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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Development in Freddie Gray Death Case; Rubio Trailing Trump in Florida; Big Delegates at Stake for Democrats. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 8, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Breaking news now. A major development in the case involving the officers charged in the case of Freddie Gray. Moments ago, a court ruled that one of the officers can be compelled to testify against his colleagues who are also charged in the case.

I want to bring in CNN correspondent, Miguel Marquez, who has been following this from the beginning.

Miguel, what are we learning?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The highest courts in the state of Maryland has ruled that Officer Porter -- this is the first officer charged, the officer whose trial ended in a mistrial -- that he can be compelled to testify not only against the two officers that he came across that day that Freddie Gray was arrested, that of Alicia White and Caesar Goodson, but also against the other officers. So all five officers. There were two separate rulings by the court of appeals in Maryland saying that he would have to basically testify against all the officers if the prosecution wants it.

This is something that the lawyers for Officer Porter had fought and the lawyers for Officer Goodson and White fought. Separately, a lower court, Judge Williams, who ruled that he could not testify against the other officers, that he really didn't have anything to do with on that date. It is not clear whether or not Officer Porter will testify against all of these individuals or if there will -- or if this is now just another arrow in the prosecution's quiver.

Back to you guys.

BERMAN: All right. Miguel Marquez for us with the development. Changing the legal landscape, to be sure. Thanks, Miguel.

Back to politics and back to the big voting day happening today. Senator Marco Rubio is stumping in Florida and getting help from Mitt Romney with anti-Trump robo-calls paid for by Marco Rubio.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Rubio's team knows how important a victory in Florida is. Look no further than his travel schedule this week. But the most recent poll has him trailing Donald Trump. What does that mean? How is it going to turn it around?

Let's talk to Republican Senator James Risch, of Idaho, who endorsed Senator. Senator, great to see you. Thank you for being here.

SEN. JOHN RISCH, (R), IDAHO: Kate, thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Let's address the elephant on the campaign trail right now. First, there is a CNN report that advisories to Rubio were saying that Rubio should get out of the race before Florida to avoid an embarrassing loss there. What's your take?

RISCH: Well, let me give you some breaking news on that. You just used the word plural, senior advisors. When it was broken last night by CNN that a senior advisor said this, I pressed to find out who it was, and CNN won't release that. What's happening right now on the four states voting is what happened in Iowa. As you recall the Cruz campaign put out this message Ben Carson was dropping out of the campaign, don't waste your vote. That exact same thing is happening today. Twitter is abuzz with people saying look, Rubio is getting out of this campaign. And the foundation for the facts that they cite for that is CNN which, as I said last night, really isn't fair to be doing this. CNN is involved in the substance of the campaign. And I don't think they want to be there. But the fact is that's what's happening today in the four voting states.

BERMAN: You say the bottom line is no one is advising him today. You say he's not getting out before Florida.

RISCH: Yes. Yes.

BERMAN: Let me ask you about Florida.

(CROSSTALK)

RISCH: Before that, let me rebut this. This is important. I'm a senior surrogate for the campaign. I've been all over the country. Kate and I saw each other up the line. I don't remember where it was, Iowa or New Hampshire.

BOLDUAN: New Hampshire, I believe.

RISCH: Where it was. It seems like years ago. But, look, I was with him this weekend. I spent most of Sunday with him. I spent a lot of alone time with the Senator. We had meeting with senior advisors, senior policy people, planners. They're talking about Florida and they're talking about states beyond. There is no discussion whatsoever about him getting out of the race. And it's really unfortunate that this report was made, which is a rumor, and it has become news and is being used by the Cruz campaign, which is unfortunate.

BERMAN: We appreciate your perspective on that. Thank you for giving it to us.

Let's talk about the state of Florida. Is it a must-win for Rubio? RISCH: I never use those words. Media uses it. I would say it is

extremely important, no question about it. Saying must-win, it just depends on how this goes. If you sit down and do the math, if nothing changes, it's going to be very difficult for any one of the three front-runners to amass 1237 delegates. That's what this is about. For Rubio, I don't think it's as important as it is for any one of the three or equally important for all of the three to win Florida. There's 99 delegates there. It is very important. There is absolutely no question about it. But there's been a lot of discussion about the math going forward.

BOLDUAN: Sure is. And the math is very important. What's the calculation, do you think, of the impact of Ted Cruz deciding to run hard in Florida opening ten campaign officers? His campaign was very happy to tell us about that Saturday night after this Super Tuesday win -- Super Saturday wins. Sorry. What's the impact of Ted Cruz in Florida?

[11:35:21] RISCH: That remains to be seen. You can argue this thing either way. Whether or not that's going to drive votes to Trump, to have him beat Ted Cruz there in Florida. If that happens, then Cruz has trouble. Look, I'm sure the strategists got their Ouija boards out and their calculators, whatever else, and have decided they should move votes this way or the other. Marco Rubio knows how to win in Florida. He was an underdog against Charlie Crist. Charlie Crist represented the establishment. He became a United States Senator. He knows how to win in Florida. And believe me, he's committed.

BERMAN: Senator, I hope for what you pay these guys, they're using more than Ouija boards. Let me say that.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

RISCH: Look, I've run four times. I used Ouija board users. I'm not sure I got my money's worth.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: I don't want to let you go before we ask about Idaho. We don't have a lot of political experts on Idaho, which votes today. You're going to tell me Rubio is going to win. I don't want to talk about that. I'm sure that's your opinion. But tell us who you think will come in second and third.

RISCH: I'm not going to say Marco Rubio will win. I'm going to tell you the situation is extremely fluid. We usually cheat and use polls. There really isn't any decent polling at this time.

Each of the three front runners have basis to argue for Idaho. And so this remains to be seen. We did rallies there this weekend, and a lot of excitement on Marco's part. The others are campaigning there. As you've noted, there's robo-calls going into Idaho where Mitt Romney calls on behalf of the campaign. But all the others are going robo- calls, too. A lot of TV ads running. A lot of ground work being done. Idaho people are going to vote. We'll see how it comes out. Votes will start coming in about 11:00 eastern time tonight.

BERMAN: As you say, the only polls that count are the ones on Election Day.

RISCH: No question about it.

BERMAN: And it is Election Day in Idaho.

RISCH: It is.

BERMAN: Senator, thank you for being with us. Appreciate the time.

RISCH: Good to be with you. Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Senator.

BERMAN: Let's talk Democrats now. Big delegates at stake tonight for the Democrats in the state of Michigan. Mississippi as well. But Michigan is the biggie. Can she use that to effectively move toward the general election or is there a big Bernie Sanders surprise on the way? We are live with the former governor of Michigan.

BOLDUAN: Plus, Ted Cruz is about to speak in a news conference. Wow, it's packed. Just kidding. It will be packed soon, in North Carolina, shortly ahead of a big rally. We'll take you there. I'm sure Cruz has a lot to say today on this Super Tuesday, part two.

We'll be right back.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:42:27] HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The sooner I could become your nominee, the more I could begin to turn our attention to the Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: The Michigan primary is the big prize for Republicans and Democrats today. As you just heard, Hillary Clinton is looking past the primary season to the general and the eventual Republican nominee.

BERMAN: Joining us, Jennifer Granholm, former governor of the state of Michigan, current senior advisor to Correct the Record, and a Hillary Clinton supporter.

Governor, thank you for being with us.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, (D), SENIOR ADVISOR, CORRECT THE RECORD & FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: You bet, John and Kate.

BERMAN: I had not heard that language before when she said the sooner you make me the nominee, the sooner I can turn my focus to that's a little muscle behind the words there. That suggests Sanders ought to get out. Am I reading it wrong? GRANHOLM: Well, can you blame her? I mean, the target on the other side is so large, and like any party, we don't want to be fighting internally. We like both vet the candidates. We'd like to be able to move on. I would say this, John and Kate, I think that despite the polls that you've seen in Michigan, Michigan polling historically has been totally unreliable. I think this race is actually going to be a lot closer than people think.

BOLDUAN: What margin do you think you're looking at then in Michigan? What are you comfortable with?

GRANHOLM: I'm just comfortable with a win. A win is a victory for Hillary Clinton, and a win for Bernie Sanders is a victory for him. I think some of these polls have had insane margins, I think it's unrealistic to think the margin is double digits-plus. I don't think it's this case in Michigan.

BERMAN: There's an article in "Politico" today that says that many Bernie Sanders supporters, including both Ben and Jerry, both, urging Bernie Sanders to stay in the race until the convention no matter what happens today or next weekend. They want him to fight until the very end. Is that a concern to you?

GRANHOLM: Well, I think it's a concern if the -- those who are supporting Bernie Sanders are urging him to continue to attack the person who is likely to be the Democratic nominee. You do not want to enter a general election with somebody who has been attacked from within.

So I totally think it's important for him to continue to raise the issues that he's raising, and it's a robust discussion about how best to achieve the filling in of the hallowed-out middle class, how to create good jobs in America, and the discussion that's been had here in Michigan about creating jobs and manufacturing and the differences of opinion regarding how to do that, whether it's block all trade or have fair trade, which is what Hillary Clinton is saying. Those are important discussions. Bit personal attacks and stuff like that, when you get to attack people and their integrity, those, I think, are not helpful for ultimately turning your ire on the true enemy, which is going to be whoever is nominated on the other side. And if it's Donald Trump, it's going to be a big target. I'll just say that.

[11:45:37] BOLDUAN: Governor, it's great to see you. Thank you so much.

GRANHOLM: You bet.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

Moments from now, Ted Cruz will be holding a news conference speaking to the media. How will he respond to the latest from Mr. Trump? From the latest from Rubio, we're going to take it live and we'll bring it to you.

BERMAN: Plus, John Kasich, maybe with some Kasich-mentun, maybe surging in Michigan. Does he have a shot to pull off a surprise? We'll hear from Governor Kasich soon. He's holding an event In Michigan, a state he wants to perform well in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:50:15] BERMAN: A huge day in the race for president. Four states vote today. It is just the beginning. There's a lot more the next seven days. We are talking the big town hall and a winner-take- all contest a week from today.

Let's bring back our panel to discuss, Alex Burns, Margaret Hoover, Errol Louis, and Kellyanne Conway.

Errol, you know, let's talk about debates first of all. Thursday night, Republican debate in Miami. Marco Rubio, what does he have to do?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he has to win it outright. It is not enough to talk about what he did years ago to win. It was an impressive fete but is he the same guy. That's what people want to know. He has to figure out what to do if he loses. He has to change expectations and change his rationale for staying in the race.

BERMAN: Margaret, Idaho, Hawaii, do we know anything about the state?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. They are caucus states.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Iowa is a primary.

HOOVER: Iowa is a primary. Hawaii is a caucus. That is a state where Ted Cruz could do well but Trump employs thousands of people in Hawaii, he says. There's little polling in Hawaii. It's hard to know how it will go. It is a momentum gain if somebody picks it up. The real battles are Michigan and Idaho. Momentum or will Cruz take the win.

BERMAN: Alex, your article was one of the first curtain raisers that set the world on fire when it said the establishment is panicked that Donald Trump will get the nomination and half coming to terms with it, as well. That was two weeks ago now. Is that still the case?

ALEX BURNS, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, it is. An incredible sense of alarm. What if we nominate Trump? I think what has changed in the last two weeks is there is real juice to the anti-Trump effort that didn't exist. At the beginning of the month and certainly at the beginning of the primary process. Real money spent against Trump and Rubio. There are rough stuff on Trump, on Trump, University, his use of profanity and the question is it too late where early voting plays a big role in the process.

BERMAN: Kellyanne, I asked Margaret about Idaho and Hawaii, which vote today. Next Tuesday, North Carolina, where your friend, Ted Cruz, is, votes next Tuesday. Next Tuesday, Illinois votes. Donald Trump headed there. Missouri also votes. These are delegate-rich states. Any way to know who should be favored in those states?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, POLITICAL ANCHOR, TIME/WARNER CABLE NEWS: The polling is thin so far John. It really matters on debate performance, momentum. If Senator Rubio comes in third in different places, I think it is difficult for him to make a case anywhere outside of Florida and he is stuck in Florida. I think if you are at 30 percent of the polls, you are almost stuck there. It is Marco Rubio's state and hometown. He will have a great crowd for him. I think he will pull the heart strings about his father fleeing Cuba. But Marco Rubio's mistake with Donald Trump and his donors are on the record with named quotes saying don't say that, mocking Trump's manhood, talking about his spray tan. That seems un-senatorial and cost him votes. If he can reclaim that by getting this tit and tat against Donald Trump I think he could go somewhere. For Trump, the debates are fought with peril. The Trump victims. The reason the messaging has gotten better is they are starting to talk about victims of Trump University, victims of Trump in Atlantic City. Before it was conservative apostasies, and now it is, you built your business on the backs of the little guy.

BERMAN: Errol and Alex, Donald Trump capable of staying above the fray?

LOUIS: No, he wants the fray. He wants it to be chaotic so you don't focus what happened in the last debate where he makes a statement and they put up numbers that refute that statement and he has nowhere to go. That's why he will keep it at the personal insults and other distractions.

BERMAN: He wants big hands, Little Marco, Alex?

BURNS: You can't stay above the fray when you are the fray. Kelly makes a good point about Rubio, Trump wins when he lowers other candidates to his level but he will never clear the traditional standards of what constitutes being presidential or a person imminently prepared to do the job. So he has to bring the other candidates down to a circus act politics.

BERMAN: Fifteen seconds left, Margaret Hoover. The risk for Rubio today if he has another performance like Saturday?

HOOVER: He loses. Marco Rubio has to bring it home. He has to win the debate. That has to change the narrative and momentum going in. He needs to win Florida-plus.

[11:55:16] BERMAN: Michigan and Mississippi, Idaho, Hawaii, all of these candidates need finishes today. We will be watching in to the wee hours of the morning.

Thank you all for being with us this morning.

Stick around. A lot more coming up on CNN. We are waiting for Ted Cruz to hold a last-minute event, ahead of a rally in North Carolina.

We were talking about North Carolina. This will be a competitive state one week from now. Ted Cruz has been keeping a schedule, close to the vest. We're always surprised where he turns up. It says a lot about what the campaign thinks it can pull off. We will bring that news conference to you as soon as it happens. Stay with us.

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