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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Clinton Wins Nevada Caucuses, Addresses Supporters; Bernie Sanders Speaks to Supporters; CNN Follows South Carolina Primary Results. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 20, 2016 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00] UNIDENTIFED MALE: And because they are the party establishment. They are the leaders. They are members of the Democratic National Committee, governors, members of Congress. You -- nobody would want to win the nomination because they didn't have enough support to get over the 50 percent threshold ...

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: From the ...

UNIDENTIFED MALE: ... from all the voters across the country ...

BASH: Right.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: ... but what put them over the top are super delegates. Everyone at the DNC will tell you, "Hey, these are the rules. This is -- everyone knows what the rules are going into the game and it's totally fairball and it is. Those are the rules."

But you can already see -- we've seen it -- a movement starting among sanders supporters at moveon.org or among his grassroots supporters already starting to try and beg some super delegates to take away their support for Clinton right now. Don't make this about super delegates. This is a repeat of a conversation that we all had eight years ago. And I think that the Bernie supporters are going to keep this fight up to try and somehow delegitimize what super delegates are, even though party rules are totally clear.

BASH: That's the long-term view. But the sort-term view is South Carolina is next and the fact that it appears it's not a huge percentage of the vote but the African-American vote is for Hillary Clinton. That is a ...

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Big time.

BASH: ... big, big plus for her going into South Carolina where it is more than 50 percent of the democratic electorate.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Exactly. Here it might be 12 percent of the electorate in Nevada and she won black voters by a huge margin. And certainly part of her victory tonight now take that to an electorate a week from now where there more than half African-Americans and then take that to Super Tuesday and beyond, that will be a big piece of the puzzle for her.

BASH: That is the fire wall that Hillary Clinton campaign always talks about.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, they've been talking about South Carolina and she presumably will do well. Now, we're getting ready to hear from Hillary Clinton. She's getting ready to walk into the auditorium over there. She's got a lot of supporters standing by there very excited. A very big win for Hillary Clinton. We'll have live coverage of her speech. Well, of course have live coverage of Bernie Sanders' concession speech as well although he's promising to move on. Jake, let's go back to you.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, Wolf, and obviously when Hillary Clinton starts speaking we'll bring that to you live. But let's talk about this moment and whether or not 2016 is just a replay of 2008 as we all recall. Hillary would win, Obama would win, Clinton, Obama, Clinton, Obama. Is that what we're going to see here? Or was tonight -- was today pivotal?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think today when we look back will be a pivotal moment for Hillary Clinton. If you look at how she won here with African-American support, we're all talking about heading into South Carolina, how important it is, her message has been about her experience and about her electability. Those are two areas in which she won tonight.

So that means that her message is getting through. She fought for this. She worked really hard. She knew that she didn't have the momentum heading into this, given what happened to her in New Hampshire. So we see as a candidate that she performed and that she worked for this.

And I think that matters ...

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah.

BORGER: ... to people, and i think it matters when you take the long view. This is not to say, as David and Dana were just talking about, that Bernie Sanders is going to pack it in ...

TAPPER: Sure.

BORGER: ... that he doesn't take a long view of these things because he won't, because this will be a fight down the line. But I think it was hugely important for her to win this today.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And she -- I just think we should also point out she won among women.

TAPPER: Exactly.

BORGER: Exactly.

CUPP: And that's a big deal.

TAPPER: Significant. She won significantly among women. Yeah.

CUPP: Significantly among women. We've not -- we've seen Bernie Sanders beating her among women and, yes, among young people.

BORGER: Young women.

CUPP: And I think he probably still will here.

BORGER: Right.

CUPP: But to have the gender gap now I think gives her real headwind, you know, going forward to South Carolina.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Projecting forward, she also won handily among voters who called themselves moderates which a disadvantage in a primary that's overwhelmingly liberal. But when you turn to a general election ...

BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: Right.

AXELROD: ... that's probably a good place to be.

CUPP: Yeah.

AXELROD: The one warning sign I would point out is she continues to lose by big margins among voters who call themselves independents. She's going to have to do better with those voters. I mean, it may be a different group of independents in a general election, but she has to reach independent voters to win a general election. And so, this is something I would look at.

HENDERSON: And I think one of the things that's interesting about this contest on the Democratic side is that for the first time we have Democrats talking about racism, whether it's systematic racism or institutional racism. This is not something we've seen before.

We've seen both Sanders talk about that, Clinton talk about that. They'll go to Flint, Michigan, for the debate where we'll be continuously talking about that as well. She did overwhelmingly better than Sanders did among African-American voters in South Carolina. The vote is going to be much more Democratic. It's going to be much more older as well.

AXELROD: If she repeats what she did with African-American voters ...

BORGER: Yeah.

AXELROD: ... in South Carolina ...

HENDERSON: Yeah.

AXELROD: She'll have 42 percent of the vote to start.

CUPP: Yeah.

HENDERSON: Yeah.

BORGER: Exactly. Well ...

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, SMERCONISH: I cannot see a path for Bernie Sanders to win the democratic nomination. But I see vulnerabilities having been exposed in these internals.

[18:05:03] I mean the honest ...

BORGER: You mean in a general? In the general ...

SMERCONISH: In a general, yeah.

BORGER: Yeah.

SMERCONISH: The honest and trustworthy issue is not going away. Earlier this week, "USA Today" and Gallup or in Suffolk, pardon me, showed that every single Republican defeats her in a head-to-head. And ...

TAPPER: In just a general election match up? Yeah.

SMERCONISH: Correct. And the single largest growing demographic in the country are Hispanics. It would appear she lost Hispanics to Bernie Sanders. Now, does Donald Trump as a Republican ...

BORGER: Right, absolutely.

SMERCONISH: ... nominee win them?

TAPPER: Or Ted Cruz.

BORGER: Right.

HENDERSON: Or Marco Rubio.

SMERCONISH: No. But maybe they stay home. So I think there's some real issues she needs to be aware.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me say, Bernie Sanders now has to go back to the drawing board. Hillary Clinton delivered a body blow to the rebellion. She did. Bernie Sanders needs to either beat her or tie for the rebellion to grow. Hillary Clinton delivered a body blow to the Rebellionist party. He has got to go back now to the drawing board and figure out what can he do about African-Americans.

Hillary Clinton has figured out a formula to associate herself so closely with President Obama that it almost becomes a racial badge of honor to stand with Hillary Clinton. Now, there is a black left. You do have a Ben Jealous. You do have Michelle Alexander. You do have Harry Belafonte who have broken with that.

TAPPER: Yes.

JONES: Key (inaudible) who broken with that but she has figured out a formula. Bernie Sanders has to go back to the drawing board now.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And O point just to talk about what Michael said briefly is that Hillary Clinton rose to t he occasion today. We were talking about in the greenroom we were reading stories about Hillary Clinton campaigning at 1:30 in the morning in hotel, in casino cafeteria, and kitchens meeting with culinary union workers. These are stories we haven't seen before.

AXELROD: Bakari, you know, Van, I may be pummeled with tweets and e- mails when I say this, but I think ...

BORGER: Go ahead.

AXELROD: ... this thing has gone well beyond what Bernie Sanders ever anticipated. He got into the race ...

HENDERSON: Yeah.

AXELROD: ... to make a point ...

SELLERS: Yeah.

CUPP: Oh, yeah.

AXELROD: ... drive the party in a direction. He's doing that. You look at what Hillary is talking about. He's having an impact on this party.

TAPPER: We have to take a very quick break. When we come back, we're going to have Hillary Clinton speaking live declaring victory. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:11:22] BLITZER: Hillary Clinton's the winner of the Nevada Democratic Caucuses. She's about to address her supporters at a hotel in Las Vegas. Let's go to that hotel right now. Brianna Keilar is on the scene for us. Brianna, I take it momentarily she'll walk out, right?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Her remarks are already out on the lecturn so we think this will happen any moment. And this crowd is anxiously awaiting her.

Wolf, I heard from a campaign aide that when Hillary Clinton learned she had won certainly she was happy and there was relief. She's not really the kind of person who jumps up and down but she was certainly very pleased.

And she was with her Nevada state director Emmy Ruiz and this aide told me there was a lot of patting on the back. Obviously, very pleased. And I love to tell you she had two speeches, was very happy to throw out the one for a loss.

BLITZER: Got the winning speech that I take it you just said the aide put on the podium over there. So we'll be anxious to hear what she has to say, Brianna. Stand by. Jeff Zeleny is over at Bernie Sanders' headquarters for us. There's going to be a different speech from Bernie Sanders, I assume a little bit more subdued since he did not win.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He did not win. And of course, he called to concede and congratulate. But, Wolf, I'm told there's a -- he'll be delivering the same speech he was planning on delivering either way. He'll be talking about the message that he has been giving across the country in his call for a revolution. But of course it will not have the same energy and punch he had hoped.

But, Wolf, interestingly enough, even in defeat Bernie Sanders may get a partial win here in fund-raising. Just a few moments ago he sent out an e-mail to his supporters asking them to send in $3. He said, "Look, I know I lost this campaign, but send in $3 to keep the fight going." He says, "Make a $3 contribution to our campaign tonight. We're still going to win this Democratic Primary." He said, "We want to show we can campaign anywhere."

So, Wolf, this is not going to be a concession speech in the true sense. He's going to say that this race is going to continue going forward on to South Carolina. He leaves tonight. Wolf?

BLITZER: He's presumably going to make the point that only a few weeks ago polls showed he was 15 or 20 points behind.

ZELENY: Right.

BLITZER: He loses maybe let's say by four or even five points. That's a lot closer than the polls suggested only a few weeks ago. So he'll be able to declare ...

ZELENY: Right.

BLITZER: ... that. I want to go right back to Brianna Keilar over at Hillary Clinton headquarters where they're setting the stage, Brianna, for Hillary Clinton to emerge to deliver her victory speech the night before she moves on and say she's going to Texas. She's getting some introductory remarks right now, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yeah, she is. This is Emmy Ruiz, her Nevada state director, Wolf, who actually was just crying with tears coming down her face as she is thanking some of the people who have been helpful in this state. But I'll tell you this is a race for the Clinton campaign and for these aides who have been working so hard that they honestly had no idea how it was going to turn out.

And so what we've been watching is some of her top aides and some of her state folks have been coming into the room. As they're embracing and having this sort of sweet moment unlike we've seen in the other contests, they really feared they were going to lose this.

And in the end, they pulled out a win that they feel is sizeable enough to say, "Look, this isn't a win with a caveat where it was just culinary workers who pushed them through. They think it's one where they can say they got help from a lot of different groups to help Hillary Clinton push through the finish line."

And I did mention quickly before, Wolf, Hillary Clinton had been working on two speeches because she had no idea, her staff had no idea how this was going to go. She did as soon as she found out that it looked like she was going to win in Nevada, she started, you know, certainly threw out that speech for a loss and was working on her speech for a victory, which we're expecting her to give any moment now, Wolf.

[18:15:08] BLITZER: I think that President Clinton and Chelsea, they are there as well. Is that right, Brianna?

KEILAR: Yeah. We are expecting for them to take the stage with her. And here we go, Hillary Clinton taking the stage before her supporters here in Las Vegas. But we do expect that Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton will be on stage, Wolf.

EMMY RUIZ, NEVADA STATE DIRECTOR: The next president of the United States and the Nevada winner of the Democratic Caucus, Hillary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you, Nevada. Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFED SPEAKERS (In Unison): Hillary. Hillary. Hillary. Hillary. Hillary. Hillary.

CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much

UNIDENTIFED SPEAKERS (In Unison): Hillary. Hillary.

CLINTON: You know, I am so, so thrilled and so grateful to all of my supporters out there. Some may have doubted us, but we never doubted each other. And this one's for you.

I want to congratulate Senator Sanders on a hard-fought race here, and I want to thank each and every one of you. You turned out in everybody corner of this state with determination and purpose, hotel and casino workers who never wavered, students with too much debt and small business owners who never go of the clock, tens of thousands of men and women with kids to raise, bills to pay, and dreams that won't die. This is your campaign.

And it is a campaign to break down every barrier that holds you back. We're going to build ladders of opportunity in their place so every American can go as far as your hard work can take you. And to the thousands of volunteers and organizers who worked so hard in this state, to the more than 750,000 people who have gone to hillaryclinton.com and contributed what you could, the vast majority giving less than $100, and to the millions of people across our country who are supporting our campaign, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

We hear you. We see you. We're incredibly grateful to you. It's because we're in this together. We look at our country and see so much that isn't working the way it should. We see grandparents forced to choose between paying rent and buying medicine because a prescription drug company has increased prices 5,000 percent overnight. We see African-American families denied mortgages at nearly three times the rate of white families.

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: Yes.

CLINTON: We see small towns and rural communities hollowed out by lost jobs and lost hope. We see a rising generation of young people coming of age in a world where opportunity seems out of reach. And worst of all we see children growing up in poverty or pain or fear.

Here in Nevada, a brave young girl told me how scared she is that her parents could be deported. In South Carolina, I met kids trying to learn in crumbling classrooms and neglected communities. And then there's Flint, Michigan, where children were poisoned by toxic water just because their governor wanted to save a little money.

[18:20:00] So Americans are right to be angry. But we're also hungry for real solutions.

In the campaign, you've heard a lot about Washington and Wall Street. We all want to get secret, unaccountable money out of politics. That starts with appointing a new justice to the Supreme Court who will protect the right of every citizen to vote, not every corporation to buy elections.

And we also agree that Wall Street can never be allowed to threaten Main Street again. No bank can be too big to fail, no executive too powerful to jail.

But if we listen to the voices of Flint and Ferguson, if we open our hearts to the families of coal country and Indian country, if we listen to the hopes and heartaches of hardworking people across America, it's clear there is so much more to be done.

The truth is, we aren't a single issue country. We need more than a plan for the big banks. The middle class needs a raise. And we need more jobs. We need jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced, jobs that provide dignity and a future. We can do it by unleashing the innovation of our entrepreneurs and small businesses. We can do it with new investments in manufacturing, infrastructure, and clean energy, especially here in Nevada which should be the center of solar power.

Somebody, some country is going to be the clean energy super power of the 21st century. It's probably either going to be China, Germany or us, and I want it to be us. And it will be when I'm president.

We also have to do more to make it easier for parents to balance work and family and to break down barriers that keep so many people on the sidelines much the economy, especially women. Don't you think we've waited long enough? It's time for equal pay for equal work.

And don't you think it's time to face head-on the reality of systemic racism and invest in communities that have been left out and left behind? That means reforming our criminal justice system, our immigration system, ensuring that people with disabilities have the same opportunity to work and fully participate in our society. It means to make sure that nothing holds you back, not debt, not discrimination, not a deck stacked for those at the top. Now, no one can get this done alone. Not even the president of the United States.

It's got to be the mission of our entire nation. I have never believed in dividing America between us and them. We are all in this together. We all have to do our part.

So let me say this to the men and women who run our country's corporations. If you cheat your employees, exploit consumers, pollute our environment, or rip off taxpayers, we're going to hold you accountable. But if you do the right things, if you invest in your workers, contribute to your communities, help build a better America, we're going to stand with you. We're going to go into the future together.

We need more jobs. We need more opportunity. And I want to say this to all the young people out there. I know what you're up against. If you left college with a ton of loans, it's not enough just to make college more affordable. You need help right now with the debt you already have.

That's why I have a plan to cut your interest rates and cap payments so you never have to pay more than you can afford. But I want you to think about this. It can't be just about what we're going to give to you. It has to be about we're going to build together.

[18:25:01] Your generation is the most tolerant and connected our country has ever seen. In the days ahead, we will propose new ways for more Americans to get involved in national service and give back to our communities because every one of us has a role to play in building the future we want.

Washington is never going to have all the answers, but for every problem we face somewhere someone in America is solving it. And we need you to be part of that exciting journey we can make together. We need the community activists who decide to run for school board, the entrepreneur who stays and builds instead of leaving a hometown that has seen better days. We need the millions of teachers and nurses, police officers and firefighters who get up every day and do quiet, heroic work to make our country a safer, fairer, better place.

It's going to take each of us working together, growing together, looking out for one another, and lifting each other up. Because there is a basic truth about America. It's something that Bill and I have been the beneficiaries of, that we have tried to contribute to and do all we could to continue.

America can only live up to its potential when each and every American has the chance to live up to your potential, too.

So imagine a tomorrow where no child grows up in the shadow of discrimination or under the specter of deportation. And every child in every zip code gets the education he or she needs and deserves. Imagine a tomorrow where every parent can find a god job and every grandparent can enjoy a secure retirement, where small businesses thrive and big businesses play by the rules and give more back to the country that has given them so much, where hard work is honored, families are supported, and communities are strong.

With your help, that is the tomorrow we will build for our country. So please join us. Go to hillaryclinton.com, become a part of this campaign, or text join 47246 right now. Let's do this together. Now I am heading on -- I am on my way to Texas. I'm not my way to Texas. Bill is on his way to Colorado. The fight goes on. The future that we want is within our grasp. Thank you all. God bless you.

TAPPER: Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton joined by her husband, former president Bill Clinton, declaring victory, a hard- fought battle she said, but she pulled it off.

Let's talk about this speech. This is a victory speech panel that she wasn't really able to give in Iowa because the election results were so up in the air when she took off for New Hampshire.

David, you and I have spoken about this a lot and the pronouns ...

AXELROD: Yes.

TAPPER: ... Secretary Clinton uses, I heard a lot more "we" than "I" in that.

AXELROD: I really think this is significant. You know, she in the past, her speeches have been very much focused on her biography, on herself. There was a lot of "me" and "I". This was all about "we" and this was about "us", this is about what we can do together. It was tonally much more different than we've heard before and I think much more effective.

BORGER: I think she was pitch-perfect almost. Graceful in victory and I think she learned from last time when she was criticized. And I think she's become a better candidate since she's been competing with Bernie Sanders. And I think we saw that.

AXELROD: We get rudely condemned by the way ...

BORGER: Yeah.

AXELROD: ... when we say she shouldn't shout.

BORGER: I didn't say that.

AXELROD: No, I know. You always get accused of sexism for saying that.

BORGER: Yeah.

AXELROD: But the fact is she isn't very good and most people aren't when they're shouting. She didn't shout tonight.

BORGER: No.

AXELROD: She had a conversation with the American people. And I think that's much more effective.

HENDERSON: Yeah.

TAPPER: Nia-Malika, a direct appeal to younger people, the ones who normally have been voting for Bernie Sanders, talking about their college affordability.

HENDERSON: That's right. Other words she used, immigration, discrimination, Flint, Ferguson, criminal justice, coal country. She talked about people who live in the shadow of discrimination and deportation.

So again, that is those direct appeal to that Obama coalition that mattered in Nevada so much in terms of turnout and them voting more for Hillary Clinton, African-Americans certainly and will matter going forward.

[18:30:08] SMERCONISH: I thought she largely gave Bernie's speech.

TAPPER: Yes.

SMERCONISH: So many of the themes, if you just read it in a text and I said, "Who delivered this?" You'd say, "Well, Bernie Sanders had a good night and he got to say it, Jake. One example when she talked about needing a Supreme Court nominee who will challenge corporations and that we don't need corporations too big to fail, very Sanders-like in her approach.

AXELROD: On the other hand, Michael, she also had kind -- she also extended an olive branch to entrepreneurs, to businesses.

SMERCONISH: Which ...

AXELROD: Yeah.

BORGER: With more general election ...

TAPPER: Yeah, she had a general election coverage ...

BORGER: Yeah.

TAPPER: ... message when talking about businesses and joining with us rewarding your work.

BORGER: It was a little less left-wing. A lot less left-wing than Bernie Sanders.

SMERCONISH: It's always a failure I think not to say the word "entrepreneurship" or to recognize job growth that comes from small businesses and yet he has such difficulty letting that roll off his tongue.

BORGER: But to David's point earlier, this is her way of reaching out to independent voters. I think she's taking a turn here not only because she won but also because she understands that she's got ground she as got to make up. (CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: The question is, does this empathetic language she used tonight also help deal with that deficit she has in terms of caring about people that show up in all these exit polls? I think she's trying to work on that as well.

BORGER: Exactly.

TAPPER: Just to point out for one second, we are expecting Senator Bernie Sanders to come speak to his supporters. And you see that in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. We will bring that to you live.

But Nia-Malika, to continue the conversation about Hillary Clinton, this was a big win in Nevada. And if she were walking into the South Carolina Primary, which will be held in one week, the Democratic Primary, down two primaries to one ...

HENDERSON: Yeah.

TAPPER: ... or whatever you want to call them, caucuses, contests to one, that would be bad. At this point, actually, in a week she could be up three out of four.

HENDERSON: That's right. And remember, when she was, you know, coming out of New Hampshire, all of the story line around her was how terrible she had done. It was about whether or not this firewall was real.

And so now she's got a whole different narrative. Not only I think, it sends a signal to her supporters but it's also good for folks who work for her, folks who are donors. I think it's a good -- as Gloria said, a pivotal moment for her and she looks good I think going into South Carolina.

BORGER: Imagine what we would be saying if she had lost.

HENDERSON: Yeah, if she lost. Exactly.

TAPPER: Exactly. Well let's take a very quick break. When we come back, we're going to have Senator Bernie Sanders taking the stage addressing his supporters, obviously a hard-fought loss for him. We'll bring that to you right after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:36:57] BLITZER: As you can see, we're only 23 minutes or so away from the top of the hour. That's when the polls closed in South Carolina, the Republican Presidential Primary is under way there. We're get an initial indication to see how the Republican candidates are doing, whether Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or any of the other republican candidates. Stand by for that.

We're also standing by to hear from Bernie Sanders, the democratic presidential candidate. He lost to Hillary Clinton in the Nevada democratic caucuses that just concluded. He's about to deliver his speech. I want to go to Jeff Zeleny. He's over at sanders' headquarters. I think he's going to be walking out fairly soon, Jeff?

ZELENY: He sure is, Wolf. He is on site here in Henderson, Nevada, just outside Las Vegas. He will be speaking really any minute. And I'm told that Bernie Sanders is going to acknowledge what happened here but then move on very quickly and talk about just how far his campaign has come. He's going to be talking about how he's going on to South Carolina.

And now he's going to be taking the stage right behind me. He is coming onto the stage with his wife Jane as you can see, and the crowd is really cheering him on. Let's take a listen right now.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFED SPEAKERS (In Unison): Bernie. Bernie. Bernie. Bernie.

SANDERS: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Nevada. Thank you for your support that we have received today. You know, five weeks ago we were 25 points behind in the polls. And we've made real progress. A little while ago I called up Secretary Clinton and congratulated her and her staff with a victory here in Nevada. They ran a very aggressive, effective campaign, and I applaud them for their efforts.

What this entire campaign has been about is the issue of momentum, is the issue of bringing more and more people into the political process. When we began in Iowa we were 50 points behind. When we began in New Hampshire, we were 30 points behind. And we were way behind here in Nevada.

[18:40:03] But what I think is happening is that, as people hear our message -- and it's a tough message because it speaks to the truth of an American society today that a lot of people just don't want to address, and that is the fact that we have a corrupt campaign finance system which is undermining American democracy and (inaudible).

We will not allow billionaires and their Super PACs to continue to buy elections in the United States of America. And the American people catching on ...

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: Yeah.

SANDERS: ... that we have a rigged economy.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: Yes.

SANDERS: Ordinary people, working people working two or three jobs, longer and longer hours. And most of it going to the top 1 percent. And together we are going to create an economy that works for all of us and not just the top 1 percent. And the American people are catching on that we have a broken criminal justice system, a system which says today that some kid in Nevada or Vermont gets picked up with some marijuana, that kid will have a police record staying with him his entire life. But if you are a Wall Street executive and your illegal behavior destroys the economy and the lives of millions of people, somehow nothing happens to you.

And our job is to bring justice back to the criminal justice system. I want to thank all of our supporters here in Nevada. I want to thank our thousands of volunteers, including many of you, for working tirelessly. I want to thank our staff for the great job that they have done.

I am especially proud that here in Nevada we're seeing this all over this country we are bringing working people and young people into the political process in a way we have not seen for a very long time. In a short while, I'll be on a plane to South Carolina. Then we're going to be competing in 11 states all across this country on Super Tuesday. And I believe that on Super Tuesday we have got an excellent chance to win many of those states.

But I also know that on Super Tuesday and before we are going to be taking on a very powerful and well-funded Super PAC, a Super PAC that receives significant amounts of money from Wall Street and wealthy special interests.

So as we head to Super Tuesday, we would very much appreciate the support of the American people who have been kind and generous. We have received at this point over 3.7 million individual contributions. And if people want to help us out, they can do that at berniesanders.com.

Lastly, as I think everyone knows, taking on the establishment, whether it is the financial establishment, whether it is the political establishment, whether it is the media establishment is not easy.

[18:45:04] We have come a very long way in nine months. It is clear to me and I think most observers that the wind is at our backs. We have the momentum. And I believe that when Democrats assemble in Philadelphia in July at that convention we are going to see the results of one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States.

UNIDENTIFED SPEAKERS (In Unison): Bernie. Bernie. Bernie.

SANDERS: So, Nevada, our volunteers, our supporters, our staff, thank you all very much. And now it's on to Super Tuesday. Thank you.

TAPPER: Senator Bernie Sanders conceding a loss in the Nevada Democratic Caucuses. We will have Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on "State Of The Union" tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern and 12:00 noon Eastern. In addition, CNN will be holding a town hall Tuesday evening at 8:00 p.m. in South Carolina with Senator Sanders and Former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton.

But let's turn back to our panel to talk about Bernie Sanders and the future of his campaign. Gloria Borger, this was a tough loss. If he had been able to win in Nevada, then one might have even been able to see him go all the way to the convention. What happens to his campaign now?

BORGER: I think he soldiers on, as he said. He's going to do. Look, Sanders campaign understood this wasn't great territory for them, but they lost the African-American vote by a huge margin which was a problem for them. They did show some strength in the Latino community. And I think Sanders believes that his message is resonating out there with democratic voters.

And you saw how well he did with young voters. That's been very consistent for him. So this is a race that's going to continue. It's not over. It's a pivotal moment for Hillary Clinton, no doubt about it, because if she had lost here the conversation tonight would be completely different.

TAPPER: Yeah.

BORGER: But Sanders is not giving up.

TAPPER: And David, obviously we'll see what the results of the Nevada Republican Caucuses are on Tuesday, but I have to say turnout for the Democratic Caucuses today seem significantly down from eight years ago when it was 120,000. And in Iowa and New Hampshire, Republicans drew more voters to the polls than Democrats about did. That's potentially troubling for Democrats.

AXELROD: There's no doubt about 80,000 today, not a bad turnout, but not a really, really robust turnout. And every single one of these contests we've seen the Republican turnout exceed Democratic turnout. And that's something that needs to be watched, particularly in those states that's are going to be competitive states. I don't know if Nevada turns out to be one of them.

But it also speaks to the fact that what happened in 2008 was sort of unique. And even though there are comparisons between the Sanders campaign and what Obama did in 2008, the numbers back then in Iowa, in Nevada and elsewhere were really mind-boggling in terms of turnout and the kind of turnout it inspired. Bernie Sanders hasn't yet achieved those kinds of numbers.

TAPPER: And Nia-Malika, Bernie Sanders has not been able to achieve what Obama did, which was to get the outsiders and the insiders supporting him. So far, Clinton and Sanders have pretty much been splitting them down the middle.

HENDERSON: You know, I think that's right. And I think with his speech tonight we're starting to see generally his strength. He talked about the campaign finance reform Super PACs, corrupt finance system which really gets these crowds excited. But you see Hillary Clinton trying to be more of a full-spectrum candidate.

For instance, corrupt finance system doesn't necessarily explain what happened in Flint, Michigan, right? It doesn't explain housing discrimination or job discrimination. And that's where you see I think Hillary Clinton trying to have a broader discussion on not only other things that a president would have to deal with like foreign policy and the Supreme Court but also in this idea of it's not just income equality. It's also racial inequality as well as gender inequality.

BORGER: Well, you see her trying to portray him as a single-issue candidate.

HENDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. And he kind of played into that in some ways.

[18:50:00] SMERCONISH: I mean the question is how far he takes this. He's left his imprint on the whole conversation that's taking place in the Democratic Party where 28 percent say it's income inequality that's our number one issue

Jake, interestingly take a look at our internals. Only 7 percent of those who voted in Nevada said It's terrorism. And yet watch what's now about to unfold as Republicans head west.

TAPPER: Yeah, quite a contrast. And on that note, CNN's coverage of the South Carolina Republican Primary starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Right now, it's a whole new climate in the presidential campaign with the first contest in the South, the Republican candidates are turning up the heat.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ted Cruz, he is a liar.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anyone who points to his record is somehow lying.

TRUMP: I think he's an unstable person. I really do.

CRUZ: The bullying is not going to work here.

TRUMP: Who will survive the GOP battle growing bitter by the day? It's South Carolina's choice. Tonight in the Republican Race.

UNIDENTIFED SPEAKERS (Ina Unison): Build that wall. Build that wall.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Donald Trump, resurgent after his landslide victory in New Hampshire.

TRUMP: All of these characters are going to give it up and we will make America great again.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Ted Cruz, hoping to thump Trump, as the race moves into the Bible belt.

CRUZ: If conservative stand together, we will win the Republican nomination.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Marco Rubio, rising, with the endorsement of the state's popular governor.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDDATE: The winner and the loser here matters. We cannot lose this election. UNIDENTIFED MALE: Jeb Bush, struggling to prove he can go the distance as the race known for its military might and political brawls.

JEB BUSH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is not a conservative. He's a bully. Punch him back in the nose.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Now, it's time for voters to have their say.

CRUZ: It's up to South Carolina to pick a president.

TRUMP: South Carolina was always like a big, big margin. We're just killing everybody.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: It's a wild ride, and it's just getting started.

RUBIO: You don't have a seatbelt, go get one.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: South Carolina is choosing, the political landscape is changing. And the Republican race is wide open, right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: As Republicans like to say in that state, South Carolina picks presidents. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States, and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center. The pressure now on on six Republican presidential candidates. Tonight, we're just minutes away from the first hard results out of the Palmetto state.

Donald Trump, expected to claim victory in South Carolina tonight. But we're monitoring both Trump and Ted Cruz. All the candidates right now, Marco Rubio, seems like a new candidate in South Carolina. But for Jeb Bush, a poor showing tonight could spell potentially the end of his campaign.

Our reporters are deployed across South Carolina right now from Charleston to Columbia to the Low Country at polling sites and embedded within the campaigns.

Sara Murray is over at Donald Trump's headquarters now. So Sara, how confident are they over at Trump headquarters of a victory tonight?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Wolf, I would say they are hardly dancing in the end zone. The message they are putting out to their staffers and to their volunteers is that they have to fight to the finish. I spoke to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and he said, "Look, I am not a famed driver but too many people rest on their laurels."

Corey telling people, "Our boss works 20 hours a day. I don't expect you to work more, but I don't expect you to work less." That's the message they're giving the campaign right now and down playing expectations a little bit. Saying they want to win by just one vote. But ideally if by one vote in each congressional district so they can back up as many delegates as possible. Wolf? BLITZER: Sara, stand by. I want to go over to Sunlen Serfaty. She's over at Ted Cruz campaign headquarters. Sunlen, what are they saying over there?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a Cruz campaign adviser tells me what they're seeing at this moment, they believe they will come in a strong second place here in South Carolina. This was their internal goal, so if this happens, expect to see Senator Cruz celebrate this almost as a win. Why? Well, because they feel like them emboldens their argument going forward.

They will argue that Marco Rubio would be marginalized and it really gives a large argument into that Senator Cruz can be the alternative to Donald Trump. They will argue he came in first in Iowa. Came in second in New Hampshire. And potentially coming here in South Carolina will send him with a boost to the March 1st Super Tuesday states.

The cherry on top tonight here would be shrinking that gap with Donald Trump. That is what the Cruz campaign is right now paying close attention to. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Sunlen, thanks very much. I want to go to Rubio campaign headquarters. Manu Raju who is standing by over there, Manu, what's the mood over there?

[18:55:05] MANU RAJU, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Really, Wolf, Marco Rubio and his campaign team are feeling bullish about their prospect here. They think they will finish a strong third place or maybe even get that second place finish.

I just got off the phone with Senator Tim Scott, one of the closest Rubio advisers and supporters. And he told me he believes they're going to finish stronger than what the public polls are suggesting. And that is echoed by campaign officials across the board.

Now even if Marco Rubio ends up in that strong third place finish, expect his tone to be a triumphant one, similar to what we heard in the Iowa Caucuses when he also ended up in third place and make the case he can be that establishment alternative to Donald Trump and try to make the case that he's the only one who could unite the Republican Party.

What he hoped for too is to make a not so subtle suggestion that Jeb Bush, if he's well ahead of Jeb Bush, that Jeb Bush should get out of the race. We'll see how far ahead Marco Rubio ends up in front of Jeb Bush tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, that -- Manu, that takes us to Jeb Bush headquarters. Athena Jones is over there for us. Athena, a lot of supporters think this is make or break potentially tonight.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they do, Wolf. And that's what the headline is out of here right now. The campaign is saying that Bush doesn't necessarily have to beat Rubio in order to stay in the race. They're going to be looking at the point spread as we heard Manu Raju mentioned between Bush and Rubio.

A source close to the campaign is telling me even if Rubio is significantly ahead of Jeb Bush, it's going to make it harder he should be the alternative to Trump and Cruz. That's, of course, what they were hoping to do coming out of New Hampshire into South Carolina. They sold this as Jeb Bush's best early states that he had the strongest organization here.

And so if he finishes far behind Marco Rubio, that will be an issue. But this same source said that even if the spread is large, the point spread is large, it doesn't necessarily mean the end for Bush. But it's something they're going to be looking closely at. Wolf?

BLITZER: Athena, thank you very much. I want to go over to Dana Bash and David Chalian. This a huge night for these Republican presidential candidate. For some of them, as I said, it could be make or break.

BASH: That's right. We cannot overestimate how important South Carolina is. And, you know, you heard Sara Murray report that Donald Trump's people are saying they're not dancing in the end zones yet. That's a good thing, because he has had a huge lead. But, you know, just anecdotally in talking to people down there in South Carolina, even at his own rally yesterday, there were a lot of people who were still undecided.

And even sort of thinking about voting strategically because they thought he was going to do so well, a certain way to industry to stop another candidate.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. Listen. There is no doubt that tonight's results are going to reshuffle the Republican field. That will happen based on the results tonight in South Carolina. It will reshape the entire race going forward to the Nevada caucuses and into Super Tuesday. We already got that winnowing out of Iowa and New Hampshire. And tonight whether or not everyone stays in or not, it will be clear, I think, where this race is going coming out of these results tonight.

BASH: But, again, if Donald Trump does, in fact, end up winning as the polls showed going into today, that is something that you cannot take away from him and cannot kind of again underestimate when it comes to looking ahead.

BLITZER: A win is a win. Let's go over to John King, South Carolina, critically important, John, for these Republican candidates, all six of them remaining.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A little bit of history. We expect Donald Trump to win. This a year in which all the rules have been broken. But the rules are in Republican politics, if you win New Hampshire and South Carolina, guess what, no one who has done that has not won the Republican nomination. SO Donald Trump wins in South Carolina tonight. History is on his side to be the Republican nominee. Again, we'll watch the race. What do we look for tonight? Here's one thing I want to show you. Let's bring this up on the map. Just like in Iowa, South Carolina has a lot of evangelicals. The deeper the shading, the higher the percentage of evangelicals in that region.

Ted Cruz would hope to win this state. You heard Sunlen saying he hoped to win because of this, the bible belt of South Carolina, evangelicals spring board. Watch tonight to see if Ted Cruz wins up here or if Donald Trump makes significant in roads.

Also important to see, the percentages Marco Rubio gets up in this area. And Dr. Ben Carson not expected. Dr. Carson is in to win, place or show. But his vote total could have an impact in this region of the country, especially on Ted Cruz.

Let's go back in history. It turn off the demographics, back to this race. If you look at 2012, does Donald Trump if he wins tonight, does it look something like this when Newt Gingrich won across the state, one in the evangelical areas, also in the main land Republican areas. You see Mitt Romney winning along the coast and Columbia.

A big win for Donald Trump would look like this. Most people expect the state will look more like this. This is 2008. This is Mike Huckabee up here in the evangelical areas. Mitt Romney down here. You have main line establishment conservatives along the coast and center of the state.

And the big question is Trump has made in roads, Rubio needs those voters, the survival of Jeb Bush is among these voters. A lot of fun tonight in South Carolina.

BLITZER: All right, John. Stand by. We'll be getting back to you.

[19:00:02] A huge night tonight for all of these Republican presidential candidates. The stakes are enormous right now. In South Carolina, the polls are closing right now.