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Donald Trump Wins Nevada Caucuses; Democrat Presidential Candidates Campaign in South Carolina. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired February 24, 2016 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so we talked to the Clinton camp. We're going to talk to the Sanders campaign as well. But first, there are other big stories to tell you about, what happened in the caucuses in Nevada, what's going on with this horrible weather over parts of the country. So let's get right to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now we're winning, winning, winning.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The majority of Republican voters in this country do not want Donald Trump to be the nominee.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The only campaign that can beat Donald Trump is this campaign.

TRUMP: We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will support the young people of this country.

BERNIE SANDERS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We look like hypocrites and fools to the entire world.

CLINTON: Every single somebody has hurled these charges against me it's proved to be nothing.

SANDERS: A psychoanalyst would have an interesting time with Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see that? I can see the top of the tornado starting sucking in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole entire hour started shaking. I was so scared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone. We do have some breaking news. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Chris is in South Carolina. Michaela and I are here in New York. Here is the big political news. Three big wins in a row for Donald Trump. Republican frontrunner gathering momentum after romping his rivals in the Nevada caucuses. Trump besting his closest rivals by nearly a two to one margin. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz battling it out for second place, though Marco Rubio is in second place, Chris.

CUOMO: Romping his rivals, a very Trumpian phrase there. With super Tuesday just around the corner, we're seeing an acceleration here. This was supposed to be about people cutting into his lead. It's going the other way in the race for the Republican nomination. So the question then becomes how will the Democrats respond to what's happening on that side and within their own ranks? CNN is the place for the best political coverage on television. And we're going prove it right now with Sara Murray in Las Vegas. Sara?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a high bar Chris. Good morning. There is no doubt there that was a blowout last night for Donald Trump. And if you were his rivals looking at him this morning you'd see that he won in New Hampshire. That is a centrist state. He has won in the South Carolina with conservatives in South Carolina, and now he has picked up his first win out west in a tricky caucus state. Meanwhile, all the rest of the Republicans are still fighting amongst themselves trying to convince voters they can be the alternative to Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Donald Trump emerging victorious for the third contest in a row.

TRUMP: We love Nevada. We love Nevada.

MURRAY: Dominating the Nevada caucuses and steamrolling his opponents.

TRUMP: And 46 percent with the Hispanics, 46 percent, number one with Hispanics.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We won the evangelicals. We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.

MURRAY: For both Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, a disappointing loss.

CRUZ: I want to congratulate Donald Trump on a strong evening tonight.

MURRAY: In his concession speech, Cruz pointing to his early Iowa caucus win and arguing he's the strongest argument to Trump.

CRUZ: The first four states have shown is that the only campaign that has beaten Donald Trump and the only campaign that can beat Donald Trump is this campaign. MURRAY: While Cruz advisors tell CNN the candidate has reached his

boiling point with Trump and to expect a more aggressive Cruz in the coming days.

Meanwhile the pressure is mounting on Dr. Ben Carson and John Kasich to drop out after their dismal results. Kasich's camp quick to rub salt in Rubio's wound in a biting press release saying "Senator Rubio just endured another disappointing performance despite being the highest spending candidate in Nevada."

Last night larger voter turnout caused some problems at the polls, like ballot shortages and incidents of volunteers checking in caucus goers without verifying I.D. Voters even took the Twitter to complain of poll workers openly showing support for Trump. Nevada GOP officials say there have been no official reports of voter irregularities or violations, and it's not against the rules for volunteers to wear candidate gear.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now one candidate we did not hear from last night was Marco Rubio after he looks like he's picking up that second place finish. He did do a little television this morning, though, where he said they hoped to win Nevada, but he's kind of shrugging off the loss, instead saying they are looking ahead to those March 1st state. But he did not articulate is where he thinks he can pose a serious challenge to Donald Trump or even beat him. And the pressure obviously is on to do that before time runs out. Back to you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sara, thanks so much for all of that. We want to bring in now Katrina Pierson, national spokesperson for the Trump campaign. Good morning, Katrina.

[08:05:05] KATRINA PIERSON, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Donald Trump won decisively last night across the board. Here's the last count. This is with 96 percent of the caucus votes in. He got 45.9 percent. If you add up his two closest competitors, Rubio and Cruz, they match him together. So does the campaign basically consider him to have a lock on the nomination?

PIERSON: You know, we feel really, really good about winning the nomination. And this goes to show you that this imaginary ceiling that all of the pundits and the establishment class continue to talk about just simply isn't there. Bush is out of the race and we still saw Donald Trump go up in the polls and in the caucus. And even if Marco Rubio got out or Ted Cruz got out some of that support is going to go to Donald Trump. At the end of the day most Americans want to make America great again.

CAMEROTA: Let's go through some of the findings of the entrance polls last night because they are very interesting how Nevada caucus goers made their decisions. Let's look at Latinos. This was the demographic group that people predicted Trump would not be able to win because he had alienated them. He got 45 percent over Rubio and Cruz who are Hispanic. Now it has been pointed out this is a small sample, and as goes Nevada may not go the rest of the country.

PIERSON: Well, that is true. But I'll also say that polling in that state has shown that Mr. Trump has been doing very well with the Latino voters there. And we have also heard he won't do well with women and he won't do with educated, and we have seen that just get crushed across the board whether it's in Nevada or South Carolina. Mr. Trump is resonating. And regardless of whether or not you like his personality, most Americans know that Donald Trump is the strongest on border security, national security, the economy and jobs, and that is what's most important to people today.

CAMEROTA: Another group he did very well with that he was not expected to according to the pundits was evangelicals. Let's look at how he did with evangelicals. Last night going in 41 percent of people who describe them as born again, evangelical Christians went for Mr. Trump. That was supposed to be soundly in the Ted Cruz column. He got 26 percent. How do you explain, given that Ted Cruz has talked so much more about the Bible, about his religion, and connected with evangelicals, how do you explain Donald Trump winning?

PIERSON: Well that is also a growing trend which we started out in South Carolina where Senator Cruz didn't win a single county in that state. But, again, it is just because people are tired of politics as usual. They are tired of the politics going out there making promises and not keeping them. They want someone strong, someone bold, someone fresh, someone that is not beholden to special interests, which most of these other candidates are.

If you are an elected official today, chances are you have been bought and paid for. And if you look at those campaign finance reform, it doesn't take long to show that Donald Trump is only person that, a, can win the general election with the broad base of support, and can go out and do the will of the people because he's not beholden those special interests.

CAMEROTA: Hold on a second, because we have an entrance poll that suggests he is actually not the person that voters consider most electable. This is very interesting. This is the one where Marco Rubio won. Look at this. It was asked who can win in November. And 51 percent of the caucus goers believe it is Marco Rubio. Only 33 percent said Donald Trump. So isn't that a fly in the ointment of your plan moving forward?

PIERSON: Not at all, not at all, Alisyn, and that is because in those hypotheticals things are always shifting. Donald Trump has beaten Hillary in some of the polls as well. But what we are seeing now that votes are being cast, it is very plausible that Donald Trump will be able to take this. He is the candidate that is most inspiring. He is the candidate that has drawn the biggest crowds. And he is the candidate that is winning. And that is extremely important.

Republican primary voters have been conditioned over the last five or six years to assume that only a Hispanic candidate can win in the general election this time and that is just simply not true. Donald Trump has been beating those paradigms and that conditioning and striking a cord with Americans across the board. CAMEROTA: One of the things, though, that voters say they want is to

stop the vitriol, stop the nastiness, stop all the mudslinging. It may be effective, but when you ask voters they really bristle at that. They say don't like it. And a couple of weeks ago Donald Trump said that he would be toning down his rhetoric at some point. But apparently the past 24 hours was not the time for that because he yet again made some more incendiary remarks in the past 24 hours. So let me just play a little montage of some of the things that he has said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We won the evangelicals. We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.

[08:10:05] And 68 percent would not leave under any circumstances. I think that means murder, I think it means anything, OK.

The guards are very gentle with him. He's walking out big high five, smiling, laughing. I'd like to punch him in the face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: OK. So once again he could murder someone, he could punch someone in the face. When exactly will Mr. Trump be toning down the rhetoric as promised?

PIERSON: That's not exactly vitriol --

CAMEROTA: It is violence. It is actually suggesting violence, Katrina.

PIERSON: It's joking. It's joking, Alisyn. And most people do get that including those who support Mr. Trump.

And it's funny. Mr. Trump has fun on the campaign trail. That is not vitriolic. But I will also say this -- Donald Trump does not have a super PAC out there smearing people's characters and assassinating their records. He does not have a team sitting down trying to come up with ways to thwart their candidacy. He is running a campaign on his platform, and he will defend himself when attacked.

CAMEROTA: Ted Cruz has said that he feels attacked by Donald Trump, and he has said to one of our reporters, his people have said that he is going to change his tact and he is going to get more aggressive now in calling out Donald Trump and going after him. Let me play for you what Ted Cruz has -- OK, let me read it. It says "It is only so long that you can take someone calling you liar when you are not lying. It has gotten to the point of absurdity. We have got to put a stop to it." What do you think is going to happen in the debate this week when Ted Cruz and Donald Trump go against each other?

PIERSON: I think that is a great question. We're heading into the Texas which is a state that Senator Cruz absolutely has to win and win big, by the way. So we'll see. A lot of voters in Texas don't like the nastiness, and Senator Cruz should know that. And the fact that he's the one that's been bringing up the attacks on Trump and declining in the polls should speak volumes. It is not working for him. Senator Cruz's campaign has already admitted to running false ads in Iowa. And now we have Mr. Cruz having to fire his campaign spokesperson because they were running false videos on Marco Rubio. There is a credibility issue there. Senator Cruz would do best to focus on what he would do to make the country great again and stop attacking the one candidate that is coalescing the party.

CAMEROTA: Katrina Pierson from the Trump campaign, thanks so much for being on.

The final debate before super Tuesday takes place tomorrow night right here on CNN. Our own Wolf Blitzer moderates as the five Republican rivals face off in Houston at 8:30 eastern tomorrow night only on CNN.

Let's get down to Columbia, South Carolina where we find Chris this morning. Hey, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, and in the other side of this race for president we have Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders trying to seal the deal with voters here in South Carolina, specifically looking at the African- American community. Why? Expected to be 50 percent plus of the overall take here at the primary poll.

So let's bring in CNN's Joe Johns with highlights from last night. There's no question there is a lot on the table. There were cases to be made and points of contrast. How was it done?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And I think last night we were beginning to see the final positioning of the Democratic candidates before the South Carolina primary. It was a little more reflective. They were toning down the rhetoric directed at each other and sharpening their attacks on Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: After a loss in Nevada, and trailing in the polls ahead of the South Carolina primary, Bernie Sanders ramping up his attacks on frontrunner Hillary Clinton, repeating calls for her to release transcripts of paid speeches she made to Wall Street banks.

SANDERS: I am very happy to release all of my paid speeches to Wall Street. Here it is, Chris. There ain't none. I don't do that.

JOHNS: Clinton instead calling on the Vermont senator and their Republican rivals to do the same.

CLINTON: Why is there one standard for me and not for everybody else, Chris?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: I mean, I have been up front and strong on this issue for a long time, as strong, I would argue, as my esteemed opponent. So if people are going to ask for things, everybody should be on a level playing field. JOHNS: Clinton counterattacking, labeling Sanders a single issue

candidate. But Sanders dismissed the one-note characterization.

SANDERS: What I am fighting for right now is a political revolution in which government starts working for working people and for the middle class.

JOHNS: One common theme between the candidates, courting South Carolina's African-American voters who strongly support the president.

SANDERS: On the day Obama was inaugurated Republicans came together and said what are we going to do?

[08:15:00] And what they concluded is we're going to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. What you're seeing today in this Supreme Court situation is nothing more than the continuous and unprecedented obstructionism that President Obama has gone through.

JOHNS (voice-over): Even calling questions about the president's birth certificate racially motivated.

SANDERS: The birther issue, which we heard from Donald Trump and others, a racist effort to try to delegitimatize the president of the United States. My dad, as I mentioned, came from Poland. I'm running for president. Guess what? Nobody has asked for my birth certificate. Maybe it's the color of my skin. I don't know.

JOHNS: Clinton's strategy appealing to voters with a personal touch.

CLINTON: I think it's important for people, and particularly for white people, to be honest about those and to recognize that our experiences may not equip us to understand what a lot of our African American fellow citizens go through every single day.

JOHNS: But once again facing questions about her e-mails as a federal judge Tuesday paved the way for possible future subpoenas against Clinton and her aides.

CLINTON: Every single time somebody has hurled these charges against me, which they have done, it's proved to be nothing. And this is no different than that. I have turned over 55,000 pages of e-mails. Nobody in any cabinet position has ever been as transparent or open.

JOHNS: Sanders also opening up in a reflective moment.

SANDERS: If I let those people down who have fait in me, that's a scary thing when so many people have faith in your and believe you can do something. So, it scares me very much. If I ever let those people down it would be a terrible, terrible thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (on camera): Now it's all about getting out to vote. Hillary Clinton's campaign clearly focused on that at this stage. Bernie Sanders holding a news conference this morning to talk about his economic agenda for South Carolina. CUOMO: There was a lot to take home for voters there last night.

That's why we do the town halls. Joe Johns, thank you very much. Appreciate the reporting on it.

When we come back, Bernie Sanders is taking a new tact on African American voters here in South Carolina and a new tact when it comes to dealing with points of contrast with Secretary Clinton. We're going bring in his campaign manager for his take on the new strategy and its impact, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:21:03] CUOMO: Jeff Weaver, you know him. He's the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders. They had a new angle last night that we saw at the town hall. Let's talk to him about it right now, what went into it and why. But I know you've got one word in your head right now, Jeff Weaver.

JEFF WEAVER, CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR BERNIE SANDERS: Poll.

CUOMO: What poll do you want to talk about? These...

WEAVER: The Reuters poll.

CUOMO: ... Reuters numbers, you like them. Why?

WEAVER: Reuters poll, six points up nationally, fantastic. Look at that.

CUOMO: First poll to have you up nationally?

WEAVER: No, there was a Fox poll that had us up nationally by three points, so.

CUOMO: What do you see in that poll? I know you see them just as moments in time, suggestive not predictive, but what does it mean to you.

WEAVER: Well, I think it defeats this whole narrative that somehow Nevada was a set back for our campaign. Look...

CUOMO: The momentum has shifted. You reject it.

WEAVER: Yes, absolutely, 100 percent. Look, five weeks ago we were 25 points down in Nevada. We came within five points. We won Latinos in Nevada. So, I mean, our campaign is feeling really great. We're going into Super Tuesday.

CUOMO: I know the organization is expanding, I know the conversations are as well, specifically with elected leaders, party officials, known as super delegates across this country.

WEAVER: Right.

CUOMO: Huge numbers. Committed. That - that word has to be in quotes because they can vote for whoever the heck they we want -- they want.

WEAVER: Right.

CUOMO: In 2008 we saw people shift (inaudible)...

WEAVER: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Then Senator Obama started to make ground. What conversations are you having? How are they going? Because that is the big obstacle for you guys.

WEAVER: Yes, well we have ongoing conversations, and look, I mean, what it's going to take over time is as we go through the process and people vote for Bernie Sanders in their respective states, I think you're going to start to see the super delegates start to move in his direction. I mean, that's just the way it is. I just don't think in the Democratic they're going to use super delegates to take away the vote from the grassroots. That's just not the way the party...

CUOMO: You're not going to go straight politic and you're going to go populist, and when the votes in the states...

WEAVER: Absolutely.

CUOMO: ... suggest an outcome they may not have anticipated then they'll shift. All right, so you have to play it out over time.

So, last night ...

WEAVER: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Bernie Sanders' policies are not a stretch for the lower socioeconomic strata and for minority voters, and yet he did not beat them over the head with be for me, look at my policies. He started talking about the birther movement against President Obama.

WEAVER: Right.

CUOMO: Unprompted, right?

WEAVER: Right, right.

CUOMO: And racism as a motivation for it.

WEAVER: Right.

CUOMO: Why?

WEAVER: Well look, he's talking about race all throughout this campaign, and as you know, his political life began in the Civil Rights movement. We've recently seen pictures and videos coming out of the '60s of Bernie Sanders being arrested fighting school segregation in Chicago. So -- but, you know, the issue of race is a very important issue and he's talked about it throughout the campaign, obviously in the context of criminal justice reform, but also in the terms - in terms of making sure that opportunity goes down to all communities in this country and not just to a few people.

CUOMO: Let's play it. This is what the senator said last night.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

CUOMO: Do you believe that Trump was motivated by racism, as you suggest the movement was about?

SANDERS: Look, I don't want to -- you know, I'm not a psychoanalyst. And boy, would a psychoanalyst have an interesting time with Donald Trump. Look, you could disagree with Obama all you want, but to say that the president of the United States, who won an election fair and square, was not a legitimate president really undermines what we are as a nation.

Do I think that at least in some parts of that Republican base there is race involved in that? Absolutely.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

CUOMO: Now, just to be clear, I was not prompting the idea of race. I think you could attack the birther movement 100 ways and never even use a word that beings with R.

WEAVER: Right, right, right.

CUOMO: The senator wanted to discuss it in those terms.

WEAVER: Right.

CUOMO: Is that - now what's the negative? People say, oh, are you pandering to blacks on the idea of racism? What is your calculation?

WEAVER: Well, it's not - it's not about a calculation at all. I mean, this happens to be the reality. I mean, as Bernie pointed out, you know, his father was born abroad, right? He's a first generation American and no one's ever asked him for his birth certificate. Why is that? Why - why was President Obama subjected to such scrutiny on this issue when other people are not?

CUOMO: Show the speeches. Last night I thought he was going to hit me. Rose his hands all like...

WEAVER: Right, right.

CUOMO: He goes, here are all my Wall Street speeches.

WEAVER: Right.

CUOMO: The point is obvious. I don't play that game, Hillary Clinton does. Is it fair to chase her about transcripts of speeches?

[08:25:03] WEAVER: Oh, absolutely. Look, this is a race to be president of the United States. There's obviously some serious questions. Her campaign receives millions and millions and millions of dollars either itself or its Super PAC from Wall Street and other corporate interests. She was obviously paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per occasion, you know, equating to millions of dollars of speeches to banks, foreign banks, pharmaceutical companies, all kinds of interest.

You know, and in those contracts it said a transcript would be created in each case. What was said in those private meetings that was worth 225 or $285,000?

CUOMO: The suggestion is that there's something bad in there and that's why you're asking for that.

WEAVER: Well, if there's not, then let's see them.

CUOMO: But does it create a false standard? And do you play into the drip, drip, drip against Hillary Clinton, something that the senator has sworn off long ago, that he didn't want to be part of that hate parade?

WEAVER: Well, the drip is caused by the fact that they won't just release them. If they release them, there's no drip, drip.

CUOMO: But then the Clintons will say but then there's another thing. And then it's that they want something else, and then they want to see different things than anybody else shows and it's an unfair standard.

WEAVER: Well, if you want to be president of the United States I don't think it's unfair.

CUOMO: You have to go after it. The shtick that she's using, we played the ad last night, one issue candidate. The senator last night said you - he was -- he made a joke out of it. He said you come, I talk for an hour and a half and it's incredibly boring...

WEAVER: That's true, that's true, that's true.

CUOMO: ... about a hundred different things. Is his theory the case, though, that there is one issue, it is this imbalance and it feeds everything else? I didn't hear him say that as much last night, why?

WEAVER: Well, there is a connection, obviously, between many of these things, but he does talk about, you know, he talks about higher education, he talks about healthcare, he talks about criminal justice reform, he talks about immigration reform, he talks about tax reform.

I mean, you've been to these events. They go on and on and on and on and they cover the water front. I mean, "The Washington Post" just did a story that sort of mocked the Clinton campaign's comments on this, saying the single issue candidate tonight talked about 20 different issues. So, I mean, it's just - you know, it's part of a talking point for a campaign, but it's not real.

CUOMO: Jeff Weaver, continuing to move forward. Always good to have you on NEW DAY.

WEAVER: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: See you again (ph).

WEAVER: Happy to be here.

CUOMO: So, we'll take a quick break here. Let's move from the Democrats over to the GOP side. Voters in Nevada sent a very clear message. Donald Trump is who they want. Every group that you measure, he won. We're going to get the take of the chairman of the Republican National Committee. What will the party do at convention time?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)