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Missouri the Only Outstanding Vote on the GOP Side; Clinton Wins Florida, North Carolina, Ohio; Takeaways from the Night. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 15, 2016 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The only outstanding vote on the republican side, Missouri.

Here are the states won so far. Let's update you. Donald Trump, he has won tonight in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina. Remember, Florida is winner-take-all, 99 delegates there. John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, he's won his home state of Ohio, 66, winner-take-all delegates there in Ohio. He needed Ohio. He got Ohio.

Hillary Clinton so far very good day for Hillary Clinton, she's won three states, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, important wins for Hillary Clinton on this day.

Let's go over to John King over at the Magic Wall. So, John, we have three outstanding contests right now. 99 percent of the vote is in, in Missouri and Donald Trump has a very, very slight lead. Look at how close it is.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 99 percent of the vote. We're still waiting on a good chunk of precincts. Yeah, you don't get much close to them, 41.5 to 41.2 but that's a little shy of 3,000 votes there. But if you look at the map right now, the one reason you would say, trending in a very close election. You think Donald Trump is going to keep that lead, he's leading in St. Louis County, not by much, but he's leading and it held up a little bit, 52 percent of the vote in, nothing yet from St. Louis City.

Welcome to it - we said, this last week, you know, some places are just consistent. We said this about Detroit. St. Louis very consistent, you get the vote late. Nothing there at all, in the very little that we do have, Trump is ahead. So, if that holds up and if this holds up in the suburbs, and you move out here to St. Charles as well.

If these leads hold up, you know, Donald Trump likely to keep that lead as we count the last votes but it's a nail-biter in Missouri. And then, remember, 12 delegates to the statewide winner and five delegates to the winner of this congressional district. So, we have to overlay a congressional map on here, now with data delegates.

So, it will be split, the winner will get more. It will be 50/50. The winner will get more will be roughly a split because Senator Cruz is doing so well in some areas, even if he doesn't carry the state. But that is nail-biter. I would say, it's advantage Trump based on the votes that are out, but we'll see what happens if that holds up as we count them.

Now, you go over here, again, not as close as the Republican race, 62 percent of the vote in, two-point lead there for Bernie Sanders. So, you start to look here, well, what are we missing, right? So, let's check over here in Jackson County, in Kansas City, only 63 percent of the vote.

Hillary Clinton with a decent lead there, if she keeps that margin, if the rest of the votes comes in, there is some place to make up votes. So Hillary Clinton is not out of this race by any means because just as I just showed you on the Republican side, now you come to the Democratic side, St. Louis County, the close in suburb just outside the city. Hillary Clinton winning by a ten-point advantage there, half of the votes still out and St. Louis City, it's like a broken record but votes a little quicker would be helpful. Thank you. We have nothing in there yet and she's getting 71 percent, a large African-American constituency there.

So, as you look at the map right now, Senator Sander is ahead but if you look at the places that are missing a lot of votes, there are areas where Hillary Clinton is running strong or expected to run strong. So, this one is not done yet with 62 percent and you could make the case actually that she's got plenty of space to catch up. Again, Democratic rules, its proportional, the delegates here are going to be split, roughly, 50/50 the fight now is for the moral victory of having that state, your color blue at the end of the night. Hillary Clinton ...

BLITZER: Let's take a look at Illinois.

KING: Hillary Clinton now leading in Illinois right now, 51 to 48, 78 percent of them vote in, again, another nail-biter in the industrial Midwest. So, what are we missing? Yeah, if you come down here to the areas where Senator Sanders is winning, the small rural counties, some are still out. It's not a lot of votes but there are votes that Senator Sanders in some of these small rural counties.

The biggest chunk of the vote is up here, Chicago City, now up 89 percent. Let's jump over the last a little bit. Now, let's move out to Cook County. Let's see what we get here, 94 percent. So, the base of what Hillary Clinton is counting on, much of it's in, most of it's in, not all of it, though.

And we move to Lake County here, she's -- it's very tight competition here, only 9 percent. So, the votes up here could be decisive in this one as we count down. She's held this lead pretty consistently. We're up to almost 80 percent of the vote, but there's enough out there to keep counting.

BLITZER: Yeah, because for bragging rights, so Bernie Sanders would love to win Illinois, love to win Missouri so far. He hasn't won any of the states tonight, but it's certainly something important even though proportional distribution of the delegates. KING: After Michigan, he very much wants to fill in more of the industrial Midwest, this color blue. That's why he hopes Missouri stays there. But won Ohio tonight, she's leading in Illinois. She would love to change that at the end because she's going to come out tonight with the big delegate lead. She would like to be able to make the math and the message argument, if you will. So, we'll count them, Missouri and Illinois, so we got a work to do.

BLITZER: Let's not forget she was born in Illinois. So, that's an important state for her, for other reasons as well. Standby, I want to go back to Jake and Dona, you know, this is -- these races, they're very, very competitive right now, Jake. We don't know what the end result is going to be.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's right. And there is a tremendous amount of significance about how who actually wins Missouri because of the delegate allocation. We can talk about states all we want but the truth of the matter is, as we know, this is really all just about math. It's about delegates and right now if all three Republicans still in the race, Mr. Trump, Senator Cruz, Governor Kasich. If they all stay in the race, it is likely, it would seem, that not one of them will get the magic number of delegates, 1,237 before the convention.

[23:05:11] So any edge helps. And right now, we're looking at Missouri with 99 percent of the vote in. Donald Trump is up ahead by 0.3 percent. And the winner gets 12 more delegates than the person so -- than the person who comes in second.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You're right. And of course it's a delegate race but it is also a psychological race, even at this point. And I don't know if you're getting these texts and e- mails, I certainly am from the anti-Trump forces, this should what it could particularly about Marco Rubio.

If he would have gotten out before Florida, before tonight, before an embarrassing loss tonight, forget about Florida, but it also could have helped Ted Cruz potentially in Missouri. You see there Marco Rubio got 5.7 percent of the vote. Ted Cruz' campaign is convinced that Marco Rubio voters would go to Ted Cruz. And Rubio voters didn't agreed with that to the most point.

TAPPER: At some point, the people who have all the money, who are trying to stop Trump will be able to develop a time machine and they will be able to solve all the problems. But until that moment, we're dealing with fact, we have. Let's go to Mark Preston, our Executive Editor, who can fill us in a little more when it comes to the actual math.

Mark, where are we, where are the candidates?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, Jake, certainly in the moral victory of winnings a state but it really does come down to the delegate count to get you to the 1,237 delegates that you need to secure the nomination. If you look at the numbers right now, tonight, Donald Trump has won 150 delegates, Ted Cruz 24, Marco Rubio, who suspended his campaign, only has 3 and John Kasich with that big win in his home state of Ohio has 66 delegates now.

Let's look at year-to-date right now and where those numbers stand. Right now, Donald Trump has amassed 612 delegates. He is almost halfway there to securing the nomination, 395 for Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, 168 delegates and John Kasich 136.

Now, you are mentioning Missouri. This is why tonight is so interesting and perhaps the most interesting battle we will see tonight in the state of Missouri. You could win Missouri whether it is Ted Cruz or whether it Donald Trump. You could win it by a razor thin margin and walk away with a huge pile full of delegates. The reason we say that is because if win statewide, you pick up 12 delegates. Hypothetically let's assume you win statewide and win five of the eight congressional districts. You pick up another 25, put the math together, you could have 37 delegates to whatever the loser has there, which is about 10 or 12 at that point.

But, let's move on to Democrats right now. Hillary Clinton, right now having a good night, 168 delegates, Bernie Sanders has picked up 81 delegates, but to date let's look where we stand right now. Hillary Clinton has 1,412 to 655 for Bernie Sanders. But let just break this number down. Hillary 940 pledged delegates, 472 super delegates, Bernie Sanders 632 delegates, 23 super delegates.

Now, the Sanders campaign will tell you that you shouldn't necessarily look at the super delegates because they're not bound to support you. They're only giving you a promise and Bernie Sanders where they catch fire. His campaign says those super delegates would come to his side, of course, a lot on the line and much more tonight, Jake?

TAPPER: Thanks, Mark. And, Dana, I mean, it looks as though assuming nothing major happens and they stay on the same trajectory, Hillary Clinton is still the front-runner. She's still favored even if you don't even look at the super delegates. But my God, we're probably going to be covering a contested Republican convention. Donald Trump, John says, he's going to have to win 60 percent of the delegates going forward in order to execute at the 1237. So, they'll really going to be scratching at every delegate they can get ...

BASH: Absolutely.

TAPPER: ... just to have at least sort of moral standing and say, "Well, I have number of delegates. I have this number of delegates."

BASH: No, question and, you know, already the anti-Kasich - excuse me the anti-Trump movement is reminding us, don't call it a contested convention, call it an open convention. It's the ultimate grassroots experience. You are right. Tell that to Donald Trump.

TAPPER: That's interesting. I like that. I like an open convention. I'm going to stick with contested convention.

BASH: Yeah, and I think ...

TAPPER: And it is abnormal but if you don't get the magic number, if you don't get 1237 then you're going to have to -- you're going to have a contested convention, although you have to win a majority, at least as the rules are right now, a majority of delegates in eight states in order to actually count. And Donald Trump is the only one that has secured a majority of delegates in eight states.

BASH: And that you said, something really important, now you said "as the rules are right now."

TAPPER: Right. I can slip that in there.

BASH: Well, right, but it's an important point because the rules are there to be changed.

TAPPER: Right.

BASH: ... and or not be changed depending where the party apparatus want the whole mechanism to go. So, for example, the rules were changed this way four years ago to help Mitt Romney push back the Rand Paul people and the Ron Paul Movement and it can easily be changed right back.

[23:10:02] TAPPER: And what would the result of that be, Anderson, if the rules are changed before the convention? Then what I ask you?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: A very open convention. Just open not contested. Jeffrey lord, you know, for anybody tuning in and just hearing Ted Cruz tonight.


COOPER: You would think he actually won something. I know he's very close in Missouri but he ...

LORD: Right. He's beginning to sound like Marco Rubio coming out and claiming third place a victory.

COOPER: Do when, when he comes, I mean, Amanda Carpenter used to be his spokesman, when he comes forward and says, "Tonight, it's become clear, I'm the only alternative, is that really the message of tonight?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, absolutely. And he may still, you've got Missouri, we'll have to see about the results there. But listen, at the end of the day when all the dust clears tomorrow, we're going to be looking at the delegates. Donald Trump may have 600 some, Cruz may have 400 some and then far, far behind will be John Kasich.

Cruz is the only person who could possibly meet 12-37. I think it would be hard, but then short of that going into the convention. If Cruz is just a few hundred votes behind Donald Trump or maybe a few hundred vote ahead of Donald Trump, those are the two who will be fighting at the convention. It says, not possible that there would be an open convention and they would not give it to Trump or Cruz.

What are they going to do? Pull it out and give it John Kasich who's never got into 300 or 400 delegates? Give it to someone who hasn't even run for president, Paul Ryan? Those scenarios will not happen.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They sound pretty good to me.


CARPENTER: Yes. The rules are made to be broken, but I think it would be very hard for an open convention not to give the nomination to someone not named Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

COOPER: Although, I mean, in truth, it would be hard for anybody to give the nomination to any another than Donald Trump. If Donald Trump has come close enough and he's won the majority of states.

NAVARRO: As you know, until somebody gets to 1237, you know, everyone is on the same playing field.

COOPER: You don't think it would have a major negative impact on the GOP if Donald Trump is well in the lead close to getting the number of delegates he needs has the majority of states and doesn't get the nomination?

NAVARRO: Anderson, let's wake up and smell the coffee. The major impact on the GOP has already happened. We have battle lines drawn right now. We've got the people who are enthusiastic about Donald Trump and they are incredibly enthusiastic. It is a loyal, loyal club and the people who are completely unenthusiastic about Donald Trump. So, you know, I think that the impact is there.

We are going to get to the convention with this GOP. I've heard Gloria talk about the existentialist crisis in the Republican Party all night. Well, yeah, you know, hear is a case number one.

And I do think, I cannot believe him saying this. But I do think Ted Cruz has something to talk about tonight. He edged Marco Rubio out of the race. He pushed Marco Rubio out of the place. And we're getting important components for him. He played political chess. He decided to play hard in Florida and, you know, it ended up with Marco Rubio losing by over 20 points.

If maybe it had been a closer race, perhaps Marco would have thought of, you know, hanging around a little longer. But losing your state by over 20 points ...

COOPER: Donna?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I'm not a republican at this table. I just want to make sure that. Here's the most important thing.

Tomorrow morning, the headline is Donald Trump is on his way to the GOP nomination. He's won the majority the voters and he's winning the majority of the delegates. To try to deny him or come up with these multiple scenarios to stop his roll is stupid. I think you have to ...

LORD: Thank you. BRAZILE: You can buy me a drink later because I might need one as

well. But the truth is, is that I think for the Republicans to continue to spin all these money and they create all of this havoc around his candidacy is going to hurt the party even more. So you have to accept it or try to come over another scenario.


COOPER: Let's move over here, Ron Brownstein?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. So, look, I mean, the story tonight was fundamental things apply. We saw the same patterns that we have seen really throughout this race.


LORD: That's right.

BROWNSTEIN: Republican race can be defined in two sentences, from the beginning Donald Trump has consolidated the blue collar wing of the Republican Party to an incredible instinct. He won his 44 percent of non-college Republicans in every state tonight. He's won most non- college Republicans in 17 of the 20 states with exit polls and the reality is no one has consolidated anything else in the party that extent particular those college Republicans.

Much more resistance to him is only one for all Republicans in 8 out of 20 states so far, but they have fractured and divided and Donald Trump's hold on that blue collar side of the party has just proven insurmountable.

[23:14:44] COOPER: We got to take another break. We've got three uncalled races right now. We hope to get some answers within the next hours. Stay with us, we'll take a short break.


BLITZER: We have a key race alert. Three still uncalled contests right now on the Republican side in Missouri. Look at how close it is, a real nail-biter between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Right now, Trump is ahead 41.5 percent to Cruz's 41.1 percent. Trump has a lead of 3,337 votes, very, very close. 99 percent of the vote, of the expected vote is in. We're watching Missouri very closely.

If Cruz wins, that would be his first win of the night. Trump already has three wins tonight.

On the Democratic side in Missouri, 70 percent of the vote is in. Bernie Sanders maintains his slight lead 50.7 percent and Hillary Clinton 48.1 percent. He's got a lead of 12,158. 70 percent of the vote is in on the Democratic side in Missouri.

In Illinois, 82 percent of the vote is in. Hillary Clinton has a bigger lead, 50.9 percent to Bernie Sanders' 48.2 percent. She is ahead by 43,153 votes. Illinois a big prize, 156 Democratic delegates at stake, although they distribute them proportionally. I want to go John King over at the magic wall.

You're studying these three contest that are still at large and remaining right now.

[23:20:00] And based on what you're seeing, what can you tell us?

KING: How about that for close, 41.5, 41.1. This one -- we're down 99 percent. Last time we check everybody said, St. Louis report, it's votes. So we've got 45 percent of it on the Republican race now and Donald Trump holding a lead again, in a close election, that very close and he's winning there.

We move out top suburbs now, we're up to 52 percent. So if you think Trump's ahead there, more votes to come in. Trump has been consistently leading here, again a very narrow margin.

So this room for Cruz to turn this, but the trend continues even if Trump is winning narrowly here. Now, you move out to the suburbs here. Again, Ted Cruz very competitive in the suburb tonight, which we have not seen in that many states in the past, but -- if Trump holds those slight narrow lead, then it looks like he will hold this slight narrow lead. You're looking round for other places where Cruz could get some votes. Here is one of them, Jackson Country which is down back and forth throughout the night.

In Kansas City area, the suburbs, Cruz now leading by a little bit there, there's still some votes out here. So we're looking and the votes essentially in St. Louis in the suburbs, Kansas City in the suburbs likely to decide where the very close election right now.

And Jake talk about the significance earlier. Trump delegates go to the statewide winner even if that by one vote. And then you go by congressional district and we were just looking at the map during the last break. It looks like Cruz is winning two congressional districts, maybe he'll win a third and Trump is winning the rest of the half dozen there, five or six more.

So advantage Trump at the congressional district level right now, so those statewide delegates will become important to the race if you go out.

Let's just switch and take a peak at the Democratic race here. This is purely proportional. The Sanders' lead -- small lead in a couple hours ago but it have his lead the entire time and again what's missing?

Kansas City in the suburbs, 77 percent in, so more votes to be counted there, an area where Clinton has been winning. If she keeps her edge there, she could narrow the Sanders margin there, then he flip over again. Just come all the way across the state to St. Louis County.

Just over half the vote counted. If you're saying can Clinton come back? That's why the answer is yes. Doesn't mean she will, but there's a big pool of votes there she could and you come at St. Louis City again where she's winning by 5-point margin there and less than half of the vote counted in St. Louis City, right there. So if you're looking at this map right now. You see a very now Sanders win with the 12,000 votes. Can Hillary Clinton catch up? The answer is yes. We have to count the votes. It doesn't mean she will but they're out there. And the reason I said as you check in places where Sanders is winning by a healthy margin 97 percent of the vote in here.

So a few more votes to come in but most of its come down to Springfield, green county, it's 100 percent. So in the places where Sanders has a pretty good margin, let me just check over here the Jasper area (ph), 100 percent in there where is winning big in smaller counties.

So in most to the places, Sanders have wide margins, the votes are in. If she holds her ahead here and holds her lead her, racks up the votes. There's a chance for Hillary Clinton to narrow that gap. So we are going be counting to every last vote, both of Democratic side and, again, you look at the Republican side in Missouri, wow.

BLITZER: Yeah. Very close on the Republican side in Missouri. You see what happens in Missouri. Let's go to Illinois right now, the Democratic contest there, 82 percent of the vote in Illinois is still out there. Hillary Clinton maintains her lead, 50.9 percent of Bernie Sanders, 48.3 percent.

KING: And so just looking at that, no matter how it ends up, again, Democratic rules, proportional delegate splits. So what they're looking for here is the moral victory if you will. Especially remember Sanders won Michigan last week. Hillary Clinton is won Ohio tonight. She would very much like to come back in Missouri where Sanders is leading and hold Illinois where she's leading.

And again, you start looking what do we missing here. If you count to these counties where only 35 percent down here in the Springfield area, Sanders winning there. So there's more votes for him here. There's not a lot of votes there but there some vote there so Sanders can expect to add there.

Do you want to move back up here, you go to western part of the state Moline, Illinois, just across from Quad Cities, one of the Quad Cities if you will. We spent a lot of time over here in Iowa caucuses, 80 percent in here Rock Island County, a healthy lead for Hillary Clinton.

If she holds at that, she can add some votes there and you come back over to the biggest part. You come over here to Chicago in the suburbs. Chicago City at 93 percent, Clinton with a healthy lead there so maybe some more votes for her there and lastly just check on Cook County, 94 percent in add more votes there.

So if you're looking at the trend in the map and where the votes are out, if you have to make a bet or guess she holds that narrow lead but doesn't always work out that way.

[23:24:15] BLITZER: Three nail-biters are under way right now. We're following it closely. We'll take a quick break, much more right after this.


BLITZER: Very important night in the race for the White House. Let's take a look at the states won so far. Donald Trump, he's won three states so far, Florida, and it's 99 delegates, winner-take-all in Florida. He has won Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina. Three states for Donald Trump so far.

John Kasich, he's won Ohio. And it's 66 delegates, winner-take-all in Ohio. He has won there, still waiting for Missouri.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has three important wins, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. We're still waiting for Illinois and Missouri on the Democratic side.

Let's get a key race alert on those three outstanding contests right now.

Take a look first of all on the Republican side. In Missouri, we're getting close to this. 41.3 percent for Trump, 40.9 percent for Cruz. Trump is ahead right now by only 3,101 votes. 99 percent of the expected vote is in. It's a nail-biter in Missouri.

Right now, this potentially could be Cruz's first and only win tonight. We'll see if Trump picks up number four.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders, he has a slight lead over Hillary Clinton, 85 percent of the vote is in. Bernie Sanders at 50.6 percent, Hillary Clinton 48.3 percent. He's ahead by 11,887 votes, 71 delegates at stake in Missouri.

We'll watch and see Bernie Sanders could pick up his first win of the night in Missouri.

In Illinois, Hillary Clinton maintains her lead, 50.8 percent to 48.3 percent for Bernie Sanders. She has a 41,876 vote lead right now, 41,876. We'll see what happens in Illinois.

Important contests, three contests, close ones right now. We'll see when we can make projections.


[23:30:09] TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf. let's look at these democratic races right now because they almost have the exact reverse vote count right now in Missouri.

Bernie Sanders just up a little 50.66, Hillary Clinton is 48.3.

And the exact opposite in Illinois, Hillary Clinton 50.8, Bernie Sanders 48.3 percent, incredibly close ranges, 85 percent of the vote is in.

Let's go to David Chalian, our Political Director. David, why are these races so close? DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah. We are taking a look at sort of party I.D., how Democrats are voting inside this contest, versus how independents are voting, Jake.

And we're seeing that the Independence are really keeping Sanders ultra competitive in both of these states.

Take a look at this, among Democrats, self-identified Democrats in the Missouri Democratic Primary tonight, Hillary Clinton wins these folks by 13 points, 56 percent to 43 percent.

And they are the big majority is 74 percent of the electorate identifies as Democrats.

But for the quarter of the electorate that says that they're independents, take a look at this.

Sanders wallops Hillary Clinton, 65 percent to 34 percent.

Again, a smaller share of the electorate, but he's beating her by 30 points.

We see something similar in Illinois. Take a look, among Democrats, Hillary Clinton is winning 56 percent to 43percent.

Again, three quarters of the electorate self I.D. is Democrats there.

But for the quarter of the electorate or in this case, a little more than a 5th that call themselves independents, look at that number, Bernie Sanders wins them 71percent to 28 percent.

So, even though they're a smaller share, the overwhelming support from independents that are voting in these primaries goes to Bernie Sanders and keeps him very competitive in these states.

TAPPER: David Chalian, thank you so much. And Dana, that's one of the arguments from the Sanders' campaign about why they feel he would be the better candidate is that he does appeal to Independence voters more than Hillary Clinton does.

BASH: Absolutely. It's a similar sort of a mirror argument that you see on the Republican side that Donald Trump is making to the republican saying, you know, I would be better because I would bring more people in.

You know, look, you can argue with both ways and we've seen both of those situations bear fruit over time, because you definitely need Independents, but you also need the base of your party to be really excited about you.

And so, you really can't have one without the other. It's clear that Hillary Clinton is doing quite well with Democrats. And it's going to be a question of who her opponent is in November, if she is the nominee to decide whether or not those Independents are going to go with her or the Republican. TAPPER: Right. Although, she is clearly still on the track and she looks like she'll have the better night's this evening than Bernie Sanders.

She's still on track to get the nomination. She's still the front- runner, Anderson.

COOPER: No doubt about that. Let's talk about this with our reporters and analyst.

David Axelrod, does it -- is it a bad sign for Hillary Clinton in a general that she is falling behind Bernie Sanders among Independents?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this is one sort of cloud over what is a great night for her.

We should point out in the first instance that ties don't help Bernie Sanders.

So, you know, they're fighting over bragging rights right now, but she's had a great night, because she's extended her delegate lead. It's made it that much more difficult ...

COOPER: And the victory in Ohio is the important one.

AXELROD: But there is a problem with independents that he is exposed. And you see it in general election polling, that she's not doing as well with Independents.

She has not to carry Independents because there are more Democrats and Republicans.

But she has to do well enough. Obama didn't win Independent voters, but he did well enough to win the election.

You can't see them by 10 or 15 or 20 points. So, this is an area they're going to have to work on in a general election.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think their feeling is, although they won't scream it out loud, is that if Trump is the nominee, they can use Trump to consolidate their support with independents.

And they, you know, they're not going to say that right now, but I think that's absolutely their hope.

AXELROD: But his numbers, how could have I have looked to these numbers among Independents where is that they've actually improved a little lately. So, I just wouldn't take that for granted.

BORGER: Well, but that's what they hope.

COOPER: I mean, it does seem that there's a danger for if the nominee is Hillary Clinton. But for any Democrat to take Donald Trump for granted or they think that it's going to be --he is so polarizing. I mean, he's an unknown quantity in a general election and there's a lot of Republicans who have, you know, made a mistake or underestimating him.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah, I mean, we've seen that mistake so far with Republicans being slow to react to him and slow to think that he was going to be competitive.

And I think for Hillary Clinton, you can already see her pivoting to Donald Trump and trying to figure out how she and somewhere else can be the anti-Trump, too.

She talks about, you know, building bridges or building bridges instead of tearing down walls.

But, listen, I think if you're Donald Trump, you probably can bring in some of these big states like Ohio, like Pennsylvania.

[23:35:00] On the other hand, I think one of the things that Chicago showed was that you are going to gin up a lot of, you know, a lot of support and enthusiasm to defeat him.

COOPER: Because that is the question before Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is, how aggressively do you go after Donald Trump?

It was interesting to hear Ted Cruz tonight blaming media executives for a secret plot for wanting Donald Trump to become president. This from a guy who is sucking up to Donald Trump for months and months and months and not giving a lot of interviews to reporters.

BROWNSTEIN: As a general election candidate, Donald Trump will probably been what he has been as a primary candidate, which is destabilizing force. He be kind of shake things up. He's cut the Republican Party along an axis we haven't seen before, as white collar/blue collar. As a general election nominee, he would probably shake things up.

He has the opportunity, as everyone is saying here, to put in place some of those Midwestern, heavily blue collar kind of rest though stays. On the other hand, he is looking at historically high negative precisely among the groups that are growing in the electorate.

COOPER; Right.

BROWNSTEIN: Millennials, minorities, Social liberal, college educated white women. He's roughly 70 percent plus unfavorable among all of them. That is a huge hurdle to win. He might have to win a higher share of white voters than Ronald Reagan did. It is 1984 landslide and that is asking a lot.

BORGER: And that's why the Republican are freaking out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. BORGER: Because they've looked at this numbers and they are trying to plot ways to figure out how to defeat the guy who is their obvious front-runner.

AXELROD: Yeah. He's the antidote to this whole enthusiasm problem that Hillary Clinton has with younger voters. Perhaps with some minority voters, I mean, they are going to come out in large numbers of Donald Trump is the nominee of the Republican.

BORGER: Right. I think Hillary Clinton and Trump kind of excite each other's base, you know, to a degree.

COOPER: Yeah. Right. I mean Hillary Clinton has high negatives among the debate.

BROWNSTEIN: The biggest fallacy I think of those who say that Trump can win by simply turning out a large number of culturally conservative whites who haven't voted, is like they're not the only ones that are going to hear this.

I mean, and then in politics as in life, you know, every action has an opposite reaction. You're saying you saw some of that in Chicago. And Trump could be an antidote to the problems Hillary Clinton clearly has among the side to nominees of the Democratic race.

COOPER: Donna Brazile as a Democrat, are you excited about the idea of Donald Trump? Because the general election nominee for the Republicans?

BRAZILE: You know, Anderson it's too early and even for me to really give you my honest thought of view.

COOPER: Didn't you get from, really excited.

BRAZILE: I don't get excited about people like Donald Trump. But God bless him, he won tonight. And, you know, what given the fact that most of the Republican states going forward or winner take all.

I think Donald Trump will continue to do well in the red states where Cruz may have a lot an opportunity. I was just looking at Missouri, Boone County, which should be a Cruz stronghold is now turning toward Donald Trump.

No. I want to say something about Hillary Clinton. Do we have time?

COOPER: Well, you know, what just hold the thought. We're going to come back. We got a couple hours left to go. So, a lot more and let's go back to Wolf right now.

BLITZER: All right, let's do another key race alert right now. On the three remaining contests that have not yet been resolved in Missouri, on the Republican side. Look at this Donald Trump maintaining a slight lead over Ted Cruz. Very close, 41.3 percent for Trump, 40.9 percent for Cruz.

He's got a lead of 3,101 votes. Ninety nine percent of the expected vote is in. We'll see what happens on the Republican side in Missouri.

Also in Missouri in the Democratic side, 85 percent of the voters in. Bernie Sanders maintain his lead over 50.6 percent to 48.3 percent. He's got a lead of about almost 12000 votes right now in Missouri, 12000 votes from 85 percent of the vote in. In Illinois right now, 89 percent of the vote is in Hillary Clinton with 50.8 percent, Bernie Sanders 48.4 percent. She's got a lead of almost 41000.

We'll take a quick break, these nail biters, see what happens. We'll be right back


[23:43:23] BLITZER: All right. The numbers are changing a little bit. Now, let's get another "Key Race Alert" right now. In Missouri, 99 percent of the expected voters in Donald Trump maintains his lead slightly, 41.2 percent to 40.9 for Ted. It's narrowing a little bit. He's got an advantage of 2,450 votes in Missouri.

In Missouri, on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders maintains his lead is now a little bit not much. He's got a lead of 50.3 percent to 48.6 percent for Hillary Clinton. He's winning by just over 9,000 votes. Eighty nine percent of the expected vote on the Democratic side is in Missouri.

Illinois, 90 percent of the vote is now in Hillary Clinton. She maintains a lead, 50.7 percent to 48.4 percent. She's got a lead right now of almost 41,000 votes in Illinois.

Let's go over to John King at the Magic Wall. You're looking at a lot of these counties very close to see what votes are outstanding, where this might go. We're not yet able to make projections in these three remaining contests.

KING: Right. And so, I'm using a little scale bar here to slide this back. You see -- take this back to about here. These are the counties left that have reported with 95 percent or less.

So you look right here and you have Jackson County, which is Kansas City in the suburbs, 89 percent in, Cruz with the lead here. Still some votes here. We'll see it's been very competitive out there. You pull that out.

And then you look again here in the center part of the state, Boone County, University of Missouri and here Cruz winning with a pretty healthy margin right here at 95 percent. So we're waiting for some more votes in here.

Conceivably, if the trend continues, Cruz at ...

BLITZER: But we're showing counties right now where there is still is an outstanding vote.

KING: Yeah. Showing you the counties now where we got a good chunk of votes out. So then, you come here to the eastern part of the state around St. Louis and this is where Donald Trump has been winning. [23:45:00] So, I just showed you a couple of places where Cruz is ahead. But we're still waiting for some votes.

But look at this, only 57 percent of the vote in, in St. Louis City Donald Trump not by a huge margin but Donald Trump leading there. Then you move out to St. Louis County, the suburban area, Donald Trump again. This is why this is such a close race. Donald Trump leading in the suburbs but just by a little bit more.

Now, let's keep going out to St. Charles County, Trump again with the narrow lead here in 83 percent of the voter. So you pop back out, let me just turn this off. So you now, you have the whole state you've fill it in. You watch it fill in.


KING: Donald Trump is winning the majority of the counties by far. Looks like Cruz will win one or two of the congressional districts but at the moment as we count this down, the reason it matters even though it's so close is the statewide winner gets the first 12 delegate.


KING: And then the rest by congressional ...

BLITZER: Let's take a look at the outstanding counties. On the Democratic side because it's very, very close in Missouri right now. Maybe can you show us where the counties that still have votes left to count?

KING: It's all -- let's use the same tool. You see the vote coming in where 89 percent state wide counted. So let's just go back and stop it right there, 94 percent. So this shows you places where you have only under 94 percent that voted, right. So you have 89 percent in here in Jackson County.

Again, Kansas City in the suburbs, Hillary Clinton with a pretty healthy lead here, considering, how close this race is. So, if the trend continues, there are votes for Hillary Clinton may be to be had there.

And then you move over here to the eastern part of the state. Same place as we're looking at the Republican race, St. Louis County which is the suburban collar around St. Louis.

Again Hillary Clinton with a pretty healthy lead here, consider how close this race is, only 83 percent in and only 57 percent in St. Louis city. Hillary Clinton with a 10 point lead there.

So, if you look at the votes that are outstanding. Let's look right up here. In St. Charles count in suburbs here 83 percent in Sanders with a pretty healthy lead here. So Sanders may be some more votes here in the further out suburbs. Hillary Clinton in the city, in the suburbs there, and again when you bring in the whole state, you'll see what we have a very competitive contest. If you look at it, votes for her to be had in two places where you have a higher population center but we're going right down to the wire but Democrats ...

BLITZER: Yeah, and still go either way in Missouri. Let's do Illinois in the Democratic side right now. Ninety percent of the vote is in Hillary Clinton, maintains her lead, 50.7 percent to 48.4 percent for Sanders.

KING: So let's again use the slide bar. Just to see what were missing. We go to 94 to 95 percent and you see there are still a decent chunk of votes coming in here.

Move down to Springfield here, 63 percent of the vote, and this is an area where Sanders is doing quite well. Some votes missing here. Neighboring counties as well, OK let's just scoot around it. Look, these are very small counties here. Half percent of the vote and so, you see there, you know, he's looking -- if you double that, he's looking at another 20, 30 votes to add to his lead here. But when the race is this close, you count everything, but down here, 88 percents again where the St. Clair County little bigger than those other counties.

Hillary Clinton was a bit of a lead here. And then the biggest poll of votes missing is still right up here in the Chicago where although we're at 95 percent now in Chicago city, Hillary Clinton with a good lead there. This is what you see the vote totals in this county in the Chicago city, excuse me, much higher population centered there, so, Hillary Clinton counting on those votes to make the difference and Lake county, where that's a pretty tight race there.

BLITZER: Only 9 percent of the vote in.

KING: Just 9 percent of the vote in. So you see, in Illinois we still have a decent number of counties where we're waiting for the votes, which is why, again, if you bring it back into the statewide picture, and show to everybody.

If Bernie Sanders is winning the overall and majority of the counties, but Hillary Clinton is winning and by healthy margins in the major population center in the close in suburbs.

This has been consistent. She's held it consistently through the night but this is why we count them, winner disclosed and guess what. The both campaign headquarters, the lawyers are checking the recount rules.

BLITZERS: Right. So she's up by about 40, 000 votes.

KING: Right.

BLITZERS: Right now, let's look at the delegate count as it stands right now on the Republican side.

KING: So let switch map. So, it's a little easier to do it this way. This is a bit of a projection. This is not our official count. This is my -- my going in and there and assigning Missouri delegates and Illinois delegates based on where we are at the moment. So this could change a little bit.

But here's a rough estimate of Oregon in the late night. And again, this could turn to Cruz. If this switches, you know, Cruz would get the other 12 delegates. At the moment, Trump is leading, so we're going to leave it for Trump right now.

Trump's going to end tonight somewhere in the ballpark of 660, 10 or 12 delegates will swing on the statewide Missouri result. Ted Cruz will end if 230, 225, 240, somewhere in that ballpark back. So Trump will be to the halfway point, pass the halfway point in the race to the nomination. The question is can he get there? That's the big conversation tonight.

Does that Ohio victory by John Kasich do enough to say Trump can't get to 1,237 by the convention? There's no guarantee of that. He has to win about 60 percent of the remaining delegates. But we were just having conversation with these during on the breaks. There are some big winner take all states still to come, including New Jersey, including Pennsylvania, including if you go all the way to June (ph), out to California.

I mean, if we look at -- if we could end up in the possibility where we're out in California, 172 delegates at the end of June. I haven't filled it in the rest of the states but, you know, that could be the kind of thing that puts somebody over the top.

So we're going to have to watch as this one plays out as we go forward.

[23:50:00] But, yes, the math for Donald Trump is more complicated, because John Kasich won tonight. But, with the three-man race, a lot of people are saying Kasich staying in could actually help Trump when you get into some of this winner take all states with three candidates in the race.

If the pattern we've seen in past elections continues, that could be advantage to Trump. But, let's take them one at a time.

Trump advancing tonight. Let me clear that so people don't think that's actually locked in. Trump advancing tonight. Here's where he is at the moment. And as I said, I said if Trump wins here, and Cruz comes in second, it will be something like that. And you get him across that line, but he's going to need about 60 percent.

Again, a tough -- that's a tough hole but with some big -- they're not all winner take all, but with some big winner take all states to come, it's doable.

BLITZER: It's doable. He needs 1237. That's the magic number in Cleveland in July. Let's go to over to Jake and Dana. You know, I think it's fair to say by all account, very good night for Hillary Clinton and a very good night for Donald Trump.

TAPPER: That's true. One thing we have to talk about, though, I think is the fact that this has been a very, very brutally divisive campaign, both on the Democratic side and the Republican side.

And the question is, whether the feelings are going to be so bad. Will there be an appetite at all for a third party candidate from the people who don't like Donald Trump or on the Republican Party.

Let's go for our Political Director David Chalian who has an exit polling on that.

David, does it look like there will be Republicans looking for a third party alternative to Donald Trump if he does secure the nomination?

CHALIAN: It depends on the state, Jake. But we did ask in our exit polls of Republican Primary voters. We didn't ask this of the Democrats tonight.

If indeed it ended up being a Trump versus Clinton race, would that satisfy you?

So take a look at this. In Florida, Republican primary voters 62 percent of them say, "They would be satisfy with that". 29 percent say, "They would want to consider a third party candidate".

Now, that's probably the best state for Donald Trump in terms of the way this goes. In North Carolina, 56 percent of Republican said, "They would be satisfied". Thirty nine percent say, "They would consider a third party candidate".

And then take a look at Ohio where of course Donald Trump lost to John Kasich tonight. So there are more non Trump voters there, but only 51 percent of their majority of Ohio Republican Primary voters would be satisfied with a Trump versus Clinton race. Forty four percent say, "They would consider as third party candidate" and as you guys know Ohio is like the mother of all battleground states. So that is going to go on Donald Trump's to do list if indeed he is able to secure this nomination.

TAPPER: Interesting, David Chalian. Thank you so much.

Now, I've covered a lot of these and they are in the thick of hating each other right now.

Republicans are attacking one another more they are attacking Democrats.

I remember thinking, no way that John McCain supporters would ever back toward George W. Bush. No way that Hillary Clinton supporters would ever back Barack Obama.

Things have a way of calming down.

BASH: They do. I mean, this is an unusual year and we haven't seen this much animosity towards a frontrunner from the establishment as we have on the Republican side towards Donald Trump. But beyond that Jake, we have two problems with this, this people who want a third party.

Number one, it's not so easy to get on the ballot. But much more important, who is it?

TAPPER: Right.

BASH: Who is that person going to be? The only, you know, potential person who is out there who could wage this kind of a third party race was Michael Bloomberg.

Can you think anybody else?

TAPPER: No, I can't. And the Republicans' who talk about a possible third party candidate don't talk about that person as if they think he or she would win. They just talk about it as if its somebody ...

BASH: The spoiler.

TAPPER: ... they can vote for. Not even just spoil but just because they don't want to vote for Donald Trump. But as we said, its March, its early, Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. We're still waiting for three contests in Missouri on the Democratic and Republican side. Illinois in the Democratic side.

We'll take a quick break.

We'll get the results hopefully very soon. We're not going to anywhere.

We'll be right back.


[23:56:31] BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from the CNN election center and this special live coverage.

Entering tonight, there were six candidates running for president, now there are only five. And it could be a game changer for the Republicans right now.

Senator Marco Rubio, suspended his campaign just minutes after CNN projected Donald Trump won the Florida Primary.

John Kasich said if he lost Ohio, he too would suspend his campaign but he won. Ohio delivered for him. And, now his campaign says, the race to the party's convention in Cleveland is a whole new ball game.

But can anyone clinch the nomination before them? That answer to very well be known. Trump has gotten closer tonight. As we said, CNN projects Donald Trump is the winner in Florida.

We also project Trump as the winner in Illinois and North Carolina. Trump going 3 of 5 so far tonight. And, look at what's going on in Missouri right now. Let's put it up on the screen. We're going to show our viewers. Take a look at Missouri on the Republican side.

Look at how close it is, 41.2 percent for Donald Trump. Actual votes are counted 40.9 percent for Ted Cruz. Trump is ahead by only 2667 votes, 99 percent of the expected vote is in Missouri and that's very close right now, on the Democratic side. But take a look at Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, 90 percent of the expected votes is in there.

Bernie Sanders, he is ahead by for about 9500 votes, 50.3 percent, 48.6 percent for Hillary Clinton. Ten percent of the vote is still outstanding, so Missouri could still go either way.

It's a close contest in Missouri right now. We're watching it on the Republican side and the Democratic side. In the meantime, let go back to Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf. Let's check in with our correspondents, who are at campaign headquarters all over the country.

We'll start with Brianna Keilar who in a very empty Clinton headquarters in West Palm Beach Florida.

Brianna, be sure to turn off the lights on your way out. But to give us your estimate of where the Clinton campaign feels it's going from here.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They're feeling really good, Jake. And this is really the line. This is the kind of can (ph) line that they're giving

They say, Voters validated Hillary Clinton's message about economic solutions and they felt that these wins, especially in Ohio and Florida and North Carolina show that they rejected Bernie Sanders' message, which the Clinton campaign is now characterizing as more negative, stepped up attacks on Hillary Clinton.

This was pretty telling. I just spoke with Hillary Clinton's communications director and I asked her, "Do you think Bernie Sanders can win at this point?" Here's what she said.


JENNIFER PALMIERI, CLINTON COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I don't believe that he can. We think our lead is in delegate, we have an over -- with the 300 delegate lead. That's twice as much as any lead that then Senator Obama had over than Senator Clinton in 2008. So we think it would be very difficult, if not impossible for him to overtake her at this point.

KEILAR: But you say it not up to us, meaning the Clinton campaign to call on him to drop out or consider stepping aside or changing his rhetoric. Who is it up to?

PALMIERI: It's up to Senator Sanders and it's up to voters. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And as, you know, Jake, it's tricky because Hillary Clinton doesn't really have a leg to stand on with this when she competed against then Senator Obama.

[24:00:00] She stayed in the race all the way until June back in 2008. It is note where that even thought the Clinton campaign will not be calling on Bernie Sanders to get out correct the record, which is a Supper PAC that backs Hillary Clinton, and does at times coordinate with the campaign.