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CNN Democratic Town Hall Next Hour; Exclusive Interview with Protester at Trump Rally. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 13, 2016 - 19:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: It is 7:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday night and what a night we have for you here on CNN.

Welcome to CNN's special coverage of the CNN Ohio Democratic Town Hall.

I'm Poppy Harlow live with you here in New York for the next hour. Then I will hand it over to my colleague Jake Tapper, who is moderating this evening.

The stage is set and in just under an hour, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will be face-to-face with voters in Ohio. They may get grilled and they're going to make their final push ahead of Tuesday's crucial primaries.

The results in Ohio, those results could very well decide the next president of the United States. Why? Because of history. In fact, this is a bellwether state that is voted in the winning candidate in every single election since 1960, add to that, no republican has ever been elected to the White House without the buckeye state behind them, but for the democrats tonight, the number one issue is the economy.

A new CNN Poll confirming that this is where voters care the most about. In fact, the second biggest City in Ohio, Cleveland, is the number one most economically-depressed major City in America.

And as we saw in the rust belt, State of Michigan, where Sanders' shocked, perhaps even himself and his own team with a win, we could be about to witness what could be the biggest shake-up of the race so far in Ohio.

I'm joined by the best political team on television, covering every candidate, every angle, with me now CNN'S Brianna Keilar.

Brianna, when you look at this and you look at the race that we have ahead, what could be the biggest surprise, do you think, tonight on this stage?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, having watched the last couple of debates, you probably noticed that candidates are very testy, very fiery. Now this is a Town Hall, so it's a different situation. They're not going head to head. They each have their own time slot and they'll be talking to voters.

But I think that you can certainly expect some sharp contrast and that some of these arguments that they've been formulating over the last couple of debates are going to be out there for sure.

Hillary Clinton has been hitting Bernie Sanders on the auto bailout. Some people thought that backfired how she framed, at the first time, a couple of debates ago. But her team feels that she's figured out how to do that now to say if everybody voted the way Bernie Sanders had, because ultimately on the auto bailout money there was encased in some Wall Street bailout money, he voted no. That the car industry would have failed. So I think we'll be hearing that from her.

I expect we will be hearing him, Poppy, hammering Hillary Clinton on her past trade positions. That played very well in Michigan, where he bested her by a couple of points in such an upset last week. And he thinks that will play well here in Ohio as well.

HARLOW: What about the fact we heard Bernie Sanders say this morning on State of the Union with Jake Tapper, Brianna, that he thinks the Clinton cap is getting quote, "a little nervous". What's the strategy behind that and, you know, that Clinton camp well, you've covered them in-depth. Are they getting a little nervous?

KEILAR: You know, I would say they're a little nervous about what the outcome will be in Ohio and Missouri and Illinois. These are industrial states. And they want Hillary Clinton to have a very good showing because they want it to be clear that she is far and away the front-runner that it is definitive, and so that she can pivot to the general election instead. But is she nervous that she's not going to clench the nomination? I think Clinton campaign is looking at the map. They see Bernie Sanders behind by, you know, hundreds when it comes to just pledged delegates, several hundreds when you include those superdelegates in there.

So, are they nervous that he is going to best them? I don't think so. But I think they are nervous certainly that he could damage them in some key states.

HARLOW: Yeah, especially Ohio.

Brianna, thank you so much.

Brianna, live there in Columbus, where we'll have the Town Hall tonight.

Let's talk about Bernie Sanders. He is making his pitch to voters right now at a rally in Columbus. This is less than an hour ahead of CNN'S Democratic Town Hall tonight. The rally comes since Donald Trump has accused Sanders of being responsible for the protests over the weekend at Trump's rallies. Jeff Zeleny is there in Columbus. You've been listening to Sanders make his appeal. What stands out you the most?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, Bernie Sanders, he is about wrapping up his speech. You can see behind me right now the crowd really cheering him on here at a college campus. College campuses are one of the key strategies, so he's hoping to win on Tuesday.

But I can tell you, the crowd really is resonating and responding to his message about Super PACS. He points out in every turn that he does not have one, Hillary Clinton does have one. He says she is tied to Wall Street. Of course she says that's simply not true that she's been tough on Wall Street. But he aloes is making a very big trail of the program (ph). A very good program (ph) over there and he's also saying that he is the candidate who can best defeat Donald Trump. That perhaps got the loudest applause of all.

Speaking of Donald Trump, Poppy, he opened this rally talking about Donald Trump and specifically the protesters and violence that's been going on.

[19:05:05] Let's listen to what he had it say.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is that Donald Trump is prepared to pay the legal fees of folks who go around beating up people.


SANDERS: A candidate for President of the United States should condemn violence, not encourage violence. You don't go around saying, "It's okay to beat somebody up and I'll pay the legal fees." That is not what this country is about.


ZELENY: Now a lot of back and forth between Donald Trump today and Bernie Sanders. But, Poppy, quite simply, Bernie Sanders can fire up democrats he believes by saying that he can take on Donald Trump.

HARLOW: What about the fact, Jeff? Did the judges voted in Ohio 17- year-olds can't vote this week? I mean, is that enough to tip the balance at all in Sanders' favor?

Looking at recent polling, he is behind in Ohio. But look what happened in Michigan. These are young voters that he's energized. How much does that matter?

ZELENY: It does matter, I think, that Sanders' campaign would aggressively to file suite against the Ohio Secretary of State, who said 17-year-olds can't vote. The judge ruling (ph) the Sanders' campaign favor if you're 18 by November, you can vote.

And on the margins anything helps at all (ph). And Bernie Sanders of course is so much better among the younger voters. And particularly the fact that this week is spring break for some of the colleges across Ohio, so it could help offsets some of that. But again, that's only on the margins.

Bernie Sanders knows that he has to win among the white working class voters here in Ohio but he has done well within other states.

But the Clintons campaign has a strong connection to Ohio as well. This is the state that resurrected her, gave her new life in 2008.

HARLOW: Right.

ZELENY: So this, I expected to be a close race on Tuesday here in Ohio. Poppy?

HARLOW: Jeff Zeleny, live there in Columbus. Thank you so much.

We'll talk more about this because Clinton and Sanders are battling hard to take those delegates in Ohio.

Remember, winner take all. And they have a huge opportunity to make their pitch directly to the voters tonight. Right here live on CNN.

Let's talk about all of it. CNN Senior Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson is with me, Bernie Sanders' supporter, Bill Press, host of the "Bill Press Show", and Hillary Clinton's supporter, Former Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter.

Thank you for being here.


HARLOW: Let's start with you, Michael.


HARLOW: What is the must-do, must-accomplished for Clinton on that stage tonight?

NUTTER: I think Secretary Clinton has to continue to demonstrate why she is at the Democratic choice, why she can win in November , make sure that she's clear about her record and some contrast for Senator.

HARLOW: But she has done that in North (ph) Michigan. So, what do you do of that?

NUTTER: You know, the Michigan "loss" was I think was to no more than three points, 67 delegates to 60 delegates. And again, this is the voters' race and the delegate component to it. We cannot ignore that aspect of it. You get enough delegates, you get the nomination. That's the way this works.

HARLOW: Bill, what's your must do for Sanders tonight?

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm just laughing because the big win in Ohio was 0.25 percent. So a win is a win.

HARLOW: You mean in Michigan?

PRESS: I mean, Iowa, I'm sorry. In Iowa.

(CROSSTALK) PRESS: Yeah, but sorry. I think Bernie's margin will be a lot broader than that tomorrow in Ohio.

But I think what Senator Sanders has to do tonight is go to his home turf, his strong issue, what worked in Michigan. These are -- he said all along, "OK, I know I got skunked in the south. And --but my best territory is coming up in the industrial belt -- the rust-belt industrial states, particularly on the issues of jobs and trade."

That's his long suite. I think that's what he's going to emphasize. And he'll emphasize that he was there, he is consistent, he then trained his position, he opposed these trade deals, which have cost millions of American's jobs (ph). He opposed that every one of them from the beginning.

And I mean, I know that Secretary Clinton has her position. He's got his. There's a difference between them and people are going to have to choose between the two, which one they think. And by the way, if I could just finish, 60 percent of Democrats in Michigan said trade was number one issue of Democrats. Trade was number one issue and trade cost American jobs.

HARLOW: It's fascinating to watch. And I'll going to get Nia in here. OK.

Are you are surprised at all how much trade and free trade and Nafta that are in TPP is resonating with voters right now on both sides in the Republican Party and the Democratic side?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: No. Because if you go to these cities across the country, you go to Cleveland, you go to Manchester, you go to Flint, Michigan, ...


HENDERSON: ... people can look around their neighborhoods. Look on mainstream and the jobs aren't there. And the houses are in foreclosure.

[19:09:59] HARLOW: And you see empty shuttered factory.

HENDERSON: So, you can see the empty shuttered factories in Detroit. You can feel those homes where people aren't living any more.

And I think Bernie Sanders has been really smart to tap into this. I have a very simple way, I said at some point that Bernie Sanders speaks on a ninth grade level when people kind of attacked me.

But I think that's what people want to hear. He speaks in such a simple way. He connects with people. I remember in our Flint Town Hall, people said, "Well, what would you do for the people of Flint?" He said, "I would bring in the CDC and have them check all of the children. I would also make sure that Flint residents didn't have to pay their water bills."

And it's those kinds of very concrete things. People can look at Bernie Sanders and say he would make an immediate difference in my life. And I think that's the challenge for Hillary Clinton to speak more simply.

NUTTER: And while the language may be simple, we know that governing is very, very complicated. And so when you talk about what's happened in Detroit or number of other places, we also know that the auto industry was on the verge of collapse. And the Senator, whose position is still not totally clear, I was against it, and then I was for it. And then let me explain a couple of the elements of it.


HARLOW: Actually we do know that and I want to clarify that for our viewers when there was a stand alone auto bailout, Bill, Senator Sanders voted for. When he voted against the TARP(ph)...

NUTTER: Right.

HARLOW: ... and that money was originally embark just the bailout the banks, President Obama then used it on auto. So it is clear, his record.

NUTTER: Yeah, well, and it has a couple iterations to it. So, I mean, you know, the voters have to sort it through that.

So, Secretary Clinton, very, very clear in terms of what she has done over a long period of time. Governing is complicated, there's no question about it. And I think we've seen language adjustments and of course this campaign. But to govern, it is a very complicated process and if you know what you're doing.

HARLOW: And, Former Mayor, one of America's biggest cities very quickly.

PRESS: It is complicated. But you also have to tell the truth. I like Secretary Clinton, I will support her if she is the nominee. To accuse Bernie Sanders of not supporting the auto industry bailout is dishonest. It is totally dishonest. He voted against TARP because it just tap (ph) that you pointed Wall Street. I'm sorry, Mayor, my turn.


PRESS: He voted for the auto bailout. When President Obama, in 2009, said I want it keep -- I want to save this industry, which he should have, he went back and got some TARP money leftover from Wall Street and put it into autos. There is no vote on that, Bernie Sanders voted for the auto bailout and if Hillary Clinton should stop saying it, it makes her look dishonest.

NUTTER: And, Bill, if we're going to talk about honesty then the Senator charges Secretary Clinton, who was not in office at that time, with issues with regards of the 1994 crime bill that her husband did. All the bailout settled. Why do you keep raising auto bailout?

(CROSSTALK) So, you want your time, right? So you talked about honesty, then he should be honest about his vote in that regard which he has never explained, never apologized for her ...

PRESS: Well he voted for that Bill. I accept that.


HARLOW: We're going to keep talking about this. I got to get a break in. We will be back. I promise, this conversation is just getting started. Nia-Malika Henderson, Bill Press, Michael Nutter, stay with me. We'll be right back.




HARLOW: Welcome back. The Presidential Campaign just took another twist today on the Republican side, front-runner Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders used this Sunday morning talk today slide (ph) at one another.

At issue, Trump's claim that the Sanders' camp is responsible for escalating violence and protest at Trump rallies over the weekend.

Sanders puts the blames squarely on Trump's shoulder. Interesting pointing of fingers between two guys who weren't ever running against each other yet.

We'd talk more about this live from Boca Raton is CNN Political Reporter Sara Murray. Outlook Friday night with chaos -- such chaos that Trump camp of the rally. There was a lot of protesting at the event last night at Trump's Rally in Kansas City, Missouri.

Was it like there tonight to have a Trump taken to stage?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Poppy. This rally here in Boca is a little bit more tamed. We can see a handful of protesters outside but there was something that seemed particular physical and top (ph) for monitoring it closely.

Here are a couple of protesters has been escorted from inside the event but it's not a sort of big groups seeing that we saw in faces like Chicago even like we saw on places in Kansas City, it does seem a little bit more tamed here tonight, Poppy.

HARLOW: And what is the main message from Trump when he takes the stage tonight? Sara, I mean, he could respond to the protester who rushed him on stage in Ohio yesterday that just talked (inaudible) savage explaining why he did that, et cetera. He could take another swipe of Bernie Sanders. Any insight from the Trump camp?

MURRAY: Well, it's (inaudible) especially if there are protesters here tonight to clap there at any event that we'll hear Donald Trump address that. Well, just in terms of the speakers who have been kind of warming up the crowd, they have been hitting heavily on immigration, heavily against Marc Rubio and I think we should expect to see that from Donald Trump.

Now, I think his main issue actually is not even here on Florida tonight, it's in Ohio. We switch up his schedule for tomorrow so they can add another event in Ohio. It's been through signal that he's a little bit more worried about John Kasich in Ohio than he is about Marco Rubio in Florida right now. But I do think he's going to come out here tonight, and for him to try put the final nail in the confident (ph) of Marco Rubio's campaign, and ensure that he does not going to (ph) win here in Florida.

HARLOW: Yes, well, this is inducing (ph) when you do look at the Ohio polling, right? I mean, you've got a lot of the polls that have Trump ahead, you do have Fox News Poll that has Kasich ahead and this new NBC News Journal Poll at this morning as Kasich ahead of Trump in Ohio, 39 to 33 percent in our surprise, and that they have a bit extra stuff (ph)..

Sara Murray, thank you. We'll come back to you when Trump does take the stage.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, they are about the take the stage tonight. Right there live in Columbus Ohio for the CNN Democratic Town Hall. They are fighting for ever single delegate.

Right now, Clinton has a hefty lead in the polls. So, what was actually mean in this race? We will see from Sanders pull off another Michigan surprise on Tuesday, much more on that next.




HARLOW: Right now, Hillary Clinton has a hefty lead when you look at the delegate count. That could change in less than two days.

Senator Sanders surprised Clinton by snatching the Michigan primary last week. Now, the stakes are even higher, Democratic voters in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Florida heading into the polls to make their choice known.

On Thursday, nearly 700 delegates up for grabs. Our panel is back.

Former Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter. CNN Senior Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, and Bill Press host of the "Bill Press Show", thank you all for being with me.

Let's begin with you, Nia. The numbers of the numbers, maybe we can pull them up here.

There is a wide lead even when you take out superdelegates. What will it actually take for Sanders to get that ground? The numbers that much the momentum he clearly has?

HENDERSON: Yeah, you know, I think he's got to win something like 60 percent of the votes going forward, 60 percent of the delegates.

And so far, he's basically doing something like, you know, 40 to 50 and she is in the lead.

And she is further ahead at this point than Obama ever was in 2008. So, again, it's just hard. And I think ...

HARLOW: And everything changes and it's the demographics of the states, right. She does very well in the south region (ph) with more minorities, heavily African-American, and Sanders doesn't do as well there.


HENDERSON: And that changes soon.

You're right. And we saw some of that that play in 2008 when Obama was able to do well in the southern states and Hillary Clinton did well in the bigger states, one states like Texas, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania.

[19:24:59] NUTTER: Right, the south and east.


NUTTER: East and west and all of those reasons ....

HARLOW: Then what does your candidate, Hillary Clinton, have to do to make sure Bernie Sanders doesn't upset to pride (ph), doesn't have another Michigan night on Tuesday?

NUTTER: Well, again, we talked about Michigan. She continues to accumulate delegates. That process is going to continue. And then at some point, you add in, of course, in a serious and then even more serious discussion of the superdelegates. And it is arithmetic or math, whichever one you want to pick.

At some point in time, the lead is too great and you can't make up the ground. So, I mean, state by state by state, the campaign stay on (ph) focus, she's not taking any .....

HARLOW: Do you want a candidate who goes into the general election with the backing of the people, not just the superdelegate win? You do because you don't want them crossing over, especially to potentially a Donald Trump. And I see that coming from your camp. You don't want them to say, my guy didn't win, my Bernie Sanders guy, so I'm going to back to Donald.

NUTTER: The superdelegates are superdelegates. And campaign certainly is focused on delegates. People who have run, I've been a delegate before. You pledge yourself and that's the way you win the nomination and then everybody else plays their role. And we have no idea what happened on the Republican side. But democrats will come together. And launch out of Philadelphia, the 45th president of the United States of America, with our nominee.


PRESS: I may be old-fashioned. But I think politics is about more than math. I think politics it has a lot to do with heart. I think politics has a lot to do with psychology. And I see the number you can't deny the numbers they are today.

But let's say if Bernie has won Michigan, if he wins Ohio, if he wins Illinois, if he is able appoint to, look good for Secretary Clinton, she won those red states but we're never going to carry in November. But I'm winning the blue states that we must carry and he goes on to New York and he is going to do, if he is still in there, and I believe, he will be very well in California. I was Democratic chair of California I know that state, Oregon, Washington State, then you know those superdelegates are going to take a look and say, "These are the states we have to win, we'll won those states?" That could be the scenario or Hillary could sweep them all. We will find out tomorrow.

NUTTER: Promises on those that, you know, somehow Hillary Clinton if she' the nominee, he does not going to do well and win blue states.

PRESS: She is doing well now, mayor.

NUTTER: Absolutely and she has one many of them. I think as we have seen, right?

PRESS: She lost Michigan.

HARLOW: What do you think that when he get in Michigan.


PRESS: It's a first rust-belt state, so we'll see some more tomorrow.

HARLOW: Nia, what do you think the biggest sticking point is for Sanders? Because he is behind in the numbers and there has been this argument over and over about the pragmatism versus idealism. And the Clinton campaign who like you to put that way because they say there are candidates is an agent of change and hope and change just like President Obama was as well.

But there are also is this issue of can he get through what he has put out there? Do you think that's a sticking point for him in?

HENDERSON: You know, I think it is a sticking point. Because remember we've had all these democrats witness the Presidency of Barack Obama over these last years, someone who came in was both the math candidate and movement candidate in it 2008 and beat Hillary Clinton all the map in the numbers. But he also wasn't able to get a lot of things done because he had the reality of congress of an obstinate congress.

HARLOW: They had get congress on notorious beginning.

HENDERSON: He did. But even there he had the govern practically if you think about of what happen with Obamacare, one of his monstrous, has always been, "Don't let the let the perfect be the enemy of the good." And that's something that I think is a powerful message to a lot of these democrats that had a lot of hope for Obama because we have to settle with someone (ph).

HARLOW: So those candidates instead of his tune to some of these things?

HENDERSON: I don't think so I mean its working. I mean, look he won Michigan, he's won some other states. He looks poised to do well tomorrow and he is hanging in there. I think his message is working very much so with these voters.

HARLOW: You're going to be back with me. We'll take a break. We'll be right back. Stay with me. I've got to get a break.

And, Nia-Malika Henderson, Bill Press, Mayor Nutter, thank you so much. This conversation is not over.

Coming up Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders about to appear, right there on the stage. You're looking at a live image of Columbus, Ohio, where in just about a half an hour, the CNN democratic Town Hall begins. It is the CNN TV-One Town Hall top of the hour. We will take you there live next.



HARLOW: Less than an hour now until two democratic candidates for president appear on that stage, the same stage for the last time until Super Tuesday 3, as it has been dubbed.

It is not a debate. It is a town hall and you learn a lot about the candidates in these town halls. It is fascinating. Not only will Jake Tapper moderate, but the voters will ask their questions directly to candidates. It is hosted by CNN and TV-One. It is in Columbus, Ohio. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are focused on the primary states of Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio. All those voters going to the polls on Tuesday.

Live at our town hall venue, CNN politics executive editor Mark Preston. Mark, thank you for being with me. Quite a night ahead, an exciting night. I always love this format. What do you think are issue number one for both of these candidates. What does Sanders have to prove? What does Clinton have to prove?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, two things. One is Bernie Sanders needs to convince the voters not only here in Ohio but into Missouri, North Carolina and to some extent, Florida. That his proposals can be done, that they can be passed, that they're not high in the sky as Hillary Clinton has tried to portray him as quite successfully so. For Hillary Clinton, she needs to try to show a softer side of herself and try to show that she is more believable perhaps more truthful. She has been damaged by all the questions about her private e-mail server and of course, the actions in and around the Benghazi scandal. So they both have different things to prove tonight. But as you said this is a format where they could possibly do that.

There are no bells. There are no timers. They are able to talk a little bit longer than they would during a debate. Quite frankly, it is not confrontational. This is an confrontational setting.


HARLOW: But sometimes the voters do ask very pointed difficult questions to them, Mark.

PRESTON: They do. Listen, the questions can be tough. It can be difficult. They can put the candidate back on their heels. What we won't see is what we've seen in past Republican debates and quite frankly in some of the democratic debates where you see the candidates clash and you see this ego power clashing against each other. You could actually see anger. But yes, they are asking questions sometimes that really catch them off guard. In fact, it is interesting, I often get messages from the campaigns, during the town halls, where they'll say, wow, we never thought that question was coming that way. So it does catch them off guard in many ways.

HARLOW: When you look at the economy, this is sort of an interesting predicament here for Hillary Clinton. That is does she continue to embrace the Obama economy? The economy that has gotten us from eight percent unemployment to 4.9 percent unemployment with gas under $2 and all these top line numbers really strong but wage growth that has been stagnant for the last 20 years or so, Mark Preston. Does she embrace that more or does she try to walk the line while saying I will also be a change agent for the middle class in America when it comes to the economy akin to what Bernie Sanders is promising you?

PRESTON: Well, she certainly has embraced the Obama agenda, having served four years in his administration. In many ways she had to. And that has helped her during this primary. If we look at where she is with a very key voting block African-Americans, she has blown Bernie Sanders away when it comes to that.

And many of that - that reason in many ways because of Barack Obama and of course, his appeal to African-Americans. But to your point too though, she has been pushed to the left in many ways by Bernie Sanders. The Clinton campaign never thought that Bernie Sanders , Poppy, would be where he is today. The fact that he is doing so well, that he is winning states such as Michigan, that he could perhaps win here in Ohio, he could perhaps win Illinois. He perhaps could win Missouri. That has caught them by surprise.

So she has had to take on a more populous attitude when it comes to the economy. However, Poppy, when she goes into the general election, will she have to recalibrate that to try to bring in some more independent voters, if she wins the primary. HARLOW: If she does. All right. Mark Preston, thank you, there live

from Columbus, Ohio.

Again, you see the stage right there where the candidates will take the stage in less than half an hour.

Jake Tapper moderates. Many questions come from the voters themselves. Last chance for these candidates to make their final pitch to Ohio voters before they head to polls On Tuesday. Quick break. We're back in a moment.



HARLOW: Now to CNN exclusive, the man arrested after rushing the stage at a Donald Trump rally in Ohio yesterday is speaking for the first time to our Martin Savidge.

Look at this video. This shows 22-year-old Tommy Dimassimo being escorted out by Secret Service yesterday. This is after he tried to rush on stage, trying to confront the Republican front-runner. He is charged with disorderly misconduct and inducing panic. Trump fired back on Twitter saying the Secret Service "did an excellent job stopping the maniac running to the stage. He has ties to ISIS and should be in jail!"

Martin Savidge was able to exclusively speak with that protester and he asked him, what was he doing. Watch.


TOMMY DIMASSIMO, RUSHED STATE AT TRUMP RALLY: The dangers that exist in our country exist between Donald Trump and his people and whether or not I show up at a rally and try to do something you see that there is violence. There is violence when people just stand there and hold a sign. So the idea that they now feel like they are under attack is ironic and laughable because they are the ones who have been doing the actual attacking to the people.

I in no way harmed any one. Intended to harm anyone. I'm not a member of ISIS. I have no known ties to ISIS. I've never been out of the country. I only speak English.


DIMASSIMO: Yes, christian. I was raised Southern Baptist. I went to a Southern Baptist Church, all the way (INAUDIBLE).

SAVIDGE: OK. So given all that, what were you thinking?

DIMASSIMO: I was thinking that Donald Trump is a bully. And he was nothing more than that. He is somebody who is just saying a lot of bold things, he's making bold claims. But I can see right through that. I can see that he is truly just a coward. He is opportunistic. And he is willing to destroy this country for power for himself. SAVIDGE: That's your motivation. But what were you thinking at that

moment? Why did you do what you did?

DIMASSIMO: I was thinking that I could get up on stage and take his podium away from him. And take his mic away from him and send a message to all people all in the country, who wouldn't consider themselves racist, who wouldn't consider themselves approving of what type of violence Donald Trump is allowing at his rallies and send them a message that we can be strong. We can find our strength and we can stand up against Donald Trump and against this new wave he is ushering in of tryly just violent white supremacist ideas.

SAVIDGE: Would you if you had made it to that stage, were you going to attack him?

DIMASSIMO: No. Not at all. There would have been no point. Donald Trump is 6'3". I'm 5'9", maybe. He is a giant man surrounded by thousands of followers, 12 Secret Service and a former Ohio state offensive lineman. That would have accomplished nothing.

SAVIDGE: Can you see how people might have perceived -

DIMASSIMO: Of course, and I wasn't expecting there to be as much SEcreta Service as there was that day. From what I sort of seen, it hadn't been that much or it hadn't been that much in a contained area, so I thought my chances of getting up on stage and getting to the podium would have been better.

But again it was more important for me to show that there are people out there who aren't afraid of Donald Trump. He says scary things. He lets his people do scary things. He has threatened Mexico. Islam. You name it. And yet I'm unafraid. And if I can be unafraid enough to go take his podium away from him then we can all be afraid enough to not let this man into the White House.


SAVIDGE: Did the thought ever cross your mind that you could be killed?


SAVIDGE: That the Secret Service would shoot you or do something that might harm you greatly to stop? Because you are perceived as a threat.


SAVIDGE: You look at that video, looks like you are moving right on him.

DIMASSIMO: I mean, I would say that Secret Service is very well trained and they were able to immediately assess that I had nothing - nothing in my hands to harm him.

SAVIDGE: Did you have a weapon? DIMASSIMO: No. Secret Service had metal detectors that you had to go

through to get into the event. You had to empty out all your pockets. Put your stuff, walk through a metal detector. So the idea that I somehow had a knife is ludicrous and untrue.

SAVIDGE: You did not have a knife?

DIMASSIMO: No. I was completely unarmed. I was armed with an iPhone 6s. That was about it. And my voice and my power. I knew that by jumping the fence, I would create an immediate threat and the Secret Service who are well trained would assess that, see that I was unharmed and hopefully not harm me. Now.

SAVIDGE: What about other others possibly hurting you? Say they missed you and hit someone in the audience? How would you live with that?

DIMASSIMO: I wouldn't - again, I wouldn't say that is my fault. When an officer -

SAVIDGE: You triggered the event.

DIMASSIMO: Right. But the event was a trigger long ago. The event was triggered -

SAVIDGE: That's kind of philosophical thing. I'm just talking about the specific - you took an action, there could have been a reaction. Thank goodness, there wasn't. Nobody else was hurt. But I just wondered whether you had contemplated that?

DIMASSIMO: Yes. And I was able to say that this is a Donald Trump rally. If these Secret Service men were surrounded by 100 protesters acting out, maybe they would have been more trigger happy. But I knew that in Dayton, Ohio, they knew that they were going to have to deal with a few protesters but nothing more than that. So they would be relatively calm.


HARLOW: You're going to see much more from the CNN exclusive interview with that man who rushed the stage at that Trump rally yesterday, in just a moment. Stay with us.


HARLOW: Before the break, you heard from the man who rushed the stage at that Donald Trump rally in Ohio yesterday. We now know that he is 22-year-old Tommy Dimassimo and he has been charged with multiple, multiple different offenses for the action, and he tried to take the podium away he say says from the Republican frontrunner, and our Marty Savidge sat down with him today for an exclusive interview, trying to find out why he did that. Listen.


SAVIDGE: Was this a spontaneous thing, and you were just sort of standing on the sidelines there and then made your move?


DIMASSIMO: No, for some time since even back in November I watched Donald Trump rallies and was terrified, and I was like, this man is basically having a Klan rally lite, and I said, this is going to become a problem that these people have a safe haven to be as boldly racist and violent as they want to be.

And as time went on, I was right, things have gotten more and more violent to the point now where his people are attacking protesters and using violence and threatening their lives - it was in North Carolina that a man attacked another man, a black man and said he might have to kill him.

And so it has gotten to a point now where I have said that I have watched it, I thought about what I want to do and the sort of image I want to create and he is in Dayton and it is time for me to go do this. SAVIDGE: So you knew in advance you would doing something like this?

DIMASSIMO: Of course, yes, and I tweeted about it.

SAVIDGE: And now, he has rights, too, and those who are there to listen to him have rights, and in other words, free speech, and they a right to assemble, they have a right to listen and share ideas. You may not like those ideas --


SAVIDGE: And clearly you don't, but he does have rights.

DIMASSIMO: And I also have the right to heckler's veto. I have the right to nonviolent civil disobedience.

SAVIDGE: And was it nonviolent? That's the point. You make the move towards the stage there, and it could be perceived - wait a minute -

DIMASSIMO: Well, what do we define violence as? Is violence running? Because if we are defining violence as running, then yes, I committed violence, but that was all I did. You perceived that violence was going to happen. But it didn't.

SAVIDGE: Well, unfortunately in history we have seen it has happened, not with you, but other candidates, other times in history people have done things.

DIMASSIMO: Yes, inside of rallies where there are metal detectors that you to get through. I mean, again.

SAVIDGE: Not in this country, I can think of, but in others, but that is not the point. I am just saying that it was the perception. What's been the reaction?

Well, let me back you up. Tell me, how did you begin, because I see that video, and you are already moving, you are already over to the barrier, and was it a barrier or what was in front of you?

DIMASSIMO: Well, it looked like to me sort of a gray barricade sort of freestanding thing, and they had them loosely attached at the bottom.

SAVIDGE: You obviously purposely got yourself in that area?

DIMASSIMO: Yes, I got there very early in the morning and I waited in line to make sure that I would be close to the front. I positioned myself close to the stairs, but unfortunately when Donald Trump finally got off his plane, he showed up an hour late, and when he finally got there he came in with -I don't know, 10 maybe Secret Service, 12, and the two on many my side, one was standing directly in front of me facing me the whole time, and the other was right behind him with his foot on the stair.

So I realized that I wasn't able to go up that way, and to my left, there was a 6'0" tall guy right between them and a small gap. And I said, well, I have to time-out the moment when these two, because they look around and when these two are looking that way, and the guy over here is looking that way, and I will have a sliver of a chance to run between them.

SAVIDGE: So your moment was chosen not by a word that Donald Trump said, it was by the actions of the Secret Service?

DIMASSIMO: Yes, I intentionally wanted to run up on the stage when he was going the reference Chicago, that is my goal, but as the rally began and Secret Service spread out, I realized throughout the entire rally that I would have to rethink how I was going to get up on stage.

SAVIDGE: So, you step over - physically, what did you do?

DIMASSIMO: I put my foot --

SAVIDGE: Do you remember it?

DIMASSIMO: Yes. There was a - so it didn't go all of the way down the ground, it was like maybe like half a foot on the ground. I put my foot on there, and it had slits so I already had a foot up and then I just pushed up, I lifted my legs over.

SAVIDGE: And you were focused on that stage?

DIMASSIMO: Yes, I was focused on getting up there, and it is not even anything about Donald, but I am focused on the microphone, because the second I can get to the microphone and I can clutch it in my hands I can speak and I have robbed him of his power, I robbed him of his voice even for a moment. That moment transcends, it transcends across images on social media, it transcends time and it shows you even for a moment you can be taken, your power can be taken away from you, that we can keep you from becoming the worse president in the history of the United States.

SAVIDGE: But you didn't even get close? DIMASSIMO: Well, I got my hands on the stage, and I think that was

enough to show people that there are people out there who are not afraid, and we are not afraid of Donald Trump and the fearmongering.

SAVIDGE: Well, there are people who are afraid of what you did. You sort of traded one fear for another.

DIMASSIMO: The people who are afraid of what I did are also afraid of the nation of Islam throughout the majority of the world is peaceful. They have their extremists and we have ours and they are afraid of Mexicans.

SAVIDGE: But you created a scary moment, and I'm not saying that you equate on the levels of these people who carry out horrific crimes, but I'm just saying, for a fraction of a second, it is a scary moment to see somebody making a move to the stage.


DIMASSIMO: I would have to disagree with you there, they live in a constant state of fear, him and his followers and that is all he does. He gets them to be afraid of this person, the Mexicans, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, socialism, establishment Republicans, Mexicans, whoever, and he has gotten the followers afraid of pretty much everyone that is not him, and so he has all of the power, and so it does not matter, and it does not matter if I hop the fence or stand there with a sign, they are ready to attack at any moment.

They are ready to defend themselves, because he has them legitimately believing that their entire way of life, and their bank accounts and their homes and their country are all under attack, and they are under attack from our government, they are under attack from ISIS and Islam, and Mexicans and it is not true, and it is simply not true.


HARLOW: Martin Savidge with that exclusive interview. Marty, thank you very much for that.

Coming up next, we will take you back live in Columbus, Ohio, and that is the stage that is set for a big, big event tonight, the CNN democratic town hall. Moments away. Stay with me.


HARLOW: CNN's democratic townhall just minutes away, the stakes are high as voters head to the polls in five states on Tuesday. Both Sanders and Clinton making a big play, especially for Ohio.

Our panel is back for lightning round. And I mean lightning fast. Nis Malika-Henderson, 30 seconds, your final thoughts. What do they need to do tonight?

NIA MALIKA-HENDERSON: Trade, trade, trade. I think they're going to talk about that. Clinton is going to try to figure out a message that she sell to these Ohio voters, and I think Sanders will continue to hammer her and connect with those voters who have been feeling the heat.


UNIDENTIFED MALE: Part of the argument is actually the trade agreements during the Clinton years. There was a net increase in jobs, but I think tonight, we want to hear from Senator Sanders, how are you going to do all of the things that you keep talking about - we've never heard an actual explanation especially in light of the current political environment, and how are you going to do all these things, and I have never heard that explanation.


UNIDENTIFED MALE: Senator Sanders will continue to say, yes, we can, and he'll let Hillary Clinton say no, we can't. I think I agree with (INAUDIBLE) we're going to have more on jobs, more on trade, and it's hard to believe that we will have any new issues, but I think we'll have clarification on the issues they've been talking about, let the games begin. I think it's going to be a great night.


It is always a great night. I love this town hall format. There are personal questions and you learn a little bit more about the candidate and the best part they get to answer questions directly from the voters. Thank you all. So nice to have you here tonight.

It is a big night ahead. It is time for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to take questions from the voters in Ohio as they try to win support ahead of Tuesday's crucial primary. It is the democratic town hall. It is hosted by our very own Jake Tapper and TV-One's Roland Martin.

I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Do not go anywhere, the town hall begins right now.