted Cruz says in response.


CRUZ: Well, it is a curious thing. Two of the candidates in this race, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, both have the very same pattern. Whenever anyone points out their record, they simply start screaming liar, liar, liar. It's a very odd dynamic. Name calling is not a positive thing in politics.


BERMAN: So your response?

JASON ROE, SENIOR ADVISOR, MARCO RUBIO PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, you know, I think that Ted Cruz started to display he has an uncomfortable relationship with the truth, and I think far from this being in any way an act of desperation, it's calling a spade a spade in this situation.

Listen, Marco Rubio has for the duration of this campaign run a positive campaign. For the most part, refused to engage in any kind of the attacks that we've seen from Cruz and Trump and other candidates in this race. You know, now he's being called out because he's not being truthful, and I think the fact that Marco has run such a positive campaign and has pointed out that he's being untruthful gives him more credibility in making the accusation. BERMAN: The super PACs are all over the air waves. Chris Christie

went ballistic in the New Hampshire debate because of that. I understand the super PACs are different than the campaign, but I don't think anyone is running a purely positive campaign. What does it feel like to be compared to Donald Trump?


Cruz says Trump and Rubio are like the same thing?

ROE: Well, listen, there's no comparison between the two, other than the fact that they found an area of agreement. That is Cruz being dishonest in his representations of Rubio's record. He's been dishonest in what he did in Iowa in claiming that Ben Carson was dropping out. We've seen a series of things over the last few weeks that shows desperation from the Cruz campaign.

Listen, Trump is not scared of Cruz. Trump has a commanding lead in South Carolina. I don't think he's at any risk of Ted Cruz. He's just calling him out because Cruz has been dishonest.

BERMAN: You may not know this but I watch you on TV. I follow your every move. I saw you this morning in a different interview. You were speaking about the other candidates. I think you were talking about Bush. You said, "When single-digit candidates drop, they go for Marco Rubio." Didn't Bush beat you in New Hampshire?

[11:45:07] ROE: Listen, 2 percent of the delegates have been awarded. There are 54 states and territories that have to cast votes over this process. When South Carolina is over, only 4 percent of the delegates will have been awarded. This is a marathon. It's not a sprint. The reality is, in polls in South Carolina, Marco Rubio has been running ahead of Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush, I think has a lot at stake in South Carolina. His father won here. His brother won here. They've invested a lot here. I think if he doesn't do well, he'll be in a difficult position to make the case he should continue. The polls I see have him stuck in the single digits.

BERMAN: We have a poll. That's a good advertisement for our poll coming out at 4:00 today, or at some point this afternoon. Stay tuned for that.

Jason Roe, I look forward to speaking with you again. Appreciate it.

ROE: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Just moments ago, the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton had a very, very important meeting that could really shape the future of this race. We're going to speak to someone who was inside that meeting.


[11:50:08] BERMAN: All right. Just moments ago, Hillary Clinton held a crucial meeting in New York City with civil rights leaders and activists, the head of NAACP, the National Action Network, the National Bar Association, they were all there. Minority voters so crucial to her success in Nevada, South Carolina, and beyond. Some might say crucial in turning this campaign around. So, what was her message inside that room?

Our next guest, he was there. Marc Morial is the CEO of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans.

Mr. Mayor, thanks for being with us.

So flat-out, what did she have to say?


So it was a good meeting. And Secretary Clinton demonstrated an ease and a familiarity with many of the issues we talked about from everything from policing to criminal justice, so jobs and the economy to historically black colleges and universities. She demonstrated, I think, a great deal of familiarity. It was a good conversation, and really it was more about us sharing with her our 21st century agenda for jobs and freedom.

BERMAN: Ease and familiarity. Now I know you're not endorsing because of your position at the organization that you're with, but you just said Hillary Clinton showed an ease and familiarity. You told my colleague, Jim Sciutto, she has a track record and familiarity and a set of relationships that Bernie Sanders does not have, that sounds an awful lot like an endorsement.

MORIAL: Well, it's not an endorsement, and I think we can say about Senator Sanders, obviously that over the years he's cast some very important votes consistent with our agenda. Very importantly, we're in discussions with his campaign about a similar briefing.

And I hope we're going to announce something very soon. Importantly, these issues that we talk about are on the minds of voters. Policy prescriptions that we've identified, many have been proposed in some cases by President Obama, but blocked by the Congress. This is about continuing the steps towards a better America for all Americans in the. 21st century. So it was a good conversation. And I hope it's the beginning of many conversations with all of the candidates, including the Republican candidates, about the future of this nation. And what cities, people of color feel, I think, about the future of this country and what our ideas are to solve some of the problems of jobs, the economy, our schools, and the like.

BERMAN: Specifically, when you say that Hillary Clinton has a track record and a familiarity with the issues that Bernie Sanders does not have, what issues specifically are those where you don't think Bernie Sanders has quite as much experience?

MORIAL: I wouldn't characterize it that way, but what I would say is that for example, I think it's without doubt that Hillary Clinton played an important role when President Bush signed an extension of the Voting Rights Act back in 2006. And at that time, an extension of the Voting Rights Act was a very important agenda item. And that progress was damaged by the Supreme Court when they struck down important provisions of the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby case.

So I'm going to say that today's meeting was good, and we're very interested in what Senator Sanders has to say, but we are also very interested in sharing with him our ideas about the future of the country.

This meeting was about us, not only listening, but us sharing with her our agenda for the future of America.

BERMAN: Marc Morial, your warmth fogging our camera lens. We appreciate you being with us, Sir. We look forward to speaking to you again.

MORIAL: Thanks for having me. My pleasure.

BERMAN: All right. Coming up, he is richer than Donald Trump, he has CEO experience, he ran America's biggest city, so as the Republicans fight, as the Democrats fight, and as Donald Trump threatens a third- party run, what does Michael Bloomberg think right now? Is an announcement eminent?

Plus, as lawmakers fight over his replacement, news just in involving the funeral arrangements for Justice Antonin Scalia. We will share those with you next.


[11:58:42] BERMAN: All right. This just in to CNN. Funeral arrangements for Justice Antonin Scalia. He will lie in repose this Friday followed by a funeral on Saturday, according to CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel.

Meanwhile, we have new pictures just into us from inside the Supreme Court today. You can see the chair where Justice Scalia sat for so many years. You could see it just there, draped in black. Also the door to the supreme court also draped in black. This is a tradition that goes back, I believe, 140 years.

All right. An emotional return to Paris tonight for the rock band, Eagles of Death Metal. They were playing at the Bataclan Theater last November when terrorists launched the assault on the city. The merchandise manager was among the 89 people killed in the concert hall. They will finish the show tonight at the Olympia hall tonight. The Bataclan will not open for a while.

They told CNN what the show means to them.


JESSE HUGHES, BAND MEMBER, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL: This isn't just a regular show for us tonight. You know, of course this is much more than just a show. But at the same time, it's just going to be a show.

JOSH HOMME, BAND MEMBER, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL: Yeah, somehow they serve each other. You know. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Will you be thinking tonight about what happened, all the time, or is it going to be -- can you lose yourself in the music?

HUGHES: I always lose myself in the music? But I'm going to lose myself in that. We're going to lose ourselves in one another is what's going to happen.


BERMAN: All right, that is all for us today. "LEGAL VIEW" starts right now.