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Cruz Wins Kansas G.O.P. Caucuses; Sanders Campaign Counting on Wins in Nebraska, Kansas; Cruz Talks with Reporters After Kansas Win. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 5, 2016 - 18:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:01:10] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, the first projection of the night. Ted Cruz is the winner of the Republican presidential caucuses in Kansas. Take a look at the actual numbers, 56 percent of the vote is in, a very impressive win for Ted Cruz over Donald Trump, 51 percent to only 24.2 percent for Donald Trump, 14.4 percent for Marco Rubio. John Kasich only at 9 percent.

If he doesn't get 10 percent, by the way, he won't make that threshold. He won't get any delegates from the State of Kansas. It's just proportion right now. But Ted Cruz is the winner in the State of Kansas.

Chris, that's the first of several projections coming up in the next few hours.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, and you showed us Ted Cruz giving his acknowledgement to the good people saying God bless, Kansas. God bless, Idaho, where he was. And, also, God bless, Maine, at least for now, with the early returns having him up.

So how big a deal is this, Smerconish, when we look at Ted Cruz winning and winning over 50 percent?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, SMERCONISH: I want to float a theory. I want to be the first to get in on this.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Do it.

SMERCONISH: So here we go. Could it be that Donald's hands have come back to haunt him? May that have been a break point? Might that have just been a bit too much? Because, also, take note of the fact that Rubio despite a lot of establishment really marquee support in Kansas, thus far not a good day. It was the two of them that got into the whole hand debate. And I wonder if it's come back to haunt him.

HENDERSON: And Ted Cruz wanted to be the adult in the room, on that stage. His people emailing with him, they think the debate really mattered and gave him some momentum. I think the overarching question for Ted Cruz is if he can become what Rick Santorum wanted to be by the end of the contest. Rick Santorum wanted to be the person who could be sort of a blue collar moralist.

CUOMO: How did he do in Kansas?

HENDERSON: He won Kansas.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I know. And what percentage of the vote did he get?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 50 percent.

CUOMO: 50 percent. Very similar to what we're seeing with Cruz.

HENDERSON: But more importantly, in Michigan, he won, I think, 37 percent of the votes to Mitt Romney's 41 percent.

CUOMO: So why am I saying it that way? I'm saying it that way because does this result mean what Michael is saying, which is the hands or whatever else, this has been a shift, or is this what that base here represents?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's too soon to tell. I mean, necessary but not sufficient for Ted Cruz to win Kansas. A place that he should win because Santorum won it, because Huckabee won it.

CUOMO: Right.

HENDERSON: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: Now as you look throw it through the night, if he does win Maine, that is perhaps even more significant, and also Kentucky and Louisiana, I think, are very important, because of them are states that are heavily blue collar and heavy evangelical.

And one thing Donald Trump has done that has made him so successful -- Jennifer Agiesta, the polling director -- CNN provided these numbers. You're looking -- we're talking about this before your show, Chris.

He is winning blue-collar evangelicals in a number of states and that has been probably the biggest singles strategic problem Cruz is facing. He has been able to hold those working evangelicals in the south. Louisiana and Kentucky, both about 80 percent blue-collared, about half evangelical, we will get a very good test about whether Trump is receding later tonight.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And if you hear Cruz tonight, what he was talking about was an economic message. We haven't heard a lot of the economic message lately, but he was playing into that sort of populist message, I care about you. I care about your student loans. I care that your incomes are going down. And I think that he's really hitting not only evangelicals, but obviously the populist base of this party. I also think one other thing works in Cruz's favor, and that is that Marco Rubio has been laying off of him lately. They're so busy attacking Trump that all of the Rubio, "You're a liar" sort of stopped.

CUOMO: Is Kansas worse for Trump or worse for Rubio?

HENDERSON: Rubio.

BROWNSTEIN: Rubio.

BORGER: I think it's probably worse for Rubio. I mean, well, Trump will say we were -- Trump was ahead in some early polls.

CUOMO: Yes.

BORGER: The Cruz people make the case as we've all been texting with him, Trump was supposed to run away with this. I'm not so sure about that.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: Yes. I think all of this is bad for Rubio.

BORGER: But I think all of it because Rubio wants to be the alternative. And this, you know, this all just points to Florida honestly. Rubio has to --

(CROSSTALK)

[18:05:00] CUOMO: Why does it point to Florida?

BORGER: Because Rubio has to win Florida or that's it.

HENDERSON: But isn't it already sort of it? I mean, really? Like his -- Florida now. I mean, Newt Gingrich was able to win his home state. That's like a low bar.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Last point from you and let me move to the other side because this is not fair.

(LAUGHTER)

SMERCONISH: Relative to Florida, I think I still continue to believe that Rubio needs to win Florida not only for Rubio's sake, but also for Cruz's sake. In spite of what we see taking place, I can't chart a path and John King is the expert where Ted Cruz gets 1,237.

HENDERSON: Right.

SMERCONISH: The best I think he hopes for is to deny Trump and everybody hang in.

BROWNSTEIN: Because to underscore your point real quick, real point from before, Ted Cruz, the promise of the Cruz campaign has not been realized so far. He is not broadening beyond evangelicals, any more effectively than Santorum or Huckabee did. And until, maybe tonight, in Maine, you're beginning to see that. But until he shows he can do that, there is no path for him because he's running out of evangelical states.

CUOMO: For you at home, did you see what Brownstein just did there, by the way? It was a really good insight into television.

He knew I had to move to the other side. When he said, to follow up with a point that you made, Chris, so of course I listen.

(CROSSTALK)

No, it's very well done. Very well done. Thank you for talking about me.

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I've been looking, in 1980, Ronald Reagan lost six primaries. In 1992, I was talking about this with Paul, Bill Clinton lost 16 different primaries and still managed to get nominated.

So this is what momentum does for you. Donald Trump can afford to lose. These other guys can't afford to lose, particularly Marco Rubio.

CUOMO: Why do you think he's losing? Because that winds up being the question that fuels the history, right? Reagan, Clinton. Why is Trump losing right now? That tells us whether or not he can afford it.

LORD: I think the evangelical vote in Kansas. I mean, Santorum won it in '12.

CUOMO: So you think it's pro forma.

LORD: Yes. Yes, I do. I mean, at this point, Cruz hasn't demonstrated an ability to get out of that box yet.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think coming out of such a huge Super Tuesday night for Trump, it's going to be very hard to spin a bad day on Super Saturday. I mean, as you say, momentum is everything. So if he can -- you know, if he's had a bad night in Kansas, if he has a bad night in, say Maine, maybe Kentucky, what happened to all of that momentum? And that will be the question.

And I think there are probably a handful of answers. One I would say the KKK. That was not a pleasant story line for anyone, even Trump had difficulty navigating that. I'd also say the DDD, the Detroit Debate Debacle, which, you know, even for Trump --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The triple D.

(LAUGHTER)

CUPP: Not quite the KKK, but it is a triple D. You know, even for Trump that was a bad night. And maybe only four people on that stage, a lot of viewers watched and maybe they saw, oh, maybe they saw a little too much Trump.

I also wonder if Mitt Romney -- and hold your fire -- I'm wondering if Mitt Romney played a small effect. Look, no, no doubt, Mitt Romney going out to attack Donald Trump definitely emboldens his supporters. But there are a lot of moderate Republicans who I know have been watching from the sidelines thinking Trump's never going to happen, I don't have to do anything about this.

They see Mitt Romney fired up. And maybe they think, oh, I've got to take this seriously and go out and vote on Saturday. That might have played a part as well.

CUOMO: Ironically, they didn't do that for Mitt Romney enough to get him elected. But they may do it now with Mitt Romney.

(CROSSTALK)

Paul Begala, what do you see in it? Because I saw that you tweeted that, you know, threw a little water on Cruz victory by saying that Santorum won the same way.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. This is an important thing. What we're seeing is counting Kansas now, 16 states on the Republican side have voted. 15 have gone to Trump or Cruz. The two outsiders. One, Minnesota, a lovely place with tiny little caucus went for Marco Rubio and that's it for Senator Rubio. This is good.

We'll know by the end of the night, I think, if it's a two-man race. And I think it will be. I think by the time we close up shop and only you would --

CUOMO: Count Rubio out after tonight if it goes the wrong way?

BEGALA: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: But Paul, where does Cruz go?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: (INAUDIBLE)

BROWNSTEIN: Even if wins Louisiana, where does he go? You're looking, maybe Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina? Mississippi? You know, until you show you can win voters who are not evangelicals --

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Michigan.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: Well, yes, maybe Michigan.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's hard to see Trump not taking this up. The more we look at this, the more you look at the math, the more it looks like it's Trump. And by the way, at least I, and I think most Democrats and I hope most independents don't look at Cruz and go, whew, at least they're voting for this other incredibly conservative and right-wing guy.

And so, you know, look, I think we've got to sort of face the facts and start imagining what comes next here for our country because this is looking more and more inevitable.

[18:10:00] BORGER: Can I just say one other thing, we ought to look at tonight, which is that these are closed elections we're seeing tonight. Only Republicans can participate. So the question is whether this limits Trump's crossover appeal that he has had to independent voters and even some Democrats who were able to cross over and vote for him.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has. It has in the closed caucuses in the past. There have been four.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: The argument that -- the argument that Trump is not a real conservative maybe taking hold and you might be seeing it in some of these caucus states.

BROWNSTEIN: Gloria, the caucus might be more important than the close because Trump has won Republicans in every state that he has won in the exit poll. He has carried Republicans. But the caucus does seem to be able to take it.

CUOMO: All right. Hold it, there. Let's take a break because when we come back, we want to tee up listening to Cruz. We want to give Senator Cruz his due. He just got a big result in Kansas.

What does he have to say about it? We're going to take another look at the senator himself when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:15:22] CUOMO: Welcome back, the headline right now, Ted Cruz, the winner of the Kansas Republican presidential caucuses. You see it right there. 60 percent of the vote is in. Overwhelmingly, winning so far. More than 2 to 1 over Donald Trump. He's got 51.1 percent. Donald Trump in second place with 24.3 percent. Rubio down in third place with 14.3 percent. Kasich only 8.9 percent in Kansas. You don't get 10 percent, you don't get any delegates. Ted Cruz, the big winner in Kansas right now. Let's take a look at the Democrats. What's going on right now?

Stephanie Elam is joining us from Kansas. There's a big Democratic contest under way as well in Roland Park, Kansas.

What's the latest over there in this battle between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is just phenomenal turnout here as far as the Democrats are concerned, Wolf. They had so many people in here. They had to actually let people go. They couldn't caucus the way they normally do and split people up, who's voting for Clinton, who's voting for Sanders.

So what they had people do is sign their names on a sheet saying who they wanted to caucus for. And then as you can see behind me, there's this line behind me for people who are now leaving because they've signed. Well, they're leaving. Other people are still coming in because there was a line stretching outside when you take a look at our exit poll as we're taking a look at the numbers coming in right now as people are leaving.

Right now, it looks like Sanders is 61 percent of the people who were here in this room, 39 percent for Clinton. But they're still taking people coming in, still signing at this point because there are just so many people. They were at capacity. So now they've got to try to figure out how to get these other people in and then get their numbers. So it will be a while before things are tabulated here, finally.

But a very different situation for a Democratic caucus than what we would normally see, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, Bernie Sanders doing well in that one site where you are, that one caucus site over there. Stephanie, thanks very much.

Dana, exciting night so far. Certainly, we saw Ted Cruz. He is very happy so far. The first projection of the night and he gets it.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And let's -- Stephanie was just talking about the Democrats. And let's drill down on that. We have now joining us, Jeff Zeleny, who you have been doing a lot of digging on what's going on in Kansas and Nebraska on the Democratic side.

What are you hearing?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: So interesting. These are obviously Republican states, overall, but they're getting a bite of the Democratic apple here. And talking to a lot of officials from both campaigns as well as Democratic state officials, we are confirming or at least they're confirming that Senator Sanders is having a strong afternoon there.

A lot of liberal supporters have come out. We have seen the long lines, but in all three congressional districts in Nebraska, both sides agree that Bernie Sanders is winning the popular vote.

And we're still -- one interesting thing about Nebraska, most of the counting is done. Most of the caucusing is done except in Lincoln, Nebraska. Lancaster County, the state capital, also home to the University of Nebraska Lincoln. A lot of students. A lot of people who like Bernie Sanders.

I was there on Thursday. So many people came out to support him. Thousands of people. So the Sanders campaign said, look, even if we were slightly behind which we're not, Lancaster County would put us over the edge.

The Clinton campaign does not disagree. But this is not 2008 at all.

BASH: Exactly.

ZELENY: The key lesson that they have learned from 2008 is to not ignore the small, rural caucus states. So they will still split the delegates. Bernie Sanders is well ahead in both states but that is an interesting dynamic. The Clinton campaign actually paid attention to this. Bill Clinton was in Lincoln last night. He's in Omaha yesterday. So he is sort of the, you know, campaigner-in-chief out there.

BASH: And you are, by the way, our Nebraska reporter since you are from Nebraska. I should point out. I should point out.

ZELENY: I disclose that.

BASH: Which is not why you know everything about it, it's because you're a good reporter. But, David, to Jeff's point about, you know, kind of the college towns and the fact that these two states are certainly not known as like hot spots of liberalism. I mean, they are red, red states in presidential years.

ZELENY: Right.

BASH: Is this just kind of the same pattern that we've seen so far in terms of how the Democratic electorate is splitting up Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I was going to say it's not 2008 in terms of how the Clinton campaign approached it, but we are seeing that similar profile -- voter profile again in the state that we saw in 2008.

ZELENY: Right.

CHALIAN: This was sort of Barack Obama territory in 2008, not because of just the organization but because of the kind of Democrat that is going to go out and caucus, right?

ZELENY: The liberal.

(CROSSTALK)

CHALIAN: Yes. It's the left-wing pro-active activist.

(CROSSTALK)

ZELENY: You're a democrat living in these red states. You're a liberal.

CHALIAN: That's true. Once again, we are seeing Sanders appeal to what was the Obama electorate in certain states here, and these two included. You do remember, of course, that Barack Obama did win in that 2008, that electoral vote in the Omaha, Nebraska, area, so he was able to make a few inroads there.

Still in talking to some Clinton campaign sources earlier today, their sense is that they still -- and this goes directly to what Jeff was just saying -- will emerge tonight, this day, with still more delegates just out of today's contest than Bernie Sanders will if it all goes how they're expecting it to go.

ZELENY: Because of Louisiana tonight.

CHALIAN: That's a big prize.

BASH: Exactly. We can't forget about that. That's going to be much later tonight, but that is going to be a big prize.

And we should also say, Wolf, that Bernie Sanders is going to speak later tonight. We're going to see him, live. Hillary Clinton is going to speak later tonight. And, of course, we can't forget our Flint, Michigan, debate tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

BLITZER: The democratic presidential debate, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton 8:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night in Flint, Michigan.

And we're also standing by to hear from Ted Cruz. He's about to hold a news conference. He's the big winner so far tonight in Kansas. He is the projected winner. We'll take a quick break. Much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Ted Cruz talking about his big win tonight in Kansas, answering reporters' questions. Let's listen in.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We were all campaigning in Kansas. Spent a lot of time there, you know, this morning. Donald and I were both at the same caucus location speaking to the same group of Kansas voters. And so, obviously, all of the other candidates thought that it was going to be really, really close.

And I think what we saw in Kansas is a manifestation of a real shift of momentum. And I think the last two debates indicate that. We also saw the CPAC straw poll results where we won a resounding victory in CPAC.

And one of the things that is notable is the breadth of those results. By any measure, Kansas and Maine and the CPAC, National Conference of Conservatives are all very different groups of voters. And to see strong, strong win across the board is very encouraging and I think what it represents is Republicans coalescing saying, it would be a disaster for Donald Trump to be our nominee, and we are going to stand behind the strongest conservative in the race and also the candidate who at this point has demonstrated, assuming the Kansas and Maine results hold up, that we have beaten Donald not once, not twice but seven times now all across this country.

No other candidate has beaten him more than once. And I think that's part of why people are coming together is they recognize if we're divided, Donald wins. And if Donald wins, in all likelihood, Hillary wins. And so we have to come together. We have to unite. That's why I've made a very explicit invitation to people who were supporting other candidates to come stand with us. There were good and honorable people in this race. But now it's the time for us to come together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Senator, you had one, potentially two wins tonight. But Donald Trump is still very much in the delegate lead. How -- what is your plan to overtake him? And do you expect to do that by the end of March?

CRUZ: Well, listen, Donald has a delegate lead right now. Although, it is fewer than 100 delegates. We are within 100 delegates of Donald. We'll see what happens after today. We'll see the rest of the results, where the delegate count is. But we continue to rack up delegates.

You know, one of the things on Super Tuesday, we won in Oklahoma. We won in Alaska. We won overwhelmingly in Texas. But even in the states where Donald prevailed on Super Tuesday, we were typically in second place in racking up delegates as well. It's part of why we're so close in the delegate lead and the next closest candidate has fewer than half as many delegates as I have. And so we will continue to amass delegates, but what needs to happen is the field needs to continue to narrow.

As long as the field remains divided, it gives Donald an advantage. And so what I hope and believe will happen is that other candidates, as they compete over and over again, are not able to win. At some point, if you're not able to prevail, if you're not able to amass enough delegates to have any plausible path to 1,237, there comes a point where other candidates, other campaigns have to reflect, prayerfully consider, do I have a path going forward? Or is it time for us to come together? I hope that happens. I'm certainly encouraging others to. But it will be each of the other candidates' decisions whether or not to make that choice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: And on that, if I can follow up, looking forward to Florida, how hard are you going to compete in Florida? Are you going for a kill shot against Marco Rubio there?

CRUZ: Listen, we are competing vigorously in Florida. We will be campaigning on the ground in Florida. We've got a great base of support in Florida. We got an incredible grassroots team. And we're running a national campaign. We're competing in all 50 states.

Remember, this is a campaign that has won in Texas, in Alaska and it appears in Maine as well.

You want to talk about a national breadth. We have a breadth of support and our Florida support. I'm really proud of all of the grassroots activists -- the Republican women, the Tea Party leaders, the young people, the Hispanics, the small business owners, all of whom have come together behind the campaign in Florida. So absolutely we are contesting Florida vigorously and we are contesting every state across this country vigorously.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: You talked about creating jobs, what would you do to create jobs here in North Idaho?

CRUZ: The most important element for creating jobs is lifting the burden of Washington on small businesses. Two-thirds of all new jobs in the economy come from small businesses. If I'm elected president, we will repeal every word of Obamacare. We'll pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS. And we will pull back the federal regulator, the EPA, that is strangling farmers and ranchers and small businesses.

The effect of all of that is going to -- we're going to see the economy take off. We're going to see millions of high paying jobs. We're going to see wages rise for working men and women who haven't seen wages rise in a long time. We're going to see young people coming out of school with two, three, four, five job offers. All we have to do is get back to the free market principles that built American, make this country great in the first place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What about the seven wins that you say you had, you know, against Donald Trump. There's only been maybe other people, who have one or two and you had seven. Do you really think this is a turn of the times for the Republican Party for voters to really see who should be in office next?

[18:29:58] CRUZ: Well, look, it's important. Nobody has had two wins against Donald. Only one candidate has beaten him anywhere. One candidate has won. We have now beat him. It appears seven. We'll see the final tally tonight. We'll see the tally again on Tuesday and in the next elections. But what we've seen whether it was a decisive win in Iowa, whether it was a win in Oklahoma, whether it was a win in Alaska, whether it was a decisive win in Texas, whether it was a win in Kansas, whether it was in Minnesota beating Donald Trump or whether it was what appears to be another strong win in Maine.

We see geographic diversity, we see ideological diversity, we see the broad spectrum of the Republican Party coming together behind our campaign. And if you want to beat him, you can't beat something with nothing. You've got to unite, and that's what we're seeing happening. I'm very encouraged and I'll tell you here in Idaho, the support we had is incredible. And we had a couple of thousand people here and we had at least a thousand people outside because there wasn't room in the event hall. That is a really encouraging and powerful turnout. And I'm so, so proud to be here.

BLITZER: All right, unfortunately we just lost our connection. That was Ted Cruz. He's the winner -- he's the winner in Kansas. He's obviously very, very happy. Very early results in Maine showing him ahead as well. We're going to continue to monitor what he's saying. We'll try to reconnect with him at the same time Dana and David, a big win, no doubt about it, very impressive win, two to one margin so far in Kansas for Ted Cruz.

BASH: That's right. And you heard him come out. I mean, he's been saying generally that he should be the alternative to Donald Trump, that conservatives should consolidate around him. He's taking this win in Kansas and the one he clearly thinks he's going to get tonight in Maine and, you know, jumping to the next step saying, I am the alternative to Donald Trump.

CHALIAN: And including his second place showing in Minnesota but ahead of Donald Trump as a victory.

BASH: Right.

CHALIAN: Right? Yes.

BASH: Right. Well, this is also remember when he finished third or fourth, he had a victory speech though. But putting that aside, it is a fascinating dynamic because if you talk to the Cruz people, you know, they say and they might be right about this, if Rubio is gone, they get all of Rubio's votes and beat Donald Trump. If Cruz is gone, the opposite happens. All of the Cruz voters go to Donald Trump. So there really is this weird kind of triangle between the three of them going on here, which is very intense and really could make a huge difference in all of these contests.

CHALIAN: I would imagine that Donald Trump could probably get some Cruz voters if he were to disappear from the race. I don't think they would all necessarily go to Rubio. I thought one of the most interesting things that have Cruz just said there in that press gaggle was, we are competing vigorously in Florida.

BASH: Uh-hm.

CHALIAN: Remember, Florida is a winner take all state.

BASH: Right.

CHALIAN: Right now I think most people see it as a battle between Donald Trump and Marco Rubio. Can he win his home state, or can Donald Trump sort of plant the flag there and win all 99 delegates in one fell swoop. If it's a winner take all state and you're Ted Cruz and you clearly could make a strategic decision, well, perhaps it's not worth my time because I can't even emerge with one delegate there unless I win the state.

BASH: But it's not just about winning. It's about taking votes away.

CHALIAN: That's right.

BASH: Yes.

CHALIAN: So now he says he's all in in Florida, and it is about taking votes away. He's clearly trying to make sure wherever he is he's keeping Donald Trump's number a little bit further away.

BASH: Very good question from our Sunlen Serfaty -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very good question indeed. All right. Guys, stand by. We'll going to be hearing by the way later tonight from Donald Trump. He's going to be speaking. Hillary Clinton will be speaking. Bernie Sanders will be speaking. All of the candidates. We'll going to monitor every one of them and bring those statements to you live. Let's take another quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:37:40] BLITZER: Ted Cruz we've projected is the winner of the Kansas Republican presidential caucuses. You see it right there. That is the first projected winner of the night. Cruz right now with 70 percent of the vote in, he's got 50.9 percent. That's impressive. Donald Trump only 24.3 percent. Rubio down at 14.7 percent. John Kasich at 8.7 percent. Big win for Ted Cruz in Kansas.

Right now, let's go over to John King over at the magic wall. John, his fifth win so far, fifth win coming into tonight. He had four wins. Now it's number five, three more Republican contests still tonight at large. We'll see how they do there. But how did he manage to make this happen in Kansas?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's look at Kansas. As you know, that is his fifth. We're watching the results in Maine where Cruz is leading but the results are very early. We have Louisiana and Kentucky still to come on the Republican site later tonight. Let's take a closer look at Kansas. And that is a very convincing win, two to one over Donald Trump. Marco Rubio a distant third. Just shy of 15 percent. We got 70 percent of the vote in, Wolf. So, these percentages have been pretty consistent. He won consistently just about everywhere.

First, you have statewide delegates, then they allocate others by Congressional districts which is why you see the lines in the state here. And if you go district to district, just under 50 percent there, nearly 60 percent here, just under 50 percent here, just under 50 percent there. So convincing. This is the slowest strict to report, the third district in the eastern part of the state. The Kansas City, Kansas, area. Just over the line if you will. Pretty consistent all across the board.

Ted Cruz proving number one as he did in Iowa. In a caucus state his organization is very good at using data to identify the supporters and turn them out. So, an impressive win. We won't have the exact numbers until later because as I said it's done by Congressional district. But it looks like Cruz will get at least half of the 40 delegates at stake in Kansas, which helps him in what the case he is now trying to make. Let's switch maps again as we wait for other results. The case Ted Cruz is trying to make is that I'm the guy closest to Donald Trump in the delegates. And if we come in here and give him Kansas, let me move forward -- I think I can come up to Saturday here. If we give him Kansas and in this scenario if he holds his lead in

Maine, and let's give Ted Cruz first place in Maine and Donald Trump second place and third place here. If -- that didn't work out. There we go. If that holds, roughly like that, 35 percent or so, Ted Cruz again we're still waiting on Louisiana and Kentucky. On this map, they're assigned to Trump because he led in the polls. So, at the end of the night if they hold up, Louisiana for Trump, Kentucky for Trump but Cruz wins Kansas and Maine, he may at the end of the night be able to say, hey, I'm about 100 delegates away from Donald Trump. It depends on the percentages and obviously we're still waiting for Louisiana and Kentucky.

But this is the argument Ted Cruz was just trying to make in that gaggle, that I am proving that, yes, I'm behind but I'm the one who has the best chance to catch Donald Trump. This all sets up, Wolf, big contest in Michigan next Tuesday, Mississippi next Tuesday where Ted Cruz another test in the South where Donald Trump has had a lot of success so far in what was supposed to be Ted Cruz's wheelhouse down here. So, even as Cruz gets these impressive wins that help him, he has to look at the map here and realize what he left on the board. From South Carolina across was supposed to be his evangelical firewall, his evangelical springboard out of the South.

And so far, Donald Trump has been dominated. Again, we'll going to wait for Louisiana tonight, Mississippi next week. The contest in Michigan is shaping up a huge on Tuesday, Trump leads. John Kasich thinks he has momentum there. And then we get to March 15th which is Florida and Ohio, the two home states of the two guys that Ted Cruz wants to drop. Ted Cruz wants Rubio and Kasich to get out of the way to give him a one-on-one. They say no way. March 15th in Florida and in Ohio will determine whether they have the momentum to go on. We are at a fascinating state in the race, the conversation tonight will be, is there a Donald Trump pause? We don't know that yet. But certainly that's what a lot of the anti-Trump forces are hopeful perhaps there is. But we've got a lot of map to fill.

BLITZER: March 15th -- starting March 15th. According to the Republican rules Florida and Ohio all the states become winner take all. So, if you win, even a plurality, you get all of those delegates. A lot of delegates in Florida.

KING: That's right.

BLITZER: A lot of delegates in Ohio.

KING: All right. John, stand by. We're waiting to hear from all of the candidates. They'll going to be speaking, Donald Trump, will be Hillary Clinton, will be speaking Bernie Sanders. Of course we will have live coverage. Stay with us. Much more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:45:54] BLITZER: Just want to remind our viewers we're waiting to hear from Donald Trump. He's going to be speaking at his campaign headquarters tonight. Hillary Clinton will be speaking. We'll have live coverage of that as well. Bernie Sanders has a big rally coming up as well. We'll be hearing all of them live here as our coverage continues. I want to remind you at the same time Ted Cruz so far we've projected one winner of the Southern contest tonight, Ted Cruz wins the Republican Presidential Caucuses in Kansas. But there's still three more Republican contests to go.

We're talking about Kentucky caucuses, Maine caucuses and Louisiana primary. Also on the democratic side, we're still waiting for the Kansas caucuses, the Louisiana primary, and the Nebraska caucuses on the democratic side. So one contest down, six more to go. We'll have extensive live coverage of all of that. We'll see when we can make our next projection. In the meantime, let's go back to Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So we have what's happening, Wolf. And now we'll talk about what it means in the big picture. Michael Smerconish. We were going through different theories about why Cruz is winning. Then you have the other side of the analysis which is what John King has been spelling out so well for us different times tonight, which is Cruz may be in a Pyrrhic victory position where he wins tonight, he looks good, he gets a number of states, he starts to build and build but he can't get it to one, two, three, seven, the secret number and if he makes it where Trump doesn't get to one, two, three, seven, then it goes to a convention. And what happens to Cruz at a convention? So, is this like good for him now but won't be good for him no matter how --

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, "SMERCONISH": Well, let's start with the initial building block. It's very difficult to look at what's going on tonight and see a path to one, two, three, seven for Marco Rubio. And it's very difficult to see a path to that same number for John Kasich. Shy of going to Cleveland and winning it on a second ballot. I'm not so sure -- you just heard Ted Cruz say that he'd like the others to get out. I think he's really directing that toward Marco Rubio. I'm not so sure that his path gets any easier with Rubio getting out because I still see a Rubio/Kasich dynamic. So Donald Trump is still in the cat bird's seat. And what's to come tonight is still most important. What's to come tonight is Louisiana and to a lesser extent Kentucky.

CUOMO: But what about the idea that Cruz also -- again, this man has a brilliant mind not just for the law but also the logic that goes into it. The idea that, well, if you lose me, my people go to Trump. But if you lose Rubio, his people will go to me? That is a compelling bit of logic to try out on Republicans.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

CUOMO: But what winds up still being the obstacles to Cruz being the man against Trump.

BORGER: Well, first of all as Ron's been pointing out, sort of the base of his support, evangelicals, we're going into the industrial Midwest now. You know, that is not his territory. Tonight is really his real territory and Super Tuesday should have been his territory but wasn't his territory. I think you have to give Cruz a lot of credit because he really had a strategy and didn't work so well on Super Tuesday. But this shows you how his organization has really come through for him.

CUOMO: And we do know that he does well in caucuses because we do know he organizes well.

BORGER: And he also --

CUOMO: Are you waving your arms to get my attention?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was not going -- I'm happy to talk and I'm --

BORGER: One more point about Cruz to add to what David is saying. One more point is, Florida, he's clearly making a play to be the spoiler.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

BORGER: He doesn't expect to win Florida. But he's going to be the spoiler in Florida because he doesn't want Rubio to win.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: But he's also I think showing that one of Marco Rubio's big flaws throughout this entire campaign has been his lack of ground game. I mean, the fact that Ted Cruz is saying, listen, I'm coming in to your backyard, and I'm opening up ten states. And I'm going to have a kill shot, which is what we're calling it on our website, and try to take you out. I mean, that I think points to Cruz's boldness, the smart way he's run his campaign in terms of data driven sort of approach.

BORGER: Absolutely.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And Rubio exactly is a political colossus in Florida. He's won one race and he won in a three-way race.

BORGER: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: And, you know, there's no reason for him to feel exorbitantly confident about his ability to hold the state. For Ted Cruz I think it is still a very simple equation. You know, as Gloria said, the state the states that are heavily evangelical are dwindling. Probably Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina.

CUOMO: Do we know that that is the extent of his race?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: There is no theory that Cruz can go beyond?

BROWNSTEIN: So far he has not won more than 18 percent of voters who are not evangelicals in any state but Texas. He is not doing any better than Santorum or Huckabee to this point at expanding it. Maybe that's begin to change.

HENDERSON: And he's trying to make that happen by talking more about the economy and -- CUOMO: All right. So, let's address this with the other table. I

feel your tension. I feel your desire. What are you hearing that you don't agree with?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, no, I think I agree with a lot of this. But I think one thing that we may well be seeing in Kansas and Maine is Senator Cruz has an acceptable second choice to the Rubio folks, the point that these geniuses were making for is exactly right. I think he is -- Cruz that is -- probably is pretty acceptable to a lot of the Rubio folks. Maybe that's why senator Rubio is only getting less than 15 percent in Kansas. And I think that he could -- look, it was a good second choice. That helps in a caucus where you have a second choice. There's only one more caucus after tonight and that's Hawaii. While we love Hawaii, we don't have any more second-choice options for Cruz to gather up disappointed Rubio folks who realize they can't win in that state.

CUOMO: And that plays into what Gloria was reading off her phone, from her friends in the Trump camp who were saying that they were neck and neck with Trump not too long ago. Maybe that was in the Cruz camp, that they were neck and neck with Trump in Kansas not too long ago. Maybe it was part of the shift. They were an acceptable second.

BEGALA: That's why Louisiana matters tonight.

CUOMO: Why? Why do Louisiana matters so much to you, Jeffrey Lord?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Primary. I mean, it's primary. I mean, you know, we're going to get right to it with people coming in and leaving. It's not any of these complicated caucus things and ground games and all of that.

CUOMO: How bad is it for Trump if he loses Louisiana?

LORD: Oh, I think it will be a ding but, you know, he's got --

CUOMO: Is there anything that could happen to Trump that would be bad in your opinion?

LORD: Losing everything from now on.

CUOMO: Yes. Is that? Because every single event, it's hard to impress you.

LORD: I have that Reagan optimism. Yes.

CUOMO: If he were to attack a baby seal with a club, would you see that as something that was --

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

CUOMO: So, look, this one point that we started off with here when John King was showing it off earlier on, on the kind of the map analysis, there is a serious consideration for the Cruz camp to figure out, well, okay, how do I win this thing? You know what I mean? How does this wind up being good for me? Because I don't want to go to this convention. You know, I've been making this convention kind of like the cauldron, the crucible of all that is wrong with this party. I don't want to walk into that place. I won't walk out.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not an enviable place for anyone but Trump to be at a brokered convention. It's not good for the party. Democracy. I mean --

CUOMO: Brokered convention you could say is an oxymoron by the way.

CUPP: I mean, well, look, go back to 1880 when Garfield ended up being nominated because the two front-runners were completely disposed of going into this convention. That's right. I said it. Garfield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm impressed.

CUPP: I mean, I have been calling the existential crisis for conservatives. Ted Cruz seems to be the only person who can fell Donald Trump. Meanwhile, I think Ted Cruz is less electable generally than Donald Trump is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.

CUPP: And I think Marco Rubio is the only conservative that could really contest Hillary Clinton. But he can't get there. So we're in this triad of real, you know, chaos and frustration.

CUOMO: All right. Let's hold it there.

SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There might be existential, you know, crisis, Democrats because we're watching this with joy except for if we actually care about our country and the future of where these two Republican leading candidates could take it. Then we have crisis right there.

CUOMO: All right. On that existential crisis, we will go to break now, give you time to ponder as well as the real question that came up in this segment, which is Garfield or Morris? Which was your favorite grumpy cat?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:53:19] BLITZER: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center and this is live special coverage of Super Saturday. We're counting down to the top of the hour. That's when we'll get more information coming out of Maine and Kentucky. We also may be able to make some more major projections. We have six races left to project tonight. But it's already been a big day for Senator Ted Cruz. CNN projects he's the winner in Kansas, taking down Donald Trump by a wider than anticipated margin in that stats, the early numbers also, these are early numbers, Cruz leading in Maine right now. Both Republican and Democratic officials anticipate a potentially record turnout there tonight.

CNN's Jim Acosta is with the Trump campaign. He's joining us from West Palm Beach in Florida right now. So, what do they make so far Jim of Ted Cruz's very impressive win in Kansas?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I talked to a top Trump campaign official who says, yes, Ted Cruz is having a good night, no doubt about it, but that was to be expected. This official was saying, you know, the Trump approach all along has been to allow Ted Cruz and he has been doing this to, yes, run up a big operation in some of these caucus states. That is something that they've watched all along. They regard that as a good strategy. They said that Ted Cruz's ability to do well in this caucus states was a good strategy but this official was telling me, Wolf, Kansas is not Florida.

That's a totally different deal. Big media markets up and down the state although this official did caution that they have observed that the Cruz campaign has opened up offices across the state of Florida in just the last week or so, ten offices across the state of Florida. That's going to help Ted Cruz here. But I'm not getting any sense of trembling inside the Trump campaign even though Ted Cruz is having what is undoubtedly a good night so far. The last time we saw Donald Trump give a press conference after an election, Wolf, it was after Super Tuesday when he did very well. The outcome is a little bit different tonight so we'll have to see whether the tone is a little bit different from Donald Trump when he speaks later on here tonight -- Wolf.