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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Clinton Does Better Than Expected; Sanders Sets Sights on Minnesota; Sanders Remarks to Supporters. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired February 27, 2016 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: She's over at Clinton headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina. She gave a rousing speech tonight, a very impressive win, Brianna, for the former Secretary of State.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And her campaign is relishing this moment, Wolf. That is certainly no understatement. Hillary Clinton's communications director, Jen Palmieri, talking to reporters a short time ago and she said that they did better than they expected here in South Carolina.
She did noticeably strike a cautious tone. She said there's a long way to go, there's still 46 states, though she did say that if African American turnout for Hillary Clinton here in South Carolina is indicative of what we will see in the Southern states where voters go to the polls on Tuesday, they feel they're very well positioned to pull ahead considerably from Bernie Sanders.
Now privately, Wolf, this is the more interesting part. Sources with the campaign, not so cautious. One of them, in fact, saying that they think that this race is going to be over mid-March, March 15th. There's another series of contests on that day. That's just two weeks from Wednesday. So that tells you something. They have a lot of work to put in.
But they think, ultimately by mid-March, Hillary Clinton will have pulled far ahead of Bernie Sanders. Almost 60 percent of the delegates will have been awarded and they think it'll be clear that she is going to be the nominee. We'll see.
BLITZER: We'll see indeed. All right, Brianna, stand by. Jeff Zeleny is over at Bernie Sanders headquarters in Rochester, Minnesota tonight, Minnesota being a Super Tuesday state this coming Tuesday. We're getting ready to hear from him.
Is he already on the ground?
Is he there already getting ready to address the crowd behind you?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he has landed just a few moments ago at the Rochester airport and that's about some eight miles or so from where we are in downtown Rochester at the Mayo Civic Center here. So you can see the crowd behind me is gathered, several hundred people are here, are clearly true Bernie Sanders supporters now. They have been waiting for a couple hours for him to come address the crowd tonight.
Now we know that Bernie Sanders is focusing heavily on Minnesota. He was here just yesterday in the state as well in the Minneapolis area. Now he is back here tonight. He is clearly focusing on Minnesota as one of the states where he wants to rebound his candidacy.
One of the things we're going to be talking about as this becomes a delegate fight as they go on into the contest to come are how Hillary Clinton is doing compared to how she did last time.
In 2008 she actually lost the Minnesota caucuses 66-32 percent to Barack Obama. That is something that her campaign is obviously looking at. They think she'll do much better here this time. But that is one of the metrics that we're going to be using here in the weeks and maybe months to come.
Is she going to do better than she did?
Of course South Carolina, exhibit A of that, her commanding win there tonight. But Bernie Sanders, I'm told, is going to congratulate her on her victory, as he did privately in a phone call, as we heard from Dana Bash earlier.
And then he's going to get back to his message. He is going to say that we are just at the beginning of this. We are going to keep going forward. He really is talking about building that political revolution.
He's going to talk about Wall Street speeches. He's going to talk about the Iraq War. So I am told that Bernie Sanders is not going to stop drawing contrasts.
But the question here is how long he'll be able to do that before some Democrats begin to weigh in publicly, worrying about how this may hurt her if she ultimately becomes the Democratic nominee -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Moments away from hearing from Bernie Sanders. We'll have live coverage of that. Jeff Zeleny, don't go too far away.
We go back to Jake and Dana and David.
I guess he's going to make it clear he's not going anywhere.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And as has been said by our panelists, there's no reason for him to. This is still a competitive race. It does look like Secretary Clinton will likely be on a path to the nomination but it's still very competitive.
He will win states on Super Tuesday in all likelihood. It is still much more competitive, for instance, than the Republicans. The Republicans, it is entirely possible, with the possible exception of Texas and Senator Cruz, it's possible that Donald Trump will sweep on Super Tuesday.
DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And, of course, the big difference in terms of how Republicans and Democrats elect their nominees, especially this year, is that it is still proportional in each contest state for Democrats through the entire calendar --
BASH: -- for Republicans this time around, that stops March 15th. Everybody on the Republican side who wins a state March 15th and on is winning that state's entire delegate.
TAPPER: Just to step backwards, why did the Republicans make it that way?
BASH: Because they didn't want to have a fight that went on for months and months and months when there could be -- they wanted to have a presumptive nominee.
TAPPER: Likely an establishment candidate.
BASH: Yes. The ability to have them to win and not be bloodied the way Mitt Romney was, for example, four years ago and John McCain was, maybe to a lesser extent, four years before that. They wanted to be able to focus on the general election but it turns out that --
BASH: -- but anyway, back to the Democrats, --
BASH: -- that Reince Priebus led the way potentially for Donald Trump by --
TAPPER: Right. That's my only point, is that the reason they did that was to circle the wagons around what they thought would be the establishment candidate, whether it was going to be Chris Christie or Mitt Romney or Jeb Bush or whomever.
TAPPER: It didn't work out that way. Back to the Democrats, as Jeff just alluded to, there will likely be, as long as the same basic trends continue where Hillary Clinton is ahead of Bernie -- and even if he wins a few states, she remains ahead because of the proportional representation and also because she still continues to dominate, maybe not as extensively as she is this evening in South Carolina, there will ultimately be calls increasingly for him to suspend his campaign.
I think we're way far away from that but that will ultimately likely happen -- Wolf. BLITZER: We'll see what happens. It's as, they say, once again, we're waiting for Bernie Sanders to see what he says. He's going to make it clear he's not going anywhere.
John, what almost 90 percent of the vote is now in and that impressive lead, obviously very impressive, almost 50 points and the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary continues.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Right. And to Jake's point, three states for Hillary Clinton, one for Bernie Sanders. Too early to say, hey, Senator Sanders, start thinking about it. But certainly Hillary Clinton is happy for the momentum tonight to win a third contest.
And to win it, Wolf, by a lopsided margin, 3:1 essentially, 74-26. We've got 91 percent of the vote in, so this is not going to change fundamentally. And it's just a sweep. Not one county. Hillary Clinton did win one county in 2008. John Edwards won one county in 2008 when then-Senator Obama changed the race.
The race changed in 2008 in South Carolina. Hillary Clinton hopes that it changed tonight in 2016 and that she puts Bernie Sanders back into the message candidate, not the insurgency. We'll see how that plays out.
Remember, the race is starting to go South. Throughout the month of March, we're going to go all through this below this line. A lot of it Tuesday night: Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Tuesday night on Super Tuesday.
Why is that significant?
This is what the Clinton campaign is happy with tonight. This is the African American population. Let me stretch it out a little bit. Turn that off and stretch this out a little bit.
If you look down here, the African American concentration in South Carolina, sometimes the map takes off on you, stretch it out. There we go.
The African American concentration in South Carolina, well, you have a very similar demographic as we move across the South when you do Alabama, Mississippi's down the road, Louisiana's down the road, Arkansas is Tuesday, Tennessee is Tuesday.
Then you get Texas, has a Latino and African American population. What Secretary Clinton hopes is what happened tonight in South Carolina continues as the race moves on to the point -- then what you begin to do is open up a delegate lead. If you take this map off, come back in, this is what she's hoping for.
Again, proportional rules in the Democratic Party. But after tonight, Hillary Clinton's going to get the lion's share. Bernie Sanders will still get proportional delegates out of South Carolina. She starts to pull ahead.
This is the big hope that, after Super Tuesday, again, Vermont. We'll have to switch this one back, give that to Senator Sanders. Jeff Zeleny is in Minnesota tonight. We'll give this one to Sanders' campgaign for the hypothetical. They think they can win Oklahoma. We don't know if they will but for this hypothetical, do this. And they think that they're competitive in Colorado. Let's just give them Colorado for the sake of the hypothetical.
Even if things go and Sentator Sanders wins his top four Super Tuesday targets, Hillary Clinton still hopes -- especially, again, down here in these Southern states and into Texas, Latinos and African Americans here, the African American base of the Democratic party in these states. What she hopes to do is start to pull away.
And remember when you seee this, let's assume after Super Tuesday it looks roughly like this. Remember, she has 400 -- 445 now, I think she's up to -- super delegates. She's plus 400. He's -- still has just shy of 20.
Her math is better than this looks. This map gives you only pledged delegates. So she hopes to be well out here, again, to send a message to Senator Sanders.
No, he's not going to get out. No, he's about to speak and say he's in this race for a long time but he's been saying release the transcripts of your paid speeches. His rhetoric has been tougher of late.
What Hillary Clinton hopes if the bar moves out here, a combination of pledged and super delegates, that Senator Sanders gets the message and tones it down.
BLITZER: And as people have suggested, even by staying in the race, he pushes her toward his positions, the most important issues that he's been pushing and that's one of the reasons he might stay in a lot longer than the delegate count might suggest.
Anderson, back to you.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Wolf, thanks very much.
When you hear John say, talk about Senator Sanders, the Clinton campaign hoping Senator Sanders tones it down, does that seem, A, likely and, B, possible?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, our first indication will be, of course, at the CNN debate on Sunday. I'm going to go far in this organization.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I actually do think that's going to be an interesting event because it's the last one. The last time they're going to see each other face-to-face before this March 15th, before Michigan. And I think Tuesday is going to be tough for him.
But if he's going to come back --
[21:10:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- whether he chooses to go hard after her there or not is going to be an interesting indication of where he sees this race is.
He has gotten, as John King said, much sharper in the last few weeks.
Will he continue down that road or will he pull back a little if Tuesday goes badly for him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know he has to play to character, though and he can't go that much sharper because then he wouldn't be Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders says I'm going to talk about the issues; I'm into contrasts. You and the press try and get me to attack Hillary Clinton. I'm not going to attack Hillary Clinton, as John is pointing out -- and we've all watched. He has gotten a little tougher on her, where are the transcripts of your speeches, et cetera, et cetera.
But he gets up to a wall and he can't really cross it --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Funny thing that happens in campaigns, having been in campaigns, you get emotionally invested in it. You can hear it -- and when you talk to the two campaigns now, you can hear where they're really getting nasty now. Both of them, both sides. You get so emotionally invested in it that sometimes those calculations aren't entirely clinical.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then you say, well, this isn't the Bernie Sanders that I started out supporting.
Of course, I might add, compared to the debate going on in the Republican Party right now, this is nothing.
COOPER: But if Bernie Sanders has to tone himself down or is requested to tone himself down, that's not what his supporters want.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I mean, I think that there are -- I mean, we're -- listen, this is a trouncing. It's a -- there's no word for it except that people said that there's a firewall. This is like a burning ocean. There's like o -- this is horrible.
So if you're a --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of great actually.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It depends who you're supporting, clearly. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need hyperbole hotlines here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. I want to call in for a hyperbole helpline thing.
That said, there are a lot of people in our party who didn't vote in South Carolina and who still have a very deep sense of disquiet with Hillary Clinton. They are not confident that she can go well against Trump, because Trump loves to talk mess. Trump loves to bring up scandal. Trump loves to do all these kinds of things.
And Hillary Clinton is not like Donald, who's sort of this Teflon guy. Emotionally, she's more like a Velcro person. If you throw something at her, it sticks to her emotionally and it shows.
And so there's a concern that maybe we're now going to have a front- runner who just doesn't do as well with a Trump. Whereas a Sanders --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- I agree.
But believe me, even if Trump isn't the nominee, any Republican nominee is going to bring up her scandals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, sure but --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been saying I think some Sanders' watchers have been saying for a while now that he should be going harder against Hillary Clinton. He's facing the same ecumenical challenge that Marco Rubio is.
Did he wait too long to swing against Trump and is it too little, too late?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It might be too little too late for Bernie.
COOPER: Let me just jump in here because we're expecting Senator Sanders now any moment. We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues next. And we believe Senator Sanders will be on the other side.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're waiting for Bernie Sanders. He's about to speak in Rochester, Minnesota. Minnesota has got a big primary coming up this Tuesday, Super Tuesday. He really needs to do well in Minnesota after a crushing setback in South Carolina today.
Look at the numbers, the official numbers now in South Carolina. Hillary Clinton is the big winner. She's got 73.5 percent to 26 percent for Bernie Sanders. Ninety-seven percent of the vote is in South Carolina and she is doing amazingly well in South Carolina. She's winning by a bigger margin in South Carolina than then-Senator Barack Obama won eight years ago over Hillary Clinton.
Let's go over to Jake and Dana and David.
Minnesota is an important state for Bernie Sanders. The primary there is this coming Tuesday. That's why he's there tonight.
TAPPER: That's right. There are about 15 states coming up in the first week of March for the Democrats. And Hillary Clinton will compete hard in all of them, as will Bernie Sanders.
He might actually win more states. But the Clinton people say it's likely that she'll win more delegates, just because of where she's competing and the proportional allotment.
But let's talk more about South Carolina and this historic victory that she has this evening and why the voters went for her in such astounding numbers.
BASH: That's right. And we talked a little bit earlier as we had the first wave of numbers about the candidate qualities, what the voters were looking for in their candidates. And we talked a little bit about how some of those qualities were flipped on their heads compared to Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and how those Democrats were viewing these candidates.
What are they showing us now?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. You were saying before how it's sort of a splitting in half. If you are -- cares about people like me or an honest and trustworthy voter, you were a Sanders voter in those early states.
And if you were looking for the right experience or electability, you were a Hillary Clinton voter in those early states.
In South Carolina, Hillary Clinton wins all four categories. Take a look at this. If you were looking for the right experience, Clinton wins 94 percent to 6 percent. If you're looking for can win in November, electability, Hillary Clinton wins 82 percent to 18 percent.
If you're looking for cares about people like me, this was a Bernie Sanders strength in the first three states, 68 percent to 31 percent, Clinton over Sanders. And here is the number that may make Hillary Clinton happiest tonight.
If you were looking for an honest and trustworthy candidate, Hillary Clinton actually eked out a win here over Bernie Sanders, 51 percent to 49 percent. So she wins all four categories and, for the first time, we see her winning substantially about cares about people like me and edging out a win on honest and trustworthy.
TAPPER: And let's just talk about why that's so significant because this is an area where she has struggled, certainly with Democratic voters in terms of, if this issue is important to you, they've overwhelmingly gone for Sanders.
But also this is an area where she has really struggled with independent voters. And should she get the nomination, that is going to be something she needs to turn around.
She needs to convince independent voters. She needs to convince liberal Republicans, for that matter, that she is honest and trustworthy and that a lot of the attacks on her, a lot of the stories that have been written about her, are unfair and not true. And the's going to have to start doing that pretty soon.
BASH: Absolutely. And the fact of the matter is that in the earlier states -- I don't have the exact numbers on me but it was so incredibly lopsided.
CHALIAN: Oh, yes.
BASH: She didn't even come close to Bernie Sanders. He crushed her on the question --
CHALIAN: -- on a 60-point -- and it was a huge margin that he had in that category.
Listen, part of this is because the state is just so strong for her, so it's going to be strong across the board.
BASH: She wins by 50 points, she's going to win everything.
CHALIAN: But, it's also as Jake was just saying, they're --
CHALIAN: -- keenly aware that this is an Achilles heel. She's been working on it. Right, I mean you saw her in interviews this week, being asked about it and dealing with this head-on in a way -- not trying to run -- saying it doesn't feel great to have this and let me explain why I can be trusted.
This is something they have been working on. Yes, they made a ton of progress in South Carolina overall with the electorate in general.
But on this topic, in particular, it will be something interesting to watch going forward if she has corrected this sort of permanently for the cycle.
TAPPER: Last Sunday, she was on "STATE OF THE UNION," and I asked her about that, about the fact that she does have so much work to do when it comes to that issue, whether in Nevada, which is what I was asking about or with independent voters.
And she said one of the most -- and I've -- you know, we've all known and covered her for decades.
She said one of the most candid things I have ever heard her say, which was people fundamentally out there do have this question in the back of their minds, is she in this for me or is she in this for me or is she in this for herself.
And I need to satisfy their questions on this.
And I was taken aback. It was an acknowledgment of the problem and actually a fairly astute diagnosis.
BASH: And just in talking to people who are close to her, who are wanting her to win, who have been close to her for a very long time and are always the people who say, you know what the real Hillary Clinton is like behind the scenes, she doesn't seem to be the kind of person who is out there with voters.
That was until recently, when she has been trying to do this. People have been trying to encourage her to do exactly what she said to you on Sunday, to show her humanity and her human side.
And who knows if that's one of the reasons why she is trouncing Bernie Sanders in South Carolina and we'll see if that makes a difference going forward.
TAPPER: As David points out, though, this is a state, the Democratic voters love her this evening. This is not a reflection of the general electorate or the independents -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Jake. I think back to the night we were all here. I think it was after New Hampshire, after Bernie Sanders did so well.
And there were a lot of folks, Clinton supporters and others, who were saying, look, she's got to rethink her campaign, she's got to relook at this.
And one of the things you said that night, I think, was everybody just chill, if you're a supporter of Hillary Clinton, just chill; wait until she gets to South Carolina. You're going to see her trounce Bernie Sanders. It's going to be a completely different narrative. And that is exactly what we've seen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. You're being too kind. I would have never guessed it would be this kind of victory.
COOPER: You didn't think
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not that she'd win; I thought 20 points would be a landslide. Really, I mean, I would have been thrilled, as a Hillary guy. But she has made important changes. Jake just talked about it. That's not the sort of thing she could have said a year ago or six months ago before this campaign really.
And I think it's this: if you've ever -- and I have, I've visited friends. If you've ever been to a burn ward, the worst thing they do is scrape the scar tissue off. It's the most terrible pain people can have.
This is what this campaign is doing for her. It's not easy. It's painful. But you scrape all the scar tissue off, all of the barriers between her very private self and the public person she has to be when she runs. That's happening before our eyes.
Some of it is -- the pressure from Senator Sanders and the media, which nobody enjoys but it's making her better. A whole lot of it is that the people that she's meeting. I'm telling you, those people's stories, they move her heart and it gives her the strength to open up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her field game also is a bit underrated by many people. The strategy that goes into building an organization that can go out there and harness your momentum and actually get them to the voting booth, whether or not it was Emmy Ruiz (ph) in Nevada or Clay Middleton, who did yeoman's work down in South Carolina today or she even went and tapped Rick Wade, our friend Rick Wade, back from the Obama days, to come out.
She had an organization that just went in and they just kept tightening the screws and tightening the screws. And then they got Clyburn on top of it. There was no breathing room left. There was no pathway left for Bernie Sanders in South Carolina.
COOPER: I'm curious.
Donna, that plus, how much of this do you think is African American voters wanting to repay a sense of loyalty, a sense that, when she was called on by the Obamas, she answered the call?
Is that a factor here or no?
DONNA BRAZILE, VICE CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I think that's a huge factor. Remember, go back to Denver in 2008 when Hillary Clinton got up and there was still a lot of tension in the Democratic Party.
We did not stop the campaign in June. It went all the way to the convention. And she got up and she said I'm going to throw my support behind him and she called on a unanimous consent at the convention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it was a big moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a big moment.
BRAZILE: That was a huge moment. And I think black voters remember that. But also this is a woman who's done her homework. We talk about the staff. But this was a candidate who left Nevada, did not go to sleep, flew straight to Texas and she picked up the ball and said, you know what, I'm going to run with it.
I'm going to change my game and I'm going to compete. Let me just say this, Bernie Sanders, it's not over. We have 52 more
contests on the Democratic side and, as David said, we reward you for showing up.
COOPER: A lot of nights for us as well here. Let's go back to Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, anderson. Thanks very much. We're waiting for Bernie Sanders. He's about to speak in Rochester, Minnesota. I want to go to Rochester, Minnesota. Our correspondent, Jeff Zeleny --
BLITZER: -- is on the scene for us.
Looks as if the crowd is anticipating any moment now, he'll walk in behind you. He has arrived.
He did already make a brief statement, right?
ZELENY: He did indeed, Wolf. When he landed here in Rochester, Minnesota, he did make a brief statement. We can play it here just a second to hear his message to Minnesota right when he arrived here. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VT., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On a given night, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Tonight we lost. I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her very strong victory. Tuesday, over 800 delegates are at stake and we intend to win many, many of them. Thank you all very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So, Wolf, you heard Senator Sanders there, talking about some nights you win, some nights you lose, very gracious in his defeat.
Of course, as he was flying here from Texas, the size and scope of this defeat became so clear to him.
But, Wolf, you can see that several hundred people are gathered here at the Mayo Civic Center, waiting for Senator Sanders to take stage. He's going to do it in just a few moments, I'm told.
But he really is going to give a forward-looking speech, he's going to say that Secretary Clinton, indeed, had a good night but this is why he's running. He's going to talk about this message that he's been talking about for, oh, so many weeks. And also going to try to put this race in a bit of perspective, I'm told.
One of his advisors says, look, it wasn't so many weeks ago that no one took him seriously at all, so just hold on a little bit here and let Bernie Sanders have his moment.
So there's no question, Wolf, this is the biggest defeat that he was expecting. And across the board, Secretary Clinton won in South Carolina and
Bernie Sanders was expecting to do so much better there.
But you can hear the crowd, firing up here as one of the supporters here tries to get a little noise out of this crowd here -- because it's been a bit of a dull moment here. These supporters have been waiting for him for hours and they're not quite sure where the campaign is going to go from here, Wolf.
So they definitely are eager to hear from Bernie Sanders.
BLITZER: The Super Tuesday contest this coming Tuesday is in Minnesota where you are right now. That's why Senator Bernie Sanders is there.
What does it look like?
I know both of the Democratic senators from Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, they have endorsed Hillary Clinton. They're not going to be at this rally tonight.
What do the polls, the pundits, the experts in Minnesota suggest?
ZELENY: Well, Wolf, I can tell you most every establishment Democrat is with Hillary Clinton. Not entirely; he has the endorsement of Congressman Keith Ellison and he is not here tonight.
But mainly you can see this crowd behind me. It is regular Democrats who are fed up at the establishment. They're tired of the status quo. And they really are resonating with his call for a new type of politics.
And we definitely see a lot of young supporters out here. That is the hallmark of his crowd. I can tell you it's also not a very diverse crowd, as we've seen from exit polls in South Carolina and other states. He has stronger support from white supporters.
And that's what this crowd largely looks like tonight here in Rochester, Minnesota, Wolf. But he definitely is appealing to the anger that exists in this electorate on the Democratic side of this race as well.
Of course, it is driving the Republican side of this race with Donald Trump. But Bernie Sanders is calling for that revolution, asking people to believe again, to believe in something.
So he's going to take a little bit of inspiration, as he calls it, from Barack Obama in 2008, and ask these voters to believe again. But you can hear the person who is speaking behind me right now. She has already taken a shot at Hillary Clinton. She said, "We cannot believe her. She will not push for universal healthcare."
So this is one thing we're watching tonight, Wolf, is how aggressively Bernie Sanders is going to go after Hillary Clinton.
Is he going to continue what he's been doing in Texas earlier today and really hitting her hard?
Or is he going to back up a little bit?
And this introduction right here behind me, I think, indicates that he is going to go straight ahead with his drawing sharp distinctions with Hillary Clinton -- Wolf.
BLITZER: He's being introduced now by Tina Liebling, a state representative. So, momentarily, he will start speaking.
And tomorrow, I understand he heads off to Oklahoma and Colorado, two more states where he thinks he could do well on this coming Super Tuesday.
ZELENY: Right. He does indeed, Wolf. He's going to Fort Collins, Colorado, I believe and then on to Oklahoma. He is really -- has a bit of a Western strategy, I think and certainly a caucus strategy.
Minnesota, Colorado, the caucuses are, of course, much like we remember the Iowa caucuses, much more of a party affair, much more of a liberal activist affair. So he believes he'll do better in those.
Then he's also going to fly to Massachusetts. He believes that the liberals in Massachusetts, the northeast set of liberals not far from his home state of Vermont, will also give him some good support.
But the reality here is the Sanders campaign is also looking toward the caucuses at the end of the week.
[21:30:03] ZELENY: Next Saturday, one week from tonight, the Nebraska caucuses, the Kansas caucuses, Maine is voting over that weekend as well.
So they believe that, as the week goes on, he will actually start racking up some victories.
A challenge here for the Sanders campaign, though, Wolf, is most of the places he is strong are in small states. This becomes a delegate fight. This becomes a time when math matters.
Hillary Clinton is much stronger in bigger states here. But keep an eye on Michigan. That is one week from this coming Tuesday, we need to mark our calendars here, March 8th, I believe. And Michigan will a central place to see if Bernie Sanders' message, if his message can really resonate there with the working class Democrats, some of those Reagan Democrats, who are still the lifeblood of this Democratic Party here.
So the Sanders campaign has been campaigning aggressively in Michigan. He was in Flint, Michigan, just a couple of days ago. So that, of course, is a central place and of course our CNN debate there, just a week from tomorrow, will be a highlight of this contest between Secretary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We have the Democratic presidential debate in Flint, Michigan. That is coming up.
Stand by, Jeff. We're going to get back to you. He's still being introduced. Momentarily he will start speaking. In the meantime, let's go back to Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, Wolf, we'll obviously bring you his comments as they occur.
Van, what do you expect to hear from Sanders tonight?
Does he try to tailor his speech, his traditional speech?
We know the subjects he usually focused on.
Does he begin to try to change or shift?
VAN JONES, CNN HOST: The young people say he ain't got no chill. There's not going to be any backdown from Bernie Sanders. This is -- a normal candidate might be chastened, might be thrown off.
You're talking about somebody who's been an outsider his whole life, somebody who's been an independent candidate his whole life, somebody who sees himself as having fought the establishment his whole life.
Like he said, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I think what you're going to see, you may see some real contrast but you're not going to see any backdown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie Sanders has just been introduced, taking the stage there. Let's take a look and listen to the crowd and then to the candidate.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, all!
SANDERS: Thank you!
SANDERS: Thank you!
SANDERS: Thank you! It is good to be home!
SANDERS: You know, I have been all over this country, but the truth is, it is great and great to come home and see all my friends. (APPLAUSE)
SANDERS: You know, we want to win in every part of the country, that goes without saying. But it does say something and means so much to me that the people who know me best, the people who knew me before I was elected, who knew me as mayor, knew me as congressman, and know me as senator, have voted so strongly to put us in the White House. Thank you so much.
SANDERS: This campaign -- as I think all of you know, this campaign is not just about electing the president. It is about transforming America.
SANDERS: It is about making our great country the nation that we know it has the potential to be.
SANDERS: It is about dealing with some unpleasant truths that exist in America today and having the guts to confront those truths.
SANDERS: It is about recognizing that in our state, we have town meetings and people come out, they argue about budgets, and then they vote. One person, one vote.
SANDERS: In Vermont, billionaires do not buy town meetings, and in America, we are going to end a corrupt campaign finance system.
SANDERS: We can disagree in a democracy, and that's what a democracy is about, but I hope all of us agree that we're going to not allow billionaires and their super PACs to destroy American democracy.
SANDERS: In our state -- in our state, you all know that we have many, many thousands of Vermonters who are working not just one job, they're working two jobs, they're working three jobs.
And you all know that while our people are working so hard, almost all of the new wealth and income generated in America is going to the top 1 percent.
SANDERS: Well, together, what we are going to do is create an economy that works for all of us, not just the people on top. (APPLAUSE)
SANDERS: And together, we are going to end and reform a broken criminal justice system.
SANDERS: This country, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, should not be having more people in jail than any other country on earth. That's wrong.
SANDERS: So we are going to invest for our young people in education, in jobs, not jails or incarceration.
SANDERS: Now, I know many of my Republican colleagues think that climate change is a hoax.
SANDERS: Well, I believe that you don't develop real public policy unless you listen to the science, and the science is clear.
SANDERS: Together, we are going to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
SANDERS: Now, I know that Secretary Clinton and many of the establishment people think that I am looking and thinking too big. I don't think so.
SANDERS: So let me go on the record and say as you have heard me say for years, health care is a right for all people.
SANDERS: And let me also say that in the United States of America, when we talk about public education, it's not just first grade through 12th that has got to be expanded to make public colleges and universities tuition-free.
SANDERS: What I have said from day one in this campaign and I suspect many of you were down on the lake with me when we announced on that beautiful day.
(APPLAUSE) SANDERS: What I have said is that this campaign is not just about
electing a president. It is about making a political revolution.
SANDERS: What that revolution is about is bringing millions of millions of people into the political process. Working people who have been so disillusioned, they no longer vote. Young people who have never been involved.
What the political revolution is about is bringing our people together. Black and white, Latino, Asian-American.
SANDERS: Gay and straight. People born in America, people who have immigrated to America. When we bring our people together, when we do not allow the Donald Trumps of the world to divide us up.
SANDERS: When we bring our people together and when we have the courage to stand up to the billionaire class and tell them they can't have it all.
SANDERS: That our government belongs to all of us, not just super PACs and wealthy campaign contributors.
SANDERS: Now, tonight, you're going to see a lot of election results come in. And let me remind you of what the media often forgets about. These are not -- this is not a general election. It is not winner- take-all.
If you get 52 percent, you get 48 percent, you roughly end up with the same amount of delegates in a state. By the end of tonight, we are going to win many hundreds of delegates.
(CHANTS OF "BERNIE")
SANDERS: Ten months ago, as you know better than any other group in America, when we were out on the lake, we were at 3 percent in the polls. We have come a very long way in 10 months.
SANDERS: At the end of tonight, 15 states will have voted, 35 states remain. And let me assure you that we are going to take our fight for economic justice, for social justice, for environmental sanity, for a world of peace to every one of those states.
SANDERS: Now, Wall Street may be against us and the super PACs may be against us. But you know why we're going to win? Because our message is resonating and the people when we stand together will be victorious.
SANDERS: So on a personal note, I want to thank all of you for the love and the friendship that you have given our family. You have sustained me.
SANDERS: And I am so proud to bring Vermont values all across this country.
SANDERS: So thank you again for helping us win here in Vermont tonight.
SANDERS: And I look forward this evening to just saying hello to so many old friends.
So thank you all very much!
BLITZER: All right. We're going to continue to monitor and watch Bernie Sanders. Let's take a quick break. Much more right after this.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VT., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- unforgettable speech, share it with the people.
BLITZER: The breaking news, a runaway victory for Hillary Clinton in South Carolina. She wins the Democratic primary over Bernie Sanders by a nearly 3:1 margin. That makes back-to-back wins for Hillary Clinton, padding her lead in delegates and once again making her --