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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Super Tuesday Could Reshape Presidential Race; Barbara Boxer Talks Democratic Candidates, Campaigns; Sanders Ready to Take Contest to Convention. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired March 1, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:31:20] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Can you feel the excitement? The electricity, perhaps, or is that just static? The biggest day of the 2016 race so far is upon us. Super Tuesday could reshape the presidential race or it could cement the trends that we've been seeing so far up to this point.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's special live coverage all day long. Martin Savidge in Tennessee. We'll start with Brian Todd in Virginia.

Brian, you're at a polling station near Washington D.C.

BRIAN TODD, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John and Kate. A real injection of voter energy here. This is the dominion trail precinct. A lot of first time primary voters we've talked to here. That's what's driving the morning here. On a paper ballot. This is a sample ballot, voting behind the partitions. Three people here voting. This young man will put his vote in the scanner. You'll see it going on there. Once that scanner takes his tabulation, it will tabulate that and print it out later in the day. Then they'll tabulate it and send the results to the central headquarters.

Analysts are saying throughout the election cycle, as Virginia goes, often so goes the nation. The front runners, the people who could win this state, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, likely to win, they can say I can win in the general election. That's why we're watching Virginia so closely -- John and Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Brian Todd laying it out for us. Thank you so much.

Let's bring in Martin Savidge in a poll place in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Martin, polls have been open since 9:00 a.m., I believe. This is one of the open primaries where people take part in either primary?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they can, and they have been voting like crazy, whether it's in the early voting or the real voting. We're just to the West of Chattanooga. It's a fairly conservative area. They have shattered all the previous records, up 17 percent for early record. You would think that means voter turnout today one low. Oh, no. They're seeing numbers they haven't done seen in a long time. We'll wait to see the tallies.

But here's a potential problem with the ballot. Here's a sample of the ballot. Say you want to vote for Trump. You think you cast your ballot there, but if you did that, you actually voted for Rick Santorum. The circle doesn't necessarily closely coincide with the name. Then you can vote for all the delegates. That's confusing. And there are a number of soiled ballots. We'll see how that plays out throughout the day.

Back to you.

BOLDUAN: That's something to watch this evening.

Martin, thanks for laying it out. Keeping an eye on it.

New polls out this morning also fascinating. They show Hillary Clinton losing to Rubio and Cruz in head-to-head matchups, but it has her beating Donald Trump by eight points.

BERMAN: And Bernie Sanders goes three for three against the Republicans. He beats Rubio, Cruz, and Donald Trump all in a hypothetical general election matchup.

Joining us now is California Senator and Hillary Clinton supporter, Barbara Boxer.

Senator, thank you for being with us.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER, (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for inviting me.

BERMAN: I know the Clinton campaign is expecting a good day today. They feel good about the polls. They feel good about the states that are voting today. My question to you is about Bernie Sanders. He just said this morning that he's going to take this race all the way to the convention in July. If Hillary Clinton does do as well as you hoped she does well and picks up the lion's share of delegates and continues to do well over the next week or so, what do you think Senator Sanders should do? Should he think about not taking it all the way to the convention?

BOXER: I don't think so. I feel this way. I think that Bernie had played a very positive role in this campaign. I think because he's so strong in certain parts of the country Hillary had to deal with the fact that she had to really step up her pace and game. People saw that she could be knocked down and that she was tough and she was graceful at it. She could get back up. Of course, Bernie has important issues in the mix, and I think that if you look at our side and the positive steps that we want to take as Democrats to make life better for all Americans versus the other side, just beating each other up in some ways that are -- I had a friend say today she had to pull her kids away from the TV set as we saw Rubio going after Trump and vice versa. I think we look good, and I think Bernie is going to answer to his own conscious, to his donors, and I don't see anything wrong with it. We're focused on winning this primary and getting ready for the general. I think what Bernie does is up to Bernie. [11:31:22] BOLDUAN: You talk about the general. I want to ask you

about the new CNN polls. In hypothetical matchups, Sanders beating all the top Republicans. Hillary Clinton does beat Trump but loses in the hypothetical matchups to Rubio and Cruz. Is there an electability issue here?

BOXER: No. Here's the deal. Everyone knows everything about Hillary Clinton. People have been beating up on her for months and months. From the time that there were 18 time there's a few of them left. And, of course, Bernie in his way, in a nice way, so the fact that Rubio and Cruz who are way less known than Trump are beating her, it doesn't mean anything. People don't know, for example, how right wing they both are. My colleagues on a woman's right to choose, they'll force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term if she's a victim of rape or incest. People don't know that. I don't think the polls mean much right now. We have to look at the election results. They're coming today. Let's see how my candidate does, Hillary. Let's see how Bernie and Trump do and Rubio and Cruz do and the rest. Because it's hypothetical matchups. These are real matchups. My focus is on that. And what I love about my candidate, Hillary Clinton is she was knocked down. She got back up. She's strong. She's tested. She's probably the most qualified person. She's going to make history and work hard, and it's all about the American people. And she's right. America has always been the greatest country in the world. The question is, how do we make America whole again? Meaning, that we fight for everybody, and that's her message, and it's inclusive.

BERMAN: Senator, there are a lot of stories today that the Hillary Clinton is turning its focus to Donald Trump in the fall. Quickly because we're almost out of time, what is the one thing that concerns you most about running against Donald Trump?

BOXER: I don't have many concerns. Here's my deal with Donald Trump. And by the way, I spoke to the campaign today. It's just not true. Some of the people are looking at it, but they're focused on winning this primary. Hillary takes nothing for granted. Here's my theory on Donald Trump. If you look at everybody he's insulted whether it's women, or veterans or Hispanics, and I could go on and on and on with the list, if every one of those groups both Democrats, we will win in a landslide. You cannot be the president of the United States and insult more than half the country. That's what he's done. And maybe it's doing well in a narrow section of the Republican Party, but that is not going to sell well, in my opinion, in the general.

BOLDUAN: Senator Barbara Boxer, great to have you. We'll watch the results come in with you. We appreciate your time.

BOXER: Thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Any moment, Donald Trump holds a rally in Ohio. You can see the crowd right there getting warmed up. Ohio is not a Super Tuesday state, but it is the home state for Governor John Kasich. Is Donald Trump already looking past today's contest? [11:39:44] BOLDUAN: Also, Senator Ted Cruz will be casting his

ballot live in Houston, Texas. He's also expected to speak to reporters. We'll see what he has to say on this fine Super Tuesday. We'll take you there.

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BERMAN: I want to show you live pictures right now of Ohio. That is where Donald Trump is due to speak at any moment. This is his first big campaign event of this Super Tuesday. Donald Trump leading in many of the polls as Republicans headed to vote all through the day and into the early evening.

BOLDUAN: Democrats are voting in 11 states today. Hillary Clinton is positioned to win big. Sanders, though, today, said no matter the results, he's ready to take this campaign all the way to the convention.

Let's talk more with CNN political commentator, Hillary Clinton supporter and former South Carolina State House representative, Bakari Sellers; and the executive director of Progress Texas, a former DNC super delegate and former Bill Richardson campaign field director, Edward Espinoza.

Great to see you both. Thanks for coming in.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks for having me.

EDWARD ESPINOZA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROGRESS TEXAS & FORMER DNC SUPER DELEGATE: Good to be here.

[11:45:10] BOLDUAN: Bakari, first to you.

Out of Massachusetts, interesting in the "Boston Herald" today, the Massachusetts secretary of state said that 20,000 registered voters have quit the Democratic Party, 16,000 of them moving to independent. 3500 of them moving to Republican. The secretary of state guessing with those facts at hand, guessing that it was the Trump phenomenon. Should Democrats be worried about this?

SELLERS: Not at all. In fact, I tell my Democratic colleagues, in the words of the great green bay packers, we just to relax. In 2000, Republican voters outnumbered the Democratic primary voters. And Al Gore won the popular vote. Democrats oftentimes have a hard time, especially now when we have the train wreck on the Republican side, getting excited and coming out for primaries. I'm not that worried. I think the biggest attribute, the biggest push for Democratic base voters to come out is Donald Trump. We haven't had a better motivator for African-American and Hispanic voters to come out and vote Democratic in a long time.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about the primary going on between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I know the Clinton campaign feels confident, but they have a delegate proposition going forward. They need to win over the Bernie Sanders supporters if she wants to be successful in the general election. On the other hand, you know, she wants this to be over as quickly as possible so she can focus on the general election. Talk to me about that balancing act between trying to turn focus without alienating Bernie Sanders and his supporters.

ESPINOZA: It turns to minority voters. African Americans and Latinos tend to be on the more progressive end of the scale. Clinton already has a great relationship with this minority community. Bernie Sanders hasn't been able to break through the same way, even though he has the same message. It comes down to the relationship that the candidate has with the community. That's something she has accomplished. Also how can she motivate young people and have the turnout be high. I think that's where you'll have a situation where she starts looking at a running mate that complements her style but brings in a more progressive approach. We have the mayor of San Antonio who is now is secretary of housing. He's known to be progressive. That would be a good fit.

BERMAN: A local plea, right there. You heard it here first.

Ed, Bakari, thanks so much. Thanks for being with us. We'll check back with you all day on this Super Tuesday.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Any moment from now, we're waiting to hear from Donald Trump. You can see them warming up the crowd right there. Ohio does not vote until March 15th. It's a big, important state, a winner-take-all state when it votes in two weeks. Is this a sign Donald Trump is looking past today?

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[11:52:07] BERMAN: I want to show pictures from the White House, inside the Oval Office moments ago. There's the president meeting with Senate leaders, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, and the chair and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. There's Vice President Joe Biden as well. They're talking the Supreme Court nominations. There is no agreement. This should be a fascinating event.

BOLDUAN: The first question was, will you at least take a meeting. The answer is no. No, I'm kidding. That wasn't the first question.

Let's talk about Super Tuesday. Break out the crystal ball. It's time to make predictions.

Back with us, Doug Heye, Errol Louis, Alex Burns, and Margaret Hoover.

So, Doug, how is tomorrow going to look fundamentally different than today on the Republican side?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It won't most likely. Donald Trump will have a big night tonight. That's why we have to look at how well Ted Cruz does and whether or not -- for Ted Cruz, this is all the marbles. Predicated the whole race on Super Tuesday. If he can't win, it's over for him. Rubio, it depends on where he is. Look in suburban areas, northern Virginia. That's where Rubio could try and hone in his message. BERMAN: Errol, if this does go the way Doug says, Donald Trump wins,

maybe 10, 11 states, what does it feel like on for the next week. I mean, this is a lot of states we're talking about right now.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, he is getting a closer and different look, thanks in part to Marco Rubio for going on the attack, juvenile, along the way, you look at some other things. You seeing on social media, why did Trump mortgage fail. What is going on with the lawsuit with Trump University? In a way, the system is kind of working. Now, will that derail his campaign? Probably not. Will it change the delegate map? Maybe down the road. But we're seeing, you know, maybe not the high-spirited debate we would have liked, but we're starting to see a real race.

BOLDUAN: Margaret, do you think -- I'm going to ask this question. Is there anything that John Kasich and Ben Carson going to be smiling about tomorrow?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, the story here, everybody thinks John Kasich has written off Super Tuesday. He has not. He spent a lot of money in Massachusetts, Virginia, places he thinks he can win. He has no reason to move on if he doesn't do well in this point. To Errol's point, we're having a policy conversation with Trump.

We are we've been talking about building the wall, can he deport 11 million people. You know, how many primary voters actually know the details of the mortgage, the fact he built his building with illegal labor. I mean, these elements that are just now percolating down considering who to vote for, and that's why I don't think you'll see dramatic results tomorrow. The next debate will be critical.

BERMAN: Thursday night.

HOOVER: Thursday night, and then you begin to see another candidate to consolidate the Republican vote.

[11:55:11] BERMAN: Alex, 10 out of 11 states for Donald Trump. Will you see more endorsements? Will you see him pick up more official support?

ALEX BURNS, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Oh, I think as soon as you have states across the country like this voting for him, you're going to see more members of Congress, I don't think you will a he see establishment folks like Chris Christie, the answer to our problems. But you're going to see people running for cover to protect themselves. Let's remember, the primary season is not just about the presidential race. There are congressional primaries, and they're fighting for their lives too, where he is bringing a lot of folks who don't typically vote in Republican primary.

BOLDUAN: An uncertain future. A lot more conversation, especially in the Senate.

Thanks for joining us. Moments away, a lot to look forward to. Donald Trump will be speaking

live at his first rally on Super Tuesday. We're going to be waiting for that, the man to come out and speak.

Stay with us.

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