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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

George W. Bush On The Campaign Trail For Brother Jeb; GOP Says It Will Likely Block Any Nominee President Obama Presents For Justice Scalia's Replacement; White House Republicans Full of "Bluster"; Tension Flare Over Supreme Court Vacancy; GOP Candidates Call For Delay In Nomination; Who Is President Obama's Shortlist?; Clinton, Sanders Vie For Votes In Nevada, S.C. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 15, 2016 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:16] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

Welcome to the battle lines. Just five days left until they go before the voters in South Carolina. The leading Republican presidential candidates are for all intense and purposes at war with one another. Trump against Cruz. Cruz against Trump. Cruz against Rubio. Trump against Bush. Candidates calling other candidates unstable, liars, threatening lawsuits. Hasn't been this tough since Andrew Jackson supporters called John Quincy Adams a pimp and Adams' supporter called Jackson's wife, well, you'll have to look that one up because I'm not going to say it.

Now, Jeb Bush who has been used by Trump at times as a political punching bag is punching back bringing his brother, the former president, into the fight. George W. Bush may have left office as one of the least popular presidents in history but he remains one of the most popular Republicans in South Carolina where he campaigned with his brother today and where Donald Trump was the unspoken subject.

We'll have more on the impact he made from our Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former president George W. Bush with his wife Laura on the 2016 campaign trail to try to make his brother Jeb the next president.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I came here for two reasons. One, because I care deeply about Jeb and, two, because I care deeply about our country.

TUCHMAN: The two sons of another former president George H. W. Bush have not campaigned together during this election until now in South Carolina.

G. BUSH: There seems to be a lot of name calling going on. But I want to remind you what our good dad told me one time. Labels are for soup cans.

TUCHMAN: George W. Bush did not mention Donald Trump by name, but there were clear inferences to the real estate mogul.

G. BUSH: I understand Americans are angry and frustrated. But we do not need someone in the oval office who mirrors and inflames our anger and frustration.

TUCHMAN: And those inferences were sprinkled throughout the speech.

G. BUSH: Strength is not empty rhetoric. It's not bluster. And in my experience, the strongest person usually isn't the loudest one in the room.

TUCHMAN: Jeb Bush is significantly behind in South Carolina primary polls but hopes this event provides a spark.

If Jeb Bush doesn't stun the political world and win the South Carolina primary it will break the Bush family palmetto state winning streak. His brother won here in 2000 with uncontested and 2004. His father won in 1988 and 1992.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a Bush country, man. South Carolina is Bush country.

TUCHMAN: Many supporters here believe George W. Bush's brotherly campaign appearance can help change the dynamics in the state's primary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he was a wonderful president. I know he gets a lot of criticism. But I think given the cards he was dealt, he did a wonderful job.

TUCHMAN: So you think this will help his brother's campaign?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TUCHMAN: You think he can win South Carolina?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he can. I think if he doesn't win, he's going to do very well.

TUCHMAN: While many people here have supported Jeb Bush from the beginning, some others have gravitated towards him because of their dislike for one of the other Republican candidates.

How does it make you feel when Donald Trump makes fun of Jeb by saying he's campaigning with his mommy and now brother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juvenile is really the only word to say it. I think that is the only way to describe the way that he really is in general is very juvenile. Very child-like. And it's not really, I think, getting him anywhere with people who are really paying attention to things.

TUCHMAN: But Donald Trump has a commanding lead in the polls. Much to the dismay of many people here who have supported Bushes in the past and plan to support this Bush in the immediate future this Saturday. JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I ask for your support next

Saturday. I ask for your prayers for our family. God bless you all. Thank you very much for coming.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Gary joins us from North Charleston, South Carolina.

Sounds like President George W. Bush has a very positive reception there from what we saw. What do supporters think about him spending more time on the trail with his brother?

TUCHMAN: Well, the second this event ended, Anderson, I heard a group of Jeb Bush supporters say why hasn't this guy been out on the trail more? And I talk to several people afterwards and they said they want to see him on the trail in the days to come.

What was noble about the speech that George W. Bush spoke behind for about 22 minutes. His brother, wanting for president of the United States only 15 minutes. So the former president spoke longer than the man who hopes to be president.

Also, an interesting side note here. At one point, George W. Bush said he doesn't really missed Washington and the White House after eight years and then a chant began. We miss you. We miss you, Mr. President. But the most noteworthy time of this evening, Anderson, was him slamming Donald Trump without once mentioning his name.

COOPER: All right, Gary. Thanks very much for the reporting.

This, of course, is only the latest skirmish in a long running effort to put Jeb Bush in a corner using his brother's stance on Iraq and 9/11. Governor Bush himself has stumbled early on dealing with it. Fair to though, that no one has become better at twisting this particular night than Donald J. Trump who is finishing up a rally right now in Greenville, South Carolina. Take a look at this moment from Saturday night's debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[20:05:12] J. BUSH: I could care less about the insults that's Donald Trump gives to me. It's blood sport for him. He enjoys it. And I'm glad he's happy about it. But I have --

I am sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind. And while -- while Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I'm proud of what he did. He's had the gall to go after --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The world trade center came down in your brother's reign. Remember that.

J. BUSH: Let me finish -- he's had the gall to go after my mother.

TRUMP: That's not keeping us safe. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joining us now CNN political commentator and former Reagan White House political director Jeffrey Lord who supports Trump. National Republican consultant and former South Carolina Republican party chairman Katon Dawson and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, what do you make, first of all, the former president George W. Bush's comments tonight? I mean, certainly, the gloves are off when it comes to Trump but avoiding his name is interesting.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was. Look. I mean, he didn't have to say his name. Everybody knew who he was talking about. Everybody knew what he was talking about. He has kind of made it his life's work post-White House to not delve into politics. Even going where he went tonight was way further than he has for years n years and years.

But I actually think in some ways it was more powerful and, you know, dare we say presidential for him to do it the way he did by talking about his traits without saying his name and comparing and contrasting the Donald Trump that we have all come to know with the Jeb Bush that we hear Jeb Bush explain. You know, the fact that he is a quiet leader and so on and so forth. The way that he compared and contrasted that I think was pretty powerful.

COOPER: Katon, it is interesting. You know South Carolina better than anyone, certainly. I heard some people saying, you know, it was interesting to see Jeb Bush and his brother side by side one after the other. Their styles are obviously very different. I'm wondering how you think this played in South Carolina.

KATON DAWSON, FORMER CHAIRMAN, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PARTY: I think it will play real well. George Bush when he was president of the United States came to South Carolina eight different times raising money for Mark Sanford, raising money for Lindsey Graham, electing Jim DeMint to U.S. Senate. Certainly, eight times is a lot for a president compared to Barack Obama, one time in eight years. So that builds a base. His dad has been here.

And what I saw was some confidence out of Jeb Bush that I haven't seen in the past. And that was with his brother showing up. I'm not sure, unless President Bush stays on the trail with him, that he can keep that momentum. He's pretty far down in the polls. Trump made some tactical errors on Saturday night. The exchange that you showed with Jeb going after Donald Trump on the issue of 9/11, I think one thing to make note is CNN and 2012, your exit polls showed 55 percent of South Carolinians made their mind up the last week of the election. And I contend that's getting ready to happen now.

COOPER: Jeffrey, I mean, what about that? These attacks by Donald Trump and the Bush family calling George W. Bush fair game, attacking again on 9/11 occurring during his presidency. Do you see that resonating in a state like South Carolina especially with the amount of military voters? JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's possible.

Anderson, I spent the day going back through the 2000 South Carolina primary. And it was pretty rugged. It was between George W. Bush and John McCain. And one of the things I think we're not thinking of here is the return of George W. Bush, President Bush, to the campaign trail. It's going to bring forth all the - sort of dig up the South Carolina primary of 2000 in the way the Bush family treated John McCain.

Today they are saying he's a hero but it's obvious the Bush campaign and their allies in 2000 were slamming him as being, and I'm quoting from an article in "vanity fair," crazy, having fathered a black child out of wedlock. I mean, Mrs. McCain was supposed to be a drug addict. It was really pretty savage and left a pretty bad taste in senator McCain's mouth that I think took him quite a while to get over. So I think that's something that Donald Trump is going to, you know, be looking at here as the Bushes return to try and do this again.

COOPER: Katon, what about that? I mean, South Carolina politics are legendarily tough.

DAWSON: There are tough. And I was a member of the '99-00 Bush squad. I was chairman in 2004 and I was chairman in 2008. So we also nominated John McCain for the presidency in South Carolina.

I think all that is eye wash talking about those former races won't matter. I think in the next couple of days, what's going to matter is the posturing. We're getting ready to have 700,000 people vote. About 100,000, none of the campaigns know exactly who they are, Anderson. That's going to be a big difference.

I think that Donald makes a big mistake if he wants to make an issue of George W. Bush in South Carolina, a big tactical mistake. A guy with a pretty good lead, a pretty solid base and maybe some numbers are telling him he needs to do that. But he was in good shape.

Right now the field is open. Rubio had a good night. Cruz had a bad night on Saturday. But the voters are open and I listened to them today, Anderson. They are moving. They are talking about it and there's a lot of energy and excitement here. And it's going to get a little rougher. So if anybody wants to start whining in South Carolina, the voters will usually punish you for that.

[20:10:42] COOPER: Just no whining zone. We are going to pick up the conversation after a short break, focus on the Trump/Cruz battle as well. There is a lot of fascinating stuff there.

Later the showdown over naming a Supreme Court justice. Republicans vowing to block any nominee that President Obama puts forward.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:14:42] COOPER: Well, if you thought you would heard it all from Donald Trump, you are wrong. He has renewed his directive to sue Ted Cruz over that Cruz is born in Canada and he has added a few new weapons to his verbal arsenal. They are weapons which have become an all-out GOP presidential war. On the Trump/Cruz front, things reached new highs today or maybe new lows depending on how you look at it. I want to play you some sound from both candidates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[20:15:02] TRUMP: Ted Cruz is desperate. Look, he's -- I think Ted is a very unstable guy. I have never, ever met a person that lies more than Ted Cruz. I have never, ever seen anything like it.

CRUZ: Today Donald Trump held a press conference where he apparently lost it. I mean, he was just going on and on about how I'm the most horrible person in the world because I keep repeating the things he said. And, you know, it's an amazing thing. You notice how rattled Donald gets when his numbers start going down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And back with the panel.

Dana, I mean, this battle between Trump and Cruz. Have you seen anything like this in politics lately?

BASH: It's hard to answer that question because we have seen so much craziness going on. But I have to say over the past two days, really since the debate on Saturday night, the "l" word, liar, has been used so much between Cruz and Trump and also Marco Rubio. He was on "STATE OF THE UNION" which I was filling in on Sunday and Marco Rubio called Ted Cruz a liar like six times in one sentence. That I had not seen in a very long time. I mean, it used to be you didn't say words like that. Those days are over.

COOPER: Jeff, I mean, the new comments by Trump/Cruz is essentially saying what Donald Trump is becoming unhinged, he is up against a wall. Last week Trump talked about changing his tone if he were to become president. He certainly seems to be doubling down.

LORD: Yes. You know, again, Anderson, this is what candidates do in presidential primaries. There's a long American history. I mean, you cited some of it earlier tonight with Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams. These things are pretty brutal.

One of the useful purposes, though, that this shows, which should never be lost sight of here is if the candidate, whether it's Trump or Cruz or Bush or whomever can't stand up to these kind of assaults, then by the time they get to face the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton or any other, the full weight of the Democratic Party machine will come down on them and they won't be able to withstand it. So what this is, what a lot of Republicans are looking for in the midst of all this chaos and the words is who can stand up to this? Who will fight back? Donald Trump is a fighter. He's fighting back and that's an important thing for the base of the party to understand and know.

COOPER: And Katon, there is also the evangelical vote, how large a role it plays in a state like South Carolina. Does George W. Bush stumping for his brother play to that strength? DAWSON: If he stays in South Carolina, Anderson. The question is,

does George Bush go back to Dallas? You know, he is going to have to stay here and do an awful lot to help him. I think one of the things --

BASH: That's not going to happen.

DAWSON: The two that got hurt now are Cruz and Trump and each other. I mean, the lesson learned from Christie versus Rubio is that. So I think what you are watching right now is a pretty good battle. The evangelicals here are matters. It's 62 percent self-identified. They want to see how you take a punch also. So it's opened up the field pretty good. It's going to be a sporty week. That 30 pieces of mail (INAUDIBLE), and the whiners trophy is going to go right now to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for the time being.

COOPER: Dana, do we know - I mean, is the former president going to stay longer?

BASH: Right now I'm told the answer to that is no. I asked earlier tonight whether or not he is going to be back any time soon, and the answer from the senior Bush source was, it's tough. Probably not. But you never know. He looked like he felt pretty comfortable getting back into the game there tonight. And maybe with the kind of reception he got and seeing the kind of boost he clearly gave to his brother, first of all, just bringing the crowd in, but also, I mean, Jeb Bush seemed like a different person. He seemed like the animated guy with burr that people said that he was back in the '90s in Florida. Perhaps being the big brother, he sees that's and says, well, maybe I need to give my little brother a little more love.

COOPER: Dana, I mean, this may be a stupid thing to even bring up, but is it a conscious thing? Jeb Bush did not wear glasses today. Is that conscious?

BASH: That's right. It has to be. The first thing I noticed was looking at him saying, God, he looks so different. He is not wearing his glasses. And it does seems kind of superficial but it's a thing because part of the perception of Jeb Bush is that, you know, people talked about his father and the fact there was the wimp factor, I hate to say it. But the way he came across was not as towering and having that kind of presence that he should for somebody physically of his size, and perhaps it's because he hunches. He's gotten very thin and also those glasses.

I was texting with some Bush sources watching him speaking without the glasses and got some jokes back saying the ladies all like him without his glasses, but it clearly makes a difference in how he's perceived. In this profession, in campaigning and politics, perception is so important.

[20:20:16] COOPER: I'm just going to take off my glasses right based on everything just said.

BASH: Not nearly as cool as yours.

COOPER: I now feel emasculated on so many different levels by Dana Bash.

DAWSON: When you take the gloves off, you take the glasses off, too.

COOPER: Exactly, yes.

BASH: If he has glasses, he is cool and as hip as yours, Anderson. That wouldn't be an issue. Am I digging myself out?

COOPER: Too late for that.

Listen. We have to leave it there. Dana Bash, thank you. Jeffrey Lord and Katon Dawson, always great you have on. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

This week I'm going to be hosting two Republican town halls in South Carolina. On Wednesday, I will be with Dr. Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. That's Wednesday night. And Thursday, John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump will be taking questions both from me and audience members. That's starting 8:00 p.m. eastern Wednesday and Thursday, two big nights in a row right here on CNN.

Just ahead tonight, PRESIDENT Obama weighing Supreme Court nominees to succeed the late justice Scalia. Senate Republicans saying essentially don't even bother. The question is do they have a legal leg to stand on it? We'll talk about it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:25:13] COOPER: Tonight, how the passing of the longest serving justice on the Supreme Court may ignite the hottest burning firestorm Washington has seen in decades. There is a plenty of smoke already. Just hours after word came that associate Justice Antonin Scalia had died in his sleep at a Texas hunting resort Saturday night, Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates began weighing in saying the vacancy should not be filled until a new president takes office.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell went further vowing to block any nominee at all gambling on a Republican winning the White House in November and preserving the court's 5-4 mix of Republican and Democratic appointees. Now, the White House labeling a bluster saying President Obama will name someone shortly calling their bet and potentially launching the toughest political battle since the fight over Obamacare.

Justice correspondent Pamela Brown is following late developments on the death of Scalia and the battle over naming his successor. She joins us from Washington.

So what are the latest details?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We know, Anderson, that Justice Scalia went to Texas on Friday for a hunting trip at a secluded resort. And he has dinner on Friday night with a group of people. The ranch owner had been speaking to reporters. He said Scalia was entertaining. He was engaged throughout the dinner. And at around 9:00 p.m. he said he had a long week and wanted to get a good night sleep. A separate source tells my colleague Evan Perez that Scalia said he wasn't feeling well on Friday. So the next day, Anderson, the range owner checked on Justice Scalia because he didn't show up for breakfast and lunch and he says he found him in bed lying in repose. The said sheets weren't wrinkled. There were no signs of foul play. So it appears that he died in his sleep of natural causes and the family has reportedly requested for him not to have an autopsy.

COOPER: In terms of political fallout, there is a fight, obviously, brewing over the successor between the White House and Republicans. Any sense of a timetable as to how it could play out?

BROWN: Well, likely it will be within the next month we'll hear about a nomination from the White House just based on previous nominations coming from President Obama with Sotomayor and Kagan.

But no doubt about it, Anderson, Scalia's death sent President Obama and Senate Republicans on this collision course. And the fight began shortly after news of his death broke on Saturday. President Obama said that he will fulfill his constitutional duty to nominate someone to fill Scalia's vacancy. And today the White House said the Republicans are for a bluster on the issue and have an ironclad responsibility to confirm the president's nominee. But Senate Republicans have made it clear, they will not confirm any Supreme Court nominees until the next president is elected. As one GOP source told me tonight, whoever the nominee is while President Obama is in office is dead in the water and a quote "nonstarter." So for certainly, the big fig ahead.

COOPER: Yes. Pamela, thanks very much.

Let's go to our panel now. Jeffrey Toobin CNN senior legal analyst joins us here in New York. Also Dana Bash, CNN chief political correspondent. And David Gergen, senior political analyst joining us from Massachusetts tonight.

How do you see this playing out, Jeff?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: With no confirmation.

COOPER: You don't think they're going to happen?

TOOBIN: Absolutely not. This seat is too precious to the Republicans because, you know, this is the pivot on the -- on which the court turns. There are four Democratic appointees. Five Republican appointees, with Scalia. To have five Democratic appointees would be an earthquake in the history of the Supreme Court. And the Republicans have the power to stop a nominee, and they're going to use it.

COOPER: Dana, this is a year when you not only have a presidency up for grabs but control of congress. Democrats already saying this is GOP obstructionism.

BASH: They are, but the Republicans who have the most to lose in the Senate, the most vulnerable. There are five incumbent Republicans who are potentially in trouble and in danger of losing their seats. Four of them came out today saying that they are in support of what Mitch McConnell is doing. They think it is the correct thing to do to wait until President Obama is out of office and the next president comes in.

So they are all banking on the fact that it is far more dangerous to not follow the Republicans' lead here than to break from the Republican, even though they are in purple states, swing states where Democrats already are using this against them.

COOPER: I mean, David, you know, the talk from Republicans is that the American people deserve a say in this. But they did have a say - I mean, they re-elected President Obama in 2012. That's the counterargument. Why shouldn't a nominee --?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. The arguments on both sides. Well, he should get a nominee and I think he should. I think he will in the next 30 days or so come up with a nominee. And he will send it forth to the Senate. And what I think the Republicans must do at that point is not simply turn their backs on them on the nomination. They ought to process the nomination. Go through all the papers. Go through the hearings and everything like that. Put it up for a vote at which point they are very, very likely to reject. That is within the power of --

[20:30:00] that's how the Constitution works. And we've seen people reject it in the past.

I do think this is, you know, the body is not even in the ground and this question has touched off a political firestorm. We get all parties understand now that all three branches of the government are up for grabs in this election. That hasn't happened in a long, long, long time.

COOPER: And Jeff, in terms of other issues facing the court in this next year, I mean, this could have an impact on a number of decisions made this year.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It could. Immigration, the president's executive orders on immigration, the new restrictions on abortion in Texas, very important case about the rights of public employee unions out of California. Many of those or several cases at least could wind up four to four, which would mean that the lower court decision is affirmed but there is no national precedent set.

Most Supreme Court decisions are not five to four. So the court will continue to function but the court was designed to have nine people on it. And if this goes on for a year or considerably more, it really will hurt the ability of the court to function.

COOPER: Yeah. I mean, Dana, it is really just curve the perfect storm to occur during a presidential election. Some Republicans are on firm ground in terms of rules and procedures. No one can force them to take up a Supreme Court nomination. The wild card I guess is public opinion and pressure from constituents. DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And because this is such a divided country, the pressure is going to be coming from both sides. And it already is.

I mean it's no accident that's Mitch McConnell put out a statement within hours, actually probably an hour of news coming out that Justice Scalia died because the second that happened, the pressure coming from conservatives, from conservative groups was intense saying, "No, no, no, don't you do this." So it's hard to see that changing.

The one question out there has been whether or not the president really wants to kind of throw down the gauntlet and try to put up a recess appointment. Whomever he picks, try to get them in when congress isn't in session.

But here's a butt, it is a big butt, Republicans run Congress, both sides. So they can just not go to recess and prevent him from doing that if it got to that point.

COOPER: All the candidates are really have been weighing in on this. I just want to play that for our viewers and put together the clips.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED CRUZ, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama is eager to appoint Justice Scalia's replacement this year. But you know in the last 80 years we have not once, has the senate confirmed a nomination made in an election year, and now is no year to start.

MARCO RUBIO, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president can appoint whoever he wants but Mitch McConnell already made it clear, we're not moving forward on any nominees in the Senate until after the election and I agree with that.

BEN CARSON, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should not allow a judge to be appointed during his time.

RUBIO: There is no way the Senate should confirm anyone that Barack Obama tries to appoint in his last year in office to a lifetime appointment.

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it. It's called delay, delay, delay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Davis, no one expects Obama to nominate someone in the same conservative mold as Scalia but what about if you nominate someone who's fairly moderate? We're get, you know, to specific names in a few minutes. But generally speaking, how the Republicans just by blocking a moderate nominee, perhaps someone they themselves have previously confirmed to a district court or Court of Appeals.

GERGEN: Well, there are at least a couple of candidates as Jeff Toobin has been pointing out the last few days, who would fit that mold. And that is someone who's been unanimously confirmed to a Court of Appeals that include -- and Republicans all giving their vote to that person.

But even so, Anderson, I do think that each side now is seizing upon arguments which are going to have some force with the public. It is true that there's been a long time since -- there's been such a delay in putting somebody on the court if there's a vacancy. We just don't experience that. People tend to get it done but it's also -- as the Republicans are making the argument.

Look, back in -- when George W. Bush still had a year and a half left in his presidency it was Chuck Schumer, major Democratic senator, who took to the air waves and said, "We should not -- we should not accept any more nominees to the Supreme Court from George W. Bush as long as he is president, except in extraordinary circumstances. That the presumption of confirmation should be reversed so there's a presumption against confirmation."

So, you know, each side has played this game before ...

BASH: You know ...

GERGEN: ... and now they're seizing on the argument that makes the most sense. And that's why this is going to become such a hot topic. And the election is already become, you know, front and center.

And I do think probably within the Republican ranks, it may help Ted Cruz the most. He's the most articulate and worked as a clerk on the court. Could give a serious speech after the South Carolina primary in which he really lays out the case.

[20:35:00] Somebody on the Republican side needs to do that and he may be in the best position to do it.

COOPER: Dana.

BASH: You know, Anderson, you like to keep them honest on this program. The issue of judicial nominees before the Senate, I've covered the senate for a very long time, it is the biggest issue where you see frankly the most hypocrisies. Where you stand really depends on where you sit and you hear the same people making polar opposite arguments if they're in the majority or the minority or if they have the president or they don't. It's quite stunning.

TOOBIN: It's about power.

BASH: Yeah.

TOOBIN: And Republicans have the power at the moment and they're going to use it.

COOPER: Yeah. It's based on to Dana's point on where you sit and also what time of the year it is and who's in power.

TOOBIN: That's right. And if you have only a year to go, it is really possible to run out the clock. If you had a Democratic Senate ...

GERGEN: Yeah. Yup.

TOOBIN: ... there would be hearings scheduled promptly but that's why we have elections.

COOPER: Jeff is going to stick around. Dana Bash -- yeah, David ...

GERGEN: Can I make one last point here? Yeah. Well, I'd want one quick point. I think this really hurts the court to have it so engulfed in politics and politicization. We've always thought of Lady Liberty being blindfolded holding up the scales of justice and making an independent impartial decision. And now this is all about who has power.

What the law is, is not determined by some impartial body, it's determined by partisans in effect who are being appointed to the court. I think, that lowers the reputation of the court and must be something Jeffrey Toobin thinks about a lot.

COOPER: We're going to talk more to Jeff, coming up right after this break.

David, Dana, thank you very much.

The question of course is, who could President Obama appoint to replace Scalia? We're going to take a look at some of the names that already circulating, next.

And later, Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in Nevada stepping up her criticism of Bernie Sanders. We'll check him with the Democratic side of the race to the White House when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:39] COOPER: With Senate Republicans promising to block any Supreme Court nominee, President Obama puts forward and the president signaling that he is not about to back down from his constitutional duty.

The question now becomes who is he going to name? Here to run through some possibilities, our Tom Foreman. Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. At or near the top of every list we've looked at today is this name. Sri Srinivasan, he is 48 years old, he's on the D.C. Court of Appeals, and he was appointed by President Obama.

He was approved by the Senate by a vote of 97 to 0. And he also has some ties to the Bush administration. That's one of the reasons people think of him as such a likely possibility here.

Another possibility out there would be Jane Kelly, 51 years old. She's on the 8th circuit Court of Appeals, also appointed to her job by President Obama, also approved unanimously by the Senate. If she were selected, she would be the third Supreme Court nominee from this president who is a woman. And if she made it to the court, that would make four women on the court out of four men.

And let seem Fred, you might want to think about the name of Patricia Millett. She is 52 years old. She's also on the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Think about this court name because you're going to hear it a lot. This is often seen as an on ramp to the Supreme Court. So, that's why everybody on there gets some consideration or thought when something like this comes around.

If the president wants to go with somebody a little bit older, he could look at Merrick Garland who is 63 years old. He is on the D.C. Court of Appeals, the Chief Judge. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton.

He's a moderate and like many of the potential nominees and many people on the court is a graduate of Harvard Law School. In fact, there some grousing about people saying it's all Harvard and Yale. Maybe they should branch out more.

Beyond that, who's another possibility? Well, maybe Paul Watford, he's 48 years old, he's on the 9th circuit Court of Appeals, also appointed by President Obama, not unanimously approved but nonetheless in there in doing a job that the White House would certainly say is very credible.

And then, beyond that, maybe you look at Adalberto Jordan is 54 years old, the U.S. 11th circuit Court of Appeals, also appointed by President Obama. His family migrated when he's very young, so he was born in Cuba, but has grown up here ever since.

A lot of diversity in all the choice out there, Anderson and these are all of course, just speculation at this point.

But according to a lot of court watchers, pretty good guesses to start with.

COOPER: Tom, thanks. Back with us, Jeffrey Toobin, also joining us. George Washington University Law Professor, Jonathan Turley.

Professor Turley, you had an article and you had say today on which you talked about the possibility President Obama using the nuclear option, it's actually going around Congress, making a recess appointment. We mentioned that earlier.

I want to read a part of what you wrote, saying, "The difference between a statesman and a politician is often the exercise of restraint. It is not enough to say that you can do something, but whether you should do something." Do you foresee this getting to that point?

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: Well, unfortunately, in the politics that we've all been witnessing, there's virtually nothing that I would rule out.

This is a toxic relationship between this president and this congress. It's a president who has gone unilaterally in taking actions before, including going too far on recess appointments given the recent canning decision where he was unanimously rejected in terms of his claims there. So, yes, I think there is a possibility.

The problem is that the most likely time would be at the very end of his term when Congress would be essentially closing up shop, bringing in the new president, the new Congress.

That would make the recess appointment even more controversial because it would occur literally days before a new president with a national mandate would come in.

I would hope that President Obama would not take that step.

But if the Republicans refuse to give him a fair hearing, I'm sure there will be some that will say he should use it.

COOPER: Jeffrey Toobin, do you see him doing that?

TOOBIN: No. I just don't think there's any possibility.

There's no history of putting in Supreme Court justices in recess appointments when there's controversy.

William Brennan, the famous liberal, was an -- originally a recess appointment. But that was just to fill a gap until he was actually confirmed by the Senate.

I just think this is a non-controversy. And the real controversy is whether, you know, his nominee, whoever it is, will get a vote.

COOPER: Go ahead, professor.

TURLEY: So, you know, I think the precedent they could sight would be something like the Eisenhower nomination of Earl Warren, when he ran into some choppy reception.

[20:45:00] He was given a recess appointment. He was of course, ultimately confirmed.

I agree with Jeff. This is a very extreme act. And as my column suggested, I actually hope that the Republicans give a fair hearing to the nominee.

And I also hope that the president comes out and says, you know what, I'm not going to use this option of a recess appointment. If it doesn't happen then you need to understand, your vote in November will be on the person who will fill that seat.

COOPER: And that certainly something that we've already heard Hillary Clinton talk about and frankly, all the candidates now are using that to try to mobilize their supporters, showing how important this election is. This is some pretty damn question, Jeff. But, how do we -- how do you know the names of these people who might be nominated? I mean, I know the speculation is, but I saw you tweeting about this early on, I mean some of this folks. Is it just that they are ...

TOOBIN: There is a limited universe of people who are of the appropriate age, of the appropriate background, of the appropriate ideology. I mean, that the universe of people essentially is federal court of appeals judges.

And how many around 50-year-old democratically appointed judges are there who have certain intellectual professional backgrounds? It's just not that many. And, by the way, I could be wrong.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: So that's the other possibility.

COOPER: Professor, how often is it -- I mean, how often does a president get it wrong? They think they are nominating, you know, or they are picking a justice who believes one way and then it turns out maybe they are different than they think they are?

TURLEY: Well, they often get it wrong, at least to some extent by -- some of these nominees are a blind date, you know. Some nominees are selected because they don't have much controversial aspects in their record.

That also means you know less about them. So, they are good for confirmation, not great in terms of prediction. And some of those predictions have been way off.

I mean, William Brennan was brought in as a conservative and became a liberal icon. Byron White came in as a liberal became a conservative icon. But, you know, what's interesting is that they are replacing one of the few people on the court that came in pretty much as he left.

You know, Scalia changed the court more than the court changed him.

TOOBIN: The surprised president is mostly a myth. You look at all nine justices on the current Supreme Court, every single one is exactly as advertised.

These appointments have become so scrutinized and yes, it's true that some of these people don't have a big paper trail, but these presidents are, you know, you can say, well, David Souter maybe was somewhat of a surprise.

But, if you look at the last 20 Supreme Court appointments since the Eisenhower administration, basically everyone has turned out exactly as advertised.

TURLEY: You know, I would have to disagree with that. I know what friend Jeff is saying. I would know -- by the way, one name that hasn't been mentioned that I would have put at the top of the list would be Loretta Lynch, the attorney general. She is very good.

TOOBIN: She barely got confirmed as attorney general.

TURLEY: I know. But, she's someone who could -- look, if I was named I would go fake my death in a boating accident rather than take this nomination. I mean the person who goes ...

COOPER: Right, it's a buzz saw they are entering.

TOOBIN: Yeah. I mean, usually you get this nomination. You get beat up for several months, but then become a Supreme Court justice. That's not going to happen here.

COOPER: We're going to live there. Professor Turley, good to have you on, Mr. Toobin, Jeffrey Toobin as well. Thank you very much Professor Toobin.

Just ahead, Hillary Clinton's new line of attack in the campaign trail. She's taking aim at Bernie Sanders for being "one-issue candidate" plus, the story behind this memorable moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDSENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to get that dog and follow him around and every time they say these things like, oh, you know, the great recession was caused by too much regulation. Arf, arf, arf, arf, you know.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:52:27] COOPER: Five days from now, Nevada holds its Democratic caucuses. South Carolina's Democratic primary is one week later.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are sharpening their attacks campaigning over the week in Nevada. One point aiming at the same church service in Las Vegas.

Tonight, Senator Sanders is campaigning in Michigan. Mrs. Clinton is still in Nevada where she is launching a new line of attack. More from our Senior Washington Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hillary Clinton has three words for Bernie Sanders.

CLINTON: I am not a single issue candidate.

I am not a single issue candidate.

I am not a single issue candidate.

ZELENY: A single issue candidate. That's how Clinton is trying to brand Sanders, hoping to slow his surge before voting begins in Nevada and South Carolina.

BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to surprise a lot of people here in Nevada.

ZELENY: Sanders still riding momentum from his commanding win in New Hampshire prompting Clinton to go back to the drawing board.

At every stop she's telling voters, Sanders is focused on Wall Street and Wall Street alone. Her campaign made a video to drive home the point.

SANDERS: The disastrous and illegal behavior on Wall Street.

ZELENY: But, Sanders is exceeding even his own expectations.

SANDERS: The idea that I'm a single issue candidate with the only nation, major nation on earth who doesn't guarantee health care for all people. We've got to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. It's not one issue.

ZELENY: One issue Clinton and Sanders agreed on today, the Senate should consider President Obama's nominee to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's vacancy on the Supreme Court.

CLINTON: The only reason to block this is pure partisanship.

SANDERS: Do not obstruct. Obey the constitution.

ZELENY: As their fight intensifies, Clinton is trying to regain her confidence by showing Dmocrats she's the well-rounded candidate in the race.

CLINTON: Not everything is about an economic theory, right? If we broke up the big banks tomorrow, and I will, if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk, I will. Would that end racism?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (In Unison): No.

ZELENY: Their fight also a subject for humor on "Saturday Night Live".

AIDY BRYANT, SNL CAST: I love Bernie's whole vibe.

CHRIS PARNELL, SNL CAST: Oh, I'm obsessed with his vibe.

JANE CURTIN, SNL CAST: Because I can't make you love me if you don't.

ZELENY: The Democratic race is heated but the Republican contest is explosive.

Former President Bill Clinton experienced that firsthand today campaigning for his wife in Florida when he came face-to-face with the Donald Trump supporter.

[20:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You took his money.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I certainly did and I certainly did. And I took his money for my foundation where I used it to better than he's using it now. I guarantee you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And Jeff joins us now. Hillary Clinton is also continuing to focus her attacks toward Republicans.

I understand she talked to voters at a caucus event tonight in Reno about wanting to fact check the candidates.

ZELENY: She sure did, Anderson. In an unusual way, she talked about the old days in Arkansas back when there was a radio ad that used to point out when things were not correct. And it used an animal sound, a barking sound. You have to listen here to what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I'm trying to figure out how we could do that with the Republicans, you know. We need to get that dog and follow them around and every time they say these things, like, "Oh, you know, the great recession was caused by too much regulation. Arf, arf, arf, arf, you know."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: So, we've seen fact checkers on the campaign trail. Now, we have barking dogs, Anderson. A rare moment tonight in Reno.

COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff thanks. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Quick reminder. I'll be hosting two Republican Town Halls from South Carolina, Wednesday and Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, here on CNN.

And that's it for us. Thank you very much for watching. We'll see you again 11:00 p.m. for another edition of "360". Right now, it's time for "CNN Tonight with Don Lemon."

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