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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Live Coverage of Republican Caucus in Nevada. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired February 23, 2016 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it is moving toward swing state territory.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Barack Obama won it twice. And you know, I think that if you look, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, three of the four states now already, those are general election battleground states. To your point about Republicans being able to turn out, big numbers have record breaking turnout in these key general election battleground states, that's something that they can work now from now until November.

BASH: No. Speaking of enthusiasm, an unexpected moment has happened and that is, of course, the death of Antonin Scalia that has really led to a motivation on both sides of the aisle, which is who is going to be the next Supreme Court nominee. What are we learning about what the people who are going to the caucuses tonight say about the importance of the nominee?

CHALIAN: It's really important. Take a look at this. The most important factor or an important factor, 16 percent say it's the most important factor, 62 percent of Republicans showing up in the caucuses tonight in Nevada say it's an important factor. Only 13 percent there say it's either a minor factor or not a factor at all. So the Supreme Court vacancy clearly, a driving force in the race right now.

BASH: Fascinating. And you know, this is the Republican side. We are talking earlier about what kind of ultimate driver it could be on the democratic side because the Republicans are being so determined here in Washington to not even -- never mind give whoever the nominee is hearings, but even have meetings.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announcing today no hearings and they don't even want to participate if there is a nominee to have any of the nominee come up for a courtesy visit on Capitol Hill. They are no interested. I know a lot for you to chew over, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: A lot about that. Let's talk to our analysts.

Michael Smerconish, I mean, it is clearly with the Supreme Court, that is obviously driving, I mean, it is, as David Chalian was saying, 78 percent. Some people saying it is either most important or a very important factor. MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, MICHAEL SMERCONISH SHOW: Yes. I think

it's a huge risk. I'm well aware of the old statement by then Senator Biden in his capacity of Senate judiciary chairman. That was June. There was not a vacancy then on the Supreme Court of the United States. I think it shows a level of confidence, maybe (INAUDIBLE) by the fact that there is this turnout now for apparently the fourth straight contest where passion seems to be on the side of the GOP. But I maintained that it is a very big risk for Republicans to say to the president Republicans while thumping their chests and saying, you know, we are the constitutionalists, we are not going to even give an audience much as a hearing to your nominee to fill justice Scalia's --

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I think what you are going to find is that that passion is on both sides of the aisle. We always talk in every Supreme Court, we always say in elections be, you hear candidates say the Supreme Court is at stake, we have to vote -- it never happens. I think it will happen for a lot of voters in this election. I think the Supreme Court because of what the Senate has done, because of the nature of this particular pick being the swing vote on the court is going to galvanize the base of both parties.

COOPER: And is that part of President Obama's strategy in putting season forward, too, if it is rejected to help that?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the president intended or what have liked for his candidate to get a hearing and a vote. But obviously he understands what this plays to his base and it will help the Democratic nominee and particularly those senators who are up for election in blue states. There are a lot of Republican senators up for reelection in blue states and that this could potentially back fire.

AXELROD: I think it is. In fairness I think he would like to have his appointee confirmed.

BORGER: Confirmed.

AXELROD: And that would his first.

BORGER: Of course.

AXELROD: But the fallout from a stone walling by the Senate I think could be profound.

BORGER: And I think it will affect whom he decides to choose, by the way. Because if they're not even going to get a hearing, you know, you can ask the question who would want to do that and who would the president decide to pick so that if they were chosen next time around should a Democrat get elected that, they, you know, they wouldn't ruin their chances at some point in the future.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is a huge deal. It is a very, very big deal. When Thurgood Marshal step down, he was replaced by Clarence Thomas. That's a big loss for liberals. And is a big, big moment if you think about the future of that court. The replacement of Scalia is a huge deal for both sides.

So on one day, assuming the stone wall works, on one day in November the fate of the Congress, the presidency and the Supreme Court would be decided on one vote. One election. So both sides are going to pull out all stops. I think the president should put forward someone it's very tough for the Republicans to say no to. But I don't think that they can do it. I think they have to take this anti- constitutional position because the stakes are so high emotionally and politically for both sides.

[23:05:01] BORGER: They can't back down.

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER CRUZ COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Can I just mentioned that I think it is perfectly (INAUDIBLE) constitution for the Senate to exercise its authority to decline to hold hearings for a nominee.

Listen. They feel their power -- there doesn't have to be a precedent for it to be constitutional. The Senate can decline to hear the nominee. It's their job to provide advice and consent, not advise and concede. It they want to wait for the rest of the year and make it an election issue, it is perfectly within their right. And frankly, this is the most positive sign I have seen the Republicans sticking to their principals, sticking to their values and showing a fight against the unprecedented expansion of power that has been shown by the Obama administration and it is galvanizing the Republican base.

COOPER: Paul?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Articles have two section I the constitution is clear, the president nominates. He has an obligation.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Excuse me for talking. If he failed to nominate someone, he actually would be outside of the constitution. He has to keep faithfully execute the office. The Republicans are making a constitutional mistake and more importantly, for me, as a political hack, they're making a political mistake.

COOPER: We got three more hours to discuss. But before we do, I want to go back to Jake to see some more information I think from the Cruz convention (ph).

TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson.

Sunlen Serfaty is at Cruz campaign headquarters in Las Vegas. I want to go her now.

Sunlen, you are getting reports from the campaign. It has been very intense back and forth between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. What are you hearing from the Cruz people?

SUNLEN SERFATY, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been intense, Jake. And Senator Cruz himself really took a very cigarette rhetorical turn today while out on the campaign trail here, really pushing back much more aggressively against Donald Trump, arguing an almost a personal term saying he is not willing to gamble his daughter's future on Donald Trump. And a Cruz advisor tells me tonight that the campaign has reached a boiling point. That's how they put it. And expect for Ted Cruz really stand up for himself more forcefully in the day ahead. They said this is a preview of the sort of arguments he will bring to the trail going forward. And the campaign seems particularly incensed in the last few days and particularly today about this label around their campaign pushed by rival Donald Trump and Marco Rubio that that their campaign is one that's dishonest. Cruz visors telling me it has reached the point of absurdity, that's their word, and they are not going to stand for it. If you think it has been heated thus far, very clear the Cruz campaign is going to bring the fight into Super Tuesday -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, interesting. Sunlen Serfaty at Cruz campaign headquarters in Las Vegas.

Let's go to Mr. John King and the magic wall now.

John, give us the lay of the land about Nevada in general tonight.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's hope it's not like last time when I took 36 hours to get a final count.

TAPPER: We'll be the whole 36 hours.

KING: We will be if necessary.

TAPPER: If need be.

KING: Look. Why is it important part of its obvious? Trump has two wins to one for Ted Cruz. And Trump has the last two, 35 percent win in New Hampshire, 33 percent win in South Carolina. So as you go out to Nevada, Trump wants three in a row as we head into the big at Super Tuesday. Often we go back in history try to find things that are instructed. Not so much in this case because Mitt Romney won in 2012 with 50 percent and he won in 2008 with 51 percent, significant Mormon population in Nevada.

Also Mitt Romney spent a lot of times in the Olympics next door in Utah. So he was the favorite son once by (INAUDIBLE). So there is really nothing in the past two cycles to look at for the history. But why do we care so much this time? Number one, as I just said, Trump wants momentum. And if he gets that momentum, Jake, it's very early. This is only contest number four. But if Donald Trump wins Nevada, number one, the question is, what is the margin? The theory has been, as the field widows, if you keep in the 30s, somebody will beat him eventually, let's see what the margin is like if he wins.

This gives in the victory, we got to project that he wins, this is just hypothetical here, said, let's say we have Rubio - Trump, Rubio, Cruz and then Kasich, this is at about 33, 34 percent. And Trump would start to pull away a little bit in the delegate game. Now, you need more than 1200, 1273, 1283 to win the Republican nomination. So still very early after four contests. But then next week, we get Super Tuesday. I'm not saying Trump wins

them all but if something like that happens, look how we start to pull away. This is what Republicans are concerned about tonight, anti- Trump Republicans. That if he gets Nevada, he's got three in a row and a head of steam heading into Super Tuesday. And even, let's just play hypothetically, even if Ted Cruz who is losing in the polls to Texas right now to Trump, but let's say he comes back and wins his statement, if we give that one instead to Cruz, Trump still has a pretty good delegate league and the defining question since Marco Rubio has had some success, if you consider second and third place a success in politics of late, is where does Rubio win? You keep asking the Rubio campaign. You say you are ascendant, you say you have the Jews. Where do you win? You place pick a place on this map where Marco Rubio is ahead? You can't find one.

And so, the reason Nevada is so significant tonight, people will say it's only contest number four, it's only one state. But Trump wins three-in-a-row. He is in a pretty good ahead of this team into a big basket of delegates.

TAPPER: And then later on they become winner take all states. Right now, they are proportional. But winner take all. Good night Irene if --

KING: Good. That's a great way to put it. Now, again, this is a hypothetical. But to that point, let's say, you know - let's even take one away. Let's give, for the sake of argument, I'm not, you know, Trump's way ahead in the poll here.

But let's give Marco Rubio Massachusetts, just for the sake - so just to say we are not going to give them all to Donald Trump in this hypothetical. You move back a little bit but to the winner take all, if we move it one more forward, just a little more forward in March. Again, that's assuming Trump wins them all. Let's assume for the sake of argument, Marco Rubio wins his home state of Florida. Again, he is trailing in the polls right now. But we will try to be kind here and take a few away. Even if Rubio wins Florida and Cruz wins Texas, Kasich wins Massachusetts, look where he is. He is starting to -- because you can win if - even in the Democratic primary, you win the 30 percent, 33 percent, you get 30 percent of the delegates. Republican primary, as long as he is winning, he is getting a big basket of delegates. And he could pull away ahead in March unless they figure out how to s-t-o-p him.

[23:10:50] TAPPER: Right. So the best way to beat Trump is to actually beat Trump.

KING: You cannot come out in second and third and saying I made history today. Doesn't work that way.

TAPPER: No. No prices for participation. We appreciate it, John King.

We are keeping an eye on the caucus site in Nevada this evening. Some precincts are ready to count their votes. And we will be coming to you live from the silver state all night. Stick with us. Back after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:14:49] TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's live, election night coverage of the Nevada Republican caucuses. You can see right now live caucuses actually going on and we are counting who win. The poll is close in 45 minutes and seven seconds.

But let's go and talk about how exactly this odd process of caucusing works at the Nevada Republican party. Let's go to Brian Todd. He is at Desert Oasis High school in Las Vegas.

Brian, what exactly is this process all about?

[23:15:19] BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, in 15 minutes a crucial part of this process is going to begin. These are the tables that represent each precinct that loading in this caucus, 21 tables in all. At 8:30 p.m. pacific time, 11:30 p.m. eastern time, three volunteers from each table are going to count the votes for what particular precinct. Three volunteers will verify the count at each table.

Aaron Friedman, one of the volunteers is going to hold up something here for me, Aaron, thank you. When they count it, they're going to put the numbers for each candidate on that sheet. At that point, when the number is tallied and it is verified by three volunteers, the precinct captain, Bob Strauss, is going to come and take a picture of that number for each precinct then he emails that picture to the county GOP.

Later when all these are tallied up, the master numbers on each precinct are put on a sheet, Bo Strauss, the precinct captain takes a picture of that each and send that to the state GOP. All of that begins in 15 minutes, Jake. Leading up to this point you had caucusing. We showed it to you earlier. In that room dozens, more than a hundred people were gathered, talking about the candidates, a candidate surrogate was here, lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick was here stumping for Ted Cruz. He gave a speech in here. So it's been a very dynamic situation, leading to this moment when the ballots are cast, ballots are counting starting in about 15 minutes, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Brian Todd, thanks so much.

And let's talk about this with David Chalian and Dana Bash.

Interesting. A very different process than the Democratic caucuses we saw in Nevada on Saturday.

BASH: That's right. There you had people standing in the room, standing in their places for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. But this is just traditional voting but doing it out in the open but not in booths.

CHALIAN: Right. It's basically a straw poll. I mean, that is what Republican caucuses are. We saw this in Iowa also. You go in. You cast your vote. They count them up one at a time. It's not nearly as complicated as the democratic process where there is (INAUDIBLE), convincing their speeches and trying to rue people from groups to their group. And was happened in Republican.

TAPPER: And the Republicans are secret ballot and the Democrats are not.

CHALIAN: That's right. And it stay and openly declared on the Democratic side, here ,you write it down on piece of paper and handed it.

BASH: And, of course, even disturbed ticket back another level, the caucuses, obviously are quite different from primaries in that the caucuses are run by the parties. The Republican Party runs this caucuses and if this were a primary instead, it would be run by the government or the municipalities.

CHALIAN: Right. I mean, there are some state party-run primaries, but you are right that in these caucuses, it is the local parties, these local county parties that really do set up these precincts, set up these sites and are responsible for the entire chain of custody of the ballots all the way throughout the process.

BASH: OK. So let's talk about more numbers that you're getting in these entrance polls. One of the things that everybody who is out in the campaign trail, you cannot miss particularly on the Republican side is how angry the electorate is at Washington. I'm assuming it is baring out on these polls?

CHALIAN: It is indeed. This is the anti-Washington election. There is no doubt about there. Take a look at this, your feelings about the federal government. That's what we asked voters tonight as though they showed up at the caucus sites, 57 percent of Republican caucuses stayed they are angry, 36 percent say they are dissatisfied, four percent satisfied and don't even now ho the one percent are that are enthusiastic about the federal government right now.

TAPPER: Obviously, employees.

(LAUGHER)

CHALIAN: But this the angriest electorate we have seen in the cycle thus far - Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. This is the highest score we have seen on that angle.

BASH: And that is saying something that it is not like they were happy.

CHALIAN: Not at all. They were just satisfied also. This is the angriest. And then take a look at this to this part and partial of this right hand-and-hand is outsider versus insider. Voters tonight, 61 percent of them wanted somebody from outside the political establishment, 33 percent said they wanted somebody experienced in politics. I don't know about you guys, but to me, a very angry electorate that wants somebody from the outside is built for Donald Trump. BASH: I wonder who that is. But again, just as those of us who have

covered politics for a long time and watched people kind of try to make their way, you know, kind of punching their ticket on the various levels of government to try to get to the piece placed where they are experienced enough to run for office, that is like out the window now on the Republican side. Even Ted Cruz, who has tried to maintain an outsider status and point of view, even though he has a senator in front of his name, he has a senator in front of his name and that makes him different.

TAPPER: And they don't want something this electoral, at least according to this early wave of the entrance polls. They don't want somebody with experience in politics, Anderson.

[23:20:00] COOPER: Sure. David Axelrod, I'm wondering have you seen this level of anger in prior elections. Do you remember a time when there was this anger?

AXELROD: You could go back to 1980 when Ronald Reagan ran. And that was kind of a revolt among the rank and file voters. But this is obviously highly unusual and Trump has seized the moment in a way that none of the office holders had.

Ted Cruz has spent the last four years or five years in the United States Senate systematically antagonizing everyone in hopes of emerging as the guy who was really laying siege to the system. And you wonder whether he is now being lumped in with that system, that he's too much of a part of the system for some of these folks who are looking for someone who completely outside to challenge.

COOPER: And I mean, Nia, to David Chalian's point, angry voters, dissatisfied voters, and looking for somebody from outside the establishment, I mean, it does scream Donald Trump.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: It does. And it screams against Marco Rubio who had spent the last couple of days gathering lots of endorsements from establishment figures, getting big donors on his side. So you have to wonder how Rubio is able to kind of adopt to this environment, if he is going to able to.

AXELROD: It is kind of a good news/bad news situation. Good news for Rubio is he is the establishment candidate. The bad news is everyone hates the establishment.

BORGER: Well, but also if you look at the numbers that David was just talking about, about a quarter of the caucus-goers are interested in electability. And that's a higher number than we have seen in previous contests that we have looked at and that may be good for Marco Rubio because he has been presenting himself as the electable candidate.

On the anger issue, I think anger is the new change, right? I mean, Barack Obama which elections are about change.

AXELROD: On the Republican side. BORGER: On the Republican side. Thank you. But I do think what we

are seeing is a pattern that is emerging in every contest we are looking at, which is on the Republican side, anger the government, want somebody outside the establishment believes that government doesn't work for them. You know, they care about the economy --

AXELROD: One question on the electability issue is if he keep -- Donald Trump keeps winning primaries and caucuses, he is going to start looking a lot more electable.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And also, Michael, were coming to a certain point - I mean, the delegate math becomes, you know, something you can't argue.

SMERCONISH: Well, you have to wonder if at certain point within the RNC, you know, the Charlie Sheen factor of winning starts to take control and start to lessen their concerns about Donald Trump because they think maybe he is not what we envisioned but since we really do want to win the White House and this discussion about needing an alternative like Marco Rubio or like John Kasich starts to (INAUDIBLE).

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it becomes very hard to make the electability argument when you haven't won any contests.

COOPER: Right, right.

MADDEN: I think that is the bigger part.

COOPER: And also, if he is driving new voters out to the polls, there is an enthusiasm argument.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. One of the things that's so interesting too is we see these numbers we are seeing in Nevada in the entrance poll near those in South Carolina. So in Nevada, 94 percent of people are angry at the federal government. While the CNN exit poll in South Carolina showed 92 percent of people angry at the federal government. Likewise, look at 61 percent won someone outside the establishment in South Carolina. We saw 53 percent of people who feel betrayed by the Republican Party.

What happened in South Carolina? Donald Trump swept the tables. The numbers in South Carolina, a very different electorate, lots of evangelicals, near the numbers we see out of Nevada with the very different, more independent leaning and Democratic leaning electorate.

MADDEN: I mean, with these entrance you are seeing, some of those questions are muddled about who shares values and electability. But there is absolute certainty and clarity in that question about whether or not people are dissatisfied or angry. We are looking at 85, 90 percent of the folks saying that they either dissatisfied or angry and that they want somebody new. So I think that is an indicator of where the electorate is.

COOPER: Also, it is so interesting, Amanda. I mean, you think back to Nikki Haley in South Carolina - I can't remember how long, it maybe a month ago talking about not giving in to anger. Donald Trump kind of embracing it saying, you know what, I am the candidate of anger. And people are angry and I'll be that candidate. And that certainly is playing well for him.

CARPENTER: Yes. In many ways, Donald Trump is the ultimate protest candidate. I mean, he is beholden as he reminds people many times to know one. And he will embrace the anger and show the anger. It used to be Bill Clinton, you know, I feel your pain. Donald Trump, I feel your anger and look at how angry I am.

COOPER: We're going to take another quick break. More from the ground in Nevada as we close in on the first results. That is coming up in on about 40 or so minutes.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:28:40] TAPPER: Welcome back. You're watching CNN's special coverage of the Nevada Republican caucuses. I'm Jake Tapper in the CNN election center.

Nevada showed up in a big way tonight, turnout exceeding expectations all across the whole state. And we have got several reports of that giving some precincts fits, creating problems. GOP official scrambling in some places to make sure some caucus sites don't run out of ballots.

Let's go live to Nevada in to CNN's Boris Sanchez. He is at Durango High School in Las Vegas.

Boris, what have officials told you about the number of people who came out to vote tonight?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, that number exceed expectations at more than a dozen caucus sites. Ed Williams, the chairman of the Clark County GOP told us that he had to leave this caucus site to deliver ballots to those locations because there were running low and there was concern that they may potentially run out.

Here at this caucus location, we have seen more than 1,500 voters come in and cast their ballots. Right now, as you take a look around, there's only a few people trickling in just minutes before the cutoff point, at 8:30 local time. The people behind me are counters, volunteers that are waiting for the ballots to be delivered to these 30 tables behind me. They are 30 tables for 30 precincts that are going to be counted at this location. As they go through the ballots, one person will read them aloud, two people are there tallying. Once they tally the votes, they are going to write down the winner on the back of an envelope, take a picture of it and send that picture over to the state party where they will then find out exactly who won, which precinct here. That process getting under way in just a few minutes, Jake.

[23:30:13] TAPPER: So they are going to write on the back of the envelope, take a picture of it and then email it to the GOP.

SANCHEZ: Seems pretty state forward, right?

TAPPER: Yes. Doesn't seem like the highest tech software in the world, but if that's the process they're going with, OK.

Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.

Let's go to Tom Foreman now at Centennial high school in Las Vegas.

Tom, one thing that is interesting about this race is that Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, didn't lay a bigger stake to Nevada. He spent much - they are not much, but he spent some of his childhood in Nevada for a while. He even went to a Mormon church and obviously 25 percent of the Republican caucus goers in the past were Mormon.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it may help him here. By the way, right now, Jake, we are hearing the final call for votes to come in. And you will notice that all these tables, this manila envelopes here are being sealed up with the votes and being cast from more than 40 precincts in this high school, a tremendous number of them. And a former bishop from the LDS church, from the Mormon church told me short while ago that the number of people who showed in his room, and look over him, you see there the ballots going into the envelope to be stack and put up here and counted eventually. He said that he had a tremendous rush of people late in day that were Mormon people from the neighborhood. So there has been tremendous growth of the Mormon community here. And that many of them seem to be coming in to support Marco Rubio.

So that is a development here. In any event, Jake, the time is coming right down to the wire. Here's another envelope being stuffed. They are ought to be brought in here. The ballots are being sorted out on this table right here, right now to be put in the envelope. And the final counting is just about to begin to see who managed to get an edge in these many precincts out here, where, as you noted, the turnout has been much, much higher than expected.

TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much, Tom Foreman at Centennial high School.

Let's go to Alina Machado at Reno high school in Reno.

Alina, how are things going where you are?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Jake. They just started counting here the ballots at precinct 1010. This is a precinct in southwest Reno. And what you are seeing is Kaylee Row (ph). She is a precinct captain, also a first-time caucus goer, counting out the balls. As you can see the live results on your screen. It looks like right now Trump has about 28 percent, Cruz 50 percent, Rubio 21 percent, which is pretty much what we have been hearing just from talking to people here, a lot of people saying they are coming out here for Trump also for Rubio and Cruz. Those are the three names are the ones that we heard pretty much throughout the night. So we are going to sit here and we are going to watch this happen

live. These results come in. You can see a lot of votes here in this particular precinct for Cruz. Cruz right now is at 50 percent, Rubio 19, Trump at 30 percent, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Some initial counting there at Reno high school.

Let's go to Brian Todd at Desert Oasis high school in Las Vegas.

Brian, how is it going where you are?

TODD: Very electric moment here, Jake. The counting is underway. Bob Strauss, the precinct captain has just given final instructions. These people in this precinct, you can see them tallying up the votes.

Now, in one table over here that we are going to move to my right and to our photo journalist can go and right cameras move down this way. We have a counter here, one of our producers feeding the count into our tally here. And at this table, this is a very busy precinct. These have a lot of voter turnout in this particular precinct. We have got Trump with a ballot - let's see, 62 percent -- 66 percent of the vote in this precinct followed by Rubio at 16 percent, Cruz at 12 percent in this particular precinct.

Again, a very early reading of how it's going just in this precinct. Doesn't, of course, reflect how the state is going to go. But this is the counting. You can hear these people in real-time giving the count. Take a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump. Donald Trump. Donald Trump. Donald Trump.

TODD: Jake, three people from each table, three volunteers from each table representing each precinct are there to verify the count. When they are finished, the count is put on one of these manila envelopes and kind of swing to your left, we can show another manila envelope here. That's where the count goes for each precinct. Then the captain takes a picture of that mails it into the county GOP chair - Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Brian Todd. I'm not a numbers guy but it look like Donald Trump is doing OK at that one table.

Let's go back to Tom Foreman at Centennial high school.

Tom, what's going on there? Tom Foreman, it is Jake Tapper. Can you hear me, sir?

FOREMAN: I can't.

TAPPER: All right. Brian Todd, let's go back to you because we are having problems with Tom Foreman there.

[23:35:03] TODD: Sure.

TAPPER: We have 25 minutes -- or 24 minutes until the ballots come to a close, the caucuses come to a close. We're going to take a very quick break while we sort all this out. We'll be right back with more live coverage of the Nevada Republican caucuses.

Thanks so much for staying with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:39:21] TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of the Nevada Republican caucuses which will shut down in just 20 minutes and 40 seconds.

Let's go now to Alina Machado. She is in Reno, Nevada where I believe they are coming to a final vote counts at Reno high school in the precinct in which we find here - Alina.

MACHADO: Yes, Jake. Precinct 1010 here at Reno high school, just finished tallying up the votes right now. They are getting ready to sign and seal the envelope. They are reading through the instructions again.

Kaylee Rowe who is a first-time caucus goer is reading the instructions to make sure that she follows them carefully. You are going to see she is going to seal this envelope and then she's going to sign it and another person is also going to sign it here and then they're going to hand it over to the site manager.

The finale tally here at this precinct: Donald Trump 32, Cruz 37 percent, Rubio 16 percent, Kasich eight percent, Carson seven percent and others one percent. There was one vote that was cast for Bush. So that is the final tally here at precinct 1010, Jake.

[23:40:33] TAPPER: Very interesting, 37 for Cruz, 32 for Trump at precinct 1010.

For those wondering why anybody could for Bush, it is because if you paid your fee, you would be on the ballot and they didn't take people off the ballot in Nevada, even if they dropped out of the race as so many have done as of now.

Let's go to Brian Todd to see if the vote count where he is, is coming to a close.

Brian, how's it going there?

TODD: It is a progressing pretty rapidly, Jake. I can show you the results of one precinct here. This is precinct 6613. This vote was just tallied up. Trump won this precincts, 12 votes here, for Rubio is five, to Cruz is four and that was taken -- there was a picture taken of this. They mailed this to the county GOP, then they put this on the master list.

This is the master list right here. Mike (INAUDIBLE), assistant precinct captain and Bob Strauss the captain are tallying things up. They put it on the master list here. When they are finished, Jake, and, Ken, if you can just show this master list here one more time, this is going to be the key list. They are going to take a picture of this master list and mail it to the state GOP chair.

I'm going to show something else over here. Ken, come and follow me. Precinct 6610 is completing their count right here. This is one of the busiest precincts. What we have, we have a counter here doing a count and feeding it into an app that we're tallying this up. We have Trump winning this, 64 percent of the vote here for Trump, to Rubio is 23 percent. To Ted Cruz's nine percent here in precinct 6610 as the count where this count is finalized. Right? OK. And they are going to take a picture of that count at the back of that envelope and mail it to the, again, to the county GOP.

Well, here as number right here we can show you. How many votes did Trump get here, 84 to Rubio's 42 to Cruz's 17. This has been kind of the pattern in these precincts throughout the night. Trump carrying some of these precincts, Jake. And again, this is the tally for these precincts. It is got to be put on a master list, finalized by the state and county GOP chairs.

TAPPER: All right, Brian Todd at the Desert Oasis high school in Las Vegas, Nevada. So far, this is merely anecdotal, precinct by precinct. It doesn't necessarily mean anything.

But let's check in with Jim Acosta who is at Trump headquarters in Las Vegas.

And Jim, if I were -- look there I am. If I were Donald Trump individual ballot of Donald Trump I would be heartened by some of these precinct-by-precinct tallies.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. As Brian Todd was just talking there a few moments ago, they were in fact cheering in this room. So they're liking what they're seeing over here at the Trump campaign. I can tell you officials are telling us here that they're preparing for an early speech from the GOP front- runner later on this evening, perhaps within the hour. They are feeling that confident about things right now. But I do think we should also point out what I heard from a top Trump campaign official earlier this evening and that is they are pumped in the words of this person about what they're seeing at these different precincts, at these different caucus sites. They're saying precinct by precinct they are seeing record turnout and that nearly all of those caucus goers are saying they for Donald Trump. They feel very good about that.

Now, I should point out, the same official is saying they do have some concern, not because of reports of irregularities, it is just that flood of people going into these caucus sites, they believe there is a huge Trump supporters locations but there are some people who are frustrated so the key at this point according to this official is to keep these people motivated so they stick it out.

Again, Trump campaign just feels that maybe Nevada was just not prepared for this flood of people going into these caucus site, the infrastructure just wasn't there but right now they're feeling very, very good about where they're positioned right now, Jake. TAPPER: I don't know how you can say the infrastructure is not there.

They're taking pictures of the ballots and emailing them in to the GOP. It certainly seems like they have the infrastructure that they need.

Jim Acosta at Trump headquarters.

Let's go now to Tom Foreman who is at Centennial high school in Las Vegas.

Tom, we have been obviously keeping track and trying to follow reports of irregularities and complaints that the campaigns and other voters have had. So far as we know no official complaints have been registered. And anecdotally and where you are things seems to be smooth sailing.

FOREMAN: Well, smooth sailing in the sense there's been no complaints but there have been an awful lot s of scrambling here. And even now, they are finishing the counting right now. That's what is happening on that table for more than 40 precincts here, Jake. Some of which had twice as many voters before, some had three times as many voters as before. So they were dealing with an awful lot of flow of people now. And the results right now, if you look at them. In fact they have been jumping all over here because we've been counting these precincts one at a time. So you will see one candidate go up for a moment and then you will see another one go down and they will come back until we get to the final numbers here.

So Jake, it could very well be a nail biter over the campaigns watching it right now if they saw all these numbers. But pretty soon they are going to have the final number. At this moment, they are doing that count to see what is happening on which campaign was able to surge ahead in this really, really big caucus site will these different precincts coming in tonight - Jake.

[23:45:48] TAPPER: Those are good problems to have, though, that there are a lot of voters and a big turnout.

Tom Foreman at Centennial high school in Las Vegas.

We are going to take a quick break. The polls are actually going to shut down in just a few minutes and we are going to start to have some hard numbers for you, 14:07 seconds as you see. Stay with us. We will be right back with you after this next break.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rubio. Trump, Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:50:05] TAPPER: Welcome back. You are looking at live picture from the Nevada Republican caucuses. People are actually counting ballots at caucus sites. Exciting, democracy in action. The polls closed in ten minutes. The caucuses will come to a close.

Let's go to Boris Sanchez who is at Durango High school in Las Vegas, Nevada where they are finishing up the counting process. Boris, what's going on there?

SANCHEZ: Jake, they just finished up the count in this precinct. This is precinct 1039 with eleven delegates at stake. And as we heard from voters here all day, Donald Trump dominating at this caucus site. And in this precinct, specifically, he took this precinct 58 percent to Rubio's 28 percent, Cruz at nine percent and Kasich at five percent. No votes for Ben Carson in this precinct.

Again, this is just snapshot of this precinct at this caucus site. But I spoke to a lot of voters today and the sentiment overall is anger. Many of them are angry at Washington, D.C. Also angry at the Republican establishment. They believe that Donald Trump will turn things around not only in the party itself but for the country as a whole. The main issues that they are focused on that drove their vote, the economy and foreign policy. They believe, again, that Donald Trump would be the best representative of their own beliefs and will address those issues and address their interests within those issues in the best possible way compared to the other candidates.

Again, Donald Trump winning big here in precinct 1039. Right now these folks will sign these forms. They put them back in the envelope. And as I mentioned earlier, they will fill out the tally of the envelope, take a picture it have and send it to the state party and then we will get a bigger picture of all the results here in Nevada - Jake.

TAPPER: All right, 58 percent at precinct 1039.

Boris Sanchez at Durango high school in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Let's check in with Brian Todd - no, let's go to Tom Foreman. Tom Foreman at Centennial high school.

Tom, how is the voting going there? Are they coming to a close?

FOREMAN: Hi, Jake. It looks like they are getting down to the last little bit of counting here. And our real time count as we go through has Trump at 44 percent, now Cruz at 31 percent and Rubio, 14 percent, Kasich seven percent and then to Carson three percent and so on.

That is not the final result here because they do have a little bit more counting to go. But it does seem like we're down to the last few tables.

Again, we are have a lot of being a snapshot. This is a snapshot of more than 40 precincts that have met here in classrooms throughout the school. So an awful lot of voters in this one area and right now they also seem to be tilting decisively toward Donald Trump - Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Let's go now to Brian Todd at Desert Oasis high school also in Las Vegas.

Brian, the vote is coming to a close there, I imagine as well.

TODD: It is accelerating rapidly, Jake. This is what we really love showing this to you in real-time, on live TV. Look. In this precinct, they are still counting the votes. Their count is still going on. You can see them doing the ballots right there.

All right. We are going to swing it around here. At least 10 of the 21 precincts are final now. And here is one of them that just came in. This is precinct 6538. And in this precinct Trump won it with 18 votes, Cruz and Rubio tied at four votes each. All right, then, (INAUDIBLE), the assistant precinct captain is writing all of them down on this master list. This is going to be a crucial list kind, if you could just show down here. They are tallying up all the voted. He has taken picture - look. He is taking a picture of this one. He has seen taken a picture of this precinct here. He then mails that to a county GOP chair. Then they do a master list here. Count that. We're almost done here, Jake. At least ten of the 21 precincts done. We will bring you the final count when we have it.

TAPPER: All right, Brian Todd. And a reminder that the state Republican Party said that it is OK for volunteers for precinct workers to wear garb supporting a candidate or another. They said that is OK with them. The votes are almost formally in in six minutes and eleven seconds. We will bring those too. Stay with us. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:57:47] TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of the Nevada Republican caucuses. We will have a projection for you when the caucuses are official live closed in 2:13.

Until the moment, let me go to Brian Todd right now, who is at a caucus site in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Brian, they're still counting there.

TODD: Still counting. This is the last one outstanding 6530. They're just verifying some numbers here. They may be going over it again to make sure. This is the only one outstanding, 20 of the 21 precincts are in here at Desert Oasis high school. And we will show - lets' see. This good. This is kind of a typical illustration of how it is going.

In precinct 6609, Donald Trump with 25 votes, Cruz eleven, Rubio four. This is the master list. The take a picture of this when all of them are in. Then, they email that picture to the state GOP. We can tell you that without getting specific numbers in all these precincts, Jake, Donald Trump is carrying the evening. He is dominating all the precincts, 20 of the 21 that are in so far, he has carried. There is your master list. It is going in pretty shortly from here, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. So at Desert Oasis high school, which is of course just one caucus site with several precincts looks good for Donald Trump. But of course, we are not going to have a final projection for one more minute and five seconds.

Dana and David, you could feel the excitement. This is a big contest. This really could either slow the momentum for the front-runner or keep it going even stronger.

BASH: Absolutely. And at this point, you know, we're getting to the point where it really is going to be all about delegate math, which is going to start to happen on March 1st, Super Tuesday. But now it really is about momentum. And the question is whether the early polls that showed Trump, whose name literally looms over the Las Vegas strip because he is the hotel owner and casino owner who is out there even when he is not there --

TAPPER: Or license of his name, as it may be.

BASH: Or that. Where there is going to prevail. Whether is going to prevail the way the polls show.

CHALIAN: And remember, this is the end of those four early states. So this closes one phase of the campaign. This is the fourth early state in the month of February. Then a week from tonight this race goes national in a way it hasn't yet. And so, this is that last moment for someone of the sort of catapult out of this early phase and into that national race.

TAPPER: And it's very exciting. We're going to have something for you in two seconds.

And CNN is ready to make a projection.