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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Sweat, Wet Pants and a Surprise Endorsement. Awaiting Donald Trump Live Event; Trump Battles Rubio Over Releasing Tax Returns; Trump: I'm More Pro-Israel Than Any Other Candidate; Hours Away from South Carolina Democratic Primary. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 26, 2016 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:11] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, sweat, wet pants and a surprise endorsement. You are actually watching CNN. We're talking about the GOP race for president and as things just got a whole lot crazier today.

Plus, Huckabee joins Donald Trump's campaign while Mike Huckabee's daughter picked her father's former rival. She's my guest tonight. And just hours before South Carolina votes, Bernie Sanders unleashes some of his harshest attacks yet. Is it too late? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, game on Rubio versus Trump. A day of twists and turns no one expected. The two Republican presidential candidates both on the attack upping the ante big time from last night's debate if you can possibly imagine that. And moments from now, Trump is expected to take the stage in Oklahoma City as you see a full house. With him tonight his newest ally, a man who dislikes Marco Rubio as much as Trump does, former candidate New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Let me tell something to Marco Rubio. President of the United States is not a no-show job like you treated the United States Senate. We need a leader who once again will stand up for the American people first, not the rest of the world first. America first. Donald Trump is that man.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Rubio, though is not backing down. His mission today to label Trump a con man.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a con man. I think it's time to unmask it. There's no way we'll going to allow the party of Reagan or the conservative movement to be taken over by a con man. We'll going to unmask him for the con man that he is. The last thing we need is a con man as president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And Rubio also trying to beat Trump at Trump's own game accusing Trump of having a meltdown behind stage at the debate. Now, that happens to be the same word Trump has used to describe Rubio. And Trump today actually re-enacted what he said was Rubio's now famous meltdown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's Rubio!

(CROWD CHEERING)

I'm sweating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT at Trump's rally tonight. Jim, I know you watch this and you say, wait a minute. Am I watching some sort of comedy act? No. This was real politics today.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT. Right. Yes, not exactly highbrow humor, though, out on the campaign trail, Erin. Things have certainly gotten more fluid you might say in this race for the White House. Trump and Marco Rubio are now engaged in a locker room brawl for the GOP nomination. It's gotten so ugly it's descended into name-calling as you mentioned over who sweats the most and who can actually control their bladder the best.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump tried to turn the page after CNN's fiery Republican debate. Rolling out a jaw-dropping endorsement from Chris Christie.

TRUMP: This was an endorsement that really meant a lot.

CHRISTIE: There is no better fighter than Donald Trump. And he's going to fight for the American people.

TRUMP: Other than that, I rest my case.

ACOSTA: It was a -- move for Trump after he seemed rattled by a newly aggressive Marco Rubio at Thursday's debate.

RUBIO: If you hadn't heard of $200 million, you know where Donald Trump would be right now, selling watches --

TRUMP: No, no, no, that's wrong. That is so wrong.

(CROWD CHEERING)

That is so wrong.

ACOSTA: Rubio has decided the only way to take down the GOP front- runner is to match insult with insult.

RUBIO: Let me tell you something. Last night in the debate during one of the breaks, two of the breaks, he went backstage. He was having a meltdown. First he had his little makeup thing applying like makeup around his mustache. He had one of those sweat mustaches. Then he asked for a full-length mirror. I don't know why because the podium goes up to here but he wanted a full-length mirror. Maybe to make sure his pants weren't wet. I don't know.

ACOSTA: In Texas, Rubio ridiculed Trump's misspelling of the words, light weight choker in his post-debate tweets.

RUBIO: Here is the first one. "Lightweight Marco Rubio was working hard last night." This is true. "The problem is, he is a choker, and once a "choker" always a "chocker," I guess that is what he meant to say. He spell choker, c-h-o-k-e-r. Choker.

TRUMP: He was sweating so badly --

ACOSTA: Trump mocked the Florida senator as drowning in sweat backstage at the debates. Badly in need of TV makeup.

TRUMP: I will not say that he was trying to cover up his ears. I need water. Help me, I need water. Help.

When you are a choke artist, you are always a choke artist.

ACOSTA: It was a continuation of the alley fight that broke out during CNN's debate. On ObamaCare, Rubio got the last word over who repeats himself the most.

RUBIO: That's the only part of the plan? Just the lines --

TRUMP: You have many different plans. You'll have competition. You'll have so many different plans.

RUBIO: But now he's repeating himself.

TRUMP: No, I'm not repeating -- no, no, no. Here's the guy who repeats himself.

RUBIO: You repeat yourself every day.

(CROWD CHEERING)

TRUMP: Talking about repeating, I watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago.

RUBIO: I saw you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago.

[19:05:23] ACOSTA: Trump wondered whether Rubio will land the support of the last GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Romney, Trump joked, was never going to win in 2012.

TRUMP: When you walk into a state, you cannot walk like a penguin. He walked like a penguin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now Trump is so furious with Marco Rubio, he ruled him out as his vice president today. As for Chris Christie, Trump left that door open saying the Governor certainly has talent. And Erin, we should also point out, this was a tightly held secret in terms of this endorsement from Chris Christie for Donald Trump. I'm told by both Trump and Christie aides that this was really ironed out, only yesterday in Trump tower in New York City -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

And I want to remind everyone yet again, you are watching CNN. It's not the onion or anything like that.

All right. OUTFRONT tonight, President Obama's former senior adviser David Axelrod. Chief political correspondent Dana Bash who served as questioner at last night's debate. And David Gergen, he served as advisor to four presidents including Clinton and Reagan.

And David Axelrod, let me start with you. I want to remind people again what channel they were watching because, you know, I -- I just want to make sure here.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You needed to do that, Erin. I mean, it is sort of defies reason, right?

BURNETT: David, you know, Rubio spent a lot of time mocking Trump today which was something new in a Trump style. So, they just all upped the ante. Will this hurt Marco Rubio do you think?

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think Marco Rubio is probably getting what he wants right now which is the perception of a one-on-one race.

BURNETT: Yes.

AXELROD: That's what he is angling for. He doesn't really have it. He doesn't really have it. Ted Cruz is competitive in many of these states, Texas in particular. He has John Kasich in there, and Ben Carson still in there. And as long as the field is large, it's hard for Rubio to get to where he wants to go. But the more he can create a perception of this one-on-one race, he gets, you know, he is getting closer to what he wants. It's interesting that he now spent the day pronouncing Donald Trump a con man. He's been debating him now for many, many months. Apparently, he came to this realization in the last 24 hours. The other thing I want to say is I know, Erin, you and Dana have small children. I hope you are keeping them away from the television set when the political debates are on.

BASH: We still know -- we know where they'll get the words if we hear them use them. David Gergen, the attacks though from Rubio, you know, David Axelrod is pointing out, he's trying to make this a two-man race and getting the media attention that would go with that. But he's sounding, you know, he is not hitting Trump on the issues. So, you know, he's going after how he spells words on twitter. Let me just play a little bit more than you just heard in Jim Acosta's piece.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: What does Donald Trump do when things go wrong? He takes to twitter. I have him right here. Let's read some. You'll have fun.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

All right. Number one. Here's the first one. "Lightweight Marco Rubio was working hard last night." This is true. The problem is, he is a "choker." And once a "choker" always a chocker," I guess is what he meant to say. He spelled choker c-h-o-k-e-r. No this was him about himself. OK? Great honer. I think he meant to say great honor. I don't know how he got that wrong because the e and the o are nowhere near each other on the keyboard. Great honer. Just like Trump Tower, he must have hired a foreign worker to do his own tweets.

(CROWD CHEERING)

BURNETT: All right. David Gergen, attacking Trump on Trump's beloved twitter. Can Rubio beat Trump at Trump's own game?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: I don't think it's possible to out-Trump Trump. Listen, Erin, what the -- many in the media saw last night was a successful Marco Rubio. Someone who won the debate, bloodied Donald Trump. And the only question is, whether it came too late. That's not the debate that many voters saw. It's striking. If you look at this big "Time" magazine online poll, over 60,000 have responded so far today, 20 percent said Marco Rubio won the debate. Sixty nine percent said Donald Trump won the debate.

One wonders about the disconnect between the media interpretation and the voters' interpretation. But I think what is clear is that so far, these attacks by Marco Rubio don't seem to be penetrating with the public. Maybe they will over time. We'll have to wait and see. They could well diminish Marco Rubio. It is hard, still hard to see where he wins on Super Tuesday. Maybe Minnesota, but not many other states.

[19:10:06] BURNETT: I mean, Dana, that's a pretty powerful poll. And I know obviously it's not CNN polling standards. Right? It's online. People are selecting themselves.

BASH: That's right.

BURNETT: But David Gergen is raising a fair point. The online polls, he mentions the "Time" one are pretty clear that people who are responding to those are saying Trump.

BASH: That's right. And that's why it's pretty clear that what Marco Rubio is trying to do is to consolidate the anyone but Trump vote around him. That is entirely what he is trying to do. And as you've said, trying to, you know, kind of beat Trump at his own game. It is unclear whether or not that's going to work. But I think look, this is a political Hail Mary. And we've seen people tried this before. I can't even imagine what it's like in Jeb Bush's living room, him watching this going, hello, Marco, where were you a couple of weeks ago when I was the only guy out there doing this stuff.

You know, it's pretty clear that that's what it is. It is kind of the end of the road for a lot of these guys. And as you saw with Chris Christie's endorsement, and from people close to Chris Christie, he did it for one reason and one reason only. He thinks that this is a done deal. That Donald Trump is going to be the nominee. So, better get with him right now. Why not?

BURNETT: David Axelrod, you think done deal?

AXELROD: You know, I think we should point out that the people who are attracted to Donald Trump aren't attracted to him because of his detailed policy prescriptions.

BURNETT: Uh-hm.

AXELROD: So the fact that he couldn't answer questions last night about his health care plan probably didn't discourage those people as much as they were encouraged by his feistiness. And so I think therein lies the disconnect that David Gergen was talking about.

BURNETT: Uh-hm. And you know, to that point, Dana, Jim Acosta played some of this. But, you know, the plan, you asked him about ObamaCare, one of the questions. And you pressed him for details. And here's how that actually went down in the debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Senator Rubio, you will have time to respond --

RUBIO: All right.

BASH: If you'll just let Mr. Trump respond to what you just poses to him.

RUBIO: Yes, he's going to give us his plan now, right? OK.

BASH: If you could talk a little bit more about your plan. I know you talked about --

TRUMP: No, we're going to have many different plans because it's going to be competition.

BASH: Can you give us specifics?

RUBIO: He's done it again.

TRUMP: There is going to be competition among all of the states, and the insurance companies. They're going to have many, many different plans.

BASH: Is there anything else you would like to add to that?

TRUMP: No, there's nothing to add. What's to add?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: I mean, Dana, not having anything to add, that is going to hurt him with some people. Others are going to say, hey, get the job, come up with the specifics. Barack Obama didn't have a full plan before he was elected. I mean, what's the right way to view that? Was that damaging or not?

BASH: Look, it is our job to try to press for specifics.

BURNETT: Yes.

BASH: That's what we do. And it is malpractice for us to not try to do those things. Especially on critical issues that affect everybody's lives like health care. However, I completely agree with David Axelrod. The fact that Donald Trump didn't have more specifics than what he laid out about, you know, just endorsing a Republican idea of breaking down the barriers between states, to help competition, I don't think that's going to hurt him at all. The people who love him, they have known for months and months and months that's he's not a man of specifics. They don't care. That's not what they are looking for in him. The question though and the reason we wanted to press him now is because as we said, it's very far down the road in the calendar. And he is close to the potentially getting the nomination. So it is time to try to get specifics.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you --

BASH: If that matters at all.

BURNETT: Thank you all very much. You'll be back of course later on the program.

OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump doubling down on why he says he can't release his taxes right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: My taxes for many years have been under audit. And for some reason, I have a lot of rich friends. They've never been audited. I'm audited every year I think for like 12 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Does that add up?

Plus, Mike Huckabee's daughter, former campaign manager joins the Trump campaign. Why she's helping her father's former rival. And one day before the South Carolina primary, why was Hillary Clinton at a bachelor party?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:17:34] BURNETT: Donald Trump firing back tonight over the growing calls to release his taxes. The Republican frontrunner who boasts he's worth more than $10 billion, insisting his hands are tied because of what he calls a routine but unfair audit. But his appellants aren't buying it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: Then release your tax return so we can see -- TRUMP: I borrowed $1 billion and turned it into $10 billion. I will

absolutely give my return but I'm being audited now for two or three years so I can't do it until the audit is finished.

RUBIO: He's not as rich as he claims to be. Everybody in finance knows that's and his taxes would expose that.

TRUMP: Until such time as it's finished, I won't be going and releasing because obviously that wouldn't be a very good thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Rob Kovacev, he is a former Senior Council for the United States Department of Justice Tax Division. OK. So, you know more about this than anybody and people have a lot of questions. There's a lot of misinformation out there. So, let's just start with the basics here. Donald Trump drops the fact that he's been audited, and a lot of people gasp. You know they think, that's must mean you've done something wrong or there's a flag of something wrong. How common is it for someone of high net worth to be audited?

ROBERT KOVACEV, FORMER SENIOR COUNCIL, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TAX DIVISION: Well, it's very common. If you look at a large corporation, high net worth individuals, someone like Mr. Trump, the IRS is going to continuously audit them. That's very common. And it doesn't mean that he's done anything wrong. It just means that they're doing -- they are checking to make sure that everything is OK.

BURNETT: OK. So, just the automatic, oh, there's something wrong, you're saying, that's not the case.

KOVACEV: No.

BURNETT: Now, what about what Trump just said there? He is obviously, I wouldn't because I'm being audited. I wouldn't release my returns. You know, he says, look, I'm negotiating with the IRS. So, my lawyers are saying, I shouldn't release them. If you were advising Donald Trump right now, would you say he should release them or not release them? And we know legally he's allowed to do it.

KOVACEV: Well, he's getting good advice. Because he puts his returns out there, his critics are going to go through, take something out of context and they'll make a big deal out of it. They'll put pressure on the IRS to go and do a big investigation on something that's probably is innocuous but because it's an issue they'll going to have to go after it.

BURNETT: So, he loses leverage in the negotiation if he releases them.

KOVACEV: Absolutely. I would never advise to release them while under audit.

BURNETT: OK. OK. So, there's that one. All right. Now, you heard Marco Rubio there, you know, this morning, he said, well, if Trump's taxes are released, it's going to expose him. Those are Marco Rubio's words. To not be as rich as he says. Now if you had his tax returns, would you be able to figure out how rich he was?

KOVACEV: No, no, they are income tax returns. So, it's just the money that is coming in. It doesn't tell you his net worth. He could have real estate investments, stocks, bonds. They could be worth billions but it's not going to be on that form.

BURNETT: OK. All right. So, we're not going to tell how rich he is. OK. The other allegation of course from Mitt Romney is that Trump is not giving as much to charity as he said. Now, that's been a big part of his campaign. He is giving a lot of money to charity. So, if it weren't true, it would be a big problem. Mitt Romney says that might be what he's called the bombshell in Trump's taxes. Would his tax return give a clear picture of his charitable donations?

KOVACEV: Well, not necessarily. You would be surprise. A lot of people give to charity and actually don't take it down on their returns.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Rob, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.

KOVACEV: Thank you.

BURNETT: Now, OUTFRONT now, Andy Dean, a Donald Trump supporter and former president of Trump Productions. And Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard. So, Bill, let me just start with you. You just heard, you know, a Department of Justice tax expert say it -- he would advise Donald Trump to not release his taxes in this particular situation. What do you say?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think it's ridiculous. Let him release the taxes from two years ago where the audit has been completed. What's the reason not to do that?

BURNETT: Andy?

ANDY DEAN, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Bill doesn't understand how taxes work because the --

KRISTOL: I do understand how taxes work.

DEAN: Well, clearly you don't because it's not good advice you're giving Donald Trump.

KRISTOL: I'm not in the business of giving advice to Donald Trump. I'm interested in selecting a nominee, who is a candid --

BURNETT: OK, Andy, make the --

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

KRISTOL: Andy, do you think we should nominate someone --

BURNETT: Why is he doing the right thing by not releasing it?

DEAN: OK. Well, first, we heard from your tax expert that you can't determine somebody's net worth by looking at a tax return. Let's take for a quick example, Mark Zuckerberg. If we look at his tax returns, he's worth $35 billion yet the past couple of years he's drawn a $1 salary. If you'd look at his tax return you would think he'd be broke but on that tax return you'd not see $35 billion --

KRISTOL: Andy, should Donald Trump release his return or not eventually? Do the voters have the right --

DEAN: After the audit.

KRISTOL: Do the voters have a right to see his return or?

DEAN: After the audit, Bill.

KRISTOL: What if the audit goes through November? What about last years' return? Two years ago return?

DEAN: Well, look, I don't control the IRS. We know the IRS is a messed up organization.

KRISTOL: So, this is the excuse. This is the excuse. Let's just get this clear though. The Republicans might nominate someone -- the Republicans might nominate someone who will use the excuse of an audit, and he's audited every year --

DEAN: It's not an excuse. We just heard from the -- only a moron will release their return.

[19:22:15] BURNETT: Bill, let me ask you something because you said, you said, hold on, Bill. You said, OK. If he's not going to release what's under audit, release the years before that. Mitt Romney tweeted the same thing. And his way of putting it Bill, was this, no legit reason Donald Trump can't release returns while being audited but if it's scared, release earlier returns no longer under audit. But the irony here Bill is that means Romney is asking for more than three years because that's what Donald Trump says he's under audit for. Romney himself only released two, six weeks before the election last time. If the last Republican nominee didn't do it, why should Trump?

DEAN: Thank you.

KRISTOL: You know, Mitt Romney lost that election, Erin. And why did he lost? Because the Democrats beating up pretty badly for not releasing more of his returns.

DEAN: It's because he had no charisma --

KRISTOL: Maybe the Republicans -- yes. We'll have a weaker candidate with Donald Trump with unreleased tax returns --

DEAN: No, we won't.

KRISTOL: -- a phony Trump university for which he'll have to testify in civil suits, the hiring of illegal immigrants. His business background has not been vetted at all. DEAN: All right.

KRISTOL: When the Democrats get through with it, he'll be a much weaker candidate than Mitt Romney.

DEAN: OK. You're reading Rubio's talking points, Bill.

BURNETT: And Andy, this is not the first time --

KRISTOL: No, I'm not actually. I've been saying this before Mitt --

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

I wish Marco Rubio had said this --

BURNETT: OK, hold on. Hold on.

KRISTOL: You're right. I wish that Marco Rubio has said this months ago as I was saying this.

BURNETT: All right. That's just true. Bill has been saying this for quite some time. Andy, I have to say though. Even if you come to Trump's defense, he has been making this excuse, or different excuses for quite some time. This is not the first reason he's given for not releasing his taxes. Here's the last couple.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Maybe I'm going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate.

We'll see what I'm going to do with tax returns. I have no major problem with it. But I may tie them to a release of Hillary's e- mails.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: That's all the way back to 2011. Andy, it seems like it's always some excuse.

DEAN: Well, I think you are conflating two issues. The real issue is the financial disclosure form which was Donald released back in June because that's determined his net worth. And that's has a disclosure of all the buildings he owns, the golf courses, the television shows. That's what you want to look at. Once you get a tax return you can take different amounts of depreciation, different amounts of income. It's very complicated and there's an audit going on. So, only a fool and a complete idiot would release their return when the IRS is looking at your books.

BURNETT: So, Bill, I'm curious. Because, you know, the tax expert there just said Marco Rubio's claim that he's not worth what he says he's worth and we're going to see that in the returns is wrong. You wouldn't be able to tell that from a return. He also say he wouldn't necessarily be able to tell charity donations. What would everybody get from the tax returns coming out specifically do you think? KRISTOL: Look, I don't know, I don't know that much hinges on it

honestly.

DEAN: Thanks.

KRISTOL: Right. No, I mean, look --

BURNETT: Let him finish, Andy.

DEAN: OK.

KRISTOL: I'd be against Donald Trump if he released his returns and other people would be for him if he released his returns. The question, the broader question is, obviously, is Trump the right man to become president? And I do think last night's debate really exposed Trump in a couple of ways. The total lack of knowledge of health care policy. The inability to defend what he did with Trump University which is a genuine scam and a disgrace. That wasn't the issues that will hurt him going forward, though I think the tax returns is also a fair thing just to say, every presidential candidate has released them. Will Donald Trump guarantee that he will release them in a timely way?

BURNETT: Bill, you've got the first one, Andy you get the last.

DEAN: Andy, what you're seeing here -- yes, sure I'll take the last word is that because Marco Rubio is about to lose very, very badly on Super Tuesday, he's got all of the donor class and the elite class which Bill Kristol represents and their past, because tens of millions of dollars went down the drain. Hundreds of millions of dollars lost to Jeb Bush. Now, tens of millions to Marco Rubio. They are losers. The American people are the winners and Donald Trump is going to win this thing. That's my word.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, both of you, ending with a smile. Thanks goodness. It is Friday night.

OUTFRONT next, Rubio slams Trump for being anti-Israel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: He thinks the Palestinian is a real estate deal.

TRUMP: And these people may even be tougher than Chris Christie. OK?

RUBIO: The Palestinians are not a real estate deal.

TRUMP: OK. No, no, no. A deal is a deal.

RUBIO: They're not a real estate dead.

TRUMP: A deal is a deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Did the attacks add up? Plus, we're counting down to the South Carolina democratic primary.

Polls open in just under 12 hours and Bernie Sanders is on the attack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:30:08] BURNETT: Tonight, Donald Trump and Israel. The GOP front- runner hammered by Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio at last night's debate for saying, he wouldn't take sides during Middle East peace talks. In the next breath, he said he has the most pro-Israel candidate running. Can both be true?

Manu Raju is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Donald Trump believes there should be no questioning of his staunchly pro-Israel view.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will protect Israel totally.

RAJU: But a deeper look at his record shows his relationship is much more complicated than he lets on. Trump abruptly canceled a trip to Israel last year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

And at last night's debate, he came under fire after asserting he remain neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to be a fair arbiter of peace talks.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The position you've taken is anti-Israel position.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTAIL CANDIDATE: This is another area on which Donald agrees with Hillary Clinton and on which I disagree with them both strongly.

RAJU: Trump defended his position.

TRUMP: I may not be successful in doing it. It's probably the toughest negotiation anywhere in the world of any kind, OK, but it doesn't help if I start saying "I am very pro-Israel, very pro, more than anything on this stage." But it doesn't do any good to start demeaning the neighbors.

RAJU: And then the gloves came off.

RUBIO: The Palestinians are not a real estate deal, Donald.

TRUMP: No, no. A deal --

RUBIO: They're not a real estate deal.

TRUMP: A deal is a deal. Let me tell you. I've learned a long time ago. RUBIO: A deal is not a deal when you are deal with terrorists.

TRUMP: You are not a negotiator.

(CHEERS)

TRUMP: With your thinking, you will never bring peace. You will never bring peace.

RAJU: Trump contends he's been a long time and vigorous supporter of Israeli causes.

TRUMP: I've received many, many awards from Israel.

RAJU: Awards, yes, but not from the Israeli government.

TRUMP: This is the Tree of Life, which is a very big award --

RAJU: In 1983, the Jewish National Funds Real Estate Committee gave Trump its Tree of Life Award. In 2004 he marched in a salute to Israel parade in New York City.

Yet how much money the billionaire has donated to pro-Israel causes remains a question. In 2014, Trump donated $100,000 to an Israeli emergency first responder organization, according to the Jewish newspaper "Algemeiner". But one reason why we don't know the full picture? He has yet to release his tax returns, and the Trump campaign would not provide more examples.

TRUMP: I can only say I've been a big contributor to Israel over the years.

RAJU: On Friday, the Israel "Haim" newspaper quoted Trump talking about his own personal ties, noting that his daughter Ivanka is, quote, "married to a Jew who is an enthusiastic Israel supporter." He added that he'd be Israel's true best friend.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJU: And, Erin, while Trump considers himself Israel's best friend, a group of Jewish groups are refusing to weigh in. The powerful pro- Israel group AIPAC declined to comment when we inquired about Trump's ties to Israel. And a senior official with the GOP aligned Jewish group told me that they were, quote, "troubled that Trump would be neutral in overseeing the Palestinian and Israeli peace process."

But how much any of this ends up hurting Trump on Super Tuesday, Erin? That's another question altogether.

BURNET: All right. Manu, thank you. Obviously, some crucial questions. We're going to talk about it in a moment.

Donald Trump at a rally in Oklahoma City just introduced by Chris Christie. He's talking about Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Let's listen in.

TRUMP: We're doing great, and we have amazing people. It's a movement. I tell people it's a movement.

But I was on the stage in New Hampshire during one of the debates, and I watched a meltdown like -- I've never seen anything like it. I watched a meltdown like I've never, ever seen.

And it was Chris grilling Marco Rubio. This guy was sweating so badly. Ooh. He was sweating.

Honestly, it was disgusting, all right? And I knew he had a problem because before that when he was doing the -- a little bit of an address to the president's speech, you remember, and they put him on and he went for the water. Do you remember that, during live television?

But what I saw, what Chris did to him was incredible. Then, last night, I saw him backstage with makeup where he's taking it with a trowel and putting it on. He was soaking wet, and he was out here.

And, you know, I only say it because this is not a presidential guy. This is not a presidential guy. He has a situation in Florida where he buys a house. These are our politicians, folks. And he's not the only one.

You know I'm self-funding my campaign. I'm putting in my own money. OK? I'm putting in my own money.

(CHEERS)

Even though I heard today, my father gave me $200 million.

[19:35:04] Believe me, I would love it if he gave me $200 million. Believe me.

That is not true. That is way, way, way off. And I love my father.

My father did give me a lot of knowledge, but I wish he gave me $200 million. You know, these numbers, where they come from, they come from phony newspapers. These people back here, the media, they are the most dishonest people anywhere that I've ever seen.

(CHEERS)

So, today, I heard little Marco say the $200 million. Now, all of a sudden, he was talking about, I've got a million dollar loan from my father which I, by the way, paid back. In the meantime, I've made billions and billions and billions of dollars. So, pretty. Pretty good job. Not many people could do that.

So, this guy Rubio buys a house for $178,000, sells it for $380,000 to a lobbyist. OK? Is the lobbyist in the room anybody? Is he here?

Makes his massive project, and is doing legislation for this guy at the same time. Tell me about this, right?

Then, he's got a credit card problem where he's taking from the Republican Party. Having his driveway done, all of this. Why is this not brought out? And from the Republican Party.

And the man doing the investigation is furious that's they're not listening to him. I think I'll have to get up and interview him.

BURNETT: Donald Trump speaking live at an Oklahoma City rally. Chris Christie just introduced him. Speaking to the crowd, continuing the now rising feud with Marco Rubio as you can hear right now.

OUTFRONT next: Mike Huckabee's daughter is now advising Donald Trump. She's a campaign manager for her father. I'm asking her why she's now helping his former rival.

And as we're counting you down to the Democratic primary in South Carolina just hours away, Bernie Sanders unleashing some of his harshest attacks yet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:41:08] TRUMP: Mexico is going to pay for the wall. They're going to pay --

BURNETT: Donald Trump speaking at a rally in Oklahoma City. You just heard him say Mexico will pay for the wall. He was introduced by Chris Christie, speaking as you can see to a packed hall of supporters in Oklahoma and just slamming his rival Marco Rubio there a moment ago.

Meanwhile, the daughter of a former rival has joined the Trump campaign.

OUTFRONT now the newly announced senior adviser to Donald Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was Mike Huckabee's campaign manager. He's also her father.

And, Sarah, thank you so much for being with me tonight.

Governor Huckabee has been traveling to Israel since the early 1970s. He's been there dozens of times. Donald Trump said he's more pro- Israel than anyone else running.

Is Donald Trump really pro-Israel?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, SENIOR ADVISER, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Absolutely. Now with my dad out of the race, he probably is the most pro-Israel candidate on the stage. I think the most important thing is that anybody who is coming into the oval office next, which I think it will be Donald Trump, needs to rebuild the relationship that we have with Israel that this current president and current administration has completely destroyed and deteriorated. I have absolute confidence that Donald Trump can do just that.

BURNETT: And this is your second day with the Trump campaign. Israel is an important issue for you as you evaluated who to support. Why specifically, Sarah, did you pick Donald Trump?

SANDERS: I mean, I really think it really comes down to the fact that Washington has become so corrupt by the donor class and the special interest, and we need to fix it from the outside in, instead of the inside. And Donald Trump is the only candidate in the race that isn't completely controlled by the Washington to Wall Street axis of power. And we need somebody there to go and shake things up and make significant changes. I think he's the only one that has the capability to do that.

BURNETT: So, you know, some people hear you say that, and they say, wait a minute, Donald Trump lives in a Manhattan penthouse and doesn't like to spend the night outside of New York and, sure, he's not taking money from people outside of New York but he's as New York as it gets. You know, Ted Cruz, of course, now famously said New York values, to imply a lot of negative things about materialism and apply that to Donald Trump.

You obviously don't think that is right.

SANDERS: I don't. I think a lot of that is because he's been an executive. He's run things. He's hired tens of thousands of American workers across the country. And so, he's been able to see how to create those jobs and the impact the decisions he makes has on their families.

And the other guys on the stage have never signed the front of a paycheck and they don't understand the impact or how to create jobs. That's something that he does, and one of the reasons that again he's connecting with Americans is because he's one of the only people out there empowering American families.

I find it interesting that Ted Cruz might attack him for New York values when the bulk of his campaign is being funded by New York donors. You have to follow the money in this case and certainly Ted Cruz doesn't have a lot of credibility to attack on that front.

BURNETT: The tone throughout this campaign has been nasty. That's really the right word for this. It's hit a whole new level today. Here's Donald Trump and Marco Rubio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: We have a con artist as the front-runner in the Republican Party.

TRUMP: No, he's a nervous basket case.

RUBIO: Friends do not let friends vote for con artists.

TRUMP: He was putting on makeup with a trowel. I don't want to say that. I will not say that he was trying to cover up his ears. I will not say that.

RUBIO: Then he asked for a full-length mirror. I don't know why. Maybe to make sure his pants weren't wet. I don't know.

TRUMKP: It's Rubio! I'm sweating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Is this good for Donald Trump, Sarah?

[19:45:02] SANDERS: I don't think it's good for anybody. I think it's unfortunate the nature of politics seems to create this type of tension. I think the person ultimately sadly ends up being good at times for us is Hillary Clinton.

But I think what is good for America is the fact that Donald Trump can come in and change Washington from the outside. He's not controlled by any particular special interest. And he's an independent thinker.

And, you know, I keep hearing all of these pundits and people from the media and other politicians talking about how bad Donald Trump is for America. In particular, how bad people are that support Donald Trump and that they are -- and my thing is they're not bad for America. They are America.

The people voting for Donald Trump are exactly from the heartland and heart and soul of America. They're hard working God-fearing people who are sick and tired of the government stepping all over them. And they want somebody to help clear the path and get government out of the way. I think Donald Trump is the one candidate that can do that.

BURNETT: Your father, Sarah, Governor Mike Huckabee, is a minister. He's very religious. And, you know, the last time I spoke to him was the day before he got out of the raise. Very positive about Donald Trump at that time he left the door wide open to endorsing him.

Is he turned off by the tone right now?

SANDERS: You know, I don't know that he cares for some of the bickering, but I also think at the same time, he's very optimistic about the future of our country, and the future of any Republican left in the race beating Hillary Clinton and being in the White House.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Sarah. I appreciate your time tonight.

SANDERS: You bet. Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And if you missed any of last night's presidential debate for the Republicans here on CNN, it's going to air tonight again at 11:00 Eastern. I can promise you it's betters than any late-night television.

OUTFRONT next: the one issue that won't go away for Hillary Clinton.

Plus, once in office, Donald Trump says he's going to get rid of some government agencies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're going to get rid of so many different things. Department of Education. Common Core is out. We're going local. Have to go local. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Republicans despise Common Core. At least the candidates do. Melinda Gates, who bankrolled Common Core, responds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:50:50] BURNETT: Countdown to South Carolina just hours away from polls opening. A big contest in the Democratic race. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton fighting for every vote.

Brianna Keilar is OUTFRONT in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bachelor parties aren't your usual campaign events.

But that's where Hillary Clinton unexpectedly found herself at a Charleston bakery one day before the South Carolina primary, trying to convince voters to walk down the aisle with her.

Instead of Bernie Sanders.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She has a super PAC, $15 million of which came from Wall Street.

KEILAR: He's in South Carolina today after a stop in Minnesota, where he targeted Clinton's big dollar speeches to Wall Street firms.

SANDERS: What is said behind closed doors is a little difference to what you say to the American people. I am prepared to release all of the transcripts I got for secret meetings on Wall Street. Here they are!

KEILAR: Clinton is resisting saying Tuesday at CNN's town hall --

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why is there one standard for me and not for everybody else, Chris? I mean --

KEILAR: "The New York Times" editorial board backing Sanders on the issue saying voters have every right to know what Mrs. Clinton told these groups. Clinton is urging voters to examine her public record.

CLINTON: It's hurtful to have people say, oh, we don't trust her. Don't know why she's doing it. It suddenly struck me, well, you know, maybe there is this underlying question like, is she doing it for herself or is she really in it for us?

KEILAR: She and Sanders are fighting for the key support of black voters, ahead of the South Carolina primary and the other upcoming southern contests Tuesday. Both on defense of their support for the 1994 crime bill that helped lead to increased African-American incarceration.

CLINTON: There were some positive features. However, I think that the consequences of some of what was done are serious, and we have to take action as quickly and broadly as possible to try to reverse those.

KEILAR: And Sanders at an event in Chicago where Secret Service stepped in when a woman holding a sign charged the stage.

His remarks included a critique of Clinton for backing her husband's 1996 welfare reform bill.

SANDERS: The result of that bill is that extreme poverty, the poorest of the poor in America, those numbers doubled as a result of that legislation. I oppose that legislation. Hillary Clinton supported that legislation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: So, Brianna, why has Clinton spent so much time in South Carolina when Sanders has been spreading out to the Super Tuesday states and getting a lot of face time there?

KEILAR: Well, even though she has a strong lead in the polls here, Erin, she wants to show that she's going to win South Carolina by a very big margin. She also has something Bernie Sanders doesn't and that's a very experienced surrogates in both her husband and in her daughter. So, if you sort of look at where they've been going, they've actually been going to a lot of Super Tuesday states. She's been going to some of them.

But then you look at Bernie Sanders' schedule. It's sort of this acknowledgment that he needs to look beyond South Carolina towards these Super Tuesday contests, some of where he may have a better shot.

BURNETT: That's going to be a crucial few days for him and his campaign.

Thank you so much, Brianna.

And next, the lightning rod topic that's become a four-letter word for Republicans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:58:03] BURNETT: Common Core, it's become a four-letter word among Republicans in the race for 2016. But Bill and Melinda Gates and the Gates Foundation have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build it and promote it. Common Core is a set of national standards of what kids need to know at a grade level, things like when a child needs to know how to do fractions. Republican candidates say the program needs to go.

I sat down with Melinda Gates and she told me Republicans are just dead wrong on Common Core.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: It sounds very uncontroversial but it has become incredibly controversial. I'll just play for you a couple of things that have been said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I'm elected president, I will direct the U.S. doesn't of education that Common Core ends today.

TRUMP: So, Common Core is a total disaster. We can't let it continue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: When you hear those comments, what's do you say?

MELINDA GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: I say to myself, don't we want kids to learn what they need to learn to participate in the economy and in society long term? We know U.S. kids are behind the other nations, both in reading and in math and in science.

So, if they need to learn what is important to learn to be part of the information age and to go on to get a great job, to me that just makes sense.

And the other thing, it's almost like we've forgotten history. It was over 40 governors at the state level who decided they want Common Core. So, it's funny that we're talking about this from a federal level when it's the states that decide it and that are implementing it.

The other thing that's interesting is the more teachers are teaching to the Common Core, they are saying they are seeing the benefit of it and seeing their kids advance.

So, to me, the evidence is there that it should take hold, and it will.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: You can catch my extended interview tomorrow on CNN International at 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Eastern. We talk about her major efforts on women and work and why she says maternity and paternity leave makes for better profits and families.

Thanks so much for joining us. And be set your DVR to record OUTFRONT, so you can watch the show anytime.

"AC360" starts right now.