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Super Tuesday 2 Coverage; Marco Rubio Suspends Campaign; Kasich Wins Ohio; Democrat Contest Examined. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 16, 2016 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:04] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is noteworthy, even though the Clinton Campaign will not be calling on Bernie Sanders to get out, "Correct The Record", which is a Super PAC that backs Hillary Clinton, and does, at times, coordinate with the campaign, is definitely taking aim at Bernie Sanders, specifically if he's going to be staying in the race from here.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right; Brianna Keilar in West Palm Beach, Florida with the Clinton campaign. Thank you so much; and that is a difficult role for Hillary Clinton. You don't want to be pushing out, or seem to be pushing out Bernie Sanders. He has every right to run. He's winning remaining states. He may well win Missouri. And, of course, she did the same thing in 2008; plus, she needs Bernie voters. She needs them to vote for her and she needs them to be enthusiastic for her.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Big time; I mean, it really is a pickle because she wants -

TAPPER: That's the second pickle of the night.

BASH: Is it? What was the first pickle?

TAPPER: I forgot.

BASH: Okay.

TAPPER: It is a veritable Vlasic jar.

BASH: It is officially after midnight, but, anyway, we digress. The point is that she clearly wants to try to turn to Donald Trump and to the Republicans, in general, because for lots of reasons, but primarily because it's a more natural target, you know; it's in her comfort zone to go after republicans as opposed to somebody who's running in her own party.

You just hit the nail on the head, the fact of the matter is that there is a massive enthusiasm gap and the Clinton campaign knows it and you want people who are out there doing whatever it takes for Bernie Sanders to say, you know what? She's not so bad. We can go out there and do it for her at the end of the day, if it means defeating a republican.

TAPPER: Yes; as you heard, the Clinton campaign wants to start preparing for November now, but will Donald Trump be waiting for Clinton in the general election? He says republicans should rally around him now. That's what he says would give the grand old party the chance of taking back the White House. But the other candidates? Well, they're not buying what Trump is selling.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have something happening that actually makes the Republican Party probably the biggest political story anywhere in the world. Everybody's writing about it, all over Europe, all over the world they're talking about it.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While this may not have been the year for a hopeful and optimistic message about our future, I still remain hopeful and optimistic about America.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You better believe it's about America, about pulling us together; not pulling us apart. It is about USA; exactly.

TRUMP: We have a great opportunity and the people that are voting are Democrats are coming in; Independents are coming in and very, very importantly, people that have never voted before. It's an incredible thing.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now is the time for Republicans to unite, for Independents to unite, for Libertarians to unite, for all of us who want a brighter future for our nation to come together and stand as one. Starting tomorrow morning there is a clear choice.

RUBIO: This is the campaign we've run: a campaign to be president that would love all of the American people --

[Cheering and Applause]

RUBIO -- even the ones that don't love you back.


TAPPER: And so we bid the campaign of Senator Marco Rubio adieu, but the campaign between Cruz, Kasich and Cruz begins in earnest and we shouldn't overstate the fact that Donald Trump has a tough challenge in winning 60-percent of the remaining delegates, if he wants to win the nomination. It is possible. There are enough winner-take-all states that he could do it. It just won't be an easy thing to do.

BASH: It won't; however, you know, the fact is he has won, you pointed out earlier the number of states -- 18 states? Something along -

TAPPER: What is it? I don't know. 18 out of 27 I think.

BASH: Right, which is pretty remarkable I think given how many people -- he says it all the time and he does have a point, how many people were in this republican field when this started. We were joking at the last debate that there were four people, and the very first time you moderated it was like 15 people and there were two debates.

TAPPER: That's true.

BASH: It seems like it was three years ago, but it really wasn't. So given that and given where his momentum is and where his support is, it is possible.

TAPPER: It is possible, if he continues to dominate the way that he dominated, for instance, this evening or today. We still have one outstanding race, but it's four out of five that he's won, and it may wind up being five out of six if he ends up having Missouri falls into the win column. Then it is possible. He could win the winner-take- all states, like Wisconsin, like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland and Delaware. If that does happen, then he could secure the nomination before the convention, but the entire republican establishment apparatus is going to try to prevent that from happening.

BASH: And, the interesting question now that there is just John Kasich in the race, who is defined as an establishment candidate, whether or not that apparatus will get behind him or whether, as we had started to see when Rubio was still in the race, whether some of them were saying, you know what, maybe Ted Cruz is right. Maybe it is a two-man race. Maybe we should get behind [00:05:03] him. That kind of fractured thinking that really led to paralysis when there were all these people were in the race, and it might not be that much better with just three people in the race.

TAPPER: You know, it's interesting. I was talking to somebody who was a strong supporter of Chris Christie, after Christie went into the Trump camp and started supporting him and all the establishment republicans that were mad at Chris Christie, who had been supportive of Chris Christie, and this friend of Christie's, this supporter said, all these establishment people who are mad at Chris Christie for going into the Trump camp, where have they been? They needed to come out, come forward -

BASH: Exactly.

TAPPER: -- early, put up money, get behind one of the establishment candidates. Instead, we were all splitting the vote and Donald Trump was just winning victory after victory.

So, once again, we'll see if the republican establishment actually puts up or shuts up, because I just haven't seen them doing what they say they're going to do. They just started to put in money. Meanwhile Donald Trump has won 18 out of 27 contests.

BASH: That's right; I mean, particularly Florida was a big loss for the anti-Trump movement and we were looking tonight at Illinois. They put money in there, didn't work; Missouri, we'll see. I mean, it's too close to call but it would be a huge loss. I was texting with somebody who was helping lead that effort saying, you know, you could almost feel the nervousness coming through the text, about Missouri because if Donald Trump does win Missouri, they feel like they're going to really have a lot of trouble continuing to raise that cash and continuing to push forward because the argument just isn't there as much.

TAPPER: And chew on this, Anderson: it was Chicago, Illinois where all that ruckus was happening on Friday evening that caused the establishment to start to rip out its hair about the Trump campaign, caused John Kasich to have his first critical words ever about Donald Trump, and Chicago is in a little state I like to call in Illinois; a little state that Donald Trump won this evening.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, which certainly bolsters the argument that a lot of Trump supporters are saying that this is, in fact, what we saw in Chicago on Friday, that protest, is actually going to help the candidacy of Donald Trump. Jeffrey Lord, that was something you were arguing very strongly over the last few days.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes; I you know, I can only say the Republican establishment has been feckless. I mean, they simply have no idea what they're doing. One of the things that strikes me here is that the base of the party was so far ahead of the "establishment," and by that I mean, you know, not just members of Congress and the Republican National Committee, but the whole, "consultant donor class" were totally out of touch with these people.

Donald Trump has struck such a nerve. He is doing very much what Ronald Reagan did, which is to say, bringing in Democrats into the Republican Party. As I said earlier, 46,000 in Pennsylvania alone, here, to vote in this primary that's coming up. So this is a -- there's this whole structure that's been built with all of the policy papers and all the think tanks and all this sort of stuff, and this is beginning to collapse of its own weight here. This is pretty significant.

COOPER: So, I mean, to what Jake and Dana were talking about before, Amanda, where does the #neverTrump movement -- where does that -- they wake up tomorrow morning and do what? Do they continue to spend money?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes; I mean, I think people are making plans for a convention. People are going to start looking seriously at the delegates and figure out a way to organize them and figure out how this would work. I think a lot of reporters are going to be looking into this because that's where this is going.

But, here's the thing: why is Donald Trump not the presumptive nominee? He has the most delegates. He is probably going to keep performing well. It's because he has not unified the party. He has extended no olive branches to members of the conservative movement. He has insulted Marco Rubio tonight, where he beat him. Instead of being gracious, you can go look at his Twitter feed, it says yeah, you didn't win. He, at every turn, goes to the bottom of the barrel and this is why he can't unite the party.

I mean, even tonight --

COOPER: He talks about unite the party.

CARPENTER: But he doesn't do it. Even if you look tonight, the most controversial figure of his campaign team, Corey Lewandowsky, who has been under media fire to his horrible treatment of the press, to anyone that comes into contact with him, Donald Trump had him right behind him giving his victory speech, sort of in the Chris Christie position. That was a signal. He is telling everyone, I'm not changing my campaign's behavior. You can go with me or against me but I'm not changing. This is why it will go to a convention because people will not get behind Donald Trump when he acts this way.


COOPER: Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I understand your point, but he's winning; they're not. His feeling is what do I have to apologize for? You're the people who are out to get me. You're running millions of dollars of ads against me, so what do I have to apologize for? I mean, that's the, sort of --

CARPENTER: Yes; I mean, people cannot envision supporting a nominee that does not condemn violence that happens before our very eyes. This is why they cannot get on board with him.

BORGER: Right.

CARPENTER: This is why it will go to a convention. He may be winning the [00:10:01] states, but he is not winning the hearts and minds of the party.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But Donald Trump, he's still in the primary stage and his formula has allowed him to continue winning primaries. You know, if he gets to the 1237, and until he gets to the 1237, he is in primary stage. And as to your question, until he gets to 1237 we are going to fight to the death with our last breath because the idea of Donald Trump is so upsetting to so, so many -

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But here's the problem you have. Ted Cruz -

NAVARRO: It's a long list.

AXELROD: Ted - Ted Cruz -- I'm just dealing with the politics. Ted Cruz is a factional candidate. He does very well with very conservative voters. He does well with some portion of evangelical voters. John Kasich is a factional candidate. He does well with the moderate to liberal republicans, the two liberal republicans I can think of -- and Donald Trump, more than any of the others, has bled into everybody else's base -

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: -- and has a solid base of his own. Therefore, it's going to be very hard to defeat him. [Cross Talk]

COOPER: One at a time. One at a time.

NAVARRO: -- I think that's going to change. I mean, I would have agreed with you two weeks ago, that Ted Cruz was a factional candidate, but when he started growing on me, like mold, --


NAVARRO: -- I will tell you that maybe he's not as factional. If we start seeing him as the only feasible alternative to Donald Trump, he becomes -

COOPER: One at a time.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: To underscore David's point, I mean, Ted Cruz have not won voters who are not evangelicals in any state, including Texas, with an exit poll. He may have won them in some of the small caucus states, like Maine and Alaska, but in any state big enough to measure he has not gotten - he has not won the most voters who are not

evangelicals, and you're now voting - today he let go North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, --

BORGER: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: -- all majority evangelical states. There are very few left, maybe West Virginia, maybe Nebraska, maybe Indiana. So his best states, based on his performance so far, are already behind him; and, as David said, you've got two narrow casting candidates. Trump is bleeding across the party and he has this really impenetrable base, on the blue-collar side of the party, where he's posting unbelievable numbers.

COOPER: We've got another key race alert. Let's go back to Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, Anderson; thanks very much. Three outstanding races right now. Let's take a look at the republican side.

In Missouri, look at how close it is right now: Donald Trump with 41- percent; Ted Cruz 40.7-percent. Trump is ahead by 2,111 votes. Almost 1 million votes have been cast in Missouri. 99-percent of the expected vote is in. Trump has a very small lead in Missouri; we're watching that.

In Missouri, on the Democratic side, also, look at how close it is; it's got closer over the past few minutes: 49.9-percent for Sanders, 49-percent for Hillary Clinton. 94-percent of the vote is in. Bernie Sanders is ahead now by 4,779 votes. It is very, very close in Missouri. The democratic side could still go either way.

In Illinois also it's close, but Hillary Clinton maintains her lead. She's got 50.6-percent to Bernie Sanders 48.6-percent. She's ahead now by almost 36,000 votes. 95-percent of the vote is in. Let's take a quick break. We'll see what happens in these three remaining contests when we come back.


[00:17:49] BLITZER: It's been a very exciting night so far; it's not over with yet. Let's update you, first of all, on the states won.

Donald Trump, he has won three important states so far: Florida, Illinois, North Carolina. Don't forget, Florida, winner-take-all; all 99 delegates going for Donald Trump.

John Kasich, he won his home state of Ohio, 66 delegates; winner-take- all there. Big win for John Kasich. He stays in the race.

Hillary Clinton, she's won three states so far: Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. She really wanted Florida and Ohio, specifically, North Korea - North Carolina, I should say, was always, was always one of her goals. She won in the South. she had a clean sweep basically all around.

Let's take a look at a key race alert right now. Where it stands, there are still three contests outstanding right now. In Missouri, look at how close it is: 99-percent of the expected votes are in. Donald Trump, 41-percent; Ted Cruz, 40.7-percent; but Donald Trump maintains his lead of 2,111 votes. Very close in Missouri, could still go either way.

Also in Missouri, on the democratic side, 94-percent of the expected vote is in. Bernie Sanders maintains his lead; look at how close it is: 49.9-percent to 49.0 percent. He's got a lead of 4,779 votes. Could still could go either way. Nail biters in Missouri.

In Illinois Hillary Clinton has a bigger lead. 96-percent of the vote is in. She's winning 50.6-percent; Bernie Sanders 48.8-percent. Hillary Clinton has got an advantage of 36,206 votes, that's significant; but we cannot yet make a projection in Illinois. We're watching these three contests outstanding.

Let's go over to John King. We're watching them. He's watching them a lot more closely, county by county, especially the votes that have not yet been counted.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right; so what I've done here is reset the map so that you only see counties that have reported less than 95-percent of the votes. So you have decent chunks of votes out.

This is the democratic side in Missouri, right here; and you can see the big counties missing votes. Jackson County, the western part of the state. This is Kansas City, in the suburbs around it. Hillary Clinton has a healthy lead in that area. Only 89-percent of the vote is in. So if the trend in that area continues, as the rest of the vote comes in, there's a reason to believe Hillary Clinton could make up some votes there, in Western Missouri.

Then you come over to the eastern part of the state and you see St. Louis, [00:20:03] St. Louis City, here, and then St. Louis County around it. In the city itself, Hillary Clinton, again, with an 11- point lead. 57-percent of the vote in. It's not a guarantee, but it's been a pretty consistent lead as the vote has come in. If the rest of that vote comes in, there are more votes for Hillary Clinton there and this is a population center; she should get a decent chunk. Then you move out to the St. Louis suburbs, in St. Louis County. It's a very highly - it's very more population in here right now and you see a 10-point lead there, with 92-percent of the vote in.

So, when you pull this back out and take a look at it, and I'm just going to bring in, fill in the rest of the state now. You look at it right now, very narrow lead for Bernie Sanders. Still a possibility because of the outstanding votes over here, in Kansas City and in St. Louis. It's a possibility Secretary Clinton could come back. Wolf?

BLITZER: John, thanks very much. We've got a new projection that we have right now. Let's share it with our viewers: CNN projects Hillary Clinton is the winner in Illinois. She wins the Democratic Presidential Primary in Illinois. This is her fourth big win of the night. Illinois, the state where she was born, Hillary Clinton wins in Illinois, almost after four and a half hours after the polls closed in Illinois. Hillary Clinton is the winner.

Take a look at the actual count right now: with 96-percent of the vote in, Hillary Clinton has 50.6-percent; 48.6-percent for Bernie Sanders. She's ahead now by 36,260 votes. That's more than enough to make sure that she is the projected winner. We have projected Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic Primary in Illinois. That's her fourth big win of the night, Jake. She's won North Carolina, Ohio, Florida and now Illinois, only Missouri outstanding.

TAPPER: That's right; she's four for four of the ones that we've called. And, Dana, what's interesting about this is. this is not a state that the Clinton Campaign thought they were going to win. They thought Bernie Sanders was going to win Illinois. He had run a bunch of TV ads, attacking the unpopular Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, who has long and deep ties with the Clintons, having worked in their White House in the '90s. They thought that that was working; that that was effective, but Clinton, the situation, she didn't know -- she couldn't distance herself from Rahm Emanuel and yet, she also couldn't express support and she was just kind of put in a quandary. Here it is, a victory for Clinton, 4 for 4.

BASH: That's right; and, look, the fact is, yes, the Democrats, throughout the entire process, they will be proportional. So she's not going to gobble up all these delegates. But, the fact is, she has done incredibly well in several states tonight, that her campaign was not so sure she would.

We all talk to campaigns. We all know they try to lower expectations but I think in this case, in the past couple of weeks, they really meant it. They weren't sure, particularly after what happened in Michigan, they weren't sure that the same wasn't going to happen in, not just in Illinois but also Ohio; and it didn't. She has had a very, very, very good psychological boost tonight. A very good night. TAPPER: Yes, and so the Michigan victory by Bernie Sanders a few days ago is now something of an anomaly, compared to Ohio and Illinois, in terms of these mid-western states.

Let's go to Brianna Keilar. She is at Clinton Campaign Headquarters, in West Palm Beach, Florida. Brianna, I'm coming to you again. I don't know even if the Clinton people are awake anymore, but she is now four for four for the evening.

KEILAR: Some of them are awake, I will tell you that. They are watching to see and now they know what's happened here in Illinois. This is what they were expecting.

Just like Dana said, they were psychologically prepared to lose these industrial states. I didn't think -- they didn't think that they would lose all of them. They certainly hoped they wouldn't, but they were preparing for that after the shock in Michigan, of the upset by Bernie Sanders. But, this is the argument that they're making now, you look at their blowout here in Florida, which is a delegate rich state; and at this point they have wins in Ohio; and they have wins in North Carolina; and now Illinois; and its Missouri that is outstanding, which is the smallest delegate chunk of all of these states. They're making the case that Bernie Sanders cannot narrow this lead that she has. Her communications director telling me he can't win at this point, even though they say they're going to call for him to get out of the race.

TAPPER: All right; Brianna with the Clinton campaign in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Dana, I don't think they were spinning because I talked to a number of Clinton people, off the record, and they were upset. They thought that tonight was going to be a horrible night for them. They thought that Bernie Sanders was going to win Ohio and Missouri and Illinois; and he still might pull out Missouri, we don't know. But Hillary Clinton having a very strong evening.

BASH: Absolutely; and although she, Hillary Clinton, has had several home states since -- she was the first lady of Arkansas, and she was a senator of New York -- there is a moral victory also in winning the state where she grew up. She grew up there. She went to high school there. It was certainly the place she talks about, Park Ridge, Illinois, the place that gave her her [00:25:03] moral compass; and to be able to say that she won there, after understandably not winning there in 2008, since she was running against the sitting senator from Illinois, has got to be nice.

TAPPER: Missouri is still outstanding. Both democratic and republican races there have yet to be called, Anderson; but right now Donald Trump is 4 for 5, for called races, and Hillary Clinton is now 4 for 4.

COOPER: Yes, a big night for both of them. Donna, I mean, there were a lot of people, Hillary supporters, Hillary Clinton supporters who were concerned after Michigan, that she would perhaps have trouble in Ohio, in Illinois, in northern states, industrialized states. She seemed to have certainly answered those questions.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes; so was Michigan an anomaly? If you now look at tonight she's done better with some of the groups that she lost -

COOPER: Right.

BRAZILE: -- last week in Michigan. It's tough to underestimate just how strong she is right now. She is right now won 58-percent of the pledged delegates. That's very important. Eight years ago, as David remembers, we only had -- the system was frontloaded, so California and New York and many of those big states had already voted. After March 11th, Mississippi primary, I remember that night because Paul Begala and I got into a little bit of a tiff over AK's and Blacks, but, as you know, that was like talking about grits and eggs and bacon.

But, after that moment, Gloria, you'll figure it out soon -


BRAZILE: Where I'm going with this is it's clear to me that --

COOPER: I'm happy to go on with the ride, wherever you go --

BRAZILE: You know, I can stir things up.

COOPER: We've got another hour and a half.

BRAZILE: And look, -- look, you have Wisconsin. You have Pennsylvania. You have Indiana. You still have California. You still have a lot of big states, but when you've accumulated 58-percent of all of the pledged delegates, she has a million votes, more popular votes than Bernie Sanders. Clearly she has a little bit of momentum. We might continue to talk about her message issue, in terms of galvanizing Independents and bringing together young people. I don't think Bernie should have to race, --

COOPER: Well that's a -

BRAZILE: -- but I do believe - oh, come on.

COOPER: You see him staying in - no reason for him not to stay in all the way?

BRAZILE: What did I tell you last week? I want love. We want love. We want more democrats to get excited.


BRAZILE: More democrats to participate. This helps our party. It helps bring together Independents. And, it really helps us to prepare for whatever happens on the Republican side.

CARPENTER: And here's what would be really - COOPER: We've got to take a quick break for the half hour. We've got two very tight races we're watching. We'll continue to watch them; stay with us.


[00:31:36] BLITZER: Very big win for Hillary Clinton tonight. She has won in Illinois, the state where she was born. We just projected that a few moments ago. Hillary Clinton now 4 for 4 so far in all the wins. Hillary Clinton wins North Carolina, Ohio, Florida and now Illinois.

In Illinois, take a look at this, 96-percent of the vote is now in. She's ahead of Bernie Sanders 50.5-percent to 48.7-percent; very close. She's got an advantage of 34,442 votes. She is the winner in her home state of Illinois.

Let's get a key race alert right now in the other two contests that remain outstanding; both of them in Missouri. On the Republican side, Donald Trump has a slight lead over Ted Cruz right now, 41-percent to 40.7-percent. He is ahead by 2,467 votes. 99-percent of the (inaudible) vote now in. So there are still votes remaining outstanding, but Donald Trump has a very, very slight lead over Ted Cruz in Missouri right now.

On the Democratic side, 98-percent of the expected vote is in. Bernie Sanders has a slight lead over Hillary Clinton, 49.7-percent to Hillary Clinton's 49.3-percent. Bernie Sanders is ahead by 2,125 votes in Missouri. Those are the two outstanding contests we are watching right now.

Let's go back to Jake and Dana. These are two remaining contests. They are both in Missouri. Let's see what happens.

TAPPER: Donald Trump up just .3-percent; incredibly close, Dana. Let's go to our Political Director, David Chalian. David, why is this state so close? Why is Missouri such a nail-biter?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Because different groups of voters are giving their vote to either Cruz or Trump. Take a look - take a look at this: we looked at those voters in Missouri who say they are very conservative; so this is 39-percent of the primary electorate, very conservative. They go for Cruz, 54-percent of them go for Cruz; 35-percent of them go for Trump.

How about those that call themselves somewhat conservative? Also, by the way, 39-percent of the electorate, an equal share, they go for Trump, 43-percent of them do anyway; Ted Cruz, wins 37-percent of them; Kasich down at 12.

Now take a look at insider versus outsider. So among those who are looking for somebody with experience in politics, looking for an insider, and that is 40-percent of the Missouri electorate, Cruz wins those. It's amazing! 58-percent of people looking for an insider in Missouri, go for Ted Cruz, the guy who has built his whole career on trying to be an outsider. Then, if you look at those looking for an outsider, and this is

Trump's big category, and, remember, 52-percent of the electorate is looking for an outsider, there in Missouri tonight, Trump wins them 66-percent to 25-percent.

So you can see the different kinds of qualities and descriptions of these candidates that the voters are looking for and how Trump wins those somewhat conservative and outsider candidates. Ted Cruz voters are looking for an insider and looking for a very conservative candidate. That's keeping it close.

TAPPER: All right, David Chalian; and Ted Cruz, Dana, is out there saying this is a two-man race, which Governor John Kasich would certainly take issue with. He says it's a three-man race. But, looking at the results out of Missouri, it really does seem to be head-to-head combat between Cruz and Trump.

BASH: That's right; and not to take anything away from John Kasich, he did have a big win tonight. It was not only his home state, but it was also a [00:35:03] winner-take-all state; but it was the first state that he won. And he did pretty well in New Hampshire - he did very well in New Hampshire, he got second place, but you have to have wins and you have to have big wins in big delegate rich states to keep going and he's not even clo - I mean, right now he's still technically behind Marco Rubio in the delegate count, never mind Ted Cruz. So there are a lot of states ahead, some winner-take-all states, where he could do well if he starts to perform well, but it's an excellent point about Ted Cruz.

TAPPER: And, Wolf, the other thing about Ted Cruz is, one of his big arguments to republican voters is, he's the only one that has defeated Donald Trump seven times, nine times, I forget how many times he claims it because --

BASH: From Maine to Alaska.

TAPPER: Well he includes the times that he came in second and Trump came in third.

BASH: Right.

TAPPER: But in any case, having a night like tonight, unless he pulls out Missouri, that doesn't help that argument.

BLITZER: Right; so far he hasn't won any of the states. We'll see what happens in Missouri; that's still outstanding. Let's go over to John King because we're taking a close look at Missouri. The only two contests outstanding, the democratic contest in Missouri and the Republican contest in Missouri. Very close in both.

KING: You want to use an abacus? You want to use a calculator? How do you want to do this? We might have to call the lawyers too. 99- percent in state wide; 41 to 40.7. As you know, it doesn't get much closer than that. (Inaudible) the ballpark of 2,000 votes here.

Let me show you, let me use a little tool on the Magic Wall here to get us down. I'll take it back to 97. Let's go back to 96-percent, right there. This shows you counties that have less than 96-percent of the vote counted. As you see, we're only down to three places. This is a tiny rural county up here, so we'll get rid of it first, Buchanan County. You see Donald Trump winning there. Ted Cruz in second place. 96-percent of the vote saying maybe a pickup of a few votes for Donald Trump.

The two major places we're looking at are the two major - this is a Cardinals/Royals game, if you will. Out in Kansas City, Jackson County, Kansas City, in the suburbs, Cruz winning here; winner here by a little it. 89-percent. So if the trend continues, some more votes for Ted Cruz in the western part of the state. Again, it's a pretty narrow margin, but if he's getting a couple more out here.

Then you come over here to St. Louis suburb. St. Louis city is in, but out here, you come out here to St. Louis county it's 35-39. So we're going to count to the very end here on the Republican side.

It's very similar when you look at the Democratic side. The only advantage for Hillary Clinton, she's trailing at the moment, but the places where the votes are still out, they're both trending her way at the moment. So the math is possible.

BLITZER: We'll see what she can do. All right, let's take another quick break. We're watching Missouri, the only outstanding contest on this important event tonight, in the race for the White House. We'll be right back.


[00:41:40] BLITZER: All right; we've got a key race alert in Missouri. The only two contests outstanding, Donald Trump maintaining a slight lead on the Republican side: he's got 41-percent. Ted Cruz 40.7-percent. Donald Trump still ahead by 2,467 votes. We have not yet been able to make a projection. 99-percent of the expected vote now in. We're watching Missouri on the Republican side.

Look at this, on the Democratic side, for the first time in a while, Hillary Clinton has now taken a slight lead over Bernie Sanders. She has 49.6-percent. He has 39.4-percent. Hillary Clinton is now ahead by 1,199 votes. Once again 99-percent of the expected votes in Missouri, on the democratic side is now in. Hillary Clinton taking a very, very slight lead.

Anderson, both of these contests in Missouri are extremely close.

COOPER: Yes, incredibly close. We'll continue to watch them. I want to play a little bit of Bernie Sanders' speech from earlier this evening and then we'll talk about it with our panel. Let's watch.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Phoenix, are you ready for a political revolution?

[Cheering and Applause] SANDERS: Or are you tired of a handful of billionaires running our economy?

[Cheering and Applause]

SANDERS: Well, if you are, you've come to the right place.

[Cheering and Applause]

SANDERS: You know, what excites me so much, as I go around the country, is to see the incredible energy of hundreds of thousands of people who love this country, but know we can do so much better.

[Cheers and Applause]

SANDERS: We started this campaign at 3-percent in the national polls. We have come a long way in ten months.

[Cheers and Applause]

SANDERS: And the reason that we have done as well as we have, the reason that we have defied all expectations is that we are doing something very radical in American politics. We're telling the truth.

[Cheering and Applause] [Crowd chanting: BERNIE}

SANDERS: And -- and the truth -- the truth is not only -- is not always pleasant; it's not always what we want to hear; but we cannot go forward [00:45:03] unless we deal with the realities of American society today; and that is what we are going to do.

[Cheering and Applause]


COOPER: Bernie Sanders speaking earlier this evening from Phoenix, Arizona. David Axelrod, I think it was you who pointed out earlier tonight, Ohio was a tough loss for Bernie Sanders. They spent a lot of money. It's not as if they didn't commit resources.

AXELROD: Yes; they did, actually, across the five states, they outspent her like 12 million to 7 million. I mean, they poured -- they put $4 million down last Friday for the final three days of the campaign across the state. So this is a bitter result for Bernie Sanders.

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: He didn't expect to come away empty handed tonight.

COOPER: For those Clinton supporters who wish Bernie Sanders would drop out, there's an argument to make (a), which we've talked about before, that it makes her a better candidate the longer he stays in. It also continues there being a battle on the democratic side -

[Cross Talk] BROWNSTEIN: The idea that a contested primary is inherently damaging for the general election, I think, is not historically borne out.

Look, when you get to this point in the campaign, in a primary, usually the grooves are cut pretty deep and they don't change that much; and Bernie Sanders faces the two core problems he has faced all the way through. He has proved much more competitive among a broader range of white voters than was expected at the beginning. He's not just a one tract candidate. He isn't just college whites and young people. He's done well with blue-collar whites, but he's losing 2/3 or more - 2/3 of African-Americans in the Midwest and 80-percent in the South; and, again, tonight, she crushed him among self-identified Democrats -

BORGER: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: -- everywhere. As we saw with John McCain, for example, in 2000, it is hard to win your party's nomination if you can't win the voters in that party. Sooner or later it catches up with you, and he's feeling the weight of that as he goes forward.

COOPER: He had been in the lead, a little bit, in Missouri but that race is tightening as we speak. Hillary Clinton in the lead by, I think, 1,000 or so votes.

BORGER: That's why these opening contests really help him.


BORGER: Because Independent voters can vote for Bernie Sanders. That's why these open contested helps Donald Trump. When contests are closed, -- I mean, this is the Ted Cruz argument, when contests are closed, for Donald Trump he doesn't do as well with, sort of, purely conservative republicans and Bernie Sanders has the same -

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the question is, does he change his message? I don't think he's going to change the core billionaire -


HENDERSON: -- billionaires are the source of all evil message; but does he change his message, in terms of Hillary Clinton? I think over the last month or so he has really attacked and stepped up, you know, sort of nasty attacks on Hillary Clinton, whether it's about her releasing transcripts -- does he dial that back? I guess -

[Cross Talk]

COOPER: That question had been asked weeks ago, --

AXELROD: Right; what I was -

COOPER: -- and the answers have been very clear.

BORGER: Yes. AXELROD: But I also felt like -


AXELROD: -- this would be the night that would sort of ascertain whether or not he had a legitimate change

BORGER: Right.


AXELROD: for the nomination. I think that's very much in doubt -

COOPER: So you think it's very possible, moving forward after tonight --

AXELROD: No; I'm not suggesting that he will because, you know, soo - once you get deeply engaged in campaigns like this, it's very hard to sort of pull back and say you know what? I think I'm going to take it easy from here on it. I don't think that --

BRAZILE: You've already deployed your staff. You've already deployed your staff to the next set of primaries and caucuses.

AXELROD: But it's a question of tone.

BRAZILE: Well, tone is very important. You have six dates -- six remaining states in March, for Democrats; about 270 delegates. There are five of the six are caucus states. Many of them are closed, a lot of them are open. Arizona is the biggest primary winner.

[Cross Talk]

COOPER: The other question is, are there more democratic debates because that's one of the few opportunities -


COOPER: -- where they're on the stage, at the same time?

[Cross Talk]

AXELROD: There are two that are tentatively planned. I don't think the Clinton Campaign is going to be all that eager -

COOPER: Eager to do it, right.

AXELROD: -- for another opportunity to go head-to-head with Bernie Sanders; but let me say this, there will be those who will say he should get out of the race now. The Clinton campaign should not be among them. They should not try and shove Bernie Sanders out of this race.

BRAZILE: I agree.

AXELROD: I don't think that would benefit them. I think it would antagonize a lot of his supporters.

[Cross Talk]

NAVARRO: Listen, whether he wins this nomination or not, and it looks unlikely that he will, he is now the messenger of a movement. He is now the leader of a movement. When was the last time we discussed Elizabeth Warren, who was the leader of the progressive movement until a few months ago? Bernie Sanders is going to be a sought after surrogate and I think that, look, the fissures in the Democrat Party are much less and will be healed over a lot quicker than on the Republican side.

COOPER: We're going to take a short break before the top of the hour. We're watching two very close races -- the story, well, both of the stories, on the Democratic side and the Republican side; we'll be back in a moment.


[00:53:57] BLITZER: All right; let's get to a key race alert right now. The only two contests outstanding, Missouri on the Republican and Democratic side. Look at how close it is in both contests.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump has a very, very small lead over Ted Cruz right now: 40.9-percent to 40.7-percent. Donald Trump is ahead by 1,977 votes. 99-percent of the expected vote is in. We're still counting the votes in Missouri right now.

On the Democratic side, similarly, Hillary Clinton has a very slight lead over Bernie Sanders in Missouri. She's at 49.6-percent. He's at 49.4-percent. Her lead only 1,321 votes, not very much at all.

These are the only two contests that remain outstanding. Let's go back to Jake and Dana. These are important races, Missouri. Look at how close they are. Couldn't get much closer.

TAPPER: And not so much for the democrats, who are always proportional, but the Missouri Republican race is one that's a hybrid. If you win it you get more, significantly more, delegates, 12, and then it goes allocation by [00:55:01] congressional district; and, as you know, this is all about the delegates at the end of the day, not just about the states. For that, we turn again to our Executive Editor here at CNN, Mark Preston, to tell us where we are in terms of the allocation of delegates for this evening and where it stacks up for the general race.

MARK PRESTON, CNN EXECUTIVE POLITICAL EDITOR: Jake, let's get right to the numbers. Just for tonight, let's look how Donald Trump did tonight with some very big wins. He has picked up 178 delegates, as we speak right now. John Kasich picked up 74; Ted Cruz has 37; and Marco Rubio, who has suspended his campaign, picked up 5. Donald Trump halfway to the 1,237 delegates it is to seal the nomination; but where is he right now? 640 delegates right now, to date; Ted Cruz has 408 delegates; Marco Rubio at 170. Again, he has suspended his campaign; John Kasich with that big win up in Ohio, 138 delegates. Let's flip it over to the democratic side. Tonight, big night for Hillary Clinton, 279 delegates she has secured so far; Bernie Sanders 194 to date. Let's look where they are right now in the race for the democratic nomination: 1,541 delegates right now, Hillary Clinton has; Bernie Sanders has 768 delegates. Let's break this down amongst pledged and Super Delegates. Hillary Clinton 1,069 pledged delegate, 472 Super Delegate; Bernie Sanders 745 pledge delegates and 23 Super Delegates.

Now, I will tell you the Sanders campaign will say over and over again, you cannot count the Super Delegates. Those are promises. Those are not pledges and I just had an e-mail exchange with the top senior advisor to Bernie Sanders. I asked him what does this mean tonight, what does this mean to the campaign? He says nothing changes. We won a tremendous amount of delegates, which was our goal. 50-percent of the delegates still are to be chosen. We think the rest of the schedule is much more favorable to Senator Sanders, starting next Tuesday. We'll see Secretary Clinton in Arizona, then Washington state, Wisconsin and on to New York. Jake?

TAPPER: Mark Preston; it is almost a cruel irony here in the sense that Hillary Clinton is going through, to a degree, what Barack Obama went through in 2008, which was, because of the proportional allocation, it is very unlikely that Bernie Sanders will catch up to Hillary Clinton

unless something significantly changes in the race. Yet he's still winning delegates. He's still winning states. He would like -- she would like to turn to the general election, just like Obama back in 2008, but she was in it through June and Bernie Sanders says he'll be in it through the convention.

BASH: Secretary of State, Secretary of Labor.

TAPPER: Secretary of Labor, Bernie Sanders; Secretary of Defense, Bernie Sanders. Who knows?

BASH: You never know. I think it's clearly almost 1:00 in the morning Eastern Time, but, in all seriousness, she does have a significant delegate lead right now. The Clinton people argue that when they crunch the numbers it is mathematically, maybe not impossible, but for difficult for Bernie Sanders to catch up, despite what Mark was just saying, from Bernie Sander sources, which, I'm hearing, I'm sure you are as well, that they feel like the map is better for them going forward. But, you know, you always hear that -

TAPPER: But what needs to happen though is he needs to start completely having landslides -

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: -- in those states, and not just 55-45 victories, in order to really start chipping away.

BASH: Exactly. TAPPER: She right now has -- I'm not counting Super Delegates, okay. So nobody out there, I'm not looking at Super Delegates, just the pledge delegates she has a lead of about 325 - I think it's 324 to be precise -- pledged delegates and that's going to be difficult for him to chip into with the proportional representation unless he starts having landslide victories in states.

BASH: Absolutely; and it is true that he is bringing in more Independents than she is. It is true that she has more of the base. But the bottom line at the end of the day is these states have their rules, and the numbers are what matters; and as you said, just as we started this conversation, it is a cruel irony that Hillary Clinton faced that eight years ago and now we're getting notes and e-mails from Hillary Clinton's campaign, reminding us that she was closer to Obama was then -

TAPPER: Right.

BASH: -- than he is to her now.

TAPPER: The principal is the same, which is, the math makes it difficult; but Hillary Clinton, back in 2008, and Bernie Sanders now, feel compelled to go on. They're still winning contests and winning delegates. She's in -- I keep confusing the pronouns here because I'm talking about her in 2008 and Bernie Sanders now still feels like he has a lot of supporters and he doesn't want to let them down.

BASH: And he does.

TAPPER: Absolutely; he's -- there are principle policy differences he has with Hillary Clinton and he wants to represent this argument. A lot of progressives feel that the democratic party hasn't represented them in years and years and they were disappointed that Barack Obama was center left. So he's going to stay in it and there you go. Our coverage of Super Tuesday, Number 3 continues right now.