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Donald Trump Won Nevada Primary; President Barack Obama Insists He Will Nominate Replacement for Justice Scalia; Donald Trump Has Solid Lead in GOP Race. Aired 11-12mn ET

Aired February 24, 2016 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:16] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: We are counting down to our GOP debate tomorrow night in Houston, the last debate before Super Tuesday. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Front-runner, his name is Donald Trump, leaving every other candidate in the dust. And just he might just be unstoppable whether the rest of the GOP likes it or not. What will the party elite do with a candidate who refuses to play by the rules? How do they miss the voter anger that is fuelling Trump's rise? And is there really a bombshell in Trump's taxes that could derail him?

Here to discuss all of this, Jeff DeWit is a Trump surrogate and state treasure of Arizona and Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick who supports Ted Cruz.

Gentlemen, thank you for joining us this evening. Good to have you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to be here, Don.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Don. Thanks for having me.

LEMON: Jeff, you first. Trump's taxes, as you know, Mitt Romney told FOX News tonight that he thinks there is a bombshell in your candidate's taxes. What's your reaction?

JEFF DEWIT, ARIZONA STATE TREASURER: Well, obviously, it's ironic for Mitt Romney where he was pretty much derailed by his taxes back in his failed campaign four years ago to now come out and use the Harry Reid tactic on Donald Trump. So it is a very ironic statement.

And I don't know what bombshell is going to be will. Mitt Romney was trying to pretend that he was the average guy and not playing to his true self, which was he was wealthy and he ran away from being a successful person. And Donald Trump is very much out there saying, yes, I'm a very successful person. And we all know he is one of the most successful people of all time and we all know he paces lot of money in taxes.

So, I will tell you as the state treasurer for Arizona, the only bombshell you're going find out there about Donald Trump's taxes is what the government does after they receive the money and how much of it they wastes on fraud and abuse. That's the bombshell with his or anybody else's taxes.

But outside of that, we all know he is very successful. We all know he pay as lot of taxes. There's nothing to hide there.

LEMON: All right, Jeff. Anderson asked him about it tonight. Take a listen to it.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tax returns are very complicated. I have many, many companies. I have, you know, tremendously have a complex system of taxes. And frankly, I get audited every single year. So, you know, unlike everybody else who never gets audited, I get audited every single year which I think is unfair, but I go through large audits. And that's the way it is. But, we will make a determination over the next couple of months. It's very complicated.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, AC 360: But point-blanc, does mean you absolutely will release them, it's just a question of when?

TRUMP: No, I will make a determination. I will be making that determine over the next I would say couple of months we will make that determination, absolutely.


LEMON: OK. And then, here is what he later tweet. He said Mitt Romney who blew the election, totally blew an election that should have been won and his tax returns made him look like a fool is now playing tough guy. Why wouldn't he just release it, Jeff? That's the question.

DEWIT: Well, it just came up. His financials are out there. And don't forget, he released his financials and I'm talking everything detailing $10 billion of all his companies way before the deadline last summer. So everything is out there. If you want to know about Donald Trump's finance, go online, go to the SEC, pull it up, you can read everything about it. So it's just the establishment trying to hit back and trying to find some way to derail what is a movement in this country to take our country back.

LEMON: All right. Lieutenant governor, you are supporting Ted Cruz. Is he going to asked Donald Trump about his taxes tomorrow night in that debate?

DAN PATRICK, TEXAS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: I'm not sure. Here's what I want to talk about, Don, is I want to talk about the fact that this is a two-man race, even though there are five people still on the stage tomorrow night.

LEMON: With all due respect, we'll get to that.

PATRICK: I hope we'll get to that. I'm not interested I talking about the tax returns. I'm interested talking about Ted Cruz winning Texas --. LEMON: Lieutenant governor, again, with all due respect, one of the

reasons brought you here, we have you on is to answer the question about the taxes. We'll get to the other questions.

PATRICK: Well, obviously, Don, I answered the question. I don't know if Ted Cruz is going to ask him tomorrow. And the truth is that Donald Trump said he's going to release them in a few months after the primaries. That's what I am hearing.

DEWIT: I can answer that question for you, Don.


LEMON: Hang on, Jeff.


LEMON: Let me give him the opportunity to respond to going to be what he wants to talk about.

So lieutenant governor, what else can we expect from your candidate at this debate tomorrow night?

PATRICK: Thanks, Don.

Look. This is where we are in the race. There are five people on the stage tomorrow night. But the only person who can defeat Donald Trump is the person who defeated him in Iowa and that's Ted Cruz. After Super Tuesday, Don, Ted will win Texas the lion's share of the delegates. By Wednesday morning, all the delegates are going to be between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. I'm not sure who will be in the lead but they will are very close.

Marco Rubio is not going to win a state on Tuesday. He said he is not going to win one on the 5th or the 8th. He is waiting until the 15th. But March 15th, when they get to Florida where Rubio trails Ted Cruz, 50 percent of the delegates will have been chosen. So this is really a two-man race between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

And here is the stats, and I see all these things about this race is over. Donald Trump is getting the nomination. One out three Republican voters have been voting for Donald Trump. Two out of three have decided not to. When it's a two-man race those two out of three coalesce behind Ted Cruz. And then you have Ted Cruz winning more than 50 percent of the vote in these winner take all states.

So for all those folks out there who don't know the math and don't know how the states work between now and march 14th, all of the states are proportionate. Texas, again, is the biggest share of next share Tuesday's vote with about 15 percent of all the delegates. Ted will win that. I think he will it. He will do very well. The only people who are getting delegates will be Ted and Donald. Because if you don't get 20 percent of the vote in Texas, you don't get any delegates.

So by next Wednesday morning, we should have Kasich, Carson and Rubio ready to step aside and let it be a two-man race. And once that happens, the two out of three voters who are voting against Trump and have been voting against Trump will vote for Ted Cruz.

[23:06:15] LEMON: Do you agree with his assessment, Jeff?

DEWIT: No, not at all, especially when you count -- he keeps saying two-thirds voted against Trump. Well, 46 percent of Nevada just voted for Trump. So if you're trying to say that 53 percent is going to add up to something, Donald Trump just got in the last election we just had, the last state which we just had over Nevada, he got more than Ted Cruz and Rubio put together. So that's a terrible assessment. I find it --.

PATRICK: Don, it is not a terrible assessment because if you average the volts, Nevada is a very much small state. If you take Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, Donald Trump is about 34, 35 percent of all the volts so far. In fact, on Tuesday - next Tuesday, Texas has more delegates, Don and Jeff, than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada combined.

And by the ways, most people don't know this, Don, Texas has early voting. We started early voting last Tuesday, a week ago. Almost 500,000 votes have already been cast in Texas. We are going to break the record. Ted will be the favorites on. Ted will do very well in Texas and the other states will be on Super Tuesday will be divided by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Look. At the end of the day, Don, whoever our nominee is, every Republican is going to be supporting that person to defeat the Democrats. I'm just telling you the person we are all going to be in to support is Ted Cruz because he is going to win the nomination. It's going to take longer than some thought. It is going to be a tough road for both. But here is what I know about politics from being lieutenant governor running a state-wide race and being a state senate for eight years.

LEMON: Quickly, Governor, because I've got to let Jeff respond.

PATRICK: When you see a candidate that has a ceiling, Don, people who aren't voting for them aren't going to volt for them later. And Donald Trump's ceiling is about a third, 35 percent of the vote.

LEMON: Jeff, I will give you the last word.

DEWIT: Well, if you want to talk delegates, Donald Trump has 82, Ted Cruz has 17. But when you look at the state of Texas, early ballots have been out now for a little while as lieutenant Dan pointed out, and yet the Texas governor just endorsed him.

If you go back to, you know, don't forget Ted Cruz is a first term senator. If you go back to 2012, when Ted Cruz was running, Lieutenant Dan Patrick who is opposite me right now, actually said that he would never support Ted Cruz in that campaign and voted against him in the primary, supported David (INAUDIBLE) in that race because --


LEMON: Let him finish, lieutenant governor. Let him finish and then I will let you respond.


LEMON: Gentlemen, hang on, both of you hang on, hang on, both of you. When we all speak, the viewer gets nothing out of it. So lieutenant governor, let him finish and then I will you respond. So Jeff?

PATRICK: Well, I just - when you said he gets the final word and he misstates the fact, I'm going to stop him, Don.

LEMON: I know, but I'm going to let you speak.

DEWIT: Lieutenant Dan, in 2012 you got in a shouting match with Ted Cruz calling him a liar about what his campaign was putting out there and saying you could never supported that and you supported David Duherst in that race for Senate. And now, when Ted Cruz already being proven liar in this race, now all of a sudden you are on in supporting him.

PATRICK: Jeff, here's the problem.

DEWIT: He needs to drop out of his home state of Texas.

LEMON: Go ahead, Lieutenant governor. Yes, you can.

PATRICK: OK. Very quickly. Jeff, here's the problem with Donald Trump. That's all can you do is attack and throw around words like liar. Here is the bottom line. I just said if Donald Trump wins the nomination, I'll be in to help him defeat Hillary Clinton. Why don't you just talk about public policy and quit attacking everyone on the stage. And now, you are attacking --.

DEWIT: Lieutenant, I was quoting you what you said about Ted Cruz in 2012.

LEMON: Jeff, let him finish.

PATRICK: Jeff, I'm just telling you the reason Donald Trump is not going to win this is you can't insult your way as Jeb Bush said, and he was right, you can't insult your way and attack everybody to the nomination. The people who are voting, Don, against Donald Trump so far who voted for Jeb when he was in the race, were voting for Carson, for Kasich, for Rubio and for Ted, they have already made the decision. They're not going to vote for Donald Trump. They don't like the act. They want to hear something about public policy.

And when it gets down to two people on the stage and it is two hours for two men, Donald Trump might able to get by for 15-minute out of the two-hour debate with one liner of (INAUDIBLE). But when you get down to two-hours-and-a-half to actually talk policies because moderators like you will be asking detailed questions, Don, Ted Cruz will clearly show the American public who actually has a record, who hasn't changed his mind on every issue. [23:10:28] LEMON: OK. I have got to go. To be continued. I

appreciate it. I got to go and got to get to a break.

DEWIT: Thanks, Don. Thanks for having me.

LEMON: Stay with CNN for all the big political events, all the events in politics.

Tomorrow night the five remaining Republican candidates take to the stage for the last debate before Super Tuesday. The CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston moderated by Wolf Blitzer beginning at 8:30 eastern time.

When we come right back, one of the big issues in this campaign, the battle over the Supreme Court. Could President Obama nominate a Republican and would the GOP refuse to consider one of their own? We will talk about that.


[23:14:40] LEMON: President Barack Obama is turning up the heat on Senate Republicans, insisting that he will nominate a candidate to fill the open it seat on the Supreme Court. Republicans vowing not to consider any of his candidates, even if it is a Republican.

Joining me now to talk about that is defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, the author of "Taking the stand, my life in the law."

I'm so interested to talk to you about this, Mr. Dershowitz. I want to start by asking you about the presidential race and your former student Ted Cruz. Do you think he or others have a shot at wrestling this nomination away from Donald Trump?

[23:15:13] ALAN DERSHOWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's very difficult. It's getting harder and harder. I do think Rubio probably has a better shot. I mean, if hypothetically Cruz would have drop out and it would be a one against one, Rubio against Trump, I think it would be a very close race and Rubio might win.

I'm not sure that Cruz can do that. He's a strong candidate but, you know, he is very extreme and might very well do to the Republicans what Barry Goldwater did to them back many, many years ago, give them a devastating loss as a liberal Democrat that would please me. But as a loyal American, I want to see two very strong candidates run in each party. I want to see at the end of the day when the two candidates run against each other that I would be satisfied if either of them one, even though I prefer one candidate over the other. It just doesn't look like it's moving in that direction right now.

LEMON: What do you have expect from tomorrow night's debate?

DERSHOWITZ: You know, you never know. What we have had in this election is the most unpredictable element in Trump. He violated -- I mean, the Kennedy school of government has to start from scratch and reinvent itself, everything it's been teaching the students about how to become president has been proved wrong. So who know what when to predict about any element of this campaign. It is utterly unpredictable.

LEMON: I know. And people get so passionate. I'm sure you saw my last two guests and like no one is listening to what anyone is saying.

All right, let's move on and talk about the Supreme Court because there is fighting there, right and about the Supreme Court, this vacancy - Antonin Scalia. She (ph) is political issue right now. What did you have want to say?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, I think the president has been handling it absolutely brilliantly. He has absolutely right. He has a job, he has to nominate. Because it's a Republican Senate, he should nominate a moderate, somebody has already been approved by Republicans or a Republican governor or a sitting senator or somebody who comes from an ethnic group that has never been on the court before. He has to be very careful and very selective and he's doing it. And he has to put it to the Republican and say, look, I have done my job and now you have to do your job. I don't think the public will not accept a Republican senate that doesn't even give hearings, doesn't even give the American people right to hear what a candidate has to say. And we may have a vacancy.

LEMON: Let me read what the president wrote (INAUDIBLE) about he says he is looking for a nominee, OK. He says a sterling record, a deep respect for the judiciary role, an understanding of the way the word really works, that's what I'm considering as I fulfill my constitutional duty to appoint a judge to our highest court. And it sounds like he is saying, you know, maybe you should go your constitutional duty as well. So who do you have in mind as you were saying, you know, what kind of person do you have in mind?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, there are two ways he can go. He can pick, you know, a real liberal and know it would be rejected and give the Democratic nominee a terrific political issue. There would be politicizing the court. I think what he is going to do is pick somebody who is either currently serving on the D.C. circuit, who has been approved by Republicans or a Republican or somebody who is a conservative. Remember in that skotus blog, he also said he wants somebody who doesn't make the law but who understands that the role of the Supreme Court is simply to apply the law. I think he's going to go that middle road. I think he is going pick somebody terrific, who is going to be very, very, very hard for the Republicans to reject. They may reject him any way and that would give the Democrats a strong issue in the campaign.

LEMON: Aren't they taking a chance if they do reject that person because what if the next person, let's just say the next president is a Democratic, then?

DERSHOWITZ: Right. And they would get somebody -- but there are several possibilities. The next president is a Democrat and the Senate is Democratic, that is easy. The next president is a Democrat and the Senate is Republican. We can have a vacancy for years until there's a turnover in the Senate.

This could really be a very dramatic moment in the relationship between the three branches. I think everybody who cares about the constitution hopes that it doesn't -


DERSHOWITZ: Nobody seems to care about the future of the country. You know, the Democrats would have done the same thing if the shoe had been on the other foot. So let's not make this good guys versus bad guys. Both the Democrats and the Republicans have politicized the nominating process to the Supreme Court far, far too much.

LEMON: Hey, I got to ask you. I want to talk to you about Apple. I have been wanting ti speak to you about that. What happened with this Apple case? Do you think that Apple should allow the government to be able to look in their phones? I'm talking about the - this feud with the FBI over unlocking the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone.

DERSHOWITZ: There is a very important issue for the future. I think that Apple should not have a confrontation. They should have simply done something very quietly to open the phone. This is the worst case for Apple, dead guy, phone owned by the company, company consents. We're talking about two or three weeks of data that aren't on the cloud. Very bad case for Apple to --

[23:20:18] LEMON: I want you to listen to Tim Cook. Tim Cook is the CEO. He was on ABC and then you can continue your response. Here it is.


TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: This is not a position that we would like to be in. It is a very uncomfortable position. To oppose your government on something doesn't feel good. And to oppose it on something where we are advocating for civil liberties, which they are supposed to protect, it is incredibly ironic.


LEMON: What do you think, Alan? Civil liberties, a threat?

DERSHOWITZ: Civil liberties are involved. And we should all be concerned about everybody's civil liberties, not only people who have iPhone. But imagine the phone situation. Let's assume that Apple invents a new technique that nobody can open the phone, not even Apple. They prevent themselves mopping on the phone. And we have a phone that has on the location of a nuclear bomb in New York harbor that's going to blow up in 24 hours. Should Apple be allowed to prevent itself in an emergency from being opening up a phone? I don't think so.

The ticking bomb scenario is a realistic one. It could happen in the United States and nobody should able to have a phone that under no circumstances, even the most extreme emergency can't be open.

Privacy is very important. Safety is very important. Appropriate balance has to be struck. The best place to strike it is initially in the legislature and then in the Supreme Court. I think this is hard case is a hard case that's going to make bad law. LEMON: Yes. It's happened before something happens that God forbid

what you said happens.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, we all hope that doesn't happy. But, you know, we have to be prepare for every possible scenario.

Thank you, Alan Dershowitz. Always a pleasure.

DERSHOWITZ: My pleasure. Thank you.

LEMON: When we come right back, Donald Trump has a solid lead in the GOP race. But is he the odds-on favorite to win the party's nomination? Is he? We will do the math next.


[23:26:10] LEMON: Six days to go until the Super Tuesday contest. Hundreds of delegates up for grab. At this point who is the odd on favorite to win the GOP nomination?

Here to discuss is Greg DePetris, the co-founder of Pivit, a company that combines polls, public opinion and other data to predict where the election will go.

OK, Greg, good to you have here. Quickly, though, I want you to explain to our viewers what Pivit is looking at when it comes to this presidential election?

GREG DEPETRIS, CO-FOUNDER, PIVIT: Absolutely. First thing, Don. Thanks so much for having us. Really appreciate it.

So think of Pivot as a real-time marketplace that combing polling date, real time market place that is combining polling data, gambling market data, real-time news and the changing opinions of about a 100,000 members of the general population who are all answering one simple question, who do you think will win the nomination or the election?

They are now answering the question who would you vote for today? Who would you vote for in the future? They are answering a question who do you think will win? Which is the question and the answer that we think most people are looking for.

So think of it as a real time reflection of what the general population thinks will happen in the future.

LEMON: Right. And that is to this point. If the election were home now.

So, let's look at these numbers, ok. Trump had a big win last night in Nevada. What is a political market place saying about his odds in taking GOP nomination?

DEPETRIS: Indeed. So right now what the market is telling us is that Donald Trump has about 71 percent chance to win the Republican nomination. Those odds are about 14 percent higher than they were last night following the Nevada caucus. And it's a meaningful move. It is putting Mr. Trump's chance that what would be the highest in the historical context, the highest that they have ever been for him.

LEMON: The highest that they have ever been for him, but not ever.

DEPETRIS: That's right.

LEMON: Just for him, right? OK.

DEPETRIS: Just his odds to win the nomination, that's right.

LEMON: OK. How about Marco Rubio?

DEPETRIS: So Senator Rubio's chances right now are about the 27 percent, and that's about a 13 percent decline following the Nevada caucus. It's also a significant decline for him. And in many ways sort of indicative of kind of where the - I think where general sentiment is about the candidates themselves.

LEMON: OK. So based on your data, is Donald Trump unstoppable?

DEPETRIS: We try to just look at the data and kind of reflect back the market is telling us. That the market as it represents general consensus among the population, you know, 100,000 or so people who are engage in this. And what it would tell us right now is that, if you look at the primary states in particular, Donald Trump's chance to win the far to primary is about 68 percent right now. So the odds of him winning senator Rubio's home state primary are markedly higher than they have been. If you look at his odds to win the Texas primary, Senator's home state at about 38 percent. And I think most people would say that those two states are going to be highly indicative of where the nomination markets from here. So we would look to those as the parameters really in the upcoming primaries.

All right, let's move on to the Democrats now and look at Hillary Clinton versus Trump versus Hillary Clinton, excuse me, the Democratic match-up with Donald Trump.

So first, Hillary versus Trump, what do we have?

DEPETRIS: So, you know, in a hypothetical matchup, and that's what these are, you know, we are able to kind of gauge people's perception of whether they think a candidate is likely to win. If you create a hypothetical market like this, Hillary Clinton would - her odds would imply about a 64 percent chance of winning in a head-to-head general election with Donald Trump. And about 60 percent of chance of her winning in the general election against Marco Rubio. And I think the takeaway there is that while there is a moderate different, it is really not a meaningful one. So I think either one of the GOP candidates will stand about the same chance against Hillary Clinton.

[23:30:15] LEMON: OK. How can our viewers participate?

DEPETRIS: So the easiest thing to is to go to, register, open an account. It is a free to play game. And although it is fun thing to do, the odds that are being produced because of the scale of the market now are being taking seriously by lots of people across the world. So finance across the worlds of politics. And so, while you are hopefully having some enjoyment engaging with the news as it happens and unfolds, you are also helping to produce a really valuable data set that the folks are going to pay attention to get a sense of what is likely to happen in the election and the nomination markets going forward.

LEMON: Greg DePetris, thank you. And you can participate yourself. We appreciate you coming on.

DEPETRIS: Thank you.

LEMON: Absolutely.

I want to bring in the Republican strategist, Margaret Hoover now. Also, Philip Bump "Washington Post" political reporter, Mel Robbins, CNN police call commentator and legal analyst, CNN commentator and legal analyst and CNN contributor, Bakari Sellers.

So, what is your reaction that, those head-to-head matchups right now? If you put them up, Trump versus Hillary Clinton, HRC wins. Hillary Clinton wins, 64 percent. Marco Rubio versus Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton wins 640 percent. And you heard Mr. DePetris says, you know what, that a, you know, pretty even odds there. What do you think, Bakari?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I actually laugh when you put up Marco Rubio versus anybody. The fact of the matter is I don't know a single state that Marco Rubio can win in the Republican primaries so I don't know how we get him to Hillary Clinton just yet.

But what we do know is from the beginning of this process, we knew Hillary Clinton will be a formidable candidate in primary season. And a very formidable candidate who draws a lot of fear from Republicans in the general election.

And if it is Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump, I mean, if it is anybody versus Donald Trump, I just bet on the American public that we won't really elect (INAUDIBLE) to be president of the United States.

LEMON: OK, Mel? Now you say it is over that Trump is the Republican nominee right now. You also say that he is the only candidate who stands a chance against Hillary Clinton. Why is that?

MEL ROBBINS, CNN COMMENTATOR/LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the reason why is because Hillary's biggest Achilles heel, Don, is Clinton fatigue. And nobody's going to hammer that harder and hammer it better than Donald Trump.

The other thing about Hillary that I have noticed is I just asked a couple friends of mine tonight, hey, what's Hillary's campaign tag line right now, does anybody know? Not a single person knew. One of the things that Donald has done very well is be consistent, consistently simple, consistently hammering. His point of view, I mean, obviously he doesn't have much to speak of but I think he is the strongest, the most aggressive and the person that could put on the best attack, but I still think Hillary is going to trump Trump.

LEMON: If you said, if you walk down to the street and said make America great again, everybody would say Donald Trump, right.

ROBBINS: Of course. But nobody knows Hillary's tag line, do they?


MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A tag line does not a president make, Mel. I mean, that's the other thing. I mean, maybe it does. I mean, who knows?

ROBBINS: Well, you know what? But it certainly making for a Republican nominee, Margaret. Because he doesn't have any policy, doesn't have a lot of substance but everybody certainly repeating everything he says.

LEMON: But it speaks to consciousness. It speaks to consciousness, Margaret. So what do you think? Is Donald Trump that the best guy to take on Hillary Clinton?

HOOVER: Well, so, look, I think this engagement tool is actually is really interesting engagement tool. I think all of these things that sort of measure polls, public opinions, sort of gambling. I mean, is an interesting analytical tool for quantifying essentially what the conventional wisdom is right now. I mean, any of us who are in this business, we know what conventionalism is which is that, yes, Donald Trump is like, more likely than not to be the Republican nominee. But there are also, you know, there is also really good polling that goes into this, too.

And I'll just remind my friend Bakari Sellers that when you look at the Real Clear Politics average of polling, Hillary Clinton wind up of Marco Rubio, the average has Marco Rubio beating Hillary Clinton in a matchup by four percentage points, in the Democratic PPC poll by two percentage. So it's not just that Hillary Clinton walks away with this.

And by the way, this is a reflection of the moment now. We all know that these races are dynamic, they're not static and that events change thing. So while it is fun, engagement tool, this not to say a complete --.

LEMON: I've got to get Philip in here, Bakari, before you respond because he is saying this is not just polling. We aren't asking people who they are voting for. We are asking them even if you are voting for somebody else, who has the best chance to win? And in that, it is Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

PHILIP BUMP, POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I mean, honestly, I have to agree. We are talking about before the general election candidates are even sat. We have seen over the past few cycles an increasing reliance on partisanship in terms of people making up their minds. A lot of Republicans are involve for the Republicans. A lot of Democrats involve for the Democrat. Honestly saying that something has a 60 percent odds of happening as basically saying it could or it could not happen which we all know anyway.

You know, I want to go back to the point about Donald Trump being the best person to run against Hillary Clinton. I think there is a strong case to be made. That Donald Trump will bring out voters and will appeal to working class white voters the way the others won't. But I think he will also turn off a lot of Republican voters and turn off a lot of non-white voters. So I don't know that he is actually he is going to be a beneficial candidate to the Republicans in that regard.

LEMON: All right, we are going to continue this after the break. Everyone stay with me.

Today's GOP, they revere Ronald Reagan but what would the 40th president think of the current state of his party? We are going to talk about that when we come right back.


[23:39:44] LEMON: While you have a hard time finding a Republican who doesn't love Ronald Reagan. But is today's GOP what Reagan envisioned?

Back with me now, Margaret Hoover, Philip Bump, Mel Robbins and Bakari Sellers.

Margaret, you are the perfect person to address this question to first. Republican candidates love to bring up Ronald Reagan on the trail. Marco Rubio today in Texas first.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to tell you, Reagan didn't just win an election, Reagan defined the generation. Reagan defined for the American people what it meant to be a conservative.


[23:40:13] LEMON: So then he went on to mentioned Reagan's name, Margaret, at least a dozen times more. But "the New York Times" is out with an op-ed which says the entire group has gotten Reagan all wrong. He said he is all wrong.

The core beliefs, the Times said, that got Reagan elected and re- elected were conservative: lower taxes, smaller government and a stronger, more assertive military. But Reagan was also a pragmatist, willing to compromise, able to improvise in pursuit of his goals and most of all eager to expand his party's appeal.

And then it goes on to ask how did the inclusive forward-looking Republican party of Reagan become the crass, xenophobic party of Donald J. Trump and Ted Cruz? Margaret?

HOOVER: Yes. No, I'm glad you brought it up. I talked to a lot of Republicans in the last year - last two years, could Ronald Reagan get elected in today's Republican Party? And a lot of people flat out - I mean, Reagan supporters (INAUDIBLE) presidential library. I think a lot of them would say probably not in today's Republican Party.

And by the way, I don't know if it's a reflection of the Republican Party, for sure. I mean, I have written a lot about this. I'm sort of for Republican Party that can appeal to a new generation. But Washington is more polarizes as well and it doesn't work together as well.

Just a point to think about. The millennial generation, right, the ones that were born at the beginning of the Reagan era, they are outnumbering baby boomers now this time around. They were in terms of people who are eligible to vote. More millenials and the eligible to vote than baby boomers. And the oldest of them were eight years old when Reagan was leaving office.

The majority of them weren't even alive when he was around. So if Republicans to actually want to bring a new generation of people into politics, I love Ronald Reagan as much as the rest, but you got not be Ronald Reagan. You got to represent the sensibilities of where the county is. We are in a different time in the geo political concerns with different demographics. And if you are going to bring a wave of people in to Republican Party, you have to represent what a conservative solution to be to climate change, to the environment generally, to immigration reform, to LGBT issues. I mean, these is where the country is now and the Republican Party has not been able to address these issues in a way to convince that.

LEMON: What do you think Bakari? I would ask you if the Republican Party would recognize - would Ronald Reagan recognize a GOP now. But, you know, Reagan maybe won't around then. Does Margaret have a point when she talks about millenials and --?

SELLERS: To my good friend, Margaret, all I can do after that is simply say, amen. So you hit the nail on the head. But I have to dig a little bit deeper in this.

I mean, Ronald Reagan's greatest asset was the fact that he was able to expand his party's base. That is not what is happening now. I mean, the fact of the matter is and this is just very blunt to say, but can you not be president of the United States with simply white conservative men. You can't. The party has to begin to expand, the party has to begin to grow. And Donald Trump did something amazing in South Carolina the other night. Not only did he beat the establishment, but he beat everything that the establishment wants the Republican Party to look like. He beat Macro Rubio, Tim Scott, and Nikki Haley. And he beat him like a drum. So the Republican Party has a severe identity problem because the country is getting browner. And until they understand and talk about issues as Margaret (INAUDIBLE), that bring in new people, the 45th president of the United States is going to have a did-buyer now?

LEMON: So Mel, when choosing Trump, what I don't think that says about the direction of the GOP?

ROBBINS: Well, I don't know that the GOP has chosen Trump. I think that's the voters in terms of, you know, being conservatives are choosing it. And I think that is the interesting thing to watch is that, you know, the rules have been flipped on their head and I love everything that Margaret said, but she is like a unicorn from the Republican Party. There is not a lot of people that share her point of view. And you know, you can see that bearing out on who their picks are. And if it were Rubio, he is the guy that would probably appeal to a wider pace. But instead you see people coming out in droves and, you know, beating the drum, as it were, to get somebody who is as divisive, who is as nasty and who lacks policy and substance on every single issue like Trump. And so, it's becoming somewhat of a joke to watch.

LEMON: Phil, do you remember -- I'm sure you remember the GOP's 2012 autopsy report. I want to talk to you about it. Their mission was to reach out to minorities, expand the party. So when you look at who is winning right now, and what we are hearing on the campaign trail, it seems like you have to ask what happened to that autopsy report?

BUMP: No, absolutely. I think a lot of --

ROBBINS: They called it an autopsy because the party's dead.

BUMP: The party is dead. This is the finish report.

HOOVER: They didn't call it an autopsy.

BUMP: You I mean, to the Reagan question, I don't think the Republicans from last year would recognize the Republican Party much less one from 30 years ago, right. I mean, we are talking about a dramatic shift in the focus of the Republican Party. We are talking about an electorate which is actually less conservative in first three of the first four states than it was in 2012.

[23:45:10] LEMON: So what happened so fast? It was quick.

BUMP: Right. Well, what happened is that autopsy report focused on immigration and said we need to come up with immigration reform. There was a big push toward immigration reform, as driven by a lot of the establishment Republicans and it went very much contrary to the base of the Republican Party. And the base Republican Party got very upset about it. They threw Eric Cantor out of office in Virginia. And then the next thing you know, Donald Trump is the front-runner by stumbling on to the issue of immigration as what is going to carry the ball with.

And I think the other thing is worth remembering is that while America is going to be getting browner it is also beginning to be getting grayer. By 2050, there are going to be more people over 65 than there are now as well as a lot more people who are non-white. And so, we are getting to continue to have this polarized electorate.

LEMON: All right. Thank you everyone. Margaret, you hate that autopsy term, I know.

HOOVER: Well, it is the Republican Party doesn't call it an autopsy. That's what you guys call it.

LEMON: All right. Did Reince Priebus say that back then? Well, anyway. Thank you. Thank you. Appreciate it.

Donald Trump celebrated his third straight victory last night when he took the Nevada caucuses and he would be the first to tell you that he was number one with Hispanics. Was he? We will talk about it.


[23:50:04] LEMON: Donald Trump coming off a huge victory in Nevada. And he surprised a lot of people with the level of support he got from Hispanic voters.

So joining me to talk about that, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona. I'm not even going to try Guerra.


LEMON: The director -- RNC's director of Hispanic media. Just little things we talk about in the break. How should I pronounce that? They give me the - they would say it in the way that I should say it, Ruth Guerra.


LEMON: Explain the outreach of the GOP, the GOP is down to Hispanic community since 2012, the 2012 election. Ruth, can you hear me?

RUTH GUERRA, RNC DIRECTOR OF HISPANIC MEDIA: Don, well, since 2012 - yes, I can hear you. Sorry about that. Since 2012, we have launched our engagement program and we can honestly say that we have been in the Hispanic community for over two years now. The amount of volunteers we're gathering, the amount of staff that we are in the midst of hiring about 1,300 people to join us full time paid staff. And a lot of these folks are going to be in Hispanic community and they are going to be Hispanics themselves because who else better to those door to door is a Hispanic talking to another Hispanic and telling them why they are Republican and why they should vote Republican.

LEMON: Do you think it is working?

GUERRA: Sorry. Say that?

LEMON: You think it is - you think that approach is working?

GUERRA: Well, here are the facts. The facts that are we started back after 2012. And what we saw in 2014 midterms were in Colorado, for example, with wins with Senator Corey Gardner. What we saw was in Pueblo County, which is a highly Democrat county and a highly Hispanic county, we made major gains in that county and the Senator Corey Gardner won that state.

Not only in that state, but also in Texas. You look at Senator John Cornyn who won over 49 percent of the Hispanic vote. We are seeing these gains when these candidates engage the Hispanic community on our present talking to them about the issues that they care about. We know that in every single poll that we look at, it is the jobs, it is the economy, it is national security, it is education. These are the top issues and these are the issues that these candidates took to them during the election.

LEMON: I want to get Maria in there because I want to you listen to, Maria, to Donald Trump, what he told Anderson Cooper tonight about the Hispanic vote.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't when you are saying one-half of one percent. I don't know that that represents. I can say that we got 46 percent of the Latino vote or the Hispanic vote. And that was far more than anybody else at the field. And that is pretty good, I think. You know, now obviously it's not the whole nation, but it's what we had to deal with. We were dealing with that area and we got 46 percent of the vote. And I think that's very indicative of the nation actually.


LEMON: Maria, why did you call that, you know, the results last night astonishing?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, they were astonishing not just because of Donald Trump's spin but the fact that no matter how small that sample could be or is because it was a very small sample that the majorities of those would go to Donald Trump. But look. I think that speaks more to the dismal campaigns that the other two Latino candidates were running, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the fact that Donald Trump could garner more than double the support that either one of them got among the Latino electorate.

But, look, the bottom line is that it doesn't really matter. Because, you know, even with Ruth's amazing spin, the Republican Party is in huge peril, hugely underground with the Hispanic community. And no candidate, no matter who the nominee is, is going to be able to get to the White House with at least 42 percent of the Hispanic vote. And right now they are probably, maybe on a good day 17 or 18 percent of support.

LEMON: Ruth - I want to ask you --.

GUERRA: I mean, I would just add to that that no candidate is going to get to the White House if you're not trusted and if you're not honest. And Hillary Clinton has -- her numbers are underwater when it comes to that. So, I mean, you know, Maria, I get it but at the same time, when you look at Hillary Clinton in Nevada and the fact that Bernie Sanders was leading her, especially among young Latinos, when she's supposedly has a fire wall with the Latino vote. That is completely turn on its head now after Nevada.

CARDONA: Actually, that's not true because she actually won the Hispanic vote. And when it comes to Latinos, Hillary Clinton is beating every single candidate on the Republican side out of the water. Any candidate would kill for her numbers within the Hispanic vote right.

GUERRA: But she's not getting what Barack Obama got and she is not getting that because Bernie Sanders is taking that away.

CARDONA: When she becomes the nominee, she will be very, very competitive and win the Hispanic vote and be able to get into the White House.

LEMON: That's going to have to be the last word. Ruth, I appreciate it. Sorry, I'm out of time. Maria, I appreciate it as well.

We'll be right back.


[23:58:50] LEMON: Before I leave you tonight, I wanted to say a few words about something we talk about a lot on this show. It's an issue all Americans are struggling with and that's police and race. We talk about it with our friends and our families. The candidates are talking about it out on the campaign trail and tonight it took center stage, on the top rated ABC show "Blackish" with a little help from a familiar face. Take a look.


LEMON: It appears a decision about the indictment has been made and it is about to be announced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's an indictment?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Well, listen. It seems as if some people were supposed to protect us didn't do the right thing but it doesn't happen very often.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It happens all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't happen all very often. But this time it did and if it did, then they are going to get in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the cops are the bad guys?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Some of them are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a gray area.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically black.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: It was a very powerful episode. I hope you watch it. You get the DVR and get to talk about it with your family. It is a great job of balancing humor with a very serious subject and wit and they did a wonderful job. Thanks to ABC's "Blackish".

That is it for us tonight. Thank you so much for watching.

Make sure you stay with CNN. Our Republican presidential debate in Houston, it is tomorrow night, beginning at 8:30 eastern. "AC 360" starts right now.