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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Major Rallies on Eve of Super Tuesday 3; Democratic Presidential Candidates Slam Trump; Sanders Slamming Rahm Emanuel; Trump Blames Sanders for Violence at Rallies. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 14, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Now, I know we have to get, Carol, if you want to go to CNN.com/anchors, you can try to take down Carol Costello and the rest of us at CNN.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I almost won last year, and I plan to win this year.

(CROSSTALK)

COSTELLO: Coy Wire, thank you so much.

WIRE: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: Thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I'm a better person than the people I'm running against.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is a pathological liar.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whoever goes up against Donald Trump better be ready.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no place for a national leader to prey on the fears of people.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think a significant number of Republicans won't vote for Donald Trump.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If he's the nominee, I think it's a disaster.

TRUMP: We're going to win, win, win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. Campaign frenzy this morning. As the Bangles say, just another manic

Monday.

(SINGING)

BERMAN: Donald Trump about to speak any minute at a big rally in Hickory, North Carolina.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: It was worth the price of admission. Less than 24 hours to go until the most super of all Super Tuesday. Live pictures right now of Hickory, North Carolina where Donald Trump is about to speak. We have Trump speaking, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, John Kasich, they're all out working this morning, right now. For some of these candidates, after tomorrow, there might not be any day after tomorrow, if you know what I mean.

BOLDUAN: Five states are holding contests tomorrow. What happens in those state can and likely will reshape the race for the White House. Two Republican campaigns facing true make-or-break moments. John Kasich has said if he does not win his home state tomorrow, he doesn't see a path forward. And Marco Rubio facing the same calculation in his home state of Florida. All of this is against -- against that backdrop, it is violence, not the issues that has dominated the campaign trail since this weekend. The Republican presidential front runner, Donald Trump, at the center of it all.

Let's go live right now to CNN's Chris Frates who is at the Trump rally in North Carolina at the moment.

Chris, what are we expecting, what are you seeing so far?

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. I'll tell you, a very expecting crowd here in North Carolina. They're being entertained by an "American Idol" contestant as they wait for Donald Trump he's been delayed. He had to land in Charlotte, North Carolina, about an hour away from here. Things are a little bit delayed, but people are waiting for him.

But I can tell you, it's a mellow crowd, not like the protests we saw in Chicago and St. Louis last week. Not a lot of additional security or usual security here in Hickory. The Secret Service, local law enforcement out as usual, and that private security that Donald Trump has had to start the last week or 10 days, that private security that is at the rallies to get the protesters out as quickly as possible.

But he's going to sit down with Chris Christie for a one-on-one interview in North Carolina. Of course, North Carolina going to the polls tomorrow. He'll be barnstorming after North Carolina. He goes to Florida after that. And then he goes to Ohio. In fact, cancelling a rally in Florida later tonight to be at Ohio. That's because he's neck and neck with Kasich there, the only place where he's really facing a threat of losing. The establishment hoping they can make a stand there. Mitt Romney campaigning with John Kasich, making two stops in Ohio today. Romney being very critical of Donald Trump saying he should not be the Republican candidate. John Boehner, the former House speaker, also from Ohio, coming out in favor of John Kasich, endorsing him this week. The establishment hoping they can stop Donald Trump in Ohio.

But he's feeling so good that he's not campaigning in Florida. That's because he's up by double digits against Rubio. The Senator making his last stand in the Sunshine State, hoping to make a come-from- behind victory there and keep his presidential hopes alive.

Of course, all winner-take-all contests here. Florida and Ohio, first winner-take-all contests. 99 delegates at stake in Florida, 66 in Ohio. Trump just getting going today in North Carolina. He'll barnstorm. If he takes both Ohio and Florida, a good chance he's going to be hard to stop for that nomination -- John and Kate?

BOLDUAN: The crowd going wild for Chris Frates behind him.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Chris bringing a little news. Those two chairs on the stage, one of them for Chris Christie, who is apparently going to interview Donald Trump. Anchorman Chris Christie. Let's hope he asks all the tough questions.

We'll bring it back to you as soon as it begins. That should be interesting to see.

BOLDUAN: I wonder what the topics will be.

BERMAN: Donald Trump is being slammed repeatedly by the Democrats running for president. Bernie Sanders called Donald Trump a pathological liar. Hillary Clinton says he's a political arsonist.

BOLDUAN: Our Jeff Zeleny is live at a Clinton event in Chicago. Again, the crowd going wild for Jeff Zeleny in Chicago.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: This is a good record.

Jeff, what are you hearing?

[11:05:07] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John and Kate, last night, you could hardly keep track of all the attacks on Donald Trump. It's clear the candidates are trying to show their strength to their fellow Democratic voters by showing who would be tougher to take on Donald Trump. They've been really devoting the lion's share of their stump speeches -- I was at a rally last night in Ohio. Off the bat, Bernie Sanders wasn't talking about himself or Hillary Clinton. He was talking about Donald Trump. So, of course, it is something that they're trying to do to show that there is strength going forward.

This is the final 24-hour stretch here. Look at the campaign schedules of these Democrats. Hillary Clinton spending a considerable amount of time here in Chicago. She'll be at a rally behind me in a little bit, and she'll also be doing some unscheduled stops across Chicago. She clearly is a little bit worried about her home state of Illinois here in their primary tomorrow -- John?

BERMAN: And, Jeff, it's interesting to see. All of a sudden, in Chicago and Illinois, the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, is becoming the centerpiece of discussion, and not in a flattering way.

ZELENY: He is. Rahm Emanuel is hardly a soft-spoken person who recesses to the background. That's exactly what he's doing this campaign. He's not been front and center. He's a big supporter of Clinton's. He owes his political career from its beginning to the Clintons. But he now has had such a tough approval rating here in the city of Chicago, at some 27 percent approval in the latest poll. Bernie Sanders is exploiting that. He's running television ads about it. He's talking about Bernie rallies, including one over the weekend. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: Based on his disastrous record as mayor of the city of Chicago, I do not want Mayor Emanuel's endorsement if I win the Democratic nomination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: If you wonder why it matters, Hillary Clinton needs a strong showing from minority voters, black and Hispanic, here in Chicago. A lot of them are displeased with Rahm Emanuel. That's why she's here today, in this union hall today, trying to drive up excitement in her home state of Illinois. If she loses Illinois, that's a big black mark on her candidacy -- John and Kate?

BOLDUAN: Jeff, we'll keep an eye on that with you.

Jeff Zeleny. Thanks, Jeff.

BERMAN: Joining us to discuss what the candidates are doing and what it means for tomorrow, CNN political commentator, Margaret Hoover; Republican pollster, Kellyanne Conway; and CNN political commentator, Errol Louis.

Margaret, I want to start with you.

Five states tomorrow, two of them winner-take-all. What's going to happen? What does it look like right now?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If you're going to read the two legs right now, what we see in the polling is a collapse for Rubio in Florida, sadly, for those of us who thought he could coalesce the mainstream moderate Republicans.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: There's only about --

(CROSSTALK) HOOVER: John Kasich, on the other hand, is doing well. For Republicans, all eyes are on Ohio. Can Kasich beat back Donald Trump? If he can, the chances of a contested convention actually do become more realistic.

BOLDUAN: That was a question that people were throwing out there, Errol, last week, but it's become kind of the central question now. Trump wins Florida. Kasich wins Ohio. What then?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if either of those things happen, then we basically sort of move the ball to the next Super Tuesday. There will several more sort of key dates when big states, including New York, will put more delegates on the table. The extent of the question, whether or not Donald Trump will become the nominee, it all depends on how close he gets to 1237 delegates. Any delegate that goes somewhere, whether it's proportional state or winner-take-all state, is good news for the rest of the candidates. It's a reason for Ted Cruz and maybe even Marco Rubio to take heart.

BERMAN: Kellyanne Conway, oh, you who have been running a Ted Cruz super PAC, you've been busy over the last several days in places like Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. There's a lot of focus on Ohio and Florida, but you're trying to make an end run here, aren't you?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Yes. Ted Cruz has engaged in delegate collection. That's how you win the nomination. Even in states with proportional delegates, he trails Trump by 90. You can make it up in a matter of a couple contests. It looks like Rubio is running for Senator of Florida and Kasich for governor of Ohio. They hold those positions. They've been stuck in their home states. While that's been going on, Cruz has been traveling around investing a great ground game, data modeling. We've been getting air and ground cover on the radio and TV and with our volunteers. Cruz, yesterday, rally of thousands of people in the rain in Missouri and Illinois. In Missouri, it's fascinating. You can actually use the popular vote in Missouri and win a lot of delegates because it goes by congressional district.

[11:10:15] HOOVER: Which is true. Ted Cruz isn't in the story right now, but he is second, and he is viable. He has some advantages. His home state of Texas was first. He's been able to put his resources in other states. He has the superior digital field and digital team of anyone on the field. It's better than Donald Trumps or any of the other Republican candidates. But the states lined up after this Tuesday are not states where he's premised the entire hypothesis of his campaign. Which is to find those missing white voters who didn't turn out for Mitt Romney in 2012 and get them to the polls.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: Not so much in California. But he doesn't speak Spanish and doesn't --

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: -- all of his policy positions -- (CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: Kellyanne, we both know that's not the case.

CONWAY: Margaret, with all do respect, if you're in Trump world, you've been hearing the same argument for months. Well, if you don't lose Iowa, you'd better drop out. The next day, he wins Iowa.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: -- suited to his strengths?

CONWAY: Then Rubio should endorse him and help him campaign in those states. There's a great idea.

BOLDUAN: There's one idea I'm sure Cruz would endorse.

But you've mentioned someone else hitting the campaign trail today that we haven't discussed in the last hour maybe. Mitt Romney, he's hitting the campaign trail with John Kasich. What's the better fit there? What's the impact?

LOUIS: First of all, he's kind of putting his money where his mouth is, kind of.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Kind of?

LOUIS: There was a big dramatic speech in which he said if you believed in me in 2012, help me stop Donald Trump. He's been clear about that. He's even encouraged some strategic voting. We'll see what his reception is. There's a lot of people -- this talk about he ran a disastrous campaign, I remember it differently. Towards the end, there was genuine warmth, some genuine feeling toward him toward the end by leaders of the conservative movement, by a lot of voters, many of whom came out to vote for him. So we'll see if he still has some staying power. If there's some fond memories, if there's something left of an organization on the ground that might respond to him, because this is the same organization that put in Kasich and turned out the vote for Romney in 2012.

BERMAN: If Mitt Romney can do it, he should have done it in Michigan or Idaho or Utah.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: The places where Romney is campaigning are in counties where Mitt Romney helped win in Ohio --

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: So these are places where it's all about driving up the voter numbers and driving up to actual vote so Kasich can get over the top.

BERMAN: Guys, stand by. We'll talk to you again a little bit. One programming note. Tomorrow, in case you didn't know, is a big

day. We'll have complete coverage of what we're calling Super Tuesday part three, the worse named primary voting of the year. Super Tuesday, part 3.

BOLDUAN: But the most important.

BERMAN: But the most important. Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio, all up for grabs. We have reporters everywhere. We have analysts like you would not believe and the best correspondents covering this contest from every angle. That is all day all night tomorrow right here on CNN.

BOLDUAN: Yes, get excited. Hillary Clinton with a secret game plan in the works to beat Donald Trump in a general. What is this secret strategy? Her campaign will be joining us live.

BERMAN: Plus, new this morning, Donald Trump blames Bernie Sanders for the violence at his rally. And Ben Carson is now warning that the violence could escalate. We'll get the perspective now from the Secret Service.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:17:31] BOLDUAN: This campaign has always been a political slugfest. It's now a literal one. We're showing you live pictures of a Donald Trump event. They're waiting to see Donald Trump. It's about to kick off any minute in Hickory, North Carolina. Chris Christie, we are told, will be in that second chair, interviewing Donald Trump.

We should note, John Kasich is also speaking AT THIS HOUR. We'd love to bring some of that to you. There are audio issues that we're trying to get fixed. We'll bring that to you if we can get a better audio.

This all comes after a weekend of Donald Trump defending himself and pointing the blame at others, like Bernie Sanders, for the violence that continues to break out at his campaign rallies.

BERMAN: We want to bring in Scottie Nell Hughes, chief political correspondent for USA Radio Network, a Donald Trump supporters; CNN commentator, Bakari Sellers, a Hillary Clinton supporter and former South Carolina state representative; and Jonathan Wackrow, which an interesting perspective to have here, a former Secret Service agent who served five years on President Obama's detail.

Obviously, security is a serious issue right now.

Scottie, I want to start with you. We saw the violence in Chicago on Friday night at that event in Chicago. We heard Marco Rubio over the weekend say it's a matter of time before someone gets killed at this rate. Ben Carson said the violence could get even worse. Are you satisfied with how Donald Trump responded, which is to say not my problem? SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, USA RADIO NETWORK:

Let me say this. The Constitution gives us the right to peaceably assemble and voice our opinion, and freedom of expression and association. All those were denied Friday night to Trump supporters because of what was going on, on the outside. What we need to realize is, these Trump events, this is my ticket from the Knoxville Trump event. When you go to these events, you register ahead of time because it's a private event. Mr. Trump pays the bill, usually, for the hanger or other facility it's being held at. But it is a private ticketed event inside, and those folks, when Mr. Trump has a protester and yells from the stage get him out of here, he's not just saying that to create drama. He's telling security, those folks are no longer allowed at his private event, and he wants them removed. To sit there and -- to cancel an event on Friday and to sit there and say that Mr. Trump is the reason for all that happening, they are taking the right steps to keep people safe and, unfortunately, the only rights that are being trodden on are those of the Trump supporters, not those on the outside that want to intimidate folks from coming inside and actually from being able to hear from who they want to vote for as president.

[11:20:00] BOLDUAN: And we want to get to security, the role of security and what they should be doing in just a second. But continuing along your line of thought, do you think -- do you like the idea of Donald Trump saying that he'd consider paying the legal fees of one of his supporters at the rally in North Carolina who sucker punched the protester in the face?

HUGHES: Well, he also condemned that action. He does not encourage his supporters. Nobody does. I wouldn't.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: If you're going to pay the legal fees for the guy who does it, isn't that tacit support? If you're going to say, hey, I don't support it but I'm going to pay your legal fees?

HUGHES: That's up for Mr. Donald Trump to decide. He didn't say go up and sucker punch. He wasn't encouraging his people to do that.

You also have to realize in that video, that guy is going out, he is sitting there and cursing at people, spitting on them. He's throwing vulgarity symbols at him. It's not like he was walking out peacefully either. That doesn't mean that violence should happen towards him. I don't agree with what the 70-year-old-plus man did. However, this man came in there to disrupt, to try to get attention, and get the media spotlight focused on him, and it worked, which encourages others to do the same. So right now, Mr. Trump is trying to figure out how to make it peaceful so people can go to these rallies, feel safe that they're not going to be assault by folks who might disagree with them.

BOLDUAN: Jonathan, what's your perspective on all of this. We'll get the Democratic reaction in a second, but I would really like to get your perspective. The Secret Service are there with him. Other police departments are there as well. What do you see? JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: I want to go back to

what Scottie was saying, where she said -- she held up her invited ticket. The Trump campaign knows who they are inviting to those events. It either goes to one of two things. Either they're not doing a good job at vetting their guests coming in or they're doing it purposefully, trying to create drama.

BERMAN: There are people suggesting they held the event where they held it Saturday night just to create this kind of drama.

WACKROW: Exactly. This goes to political physics. For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. This is what the Trump campaign has been about since the beginning, getting both sides, creating drama so we can feed into the media. And anybody to say that these people are just getting in continuously time and time again, that's ridiculous. The Secret Service would never allow that to happen, but you have to understand, the Secret Service doesn't invite guests into an event or un-invite --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Scottie, Scottie, Scottie, once second.

Jonathan, I want to get your take on the guy who tried to get close to Donald Trump. That's scary.

WACKROW: Very scary.

BERMAN: We've had presidential candidates killed, let alone shot. You know, George Wallace. It's scary when someone tries to get on stage with a candidate.

WACKROW: Absolutely. It's scary for the protectee. Our job is to ensure the life and safety of that protectee. Any time you have an event like this, it creates chaos. And what it also does is, in the future, it's an invitation for copy caps. It's an invitation for someone else to say, look what I can do, I can go out there and disrupt the speech and cause chaos and drama.

BOLDUAN: Bakari, weigh in. Democrats took this on last night at the CNN town hall. You've heard it this morning. Bernie Sanders calling Donald Trump a pathological liar, saying he's literally inciting violence. Hillary Clinton saying what he's done is a case of political arson. Trump says it's Bernie Sanders' supporters coming out to protest and his supporters disrupting the events. Does the blame flow both ways?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It doesn't. And I want you to know that it's not just Democrats who are reacting to this visceral rhetoric that Donald Trump is pumping into his supporters. I mean, you have Marco Rubio who is coming out. My friend, Ana Navarro, who was on yesterday on "State of the Union," had a plea trying to get members of her party to denounce the hateful rhetoric from Donald Trump's mouth.

I think the Secret Service agent said it best. To every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. And Donald Trump is playing at the lowest common denominator of people's fear. He's playing with hate and bigotry. He's targeting it with rhetoric that is inciteful.

And just to push back on Scottie slightly, this isn't just about one person who was punched in North Carolina. This is also about a young lady who was assaulted in Louisville. This is about a Hispanic person who was beaten and stripped of their signs. This happens repeatedly at his events and Donald Trump is the one on the stage who says I want to punch you in the face. I wish it was the old days where we could carry you out on stretchers. This is not presidential. In fact, this is very much George Wallace nationalism, us versus them, and we're seeing what's happening.

BERMAN: Scottie, last word. Do you support how Donald Trump is responding to this? Do you think it's leadership, the way he's responding?

HUGHES: I think it is leadership.

But let me correct one very important point that Jonathan got wrong. This is open invitation. It's not an invitation -- anybody can go on and register once it's open. They're not picking and choosing who is there. It's open to the public.

(CROSSTALK)

WACKROW: That's incorrect. You're the host committee. You are inviting these --

(CROSSTALK)

[11:25:14] HUGHES: No. No, it's not a host committee. It's open. It's an event that anybody, hence, how the protesters are getting the tickets. Anybody can go on. All you have to do is give your name and address and e-mail. That's it. It's not -- it's open. It's an open post on social media, on his website. It's not invitation only.

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: So learn about the subject before you criticize.

No, it's -- no -- well, are we going to have to start vetting every person that comes through?

WACKROW: Yes. That's your responsibility as the --

(CROSSTALK)

WACKROW: -- in a presidential campaign.

HUGHES: OK. You know what, for thousands and thousands, it's the same amount of people that go to a sporting event where fights break out all the time and you don't sit there and condemn them.

By the way, Bakari, I want to push a little bit back here. There were two officers assaulted by the anti-Trump protesters. There were five anti-constitutionalists who were arrested because of their actions. Are you also going to condemn their actions or just the people --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: Of course.

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: You didn't.

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: You were quick to point out all the other assaults?

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Let's let him answer. Let's let Bakari answer.

SELLERS: Of course. But Scottie, this is asinine. Of course, we don't want police officers assaulted.

HUGHES: But they are.

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: They're not creating this climate. But to say that Donald Trump is not creating this climate is just drinking that Kool-Aid and going forward with blinders on. The fact of the matter is that this is anything but presidential. Donald Trump does not look like a presidential candidate for the leader of the free world. Instead he looks like he's inciting these fights. He's inciting the riots within his own supporters, within his own groups of action. This is absurd. It has to stop or somebody is going to die, Scottie.

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: In 2008, President Obama and his campaign said why bring a knife when the other person brings a gun, in reference to McCain. I did not hear you calling him out for that then. A little double sided on this one, Bakari.

BERMAN: All right, guys. One day to go until voting in Super Tuesday. The voters will have a say within 24 hours.

BOLDUAN: And we'll see what happens in the events. We're monitoring right now a Donald Trump event, which will be taking place in North Carolina. It looks like a different tone than over the weekend. Chris Christie will be interviewing him.

BERMAN: This morning, Hillary Clinton raising eyebrows after she suggested her presidency would force a big group of workers to lose their job. Her campaign responds, ahead.

BOLDUAN: Plus, one of Bernie Sanders' most famous supporters will join us after Mark Ruffalo has said that Sanders would, quote, "mop the floor with Donald Trump in November." He'll join us live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)