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CNN Special Super Saturday Coverage; Good Results for Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders; Democratic Debate in Flint, Michigan, on Sunday Night. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 6, 2016 - 00:00   ET





DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to congratulate Ted on Maine and on Kansas, and he should do in Maine because it's very close to Canada.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we stand united, that's how we win this primary, that's how we win the general, it's how we turn the country.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Democracy is not about billionaires buying elections.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This country belongs to all of us, not just those at the top.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The math only gets friendlier for us after tonight. We knew this would be the roughest period of the campaign.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, (R-OH) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The spirit of our country has been lower because we don't like what's happening in Washington.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Hello once again, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world, I'm Kate Bolduan.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: I'm John Berman. You're watching CNN special coverage of Super Saturday. Super for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but tonight also super, maybe even more super for Ted Cruz and also Bernie Sanders.

BOLDUAN: On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders, he won Nebraska and Kansas, with Clinton taking Louisiana.

Among Republican Ted Cruz, he won Kansas, he won Maine. Donald Trump, he took Kentucky and Louisiana.

BERMAN: Trump and Clinton continue to lead in the critical count for delegates, Clinton has, let's throw it up here so I can read it to you. Clinton has 1,131, Bernie Sanders has 479. Donald Trump Maintained his lead, at this point in the race, Donald Trump has 385 delegates. Right now we're counting 298 for Ted Cruz.

But, I got to tell you, tonight Ted Cruz won more ...


BERMAN: ... delegates than Marco Rubio -- sorry, well certainly to Marco Rubio, but Ted Cruz won more delegates than Donald Trump, that is crucial. Marco Rubio did not do well at all.

BOLDUAN: That is very, very true. Let's take a look here. Trump this evening -- Trump even congratulated Ted Cruz in a way, I guess you can only say Trump (inaudible).


TRUMP: I want to congratulate Ted on Maine and on Kansas, and he should do in Maine because it's very close to Canada, let's face it.

Marco Rubio had a very, very bad night, and personally I'd call for him to drop out of the race, I think it's time now that he dropped out of the race. I really think so.

I would love to take on Ted one on one, that would be so much fun. Because Ted can't win New York, he can't win New Jersey, he can't win Pennsylvania, he can't win California. I want Ted one on one, OK?


BERMAN: I want Ted one on one says Donald Trump. Joining us now Ronald Brownstein, CNN Senior Political Analyst and senior editor at the Atlantic. Ron, you know, Ted Cruz did win more delegates tonight than Donald Trump but, Donald Trump did win Louisiana and Kentucky, the biggest state prices tonight.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think it was a mixed night for Ted Cruz because, as we talk about before, the biggest problem I think for Ted Cruz so far has been, he has not really been able to expand beyond the evangelical belt ph) yet.

Going in into tonight, he had not won more than 18 percent of voters who are not evangelicals in any state except his own state of Texas, and even there he lost the plurality of voters who are not evangelicals. Probably tonight in Maine, he did better than that. I mean that was state that was kind of outside of that evangelical belt that, you know, that he did win.

On the other hand, John, there were two more states, Kentucky and Louisiana where two of the last states where there is a significant evangelical population, and he didn't win either of them. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum both won Louisiana, he did not win there. So, I think it still remains to be proven, as Donald Trump pretty accurately said that Ted Cruz can win states like Pennsylvania, California, New York, Michigan where the evangelical population is much smaller than it is in those Southeastern states where he had only kind of a mixed result not that most of the (inaudible) the books.

BOLDUAN: Ron, talk to us about the Democratic side, big headlines there because, going forward the -- gets a little interesting.

BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. I think it's kind of a similar story. Really in both sides, I think the frontrunners largely held serve. I mean, Bernie Sanders won caucuses in Tuesday, it's Nebraska and Kansas where 90 percent of the population is white, and it really doesn't answer the biggest question in the Democratic race, can he break Hillary Clinton's hold on African-American voters in particular, and to some extent Latino voters who we saw in Texas, the big advantage there.

I mean, the Sanders campaign believes that African-American voters in the Midwest are more open to them than in the south. We're going to know Kate very soon, I mean Michigan is going to give us a very clear read on that, Bernie Sanders have shown that he can compete for white working class voters so that does give him some perch from which they can test the Midwest.

[00:05:04] But I think, you know, often these races get really closely decided in those big mid-western battlegrounds, Michigan on the 8th, Illinois and Ohio on the 15th. I think on both sides, the loom I think is critical contest.

BERMAN: All right Ron Brownstein, thank you so much for being with us. Sort of fitting the scene for us, we want to bring in our panel, CNN political commentator, Republican consultant Margaret Hoover. CNN Political Analyst and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Beast, John Avlon. Political Strategist and former Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Angela Rye.

BOLDUAN: Also with us CNN Political Commentator and Trump supporter Kayleigh Mcenany. CNN Political Commentator and contributor the Atlantic, Peter Beinart, hello Peter.

John, right before we want to break, you were very exited, because you said there is some very big things that you think actually came up when we were talking to the Cruz campaign as well as the Trump campaign.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I do. Look, there were -- two important bits of news there. First of all, the Trump surrogate basically said that, yes that Canada was going to be outsourcing his foreign policy to Jeff Sessions. And he made it very clear he was going to be pursuing a non-interventionist foreign policy. That is language much closer to the Rand Paul campaign, putting Donald Trump to the left of both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

That is really significant in terms of a strategic. I'll hot rhetoric against ISIS, Assad, the Cruz surrogate was fascinating because he made it very clear that Cruz's action trying to compete in Florida, and if this was a larger sort of, let's get the entire anti-trump together and maybe play for a convention, you know, you can see scenario where Cruz would cede Florida, cede Ohio to stop the delegate march of Donald Trump. Instead he's trying to play there, that means he's trying to kill Rubio.

BERMAN: Margaret, you know, we heard from Ron Brownstein that we didn't discus Marco Rubio, but Marco Rubio had a bad night, he didn't meet the delegate threshold in Louisiana or Maine, finished a distant third in both Kansas and in Kentucky. Is there panic in Rubio world tonight, if there's not, should there be?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think there's any more panic in Rubio world than there was two nights ago. I mean they knew that the sates going in tonight weren't going to be states that they were going to win, or going to be states they were going to run away with. They know that the map is better suited to the moving forward. But I think they also know there is a very narrow path for them.

They are very clear, if they don't win Florida, I mean they don't say it's all over but they have said, they have to win Florida, and if you look at the political poll, poll of averages in Florida, Trump is 18 points up if you average all of the polls. So, hard to say where they're getting their inspiration unless they've got some incredible internal poll and it doesn't represent or parallel any other polling that we've seen.

BOLDUAN: And when you look at it, Peter, it's not -- Rubio's loss isn't because he didn't try, you know, like -- John Kasich, he really didn't show up in a lot of these states, because he's move on, he's got what he thinks his really his only strategy, he canceled events yesterday, and to make sure he spend all day, I think yesterday in Kansas, and he made -- I think at least a few stops there and he has big endorsement. He had the governor, he had ...

BERMAN: ... senator.

BOLDUAN: ... Pat Roberts, he has senators, he has representatives, I mean, he had the whole thing but ...

Peter Beinart: Right, I mean we've seen the disconnect from the very beginning of the campaign, right? Where Marco Rubio has been the darling of the Republican elites from the very beginning and there's been a huge disconnect. How much of it has to do with immigration, with the fact that on this issues, which has turned out in some ways to be the burning hot issue in the Republican party that he is suspect. We also in the last few days, you know, him going after Trump in way he's done, seems to equate the kind of classic situation, right?

Where, A attacks B, B attacks A and C wins, C the Cruz, right? So now he has this very difficult decision to make, does he continue doing this, this kind of Kamikaze attack on Trump? Because the evidence is not pretty strong that it's just helping Ted Cruz.

BERMAN: Angela, you know, you haven't run many Republican campaigns, I would say zero.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: I would say you're right.

BERMAN: Marco Rubio is a young man, you know, he's 44 years old. He wants to have a bright political future. How much of a risk is it to stay in this race, through March 15th and lose? What if Marco Rubio losses Florida, what does that do to his future prospects if he wants to be governor there one day, if he wants to run for president again one day?

RYE: So, I think a couple of things. I think one he doesn't have a choice, right? He's made it this far, I know a lot of folks have said that he's been the Republican establishment darling from the beginning. I don't necessarily agree with that, I think Jeb Bush had those shoes filled and the caucus field. To prove that point, I also think that Rubio has to demonstrate that he has some intuitiveness because he'll do it because he's been branded as Little Marco now, probably very successfully by Donald Trump.

So he's got to stay in this race, and he doesn't have a choice, I don't know that he's going to do well but I think we can also look at the main poll where Trump was ahead by several percentage points as well, and Cruz ended up coming up on top.

BOLDUAN: And Kayleigh, tonight is a big night for Ted Cruz, not only he get to pick up some more wins but he won the delegate fight tonight. I mean, that was a very big moment for his campaign. I mean, what does -- take us into Donald Trump's mind.

[01:10:05] What was behind the -- let's call it the underperforming tonight for Donald Trump. Do you think it shows, as Margaret kind of makes the argument, that the attacks coming at him have hurt his numbers?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do think it's helped Cruz and that, you know, you have two people bickering and then you have this person ...

BOLDUAN: Yes for Trump but helped Cruz ...

MCENANY: ... has absolutely helped Cruz. And I think you've seen Carson get out, you know, that's 2 or 3 percentage points that probably went to Cruz, you know, that's a big deal. But I still think, you know, in the point of winning the southeast which is what Trump has done is very big for him. But I do think tonight there is a wake up call to look at Maine, ask the very question of why did Cruz win in Maine when he should have.

And also, I think the bigger picture here is that this is an outsider's election. Look at every state consolidate the Cruz with an outsider, he called Mitch McConnell a liar, no one is endorsing him, none of his colleagues, and Trump is an outsider. They're winning 70 percent of the vote, and some places 79 percent of the vote.

BERMAN: Yes. MCENANY: It's huge, and then we see Rubio crumbling. I think the big headline out of tonight is Cruz doing well, Trump doing better than expected in the southeast in this day is an outsider's election.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and now thinking about endorsement except Lindsay Graham has acknowledged that he ...


BERMAN: ... that he would vote for Ted Cruz in a general election.

BOLDUAN: I think Ted Cruz won a Lindsay Graham endorsement tonight.


BERMAN: All right. So, Donald Trump had a lot to say about Marco Rubio dropping out, he also had a lot to say about Hillary Clinton in his news conference tonight. When we come back we're going to talk more about what Donald Trump said about Hillary Clinton. We're going to talk about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic race as well. Stay with us.



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL: This is CNN News Now, hello I'm Natalie Allen. A day of remembrance of expected in Kuala Lumpur, nearly two years after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 mysteriously disappeared. March 8th is the deadline for families of the (inaudible) to sue the airlines. Relatives hope this piece of debris found recently off Mozambique may gave them some answers.

Prominent Sudanese politician Hassan al-Turabi has died. State media report the Islamist leader died from an unspecified illness, he was 84. In the 1990s Turabi reported encouraged al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to move his organization to Sudan.

China has set a goal for its economy an annual growth rate of at least 6.5 percent. The announcement came from China's premier at the opening of the national people's congress in Beijing. He warned that China faces difficulties ahead given the country's slowdown in economic growth.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should leave power as soon as serious political transition begins. He says there's no possibility that Mr. Assad can remain in office. U.N. sponsored peace talks are due to reconvene in Geneva this coming week.

It has been just over one week since the cessation of hostilities went into effect in Syria, the Syrian observatory for human rights says, since last week, 35 people have been killed in parts of the country where the ceasefire has been observed. Most of the dead were rebel fighters or soldiers, 32 of the dead were civilians.

That is the latest news from CNN News Now. I'm Natalie Allen. (MUSIC)


TRUMP: You know, I heard Hillary today and I watched her statement tonight, and her statement is, "Make America whole." That's a terrible statement. Make America whole. I think he means we're in a hole, we're in a deep hole and we're trying to dig our way out.


BERMAN: All right Donald Trump there during his victory speech/press conference. Let's bring back our panel, also joining us now, Presidential Historian Julian Zelizer and Brett O'Donnel, consultant and all around good guy. Thank you very much for being with us Brett. But we're going to start with the Democrats, so Angela, I'm going to go to you here as the resident Democrat employee with us tonight.

Tonight means what in the Democratic race?

RYE: Well, I think it means two things. I think we know that Hillary continues to pull ahead and demonstrate that she's a frontrunner but we also see that Bernie Sanders does well. I think the problem is, as Ron said before break, where he does well. So we know that in Kansas and in -- I'm sorry ...

BOLDUAN: Louisiana?

RYE: No -- in Louisiana, Hillary does well there because of the demographics. So she does very well consistently with African- American population. Of course, he's trying to see if that changes a little bit when they go to the Midwest, but he does well tonight Nebraska and in Kansas. So, Kansas is 86 percent white, and Nebraska is 89 percent white. So this is consistent with Bernie's normal trajectory.

And I think that he's got to demonstrate very soon that he can speak to other issue that people of color care about, not just meth (ph) incarceration, not just criminal justice reform, there are broader issues. So, I think traditionally, in both 2008 and '12, African- American demonstrated that they don't just vote for history, they vote on issues and he's not really fleshed out his platform in a way that satisfy ...

BOLDUAN: And before they even get anywhere else, so you have huge opportunity tomorrow, the CNN debate in Flint, Michigan ...


BERMAN: Brett O'Donnel, debate coach, you know, we should ask you, you know, there is this debate tomorrow night in Flint, Michigan, you know, Michigan is a state, it's much more of a risk (ph). What should or could or can Bernie Sanders do tomorrow night right here on CNN, you know, to improve his standing?

BRETT O'DONNEL, DEBATE COACH: Well I think he's got to make an argument to the African-American community, he's been trying to do this, he's in a perfect place to do it, Flint, Michigan, a community that's been devastated by the water problem there. And I think he's got be able to make an effective argument that shows that he really actually gets it and cares about that community rather than, he's just trying to message to them.

And I think it's been too much messaging to them rather that showing he actually understands the African-American community.

BERMAN: And that's an interesting aspect about this upcoming debate Beinart, is that, they're going to get -- they are going to get questions from the community, they're going to get questions from the people in Flint who are hard hit. I mean Anderson was talking about, he's moderating the debate. That changes really the way -- it's almost, you know, like kind of the town hall format, you can't just message when someone is staring you down saying, I'm the one that's impacted right now.

I mean, they want more, everyone in Flint, Michigan, they want more than lip service from politicians, and that's a challenge for both of these candidates.

BEINART: Right. And I think what you see with Bernie Sanders is his strength is his weakness, is that he is a candidate with one very clear message, he sees things through an economic lens, there's a certain rigidity, there's a lot of authenticity but also a certain rigidity, when the conversations move to foreign policy he's been much less strong.


BEINART: And when the conversation is moved off of straight economic issues, he's also less strong. I think he has changed the debate on economic and on Wall Street inside the Democratic Party in ways they're going to have implications for a long time to come, but he's not been able to become the broader candidate he would need I think to start cutting in to her support with other groups.

BERMAN: CNN Digital Reporter, Politics Reporter Eric Bradner I actually with us from Flint, Michigan. I think, you know, you can actually touch the stage practically Eric where these will all happen tomorrow night, this debate, Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders in Flint, you know, what do you expect to see there tomorrow night?

ERIC BRADNER, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes John, absolutely the Flint water crisis will be front and center. But, there's another issue that's going to be a big part of that debate and its trade. Now, we're in a say with 15 percent of the workers -- actually members of labor unions. And -- so Bernie Sanders has been really hitting Hillary Clinton hard, sort of trying to bring up the ghost of NAFTA, harkening back to Bill Clinton signing the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, and sort of accusing Clinton of being either for these big trade deals or at least sort of a weak opponent of them for years and years.

Now, Clinton's hitting back, she's bringing up the export-import bank, it's bank that most people have never heard of, but it's run by the government.

[00:20:08] And Bernie Sanders was the only Democrat to vote to shut it down last year, joining other Republicans.

Now, this might be something that most people don't know about but 176 small businesses here in Michigan have benefited from it. So, trade is going to be another issue that is front and center in this debate, along with Flint water crisis.

BERMAN: Julian I'm bringing you on this, and kind of more broadly looking at this historic nature -- or use whatever adjective you want, I mean just the -- the way that this race has played out. Let's talk about on the Republican side, most recently you have the 2012 Republican nominee standing up to try to take down the current frontrunner on the Republican side. That is unprecedented and, you know, it's such an extraordinary moment, it played out right here, we were watching and we just really couldn't believe what was happening.

The impact of that do you think on this race?

JULIAN ZELIZER, PRICETON UNIVERSITY: Well we have had some moments when former presidents have gone after existing candidates. So there's tension between Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy, but not quite this direct, not quite this cypherous (ph). In this case I still think that it plays out in Trump's favor, I don't think what happened in Kansas is a result of Mitt Romney making that speech.

You know, Trump has framed this as him against the Republican establishment. So to have someone who was not the strongest candidate but was the candidate of the establishment hit him, I think he set up Donald Trump actually to be able to appeal down the road in Florida and Ohio more than Kansas on these kind of ...


BOLDUAN: Hang on, Margaret, I don't mean to be rude (ph) but how did Mitt Romney do tonight?

HOOVER: Mitt Romney is not looking so strong is he? I mean, but this is what we knew though. I mean we did know that nobody who is already in the corner of Trump, nobody who voted early for Trump, nobody who's enthusiastic for Trump is going to give a $0.02 -- two bits about what Mitt Romney said in that endorsement.

BOLDUAN: OK, great. Thank you very much.

HOOVER: It was for the late deciders, it was for the, sort of mainstream people who -- and also frankly for the big -- to the donor types, to know that there's a fight out (ph).

MCENANY: It's important to point out with regard to Romney, you know, he's advocating for a brokered convention essentially, or an open convention, whatever you want to call it. Meanwhile you have Cruz who would come out and said, that would be horrible for the Republican Party, even though that maybe in Cruz's interest to have a brokered convention, Ted Cruz has said no. That is awful for the party, still has Carson, still has Christie, still has Huckabee.

The only people advocating for this are Rubio and Romney, and it would be horrible for the party.

BERMAN: And John Kasich.

MCENANY: And John Kasich, yes.


ZELIZER: ... Republican either. So that's the story tonight. The other person in this race isn't exactly what Romney had in mind. So there is an insurgency so to speak.

BOLDUAN: Do you think tonight, after what you told tonight a contested convention is more or less likely Peter?

BEINART: I think it's more likely because it's -- there are some evidence that it's harder to see, a little harder to see Trump getting to the number he needs because Crus is sticking around. You see that Cruz is closer in delegate count to Trump than Rubio is to Cruz. That is true (ph), there are questions about how will Cruz can do going forward in some of the states that are further North. But, there is some evidence, I think some evidence now that the attacks on Trump have hurt him at least a bit.

So he's past 1,200, I think was a little bit harder than it did a couple of days.

BOLDUAN: Brett O'Donnel, I want you to give the last word on the contested convention theory. You know, you are a life-long Republican, even working for a lot of Republicans for a long time, you willing to throw in the convention and let the convention decide, is this something you want to see for the party? Do you think this is good for the party?

O'DONNEL: I think it would be very damaging to the party to disenfranchise the number of voters that are turning out in this election this year that are new to Republicans, whether they're Cruz voters or Trump voters. And so, if it is contested convention, we got to be very careful about how that is handled, I think it's actually still less likely than likely that it happens. But if it happens, how we handle it may set us back or forward depending on what the outcome is.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Guys, stand by, a lot more to come, we're going to hear more from Donald Trump after a quick break, we'll be right back with our special live coverage this evening.



BOLDUAN: Welcome back everyone, the CNN special coverage of Super Saturday as we now roll in -- five states full of delegates were up for grabs tonight. Here are the result. BERMAN: Delicious (ph) Sunday ...

BOLDUAN: Oh good. I love you.

BERMAN: It's not true but we're going to say it anyway.

BOLDUAN: In Kansas Ted Cruz filled a massive win, a 48.2, right, yes, percent of the vote tallying more than twice the number of votes cast for second place Donald Trump. Cruz also on in Maine, won big, coming just shy of the 50 percent threshold that would have given him all 23 delegates. Donald Trump, taking second place there with just over 32 percent of the vote, John Kasich in third with 12.2 percent.

Donald Trump did bring home two victories tonight though, Louisiana and as we learned just a short time ago, narrowly edging out Ted Cruz in Kentucky.

BERMAN: On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders, he had decisive wins in Kansas defeating Hillary Clinton with about two-thirds of the vote there, look at that. He also won Nebraska, a big win in Nebraska as well. Kansas and Nebraska both very white, not much diversity there. Hillary Clinton did claim a huge victory in much more diverse Louisiana, and Louisiana was the state with the biggest delegate jackpot tonight.

So, when all the delegates are counted on the Democratic side, fairly equal between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Now, back to the Republican, after he hit 500 tonight Donald Trump held a news conference, he said it was time for Marco Rubio to dropout, he said he was asking respectfully.

BOLDUAN: So respectfully.

BERMAN: He also had some less respectful words for Mitt Romney, listen.


TRUMP: I would like to see it, I mean I would like Marco to dropout from this standpoint that I think Marco now -- look at how he did tonight, he's in 3rd and 4th, and somebody was nice enough to say that even when I don't win a state I always come in second, that's a big thing.

[00:30:07] Marco is coming 4th, so I think it's time for Marco to clean the deck, I do. I didn't bring it up, excuse me, somebody else said, Donald Trump has small hands. So I said, "What hands?" These guys know I hit a ball 280 yards. Stand up, my club (ph) champion, stand up. Do I hit the ball good? Do I hit it wrong? Is Trump strong?

So, look, so I just simply held up the hands. These are very strong hands and they're fairly large actually. But you know, it was interesting because -- and you shouldn't even be bringing this up to be honest with you but it was very interesting because the day after he said that, I'm shaking hands with people and everybody were saying, "Wow, you have strong hands. You have very big hands." What happened is Marco just made up out of nowhere because he's a politician and politicians lie and they say bad things and if you don't call them up for it, you know, I didn't bring it up, he brought it up. But I finished it.

And I'll tell you about Marco. It's very interesting. Marco attacked me viciously a week ago, two weeks ago. So far, every person that's attacked me has gone down. Look at his numbers tonight. He cannot hold one of those phony rallies where he did well because he did really badly, OK? He's not going to stand up tonight and talk about how well he did in Iowa where he was in third place and he acted like he won. I agree with Ted on that.

Mitt Romney was a failed candidate. He was a terrible candidate. He joked. Absolutely, he joked as bad as I've ever seen other than Marco when Chris Christie was grilling him. That was a big joke also. I thought he was going to collapse. I was standing right next him and I said, I was getting ready to hold him up with these very powerful hands, OK? That was a collect (ph). That was a joke.

But Mitt Romney joked. As a candidate, he joked and he knows how I feel and when he was thinking of getting into the race seven months ago, eight months ago, I said, you cannot let -- it's so important. I said you, cannot let Mitt Romney in this race. He's a joker and you know through sports, some of -- I can tell you I have some great sportsman right here. When you see somebody joke, generally speaking, once a joker, always a joker.

Now, Mitt Romney gave that election away. That was an election against a failed president that should have been easily won. Mitt Romney didn't work hard. That last month, he disappeared. And say what you want about President Obama, he was on Jay Leno, he was on David Letterman, he was all over the place. And where was Mitt Romney? We're all looking. We're still looking for him. And if would have devoted the same energy and time to winning the presidency four years ago as he is now when trying to destroy our party and the unity of our party, he would have won that election and he wouldn't have had the problems that we have right now.


BOLDUAN: You hear Donald Trump there mentioning in very different -- with various different ways some of the debates and things that have happened in debates have said. Let's bring back in right now Brett O'Donnell, legendary Republic. I had to do it, legendary Republican debate coach.

BERMAN: I don't know about you but you have big hands. I have no idea.

BOLDUAN: I don't know. I actually even ...

BERMAN: I'll throw that out there.

BOLDUAN: Brett, first, what does it mean if I have big hands? I'm kidding. Let's talk about ... O'DONNELL: No idea.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. You just say stop talking, Kate. When we -- this election is like I feel like more than -- any rally that we have seen recently, the debates have really mattered. They either changed the conversation or it changed the polls. I mean I just talked to Marco Rubio about what happened right before in New Hampshire. This debate, we've seen Republican debate coming up this Thursday in Miami. Obviously, the state in itself is important. The timing in it self is hugely important before Floridians vote. What do you -- if you could look at your crystal ball expect to see happen in this upcoming republican debate?

O'DONNELL: Well, I would say more of the same, in fact, probably worst more of the same. The level of political discourse in these debates has continued to sink. And really, what's happened is it actually plays into Trumps hands so to speak because when you are fighting on his ground and those sorts of attacks, he's winning and I think that's kind of what happened to Marco Rubio in the last debate. Now, Ted Cruz had a much better debate these past weeks before this caucuses and I think it changed some of the results. Ted -- Donald Trump had a 20 point plus lead in Louisiana. Tonight, he's only going to win by five or six points

So, the debates do matter and I think how you attack Trump matters. And so, I think if the candidates, I think if Marco and Cruz will take a look at the debates, keep their attack substantive.

[00:35:03] That puts Donald Trump on the defensive. When they were talking about Trump University, talking about the fact that Trump is part of the corruption problem, not the solution to the corruption problem, those are places that put Trump more on his heels. So we'll see what happens on the debate but I expect more of the same and the more they play on his ground, the better off Trump is at handling those debates. When they get outside of that and off of his ground on to the substantive issues, it puts him on the defensive and he has trouble answering those arguments like he did with Trump University.

BERMAN: So essentially, though, what you're saying is that Marco Rubio, by going after him like he did two debates ago and engaging in the, you know, the back and forth with little Marco, big Donald exchange, that that hurts Marco Rubio more that it hurts Donald Trump.

And also Brett, I guess I'm wondering, would Donald Trump benefit? He may not be, you know, genetically capable of it but would he benefit from trying to just back up and stay above the fray and just not be part of the debate. And just say, "You know what, guys, I'm just not going to do this anymore. I want to make America great again. I want to do these three things. I'm not going to engage in any of these back and forth with you again."

O'DONNELL: He absolutely would actually. I mean I think, you know, at the start of last week's debate, you saw Trump try to be more presidential. You saw his wife out on interviews saying she was urging him to act more presidential. And you saw him try to do that but as soon as the attacks sank down to the level of base discourse, then Trump really got into the mud with him and when he does that, that's really on his terms. If they keep the debate above the fray on substantive issues, I think it can hurt him. And especially, if he tries to pull back on that substantive charges like Trump University and even the earlier attack of eminent domain, some of those things that undercut Trump's brand, if you can undercut his brand, I think that's the way to actually debate him. The problem is he's been able to take the debate to places that the other candidates may not have wanted to go but they followed him whether it's been willingly or unwillingly and that actually close to his strength.

BOLDUAN: Brett O'Donnell, thank you so much.

In the next block, in the next segment, I wanted us to discuss some of the issues, talking about issues, some of the issue in how Donald Trump has seemed to soften or actually just dramatically change his position on some very important issues. And he acknowledges it, torture, immigration, what that means going forward, we'll discuss. We'll be right back.



BERMAN: All right, Donald Trump won two states tonight. Ted Cruz won two states tonight and more delegates tonight. The Republican race sort of in status quo with Marco Rubio of anything flipped a little bit. You may have noticed Donald Trump on the campaign trail though has changed quite a bit. If the race hasn't changed, Donald Trump had. He's flat out changed his position, admittedly so in several key areas.

Let's talk one about the military. There was the issue of he's in favor of waterboarding. He said he would do worst than waterboarding. He also said he would order the military to kill the families of terrorists. Well, he puts out statement yesterday that says this. He said, "I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. I will not order a military officer to disobey the lay. It is clear that as President, I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities." That is a changed, Margaret. Also a changed in H1B visas, what he said flat out. I changed.

HOOVER: Yeah, before we do -- start talking about the changes which is wonderful and fascinating and laughable because we've just never seen a candidate changed his position so quickly and so -- without any sort of remorse or explanation. I don't know that we've ever had a candidate for national office at this point in the race have so little of a grasp on public affairs of foreign policy. And so clearly and transparently, he's learning it as they go along.

I just -- I never say anything like it. I've never, you know -- of course, I'm not as old as this. I'm not that old but I know my history too. Presidential candidates tend to know a lot more about public affairs at this stage in the game. I applaud him for involving in his use. I mean that is the more morally superior view on enhanced interrogation techniques and on, frankly, on torture, right? This is the kind of country where we are. I'm glad he's learning in the right direction.

H1B visas, that's a real problem for him and it's interesting. Is he attacking towards the center I think is the real question. Is he trying to become a candidate now that he's going to be more tangible for a general electorate and if that is the case, we've seen this also and his talking very positively about plan parenthood on the state. I mean that is a position that is far more right fort a general election that is for Republican primary. Then we may see a savvy Donald Trump.

Kayleigh, is he learning foreign policy on the fly?

MCENANY: No, I don't think so because on Iraq, he was against the war before democrat aside from possibly Obama and Sanders was against it. He was against Iraq before Hillary Clinton, before any -- almost any Republican turned against it. So he was on the right side of that issue. He knows a lot more about foreign policy than most anyone in the race, I would agree. Secondly, I would point out that he didn't change his position rather than ...

BOLDUAN: Why do you see a stronger foreign policy in Trump than anybody else on this room?

MCENANY: Because he was on the right side of Iraq. the biggest blunder in modern times in American foreign policy when everyone else was on the wrong side currently in the race.

BERMAN: She's with him because there is now, as I was saying, that he was in favor of the invasion at one point.

MCENANY: That was in the very early days before the invasion.

BERMAN: That was before it begins.

MCENANY: Within four months of going into Iraq, he was against Iraq and that is the key point. He was against it before Hillary Clinton was, before John Kerry was and I really want to point out quickly as to this so called changed, I would call them more clarification. He said, yes, you know, kill terrorists' families. Well, what do you mean by that, Donald and he came out and clarified, within the bound of the law. So if a terrorist family member is being used as a human shield, then, yeah, that's fair game, within the bounds of the law. As for ...

BOLDUAN: Is he being intentionally misleading though? Is he being intentionally all bluster when he's speaking before a crowd of thousand of adoring fans and then you get a statement later saying, "Oh, actually, it's not going to be exactly that." But then, I want to go back on stage in the front of 20,000 adoring fans and still going to say, "You know what? If I still have Margosian (ph), so going to kill the organic realms (ph)."

MCENANY: I don't think it bluster so much its flexibility. And we haven't -- Margaret is right to say we haven't seen this in a very long time, a candidate who's willing to evolve when he needs evolve.

Normally, you know, candidates who say, "These are my positions and I'm not badging." Donald Trump has those, he's not badging on the wall, he's not badging on core principles but on the margins on each one's diseases (ph), on a margin.


RYE: But that's not the margining.

MCENANY: But that was the margin.

ZELIZER: I mean, look, part of it is this persona that I'm the guy who can make deals and switch my positions and adjust. Part he sends mixed signals. I mean, he does that all the time in which I'll say two things and different constituencies can hear what he wants to say.

MCENANY: The issues but it does not.

AVLON: Don't say that's what happened with ..

MCENANY: To Trump's supporters.

MCENANY: ... the questions about the KKK.


AVLON: And so that's another element of politics that I think he likes to do.


BOLDUAN: Peter, on foreign policy, how does this -- what do you how does this play in a general election? Just get off there.

BEINART: OK. With all due respect, we don't have any evidence if he opposed the Iraq war before.

BOLDUAN: We do, he's ...


BEINART: The only evidence is Bernie Sanders -- no, no, no, the strongest evidence we have from the fall of 2002, which is when they voted in Congress with him saying he probably would have support, Bernie Sanders actually voted in Congress against it.

There's almost nothing that Donald Trump has said on current foreign policy issues that suggest any real understanding of any of the major foreign policy issues that America faces, even when asked to name his foreign policy adviser, he was only -- he names three guys, he mispronounced the name of one of the three guys.

So, I think as we go for ...

BOLDUAN: And his campaign said that this team that's being put together, they told us just tonight the team is not even put together.

BEINART: As we go closer to that -- I think this is going to be a real problem for him in a general election. Not as much so far in a Republican primary but I think in a general election, yes, I think it will be a ...


BERMAN: I want to, you know, present a counter theory here, which is that Donald Trump in settle. The very little of what Donald Trump does is settle and that what we are seeing right now, what we saw with Mitt Romney with the edges sketch (ph), you know, and unfortunate comment from Eric Fehrnstrom, you know, four years ago. You know, candidates, they move to the center.

Move to the center in a general election. Are we just not seeing Donald Trump just saying, you know, "Well, I'm not going to settle about that. I'm just going to say I changed. I'm changing position before your very eyes right now."

RYE: I blown up ...


ZELIZER: And now that Cruz's is his main opponent, I'm sure he's thinking of Florida and Ohio, you know, the primaries and say, "Look, I'm the guy who's going to be more moderate than this guy.

BERMAN: But he literally said it tonight. He said Ted Cruz can't win in Pennsylvania, New York and New Hampshire and California.


BERMAN: What do they all have in common?

ZELIZER: That's just the general election. I think it's also these big primaries, isn't it?

BERMAN: Yes, they're not Texas.

RYE: I think the other thing is, and I just want to go back briefly to foreign policy. I think it's horribly disingenuous to suggest that -- and I think Bernie Sanders, to be fair, has done the same thing.

Your foreign policy experience into our platform cannot be which your position was on the Iraq War. It needs to be far more reaching and broad. I mean, that is the whole problem. That is why there are military advisors, former military advisors to past presidents that are adamantly opposed to Donald Trump.

Him being a perspective president is scary for what this nation's foreign policy and national security platform needs to look like.

MCENANY: And all due respect, no scarier than what we have now. We have a president who -- Middle East has blown and this is why it's so appealing.

RYE: With all due respect, guys, of course, disagree.

MCENANY: Of course you to do but here's the thing. We have a president who has asserted weakness on the world face.

RYE: Are you honestly going to compare Barrack Obama's national security to foreign policy.

MCENANY: Which is why we saw Syria being overrun by ISIS, we have Libya being overrun by ISIS, we have Iraq being overrun by ISIS and people see it from and they like the strength that he showed.


MCENANY: He is willing to say ISIS.

BERMAN: Let Kayleigh finish.

MCENANY: He's willing to say ISIS is chopping people's head off which is happening. They're killing 139 people in Paris, 18 -- 14 people here in San Bernardino. He is speaking into what people are feeling, they're feeling scared. And he does have a plan.

BEINART: Sorry, can I interrupt?

BERMAN: Let Angela. Go ahead.

RYE: No, I'm just running and saying that's actually called fear mongering any point.

MCENANY: It's called strength.

RYE: No, that's not strength.


BEINART: When you respond by saying that we should not allow any Muslims into the United States, there's no one ...

RYE: It doesn't matter, it's monophobic.

BEINART: It doesn't matter for how long he's, you know, no one who's taught seriously about America's relationships with Muslim countries around the world could ever seriously contemplate a policy like that given ...


BERMAN: Don't you know what number of polls as well? When did an exit poll tonight.


BOLDUAN: Even in South Carolina.


BEINART: And then you know what? It was a shame on the American people for going down that negative road.


BOLDUAN: Listen guys.

BEINART: It had nothing to do with ...


BEINART: ... saying that the entire religion of a billion and a half people cannot enter United State is not ...


[00:45:01] HOOVER: I mean one thing we can all agree on is the values on this country are based on judging people for people, individuals, not for their religion, not for their sect, not for -- and this is an age-transcendent value, I mean, this is in the declaration, this is Republicans and Democrats alike. I mean, we see people for who they are, not for their religion and not for their sect and not for their ethnicity and not for any other piece about them. And so that's the part I think that is very difficult.


ZELIZER: I mean, he has played -- we talked a little bit about George Wallace and George Wallace when he campaigned played to some of the worst racial fears and racial divisions of this nation had and he used it to tap into people who are suffering for other reasons, economic reasons. And I think there is an element that is hard to ignore in this Trump campaign that has gone directly to that.

MCENANY: Here is the problem. In the punditry, people tend to generalize. When you look at the facts of what he said, he said temporarily ban Muslims from entering this country because we know that the problem exist within Islam. By the way, there is a Bill on Capitol Hill supported by Cruz, supported by Rand Paul as well, temporarily ban immigration from all terrorist prospect countries which has the same affect in Donald Trump's ...


BEINART: ... a lot of people are not terrorists ...

MCENANY: This is not about race. 60 ISIS fighters made it into Europe's borders because of lack of immigration policy.

So the fact is there is a problem. It exists within radical Islam, which is they portion, a small portion, a portion nonetheless of Islam.


MCENANY: It has nothing to do with race. And to generalize, he wants to ban all Muslims because of their religion. That's wrong.

(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: Despite how outraged you are when you look at the poll numbers and you see where Donald base is, looking at the raw politics of it, that question is not hurting him. That ...


BEINART: Inside the Republican Party. Wen you get to a general election where you have to start winning people who are not white then the policy ...

BERMAN: But that's where we started this discussion and that's where we'll end it with Marco Rubio with hopefully some sage, calm words here.


BERMAN: About this pivot, about what Donald Trump is doing. Now, I know, you say, you know, he is just inexperience or has no real depth in his foreign policy or on policy period. But he's changing positions on what policy he does have right before our very eyes.


BERMAN: Is he so confident now that he feels that he can look to the general election?

HOOVER: I think that adds as what you're, John Berman, I mean, I have never seen a candidate in a Republican primary stand up and say, Plan Parenthood is a great organization, does wonderful things for women. I mean, I' literally Chris Cristie was pouring holes in the back of his head because of that, with that alone because Chris Cristie was pro-choice before he was pro-life because he had to be pro-life because of Republican Orthodoxy.

I mean, so theirs is -- look, yes, I think you see Donald Trump beginning to (inaudible) the general election. He knows that if it's him and Ted Cruz, he's going to win because Ted Cruz is just simply too conservative for the rest of the Republican Party in the states that are coming up.

And so I think he is trying to think much broader and bigger towards the general election.

BOLDUAN: Where is his focus now?

MCENANY: Donald Trump's focus now? Definitely, Ohio, definitely, Florida. I would say more so Florida because Ohio will likely go to Kasich even though Trump is up by five. I find it hard to believe that.

BOLDUAN: Florida just screw with Rubio.


BOLDUAN: Exactly right, 10 offices being open there. BERMAN: Professor, you know, put it in perspective what we're seeing right now, in terms of the tone of this campaign. Is it, you know, we threw around the term unprecedented, is it ...

BOLDUAN: The worst ever.

ZELIZER: Well no, I mean, there's many moments in campaigns where things get ugly and there's campaigns people could point to even like 1988 between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, where things got a little ridiculous and we do that in our democracy, that's the bad part. But I do think Donald Trump has the ability, certainly with issues of sexuality to take things to a new level. And, I think, he does it effectively. I think he's a television entertainer and he understands that, draws it, but I do think he's pushing the boundary.

But democracy is rough. Democracy is ugly and we should not have a nostalgic look at what our candidates have done in the past.

BERMAN: All right, guys, we all need to get a break here, a drink of water.

BOLDUAN: I need to drink something.

BERMAN: We have a lot more to discuss, more from Donald Trump's new sponsors, more from Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, more from Ted Cruz, who was the delegate winner on the Republican side.

Do not go anywhere, trust me, you don't want miss any of these.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it's going to get real.




TRUMP: I want to congratulate Ted on Maine and on Kansas, and he should do in Maine because it's very close to Canada.

CRUZ: If we stand united, that's how we win this primary, that's how we win the general, it's how we turn the country.

SANDERS: Democracy is not about billionaires buying elections.

CLINTON: This country belongs to all of us, not just those at the top.

RUBIO: The math only gets friendlier for us after tonight.