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Donald Trump Wins South Carolina Primary; Marco Rubio Speaks to Supporters; Rubio: This is a Three-Man Race Now; Ted Cruz Speaks After Third-Place Finish. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 20, 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] DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESEDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And when China wants to come and negotiate, they're going to negotiate, not with a political hack, which is what they have now. They're going to negotiate with the best business minds in the world. And we have them in this country.

So we're going to do a lot of beautiful work. We're going to terminate ObamaCare. It's going to be terminated. It's going to be over. It's going to be repealed. And it's going to be replaced and you're going to have much better healthcare at a much smaller cost, because ObamaCare, if you look, look at the increases in your ObamaCare, 25, 35, 45, even 55 percent. It's dead. It's not working.

We're going to go to a plan that's going to be so much better and so much less expensive. So Second Amendment, by the way this is a room, loves the Second Amendment, thank you, fellas.

This is a room, loves and cherishes the Second Amendment. We are going to protect our Second Amendment. Totally. Common core is gone. We are getting rid of common core. We're bringing education to a local level. The people in this community, every time I see them, they want education locally. The parents, the teachers, they want to do it. They don't want bureaucrats in Washington telling them how to educate their children.

We spend as a nation more for education per pupil than any other nation in the world. Not even close. More per pupil, second place doesn't even exist, it's so different. And yet out of 30 countries, we're ranked number 30. You have China, you have Norway, Sweden, Denmark and then you have number 30, the United States. So we spend the most, and we're at the bottom of the heap. It's not going to happen any more, folks. It's not going to happen anymore.

We are going to build our military, which I thank, because a number of the people came down, and a number of the pundits and watching tonight, we love our military. We love our military. And by the way, we love our police. Our police are terrific. We love our police. They are not being treated properly. We're going to build our military so big, so good, so strong, so powerful, that nobody is ever going to mess with us, folks.

And we're going to buy -- we're going to buy the equipment that our generals, our soldiers, that everybody that's in the know want. We're not buying equipment that sells because they have political people because they take campaign and they give campaign contributions. We are going to get the equipment that they want. Not the equipment that they're told to have by senators and congressmen in Washington. We're going to have great equipment.

And the reason I can say that is I'm self-funding my campaign. I'm not getting millions of dollars from all of these. I'm not getting millions of dollars from all of these special interests and lobbyists and donors that once they get it, they literally do whatever the politicians want. That's not going to happen. And we're going to take care of our vets. We love our vets, and they're being treated terribly. We're taking care of our vets.

So we're now off to Nevada, and it's a great state. We have great people. We have great people in our nation, no matter where we go. I went to Mobile, Alabama, 35,000 people. We went to Oklahoma recently, twice, 20,000 people, 20,000 people. No matter where we go, we fill up the arenas. Over here, the other day, we had a 9,000. We had a 10,000. We have people.

The only thing that stops the crowds are the walls because we can't get them in. We have to send thousands of people away. "Time Magazine" last week did an incredible cover story. They said it's a movement. And that's what it is. It's an incredible movement with incredible people. Incredible people.

It's an incredible movement, with incredible people. I tell you. And whether we go, honestly, whether we go to Dallas or whether we go anywhere you say. You go to L.A., you go anywhere you say, our people are incredible.

[21:05:07] And you know, our theme -- what's our theme? You know it, right? Right? Our theme, which I love, may be the greatest theme of all-time, right?

And the word again eventually is going to come off. We're going to get rid of the whole theme. Because what's going to happen, make America great again, right?

And the last two weeks, because I've gotten to see so many -- I guess millions, when you add them all up, with all of these rooms and all of these speeches and I've met so many people.

But the people are so incredible that I've been saying, make America great again, and it's going to be greater than ever before. That's the kind of potential we have. Greater than ever before.

So -- so I want to thank everybody. I love you all. Again, South Carolina, we will never forget you. We will never forget you. We will never, ever forget South Carolina. We will never forget our great volunteers. We love our volunteers. We'll never forget all of the people that have helped us so much. My family and, folks, let's go, let's have a big win in Nevada. Let's have a big win at the SEC, let's put this thing away and let's make America great again.

Thank you very much. Thank you very much. JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump, a Republican front runner, after his second victory. After having won in New Hampshire, he wins again in South Carolina. The South Carolina Republican Primary.

The votes still coming in. But it looks as though he has come in first place by more than 10 percentage points over the second place rival. Let's turn to our analysts. Interesting, Gloria, you just noted, he mentioned Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio battling it out for second place. He did not mention the candidates who bowed out of the race ...

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

TAPPER: ... just before Donald Trump declared victory from Jeb Bush.

BORGER: No love lost between those two guys. And, of course, Jeb Bush becomes the latest candidate to attack Donald Trump, whose candidacy ends up in the garbage pail, right?

And I think what we saw from Trump tonight is somebody who believes, no matter how he pronounces Nevada, somebody who believes that he will in Nevada and he will go on and win in those Super Tuesday states.

And I actually think, given the shape of the electorate in those Super Tuesday state, and given what we saw tonight in South Carolina, that he has a very good chance of doing what he says he's going to do, which is to lock it up. Which is what he wants to.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He win in Nevada and then it will be in Nevada and he'll win it -- what's going to happen.

TAPPER: Or it's interesting, because I remember when Michelle Obama was just the wife of a Senator, and she was campaigning in Nevada, and she mispronounced it Ne-voda, the crowd corrected her, they yelled at her.

Donald Trump might be the only one that can go to Nevada, mispronounced it and everyone's "Oh, I like it that way."

BORGER: Yeah, OK.

TAPPER: It sounds pretty good that way.

AXELROD: That would be consistent with the rest of his campaign.

TAPPER: Yeah.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Ask your old colleague, George stepping up who was also got voted the debate for that. Look I wrote in October that the Republican race can be defined in two sentences, and it is still true. Donald Trump has consolidated the blue collar wing in the Republican Party.

TAPPER: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: The white collar wing remains fragment, it went 41 percent of non-college Republicans in South Carolina. Only 24 percent of college educated Republicans, Rubio actually beat him pending the final revisions.

And Jake, this is the key to what happened tonight and the key to what can happen in the south, is if that blue collar advantage, as you guys were talking about before, extends across the religious line.

Among Evangelicals, who are also non-college, a CNN polling is just crunched the numbers. Donald Trump won 42 percent of blue collar evangelicals after carrying a comparable number of them in New Hampshire.

And if he can maintain that, Ted Cruz simply can't get the evangelical numbers that he needs and the whole south is open before and kind of like Sherman.

TAPPER: And Ron of the National Journal, welcome, good to see you, Michael Smerconish is gone, Ron Brownstein ...

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: Welcome at the 20th mile.

BROWNSTEIN: Exactly.

TAPPER: Do you see a scenario where one of these other candidates is able to stop Donald Trump? It seems to me a bit, if this were any other Republican candidate, other than Donald Trump, people would be saying, well, looks like this guy is going to be the nominee.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, look there is one weakness, I mean there is one weakness, is that he has consistently been less attractive to college educated Republicans throughout.

I mean, in the national polling, in Iowa, he's now been in 22, 30 and 24 in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina among college-educated Republicans. Which means there's a lot out there.

But the question is whether anyone can consolidate that. And I still believe after being in South Carolina all week, that Marco Rubio is pitching as who is the most logical person to consolidate those voters, is pitching his campaign several clicks to the right of where they are.

His view has been throughout, as you guys talked about earlier, that as these other candidates go out, the center right, mainstream conservative Republicans, will have no choice but to come to him and that he can spend all of his time trying to cut into the support for Cruz and Trump on the right.

[21:10:11] He had success with that. He did well with the Evangelicals, especially college educated evangelicals. But he has not unifying sufficiently those voters in the upscale, white collar part of the party who have shown the most resistance.

TAPPER: And but, in just those tuning in right now and they see the Congressman Trey Gowdy on the top right of the screen, he's about to introduce Marco Rubio, and when Senator Rubio he starts speaking we'll bring that to you live. Nia-Malika, you wanted to make a point.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: No, I agree, with Brownstein. And it's something interesting that Trump said tonight. He said, oh, well listen. The assumption is the most all these other folks are dropped out, Kasich and Bush, then all that support would accrue to Rubio's favor.

He said, well, listen, he would probably get at least some of that support. And he might. I mean, there are some moderate Republicans that are drawn to Donald Trump, as the polls are showing. People who like veterans, people who are moderate. So I think this kind of math that everybody is doing -- I think it's a little fuzzy.

BORGER: Well, I think Cruz and Rubio have done such a good job destroying each other's credibility on the issues. That it's unclear, for example, on the important issue of the immigration where they are, where they stand, who was lying, who wasn't lying. That this also accrues to Trump's benefit, because the waters have been muddied so much in South Carolina.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, the other point real quick. Trump is in this remarkably dominant position among working class Republicans or the field this big. Among the states coming up where non-college Republicans who are at least 48 percent of the vote, last time Nevada, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Michigan. Essentially all of them.

So if he maintains that kind of 40 percent ...

HENDERSON: Right.

TAPPER: Yeah.

BROWNSTEIN: ... plus for that block and the other side remains fragmented, and he too hard to do the math.

TAPPER: Let's talk to Jeffrey Lord. Trump supporter, does Mr. Trump make calculations like this? Does he say, I need to do better with college-educated Republicans, therefore I'm going to tackle a little bit. Or does he just do what he does and let the chips fall where they may?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He just goes where he's going to go and let's the chips fall where they may. And frankly, I think that's his strength. Because with that's -- are the message comes to comes out to people, he's not scripted. And you know, with all due respect to David's former boss over there, who takes the wrap about the TelePrompTer and all of that kind of thing and politicians as a breed and being very scripted, that's I think a big asset for him.

One other thing I like to mention here is somewhere along the line, if Donald Trump keeps winning, attention is going to be paid to who will be the running mate. So if Marco Rubio does do well, you know, that might be the possibility we're looking at there.

TAPPER: We're already talking about Donald Trump's ...

(CROSSTALK)

LORD: Well -- I say that ...

TAPPER: Somebody mark this. This is the moment that Jeffrey Lord started talking about Donald Trump ...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Ted Cruz for vice president. Amanda, would he take it? No, I'm just joking. Moving on to Nevada. Doesn't Ted Cruz need to win in one of these states now Donald Trump has come in second, in two first-place finishes?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It will, as we talked about before, it's always been Ted Cruz's strategy to have a really good performance on SEC Tuesday. Let's remember, Texas is a big part of that day.

But, you know, let's not take credit away from Marco Rubio possibly making this much tighter than anyone anticipated. And I think he had a laser focus going negative, hard on Cruz. I mean, he need a calculation to go against Cruz, and not necessarily Donald Trump. And so if, let's say, Marco Rubio, it does have a second place finish works very tight ...

TAPPER: OK, I got it. I've got to cut you off. Here comes Marco Rubio. Let's listen to this.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you! Thank you very much. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you.

Thank you. First of all, I want to begin by -- I want to begin by congratulating Donald Trump. We haven't had a chance to speak yet. He won here tonight. But after this tonight, this has become a three- person race, and we will win the nomination!

I also a few moments ago got to see on television -- I've not had a chance to speak to him yet, Governor Bush and his announcement. I have an incredible affection and admiration not just for Governor Bush, but for his family and for their service to our country.

[21:15:08] Jeb Bush has many things to be proud of. He is an extraordinary husband, he's an extraordinary father, he was the greatest Governor in the history of Florida. And I believe, and I pray that in his service to our country has not yet ended.

And I thank Jeb Bush for everything he did for the state of Florida and for running a campaign based on ideas, and I pray for him and his family tonight as they move forward in other endeavors in their life.

Tonight, here in South Carolina, the message is pretty clear. This country is now ready for a new generation of conservatives to guide us into the 21st century. For the time -- the time has now come after eight years of failure to return to the constitution of the United States that made us the freest people that have ever lived.

The time has now come for leaders that will re-embrace free enterprise, which made us the most prosperous people that have ever lived. And the time has come to rebuild our military, because the world is a better, a safer and more stable place when we are the strongest military in the world.

We as a nation have faced troubling times before. In fact, 36 years ago, this nation faced a period of doubt. After a failed presidency, it felt like America was in decline. Our economy was stagnant, and the American dream felt like it was slipping away.

And then we elected a president that inspired us. A president who asked us to remember who we were, and who believed as we do, that America's greatest days always lie ahead. Ronald Reagan -- made us believe that it was morning in America again. And it was. Well now, the children of the Reagan revolution are ready to assume the mantle of leadership.

Now, those of us who grew up when it was morning in America, and Ronald Reagan was in the White House, are ready to do for our generation, for -- for are ready to do for the next generation what Ronald Reagan did for ours.

And who is this conservative movement in the 21st century because our principles remain the same. But who are we? My friends, the 21st century conservatives are the son of a single mother who grew up in poverty and was almost lost. And today he serves this state as its Junior Senator, Tim Scott.

The 21st century conservative movement is the daughter of immigrants from India, who wanted desperately for their children to have all the opportunities they never did. Who faced the string of prejudice, and yet because of the greatness of our country, today Nikki Haley is the governor of a state where it's always a great day.

And the 21st century conservative movement is the son of a bartender and a maid from Cuba, who tonight stands one step closer to being the 45th President of the United States of America.

We are a nation and a people that celebrate success. We are a nation that admire people that have worked hard and moved ahead. And as conservatives, we will always celebrate success. But we fight for those who are still trying to make it.

[21:20:00] If tonight you are that single mother who has made it the purpose of your life to seek, to leave your children better off than yourself in the 21st century, we conservatives will fight for you.

If you are watching tonight, and you are that father that works two jobs, so that your kids could have its all the chances you never did. In the 21st century, we conservatives will fight for you.

If you're the 17-year-old high school student who wants a big future and so you get up well before dawn to take two buses to a better school halfway across town. Who gets home late at night to do homework, because you know that God has made you for more than what people around you tell you, you are made for. In the 21st century, we conservatives will fight for you.

We will fight for you, because we come from where you are now. Because we live the way you live now. And we know that limited government and free enterprise and a strong national defense is a better way forward for you, for me, for us, and for the United States of America.

Tonight, to those watching at home, I ask you to join us in this effort. This has been a long road. There were many people on this campaign when it first started, many good people. Many of whom in any other year would have been front-runner. But now practically speaking, it's down to three. And I know that our campaign gives us the best chance, not just to come together, not just to unify our party, but to unify our country and to grow this movement.

I ask you to go on our website. If you're watching tonight, I ask you to go on our website right now, marcorubio.com, and join our campaign.

60 years ago, a young couple from Cuba came to America and search of a new beginning, a second chance, a fresh start and America changed their lives. Of course, I'm talking about my parents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. Spoiler alert.

RUBIO: 10, 10 days ago, their son arrived in South Carolina, after a difficult election in New Hampshire, in search of a new beginning and a fresh start. And many thought it was over. Somehow doubts about whether we would wind up here, even now. For me, the State of South Carolina will always be the place of new beginnings and fresh starts.

I know that God's hand is on everything. And so whatever God's will is, in this election, is what will ultimately happen to us and to our country. But if is God's will that I should serve as the 45th president, if it is, if it is God's will, that we should win this election, then history will say that on this night in South Carolina, we took the first step forward in the beginning of a new American century.

Thank you, South Carolina. Thank you. God bless you.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. There he is, Marco Rubio, with his supporters, his family, his friends. Marco Rubio, right now, by the way, he's in second place in South Carolina, second place, ahead of Ted Cruz. But there's still votes that have to be counted.

You saw Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina. That was a key endorsement for him this week.

Dana Bash, David Chalian, Mark Preston.

Dana, a lot of Rubio supporters think Jeb Bush's decision to drop out of the race is going to help Marco Rubio down the road. DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're hoping. Unfortunately, for, I guess, both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, there isn't going to be a lot of carryover, because Jeb Bush just didn't do well enough.

I was just texting with a top Rubio source about this. And their take-away and what you're going to hear looking forward is that this shows, from their perspective, that Ted Cruz doesn't have a lock on the South.

Because they -- right now they're, you know, looks like they're running second. It could change. But regardless, they gave Ted Cruz a run for his money in South Carolina.

[21:25:08] So looking forward to March 1st, what they call the SEC primary, a lot of key Southern States for Republicans.

The Rubio campaign is saying that this is going to help them there. And this Rubio source says this is now an all-out delegate race.

BLITZER: David, this has got to be a big setback, a big disappointment for Ted Cruz with the huge evangelical Republican population in South Carolina. If he comes in third place, well behind Donald Trump and even behind Marco Rubio, that's got to be a disappointment.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. We don't know how the second and third place positions will shake out in the end.

But listen, South Carolina is a tailor-made State for Ted Cruz. Southern States, 73 percent evangelical vote here. This is -- this is Ted Cruz territory. And the fact that he was not able to differentiate himself in the final vote totals from Marco Rubio, and he's double digits behind Donald Trump, that is a problem for Ted Cruz here in South Carolina.

Here's the thing, though, Ted Cruz has the finances, and the delegate strategy that Dana was just talking about to go forward for quite some time.

What I think tonight's results are showing us, we're talking about Marco Rubio benefiting from Jeb Bush voters, even though he didn't have a ton of them, he still had some level of support.

This now indicates to me that this race is going all the way through March, at least, if not into April. Because there is no reason, if we keep seeing results like this, that this three-man race, and we'll see how John Kasich sort of makes his presence known as the fourth man in the race. But if this three-man race keeps splitting up all the delegates are awarded proportionally right now, not until March 15th do we get to win or take all ...

BASH: Right.

CHALIAN: ... where you win the entire prize from one state. So as everything is awarded proportionally, this is a delegate that goes on for quite some time.

BLITZER: Well, Mark Preston and you broke the story about Jeb Bush suspending or dropping out of the race tonight. It looks like the Republican National Committee, they're gearing up for an extended run. They've already announced there's going to be even more Republican debates at the end of March going into April.

We have our CNN Republican Presidential Debate in Houston this Thursday night.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: We do. And look, as the race starts to consolidate, there's going to be a pressure point put on John Kasich to try to get him out of the race. I think we're going to see that happen.

I'll have to tell you, I live in Northern Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C. one of the Super Tuesday States, I saw John Kasich canvases today trying to find voters there.

This race is going to go on. And what we're going to see happen is that these three lanes, these three established lanes that we've been talking about in Iowa and New Hampshire, that seem to get muddled up are now starting to get established. We have the Donald Trump lane. We have the Ted Cruz lane. We now have this John Kasich, Marco Rubio lane right now.

And then Ben Carson, who refused to get out of the race tonight, says that he has the money right now to stay in, and he has a schedule that's going to put him out through our debate ...

BASH: And that's bad news for Ted Cruz.

PRESTON: And that's bad news for Ted Cruz. However, once Ben Carson does get out, the question is, where do those votes go? I suspect some of them will go to Cruz, even though there is bad blood between Carson and Cruz.

BLITZER: Dr. Ben Carson staying in. John Kasich staying in. Jeb Bush, not so much.

John King, you're watching this. You heard Marco Rubio say from his perspective, it's a three-man race right now.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what he wants to say and you could make the case that Trump, Rubio, Cruz, get tickets out of South Carolina, especially since the guy running in fourth place right now, Jeb Bush is suspended.

You were just talking with Dana, David and Mark about John Kasich, his campaign says he's in. He has -- they see a path down the road, but there will be a lot of pressure on Governor Kasich.

But if you focus on these three. Number one, we're not absolutely certain about second place here yet. Marco Rubio would like nothing more than to come in ahead of Ted Cruz in a state that is built for Ted Cruz. If you look at the evangelicals, look at the recent Tea Party history. This is a state built for Ted Cruz.

If Rubio even if it's by a couple hundred votes, the moral victory of coming in ahead of Ted Cruz, they will put out.

But let's just stop for a minute. We're talking about number two and number three. This is a huge impressive win for Donald Trump across South Carolina. Winning just about everywhere.

Now, to the other conversation you were just having about the race going forward, let's come back out. The longer the race goes on, the more we stop talking about victories and start focusing more on delegates.

Coming into tonight, this is what we have. Donald Trump leading with 17 delegates. Remember, these two contests coming in this side. Ted Cruz is 11. Marco Rubio 10. The other candidates all in single digits down below them.

But remember these three, South Carolina has 50 delegates, winner- take-all by congressional district. We now know that Donald Trump will get at least 41 of those 50. The one area still in play, there's a congressional district, that's not an exact line, but it runs roughly right along here.

This area where Marco Rubio is winning in Charleston. There's one congressional district down here that we're still not exactly sure whether Rubio or Trump wins it. So you can see Trump winning down here. Rubio, winning up this way. But 41 of the 50 delegates are going to go to Donald Trump tonight.

Again, three contests in, you add the 40, it leaves him ahead with a long way to go. But the longer the race does go on, remember, Clinton, Obama, 2008, the more and more we're counting delegates.

BLITZER: And you heard Donald Trump say he's headed to Nevada, Tuesday night. The Republican caucuses in Nevada and he's doing really well there, as well.

[21:30:00] All right, Jake. There's a lot to assess right now.

TAPPER: For sure. There's lot of maroon on that map.

Jeffrey Lord, a good night for Donald Trump ..

LORD: Right.

TAPPER: ... whom you support. He goes to Nevada next. Presumably you're going to teach him how to pro announce the name of the state. It's not Nev-oda, its Nevada.

LORD: You know, let me say in Donald Trump's defense if you grew up in the northeastern United States, you not only say Nev-oda, you say aunt. TAPPER: An excellent point. My only question is, does he keep doing what he's been doing all along? Does he change his message at all, does it calibrate at all? It's just the same thing.

LORD: It's the same thing. I mean, how many times in the last six or months have we all had this discussion about well, he's not going to say that, is he, and shouldn't he change and shouldn't he stop, and he doesn't stop. He keeps at it. And, you know, he gets these results.

TAPPER: And Amanda Carpenter, supporter of Ted Cruz. Let's fair to say, is it not?

CARPENTER: Well, I have said consistently I would rather see the race come down to Cruz and Rubio than Cruz and Trump, I mean, I think, listen ...

TAPPER: But let's talk about that ...

CARPENTER: ... for all, sure yes, yeah.

TAPPER: ... because I am looking at that thing right now for second place, Rubio versus Cruz. It is really tight.

CARPENTER: Right, tight.

TAPPER: As somebody who used to work for Ted Cruz, does it matter whether he comes in a very close third or a very close second? I think it probably does.

CARPENTER: Sure, it does. I mean, second or third is based but in the point of each other, both are going to have a really strong argument that they all need to continue on. And so what's going to be really to watch, regardless of who comes in second or third, Marco Rubio invested a lot in going negative on Ted Cruz.

Once Marco Rubio becomes a threat is going to be really interesting to see Donald Trump attack Marco Rubio, because Marco Rubio hasn't really gone after Trump as he got.

TAPPER: No, he hasn't.

CARPENTER: And, you know, we see how Trump acts, I mean the way that Trump went after Cruz on his, you know, most famously Canadian birth and other matters, and I think it's had an effect, having that sort of to-pronged attack from Rubio and Trump calling Cruz a liar ...

TAPPER: Yeah.

CARPENTER: ... certainly has had some effect in this race.

TAPPER: And I want to ask you, Mike Rogers. I don't want to call you a member of the establishment, because that would hurt your -- oh, I can do that?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: No, absolutely not.

TAPPER: No, you don't want ...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: You're a former ...

ROGERS: You're as I mean establishment and there's cigars and martinis, never been invited.

TAPPER: Your former congressional chairman, is all I meant by. Let's just say you know some of the guys in the establishment, even if you're not a member ...

ROGERS: I know a guy.

TAPPER: ... you're a rebel, you're a rebel. You're not a member of the establishment. But if you would channel the Republican establishment right now for us, tell us what you think they're thinking, because they don't want Ted Cruz or Donald Trump to be the nominee.

ROGERS: Well I just -- this whole mythical notion of an establishment is a little off beat, I think. So what you find in -- parties or coalitions. So in the Democrats are going through this, as well.

That that kind of new socialist wing, and that coalition of Democrats is giving them fits.

TAPPER: Sure, but the establishment candidate once and on that side.

ROGERS: We have but not by -- this was a caucus state. And, yes, she won, it's a solid victory, she could go down and I think bat cleanup in the south.

TAPPER: OK, cleanup to the south. Let's go back to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz.

ROGERS: I will. For will, two things, though. Mr. Cruz is I saw a little bit of weakness in the campaign. He had the better organization and the better ground game in South Carolina, no doubt.

TAPPER: By far.

ROGERS: And the whole -- discussion was he's going to cleanup on evangelical voters, and that's his strategy going in to the next round in the SEC round. Rubio is well over performing in those evangelical areas where Cruz should have been knocking the ball out of the park.

That tells me that this isn't this big establishment thing that these voters are starting to drift around a little bit, and there will be no clear path of if this person gets out, those votes go here. I think Donald Trump was exactly right in that, there is going to be a fight for those voters. And you saw that with evangelical voters in South Carolina, in a way that I didn't anticipate. And I think, you know, kudos to Rubio.

But I also think those really strong Tea Party stamped approval candidates, including Tim Scott and Nikki Haley benefited him, and that powerful -- I thought he had a powerful message, standing on that stage were Republicans of color who had a great personal, powerful story to talk about.

TAPPER: Right.

ROGERS: Moving around the country. I think that's a powerful thing. And I would watch out for that rise of Rubio going into the SEC.

TAPPER: Van Jones, as a Democrat, in the past when you have said on my show, or others, that you fear Marco Rubio the most, a lot of Republicans out there think you're lying. That you are only -- it's like a briar patch ...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: ... but you actually really do sincerely think he would be the toughest candidate for Hillary or Sanders to beat.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITCAL COMMENTATOR: I definitely felt that way. Trump is getting more and more impressive and more and more frightening from I think a Democratic point of view. But obviously, what you saw tonight, I think could give broad appeal. I don't want for us to start lowering our standards as a country. And I'm going to say what has not been said.

It was a complete classless act for Donald Trump to come out there and not acknowledge Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush went out there, he did an honorable thing. That was your son or your dad. You would have been proud of Jeb Bush tonight.

[21:35:04] Marco Rubio went out there, he did the right thing. He said kind things about this man who has given his life to public service. And Donald Trump is a classless clown.

LORD: No.

JONES: And it was -- it was horrible for him not to do that. And we are now I think in a situation where we are beginning to adapt to absurdity. It is absurd to have someone like him on the national stage who won't even acknowledge -- if he were your child on a soccer pitch, you would have wanted him to act better toward Jeb Bush tonight.

There is something really going wrong in this country and somebody has got to be willing to speak about it tonight.

TAPPER: Well we know, but in terms of adapting to this new normal in politics, Jeffrey, I do want to ask you this question. This week we had President Obama, former President George W. Bush, and Pope Francis. All three of them within the course of about three days go after, whether named or not named, go after Donald Trump and his positions and his tone and tenor.

LORD: Right, right.

TAPPER: Do you think that helped Donald Trump?

LORD: Yes, I do. Our friend David over here has talked a great deal about when you -- how the incumbent president dominates the scene, and then as time moves on, the anti-incumbent president appears, as Barack Obama was to George W. Bush.

I think what we're seeing here is the anti-Barack Obama. I think David is right about that. And I so I think, in this sense, what you're seeing is the establishment, if you will, going after Donald Trump, and all that does is chin up his people even more to say, see, Mildred, I told you.

AXELROD: You know, I want to just respond to some Mike said, because I know you were around Washington for a long time. So let me describe the Republican establishment for you. They're business ...

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: I know just let me say, they're business orient-- I think you know the answer, too. They're business oriented. They're pro trade. They're pro immigration reform. They're fiscal conservatives.

ROGERS: Chamber of commerce.

AXELROD: I mean -- there's a pretty -- there is a pretty strong core of those folks. And it's not clear where they have to go in this race any more. I think Rubio is their hope.

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: But, you know, I think to the voter out there, what they see are two very ambitious young senators who are going at it. And this guy who is completely distinct. And if, you know, if campaigns are about market segmentation, you know, Trump has his space. And it's not clear these guys have fully established theirs. And the longer it goes -- one last thing, Jake.

We -- we, the Democrats, you know, we want everybody to go home happy. So we've got these delegate rules that say even if you lose, you know, you go home with a prize. You get some delegates. And that's one of the reasons our race went on so long.

The Republicans changed their rules.

LORD: Right.

AXELROD: So after March 15th, they've got winner take all by state or by congressional district and it was done to accelerate the selection of a nominee. They never thought when they made those rules that nominee would be Donald Trump. But he may well benefit from those.

TAPPER: And just while we have been talking, look how close the race is right there between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. 22.3 percent to 22. 1 percent with 94 percent of the vote, and then and Gloria, it does matter whether Marco Rubio comes in second or third.

BORGER: Yeah, it does. I mean, I think at some point you have to win somewhere. But I think it's better ...

TAPPER: It's an interesting idea.

BORGER: Yeah, kind of odd. But, you know, it's better for Marco Rubio to come in second, because this was Ted Cruz's territory. This is kind of good turf for him. And Marco Rubio is one member of the establishment just e-mailed me. Marco Rubio does well with late deciders, which we saw. And that's I think their hope, that he still will do well with, with late deciders.

But Rubio, you know, early on, we were all saying the great thing about Marco Rubio is that he's everyone's second choice. And that puts him in a great position. That was before anybody voted. Now that he seems to be everybody's second choice, it's not such a great position to be in. And he does have to win ...

TAPPER: It's Ted Cruz. He's coming to the stage. Hold on. We're going to take a listen to Senator Cruz.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: God bless the great state of South Carolina! Friends, once again, we have made history. You, the good people of South Carolina, and our incredible volunteers, all over the country, continue to defy the pundits and to produce extraordinary results.

[21:40:06] Let me say a word about Governor Jeb Bush. A man who had a terrific record as Governor of the state of Florida, who brought job creation and education innovation to the people of Florida. A man who ran a campaign based on ideas, based on policy, based on substance a man who didn't go to the gutter and engage in insults and attacks.

Governor Bush brought honor and dignity to this race. Tonight he has suspended his campaign, but Heidi and I give our very best to Jeb and Columba and their entire extraordinary family. We wish them the best, and we thank them for their remarkable campaign.

I want to thank our tremendous team here in South Carolina, Congressman Jeff Duncan. Congressman Mark Sanford. And former Attorney General Charlie Konda. Senator Lee Bright and Representatives Bill Chumley and Wendy Nanny and Gary Smith and Mike Burns and Jay Jordan.

And Ray Nash and Pastor Mike Gonzalez. And heroic volunteers, like David Helmer and David Aguilar and John and Kay Meyer and all seven of their terrific kids. And the nearly 500 South Carolina pastors that endorsed and joined this campaign.

First Iowa, then New Hampshire, now South Carolina. We don't know the exact results right now. Right now we are effectively tied for second place. But each time, defying expectations and causing the pundits ...

Indeed -- indeed, the screaming you hear now, from across the Potomac is the Washington cartel in full terror that the conservative Grassroots are rising up. But before we reflect on what we have together accomplished, I would like to pause for a moment of silence in honor of a great man, an American hero, Justice Antonin Scalia.

Today, I attended Justice Scalia's funeral. I had the honor of knowing him for 20 years. He was brilliant, principled, faithful and a ferocious defender of the constitution and the bill of rights. As Ronald Reagan was to the presidency, so too was Justice Scalia to the U.S. Supreme Court.

His passing one week ago today underscores the enormous stakes of this election. It is not just one, but two branches of government that are at stake. And Justice Scalia's replacement will not be decided by the Washington power brokers.

[21:45:10] It will be decided by we, the people. This election will be a referendum on the Supreme Court. And I'll tell you this, I cannot wait to stand on that debate stage with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or whatever other socialist they nominate. And make the case against their radical vision of the constitution that would strip away life and marriage and religious liberty and the Second Amendment and the basic rights of every American citizen.

In Iowa, they said it couldn't be done. And we won. In New Hampshire, they said a conservative, a bible-believing Christian, could not compete. And we defied expectations. And tonight, despite millions and millions of dollars of false and nasty attacks, despite the entirety of the political establishment coming together against us, South Carolina has given us another remarkable result.

Together, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina tell us three things. First, that conservatives continue to unite behind our campaign. If you are a conservative, this is where you belong, because only one strong conservative is in a position to win this race.

Second -- second, we are the only campaign that has beaten and can beat Donald Trump. That's why Donald relentlessly attacks us and ignores all the other candidates. Now I congratulate Donald on his victory tonight. But I will say this to the people of America. If you don't believe that Donald Trump is the best candidate to run against Hillary Clinton in November, if you believe we need a strong contrast with the Democrats -- then we welcome you aboard our team. We welcome you to be part of the over 200,000 volunteers and the over 980,000 volunteers contributions at tedcruz.org. Join us at tedcruz.org.

And the third lesson of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, is that only one candidate remaining has a consistent conservative record. Other candidates engage in non-stop personal attacks. We have not and we will not respond in kind.

[21:50:01] There is a reason other candidates resort to insults, and it is that they cannot defend the substance of their record. There is only one candidate who has led the fight against amnesty. Who has led the fight against ObamaCare. Who has led the fight to defend life and marriage and religious liberty. Who has led the fight to protect our right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. Who will fight to pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS. Only one candidate has stood up to the corrupt deal-making in Washington, said no to the corporate welfare, and indeed, only one candidate took on the ethanol mandate in Iowa and won.

As president, I will rebuild our military. Stand unequivocally with the nation of Israel. And utterly destroy ISIS. Together we will secure the borders and keep America safe. And I give you my solemn word that every justice I appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court will be a principled constitutionalist who will be faithful and will vigorously protect the fundamental rights of our children and grandchildren.

When I look at our young daughters, Caroline and Catherine, I know that I will fight with every breath in my body to ensure that they enjoy the same fundamental liberties that all of us have been blessed to inherit. It's why I fight. It's why everyone here fights, because we love our children and we will not go quietly into the night and give up on a brighter America.

And now the race turns to Nevada and to Super Tuesday and the so- called SEC primary. And Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have given the voters a clear, defined choice. You can go with Washington deal-makers, or we can stand together with a proven, consistent, constitutional conservative and bring back morning in America.

TAPPER: Ted Cruz declaring victory after his looks to be third-place finish in South Carolina. Let's get some quick thoughts. Ron Brownstein, I have to say, I've covered -- this is my fifth presidential election. I don't remember so many speeches, as if the candidate won ...

BORGER: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

TAPPER: When he did not win. He got second or third.

BROWNSTEIN: Ask President Lamar Alexander from 1996 how long you can parlay second or third-place finishes. You know, it's interesting that Cruz and Rubio fought to this dead heat, because if you look at the exit polls in the first three states, they have exactly the opposite problem.

Cruz's coalition is too narrow, Rubio's coalition is too shallow. I mean, Rubio essentially is winning a little bit of everything but not enough of anything to be truly competitive.

[21:55:01] And if you look at Cruz, his numbers among voters who aren't evangelicals in these first three states have been 18 percent in Iowa, 8 percent in New Hampshire, 13 percent in South Carolina.

It's really no better than Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee, and tonight the evangelical poll broke. He lost college-educated evangelicals to Rubio and he lost non college-educated evangelicals to Trump. So, he's operating on its kind of narrow pathway. Rubio like Trump is appealing broadly across the party but nearly as deeply as Trump. TAPPER: Nia-Malika, Ted Cruz is walking out of South Carolina with exactly the same number of delegates that you're walking out along with.

HENDERSON: Right, which is none.

BROWNSTEIN: And you spent less.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: You spend a lot less.

TAPPER: Considerably.

AXELROD: Yes.

HENDERSON: Oh that's right. I mean at some point, it becomes a delegate fight. We'll have the proportional delegates for a little while, then it goes to winner take all. And I think one of the things that's interesting about one of Rubio's arguments is it is partly -- or we've got to go?

TAPPER: We have to take a quick break. Big day for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. We'll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We want to welcome back our viewers from the United States and around the world.

[22:00:00] I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from the CNN Elections Center.

The two big winners tonight here in the United States, Donald Trump. He wins the South Carolina Republican primary relatively easily. In Nevada, Hillary Clinton is the big winner in the Democratic presidential caucuses.