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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Super Tuesday #2 Coverage; Standing By For First Polls To Close; Trump Campaign Hoping To Win States By Large Margin. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 8, 2016 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: John, thanks. The polls close in most of Michigan, all of Mississippi in an hour. Idaho and Hawaii later. We'll have all the results and reaction, another crucial day of voting. "The Race For The White House" Special Coverage Super Tuesday 2.0 continues.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The race for the White House is tightening as the remaining candidates fight it out in key states tonight.

COOPER: And tonight's outcome could determine who stays in this wild ride to the nomination.

ANNOUNCER: Right now, new battlegrounds in the presidential race. After a weekend of fresh wins for the front-runners and for their top rivals.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Millions and millions of people are coming to vote for the Republicans because of me.

ANNOUNCER: Four more states are weighing in, with both parties bracing for climactic battles one week from now.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whether we like it or not, we're all in this together, my friends.

ANNOUNCER: Who will win another Super Tuesday scramble? It's America's choice. Tonight, in the Republican race, Donald Trump piling up delegates and piling on his opponents.

TRUMP: Lying Ted and little Marco, this is not presidential material, folks.

ANNOUNCER: Ted Cruz, racking up new wins, raising questions about whether voters are thinking twice about Trump.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our campaign is the only campaign that has beaten Donald Trump over and over and over again.

ANNOUNCER: Marco Rubio, stalling, rejecting Trump's call for him to drop out.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've all been underdogs. But we will win! ANNOUNCER: In the democratic race tonight, Hillary Clinton widening

her lead, still facing voter doubts, and a determined opponent.

HILLARY: We have got to work together. We need to unify our country, not divide it.

ANNOUNCER: Bernie Sanders, keeping the pressure on after his weekend triple play.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a campaign of the people, by the people and for the people.

ANNOUNCER: Now, it's time for voters to have their say.

CLINTON: When I hear people running for president, they are bad mouthing America, it really upsets me.

ANNOUNCER: When will we learn who faces off in the fall.

TRUMP: Who wants Trump?

ANNOUNCER: America is choosing. Every contest counts. And the all- important race for delegates is heating up right now.

BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center. The next seven days could very well decide which of the six remaining presidential candidates will accept their party's nomination in July. For the Democrats, 166 delegates are on the line tonight. Hillary Clinton is looking to shut out Bernie Sanders. But both candidates they have a long way to go. We're not even halfway through this race. While Hillary Clinton' campaign is leading in the delegate math. Bernie Sanders still has plenty of momentum and has vowed to fight until the convention. For the Republicans, 150 delegates are at stake tonight.

Trump is the delegate leader right now. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, they're hoping the Never Trump Movement isn't already past its expiration date. Cruz has won six states so far. And he is arguing the Never Trump Movement needs to unite behind him, not Marco Rubio. Rubio says, he just needs to make it past his home turf, Florida, that's when he'll win he says and derail the front-runner. We're counting down to the 8:00 p.m. Eastern hour, that is when the polls close in Mississippi. At 9:00 p.m. Eastern, that's when we could make a major projection in Michigan.

That's where the most delegates are on the line tonight of the campaigns are making the biggest play. At 11:00 p.m. Eastern, polls close in Idaho where the Republicans are voting today. And at 1:00 a.m. Eastern, vote counting gets underway in the Hawaii caucuses. CNN is taking you to every state and inside every campaign tonight.

Our Sara Murray is with the Donald Trump campaign in Jupiter, Florida. Sarah, what's the latest over there?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we've all seen this tightening in the national polls. But tonight will be the first real test whether Donald Trump's momentum has taken a hit. Now, Trump has made it clear. He wants to win in Michigan. He wants to win in Mississippi. Just last night he was campaigning in Mississippi, bragging about how he was leading in the polls there by double digits. So the key thing to watch for Donald Trump tonight is not just, does he win these two states, but by what kind of margins. We know that he has stalwart supporters, we know he has people who have jump on the bandwagon early and he had stuck with him.

But the problem for him has been bringing in this late deciding voters. And that's what we were hearing, even earlier in Mississippi voters who came out. They wanted to see some more specifics from him, they wanted to see a little bit more meat on the bones. And a couple of them at least telling me, they are going to vote for Ted Cruz -- Wolf.

[19:05:15] BLITZER: And Trump's headquarters tonight, Jupiter, one of his golf courses in Florida. Sara, we'll get back to you. Let's check in on the Cruz campaign.

Now, Sunlen Serfaty is joining us from North Carolina which has, it's primary next Tuesday, a week from today. Sunlen, what's the latest there?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Well, this is really an atypical election night for Ted Cruz rather low-key, much different than past election nights. There is no big banners, no blasting music, there will be no big speech at the end of the night here for Ted Cruz. He spent the afternoon and the evening at this Baptist Church in Kannapolis, North Carolina, speaking to voters in advance of the March 15th primary here. And he just held a press conference with reporters where he talked about this anti-Trump movement in his words he says, Trump has built this image that he's unstoppable, that he's unbeatable.

Well, we're starting to see that crash into reality. Now, he will not stick around here to make a big speech at the end of the night. He will be on a plane flying to Miami, Florida, while much of the election results are coming in later tonight in advance of an event here tomorrow morning. Really speaking volumes where his focus is right now, and his next big quest to take down Marco Rubio in his home state of Florida -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sunlen, thanks very much. Let's bring in Dana Bash and David Chalian. You guys have been going through some numbers right now, exit poll information.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right and before we get to that, I think, sort of it's important to look at the night and what we're expecting. I have to say, David, I'm sure you've been on the phone with your sources all day. I was talking to people who I would never in a million years expect to tell me that they voted today for Ted Cruz. But they did. Somebody in Mississippi, Austin Barber, who is as bad establishment as he gets, said, you know what, I voted for Ted Cruz, and it's because I think he is the best person to stop Donald Trump. Not Marco Rubio, not John Kasich, Ted Cruz and that is the dynamic we just heard from Sunlen and Sara that they're certainly seeing and hearing on the ground. And it seems to be the way things are heading at least tonight.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right. Because what you have in the Republican primary electorate is that, if you are somebody who is opposed of Donald Trump as your nominee, that becomes the most important issue for you. Right? And so what you're saying, when you talk to other Republicans, Ted Cruz slowly becoming more establishment of a choice, because of that one factor alone, this stop Trump moment. It's something we'll going to be talking about all night long, and we're going to be assessing and looking for clues to see, is it really taking hold. Is there something going on with Trump right now that his momentum is being somehow slowed. Now, there are big contests tonight. He can emerge with victories, he was leading in the pre-election polls in these states. But you see the national poll. You see the conversations that's happening among Republicans, I really do think that's going to be the big story line tonight.

BASH: And I should say that even people who do not want Trump to win do expect him to. We'll see if that happens but expected to do so in Michigan and Mississippi. But let's take a look at Michigan. You've been going through the exit polls, and about what the qualities are that candidates have and what the voters are looking for.

CHALIAN: Yes. We wanted to sort of look first at the issue to reign that is out there. And we looked just in Michigan here, in both parties, to get folks a sense. And I think it's really interesting. So, what may not be so surprising is that the economy is the number one issue. We see it, 35 percent say the economy on the Republican side, 32 percent government spending, 22 percent terrorism, nine percent immigration. Democratic side, take a look at this. Forty two percent of Democrats in the Michigan primary -- voting in the Michigan primary today say the economy and jobs are the most important issue, followed by income inequality, health care, and terrorism.

But now we dig in, Dana, a little bit further into the economy at the issue of trade. We've heard so much about it on the campaign trail. Watch these numbers. Among the Michigan Republican primary voters, a majority, 53 percent say that doing trade with other countries takes away U.S. jobs. Thirty four percent say, it creates U.S. jobs. Democrats feel that way even more so, a bigger majority, 56 percent of Democrats voting in the Michigan Democratic Primary believes doing trade with other countries takes away U.S. jobs. Thirty one percent say it creates jobs.

This is why -- that stat right there is why you hear Donald Trump when he says, hey, I'm going to be the nominee, and when I'm the nominee, I'm going to put states like Michigan --

BASH: That's right.

CHALIAN: In play in the fall. That is why. This is an electorate across the aisle that is completely open because of their concerns to hearing the kind of message on the economy and trade that Donald Trump has been selling hard. BASH: And it is real. You've been in Michigan in the past few days,

so have I. It is true. It is a bipartisan sentiment. People still feel economic anxiety and very much blame the trade policies of both presidents, Democrats and Republicans in the past. And that is where both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders meet. And I'm sure you were there too. You probably heard the same thing -- Wolf.

[19:10:19] BLITZER: I certainly did. And it's going to be a fascinating night tonight. I think it's going to be pretty exciting for all of our viewers. Anderson, over to you.

COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much. I'm joined by some new panelists joining us, Michael Smerconish is here. We have of course, Nia-Malika Henderson. David Axelrod is joining us. Gloria Borger as well. David, let's hear from you. Just in terms of what you were looking for tonight, and what you read from those exit polls that David Chalian has been talking about.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I've never seen a fuselad (ph) like the one that's been aimed at Donald Trump in the last few weeks. I mean, there have been so many guns trained on him. And there's some evidence as David said, the national polling that it's having an impact. The question is whether anybody but the Trump movement can prosper in an environment where the campaigns have nobody but me movement. Each one of these challengers think they should be the alternative to Trump. And the longer they stay in, as we said, week after week, the better he does. And this -- we'll see tonight if there's some indications to whether some are going to fall away or whether he's beginning to fray as a result of all these attacks, which have been very, very severe.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, the question is also, we saw this "Wall Street Journal" poll tonight, which had Trump losing ground tremendously against his top contenders. And I think the question we have to say is, even if people gain on Donald Trump, because of this establishment barrage against him, the question is whether it's too late.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

BORGER: Because he's already racked up a bunch of delegates. He's going to get a lot of delegates tonight. And if John Kasich wins in Ohio, that's winner take all. So, we have to see.

COOPER: And to that point, Michael Smerconish, I mean, the last primary night, even though the margins were closer, Donald Trump still won those states.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, "SMERCONISH": True. But he's not performing at a 51 percent rate thus far. So even though he's doing well comparatively, he's not doing well enough to lock this thing up. The question is, is it going to on for a while, for another three or so months at the current pace. Or is he going to tee this up for next Tuesday, to really put it out of contention for the others. And I'm not sure which way it goes but it's very hard to see how anyone other than Trump can assemble the 1,237 before Cleveland. NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And that's

what you heard Kasich say earlier. Nobody is going to get to that 1,237. They like the idea that it's chaos and it's muddled. But there are some, I think underlying constants about this race. And this is, it might be three people, but all the time Trump is winning. In states all across the country. And so I think it benefits the establishment to keep saying it's muddled. But in fact if you're an establishment candidate, particular candidate like Rubio, one thing you've got to look at tonight is, maybe he comes in fourth and maybe he doesn't even meet the threshold to get --

AXELROD: The two guys we have to watch closely tonight. Not necessarily the headliners, Rubio and Kasich. If Rubio is weakened tonight going into Florida, that enhances Donald Trump's chances of winning Florida. If Kasich does well tonight, perhaps he'll do better in Ohio. If he doesn't, then Trump has a good chance to take Ohio. Those two huge winner take all prizes next Tuesday.

COOPER: I want to turn to our commentators Andy Dean, is joining us, Trump's supporter, former president of Trump Productions Van Jones, and political commentator, former Obama administration official S.E. Cupp, CNN political commentator Donna Brazile, political commentator and Democratic strategist. Andy, welcome. Good to have you actually here.

ANDY DEAN, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Thank you. I appreciate it.

COOPER: We got you out of L.A. We actually got you here. So, what are you looking for tonight?

DEAN: So, we've got Michigan, we've got Mississippi. These are two very, very different states. The one thing they have in common is they are both primaries. And if we look forward, the next 24 states to vote, the rest of it, 23 of them are primaries. There's only caucus left. Ted Cruz is only been doing well in caucus states. Ted Cruz has only won two primaries, his won his home state and his neighboring state, Oklahoma. So, if you look to the future, tonight is going to be a big sign. If Trump can win diverse primaries, then I don't see when the next 23 or 24 states, primaries he doesn't win.

COOPER: Do you see any signs of cracks or weakness in terms of Trump? To David Axelrod's point, there are a lot of guns pointed at him. A lot of ads being ran against him. Do you see them having any effect?

DEAN: I think when tens of millions of dollars are spent against Donald Trump. Yes, the margins may come down a little bit. But at the end of the day, the voters are going to have their say, and in two hours, if Trump wins Michigan and Mississippi, these are very different states once again --

COOPER: Right.

DEAN: I'm sure John King will look through the evangelical population, very very different. If he wins both, then I think that there's no way that Trump can't win the nomination. COOPER: S.E., I mean, to Andy's point, Mississippi is a state which

on paper, you know, months ago, Ted Cruz would have thought, oh, this is a great state for me. Huge percentage of the voters are evangelical. Donald Trump has been winning evangelicals.

[19:15:07] S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And much to Ted Cruz's surprise, much to a lot of people's surprise. And I think it's made a lot of Republican Party elders kind of reconsider what the evangelical math looks like, I think for a long time Republicans took the evangelical vote for granted. Assumed we knew who these people were. Turns out they're not as homogenous as maybe they used to be. And they're not as loyal to the GOP at large as they have been in the past. These are people who are now going for the guy who's probably the least, I would say, the conservative of all 17 candidates that we've offered up. And to speaks evangelical the least fluently. So, I think it's sort of a wakeup call to the party to look again at the makeup of our evangelical voters.

COOPER: Van?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think when it comes to Trump, there's a villain in Marvel Comics called Sebastian Shaw. And the harder you hit him, the stronger he gets. The harder you get it. So there was a theory, I think, that this was Sebastian. You couldn't hit him. Don't fight him. We're going to see how many bullets he can eat without actually getting weak.

COOPER: The Marvel Comic book theory. We're going to bring in Donna shortly. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to take you down on top of the hour in Mississippi. We hope to share the first votes out of that state with you. We're working on being able to make projection. A long, exciting night ahead. Keep it right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:21:14] BLITZER: We're counting down to the top of the hour. That's when the polls close in Mississippi, and CNN could be able to make a projection. Both Democrats and Republicans are locked in primary fights in those states tonight. Mississippi -- rather for the so called Never Trump Movement, it's a tight race, that could be a sign something is pushed late deciders away from the Republican presidential front-runner. And for the Democrats, Mississippi could be a Clinton stronghold. Could she win big tonight in Mississippi.

We're going to see it and Jeff Zeleny is in Cleveland. He's covering the Clinton campaign for us tonight. So, what's the latest over there, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is Mississippi that is giving the Clinton campaign their boost of confidence tonight. It is those 36 delegates. They believe they will win the lion's share of tonight if Mississippi follows the patterns of those others southern states. They are quite frankly worried about Michigan. They believe the race is very close. And for the next hour and 40 minutes or so until those polls close, they are working at this hour to get the vote out. After people got off their factory shifts, they were encouraged to go work, encouraged to go vote. So, they are watching Michigan very carefully.

But the Clinton campaign is making the argument, Wolf, this is a fight for delegates. So, at the end of the night they believe they will win the majority of them. But Wolf, the reality here is this. Michigan is the symbolic win, it is the big contest tonight. If the Clinton campaign somehow struggled to win or lost there, that would be a defining moment that would certainly give Bernie Sanders more reason to go forward with vigor here. But that auto-industry bailout argument where Secretary Clinton said that Bernie Sanders was not for the auto bailout, which wasn't quite true, that was intended to play here in Ohio and in Illinois.

Across this portion of the Midwest. So key, the auto rescue bailout was so important to all the manufacturers throughout here. So, that's why Hillary Clinton is in Ohio tonight. That's why she's in Cleveland specifically tonight, to encourage African-American voters and others to go vote for her in a week. And Wolf, early voting is already started here in Ohio. That's why she's in Ohio tonight.

BLITZER: Right. Bernie Sanders voted for the auto bailout when it was a stand-alone piece of legislation. When it was incorporated in a much bigger package, he voted against the whole bigger package because he opposed a lot of the other elements in that package. That's the issue Jeff Zeleny in Cleveland. Let's go to Brianna Keilar right now. She's with the Sanders' campaign in Miami. What's the latest over there, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, firing up this crowd ahead of Senator Sanders is Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard who of course recently came out in support of Bernie Sanders and resigned as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. She as well last night took some hits against Hillary Clinton. She's been doing the same here again, basically casting Hillary Clinton as an interventionist and Bernie Sanders as someone with a cooler head when it comes to foreign policy.

But overall, I'll tell you, the Sanders campaign thinks pushing towards Michigan, that they really have a shot there. And also, that this is going to be critical. They have made the case -- you're hearing boos against Hillary Clinton there -- they've made the case before they think he can really resonate in the industrial Midwest and in the West. And that's why in Michigan it's such a key test of this. They think they've landed punches against Hillary Clinton when it comes to her support of trade.

And they think that her argument against Bernie Sanders, that he hasn't supported the export/import base is something that isn't really resonating with people in Michigan because it takes a bit of a cognitive leap for them to understand what that means for exports in a way that Hillary Clinton supported NAFTA, or Hillary Clinton supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a trade agreement that a lot of people in Michigan know about that doesn't really require certainly as much of elite for people. And so this held that they're resonating a little more in a state that is really hurting economically and maybe more open to his message of a rigged economy -- Wolf. BLITZER: Good point, Brianna, thank you very much. Brianna Keilar

reporting for us from Miami. Let's get some analysis right now Dana and David on what we just heard. The Democratic competition tonight, we could get some real indications of what to anticipate in the weeks ahead based on what's going to happen tonight.

BASH: We absolutely could and Michigan, as we were talking about earlier, is so incredibly key. And fascinating, because for a while, the Clinton campaign felt pretty comfortable there. All we have to do is, look at the schedule of the candidate, of her husband, the President, of her daughter to see that maybe internally they understood that this would going to be more competitive than they had expected. And if you kind of take a step back as we were talking about, it makes sense because of the economic situation in Michigan. It is ripe for a Bernie Sanders message, a populist message, a message of, you know, Washington doesn't get it. They don't understand. Anti-trade. Hillary Clinton has been up until now for trade agreements. And, you know, it could be pretty tight there.

[19:26:03] CHALIAN: You know, we heard this on the debate stage when Anderson moderated the debate in Michigan the other night. You heard Hillary Clinton highlighting her opposition to the only multi-national trade deal that came up when she was in the senate, CAFTA, right. You heard her talked about how she came to oppose the TPP. So, yes, it's a place that is open to Bernie Sanders' economic message. But Hillary Clinton's economic message throughout this campaign has gotten closer to Bernie Sanders' economic message, because she understands where the party is right now when it comes to economic messages.

So I think that it's not that I think that she'll be outright rejected or she may do well in Michigan, we'll as the polls, as the results come in. But I do think it is so interesting over the course of the campaign how she has really especially on these economic populist issues really moved closer to Bernie Sanders' position than certainly her husband was at, or the kind of position she ran on quite frankly, in 2008.

BASH: No question. Or the fact that when she was President Obama's secretary of state she endorsed the concept of this very trade bill. And Wolf, I will say, I will toss it back to you. That I was just talking to some people in Michigan who were saying that some of the union leaders in Michigan, who were really critical, were not very happy about the fact that Hillary Clinton in CNN's debate went after Bernie Sanders for opposing the auto bailout. They thought that that was a low blow. Unclear how much that trickled down to rank and file and the people who are going out to vote today.

BLITZER: Rescuing the auto industry in the United States especially in Michigan was critically, critically important. It's a huge issue for millions of people out there. All right, guys. Thanks very much. I want to go back to Anderson -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. We want to talk more with our commentators. Donna Brazile, in Michigan, are you surprised that Bernie Sanders' message -- there was some talk of, would they be pivoting now to sort of focus on Donald Trump. He's been hitting Secretary Clinton hard on trade policies, and perhaps with some effect.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it all started, Bernie Sanders was five, six, seven percent in the polls. He has really, really been a strong candidate, and talking about economic issues, really bringing home the fact that wages are low. Michigan has come back from the recession, albeit not as strong as Michigan was 20 years ago, ten years ago. But after President Obama rescued the auto industry, there's no question that jobs and wages continue to be issues that galvanize voters. I'm going to be looking at that issue tonight.

The union vote, that is a very important vote in Michigan. I'm also going to look at the Muslim vote in Dearborn, Michigan. Of course, I'm going to look at the college towns, the college towns, Ann Arbor, East Lansing. Because again, Bernie Sanders has put a lot of money, a lot of effort, a lot of energy. He understands that by winning Michigan, this will also help him in Illinois and Ohio. A couple of minutes ago I had a friend of mine from the Jackson campaign, he said in 1988, Bernie Sanders campaign across the state, it was a caucus state back then for Jesse Jackson. As you know Jesse Jackson beat Michael Dukakis. So, they're looking for the same results that Jesse Jackson received back in 1988.

COOPER: Van, what are looking for Michigan tomorrow?

JONES: When it comes to Democrats, if Bernie can't win here, the rationale for his campaign takes a massive blow. He was able to say, look, I didn't do as well in the South because I don't have those ties or whatever, but wait until I get up north. Wait until I get there. Then I'm going to show you something. So, if he's not able to pull it off, it's tough for him. The Clintons realize, they have a chance to put this guy away. They have Chelsea, Bill, Buddy, Sox, I mean --

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very good!

JONES: They are trying to stop this guy.

COOPER: I hate to break it to you, I don't think Buddy and Sox are still --

JONES: What?

COOPER: Well, maybe they're on a nice farm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. Yes.

COOPER: Maybe that's where they went.

AXELROD: This has been the problem. They've been relying too much on Buddy and Sox --

(LAUGHTER)

And they're just not around. You know, the story of this campaign so far has been Hillary Clinton's firewall in the African-American community. Bernie Sanders' surprising strength among working class whites. We've got to look at both of those things tonight. Can he make any inroads among African-Americans, can she do better or hold her own among working class whites?

[19:30:06] Because when you move on next to Ohio, where she is tonight, the minority population is actually smaller than it is in Michigan. About 22 percent, 23 percent of the vote will be African- American in Michigan tonight. She ought to be able to win that state. If she doesn't, that will be a sign of concern, at least for Ohio.

COOPER: And Bernie Sanders spend part of yesterday sort of trying to make up for comments he made during the debate. I think it was yesterday, maybe ago, it all blends together after African-Americans in poverty and his use of the term "ghetto".

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. So, he has to go back over ground that he really didn't want to go back to and I think the big question for him tonight is whether he could -- if he wins this, he denies her the momentum that she just wants to just sort of close up it, right?

He also ends the chance for all of those super delegates who put their fingers in the wind and said, oh, which way is the wind blowing? And the super delegates will say, OK, you're giving me a look now, I know, but --

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's not how it goes.

BORGER: Those super delegates who are elected officials, won't have any reason to kind of say, well u maybe we ought to stick with Bernie?

BRAZILE: I have to caution everybody, you could a win, but if you don't win in the right places, is the way we reward, 15 percent, but proportionally and also where the big Democratic votes come from. So, you win upper peninsula, great. We'll give you three. But we won't give you seven. Because if you win Detroit and the surrounding area, you'll get more.

BORGER: If she wins tonight, the momentum is with her.

BRAZILE: And if he wins, the game continues.

BORGER: The game continues.

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A quick comment to expand on what Donna said, because what I like about Michigan from a Democratic perspective is that you have all the factors, all the constituencies, there's the union component, the leadership not endorsing, but the members divided between Bernie and Trump. You got a college consistency, a liberal tradition.

He needs to win in an area like this. And if he can't, he'll never be able to get closer. COOPER: We're standing by for the first polls to close. We're

counting down to the polls closing in Mississippi at the top of the hour. We're also looking ahead to the other big contests, Michigan, a lot on the line.

CNN is tracking both races. We'll bring you live special coverage all night. Keep it here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:37:02] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're only minutes away from the polls closing in Mississippi. That's also when we could make a major projection in this race for the White House. Forty delegates are at stake in the Magnolia State tonight for Republicans.

It's possible some of the candidates come away without any delegates to add to their tallies. That's because there's a 15 percent cutoff. You have to get at least 15 percent to get some delegates.

The candidates potentially on the bubble, that would be Marco Rubio, and John Kasich.

Let's check in with their respective campaigns.

Jason Carroll is covering the Rubio campaign for us.

He's in Ponto Verde for us tonight, not far from Jacksonville.

Jason, what's the latest there?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're waiting for Rubio to address the crowd here. He's packed them in this small park here just outside of Jacksonville.

In terms of tonight, Wolf, when those results come in from Mississippi, the Rubio camp already knows what to expect. What they're saying is, they're not expecting any wins tonight, not in Mississippi, not in Michigan.

What they're really hoping for is a strong showing in places like Idaho and Hawaii. What they want to do is keep adding on to their delegate count and focus on the state of Florida. They know this is a must-win if they have any hope of moving forward.

BLITZER: All right. Jason, we'll get back to you. Jason Carroll in Florida for us.

Phil Mattingly is covering the Kasich campaign in Columbus, Ohio.

Phil, what's the latest over there?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was only a week ago when a Kasich adviser when asked about how things look in Michigan, just shrugged and said, it's a muddle. I have no idea.

That tone has really shifted over the last couple of days. John Kasich himself saying he's rising in the state. His advisers agreeing, looking at their internals and feeling good about the numbers. The goal is second place, Wolf. They're not actually saying that. They're not predicting they're even going to get that.

If they can notch that tonight, that's the momentum they want heading back home to Ohio, that crucial March 15th state. Wolf, a big showing in Michigan today would to a long way to rally bolstering John Kasich's, not only his possible results in Ohio, but the rationale for his candidacy and the potential establishment pick going forward in the Republican Party, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point. Thanks so much, Phil, for that.

Let's go back to Anderson -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much.

Let's continue the conversation.

It's interesting -- I mean, you hear from the Rubio people, they're looking to Idaho and Hawaii.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Who isn't, right?

COOPER: Who isn't, yes. I mean, I've never really heard campaigns say that's where they're looking to. It's a springboard to the White House oftentimes.

CUPP: Well, I don't think that's what they're saying. I think they're saying wins are wins. They'll take any delegates they can get right now.

I think a lot of people sort of waved off the 23 delegates in Puerto Rico, but as you know, there are a lot of Puerto Ricans in Florida. They're trying to make the case that this is more than just the smaller states, or finding a pathway or lane --

COOPER: But you would agree, for Marco Rubio, Florida is a make or break?

CUPP: I completely agree.

COOPER: The Rubio campaign will not say that, but do you agree that's true?

CUPP: I completely agree. I think if Marco Rubio can't seal Florida, and I'm optimistic that he has a chance there, then I think it's very hard for him to make the case that his entire campaign has been predicated on, which is that he's the electable candidate.

I believe he is in a general. But he's got to get there. If he can't get to the general, what good is it being the guy that can best beat Hillary Clinton? He needs Florida to make that case.

COOPER: A supporter of Trump, Andy, do you see a divided field? I mean, with Rubio, Cruz, Kasich staying in as long as possible, do you think that benefits your candidate? Or a one-on-one --

(CROSSTALK)

ANDY DEAN, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Look, Abraham Lincoln won the White House with 39 percent of the vote. He ran against three other candidates.

So, you just need to do better than your competitors. I mean, Marco Rubio, I know that people love in the establishment, but he's getting clobbered. I mean, Iowa, third place, New Hampshire, fifth place. Tonight, Michigan, he's most likely going to come in last place. He's in last place in the new national poll that just came out for NBC News.

So, I just don't see a way forward. I mean, literally, I feel bad for the guy's future political career. He's been in politics his entire life. And once he loses Florida, I really feel the governor's race in 2018 which would have been his, if he drops out now, he could probably lose that.

CUPP: I don't think he moves by your pity. I think he'll be fine. He's young. He's got a bright future. Very talented guy.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The good thing is in American politics, if you're famous, it goes a long way, as your boss can justify. He's got to be one of the most famous people in American politics for a long time.

It is very, very -- I think -- humbling for those of us who thought he was going to be this incredible force. I felt so moved when he was standing there with Tim Scott, with Nikki Haley, saying, this is the way forward for the Republican Party. I thought that was beautiful moment. He contrasts that with --

COOPER: Is that a moment you thought of joining the Republican Party?

(LAUGHTER)

JONES: No.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: But I will say this, compare that to Donald Trump with the hostage video of Chris Christie as the future, and I thought that he has a better case.

CUPP: And that is -- the that's the natter, right, and the Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott moment was for a lot of us who have been trying to move the party in a different direction, reach new voters, talk more inclusively. That was the Venus. It sort of came crumbling down.

BORGER: Well, the thing about Donald Trump is that he challenges everything about Republican outreach and Republican orthodoxy.

CUPP: By challenge, could you mean destroy? (LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Republican voters don't agree with you. I mean, Republican voters are going with Donald Trump.

CUPP: About a third of them, yes.

COOPER: More than for any of the other candidates.

AXELROD: But, you know, these campaigns, I've said this before, they're less about issues and they're about tests. You're being tested all the time. And the pressure gets ratcheted up. When the tests came for Marco Rubio, he didn't stand up. So he can be very impressive, but you have to stand up when that pressure comes.

COOPER: You run a campaign -- you know, you read a lot about Donald Trump not having a pollster, having an organization which is not -- which is unlike any of the other candidates who are in there, particularly for somebody who has the money he does. I mean, he could have put resources in.

Does that matter? I mean, up to now he's obviously been doing very well. You could agree, well, it doesn't really matter. Do you think it actually matters when you start to have large amounts of money, aiming at Donald Trump?

AXELROD: Well, I think that's what we're going to see. The national polls suggest that's the case. The point is the one Gloria raised before, which is did it all come too late. There is a certain rough justice to this, because there's a lot of Republicans who had -- have private views about Donald Trump, that they didn't want to share. And then they panicked at the last minute and now they're hitting him with everything they can. It may just be too late for that.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And now the establishment favorite, and I never thought I'd hear myself say this, is Ted Cruz, who doesn't have a friend in the United States Senate?

SMERCONISH: He's benefited from Rubio's attempted takedown of Donald Trump. That really backfired I think on Marco Rubio. It put him in Trump's league, not in a good way, and Cruz was the beneficiary.

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Cruz has won contest and has a ground game in several states. Marco Rubio, not so much.

COOPER: We've only got a little time before the top of the hour, that's when the polls in Mississippi close about 15 minutes from now. CNN is getting ready to make projections. Stick around for that.

A critical night in the race for the White House. What happens in Mississippi could reverberate, of course, throughout the country. Major CNN projections coming up after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:49:04] BLITZER: Democrats and Republicans, they only have a few minutes left to cast their votes. CNN is about to get some hard numbers out of the Magnolia State, that's Mississippi. We could be able to make major projections within a matter of minutes.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center. You're watching special live coverage of Super Tuesday round two.

Polls in Mississippi close in just a few minutes. For the Republicans, 40 delegates are at stake. For the Democrats, 36 delegates are there for the taking.

African-American voters could play an outside role in the Democratic race tonight. They've overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton so far. But will that trend hold? Can Bernie Sanders surprise and rejuvenate his chances by swiping the Democratic presidential nomination?

In the Republican race, Mississippi's two neighbors already made their pick. Alabama overwhelming went for Donald Trump. But in Louisiana, Trump escaped much more narrowly with a win over Ted Cruz.

[19:50:04] So, which state will better predict what happens in Mississippi tonight? Guess what? We're about to find out.

First, let's go to CNN's Sara Murray. She's covering the Trump campaign. She's joining us from Jupiter, Florida, right now.

Empty behind you, but pretty soon it's going to fill up.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, that's absolutely right, Wolf.

And, look, the fact we're in Florida right now tells you pretty much all you need to know about where Donald Trump's head is at tonight. No matter what happens, he's focused on Florida.

Now, I was just talking to one of his top Florida campaign officials who said there's no doubt that his momentum has taken a hit, that he seemed to be a little rattled, a little flat in the days after Mitt Romney came out publicly against him.

This person said there are a couple things Donald Trump needs to do to seal the deal in Florida and ensure he wins not just by a couple points but a slightly wider margin. And one of the main things this person said get there, be visible, I'm not talking about Mar-A-Lago. This Florida campaign official said it's time for Donald Trump to be spending more time here in Florida, to be holding bigger, boisterous rallies and ginning up the faithful -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sara, thanks very much.

Sunlen Serfaty is covering the Cruz campaign in North Carolina right now. What's the latest over there, Sunlen? SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Cruz

campaign is setting the bar pretty low for themselves this evening. The Cruz campaign official says the mood behind the scenes right now is good and that they're hoping for a good showing tonight, but that's not exactly fighting words.

Their goal really -- they're not predicting any outright wins against Donald Trump or anyone else. They just -- their strategy tonight is all about the math, picking up delegates, shrinking the lead with Donald Trump in terms of delegates, and moving forward. A Cruz campaign official telling me tonight this is all about gathering delegates that we made to give Trump a run for his money.

And the Cruz campaign is pointing to the results from Louisiana over the weekend, a sign, a place that might give them some hope where they saw those late breakers, last-minute deciders, coming to their side, leaving Trump and breaking their way. They really hope to emulate that result tonight in many of these states. Of course, they think that's a trend but, of course, tonight's outcome will be a big test of that theory and whether that holds -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Sunlen, thanks very much.

I want to go back to Dana and David.

Mississippi coming up within a few minutes. We might be able to make a projection.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And even though the Trump campaign is feeling bullish about Mississippi and even privately the Cruz campaign thinks that he'll do well there, it is, Sunlen is absolutely right, I'm hearing this from sources, I'm sure you are, too, David, it is all about delegates and it is all about racking them up particularly for Ted Cruz. I mean, look what happened on Saturday night. Donald Trump had the check mark next to his name.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right.

BASH: But Ted Cruz got the most delegates.

CHALIAN: Yes. His two wins over the weekend were much wider, much bigger victories than the two more narrow wins Donald Trump had.

The test for Ted Cruz in Mississippi, again, this is supposed to be part of his whole base. This is where he was supposed to actually by this point be the delegate leader, right? And he's not. Because Trump has performed well in the South.

So, it's -- this is another test, I think, for the Cruz operation in that way.

BASH: You're exactly right. That's an excellent point that the Rubio people bring up that Cruz is doing better, but he was supposed to winning in the South because of his so-called Southern Strategy. On that note, give us a sense of what the voters going into the polls

in Mississippi and Michigan are feeling about some of the Cruz issues, particularly the federal government.

CHALIAN: Exactly, which is sort of his bread and butter, right?

BASH: Sure.

CHALIAN: So, this gets to the mood of the electorate.

Take a look at this. In Mississippi, the Republican electorate voting in the primary today, 44 percent of Mississippi Republican primary voters are angry, outright angry, 43 percent dissatisfied.

Take a look in Michigan, it's a little less angry of an electorate, 32 percent of the Republican primary voters in Michigan say they're angry. A majority, 55 percent, say they're dissatisfied.

And then, of course, the critical white evangelical vote. In Mississippi, it's pretty significant -- 76 percent of Michigan Republican primary voters today are evangelical Christians. That should be good news for both Trump and Cruz that have been doing well with them.

And in Michigan -- that's in Mississippi. In Michigan, take a look at this, Dana, 49 percent, nearly half the Republican primary electorate in Michigan is white evangelical or born again. That is ten points higher in turnout among evangelicals than we saw four years ago in the Republican primary in Michigan.

It is now a more evangelical electorate, I am sure if you're in Cruz campaign headquarters you take that and you're like, wow, that might help us tonight in Michigan.

BASH: Absolutely because you sort of think about Southern states like Mississippi that has three-quarters of the Republican electorate say they're evangelical. That might be expected, but Michigan maybe not so much and, of course, Michigan went for Mitt Romney who, of course, is a Mormon, last time around and also in 2008.

[19:55:06] So, it was a little bit of a different dynamic since Michigan back then was practically home turf for Mitt Romney because he grew up there.

BLITZER: Michigan and Mississippi, two very different states --

BASH: Very different.

BLITZER: -- for these Republicans who want to be the next president of the United States. We'll see what happens momentarily.

I want to go over to John King over at the magic wall.

We're looking at Mississippi first, Michigan closes in an hour. Mississippi closes in a few minutes. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So the big question is,

momentum at stake but the matt matters now that we're into the crowded calendar. Over here, wolf, see the states voting tonight.

Let's look at the delegates at stake. If you look at it right now, if you look at the two states involved. You got Democratic delegates and Republican delegates at stake. There we go, 166 Democratic delegates, 150 Republican delegates.

Now, there's some other math here -- if you're looking forward, what does each candidate have to win going forward? Donald Trump won 43 percent of the delegates so far up to today. He would have to win 54 percent of the remaining delegates to get to the magic number of 1,237.

You see the math for Senator Cruz, he's won a third, which means he'd have to win 60 percent. And for Rubio and Kasich, the math is daunting, near impossible to see them getting enough to clinch. Their goal is to win their home states, get in the race, get some wins down the road and get into a convention. Not impossible for the lower guys to clinch, but they'd essentially have to win everything starting next week. So, you look at that math.

Let's look quickly at the Democratic side and then we'll go for the map. If you look at, for the Democratic side, delegates, we get Hillary Clinton has won 59 percent of the delegates so far, these are pledged delegates. No superdelegates involved in this map. Fifty- nine percent so far. She has to stay on track. If she keeps winning 59 percent she'll get to the magic number.

Bernie Sanders would have to win 2/3 of the delegates from today out to clinch before the convention. Pretty steep hill for Senator Sanders, which is why, Wolf, the math matters so much.

Let's look right now. Ted Cruz with the Super Saturday wins got back in the hunt, right? You see in there, 86 delegates down. The question is, what happens tonight? If we go through tonight and Donald Trump runs the board, he can start to stretch out and you could have 100 delegate or more lead by the end of the night.

Mississippi, can Ted Cruz make a play here in Mississippi? Right now, Donald Trump thinks he can win the state. Why is that important? It's important for the delegates but it's also important if you look at the momentum across the South. Trump wants to say this is the base of the Republican Party. That's pretty impressive.

Michigan, will Trump be surprised here? Or will he get the bulk of the 59 delegates? Again, first place, second place, third matters, too, for delegates, but for Donald Trump he wants to win here because he wants to fill in that map to say now not only am I winning in the base of the party in the South, I'm winning in the industrial Midwest.

So, Donald Trump is hoping by the time we get to the 15th -- if he runs the board tonight and runs the board on the 15th, game over. He'd be more than 400 delegates ahead, which is why this is so important. In a stop-Trump movement, Kasich has to win Ohio. Stop Trump

movement, it would help if Rubio would win Florida. If that were to happen, alone, next week and Trump won everything else, he's still ahead but the other guys can at least make the argument, we may not be in the hunt to catch him but we can stop him from getting to 1,237.

That is why tonight, setting up next week is so important. Big defining moment tonight, could be a decisive moment next week.

Let's switch to the Democratic race. Look here. Hillary Clinton ahead by 201 pledged delegates coming into the night. She expects to win in Mississippi. The question is the margin.

This is a modest win. A rough split. She'd get a few more delegates. If she does better than that, it would adjust those numbers. If she wins Michigan, again, she'd get more of the delegates but she would have the same message as Trump -- meaning African-Americans across the South, winning in the industrial heartland, opening up my map.

And why it's so important tonight, the Sanders campaign doesn't like this. But if Hillary Clinton can keep winning in addition to that math, she has these superdelegates, 472 in her back pocket. She hopes they don't matter, she hopes she never needs them. But just the psychology of having them allows her to have momentum going forward in the race.

Well, let's just take them off the screen for the sake of argument. Clinton wants to get 220, more than 230 delegates up by the end of the night. Sanders if she's he's going to arc of this race, very much needs this. He needs this in Michigan, because what he's hoping to do is go forward through tonight, into Super Tuesday, the next Super Tuesday on the 15th.

Again, if Sanders can win this, you might say is he in play in Ohio and Illinois? Two big contests next week. If Clinton wins in Michigan tonight, and carries her momentum on through next week, gets Ohio, Illinois, as well as North Carolina, continuing the swath right there, Hillary Clinton by the end of next week could be starting to full away almost to the halfway point, maybe even past the halfway point in the delegate chase.

So, that's why it's so important tonight. Momentum is at stake in both contests but also, Wolf, as we've been talking about for a long time, the math of the race is getting more and more, important. If you're going to make Donald Trump, you'd like to make a big down payment tonight. Because if you don't make a down payment tonight, makes next week if you're going to stop Donald Trump absolutely critical.

BLITZER: We're standing by, John, at the top of the hour, only seconds away right now, Mississippi, the polling in Mississippi will close.

That will be our first opportunity to report on the exit polls and make a projection in this race for the White House. The polls close on the Democratic side, the polls close on the Republican side. We're getting closer right now.

Get ready. This is a moment a lot of people have been waiting for. Let's go to it.