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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Florida Is Do-or-Die for Rubio; Can Michigan Upset Spark Sanders Surprise; RNC Lawsuit On Clinton E-mails; Cruz Holds Impromptu Press Conference. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 9, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also with us, Susan Del Percio, former Rudy Giuliani administration official and senior adviser and spokesperson for the Committee to Draft Speaker Ryan as President.

If only we had time to talk about that, but we don't.

(LAUGHTER)

Rosemary, I want to talk with you. In Florida right now, lot of talk about what Marco Rubio should or shouldn't do after this really bad night for him. What happens to his career going forward in your state if he doesn't win Florida?

ROSEMARY O'HARA, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL: You know, it has all unraveled so quickly. He has bet everything on winning here and yet, as you point out, the latest polls show him down 20 percentage points to Trump. You know, we didn't endorse Marco Rubio in this election and he's our home town Senator, because we don't think he's qualified. Really, his whole career has been about running for office and when he gets there, he doesn't go to work very much. So what will he do if he doesn't win the election? You know, I think he's just so focused on Tuesday and so it's got to be heartbreaking for him because he's just put his whole heart into this thing and people haven't rallied around him as the person who is most qualified for the job.

BERMAN: Susan, last night, I said I was going to hold off on Speaker Ryan, but last night, Donald Trump made a point of saying that he had a phone conversation with House Speaker Paul Ryan after he suggested that things may not go well for Ryan. He said it was a good conversation and conciliatory. A lot of people looking at what Donald Trump did last night and say, here's Donald Trump trying to seem more mild, perhaps, trying to reach out to the Republican establishment. Is there any possibility to make any inroads for Donald Trump with people like Paul Ryan?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, SENIOR ADVISOR & SPOKESPERSON, COMMITTEE TO DRAFT SPEAKER RYAN AS PRESIDENT & FORMER RUDY GIULIANI ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It doesn't look like that is going to happen. First, those inroads won't happen unless people elect him as president, which is starting to look less and less likely when you look at the national polls. He's losing very badly to Hillary Clinton. And I think we go into a contested convention. And now we see Ted Cruz is actually on the move. He's moving in Florida, where no one expected it. This endorsement by Carly Fiorina is really probably one of the most meaningful endorsements that we've seen all cycle going into Florida's --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Why?

DEL PERCIO: Because she adds a different perspective to -- or a different side of Ted Cruz that I think most people don't -- makes most people uncomfortable. So seeing a woman by his side speaking for him on his behalf really does make a difference and I think people -- and a lot of people liked Carly. They liked what she said and couldn't get any team, mostly because she didn't have any money.

BERMAN: Kelly, one of the things that happened that was interesting last night, your guy, Ted Cruz, he finished second in Michigan.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Yes.

BERMAN: He edged out John Kasich in Michigan.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Like Hillary Clinton. She finished second.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: John Kasich badly wanted to finish second in Michigan going into Ohio. He tried very, very hard. What do you think that does for the Ohio race? Does that give Donald Trump a bump?

CONWAY: It does. To governor Kasich's credit, he got re-elected in Ohio 16 short months ago. He's still the same guy they reelected by 18 percentage points less than a year and a half ago. That's the difference between Kasich in Ohio and Rubio in Florida. Rubio in Florida, the Tea Party insurgent who toppled Charlie Crist in 2010, is not the Rubio in 2016 running as the establishment-backed candidate and not able to get traction in what is clearly in Florida and elsewhere an outsider's race. I think that is different. Governor Kasich seems to have much more of an advantage to win Ohio, to really compete in Ohio in the next six days than Senator Rubio does in Florida.

In addition, I'd like to say the Carly endorsement is important for another reason, and it's that she will be very -- Carly Fiorina will be incredibly effective of lumping together Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: It's a very smart strategy. And she's probably the best messenger I can think of to do that, because Donald Trump insulted her looks. Look at that face. I say, look at that beautiful face. I think, of Carly, listen to that big brain. And voters will. She had an impact on the race that can't be seen in delegates. It's almost an intangible aspect. She'll take Hillary Clinton on, and she'll do that now as the surrogate.

BERMAN: I have to say, let the record that when you talk about Marco Rubio not having a path in Florida, all three of you were nodding your head in agreement, which is a remarkable thing to sit here six days before the primary and have all of you agree on that.

Rosemary, let me ask you about another Florida figure. Former Governor Jeb Bush, a lot of people have been wondering, will he, when he? Is he going to endorse Marco Rubio? If he was, does he have second thoughts based on what happened yesterday?

O'HARA: Well, to have impact, he needs to do it soon. That he hasn't done it seems to be sending a really strong message.

You know, I just wanted to talk about on the ground here in Florida, it doesn't feel like Cruz is making a lot of ground. This still feels like a Trump/Rubio race here in Florida. And you know they are both from Florida. And there's a certain irony here as well, that this is the first year that Florida has a winner-take-all primary. And the reason that we moved the date back is because our legislature thought that Jeb Bush would be in the lead. So as it was -- Cruz would have more opportunity to get more votes, and Rubio, if they hadn't changed the date. But all eyes were on Jeb when this thing began and that's why the date is Tuesday and now here we are looking for Jeb.

[11:35:52] BERMAN: Here we are.

Big debate tomorrow night where things can change.

Guys, thanks so much for being with us. I really appreciate it.

All right. Bernie Sanders, what an upset in Michigan. Maybe the biggest upset of the political season right ahead of the big debate tonight on CNN. So, can what he did in Michigan translate to the debate stage in Florida and maybe have an impact in Ohio and Illinois? See if you can follow me right there. We'll discuss, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:40:40] BERMAN: All right. What a night in Miami. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton face off in a debate that you can watch right here in CNN. Such a different atmosphere following the stunning Sanders upset in Michigan. Florida votes next Tuesday. New CNN polls show that Hillary Clinton has a big lead in Florida. Look at that, 61 to 34 percent.

Want to bring in CNN political commentators, Bill Press and Patty Solis Doyle. Bill is a Bernie Sanders supporter. Patty is a former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton

Let me say right off the bat, Bill, this debate tonight, what a different scene it's going to be now after what happened in Michigan.

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think you'll have to excuse Bernie if he takes a victory lap at the debate tonight. And certainly well deserved. Bernie must feel like Mark Twain this morning, the reports of my death have been largely exaggerated. All across the networks just a couple of days ago, everybody was writing Bernie's political obituary. This was a huge win for him last night, came from only 30 points behind. It really shows, I think, that that message of his, of jobs and trade, and his appeal to the people really feel left behind by the political and the financial establishment, is resonating in these Rust Belt states. It certainly sets him up for next week in Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri. Bottom line, last night, Hillary Clinton won a state that Democrats will not win in November and Bernie Sanders won a state that Democrats must win in November, and everybody ought to take a very close look at that.

BERMAN: Patty, let's stipulate that Hillary Clinton actually won more delegates last night, and this is a delegate game, and we know that's important. At the same time, we also know that she badly wanted to win in Michigan and this does change the scenario for her. So what does she need to do on the stage tonight to correct whatever did go wrong in Michigan?

PATTY SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, first of all, I will give it to Bernie Sanders. He had a fantastic victory in Michigan last night, a must-win state for him. But you said that the delegates are important. They are not just important. It's crucial. I lived through it in '08, with Barack Obama, against Barack Obama. He won the sweep of the southern states. Then we moved on to other states like Ohio and Pennsylvania where Hillary Clinton won, and she still lost. And right now, Hillary is winning by a greater margin than Barack Obama ever did in 2008 in terms of the delegates.

But having said all of that, sure, I do think that tonight's debate, she's going to have to not so much go after Bernie Sanders but really sort of retool her message to focus on the economy.

BERMAN: Right.

SOLIS DOYLE: You know, talk to working class voters. That's where she came up short in Michigan yesterday and she really needs to sort of pivot to that message hard and strong.

BERMAN: And you can see it in the exit polls, right? If you ask the voters in Michigan about the issue of free trade, how do they feel about free trade, the exit polls -- and I think we have that number -- are pretty clear that the voters in Michigan are not at all happy about the idea of free trade. You can see it right there. They say it takes away U.S. jobs.

Bill, that's a message that Bernie Sanders has been very consistent on and that's a message that is somewhat new to Hillary Clinton.

PRESS: It is. And again, Hillary has done very well in these primaries. She's got the lead in delegates and she's certainly, I'd say, the front-runner right now. It's a matter of maybe authenticity. This is something that Bernie has been saying and preaching for 30 some years and particularly on these trade deals. I mean, most working Americans, I believe, feel that NAFTA really screwed them and cost five million jobs or whatever. That was signed by Bill Clinton, and Hillary supported it. TTP, Bernie opposed it from day one. Every single labor union opposed TTP. Hillary Clinton originally supported it. People know that. So she's playing catch-up in this area and Bernie has been there from the beginning. And I think now his message of jobs and against these trade deals is paying off for him.

BERMAN: Patty, all of that information about who is interrupting who -- and I'm not even sure it mattered before -- do you expect to see any of it tonight?

(LAUGHTER)

[11:45:16] SOLIS DOYLE: You know, I may just be numb, given what is going on with the Republican side and the debates. You know, Hillary Clinton was a first lady, a Senator, a secretary of state. She went up against Putin, for crying out loud. I don't think Bernie Sanders saying, excuse me I'm talking, affects her one way or the other. I think she's a big girl and she can handle it.

BERMAN: I think you both have --

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: And the contrast to what we saw on the Republican side is very, very striking.

SOLIS DOYLE: Exactly.

BERMAN: The good news is, if you keep watching CNN 24 hours a day for the next several days, you'll see it all again, because we have a Democratic debate tonight, a Republican debate tomorrow.

Patti, Bill, thank you for being with us.

SOLIS DOYLE: Thank you, John.

PRESS: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: We have news just in to the CNN. The Republican National Committee is suing for access to e-mails between Hillary Clinton and her aides. We're live with a top RNC official.

Plus, a bizarre twist in the shooting of a pastor who prayed at a Ted Cruz event. The Secret Service arrested the suspect after he was throwing things over the White House fence and reportedly ranted about Martians ruling the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:50:31] BOLDUAN: We are here live in Miami, Florida, at the University of Miami. Some breaking news out of Washington that very much affects the state of things in Florida. The Republican National Convention suing the State Department for e-mails, communications from Hillary Clinton's days there and beyond. The RNC says the information has direct bearing on her qualifications to be president and voters need to know about it before the election. Good thing that we have the RNC's chief strategist and communications

director here with us now to discuss it. Sean Spicer is here with me now.

Sean, thank you for coming in.

In this lawsuit, it says that, "This information is manifestly relevant to whether she" -- Hillary Clinton -- "is fit to lead this country."

What are you trying to do here?

SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Two lawsuits actually. One deals with communication between Hillary Clinton and her top aides, Cheryl Mills, Patrick Kennedy, during her tenure as secretary of state. The other has to do with her time after she left the State Department and with her aides that still were at the State Department and her campaign and outside entities, whether there was coordination or collusion to cover it up.

What we know now is that with each passing e-mail dump comes out, we find more classified information, more things she said never existed. So we filed a FOIA lawsuit, a FOIA request with the State Department last year. We have heard nothing. They have stalled. We are taking it to federal court. With each passing day, we find out more and more information about Hillary Clinton, and in doing so, it has relevance on her ability to be commander-in-chief and --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: The FBI is investigating everything surrounding her e-mails. What do you think you will uncover that the FBI has not?

SPICER: We don't know. At the end of the day, it is public information and legally allowed to be seen by the public. If the FBI is investigating it may take months and years, we're at a critical point not just for Republicans but for Democrats, and they need know what is in the e-mail, whether or not she abided by the law, what kind of communications, potentially was there any cover-up? These are important and relevant topics the American public needs to know.

BOLDUAN: Right, but I can hear what Hillary Clinton is saying, right now, the timing and topic and messenger points to this being all political.

SPICER: She said that about everything. We have had judges, inspector generals appointed by Democrats, President Obama, everyone --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Why now?

SPICER: Because we didn't. We tried to get this information a year ago. They stalled on it. At some point, we realized their goal is to kick the can down the road so they can be elected at the very least before it happens. We need to let the American people know what occurred during her tenure of secretary of state, if anything nefarious went on, whether there was a cover up. These things are relevant to her fitness to be the president of the United States.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about Republicans and a big night last night. After the wins by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz also had a big win. We talk about it every time you come on, more or less likely that you are looking at a contested convention after the results last night.

SPICER: I'd like to start with the big night last night. Congratulations to Bernie Sanders. He did phenomenal in Michigan. And it was a huge win for him and it shows the depth he has. And I think you will see that race go until June.

With respect to our race, we have four phenomenal candidates up there. The intensity continues on our side, the level record turnout speaks to the enthusiasm that's on the Republican side versus the Democrat side. With each passing day, it is more likely this will go on longer than it has in the past. Remember, we have a big day on March 15th. We start the winner-take-all phase, particularly in Florida and Ohio, where those two states have a lot of delegates at stake.

BOLDUAN: Sean, stand by.

I think I'm hearing Ted Cruz is holding an impromptu press conference. Let's listen in. We'll discuss afterwards.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- one on one between Donald Trump and I, the two that have any path to getting to 1237 delegates. And, head to head with Donald Trump, we win. The polling yesterday showed we beat Donald head to head by 13 points. So if you don't believe Donald Trump is the best nominee for Republicans, if you recognize as 65, 75 percent of Republicans do, that Donald loses to Hillary in the general, I would encourage Republicans, even if you are supporting another candidate, to come and join Carly and the millions of conservatives coming together and unifying behind our campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- for Rubio are at a rally saying don't vote for Cruz because that gives it to Trump. How do you answer that?

[11:55:17] CRUZ: As I said, a candidate can only have a path forward if the math allows you to get to 1237 votes. You are running out of elections and delegates. At this point, I have 361. Donald has 100 more. And nobody else is close in the delegate country. If you want to stop Donald Trump the answer is in the same as the eight other states where we beat Donald Trump, which is to unify behind our campaign.

And I will say to all of the folks who are supporting other people, maybe you were supporting Jeb Bush or Chris Christie, maybe you were supporting Rand Paul or Mike Huckabee or Rand Paul, maybe you were supporting Carly Fiorina or Dr. Ben Carson or Marco Rubio or John Kasich. Every one of those are good, honorable, decent people. I respect and admire every one of them. But at this point, the elections, the primaries have made clear that none has a path to beating Donald Trump. If you don't want to see Donald Trump as the nominee, if you don't want to hand the general election on a silver platter to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, I ask you to join us. If you were a Jeb or Marco supporter now, if you are a Kasich supporter, we welcome you to our team.

We are seeing happening across this country, what we saw happen in Kansas, in Maine, what we saw happen in Idaho, is we are seeing Republicans uniting and supporters from the other candidates coming together and saying we've got to have a proven, consistent conservative.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator Cruz, you talk about the math. Here in Florida, your presence here divides the anti-Trump vote. Why is giving Trump a victory here of 99 delegates good for you or the Republican party in general?

CRUZ: Major, let's be clear. Our object is not to give Trump a victory anywhere. We are competing nationally in all 50 states. We have an incredible grassroots team on the ground in all 50 states. Media was quick to write us off in virtually every state in which we won a victory. The media said there was no chance to win in Maine, no conservative could do well in New England. We won resounding victory in New England. In Kansas the media said Trump had a dominant lead and was unbeatable. We beat him 2-1 in the state of Kansas. We have won victories from coast to coast, literally from Maine to Alaska, both of which we have won and from Texas up to Iowa. We are seeing a national victory. So we are competing hard to win Florida. We are competing to win across the country. This is a battle for 1237 delegates.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think you have a chance to win. Many doubt that.

CRUZ: Major, I recognize that there are many in the media doubt we can win any given primary. That's true of almost every primary.

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: Our objective is to compete to win in every state. If conservatives continue to unite, yes, we can win in any state of the union and the more it gets down to a two-man race the more decisively we win. In a two-man race, Donald Trump has a hard ceiling of 35 to zero percent that he can't get above. Donald --

BOLDUAN: Listening right there, Ted Cruz speaking to reporters after a big night last night.

Sean Spicer, of the RNC, is still with me here.

What we heard was what is going to happen in Florida and what's going to happen there and beyond? Interestingly enough, in a new CNN poll out this morning, Trump is leading Florida and Ohio on Tuesday. One question in there I want to ask you about, is voters were asked, if the candidate in the state doesn't win, should they get out? 71 percent said if Kasich doesn't win Ohio he should get out. 66 percent said if Rubio doesn't win Florida he should get out. What do you think Republicans are saying here?

SPICER: Look, we're at a phase where each of the candidates has to assess their viability, their resources and support. As they go in to these key phases, that's important to determine whether or not or whether they can continue. Far be it from me or anyone in Washington to tell them what they need to do. It will be up to them to determine if they have a level of support that allows them to continue. If they want to stay in the race and have support, they should do it. If they want to suspend their campaign, they should do that. It is up to them to decide whether or not to do that.

BOLDUAN: Tuesday will be a big factor in that decision and even before that. Tomorrow night's CNN debate here in Miami. That's going to be huge, as well.

Sean, great to see you. Thank you so much.

SPICER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: John Berman will be joining me here tomorrow here everyone, so prepare yourselves.

But right now, let's hand over. Our special coverage continues right now with Ashleigh Banfield.