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Hillary Clinton Makes Her Pitch; Obama: 'Mr. Trump Will Not Be President'; Obama: 'They're Denying Climate Change'; Obama On SCOTUS Gridlock; Hillary Clinton In Harlem; Poll: Clinton Leads By 18 Points In S. Carolina; Generation Gap?; Erica Garner Endorses Sanders; Obama Vows To Nominate Scalia Replacement; Superstars On Race. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired February 16, 2016 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:02] ANDERSON COOPER, AC360:HOST 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.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The president versus the Republican front- runner. This time it's getting personal.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
President Barack Obama takes aim at the candidate nobody thought would get this close to the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRISEDENT: I continue to believe Mr. Trump, 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)
LEMON: Donald J. Trump giving as good as he got tonight.
(BIGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're lucky I didn't run last time when Romney ran because you would have been a one-term president. That was my statement to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton with a commanding 18-point lead in South Carolina and making her pitch to voters in Harlem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We continue to ask black people to vote for us. We cannot minimize the realities of the lives they lead or take their concerns for granted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: There is a lot going on tonight, so let's get right to CNN's Douglas Brinkley and Gloria Borger, also political commentator Bob Beck and "The Hill's" Bob Cusack. Gloria Borger, to you first, the president took on Trump today, listen.
(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. It's not promotion. It's not marketing. It's hard.
And a lot of people count on us getting it right. And it's not a matter of pandering and doing whatever will get you in the news on a given day. And sometimes it requires you making hard decisions even when people don't like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Gloria, there was no mincing of words there. What do you think?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, look, I think the president can hardly hide his disdain for Donald Trump, and that's no secret to any of us. You know, Donald Trump originally was the one who said, look, where's the president's birth certificate? Remember that?
So there's a bit, you know, there's a bit of a history here. And I think the president also by the way, went after some other Republican candidates, but not by name. But by naming Trump, what he does in the Republican primary, and I'm here in South Carolina, what he does is he elevates Donald Trump with Republican voters.
Republican voters don't like President Obama and who did Obama pick to name today when he talked about Republicans? But the front-runner, Donald Trump and that only helps Trump here because he's in a fight with the president and the other Republicans are fighting amongst themselves.
LEMON: Bob Cusack, this one is for you, Trump responded tonight to the president's attack. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This man has done such a bad job, he's set us back so far and for him to say that actually is a great compliment if you want to know the truth. And we just got to call, that he's coming over, the bridge was, like, packed just so you understand.
We were in that car a long time, but we just gave one of major networks called then they wanted a response. And I said, "You're lucky I didn't run last time when Romney ran, because you would have been a one-term president".
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So Bob, to Gloria's point, the president's comments only going to bolster Trump's support?
BOB CUSACK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE HILL: Yes, I think so. It was interesting that the president did not say that he does not think that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee, he said that he will not win the presidency.
So maybe this is a move by the White House to help Donald Trump to some degree because Democrats in Washington at least fear Marco Rubio more than they do Donald Trump. At the same time, who would have thought that Donald Trump would be a top the republican polls?
Certainly not Barack Obama when he mocked him at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. So it's been a very unpredictable year and I know some Democrats are nervous Trump is going to advance to the final two and never know what's going to happen in a general election.
LEMON: Bob, do you think the president is surprise Donald Trump's standings in the poll?
BOB BECKEL,CNN COMMENTATOR, POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh sure, and must everybody surprised, but the point here is that, you know, I agree that it probably will very helpful to Trump to have Obama bid up on the South Carolina.
Let's keep in mind here that nobody else has been very effective at taking him on. And particularly on the, the issue of substance and the, you know, the sort of gravities you need to be president of the United States. And who better than the president to do that?
[21:05:06] I think at some point and this thing is done, the three people running, that Obama is not going to be as harmful to the third person in the race. And somebody has going to do get the point this out. Look he has the bully pulpit. He should do it. He's president and, you know, he's not that unpopular president, about 50/50.
Now, it's not going to help the Republican primary understand that, but at least it will raise the issue about this guy not being called by the president.
LEMON: Mr. Brinkley, have you ever heard of the sitting president calling out a single presidential candidate like that?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, not on the eve of something like the South Carolina, you know, primary in the way that President Obama did it today.
I think the backdrop support, and I think he was been holding a conference in Rancho Mirage with South Asian leaders.
I think all those people, leaders around the world are like, is Trump for real? How can America elect somebody like this?
And so, the president in some ways was also answering their questions, that, no, this guy is not going to be president, and Barack Obama clearly thinks that Donald Trump is a bigot.
Everything, you know, that he stood for, Barack Obama, his whole life, the antithesis of it is Donald Trump.
I can't think of two people in politics more opposite in personality than Obama and Trump.
But the consensus agreement is it's probably going to give Trump a little bit of a bounce in South Carolina.
LEMON: OK, everyone. Let's hear more from the president because he didn't just take on Donald Trump. He took on all the 2016 GOP candidates. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You've got a candidate who sponsored a bill that I supported, to finally solve the immigration problem and he's running away from it as fast as he can.
They're all denying climate change. I think that's troubling to the international community. Since the science is unequivocal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Bob Cusack, he's talking about Marco Rubio there at the beginning.
LEMON: Are you surprised to see the president stepping into a primary like this? I mean, Bob Beckel mentioned it just a moment ago.
LEMON: But, are you surprised?
CUSACK: No, Don, I'm not. Because, remember, the president has a marketing problem here is that everyone who spoke is on 2016.
So, he's got to grab the spotlight. Congress is not going to be doing any sweeping legislation this year.
So, how does he stay in the headlines? He talks about Donald Trump, he talks about the 2016 hopefuls.
I think he's going to continue to do this and help Hillary Clinton, his I think preferred candidate, and maybe Bernie Sanders.
LEMON: Yeah. Gloria, what's the reaction there on the ground for people to hear the president weighing in on, you know, just before a primary? BORGER: Look, I think no one is surprised that the president is critical of Republicans, of course, but I don't think it matters to Republican primary goers here what Barack Obama thinks about any of the Republican candidates.
The interesting thing to me is if you look at our poll today in South Carolina, the candidate overwhelmingly that Republicans thought could bring about change, remember change, is Donald Trump, 60 percent of them thought Donald is a candidate of change.
Who was the candidate of change in 2008? Barack Obama was the candidate of change. Who can change Washington? Donald Trump.
So that's really important to Trump. People want change from Obama. And when you talk about Trump and Obama being the exact opposite, that's what Republicans want.
They don't like Obama. They've had enough and they want -- you know, we often elect presidents sort of reaction to the president we had before. And that's the way Republicans are thinking then.
LEMON: Well, I see Douglas Brinkley shaking his head. Does this in some way help the Republican message, like, you know, Barack Obama is coming out against us, he wants one of these guys to be a third term for him.
BRINKLEY: It definitely helps Donald Trump. There's no question about president doing that today, but Democratic Party leaders would like to run against them.
He has -- you know, he is one thing to be carrying his 30 percent of the Republicans with him wherever he goes, like a bull carrying its own China shop around.
It's going to be another thing if he runs against Hillary Clinton in the fall and you get to see the Latino vote overwhelmingly abandon the Republican Party because they see Donald Trump as being xenophobic and a prejudice and hate filled.
So, Hillary Clinton would love to run against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, but it looks like if Trump pulls off South Carolina, it's going to be hard for somebody to catch up with him.
That Bush and Rubio are going to have to morph into one pretty soon to take Trump on because he has momentum.
LEMON: Is the president, like many people have, I'm going to ask you with this, Bob Beckel, is the president underestimating Donald Trump's appeal saying, you know, I know that, you know, he won't be elected president, of course, the Democratic president is going to say that.
Is the president in some way underestimating Donald Trump's appeal to the American people?
BECKEL: Well, he's not alone. I mean, this is going back to last spring. when nobody but nobody except for you, Lemon, by a lucky stroke, thought that Trump had a shot.
[21:10:09] And the point here is that, yes it's true that he has got 35 of the Republican vote. Let's remember that means he's got 65 percent of the Republicans who are not with him.
So, I'm not so sure that you can say that this is the consensus Republican candidate by any means. When you probably get it down to a couple of people, I think Trump, can he grow that 35 percent beyond what he's got, 38 percent in this poll?
I'm not so sure he can. And I think there's reasons why people are not willing in the Republican Party, and I think someone will appall by him.
And once you get down to a fewer number of voters, let's see if Trump can grow that vote. And if not, you're going to have a brokered convention.
LEMON: Yeah. Gloria, this is where we going to a taste of the campaign or in-chief. I think that were a sign of things to come, correct?
BORGER: You know, he said today, you know, he sort of said I'm glad I'm not out there, you know, but I think he kind of misses it.
I think he's good at it. And I think what you heard today was Barack Obama Circa 2016 on the campaign trail.
I think he kind of ducked the question about the Democrat, clear to me he favors Hillary Clinton. He wouldn't go there. He said they differ on tactics, but they differ on a lot more than that.
I think he'd like the Democratic race to get a little bit settled so he can go out there, campaign for a Democrat and take on these candidates one by one.
BORGER: I think he would kind of enjoy it because his legacy's at stake.
LEMON: Yep. You guys stay there. I want to tell you viewers, we have a unique two-night event coming up on CNN this week.
All six Republican presidential candidates, answering questions from the voters of South Carolina. It is our live televised town hall moderated by Anderson Cooper, only on CNN. And that's tomorrow night and Thursday night. OK.
Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, they're going to kick it off tomorrow night. Then, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump fill questions from voters on Thursday night. Don't miss the CNN GOP Presidential Town Hall live two-night event tomorrow and Thursday beginning at 8:00 p.m.
And make sure you stick around and my panel as well. When we come right back, more candidate talk from the president, what he has to say about the battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
And who he thinks is to blame for Gridlock in Washington.
[21:15:54] LEMON: The president had plenty of tough talk for Republicans today, but he also talked about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and which candidates he thinks agrees with him more.
Back with me, Douglas Brinkley, Gloria Borger, Bob Cusack and Bob Beckel.
Bob Beckel, to you first, the president didn't just take on the GOP today, he also spoke about the Democratic candidates, too. Watch this.
(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 more. I don't know. I haven't studied their positions that closely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, we heard what Gloria thinks, Gloria says, "You know, it looks like he's favoring one over the other."
But, Bob Beckel, did you see him showing his hand, tipping his hat maybe one way or the other there?
BECKEL: Oh, sure. Yeah, I mean, look, he's got the problem with Bernie Sanders that he got with Trump.
I mean, first of all, he's not too terribly happy some people in the White House tell me about Bernie opening up the single payer thing and sort of buying into the line that Hillary uses which is he trying to undo ObamaCare.
But, besides that, he knows that if Bernie Sanders gets on the top of the ticket, the chance of taking back to Senate and down ballot, open, the few open House seats are, are going to be very, very much more difficult.
And, you know, he just thinks Hillary Clinton be a stronger candidate. I think he's probably right, but that's where he's going to come down now.
I think this is -- he let this out of the box today about Trump. You going to see more of that and you going to see more sort of moving closer to Hillary I think.
LEMON: All right. Douglas?
BRINKLEY: Yeah. I agree with that. And there's a lot at stake for Barack Obama, for Hillary Clinton to get the nomination.
I mean, for one thing, we've been talking about the death of Justice Scalia. We might get a third. He's already had two Supreme Court justices under his tenure.
Barack Obama, he's going to be able to have a third, perhaps. He needs a victory in November to make sure that that happens.
Also on issues like climate change, gun violence, it's really a third Obama term in many ways, Hillary Clinton, she -- he must be very pleased at the way she's helping the president with his own legacy.
She's wrapping herself around in South Carolina, almost everything, Barack Obama's done.
So, there's no doubt that any serious Democratic politician right now is seeing Hillary Clinton as a winning ticket.
LEMON: Yeah, I want to talk more about the Supreme Court in just a moment, but I want to stick with this fight between the Democrats and the Republicans there that the president is weighing in on.
So, Gloria, here's more from the president speaking about a fight we're seeing for the Democratic ticket.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think what you're seeing among Democrats right now is a difference in tactics. Trying to figure out how do you actually get things done? How do you actually operate in a political environment that's become so polarized?
How do you deal with the power of special interests?
Ultimately, I will probably have an opinion on it based on both being a candidate of hope and change and a president who's got some nicks and cuts and bruises from, you know, getting stuff done over the last seven years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, there's a, you know, a battle for the parties -- on the party side for the ticket there, but there's also some legacy speaking there, too, as well, Gloria.
BORGER: Yeah. Look, I think the president is being a little disingenuous here when he says this is a tactical discussion.
It's not a tactical discussion. Bernie Sanders wants single payer health care which would mean replacing the president's signature piece of legislation, ObamaCare, right? And I think when he says, he hasn't studied their positions, he knows this position from Bernie Sanders.
And also, when he says look, you know, it's a matter of getting things done, well, that's a page from Hillary Clinton's playbook which is I know how to get things done, I can work across the aisle.
[21:20:04] I live in the world of the realistic and it's great to have a Bernie Sanders kind of pie in the sky ideas but you can't get them done.
And so, you know, I thinking in his own way and obviously he's tiptoeing around this because he feels he has to, but in his own way, it was, you know, all the signals were there for Hillary Clinton.
LEMON: Yeah. This is for you, Bob Cusack. The president was also asked, of course, about the Supreme Court, right? Douglas Brinkley just mentioned that. But he specifically talked more about the gridlock in Washington. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The fact that it's that hard that we're even discussing this is I think a measure of how unfortunately the venom and ranker in Washington has prevented us from getting basic work done and we still have problems.
Because there's a certain mindset that says, we're just going to grind the system down to a halt. And if we don't like the president, then we're just not going to let him make any appointments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So Bob Cusack, he said he's going to put someone forward that is a respectable person on that, you know, anyone with respect from either side of the aisle. But this what do you make of him really talking about gridlock rather than who is who he might put forward?
CUSACK: Don, I think this is the beginning of a massive PR battle against the Republican Senate where he's going to try to portray the Republicans as mean, as unfair, as obstructionists and Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina also expressing some concern that they could easily be labeled as obstructionists if they continue to block whoever the president nominates.
I mean, listen, President Obama has said that he didn't change Washington. That is something he vowed to do. George W. Bush also vowed to change Washington. But he's also putting the blame on Republicans especially with this Supreme Court nomination. A question of will you give this nominee a hearing?
That's going to put Republicans on the defensive. But at the same time, Don, I don't see the Republicans caving. Now, will the democrats say, well, the president won't sign spending bills unless you give him this nominee. That, will they raise the stakes to that degree? We'll see and, you know, later this year, but I don't see Republicans caving any time soon and I think Republicans might say, listen, we might lose the Senate over this, but this is more important to prevent Obama from shifting this court.
LEMON: I appreciate all of you coming on tonight. Gloria Borger, working hard in the field. All the guys, lazy in the studio, sucking up the air-conditioning or the heat. Gloria, thank you very much.
BORGER: Come on down. It's fun.
LEMON: Just kidding. Thank you, guys. See you soon.
When we come right back, Hillary Clinton on the trail in Harlem, will African-American voters be the key to her campaign?
[21:26:52] LEMON: South Carolina primaries are just days away and African-American voters could be the key.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton takes her campaign to Harlem today hoping to make her case to black voters.
Let's discuss now with CNN Senior Political Correspondent, Brianna Keilar. Good to have you here in New York in the studio.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So good to be here.
LEMON: Hillary Clinton, the speech, was it well received?
KEILAR: It was. This was a very supportive, crowd, right, that she was before at this black cultural center in Harlem. In fact, actually at one point she choked up so badly that she struggled to speak for a few minutes and they actually cheered to fill the time because it got a little awkward.
But one of the things that I noticed was that it was a predominantly older African-American crowd. And this sort of speaks to even the generational problem, maybe it's not a big enough problem when it comes to black voters, but you're still seeing that divide that it's the younger black voters who maybe aren't as in to Hillary Clinton as they would be Bernie Sanders.
LEMON: And more to Bernie Sanders.
LEMON: Yeah. They look at him as a revolutionary. Let's look at what she said about Bernie Sanders, OK?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We have to begin by facing up to the reality of systemic racism. Because these are not only problems of economic inequality. These are problems of racial inequality. And we've got to say that loudly and clearly. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So is this hit on Sanders that he is, you know, a one-issue candidate, is that connecting?
KEILAR: It's sort of hard to tell at this point because this is something she really unveiled in earnest at the debate last Thursday. So, we're still kind of waiting to see. But, what she's really saying here to African-American voters is Bernie Sanders doesn't really speak your vernacular, he doesn't have the concerns you have.
Bernie Sanders thinks it's all about the economy. What about racism independent of economic inequality when it comes to the black community? So, she's trying to hit that. And then there's other criticisms that she has for instance one at that I heard today this event in Harlem.
She basically without naming Bernie Sanders cast him as a fair-weather friend ...
KEILAR: ... to African-Americans, she sort of said, you know, you don't just show up not long before the election and hope for support and I thought it was pretty clear who that was for.
LEMON: Yeah. Is anybody -- here the thing? When I speak to my nieces who are millennial, I love Bernie Sanders. When I speak to my older relatives who are African-American, when I speak to my mom, and my aunts, and my cousins, Hillary Clinton, right?
So there is a generational gap in the black community that's going to have to be either bridged, you know, Bernie is going to have to get older black voters, Hillary is going to have to get older -- younger voters, I should say black voters. Who's moving the needle? Are any of them moving the needle?
KEILAR: Actually, there is a little bit of movement in that Bernie Sanders is getting more support from black voters. But it's still this giant chasm between them. You see this in this new CNN/ORC poll today.\
KEILAR: She has an 18-point lead in South Carolina where the black vote is crucial. Among African-American voters, it goes to 37 points. I mean, he has 11 days until the South Carolina primary. It's really difficult to see how he would be able to make that much progress and that much time. A few days after that, it's the SEC Primaries, Super Tuesday.
[21:30:02] You have a lot of other southern states that are going to be voting and that will also be very difficult for him.
LEMON: You couldn't have picked a rainier day to come to New York. I thought about you as I was leaving my house in Harlem today. KEILAR: Yeah. It was a total mess.
LEMON: My goodness, it was crazy. Thank you, Brianna. Always a pleasure. Good to see you.
Now, I want to bring in, talk to two leading South Carolina Democrats, Minority leader Todd Rutherford who supports Hillary Clinton and Representative Terry Alexander who is supporting Bernie Sanders.
Gentlemen, good to have both of you here. So, we just sat here. We listened to Brianna Keilar. She told us about the speech.
Terry, to you first, CNN is out with a new poll of South Carolina voters today. Overall, Hillary Clinton has a pretty big lead. She's at 56 percent. Sanders is at 38 percent among Black voters. Her lead is even stronger. She's ahead by 34 points.
So can Sanders -- hey, listen, he can't make it all the way up, but can he narrow the gap?
REP. TERRY ALEXANDER, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA STATE HOUSE: Well, you know, when Sanders first started this race in South Carolina back in November, he's at 9 percent. Folks say he didn't have a shot. He didn't have a chance to make a dent in South Carolina.
You see the numbers are really changing and they're changing because folks are beginning to find out who this Bernie Sanders this guy is. They're beginning to find out that he really has the heart of the people. And he's really moving and pushing that needle.
Now, let's make a point here now. Bernie Sanders does not need 60 percent of the African-American vote to win. And I think that's very, very crucial. Does he need majority of African-American vote? We'd want that. But does he need that? I don't think so.
So we're just trying to push that needle further and further and you're seeing that in the polls that has come out today. The polls have been coming out over the past couple days. And those numbers ...
LEMON: I understand what you're saying. I understand what you're saying. Do you think that -- and I said, can he narrow that gap? There's -- it almost seems impossible.
ALEXANDER: Yes, yes, I think he can narrow that gap.
LEMON: You think he can. OK. So, Todd ...
ALEXANDER: Well, they say that in Iowa, too.
LEMON: Yeah. But they said that in Iowa, but that was, you know, we're talking about a lot more time, right? A lot more time between the polling and that -- there's only 11 days left. That doesn't give him much time. I'm not saying ...
ALEXANDER: A lot can go on in 11 days and particularly in these days and times, you know, a lot can go on.
LEMON: Todd, is Hillary Clinton -- is she holding on to her lead?
J. TODD RUTHERFORD, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I think she does. And not only that, I think that the more people get to know Bernie Sanders as we've talked about, they'll see that the ideas that he's espousing, for example, doing a single-payer system, doing away with ObamaCare, that is he's actually talking about doing away with one of the President's centralize ideas, one of the things that he stands on.
That as they get to know Bernie Sanders, they'll realize that he is new to the party. That he is only new. He has just come about talking about African-American issues and those are important to the people in South Carolina.
And in fact, this is someone who has never run as a Democrat. He is not a Democrat until it's convenient. It's convenient for him now and so that's how he decides to run as a Democrat.
Hillary Clinton and her roots in South Carolina are steep. They're strong. And they go back 40 years when she came to help children in South Carolina and marry right (inaudible) one of the children depends project.
They go to Alabama where she helped African-Americans there. They go all across the southeast.
And so, I believe, as people come to know Bernie Sanders they won't like what they'll see and they'll go back in droves at Hillary Clinton.
LEMON: And as you're saying that, these talking about her deep roots. Brianna Keilar, who is here, who knows everything political, is agreeing she is holding on to her lead in South Carolina. And that's going to be pretty tough to make up the difference, don't you think, in 11 days.
KEILAR: Very difficult. And I think that it's almost impossible. But I think the question is how good of a showing does he make?
KEILAR: And another thing that could change that is let's say she loses Nevada which has become a competitive race and she did have a big lead and now it's more competitive. Then that might give him the sense of, look, he is 1-2, she's only 1-1 and maybe that will at least change the numbers. But even then, it's just -- that it's such a big gulf.
LEMON: Yeah. It's -- but still makes for a very interesting political race here.
LEMON: Terry to you, in her speech today, Hillary Clinton definitely showed that she has Barack Obama's back. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Now the Republicans say they'll reject anyone President Obama nominates no matter how qualified. Some are even saying he doesn't have the right to nominate anyone. As if somehow he's not the real president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So does Hillary Clinton get it? Does she understand what's important to Black voters?
ALEXANDER: Well, I think she get it now. Eight years ago, remember, she ran against him stating that who would you want to answer the telephone at 3:00 in the morning? So she gets it now. And that is the part of the process, I think, that we are having to face.
But let me say this too, Bernie Sanders helped write the Affordable Healthcare Act. He's not going to dismantle that act. Does it need adjusting? I think the president himself, said there needs to be some changes in there. And I think that's what Bernie Sanders is attempting to do.
Not only that, but when you're talking about dreaming and big ideas, who would have thought that we'd have a black president eight years ago? Barack Obama himself dreamed the big ideas.
Who thought -- who would have thought we'd have an Affordable Healthcare Act if someone had not put it in their mind that this country can do this? This is a great country. We can do anything we want to. The government can do anything that the government tends to do if they really want to do it.
[21:35:06] So it's to dream big is what this country is all about. And I think that's what Bernie Sanders is saying. And that's why he's so attracted to the millennial because so many folks understand and realize that the way we're doing business in this country is no longer working for them and they want someone to make a difference in their lives.
LEMON: Regardless of his role, as you say, in helping to shape ObamaCare, so to speak of the Health Care Act, he has been outspoken an opponent on some parts of it and he wants to change at least some parts of it.
Stay with me because we're going to talk a lot more when we come right back -- I'll let you respond, I promise.
Will the race to South Carolina come down to a generation gap between Clinton and Sanders supporters?
We'll be right back.
LEMON: We're back. And Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead over Bernie Sanders in South Carolina but Sanders got an interesting endorsement today.
Back with me now, Todd Rutherford and Terry Alexander.
Terry, I promised I let you respond, but I had to say this and, you know, you said that he helped write the Affordable Care Act which he has been saying and you said PolitiFact, did a fact check on it and found that mostly false that he was an integral part of raising $11 billion for it which was, you know, not insignificant. But as far as writing or helping write it, they rate that mostly false.
[21:40:07] ALEXANDER: He was on the Health Care Committee that helped put that together.
LEMON: OK. I just -- is that what you want -- is that how you wanted to respond before the break?
LEMON: OK. All right, let's move on now. Terry, Erica Garner was in South Carolina, she is the daughter of Eric Garner killed who was killed in New York, by New York police, 2014, on Staten Island. Here's what she had to say. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERICA GARNER, DAUGHTER OF ERIC GARNER: His death also inspired me to seek out elected officials at every level of government who are committed to reforming our broken system.
This is why I am here, and it is why I have decided to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I mean, listen, the fight for younger voters, Terry, it is crucial. Does an endorsement like hers bring younger voters to Sanders, you think?
ALEXANDER: Of course. And they're going to continue to come to Sanders. Let me say this, too. Senator Sanders has been talking about racial inequality since this campaign start.
He just didn't start talking about this since he came to South Carolina. He isn't talking about racial equality, him talking about incarceration rate with African-American men, the high rate that's going on.
He's been talking about unemployment in the African-American community. Not only in South Carolina and in Harlem, but he talked about it in Iowa, he talks about it in New Hampshire, everywhere he go, he's talks about inequality that exists in this country. So, this is not coming by -- I mean, he's just not here at the last moment talking about race and racism and impact it has on our communities.
He is talked about that from the very, very beginning. That is why I was so attracted to his campaign. He was not afraid to talk about hardcore issues.
Not to selective communities, but he talks about hardcore issues everywhere he goes and he understands that.
He sees it and he understands that and that's why I'm here supporting him because of that, no matter where he is, you can hear him saying the same thing basically about the unemployment in our communities ...
LEMON: So Todd I see the other.
ALEXANDER: ... about high incarceration rate.
LEMON: Yeah. I see you have a pained look on your face.
But, listen, before you respond, Eric Garner's daughter endorses Bernie Sanders, but his mother, Gwen Carr endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Is this, you know, this is the case -- South Carolina shows this generation gap of who supports which candidate. Go ahead, respond.
RUTHERFORD: It exactly does, and so does what you just mentioned about the Garner's.
However, the problem is the things that Bernie Sanders says, which is exactly a Representative Alexander was talking about, what he's promising people, what he's promising these kids is that he's going to pay for their college as if immediately overnight their college debts are going to go away and their college loans are going to go away and that's a falsehood.
He simply cannot do it.
There is no reality that suggests that he's going to be able to make sure that these current kids that are in college get their college paid for by the government. And that's what he's promising people.
So, when you talk to younger voters, that's all they want to talk about, that's all they hear him say.
When he talks about economic inclusion for African-Americans as Hillary Clinton pointed out today, he acts as if that's the only issue. Where there's not systemic racism, which there is.
There are some people which simply don't like you because of the color of your skin. That's what she talks about today.
There are much broader issues than those which he brought to bear, again, once he started running as a Democrat at the beginning of this campaign. And these are the issues that Hillary Clinton, that Bill Clinton have been talking about for decades since their very entrance from law school into the real world, these are the issues that they've been working on.
He is new to the game. And by promising people the entire world, he is not going to fix the game, he's simply going to lead people to believe something that's not true.
LEMON: Terry, you want to respond?
ALEXANDER: Yeah. This college tuition thing, well let's look at how our students, or how our kids funded that -- the education is being funded.
Number one is federal student loans. We are paying the federal government to go to school. I mean, that seem like it's the easy fix if they're federal student loans, so therefore, these trillions of dollars of loans that these students have across this country, we owe them to the federal government.
It would seem to me if we can -- if we can make a deal with the Iranians, if we can come up with an Affordable Healthcare Act, we can do whatever we want to do.
This is a great country. This is a great country. This country can do whatever this country wants to do and I think that Bernie Sanders is right on track.
I think that what he's espousing to, I think is something that the young folks in particular are interested in and they want to be a part of and they see this revolution.
They know that the business of the past is just not working for them anymore. It's just not working.
LEMON: Yeah. But, people always wonder, no matter what you propose when you put the Affordable Healthcare Act together, even if you do some sort of deal with Iran, or if you're talking about, you know, paying college tuition, people are going to wonder how are you going to pay for this? Who is going to fund it? Go ahead, Todd.
[21:45:04] ALEXANDER: And that's ...
RUTHERFORD: Where the government, the government ...
ALEXANDER: ... you can't talk ...
RUTHERFORD: The government ...
LEMON: Terry first. Terry, go ahead quickly and then Todd you can respond.
RUTHERFORD: Go ahead, Terry. I'm sorry.
LEMON: Terry? ALEXANDER: I mean, you know, I mean, who would have thought that we'd been able to do what we've done so far ...
ALEXANDER: ... until the folks get together, start talking, start having that conversation and try to work it out, then we will see. Just to say, it cannot happen, I think is really not what this country is all about.
LEMON: Go ahead, Todd.
ALEXANDER: This country is built own dreams and aspirations.
RUTHERFORD: And it is also built on reality and that's where Hillary Clinton is bounded when she talks about what she wants to do. She is bounded by reality unlike Bernie Sanders.
You can't simply eviscerate the college loan program and it's much bigger than the federal government loaning people money. There are private debtors out there, private banks out there that loan under the federal program to these college students. Those loans will not go away. They will follow you. They can't go away in bankruptcy.
These are things that Hillary Clinton has talked about. She's talked about raising the minimum wage. Bernie Sanders says it needs to go to $15 an hour.
LEMON: I got to go ...
RELEFORD: All of us know that cannot happen overnight. It can't be done by executive order.
LEMON: I've got to go Todd. That's going to have to be the last word. Todd Rutherford Terry Alexander, appreciate it. Gentlemen, please come back.
When we come right back, the battle over the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama says he'll nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia, but that doesn't mean Congress will play ball.
We'll be right back.
[21:50:09] LEMON: President Obama vowing to nominate a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, and insisting the constitution is clear on what the Senate should do.
Here to discuss, is John Malcolm, director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and Alan Dershowitz, the author of "Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law."
John first, here's what the president had to say today. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: 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)
LEMON: So, John, we have heard that the Republicans of course are vowing to block any nomination but what about actually having a hearing?
JOHN MALCOLM, EDWIN MEESE III CENTER FOR LEGAL AND JUDICIAL STUDIES DIRECTOR: Well, look, Article II, Section 2 of the constitution certainly gives the president the right to nominate and appoint justices to the Supreme Court, but only after receiving advice and consent from the Senate. And of course, there is nothing in the constitution that says that the Senate has to give that advice and consent that they have to have a hearing.
Presidents have submitted according to the Congressional Research Service, so 160 names, men and women nominated to the Supreme Court. 36 of those were not confirmed and of those 36, 25 of them never received an up or down vote.
The Supreme Court finds itself in a very closely divided country at the center of a number of issues that the people care deeply about. The Second Amendment, racial preferences, the First Amendment, you know, religious liberty.
The next justice is going to be serving probably for decades after President Obama leaves office. And I think in an election year, the people deserve to have, you know, a say in terms of who they want sitting in the Oval Office nominating somebody who will be on the bench long after they have left office.
LEMON: So Alan, to John's point, this is the House Speaker Paul Ryan backing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's strategy to block any nomination.
Here's what he told his hometown newspaper, we can put that up. "The Supreme Court is not an extension of the White House, the president has absolutely every right to nominate someone to the Supreme Court but Congress as an equal branch also has every right not to confirm someone.''
So John, just basically paraphrase that. So Alan, what are the president's options to disarm his opposition? ALAN DERSHOWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, he has no option under the constitution. The constitution says, he shall nominate, he must nominate. If a president were, for example, to decide not to nominate for 11 months in order to increase the chances that his party might win the election, that would raise serious constitutional issues.
The president must, must nominate. And the Senate must go through the process of advice and consent. Now, that doesn't mean it has to consent, it can refuse but it cannot refuse to have hearings, it cannot refuse to have an up-and-down vote.
And sure there's enough hypocrisy on both sides that Democrats have played this game, the Republicans have played this game. Now, it's time for the constitution to speak.
Remember that Supreme Court justices are not supposed to be picked by the people. The framers of the constitution would turn over in their grave if they heard that we want the people to decide who would be on the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court was supposed to be an institution to check democracy, to prevent people from taking away fundamental rights that a majority might want to take away. So the president should nominate.
Now he has two choices, he can go the liberal route where he knows he's going to be rejected ...
LEMON: Or moderate.
DERSHOWITZ: ... or he can try to find a nominee who was for example nominated previously by President Bush and who maybe somebody who is of ethnic group that is never served, maybe a sitting senator. Make it as hard as possible for the Republican majority to turndown that nominee.
LEMON: John, I want you to take a listen to -- this is a Republican Senator Thom Tilis.
LEMON: Taking a different attack in some of his colleagues. Here it is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. THOM TILLIS, (R) NORTH CAROLINA: I think we fall into the trap if we just simply say sight unseen, we fall into the trap of being an obstructionist.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Republicans, do you think they may have shown their hand too quickly? Would they have been better off at least to hear a name first instead of immediately saying no, no, no? MALCOLM: Oh, that's a political decision, you know, I don't know what the picking those behind that. Let me respond briefly to Alan.
There's nothing in the constitution of course that says, that the Senate has to hold the hearing and there's nothing that say in the constitution that says, that a nominee gets an up or down vote.
[21:55:03] In fact, it's a little bit rich listening to President Obama say this when then Senator Obama along with Senator Schumer, and then Senators Biden and Clinton tried unsuccessfully to filibuster, in other words, to deny an up or down vote to Justice Samuel Alito and that was barely a year into a President Bush's second term. And then 19 months before the end ...
DERSHOWITZ: I agree with that. I agree with that.
MALCOLM: ... of President Bush's term. Well, 19 months before the end of President Bush's term, now Senator -- you know, Senator Schumer said absent exceptional circumstance.
The Senate should not consider any Supreme Court nominee the President Bush would send up. So, you know, it's a little bit strange to hear Senator Schumer now crying vow.
LEMON: Yeah. All right. Gentleman, that's going to have to be the last word.
DERSHOWITZ: But we shouldn't be listening to people on both sides, we should be listening to the constitution and that demands that the process be followed.
LEMON: Alan Dershowitz, thank you very much. John Malcolm, I appreciate it as well.
When we come right back, all eyes on South Carolina with our GOP town hall just hours away.
Will President Obama's takedown of Donald Trump make a difference to voters there?
Plus, first, Beyonce at the Super Bowl and then Kendrick Lamar at the Grammy's.
Are music superstars changing the conversation about race in America?
LEMON: There you go, live pictures of the White House. And the president, President Barack Obama on his way back there tonight after some pretty tough talk for Republican front-runner, Donald Trump.
[22:00:09] This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
We're counting down to our two night Republican town hall in South Carolina.