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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Democrats Hold Caucuses in Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska; Early Numbers Indicate Bernie Sanders Wins in Three Democratic Caucuses; Bernie Sanders Possible Path to Democratic Nomination Examined; Democrats Vote in Caucuses in Washington State, Hawaii, and Alaska; Bernie Sanders Leads in Early Results in Three Democratic Caucuses. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 26, 2016 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The presidential race is head to different corners of the country right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Three new contest could make the fight for the Democrat nomination more competitive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out west, a rush for delegate gold. Democrats facing new contests in Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington state.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that the stakes get higher by the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both parties bracing for a fight to the finish.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To be the future of the Republican Party you have to go through Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who will claim victory on this western Saturday? It's America's choice.

Right now, in the Democratic race --

CLINTON: In the face of terror, America doesn't panic. We don't build walls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton honing her lines of attack against Republicans as she moves closer to the nomination.

CLINTON: What Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and others are suggesting, it's dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie Sanders, sharpening his criticism of Clinton, hoping to score in a trio of new caulk caucuses that play to his strengths.

BERNIE SANDERS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are doing something very unusual in modern American politics. We are telling the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now it's time for voters to have their say with only a handful of candidates still in the mix.

TRUMP: We're down to two left for me. I call them the leftovers.

CLINTON: You've been waiting for the right moment. Now's the time to come join us!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is choosing. More than half the states have voted, and the race is heading on an uncertain course. Right now --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: We are standing by for results from the Democratic caucuses in Washington state. It's a contest that Bernie Sanders cannot afford to lose, and right now you're looking at live pictures from Seattle.

We also have cameras inside a caucus site outside Tacoma, Washington. There the voting is just getting underway. It is standing room only. The turnout so great they had to bring in more registration forms.

This hour, Alaska Democrats are also starting their caucuses. You're looking right now at a live picture from Anchorage, where hundreds, hundreds of people stood in line for an hour to get in.

Welcome to viewers in the United States, and around the world. I am Jake Tapper. And I'm in the CNN Election Center. The Democratic contests on this western Saturday matter more than anyone would have imagined just a few months ago. The stakes are very high for Senator Bernie Sanders in his struggle to catch up with Hillary Clinton in the delegate race. He needs wins, particularly today in Washington state, to hope -- to have any hope of closing the gap with Clinton. Washington is a kind of place Sanders normally does well. It's a caucus state. It has more liberal and mostly white voters, and it's the top prize today with 101 delegates on the line. Those delegates will be split between the candidates proportionately based on the votes they receive. So even if Sanders wins he likely will not get all of the state's delegates.

Now, in addition to Washington and Alaska, Democrats also will be caucusing in Hawaii later today. A total of 142 delegates on the line in those three states -- Washington, Alaska, Hawaii. By the end of the day, nearly half of all of the Democratic delegates will have been awarded. That does not mean, however, that the Clinton-Sanders fight for the nomination will be over anytime soon. Republican candidates are not competing in any contests today. The Republican Party held its caucuses in Alaska and Hawaii earlier this month. As you may know, Trump won Hawaii, Cruz won Alaska.

We have a team of correspondents inside the caucuses today. First let's go to Sara Sidner. She is in Seattle, Washington. Sara, big turnout there today.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. There are about 450 people here. I want to give you a quick look at this room. This room was actually cordoned off, fake walls put up basically. They pushed those out and had to open up the room because just so many people streamed in.

I want to give you a look right now, but the big deal that's going on here is they have done an initial count. These are 17 different districts, and they have done an initial count. I will give you that number right now. So far from just a few of those districts, those numbers coming in, 71 percent going to Sanders, 29 percent to Clinton. So that gives you an idea right now of where people's minds are at here, just a quick snapshot of a look.

But now what year seeing is the caucusing happen. You're seeing the arguments for Sanders. You're seeing the arguments for Hillary Clinton. We'll move into one of these here where you're seeing folks kind of listening in to what people are saying about their respective candidates, kind of making their arguments and making it very, very clear who they think that people should switch sides for.

[14:05:05] But overwhelmingly we are so far seeing that overwhelmingly Bernie Sanders is getting the numbers and the votes here for the delegates.

And as you mentioned, this is a big vote, 101 delegates are up for grabs. This precinct is a very, very, very high number of people vote here. So in the last election in 2012, 86 percent of registered voters nut their ballots. And you know, Jake, one more thing to tell you about Washington that is very unusual, and that is, there is no polling here. When it comes time to go vote, people vote from their homes. They send in their ballots. And that is one of the reasons why those numbers for voters are so high here in Washington. Jake?

TAPPER: Very interesting. Sara Sidner, thank you so much. If Bernie Sanders wants to do well, of course, he not only needs to win, he needs to win big. Let's go now to Jason Carroll at a caucus site in Washington outside of Tacoma. Jason, what's going on where you are?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Things are well under way here, Jake. I want to show you precinct 547 had just taken a vote now. It was 25 for Bernie, 15 for Hillary Clinton. Is that correct, guys? So they did well. That is their second vote. That is the official count at the high school. It is packed inside here.

I want to take you over to another precinct that is still in the process of putting together their vote. That woman you see right there is the caucus chair. She's overseeing this group. This young man you see right here, he'll be the one doing the counting. There are the ballots there. Those are the ballots that have been turned in so far. They have already done a preliminary count here as well.

And Bernie Sanders doing well as that precinct as well. That count, 16 percent for Sanders, five percent for Clinton, one undecided. So it's fascinating to be here at this particular point. The second most populous county here in the state of Washington. Some 795,000 people live here. It was so crowded earlier, Jake, they actually ran out of voter registration forms. They got those back in stock. So now what you see here is the process still under way. All of these precincts, 37 in all competing the entire process of getting everyone in, getting vote tallied. They're going to go through two votes. One vote, then everyone gets together, they discuss, they try to pull in the undecided, then they do the second official vote. So things here well under way. Huge turnout again. They ran out of voter registration forms at one point. Things back on track now. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jason Carroll at a caucus site in Washington just outside of Tacoma.

Coming up, we're going to take you inside the doors inside the Democratic caucuses. Will Bernie Sanders get a big win or fall short? Much more election coverage coming up after this quick break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:11:56] TAPPER: Welcome back. You're looking at live pictures of a Democratic caucus in Seattle, Washington. We're seeing very strong turnout in the Democratic caucuses in Washington state and Alaska. Those caucuses are under way right now. We are inside the contests bringing you results as we get them. Let's check back in with Sara Sidner at a caucus site in Seattle. Sara, what's going on?

SIDNER: So they are caucusing. I mean, they are making their arguments now. If you look at this gentleman here, I'm going over to him with the mike. Each person is making an impassioned plea for their candidate. He is talking about -- hold on. Let's listen in a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that he stands for a very reasonable vision of the future. He wants to see the lives of many people improve. But when the Republicans come at him, they're going to say, communist. They're going to say these things that to a lot of voters out there are very scary things. And I would like to think that we could dissuade people. Say, no, he's not a communist. He's not a radical. He's not for --

SIDNER: So you're hearing an impassioned plea for Bernie Sanders. If you look at the board at this particular district you will see the numbers. I'm showing you right there, Bernie 83, Hillary, 28. That's for just one precinct inside of this district. But the numbers of pretty clear here that so far initial numbers, the initial count, and they're going to do two. So far that initial count is very much swaying for Bernie Sanders, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, thank you so much, Sara Sidner at a Democratic caucus site in Seattle, Washington. Now I think we'll go to Anchorage, Alaska, we find our own Paul Vercammen. Paul, Alaska generally not known as a hugely Democratic, capital D, state, but there sure are a lot behind you.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely, Jake, and, in fact, this crowd is absolutely energized. They believe that they will break caucus records here in Alaska, exceeding 2008. Right now as they begin the presentations they haven't cast a single vote. They're going to fan out and do that in a little while. But we are hearing a lot of buzz for Bernie Sanders. And I'm going to go ahead and talk to Henry and Kay, a young couple here. Go ahead, Kay and Henry, stand up, please. Both of them voting for Bernie Sanders. Why do you think Bernie Sanders has energized people here so much?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie Sanders is really grassroots. He's not in anyone's pocket. He's done all sorts of crowd funding to support his campaign. And in this room you can see and you can also feel and hear the energy from his team.

VERCAMMEN: Great. Thank you so much for taking time out. They also pointed out that Bernie Sanders and his dealing with college debt, a very big issue to both of them. They will begin caucusing a little while. And Jake, as you know, Alaska can be difficult to nail down politically. You might have better luck nailing ice to a log. There was some polling and Hillary Clinton was ahead a couple months ago 44 percent to Bernie Sanders 41. There remains to be seen what will happen here. But we are hearing a lot of whooping, almost like it's a football game for Bernie Sanders. Back to you, Jake.

[14:15:14] TAPPER: Paul Vercammen in Anchorage, Alaska. Let's go back to Jason Carroll who is in Steilacoom, Washington, at the Democratic caucus there right outside Tacoma. Jason?

CARROLL: So, Jake, let me explain what's happening here. They're trying to sway one undecided voter here. It's this woman sitting over here in the red. Let's just listen in to hear what they're saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to a rally and hear and see how many people are angry and upset with what's happened. It's got to get changed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all agree. Everyone here agrees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- that Hillary is going to change it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, who can change it? I guess that's what I am -- that's where I'm working.

CARROLL: It's really a debate between whether we go with principles or with practicality. I understand it sounds scary that half the Democratic Party might split up a say we're going it write in Senator Sanders. That would be back. I understand that. I look back, I'm a student of history. I'm going to college right now. I look at 2000, I look at Nader, I look and I see why people are on that side.

I'm on the other side because I think that most importantly we can't keep voting for the lesser of two evils for us. I don't think Hillary is the boogieman that people make her out to be. I don't think that she's a bad person. I like 95 percent of what Hillary has to say. I think, though, Bernie's principles and the subjects that he has fought for in the last 30 years where he has remained almost adamant on every one of his positions. I think that we need to stop voting for the lesser of two evils, and if that takes some of us voting him in and saying, hey, most of us that don't vote for Sanders in a general will support Hillary if he doesn't get the nomination, but if a reasonable amount of us write him in, it will tell the DNC that we want our voices heard and we are --

CARROLL: OK, so what you're hearing, Jake, is this particular precinct trying to convince this woman in the red. She is undecided, to sway one another. We've heard both arguments here.

At this particular precinct there is seven delegates up for grabs. It's fascinating to be sitting here listening to this process. This is what it's like here at a caucus. This is what happens. It's all public, everyone can present whatever their side may be. It looks like this woman is going to take quite some time before she ends up making up her mind. Jake?

TAPPER: Jason Carroll outside Tacoma in Steilacoom, Washington, where there is one voter who is still undecided, Brianna Keilar and David Chalian, and yet you hear the hard sell going on. And 101 delegates. Brianna, you were just out in Seattle with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. It looks like a big Bernie town. What was the reception like?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For her, there was a lot of enthusiasm as well. I think the understanding is this is a place where Bernie will carry the day, but what you're seeing here is I think is even more enthusiasm than you've seen in a number of other states. That's what really struck me in Washington state. People are very amped up. Democratic voters are very amped up, and there's a lot of frustrated liberals out there who feel like even President Obama didn't deliver. They wanted single payer health care. They got Obamacare. It wasn't enough. So they're more in Bernie Sanders' corner.

But I think of the Cascade Mountains cutting through Washington sort of like an aisle cuts through the Senate chamber. I actually lived on the red side of the state in Yakama, Washington, for a year and a half. That's where Bernie went this week and he pulled in a capacity crowd there of 7,000 people.

TAPPER: Talk about voter enthusiasm, David. Is Bernie Sanders' enthusiasm, the support for him stronger than it is for Secretary Clinton's?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. We saw national in our poll this week that he had a little bit of an edge among Democrats. More Democrats were enthusiastic about his candidacy than they were about Secretary Clinton's. But to the your point of going to those red pockets even for these it Democratic caucuses, that's how Barack Obama in 2008 racked up his victories in caucuses, and that's the strategy Sanders is following here.

In fact the Clinton camp I think does not expect any victories tonight. Yes, you just said, they think this may be the day that is the biggest delegate haul for Sanders as an individual day even if it doesn't make an enormous impact on her overall delegate total. And I was looking back in 2008, Hillary Clinton in these three states, she got like 25 percent of the vote in the caucuses in Alaska and Hawaii and 30 percent of the vote in the caucuses in Washington state in 2008. This is not her turf. And I think we're seeing that play out in this actual caucus here.

TAPPER: That's right. She's laying low this weekend, trying to downplay the results of today's caucuses. Coming up, more from inside the Democratic caucuses out west, the

crowds, the votes, some results, all coming up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:24:16] TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's coverage of western Saturday, three crucial Democratic caucuses. We have cameras inside caucuses in Seattle, Washington, in Steilacoom, Washington right outside Tacoma, and in Anchorage, Alaska. But let's talk about the big picture and the delegate count with our magic man, John King, with your magic wall here. What's at stake here? This is the delegate count right now. Is this including super delegates?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is not super delegates. This is just pledged delegates coming to today for Bernie Sanders. Those pictures you just showed, he's turning out the Democratic base because he understands it's about the math.

Here's where we begin. It's pretty easy to do. He's down 304 delegates, pledged delegates heading in. Let's go back to 2008, show you Washington state, Alaska, and Hawaii, as David Chalian just noted, won by Barack Obama. The liberal base in those states, a liberal candidate can win.

[14:25:04] The big thing is the margins today. Why do the margins matter? Because of the proportional Democratic rules. There's the board right now, again, a different look, but the 304 votes. If Bernie Sanders wins all three states today 55-45, he picks up about 16 delegates. That's not good enough. That's simply not good enough. He wins 55-45, cuts her lead by 16, then we're coming back this way. Wisconsin will be a battleground. But then you move up into here. States view it at Hillary Clinton strength.

So what does Bernie Sanders really need to do? If he wins 80-20 in all these of these three states, then he cuts a decent chunk into her lead. Then he pick us up 86 definitely if he wins 80-20. So the difference is 16 if you win 55-45, you get 86 if you win 80-20.

And Washington is the biggest battleground because of the 142 delegates today, 101 are right there. If he can win Washington 70-30, again, pretty simple math, the gives him a basket of 40 to cut right there. The margin here is most critical. Obviously you pick up some here later if expected he wins. But with 101 of 142 in Washington state, that is the big prize today. So winning is good for momentum, but the margin is what is most important, because Bernie Sanders needs to get closer as we move April 5th, battleground Wisconsin, and then back into the northeast mid-Atlantic region where even the Sanders campaign would concede more likely to be for Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: A few weeks ago there were five contests in one day, including Ohio and Florida, and Hillary Clinton was worried that she was going to lose three of them. She ended up sweeping five for five. Is there any chance Hillary Clinton might win one of these contests in Alaska, Hawaii, or Washington state?

KING: The Clinton campaign, Brianna just talked about going out to Washington state. They went out to Washington state. Publicly they would say, of course, we'd like to win Washington state. Privately they concede they did not put in the effort. They don't think the base of the party is with her. Is it possible? Sure. That's why we count votes. If you saw those early results from the early precincts, it seemed pretty clear in every precinct Jason Carroll was talking about and Sara Sidner was talking about, Sanders had more support. So those early results suggest to us the Clinton campaign expects to get beat. But that's why she went out in the end, the margins. Turn out every last vote you can to try to keep the Sanders victory down and try to keep the delegate math in your favor when you come back to territory that's should be more favorable to Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: That's why Bernie Sanders went to South Carolina at one point to keep the margins as slim as possible.

KING: If you look at the map so far, the more diverse the electorate where she has done very well. In Wisconsin she expects the African- American community in Milwaukee and elsewhere to help her. Then you come to Pennsylvania, New York, and Indiana, if we switch maps, you back to see of some these states in 2008, we're coming back into an area. These states were so critical to then Senator Obama because it helped him pad his delegate lead for when we got back here. You see Secretary Clinton. Sanders understands looking at the 2008 map, we're coming back into what should be her wheelhouse. He needs big margins today.

TAPPER: It's all about margins, Kate Bolduan.

BOLDUAN: I say that all the time. I do. It's amazing. We're all on the same page. Jake, thanks so much.

And going from the magic men to the magic panel here with me now. And we're talking about -- talking about the delegates. Hillary Clinton, she's got a big lead in the delegates. There's no question. She'll pick up more today. But still, losing three states is losing three states.

NIA MALIKA-HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: In some ways calling this western Saturday. In some ways we're calling Bernie Sanders Saturday.

BOLDUAN: They like the sound of that.

MALIKA-HENDERSON: A little alliteration there. And these seats are tailor-made for him. If you think about a Washington state, for instance, a very progressive state. It's a very white state as well, about five percent African-Americans. I know Angela Rye was born and raised in Washington state. So he'll do well. These are all caucus states. The question is, does this set him up to do better going forward in these other big states that we've got going forward, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania. If he can somehow tap into, you know, some of the momentum. He'll obviously raise a lot of money out of this. But the big question that always been, can he do well in the big states?

BOLDUAN: I've been trying to read your chicken scratches all day. You have no idea. All the numbers have been going through. He's won seven of the nine caucuses.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And he has shown he can win, small, preponderantly white states - Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont in the northeast, Nebraska, Kansas and Minnesota in the Midwest, Utah, Idaho, mountain west. They states fit into this pattern. The problem he's got is that on the Democratic side, all of the big states with the big delegate troves are diverse. And so far Hillary Clinton has won every big state, except for Michigan. As you look forward, there are definitely places on the map that can be good with Bernie Sanders with this pattern -- Kentucky, West Virginia, and so forth. The problem is the biggest states, California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, to a lesser extent, are diverse states. And until he shows he can perform better with Latinos and especially African-Americans who have given Hillary Clinton 77 percent of their total votes so far, he will be locked in this pattern where he can win the smaller places but the bigger prizes go to her.

BOLDUAN: And the one person who should know most about

[14:30:00] Washington state than any of us would be Angela Rye, born and raised in Washington state. What is your sense of the state of play right there?

ANGELA RYE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So I think it's really complicated. For example, my dad today is at the caucuses. He's a precinct committee man who is uncommitted. He says he's uncommitted because of his radio show. I'm going to throw him under the bus a little bit and say I also think he's conflicted. So it's not just that there's a smaller African-American population. I think that the reality of, I don't say western, I say west side, so the west coast states, folks are a little more progressive. And the things that Bernie Sanders is talking about are more appealing to them.

So Seattle, you're talking about a demographic that has the first openly gay mayor. The fact that Seattle's minimum wage now is $15 an hour. It is a place that has legalized marijuana and some of my friends are very happy about that. So the reality of it is, it is a different --

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: It's only 2:30!

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I seem to bring this out in people recently. I don't know.

RYE: That's the reality of the state of play.

BOLDUAN: Bill, how big -- if Bernie Sanders is going to start gaining ground on Hillary Clinton, as a Bernie Sanders supporter, how big does he have to win?

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First, I have to say as a former chair of the California Democratic Party, I am determined California will join Washington state in legalizing marijuana this year.

BOLDUAN: Sorry. Messaging here.

BROWNSTEIN: This is a great segue for Easter Sunday.

PRESS: We'll be there.

Look, no premature celebration here, but this is going to be, I think this is going to be a good night for Bernie Sanders for the reasons that have been stated. It's his territory. He has really, really worked them hard. The caucuses, he does better in the caucus situation. And you know why? Because people vote on election day. You don't have the early voters who tended to go for Hillary because they've known her a long time. People wait and wait and vote on Election Day, Bernie has done well. So he might pick up all three today.

It's not going to change the race. Hillary will still be probably 150, 200 delegates ahead. But Bernie will definitely pick up, have continued momentum going into Wisconsin, which I think proves that this race is not over yet and there's no reason at all to talk about Bernie getting out.

BOLDUAN: Especially if the money keeps coming in, there's no reason to drop out.

PRESS: And winning states.

BOLDUAN: Or that, too. Thank you, Bill Press.

All right, let's see who wins these states first. Coming up, will the strong turnout in Washington state and Alaska translate into wins for Bernie Sanders. We're going to bring you results as they come in. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:36:34] TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of western Saturday. We're following three crucial Democratic caucuses in Washington state, in Hawaii and in Alaska. We have anecdotal reports that turn out his way up. A lot of people are out and caucuses. Let's go to Sara Sidner now. She is in Seattle, Washington. And Sara, what's going on where you are?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We want to get new numbers to you just in to CNN. We have been looking at the different districts and precincts. The precincts here, of the 17 so far, here are the numbers -- 30 percent for Hillary Clinton and 70 percent for Bernie Sanders. People are still trying to convince one another that their candidate is the right person to be with. I do want to introduce you, though, quickly, to a state Democratic chair, Jackson Ravens, who is here with us, and you've been -- you've been to some other caucuses, right?

JACKSON RAVENS: I've been to a couple different locations. I have.

SIDNER: Can you give us some sense of exactly how many people are showing up across the state?

RAVENS: Well, you know, we were expecting to see a couple hundred thousand. And had affidavit forms that led us to believe that. But we're seeing more than that, I think 50 percent more than what we thought. So I think we're going to get to 250,000 statewide today. I think this is a great example of the kind of numbers we're seeing around the state.

SIDNER: So at 250,000, we're talking similar numbers to 2008. You think it will be a record-breaker?

RAVENS: I think so. No promises. We had roughly 246,000 in 2008. But look around this room. There's a lot of people here. So I'm excited, and we'll see what the count is later today.

SIDER: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

We're going to listen in to some of the folks trying to convince one another. Let me walk over here. This is another precinct. I wanted to put the mike in here so you can hear who's he talking about and why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want our kids to be able to go to school. We want to be safe. We want to put food on our tables. That's ultimately what it is. We want our grandparents and our parents to retire with dignity. So, ultimately, this is where we need to start thinking of who's going to be able to do that best. And I honestly think that Bernie Sanders is going to lead us in that direction.

There's a couple comments of, well, we don't think he can win in a general election. The number of delegates that have been won are from the south that are going to Hillary Clinton. She's not winning those states. All of the states that are swing states or close to being swing states are in the north. Those are all being won by Bernie or closely contested.

So we have to start thinking about that math instead of the math we're seeing on TV, because there's no way Hillary is going to win Louisiana and Texas and Alabama. It's just not going to happen. So I really encourage everyone to start looking in and say, what's best for me? What's best for my family? And what's best for my community? And I think when we start doing that I really don't care who you vote for. I just want you to go vote, right? And vote millennial. That's what I'm trying to go for. So thank you, everyone.

(APPLAUSE)

SIDER: There you have it, vote millennial. We'll toss it right back to you, Jake, as folks lap up that last speaker.

TAPPER: It's very interesting, Sara. And of course one of the things we're looking at this afternoon and this evening is what the Democratic turnout is in several of the contests so far. Republican turnout has been much higher than Democratic turnout. It looks like in Washington state it's possible, possible that might not be the case. [14:40:03] Let's go to Steilacoom, Washington, outside Tacoma where we

find Jason Carroll. Jason, what's going on where you are?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, things are wrapping up here. The caucusing still going on but we have updated numbers for you. The most recent count, this is with six precincts reporting. I want to point out this is six out of 37 precincts. But Clinton at 42 percent, Sanders at 57 percent. You remember a little earlier in the broadcast I was showing you this woman here in the red. She was undecided. She ended up going for Clinton here in this particular precinct.

But as you can see right now, this process still under way. Again, to point out, this is just six of 37 precincts here in Pierce County that are reporting in regarding, but so far, so far it looks like a very good showing for Bernie Sanders here in Pierce County. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jason Carroll in Steilacoom, Washington, right outside Tacoma. And Brianna Keilar and David Chalian, let me bring you two back in. We saw two examples of the kind of results that are on the table today in Washington state, in Seattle, where Sara Sidner was. It's 80 percent for Bernie, 20 percent for Clinton. If that ends up being what the trend is statewide, that's what Bernie Sanders needs to be able to, to put some numbers on the table.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He really does. We saw middle of this month, Hillary Clinton achieved this approximately 300 delegate lead, and now Bernie Sanders has held her to that. And I think what he's trying to do obviously is cut into that lead, and I think even the Clinton campaign is admitting that that may happen. But he really does need to achieve this large margin, and not only here in these states but going forward.

And the thing is he may be able to put a string of wins here from late March into mid-April. And it will give the sense that he has this momentum. Maybe he is surging. The Clinton campaign is going to try to combat that and say, no, just a swath of states that favor Bernie Sanders and we're going to build a brick wall on his momentum come New York, April 19th, when they expect Hillary Clinton to win by a large margin.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: If he wins 80-20, you said, statewide in Washington, that would be astonishing, and it is the biggest delegate prize of the day. So that would clearly help him dig in to that.

But what it does is it gives him oxygen and room to continue to fundraise, to continue to sell a momentum message, to continue to say to every Democrat who may question him, Clinton supporters, hey, is it time to start bringing the party together? They're like, no. We're going to go all the way through to June. And that is what the Sanders campaign has promised. They want to see this process go all the way through.

And as Hillary Clinton says time and again, nobody knows that commitment to want to stay in it better than she does from her 2008 experience, and so she has been very careful to not step on that in any way. She's been very careful in her public remarks to respect that and say everybody's got to run their own race. If he goes all wait through, so be it. She'll continue to go on with her campaign. She's taking a sort of laissez-faire attitude approach to that and I think signaling to Democrats not to get too worked up about Sanders remaining in the race. Now, things would change if Sanders started really going on the attack on her in a way that he hasn't been doing thus far.

TAPPER: I don't think you can compare the attacks that they're leveling against each other to what's going on in the Republican side right now. It's certainly basically no damage done, really, compared to the "my wife is hotter than your wife," or "this is what your wife would be like as first lady" attacks that we're seeing on the Republican side.

KEILAR: And you're seeing publicly, definitely Hillary Clinton is not going there. She doesn't have a leg to stand on, quite frankly. Things were really nasty this time in 2008, and they're not. Is Bernie Sanders taking her on? Sure he is, on her connections to Wall Street, every speech repeatedly he will do this. But you bring up a really good point which is -- and I am hearing privately Hillary Clinton backers are questioning, is he doing her damage? Is this negative? Would this hurt her if she's the nominee as it appears she has a better chance of being, is this going it hurt her going into the general election? I wonder does it condition her really for what she would be up against in a Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton matchup? You cannot compare the incoming that is taking from Bernie Sanders to what she would be taking from Donald Trump, for instance, in a general election.

TAPPER: And David, we have seen, Donald Trump has the highest disapproval ratings of any modern presidential candidate. Hillary Clinton would have that prize if it were not for Donald Trump.

CHALIAN: Ted Cruz is a notch higher than Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: OK. So Ted Cruz is between the two. Is there any evidence that this contest is hurting any of the candidates when it comes to a general electorate?

CHALIAN: I think if you look at the Democrats, one thing that's happening here is because Hillary Clinton is focusing a little bit more on the general, she's no longer in the business so much of trying to define Bernie Sanders in some sort of negative light. That allows Bernie Sanders to still really define himself, which is why I think when we look at these general election matchups, he tends to do better against all of the Republican candidates than Hillary Clinton does.

[14:45:07] And he uses that as a talking point out on the trail. He uses it in fundraising appeals, that he has a better chance of defeating these Republicans in a general. You know, I think that that is largely because right now his opponent, Hillary Clinton, is not out there every day trying to define him in a negative way.

TAPPER: She certainly isn't. David Chalian, thank you so much, Brianna Keilar. We're hearing that voters are making their pitches for their candidates inside the Democratic caucuses out west. More of the early results ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to CNN special coverage of western Saturday where folks are trying to make me call it pacific Saturday, and we're looking here at a caucus camera, looking at Seattle, Washington. We are waiting for the results of this very important caucus state to come in. We're watching the results come in as we speak.

[14:00:03] But as we look at that, we also know that these days it's hard to steal a show from these presidential candidates, but on the eve of these caucuses, something did very successfully. He's now been deemed lovingly, "birdie" Sanders. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNIE SANDERS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That if he or she does their schoolwork seriously, does well, takes school -- what? Oh.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Now, you see, this little bird doesn't know it -- oh --

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I think -- I think there may be some symbolism here.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I know it doesn't look like it, but that bird is really a dove asking us for world peace. No more wars!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: We did fact check. I don't think it was a dove.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: I'm just going to say. I'm just going to say. But the symbolism is rich. Donna Brazile, if the bird is not trying to say world peace, what is the symbol?

(LAUGHTER)

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, that's also a symbol of Twitter. So I'm sure that is to tweet on, Bernie Sanders.

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: And this is going to be a good day for Bernie Sanders. Look, of the 11 states that have held caucuses he's won seven of them. He has strength, he has organization, he has passion. Those are what I call the ingredients of someone who can do well in a caucus state.

But as you well know, I like western movies, not just the western symbolism, and one of my favorites was back in the day before these people were -- well, Bill and I were around, "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly." You know, this hair didn't come from Clairol.

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: But, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly." It's good that it's a caucus weekend because Bernie will do very well. It's bad, because there are probably only five more caucuses remaining in the, quote/unquote, "delegate hunt." And I guess the real ugly is that he has to win huge, big, in order to catch up with not just the pledged delegates, which I refer to as superior because there are more of them, but also the super delegates, because there's 219 super delegates who remain involved. They have not committed, and one of my friends David McDonald, hello, David. He's in precinct 63, there was a tie in his precinct, 31-31. He's a super delegate and he refused to commit today. They had to flip a coin. And guess who won? Bernie Sanders. So that bird was a symbol for Bernie Sanders. Have a sweet, sweet, sweet Saturday.

BOLDUAN: Donna Brazile bringing it all back. Bill, you take issue with something?

PRESS: I was just going to say, didn't you recognize the Holy Spirit? I mean, you know, whoa. This is Easter weekend when the Holy Spirit descends on Bernie Sanders. Watch out. Watch out.

(LAUGHTER)

PRESS: And the Holy Spirit, the last time I checked, will not take sides in any political contest.

BOLDUAN: So does this mean that the Clinton campaign will be carting in birds? Just land on the podium!

(LAUGHTER)

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I do think that today is going to be an amazing day for Bernie Sanders. If we have surprises, if there's any intervention whatsoever and Hillary Clinton actually wins a state, that would be the biggest surprise of the day.

But the fact of the matter is Hillary Clinton remains 300 delegates in front of Bernie Sanders. She actually has the vote lead, the actual raw vote lead by over 2.5 million. That's important as well. And when you lead this western Saturday, Bernie Sanders still has to prove he can win in diverse states like a Maryland, a Pennsylvania, a New York, California. And he has to win 75 percent of the remaining delegates. Hillary Clinton only has to win 35 percent of remaining delegates. So there is a path, but the path is really narrow.

BOLDUAN: So S.E. --

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Can I just say -- BOLDUAN: You have the fun job today.

CUPP: I am jealous of y'all. Your presidential rallies are like Disney movies. Ours are like "Melrose Place."

(LAUGHTER)

CUPP: It's amazing. Literally, I'm watching "Cinderella" where animated birds are floating around Bernie Sanders. No. Amazing moment.

BOLDUAN: What are you watching for today since you get to sit back and enjoy.

CUPP: Sure, on a Saturday. This is enjoyable. No. I think we know everything we need to know about where Hillary Clinton's mindset is by what she did this week. This week see hastily arranged a talk at Stanford on terror. And that is because despite the fact that she is heading into states like Washington, where Angela Rye said, things like the minimum wage and maybe gay marriage, these are issues on the tops of minds of Washington voters. She's already pivoted to the general election. She in this speech really lambasted Republicans and in particular Donald Trump. She's been tweeting about terrorism and being the tough, ready on day one commander in chief. I think she is saying, go ahead, Bernie. Take Washington, take Hawaii, take Alaska. But I'm already in November. My mind is already on November.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: But I think it's important to point out, look, yes the map does look perilous for Bernie Sanders going forward. We could say the same for Ted Cruz. But there are just 300 pledge delegates separating them. That's roughly the same as what you see in the GOP. It's Important to note Bernie Sanders isn't out. He won by 78 percent in Utah. 79 percent in -- not Utah -- Idaho. That's astounding. That's an important --

BOLDUAN: Guys, hold on for me one second. We're going to be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)