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CNN Projection: Joe Biden Wins South Carolina Primary; Biden Leads Democratic Primary In South Carolina; Sanders Speaking To Supporters; Biden Speaking To Supporters. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 29, 2020 - 20:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Tom Steyer, 12.3 percent; Pete Buttigieg, 7.7 percent; Elizabeth Warren, 6.1 percent; Amy Klobuchar, only 4.1 percent.

Let's go over to David Chalian. The all-important delegate count so significant that, clearly, this is a big, big boost for Joe Biden.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. And as you just said, Wolf, the magic number here is 15 percent. That's what we look for both statewide and in congressional districts. Because if you are over 15 percent, either statewide or in a congressional district, you're eligible to get delegates.

So, here's that statewide vote you were just saying. You noted only eight percent in, Wolf. But if this is how it ended, if this was the total at the end of the night, all the state-wide delegates, maybe 40 percent of the total delegate take tonight, would go to Joe Biden. He's the only one above 15 percent, at that 53.8 percent. Bernie Sanders, as you noted, 14.6 percent. Tom Steyer is in third right now, 12.3 percent. But they're below that 15 percent threshold.

We'll look inside those congressional districts as well to see if they are above 15 percent, able to get some delegates. But with 54 delegates at stake, and we've already awarded 14 to Joe Biden, well, he is on a path right now to win a whole bunch more.

BLITZER: Well, if no one else gets 15 percent, what would the impact be in the -- in terms of the contest to date?

CHALIAN: Well, take a look at what this scoreboard shows us. Remember, you need 1,991 delegates to win the Democratic nomination. That's -- that is the metric. That is what determines the winner of the nomination. Look at our scoreboard. Sanders at 45 delegates. Biden at 29. He was at 15 when the night started. He, basically, doubled his delegate take and we still have 40 more delegates to award.

And then, Buttigieg fell from second to third in the delegate count at 26. Warren at eight. Klobuchar at seven. But keep your eye on Sanders and Biden. Because if this Biden victory is as big as it looks like it may be, there's a chance he could come real close or possibly even overtake Bernie Sanders in the national delegate count -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that would be so, so significant for the former vice president. John King, he's -- Biden is the dark loon. It looks like he's number one in a whole bunch of these counties.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people question the strategy. Oh, can you lose Iowa? Lose New Hampshire? Lose, come in second in Nevada and still be 0 for three? Could you be 0 for three and then have a successful firewall? The answer, at least in South Carolina, is yes for Joe Biden. A lot of people thought of that strategy.

Now there are questions. Can he use it -- how big of a springboard into Super Tuesday and beyond? But this board is filling in right now exactly the way Joe Biden wanted and precisely what his campaign needed. You can see the big, huge margin right now. It's still at eight percent. Let's see if the margin title -- tighten.

But, as David just noted, with a state-wide margin like this, that means Joe Biden is going to pick up a boat load of delegates. Then, we'll look at the congressional districts. But if you're winning this big statewide, guess what? You're probably winning big in most, if not all, the congressional districts as well.

Let's watch it fill in. Since you were last over here, Charleston County has come in some. This is the third largest county in the state. It's right along the coast. People know Charleston as a beautiful tourist site. Right along the coastal waters here, Joe Biden getting above 50 percent. Again, no other candidate in this area getting 15 percent.

We move up next door, just move up the coast. Georgetown County, Joe Biden above 50 percent. Sanders with 16 percent in this county. Later on today, we'll overlay some congressional maps and see how that matters.

As we go in -- then you -- let's just pull back out here. Still nothing from Richland County which is where Columbia is in the middle of the state. That's the state capital. The second largest of the 46 counties, about eight percent of the population, nothing yet.

What's the count? We're up to nine percent now. South Carolina, once it starts to come in, it usually comes in pretty quickly. Your largest county, right here, is Greenville, about 10 percent of the statewide population. Again, Joe Biden with a convincing win. Senator Sanders up 16 percent here.

So, again, later on, when we get into the congressional districts, that could be -- that could mean a delegate, two or three for Bernie Sanders. We'll get to that math later on when we have more votes.

Move over to Spartanburg, the fourth largest county, six percent of the population. Pretty convincing. This is African-American vote turning out for Joe Biden in a huge way.

And, again, you just want to look at the optics of momentum and go back. We'll wait and see if the whole thing fills in this way. But, in 2016, Hillary Clinton swept the state. Tramps (ph) Bernie Sanders here. This was critical at a time she was being challenged. After the Sanders win in New Hampshire in 2016, Hillary Clinton needed to win big here to cement her support among the African-American base. To use it as a win on. She filled in the whole state. That, so far, is what Joe Biden is doing tonight in a crowded field, at the moment, by a pretty convincing margin.

The question will be, Wolf, big win, an absolute necessary win, how big of a springboard? And what pressures will there be on those other candidates? Joe Biden is winning in South Carolina. Joe Biden said this would be his firewall. Joe Biden said he was the candidate who could get broadest support among the traditional Democratic base, the African-American community.

Will the other campaigns listen? Will they listen tonight? Will they listen tomorrow? We take this through Tuesday. How much of a boost does this give to Joe Biden? Fourteen states vote on Tuesday. You can see those states when you pull it out. It's the lighter shading of gray for the states that vote on Tuesday.

And, again, just stay right here in the region, in the neighborhood, if you will.


A lot of African-American voters in Arkansas as well. A lot of African-American voters in the south here. Is this a signal? Does South Carolina send a signal in the region? Is it a one off? That's the challenge for the Biden campaign.

It's going to be very interesting to hear from the former vice president in a few moments about how he tries to message this for this big map that votes Tuesday night.

BLITZER: I suspect during the course of the night, we'll hear from some other candidates as well.

Anderson, back to you.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Wolf, thanks very much. David, actually, earlier, you mentioned about, you know, some warning signs for Bernie Sanders in some of the numbers we're seeing out of South Carolina. Can you elaborate on that?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he -- you know, one of the questions was there was a lot of talk about how he's built a closer relationship to the African-American community. He did just about as well here among moderates as he did four years ago. So, some of the things that showed up four years ago have showed up now.

Look, I give all the credit to Bernie Sanders for what he has built. He has built a movement. The question is, what is the limits of those movement -- of that movement. Can he grow it? We haven't seen those signs. Nevada was an impressive showing. He underperformed in Iowa. He underperformed in New Hampshire.

He's still, I think, the favorite to be the delegate leader at the end of this process. He has broad support across this country which, given the way Democrats elect delegates, is really important. Because even if you don't win a state, you'll get delegates.

But I think that there are -- there are -- there are reasons for concern, if you're a strategist in his camp.

COOPER: Nia, how likely do you think and who gets out and how likely?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, that's the big question. We've been talking about what Bloomberg will do after Super Tuesday if he doesn't do well. You have other candidates in this race who aren't going to perform well.

Pete Buttigieg hasn't done well. We're looking at some of the exit polls. He's got about three percent of the African-American vote. Tom Steyer, 14 percent. Elizabeth Warren, five percent. So, I think those are people who really have to look in the mirror and figure out if they've got a realistic path forward.

Somebody like Pete Buttigieg has said he can bring people together. And he can have, you know, kind of a broad base coalition. And, so far, there's no evidence of that. If you're Elizabeth Warren, you've got Massachusetts coming up. Is she going to win Massachusetts? Is Bernie Sanders stronger in her home state? Someone like Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota, also on the ballot on Tuesday.

So, they've got to figure out, do they want to get out of this race? Maybe save themselves some embarrassment in their home states. And also, maybe put some momentum behind the moderate candidate, because they're the moderates.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: If you had spent $23 million, like Tom Steyer, to get maybe one delegate, you were running for president of South Carolina for a very long time and this is what you get for it, there really isn't any --

AXELROD: If he invested that way in his business, he wouldn't have been a billionaire.

BORGER: Exactly. There really isn't anywhere for him to go now. And I wouldn't be surprised if he gets out tomorrow. You know, I just don't see any path for him. And I think he should get out. I think he should. I -- it's just -- it's not doing him any good anymore, and it's not doing the party any good anymore.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Elizabeth Warren. ,according to John King's look at the map, is not top three anywhere in South Carolina. I think that, to date, she has probably been the greatest ally that Joe Biden can ask for, because of the way in which she's been so aggressive in going after Mike Bloomberg.

But, at some point, I think there's going to have to be a moment between Bernie Sanders and she. Because I am a believer that they share that lane. And as the pressure builds on the more moderates to get out, I think it'll put pressure on Warren, from the Bernie perspective, to also exit this race. Because he needs that lane clear, given that probably the moderate lane will win out.

AXELROD: Can I just say a word about Buttigieg? No one a year ago would have thought he'd be in the conversation at all.

COOPER: At all.

AXELROD: And he's run a -- he's run an extraordinary campaign. But he made a bet. And that bet was that he could do so well in Iowa and New Hampshire that he'd get escape velocity, essentially. And he would get a look in Nevada and a look in South Carolina and that he could build on that. He came awfully close. If Iowa had announced the results that night, he might have gotten a bigger bounce.


AXELROD: Amy Klobuchar doesn't have a great debate in New Hampshire. He probably beats Bernie Sanders there. And then, we're having a different conversation. But, tonight, looking at these numbers, if you're Pete Buttigieg, you have to really consider whether you want to continue, especially given your message of bringing people together.

COOPER: Coming up, Joe Biden talks about his win in South Carolina. We are awaiting that. And it sets the stage for the big Super Tuesday battle next week. We'll carry it live.



BLITZER: More votes are coming in. Let's do another key race alert. We've already projected Joe Biden is the winner, a significant win, in South Carolina for the Democratic presidential primary. Right now, 14 percent of the estimated vote is now in. And he's got 53 percent. Bernie Sanders in second place, 16.4 percent. Tom Steyer, 12.1 percent. Everybody else in single digits in South Carolina right now.

Let's go over to John King. And, John, we're waiting for Biden. We're told he's going to be speaking fairly soon. We'll have live coverage of that. But you're looking closely at this map, and it looks like that dark blue for Joe Biden is doing really well.

KING: So far, the Biden blue filling in in every county. He's leading in every county that has reported results so far in the state of South Carolina tonight. So, all the more reason to get out early and try to project optimism, as you go into Super Tuesday.

One thing I do want to note, though, since the last time you were here, this is a very important number. Again, we're only at 14 percent statewide. But for Senator Sanders, up at 16 percent now. If he stays above 15 percent, that gets him some of the statewide delegates. That would get -- you need 15 percent as the viability threshold. So, keep an eye on that number as we get through it.

But this is the blowout, at the moment, for Joe Biden, 53 percent. At 14 percent. Sanders at 16 percent. Tom Steyer at 12 percent. Mayor Buttigieg at 7.2 percent. You see Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard way down there, as you look through the leader board.


And, again, it's just impressive as it fills in. More counties, since the last time you were here. Richland County, this is the capital of Columbia. The suburbs around it, Democratic establishment, the political establishment, Joe Biden getting 45 percent there. Just move around to up here. Fairfield County, Joe Biden getting 62 percent. A little bit of suburban area here. It's gets more rural as you go to the north here. In the larger counties where the population lives, Greenville is your largest county in the state, the city of Greenville here, 43 percent.

Again, these are important numbers. It's a huge blowout for Biden. When he get to congressional districts later, when we're divvying up the delegates, you want to look for places where Senator Sanders is above 15 percent. And we can overlay a congressional map and we'll see how we do.

Again, you come over to Spartanburg. It's a congressional district up in this area. Sanders at 17 percent here. So, he's probably going to get a few delegates, or at least it looks that way early on. We'll see as we go. But, again, 48 percent for our former vice president.

You get more rural, as you go across the northern county here, 24. So, right in the middle of the size of counties in the state here, 60 percent. Come across, 46 percent here. York County is about five percent of the state's population.

And, again, I talked about this earlier. The question for Joe Biden is -- this is the northern boarder of South Carolina. North Carolina votes on Tuesday. Can he take this and springboard it into Super Tuesday states? That is one of the big challenges. That's why I think, when we hear from the former vice president in just a few moments, it will be important.

I want to just show the sweep of the victory, Wolf, as you come through right -- you come through here. In other states, we've seen a difference. But these are the least wealthy counties in South Carolina. The poorest counties in South Carolina, anyone that has reported results, Joe Biden is leading.

Now, let's come out and look at it in a different way. Turn this off, the least wealthy, and look at the wealthiest counties in South Carolina. Any of those counties that have reported results, Joe Biden is leading. So, this is a sweep across the state, if you will. He's winning broadly and widely. And the depth of the coalition quite impressive as this -- you see more of them filling in just as we're standing here. More Biden blue. It's a blowout.

BLITZER: It certainly does look like a blowout right now. Biden is doing incredibly well in South Carolina. And it bodes well in some of the other southern states that vote on Tuesday.

KING: You certainly hope so. If you pull out the map a little bit and just look at it again. The lighter gray are the 14 states that vote Super Tuesday. American Samoa also votes on Super Tuesday. Americans Abroad start their delegate selection process on Super Tuesday. But it's these 14 states. The biggest prize is California. The second biggest prize is Texas. The third biggest prize is North Carolina. Again, South Carolina is --

BLITZER: They're similar.

KING: They're similar states. So, you've got a -- you have the research triangle here. More of a suburban vote up here. But they're similar. One thing you do have that's similar is a giant percentage of African-American votes in the Democratic Primary. So does Virginia. The former Governor, Terry McAuliffe, our CNN Contributor, now just endorsing Joe Biden.

Senator Jim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate in 2016, the other day endorsing Joe Biden. Tennessee, large African-American population. A giant African-American vote in the Democratic Primary in the state of Alabama. Arkansas, it is significant as well. Texas, you have a Latino-African-American break. It's about 20 percent African-American or larger. Flash (ph) of Latinos. And in parts of California, the African-American vote is significant.

Bernie Sanders is leading in the -- our new poll in California just came out the other day. Bernie Sanders leading in Texas. The challenge for Joe Biden, the question, is this momentum from this blowout enough to lift him in these states? Maybe not to catch up to Bernie Sanders. But, again, to get up to 15 percent statewide to get delegates. And then, to start doing some business in some of the congressional districts that are more tailored to his base, like African-American areas here, here and elsewhere. This is the big challenge for Biden which is why what we hear from him is going to be so important.

First win. First win of his three runs for the presidency. This is his first win. Can he project confidence and momentum as we go into 14 states Tuesday night?

BLITZER: What will be the impact if some of the other candidates drop out after Tuesday?

KING: Right.

BLITZER: Joe Biden is getting ready to speak to supporters in South Carolina about his blowout primary win. We also expect to hear from Bernie Sanders. That's soon. Our special coverage will continue right after this.



BLITZER: Welcome back. We're standing by to hear from Joe Biden, the big winner in the Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina. He's expected to speak very soon. We also expect to hear from Bernie Sanders. We'll have live coverage, all that coming up.

But we're getting new reporting now from CNN's Jeff Zeleny. What are you learning, jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are learning tonight, as these results are coming in in South Carolina, certainly it is not a good night for many of these candidates. But there is not a rush to push some of them out of the race, at least in the view of the Biden campaign. Particularly, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

And here is why. Minnesota and Massachusetts are both Super Tuesday states. So, I'm talking to advisers from all campaigns, including from Biden world, and they say they would like to keep Senator Klobuchar in the race. They hope she stays in the race through Super Tuesday. They want her to be competitive in Minnesota. Otherwise, it could hand it to Bernie Sanders. You'll remember from four years ago, Bernie Sanders won Minnesota by some 62 points. So, they certainly do not want him to have that race to his own there.

The same with Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. They want them to stay in. But, Wolf, the big questions now are facing all of these candidates. What are they going to do? I've talked to advisers from all of them. They are saying they are going to stay in through Super Tuesday. But that can change very quickly.

Wolf, the biggest question of all is Michael Bloomberg and his campaign. What does he plan to do in the wake of the South Carolina victory for Joe Biden? We do not know the answer to that. But, for now at least, the Super Tuesday contests of Minnesota and Massachusetts, that is good for the Biden campaign, they believe, for having Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar still in the race -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very interesting indeed. All right, Jeff Zeleny reporting for us. You know, Dana, there's not much time between now and Tuesday.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that is the reason why Jeff is giving that excellent reporting, that that the perspective is coming from the Biden campaign.

And let's just dig in on what exactly he's talking about, just to show you the raw numbers. So, let's look at Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts. OK? Massachusetts has 91 delegates. Even if she doesn't win there, she's going to get some of the 91 delegates, unless it's something unbelievable happens. That will --

BLITZER: It's her home state.

BASH: That's her home state. Even if Bernie Sanders wins, that will keep the number of delegates that he will get, in the totality of the night, down. Same goes for Minnesota. Amy Klobuchar's campaign there insisting that they're going to win there. If so -- and, actually, even if she doesn't win, there are 75 delegates at stake in Minnesota. Bernie Sanders could do OK there, but Amy Klobuchar will definitely keep his margin down no matter what happens.

And I was just texting with a big Biden donor who was saying the way that he looked at it is that Super Tuesday has to be a wash for Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Because the big concern, and this is going to what Jeff Zeleny was talking about, is that because Texas, for example, and California are so delegate-rich, and the latest polls show Bernie Sanders doing incredibly well, that he will be unstoppable. Not that he will actually get the 1,991 delegate to win, but that nobody will be able to get close to him. And it will make it a guarantee that it will be a mess at the convention.

BLITZER: Yes, John.

KING: There's more than 1,300 delegates at stake Tuesday night. Almost half are from California and Texas, 600 plus, 600 -- about 650 from those two states. So, the margins are going to matter here. The margins are going to matter Massy (ph) which is why Joe Biden is hoping for a momentum boost here. That, you know, are you going to catch Bernie Sanders in California? Probably not.

But if you can close the margin, pick up delegates, keep the Sanders' margin as low as you can get it. Which is why two things are very important. How many delegates does Joe Biden get tonight? 54 at stake in South Carolina. How close can he get? Can he catch Bernie Sanders tonight?

So, just to give you, again, the optics of momentum heading into Tuesday. That this is not a Sanders' blowout. That this is a very competitive race to rally your piece of the base. And then, to Dana's point. Have a -- have a playoff on Tuesday where, you know, if Biden can win in North Carolina, maybe win in Tennessee or Virginia, find a place for a win. Which is why you see where they go on the map. Follow the candidates in the next -- they have 72 hours to do this. Sanders in Virginia tonight.

Down in Norfolk, the African-American voters in that area, military voters in that area as well. But he understands he did not do what he thought he was going to do in South Carolina. He did not cut into Joe Biden's deep support among African-Americans.

Watch the chess of the candidates as this go forward. I happen to know a few people in Massachusetts. I've just been texting on this subject all day long, about Elizabeth Warren. Because Bernie Sanders was just there in my home state for two events today. And very smart Democratic political operatives up there say it's a coin toss right now.

BLITZER: Really?

KING: They believe -- they believe the Warren-Sanders race is essentially -- it's between the two of them. But it's incredibly close right now.

BASH: I just want to highlight real quick the last thing that Jeff Zeleny reported, and that is about Michael Bloomberg. The conversations already going into tonight were, is there any possibility Michael Bloomberg says, I'm not even going to make it until Super Tuesday? I'm going to bow out and get my support behind Joe Biden in order to consolidate. His campaign says that that is not going to happen. There's no way, no how. He's on the ballot for the first time on Super Tuesday. It doesn't mean that those conversations aren't happening. And the question is, how it ends.

BLITZER: All right, Bernie Sanders is now speaking. Let's listen in.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Whoa. Thank you. Thank you, Virginia Beach and Norfolk. And let me start off by thanking Herb Jones. Too long we have taken veterans in this country for granted. We have sent them off to wars and too often those wars were wars that should never have been fought. And then, after they put their lives on the line and they come home, sometimes injured in body and sometimes injured in spirit, we have forgotten about them.

So, my promise to Herb and to all the other veterans of this country, and I say this as the former chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, our administration will never forget the veterans. And our administration will never put the men and women in the armed forces in wars that should not be fought.


We are here tonight because we are determined that Donald Trump will be a one-term president.


The American people, no matter what their political views, maybe do not want a president in office who is a pathological liar.


Who is running a corrupt administration, who apparently has never read the Constitution of the United States. And every day, through his attacks on the media, on the Judiciary, on Congress is undermining American democracy.


Veterans like Herb and millions of others have put their lives on the line to defend our democracy and our Constitution, and Donald Trump will not undermine American democracy.


Now, I am very proud that in this campaign, so far, we have won the popular vote in Iowa.


We have won the New Hampshire primary.


We have won the Nevada caucus. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

But you cannot win them all. A lot of state -- a lot of states out there and, tonight, we did not win in South Carolina. And that will not be the only defeat. There are a lot of states in this country. Nobody wins them all.

I want to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory tonight. And now, we enter Super Tuesday at Virginia.


COOPER: Senator Bernie Sanders looking forward to Super Tuesday after the showing tonight in South Carolina. You see it there on the right- hand side of your screen. Joe Biden, 51.6 percent of the vote. Sanders was 17. Tom Steyer after putting in an awful lot of money at 12 percent. And you see the rest of the numbers there.

Back now with our team. Where does the race -- I mean, first of all, why is Joe Biden not spoken?


VAN JONES, CNN HOST: We've got time to talk about -- what a statement though for Biden, I mean, that is -- you don't see that kind of a spread very often in a -- in a serious race where millions of dollars were spent.

So, you know, big, big process. Now, the process now though, we're just started to try to figure out who's going to be an anti-Bernie candidate, we're trying to -- to figure out who's going to come out, who's going to -- who's going to stay in.

But I think it should be very clear. Some of these people were saying should get out. Second choice, Bernie Sanders. So it's not like just because people come out of this race, everybody's going to consolidate behind Biden, Bernie Sanders has a very interesting and broad and wide appeal. There are people who like Biden, they also like Bernie. So this is still going to be a messy process moving forward.

But to the extent that somebody to stand up and raise their hand and say, I can be the one to go up against Bernie, that's what Biden did tonight.

BORGER: OK. Well, this is a blowout --


BORGER: -- for Biden. There's no other way to describe it. It's not just a win, it's not just a double digit margin. It's a -- it's a blowout for Joe Biden.

And that gives him an awful lot of credibility in this race, which he didn't have before. And it gives him an awful lot of momentum, which, of course he didn't have before. And it'll probably give him an awful lot of money, which he didn't have before.


BORGER: But as Jeff Zeleny, was just reporting on our air a few minutes ago, I think there's a lot of strategizing going on right now in the Biden campaign and the other campaigns.

Steyer, there -- I don't think there's any road. I think, you know, the -- he'll get out. And that the question is, as Jeff points out, which is, does Biden if he wants to emerge as the contender to Bernie Sanders, who is a favorite here, let's steal the favorite candidate here. What does he do? Does he keep Amy Klobuchar and -- as Jeff was saying so she can do well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think (INAUDIBLE) anyone keeps. He's going to do it...

BORGER: Exactly. But would he like her or prefer her? Let me put it that way -- so she can do well in Minnesota and dial and perhaps then Sanders wouldn't win in that state? Does he want Elizabeth Warren to stay in so that, perhaps, she would dilute some of the -- of the Sanders vote?


And, you know, these are -- these are discussions we can all be having right now. Again, it's not up to Biden. We under -- we understand that. But, you know, this notion that they should all get out and (INAUDIBLE)

COOPER: So, Governor, what are you saying?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: First of all, this is going to move very quick. We -- you're talking 48 hours. So I don't think much is going to happen. I think -- you know, I think Pete ran a great campaigns, he's got to make a decision tomorrow what he's going to do. I agree with you on Tom Steyer.

But, you know, this is two days away. So Biden's got a hope in those southern states, he can continue with that African American vote, and really get some excitement out of tonight. And then get through Super Tuesday and then hope for a wash as much as you possibly can. And then you got a lot of big states coming up Illinois and Missouri, Michigan. Then we get in to a whole new player states as we move into the end of March and April.

ROJAS: Well, I just --


Joe Biden is the new comeback kid. And last week I said that some other candidates should pull on Andrew Yang. And what I meant by that is make a rational principled decision about whether they should be on the -- in the race based on three things.

Number one, can you win? Number two, are you helping your cause by staying? And number three? Are you helping defeat Donald Trump by staying? And I concluded that the answers to those questions were no and I dropped out.

Now every candidate in the race has run a tremendous campaign. They can walk out with their heads held high, and certainly, many of them are or all of them are I'd consider a friend, so it's hard to say you should make this decision.

But I will say to them all, if you get out, it's not terrible. Not having a camera in your face 24/7. Your families will be happy to see you. And you've missed a lot of good TV and movies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love the way you look in the camera and say, it's not the worst thing to have a camera in your face.

COOPER: I got to say, you know what David Letterman said about retiring. He said, you know, when you retire you'd spend more time with your family, make sure to check with your family first.

ROJAS: Well, I just wanted to add in real quick that, you know, just to put this into context, I think that, you know, Joe Biden did extremely, extremely well here. But he's the former vice president of the United States. And a year ago, right? He was polling well over the margin that he was now.

And so I think that's something that we have to pay attention to. It's the first primary he's won in, what, 32 years after his third run for president. So I think that heading into Super Tuesday, I think the money question is going to come into play, we'll see if this gives him a bump.

But I think also the next generation of democratic voters that are younger, that are blacker, that are browner, and they are arising electorate in states like California, and Texas, and are really, really motivated by someone like Bernie Sanders.

So I think that that is sort of an area that Biden has to improve of heading into some of these more larger, diverse, delegate rich states that, you know, their campaign...

COOPER: Well, also, wasn't the whole Biden argument that he can appeal to, you know, white working class voters in, you know, Ohio and...


BORGER: If you look at these -- if you look at these exit polls, that's interesting here because, well -- but this was a blowout and Biden is winning in almost every category. If you look at white, no college degree, working class, well, Bernie still beats him, 31 to 23. I don't know if these numbers will stick. But Bernie still beats him with white no college degree in a state where Biden had a blowout.

That is a -- that is something to put a little asterisk next years here in the campaign.

JONES: Forty-eight hours from now -- 48 hours from now, we're going to be sitting here talking about Bernie Sanders again because of what you're just saying. His strength in California is unreal. And people have been voting in California for a while.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.

JONES: But it's a building buddy in California for a while. Let's not forget, some of this stuff is already the momentum that Bernie brought it to other states that has been baked in with early...

AXELROD: California has been voting for a month. You're right about that. You know, one of the interesting -- we were having this discussion in between. The -- some of the Bloomberg folks argue that it's actually Biden's benefit for him to be in on Super Tuesday because the nature of the process is such that if candidates pass threshold, they get some delegates. If only one candidate passes the threshold, that candidate gets all the delegates.

So having more people getting delegates could actually hold down. Now...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen, I think if you're Biden and you've --

AXELROD: That's what I'm suggesting before.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I mean, if you're Biden and you've got to worry about all of this, well, this happens, this happens.

AXELROD: (INAUDIBLE) hasn't spoken, he's doing the math.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This sort of algorithm of these people dropping and limiting families here. That's pretty complicated. Sanders, on the other hand, has the money. He's got the grassroots organization. He's got this younger generation that Alexandra has been talking about. So that's why I think, as Dan said, we're going to be talking about Sanders and it's always should be talking about Sanders.

The way we're talking about Biden doesn't suggest that he's strong and actually suggest that he's fairly weak. And he's got to depend on all of these other factors that...

SMERCONISH: Dave, that's the point I was making is that it compounds. I mean, if Bernie is the only one who is getting beyond the margin and you've got five or six others who are under, they're compounding the size by which he's won that state. So it's very, very difficult. You need to know how many are going to be beyond the 15 percent threshold to know whether it's to the advantage of them.



MCAULIFFE: They are splitting this vote off. You could say whatever you want, you know, Pete and Amy and Biden, all in the very similar space. I don't buy David that Bloomberg argument. I just don't buy it. You could have state like Virginia. You know, Bloomberg has been on TV now for months and months and months. He's got about probably 20 percent of the vote. He's been between 19 and 20. That is directly out of Joe Biden, not even close.

AXELROD: Well, that's the question. I mean, the question is, is he taking some vote that isn't going to -- that wouldn't go to Biden, and is by being viable, does he take a portion of that?

Now, I think the equation has changed tonight. And it may be that Bloomberg's numbers are depressed and Biden is the beneficiary of that. And so this whole equation is different.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break, and then we'll hear live from Vice President Joe Biden.



BLITZER: We're standing by to hear from the winner of the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary, Joe Biden. He's about to speak. And I'm curious to see how he portrays a very impressive, stunning victory.

BASH: We've heard so many Joe Biden speeches in our lifetimes. We've never heard a Joe Biden victory speech during a presidential run, because despite the fact that he's run twice before, as has been mentioned, he didn't stay in long enough to win any contest.

Well, this is the first one. And so it's going to be sweet for him to give -- to give that speech. But it's not just obviously going to be important for that moment, but it's going to be important for the momentum that he absolutely needs to use.

The love that he feels there, the passion that he feels there, which is -- which is real, given how unbelievable lopsided his victory appears to be in South Carolina. And he's got to propel it particularly into the states that are most like South Carolina.

They're not as delegate rich as some of the bigger ones on Super Tuesday, but every delegate matters right now. Because remember, for the Democrats, it is proportional.

BLITZER: You know, and I'm sure we'll be hearing the fact that he was President Obama's Vice President for eight years.

KING: Yeah. Look, the Obama factor among South Carolina, African American voters among African American voters around the country. It's important that Joe Biden has a relationship, he has a history. He is, I think it was Van Jones or someone on the panel saying earlier that, you know, he had Obama's back for eight years, and now, African American voters are saying, we'll have your back.

Can you project that further? What slingshot springboard choose your word. He needs this to be momentum into these other states, North Carolina neighboring South Carolina votes on Tuesday, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia. There are plenty of places on the map Tuesday were Bernie Sanders, as of today, is expected to get the most delegates. There are plenty of places on the map where Joe Biden can play if he can replicate or come anywhere close to replicating what he did in South Carolina tonight. The challenge is time is so short.

And so what does he say here? He has an audience here. It's a Saturday night, but he has an audience here to make the speech. And that will be replayed over the next couple of days. Can he do something make a compelling case?

And as just -- as I throw back to you we're watching Congressman Clyburn in there. We live in an age where sometimes endorsements don't matter as much. People don't put as much faith in institutions, if you will, or brands as they used to. This is one that did. This is one that did.

If Joe Biden can somehow go on and win the presidency, James Clyburn is the secretary of whatever he wants.

BLITZER: So to speak. You know, it's interesting a Clyburn's endorsement, I think was very, very significant. But as we're speaking, the campaign manager for Mike Bloomberg, Kevin Sheekey, has just put out a statement making it clear he's not dropping out.

BASH: That's right. I think we're going to listen in to Jim Clyburn and then we can talk about that in the other side.

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): -- of this business and take us to where this country can be, ladies and gentlemen, my good friend, one who I know, who you know, but most of all, who knows us.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, South Carolina.


My buddy Jim Clyburn, you brought me back.



He's a man of enormous Integrity. Those of how have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign.


Just days ago, the press in the partners had declared this candidacy dead. Now, thanks to all of you, the heart of the Democratic Party, we just won and we've won big because of you.


And we are very much alive.


Look, I told you all if you can launch a candidacy, you launch Bill Clinton, Barack Obama to the presidency. Now, you launch our campaign on the path to defeating Donald Trump.


This campaign is taking off, so join us. Go Sign up, volunteer contributed to camp, we need you, we want you, and there's a place for you in this campaign.


Folks, as we celebrate tonight here in Columbia, let me talk directly to Democrats across America, especially those who will be voting on Super Tuesday. This moment -- this is the moment to choose the path forward for our -- for our -- for our party. This is the moment and it's arrived. Maybe sooner than anyone guessed it would. But it's here. And the decisions Democrats make all across America the next few days will determine what this party stands for, what we believe and what will get done.

If Democrats nominate me, I believe we can beat Donald Trump.


Keep Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives as Speaker and take back the United States Senate. So join us. Our fellow Democrats across America, join us. If Democrats want to nominate someone who will build on Obamacare, not scrap it, take on the anti-rank gun manufacturers not protect them.


Stand up and give the poor fighting chance until the middle class get restored, not raise their taxes and make keep the promises we make, then join us. And if the Democrats want a nominee who's a Democrat.


A lifelong Democrat. A proud Democrat. An Obama-Biden Democrat. Then join us. We have the option of winning big or losing big. That's the choice. We need to build on the coalition to legacy of the most successful president in our lifetime, Barack Obama.


And the way we do this is by bringing America together many race, ethnicity, gender, economic station, Democrats, Republicans, independents, people of every stripe. Look, just like we did here in South Carolina. And likely can do across the entire country on Tuesday and beyond.

Folks, win big or lose, that's the choice. Most Americans don't want the promise of revolution. They want more than promises, they want results.


They want to give all Americans access to real opportunity to be able have affordable health care for all Americans and environment with clean air and clean water and education and give funds our schools, pays our teachers, makes community college free. A nation that will stand up to and beat the NRA.


Reform our criminal justice system. Rule out institutional racism mobilize, mobilize the world against climate change. And an economy that works. Rewards work, not just wealth.

My dad say, Joe, jobs but a lot more than the paycheck. It's about your dignity. It's about decency and respect. It's about your place in the community, it's being able to look your kid in the eye and say, honey, it's going to be OK.


For all our families, for all our communities, because that's the right thing to do. That's what makes us Democrats. Talk is cheap. False promises are deceptive. And talk about revolution changing anyone's life. We need real changes right now.


Something I've done my whole career, and I'll do as President. So this election to spend all our time in a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. This is a battle for the soul of the United States of America.

We're in incredibly careless moment as all of you know, what he means uniting America not sowing more division and anger. It means not only fighting, but healing the country. We have to beat Donald Trump and the Republican Party. But here's the deal. We can't become like them. We can't become like them. We can't have a never-ending war. Above all, it's time for America to get back up.

The country is so ready, so ready, once again, fight for the proposition that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. We say it all the time. But we've never fully lived up to it. But we've never before to this president walked away from it. And it's the reason why Jim and I and all of us are in this.

I believe with every fiber of my being, that all men and women are created equal. You know, I saw it a few days ago in a town hall in Charleston, Jim. I spoke with Reverend Anthony Thompson, whose wife Myra was studying the words of her Bible with eight other parishioners and Mother Emanuel (ph), four and a half years ago. It was a weekly routine. Reading scripture and finding purpose in faith in God and each other and an instant, hate, vengeance, white supremacy pierced that faith and they're lost forever.

But you know what I found the most remarkable thing in my career thus far? Remark about Reverend Thompson and the families of the Emanuel is through all that pain, all that grief, they forgave. And here's the deal. In their forgiveness, they brought more change to South Carolina than any it's occurred over the previous 100 years. Think about it. The Confederate flag came down will change. That's why the Sunday after Jim and I and my family, we came back to Mother Emanuel on Sunday services after the funeral of the victims.

Six weeks earlier, we lost our son Bo. And we needed to be healed too. We need to be healed. I really mean this. We needed whatever they were exuding. And with every season this past, they've gotten up and found purpose to live life worthy of the ones they lost, worthy of the blessings to live this remarkable country.

We left here coming arrived in overwhelming pain, thinking, we can do this. We get through this. So I want to tell you, it's no small reason why I'm in this race. People, like all of you here tonight, all around the country, the days of Donald Trump's divisiveness will soon be over.


And it's Jim coordinated to Tocqueville. He was right. As Molly, ethnic country, we call our democracy America, it can't survive, unless we focus on our goodness. We can build a more perfect union because the American people, in the last three and a half years have seen the alternative.

No, I really mean it, think about it. They've seen how utterly mean, selfish, lack of any sense of empathy, or concern for anybody else. A president who not only has horrible policies, but the way he mocks and makes fun of other people.