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Donald Trump Speaks in Las Vegas on Eve of Nevada Caucuses; Cruz Fires Top Staffer for Spreading False Rubio Story; Clinton Leads with 497 Delegates. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 22, 2016 - 22:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": That begins at 8.30 Eastern Time. We'll be right one before of course. That does it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. We'll see you at 11 p.m. tonight for another edition of 360.

CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon starts now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Donald Trump expected to speak at any moment now in Las Vegas on the eve of the Nevada caucuses. Ted Cruz due to speak soon in Reno. We're going to bring you both events as they happen. So, you make sure you keep it right here.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

The big political bomb shell today, Cruz fires one of his top staffers for spreading a false story questioning Marco Rubio's faith. That's after Trump and Rubio both blast the Cruz campaign for dirty tricks.

Meanwhile, Rubio picks up a slew of endorsements today. The race for the nomination is really heating up as we count down to Super Tuesday. Here is where we stand right now, OK? Donald Trump leads the republican back with 68 delegates. Far ahead of the rest but 1237 delegates are needed to win. So, he has a way to go in all of this.

Meanwhile, on the democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads with 497 delegates. Bernie Sanders has 69, 2383 delegates needed to clinch the democratic nomination. And here's where it gets really interesting. A lot of delegates are up for grabs on Super Tuesday when 12 states vote.

So, there's a lot to get to. Let's get straight to CNN Jim Acosta with the Trump campaign. So, Jim, the latest CNN/ORC poll taken even before Trump's big win in South Carolina shows him with a commanding lead in Nevada. People are asking if he is unstoppable. What is it like there tonight?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's a good question, Don. And it is another big crowd for Donald Trump here in Las Vegas. I can tell you that Sheriff Joe Arpaio from Arizona is in the house. So, you can bet that immigration is going to come up here later on in just a few moments.

Now, as we're just saying the math tells us that Trump can still be stopped. He is way ahead in delegates. That's true. And each time he wins big like did he in New Hampshire and South Carolina, it just gets that much harder for the other candidates to catch up.

And the polls show he should cruise to another victory here in Nevada. But, Don, keep in mind while the Trump campaign is confident about its chances here, his advisers are well aware of what happened in Iowa. Trump was leading in the polls but he ended up taking second place.

LEMON: You know, Jim, Trump has been really ruthless on taking on Cruz but Rubio is gaining strength is taking to hit on Marco Rubio now.

ACOSTA: Well, clearly Donald Trump views Marco Rubio as a threat. And, you know, he has spent most of the day going after Ted Cruz because of the firing of his communications director Rick Tyler.

But keep in mind over the weekend, Donald Trump re-tweeted that tweet. Over the weekend, questioning whether Rubio was eligible to be president, even though Rubio was clearly born in the United States. The Trump campaign is basically saying, what you see on Twitter, that caveat, re-tweets do not equal endorsements.

But after what happened with Ted Cruz today, you can see this Donald Trump event is just getting started today, after what happened to Ted Cruz today, Don, now you have both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio basically tag teaming the Texas Senator, slamming him as dishonest. That is going to be very difficult for Ted Cruz to deal with over the coming days, Don.

LEMON: All right. Jim Acosta. Jim is in Las Vegas. Donald Trump is about to speak. We'll get you some of that when it happens. Thank you, Jim.

Now let's bring in Sunlen Serfaty. Sunlen, hello. You know, a bombshell on the Cruz campaign to say. Ted Cruz firing his communications director Rick Tyler. You heard Jim mention that. So, what's the latest with this and how is the mood in the campaign?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mood is not great at all, Don. You know, this is not what the Cruz campaign wants to be focused on 24 hours before caucus night here in Nevada. You know, this all started on Sunday when Rick Tyler, then communications director tweeted an article linked to an article which talks about how Marco Rubio was disparaging and trashing the bible.

That article misquoted Marco Rubio. Actually he was praising the bible instead. Well, Rick Tyler took down that tweet overnight on Sunday night into today. He apologized. And then thought it was done but not so much. Rick Tyler was fired very quickly today by Senator Cruz. Here he is today, explaining why he called directly for Rick Tyler's resignation.


staffer from our campaign sent out a tweet that tweeted a news story that purported to indicate Marco saying something negative about the bible. The news story was false. That staffer deleted the tweet, apologized and pulled it down.

Although I spent this morning investigating what happened. And this morning, I asked for Rick Tyler's resignation. I had made clear in this campaign that we will conduct this campaign with the very highest standards of integrity.


SERFATY: And I thought that was so notable right there, what you just heard from Senator Cruz. Really injecting himself personally into the story. You heard him say I called for his resignation after I did this investigation. Very clearly the candidate himself here, Don, really trying to regain control of his campaign.

[22:05:13] LEMON: Yes. Absolutely. So, Sunlen, Donald Trump called Cruz a "world class liar." That's a quote. And Rubio's campaign issued this statement. And I read part of this. He said "Rick is a really good spokesman who had the unenviable task of working for a candidate willing to do or say anything to get elected. There's a culture in the Cruz campaign from top to bottom that no lie is too big and no trick too dirty. Rick did the right thing by apologizing to Marco. It's high time for Ted Cruz to do the right thing and stop the lies."

So, the question is how worried is the Cruz campaign that these charges are sticking? That he is being branded a liar?

SERFATY: Well, I think they're increasingly aware and increasingly sensitive to this fact, Don, and I think we saw that reflected in how swiftly, how quickly they moved today to really try to button up this controversy. You know, this sort of narrative has been increasingly surrounding their campaign.

At least for the last week. Both for Marco Rubio. Both from Donald Trump. Really claiming that the campaign is one that is really founded on lies and missteps and fraud. So, Rick Tyler's tweet played into that narrative perfectly. I think they are very aware that the Cruz campaign knew they had to move quickly to squash this story.

LEMON: Sunlen Serfaty. Sunlen, thank you very much. I appreciate that. I want to bring in Hugh Hewitt, host of radio Huhg Hewitt show. Today, is Hugh's birthday. He's 25 years old. So, naturally you chose to spend it here with our viewers, right?

HUGH HEWITT, RADIO HUGH HEWITT SHOW HOST: Yes. I woke up this morning and Mike Allen's play book sang happy 60th birthday. So, I've gotten more birthday wishes today than I ever have in the previous 59 years I think, so thank you, Don.

LEMON: Yes. I always say I'm celebrating the anniversary. So, if it's your 60th, the 30th anniversary of your 30th birthday. OK. So, happy birthday. HEWITT: You know what, Donald Trump has proven as this Hillary

Clinton, now we get on work as long as we want.


HEWITT: They're both 68, 69, and so they're bundles of energy. If they can run for president we can commenting.

LEMON: Absolutely. So, what a birthday present that you talked to Donald Trump, speaking of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and all the other guest. Your radio show, you spoke to them. Did they give you any headlines? What are the headlines here?

HEWITT: Yes. I think -- I think the headline for Ted Cruz is that he grew up speaking Spanish, I want to clear that up, and that he fired Rick Tyler. He thought it was unfortunate but he needed to. And he is not worried about the narrative. He is actually leaning into the narrative, liar, liar, liar, and taking it on, which is what you have to do.

There is an old adage in politics, which is hang a lantern on your problem. But there is another old adage Lee Atwater, the great Lee Atwater said, "When your opponent is on the ground with a broken arm, step on it."

So, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio stepped on it today. And they are going to continue to drive this story as far as they can. Also, had Ben Carson on today. He has forgiven Ted Cruz for the Iowa brouhaha. And said that, Donald Trump, to me after Ben was on it.

And he said, look, he brought up the Ben Carson thing and he went after Ted Cruz really hard. Even though it is kind of counter intuitive to me. He wants to keep Cruz alive and dividing the anti- Trump vote. But he might end up reaching the firewall for Carson taking his mouth.


LEMON: Hey, Hugh, let's listen to Trump from your interview.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've had a lot of problems with him. He is a person that who doesn't like telling the truth. And I just find it hard to believe that some of the things he said. So, he plays hard ball. And I like hard ball. And I've met a lot tougher people than him, believe me, many, many, many times tougher. But he is the real hard time with the truth.


LEMON: And Ted Cruz, obviously responding the way he did. He's worried as I said, to some that this may be sticking.

HEWITT: Very. Well, you know, you've got to, a narrative like this takes hold. And it got ahold of Nixon early in his career and he had to fight it for the rest of his career. It doesn't mean you can't beat it but you would rather be talking about the constitutional issues race by the Scalia vacancy.

Donald Trump told me tonight he will reincarnate, he wants Scalia reincarnation for his nomination for his nomination for the court. Ted Cruz would rather be talking about that than firing his spokesperson and giving Marco Rubio an opportunity to go.

As you noted earlier in the broadcast, Rubio had this day where he collected more endorsements and money, all the Jeb people seem to have gone to Marco Rubio. A lot of people are leaning on John Kasich to get out. The Ohio governor will not get until Ohio. I've known John Kasich a long time.

But I do think the big story of the day is that Donald Trump is going to win tomorrow in Nevada. John Ralston and others say that. He's going to win big. Your poll confirms that. And then can Ted Cruz keep his fire wall in Texas on Super Tuesday? And our debate Thursday will have a lot to do with that. It's going to be sparky. Oh, it's going to be sparky.

LEMON: Sparky. So, you mentioned John Kasich. He spoke to Wolf Blitzer about what you said. Listen to this.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, " THE SITUATION ROOM": Are they privately urging you to drop out?

GOV. JOHN KASICH, (R-OH) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I haven't heard from any of the special interests to get me to drop out. In fact, we're signing people up. We're signing up some significant republican fundraisers.

[22:10:03] And our political organization is expanding as well. We're going to keep going. Because, you know, when I travel places, people beg me. They say you stay in. You represent hope for me and for my family.

And this was all sort of political mumbo jumbo from people who, you know, I don't even know who they are. And, you know, the fact is, we're just going to keep on going. And at some point when we get the consolidation, I'm very hopeful, Wolf, it's going to be towards me.


LEMON: All right. So, you said you think he is stay on to Ohio at least.


LEMON: Do you think there's pressure. You don't think it's time for maybe him to make room for someone else? That's a conventional wisdom.

HEWITT: Well, you know, there are people in the party who want him out. But he did pick up a couple of hedge fund guys today and made some money. But here's what John Kasich believes. He got there through hard work and by beating odds. He won in Congress. I think he was the only republican to win the year that he won. It might have been 1982.

John Kasich is always been odds guy and he's tough as nails and he's happy. He's a happy warrior. So, he is not going anywhere. And I say it every time I come on your show, Don. An open convention is a real possibility, unless Donald Trump takes out Ted Cruz in Texas and Marco Rubio in Florida.

If he does that, I think he's pretty much unstoppable. But I don't see that happening. I'm a fairly traditional guy. I think home state favorite sons win their state absent extraordinary circumstances.

So, this debate could be very, very big and there are some issues that are troubling for Donald Trump. I asked about his tax returns today and they still haven't been produced. And he said they'll get there eventually. But, you know, the pressure is going to build on him to release that and to get more specific about his answers.

LEMON: So, at this point no clear runaway. Trump is stoppable to you at this point and you still believe that's going to be an open convention.

HEWITT: Oh, yes. I don't think there's any -- no way in heck to predict what's going to happen. But the odds makers and the bet takers show Donald Trump with a 50 percent probability and Marco Rubio with a 40 percent probability. And they've got Kasich in low single digit, or high single digits and Ted Cruz is a little bit higher than that.

That reflects a divided field in which the possibilities are endless. Only Ben Carson doesn't have a path. And I ask him about that today. And he said his path is to hope that they all break to him. And that's kind of a long ball. But, four people could be the nominee. We'll find out more on Thursday night.

LEMON: Do you want to predict Nevada? You know I have to ask.

HEWITT: No. You got me to predict South Carolina. I got it right but I put the crystal ball away. I got it exactly right to him. On your show.

LEMON: All right. You know why we're -- yes, you did. You know why we're similar? Because a week from tomorrow, I'll be celebrating with you. I'll be 27.

HEWITT: Oh, really.

LEMON: Yes. That's a joke.

HEWITT: You will a 27.

LEMON: Right. Thank you, Hugh. Happy birthday again. Always good to see you.

HEWITT: Thank you, Don. LEMON: Thank you. Stay with CNN for all of this week's big political events. Tomorrow night, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders take questions from South Carolina voters in CNN's democratic town hall moderated by our very own Chris Cuomo. It starts at 8 Eastern.

And on Thursday night, it is the last debate before Super Tuesday. The CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston moderated by our very own Wolf Blitzer, beginning at 8.30 Eastern.

And when we come right back, today is a big shake-up at the Cruz campaign. Will it change voters' minds about the candidates? Plus, Hillary Clinton's message for African-Americans. Are black votes the key to the campaign?


LEMON: Ted Cruz fires a top aide for posting a video that falsely showed Marco Rubio disparaging the bible. Is the Cruz campaign in trouble?

Let's discuss now with Matt Lewis, senior contributor to The Daily Caller and author of "Too Dumb to fail." Republican writer and commentator Kayleigh McEnany, and Matt Schlapp, who is a former political director for President George W. Bush.

So, I want to show everyone here of a bit what we're talking about so that they'll know this is the wrong video. It's the video that has the wrong captions, right, that Rick Tyler tweeted out. And of course, Marco Rubio, of course, Ted Cruz has said, you know what, this is awful and he's fired. Let's listen to it right now.

OK. So, first to you, Matt. You say the Cruz campaign may need a reboot. This being one of the reasons. Was Cruz asking for his spokesman's resignation? Was that enough to change the narrative here?

MATT SCHLAPP, GEORGE W. BUSH POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think he is trying to make the point that these charges with maybe they've been having some kind of rogue campaign tactics won't be accepted by the candidate. And when the candidate get in the situation he's got to do something to set the -- set the stage and kind of reboot, as I said. And I think that's what Ted is trying to do here and I think this is the right step to try to get that done.

LEMON: OK. Let's show how Marco Rubio reacted to the campaign's initial apology. Here it is.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For them to take a video and to transcribe words on it that are the complete opposite of what I said. It's incredibly disturbing. I mean, you guys have to be seeing this, now it's every single day something come out of the Cruz campaign that's deceptive and untrue.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So, Matt Lewis, you defended Ted Cruz after his campaign and implied that Dr. Carson was dropping out after Iowa. Is this time different for you?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is. Because it's a pattern now, right? So, you had the thing with Ben Carson. And I said, look, campaigns, you know, you err on the side of being aggressive. I give a little of -- I give the benefit of the doubt to the political staffer who is trying to be aggressive, who maybe crosses the line.

But now we've had so many other examples. We had, for example, you know, the Cruz campaign did a, I guess it was a mail piece where there was a picture of Marco Rubio shaking hands with President Obama which didn't happen. It was photo shopped.

And now you have this latest example. So, this is a pattern and it is really bad for Ted Cruz. He had a rough day in South Carolina on Saturday. Losing Evangelicals to Donald Trump. Now going into Nevada tomorrow. He has this happen. So, it's a really bad couple of days for Ted Cruz.

[22:19:58] LEMON: OK. Kayleigh, let's talk more about Cruz and Trump. Because Trump he shot off a few tweets on all this and he is clearly, you know, he is still a bit miffed. He feels he was burned in Iowa. He tweeted, "Ted Cruz should be disqualified from his fraudulent win in Iowa. Weak RNC and republican leadership probably won't let this happen. Sad."

So, he mentions the RNC and republican leaders. At one point even recently, Donald Trump was holding the threat of a third party run over their heads. Does he not need, you know, to any more as a clear frontrunner do this or hold that over their heads?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it is important for him to press Ted Cruz on these issues. Because, you know, as Matt just pointed out, this is something we've seen happen repeatedly. From the push-pulls to the voter violation form to the odd reporting of Ben Carson or misreporting of Ben Carson dropping out.

It's a repeated narrative were seeing out of the Cruz campaign of lying and distortion. And look, I think Donald Trump hammering this message home along with Marco Rubio about these shady tactics help them. Because look, Ted Cruz underperformed in South Carolina. And you have to ask yourself why?

His policies didn't change, his message didn't change. What changed was the narrative of his campaign, lying and doing these dirty tricks. So, I think he's got to keep driving this point home until Ted Cruz really changes what he's doing.

LEMON: Well, I mean, he won but they still think he ran the, you know, the -- I don't know, I guess the most unfair campaign when you -- there it is on the screen, 39 percent believe that.

MCENANY: Yes. It was very unfair. You know, Ted Cruz, he put out push-pulls repeatedly. LEMON: No. Trump they believe that Donald Trump ran the most unfair

campaign. Ted Cruz was second.

MCENANY: Yes, no, but obviously Donald Trump was not running an unfair campaign. I mean, name for me one tactic that was in the media being reported on the part of Donald Trump running an unfair campaign.

I don't think any of us in this panel can name one thing Donald Trump did that was unfair. We might not like what he said about George W. Bush but nothing he did was unfair. So, you know, I think it's this narrative of Ted Cruz holding up the bible.

But then lying, really lying about ad policies, lying about, you know, Rubio and the picture. I think that that really struck the Evangelicals the wrong way. Which is why you saw Evangelicals break for Trump.

LEMON: Matt, nothing unfair, Matt Schlapp?

SCHLAPP: I think this is getting a little -- we're getting a little carried away here. I think we have some tactics from a campaign that were over the line. By the way, we're going to see this from all the campaigns. I think Ted Cruz took responsibility for it and tried to make changes.

I think every one of these campaigns is going to try to push their competitors. You know, they all want to win. There is going to be some dirty tactics along the way. But let's not get over the top about this.

I mean, the reason why Donald Trump won Evangelicals in South Carolina, is not because I think Ted Cruz is a bad guy. It's because Donald Trump's message is connecting with Evangelicals. And I think that's the part that is more important.

LEMON: So, listen. Trump is piling. He is accusing Ted Cruz of dirty tricks. But you also have Trump start to signal that Rubio might not be eligible to run for president. I mean, that seemed to work at least somewhat, don't you think it did, Matt Lewis?

LEWIS: Yes. I think it did. I think it worked against Ted Cruz. For a variety of reasons. Trump likes to dominate the news cycle and changed the topic and it worked there. I think he was trying to etherized Ted Cruz just to remind people he was born in Canada, and he is Cuban and not a lot of Evangelicals come from Cuba, apparently, according to Donald Trump.

And look, I think it worked in Iowa. I don't know that it's going to work in a place like Nevada. And I don't know that it's going to work against Marco Rubio. We know he was born in America. And Donald Trump said the same thing or tweeted the same, you know, tweeted something very similar to that not that long ago.

So, I don't know if it's going to resonate as much as it did against Cruz. Again, it's a second time he is trying to stick as well.

LEMON: Quickly, Kayleigh.

MCENANY: Look, it's important to point out that he re-tweeted. This was not something that he's in out. And moreover, it's also important to point out that the Supreme Court has never define natural born citizen. So, until they do, no case is settled.

LEMON: Explain this to me. So, if you re-tweet something, you still didn't send it out? I mean?

MCENANY: No, no. He didn't, he did not question Rubio. He re-tweeted something and his explanation was, I sent things out to my 14 million folks within my social media networks. And it is up to them to vet it. He re-tweet it. He put the thought out there and people can respond and talk about it as they please. It's not necessarily an affirmation or saying it's verifiable, it putting it out there.

LEMON: The question is why though. Because there was questioning on the Sunday shows about why he would re-tweet white supremacists as well. Because, you know, saying that I didn't send it out. He still had to hit the send button.

MCENANY: He didn't know that anyone he tweeted out was white supremacist. No candidate in this race, certainly not Donald Trump would ever knowingly re-tweet a white supremacist. When you re-tweet anyone who is a fan...


LEMON: But Kayleigh, to Sanders a little higher, to be honest, Donald Trump is running for leader of the free world. Aren't the standards a little bit higher for him or a lot higher?

MCENANY: No. What people love about Donald Trump is that he does engage with every day people. And he can't vet every single person he re-tweets. He can't vet every single person that he replies, but people love him that he engages...


[22:25:02] LEMON: If you can and you're running for president, then maybe you should, and would you not re-tweet then if you can't vet the person?

MCENANY: No. I don't think it's important to vet the people he re- tweets. I think he is putting their thoughts out there. And that's why people love him. He is putting what the American people are saying out there and giving everyone a platform.

LEMON: OK. All right. Every one, stay with me. Trump is the GOP frontrunner and has a giant lead in the race for delegates. But is he unstoppable?


LEMON: Tomorrow, the GOP spotlight turns to Nevada where Donald Trump is holding -- is hoping to extend his winning streak. Back with me now to discuss, Matt Lewis, Kayleigh McEnany, and Matt

Schlapp. OK. So, Matt Lewis, you first. Donald Trump has a big lead when it comes to delegates. Here he is taking last night -- last night taking a victory lap. Look at this.


TRUMP: We won with everything. We won with women. I love the women. We love with women.


We won with men. I'd rather win with women to be honest. But that's it.


We won with Evangelicals. It's like unbelievable.


[22:30:00] You're unbelievable. We won with the military. We won with highly educated, pretty well educated and poorly educated, but we won with everything. Tall people, short people, fat people, skinny people, we just won.



LEMON: So, he won with everybody. Trump has 68. Cruz is 11, Rubio has 9. Thirty delegates are at stake in Nevada. How do you think he is going to do?

LEWIS: I think he is going to win Nevada but he still needs to get, he still has to -- you have to get 1237 delegates. So, he is still only a fraction of the way there.

So, he is really looking good but he has a long way to go. Things could change. You know, I've been an advocate of trying to get Trump one-on-one. I think he has a ceiling that he can't get to 50 percent. But that looks like that's not going to happen. Actually I have a new strategy that is somewhat unseemly, but I think maybe this is now to the point of desperation.

LEMON: Politics that's an unseemly? I mean, really? How does that play, but what is the strategy?

So, this is a theory that's born out of desperation. And it's based on the premise that you cannot get the republican candidates the non- Trump candidates to drop out and for the good of the party.

So, what you do is you have this, you know, conspire and you allow Ted Cruz win Texas. So, nobody competes for Texas, cede that to Ted Crus. You Florida to Marco Rubio and you cede Ohio to John Kasich. And the hopes that they can deprive Donald Trump from winning those delegates and keeping him from getting the 1,237 he would need. This would force potentially, force a -- what Hugh Hewitt has been talking about for months now an open convention.


LEMON: An open convention. All right. So, listen. So, who is the master planner here and who all gets together, is it the RNC. What happens and how do you get them all together?

LEWIS: I think this has to be -- this has to be the campaigns. You know, there are no broker. That's why I don't say a brokered convention. I don't think anyone else can make this -- there are no party bosses and smoke-filled back rooms.

SCHLAPP: Matt, this is why you're a journalist. Because actually what happens to this campaigns is they're all self-interested.

LEMON: Right.

SCHLAPP: And that's why people stay in races and they have, they're raising tons of money and they're not going to get out. And the fact is this if somebody wants to deprive Donald Trump of the nomination; they have to start beating Donald Trump.

And what we saw in South Carolina, Donald Trump has his usual flair in his advantage in Atlanta the other day. But the fact is he won, you know, almost area, every area of the state. And what you have to do, if you want to challenge the frontrunner, you have to win in these counties, win congressional districts and you're going to have to win some states. It's pretty basic.

LEMON: So, how do you do that?


LEMON: Because the only one who had been really taking on Donald Trump directly but he was not doing it any well, as best he could, and that was Jeb Bush. Now Jeb Bush is out. So, do you think others need to take him on and stop running for second and third place and declaring victory when they actually lost?

SCHLAPP: Yes. I think the big mistake Jeb Bush made. I'm an admirer of Jeb bush. But the big mistake was to somehow scold voters that they were doing something wrong by supporting Donald Trump. And what he should have done is listened to what Donald Trump was saying needs to be done to fix our politics.

And listen to the message and try to steal those supporters. And that's the strange thing that is happening. Donald Trump isn't getting all the support because it's his personality, which some people like to report. He is getting the support because something he is doing and saying is resonating. Smart candidates should copy that.

LEWIS: But, Matt, he is still winning. I agree that he is winning with you know, 30 percent of the vote or something. So, you know, but there is still two-thirds of the republican -- here's my point, though.

MCENANY: And Matt -- Matt Lewis...


LEMON: A win is a win, Matt.

LEWIS: About the strategy, this sort of crazy strategy I came up.

MCENANY: Your strategy will never work.

LEWIS: Well.

MCENANY: Your strategy will never work but you know what, Matt Lewis, do you know why your strategy will never work? Because there's a guy named Donald Trump, who, by the way in Florida, and Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush's state in the last poll was polling at 40 polling. Jeb was at 4.

LEWIS: That's my point. That's my point. No, no, he is polling at 40 percent.

MCENANY: Marco is marking the 20. This is in Florida. This is in Florida. Exactly. In a field of six people. He is winning in all of these states.

LEWIS: That's my point.

LEMON: But when you make at South Carolina...

LEWIS: I appreciate you making my points for me.


LEMON: When you look at South Carolina, if you add up the total votes for Marco Rubio, from Jeb Bush, and John Kasich it's greater than Trump's 33 percent. So, do you think he will be able to maintain this lead especially as if it continues to narrow? Kayleigh, go ahead.

MCENANY: Yes, for sure. Because you look when these candidates drop out. There is this flawed of conventional wisdom that their voting bloc will be this monolithic voting bloc that goes to another candidate.

So, people are saying Jeb is out. That's all going to Rubio. Cruz is out. That's all going to Trump. The problem is it's not bearing out the numbers. Jeb Bush's supporters their second choices are split between Donald Trump and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

They're going to spread out the wealth. And it is only going to start to bolster Donald Trump. It's the conventional wisdom that is going to help when all these people drops out, I don't think that's the case.


[22:35:03] LEMON: That is going to have to be the last word. Kayleigh and Matt squared, Matt Lewis and Matt Schlapp, thank you. I'll see you soon. I appreciate it.

When we come back, the Hollywood superstar speaking out for Hillary Clinton.


LEMON: Hillary Clinton is coming off a big win over Bernie Sanders in Nevada. And as a democrat shift their focus to South Carolina, Clinton is hoping African-American voters can deliver her an even bigger win.

Let's discuss now. Marlon Marshall, director of States and Political Engagement with the Hillary Clinton campaign. Sir, good to have you. Thank you for coming on.

MARLON MARSHALL, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR: Good to be here. I'm in South Carolina. It's awesome to be with you.

LEMON: All right. You know, the Clinton campaign release a new ad targeting black voters in South Carolina and beyond.


MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: She says their names.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trayvon Martin. Shot to death. Dante Hamilton, unarmed. Sandra Bland, did nothing wrong.

FREEMAN: And makes their mothers' fight for justice her own. She speaks for her city poisoned by indifference.

CLINTON: We need action now.

FREEMAN: And stands with the president against those who would undo his achievements. Just like she is always still with us. Hillary Clinton.

[22:40:06] CLINTON: I'm Hillary Clinton and I approved this message.


LEMON: So, Marlon, that's Morgan Freeman's voice. It is the second time he is voiced to Clinton ad. That's like being endorsed by the voice of God. These ads have to -- got to be pretty effective, are they?

MARSHALL: It's a very powerful ad. And part of that is, you know, we're honored to have the support of Morgan Freeman, a very recognizable voice. But the thing about the ad is that it raises up issues that are affecting communities of color.

And you've heard us talk about breaking down barriers. And to have his voice lend to that is something that is very important and hopefully will continue to resonate across the country and particularly here in South Carolina as we lean to Saturday.

LEMON: So, I spoke to Morgan Freeman last week when his first Clinton ad came out. Listen to what he had to say then.


FREEMAN: I don't think there's such a thing as a black vote. As a, like a political monolith. You know, that's not going to be it works the way it works this time.


LEMON: So, he was saying that the issues are bigger than race or gender. That it's about who you can trust. Who can do a better job. But it sure looks like the campaign is going after the black votes. So, how is it going to work this time?

MARSHALL: Well, this is, you know, speaking to communities of color, African-Americans is something she's been doing over 25 years. From going out of law school and working for the children's defense fund.

Actually right here in South Carolina and then Alabama, to first lady in Arkansas, to first lady in the United States of America, and bringing the children's health insurance program which insured a lot of African-American children.

So, these are issues that she's fought for her entire life. And on this campaign since the day one we've talked about issues, we've talked about economic opportunities. Her first policy speech was on ending the era of mass incarceration. We've talked about the voting right since day one.

And so, that's something that the African-American community knows. It is something we have to keep telling so we want to win everyone's support. But I think you saw in Nevada when we had the support of the African-American community they trust Hillary Clinton and we want to make sure that we keep talking about these issues.

LEMON: All right. Today, in Boston, Bernie Sanders talked about the black vote. Listen.


TRUMP: Are we behind today in the African-American vote? The answer is yes, we are. But I would also tell you that we are making progress and I believe we will continue to make progress.


LEMON: So, you can't deny that the Sanders campaign has made up a lot of ground. He made a lot of ground when it comes to different types of voters. So, do you think that he can change that, turn the tide or close that gap with voters in South Carolina? Black voters in South Carolina?

MARSHALL: Well, you know, I know he has invested a lot of resources in South Carolina. I think he is coming back to South Carolina until the end of the week. And we're going to be here every day this week starting tomorrow. So, again from our standpoint, our job is to earn the support of the

African-American community. That's why we're going to be here every day this week. That's why you're going to see us on Super Tuesday states. That's why we've been talking about these issues since day one. And I think when we do that, you will see us be successful.

LEMON: Hey, what about the success that he's had with young people? Can your campaign stop younger black voters from moving over to Bernie Sanders?

MARSHALL: Well, you know, we want to reach out to all voters. Particularly young voters. You've seen Hillary travel to six historically black colleges and universities throughout this campaign. She's going to South Carolina State this week as well, too.

So, again, from our standpoint, we keep talking about the issues, we keep talking about economic opportunity. We keep talking about guns. That's one of the things the mothers are in town today. Five mothers who lost their children to gun violence and police brutality.

And they've traveled across the state and their voices are extremely powerful and you saw those in the ad. If we keep talking about those things and keep reaching out to folks. Again, I think we're going to end up being successful as people here and trust the secretary and what she's going to bring as president.

LEMON: Marlon Marshall. Thank you, sir. I appreciate you coming on.

MARSHALL: Hey, thanks for having me, Don. I appreciate it.

Coming up, Black Lives Matter. Black votes matter as well. But will black voters be the key to victory in South Carolina. We'll discuss.


LEMON: South Carolina democrats voting this Saturday in the state's primary. And Hillary and Bernie Sanders are competing for black votes.

Joining me now, Bakari Sellers, former member of the South Carolina State House, and also Bob Beckel, the author of "I Should be Dead. My Life Surviving Politics, TV, and Addiction," and Van Jones, CNN political contributor.

Gentlemen, thanks for coming on tonight. Van, you first, let's talk about that Hillary Clinton campaign ad that we just saw in the previous segment. In the ad, she ties herself to black victims and to their mothers, Treyvon Martin, Dontre Hamilton, Sandra Bland. So, how all voters react to these women and does it make an effective case for candidacy?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, that is a brilliant, brilliant ad. I mean, if there is center of the bulls eye, if there is an atom at the center of the bulls eye, if there an electron on the atom, she hit it. So, I mean, that's going to be a text book on saying... (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Why do you say that?

JONES: Because it hits all of the buttons in terms of the pain that people are feeling say, for people to understand. Say her name is a hash tag that has come out of the Black Live movement because they were frustrated that people were not talking about the African- American women who have been victimized.

It was a brilliant ad. And my frustration with the sanders campaign, she's using Morgan Freeman's voice. That you can take that to the bank. Bernie Sanders has Harry Belafonte. Where is his voice? You're almost in a situation now where Bernie Sanders, almost being outclassed, outmaneuvered. He has to do something more than what he is doing now.

LEMON: OK. Let me ask you, do you guys agree? Just quickly because I want to move on other things. Do you agree that this hits on all cylinders? First, Bob Beckel.

BOB BECKEL, "I SHOULD BE DEAD" AUTHOR: Yes, I do. I think that is very good ad and it's the right thing to say at the right time.

LEMON: Yes. Go ahead, Bakari.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I've always said African-American women is going to be the driving force in this campaign especially in South Carolina and other -- and beyond. Especially South Carolina Super Tuesday. And she hit that note hard in this ad.

[22:50:03] LEMON: OK. Bakari, so, Hillary Clinton pulled out a win in Las Vegas. Does she have her groove back do you think after Nevada? I mean, she has momentum. And is it moving in her favor, to her campaign?

SELLERS: Definitely. I mean, I think she has her swagger back for sure. We've seen the candidate get that much better along the campaign trail. She did Yeoman's work in casinos late at night, meeting with culinary workers in Nevada. She is in South Carolina beginning tomorrow when Bernie Sanders isn't coming back until Friday.

I believe Marlon Marshall just described that. She has campaign staff with these mothers, she is not taking anything for granted which actually kind of warms my spirit. There was a thought that maybe Hillary Clinton would rest on her laurels based on her relationship with the African-American community.

But I think the defeat, that the large defeat she had in 2008 taught a lot of lessons and it's nothing but hard work and dedication. And not just, as Van said so he eloquently this weekend racking or cradling the black vote. But instead, talking about issues that truly matter and hitting on those bangs that make African-Americans excited again.

LEMON: But even with this, even though you guys are saying she hit on all cylinders. And this is for you, Bob Beckel, supporters of Bernie Sanders have said that she is pandering. This is nothing but pandering to the black community and no one is better at it than Hillary Clinton.

BECKEL: Well, not to say that Bernie doesn't pander himself to say. Look, the fact that Sanders is not coming back until Friday, the fact that it's clear, he has not handled the black vote well at all. It's going to be a huge turnout, a majority of the turnout in South Carolina is going to be African-American and she's going to win it.

And here's the real problem for Sanders. He has to go into Super Tuesday in states that he doesn't have any national constituency. And then to add insult to injury he is waiting to go back to the industrial northeast.

And when you find up there, his major supporters among young people, they're all on spring break. That everyone -- they are -- they are going to be on spring at Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

LEMON: They might vote early, you'll never know.

BECKEL: Yes. I doubt that.

LEMON: Go ahead. Who is that, Van?

JONES: Let me tell you the three things that Sanders has got to improve on. First of all he has to get rid of that canned speech. He has a great store...



JONES: He's got.


JONES: Shut up, Bakari. He has got a great story to tell. He should be telling those civil rights stories. And letting people see deep into his heart. Every black voter has already heard that speech 15 times. He can't to go a black church and give that speech. Tell some stories.

Number two, he keeps letting Hillary get away with hugging the president. Hillary Clinton is against the president on foreign policy when it comes to the Syria flyover zone. She is against the president when it comes to trade, she's against the TPP, she's against the president on health care when it comes to the Cadillac tax. But he never raises those issues. She hugs -- she loves Rahm Emanuel.

LEMON: But also, Van, on the republican side, we keep saying that, you know, Donald Trump is able to define his opponents.

JONES: That's exactly, what Hillary Clinton is...


LEMON: And so, Hillary Clinton is defining him as a one issue candidate.

JONES: That's my point.

LEMON: I just stole your thunder. I'm sorry. I was saying what you were saying to Bakari. Shut up, Van. Go ahead, Van

JONES: But listen to me now. That's exactly where I was trying to do. So, the last thing he's doing, he has never defined his relationship with the president. He could easily say...


LEMON: She is defining it.

JONES: Exactly. He could say Hillary loves the president. She is trying to defend his gains. I love the president. I'm trying to extend his gains and define himself. Instead, he lets her define him.

LEMON: Bakari, don't let Van suck up in the room here.

SELLERS: I'm raising my hand over here. Listen, and to go to this idea about pandering is just nonsense. I mean, it's odd to say that she's pandering. I mean, the Black Lives Matter movement...


LEMON: But I remember once even on this vote before -- I remember once even on this broadcast, Van Jones said the same thing. That was his criticism of Hillary Clinton. That was saying that -- did you not say that, Van?

JONES: I know but just pandering.


JONES: But go ahead.

SELLERS: What I was saying is that the Black Lives Matter movement, whether or not you like it or not, has brought many issues to the forefront. One of those issues is criminal justice reform. Flint, Michigan and all those kids dying and understanding that it is not just Flint in Michigan but you have Flints throughout the country. And talking about environmental justice, that's not pandering.

Finally, talking about issues that affect the black voter or affect African-Americans, not just in South Carolina but throughout the country. That is not pandering. So, I'm finally glad that we are having this...


LEMON: Bod, I want Bob to get in here. Yes, go ahead.

BECKEL: I was going to say, the idea of hugging Barack Obama close. Where better to do it than South Carolina and Super Tuesday? I mean, he's got an unbelievable favorable rating. And she should get as close as she can get. If he is not, we're going to try to separate the route.

The problem he's got is he has got everything to separate, look, she did this against Obama and I was with him. I don't think he has that. So, I think she should hug him. I've never bought this motion that Barack Obama was going to be an albatross around her neck either in the primaries or in the general election. I think he's got a lot to inform and I will hug him close too. Why Bernie isn't, I don't know.

[22:55:05] LEMON: All right. I got to go, Van. Thank you. Thank you, guys. Stay with CNN for all of this week's political events. Tomorrow night, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders take questions from South Carolina voters in CNN's democratic town hall.

It's moderated by Chris Cuomo. That begins at 8 Eastern, and then on Thursday night, it is the last debate before Super Tuesday. The CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston, moderated by Wolf Blitzer beginning at 8.30 Eastern.