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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Poll: Trump Leads In Big South Carolina; GOP Slugfest Ahead Of S.C. Primary; Scalia Death Questions; Clinton, Sanders Compete For African-American Voters; "Eagles of Death Metal" Returns To Paris; U.S. And Cuba Sign Deal On Commercial Flights; Philippines To Auction Imelda Marcos' Jewelry. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired February 16, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us tonight.
With primary politics reaching a boiling point in South Carolina, and now new poll numbers predicting a big win for Donald Trump, President Obama went before the cameras and went on the offensive. He spoke out on Trump as well as the threat of GOP obstruction if he names a Supreme Court successor to late Antonin Scalia. And some leading Republicans are telling him not to even bother.
Today he made it plain. He said the constitution is clear on what he will do next which is nominate someone election year or no next year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no unwritten law that says that it can only be done on off years. That's not in the constitutional text. I'm amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there. There is more than enough time for the Senate to consider in a thoughtful way the record of a nominee that I present and to make a decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that's not all he talked about. He also had a blunt assessment of the Republican front-runner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president. And the reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people. And I think they recognize that being president is a serious job. It's not hosting a talk show or a reality show.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And as we said, we got new polling numbers on the state of the South Carolina race.
First CNN's Pamela Brown joins us with more on a president who had quite a lot to say this evening. What more did the president talk about in his plan to nominate some of the Supreme Court? PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is the
first time the president was taking questions in the wake of Justice Scalia's death and he took a tough stance. As you heard, he said the constitution is clear, both he and the Senate have responsibilities in filling a Supreme Court vacancy. He says he expects Republican to consider any nominee he puts forward no matter what, that they have a job to do until they are voted out. And he made the point that whoever he chooses will be so indisputably qualified that Republicans will essentially look bad if they refuse to even consider that person. Although, Anderson, he would not give any hints about who is on his short list, and he said don't jump to any conclusions about whether he's going to choose a moderate.
COOPER: It was also, I mean, interesting to hear him just as we played, talking about Donald Trump.
BROWN: That's right. He has spent a lot of time talking about Donald Trump today saying that he will not be president, said that flat-out, that people are too sensible to vote for someone like him. He also suggested that Trump is not qualified for the job. He has promotion and marketing experience, but doesn't have the credentials to be president. And he said Trump is not the only Republican candidate who he finds troublesome. Let's take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think foreign observers are troubled by some of the rhetoric that's been taking place in these Republican primaries and Republican debates. I don't think it's restricted, by the way, to Mr. Trump. I mean, I find it interesting everybody is focused on Trump primarily just because he says in more interesting ways what the other candidates are saying as well. So he may up the ante in anti-Muslim sentiment, but if you look at what the other Republican candidates have said, that's pretty troubling, too. He may express strong anti- immigration sentiment, but you've heard that from the other candidates as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: It's not often, Anderson, you hear a sitting president talk about an opposing party's presidential candidates like that. It's interesting to note he took a much different and softer approach when it came to the Democratic presidential candidates.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, he talked about Hillary Clinton, not quite an endorsement, though.
BROWN: Yes. You know, it really seemed like he was trying to stay above the fray and not play favorites between Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, though he did make it clear that he's known Clinton for a long time. Here's what he had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I know Hillary better than I know Bernie because she served in my administration and she was an outstanding secretary of state. And I suspect that on certain issues, she agrees with me more than Bernie does, on the other hand, there may be a couple issues where Bernie agrees with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So there you heard it. Certainly not a ringing endorsement of Clinton, though in past interviews he has seemed to lean more toward Clinton and just recently his former press secretary, Jay Carney, said that Obama would like her to replace him in the oval office - Anderson.
COOPER: Pamela Brown. Pam, thanks very much.
More now on the court battle. President Obama clearly not backing down from what could be his final big fight with a Republican Congress.
Joining us now is George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, Our chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and our "INSIDE POLITICS" anchor, John King.
John, when President Obama engages Donald Trump even if it's to say something negative about him, does that help Trump in a way or at least elevate him in the minds of Republican voters?
[20:05:15] JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure, it elevates him with Republican voters. And Mr. Trump at a town hall right after mentioned the president's criticism and said he took it as a badge of honor. He has took it as a compliment.
Remember back when Mr. Trump proposed (ph) his temporary ban on Muslims into the United States, Anderson. The president came out and probably criticized him. Hillary Clinton came out and probably criticize him. And so, at a time the Republicans are essentially fighting with each other, Trump against Cruz, Cruz against Rubio, et cetera, Trump is also in a direct debate with the president of the United States. And he is a few days away from a primary in South Carolina and he's happy for that debate.
COOPER: Gloria, is it possible that President Obama's underestimating just how much Donald Trump has connected with certainly the conservative electorate?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think President Obama knows how to read polls, and he understands how well Donald Trump is doing. I'm here in South Carolina. He is doing really well here in South Carolina. So I don't think the president is really underestimating him. I think the president doesn't like him. Period.
I mean, don't forget, Donald Trump originally accused the president of not being born in the United States before he said that Ted Cruz wasn't qualified to run for president because he was born in Canada. And so there's no love lost between these two folks. And this is also a president who clearly wants to see a Democrat elected because if he doesn't, his legacy is really endangered and that's why I believe he probably wants to see Hillary Clinton elected because Bernie Sanders wants to change Obamacare.
COOPER: And professor Turley, when it comes to the Supreme Court, the Senate can't stop the president from nominating someone to succeed Justice Scalia. The president can't stop the Senate from ignoring his nomination, so does somebody blink?
JONATHAN TURLEY, LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, that's right. I mean, this is a power the framers gave to both branches, so the president does nominate, but the Senate must confirm. And if their advice and consent is no advice and no consent, that is certainly within the right to do.
I think the better approach is to give a nomination, if he can find someone who actually wants to be the subject of that hearing. I mean, it's like joining the Navy to be a target buoy. It's not exactly a promising naval career. But if you could find someone who's willing to run that, that risk, I think the Senate should give them the chance.
But at the end of the day, President Obama is the answer to his own question. You know, when he says, you know, what is the Senate going to do? You know, he filibustered Justice Alito and even though he had qualms at the time, he did exactly what he is telling the Republicans not to do in many respects.
COOPER: Yes. John, the president, I mean, he's got no incentive but to back away from this fight. No one believes he is not on firm constitutional grounds. It's more a matter of politics really. He has got no more campaigns left to run and it also maybe sets up something that spurs Democrats to go to the polls and vote against Republicans.
KING: Right. So, Anderson, the president will take this in two phases. Number one is he will fight for his pick. He will fight for his pick because he thinks he deserves to make the pick and he'll fight for his pick because he know if he get to appoint the one for Antonin Scalia, not only a larger than life figure on the court. And an intellectual powerhouse for the conservatives. But it would tip the court from a conservative 5 -4 majority to a progressive or liberal 5-4 majority. And if a Democrat then wins the White House in November, this could be the Obama court for a generation. So he understands the legacy value in this pick. So he will fight for it.
If he doesn't get it, then, he will go around the country trying to turn out votes, trying to turn out the Obama coalition in November to help the Democrats win the White House to make sure at least a Democrat gets that pick next. And if he does that, he will make the case and you can bet on it that Republicans blocked him because he's the first African-American president and they didn't give it to him because of his race. That will when part of the president's argument in November.
But first he's going to fight to see if he can get them to blink, Anderson, and his biggest case there will be trying to influence the Republican Senate majority at risk this year, too, not just the presidency and the president will try to sway some of those borderline Republican senators to try to get them to blink.
COOPER: And Gloria, it's Interesting, we got senator McConnell who's saying the Senate will essentially ignore whatever nominee the president puts forward. But Senator Chuck Grassley who chairs the judiciary committee seems to have slightly left the door open actually holding hearings when the president nominates someone which is obviously a key step in the confirmation process.
BORGER: Yes. I think what you see in Chuck Grassley is somebody who is under a huge amount of pressure, Anderson. You know, this is somebody who's running for re-election for his seventh term. Originally he sided with Mitch McConnell saying forget it, we're not going to do anything. He got criticized back home by "the Des Moines Register." That's a problem when you're running for re-election in that state. He kind of backed off now. And I think he has, you know, got pressure from his committee Democrats.
And so the question is, who does the president nominate as Jonathan Turley was talking about? And that's what Grassley has said. He said, let's wait and see who the president nominates.
You know, these fights are always contextual. If the president nominates somebody that Grassley believes ought to be given a hearing in committee, he'll give him a hearing in committee. He's got a lot of power but he's also a politician that has to get votes back home in Iowa.
[20:10:22] COOPER: Go ahead, professor.
TURLEY: Well, that's actually the interesting dynamic in who he selects is he is selecting someone to win.
TURLEY: Or is he selecting someone for attrition? If he wants to select someone for political attrition, I'd go for Lynch, Loretta Lynch. I testified at her confirmation hearing. I was very impressed in how she handled herself. She has a great family story. She comes with some opposition from her earlier vote, but she would be great if you're looking for political attrition.
If you're looking to win, there are some wonderful candidates there, too, but the important thing is any moderate is going to move this needle to the left. I mean, you're replacing Nino Scalia. You're never going to find someone with that profile that's acceptable to the White House.
COOPER: We are going to be watching it closely. No doubt.
Professor Turley, thank you. John, Gloria, stick around.
A lot more from the campaign trail next, including Ted Cruz launching a new verbal rocket at Donald Trump.
And later, the question surrounding the passing of Justice Scalia and they are getting any credence. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[20:15:12] COOPER: Well, South Carolina is the state where politics can certainly get rough, but where the toughest shots are frequently stealth attacks and sometimes whisper campaigns. This time around, though, no one is whispering whether if Marco Rubio calling Ted Cruz a liar, Cruz suggesting Rubio is a cry baby and Trump never at a loss of words defending his attack on Rubio at Saturday's debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was being hit and hit and hit and I was really happy with the way it came out. I mean, I had to be very tough because, you know, you got to do it. I'm being hit by Rubio at the end because he said, I agree with them. I said where did this guy come from? Here's a guy, I watched him -- it's true. I mean, all of a sudden he's agreeing with Jeb and I said, I said, Van, I said, where did this guy come from? Two weeks before at the other debate I watched him melt. He was melting. He was sweating. I thought he just got out of his swimming pool.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Donald Trump in Buford, South Carolina, tonight.
In a moment, new polling that to provide the first hint of how voters responded to his performance at that debate.
But first, his ongoing battle with Ted Cruz. Joining us from Charleston is Sunlen Serfaty.
So the attacks from the Republican candidates, I mean, they are coming from all sides. What's the latest?
SUNLEN SERFATY, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. They really are, Anderson. You know, it was interesting to see Ted Cruz today out campaigning when he was speaking directly in front of voters, he largely seemed to try to take on a different tone, gone were any large-scale or direct attacks on his opponents. He really seemed to try to almost connect with voters and commiserating on how nasty this race here in South Carolina has turned. He called it today a circus and said the time for the games are over. But make no mistake about it, this is not a thawing of tensions by Cruz changing his tone a bit on the campaign trail. Ted Cruz and his campaign are very squarely focused on the opponents in South Carolina, very squarely focused on taking down Donald Trump and specific. They're just the attack today in very different ways.
COOPER: Did Cruz go after Trump in a different way?
SERFATY: He did. And this was a big mark of defiance today by Ted Cruz and his campaign really digging in their heels against Donald Trump. They released a five-minute web ad. It was Ted Cruz speaking directly to the camera for five minutes, all about Donald Trump's record on abortion and this is one of the big issues that Donald Trump keeps laying in to Ted Cruz about saying he is a liar because he is misrepresenting, in his opinion, stance on abortion. In that video, Ted Cruz again looking right to that camera. That's a
very specific message he's sending to voters saying that Donald Trump spent most of his life before this election enthusiastically supporting pro-abortion. Of course, Donald Trump, Anderson, wasting no time responding calling that another smear.
COOPER: All right, Sunlen, thanks very much. The question is how well is Trump's brand of blunt language playing in a state where manners often matter? He put it to the test in the debate over the weekend and now have our first serious polling since then. John King is breaking it down by the numbers.
Trump has a big lead in South Carolina. Should he be concerned about anything?
KING: Yes, let's take a look at the numbers, Anderson. You're right. Let's start with the big lead. In our brand new CNN/ORC poll, 38 percent for Donald Trump, 22 percent for Ted Cruz, so a 16-point gap at the top. Then you have got Rubio, Bush, Carson, and Kasich. That's a pretty healthy lead. You look at that with just a few days to go and think, wow, this is a lock.
Here's where Donald Trump has to worry a little bit. In the calls before the debate, Donald Trump polling at 40 percent. Post-debate, Anderson, he went down to 31 percent. Now, Cruz didn't benefit. It was Carson and Kasich who actually got a bounce post-debate. But Donald Trump is coming down after the debate. So even though he has that healthy lead, there are some signs perhaps of an opening for the other candidates.
And here's one other quick point. Half of South Carolina Republicans say they're locked in. They've definitely decided. Twenty percent leaning one way so they're gettable. And 30 percent, 31 percent are still deciding. So they're wide open. So if Trump was coming down because of the debate, there is an opportunity for his rivals. But remember, a pretty healthy lead and not that much time.
COOPER: And where does that lead come from for Trump?
KING: If you look through, number one, a majority of the voters in South Carolina are likely to be evangelicals. Sunlen was just mentioning Ted Cruz with the direct on camera appeal, saying Donald Trump before this race was pro-choice. Ted Cruz is trying to peel this away.
Forty-two percent of white evangelicals in South Carolina who say they are likely to vote in the Republican primary are for Donald Trump almost a 20-point lead, 19 points over Ted Cruz. This is what has the Cruz campaign, frankly, apoplectic, Anderson. They can't figure it out but they can't peel them away.
And if you look otherwise at Trump's support, look at on the issues, the economy matters, Trump has a 44-point lead over his closest rival Cruz. When Republicans in South Carolina are asked who will best handle the economy. Thirty-five point lead who would best handle immigration. Twenty-two point lead who would best handle ISIS. And 44 percent Trump leads on who would change D.C. So Trump leads on all the big issues up here. Cruz is second on all these issues, but 44 points change D.C., 44 points in the economy.
Yes, on GOP values, just barely makes it. And on social issues, Ted Cruz wins. But that's not what the voters are looking for. They are looking for someone who's tough, strong on the economy and someone who will change Washington which is why when you look at the issues portfolio heading into the final days, Anderson, Trump at the moment looks like he's headed for back to back wins.
[20:20:08] COOPER: Yes. I mean, look at those numbers are huge.
John, stay with us. I want to bring in Gloria Borger back in.
Significant lead for Trump. The question, obviously, Gloria is can he maintain that through Saturday? Because certainly Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush are not letting up on their criticism.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I have to say it looks pretty good, Anderson. He has got a huge lead. There are two numbers that I really pay attention to in South Carolina from the voters. One is that 60 percent of them believes Trump has the best chance to win in a general election and also 60 percent believes that he can bring change to Washington. What are elections about? They're about winning and bring in change. Those are really two important numbers.
I mean, Sunlen was talking earlier about Cruz talking about abortion. This is, you know, Trump's Achilles' heel, this question of values. And Cruz and Trump are pretty tied in that. But even if Cruz were to go ahead of Trump on that score, I'm not sure it could be enough to sort of win the primary down here. I think -- I think if Trump kind of sits on his lead, doesn't make any huge mistakes, I think he's looking at a victory here.
COOPER: Right. The question is, does the abortion issue, I mean, no pun intended, you know, Trump the economy, ISIS and all the other things in which Trump has this huge lead?
John, with New Hampshire and Iowa, we talked a lot about scenarios in which, you know, coming in second or third could be considered a win for candidates other that Trump. At what point is a loss just a loss? I mean, if Cruz or Bush or Rubio can't beat Trump in South Carolina, where can they beat them?
KING: You make a great point. They all say they plan on going on. They all say that they believe Donald Trump will eventually unravel. But at some point if Trump can win New Hampshire and win South Carolina, the big thing if he wins South Carolina, Anderson, a lot of people will look at the margin, was he coming down in the final days, did somebody get close, is there an indication as we move on to the more crowded primary calendar that perhaps some of the attacks are taking an effect? That will be one question.
Number two, is Ted Cruz second? Ted Cruz is going to go on, anyway. But if Ted Cruz is second, he can still try to make the case I'm the evangelical tea party candidate as we head into a calendar that goes heavily into the south in the next few days. But we still have the question we have had from day one of this race. Will there be, not who will it be, will there with one mainstream establishment alternative to Trump and Cruz?
Marco Rubio thought coming out of New Hampshire it would be him, if he stumbles in South Carolina. Does Jeb Bush who barely survived New Hampshire stay in the race longer? Can Kasich surprise us in South Carolina? Or does that three-way race for the establishment vote go on to another day? Maybe absent one of those candidates if the money dries up.
But unless and until that question is answered, most people still think if you had to bet today, Trump has the greatest odds of winning the nomination. Ted Cruz would be second and the establishment lane is a giant question mark.
COOPER: Yes. And Gloria, I mean, Jeb Bush who, you know, has pulled out, you know, his mom on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, now his brother the former president George W. Bush yesterday on the campaign trail, I mean, if he doesn't come in third in South Carolina does he continue on?
BORGER: Look, I think he's got a very difficult choice if he doesn't win, place or show. He brought out his brother who's really popular here. He's got a 77 percent approval rating in the Republican Party. And if that really doesn't help Jeb and they've spent $100 million on this campaign, if you're an investor in this campaign, you're going to start asking some really hard questions. There are a lot of big funders who have kind of been sitting back waiting to see who does get that establishment lane to himself. Jeb wants it. I think if he has a poor showing here, they're going to have to really reassess where they go.
COOPER: And John, I mean, South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley, big name in the Republican Party, said today it's safe to say she's not going to endorse Donald Trump, unclear if she's going to endorse anyone. But by ruling Trump out, does that, you know, exempt him to criticize her in these final days before the primary or is there any point in her doing that? I mean, he has plenty of other people he is actually running against.
KING: Let's watch and see if he does that because she is very popular in the state. And I'll make this distinction. Remember the Iowa governor said you should not vote for Donald Trump. And Donald Trump used that to his advantage. The establishment is out to get me. The establishment in your state, the establishment in Washington. So Donald Trump is fighting the big voices that people don't like especially grassroots Republicans. He is fighting President Obama. He is fighting the Republican establishment. Nikki Haley, though, is popular in the states. So that one there might require a bit more calibration for Mr. Trump to just let it go and focus on his voters. But as you know, Anderson, sometimes he can't resist.
COOPER: And Gloria, just to be clear, George W. Bush is no longer on the trail for his brother, is he? BORGER: No. I think it was a big showing and whether he'll come back
out again, we don't know. But his mother is going to be out on the trail so it continues to be kind of a family thing.
COOPER: All right. Gloria, thank you. John King as well.
Just ahead, Republicans on the attack as the South Carolina primary approaches. The rhetoric is liar this and unstable that. Will the politics get even tougher? That's next.
And on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton vie for the crucial African-American vote.
[20:29:07] COOPER: Welcome back. We're talking tonight about just how openly hostile the Republican primary has become. Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment, thou not speak ill of any fellow Republican clearly now ancient history. Candidates calling other candidates liars, losers, stiffs, blow hards, and jerks. Donald Trump who seems to be reveling in it, now threatening to sue Ted Cruz over his eligibility for office if he does not take back what he calls lies about him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He was born in Canada. When you talk about a natural-born citizen, according to many great lawyers, I've been interviewed very strongly --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll ask you again. Are you going to file suit?
TRUMP: I'm thinking about it very seriously, George. I already have a lawyer and we are looking at it very seriously. We're thinking about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, if it happens the lawsuit might just be more civilized than much of what we're seeing on the campaign trail. More now if our Tom Foreman.
TRUMP: I have never, ever met a person that lies more than Ted Cruz.
[20"00:05] TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the Republicans --
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just said ted's tough saying things that aren't true.
FOREMAN: Each getting dirty down south. One word coming up again and again.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Liar! Liar! Liar! FOREMAN: The desperate fight for the lead or at least a strong showing is driving a torrent of attacks on a litany of causes that can excite and enrage conservatives. Gay marriage, abortion, immigration.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not need someone in the Oval Office who mirrors and inflames our anger and frustration.
TRUMP: The last thing we need is another Bush. That I can tell you. That I can tell you.
FOREMAN: The GOP debate in South Carolina featured the sharpest exchanges so far.
TRUMP: You fight ISIS first.
JEB BUSH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a man who insults his way to the nomination.
RUBIO: I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish. And Second of all, the other point out would be.
FOREMAN: The palmetto state has a long history of nasty political tricks. In 2000, John McCain was hammered by rumors he had an illegitimate black child.
In 2007, mysterious Christmas cards to voters suggested Mitt Romney favored polygamy. Other Republicans have been accused of infidelities, secretly wild ways and much more, all untrue and usually from unknown sources. So, some of the current attacks like this ad by Cruz appear tamed by comparison.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: South Carolina cannot trust Donald Trump.
TRUMP: I'm very capable of changing to anything I want to change to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't give him that chance.
FOREMAN: The only two contenders who seem above the fray, if barely, Ben Carson and John Kasich who sums up the race.
GOV. JOHN KASICH, (R-OH) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's like we had a demolition derby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: And it may get worse yet. Some of the nastiest tricks tend to show up right before the voting. Fliers misinforming voters about where they can cast their ballots or smearing candidates so late they have no time to respond. And of course, leaving no clues as to who was behind the dirty work. Anderson? COOPER: Tom, thanks very much.
Joining us now, is a veteran of South Carolina of political contest, Republican Consultant and former State Republican Party Chairman, Katon Dawson also CNN Political Commentators Amanda Carpenter and Jeffrey Lord, he's a Trump supporter and former White House Political Director in Reagan Administration. She's a Former Communications Director for Senator Ted Cruz.
Katon, let's start with you. I mean the things seems to be getting, you know, pretty tough in South Carolina with just days to go, nothing really all that surprising, and last night you talked about how in South Carolina they also don't like politicians whining about how tough things are. Do you see any of the candidates being able to catch Donald Trump, though?
KATON DAWSON, FMR CHAIRMAN, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PARTY: Probably not, but Donald Trump's done a few things that I find amazing. He has threatened to file a lawsuit in a Republican Primary against another candidate which usually would disqualify you. He has insulted the Former Commander in Chief which would usually disqualify you. He has called just about everybody a liar and they called him a liar which would usually disqualify you.
And his numbers are pretty solid. So, you know, what am I to say about it, Anderson, except for this is odd and weird. It is South Carolina. There's plenty of time left in your poll that I saw earlier, there's still a 50 percent number that's shakable and movable.
So, I contend that Ted Cruz probably hurt himself again today bantering back and forth with Donald Trump because you don't seem to win that banner. But, you know, if Donald Trump is talking about anything but illegal immigration in South Carolina, I think he's having a bad day. Because that's what brought him to the party, so far.
COOPER: You know Jeffrey, its interesting Katon talking about, you know, Donald Trump is sort of a Teflon and vibrios, I feel like we have been having that conversation now for six months. I mean, you know, maybe this is the first time in South Carolina but I feel like, I mean, isn't that the same story we've been showing since the beginning?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMENTATOR AND TRUMP SUPPORTER: It is, Anderson. You and I and Amanda and others that talked about this until the cows come home and it's the same story all of the time. You know, I look -- I mean this poll was very interesting. When you look at his numbers versus on immigration, I mean he's far and away ahead which I think, perhaps, are just my opinion here, is contributing to the lack of effect that the Bushes are having because, of course, both President Bush and Jeb Bush are well known for their moderate views on immigration.
And when you've got Donald Trump out there by such large numbers on immigration, I think that perhaps, you know that there are a lot of voters out there that see the most on the wrong side of the fence. They may like him, they may love him, but they think they're on the wrong side here.
COOPER: Amanda, I want to play clip from the directed camera YouTube video that Senator Cruz put out earlier today blasting Donald Trump. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: A candidate that can't be trusted to protect the right to life can't be trusted to protect any of our other God-given rights, either.
[20:35:01] When you look at the voting records of politicians, what you'll find is if they're bad on life, they're always, I repeat, always, bad on everything else, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How effective do you think this is? I mean, to Katon's point, there's a lot of folks in South Carolina who are still undecided or not exactly locked in on who they're going to vote for, but in that poll, social issues were pretty far down the list in terms of what people were looking for with the economy, with ISIS and other things and they scored Donald Trump highest in all those.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, but it gets to the core question, what does Donald Trump believe on an issue that is the most important moral issue? He's been all over the place on it, he said in the last debate that he thought Planned Parenthood was terrific.
Ted Cruz is right, if people don't have a strong moral bearing on the life issue, they're usually malleable on so many other things. And so he's -- Cruz has got to keep making the case to that evangelical voter. Your last poll showed Trump up 42 percent.
You know, he's got to keep making that pitch because it does speak to the fundamental broader question about Donald Trump, where does he come down on any given issue, and is he driven by any sort of moral compass, moral principle and you know, the answer is no, but you have to keep making that case.
COOPER: You know, Katon, it is an interesting dilemma and a dilemma that frankly, you know, his opponents have been wrestling with since he first entered the race which is how do you fight against somebody who seems impervious? It's like one of those super hero movies where, you know, one of the super heroes is impervious to any blows.
I mean, how do you, you know, for his Republican opponents, how do you fight against that? Do you have any tips in South Carolina?
DAWSON: Anderson, you try to get him one-on-one. That's what they're trying to do. They're trying to thin the field down. It's not happening yet. If you look into the CNN poll, you saw it was Rubio versus Trump, it's a 44-44 match up. So there is your frustration of certain candidates, let's say let me get that in one-on-one. What's happened in now is your going to see Kasich is making a little bit of a move, you know, Carlson is going to stay flat, in my opinion. Bush got a one-day bump and as good of friends as they are of mine, I don't see that, you know, he's got to get in double digits and that's going to be hard.
Rubio is in a pretty good place. Cruz has got to get out the vote, and today I went by Trump office and there are a lot of cars there, Anderson, so he's gone ahead and bought himself a ground game, so we'll see, but, I mean, I've talked to campaigns who say we just want to be there when we can get him one-on-one if it's not too late.
COOPER: Well, that's the thing and then and Jeff, I mean, Katon raises a great point which is, you have all these other candidates wanting to go one-on-one with Donald Trump not wanting to drop out because they don't want to miss on that opportunity, but the fact that nobody is dropping out means it's a divided field and that benefits Donald Trump.
LORD: It does benefit Donald Trump. You know, I'll tell you one little anecdote, Anderson, when I got home from CNN from New York on Sunday, I was home about a half hour and the doorbell rang. Now this is suburban Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
I opened the door to find a young woman, she had no idea who I was, she was just canvassing the neighborhood, she was there with a Donald Trump petition for her brother who was also working in the neighborhood. It was 19 degrees out to sign a Trump petition for his delegate seat and also to put Donald Trump on the ballot.
That's ground game and that goes directly to what Katon is saying in South Carolina. I think they've got their act together on this and I don't think it's going away.
COOPER: I assume you signed that, Jeffrey, because you're a Trump supporter.
LORD: I did.
COOPER: I don't need to ask you.
LORD: I did, Anderson, I was going to sign your name but they told me it was illegal
COOPER: Well she certainly knocks on the right door that night. Amanda, I mean you actually say that Trump is not ...
LORD: Yes, she did.
COOPER: ... is not really a conservative, now when it comes South Carolina, he's playing to liberal voters just as much to conservative. How so?
CARPENTER: Yes, I think in the last debate we saw a very strong development on that front. When Trump stood up and said Bush lied in that aggressive fashion and also made the comments about Planned Parenthood, I think he's making a play for the liberal vote.
He is remaking the Republican electorate. I know we talk a lot about he's not conservative, he's not conservative. He doesn't care. He's not trying to be conservative. I mean, he was asked on the stump about Obama's amnesty for students and things like that. He goes, oh, it's great. I don't think he knew what DAKO, which is the in acronym for it actually was. He was asked about the VRA, Voting Rights Act.
He said I'll take a look at it. I don't think he knew what that was either. He's not trying to campaign on issues, campaigning, his campaigning purely on personality and he's taking down the Bush's which, you know, a lot of liberals don't like. He's calling Ted Cruz a liar left and right.
I think he's just trying to gin up part of the far left vote because South Carolina is an open primary and he can expand the electorate there and I do have to say I am so disappointed to see Marco Rubio parrot Donald Trump's talking points about Ted Cruz being a liar, because at the end of the day, Donald Trump is the threat to the party.
I think a lot of conservatives across the spectrum would be very happy with a Cruz or Rubio nominee, but Rubio is not helping the cause for himself, elevating discourse or going to help unifying the party by acting like Donald Trump's mine me.
[20:40:10] COOPER: We have to leave it there. Amanda, good to have you on. Katon Dawson, Jeffrey Lord as well, thank you very much.
This week I'll be moderating two Republican Town Halls in South Carolina. Tomorrow night, Dr. Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz will take questions from myself and also from voters. And also on Thursday night, I'll be with John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump. That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow and on Thursday right here on CNN.
Just ahead in this hour, new poll numbers tonight in a democratic battle in South Carolina. Where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fighting for the support of African-American voters and talking bluntly about racial injustice.
Plus, Justice Antonin Scalia memorialized inside the Supreme Court. His funeral plans set. These questions linger over how Texas authorities responded to his death.
COOPER: Big lead has opened up in the democratic race in South Carolina in our new CNN/ORC poll, Hillary Clinton is ahead of Bernie sanders by 18 points, 56 percent of 38. She's also beating him among two key blocs of voters, African-Americans and women.
On the campaign trail both candidates are talking openly and often about race and racial injustice. Jeff Zeleny reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [20:45:04] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in a fierce competition to win over black voters.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Charleston.
ZELENY: Sanders is campaigning today in South Carolina.
SANDERS: I am speechless. What can I say after that?
ZELENY: Clinton in Harlem. Meeting with Al Sharpton and other leaders. Casting her bid for the presidency as another chance to break history.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hold me accountable. Hold every candidate accountable. What we say matters, but what we do matters more.
ZELENY: Their eyes are fixed on South Carolina where next week's Democratic Primary will test the strength of Clintons southern firewall in the breath of Sanders' appeal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.
ZELENY: African-American voters are a critical constituency, making up 55 percent of the Democratic vote in the 2008 presidential primary. The Clinton-Sanders battle is shining a light on criminal justice reform and racism.
CLINTON: These inequities are wrong, but they're also immoral. And it will be the mission of my presidency to bring them to an end.
ZELENY: Sanders says racial injustice is rooted in economic inequality.
SANDERS: And when we talk about inequality, it goes without saying that the African-American community is suffering even more.
ZELENY: Sanders believes his economic arguments will resonate with black voters.
SANDERS: The African-American community suffered more and has recovered in a much less significant way.
ZELENY: With him on the campaign trail today, Erica Garner. Her father's death helped inspire the Black Lives Matter protests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No peace!
ZELENY: Eric Garner died in 2014 after a New York police officer placed him in a choke hold during an arrest.
ERICA GARNER, ERIC GARNER'S DAUGHTER: A fearless public servant that is not afraid to stand against the establishment for the people, the next president of the United States, Bernie Sanders.
ZELENY: She's also the subject of a powerful campaign video.
GARNER: That's why I'm for Bernie.
ZELENY: The Clinton campaign is fighting hard for South Carolina. Collecting far more endorsements including from Eric Garner's mother.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you, Hillary.
ZELENY: They hope a strong win will solidify her position as the party's front-runner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, Jeff, the question is obviously how much progress can Sanders make with African-American voters between now and when South Carolina Democrats vote?
ZELENY: Well Anderson, he only has 11 days and they are pretty realistic about what type of an uphill battle this is. He said, himself, today this is a long road to hoe here but a couple numbers give them some hope. While 37 percent of African-American voters are actually -- she's winning by 37 percent.
He believes among younger African-American voters, they actually are listening more to this economic argument he's talking about. I was struck throughout the day as he talked about how young black men and women need jobs. He ties that into criminal justice reform. But Anderson, another number in our poll that stuck out to me, only 34 percent of black voters say they are absolutely sure who they're going to vote for.
That means, you know, two-thirds of black voters are so open to changing their mind. That's why the Nevada caucuses coming up this Saturday make all the difference in the world. If Bernie Sanders wins there, they believe he has a new life here in South Carolina. Anderson?
COOPER: Jeff, thanks very much.
Just ahead tonight after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, we're taking a look at lingering questions about how Texas authorities handled his death.
[20:52:21] COOPER: Antonin Scalia's, Bench Chair at the Supreme Court is draped in black to memorialize him after his death this weekend. A funeral is set for Saturday.
Meanwhile, there are questions about Justice Scalia's death and how Texas authorities handled it. Brian Todd has the latest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The sudden death of a Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and what some see as the bizarre handling of it afterward are leaving lingering questions.
After Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead in this room at a Texas ranch on Saturday, it reportedly took hours to find someone to pronounce him dead. Finally, when local Texas Judge Cinderella Guarvara said Justice Scalia died of natural causes, she did it by telephone without seeing the body and without ordering an autopsy.
That's allowed under Texas law. Judge Guarvara told the "Washington Post" she made her determination only after talking to investigators on the scene who said they saw nothing suspicious and tonight a U.S. Law Enforcement source tells CNN there were no signs of foul play. Still, some are critical given Scalia's high profile.
WILLIAM O. RITCHIE, FMR D.C. HOMICIDE COMMANDER: Well, I don't think a very good job was done with the death investigation.
TODD: Former Washington, D.C. Homicide Commander William Richie believes Justice Scalia did die of natural causes but he says Judge Guarvara or a medical examiner should have been there in person to pronounce Justice Scalia dead. And he says there were things investigators should have looked for at the scene.
RITCHIE: Did they look for signs of particular hemorrhage in the eyes and in the lips and smelling the breath for any unusual type of odor, removing the underclothing to see whether there was, you know, any trauma anywhere on the body? Any injection sites? And there's no indication that any of that was done.
TODD: Checking for those trace of hemorrhage or odor Richie says could have told investigators if Justice Scalia was suffocated or poisoned. Conspiracy theories fueled by comments made by the owner of the Cibolo Creek Ranch.
John Pointdexter told a Texas newspaper Justice Scalia was found with a pillow over his head. Donald Trump weighed in.
TRUMP: It's a horrible topic but they said they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.
TODD: John Pointdexter now tell CNN quote, "The pillow was against the headboard and over his head when he was discovered. He looked like someone who had had a restful night's sleep. There was no evidence of anything else."
Law Professor Jonathan Turley doesn't believe there was anything suspicious about Justice Scalia's death but says more answers are needed.
JONATHAN TURLEY, LAW PROFESSOR GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: When you have a Supreme Court Justice who passes away, you don't have the same leeway, the same ability to make assumptions. You have to be held accountable to the public and to history. That's why an autopsy should have been done. (END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:55:04] TODD: Texas Judge Cinderella Guarva told "The Washington Post", she spoke to Justice Scalia's Doctor who she says told her that he suffered from several chronic conditions. The Scalia family which asked no autopsy be done did not respond to CNN's request for comment on why they made that request. Anderson?
COOPER: Thanks very much for the reporting.
There's a lot more happening tonight. Amara Walker has a "360 Bulletin." Amara?
AMARA WALKER, "CNN TODAY'S" ANCHOR: Anderson, an emotional return to Paris where the "Eagles of Death Metal" fans greeted the band as they came back to finish the show cut short three months ago by Islamist gunmen. Ninety people were killed inside the Bataclan concert hall where the American band was playing to a sold-out crowd.
Today the U.S. and Cuba signed a deal to resume commercial flights between the countries for the first time in more than 50 years. The move starts the clock on a bidden war. U.S. carriers have 15 days to submit applications for routes they'd like to fly.
And when she wasn't collecting shoes, Imelda Marcos was collecting jewelry and now the Philippine government is putting it up for auction. Three hundred pieces worth an estimated $21 million all of it seized after the former first lady and her husband were overthrown. Anderson?
COOPER: Quite a haul. Amara, thanks very much. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Starting tomorrow I'll be moderating Republican Town Halls from South Carolina. A two-night event, tomorrow night, its Dr. Carson, Rubio and Cruz.
[21:00:03] Thursday, Kasich, Bush, Trump at 8:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow and Thursday. I hope you join us.
That does it for us. I'll see you again at 11:00 p.m. Eastern tonight in another edition of 360. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts now.