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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Trump Winds Michigan, Mississippi, Cruz Wins Idaho; Sanders Wins Michigan, Clinton Wins Mississippi; Aired 1-1:30a ET
Aired March 9, 2016 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: From when officials start counting Republican votes in Hawaii. 19 delegates are on the line right now for the Republicans in that state. Hawaii, by the way, is a caucus state. And that could bolster Ted Cruz. He's won seven states so far, including one tonight. Four of them have been caucus states. If Cruz wins in Hawaii, he could argue more forcefully that he is the strongest and indeed the only viable alternative to Donald Trump. That's what we have for you.
I want to walk over to our panel. Gloria, this is a moment that the Republicans have to appreciate, the fact that Donald Trump has done so well in two very different states, Michigan and Mississippi.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And I think they do appreciate it. And I think that the folks who want to stop Trump also should appreciate it this evening because their job just got a lot tougher. I mean, you saw that Marco Rubio didn't do anything this evening. Ted Cruz wants to position himself as the chief challenger to Trump, and he won Idaho and all roads to the White House link through -- go through Idaho, I guess.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If not Hawaii.
BORGER: If not Hawaii. We'll see. So look, I think -- I think that Donald Trump is in a commanding position. But as John was just saying, let's see -- you know, next week is going to be dispositive. Let's see what happens in Florida and Ohio.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A week from tonight on the Republican side, 60 percent of their delegates would have been allocated. Can they stop Trump? I mean, with 60 percent of your delegates already been allocated, I don't know. On the Democratic side --
BLITZER: Is he stoppable, David?
AXELROD: Well, I think he's stoppable, but highly unlikely. Highly unlikely. I do think this debate on Thursday is pretty consequential.
AXELROD: Because this is the last chance to try and throw something in his way before Super Tuesday. And I do believe that campaigns are tests to see how you deal with pressure. I think there's going to be a lot of pressure on Donald Trump on Thursday night. And if he makes a mistake, it could influence him. Now we've seen in the past, he seems impervious to that. But I do think these last few weeks have not been good weeks for him.
BLITZER: That's a good point. You know, there's a Democratic presidential debate Wednesday night, tomorrow night in Miami, a Univision debate that CNN will simulcast. Thursday night, there's a CNN debate, Republican presidential debate, in Miami as well. Looking ahead to the next Super Tuesday.
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. I mean, I think the most interesting person to watch now is Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz is -- is fairly close to Donald Trump in delegates. He's the only one in the field who has any even a remote chance of getting -- besides Trump getting to that 1200. The problem is, he's been a very narrow cast candidate. He's been running as far to the right as he can, with social conservatives. He doesn't have an economic message, as Gloria was saying during the break.
The -- he doesn't do well generally outside of very conservative caucuses or red states. The question is, can he broaden out? Can he somehow develop some kind of a message? Because there are some people in the Republican Party who are hungry for an alternative to Trump. Can he make --
AXELROD: Well, Peter, I think that --
BEINART: Make himself that alternative.
AXELROD: His answer to that is, let me be the last man standing with Donald Trump and I will beat him, and there's polling to suggest that that might happen. The problem is that there's no evidence that the field is going to go away. The problem is that this Republican establishment that is so fearful of Trump loathes Cruz.
AXELROD: And they're not interesting in that scenario. So -- but I'm sure that he will make that case Thursday night.
BEINART: Well, if Kasich -- if Kasich lost, then the question would be, can he compete in states like New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, the states in the north where there are Republican --
BORGER: No. No, no, no.
BORGER: No. No.
BEINART: Probably not, but he's the only one who would be left to have any chance. BLITZER: But Kasich himself has said if he doesn't win his home state
next Tuesday, in Ohio, he's not going to go on.
BEINART: Right. Which would leave Cruz as the only guy left assuming Rubio loses.
BORGER: Then the establishment has a decision to make.
BORGER: Who do they back?
BORGER: The guy they don't like or the guy they don't like? Which one?
BLITZER: Andy Dee, you're a Trump supporter. What do you think?
ANDY DEAN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I think the establishment is going to come around on March 15th to realize that Trump is the guy or they can throw everything with Cruz. But the problem with that is the primary map shifts to Donald Trump. It shifts to the northeast, it shifts to New York, and then in June, of course, California. These are places that Donald Trump is a much bigger advantage than Ted Cruz. So I think they're going to wake up on March 16th and say, look, Trump is the guy. We have a choice. Do we want Trump or Hillary Clinton? I think Hillary is most likely to win.
BLITZER: Do you agree?
DEAN: They got a choice.
MARY KATHERINE HAM, SENIOR WRITER, THE FEDERALIST: I think there's an establishment part here that does not like Cruz, that is sure. But there are plenty of conservatives and conservative activists who are happy to take a Cruz over a Trump. And will work for that end. And then the other thing is I think when you're talking about Kasich staying in and maybe grabbing Ohio and Rubio having a chance at Florida, I think Cruz actually shoots himself in the foot by saying -- by competing in Florida because -- and here's why. Because if you lose those big winner-take-all states and they go to Trump, his percentage he has to get in those states that are not as good for him goes up.
You can keep it a little lower if --
BLITZER: Do you think, Van, that Cruz is really the only alternative on the Republican side now to Donald Trump?
[01:05:05] VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It certainly looks like it. And one of the things, you know, Cruz is a cold, calculating killer. Ordinarily. I mean, look at this guy.
HAM: In the sweetest way possible.
JONES: Politically speaking. Politically speaking. You look at a Kasich. You look at a Rubio. And you think to yourself, give them a little bit of oxygen, let's gang up. No. He says, I am willing to gamble it all to knock Rubio out, even if I mess it up and wind up giving Trump all those delegates because I know that the only way I can win is to be one-on-one with the voters, Cruz versus -- because if I wind up in a convention, a brokered convention, I've got a better chance of a Republican brokered convention, giving me the nomination than Cruz. And so he is (INAUDIBLE) than anything else.
BLITZER: Bakari, if it's Cruz versus Trump, the only two Republicans left standing and they have a debate, who wins?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Donald Trump. I mean, I don't know how we get to the point where Donald Trump loses. I mean, I actually had to give Donald Trump credit the other day on social media because all Donald Trump has proven throughout this process is that he wins. Tonight, Donald Trump won again. So I don't have anything in the history books that tell ms to bet against Donald Trump.
But I will just give you one note for Thursday night. Thursday night, you're going up against Marco Rubio. And I've actually been on the debate stage nowhere near as big as this. And I've been the person that didn't have anything to lose, a Democrat in South Carolina. Marco Rubio is at home, has nothing to lose. He's going to be an extremely dangerous candidate on that stage. And John Kasich for the first time is going to be attacked.
So I hope that over the next two nights his team is preparing him because he is the one that can lose it all and Marco Rubio is just going to give it everything he has.
BLITZER: Hold on a second. Mary, go ahead.
HAM: Rubio will also have a friendly crowd in Miami at his back and the crowds have made a difference in these rooms and he's good at reading that crowd.
AXELROD: Why would they attack Kasich?
SELLERS: Well, I think that people understand that Kasich is the one who is actually making the move. Kasich is the one who tonight actually won delegates. I think the delegate count for Kasich is 16, Rubio is zero. But he is the one who's positioning himself as being that establishment lane candidate. Who would have guessed at the beginning of this, with Jeb Bush, with Chris Christie, with Marco Rubio, that the last establishment candidate standing would be John Kasich? HAM: Although Rubio still outweighs him in the number of delegates
and Rubio picked up 23 on Sunday that we're never talking about.
BORGER: Right. Right.
BLITZER: Now earlier tonight, Donald Trump spoke about Florida and Ohio. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So we are going to do something -- I think we're going to clean the slate. I think we're going to do really well in Florida. It's my second home. I love Florida. I love Florida.
TRUMP: I love Florida. Special place. And I think we're going to do really well. I think we're going to do really well in Ohio now that I have Paul O'Neill's endorsement. I know I'm going to win Ohio. But I love Ohio. I have so many friends in Ohio. It's an amazing place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Donna, if it's just Cruz and Trump in a debate, what happens?
BRAZILE: It would be like Hillary and Bernie. We'll have a lot of fireworks but --
BLITZER: Will it be policy issues they'll discuss or will it be personal?
BRAZILE: I think it will be a combination of both. I mean, looking at all the previous 11 debates. But you know what, going back to Florida, I know a little about Florida. I mean, Donald Trump is going to -- is not always good, but Donald Trump is going to do well in the panhandle of Florida. I think he'll also do well in Duvall County. The question is, can Marco Rubio run up the number in the I-4 corridor, in Tampa, Orlando, and also in southern Florida? And without those counties, this could be a Trump night. It could be a big night for Donald Trump.
AXELROD: With four candidates in the race.
BEINART: This is where Cruz playing could actually help Marco Rubio because Cruz's strength presumably would be in the panhandle, in northern Florida, which is more like Georgia and more like Mississippi. And then if he splits that with Donald Trump, maybe it gives Rubio a chance to eke it out with a big victory in southern Florida, which is his base.
AXELROD: Can I just interest Andy's point about the states that are upcoming? You know, we talked about some vulnerabilities of Hillary Clinton that showed up in the vote today. One of the things that interested me was there's a growing gender gap opening up for Donald Trump. He won 45 percent of the men in Michigan and just 29 percent of the women. In fact, he and I think Kasich tied among women. He won 51 percent of the men, less pronounced in Mississippi, 46 percent. And these national polls is showing up, too. So this is a problem for him moving forward, even if he advances and maybe particularly when he advanced.
BORGER: You know, Ted Cruz has a gender gap, too. It's interesting because the two leading candidates have trouble with women voters.
BLITZER: What do you think?
DEAN: Well, I have a quick point about Rubio because I'll be curious to watch the CNN debate on Thursday night. And that's -- which Rubio shows up?
DEAN: Is it going to be the statesman like that we saw for the entire campaign up until two weeks ago or is it going to be the Rubio that's throwing firebombs? And I honestly --
HAM: Because nobody likes a candidate who does that.
DEAN: I don't know what he's going to do.
[01:10:01] If the firebombing had worked, he would have done much better tonight, and he didn't do it. So who -- which Rubio will show up? I don't know.
BLITZER: Did the firebombing hurt Rubio?
HAM: I think the firebombing worked for other people.
HAM: There's a bit of a Christie attack that happened.
SELLERS: Rubio has so much pressure going on. I mean, I just can't imagine the things he's thinking about right now as he's preparing for Thursday night. We're blasting him tonight because he walks away with as many delegates as I did tonight. And he also is going in having --
JONES: He campaigned harder than you.
SELLERS: He has more offices than me. And you think about the fact that he has to be thinking about his future, not just in this race, but his future in the Republican Party.
HAM: He's also got -- on the math, he's also got some math built up in his favor from early voting where he is -- shown to be way ahead of Trump, and the Trump strength in the past in many states has been the early voting. So he'll have to switch that dynamic. Not out of the real of probability.
JONES: I think we shouldn't write Rubio's obit yet. One thing about him, he knows how to come back. I remember when he had that crazy, like, water bottle moment.
JONES: He became a punch line, and yet somehow he came back. He throws up with the Chris Christie -- these working class kids in American politics, whether you're talking about a Bill Clinton or anybody else, who say -- or Reverend Jesse Jackson, these working class kids say, I'm going to be somebody. I'm going to show people that we are valuable. We have -- they are hard to beat down. And you're going to watch this guy. He's going to come out there. He knows the whole world is watching him.
But I think you're right. I think he's going to try to do something. I think writing him off is too early.
SELLERS: That's right. But that is the Rubio that I sat here many times on CNN and said that as a Democrat, he terrifies me. It's the one who tells the story, the inspirational story of who he is. The last three weeks, it's been a shell of that individual. He has gone away from the Marco Rubio who I thought was the most dangerous Republican candidate running for office.
BORGER: But this is where experience on a national platform really matters because he overreacted in a way to -- when Chris Christie attacked him for being too robotic. Right? Then he went and the pendulum swung way to the other side and suddenly he wasn't robotic anymore, he was -- I don't know what you call it.
BORGER: And it just doesn't work and his brand got kind of sullied. And now, you know, I agree with Andy, you have to kind of see who shows up in Florida because he's got to look more presidential than he's been looking the last couple of weeks.
AXELROD: I think one of the problems, Bakari, is that any of -- any of these candidates who appeals to you doesn't appeal to the Republican base. I mean, there are candidates who might be good general election candidates, a Kasich, a Rubio, who simply don't do it for the Republican base that is -- is in a whole different place.
SELLERS: I'm sorry, just to go back to a point that both of you all made earlier and that we've building up Donald Trump and all of these things that -- these issues that may play out in a Hillary Clinton race. But Barack Obama destroyed Mitt Romney with women in 2012. Beat him by 20 points. And if she's running against Donald Trump who simply can't get a woman to come out and vote for him that's not elected to him -- I mean, not related to him, then it's going to be double that. So you were talking about general election candidates. And Donald Trump has a serious flaw when it comes to that.
BLITZER: I want to play another clip. This is Marco Rubio speaking about a potential race against Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: If we lose this election to Hillary Clinton, Obamacare is permanent. All those unconstitutional executive orders are permanent. The next Supreme Court justice will be a liberal. If we lose this election, the consequences are generational.
We can't lose. We cannot afford to nominate someone in this party that is not a conservative. And we cannot afford to nominate someone that is not a conservative that can win. I know that I can win. The Democrats know that I will win. Hillary Clinton attacks me more than any other Republican because she doesn't want to run against me. But I cannot wait to run against Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He's basically saying, Andy, that Donald Trump, the man you support, can't win, can't beat Hillary Clinton.
DEAN: Look, even that clip shows you that Rubio is a talented speaker. But the electorate right now wants an economic message and they want an economic leader, and if you look at the numbers, Donald Trump is that business leader that they want and they don't want another person who hasn't held an actual job outside of politics.
HAM: I think Rubio also has had a little bit of a problem of being the Goldilocks candidate. If you want the most populist candidate, you're going to Trump. If you want the most conservative, you go to Cruz. And if you want the most moderate candidate you're going to --
AXELROD: He's trying to be everybody's second choice thinking that it would all come to him. And therefore he had no committed base. But one thing we should say on this electability issue that he continues to sell, in these two contests tonight where there are exit polls, he was not viewed -- he did not do well among the candidates who said electability was their most important quality.
AXELROD: He had done well in previous primaries on this. It seems as if Republicans have moved on and have concluded that he is not the most electable. [01:15:06] BLITZER: And in terms of the delegates that were won
tonight, Gloria, take a look at -- you see that up on the screen, 58 for Trump, 43 for Cruz, 16 for John Kasich, zero so far. We're still waiting for Hawaii, but zero so far for Marco Rubio.
BORGER: Yes. And they were downplaying --
BRAZILE: Rubio is the perfect candidate on paper. He's the perfect candidate on paper. Young, aspiring, Latino, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But there's no there-there. You have to have organization, you have to have roots and you also have to have a following. And there's no there-there.
BEINART: Right. He turns out to be a little bit like a -- kind of Republican John Edwards. I mean, not with the scandal but that John Edwards also looked on paper in some ways in 2008 like remarkably formidable. Very talented, right, but ultimately it turned out there wasn't as much substance there.
And I also think, to go back to what David Axelrod was saying, that, you know, a candidate to win, when they reflect the -- the mood of their party at a particular moment. Rubio's message was pretty optimistic, pretty forward looking, pretty inclusive. He doesn't do rage well. Right? And what the Republican Party really wanted in a lot of ways was rage. And it turned out that Donald Trump and even Ted Cruz in some ways are better at promising to burn things down than Marco Rubio.
BORGER: Well, I think he does rage well against Hillary Clinton. What he doesn't do is talk to the base of the Republican Party.
BORGER: And that's his problem because he might be able to do very well in a debate with Hillary Clinton. But he's to get the nomination first and he's nowhere anywhere near it.
AXELROD: Let me just say, Wolf, words you never want to utter if you're running for president is, "I'm waiting to see how Hawaii turns out."
BLITZER: Let me just say, we're waiting to see how Hawaii turns out because they're counting the ballots in Hawaii right now.
Let's take another quick break, maybe update you on what's going on in Hawaii when we come back.
ERROL BARNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, everyone. Great to have you with me. I'm Errol Barnett. And this is CNN NEWS NOW.
New claims from North Korea. State-run media reports the country has militarized nuclear warheads to fit on ballistic missiles. These photos are from the state-run newspaper and as you see they show leader Kim Jong-Un visiting a facility where the warheads were allegedly made.
CNN cannot independently verify North Korea's claims but our Paula Hancocks is covering this and joins us now from Seoul with more.
Paula, what more do we know?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Errol, Pyongyang has claimed before that they have managed to militarized a nuclear device -- warhead put on top of a missile, this is the first time that they have shown us photos of what they say is that nuclear element. So simply an interesting uptick in what North Korea is showing us. Also it's the first time that we know that the North Korean leader himself, Kim Jong-Un, has said that he has this capability. He's quoted in that state-run media article as saying, this can be called true nuclear deterrent.
Now the Pentagon has already responded they say this means nothing has changed. They say that North Korea still hasn't -- still hasn't demonstrated that it is able to militarize this nuclear warhead. Analysts in the past and U.S. officials have said they believe North Korea has the capability but it is untested. But of course it just ads to the tension here on the Korean peninsula.
[01:20:02] It comes just days after Kim Jong-Un said that he wants his nuclear weapons at the ready, that he declared or threatened nuclear war on Washington and Seoul. So what it really does just increased the tensions that we have seen already. Of course, that nuclear test in January, North Korea claims it was a hydrogen bomb. The satellite launch in February. And then of course last week those U.N. sanctions against North Korea which the U.S. said were the strongest in two decades. So this just adds to the tensions we already see on the Peninsula at the same time that the U.S. and South Korea are carrying out their joint military drills -- Errol.
BARNETT: Yes. More serious claims from the North. We'll continue to connect with you in the hours ahead.
Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul, South Korea.
I'm Errol Barnett. That is your CNN NEWS NOW. I'll see you again this hour but for now back to CNN's special coverage of the U.S. presidential election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is that the Bernie Sanders campaign, the people's -- the revolution. People's revolution that we are talking about. The political revolution that we are talking about is strong in every part of the country and frankly we believe that our strongest areas are yet to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Senator Bernie Sanders, the winner of the Michigan Democratic presidential primary.
Bakari, is he realistic with that expectation that he's only just beginning?
SELLERS: Well, I mean, I think that Bernie Sanders had a great night tonight. But to just all of a sudden say that Hillary Clinton is completely out of the game, that she's lost, it's not a fair narrative because it's not reality.
Hillary Clinton came out it tonight. She expanded the delegate lead. Bernie Sanders had a hell of a night. And we're going to have a tussle in Ohio, we'll have a tussle in Illinois. I look forward to not only next Tuesday but I do look forward to this debate that we have coming up tomorrow. It's going to be amazing to watch. It's a grind.
The one thing I don't want to face, and I think Van Jones and Donna and Axe, and all the Democrats on the panel can attest to, is whenever Hillary Clinton gets her back near the wall, she does extremely well. And she is a great campaigner. And I like the fact that people are putting her up against the wall, so we'll see what happens.
BLITZER: The big debate Wednesday night in Miami.
SELLERS: Well, that's tonight.
BLITZER: Go ahead.
JONES: This was so important for Bernie Sanders for two reasons. One, there was a knock on him that said basically this dude appeals to white people and nobody else. He cannot break through with black voters. He cannot do it. And Hillary Clinton has this sort of African-American firewall. And the reality is, you cannot be a credible Democrat if you cannot get black votes.
Tonight he broke that nest. He was able to show that he can grow. He didn't dominate her. She still won far more black votes needed. But he grew his share. That's very important. And number two, momentum is spelled M-O-N-E-Y. OK. Momentum is spelled money. He is going to now have a huge influx of cash which he wouldn't have gotten, and this is going to make him more of a presence blog.
BLITZER: Mary Katherine, can he use that money, can he use that momentum moving out to next Tuesday, let's say in Ohio or Illinois or Missouri?
HAM: I think he certainly can. And people like a winner and they respond to that. I think Bernie is making a statement here, and he's moving forward, and you're not going to shut him up. And he was also charmingly unaware that he was going to win tonight. What's more (INAUDIBLE) than that? I mean, they're responding to that.
JONES: But he didn't get very many delegates.
JONES: He has the wind.
HAM: That's not politiciany.
BLITZER: Andy, what do you think?
DEAN: I think there's a huge surprise tonight, and that's Bernie Sanders wins Michigan. That is a huge story, it's a big story. It's also a good night, obviously, for Trump for his big wins. But even bigger than that, Hillary Clinton's weakness in a state that's going to be incredibly important in November, that also looks very similar to Ohio and Pennsylvania to me is the big takeaway.
BLITZER: He was impressive in Michigan. And he won certain parts of Michigan that presumably came as a surprise even to him.
BEINART: Right. I mean, I think one of the kind of heartwarming stories of this night actually is that Bernie Sanders won Dearborn, Michigan. Now Dearborn has one of the largest Arab and Muslim populations in America. A Jewish candidate and to be too partisan about this but when you compare that to what's happening with Donald Trump, who's called for banning all Muslims into the United States, I think it shows the moral difference between where the Democratic Party is right now, especially on the rights of vulnerable minorities and where some of the Republicans come from.
BLITZER: Donna, your big takeaway from tonight?
BRAZILE: A big win for Bernie Sanders. Although she lost by very little, here's the news that I have to break to everybody. She will win the majority of delegates tonight because of her win in Mississippi, and also because of her victory in Detroit. 246 delegates in Florida, 182 in Illinois, 84 in Missouri, 121 in North Carolina, 159 and -- I'm missing a state.
BLITZER: In Missouri.
BRAZILE: In Missouri. OK. I forgot the show me state.
[01:25:02] This is a huge -- this is a huge win for Bernie. Hillary has won 22 states of vote, and she leads overall on the popular vote and the delegates. So Bernie has to continue to win big in order to take --
AXELROD: Yes. He had a big win, she had a good night. On the Republican side, I think as we beat to death, Rubio had a bad night, which has implications through next week in Florida, which Trump now seems to be in a good position to win. John Kasich didn't finish second as he hoped to in Michigan. That may have some implications for next week, too. The stop Trump project has run into a little bit of a problem here. BORGER: You know, and I want to just take this forward to our debates
that are coming up tonight I guess it is now. It's going to be a huge debate for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. They went at it last in Flint. I think that the stakes are very high for both of them. And also in the Republican debate, the next night, I think the challenge for Trump is going to be to be more presidential. I don't think his speech tonight, after winning, was particularly gracious. It was an infomercial as you guys have said. And I think the challenge for him is on that stage now is to act like a president.
BLITZER: Guys, the focus clearly swings to Florida right now. Wednesday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN simulcast the Univision Democratic presidential debate live from Miami and Thursday night, CNN hosts the Republican presidential debate at the University of Miami. That starts at 8:30 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.
Our special election coverage continues with John Berman and Christine Romans right after a quick break.