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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Super Tuesday Sequel for Democrats, Republicans; New National Poll: Trump Lead Tightens Amid Attacks. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 8, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: You look at the things that Cruz did --

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX) & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's neck and neck right now. I'm encouraged. I think the momentum is going our direction.

TRUMP: This guy is a scoundrel.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Super Tuesday, the sequel.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I love sequels.

BERMAN: This time, it's personal.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A vote for John Kasich or a vote for Ted Cruz in Florida is a vote for Trump.

JOHN KASICH, (R), OHIO GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You want to win a voter that likes Trump, you give them an answer that's real.

BERMAN: Super Tuesday, the age of Altran (Ph).

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will, together, defeat Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The sooner I could become your nominee, the more I could begin to turn our attention to the Republicans.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

BOLDUAN: Hi, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.

It's Super Tuesday, the sequel.

BERMAN: This time, it's personal.

BOLDUAN: Any minute, Ted Cruz will be speaking to reporters on this make-or-break day race for the White House.

On the Republican side, 150 delegates up for grabs. In Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi, voters are casting ballots.

Will they give Trump his mojo back? Or will Cruz close the gap closing more. And what about Rubio? He could use some momentum heading into his home state next week. As the polls show Kasich is the man on the move on the Midwest.

BERMAN: On the Democratic side, 166 delegates at stake in Michigan and Mississippi. You know Hillary Clinton wants wins in both.

CNN's Jean Casarez watching the vote near Detroit. Polo Sandoval in Mississippi.

Jean, first to you.

What are you seeing, Jean?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing Trump voters on the Republican side and Kasich. That's what people are telling us. We're here in the heart of the Midwest. This is a crucial primary in Michigan, as you know. It can create the momentum into Illinois and Ohio. This is the polling place in Warren, Michigan. It is the heart of General Motors. It's the largest suburb outside of Detroit. I want to show you what voting has become in this area. Right over here, and there's someone voting right now, this is a computerized voting machine. When they put their ballot inside, immediately, it is read. Immediately. It is known who they have voted for.

The process begins, though, right here where you register. You absolutely do your check in here, and you go over to this table and that's where you show your picture I.D., and that is where you can have an open ballot, meaning you can vote Democratic. If you're a registered Republican, or you can go the other way. This is an open primary.

I spoke to a man who said what he was registered Democrat and he was voting for Donald Trump. I said, oh, you're a Reagan Democrat. He said not really. He said with all seriousness what he was doing was voting for Trump to have Donald Trump win in Michigan. He wants him to be the Republican nominee because he believes that he is the one that can be beaten by Hillary Clinton. So there was a motive to his madness to vote for Donald Trump but it wasn't because he was for that candidate. Amazing, but he said a lot of people are doing it.

BERMAN: Dirty tricks.

Jean Casarez, thank you so much. Great to have you with us.

BOLDUAN: In politics? No.

Let's go to Mississippi and our Polo Sandoval is at a polling station there in Jackson.

Polo, what are you seeing? POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate. That's right. The

decision happens almost immediately after they walk through the door at this polling location. As soon as people walk in that decision happens right away. They either go to the right to the table where the Republican primary is happening or perhaps they go toward the left which is where they are registering Democratic as well. They pick up the ballot, and then fill it out, and eventually take it over to one of the two machines, which then scan the ballot and it gets registered.

I have to tell you, there is an energy in the air. People are coming in before going out. It's sort of a steady trickle.

It's part of the conversation happening. A little while ago we saw a woman at the Republican table. Her friend over to the Democratic table, each cast their ballots and then they got together and went out for coffee. I think that's what we're seeing here.

Obviously the stakes are high with 40 Republican delegates at stake here and 36 on the Democratic side. Who wins? We'll find out tonight.

BERMAN: Bipartisan Coffee, that, in of itself, is a win in this election so far.

Polo Sandoval in Jackson, Mississippi, thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: Let's bring in now "New York Times" national political reporter, Alex Burns; CNN political commentator, Margaret Hoover, who worked in the George W. Bush White House and worked for the bush and Giuliani campaigns; and Errol Louis, CNN political commentator; and political anchor for Time/Warner Cable News, Kellyanne Conway, political pollster and president of the pro Ted Cruz super PAC, Keep the promise.

Great to see you all.

A big day. Super Tuesday, part two.

Tell me, Alex, set the stage for us. What's at stake?

[11:05:03] ALEX BURNS, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think in the big picture, this is maybe the really last good opportunity for an anti- Trump candidate to emerge before the primaries in Ohio and Florida. John Kasich has staked his campaign in Ohio. He needs to have a respectful performance tonight or get written off as a one state days. Ted Cruz had a strong performance over the weekend in the series of caucuses. If he can put up good numbers in a state like Mississippi or Michigan, which is not seen as necessarily a natural fit for someone like Cruz, then the Republicans will take another look at this guy, who I think even Kellyanne would admit is a pretty tough sell for them to get on board with.

BERMAN: Before we do that, Errol, I want you to look at the headlines for the Democrats. What does it mean today? ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It means a chance to show if

Bernie Sanders has any kind of end roads with groups that he said he wants to reach out to. When he runs as an anti-establishment candidate, followers have to realize in a place like Mississippi, you're talking about black office holders at a low level. Friends of mine, others county legislators in the Delta. Those are folks that are not cigar smoking super PAC donors. They fought the civil rights movement and brought people to the polls and worked hard in their community. Same thing in Detroit. Is he going to make contact with voters he

tried to appeal to in the last debate. Seemed to not go well, but he has to make sure he doesn't get blown out. If you see more of the 75- 25 outcomes for Hillary Clinton. It's going to disadvantage him with the delegates and feed to the narrative that Bernie Sanders is not doing well with the black Democrats.

BOLDUAN: A new narrative for Trump has been coming out since Saturday night, that he's a little bit vulnerable, that there's some evidence that he could be fading. Where do you see the evidence? What do you think it means for today?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think there's any evidence of it fading. What might be evidence is that Donald Trump has some softness in his numbers. That's what the pollsters like to say. I have one over here. She can confirm. We have seen that. We have seen that instead of sweeping the south like he thought we would and the polls suggested, they tightened toward the end in Louisiana. Even in some of the states. I think we'll have to see how it happens in Michigan tonight. John Kasich, also let's be clear, in a governor campaign in Michigan, got in a bus and went all over the state. He's playing to win. Maybe a strong second going into the weekend and next Tuesday. This is going to keep going slowly. The stop Trump movement is essentially continuing to be Marco, Kasich, Cruz, preventing Trump from hitting the total 1237.

BERMAN: Or is it, Kellyanne Conway, because you find yourself in the now. You're running a pro Ted Cruz super PAC. And you have ads going after Rubio. We have a couple of them. We have the sugar ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: For years, Marco Rubio has been making it snow for big sugar in Washington. So-called Rubio has been taking your hard-earned tax dollars and giving them to pay his billionaire buddies who run big sugar --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: You get the idea. This is an ad in Florida going after Rubio.

Kelly, there are people outraged that you would think of going after Rubio instead of Donald Trump in Florida. If you beat Marco Rubio in Florida, it hands the election to Donald Trump.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, POLITICAL ANCHOR, TIME/WARNER CABLE NEWS: If we beat Marco Rubio in Florida, we become the nominee. I'm part of the pro Ted Cruz movement. That's the stop Donald Trump movement. The only way to stop Trump this late in the game is through another candidate. There is no ballot in America that when you enter you vote, it says Trump, Cruz, Kasich, Rubio, hash tag never Trump. There's no option. If you want to stop Trump, do it through another candidate, and that's Cruz. An ABC/"Washington Post" poll this morning says Cruz is beating Trump by 13 points. What else do we need to know, everybody?

To Margaret's points and the earlier points, it turns out Trump has a glass ceiling. He's not able to break through the 35, 40 percent mark. He doesn't need to in a four-person race. He does in a two- person race. This ceiling is real. He has core supporters. He has core opponents who don't want him to be the nominee.

[11:10:00] BOLDUAN: What do you say to folks saying Cruz making run for it. Cruz beating Rubio in Florida is more of a run for Trump?

CONWAY: They're mistaken. Where was the home-state courtesy when Rubio spent money in Texas to get beat? Rubio failed to reach the 20 percent threshold and walked out of 155 delegate rich Texas with none. Cruz won his home state by 17 points. If Rubio were ahead by 17 points in Florida, we may go elsewhere.

HOOVER: We know, Kelly, there is far more overlap between Cruz voters. If you bring down Rubio, it feels like you're making an opening for Trump as opposed to -- I mean, if you're taking the conservative voters from Trump for Cruz, that would leave an opening for Rubio.

CONWAY: Great. Let Rubio take the opening.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Why is he at 30 percent or lower in his home state? That's something he needs to think about. He's not the sitting Senator. They haven't seen much of him. The Rubio who won in 2010 is gone. He is the establishment-backed pixy dust sprinkled candidate. They can't invent enough moderate, high income and post-college graduate voters between now and next Tuesday to help them. The base of the party -- the conservative wing of the party is now the base of the party. You add up Trump and Cruz, you're close to 60 voters.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: You described post-college graduate, affluent moderate, it sounds like Mitt Romney who is placing robo-calls for Rubio and Kasich. He's --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: That's nice of him. In states that he lost to Barack Obama --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Although, he did win the primary in Michigan. He won the caucus in Idaho.

I think we have a little bit of one of the robo-calls. I want to get your take on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE (voice-over): I'm calling on behalf of Marco Rubio for president. Tomorrow you have the opportunity to vote for a Republican nominee for president. I believe these are critical times that demand a serious --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right. Basically, he goes onto say, he doesn't endorse anyone but says vote against Trump.

You're laughing. Why are you laughing?

LOUIS: Just bursting with energy. The enthusiasm is flowing out of Mitt Romney.

He's part of the #neverTrump movement. He's doing it dutifully. It lacks a certain authenticity.

Also, if you're going to go around endorsing multiple candidates depending on the market you're in, it makes you wonder what he's doing.

I thought the bill of particulars he read last week was powerful. It was very complete. He wasn't maybe the best salesman for it. I think that's what we have going on here. What he says might be true and important, but he's not really selling it well.

BOLDUAN: Alex?

BURNS: I was going to say, and he called pretty explicitly last week for tactical voting. If you live in a state where Kasich with beat Trump, vote for Kasich. If you live in a state where Rubio can beat Trump, vote Rubio. Now he's doing get out the vote calls for multiple candidates in the same state. He's helping turn out Kasich and Rubio voters in Michigan. That doesn't seem to play into his master plan, if you want to call it that.

BERMAN: We're out of time, but let me ask you to raise your hand. Do you think tactical voting works in this state but not the other?

HOOVER: Not enough to swing the outcome.

CONWAY: Not this year when voters ha so many options. They won't be told how to think. That's been the magic of --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Being told to do anything in this election doesn't seem to work. HOOVER: It won't swing the outcomes.

BERMAN: Interesting.

Thank you, guys.

BOLDUAN: Great conversation.

Great to see you all.

BERMAN: We have one programming note. In case you didn't notice, a big week for politics here at CNN. We have full coverage today for four contests --

BOLDUAN: I love the name.

BERMAN: -- Into the morning. Hawaii, the polls close at 1:00 a.m. I'll be on TV reading the vote totals. At 9:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow, a Democratic debate. And Thursday, the Republican debate in Miami. CNN will broadcast that a few day days.

BOLDUAN: What is the new game plan against Donald Trump? Use his own words against him, it seems, "F" words, "P" words, a lot of words. A senior advisor to Trump will join us for a live response.

[11:15:41] BERMAN: Plus, moments from now, Cruz is going to hold a news conference. What does he plan to say today? Will he talk about Marco Rubio? Kellyanne hopes so. Or will he go after Donald Trump? A lot of focus on what Cruz is doing all over the country, particularly in Florida.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: New this morning, Donald Trump with a lead in a new national poll. Maybe slipping or at least stalling. According to a new "ABC News"/"Washington Post" poll, Trump has a nine point lead over Cruz. That's down from 16 points in January.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about this with Steven Miller, a senior policy advisor to Donald Trump.

Steven, thank you for coming back in.

STEVEN MILLER, SENOR POLICY ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: It's great to be here on this beautiful day in Miami.

We'll be joining you there soon in the CNN debate come Thursday.

A lot of folks are looking at the polls John was talking about but also other polls and Trump's performance on Super Saturday, and showing there are some soft spots in his numbers. He lost in Maine. He did not win by as much as expected in Louisiana. Is he vulnerable? How worried are you about that? MILLER: We're not worried at all. We're thrilled to be in a huge

delegate lead and have a huge delegate race in Michigan. What's the biggest issue in Michigan? We're feeling very strong. What's the biggest issue in Michigan? It's trade. And Donald Trump has the best message and policy on trade of any of the candidates, bar none. That should be, I think, a strong contest for us.

[11:20:08] BERMAN: People say Trump has a ceiling. There are people who say if the field narrows anyone else would beat Donald Trump. In this new poll there's evidence of that. Head to head against Ted Cruz in the new national poll, you are losing to Ted Cruz. Head to head against Rubio in the new national poll, you're losing. There we go, 54-41, against Cruz, and losing to Rubio as well. If one of these candidates gets you alone, you have real issues?

MILLER: We relish the opportunity to go head to head with Ted Cruz. As you know with polls, a poll about the future isn't worth much. Donald Trump has had a huge lead in the polls at the state and national level. We would love for this to go to a head to head race, and Trump would win it. For that to happen, Rubio presumably would have to exit the race after losing Florida.

And I think it's history what's happening in Florida where you have a sitting senator who has basically unlimited financial resources at risk of losing his own state, having been groomed for the presidency since he was a young Senator, since the day he came into the Senate. That's a remarkable development. It stems from the fact that he campaigned on a pledge to defeat amnesty and then became the most pro amnesty lawmaker in all of America.

BOLDUAN: Steven, let me ask you about something that happened in Florida. Saturday night, Donald Trump and his press conference after the votes that he held in Florida. He was asked about his position on gay marriage. He refused to answer it.

For our viewers, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have policy on it, and I've said it very, very strongly. It's all done. How many times do I have to say it? It's like, David, it's like as an example, what is my position on 900 different things? I've said it 150 times. We're not here for discussing that, but everybody knows how I feel on it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What is it?

TRUMP: Question? Question?

David, sit down, please. David. David, sit down. You know my position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Talking to a reporter for "The Daily Mail," who is asking that question. You don't see his policy on the Donald Trump welcomes on same-sex marriage. Who is Donald Trump's position on same-sex marriage?

MILLER: Well, I think he's been clear in saying that he disagrees with the Supreme Court reaching a ruling for all 50 states and the decision should be left up to the states. I don't think there's any mystery there at all. He's been clear on that. He had a great point about being asked the same question over and over and over again. I want to, again, return to the point that what you're going to see in the days ahead in this election is the working people of this country who, let's be honest, they've been hammers. Working people have been hammered economically. Haven't seen a raise in decades. We're going to see working people in this country, Republicans, disaffected Democrats, Independents, rallying behind the candidacy of Donald Trump, the one who will disrupt the control of the oligarchy.

BERMAN: Steven, there are a lot of ads up against Donald Trump in Florida, played -- paid for by a bunch of groups. One of them goes after your candidate on the language he uses. We don't have time for much of it. We'll show what it looks like on the screen.

But, I'm curious, Donald Trump, if he's worth $10 billion or however many billions, why doesn't he start spending money in the campaign? I know he's advertising a little bit, but why not go big on advertising and let people throw these ads up unanswered? He says he's going to respond on Twitter and Facebook. I don't think a lot of people in Florida are using Twitter or Facebook.

MILLER: One historic development in this campaign, in addition to the failure of the prognostication class, is money doesn't have the influence it used to have. Voters are saying they're not influenced by special-interest ad buys. You've seen that state after state. And the returns Trump has seen with the efficient spending is what we need for this country. The government gets more by spending less. We're proud of the fact that we've spent less than other campaigns and we haven't had to rely on heavy ad spending. That's a positive development, something we should be celebrating. Again, tens of millions of dollars are pouring into Florida and all across the country because special interests don't want to give up control. And what historic books will write about years from now is the people stood up and said we are not going to let special interests buy your democracy anymore.

BERMAN: I wonder what the history books will write about this election, the way it's been going so far.

Steven Miller, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Steven.

MILLER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Big donors are telling Bernie Sanders, whatever you do, do not surrender. But Hillary Clinton is making a big request of Democrats that sure seems like she's putting pressure on Sanders to get out.

[11:25:18] BERMAN: Plus, jitters in Rubioville. Rubio trailing Trump in his own state. How much of a must-win is Florida? We'll ask one of his biggest supporters, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:29:57] BERMAN: All right. Breaking news now. A major development in the case involving the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. A court ruled that one of the officers can be compelled to testify against his colleagues who are also charged in the case.

I want to bring in CNN correspondent, Miguel Marquez, who has been following this from the beginning.