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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Live Coverage of Nevada GOP Caucus Results; Donald Trump Wins Big. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired February 24, 2016 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight we had 45-46 percent and tomorrow you'll be hearing, you know, if they just could take the other candidates and add them up --

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: -- and if you could add them up, because you know the other candidates amount to 55 percent. So if they could just -- they keep forgetting that when people drop out, we're going to get a lot of a votes. You know, they keep forgetting. They don't say it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And it is just 2:00 am here on the East Coast. Let's put the latest here on the board for you to look at here at the top of the hour. There you see it, Donald Trump, a decisive huge lead, 45 percent. This is with 19 percent of the vote in, Marco Rubio right now in second place with 24.7 percent. And Ted Cruz with 20 percent. Again, this is 19 percent of the vote in.

We're live. Our coverage continuing throughout this hour here on CNN.

I mean, to Donald Trump's point, again, he is correct. There is this assumption that many people had that if only there was one other candidate, all those votes would coalesce and would be more than Donald Trump.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's not actually the argument and not to make Donald Trump's head explode but if you look at the national polls right now, his average is, what, 37 percent, right. OK.

So the non-Trump vote is much more than that. So, obviously, as he points out, some of those votes, some of those -- maybe Carson votes, some of them Cruz votes, some of the Rubio votes, some of the Kasich votes, some percentage that is obviously going to go to Trump.

But it is also true that the lack of consolidation in the anti-Trump vote is what is -- has -- is putting him in the catbird seat --

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: -- and the only chance to beat him I think is pretty safe to say, is in a one-on-one race, right?

Because the race so far has been Trump against a bunch of people you've never heard of and who were never on TV, right. So he dominates in a race like that. The only chance is Trump mano a mano with Rubio or Cruz. And it's a big national story; they're debating, they're barnstorming the states. Otherwise, he's going to --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: -- in a general election, say, against Hillary Clinton or against Bernie Sanders, how does Trump match up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He does very well.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: If you look at it today, Trump can make the case I can compete in Michigan, a state that hasn't gone Republican since I think 1988 if my math is right there, for a very long time. Trump can say, I can compete there. I'll compete in Pennsylvania because I can compete with blue collar white voters.

Now Democrats will say, yes. We'll start running ads. There was an African American protester at your rally and you said, you know, rough him up and that's OK. They'll start running the, "They're rapists, they're murderers" and try to go after Latino voters.

But he's -- right now he loses to Sanders in some polls, he's competitive in others. Forget general election polling right now.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: -- doesn't matter but they're not advertising in the general election. He's not attacking Hillary Clinton; he's doing it in his rallies but he's not doing it on television or Bernie Sanders. And they're not doing it against him. It would be messy and it would be bloody but if you -- for those who say Donald Trump cannot win, you're wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can win a major party nomination, you at least have some non-zero chance of winning a general election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, way more than a non-zero chance. He's put states like Michigan and Pennsylvania in play, there's a reason that the head of the SEIU and other union leaders have expressed concern that their members will defect from the Democrat-endorsed candidates to Donald Trump. There's a reason for that.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Survey USA poll taken in September showed in a head-to-head matchup with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump wins the African American vote by 25 percent. I know this is polling that might not matter right now. But I think these are big indicators that he could do exceedingly well in a general election. LIZZA: He would be the most -- he would be the candidate -- the major nominee, the major party nominee with the highest unfavorability (sic) ratings in -- since they've been polling.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I want to go back to Jake, who's getting some more entrance polling information in -- Jake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But look at Hillary's --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Anderson, yes, with 20 percent, 21 percent of the vote in, Donald Trump is up with 44.1 percent of the vote. Marco Rubio with 25 percent. Ted Cruz with 21.3 percent. Carson and John Kasich still in single digits. So still a very dominant lead.

We're expecting I guess about 70,000 or more voters from -- to have turned out to the Republican caucuses, which is a huge improvement from 2012.

DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is, again, a relatively new process for Nevada. This is only the third presidential election caucus in Nevada. But we talked earlier, David, about the kind of qualities that the voters were looking for in the candidates. And now that we have more information on the results, we know how each candidate fared based on those qualities.

DAVID: Yes, we can see exactly why Donald Trump is getting near half the vote and why Rubio and Cruz are splitting quarter, quarter.

[02:05:00]

DAVID: Take a look at these numbers. Voters that wanted to see a candidate that could bring change, Donald Trump wins going away, 60 percent to 17 percent for Cruz to 16 percent for Rubio to 4 percent for Kasich. They make up about 23 percent of the electorate.

Donald Trump, the change candidate. How about the tell-it-like-it-is candidate? This category was basically created for Donald Trump. This is what his entire campaign has been about. And he wins it going away, 86 percent, to Cruz's 8 percent to Rubio's 4 percent and Carson's 2 percent. That's about 20 percent of the electorate.

Now let's look at a Rubio strength: electability. If you're looking for a candidate who you believe can win in November, well, here, just a slim majority, 51 percent go with Rubio, that's looking for a candidate that can win in November. Trump gets 33 percent, Cruz 11 percent, and Kasich down at 2 percent.

And then shares my values, which is actually the largest share of the electorate among these issues, 30 percent of the voters want a candidate who shares their values, Cruz wins this category with 42 percent, Rubio at 26 percent, Trump at 20 percent and Carson at 6 percent. So Dana, what you see here, you have an electability candidate, you

have a values candidate and then you have this dominant front-runner, who is telling it like it is and can bring change, you add those two together and that's why you see Trump so dominant.

One thing that I think is worth noting on the electability score, Donald Trump -- or I should say Marco Rubio has won this category everywhere but New Hampshire where Marco Rubio had a fifth place showing or a very disappointing (INAUDIBLE) after that debate. This has been his category all along.

This is Donald Trump's best score today among that electability number.

BASH: A third of the electorate --

DAVID: A third of the electorate want to go with him, that want a winner in November. So all that talk about, oh, Donald Trump cannot win a general election, he's not winning this category yet. But he's improving, exactly.

BASH: He's doing better, as we've been discussing, since we saw the early win tonight from Donald Trump, that it's not just people here in Washington kind of coming to terms with the fact that he very well could be their nominee. More importantly, it's the voters out there who are looking at him in a different way.

TAPPER: You know what's interesting also is that the candidates who won those categories, that's their pitch. Marco Rubio's out there saying, I'm the person that can defeat Hillary Clinton. I'm the one that's electable. I'm the one they fear the most.

Ted Cruz, we heard him this evening again, reciting a list of why he shares the values of the voters and then Donald Trump doing what he does.

So it's not as though voters aren't believing them. Those who care about electability, going for Rubio; those who care about values, Cruz. It's that a larger slice of the Republican Party cares more about being an outsider, telling it like it is --

DAVID: Bringing change.

TAPPER: -- bringing change, all the things that Donald Trump represents -- Anderson.

COOPER: It's also something that -- Donald Trump early on embraced the anger that he clearly -- I mean, his -- he does have -- for somebody who's not a career politician or has never been a politician before, he does have a finely tuned antenna to certainly what his supporters, what his potential supporters seem to want.

He clearly understood the anger out there and whether he rode it or got in front of it or whatever, he made the most of it.

BARGER: You know, he, of all the candidates we were listening to tonight and we've all been talking about this, they were talking about process, I'm going to go on, I'm going to win this, I'm going to win this, I'm going to win this. Trump did that, too.

But Trump's the only one who has had sort of this "make America great again" bumper sticker kind of slogan that he stuck to a message and he has dug it in. And everybody else is talking, well, I could win this and I could win that. He's like we're going to get this over with fast. I'm going to get to a general election. And I'm going to be a great president.

It's completely different. He talks about polls all the time, he didn't tonight, I don't think. A little bit. But he's moving away from being a pundit to a degree, which the other candidates were, and talking about what he wants to do.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And he said tonight you're going to be proud of your president and proud of your country.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: And he knows over these last many years, these voters have despised this president and haven't been so proud of this country. So I think he connects with those voters there.

And throughout his speeches, he's talked about the carrier plant moving to Mexico. He knows that this is something that resonates with blue collar voters. So he I think, more than any other candidate, has improved vastly.

COOPER: John, I want to go to a break.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: What do you remember from "The Apprentice"?

You're fired. Donald Trump knows it. He has a brand.

So what does he do in this campaign?

Winning, winning, winning, winning, strong, strong, winning, winning. He brands himself and he brands the other guys. Low energy, loser, you're gone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Liar.

KING: Agree or disagree with him, he has been brilliant in branding himself and the branding the others and he's winning.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. More discussion ahead as our live coverage continues and the votes continue to be counted. We'll be right back.

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[02:10:00]

(WEATHER REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing live coverage. The votes still being counted in Nevada. Let's take a look at the latest vote count, Donald Trump obviously a commanding lead with almost 44 percent of the vote; 24 percent for Marco Rubio, who's in second place; Ted Cruz with 22 percent, Ben Carson nearly 5.5 percent and John Kasich in last with 3.8 percent.

But still only 23 percent of the vote counted in the state of Nevada.

Let's go to John King at the magic wall to look at the numbers, how they all break down -- John.

KING: Anderson, we'll take a look at tonight and then try to project it forward a little bit. As you noted, 23 percent of the vote in, 44 percent for Trump, Rubio and Cruz coming in behind him.

As you look at the map starting to fill in, Ted Cruz winning these two rural smaller counties along the Utah border here. But Las Vegas, Clark County, that's where most of your votes are, more than 70 percent of the population in the state, Donald Trump getting a majority in Clark County so far; 15 percent of the vote in. Marco Rubio essentially half of Donald Trump, even less than half of Donald Trump so far in Clark County, the largest area of the state. This is where the casinos are, Vegas and the suburbs. And again, Donald Trump proving he can win where the people are, where you get the most votes.

Also winning the second largest county out here, Washoe County, where Reno is out here in the -- it's 15 percent, 16 percent of the state population, under 50 percent there but at 46 percent, a little more than a third of the vote, now 35 percent of the vote counted out there as it's still coming in.

[02:15:00]

KING: As you look at the map filling in, It's mostly Trump. We're waiting for votes here in the middle. But once again, he's proving he can win in suburban areas, win in the cities here in Vegas and win in other areas as well. And you pull it out, this is the result tonight, one, two, three. Three wins for Donald Trump, one for Ted Cruz.

Remember, Cruz started the race by winning Iowa then Trump New Hampshire, Trump South Carolina, Trump Nevada. And so the question now is can he project that going forward?

Let's switch the maps here and we come back in time so we're not getting too far ahead of ourselves. But after tonight, Donald Trump's going to be somewhere in the ball park of 79, might even be higher than that. Now this is a scenario giving him 35 percent of the vote in Nevada. He's going to end up higher than that. So he may crack 80 tonight in delegates. Long way to go to the 1,200-plus you need to clinch the nomination.

But again, he's three for four so far. And momentum matters in politics. Let's look ahead to Super Tuesday. A dozen states fill in. We give Ted Cruz Texas here. Looking for other states, the Rubio people, I mean, this is hypothetical now, folks. The Rubio people say maybe they'll win Minnesota.

For the sake of the argument, let's give it to them. Donald Trump second and Ted Cruz third and Kasich fourth, even that, if Rubio wins that, Donald Trump still starting to pull away. So you look at the end of the night, maybe a couple other states in here that are competitive, but, Anderson, this is the state of the Republican race right now. Donald Trump has won three of the first four states.

In any past campaign, people would be saying, wow, that's unstoppable.

Is he unstoppable?

No.

But if you have a continued race where the reaction tonight was, Kasich goes after Rubio, Cruz goes after Rubio, and nobody goes after Trump, the Trump campaign feels strongly that maybe they'll lose Texas on Super Tuesday, they've got to compete, trust me, but maybe they'll lose Texas, maybe they'll lose one or two others but they believe by next Tuesday night we're going to be talking about a big Donald Trump lead in delegates.

COOPER: And we heard that optimism in Trump's victory speech tonight. I want to play that victory speech for you. We played it live. Here is Donald Trump celebrating a massive win in Nevada. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Oh, boy. We love Nevada. We love Nevada. Thank you. This is a great place. Thank you. Thank you very much. Great evening. We will be celebrating for a long time tonight. Have a good time. Have a good time. You know, we weren't expected a couple of months ago, we weren't expected to win this one.

You know that, right?

Of course, if you listen to the pundits, we weren't expected to win too much and now we're winning, winning, winning the country.

And soon the country is going to start winning, winning, winning. So I want to thank the volunteers. These people, they work like endlessly, endlessly. We're not going to forget it and we've had some great numbers coming out of Texas.

And amazing numbers out of Tennessee and Georgia and Arkansas and then in a couple weeks later, Florida. We love Florida. So we're going to do very well in Ohio. We're beating the governor. That's good. That's always nice to be beating the governor. And Michigan, the whole thing.

I mean, it's going to be an amazing two months.

We might not even need the two months, folks, to be honest, all right. So tonight we had 45-46 percent and tomorrow you'll be hearing, you know, if they just could take the other candidates and add them up --

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: -- and if you could add them up, because you know the other candidates amount to 55 percent. So if they could just -- they keep forgetting that when people drop out, we're going to get a lot of a votes. You know, they keep forgetting. They don't say it.

So I want to begin by thanking my boys. Eric (ph) has been all over the place making speeches. He's getting better than me, so I'm a little jealous.

And Don (ph) went up to Elco (ph) and you were all over it. And he loves the rifle so this is serious rifle. This is serious NRA, both of them. So both of them. We love the Second Amendment, folks, nobody loves it more than us. So just remember that.

And Cory (ph) and Hope (ph), the staff, the whole group and Charles (ph) and Dan (ph) and what a group we have. It's just been amazing.

[02:20:00]

TRUMP: I want to thank a couple of friends of mine that are here. The owner of this incredible hotel, Mr. and Ms. Phil Ruffin (ph), stand up. Great guy.

Phil said, Donald, for like the last three months, he's driving me crazy, he said Donald, I want to put $10 million into your campaign. I said, Phil, I don't want your money. I don't want to do it, I'm self funding. Every time I see him, it's hard for me to turn down money because that's not what I've done in my whole life. I grab and grab and grab. You know, I get greedy. I want money, money. Now I'm getting what -- I tell you what we're going to do, right.

We get greedy, right, now we're going to get greedy for the United States. We're going to grab and grab and grab. We're going to bring in so much money and so much everything, we're going to make America great again, folks, I'm telling you. We're going to make America great again.

And another great friend of mine, somebody respected by everybody, a great friend of Phil, too, Mr. and Ms. Steve Winst (ph). Stand up, Steve. Stand up, two great people.

Steve is always calling. He's always got advice. Right, Steve?

Donald, I think you ought to do this. His advice I like to listen to. I'll be honest with you. So Phil and Steve and families, we appreciate it. You've been great friends. Thank you. Thank you.

So this was very exciting tonight. But I'll tell you, it looks like we won by a lot, evangelicals. I love the evangelicals.

And I have to tell you, Pastor Jeffress has been so incredible on television and elsewhere. He has been great. And as you know, Liberty University, do we love Liberty University? Huh? Jerry Falwell Jr., an unbelievable guy. And he has been with us and with us from the beginning and I want to thank Jerry and his family. It's been amazing, the relationship.

So we won the evangelicals. We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated.

I love the poorly educated.

We're the smartest people. We're the most loyal people and you know what I really am happy about because I've been saying it for a long time, 46 percent with the Hispanics, 46 percent. Number one with Hispanics.

I'm really happy about that.

So...

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you. So I'm very proud of you. This is an amazing night and I love the country. I love the country.

So we're going --

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: -- we're going in the wrong direction. We're going to keep -- as you know, keeping that open and we're going to load it up with bad dudes, We're going to load it up with a lot of bad dudes out there. We're going to have our borders nice and strong. We're going to build the wall. You know that. We're going to build the wall.

And I have a lot of respect for Mexico and you just heard, we won Hispanics. But let me tell you, Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Right? Going to happen. Going to happen. They know it, I know it, we all know it.

We have a tremendous deficit. We have a trade deficit with Mexico. They'll pay for the wall. They'll be very happy about it. Believe me, I'll go up to them, they'll be very, very thrilled. They're going to be thrilled to be paying for the wall.

We're going to be the smart people, we're not going to be the people that get pushed around all over the place. We're going to be the smart people.

You're going to be proud of your president and you're going to be even prouder of your country. OK?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: So tonight, folks, this was a great evening. I love this place. I love this state. I love Las Vegas. I have spent and invested so much money over here. Trump International Hotel. I keep telling Steve we have the best hotel in Las Vegas. He's fighting me all the time. But that's --

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: But I just want to say, it's a great state and they have great people. And I was so proud, you know, I went to caucus. I was all over the place tonight. The people are amazing, the enthusiasm. It was unbelievable to see. The people of this country are absolutely amazing.

I love you folks very much. Remember, make America great again. We're going to do it and it's going to happen fast. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much. We love you. We love you. Thank you. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

[02:25:00]

COOPER: Donald Trump joined by both of his sons there.

Let's take a look at the vote, at where it now stands in the state of Nevada. There you see it, Donald Trump, 43 percent of the vote. Right now, 25 percent of the vote in is in. Donald Trump is in the lead with 43 percent, Marco Rubio in second with 24 percent, Ted Cruz at 22 and then you have Ben Carson and John Kasich. Our live coverage continues next right here on CNN.

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