Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

High Stakes Night: 14 States Voting In Dem Primaries; Today: First Time Bloomberg Appears On Ballots; Warren Taking Aim At Biden Ahead Of Major Night; Exit Polls: Health Care Top Issue In MA, ME & VA; Exit Polls: Majority "Angry" At Trump Admin In AL, ME, NC; Judge Rules Nashville Voting Extended Due To Storm Damage. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 3, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Take Look at this live pictures coming in from the polling place in Missouri City, Texas. The voters are delivering the verdicts on which Democrat should challenge President Trump.

We are back here in the CNN election center with the special Super Tuesday coverage. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're counting down to first votes of this very important round of primaries. And we're just minutes away from getting clues, clues about how the candidates may do tonight when we unveil our exit polls.

The voters are casting ballots in 14 states including some of the most delegate-rich states in the nation. Get ready for the super-sized night.

At 7:00 Eastern voting ends in Virginia and Vermont. A half hour later, the polling places will close in North Carolina. At 8:00 Eastern, we'll look for results from Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, Massachusetts and Maine. At 8:30, Arkansas is up for grabs. At 9:00 Eastern, all polls close in Texas, Colorado and Minnesota.

Texas has a treasure trove of delegates, the second biggest prize of the night. An hour later all eyes are on Utah and. At 11:00 Eastern, it's all about California, the top delegate prize. A total 1,344 delegates are up for grabs on the one night. That is about one-third of all delegates, the keys to clinching the presidential nomination.

Jake Tapper, we are about to get the first exit poll information.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That is right, Wolf. And those exit polls will give us early read of what the voters are thinking as they go to the voting boots and choose among the Democratic candidates. We'll be looking hints about how Senator Bernie Sanders is doing against the reenergized Joe Biden following Biden's big win in South Carolina.

And the coalescing of moderate voters and moderate candidates, rather, around him including former rivals Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar. This also, of course, marks the first test of former New York City mayor, Mike Bloomberg. We're going to see if the millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions he has invested in this campaign translates into actual votes and delegates. And we're going to look for early clues about the fate of Senator Elizabeth Warren. Will today rejuvenate her campaign or might her campaign not survive Super Tuesday? We're going to cover it all with our political team including our correspondents in the field with the candidates.

Right now, let's go to M.J. Lee, she's covering the Bloomberg campaign. M.J.?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, there is no question that today marks a huge moment of truth for Michael Bloomberg and his campaign. This is a candidate that decided to skip the first four states. This has been an unconventional campaign where he has poured hundreds of millions of dollars of his ow money. And today for the first time he will be on the ballot and get results and find out whether voters are going to vote for him.

Now, I just want to take you a little bit inside the Michael Bloomberg campaign. We have been speaking to some of his advisers and his aides and the one thing that they are pointing to is the fact that they believe a clear frontrunner has not yet emerged in this Democratic race. They looked at what happened in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina and they do not believe there is a clear frontrunner yet.

One senior aide that we spoke to told CNN the race feels really open to us. Now, of course, this is the part of the campaign strategic spin, it ignores one reality that a clear frontrunner could emerge after tonight. And secondly, of course, that Joe Biden has seen real momentum picking up key endorsements. And if a clear frontrunner does emerge there could be growing pressure on Mike Bloomberg to drop out of the race. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, M.J. Lee with the Bloomberg campaign. Let's go now to Elizabeth Warren's campaign where we find Leyla Santiago. Leyla?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we certainly heard Senator Warren take aim at Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire, over the campaign trail. But in last 24 hours we've really seen her take aim at Joe Biden given the moderates said are coalescing around her.

Just yesterday, one of the first lines in her speech as she was speaking in East L.A. she told people no matter how much Washington insiders tell you to support him. Nominating their fellow Washington insider will not meet this moment.

Today when she was asked if she was willing to say that this was do- or-die for her tonight, she didn't go that far. But for weeks now, her campaign has been telling us that the early investment, the organization that she has in those Super Tuesday states, they saw that as the path to the nomination. And today, they are very quick to point out that she raised $29 million in fund-raising last month.

But let's keep talking about that money here, because that is Super PAC, the pro-Warren Super PAC versus PAC has now confirmed to CNN, that they will not be spending money in the March 10 states, states like where we are right now in Michigan. So as Warren continues her fight to make the case for being a progressive and woman in this race, supporters say all eyes will be on tonight.

[17:05:14]

TAPPER: All right, Leyla Santiago in Detroit, Michigan, with the Warren campaign.

And I made an illusion to how much money Mike Bloomberg has spent so much. Let's just take a look at this, this is just ad spending, so this is not organization. This is Super Tuesday ad spending. So this is television, radio and digital. And look at Michael Bloomberg who has lapped the field many times over spending $234.6 million. This is just on the 14 states in America that are voting today.

Now let's look at, first of all by the way, you're wondering where is Vice President Biden on this. His key comes in $2.2 million spending in the last week compared to 2.5 Buttigieg and Klobuchar 4.8. They're not even in the race anymore.

Now let's look at total spending, OK? So Bloomberg 234.6 million, here's total spending, $561 million by Mike Bloomberg who has not completed an actual --

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: More than half a billion dollars.

TAPPER: More than half a billion dollars. He has not competed in an actual contest until today. Tom Steyer who's dropped out of the race $214 million. There's President Trump 60 million. Not too shabby but nothing compared to Bloomberg. Sanders 55 million, Buttigieg 36 million.

Again, I mean, just a remarkable amount of spending for Michael Bloomberg. And we'll see if it delivers even one delegate today.

BASH: That is really the key question. I can tell you that talking to people in the Biden campaign, they are already trolling him, comparing him to Tom Steyer saying, let's just see if any of that buys him any delegates. You know, maybe a little early to be doing that. But that's how they're trying to set the bar for Michael Bloomberg to see if the buying and the spending really pays off.

TAPPER: All right, let's go to David Chalian who has the first results of some of these exit polls. David.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right, Jake. We're taking a look at some of the results, talking to voters, especially in two key early states, Virginia and North Carolina. With this Biden momentum that has occurred over the last 72 hours, we checked in with the voters to see when they made up their mind.

Take a look at this in Virginia, voters there in the Democratic primary, 17 percent said they made up their mind just today, another 30 percent in the last few days. The fact that nearly half to electorate just made up their mind in the last few days or today, that is probably welcomed news for Joe Biden as he has been riding that momentum.

We asked the same question in North Carolina. Take a look here, you see only nine percent in the North Carolina Democratic electorate said they made up their mind today and about quarter of the electorate said the last few days. So that adds up to about a third of the overall electorate there today or in the last few days, 42 percent of the electorate before February.

And then we also asked this question about, are you looking for a candidate who can defeat Donald Trump or one who agrees with you on the issues? Take a look in Virginia again, 56 percent, they're looking for a Trump defeater, 41 percent agrees with you on the issues. This is the message that Joe Biden has been trying to sell.

And take a look, it's even more dramatic in favor of a Trump defeater in North Carolina, 62 percent of the electorate looking for somebody who can beat Donald Trump, 36 percent agrees with you and the issues. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, David Chalian, thanks so much.

So Dana, let's talks about this data which seems to suggest, first of all no surprise, but the most important thing for Democrats voting in Virginia and North Carolina today beating President Trump not that the candidates agrees with them on issues. And then of course this data suggesting that about 40 percent of the people voting in both states, Virginia and North Carolina, made up their mind before February.

BASH: Yes. Which is a big chunk of the electorate in these two states, but the flip side is how many say that they just made up their mind in the past couple of days in Virginia in particular? It's just under a 50 percent --

TAPPER: Yes.

BASH: -- if you add up both which is as David just mentioned in theory is really good for Joe Biden particularly when you are looking at Virginia and you look at the demographics of the Democratic electorate in Virginia. The Biden campaign is hoping that is tailor made for his campaign in that -- it's heavily African-American, and it is a state that tends to be a little bit more moderate, not all of it, but the pockets where there are big population tend to be more moderate. So Biden campaign, they are looking at the numbers saying we hope it is good for us.

TAPPER: Yes. And as you note, almost 50 percent of the voters in Virginia, Democratic voters in Virginia, making up their mind either today or in the last few days. We might remember that the former governor, Terry McAuliffe just endorsed Joe Biden on Saturday. Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. We're closing in on the first results on this Super Tuesday. We'll also dive deeper into the exit polls to learn more about the voters turning out today in the issues driving their choices.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:14:28]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And welcome back. We are crunching the numbers on some of the -- some more of the exit polls that we have been getting. We're going to bring those to you shortly.

It was interesting that we saw in Virginia among -- in terms of when people decided who they're going to vote. People decided today in Virginia 17 percent, people deciding in just a last couple days 30 percent.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: It's -- first of all, that should be good news for Joe Biden if there is momentum of in South Carolina and the very limited amount of data that's out there suggest there is some, because he won so broadly.

COOPER: Actually, sorry. We have more exit polls right now. I just want to go and we'll talk about it. David.

[17:15:04]

CHALIAN: Hey, Anderson, yes. We're taking a look at the New England portion of the contest tonight, specifically in Maine and Massachusetts, and the issues that mattered to people as they went to vote.

Take a look in Maine. Health care on top by far, 47 percent say health care was the issue in Maine that mattered most to them, followed by climate change in 28 percent, income and equality at 17 percent, race relations down at four percent.

In Massachusetts we see a similar story. Health care is the number one issue. We've been seeing this across the country, climate change at 26 percent, income and equality at 21 percent, race relations down to seven percent.

We also asked about Medicare for all. Are you in favor of a government run program instead of private insurance? Look at this. The Democratic electorate in Maine, 72 percent support Medicare for all. Twenty-seven percent oppose. That is an astoundingly popular program that Bernie Sanders has introduced for the voters of Maine.

Not as popular when you look at Massachusetts. The Democratic electorate in Massachusetts, 52 percent, a majority, but a bare slim majority supported only -- and 43 percent oppose Medicare for all. Anderson.

COOPER: Interesting to see how Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren do both in Massachusetts who actually ends up winning that state.

The numbers for Medicare for all, I mean, for Maine and Massachusetts maybe not so surprising. They're higher certainly in terms of support than it was in South Carolina?

CILLIZZA: Yes, the Massachusetts number is interesting only because it is typically one of the most liberal states in terms of votes that we usually see. But remember, they've had a very sordid history with health care just in that state with Mitt Romney as the governor and everything that's happened with Charlie Baker now. It's been a lot of ups and downs in health care. They've had a lot of experience there.

I'm a little bit surprised candidly that support for getting rid of private health insurance is so high in Maine. I mean I'll remind people Maine had Paul LePage as the governor for eight years. One of the -- Donald Trump before Donald Trump in a lot of ways. so yes, I don't -- again, any time you try to pick one number and say, what exactly does this tell us about the electorate? I'm never totally sure, but I am a little bit surprised it's high.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But in Massachusetts --

JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Look, it get depends on how they ask the question, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

GRANHOLM: I mean, if they say Medicare for all which means you eliminate private insurance, you know, that's one type of vote. And it's another to say, of course, I believe that everybody should have access to health care, which is what Medicare for all might symbolize.

ANDREW GILLUM (D), FORMER TALLAHASSEE MAYOR: And in Massachusetts as we call, they have actually experimented much more closely with this model than any state in the union. It reminds me of people down in, you know, the elderly folks in Florida saying, you know, keep the government out of my health care, out of my social security.

GRANHOLM: Right, right.

GILLUM: And these are the government-run programs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

GILLUM: And so folks just basically don't, you know, it's a little bit confusion. Yes. A little bit confusion there.

But I will say, this is actually not an anomaly. This issue on health care --

GRANHOLM: Totally.

GILLUM: -- continues to top the charts and the popularity of Medicare for all whether people understand how the fully define it or not is not the question. They principally believe and agree that this is the direction they want to move in.

The funny thing about it, how ever is that it is not leading them to vote for the candidate who is most, you know, largely championing this. If that were the case, you would imagine these would be huge swings every single time toward either Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. Now, they have done extremely well up to this point, certainly Senator Sanders, but the supportive numbers would suggest that they would do even better. BAKARI SELLERS (D), FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: But I think that also just highlights the fact that Democrats really aren't that far apart on this issue of health care. I mean the divide in this primary, we think it's Gulfs, the Grand Canyon difference, that's not the case at all.

And if we remember back to 2018, we know that the number one issue to usher in this whole new diverse based on gender and race and religion, House majority we got was on the back of this issue of health care. The difference as we're seeing is that you have Joe Biden who wants to build on Obamacare, you have Bernie Sanders who wants to just throw it out of the window and have Medicare for all, government-run, and then you have Elizabeth Warren with some iteration in between. That's all good. That is the Democratic Party. That is the discussion we want to be having because you can clearly just post that in November against Donald Trump --

GILLUM: Without a doubt.

SELLERS: -- who wants to get rid of everything, go back to -- before Obamacare.

GILLUM: You know what, totally agree.

SELLERS: And get rid --

(Crosstalk)

COOPER: It's also just a sign of how far the Democratic Party has moves toward Bernie Sanders. I mean, four years ago what Sanders was saying seemed more radical towards the Democrats.

MITCH LANDRIEU (D), FORMER NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: I think that's partially true. You know, when President Trump's focus -- his supporters would say to us, you don't understand him because you take him literally not figuratively. And if you think about it from that perspective, the message that the Democrats are trying to send is that we are for giving you health care. We believe health care is a right. They think that it's not and they want to take it away from your, which is what the general election is going to be about.

The debate as Bakari said here was whether or not you're going to let the government run everything or whether there's going to be a public- private partnership but make no mistake about it. Opposition white President Trump is in court right now trying to take away protections for pre-existing conditions so we're trying to give people health care and they're trying to take it away.

[17:20:08]

And I'm going to be interested to see tonight how Senator Sanders does in Maine with that number vis-a-vis how he does in Massachusetts which is going to be very interesting.

COOPER: More exit polls. Let's go to David Chalian. CHALIAN: Anderson, we're taking now a loot at the issue of race, the make up of the electorate back in Virginia and North Carolina, as well as the ideological breakdown.

Take a look at Virginia, it is 64 percent white, the Democratic primary electorate there today, 27 percent black. That is about what it was four years ago. In North Carolina, we are actually seeing a dip in the percentage of the black vote that's at 27 percent in North Carolina. It was at 32 percent four years ago, 64 percent white. So North Carolina and Virginia, the makeup of the electorate racially is looking actually pretty similar in those two states.

Ideologically, also, we see some similarity. In Virginia, 20 percent of voters today in the Democratic primary describe themselves as very liberal, 34 percent somewhat liberal, 38 percent moderate, that's a big chunk of the vote there and eight percent conservative.

In North Carolina, you see similar numbers here. Twenty-three percent identify as very liberal, 35 percent as somewhat liberal, 31 percent moderate, so a little bit lower for moderates in North Carolina and 12 percent identify themselves as conservative, Anderson.

COOPER: David Chalian, thank you. We'll come back to you shortly. What do you think accounts for the numbers in terms of the racial breakdowns?

SELLERS: So we've been seeing this around the country. And I don't know if people have picked up on it, the share of African-American voters has been slightly down compared to where it was in 2016. In South Carolina in 2016, it was 61 percent.

What we saw Saturday was it was 55 percent. And you're beginning to see this little decrease. I actually think that's a good sign for Democrats because what I believe that means is that the electorates grow. We saw the percentage of African-Americans in South Carolina go down, but we saw the number of voters who came up, just expand.

I think that is college educated white women are sick and tired of Donald Trump. I think that there are --

(Crosstalk)

GILLUM: -- is the five percent in South Carolina, white voters.

SELLERS: I actually believe that there are a lot of just not college educated white womens, although I think-- white women -- I just added a S to it, good God (ph). But there's not only --- it's not only them driving it. But it's also just the suburban whites who are now coming to the Democratic Party, because the notion of Donald Trump is so offensive that they want Democrats to give them a option.

COOPER: So you're saying it's not actually numbers of African-American voters who aren't showing up? It's --

GILLUM: It's the share of the electorate. SELLERS: It's the share of the electorate. I just think that there are more white voters voting in the Democratic primary process which I think is good and bears out. I mean, Michael would know this more being in Pennsylvania and knowing what the Democrats have to do in a lot of these suburbs to win.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think what it's speaking to is the divide being one of urban/suburban first ring of the suburbia versus rural America. I mean, look at the color shaded map every time there's a presidential race. In fact the President today is using in his social media a very red map of the country which is a little bit misleading, because it overlooks where the population lies, but that's the battle. It's a rural versus suburb and the urban development.

GRANHOLM: And this is exactly right. It goes to this issue that has been a divisive issue inside of the Democratic Party of, do we focus on turnout or do we focus on persuasion. And persuasion of course would suggests that we are trying the woo over those Republicans who seems to have increased in percentage and voted in the Democratic primary. The reality is you have to do both. It's not a binary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a and/or, it's a both and.

GRANHOLM: It's a both and.

CILLIZZA: Just one other thing about the suburbs, I mean, just -- and Bakari mentioned sort of who came in in 2018 and what it looked like. Look, and Michael knows this, I mean, in Philadelphia, some suburban areas in California, suburban areas in Florida, 40 -- and I just looked this up really quickly, more than half of the vote in 2018 was suburban, 51 percent, 49 percent voted for Democrats and 49 percent for Republicans.

Ten years ago, Republicans had a massive edge. I do think that is -- it's a lot of things, but at least part of it is the Trump effect, and I don't know what else it could be.

GRANHOLM: His behavior is shrinking his own potential base.

LANDRIEU: I think there's something bigger going on in the country right now. I do agree with you that the strategy has to be both and. But I think people are beginning to understand that this country is dangerously divided and many people starting to say, we have got to find a way to come back together. And I think some of these numbers are beginning to reflect.

Well, it's not really about the tax cut and that's not necessary, but we really have to find a way to heal this country and the person. You can't govern if you don't win. And in my opinion, you cannot win if you don't run as somebody who's going to be the president of the whole country. And so we're going to have this debate for the next couple of months in the Democratic Party about how to get that. But essentially I think that's what the country is looking for more than anything else. COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We're processing more information from our exit polls of Super Tuesday voters. How angry are Democrats of President Trump, get another update from David Chalian ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:29:50]

BLITZER: Polls close in Virginia in about 90 minutes. Ninety-nine delegates at stake. David Chalian you've got some more exit poll information doing a little bit of deeper dive.

CHALIAN: That's right, Wolf. First of all, Virginia, a key state for Democrats in the fall must stay in their column if they're going to win the White House back, and a racially diverse, ideologically diverse state in this Democratic primary. I think these findings will spell out the contours of this entire race going forward.

Let's look again, health care. The dominant issue here in Virginia, 43 percent say it's the issue that mattered most in their vote today. 22 percent income inequality, you see climate change and race relations below that. This is going to be a health care battle going forward in this race.

Take a look at that question again. Would you get rid of private insurance in favor of government run program? 52 percent, a majority, a slim majority, but a majority of Democrats in Virginia support Medicare for All. 46 percent oppose. Again, this is a Sanders-Biden battle right there that shaping up.

And this last finding in Virginia, maybe one of the most fascinating. Look at this, we asked, what is your sense about the economic system in the United States and what needs to happen? Only 11 percent say it works well as it is. But look at this, 45 percent says the economic system needs minor changes. 42 percent says it needs a complete overhaul. That is such a difference of opinion split roughly down the middle there between those two thoughts. Minor changes complete overhaul in this critical battleground state of Virginia. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, David, thanks so much. And Dana, we're looking at these numbers trying to figure out what it might mean reading the tea leaves. It is remarkable that a majority of the voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia who went to vote today in the Democratic primary, think that all private insurance should be replaced with a government plan for all which is something that Joe Biden does not support and something that Bernie Sanders specifically does.

BASH: It's also surprising given the fact that so much of the Democratic electorate is in the D.C. suburbs. And even the Sanders campaign, I was talking to somebody there today, admits that those Democrats are the most resistant to the change that Bernie Sanders is talking about. Because when -- they think when he says, you know, anti-establishment, it means them.

TAPPER: Right. BASH: And so, if you kind of have that context and look at the fact that a majority says that what Sanders is saying about health care is right. You know, it begs the question, you know, how -- you know, how complicated and counterproductive or counterintuitive, I should say, is a better word, is this electorate on so many of these issues. Because you can look at one issue and say, aha, that points to a Bernie Sanders voter. But you can look at another most likely to be Joe Biden, which David talked about earlier, and that points --

TAPPER: Yes.

BASH: -- to Joe Biden majority.

TAPPER: Although, of course, voters are also more complicated than that.

BASH: Every one of them.

TAPPER: There are two conflicting thoughts in their heads at the same time. And I think Joe Biden in South Carolina did very well with voters who wanted a Medicare for All plan, even though obviously --

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: -- they've not -- he does not want that. And we should keep in mind also that a majority of Virginia voters not even close 56 percent said it was more important that they vote for somebody who they think can be Donald Trump, President Trump, then with somebody they agree with. So there might have been voters who want Medicare for All but voted for Joe Biden. Anyway, we don't know. We shall see, Wolf?

BLITZER: As voting continues in Super Tuesday states, Jake, there's certainly a lot of excellent poll information coming in. We're about to get a snapshot of anger at President Trump, much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:37:55]

BLITZER: Welcome back. David Chalian, you're looking closely at the exit polls and you're getting a sense of anger at the President among these Democratic voters.

CHALIAN: That's right, Wolf. We're looking sort of along the east here, if you will, from the south to the north, Alabama and North Carolina and up in Maine to take the political temperature of Democrats showing up in the polls. Look at this. We asked about the voters feelings about the Trump administration. In Alabama, 55 percent of the electorate today says they're angry about the Trump administration.

Take a look at North Carolina. As you move up north, the electorate gets angrier. 62 percent are angry at the Trump administration. That's their feeling. And look at Maine, you go all the way up to Maine, 79 percent of the Democrats who are showing up to vote in Maine today say their feeling about the Trump administration is anger. It is that level of anger, Anderson, that Democrats are counting on in November to mobilize and use to defeat Donald Trump.

COOPER: Dave Chalian, thanks very much. Let's go back to our panel. Sorry, Mayor --

GILLUM: You almost called me governor.

COOPER: I hope --

(INAUDIBLE)

GILLUM: This is the real man.

COOPER: You were talking about health care.

GILLUM: Yes. I mean, we saw those -- I felt like we went a little quickly through it in the sense that the consistency of this being a primary issue and not by a little bit but by a lot for so many of these Democratic voters, that dissatisfaction on the economic issues pull the rug from underneath the table, took the whole thing over the system, in and of itself does not work. Speaks to, I think a lot of the surprise, a lot of us have seen around the rise of Bernie Sanders, he has tapped into something that is so prescient, so real, similar to what Trump was able to do --

COOPER: We just saw those numbers about anger among this electorate (ph).

GILLUM: For sure. And all I would say is that, look, for many of these people, when they don't have access to health care, they're terrified of getting sick because if they get sick, they can't go to work.

COOPER: Well --

[17:40:01]

GILLUM: And if they can't go to work, they don't get paid.

COOPER: Right.

GILLUM: And if they don't get paid, they can't pay their bills. And when they cannot pay their bills, lights get cut off, rent didn't get paid, mortgage didn't paid.

COOPER: Right.

GILLUM: And so, he is speaking to something that is so prescient for so many Americans. And I think if we wanted a reason to explain his rise and the popularity and why it is shock so much of the system, I think we can go to the fact that he has had a very powerful listening ear to what's happening to people everyday on the ground and to, as a warning, to Vice President Biden, and I'll stop. It is simply to say I heard him talk about after South Carolina, that people don't want a revolution, they want results. And I don't disagree with the results part. But I would caution him to borrow from Elizabeth Warren, who spends this much time energy and effort running for the most important and most powerful position in the country to tell us what we cannot do. He has to have an aspirational vision as well for where he wants to take us if he wants to attract some of these voters and grow his base of support.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And also I think the idea that what, you know, Biden is offering and what Bernie is offering are basically the same thing. I don't agree with that. I mean, I do think Bernie is actually talking about completely disrupting the system.

And for a lot of people, they've heard Democrats talking about what they're going to do to help with health care, but it hasn't actually been getting that much better. We have more people covered, no question. But the prices are completely out of control. People are in constant fear of going bankrupt --

GILLUM: Right.

POWERS: -- you know, because they have some sort of medical crisis. And what Bernie's saying is, you know, I'm going to go in, and I'm just going to completely change the entire system. And I think, you know, and so I think that -- but all that said, what we see in these, you know, these exit polls is that what they really care about is beating Trump. So, however people feel about health care, that may not be ultimately what they hold on and voting on who they think --

SMERCONISH: I was going to say that the conversation so often about healthcare in this country, from my perspective, is one of who'll be paying instead of how much we'll be paying, and that needs to shift at some point. Another reaction that I have as I look at these numbers, whether it's Medicare for All, overhauling the economy, people being angry, winning matters most. It's a reminder for sitting in the debate hall, as I've done many, many times and have heard what plays well in a Democratic debate hall. And I have said to myself, works here. I'm not sure how it works beyond these environments.

SELLERS: Can I give you a different perspective on health care, because I understand that paradigm, but when I was in the general assembly from '06 to '14, one of the things we focused on as the mayor -- as Mayor Gillum -- Andrew, talked about was the fact that we're having a conversation about access.

In 2010, my hospital shut down, right? The hospital -- so if you had a heart attack, you had to travel 35 miles to the nearest hospital. And not only did that hospital, people just think that's somewhere you go. Unfortunately, too many people go for primary care, but that also was an economic hub. It was the second largest employer in the county, around that you have florist shops, you had pharmacies, you had all of these things.

And so, while we're having a lot of these other conversations, there's a great deal of fear that is going into this discussion about healthcare. And people sometimes, what we're having -- I hear this more often than not, I know Twitter is going to go crazy, but they're like, OK, I get Medicare for All or I have insurance, but I still have nowhere to go to get a mammogram. I still have nowhere to go to get preventive care. And so I think that we have to have a holistic discussion about what people are really asking.

CILLIZZA: I do think though that anger piece, just to go back to what Mayor Gillum was saying, and I think it undergirds your point. It's fear, and I also think it's anger at this. How does the system not work?

GILLUM: That's right.

CILLIZZA: It seems to work for fall of black people --

GILLUM: That's right.

CILLIZZA: -- and not for others.

COOPER: So how does play out in the fall?

CILLIZZA: Yes. Well, look -- I mean --

COOPER: And does Biden tap into that all?

CILLIZZA: OK. So I'm thinking of Biden, because I do think -- if you look at angry usually -- the politicians from the side will say, well, angry usually is not something you want to come across as, but Donald Trump was quite clearly angry. I always point back to his inauguration speech, in which he painted this very dark, angry portrait of America.

Bernie Sanders is like your irascible grandfather. He's annoyed at stuff. He voices that this is revolution. They are fighting us there. I thought Joe Biden was --

GILLUM: But from a point, that justice, right.

CILLIZZA: Yes, I agree. You don't have to be angry just to be angry.

GILLUM: That's right.

CILLIZZA: But I actually -- I was thinking about Biden because I think the thing that Biden has struggled with is that passion. Let's not call it anger necessarily but passion.

GILLUM: Sure.

CILLIZZA: In the South Carolina debate in Charleston, he was -- I know if he was angry, passionate, but he, a couple times said, everybody else is going to go over their time limit. I'm going to go over or hold on of it.

COOPER: Yes, but there's a difference between angry about like debate --

CILLIZZA: Yes, I agree, but -- and there's like --

COOPER: It's hardly something that people mobilize behind. CILLIZZA: I don't know but do you think people want to see him --

COOPER: Give him more time.

CILLIZZA: I want -- I think people want to see some spark from him --

GILLUM: You're talking about the --

CILLIZZA: You were saying this is the guy who was supposed to be able to beat Donald Trump. If I'm imagining him on a debate stage, is this the guy? He doesn't have to initially be angry, but he has to be passionate. He can't just be like, no, wait, oh my time is up.

(CROSSTALK)

GILLUM: That's right.

[17:45:02]

GRANHOLM: It's not like that. I mean, you are so right in that we -- our candidate, whoever it is, whether it's Biden and Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, has to demonstrate that they're mad on behalf of America, on behalf of people who have no microphone --

GILLUM: That's right.

GRANHOLM: -- who have no means. Who are we as a nation if we do not provide some kind of safety net for people who have fallen between. You may hold one and have a safety net today and I will hold it tomorrow, but between us we make sure that we're not falling through. That kind of insistence about who we are, that is critical for whoever the nominee is.

And I would just say this. Biden's health care plan is far more progressive --

GILLUM: Sure.

GRANHOLM: -- than it would have -- than anybody's would have been in the mainstream Democratic column. And I credit Bernie Sanders with that.

GILLUM: But I also agree that --

GRANHOLM: But nobody should go with that health care.

GILLUM: But then the Vice President shouldn't go out there and basically say, we're going to do a return to normal. And maybe that's not --

(CROSSTALK)

GILLUM: I'm saying how it is being interpreted by the people who are on the listening side of this, which is nothing is going to change, whether he meant that or not. And I don't think he meant that.

GRANHOLM: No.

GILLUM: I think that the people who are out there who are listening to him, they're saying, wait a minute, everything about my life seems to be disrupted and has to change. And so, I need something more urgent, more insistent, more passionate, and something that reflects the fact that you see me and my lived experience.

COOPER: We got to take a break. Coming up on your watch, checking on polling places and critical Super Tuesday states, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee. We're also learning more about the issues driving the choices of voters from our exit polls. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:51:32]

BLITZER: Let's check in with our reporters at key polling places and some of these very important Super Tuesday polling places. Amara Walker is joining us from Nashville, Tennessee. There was a tornado, some deadly storms earlier in the day. How's it working out?

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a big victory for the Democratic Party here in Tennessee. I just got off the phone with the Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party Mary Mancini and she tells me that they just filed a lawsuit against Davidson County, which includes Nashville. And she tells me that the judge swift (ph) the rule to extend the voting hours. She had been arguing that if the polls were going to open an hour later, they should be extended by an hour.

And now super sites like this one here, there are three super sites in total. In Davidson County, they will now stay open until 8:00 p.m. Central as opposed to 7:00 p.m. Central. Also there are five designated mega sites. Now mega sites are basically polling stations in this county where anyone can go and vote.

So again, a big victory for the Democratic Party. They were saying that this was needed for the people who are impacted by the tornado, who didn't have the resources to get to the polling places because of closed roads and things that were in their way. She said that a time -- the extra time was needed.

Also, these super sites, I mean, the lines have been super long. People have been standing in line for two to four hours or so just to cast their ballot and that is because there were up to 18 polling stations in the Nashville area that basically were damaged because of the tornado or impacted in some way. And they've all been consolidated into these super sites. So a big victory for the Tennessee Democratic Party. Back to you.

BLITZER: Amara, thank you very much. We'll get back to you in Nashville.

Let's go to Missouri City, Texas right now. Ed Lavandera is there. The weather is a lot better there. Ed, what do you see?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are in Fort Bend County and this is one of those suburbs of the big cities of Texas that Texas Republicans are incredibly nervous about this election cycle. It has become far more diverse than it's ever been. This is where they're worried about women voters turning away from President Donald Trump.

And here at this site we have seen more than 1,500 people voted this particular precinct. This is way up compared to previous years. More than almost 37,000 people have voted countywide so far here in Fort Bend County. What's most significant is that Democrats are outpacing Republicans in this primary today by more than 9,000 voters.

And what we're hearing very often, a wide array of the Democratic voters that we've talked to have been kind of all over the map in terms of who they're supporting. Joe Biden does have the majority of the support of people we've talked to you. And what is interesting when you talk to those voters, they have made that decision, either at the very last second, or in the last couple of days. Wolf?

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera in Texas for us. Brian Todd is in Northern Virginia and Falls Church, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. What do you see over there, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, the rush hour pushes on here at Graham Road Elementary School, Falls Church, Virginia, a busy precinct. We've been here for about 12 hours now sampling voters. They're voting over here and putting their votes on the tabulator over there. In a little more than an hour, this station is going to close and we'll get some results.

But what we've been doing, Wolf, we've been sampling voters all day long for the last 12 hours. I heard you talking with David Chalian and with your panelists about how many voters in Virginia made up their minds at the last minute, maybe made up their minds over the past 72 hours. I can tell you that in this -- my team and I have sampled over 100 voters who've come through here.

[17:55:04]

What we picked up is very, very strong support for Joe Biden and that theme playing out in this precinct very strongly. People making up their minds either at the last minute or since maybe Saturday when Biden won the South Carolina primary, they sense his viability.

They've also picked up on Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropping out of the race, throwing their support to Joe Biden. That made a big difference to a lot of people here, Biden with a lot of support in this precinct, and a lot of people making up their minds over the past 72 hours, Wolf.

And we're going to see how that plays out in the rest of Northern Virginia. We're smack dab in the middle of Fairfax County, one of those crucial demographic areas, high density population in the state of Virginia, that all the candidates really covered to win this state.

BLITZER: Polls closing Virginia at about an hour, so Brian, we'll get back to you. We're getting closer and closer to the first hole closings here on the East Coast, not only in Virginia but in Vermont as well. Stay with us for the first results. New exit information and much more of our special coverage after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)