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Clinton Wins South Carolina, Looks Ahead To Super Tuesday; Sanders: "Now It's On Super Tuesday"; Rubio, Trump Escalate Their War Of Words. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired February 28, 2016 - 06:00   ET

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


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[06:00:31] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: It's 6:00 a.m. on Sunday and always grateful to have your company. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. New this morning, on to Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton, a thumping victory in South Carolina. Bernie Sanders, a bruising blow in his campaign, 47-point margin here. She's hoping as we look ahead to Super Tuesday in Alabama, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia.

PAUL: Already her speeches are beginning to sound like a general election message. Listen to this.

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HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tomorrow, this campaign goes national. We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything and we're not taking anyone for granted.

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PAUL: Now today Bernie Sanders is campaigning in Oklahoma and Colorado looking forward to Super Tuesday himself. He concedes, yes, he's down, but he insists that he's not out.

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BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Tonight we lost. I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her very strong victory. Tuesday, over 800 delegates are at stake and we intend to win many, many of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: CNN senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is following the Clinton campaign and CNN senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is following the Sanders campaign. Let's start with Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The Clinton campaign just relishing their big win here in South Carolina. Hillary Clinton's communication director, Jennifer Palmieri, saying they did better than they expected they would.

Campaign sources have been telling us they think Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee. And it was significant that in Clinton's speech she outlined what her argument in a general election would be against Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Despite what you hear, we don't need to make America great again. America has never stopped being great, but we do need to make America whole again. Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers.

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KEILAR: Publicly Clinton aides are striking a cautious tone saying they still have 46 states ahead of them. They have a long way to go, but privately they are not quite as cautious. One aide telling me think they will have this wrapped up by March 15th.

We'll see a series of contests then following those series of contests that we are going to see on Tuesday for Super Tuesday. By mid-March almost 60 percent of delegates will have been awarded.

And by then aides think it will be clear there is no pathway to the nomination for Bernie Sanders. Brianna Keilar, CNN Columbia, South Carolina.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: A turning point in the Democratic race for the nomination as Bernie Sanders arrived here in Minnesota with a stinging defeat in South Carolina. Hillary Clinton beat him by a three to one margin across the board.

Now Bernie Sanders still talked about building that revolution, changing politics as we know it. But it's becoming clear just how difficult that will be. He criticized Hillary Clinton throughout the course of his speech about the paid speeches he has given to Wall Street.

About the fact she has a super PAC even bringing up her old Iraq war vote. Those criticisms ring true to a lot of his supporters. The question for Bernie Sanders is that will he be able to expand his support as this race continues now.

March is a critical month in the race for the nomination. Some 56 percent of the Democratic delegates will be selected in the month of March. Now she clearly enters with big advantages.

Bernie Sanders has some fast work to do if he's going to catch her or become a protest candidate here in the months leading up to the Democratic convention in July. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Rochester, Minnesota.

PAUL: Brianna, Jeff, thank you so much. Now here is something that's really interesting. When we look at the exit polls showing Hillary Clinton ahead of Bernie Sanders, it is on all of the parameters for top candidate quality.

CNN senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, with us now. So a big night for Clinton. Particularly in a couple of places where she has been criticized heavily for not being accessible, for not being trustworthy.

[06:05:05]What do these numbers first of all tell us about looking ahead to Super Tuesday and what may be surprised you most, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, we've been following that trustworthiness question with Hillary Clinton over and over again. It's dogged her partially because of her e-mail problems.

And if you were to ask in some of the other early voting states about the issue of honesty. People would say they are choosing Bernie Sanders if that is the main thing they are looking for.

If they are looking for experience, they choose Hillary Clinton. But here in South Carolina, the exit polls show something a little bit different. By a narrow margin, when people were asked if they were looking for honesty in a candidate they chose Hillary Clinton by just 2 percentage points.

And if they were looking for experience she win base wide margin in the exit polls. And if you go down through some of the other values like electability or which candidate cares the most. Again and again Hillary Clinton wins. It was a good night for her in the exit polls -- Christi.

PAUL: And African-Americans really showed up in larger numbers, percentage wise, in this electorate much more so than they did back in 2008. What does that mean for the Clinton campaign moving forward?

JOHNS: Well, it is significant I think because 2008 was the last time she ran for president. She got beat by Barack Obama here and about 55 percent of the electorate was African-American. This time a larger number, 61 percent of African-Americans in this primary.

And the interesting thing is of those, about 82 percent of African-Americans went for Hillary Clinton. She wanted to make a point here in South Carolina. That she would bring in that minority vote.

And it is important for her as we go forward into the primary states, the Super Tuesday states and beyond because a lot of the southern states have a large African-American population. So she made her statement and she hopes African-American voters stay with her in large numbers -- Christi.

PAUL: All righty, Joe Johns, always appreciate it, sir. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's look ahead to the critical vote on Super Tuesday and beyond. We have with us this morning, politics editor, Jason Johnson, and political strategist, Jonathan Tasini. Good to have both of you.

I want to start with you, Jason. We heard that at least rhetorically Hillary Clinton seems to be looking ahead to the general election focusing on Donald Trump.

We don't write Senator Sanders' political obituary, but is she clear to look towards the general now?

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: It makes sense. If you look, Victor, at what the Super Tuesday states are, you have Tennessee, you have Georgia. You have a lot of southern states where there is a larger percentage of African-American voters in this election than you had in 2008.

Those voters are likely going to go with Hillary Clinton. She's not being cocky or arrogant right now to start pivoting towards a general election and tailoring her message for that challenge.

BLACKWELL: OK, so Jonathan, let's look at Sanders and this map, let's put up the Super Tuesday map again if we can. He will win Vermont. It's his home state. He could do well in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado, maybe Oklahoma, should he really put any resources in the south considering the numbers that we saw to South Carolina?

JONATHAN TASINI, AUTHOR, "THE ESSENTIAL BERNIE SANDERS": Well, he had 10,000 people show up yesterday early morning in Austin, Texas, so I think as you quite well know much of those elections happen by congressional district. I think what we're doing is targeting congressional districts in the Austin area where Bernie can do very well.

And looking beyond Super Tuesday, I think we are going to get our good share of delegates coming up to Michigan on the 15th. States like Ohio and Illinois particularly where Bernie can point out that Hillary (inaudible) -- destroyed millions of the good paying American jobs.

And I think workers particularly in those states like Ohio are going to be paying attention to that and supporting Bernie Sanders over Clinton particularly on the trade issue where she's been supporting corporate trade agreements.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you. I'll stay with you for this. After these close losses in Iowa and Nevada, Senator Sanders has been able to raise a lot of money online. Does he raise as much money when he loses by 47 points?

TASINI: Well, I think he has and he continues to raise a ton of money and that's a why he's going to be competitive in all of those Super Tuesday states. He'll be on television wherever he needs to be.

And then again, let's keep in mind that we're going into the states like Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, where I think Bernie is going to do quite well on the economic issues, on trade issues in particular where Hillary Clinton supporter NAFTA, and many very bad trade agreements for African-Americans and lots of other workers throughout those states.

BLACKWELL: So Jason, is there still a viable path in your opinion for Senator Sanders to the nomination?

[06:10:02]JOHNSON: There is a possible path. I don't know if I would say it's viable. At this point, the way that you really want to plan Super Tuesday is it doesn't matter if you are still behind in the delegates. You just have to be in striking distance.

So as long as Bernie Sanders keeps Hillary Clinton from running up the score in Tennessee, running up the score in Georgia, running up the score in Texas, he can stay competitive.

And if he can keep spending money and keep his message out there, I really do think he can push this. Whether or not he can win the nomination at this point he would have to probably split a lot of these Super Tuesday states and get a big victory himself.

BLACKWELL: Do you think the win was big enough for Hillary Clinton? It was, I guess, a big enough blow to Sanders that it changes fundamentally the narrative of the race moving forward?

JOHNSON: I don't think it changes the narrative that we're going to hear, but it changes the narrative within the campaign. The Sanders campaign they have tons of endorsements. They went to African- American college tours and he did worse with black voters in South Carolina than he did in Nevada.

So I think his campaign internally is changing the message, what are we not doing to connect not just with older black voters but younger black voters, Latinos. We got to something better moving forward.

BLACKWELL: So Jonathan, let me bring that to you, what does the Sanders campaign change now?

TASINI: Again, put this in context, when Bernie started out, when you looked at Iowa, New Hampshire, 25, 30, 40 point behind. He got more votes in Iowa. He crushed Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. Came close in Nevada where he had been 30 points behind.

This has been the story of the whole campaign. It is true to calendar. It's a short calendar relatively speaking but every time Bernie goes out and speaks to people, every time he is able to get his message out he does very well.

In South Carolina, it was a big hill to climb, no question. But I think we're moving into a lot of states and looking beyond that even down into April where we can get a lot of delegates do very well.

As, you know, politics can change on a dime and if Hillary Clinton continues to deny and refuse to release the speeches that she gave to banks, over $2 million, 12 big banks, Goldman Sachs. People are going to start to question who is she supporting, us or the banks?

BLACKWELL: Jason, let me just say, I want to come to you on those speeches, but let me come to you and you say that every time he speaks to people he does very well. He had several rallies in South Carolina. The most recent in (inaudible) University, HBCU, the reporting was that half the crowd expected showed up. It was smallest group he'd gotten in recent times. So that doesn't prove to be true to what we saw in South Carolina, does it, Jonathan?

TASINI: Well, I think South Carolina Hillary Clinton clearly did very well. But if you look at all of the states going back to Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, he closed the gap. He crushed in New Hampshire. He'd been far, far behind. I think that's going to be instructive as he move to the other states.

Texas was one state you didn't mention, 10,000 people showed up in Austin. Our goal is to get as many delegates as possible in the Super Tuesday states and then move into other state likes Michigan, Illinois, Florida. Let's see what happens by the end of the month.

BLACKWELL: Jason, finally to you, is this narrative about release the transcripts of Wall Street speeches, is that resonating?

JOHNSON: No. I don't think that is going to make that much of a difference and let's be honest. Any time your campaign says once you get to know me I'll do better. It means you're losing. People already know who Bernie Sanders is.

That's why he was able to sort of lessen the gap of him and Hillary Clinton, but clearly the people who have gotten to know him, certainly incredibly important minority constituencies. They still don't like him and that's why Hillary Clinton did so well in South Carolina.

BLACKWELL: We got to wrap it there. Jonathan, Jason, good to have you both.

The Democratic contest moves to the Midwest and the next debate is live from Flint, Michigan. Watch the CNN Democratic presidential debate next Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

PAUL: Now we have to talk about Donald Trump and Marco Rubio. There are personal attacks. There are some characterizing it as bulling. Some saying it's a war of playground insults. We are going to talk about it.

Also a new report saying that there was a secret mission from within the Republican Party to prevent Trump from becoming the GOP nominee. Reaction from one of his supporters next and really what's going on in that party.

Also later, what I know so many of you are talking about this morning, the Oscars. How Chris Rock will address the lack of diversity at the award ceremony tonight.

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[06:17:51] PAUL: Marco Rubio and Donald Trump are escalating in a big way their war of words here. Trading insults for a second straight day from the stump. Each of them trying to knock the other one down. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He put out a picture of me having make up put on me at the debate, which is amazing to me that a guy with the worst spray tan in America is attacking me for putting on makeup.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A little Marco Rubio, this guy who's going around. He's going crazy.

RUBIO: Donald Trump likes to sue people. He should do that whoever did that to his face.

TRUMP: If he ran in Florida today for an office, he couldn't run for dog catcher. He wouldn't be elected.

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PAUL: All right, let's talk to CNN political commentators, host of the "Ben Ferguson Show," Ben Ferguson and former White House associate political director under Ronald Reagan and a Donald Trump supporter, Jeffrey Lord. Gentlemen, thank you both for being here.

Jeffrey, the "New York Times" is calling this a, quote, "new front in the war of playground insults." I mean, there is no doubt that we listened to this. We didn't hear policy. We didn't hear issues.

We heard some criticisms of aesthetics. Is this what it's come to and does it really do either of them any favors?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I have to say Christi, like it or not this is part of the American political tradition. You can look back in campaign after campaign. I won't say it on the air, but John Quincy Adams folks called Andrew Jackson's wife a word that begins with w. It's very old.

It's a little nonsensical, but that is part of the game as it were. So I don't think it is going to change. It hasn't changed for 200 years.

PAUL: Ben, you know, there is this report in the "New York Times" this morning that the Republican Party is working feverishly behind closed doors to try to keep Trump from becoming the nominee.

They said that Christi's endorsement was basically crippling. That there was a couple of strategists who attempted to create a super PAC that would take Trump down and it never got off the ground?

What is happening? Are we watching slowly but gradually a fracturing of the Republican Party? And could Mr. Trump essentially reshape what that party is?

[06:20:06]BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think Donald Trump is going to reshape it. I think what you are going to see a great divide. The same way that we had a divide between Republican establishment and Tea Party candidates who won and went to Washington where they tried to label them as being extremists and outsiders.

That's one of the reasons why Donald Trump has done so well. He's been able to connect with people that felt like the Republican Party was not listening to their concerns and/or their needs. That is a void that he has filled.

There is also the other side of this, which is when it comes to PR, has Donald Trump recreated the name or remade the name or redefined the name of what a Republican is.

I think that is what you see concern from the Republican Party is. If Donald Trump is able to completely turn this party upside down and to turn politics and the insults that you just played, that is going to do damage for the brand over the long-term.

Trump supporters would actually cheer that by saying yes that is exactly what we're doing here. We are changing the party. We are going to take it back. We are not going to let you keep giving us bad candidates like Mitt Romney or Bob Dole or whoever, John McCain.

We are getting our own guys. You can't control us and that's why I think you see there is a lot of people who are afraid to give money to the RNC are concerned to give it to the Republican Party because they feel like it is going to be used maybe against their own candidate that they like.

LORD: One of the problems here I think is that there are a lot people at the grassroots level of the Republican Party that feel the Republican establishment has been ruining the Republican Party.

That in essence if I can speak from a Reagan perspective. Ronald Reagan handed over a party that was well on its way to being a majority. Newt Gingrich won back the Congress.

And in the intervening years now the Republican establishment has more or less ruined the whole thing. People are fleeing from the Republican establishment like they have typhoid. So I have to say I think the Republican establishment has done a Class A lousy job running the party.

PAUL: I want to bring in something we haven't talked about yet. There was this moment, this moment at the Trump Christie rally in Tennessee that a lot of people took notice of. Take a listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: -- get in the plane and go home. It's over there. You go home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: He taps him on the shoulder. Get in the plane and go home. Some people are looking, you know, he's thoughtful. Some thought it was dismissive. Ben, what's your take on this?

FERGUSON: I think it depends. If you love Donald Trump you are going to think this is him saying job well done. Get out of here, go home. You have done your job here. Others are going to say it is very dismissive and shows how he treats people.

We've seen him talk to people like that on stage. And he was also ripping on Chris Christie back in January and then in December and then in November. He was treating him the same way he's now treating Marco Rubio calling him a heavy guy that's a lightweight and he's on the little person stage.

You know, this is an example of the bait and switch of Donald Trump which concerns a lot of people that are voting is who he is really? Is he this nice guy or is he going to be nasty and take the party down into the lowest form it will be and have these trash wars on the playground?

PAUL: With that said, Ben, who are the Republicans against Trump going to get behind? Is it Cruz or Rubio? Especially based on what we've seen from Rubio, who seems to be taking some cues on how to deal are Trump from Trump himself.

FERGUSON: I think there was a great divide there. Some don't want to engage because they don't want to be in cross-hairs of Donald Trump. Donald Trump is the best trash talker in modern political history and do you really want to put money up against him and have him come after you?

Anybody in the establishment right now that is at wanted endorsement for Cruz or Rubio and Donald Trump will exploit that to say here we go again. There is the establishment trying to ruin me again.

Trying to take this away from us. We're not going to let it happen. It helped his campaign. I wouldn't want any of these establishment guys anywhere close to me if I was Rubio or Cruz right now.

PAUL: All right, so Jeffrey, really quickly, is it possible the Republican establishment will not let Trump be the nominee?

LORD: Well, I certainly think they are going to try and I think they are going to fail. Their brand, if you will, is so damaged that an endorsement from any of these folks is only going to hurt. So I really do think that if it's -- that they would like to support Marco Rubio and I think that's going to hurt him.

PAUL: OK, Jeffrey Lord, Ben Ferguson, Gentlemen, always good to have you here, thank you.

By the way, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz released their tax returns. The question is will Donald Trump follow their lead? That was their intention, will it happen? We'll talk about that later this hour.

[06:25:06]"STATE OF THE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper coming up at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. He's talking with presidential candidates, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, at 9 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: And coming up next. It was her first day on the job. A Virginia police officer shot and killed while responding to a call for help.

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BLACKWELL: It's 28 minutes after the hour now. This is just a tragic story out of Virginia. A police officer shot and killed just one day after being sworn in. Her name is Ashley Ginden.

She responded to a domestic violence call last night. She and two other officers were shot. Ginden died from her injuries. The two others are still in the hospital. The suspected shooter has been arrested.

PAUL: Three counter protesters are stabbed by suspected KKK members after a violent confrontation at a planned rally. Two members of the white supremacist group were stomped on the ground. Twelve people were arrested on both sides. Police say four were released after an investigation and review of video evidence. Police in Anaheim, California are still looking for this man.

BLACKWELL: Government officials in Michigan knew the water in Flint was dangerous a year ago. That's according to a newly released set of e-mails sent to the governor's office back in January 2015.

They were warned not to call the drinking water safe because of an increase in Legionnaire's disease. Now in response to the revelation, Governor Rick Snyder admitted his staff, quote, "let us all down" and he added that, "I'm responsible for that." Eventually 87 people were diagnosed with Legionnaire's, nine died.