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Donald Trump Has The Upper Hand; Democrat Hillary Clinton Got A Big Boost With Four Primary Victories Last Night; Math, Momentum On Clinton's Side; Trump: Clinton Is A "Punchline"; Possibility of Trump vs. Clinton Looms; By The Numbers; Can Trump Be Stopped?; GOP Path Forward; Contested Conventions Revisited; What's Next For Supreme Court Nominee. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 16, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Welcome to a whole new political landscape on the presidential campaign side after decisive Super Tuesday, Donald Trump has the upper hand and the Republican Party is feeling the strain especially after he warns of rioting if he is denied the nomination at a contested convention. John Kasich has new life after win in Ohio which spark a talk and just set to a new bring when Republicans convene in Cleveland this summer. Ted Cruz is licking his wounds and Marco Rubio, of course, is out a whole new landscape, as we said.

Democrat Hillary Clinton got a big boost with four, possibly five primary victories last night. Her led over Sanders in delegates and super delegates now almost insurmountable a whole new landscape.

Meantime, the current president did what all presidents do that Senate Republicans citing principle and precedent say this president should not do. He unveil the Supreme Court nominee and reshape the political landscape there as well.

Two main story lines. One big night. We begin with CNN's Phil Mattingly with the big developments today after Donald Trump's big wins.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a dominant performance last night, Donald Trump started today with something of a threat talking to CNN's "NEW DAY," Trump warning if he keeps his sizeable delegate lead and Republican leaders turn to a different nominee --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we're, you know, 100 short and we're at 1100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400, because we're way ahead of everybody, I don't think you can say that we don't get it automatically. I think you would have riots.

MATTINGLY: Just days after his rivals criticized him for encouraging violence as his rallies. After a huge Super Tuesday showing, notching wins in three states, Trump pledged today to skip the next scheduled GOP debate Monday night. TRUMP: How many times can the same people ask you the same question?

So I was very surprised when I heard that FOX called for a debate. Nobody told me about it and I won't be there, no.

MATTINGLY: With John Kasich baulking at a Trump-less event, FOX News eventually pulled the plug.

Trump's dominant victory in Florida was the final, crushing blow to Marco Rubio's once promising campaign. The Florida senator leaving the race with a clear message to Republican voters.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America needs a vibrant, conservative movement. But one that's built on principles and on ideas, not on fear, not on anger, not on preying on people's frustrations.

MATTINGLY: Trump's only setback Tuesday night, coming in Ohio where home state governor Kasich picked up a convincing win, his first of the campaign.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are going to go all the way to Cleveland and secure the Republican nomination!

MATTINGLY: Kasich hitting the trail today in Pennsylvania.

KASICH: For the first time, people are actually beginning to see my name, my face and hear my message. Kasich claims the GOP fight is still a three-man race.

MATTINGLY: Ted Cruz hang in more delegates and holding on to a clear second place position dismissing Kasich's claim that the GOP fight is still a three-man race.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination, ours and Donald Trump's. Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever.

MATTINGLY: And pitching a renewed push for party leaders to unite behind his campaign and take out Trump.

CRUZ: We're saying Republicans should unite behind our campaign because we're the only campaign that is beating Donald Trump over and over and over again and we're the only campaign that can and will beat Donald Trump.


COOPER: And Phil Mattingly joins us now. So Trump is warning leaders about a contested convention. Are you hearing that that most in the party think that is the direction this race is actually headed?

MATTINGLY: Yes, Anderson, across the party operatives really pointing to Cleveland. This is the place where this nomination may end up being figured out. And look, a lot of them want that to be the case, obviously, against Donald Trump but also there is simple math here. Up to this point, Donald Trump has won about 44 percent of the delegates that have been allocated out. That is not a pace that he can keep if he wants to reach that 1237 number, 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch that nomination. He is going to have to take that up a little bit.

Now, the delegates will be allocated in a different way going forward, a lot of winner-take-all states. But there's a lot of variables in play here. But right now, Anderson, Donald Trump needs to tick up his delegates quickly or it looks like a contested convention might be the only answer.

COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly. Phil, thanks. As all that was unfolding, President Obama chose the Supreme Court leader to fill the late justice Antonin Scalia's seat and what followed continues to have little real precedent in modern American history, though both sides are invoking history and president and the duty at their respective offices. The president picked Merrick Garland, chief judge on the D.C. circuit of appeals.

Now, before that, he was at the justice department where he prosecuted the Oklahoma City bombers. He is widely somebody who Republicans, legal luminaries praise highly. He is also someone about whom Republican senator Orrin Hatch of the senate judiciary committee once spoke highly of as well. In fact, just this past Friday, Senator Hatch told News Max that President Obama quote "could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man, but then quickly added he probably wouldn't because he said this is about the election."

However, now that President Obama has named him, neither Senator Hatch nor his GOP colleagues will hold hearings or even meet with the man. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell talked with him by phone only to say that there will be no meetings and no hearings.

Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown joins us now with late details.

So what more do we know about this judge?

[20:05:27] PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Merrick Garland has been on Supreme Court short list but he lost out to justices Kagan and Sotomayor. You point out he is highly regarded on both sides of the aisle. He is considered by many a centrist who doesn't view his job as legislating from the bench. He is a graduate of Harvard and Harvard law school where he earned high honors. And through his time in school, President Obama really talked about this focus on this today that he worked as a shoe clerk and as tutor so he could pay his way through school. And then after that he went on to serve in private practice as well as the government in the government as a federal prosecutor.

Garland is 63 years old, which is on the older side for the Supreme Court nominee in recent history. But this could potentially be something that helps with the GOP since he wouldn't serve on the court as long as someone younger, obviously.

But I think, Anderson, what his selection shows is that President Obama was really focused on his legacy here, not the election, and he thinks Garland is really his best chance of putting a third justice on the high court.

COOPER: Some Republicans, who are still in office, approved his confirmation to the D.C. appeals court years ago. Are they supporting a nomination?

BROWN: That's right. There were seven Republican senators who voted for him in 1997. Most of them -- when I say seven, I mean that are still in office. Most of them are taking the hardline approach of not holding a hearing. Senator Hatch, you pointed out, praised Merrick Garland in 1997, came out today and said he still thinks very highly of him but that the nominee should be decided after the election.

However, the only senator to really break away in that seven is Senator Collins who has said that she wants a judiciary hearing and will meet with him. She called him capable and accomplished jurist. We have been hearing that praise from across the aisle ever since the announcement was made - Anderson.

COOPER: How does the process continue from here?

BROWN: So almost immediately after the rose Garden announcement, Merrick Garland reached out to senators. He spoke by phone to Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell has said he is not going to meet with him, but we're told that Grassley is considering meeting with him. Other senators have said they will, including Senator Collins.

And so that's what's going to happen. He's going to go to the hill tomorrow, meet with Senator Leahy and other Democrats and really, we'll have to see if the Republicans change their tune. I think the White House is still holding out hope that with public pressure, they will give in and eventually hold a hearing - Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Pamela Brown. Pamela, thanks.

Let's get perspective on both top stories from our political commentator "Atlantic" media contributor, a city university of New York journalism professor Peter Beinart. He is on the liberal end of the spectrum, also CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. From the right, we got CNN political commenters Margaret Hoover, Jeffrey Lord and Tara Sethmayer. With us as well constitutional scholar and George Washington University law professor, Jonathan Turley.

Professor Turley, let's start with you. What do you think this says about the nominee and what it says about President Obama, what he is trying to do?

JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF LAW, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: It's a very interesting choice. It's a restrained choice. This is not the type of nominee which will be a legacy appointee in the sense of changing the court significantly or necessarily being on the court a long time. He will move that needle to the left just by the fact that Nino Scalia was so far to the right.

But there are many aspects about his background which will not please the left and many that will not please the right. I think that there's an end-game strategy here that they hope that the Republicans will change their mind with pressure. I think that's unlikely. But there's always the possibility that if Hillary Clinton is elected, you have that window of opportunity where the Republicans can say, all right, well, maybe we'll take the moderate we know, then the liberal we don't and go ahead forward with it. But he certainly maximizes the chances of a successful confirmation. It's just -- you know, this is a case, unfortunately, of the un-moveable object, you know, facing the irresistible force and he's right in the middle.

COOPER: And Jeff Toobin, I mean, nobody is really questioning his qualifications from either side.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not at all. And he really is one of the most admired appeals court judges in the country. And that is something very much in his favor. But the key fact about this vacancy is that there are now four democratically appointed justices, four appointed Republican justices. This is the most important vacancy in a generation of the Supreme Court. And the Republicans recognize, I think, that they are going to take some heat for not hold hearings but it's worth it to them. It is worth it to keep the possibility alive of a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and that's what -- they are willing to pay a political price.

[20:10:08] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And you know, you have Republican politicians who have been reading the same exit polls we have been reading and what's the main message from the electorate is? We feel betrayed by our elected officials. This is one way Washington elected officials can say, you know what, we are not betraying you because we're not going to let anyone other than a conservative on this Supreme Court. We're going to do everything we can to block the president. So they believe they have got the politics on their side.

[20:00:15] Peter, do you think this is really an issue that will drive people to the polls one way or another?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If Donald Trump is on the ballot, I think that's going to overshadow everything. But I think Gloria just encapsulated what the Republican Party's problem is in a nutshell. In order to show the hard core of the right that they are not portraying them, they have to do something, which we know from polls, is unpopular with Americans as a whole. So you have a situation where Republican senators are still more worried about getting primary challenges, from Ted Cruz clones than they are about the fact that they could lose their seats in November because the country as a whole doesn't like the idea that someone doesn't even get a vote.

COOPER: Jeffrey Lord, let me start with you on Donald Trump and sort of this warning that he said on "NEW DAY" about riots if he doesn't get the nomination, if he gets close.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, as I think Gloria can vouch and you can vouch, on our panels here over the last days, months, years, however long this process has been, a lot of us has suggested that there would be hell to pay if the scenario that he invokes where he gets to about, you know, a thousand delegates and then --

COOPER: Right.

LORD: -- nobody is close, that there would be a problem. There would be a revolt. I mean, a number of us have said that. So I mean, I don't think he said any remarkable. I think, you know, he just sort of observing the truth that if his folks feel they have gotten all the way there and there's a scheme by, you know, establishment folks to take this away --

COOPER: I guess, though, the question, Tara, is after all that else, you know, other things -- the violence we have seen at rallies, after other comments he has made about, you know, punching people, if somebody throw as tomato, deck them, is, you know, saying riots, even if you say it was sort of a joke in your voice, is that presidential behavior?

TARA SETHMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course not. But there hasn't been presidential behavior since he decided to run for president. But you know, it was -- he made that comment on purpose. He used that term riot. He knows that that is another way of saying, listen, do not deny me or there's going to be hell to pay. He is laying that foundation. He didn't use that word by accident. This is all very strategic.

LORD: He said it twice.

SETHMAYER: That's correct. So that's what he does. He is going to continue to repeat that and that's just dangerous. He had surrogates on today. You know, his mouth piece is coming out reinforcing that. Scottie Milles Hughes was on CNN earlier today saying that very proudly that she has no problem with riots. And Wolf Blitzer called her out on it and said, you don't really mean that and then she had to walk it back for about three minutes. So this is a clear strategy that they are putting forth to try to push forth that this inevitability, you are not going to deny us or there is going to be riot in the street and I think that is very unfair.

COOPER: Margaret?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I totally agree with Tara. I think he is shaking the beehive and I think he knows he is shaking the beehive, but that's how he runs. I mean, he sort of rules with sort of threat of authoritarianism like, go my way or the highway. I mean, ask Paul Ryan. I'm going to get along with him fine or else. You know, so that is sort of the course.

Look. On this Supreme Court justice nominee, the other Republicans who have said they will meet with him are senator Portman, Kelly Ayotte, Mark Kirk, Jeff Lake and Susan Collins, alright. Why? Because they are all in blue states that Barack Obama won and they know that they need to meet with him because their electorate does not like obstructionism, alright. But to this other point, the public polling is split on this. People

get the argument that the next president should decide. The risk in that with the Republicans is that do you really want Hillary Clinton appointing a more liberal justice?

COOPER: Professor Turley, it is not just Democrats are using this against Republicans. Ted Cruz has been saying for a while that Americans shouldn't trust Donald Trump to appoint someone to the Supreme Court. So it is being used as a wedge even within the GOP primary.

TURLEY: I think that's right. And you know, you have to give Mitch McConnell some due. He may be right about the political dynamic. The Republicans have more skin in this game. They have more to lose. You know, the Democrats will gain from a moderate or a liberal appointee but the conservatives are going to lose a lot more. And that may drive people to the polls. I mean, this is a very serious issue. And the Republicans are right. This could be transformative.

And, you know, also, this particular nominee has won big problem for Republicans. And that is, he voted to reconsider the case that became Heller which is the case where the Supreme Court found there was an individual right to bear arms.

Heller is gospel for conservatives. And he is viewed as a nonbeliever because of that vote. Now, he can try to explain it but that could be a serious wedge issue for him personally.

[20:15:04] COOPER: Professor Turley, always good to have you on. Everyone else here on the panel, stay with us.

Up next, more on Donald Trump's warning of convention violence and the reaction to it when we come back.

Also, Hillary Clinton's big night and where it leaves Bernie Sanders and his support.


[20:19:00] COOPER: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley put out the word today that her hope and prayers for Ted Cruz to stop Donald Trump. However, when asked by reporter whether that meant she was endorsing him, she replied quote "I don't know that I need to formally endorse," unquote.

As you saw earlier in Phil Mattingly's report, the day began, though, Donald Trump on "NEW DAY" warning of trouble if anyone tries to stop him if he goes in to the convention with the most delegates but not quite the 1237 needed for the nomination.


TRUMP: I think you would have riots. I think you would have riots. You know, I'm representing a tremendous -- many, many millions of people. In many cases, first-time voters. These are people that haven't voted because they never believed in the system. They didn't like candidates, et cetera, et cetera. If you disenfranchise those people and you say, well, I'm sorry, but you're 100 votes short, even though the next one is 500 votes short, I think you would have problems like you have never seen before. I think bad things would happen. I really do. I believe that. I would lead it, but I think bad things would happen.


COOPER: We are back with the panel.

Gloria, I mean, there he is saying I wouldn't lead it but bad things will happen.

[20:20:04] BORGER: Yes. He didn't say he wouldn't be a part of it or anything else. He wouldn't lead it. Look, his voters would have a right, if he were within 100 delegates, they would have a right to feel disenfranchised completely. If the --

COOPER: Especially if it's GOP leaders disenfranchising them.

BORGER: Exactly. They already feel angry and betrayed, right? If they pulled somebody out of the hat - I mean, Paul Ryan today said he wouldn't do it. But if they pulled a Mitt Romney out of the hat, then they would have a real right. Now, if he is 400, 500 delegates back and there is a three-way race going on, you know, that's a whole different story.

So I think it's very difficult at this point to predict. But he's the clear favorite when you talk about delegates. He only has to win 50 percent of the delegates. I think Cruz has to win 80 and Kasich 100 percent of the delegates coming up. So he is the clear favorite. And if this pace continues, he will be close to that 1237. And then I don't see how he doesn't get the nomination.

BEINART: Here's why I don't think they can stop him, assuming he continues to win. The Republican establishment has shown no ability whatsoever for the last nine months to unify to stop Donald Trump. So why should we think they will today? If he comes in 100, or even a couple hundred, he has a lot of power. Though, some of those people will want something from him. He can dangle things in front of them. He's good at doing that. He bought Chris Christie already and he got Ben Carson, right. So why shouldn't he be able to do that with a couple hundred delegates? I think if he continues to win, I think he's very hard to stop.

COOPER: Do you agree with that?

TOOBIN: Well, I think one thing that a wildcard in all of this is, we still don't know what the rules are of the Republican convention.

COOPER: Right. Because the rules can be rewritten.

TOOBIN: Exactly. The rules can be rewritten. So the idea that, you know, the precise number of delegates is known and what the obligations are of those delegates to vote for the candidate in the primary, some of that stuff is still in the air. So he is at some risk of not having as many delegates as he thinks he has and all of that, I think, is going to play into how the convention unfolds.

COOPER: It's interesting, though, Margaret, because I mean, you have a spokesman for the RNC saying that Donald Trump -- he thinks Donald Trump was speaking figuratively. Are you in the figurative camp here?

HOOVER: I would like to believe he was speaking figuratively but I am just not that optimistic. I mean, there's nothing to suggest that Donald Trump really gives a lot of thought to what he says before he says it anyway. And he -- you know, look, I am not --.

COOPER: Well, Tara was saying it was thought out. You are saying he does --.

HOOVER: No. I think -- well, I don't know if -- look, that's more than I would put him. I mean, I do think he has this sort of belligerent and pugilistic instinct that does sort of blow off the tongue very easily. And you know, while maybe sometimes he is figurative, you know, he doesn't think about the consequences of his words. And this is why we are going to run against him. This is how Hillary is going to run against him. He's erratic. And he doesn't think through what he says. And that matters if you have a leader of the free world.

COOPER: What do you think the damage to the Republican Party writ- large would be if there was a brokered convention and another pointing it an open convention?

LORD: Right. If this convention goes down like the 1976 convention with Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, where it was hotly competitive. Reagan lost on the floor by 117 votes, I don't think there will be a problem. If this convention becomes like the 1912 Republican convention where Teddy Roosevelt was, you know, furious and made accusations of theft and they stormed out of there and went and formed a whole new party - I mean, I'm not saying that. But if that kind of scenario developed, then yes, I do think there would be a problem, absolutely. There's a difference between the two.


SETHMAYER: I would take it back even further. Some folks may remembering history the stop Steward campaign. That was in 1862. In 1860, governor Steward of New York was the front-runner and they went to the Republican convention in 1860 in Chicago and there were four rounds of balloting and guess who ended up being our presidential nominee? Abraham Lincoln.

HOOVER: And guess who was third going into that.


SETHMAYER: He was considered a dark horse and guess what else happens? There was jockeying with delegates. There were discussion of this delegate. This process has been going on for a long time.

COOPER: We've been arguing over an election from 1860. That's kind of interesting. It's a sign of where we're at. SETHMAYER: It's important to understand that this is historical and


COOPER: CNN's coverage of that was -- yes. Nobody holds a candle to the coverage of 1860.

A lot more to discuss. I have to take a short break.

Just ahead, the Democratic candidates also woke up to a new political landscape. The question is, Hillary Clinton is certainly now insurmountable? Bernie Sanders says he still sees a path ahead. What might that be? We'll take a look.


[20:28:59] COOPER: Well, for all the reasons we have been talking about tonight, Super Tuesday, three may be remembered as a key turning point in this election. In the Democratic race and at the momentum and asked squarely on Hillary Clinton side. She scooped up buckets of delegates last night. Obviously, Bernie Sanders, though, is not giving up, not by a long shot. He says still he see as path to the nomination. However, it is by any measure, a much steeper path tonight.

Here's Joe Johns with the latest.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Florida. Thank you, North Carolina. Thank you, Ohio.

Reporter: JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hillary Clinton sweeping Super Tuesday scoring four victories in four states with Missouri still too close to call.

CLINTON: We are moving closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination and winning this election in November.

JOHNS: Clinton's big night gives her a clearer path to the Democratic nomination and blunts Bernie Sanders' momentum coming out of Michigan primary victory last week. Clinton holds a practically insurmountable lead when it comes to the overall delegate count, nearly doubling Sanders.

[20:30:00] She now stands just 795 delegates shy of the number she needs to clinch the nominations.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Next week a result no has a very important election.

JOHNS: Despite his delegate deficit, Sanders is looking forward to future contest and not letting off on his rival.

SANDERS: My opponent raises money in a slightly different way. She has a Super PAC which, among other special interests, has received $15 million from Wall Street. JOHNS: Clinton will likely need support from Sanders' base to help her win the general election, possibly one reason she's dialing back her rhetoric towards her Democratic opponent and shifting her focus squarely on the current Republican front-runner, Donald Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we hear a candidate for President call for rounding up 12 million immigrants, banning all Muslims from entering the United States, when he embraces torture, that doesn't make him strong it makes him wrong.

JOHNS: And Trump appears eager for the fight, firing back at Clinton this morning.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think she's an embarrassment to our country. She's under federal investigation. She doesn't have the strength or the stamina to be president, frankly, as far as I'm concerned.

JOHNS: The war of words offering a preview of a potential November showdown between the two. Trump also targeting Clinton on social media today posting a video saying Clinton isn't a leader, she's a punch line.

On Wednesday, the Hillary Clinton campaign rolled out through new ads targeting Arizona. Joe Johns CNN, Phoenix.


COOPER: You know, back on the panel joining the conversation from Washington CNN Political Commentator Van Jones or former Obama administration official. Gloria, let me start with you. I mean it's kind of odd to your Donald Trump going after Hillary Clinton as being a punchline, they are both often the subjects of humorous retorts, I guess you could say.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And the thing about that ad, it's an Instagram video which was done to gin up the base. It's not a general election ad but it does give you a sense listening to her, you know, not strong but wrong, speaking in rhyme.

And Donald Trump tone -- his tone is so bombastic and her tone is sort of studiously, you know, we want to make our country whole, we don't need to make it great. We are great strong I think there's going to be such a difference if they end up in a face-off against each other and tone will be so important in this race particularly, I would argue, with women voters. I mean, Trump does well with Republican women. But overall, he has a huge gender gap when you look at the entire electorate and that's going to be important.

COOPER: But I mean there's tone now and then there's tone in the heat of a battle. Do you guys have any doubt, Jeffrey that this is just going to be -- if it is Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump or even Bernie Sanders and Donald T rump, just an all-out scorched earth race?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Every year we say we've never seen a more negative race. Donald Trump has taken negative campaigning to a new level I mean, the way he has treated his Republican opponents, "Little Marco" and, you know, "Lying Ted Cruz". The level of vitreal he has used is more than certainly Mitt Romney did four years ago or John McCain eight year ago.

And Hillary Clinton is certainly going to get that treatment. What's interesting, though, is that it's not clear what the best response is. Marco Rubio tried to match Trump, insult for insult and it was a fiasco. So I think the Clinton people are going to have to see what's the best approach. I don't think she'll do that ...

BORGER: Hard for a woman anyway to do that, right?

COOPER: Peter? I mean the Clintons certainly you know have experience in you know tough political fights.

PETER BEINART, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE ATLANTIC": Right and they have surrogates who can see some of that stuff I mean, the negative campaigning against Donald Trump, you know, the skeleton in the closets are an embarrassment of riches. You don't even really know where to start.

I think the danger for her, now that's she's virtually secured the nomination and she'll have a long period with not much to do, that's when she gets into trouble. She's actually best win she's challenge if this long stretches where basically -- there's a tendency within the Clinton operation to kind of self-sabotage these areas, to lose their discipline and that's what they need to be worried about.

COOPER: Well, Van, that's the one of the arguments that even Clinton supporters point you for Bernie Sanders staying in the race. Obviously Sander supporters want him to win but there are Clinton's supporters who think he is making her a better candidate and keeps the race in the headlines on the Democratic side?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, absolutely. I mean first of all, you just can't overstate the positive impact of Bernie Sanders on this party and on Hillary Clinton.

[20:35:08] Can you imagine if you had had a normal challenger where they were kind of both debating about normal policy stuff?

The entire Democratic Party could've missed this upsurge, this uprising in the country. Bernie Sanders delivered that to her door and said, "What are you going to do about this?"

You have people who are in real pain, who are really upset and who want big answers, big solutions. They don't want a nuance and double- talk. They really want -- and she had to respond.

I mean the reality is, obvious, a lot of Bernie Sanders' people are mad at Hillary Clinton because Hillary Clinton said Bernie is a single-issue candidate, the say, because she stole all of Bernie's ideas, and she really did adapt.

And she did get better. So, I think that's a very good thing. But with this thing about Trump, a Hillary-Trump match up is going to be so interesting because of the cultural differences.

You know, you have with trump this kind of, you know, almost a hip-hop sensibility of the braggers, you know, he is channeling a Cassius Clay, you know, naming his opponents and wrestling and all of these different pop cultural sensibilities, and you Hillary Clinton again.

She's more like Velcro and he's like Teflon. She's Velcro because she wants to be the good girl. She wants to be the good student. And he doesn't care.

And so, you have this incredible thing where it's going to literally be, you know, a situation where I'm not sure how she responds when he starts seeing this stuff, and you see it on a wide stage.

But she's going to have to figure out -- she's going to getting a room with some rappers and some people who just say anything and let her get ready for this.

It's going to be weird. It's going to be crazy.

COOPER: And yet -- and, Gloria, and yet they have this similar -- I mean they're both, you know, lived a life in a bubble. They are both extremely wealthy.


COOPER: They both, you know, have -- I mean, he's given money to her. She went to his wedding. It's not as if they're complete strangers to each other.

BORGER: Yeah. And they have both been attacked, you know, mercilessly. And they both know how to attack.

The thing about Hillary Clinton is that, if she's smart, and I think she is, she can use the sort of velvet glove and sort of go -- she could go after him on, you know, whether it's Trump University or whether it's on his business -- other business practices or whether it's on things he said.

And she can do it in a way that kind of gets to him and if she can go to him, which I think she probably can, that might work to her advantage in a debate. She is a very skilled at this, really skilled.

COOPER: The panel is going to stick around. Just ahead, the Republican field has shrunk. Just three candidates have survived Super Tuesday 3.

The question, do all three actually have a path to nomination. John King joins us at the Magic Wall to break it down by the numbers.


[20:41:39] COOPER: We're talking tonight about the new political landscape after decisive Super Tuesday 3.

Now on the Republican side, just three candidates left, Donald Trump, holding on his formidable lead, John Kasich scoring his first win in vowing to stay in the race, Ted Cruz, hoping to eek out a victory in Missouri to avoid a total route.

Now, that race still too close to call. So, what is the path forward for all three? John King is at the Magic Map to break it down by the numbers.

So the fact that this is a three-way race, does it make it easier or harder to stop Donald Trump?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": A lot of Republican strategists think harder. They think John Kasich staying in with Ted Cruz, keeps it a crowded field.

But if it's Donald Trump able to win, Anderson, with you know, 35, 36 shy of 50 percent.

That's been the things, Ted Cruz says, let's go one-on-one. The next month is critical if they are going to stop Donald Trump. So, let's take a look at what we get.

Next Tuesday, we go out West and we get Arizona and we get Utah. Then we move to the Wisconsin Primary on April 5th. Then, we have some caucuses in the west, Wyoming and Colorado conventions out there. And then on the 19th, New York State Primary.

So, over the next month, 295 Republican delegates. That's fewer delegates than last night but 295, big if you look at the numbers. Here's where Donald Trump is today, 662, that's passed the halfway mark to clinching at 1,237. He's actually a little bit higher than this.

We still have some delegates from last night in Missouri and Illinois to allocate. But this is where we have an officially, watch how this could play out.

Let's assume that Trump wins in Arizona and we'll give Utah its caucuses, we'll give this to Ted Cruz, he tends to do well in caucus states because of grassroots organizing. Trump inches out a little bit.

Then we move to the next set of contest. Wisconsin Primary will be key. It's a winner-take-all it's right here in the Midwest. After winning Illinois and Michigan, we favored Trump so we give that to him here. He starts to approach the 800 mark and then you finish the next phase of the next month out. The New York Primary, you'd have to say in a three-way race, right that Donald Trump would be favored.

So we give him that and we give Cruz out here in the West Colorado in Wyoming because that conservative conventions. So we give -- there's no reason Donald Trump couldn't win one or more of those but for the sake of argument, we give them to Ted Cruz.

But look at that, Anderson, a month from now, Donald Trump could be somewhere in the 840/850 mark of delegates. Getting close. He would need about 54 percent. If he runs it here, he'd need about 53, 54 percent of the rest of the delegates to clinch.

COOPER: So if Kasich can't win Wisconsin, which is, you know, not far from Ohio, does he quit?

KING: That's a great question. There would be a lot of pressure on him to quit. If he can't prove himself, and he can come in Wisconsin and pick up a state here, take that away from Donald Trump and say, look, I'm the blue collar lunch bucket guy, competing with Donald Trump in the Midwest, that would give him, not a ton of delegates, he'd still be way back but that would give him the moral reason to stay in.

If he can't do that Anderson, if Donald Trump wins in John Kasich's neighborhood, again, if you will, then there will be a lot of pressure to get out and make it a one-on-one race with Ted Cruz.

But John Kasich's argument in that point might be, you know, most of the campaign in the next month plays out over here in the east and he's from Pennsylvania.

So I suspect he would make the case, give me one more shot at Pennsylvania but the establishment would say, please get out.

COOPER: And where does Cruz win?

KING: That's another fascinating question. Because look at the region I just circled. Donald Trump all around with the Kasich win.

Cruz did well in Texas and Oklahoma. We suspect they'll do well I give in these caucus and convention states out west. But do you see Ted Cruz beating Donald Trump in Pennsylvania? Maybe it was Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Northeastern States where a more moderate brand of Republican sells, especially if Kasich stays in the race, it's hard to see Cruz winning and some say a lot of Republican strategists think even though the effort to stop Trump, but this is pretty favorable territory for Mr. Trump.

[20:45:10] COOPER: And now that Rubio is out, what happens to his delegates?

KING: That's a great question that you can't answer today in the sense that Marco Rubio has about 171 delegates, still a few more to be allocated. Every candidate wants them. Every candidate still in the race wants them.

There are different rules in different states. Some states, they're bound on the first ballot still to Marco Rubio. And others are unbound. Here's one thing that I know is happening.

The Cruz campaign is already reaching out to them saying whether you're free at the beginning of the convention or free after the first ballot, we want to be your friend and we want to recruit you. That will be an effort that goes all the way through the convention in July. The other candidates still in the race trying to make friends with the Rubio delegates.

COOPER: A lot of friends all of a sudden. John, thanks very much.

KING: Deals to be made.

COOPER: Deals to be made. Back with the panel, Margaret, I mean, is there a viable path forward for Senator Cruz?

MARGARET HOOVER, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Look, Senator Ted Cruz was supposed to have walked the south Anderson on Super Tuesday 1, March 1st because he was supposed to sweep the southern SEC Primary and all of those voters were going to rally him to the nomination. Is there a path forward? Yes. Is there a path to 1,237? No.

For Cruz, for Kasich, for, you know, for a hope of a non-Trump candidacy, they're hanging their hat on a prayer that this will be a contested convention. That's the -- and the reality is, it's unlikely, it is likely that Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party.

COOPER: And Jeff if they do get to a contested convention, I mean still is like voted Donald Trump would get the nomination?

JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: That's right. That's right. I mean the history tends to show that people in Donald Trump's position think of Barry Goldwater in 1964 who came out the primary -- there were fewer primaries then but it came out of California having defeated Nelson Rockefeller. They mounted a last stitch effort within then Governor Scranton of Pennsylvania and it failed. I mean generally speaking, the person who was far ahead wins.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And what happens to Barry Goldwater? He got slaughtered. OK, so, I mean ...

LORD: Well, he made the basis for the conservative movement.

SETMAYER: I understand that.

LORD: That's another argument, though.

SETMAYER: But also -- I get that. But I'm saying that I think that argument, people will remember a lot of the folks that are determining the delegates and things will remember what happened when they decided to go with Barry Goldwater and I don't think that given the fact that this countries that are crossroads now with this election, that it's so important that they're willing to turn the keys to the kingdom over to Donald Trump and risk that slaughter.

COOPER: So, Tara, what do you see happening other than Trump?

SETMAYER: Well, I mean, I think that as we get closer to the convention, I think you will see Ted Cruz has a lot of presentation problems that turns people off. He might be a good conservative.

BORGER: You mean they don't like him?

LORD: Exactly. SETMAYER: No, not just the establishment. I mean, like Ted Cruz has hardcore supporters, he's a good conservative on issues but he has to work on presentation, right? We all saw the speeches last night. You know, when I was sitting there going, "He's got to tighten it up. He's got to speak in easier process so people understand."


COOPER: My sense is he's worked on presentations quite a lot. I mean he doesn't ...

HOOVER: Cruz has been the same as Goldwater, Tara, I mean ...


SETMAYER: Not necessarily. I think that Ted Cruz has a challenge in a general but I think that it would not be the same as Trump once the Hillary machine ...

COOPER: Go ahead, Peter.

BEINHART: Look, I think the Republicans are screwed no matter what because there is a three-way race no matter what. If Trump is a nominee, some Republican is going to run as a third-party candidate to give people a reason to go to vote for senate candidates. If Donald Trump is denied the nomination after getting the most number of delegates, he's going to find some way to be running as well.

So it doesn't seem to be any realistic scenario by which you get a Republican nominee who's not Trump with a one-on-one shot against Hillary Clinton.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. Just ahead, so, if the math doesn't work in Donald Trump or any Republicans favor in terms of getting the delegates, we could be buckling our seat belts for a very contested convention in July. It hasn't happened often. It has happened in the past. We'll look at what kind of mess we could be in for, next.


[20:52:42] COOPER: Even though Donald Trump doesn't want it, says he thinks there may be riots, it's looking like the GOP could be well on its way to a contested convention.

Now, Trump clearly thinks he should get the nomination even if he doesn't get the required delegates on the first round, but it's a matter of reality if the candidates arrive at the convention in July without the presumptive nominee, a process will start. That's unusual, but it's not unprecedented. Gary Tuchman looks back.


UNIDENTIFED MALE: The Republican Party presents a united front following the federally contestant 25th Republican National Convention. GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDNET: Contested conventions, once coined smoke-filled back rooms where favored suns, handshake deals and General Jack Dean took place have a long history in American politics from Rutherford Hayes to Dwight Eisenhower.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: We saw General Eisenhower win over Senator Taft on the first ballot.

TUCHMAN: The rules for contested conventions have been in place for nearly 150 years and then would all apply to this year's conventions.

If after the first round of voting by delegates, no candidates arrives with the number of delegates needed to win the nomination. The convention is considered open and the delegates are then free to cast ballots for which ever candidate they want.

In the summer of 1976, President Gerald Ford battled Former Governor Ronald Reagan for the republican nomination.

Ford came into the convention leading in delegates, but without the required amount to secure his nomination setting up a Reagan insurgency within the party trying to woe delegates to his side.

GERALD FORD, 38TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I am honored by your nomination and I accept it.

TUCHMAN: Ford managed to fend Reagan off, but only after some delegate swapping and deal making.

FORD: After the scrimmages of the past few months, it really feels good to have Ron Reagan on the same side of the line.

TUCHMAN: After which Ronald Reagan gave a stirring endorsement.

RONALD REAGAN, 40TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I believe the Republican Party has the platform that is a banner of bold, unmistakable colors with no pale pastel shades.

TUCHMAN: But even with Reagan support, many within the party wondered if a fractious contested convention had hurt the Republicans.

And their fears were soon realized as a relatively unknown peanut farmer from Georgia, Democrat Jimmy Carter, won over Ford.

Four years later, President Carter faced off against Senator Ted Kennedy for the nomination.

[20:55:02] Kennedy hoped supporters would defect to him during the convention, but when the ballots were cast, Carter prevailed.

JIMMY CARTER, 39TH U.S. PRESIDENT: With gratitude and with determination, I accept your nomination.

TUCHMAN: And in 1984, former vice president, Walter Mondale, a clear front-runner over challenger, Gary Hart came into the Democratic convention 40 delegate shy of clinching the nomination, but ended up winning in the first ballot.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: My fellow citizens, I present to you the next president of the United States, Walter Mondale.

TUCHMAN: But Mondale lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan in the general election, only winning Minnesota in the District of Columbia.

In this election season, Donald Trump has made his stance clear, whether or not he clinches the required 1237 delegates come July. He expects to be the nominee of the Republican Party. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: A lot of history there. Coming up, a preview of what a Clinton-Trump race might look like. We're getting it already from the two candidates themselves. Also, President Obama naming his Supreme Court choice in what could be a historic political battle over that begins. We'll take a look when we continue in a moment.


COOPER: Good evening and listen hard, you might hear the first hint of what a Trump-Clinton general election campaign might be like.

[21:00:02] After last night's big victory, the two frontrunners already making November noises giving us an early preview of the kind of race they might run against one another. Details tonight from Brianna Keilar.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hillary Clinton fresh of the sweep last night.