Return to Transcripts main page


Sunday Democrat Debate Previewed; Interview with John Kasich. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 4, 2016 - 14:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, BROOKE BCNN: For Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the debate stage, they're about to step on could be their most politically charged yet. The Sunday CNN face-off takes place in Flint, Michigan, the city thrust into the national spotlight after it was discovered the tap water there has been laced with toxic lead. Joining me now, Brianna Keilar, CNN Senior Political Correspondent. Brianna Keilar, live there in Detroit. What are you hearing from Hillary Clinton's camp as far as the strategy Sunday?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what they're expecting and we're learning this from campaign sources, Brooke, is that Bernie Sanders is going to come to play and they are fully preparing for that. They see this as one of his really last chances to make an impact because, certainly, he's facing an uphill battle, almost an impossible battle, to get Hillary Clinton out of the way on his effort to the nomination. And so they're expecting him to really try to come out with something big.

And so that's how they're preparing really to push back on him for that. I think also the preview they're getting of his message here in Michigan has to do with trade. He's been hitting her over and over for supporting NAFTA and a number of other free trade agreements and certainly he's trying to court the labor vote with that.

Also the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, which you may have heard of, which she touted many, many times as secretary of state, ultimately they'll coming out recently against as a candidate. And, you know, so that's one of the reasons why she's here where she's certainly courting labor support. This is a car parts manufacturing plant.

[14:35:01] She's going to be talking about bringing jobs back to America and benefits for companies that bring back research and development dollars and also punishing companies to do the opposite.

BALDWIN: Yeah. And, you know, we've talked before and I remember, you know, when right ahead one of the Caucuses primary is Hillary Clinton took a moment on a Sunday to go to Flint, Michigan. This is a story that we've been highlighting here on CNN for a number of months and I'm just wondering how the story line of the people in Flint, their plight, especially that of the children, will weave its way on to that statge Sunday night.

KEILAR: I think this is something that is going to be center stage. You've seen Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both visit Flint. Hillary Clinton has raised money for Flint. I think what they're going to come with and perhaps we haven't heard before, is maybe some specific proposals. There's been certainly a lot of blame I think for Republican lawmakers and the Republican governor. And so I think we're going to see exactly what they have to say to a national audience. But, certainly, they've been courting a local audience in recent weeks and months as they try to show that they are supporting the people of Flint here.

BALDWIN: Jamal Simmons is joining me as well, Democratic Strategist and Principal of the Raben Group. Jamal, you know, Brianna hits on the points that, listen, she -- you know, sources are saying Bernie Sanders is coming to play Sunday night. He says he has the money. He says he's in it to win it through at least July. How do you see this playing out in your perspective?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, & PRINCIPAL, RABEN GROUP: Well, I think Senator Sanders has run a fantastic campaign, organizing young people, getting a lot of progressives involved, what he's doing online, what he's doing in the, you know, Twitterverse has all been amazing. We haven't seen -- you know, we haven't seen in South Carolina his ability to kind of convert that into real live bodies at polls. And I think that's something that's something that's going to -- the people are going to be watching for it to see if he can convert in some of these big cities, in these big states, like Michigan and Ohio, where someone like Senator Clinton probably has some really built-in advantages because of name ID organization, history, all those things. So we're all going to be watching to see how it plays out on Sunday and going forward.

BALDWIN: And let just remind everyone ahead of Sunday, you have tomorrow, Super Saturday. It's Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, they're all, you know, making their picks before the Dem Caucus in Maine on Sunday. How do you think this will play for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders?

SIMMONS: You know what's important about Flint, it's not just and on Detroit and so I know a lot of people are really passionate about this. It's not just what happened in Flint that's going to matter in Michigan. Being focused on Flint is something along with criminal justice that African-Americans, in particular around the country, have been very focused on and also a lot of people who aren't African Americans but who are worried about these children and the plight they face.

So for democrats, you know, this is one of those issues that gets that infrastructure, it gets that Republican control, state government. It gets that whether or not the children, they need from education and health perspective. It touches a lot of hot buttons and democratic constituencies. So it will play for all of them. What they talk about tomorrow night or Sunday night in Flint will play all over the country for democrats.

BALDWIN: Jamal Simmons, Brianna Keilar, thank you both very much, on the Dem side. Coming up next ...

SIMMONS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: ... will be Republican race come down to two key battleground on states of Florida and Ohio. We will talk live to the man who wants to be president, Ohio Governor, John Kasich, who has been called best (ph) far in this race, especially given all his plan on the debate state last night in Detroit ,the only adult in the room.

[14:38:39] We'll talk to him live coming up.


BALDWIN: I've been mentioning a moment, Donald Trump out and about on the trail today in Cadillac, Michigan, again, bringing up his hands. Roll it.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Chris Christie went after him in the last debate previous, I never saw it. I'm standing here and I'm looking to Marco and I'm saying, "Is he okay?" And I see the sweat pouring. And Chris is going at him. And Marco, you know, he's got that little flippant mouth but a lot of times it doesn't work under pressure. And Marco is sweating, he's pouring down. And then he repeats himself once, twice, three times. I said, after the third time, I said, well, what's going on, four times. And then the fifth time -- and I thought he was going down for the count and I was ready to go because I want to show off, you know, what a good athlete I am.

I want to show the size of my hands so I could grab him. I want to grab him. I could grab that guy like nothing will hold him up and I didn't want him to get hurt, hitting his head when he went down. But this is not what we need when we negotiate against China and Putin and all of these killers, all right? It's not what we need. So anyway, but ...

AUDIENCE: USA! Don't trust no (inaudible).

TRUMP: Get them out of here. Get them out. Get them out of here. Get them out. Are these rallies the most fun of everybody? We have the most fun. Do we have the most fun? Yeah, get him out of here. Get him out. Get him out. So disruptive. Remember when Bernie Sanders ...


BALDWIN: That was moments ago in Cadillac, Michigan. Mr. Trump, one of the few remaining here who would like to be the next president of the United States. But someone else would like to take that from him. Governor John Kasich of Ohio joins me now live from the Conservative Political Action Conference where he just wrapped up his speech.

[14:45:02] Governor, so wonderful to have you on. Welcome.


BALDWIN: On your debate performance last night, Ari Fleischer quote,"Kasich had the best night." Mark Halperin, "You won." Michigan lieutenant, Governor Brian Kelly, "I thought John Kasich came off as a breath of fresh air among a lot of arguing." Governor, what does it feel like to be the adult in the room?

KASICH: Well, it feels great. And by the way, I just spoke to the Conservative Political Action group, about 4000 people, and I got the great reception here. It's really exciting because there are a lot of people out here saying, "Was Kasich really a Conservative?" And I laid it out today and they responded with great enthusiasm. It was fantastic.

BALDWIN: Governor, to be -- in addition to being on the stage there at CPAC, to be on the stage last night in Detroit and when you hear ...


BALDWIN: ... what was being thrown around about the size of Trump's hands and Cruz telling him to breathe and count to 10 and Rubio's line about yoga and being flexible, Governor, this is the race for the White House, what is happening?

KASICH: Well, you know, I'm controlling myself here. I just kind of watch it, some of it, but yeah, I don't pay that much attention. I just do think that the idea -- first of all, you're not going to be Trump by calling him names. You beat Trump with a record and a vision that can respond to the very deep concerns that Americans have. And they are worried about their jobs. They haven't had a wage increase, they're getting no interest from the banks where they put their money, their sons and daughters are living in their basement with a lot of debt from college. I get all that. And you got to have a specific plan to fix it. I've done it in Washington. I'm doing it in Ohio and I want to go back and do it again. And that's why a lot of these Trump's supporters, when they get a chance to see me, a number of them are coming my way which is really interesting.

BALDWIN: How do you know that?

KASICH: Well, it was a focus group last night that I was invited to and there were three people interviewed. One, two, three, they all went into the focus group for Trump and they came out and they were for Kasich. I mean that was their declaration. So, we'll send you clip so you can see it. It was pretty interesting but that's not a surprise to me.

BALDWIN: I'll take your word for it.

KASICH: Although, I tell you why -- no, but I'll tell you why it's not a surprise because I've never been in the Establishment. I've always fought the Establishment and I won. And the fact to the matter is balancing the budget, reforming the Pentagon, you know, taking on the nursing home lobby in my state, those are not things that Establishment people do. So people get a sense of that when they get to know me. Frankly, most people still do not know me because I've had limited airtime, because I don't call names. But that's okay. I'm the last governor standing in this race. BALDWIN: And, you know, you talk about the Establishment and I am curious though because when you think of Establishment, you also think of Mitt Romney who gave that huge 20 minutes speech eviscerating indictment of Donald trump. Yesterday from the University of Utah, from what I have read, Governor, you know, you did have a conversation with him ahead of time. You did not love the idea of personally attacking Mr. Trump. Can you share a little bit of that conversation you had with the former Massachusetts Governor?

KASICH: No, not really, anymore that Trump is going to release his tape to the media or Times. No, no, I'm not going to -- but look, I'm not in any coordinated effort with anybody. People have counted me out all along and I'm like the little engine that can. We have not spent the money or raise the money of others and I'm still now down of one to four and I'm going to win Ohio. And when I win Ohio, it's going to be a whole new ball game and everybody better fasten their seatbelts because we're in for an unbelievable conclusion to all of this. And we're probably going to end up at a convention.

BALDWIN: How are you feeling going into the all-important March 15th Ohio?

KASICH: I feel good. We have to work there. I have to show people in Ohio that, you know, and ask them for their support and remind them of what we've achieved in the state and hopefully they'll come out and vote for me. I mean, it's really critical because I think if you can't win your own home state, I think you've got to think about calling it a day.

BALDWIN: So on that note, if you do not win, would you have a real, as we would say in the South, come to Jesus moment, I mean, would that potentially be the end for you?

KASICH: Well, I kind of have a come to Jesus moment all the time everyday, you know? Look, we're going to win Ohio, so what's going to be interesting is we'll probably going to end up in brokered convention. I mean if I win 68 percent of the remaining delegates or Marco win 64 or Cruz win 60 percent, you know, we won't have a convention. But I don't think that's likely to happen and I think Donald will fall short. So you're going to have a great time in Cleveland. The food is great, spend a lot of money, have a ball.

BALDWIN: Great Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum there as well, but let me stay on Cleveland.

KASICH: Yes. Yes.

[14:50:00] BALDWIN: So would that be ideal, though? I mean, there are certainly that opening from Mitt Romney yesterday, the notion of a brokered convention. Is that what you would be looking for?

KASICH: Well, I'm just looking to perform. I'm looking to win Ohio, go to Pennsylvania, go to the Eastern seaboard, go out west, that's what I'm looking forward to. I'm just saying that that is a likely outcome but it's not guaranteed. But I have to win Ohio. I mean, that's what matters so much. And I think it's going to ultimately matter to many, many people in the Republican Party.

So I'm going to give it my best, Brooke, and we'll see what happens. I mean, you know, I'm trying as hard as I can and we're making a lot of progress.

BALDWIN: What did you make of Governor -- of Mitt Romney saying, you know, listen, go vote for the candidate who's strongest in each state, go vote for John Kasich in Ohio, go vote for Marco Rubio in Florida and down the line vote for Ted Cruz, again, potentially. Is that the strategy you wanted to hear playing out on national television yesterday?

KASICH: I'm always for people saying they should vote for me. Brooke, if you would say go to Ohio and vote for John Kasich, I'd be thrilled. I mean ...

BALDWIN: What about Florida?

KASICH: ... of course, I want endorsements. Well, I mean, look, I'm going to be in Florida. I'm going to spend bulk of my time in Ohio. I'm not sure I'm going to go to Florida. But, I don't -- that's all process.

What I want to do is continue to tell people about my programs that create jobs, improve wages, pay down debt, empower people where they live so we can fix America, not just from the top-down, but the bottom-up as well. So when I'm talking about process, I'm not talking about the things that I think that people really care about.

BALDWIN: Final question, all these months on the road, on the trail, what has surprised you the most?

KASICH: Well, no question about it. The people have come to my town halls and, I don't know, by the grace of God, I guess, they tell me some of the most intimate things that bother them in their life and they say it in front of other people where I guess they feel safe. And sometimes all they want is a hug. Sometimes all they want is a picture. Sometimes all they want is for somebody to listen to them. And you know what I found, there's a lot of lonely people in America and we need to reach out to them. And I've just been privileged to see this happened. It changed my life. It slowed me down. And I'm a better man for it.

BALDWIN: Ohio Governor John Kasich, live there at CPAC. Sir, I appreciate your time.

KASICH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much, good luck. Good luck.

KASICH: Thank you, Brooke. Thank you.

[14:52:32] BALDWIN: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: This year marks the 10th anniversary of CNN heroes, everyday people changing the world. And today we introduce the very first CNN hero of 2016. His work is motivated by a troubling statistic. Nearly half of all African-American children in the United States grow up without a steady father figure. Sheldon Smith was one of them. And today he is helping dads like himself take a better path.

SHELDON SMITH, THE DOVETAIL PROJECT FOUNDER: I grew up broken. I was hurt but I was able to overcome all of those things. What I want for these young men is for them to be involved and engage in their children's life, to give their children what I missed as a boy which was a great father, someone who would be there for me and give me the advice that I need to be a successful young man today.

BALDWIN: How does he do that? You can watch Sheldon's story right now at And while you're there, nominate someone you think should be a 2016 CNN hero.

Next, much more on our breaking news here out of Los Angeles. Police, they are testing a knife apparently found at O.J. Simpson's former estate. What officials are saying about this extraordinary find? You're watching CNN. We'll be right back.