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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Runaway Victory for Hillary Clinton in South Carolina; Bernie Sanders Says Campaign is Just Starting; A New Chapter in the Republican Contest. Aired 10-10:30p ET

Aired February 27, 2016 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: 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 the presidential front-runner among the Democrats, going into the crucial Super Tuesday contest.

Bernie Sanders, he has already moved on. He is in Minnesota right now, saying his campaign is actually just starting and that he intends to win, quote, "many, many delegates on Super Tuesday."

As the make-or-break Super Tuesday contests draw nearer, it's hard to imagine the Republican race getting any nastier. Marco Rubio may be on the ropes but he's going toe-to-toe with Donald Trump as they trade flurries of insults.

Ted Cruz is piling on, desperately needing a win himself on Super Tuesday.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center with our special live coverage.

With two straight victories, Hillary Clinton has the momentum she wanted going into Super Tuesday. Tonight in South Carolina, she did not target her Democratic rival, Senator Sanders. She went right after the Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, and used the real estate mogul's campaign slogan as a weapon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Despite what you hear, we don't need to make America great again. America has never stopped being great.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: But we do need to make America whole again. Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: We need to show by everything we do that we really are in this together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Bernie Sanders reacted to the South Carolina loss by basically saying, you win some, you lose some. At a rally in the Super Tuesday state of Minnesota, he said his campaign is not just about the election but about transforming America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VT., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what democracy is about -- and I really do love democracy -- is one person, one vote. It is you disagree with me, that's fine. You got a better idea than me, fight for it. That's a beautiful thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's go to Anderson Cooper.

Anderson, he's going after Hillary Clinton a lot more aggressively tonight than she was going after him. She barely mentioned him.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That's certainly true. One of the things he also said in his speech that I thought was interesting, he said about -- talking about a lot of -- about the importance in his campaign of talking about a lot of issues, that are not being talked about by other politicians or by the media, kind of giving himself a rationale for continuing on no matter what the delegate count, no matter what the popular --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, his exact words because I wrote them down. I was struck. He said, "I'm trying to force a discussion of issues, issues you don't hear in Congress, issues you don't hear in the evil corporate media."

And I think that's really at the heart of his message. And then he did a big turn and started smacking Hillary around. After Hillary got trounced in New Hampshire, she had to reevaluate and recalibrate and change and do things that are hard for her, like open up.

Bernie is going to have to recalibrate now. The truth is he hammered her with all that stuff in South Carolina and lost by 50 points. He's got to find a way to get back to what worked in Iowa and New Hampshire, which is more this notion that I'm raising issues that no one else will talk about.

COOPER: We talked, thought, about an enthusiasm gap. Bernie Sanders, one of the arguments he makes is I'm bringing all the -- I'm having all these big rallies. I've had them for months now even though people weren't covering them, in his opinion. I'm the one who can get this enthusiasm going.

But when you look at actual turnout tonight in South Carolina, it's about 200,000 voters less than it was back in 2008. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those who are for him are enthusiastic but he has not brought in those droves of new voters that Barack Obama brought in.

And it's a high bar.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said it best, it's a post-Barack Obama reality that the Democratic party is having to face. And Bernie Sanders, for that matter, has talked about this revolution and it's been good to see him push Hillary Clinton but the numbers don't bear it out.

When you look at the decreased turnout in Iowa, when you look at the decreased turnout in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, you see that maybe we're not a part of this revolution.

But I say that only to also have to give Bernie Sanders some credit because he is talking to a vein of voters. He is talking to young Millennial voters, who are energized about wealth and equality, who are energized about Wall Street and Hillary Clinton is going to have to deal with that.

She is going to have to be strong and come out strongly against that if she's going to piece together this union and beat Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, frankly, she's begun to. I think a couple things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, I think he missed a moment tonight. Hillary Clinton had that moment of ministry for the whole country. His movement needed a ministry moment.

[22:05:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've heard that speech before. This was a time to look in the eyes of those people and come from his soul and tell some stories about how he has personally overcome tough days like this and to get outside of that. We've heard that before.

So I think he missed a moment for ministry. The other thing I think is that there is a -- there are two, there are three wings of this party -- there's the establishment wing, which I believe Hillary Clinton still represents. There's this populist wing.

But that third leg is that racial justice wing. The DREAMers, the Black Lives Matter movement and nobody can truly lead this party if they don't have that wing. Hillary Clinton now can make a claim that she now has that other leg and so all she has to do now is continue to get those populist things going and she's got the whole party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't -- the thing about he missed a moment is he is who he is. That's not who he is. He's not going to have that sort of ministry moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me push back on that because I could have said the same thing about Hillary Clinton. Well, Hillary Clinton needs to be warmer. She needs to be more trust-building. People said, well, that's just who she is. I don't believe that at all.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe that people cannot change and I do believe that there's some more jelly in the drawer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I think that one of the reasons that he's been successful, at least with his supporters, is he is who he is.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The speech we heard tonight is essentially -- yes, he added a few barbs to Hillary but the speech he's given is the speech he's been giving all throughout.

And I will say this, he says I want to force a discussion of issues. He has completely remade the debate in many ways. People are responding to his agenda --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me just push back. I just don't accept this, Dave, and I'll tell you why. People are always better -- there's something inside of them deeper than they actually know.

I know Bernie Sanders. He has stories about the civil rights movement. He has stories about fights that he's gone through at the City Council. He has personal stories about his kids he never says publicly, just like Hillary Clinton. He's got to start doing that.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you know what he didn't talk about tonight, either, though?

What -- it -- he didn't talk about women. He didn't talk about here's our path. We're not going to give up. He talked about I've introduced these different issues.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, but he didn't say this is our path. Don't give up. This is the fight. The dream will never die, whatever you want to call it.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a concession speech.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. It was. It was. But he didn't talk about that tonight and kind of inspire the troops. What he did say is that telling the truth to the American people is

sometimes not pleasant. That's what he said tonight. So he was less inspirational than you clearly wanted him to be and, as a candidate, I think he needed to be a little bit more energetic about the road ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a little bit more -- I still think he has a problem connecting one-on-one with people. He's very expansive. He gives these big speeches.

What he doesn't do, even if he has a Bernie Sanders town hall, a Bernie Sanders town hall is Bernie Sanders giving an hour-long speech. It's not Bernie Sanders taking questions and then leaving --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that would make him a better candidate. That would allow him to get up at that podium and tell other people stories in very personal terms, not just the kind of overarching --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He loves people, he just doesn't like interacting with them that much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, that's how I feel.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're revealing yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One thing I did hear that was a little different. Bernie Sanders likes to have one target audience, that is the middle class. Tonight, though, he made sure to mention the African American community, women, young people, the Hispanic community; he's playing the sort of the Obama and, now Hillary, game plan of really dividing the electorate up and marketing messages to these groups.

And maybe that's him recognizing that his one message of economic inequality needs to be targeted if it's going to compete with hers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's also troublesome because he's doing that in Minnesota. And one of the things -- I'm not an advisor. I've only been a candidate and I just tried to listen to my advisors, which is difficult for some people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe why you lost.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Good night, everybody. Thanks so much.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a shot at consultants, not at candidates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love my consultants. What I'll say is that if I was advising Bernie Sanders, I would pick him up today and I would say we're going to Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were killed, or Little Rock, Arkansas and I'm going to get you to tell your story about being arrested, being chained to a black woman, desegregating housing in Chicago.

This is what we're going to talk about. We're not going to go down here and we're not going to talk about income inequality.

COOPER: I tried to do that at the town hall with him. I mean, I said, look I want to take you back to when you were 20 years old --

[22:10:00]

COOPER: -- what brought this white kid from Brooklyn to do this?

He wouldn't go down that road.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not what he does and, at this point, when you look at the line up coming up, very unlikely he's going to make great progress among African American voters between now and Tuesday.

He was in Minnesota for a reason. He was talking to the whole country and so he made the references he did. But his basic message and change and his target hasn't really changed and it hasn't really grown.

COOPER: But, let's also be clear. The race is not over in any shape or form. There's a long way to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he's not ending it and if I were sort of a poobah in the Democratic party right now --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody wants to be a strategist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- strategist, yes, senior Democratic strategist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm actually very happy you're not --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But if I were and I heard Bernie Sanders say, look she makes $225,000 for a speech, share it with the American people, I would go "ding, ding, ding."

OK, somebody is going to be talking about that. Some Republican is going to be calling for her to release her transcripts.

And the more he talks about it, the more it will become part of the Republican conversation, which it already is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "The New York Times" called for her to --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- they don't want this fight to continue on those terms because it may get more and more rough. We don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far this has been tame.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Compared -- of course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there is another party in America.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The party didn't stand up and say Hillary pees in her pantsuits. That's what Marco Rubio said about Donald Trump the other day. Hillary's not tweeting F bombs like -- these guys are -- they're not just roller derby. I don't even know what they are. They're self-immolation. And Bernie's like, we don't like how he gave some speeches and we all have a hissy fit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The difference in tone between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party -- is just astonishing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the gap between the Democratic candidates is much narrower than the gap between the Republican candidates.

COOPER: Well, then let's actually talk about the Republican candidates coming up. We're going to take a short break.

Republicans are going all out obviously for Super Tuesday. Huge number of delegates are on the line. So the candidates are pulling out all the stops. Donald Trump criss-crossing states with a new campaign co-pilot, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He wants to make sure he leaves nothing to chance and says his voters need to do the same. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On Tuesday, you have a big day. You have to get up (INAUDIBLE). And I think (INAUDIBLE) say. I think (INAUDIBLE). I don't care if your doctor says you're not going to take until 7 o'clock.

(INAUDIBLE) but perhaps you might. She's falling in love with another man. I don't give a damn. You get up, you go to the polls and you vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:15:00]

BLITZER: Welcome back to our live coverage. The Republicans are already charging very, very hard towards Super Tuesday this coming Tuesday and the nasty brawl between the front-runner, Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio that erupted during the CNN debate continues in full fury and Ted Cruz is jumping in as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I never saw a human being sweat like this guy. And I said there's something wrong.

What's going on?

And he was pouring. It was like he just got out of a swimming pool with his suit on. And Chris went after him and he made the Obama statement and he made it once and then he made it twice. I said that's strange.

And then it went a third time and a fourth time and a fifth time. And I was ready to grab him because I thought he was going down. I was ready. I was standing here like this. I thought he was going to pass out. And it was a bad performance and he's a choke artist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump will not win by the way. The press is treating him like kid gloves. I've never seen anything like it.

They're cheering for him. If you watch on TV, they're like, oh, he's unstoppable force. They want him to be the nominee because as soon, the day after he gets the nomination, which is not going to happen, by the way, but the day after he gets the nomination, they will tear him apart.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Now this is a man who prides himself on not getting scared of anything, so what is it he's scared about handing over his tax returns?

You know, Mitt Romney said he thought there was a bombshell. (INAUDIBLE) maybe, maybe it is that Donald's not as rich as he says he is. I don't know if you have heard, Donald's kind of rich. If you haven't heard, he'll tell you pretty quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Let's go over to Dana Bash and David Chalian, who've been watching very closely the Republican side of this as well. Hillary Clinton did amazingly well in South Carolina but the level of rhetoric, Dana, is really intensifying on the Republicans side. DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Our friends on the other side of the room, the Democrats on the panel, were saying that there is an incredibly different tone between the Democrats and the Republicans.

They are right about that. It's kind of amazing what we're hearing -- and not just from Donald Trump. We're used to hearing some colorful language and colorful commentary.

But what Marco Rubio is doing is trying to beat him at his own game. And that started, of course, with our debate the other night.

But listen to another thing that he said on the campaign trail that you never would even expected or even imagine he would say just a few days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, what's your favorite insult that you've read today about Donald Trump?

RUBIO: Well, we'll take one at a time. I don't know. They're all silly.

But I think about the one that was funny was the one about makeup. This is a guy, as I said earlier, that has literally one of the worst spray tans I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of spray tans, you know, because when you're around people in the media and so forth, lot of people color their face.

But this guy's spray tan is almost distracting like it -- and you're at the debate and it's -- looking at it and it's hard. It's distracting you from what you're trying to do.

So it's a bad, bad spray tan. So a guy that has a spray tan like that cannot be attacking people for wearing a little makeup on the stage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Marco Rubio, the expert in the spray tans.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Notice he got a little dig in the media there as well, just to make sure that he is still playing the debate there.

But it amazing, I'm surprised about how much fun Marco Rubio looks like he's having in these last 36 hours, sort of delivering these attacks. It seems sort of counter to what he's been presenting all along. But he is relishing this moment. And you're right, it did start with our debate. Obviously you and Wolf were on the stage there.

But it -- that was just a drastic turning point in the campaign. Everybody -- the desperation of the moment for candidates not named Trump was so clear and apparent on the stage and I -- and they have not given up -- I mean, relentlessly continuing to try to take him down -- and you're right, this is Marco Rubio taking a page out of the Trump playbook.

BASH: That's right. He's trying to beat him at his own game, Wolf. I mean you saw today or yesterday he just sat on the stage at one of his rallies and just read his -- read Donald Trump's tweets and making fun of the fact that there were a lot of misspellings and so forth.

[22:20:00]

BASH: I mean, that's the kind of thing Donald Trump does.

BLITZER: Yes, it was amazing and it all started -- the new chapter in this Republican contest and at our Republican presidential debate the other night at the bottom of the hour, we're going to have an encore presentation of that, even if our viewers may have seen it, they might want to watch it again.

Historic debate indeed, John. This Republican contest that we're seeing is -- obviously this coming Tuesday, Super Tuesday, is going to be critical.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Right and that desperate tone is because the other campaigns understand the huge advantage Trump has going in to Super Tuesday. Here's where we stand right now, 82 delegates to 17, 16 and six.

So you say that's a big lead but it's very early, 1,273 is the number you need for the Republican nomination.

But, Wolf, this is what -- look at Super Tuesday. If Trump runs the board, he would pull way out to here. Let's, for the sake of argument, Ted Cruz is leading in the polls in Texas, Donald Trump has some negative ads up.

He says he's playing there. But let's for the sake of argument say Ted Cruz wins at home, Donald Trump comes in second, Marco Rubio gets third and Governor Kasich fourth there, Ben Carson would be fifth obviously.

Even if that happens, Donald Trump's ahead everywhere else on Super Tuesday. We'll see. Rubio is pushing in Georgia. Cruz is pushing in Oklahoma and in Georgia. We'll see what happens.

But if it goes right now and Donald Trump wins the rest of these states with 35 percent of the vote, he'd start to open up a delegate lead. Let me show you something else. Let's take it further through March.

If Donald Trump ran the board then, now Kasich is trying to get Ohio, Rubio's home state, you have the home state contest here. Governor Kasich in Ohio and Senator Rubio there. But right now Trump is ahead.

So if Trump ran the board, look how far out ahead he'd get. I want to give you a scenario now. Let's assume at this point -- I'm going to make it Marco Rubio. Could be any of the other candidates.

If we get down to Trump versus one. In this scenario, it's going to be Marco Rubio. As you see it play out but it could be Cruz; watch the numbers, could be Kasich if they won. Watch this play out.

If the other candidate, this being Marco Rubio, won everything after the 15th, right, everybody else gets out and it's a two-man race, that candidate wins everything there and wins -- if that's -- if Rubio won everything after that, he wouldn't clinch. He would pass Trump but he wouldn't clinch by the convention.

So the only way -- here's one scenario. If Rubio won Florida, if he could come back and win his home state, let's give Donald Trump second there but it's winner-take-all, it really doesn't matter, Governor Kasich -- if Rubio won his home state and then ran the board after March 15th, then he could just barely cross the line and win the nomination.

Now that was a scenario with Marco Rubio. If you're a Cruz supporter at home, could be your candidate; if you're a Kasich supporter, could be your candidate.

But the point is this, at some point, if Trump is so poised to win big on Super Tuesday, after -- if after that we had a two-man race, that person in the two-man race would have to win everything, everything to stop Trump.

BLITZER: The assumption is Rubio has to carry his home state of Florida in order to continue. That's March 15th.

KING: The question on the 15th, the first test is for Senator Cruz on Tuesday. That's his home state. Then on the 15th, Kasich has already said if he doesn't win Ohio, he'll get out. Rubio has not answered the question directly. But if he doesn't win Florida there'd be huge pressure to get out. If he lost Florida and stayed in -- again, if he lost Florida and stayed in and he ran the board the rest of the way, he would pass Trump in the delegates but he wouldn't clinch the nomination and then we'd have a very interesting convention.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves. The first thing is if Donald Trump could do what we expect to happen on Tuesday. If this happens on Tuesday, again, giving this to Ted Cruz and he sweeps the rest, he starts to pull ahead. This is why the Republican establishment is in full panic and why the other candidates have turned to insults.

BLITZER: You need 1,237. That's the number to clinch the Republican presidential nomination -- Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: All right. Lots to talk about with our panel.

Before we go to our commentators, let's turn to our analysts and reporters, Gloria Borger, I mean, on the Republican side, obviously the race has taken a drastic turn just in the last couple of days.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And I just want to follow up on what John was saying about Ted Cruz in Texas.

Texas is not a winner-take-all state. We understand Marco Rubio has to win Florida, Kasich has to win Ohio, winner-take-all states. Cruz has to win Texas but even if he wins Texas, he doesn't get all 155 delegates. There's a 50 percent threshold, which you get 47 delegates, I sound like John King now, and then the rest are distributed according to congressional district.

So it's not as if Cruz is going to win all of Texas if he wins. Trump is going to win a lot of delegates in Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if he does win Texas, he'll continue. And that's --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- for Donald Trump. As long as he has this divided field, he's going to continue to win. Marco Rubio has decided to try and force the issue by essentially emulating Trump. It's like open mike in the Senate cloak room or something --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: -- making inroads with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I -- well, that's a question. I mean he's certainly getting attention. What he's discovered is that if you say outrageous things, you get on TV. And so he's getting a lot of attention and a lot of other people aren't.

Whether it redounds to his benefit on Tuesday is an open question. I think everybody will be watching.

Or is he driving people to other candidates?

COOPER: It is interesting to hear Marco Rubio kind of attacking the media in his words for not being tough enough against Donald Trump.

[22:25:00]

COOPER: There have been plenty of tough interviews against Donald Trump. Marco Rubio said nothing negative about Donald Trump until two days ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, and I think S.E. made this point earlier, the question is did he wait too long?

Marco Rubio -- it strikes me -- and I don't know him but he strikes me as a cautious politician and he's played a cautious game in this race, trying to be everybody's second choice. And now all of a sudden this is getting away from all of them and he's jumped in there and he's done what maybe he should have done long ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you talk to the Rubio campaign and ask that very question (INAUDIBLE), they say, well, we had other people we had to deal with at the time. The field was larger.

I think really Jeb Bush was doing it and they were very content to let Jeb Bush do the attacking. (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now they're throwing everything at Donald Trump. They don't have one narrative; they have many narratives and I think they have got to figure out which is going to be most potent. They've got the con artist thing going on. They've got all sorts of things. So I think they have got to be a little bit more strategic in terms of how they frame this.

COOPER: We're a couple minutes away from replaying that debate -- S.E.

S.E. CUPP, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Let's just acknowledge that this field started out with like 17,000 candidates. We are down to five. Marco Rubio is one of the last five standing. And maybe the strategy of waiting until now and then going hard will actually turn out to have been the right call. We don't know yet.

But he's played it well enough this long to still be around, in a campaign that has felled governors like Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, the presumptive nominee for, I don't know, 10 years, you know, Rick Perry.

So I don't know. I think Marco Rubio -- you call him cautious or safe. I don't know. Maybe he's savvy. We'll have to see. We don't know if it's too little, too late.

But I know that for the Republicans who don't want Trump, they are really liking this version of Marco Rubio. They're liking that he's taking on Donald on his ridiculousness.

I mean, Marco Rubio is not going to get quite into the gutter as Donald Trump has. There are places he will not go in this campaign. But Republicans are loving that he's finally swatting away at this, addressing it, acknowledging it. In a campaign --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Republicans, you mean voters or the elite Republicans?

CUPP: No, the 70 percent, the 70 percent to 65 percent --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do we know this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twitter.

CUPP: Well, yes, feedback on Twitter and Facebook and the social media response to what Rubio is doing in a campaign, where Donald Trump's toughness and testosterone has been winning the day, they like to see someone else --

COOPER: Some alpha male.

CUPP: -- tough and land punches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact of the matter is Marco Rubio is the last hope because the Republican establishment they really don't like Donald Trump but they also can't stand Ted Cruz, so Marco Rubio is their last hope. And the problem is that Marco Rubio has no path. We keep talking about Florida.

And the most recent polls in Florida have him down 20 points to Donald Trump. And so we're here at this point where Donald Trump is now the standard bearer for the Republican Party and everyone has to see what happens because as it plays out, the party is going to be coalescing around Donald Trump and not any other --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the Republican establishment is in control and that's the question.

Are they in control of this process?

They have been in past elections, they may not this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are two things they control. One is this false narrative around the lanes has caused immense -- it turns out there are no lanes. What you have is this lane and that lane, the left-handed lane and the chipmunk lane. There's a nominee. That's what you have.

And so that's been a controlling narrative, caused problems. I think the other big thing that I would point to here is that, as a parent, this whole thing is terrible for the culture. Someone like a Marco Rubio having to talk about someone peeing in their pants to get attention, it means that the reality TV-ization, the Kardashianization of the culture is almost completely. And I think no matter what happens with the Republican Party, this is a very, very bad moment in American politics and culture.

COOPER: Very briefly --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the Trumpization. It's Mr. Trump who has caused this. And I don't think it's good for Senator Rubio to emulate him. It's like if -- I don't know, Vanilla Ice tried to be Kanye. OK, you like Kanye, you like Kanye. You're not going with Vanilla Ice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- really good --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's just perfect for the -- he looks like the groom on the wedding cake, just like this perfect little tiny handsome thing and now he's saying these vile things trying to be Trump.

COOPER: I just like that I can prove I'm not one of those newscasters who does spray tan because I'm the palest --

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: A big win for Hillary Clinton tonight. But the entire election could be up for grabs on both sides. Just a few short days from now, Super Tuesday we're talking about, we'll have live coverage from across the country all day, all night on that. But up next, the rowdiest debate we have seen in a while or maybe

ever, the CNN Republican showdown in Houston. Don't go anywhere. You're watching CNN. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)