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Countdown To Super Tuesday #3; Trump: My Rallies Are "Lovefests"; Five States Up For Grabs Tuesday; Romney Campaigns With Kasich; Cruz: Trump Nomination Would Be A "Disaster"; Candidates Make Final Push Before Super Tuesday; Hoping For Help From Home; Rubio Focused On Winning Home State Of Florida; Who's To Blame For Violence At Trumps Rallies?; CNN Reporter Undercover In Syria; Obama, Putin Speak About Russia's Withdrawal From Syria. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 14, 2016 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:18] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening. 9:00 p.m. and winner take off Florida and Ohio, 8:00 p.m. in Illinois, and just a few hours away from voting in those three states and elsewhere tomorrow.

Now we are fast approaching Super Tuesday Part 3 which unlike "Jaws 3" and "The Godfather, Part 3" promises to be a really compelling sequel. And as before the most compelling story line involves Donald Trump, we begin with that and CNN's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: One day before what's likely to be the biggest Super Tuesday yet, Donald Trump just wants his critics to feel the love.


ACOSTA: As more protesters were removed from another Trump rally, this time in North Carolina, the GOP frontrunner blamed Democrats for the chaos at his events.

TRUMP: The Democrats are seeing what's happening, and they try and disrupt what's happening. But it's not a big deal. They stand up, they shout for a couple of seconds and they get whisked out.

ACOSTA: And Trump told Wolf Blitzer, the media is also at fault for hyping the protest.

TRUMP: There's not much violence. Let's not even use the word violence. There's very little disruption generally speaking.

ACOSTA: Sarah Palin had some choice words for the demonstrators labeling them thugs at the Trump rally in Tampa.

SARAH PALIN, FORMER 2012 GOP VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: What we don't have time for, is all that petty, punk-ass little thuggery stuff.

ACOSTA: But after a near riot when Trump canceled his rally in Chicago, that protester who tried to confront Trump in Ohio and the police pepper spraying demonstrators in Kansas City, the other Republican candidates are warning their party could face a grim future.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If Donald Trump is the nominee, we're going to lose, a lot of Republican support him and everyday that he behaves, or what he's behaving now or inciting anger and frustration, he's making it harder and harder.

ACOSTA: But Republicans may not have much of a choice if Trump sweeps the five big states up for grabs Tuesday. Slowing Trump's momentum and Florida won't be easy for Marco Rubio who is predicting an upset win.

RUBIO: Tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow is the day we're going to shock the country.

ACOSTA: Looking much better in his home state is Ohio Governor John Kasich, who's also railing against Trump with the help of former GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, (R-OH) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Leadership is not encouraging a toxic environment, where we blame one group because of the failure of another.

This country is not about us tearing one another down or having fist- fights at a campaign rally.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Real quotes from Donald Trump about women.

ACOSTA: An anti-Trump Super PAC is piling on with this new ad portraying the real estate tycoon as offensive to women voters.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If Donald Trump is the nominee, he is a disaster.

ACOSTA: Ted Cruz is in agreement on the Trump effect on the GOP. He just differs on how to stop him. Arguing Kasich and Rubio just don't have a shot at the nomination.

CRUZ: With John Kasich, it's real simple. It's mathematically impossible for him to become the nominee. He cannot beat Donald Trump, so a vote for John Kasich or a vote for Marco Rubio is a vote that's thrown away.


COOPER: Jim Acosta joins us now. Pretty clear, I mean where we all know the stakes are enormous for the Republican candidates tomorrow, Jim?

ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson, they are enormous. Rubio win in Florida, although it might not be very likely coupled with a Kasich victory here on Ohio. That would essentially rewrite the entire narrative of this campaign signaling for the first time that Trump may not have the delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. But if you look at it from the opposite direction, a clean sweep tomorrow for Donald Trump would essentially clear away much of the field leaving basically a wounded Ted Cruz all by himself as the last anti-Trump candidate standing. And we should point, you know, Donald Trump is feeling the pressure here in Ohio. He just wrapped up this event just outside at the Youngstown Airport.

He went after John Kasich. He said, he can't make America great again. And he was totally overrated. So, Donald Trump certainly knows what's at stake here. He cannot beat John Kasich here in Ohio. It just becomes a muddle after that. And who knows who gets out who stays in, how long all this can last. It could go on for several months, into the summer, if it isn't ended decisively tomorrow, Anderson.

COOPER: Jim, thanks so much.

More now on Donald Trump, the claims he makes and how they square with the facts. Just one example that guy who rushed the stage on Ohio on Saturday, totally, afterwards Trump accused him of having tied to ISIS twitting at a link to an online video is showing him all the assault rifle within -- excuse me with an ISIS flag and Arabic music in background.

The fact experts the video which uses footage from the 2015 anti- racism protest did featured people stepping on the American flag was obviously doctored. And when NBCs Chuck Todd pushed him on it, here's what Trump said.


TRUMP: OK, you just -- look, well, was it a hoax that he's dragging the flag? What that him, it looked like the same man to me. He was dragging a flag along the ground and he was playing a certain type of music and supposedly there was chatter about ISIS. Now, I don't know, what do I know about it. All I know is what's on the internet.


[21:05:08] COOPER: In fact, the man's arrest report makes no mentioned of ISIS ties or Islamist terrorism. And the man himself denies that completely on top of that, he's out on bail which certainly suggests that whatever else he is he's not a terrorist and this is not an isolated occurrence. Donald Trump saying something that turns out to be untrue.

So, here's Tom Foreman with quick reality check covering just a single day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One day, three rallies, four interviews and enough questionable statements to cover them all. Trump on violence on the campaign trail.

TRUMP: How many people have been injured at my rallies? Zero. Zero.

FOREMAN: False. Certainly most of his rallies are peaceful but the pictures lately are indisputable. No serious injuries, but people have been hurt.

TRUMP: And I don't condone violence.

FOREMAN: Perhaps that is a matter of opinion.

TRUMP: I'd like to punch him in the face. Knock the crap out of him, would you, seriously.

FOREMAN: Trump on a quarter of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims who he says, want to go to war.

TRUMP: It was something like 27 percent are, you know, really militant about, you know, going after things.

FOREMAN: False. Intelligence analysts say it's more like a tiny fraction of 1 percent who are interested in Jihad. Trump on the Iran nuclear deal.

TRUMP: We give a terror nation, Iran, $150 billion. We get nothing. We got nothing.

FOREMAN: False. Even if you put aside the down sizing of their nuclear Program, Iran will merely get access to its own assets frozen over overseas, not U.S. taxpayer money.

Trump on a lawsuit over his business school.

TRUMP: They are trying to get money. I don't settle cases.

FOREMAN: False. The man did they try to get money but Trump has settled some lawsuits, and.

TRUMP: I never went bankrupt. I never went bankrupt.

FOREMAN: That's true in his personal finances but false for his casino businesses which have filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy four times.

Many politicians, including Trump's Republican and Democratic rivals sometimes, make deceitful statements. But in speech after speech, debate after debate, Trump has made many statements that's are false or misleading. And it happens when he goes after his opponents too.

Trump on Marco Rubio.

TRUMP: He's weak, very weak on illegal immigration, wants to give amnesty to everybody. FOREMAN: False. Rubio helped draft legislation to let those who enter illegally earn citizenship but that's not blanket amnesty, and it's certainly not for everyone. Trump on Ohio Governor John Kasich.

TRUMP: We have a man that voted for NAFTA. NAFTA has destroyed Ohio.

FOREMAN: False. Economist readily admits Ohio and the rest of the Rust Belt has suffered but widely disagree about whether NAFTA is to blame. Many saying the recession is more at fault. Trump on Ted Cruz.

TRUMP: He was a Canadian citizen until 16 months ago.

FOREMAN: Cruz was born in Canada giving him automatic citizenship. Which he says he was unaware of most his life and has renounced. But Cruz also had an American mother making him a U.S. Citizen, which Trump fails to mention. And Trump on the polls.

TRUMP: I lead with Hispanics, I lead with women, I lead with, you know, very well educated.

FOREMAN: Maybe in some small parts of some places but overall, no, a single day all those falsehoods and accusations.

TRUMP: Well, that is politics. And then, I say bad things about people and they say bad things about.

FOREMAN: And this is true. For Trump, it is working.

Tom Foreman, CNN Washington.


COOPER: And let's talk about with our panel. Ross, it is interesting. Look, we've all done interviews with Trump and challenged him on facts.


COOPER: OK, you -- it's -- I mean, I've never really interviewed anybody quite like him. I mean, he basically is a marketer for, you know, as a brilliant marketer. And in real estate, I guess it's normal to kind of, you know, inflate numbers ...


COOPER: ... and trumpet things, no pun intended. But in the world of politics you rarely see somebody do it as regularly as Donald Trump.

DOUTHAT: Well, I think, and in defense of Donald Trump, I would say about 50 percent of what we just saw in that clip is actually normal politician speaks.

COOPER: Right.

DOUTHAT: Is like, you know, NAFTA destroying Ohio. COOPER: Right, yeah.

DOUTHAT: Yeah, economists debate but politicians say things like that all the time, the same with that attack on Rubio being amnesty. But then the other 50 percent is a mix of what you're describing. It's that's sort of art of the deal, say something big and work out the details later. And the kind of, you know, people have compared it to like chain e-mails on the internet where he's telling a story that he's heard somewhere, the guy being in ISIS is an example. And he tells the story about the American General in the Philippines ...

COOPER: Right.

DOUTHAT: ... using pig's blood and pershing.

[21:10:00] And that's -- I think sort of that is what is new really unique to Trump. This sort of, I've heard something somewhere, it fits my narrative. I'm just going to spit it out.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Or I retweet it, or which is what's occurred with his. I mean, I think the one sort of sentence that you might not want to hear from a presidential candidate is, all I know is what is on the internet. Which is I believe, what he said.

DOUTHAT: That's all I know, I mean seat me on.


COOPER: But I don't think his supporter -- I mean Kayleigh, you know, we've all spent time with his supporters. They don't -- this doesn't have much impact on them. In fact the more you pointed out it just seems to feed a belief on the part of his supporters that the media is out to get Donald Trump?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CONSERVATICE COLUMNIST: Maybe it's one of the things Ross that, you know, he does speak just kind off the cuff, he speaks organically and that is what people really like about him. Ordinarily when a politician speaks he poll tested several of the words like Rubio who felt that con-man resonated with the voters so he repeated it time after time.

Voters have gone to the point where they don't like the rhetorical flourish, the soaring prose. They just want someone to speak like they would speak at their dinner table even if that means occasionally you're fact checked and you were wrong about something you said. They just want organic and real. And that is why Trump is resonating.

PETER BEINART, THE ATLANTIC CONTRIBUTOR: It would be one thing if Trump actually then acknowledged he was wrong ...

COOPER: Right.

BEINART: ... when he was caught out. He never does. Right, he just doubles down or he gives some sort answer like, well I heard it somewhere. It was on the internet, you know, and again these are not just these lies also tend to have pattern to them, right. If the demonization of vulnerable groups of people. And this has an impact, right? It had an impact when a homeless gentleman was beaten in Boston. It had an impact when of a basketball team in Iowa composed of minorities was yelled at by the opposing Trump team when they were yelling Trump, Trump, Trump, right. This at when -- its one thing if it's just your crazy uncle.

It's another thing when you are the likely Republican presidential nominee. It has an impact on the country.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And words matter, OK. And for some reason in this campaign, Donald Trump's words haven't mattered until recently. And I thought a lot of conservative media, a lot of people in the media that in the beginning gave Trump a pass on a lot of the things that he said because, I don't know. They'll have to explain themselves later on.

But the fact that from the very beginning, Donald Trump has been spewing out nonsense and things that are dishonest and just flat-out untrue, but he got away with really being thoroughly vetted the way he is now. And that allow this cultive personality to build to this juggernaut that we now don't know what's to do with ourselves,because people they don't want to hear it anymore because they're more emotionally invested.

So by acknowledging that Donald Trump is a fraud, a snake oil salesman, he lies about these things, he don't speaks out of both sides of his mouth. If they say, oh, my goodness, this is someone I supported? That's a lot more difficult. So people dig in. Just like he does and he understands that and uses that brilliantly but it's frightening to those of us where facts matter out of your words, you know, your heart speaks, so does your words.

So, when he comes out and he says these things Willy Nilly, you know, flippantly and he takes no responsibility whatsoever, that should be concerning to anyone who wants to put this person in the Oval Office with the power of the presidency behind him ...


SETMAYER: ... when he doesn't seem to care about that true.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The normal place to litigate that are couple places, but one of the normal place to litigate that is in the news media, which I've had the same experience you have. I have the good fortune, I have an interview scheduled with him the day President Obama released his birth certificate. I tried to hand it to Mr. Trump and he threw it back at me, and he said I don't need your copy and then he went to say same a team ...

COOPER: Well, I mean.

KING: ... who I approved it was a fraud.

COOPER: Right and I talked to him after he claimed his team is already there. There was no evidence he ever sent any team there. Our reporter talk to everybody in Hawaii who any investigative person we talk to and every person said there was no detectives from Donald Trump. And Donald Trump kept saying like, well you're going to see what we found. They never found anything.

KING: But he swats back in me. And obviously he does it effectively. Then you have -- how much time do you have your interview, you are out of time.

COOPER: Right.

KING: You need to decide to move on to something else or you are out of time. But if it's not litigated in the media, these are usually litigated on the debate stage and his rivals let 10 debates go by before they decided. They're going take him seriously and attack him. Just the other night even.

Now that they know Donald Trump is a threat he was pressed on waste, fraud and abuse. It not enough to save Social Security and he talked about we're going build military contracts and I self-fund my campaign. What in the world to either one of those have to do with Social Security? And nobody challenge that.


COOPER: And but, you know, on the self funding campaign thing, I mean with all due respect, he's got more than $7 million in donations which he himself has solicited on his website which we all know and he's not even giving money to his campaign.

He is given some a couple hundred thousand through his game. He's loaning millions to his campaign which he can get paid back from campaign fund ...


DOUTHAT: If you're Trump, right? If the pitch he's making is I'm not bought by one of these big donors.

COOPER: By which is the fact he said.

DOUTHAT: And if you come back with that narrative and say, well actually, you know, you have been taking money and you have been self- funding in these different ways. It doesn't undercut, I think, his underlying pitch. And that's part of -- it's the same thing with ...

MCENANY: And Bernie Sanders style fund-raising. This is in Wall Street giving him money, its from the ground up, not the top down.


[21:15:00] JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: But wait a minute, that couldn't possibly the less true.


TOOBIN: That Bernie Sanders is funding his campaign with small contributions. Donald Trump is funding his campaign by Donald Trump.

MCENANY: They're individual donations from the bottom up to 7 million and Anderson referred to that it taken outside of his own money ...

TOOBIN: No, I understand that.

MCENANY: ... close to the bottom up donations, these aren't top down, the wall general election.

SETMAYER: That's not self-funding your campaign. That's the kind of double speak.

DOUTHAT: But it is -- it's completely difference ...

MCENANY: Than the other candidates.

DOUTHAT: ... from what Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich


BEINART: And, look the mainstream media is far, far from perfect, but partly we're seeing is that there is going to effort and, you know, there is been -- effort for now decades and decades to delegitimize, you know, the mainstream median on the right. Right to say that when the mainstream media says that climate change is happening, oh that's just a liberal conspiracy, we are seeing the truth of this now and the unwillingness of Trump supporters to believe things even though fact checker after fact checker fact check, said they're true.

COOPER: We're going to have more with our panel. Gloria, John, Peter, stick around.

Just ahead, why Super Tuesday three could be pivotal in the Democratic race. What's at stake for Bernie Sanders? His campaigning right now in St. Charles, Missouri, Hillary Clinton is about to speak in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Also ahead, the latest on Russia's decision to begin withdrawing troops from Syria. Plus a CNN exclusive. A rare look at the devastation inside the country one of our reporters, Clarissa Ward, risked her life going undercover and witnessed an air strike.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Heading into another Super Size Tuesday, the Democrats making a final push today. Bernie Sanders campaigning in Ohio, North Carolina. Right now we see it live in St. Charles, Missouri.

[21:20:03] Hillary Clinton on stage now in Charlotte, North Carolina, also stumping today in Illinois and Florida. One last chance for both to make final pitches hours before the polls open on a day that could be decisive.

Here is Brianna Keilar. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope very much that Ohio will be one of the states to lead this country forward toward a political revolution.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is time for us to unite as a country and divisiveness. Because we have work to do.

KEILAR: As voters in five states prepare to go to the polls tomorrow, the Clinton campaign is eyeing the contest in the industrial strongholds of Ohio, Illinois and Missouri after Bernie Sanders' surprise win in Michigan last week.

SANDERS: A few weeks ago, people were saying, Bernie Sanders winning Ohio, no way. Well, guess what, we have a good vote tomorrow. People come out. We're going to win here in Ohio.

KEILAR: Clinton is trying to convince voters she hears their frustration.

CLINTON: I've always being told that, when I talk to you, I should talk in a very calm and measured voice. But I am so worried about our country and what could happen if we don't band together to elect a president who can represent all of America.

KEILAR: Both candidates are trying to rally voters by taking swings at Donald Trump, making these charges at CNN'S Town Hall.

CLINTON: What Trump has done is like a case of political arson.

SANDERS: Donald Trump is a pathological liar.

KEILAR: They took questions from Ohio Democrats.

RICKY JACKSON, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED FOR MURDER: There are documented cases of innocent people who have been executed in our country.

KEILAR: Including Ricky Jackson, a man who spent 39 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. He asked Clinton about her support for the death penalty.

CLINTON: Given the challenges we face from terrorist activities, primarily in our country that end up under federal jurisdiction for very limited purposes, I think it can still be held in reserve for those.

KEILAR: And Sanders quiz about his ability to reach across the aisle.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Who is the person that is closest to you with whom you disagree the most on politics?

KEILAR: His answer, surprising for a candidate who was made environmental concerns a focus of his campaign.

SANDERS: One of the most conservative members of the Senate is a fellow named Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma. And Jim is a climate change denier. He is really, really conservative. But you know what? He is a decent guy, and I like him, and he and I are friends.


COOPER: Brianna joins us now. I'm sure the Clinton campaign would love to stop Sanders' momentum tomorrow. This really could be a pivotal moment for both campaigns.

KEILAR: That's right. It could be if Bernie Sanders does well, Anderson. What keeps him viably in the race? If Hillary Clinton does very well it could submit her status with this presumptive nominee, but her campaign is worried looking back to Michigan where there was that big upset, Bernie Sanders winning. They were afraid that in Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, these other industrial states that his message about her passive work for NAFTA could resonate.

But if you look at the math here, Bernie Sanders is still trailing considerably in the delegate count. And unlike on the Republican side, these contests tomorrow are not winner take all.

So his ability to narrow the gap level and catch up to Clinton is really seen as very difficult for him but you talk to his aides, they say win or lose tomorrow, he's still going to be in this all the way to the convention in July. Anderson.

COOPER: Brianna Keilar, thanks very much.

Back now with Peter Beinart, Gloria Borger and John King. That is one of the interesting things to look for tomorrow night is, does Sanders victory in Michigan does it auger trouble for Hillary Clinton in some of these other industrialized states.

BORGER: Well they hope it, you know, they obviously hope it does in a state like Missouri and state like Ohio. They believe that trade message is what really works for him in the State of Michigan and they believe that it's going to work for them in those two other states.

Potentially also in Illinois, you know, Sanders has been clever in tying Hillary Clinton to Rahm Emmanuel who is very unpopular in the African-American community, the Mayor of Chicago.

So, but they're not as helpful about Illinois, obviously, as they are about Missouri. That is their sort of state with their largest hope of winning. And picking up a lot of delegates in Ohio, too.

BEINART: But if he keeps getting killed among African-Americans and Latinos, right?

BORGER: Right.

BEINART: And Latinos particularly important in Florida, it won't even matter if he wins a small victory in a State like Ohio which is more like Michigan. You saw this, what happen even when he won in Michigan he came out with fewer delegates because Hillary Clinton destroyed him in Mississippi.

So, look you can't win a Democratic nomination unless you're getting a healthy share of the African-American vote, so it's too important the constituency in the Democratic Party. And so far, although he did a little better in Michigan, Bernie Sanders just has still hasn't gotten over that hump.

[21:25:11] KING: Right. And I was just after earlier in the show, I showed the map. A bunch of Sanders supporters in west coast Oregon, Washington, in fact in California we're saying, hey, wait, when we gets out here he's going to win big. He may, well, win big when he gets to the west coast, we'll see, but it may not matter. The reason tomorrow is so important for Bernie Sanders is she's inching away, actually pulling away in the delegate math even though he gets a proportionate share.

And if he can win one tomorrow it's a message, but he needs to -- if he can win two or three of those Midwest states that would change the conversation of Democratic race. Even though she was still lead in delegates people would say, wow, she's weak in the Hartland (ph), she's weak on economics. That would change the psychology of the race. If he just gets one, it's good for him. He's not going anywhere. Make no mistake, he's not going anywhere. But her math becomes pretty overwhelming.

COOPER: They are also ratcheting up their rhetoric against Donald Trump. I mean, we've heard Hillary Clinton just the passed couple of days calling Donald Trump bigoted, accusing him of political arson, essentially inciting mob violence. Sanders saying he's a pathological liar. Is that a smart move?

BORGER: It doesn't hurt him, why not, I mean it certainly how a Democrat ...

KING: And if you are trying to motivate the African-American base of the party.

BEINART: Right and right.

BORGER: Exactly, and your base of the party. You know, you got a race going on that's a little device of the Democratic Party, where you want to do to unite your base eventually is point out that the likely Republican nominee is somebody they should despise which is what they're both doing.

BEINART: And this is going to be particularly important for Hillary Clinton if she's the nominee.


BEINART: Because her challenges, can she bring out the young people and the African-Americans that Barack Obama brought out in epic numbers. And Donald Trump essentially does that work for her. She's not as inspiring as Obama especially with younger voters but the great thing about running against a Donald Trump is that he really makes the case for turning out for you.

COOPER: And there's no reason for Sanders, that no matter what how he does in these states assuming he's not getting the nomination. There's no reason for him to drop out before the convention.

KING: He has the money to stay in, and he has an energized base to stay. And he believes his message on economics particularly Wall Street, the rate to economy is very important to him. So that's absolutely no. Really he does have support if you look deep down the calendar out of the west where there, you know, more liberals -- there's absolutely no reason to get up there, is the question though he's been very tough, even tougher in the past since Michigan because he sees ...

COOPER: Right.

KING: ... there's an opportunity here in the Midwest. If she has a convincing nights tomorrow night, does he step back a bit or not? I think that's the question.

BORGER: And he would endorse her, so there's no doubt in my mind that eventually that will be a united party whereas on the Republican side, not so much.

COOPER: More to talk about ahead and including Marco Rubio in Florida where he's hoping to win -- to turn win or go home into go home and win. We'll be right back.


[21:31:32] COOPER: We talked about tomorrow being do or die for John Kasich and Marco Rubio. Who's talking now to a crowd in West Miami. Here's a tangible sign a Super PAC which already spent $39 million supporting Rubio has not booked any commercial air time after tomorrow with such groups ordinarily would do in advance of the next round of primaries. That's according to a major media tacking firm, no comment from the campaign.

However, it's hardly the only sign that Rubio now faces the toughest test of his campaign. More in that from Randi Kaye.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the next president of the United States, Marco Rubio!

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Florida Senator Marco Rubio on the eve of Super Tuesday still digging deep for momentum in his home state.

RUBIO: And no doubt an important day for us and for me and my campaign.

KAYE: Hundreds packed this gymnasium at Palm Beach Atlantic University. A Christian school where Rubio supporters say they are praying for him.

Why do you think there's still hope for him given that he's only won three contests far this primary season?

AMANDA DORVIL, MARCO RUBIO SUPPORTER: You know, I think God can make anything happen. You know, I believe in miracles, then, you know.

KAYE: Would it take a miracle for him to win, do you think?

DOVIL: I mean, maybe.

KAYE: Many here don't believe Rubio has given up and neither have they.

This is do or die for Marco Rubio at this point. Are you hopeful?

CATHERINE FORD, MARCO RUBIO SUPPORTER: Yes. I'm always hopeful. That setting the whole point of this campaign, that's one of his messages. Stay hopeful and keep going no matter what.

KAYE: Catherine Ford likes Rubio because her family is from Cuba, too.

FORD: I love his stands on immigration. My mom and her family are all from Cuba. They came here with the dream of America and build a life here. And I think his stands on, you know, kind of regulating it but still having that dream out there for people that want to do it legally is, I think, it's a great message.

RUBIO: In this country ...

KAYE: And while some polls show Trump leading Rubio in Florida, his supporters aren't paying much attention.

CHRIS HART, MARCO RUBIO SUPPORTER: He's always been behind the polls. It's kind of like which poll, you know.

KAYE: And you think he can always pull it out?

HART: He has. And because people when they meet him and they really listen to the issues, then they support him.

KAYE: Rubio has said he plans to hit the road and keep campaigning after Florida. But if he doesn't win his home state, his campaign could have a tough decision to make.

Would you want him to drop out if he doesn't win Florida?

HART: Depends on how he does. I've never thought about that, quite frankly.

KAYE: Because you want him to win.

HART: I want him to win.

SHARON MILLER, MARCO RUBIO SUPPORTER: And I don't think he should tell that drop out. That's up to him because God can make anything happen.

KAYE: What if he doesn't win Florida. Would you want him drop out?

BONNIE RE, MARCO RUBIO SUPPORTER: I want him to stay in but that's his decision. And I think that he will make the right decision.

RUBIO: We can defeat them ...

KAYE: Regardless, his supporters are split on whether or not they would support the Republican nominee if it's Donald Trump.

KAYE: If Donald Trump is the nominee, would you support him?


KAYE: You would not vote Republican?

QUEEN: No, I would not.

KAYE: Would you stay home on Election Day?

QUEEN: Yes, I would.

KAYE: If Donald Trump wins the nomination, and Marco Rubio doesn't ...

RE: Right.

KAYE ... could you support Donald Trump?

RE: I would support the nominee.


COOPER: Randi, did anyone tell you they'd vote Democratic if Trump was the nominee and not Rubio?

KAYE: Yes Anderson, one woman told me that if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, she would vote Democratic but only if Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee. She would not vote for Hillary Clinton, she said.

But, Anderson, in no way are his supporters ready to count out Marco Rubio. That is for sure they still think he can win his home state of Florida on Super Tuesday.

[21:35:04] And as far as he's strategy goes, he's been working really hard here in Southern Florida, that's what he calls home. He thinks that will help balance out Donald Trump's popularity in Northern and Central Florida. He's also been working in area of the state known as the I-4 corridor, that's a very large population of Puerto Ricans as you know he won Puerto Rico. So he's hoping that would also possibly help propel him to a big win on Super Tuesday here in Florida, Anderson we'll find out tomorrow night.

COOPER: All right Randi, thanks very much.

Coming up, we'll have more on Donald Trump and the possibilities of what may happen. Tomorrow, we'll also get a report from our Clarissa Ward on the ground in Syria. We'll be right back


COOPER: The breaking news tonight, at North Carolina Sheriff's office has decided not to bring charges against Donald Trump or his campaign of inciting a riot and the sucker punched him of a protester at Trump rally last week. Wasn't the first or the last time punches have been thrown under Trump event on Friday were erupted in rally in Chicago.


TRUMP: Let's address yesterday, should we? (Inaudible).

[21:40:04] The people that came there were so nice. They were taunted they were harassed by these other people.

My people are great. It's these people that are the problem.

I hope these guys get thrown into a jail.

Do we love our protesters? Right? We love our protesters. Get him out of here. Get him out.


COOPER: The Republican frontrunner has denied there's violence at his events and even called him "lovefest". Some agree, others don't.

Joining me now Trump supporter, Reverend Darell Scott, Founder and Senior Pastor at The New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Back with us is CNN Political Commentator and New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Ross Douthat.

Reverent Scott, thanks for being with us. You introduced Donald Trump at the rally on Saturday in Cleveland, a day after the violence in Chicago. He said he should get credit and not scorned for how he handles riots at his rallies.

You know, he has that scene like to punch a protester in the face. He's encouraged others in his rallies when somebody throws something to punch them. He said he's considering paying the legal fees for a guy of sucker punch an African-American man at his rallies. Do you really believe he's a unifier after all of that?

REV. DARELL SCOTT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I really believe a lot of Mr. Trump's comments are overblown.

COOPER: How is it overblown?

SCOTT: Well, he says a lot of things that people think. I mean, when you think about this, the climate of America, in fact, the climate of the entire planet is if we go to a public event, the people that attend public events do not want to be disturbed. And someone creates the rackers they are the potential for violence there. If you are at the movie theater and somebody starts making noise in the movie theater, you tell them to be quiet. If they don't, it can escalate. COOPER: Right, but Pastor does an usher at the movie theater come out before the movie and say by the way, if somebody makes noise, feel free to punch them. I mean I haven't been in a movie where that's happened.

SCOTT: Listen, if you live in America, if you're in a public venue, you can be able to play, you can be at wherever, if someone begins to disturb, it can irritate you to the point of -- it can be an escalation in physicality.

COOPER: Right, but those are our darkest -- our deepest like hostile emotions. Should a leader be encouraging that?

SCOTT: But listen, here's the one thing I don't see. I don't see Donald Trump supporters going to Hillary Clinton rallies, Bernie Sanders rallies, Ted Cruz rallies holding up Trump signs trying to disrupt and prevent them from hearing their candidate. Trump supporters are not disrupting each other.

COOPER: Right, but you are -- OK.

SCOTT: It's outside influences coming in.

COOPER: Right but sir, your assuming ...

SCOTT: Outside influences are coming in.

COOPER: You're assuming that those are ...

SCOTT: ... and trying to disturb -- they are holding up Bernie Sanders signs ...

COOPER: You're assuming those are being send by Sanders ...

OK. Black Lives Matters protesters have disrupted Hillary Clinton. They have disrupted Bernie Sanders. But you haven't seen the same kind of rhetoric, I mean from those candidates.

SCOTT: And they were removed. But when you see them disrupting Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, they isolated events, isolated incidents with Trump it's a regular event. He expects protesters and it can get aggravating.


SCOTT: I mean, the Trump people come to the Trump rallies to hear Trump. Not for someone that gets up that morning and tells themselves ...


SCOTT: ... I'm going to intentionally go to disrupt a Trump meeting. That's wrong right there.

COOPER: Sure right of course. Political discourse should be no matter what the opinions expressed, should be a less. SCOTT: This will protest at one thing but disruption is another.

COOPER: Ross, what do you make of this?

DOUTHAT: I mean, I think there's a cycle going on. Right, I think it is fair to say that Trump faces protests that are unlike any other candidate. And it's not Bernie Sanders sending his people. But it is ...

SCOTT: No, it's not.

DOUTHAT: ... an organized left wing movement at this point to. And you saw it play out in Chicago.

COOPER: Do you think he bears -- Trump bears any responsibility?

DOUTHAT: Of course. Yes, no, it's a cycle. That's the thing. I mean this is, you know, one of the dangerous things frankly about the Trump candidacy is that it encourages further radicalization on the other side.

So Trump says something, Trump, you know, creates a climate. Trump talks about how protesters should be punched and so on. That encourages more protesters to come out and encourages -- essentially, I mean, if you think about this on college campuses, right? I imagine that the Trump phenomenon is creating many converts to left wing protest movements, we can turn, they then go protest Trump, it gets on the news.

Trump looks like he's getting shut down. His supporters dig in and so it goes. I mean this is a ...

COOPER: Do you see this is escalating potentially?

DOUTHEAD: Well, I think it escalates if Trump is the nominee certainly. I think ...

SCOTT: Do you think ...

DOUTHEAD: ... it's the pattern you see in many, many countries around the world and in the American past. We haven't seen anything like it in our politics since the 1960s. But this kind of, you know, radicalization, counter radicalization and so on is and it's happening on both sides. It's Trump and the people reacting.

COOPER: Reverend Scott, the head of the NAACP I believe it was today made comments basically, essentially saying Donald Trump's lot of its rhetoric is racist. It's bigoted, you compared it to Jim Crow in a blue suit.

[21:45:03] You said that Donald Trump is not an agent of hate. He's an agent of change in America. And I know in your Cleveland speech, you introduced him saying, I asked Mr. Trump some very pointed and direct questions about race and race relations. I received very direct answers and erased all of my preconceptions. Protesters in his rallies call him the racist and bigoted. Where is the disconnect from the man you know and his critics?

SCOTT: We've had several conversations with Donald Trump and his private office about matters pertinent to the black community. In fact the minority communities in general. We talked about police brutality. He says something that I found there insightful. But he said I don't know why police shoot to kill. If they want to disable someone, why don't they shoot to wound?

We talked to him about Black Lives Matter. He says he believes the reason there's a lot of crime in the inner city is because of lack of employment, because of economic distress. He said who can build better than Donald Trump?

COOPER: So he convinced you?

SCOTT: What do you mean he convinced me? I'm not stupid.

COOPER: He convinced you that he is not in anyway racist that he is not bigoted as NAACP says.

SCOTT: I've had several conversations, a lot of personal interaction with him. He's not a racist, he's not a bigot. That in fact the very first time I talked to Donald Trump, I challenged him on that. That was over five years ago. I said that there's a disconnect between you and the black community. There's word on the street that you're a racist. And the thing he did and he said I'm about the least racist person you won't want to be, I work with all kinds of people in all walks of life.

And went on and when I go to Trump Tower, when I see the demographics of his organization and I see that he has a very high minority representation, and just my interaction with him. He's not a racist at all. It's a tag ...


SCOTT: ... that people are putting on him to try, I mean it's political. They are using that as a political tag.

COOPER: Darrell Scott, is good to have you on. Ross Douthat, as well.

Just ahead as Russia announces it's going to start withdrawing forces from Syria. An inclusive in a rare look in the devastation inside the country. Our Clarissa Ward went undercover witnessing an air strike on the ground. I'll speak with her, next.


[21:50:51] COOPER: Breaking news, President Obama spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Putin announced, he's ordered Russian forces to start withdrawing from Syria.

Putin says the Russian forces have achieved their goals in the country. Now that announcement comes nearly five years since the devastating civil war in Syria in six months after Russia began air strikes in support of the Syrian government.

In their phone call, President Obama and Putin spoke about the next steps to fully implement a nation wide possession of hostilities. The White House says the president stress the continuing violence by the Syrian regime undermines that effort.

Our Senior International Correspondent, Clarissa Ward went undercover to witness the distraction that has guard much in Northern Syria in the seeding militancy its produced.

She's the first Western journalist in many (inaudible) Russian air strike bombardment.

I'll speak with Clarissa in a moment. But, first, her exclusive report and we want to warn you, it does contain graphic images.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Moving through rebel-held northern Syria is difficult and dangerous. As foreign journalists in areas with a strong Jihadist presence, we had to travel undercover to see a war few outsiders have witnessed.

The city of Idlib is the only provincial capital under rebel control. This was its courthouse until it was hit by an air strike in December. Dozens were killed.

40 year old lawyer, (inaudible) told us he was inside the building when it was hit. His arm was smashed, but he was lucky to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russian planes target anything that works in the interest of the people.

The goal is that people here live a destroyed life, that people never see any good, that they never taste life. This is the tax of living in a liberated area.

WARD: An hour later, we saw that tax for ourselves while filming in a town nearby. We heard the scream of fighter jets wheeling overhead.

Moments later, a hit. There was just an air strike here in the town of Ariha, so we're not driving very quickly. It's not clear yet, what was hit but we are hearing that there are still planes in the sky.

Arriving on the scene, our team found chaos and carnage.

Volunteers shouted for an ambulance as they tried to ferry out the wounded. For many, it was too late. A woman lay dead on the ground, a jacket draped over her, an attempt to preserve her dignity.

Russia has repeatedly claimed it is only hitting terrorist targets. This strike hit a busy fruit market.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just a civilian market. This is not a military area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no military installations here or anything. It's a market.

Look, it's a market, a fruit market. Is this what you want, Basher?

WARD: We couldn't stay long, often jets circled back to hit the same place twice. It's called a double-tap.

We've just arrived here at the hospital where they're bringing the dead and the wounded from those three strikes in Ariha, which hit a park and a fruit market.

We don't know the exact number of casualties there, but the scenes of devastation, blood on the ground, dismembered body parts and the injured and dead that we've seen arriving here indicate that this was a very bad strike indeed.

Among the injured brought in, a young boy moaning in pain. He died moments later.

The strikes on Ariha that day killed 11 people, among them, a woman and two children.

[21:55:03] Rescue workers wasted no time in clearing away the rebel. In this ugly war, massacres have become routine.


COOPER: And Clarissa Ward joins us now. First of all, just being there, I mean, you've been there before, but it's so rare now that seen firsthand reports from western reporters, what was it like?

WARD: And that was is exactly it. I was so frustrated at just looking at these grainy YouTube interviews and doing Skype interviews.

I really wanted to get a better sense of what it was like to be under the bombs and what kind of significant difference there was since the Russian intervention began last September.

And the last time I had visited Aleppo back in 2012, I had really told myself, there's no possibility that things could get worse than this. This is already as bad as it gets, as bad as I've seen in my 10 years of covering war.

But to come back this time to see the scale of the impact and the devastation that these more sophisticated heavier Russian bombs have been making to see the relentlessness with which they have been targeting, things that are very clearly civilian institutions, hospitals, courtrooms, it just was staggering.

And you realize that there is, in a sense, a war against every day life going on here.

COOPER: I'm so glad you were able to bring that report for us. Thank you.

WARD: Thank you.

COOPER: All right. We'll be right back.


[22:00:03] COOPER: And that does it for us, thanks for watching. We'll see you again at midnight eastern for another additional of "360", "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon starts now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Just hours ago until the vote that could decide everything and ..