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Christie Endorses Trump; Trump is Frontrunner Heading into Super Tuesday; Democrats Vie in South Carolina Tomorrow; Oscar Preview. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 26, 2016 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: So, if it were a movie or a TV show, you just wouldn't believe it.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

It all out nasty, mudslinging, it's a brawl between Donald Trump and Marco Rubio with a surprised endorsement by a special guest star, former candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. It was quite a day in Trump.

The GOP frontrunner and Marco Rubio going after each other today, trading insults that are personal, mean-spirited and just downright ugly.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I saw with Rubio, I saw and he's a nervous wreck because here's a guy, no, he's a nervous basket case. Here's a guy -- you had to see him wait, you had to see him back stage. He was putting make-up with a trowel.

No, I don't want to say that. I will not say that he was trying to cover up his ears. I will not say that. No, he was just trying to cover up -- he was just trying to cover up the sweat that pours off -- did you ever see a guy sweat like this?

MARCO RUBIO, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He called me Mr. Meltdown. Let me tell you something, last night in the break during one of the break, two of the breaks, he went backstage. He was having a meltdown.

First he had this little makeup thing applying like make-up around his mustache because he had one of those sweat mustaches. Then he asked for a full-length mirror. I don't know why because the podium rest up to here. Maybe to make sure his pants weren't wet. I don't know.


TRUMP: It's Rubio!

RUBIO: Last one. Wow, every poll said I won the debate last night. Now this was him about himself, OK? "Great honer." I think he meant to say great honor. I don't know how he got that wrong because the e and the o are nowhere near each other on the keyboard.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Let's have one more message for someone who has had a pretty big mouth today. Marco Rubio, your campaign is almost over, buddy.


Showing a lot of desperation today, throwing punches from every angle but none of them are landing because America has made their decision. Donald Trump represents strength and Marco Rubio represents Washington, D.C. We don't need any more D.C. politicians.


LEMON: I want to talk about this nasty turn in the GOP race with Bob Cusack, the editor-in-chief of The Hill, CNN political commentator Ryan Lizza, and Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush. Ari, I have to start to with you, have you ever seen a day like today in politics before? I mean, these guys are trying to be president of the greatest country in the world.

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes. You really miss George W. Bush now, don't you? Look, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The laugh part of me says that look at the surgeon turn out on the republican side in all four contests so far.

There's a massive outpouring of people interested in this republican race and maybe because politicians aren't talking like politicians. They are actually talking like normal people. The cry part is -- are they really talking about the right things, you know, these issues that matter to the American people. Today was one of the most bizarre days I've ever seen.

LEMON: Yes. You said like normal -- like, I don't conduct myself. I don't know any of my co-workers if they conduct themselves at work. I mean, I don't think normal people do that. Maybe on some of the reality shows. I mean, we thought we had seen it all in this campaign. But everything just sort of ramped up so much in this debate last night and then today. Why is that, Ari?

FLEISCHER: But, Don, here's the thing that you have to look at if you are a republican. There's a reason that so many people are participating in the republican primaries. And it's because finally you're getting a lot of folks who gave up on politics who are pouring into the political arena.

[22:05:06] Donald Trump just gets credit for bringing a lot of those people out. You had people who used to talk in the most boring ways possible because they are running for elected office and they are still politicians. And now those walls seem to have crumbled and broken down.

A lot of the things that people used to take for granted in politics no longer apply. Trump is changing all the rules. I've never seen a day like today. But the end of the race, I don't think it matters. The good news for Rubio, though, is if Rubio he's seen as the alpha male who is capable of taking on Donald Trump, it actually will help him in the republican primary. Because there's a big anti-Trump group out there that wonders if anybody can take Donald Trump down. Very interesting day today.

LEMON: OK. You mentioned Marco Rubio that he can take, possibly take Donald Trump down. He was in attack mode today. Listen.


RUBIO: Guys, Donald Trump is the frontrunner. He's now won the last three states, he leads in every poll. He likes to remind us that every day. And so, the time for action is now.

I mean, again, it goes back to what I said. If you sense a sense of urgency, it's not just about winning (Inaudible). It's about the idea that the party of Reagan and the conservative movement can fall into the hands of someone who is a con man who is pulling the ultimate con job on the American public.


LEMON: So, Ryan, this iteration of Marco Rubio has showing up, is it too little too late, though?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think his path is pretty daunting. I mean, he's accomplished the first thing, which is he turned that debate into a dynamic where the race is about him and about Donald Trump. And even Chris Christie's endorsement of Trump I don't think will kill that dynamic.

The next step though, is pretty tough. He's got to survive the 12 races on March 1st, a lot of southern primaries, a lot of states where Cruz and Trump are favored to do better than Marco Rubio. So, he has to basically hope that Cruz is defeated in Texas, and that makes Cruz basically a non-entity going forward.

Well, then he's still got John Kasich to worry about. John Kasich, of course the Governor of Ohio, the Midwest has an important contests coming up, Michigan on March 8th. I think if Rubio can beat Kasich on March 8th, potentially knock him out of the race, then he'll start to do as I already talk about consolidate that anti-Trump vote.

Then you go into March 15th, and if Rubio can win Kasich's Ohio with Kasich out of the race in his own State of Florida, two of the biggest prizes on that day, you have a real contest. But, man, that is a tough path and everything has to go right.

LEMON: That's a whole lot of ifs, ifs, ifs. So, this is how interesting and how sort of whacky this campaign.


LIZZA: And someone today, you know, it might be easier for a DeLorean and a -- a DeLorean and a lightning bolt might be a more likely path for him. LEMON: "Back to the Future," right? So, listen, this is how just

crazy this is, Bob. The headlines this morning it was about Trump being pommelled by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and the question about his taxes and his business dealings. And then this happened.


CHRISTIE: The one person that Hillary and Bill Clinton do not want to see on that stage come next September is Donald Trump. They know how to run the standard political playbook against junior senators run them around the block. They do not know the play book with Donald Trump because he's rewriting the play book.

He's rewriting the playbook of American politics because he's providing strong leadership that's not dependent upon the status quo. And so, the best person to beat Hillary Clinton in November on that stage last night is undoubtedly Donald Trump.


LEMON: So, Bob, what's your reaction here to the endorsement and also the timing of this endorsement? Did this happen before last night? Did this happen this morning or after the debate?

BOB CUSACK, THE HILL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Well, they talked yesterday, so I don't think it's any accident that Donald Trump knew that he was going to have a press conference today after the debate no matter what happened, grabbed the headlines with the guy who really pummeled Marco Rubio in New Hampshire and started that criticism of Marco robot because he was repeating that line, it was a disastrous performance for Rubio.

And I think Christie is going to be very good on cable news for Donald Trump. Remember, just last month Christie was saying calling Trump a carnival barker and this is -- this is no longer show time. So, he was pretty critical of Trump last month.

But I'm not surprised too much that he backed Donald Trump because let's face it, these guys are similar. They punch you in the mouth, they counterpunch, they're tough guys. And I think it's a big get for Donald Trump. No doubt about it.

LEMON: It's always surprising to people to watch when you watch politicians and they beat each other up, Ari, and then all of a sudden they endorse someone becomes a nominee or they endorse someone, it's like, oh, I didn't mean that. I mean, Chris Christie has been an ally of the Bush family. Trump was merciless about Jeb and GWB called Jeb, "Jebra" for a while, said he was low energy candidate. Trump said that your boss should be impeached. Are you surprised that though, that Chris Christie turned to Trump?

[22:10:09] FLEISCHER: No, I think they have a relationship. There's a lot in common between the New Yorker and the New Jerseyan. But it doesn't matter. Endorsements really stopped meaning anything in politics decades ago. You have to run and win on your own marathon, your own two feet and people see you live that you're judging for yourself, not on the basis of who happens to be for you or against you.

It's really a media phenomenon. Reporters love to pay attention to endorsements. I don't think the voters really care.

LEMON: It doesn't really matter. So, Bob, despite the flying insults today, we still need to address Trump's taxes, right? This is what he told Hugh Hewitt, it was on February 25, 2015. Here it is.


HUGH HEWITT, RADIO HUGH HEWITT SHOW HOST: Would you release tax returns?

TRUMP: I would release tax returns and I would explain to people that as a person that's looking to make money, you know, I'm in the business of making money until I do this and if I won, I would make money for our country.

I would make so much money for our country that they wouldn't have to cut social security, Medicare, Medicaid, that we would be able to have a strong -- we would take the jobs back from China.

HEWITT: I got it, but I want to stay focused on the tax returns. SO, how many years back?

TRUMP: So, the answer is yes, I would do it. I mean, I would do it.

HEWITT: Three years, five years.

TRUMP: But I will tell -- I will you up front, as a private person, Hugh, I would be -- and you know, I'm very proud of this, I want to pay as little taxes as...


HEWITT: Of course. Of course. That's the American way legally.

TRUMP: I'm not looking to pay a fortune in tax.

HEWITT: But how many years?

TRUMP: It's part of the complexity of the tax system.

HEWITT: How many years back would you go the day, you announced? Three, five?

TRUMP: Oh, I don't know. I mean, I actually have not even though of that, but I would certainly show tax returns if it was necessary.

HEWITT: At least...


LEMON: So, Trump says that he has been audited for a number of years, I think it was like 12 years in a row. I mean, wouldn't he have known about this last year, Bob?

CUSACK: I think this issue certainly for reporters is going to continue to dog Donald Trump. But I also think that voters don't care much about it. Interesting, though, that Mitt Romney called out Trump on this.

Remember, Romney got in trouble with this. And just remember, also, Chris Christie was the key note at Romney's convention in 2012. I do think that reporters are going to keep asking this question. Is this going to change the race? No, I don't think so.

LEMON: So, as you don't think any of this is going to...


FLEISCHER: But you know what, it does show is Donald Trump will say one thing and it really doesn't matter if he meant it. It's just like he said he was opposed to the Iraq war and then everybody found the audiotape of him saying he was for it. Donald Trump just lets it fly. And that's what troubles me.

At a certain point, you have to be held for what you say. And you can't just keep changing it because it seems to be working or not working. It you get Donald Trump, it doesn't really matter what he says. He might not even build a wall with Mexico if the politics change and he decides well, I'm no longer for it. Nothing binds him.

LEMON: Having said that what you just said, do you think we'll ever see the returns, Ari?

FLEISCHER: No, I kind of doubt it. I think Trump is just going to muscle his way through here. I think if he want to put them out, he'd put them out now. So, I think he is just full of excuses. But, you know, he said he's a strong Christian, and that's why he's audited. So, I just don't think we have a prayer of seeing them.

LEMON: Big weekend, gentlemen. Get some rest this weekend. Have a great weekend. Thank you.

CUSACK: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Just ahead, insults keep flying as former president of Mexico slams Donald Trump comparing him to Adolph Hitler. Also, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders facing off tomorrow in the South Carolina democratic primary. Will Clinton win the state by wide margin? And if Sanders take a big loss in his campaign, is his campaign still viable?


LEMON: Four days to go until Super Tuesday. Rubio and Cruz ramping up their attacks on Trump. With me now is Andy Dean who's is a former president -- former president of the Trump Productions, and also Alice Stewart, the national spokeswoman for Ted Cruz, and Jason Roe, senior adviser to Marco Rubio. Good to have all of you with me on this Friday night. Andy, I'm going to start with you. Donald Trump punching back after last night's slugfest. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Let's talk about our lightweight senator from Florida who's losing big in the polls.


Honestly, I thought he was going to die, Rubio. He was so scared, like a little frightened puppy. When they put Marco on to refute President Obama's speech, do you remember that catastrophe? And he's like this, and we will -- I need water. Help me, I need water. Help. You know, you have the failing New York Times, it's a failing newspaper, I hate to tell you. Like seriously failing.

A lot of terrible -- I endorsed him and about two weeks later, I said I'm never going to win. Number one, when you walk into a stage, you cannot walk like a penguin. He walked like a penguin. I said this is a problem. Somebody tell him to take some steps.

Anyway, Romney turned out to be a disaster. But I know he'll probably support Rubio. He probably has no choice. Honestly, if he wanted to support me, I would not accept his support. You get low life like a guy like Rubio saying horrible things, horrible things, and who needs it.

See, it's guys like that, and he's a nasty guy. I called him a nasty little guy but I wouldn't say that because he's a nasty guy, and we don't need nasty. We don't need nasty. Honestly, there's no place for it.


LEMON: So, Andy, we don't need nasty but that wasn't exactly nice, was it?

ANDY DEAN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I don't know. It seemed OK to me. I mean, look, we're worried about Marco Rubio and his health. This guy sweats constantly. Any time there's a pressure situation, we've seen his robotic behavior and it appears that he got a software upgrade last night where he tried to throw everything at Donald Trump and it didn't work.

And I really feel sad for Marco Rubio because there have been tens of millions of dollars invested in his failing campaign and all his donors say, hey, you got to do something. And what we saw at the debate was a byproduct of that. It's just very, very sad. Now, I'm going to have a drink of water for Rubio. OK, go ahead, guys.

LEMON: Andy, I know it's a joke but it's starting to sound like a talking point, Andy, where, you know, where you defined, you guys defined Jeb by saying he was a low-energy candidate. And it sounds like a talking point when he's trying to define...

DEAN: He was.

LEMON: ... Marco Rubio by being someone who repeats himself or being a robot or what have you, but I mean, does it get to the core of what his accusations about Donald Trump?

[22:20:06] DEAN: Well, look, Marco Rubio defined himself with that weird performance when Chris Christie was asking tough questions and then Rubio had some sort of Johnny number five circuit meltdown. That wasn't anyone trying to define him. That was Marco Rubio defining himself.


LEMON: But my question is that that wasn't last night, though. But wait a minute, let me get it. That wasn't last night, that was a debate or two ago. So, why go back that...

DEAN: That was New Hampshire.

LEMON: What about last night?

DEAN: It a couple weeks but...


LEMON: It's -- what about you're only as good as your last performance.

DEAN: Well, look, last night he obviously threw everything at Mr. Trump and Mr. Trump reminded people that when Marco Rubio was a senator from the state where I grew up in Florida, he got to the U.S. Senate, he didn't show up for any votes and then after not showing up for votes he says, hey, I'll do the gang of eight immigration thing and then after fails he's like, OK, I'll run for president.

It's just a very strange record. Marco Rubio is a young guy, he's 44 years old. You need to accomplish something in this life before you run for president. He needs to take time, maybe another decade maybe he's in his mid-50s, do something with your life, and accomplish something. And then he can president, we can evaluate Marco Rubio then.

LEMON: Jason, did people not say the same thing about Barack Obama?

JASON ROE, MARCO RUBIO'S SENIOR ADVISER: You know, I listen to this and I watch the clip that you show me and I think about the fact that we are the United States, the most powerful country in the world. And we have become a laughing stock around the globe because of Donald Trump, his behavior and he has turned this into a complete circus.

You know, this is somebody, the President of the United States, that should be somebody that our children want to emulate, that we want our children to emulate. And you watch this nonstop berating of everyone that even mildly criticizes Donald Trump. He doesn't -- I mean, last night, I think more than anything exposed how little he actually knows about public policy, how unhinged he is in terms of his own temperament.

And then, you know, we need somebody that can figure out a way to bring the country together to solve problems. And this guy is intent on attacking anybody that dare say anything mildly critical of him. And I think he was exposed last night as being of fraud and the charlatan that he is.

LEMON: Well, Alice, the reason -- Alice, the reason I ask that is because people said the same thing about, you know, then-Senator Barack Obama when he was a candidate who ended up becoming the President of the United States. It's the same argument.

ALICE STEWART, TED CRUZ NATIONAL SPOKESWOMAN: Well, how's that working out for us? It's not very well. Here's the thing. Ari made a great point in the earlier segment is this what people are really talking about? Is this what the voters really want to hear? We spent an entire news cycle with Marco Rubio and Donald Trump throwing water around stage and insulting each other.

When people want to hear about their policies and their record. And that's exactly what Ted Cruz tried to do on the debate stage. He tried to hold Donald Trump accountable for his record and his policies that are involved, donating to democrats for his entire lifetime, for his support of Planned Parenthood, for his support for taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.

Also sharing the same views with Hillary Clinton on issues such as Israel and staying neutral in the Israel/Palestinian situation. And whenever he tried to get Donald to own up to them, he just simply called him a liar and changed the subject.

And an important note when Donald pushed back. Look, Ted Cruz has been a Washington fighting the establishment. When he was in Washington fighting against Marco Rubio gang of eight amnesty bill, Donald Trump was on the reality TV show firing Dennis Rodman.

And the same goes for when Ted tried to hold Marco Rubio as feet to the fire with the gang of eight amnesty bill. All they simply do is call him a liar. When the people want to hear about the candidates' policies and the record and that's what Ted Cruz did successfully last night.

LEMON: But Alice, at the beginning of your comment you said that, you know, we're going to spend the whole election cycle talking about Marco Rubio. But in all fairness we had been talking about Donald Trump versus Ted Cruz for the longest time. This is the first time that Marco Rubio and Donald Trump that really been in news cycle.

But by all accounts, this is for you, Jason, by almost all accounts, one reason that Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump is that he really doesn't like Marco Rubio. The timing of this ended up sticking, you know, sticking it to Marco Rubio one more time. Would you have wanted this endorsement?

ROE: Well, you know, I believe that elections are won by addition, not by subtraction. And so, you always want to broaden the base of support that you have. But let's face it. You know, Chris Christie, through the best that he had at Marco Rubio, in three days later he dropped out of the race. And I'm sure it really burns him that the guy that he doesn't like, the guy that he thought he was humiliating on that stage and frankly, didn't ended up beating him.

And I think this comes across to a lot of people as just sour grapes. The fact that he's cozying up to another bully shouldn't surprise anybody.

[22:25:04] But you know, the reality is, and listen, Alice is absolutely right. We have spent more time talking about process and the back and forth than talking about what these candidates' vision for America is.

Marco Rubio has gone out of his way to try to offer a positive vision for where he would take this country, to try to inspire not just conservatives and republicans but non-conservatives non-republicans to look at the Republican Party as the future of this country in a place where we can provide opportunities for...


LEMON: So, Jason, I'll grant you that.

ROE: But, you know, that's not what we're talking about anymore.

LEMON: But doesn't part of that -- aren't the candidates themselves responsible for part of that when you look at what they were saying and doing to each other on that stage last night, tearing each other apart? There wasn't a lot of process going on, it's just sort of jabs back and forth.

ROE: Well, I would argue, yes, I'll tell you. I would argue that that is I think the responsibility there lies with the media. Because Donald Trump and I think one of the reasons that Marco had to expose Donald Trump last night is that Donald Trump now for six months has been distorting the truth, making up things, avoiding taking any solid positions and there's been very little examination of who Donald Trump is.

And what the media does do is focus on all the outlandish things that he does. And so, I think last night Marco finally took a real microscope to this guy. Last night and today are the first times that I've really heard any discussions about the fraud lawsuits filed against Donald Trump for Trump University.

DEAN: This is ridiculous. Donald Trump -- Donald Trump been a public figure for 40 years.


ROE: Three suits, including two class action lawsuits in which the attorney general of the State of New York said that it was a classic bait and switch scam. Why have we not heard about that really until this week?

LEMON: I've got to tell you, Jason. Jason, I have to tell you -- I have to tell you that we have reported on that and others have reported on it but guess what, the candidates, your candidates don't talk about it as much as we have talked about it. Before -- I have to get the break but I want to ask Andy. This is just

in to CNN. I got to get this to Andy. Let's see, here it is. Maggie Heyburn of the New York Times -- the CNN contributor is reporting this. She is reporting that Rudy Giuliani was being pushed to endorse Trump but Trump wasn't ready -- I mean, Giuliani wasn't ready for that. But Christie became the validating endorsement who could give credibility and give cover.

What do you have to say and also there it is on her Twitter feed right there.

DEAN: Well, I don't think there is anything wrong with -- this just seems like a good thing. That Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie both want to endorse Donald Trump and they're just fighting over each other as to who gets to do it and when. I think that's a high-class problem to have. Because we're seeing everybody coalesce around Donald Trump because Rubio and Cruz are not doing well when people vote. I mean, at the end of the day...


LEMON: But it's not saying that -- it's not saying that...


STEWART: I just want to make a point, Don. If I can make a point there is a reason...

LEMON: ... it's not saying that Trump wasn't ready -- stand by, Alice. Stand by, Alice. Stand by. It's not saying that Trump wasn't ready. It says Rudy was being pushed to endorse Trump but wasn't ready, so Christie became the validating endorsement who could give the credibility cover. It's not saying that Rudy must endorse him.

DEAN: OK. OK. I get it. OK.


DEAN: OK. But Rudy is going to end up endorsing Trump. We know it. I mean, Rudy has already been all over television talking about why Trump is the guy. And Rudy Giuliani is a very smart man. He's going to bet on a winner. He's not going to bet on a loser like Rubio and Cruz, who are trailing badly in the polls. He wants to be a part of the next administration so he's going to pick Trump.

STEWART: First up, hold on, hold on a second. Hold on a second. Hold on a second, it's a...


LEMON: Alice, you'll get the first response out of the break. So, everyone stay with me.

DEAN: Let's take a break.

LEMON: Ahead, Donald Trump is making a lot of campaign promises. But can he keep then if he makes it to the White House? We're going to talk about that next.


[22:30:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: Donald Trump is a GOP frontrunner heading into Super Tuesday and by significant margin.

I want you look at the latest cover of The Economist as Uncle Sam and the question above his hat is "really?"

So, back with me now is Andy Dean, Alice Stewart, and Jason Roe. So, Alice, I promise you you'll get the first response. Let me ask you this question and then you can respond. I want you to take a look at all the things that Trump promises that he's going to change. This was today in his rally.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely, negative, and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.


We will build the wall and it will be a great wall.


It will be a great wall. By the way, we're going to build up our military; we're going to knock out ISIS.


We're going to knock out ISIS fast. We're going to get rid of Obamacare, we're going to make something great. Common core.


Common core, common core is out! It's out. We're going to say Merry Christmas now on Christmas.


Just remember, your Second Amendment with me is protected.


LEMON: So, it's certainly not uncommon, Alice, for politicians to make lofty promises. What do you think the Donald Trump's?

ALICE STEWART, TED CRUZ NATIONAL SPOKESWOMAN: Well, I think that he said to himself that he can change his mind at any time and he has also said that contracts are not worth the paper that they're written on.

I do want to make an important note here. In this contest, there's only two people that have actually won primaries and caucuses to this point. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Marco Rubio has not won a state yet. We're ahead of him in the delegate count, we're ahead of him the popular vote. And that's an important distinction.

And when we get out there and we're talking about who can actually win the nomination and take on to Hillary Clinton, it's Ted Cruz. You can't have Donald Trump get up there who shares her views when it comes to socialized medicine and shares her views when it comes to Israel and many issues. There's not a contrast. He cannot go and prosecute his case against her. Same with Marco Rubio.

LEMON: So, you've got...

STEWART: He cannot go against Hillary Clinton.


STEWART: People in this country are tired with Washington insiders. And you're not -- he's not going to have...


DEAN: Those campaign just lies.

LEMON: You've Jason Roe -- you've got Jason Roe laughing and Andy Dean smirking. So, go ahead, Jason. You want to respond to this?

STEWART: The truth hurts.

DEAN: Well, it's just truth campaign is sick.

JASON ROE, MARCO RUBIO'S SENIOR ADVISER: Well, you know, that's a lot of braggadocio. Yes, Ted Cruz did win the Iowa caucuses and then he came in third place three consecutive times.

[22:34:59] So, you know, as a professional political consultant, you know, I look at trends and I've seen him trending down, whereas, I see Marco Rubio trending up. And I would predict here today that Ted Cruz is likely to win -- lose the State of Texas and the reality is this is going to be a two-person race.

I mean, the reality is for the last 24 hours anyone's been talking about is Donald Trump and Marco Rubio. And I think we saw last night in Marco Rubio's performance that he's the first candidate that can actually take the fight to Donald Trump in any meaningful way. And not only can he throw a punch, he can take a punch. And he's been on -- putting Donald Trump on his heels. I think Donald Trump needed to get Chris Christie on board just to help him.

LEMON: Andy.

DEAN: OK. Let me jump in here. Let me jump in here.


LEMON: Andy, I have less than 30 seconds left. I'll give you the last word. DEAN: OK. Marco Rubio came in fifth place in New Hampshire. There are only like five candidates left. Of course he has to trend up. It's very sad that Rubio is going to lose Florida his home state, and then on March 16th, it's all over. Whoever that Rubio TV person is on couple of boxes over, you can call me if you're looking for a job.

LEMON: Lady and gentlemen, thank you. Have a good weekend. I appreciate you coming on.

DEAN: Thank you.

STEWART: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Up next, the democrats duke it out. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders just hours away from facing off in the crucial South Carolina democratic primary.


LEMON: Super Tuesday's in four days, but there's a big battle for the democrats just hours away. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders squaring off in the South Carolina primary.

Joining me now is CNN political commentary Hilary Rosen, and Symone Sanders, national press secretary for Bernie Sanders. I'm so glad, ladies, that you're spending part of your Friday night here with me.

Oh, yes, That's right. Symone, we saw the republicans duke it out last night. What did you think about it?

SYMONE SANDERS, BERNIE SANDER'S NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: You know what, I thought that it's unfortunate. These are the people that want to be president of the United States. And it was a clown show. But I'm so happy that on the democratic side we are having a civil and robust conversation about the issues.

The republicans, I mean, they don't want to talk about the issues. They want to talk about -- they want to fight. They want to throw attacks and assaults at each other and on the democratic side, we actually want to talk about things like, you know, health care, education as a right, raising the minimum wage. So, it's so unfortunate.

LEMON: I have to move on. I hear people say I wish it was sort of like parliament, the House of Commons, you know, in the U.K. This is the closest thing we had to it. What's wrong with duking it out? What's wrong with duking it out, Hilary?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there's a time and place for everything, Don. I mean, duking it out, even when you go to the House of Commons, they're fighting over ideas, right? They're screaming and yelling over, you know, who's right and who's wrong.

What the republicans did last night and frankly, what they did all day today is who sweat more, who might have peed in their parts, who is more of a choke artist, who's lying about whose mama? I mean, it's just -- that's not -- that's not a debate. You know, that's a childish slugfest. It is embarrassing.

LEMON: Hilary, I'm wondering if it's a little bit early to, if the republicans are getting ahead of themselves because they all but acted as if Hillary Clinton was the nominee last night, but she's still got to win South Carolina and then beyond.


LEMON: Is it a little bit or are they getting a little bit ahead of themselves, Hilary?

ROSEN: Well, you know, she's their favorite punching back so I think it's both a little strategic and, you know, just sort of the way that it goes.

Look, the math favors Hilary now. There's no question about that. Sanders is, you know, Symone is going to tell us now what state Sanders is going to win next Tuesday, and then we're going to see how even up the score though. But right now I think the math does favor Hillary, the Super Tuesday has got, you know, over a thousand delegates. It will be distributed proportionately. And, you know, this is going to be a busy couple of weeks. We'll see whether Sanders can catch up.

LEMON: Yes. To that point, Symone, Bernie Sanders has been...


SANDERS: It will be very busy as we are going to catch up.

LEMON: OK. But Bernie Sanders has been claiming the momentum and the enthusiasm but there are reports that he has had smaller crowds down there in South Carolina. You know, is he focusing -- is their campaign focusing elsewhere and basically conceding South Carolina to Hillary Clinton?

SANDERS: Not at all, Don. Well, look, while Hillary Clinton was having a fundraiser in Atlanta tonight, we were in Columbia, we were out in Orangeburg. We had two events this afternoon. The senator will be here tomorrow morning. So, we're not conceding South Carolina.

We're very invested in the state. We're still on television. We sent a new radio ad here this week. You know, we have over 200 paid staffers on the ground that are still here, we had 10 offices that are still open and we have made over a million voter attempts. So, we're not conceding. We have said this entire time that we can hold the gap here in South Carolina.

LEMON: So, what states -- what states -- what states does your campaign try to win?

SANDERS: You want to know what states we expect to win on?


SANDERS: Well, you know what, I think we can do well in places like Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Vermont, I think the senator...


LEMON: Do well or win?

SANDERS: ... tend to be polling very well in Vermont. We can do well -- I'm not going to jinx it, Don. I'm not going to jinx it. But I think we can do well and possibly win. Look, we're going to win some and we're going to lose some on Tuesday and that's how it goes. But this is about delegates and this is going to be a long contest. This fight is going to go all the way through to the convention. So, we're confident that we're in this thing and we're in it to win it.

ROSEN: I think it is going to be a long...

LEMON: Go ahead, Hilary.

ROSEN: ... you know, a long slog -- slog for a while anyway. I don't know that it's going to go all the way to the convention but, you know, this proportional allocation and Senator Sanders has done a good job raising money, he's got a lot of supporters who are willing to keep funding that campaign, but eventually you have to win states.

So, you know, presidential politics are about two things. They're about the story and then they're about math ultimately. And, you know, you have to -- you have to win in a proportional environment.

[22:45:03] You have to win a majority of states to get delegates -- the delegate advantage. And I just think if Bernie Sanders doesn't win enough states on Tuesday to keep him even or push him ahead, he just keeps falling back, you know, particularly given the big states that are open on Tuesday.


SANDERS: But we think we can compete. You know, we think we can win some on Tuesday.

LEMON: OK. I want you guys to look at this. This is the president singing Ray Charles. It's part of the PBS special and a tribute the White House. Take a look at this.

Can you compete with that out on the campaign trail once a nominee is picked?


LEMON: Hilary.

ROSEN: Look, you know, I was in the music business for 17 years so no one his more than I do. Look, you know, Bernie Sanders has his own kind of unique flavor, Hillary Clinton has her own kind of unique flavor and when Hillary Clinton is in the White House, she's going to have a lot of interesting culture and the arts.

LEMON: Yes. ROSEN: But look, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama brought soul into that White House and it is going to be missed, there is no question about that. The kinds of people that they brought to the people's house, the way they've opened up the White House, the way they have made people believe, look, that you know, that has just changed this country forever, I think.

LEMON: And I got to run. This going to be the last word because I'm already over time. Thank you, have a great weekend.

ROSEN: OK, you, too.

LEMON: We'll be right back, everyone.


LEMON: Here I am on the red carpet for Hollywood's biggest night, the Oscars. We're getting ready. Take a look at the red carpet now. It's kind of white because it's under plastic but believe me the red carpet is under there. It looks like they have a long way to go.

But every year, somehow they manage to get it together just in time. We cannot talk about this big Oscar celebration without talking about the controversy that's happening right now with the Oscar so White hash tag, and the lack of diversity in Hollywood, no black directors actors or actresses nominated this year.

Who better to talk about that, and the person who has covers the Oscars and covers Hollywood for a living and that is my colleague, the gorgeous host of Entertainment Tonight, Nischelle Turner.


LEMON: So good to see you.

TURNER: It's good to see you.

LEMON: Chris Rock, Chris Rock is going to hosting this year. This could be explosive.

TURNER: Well, you know, I think that he's going to go there. From what I heard I was just actually talking to Nick Cannon about this yesterday and I said, is Chris ready. There is this big weight in his shoulder. And he said, listen, Chris Rock's shoulders was built for this.

LEMON: All right.

TURNER: It was built for this stage, for this moment. He's the type of comedian that this Oscars need. And Nick told me also, he said, I've seen some of the stuff he's cooking up.


TURNER: And he's like, it's bananas.

LEMON: Oh, wow.

TURNER: He said it's definitely something not to be missed. He also told me Dave Chapel has been involved.

LEMON: Oh, wow.

TURNER: Yes. So, just get ready.

LEMON: You know what I want to discuss with you because you've been doing this. I was like, is this Leonardo Leo's year?

TURNER: Right.

LEMON: Leonardo DiCaprio for "The Revenant"? Finally best actor for him?

TURNER: It's his year.

LEMON: Do you think so.

TURNER: If Leonardo DiCaprio does not win the Oscar for best actor, we all should pack up and go home.

LEMON: I'll celebrate.

TURNER: I mean, literally, we just need to pack up and go home.


TURNER: You know, the one knock on Leo throughout the year since this is his sixth nomination. The one knock on him has been Leonardo DiCaprio does not like to campaign for awards.

LEMON: Right.

TURNER: He likes to let his work speak for itself. And I think that's hurt him in years past. Because during the Oscars, you got to do a little bit of campaigning.

LEMON: Yes, that's part of it.

TURNER: You just do. Yes, it's part of the whole package. And I think this year he's a little older, he's a little wiser and I think he realizes the game a little more. We've seen Leo, I've seen him throughout the award season at all of the awards. He was at the Producer's Guild Award, he goes to the right.

LEMON: So, he's doing it.

TURNER: He's definitely, he's been there, he's been present, he's been active. And the other thing is he deeply feels this film.


TURNER: I mean, they went through a lot filming this movie. So, he really feels and I think this is his year definitely. LEMON: It's a very beautiful dome the way it was shot, but you know

lots of beautiful people are going to be here.

TURNER: Like Don Lemon.

LEMON: And like Nischelle Turner. But you know what, one of the beautiful people is going to be will be Teyonah Parris.


LEMON: Who was in "Chi-Raq."

TURNER: "Chi-Raq." Yes.

LEMON: Spike Lee's film about Chicago and gun violence. These women come up with a unique way to stop gun violence...

TURNER: Right.

LEMON: ... in her neighborhood. I spoke to her about this film and about this controversy that's hanging over Hollywood right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't know the power we have over them withholding just a day, a week, imagine a month, a year. Oh, they are going to bring the peace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suppose the men just dump us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we all hold out, who can they go to?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we want our men alive, we want our babies to thrive, we're going to have to organize.


LEMON: Joining me now is Teyonah Parris, one of the stars of "Chi- Raq." She joins us live in studio. Thank you so much for coming in today. So, it's "Chi-Raq," a modern adaptation of the intricate play Lisa Estrada, right.


LEMON: And you play Lisa Estrada in "Chi-Raq." What was it like to work in this film and work with Spike Lee?

PARRIS: It really was a dream come true. I've always wanted to work Spike. I've been a fan of his since I was a little. So, to get the opportunity to work with Spike and makes the classic in there. You have some Greeks speaking in verse, all of this was just really exciting.

And I never actually thought those things could come together in cinema.

LEMON: Yes. He is very outspoken. Like his vision is very outspoken. He's been outspoken about this controversy for Oscar so white, right, about the Oscars. He said that he won't be attending with his wife. Jada Pinkett-Smith said she won't be attended with her husband, Will Smith, who they thought should have been nominated for "Concussion." What are your thoughts on this controversy?

PARRIS: I want to see studios and studio execs say they are going to do take that same initiative that the academy is now said they are going to do which is trying to double the amount of minorities and women in the academy.

[22:55:02] I want to see studios do the same thing. I want to see more films incorporate people of color in general, not just black people. We all need to be represented.

LEMON: Chris Rock is hosting. How do you think he's going to handle it?

PARRIS: I think, listen, using humor is a great way to shed light on very serious issues and we do that in "Chi-Raq."


PARRIS: We use humor, the element of humor to illuminate darker, deeper, larger issues that are sometimes very hard to stomach without laughing. These are very big issues happening in our nation that we just sweep under the rug, which is why I love that spike made "Chi- Raq."

LEMON: That's what your movie did.


LEMON: Your movie did the same thing.

PARRIS: It's like we're not going to ignore these issues anymore. They're huge. At the beginning of the movie, you see the statistics that say more people are dying in the south side of Chicago than in all of the wars we've had overseas. So.

LEMON: Let me play this stat on you. Nearly half of the 20 to 24- year-old black men in Chicago were out of work and out of school in 2014. I recently sat down with Spike and we talked about that. Not that particular stat but something very close to that. Listen to this.


SPIKE LEE, FILMMAKER: Here as the thing, we have to give our young -- not just black and African-American, we have to give our young people a reason to keep living. I talk to these guys. They're OK if they don't live past 18. I mean, a human life is the most precious thing you can have. And we failed our youth. I feel if they don't feel life is worth living. If they don't feel life is worth living, then they'll go out and shoot people left and right. That's what happening. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PARRIS: There is so many things that it's hard to just say this is the one thing that's going to help solve everything, but I think starting with these kinds of conversations is good.

LEMON: I appreciate you coming in.

PARRIS: I appreciate you having me.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you very much. It was a pleasure. Teyonah, it was amazing getting to sit here and talk to you and to look at this movie, it's called "Chi-Raq." The DVD is out. Get it and watch an amazing performance by you.

PARRIS: Thank you so much.

LEMON: Thank you so much.

So, I'm going to be on the red carpet along with my beautiful colleague, Michaela Pereira of CNN's New Day for Hollywood's biggest night. And then after the show, make sure you join us for "And the winner is," we'll talk about the show, all of the moments and the stars. It's going to be great. Please join us. I'm Don Lemon. Good night.