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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Obama: "Mr. Trump Will Not Be President"; Double-Digit Lead For Trump in South Carolina Ahead of Primary; Obama Hits GOP For Threat To Block Scalia Replacement; Clinton Leads Sanders in South Carolina; U.S.'s 1st Zika Patient May Give Insight into How Virus Spreads. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 16, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:08] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next, breaking news, President Obama going after Donald Trump. Wait until you hear how Trump fired back.
Plus, a new CNN polls shows Trump with a commanding lead in South Carolina as his nasty war of words with Ted Cruz hits a whole new level. And the war hitting up over the Supreme Court nominee. Ahead, the President's challenge to Congress tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, the President versus Donald Trump. President Obama in his strongest language yet attacking Trump, insisting Trump will not be president and that the presidency is not a reality TV show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president. And the reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people. And I think they recognize that being president is a serious job. It's not hosting a talk show, or a reality show, it's not promotion, it's not marketing. It's hard. And a lot of people count on us getting it right. And it's not a matter of pandering and doing whatever will get you in the news on a given day. And sometimes it requires you to make hard decisions even when people don't like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Trump never letting an attack go unanswered already has fired back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This man has done such a bad job. He's set us back so far. And for him to say that is actually a great compliment, if you want to know the truth. You're lucky I didn't run last time when Romney ran, because you would be a one-term president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: White House Correspondent Michelle Kosinski is OUTFRONT tonight with the President in Rancho Mirage, California. Michelle, you know, I mean, the President not holding back. His strongest words, wading into a Republican primary, talking about the front- runner.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is definitely unexpected. And such a withering criticism, specifically of Donald Trump. But remember, he was asked about Trump directly. So he used Trump as a kind of springboard to then lump everybody in, to criticize all of the Republican candidates. I mean, he said some of the things that Trump has said on Muslims, on immigration, even on climate change, that others of the Republican candidates believe the same thing. Listen, here's some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And it requires being able to work with leaders around the world in a way that reflects the importance of the office. And gives people confidence that you know the facts. And you know their names. And you know where they are on a map. And you know something about their history. And you're not just going to play to the crowd back home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: And the President lately has seemed to not miss any opportunities to criticize Republicans. But he never mentions any names. Rarely does he do so, so specifically as he did here. And again, remember, he was asked about Trump directly. But he chose his words carefully. I mean, he used the words reality show, obviously referring to Trump there. And the President said, you know, the presidency is such a serious job, this is the person that has the nuclear codes, and sends people to war -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Michelle, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, David Gergen, adviser to four presidents including Reagan and Clinton. And John King host of CNN's "INSIDE POLITICS."
David, the President weighing in, talking about Donald Trump so specifically. And you could see the anger and tension in his face, in his language. You know, should he be talking about Donald Trump? He's not even the nominee yet.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: President Obama was certainly justified in slamming back against Donald Trump. You know, Trump has hurled odious and many insults against him. So, one can understand why the President is frustrated, angry and wants to lash back. The hard question is, was it wise. And I must tell you, on that one, it's a hard question. But I think on this particular week, when the Republicans, he's got the Republicans looking very partisan on the question of replacing Scalia. And he was the non-partisan above the fray trying to follow the constitution, do the right thing by the country. I think I would have counseled patience, wait a while, get beyond the Supreme Court issue. And then if you want to lash back, but don't get down in the muck with Donald Trump right now. BURNETT: John King, you heard Donald Trump responding. It's a
compliment. I mean, does the President of the United States, the sitting president talking about Donald Trump elevate Donald Trump?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Especially right now we're days away from the South Carolina primary. Donald Trump is under attack by all of his rivals. And who's after him? The Democrat Republicans hate the most or dislike the most. Maybe Hillary Clinton's a close second. But President Obama can be a mobilizing force with Donald Trump which is why he essentially set banks Mr. President there. But Erin, remember this, and Michelle touched on this a little bit and David, there's a deep history between these two.
President Obama probably would not have been forced to publicly release his birth certificate have it not been for Donald Trump being a chief cheerleader for the birther movement and getting so much national attention when most of the other people involved were sort of flinch creatures. And so, there's a long history here. The President doesn't like Donald Trump. And I'm told in private conversations as he watches this campaign, he's essentially said that Trump is a race- baiter and a bigot and he thinks he's a dangerous force in American politics.
[19:05:29] BURNETT: David Gergen, what does a slam from the President like this do for people right now in the primary process, for people who are possibly thinking about voting for Donald Trump? Does it mobilize them, not matter? What do you say?
GERGEN: Oh, I think it mobilizes them. I think John King is absolutely right. They will now feel they're going to stand up for their guy, that the President's now come out swinging against them. And, you know, everything Obama does, they see is toxic. And, you know, I think they'll come out in greater numbers not fewer numbers. And it place into Trump's hands. But I think the bigger issue is, does he really want to get off his pedestal when he has got so many big issues going on and get down in the muck in these primaries. I don't think he does. I think this has to be a one shot, get back up on, you know, on the high ground and let the Republicans fight it out.
BURNETT: John King, David Gergen, thank you both very much.
And OUTFRONT now, the executive vice president for development and acquisitions for the Trump organization, Donald Trump's son Eric Trump.
All right. So, you heard President Obama. Let me just play again what he had to say about your father. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president. And the reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people. And I think they recognize that being president is a serious job. It's not hosting a talk show, or a reality show. It's not promotion. It's not marketing. It's hard. And a lot of people count on us getting it right. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What's your response to that?
ERIC TRUMP, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: Well, at this point, when I hear that, I mean, first of all, I agree with my father he shouldn't be talking about any -- it does come as a great compliment. At the same time, my father built one of the greatest real estate empires of the world. You know, from a very young age, het got after it, he was kind of the epitome of the American dream. He worked incredibly hard. And he built an amazing business. He employed tens of thousands of people all over the country. I mean, now he comes into race for the presidency of the United States that he is self-funding. He is not taking a penny from anybody. Because he thinks the system is broken. Right?
You have lobbyists and you have the Super PACs and everything. He's funding his own campaign. Mainly because so many of the problems that have been created under this administration. I mean, right now we have $19 trillion in debt. Our educational system is broken. Our military is broken. We're not winning any wars. We're doing stupid deals with Iran. I mean, there are so many problems. And here the President, you know, wastes time and goes and speaks about a presidential race of which he's not a part of. I mean, it's actually, it's a very, very sad thing.
BURNETT: Well, you heard John King talk about sources he's close to, that have told him that President Obama thinks your father is a bigot, is racist, perhaps about the birth certificate issue, also of course for --
ERIC TRUMP: Nothing is further from the truth. I mean, he is an amazing guy. He is an absolutely amazing man. And he would give you the shirt off his back for anybody. He is an amazing guy.
BURNETT: So, in terms of the polls that we're getting now. A new poll out tonight has your father in first place. You heard David Gergen, John King, both saying what the President said tonight may mobilize people to vote for Donald Trump, people who don't like the President. Is your father confident of a win in South Carolina?
ERIC TRUMP: I think you can never be confident about anything, you've got to keep your fingers crossed, you've got to be humble and you've got to go out there, and you know, you've got to work very hard. My father works very hard. And I think he's worked harder at this race than anything he's ever done in his life and that's what the man does. But listen, I think we're going to win. The polls are showing us, they had tremendously. In fact CNN had great polls today which had us up by about 20 points. And I really think we'll going to win South Carolina, I think we're going to win the Nevada caucuses going into that. Well, listen, you have to keep your fingers crossed.
BURNETT: The Cruz campaign says, your father is too erratic to be president, that he has, quote, "lost it on multiple occasions." You've heard this war of words being escalated by Ted Cruz and your father day in and day out. But Ted Cruz's campaign, your father is too erratic.
ERIC TRUMP: But what else can he say? What else can he say? Right? He's down by 20 points in the polls. We're going into the final stretch. I mean, these guys have to break away from the pack. If they don't break away from the pack right now, they're just, they're not going to win. And so, I mean, how could he not go after him in some way. You can't just sit back and be passive. And I think he saw that debate the other night. Right? I mean, everybody had to gang up and go after my father. My father had to fight back against those people because they're all struggling, right? They're all drowning. We have one more opportunity before we go into South Carolina, Nevada and Super Tuesday. And if they don't doing now, we're frankly will have to do it. So I mean, that's going to be the natural reaction.
BURNETT: As you point out, though, they all hit him at the debate, every single one of them. And it was a fight all night long. It was a nasty debate. Who is the biggest threat to your father right now? Is it Ted Cruz? Is it Marco Rubio? Is it Jeb Bush? I mean, who is it?
ERIC TRUMP: I think my father has to fight the war. I mean, that's what this process is. Right? I mean, you need to prove you're the best person. And I think my father has to be steadfast, and you know, just keep doing a good job and keep dating out there and keep working as hard as he is. And I think he'll ultimately prevail if he does that. I mean, he's really, you know, leaps and heads beyond these people right now. And listen, I think he needs to pay attention to his own race and not look back. I mean, this type of guy, his whole career he's always looked forward, right? I mean, he's always thinking about what he's going to achieve next. I mean, you don't look back when you're in the lead. That's not going to affect his strategy. So, he's going to look forward and I think he's going to win this. I mean, I really think he's going to win. And I'm very proud of him.
[19:10:24] BURNETT: All right. Eric Trump, thank you very much. And OUTFRONT next. The new CNN poll we just mentioned showing Donald Trump with an overwhelming lead in South Carolina. If he wins there, does he run the table?
And more breaking news, the President tonight challenging Republicans to give him a reason, one reason for refusing to even consider a Supreme Court candidate.
And the sudden death of Justice Scalia launching some wild conspiracy theories. Our report.
[19:14:01] BURNETT: And breaking news tonight on who has the upper hand in the South Carolina primary, with just four days to go until decision day. Donald Trump holds a 16-point lead with Republicans. Thirty eight percent compared to 22 percent for Ted Cruz, who's in second. Over 50 percent of Republicans in South Carolina say Trump is the best option for the economy, for illegal immigration, and to win the general election. OUTFRONT now, our chief national correspondent, the host of "INSIDE
POLITICS," John King is back. John, I mean, this is incredible coming out of New Hampshire. I know, we saw it in those polls, Donald Trump winning in pretty much every group as you broke it down. In South Carolina, evangelical voters so crucial. Who's ahead?
KING: All right. You don't find many evangelicals in New Hampshire but you find quite a bit likely to be a majority of the electorate among Republicans, Erin. And look at this lead for Donald Trump, a 19-point lead over Ted Cruz among White evangelical voters in South Carolina. This despite constant Cruz attacks in recent days, including a new video today, urging evangelicals to look at Donald Trump's past support of abortion rights. Mr. Trump now says, he opposes abortion rights, but has a long history of favoring abortion rights. Cruz has pushed this and pushed this. But Erin, look at that number, 42 percent, a huge lead among white evangelicals, if this holds up until Saturday, Mr. Trump will win.
BURNETT: So, does the poll reveal new support? Any kind of new people coming to support Donald Trump at this time?
KING: Yes. So, let me show you one piece of it. Mr. Trump's support is getting broader. The depth of his coalition is getting bigger. If we look back months ago, we found a lot of polls where we saw the foundation of Trump support, with people without college degrees, people with high school degrees or maybe a little bit of college, but not a college degree. This has been a foundation of his support for quite some time. But look at this in South Carolina. Nearly four in 10 Republicans who have a college graduate -- have a college degree say they support Mr. Trump, too. So, he's getting evangelical support, Tea Party support, suburban support, rural support, and now higher educated Republicans as well, Erin. He is broadening his coalition. It is not shrinking.
BURNETT: Very significant there with the college degrees. Now, so it looks like a big lead for Donald Trump, obviously. Is there anything though that he should be concerned about, any kind of harbinger of pain in this poll or not?
KING: That's a great way to put it. If you look at our polling, if you split it up from -- the debate may have had an impact. If you look at this pre-debate, Donald Trump was getting 40 percent among South Carolina Republicans. Post-debate, it dropped to 31 percent in our sampling that conducted after the debate. So, there is an indication that the debate could have cost him some support where he's dropping. Now, the beneficiaries were Ben Carson and John Kasich. Not Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. And so, Trump still has a healthy lead post-debate if you look at it. But there is some indication that he was going down. So we'll see if someone can seize the momentum in the final days. And that's important, Erin, because half of South Carolina Republicans tell us they've decided. Twenty percent are leaning towards someone. But that means you can influence them. Thirty one percent still deciding. So, if Trump was in a slide coming out of the debate, there is an opening for his rivals. But they don't have that much time to seize it. BURNETT: Wow! But it's still incredible when you say leaning one way
still deciding. Is it common in your experience John of covering this so many times, to see that many people undecided this close to the vote?
KING: The volatility in this race, the crowded field, I do think it is not common that you see this many undecided just days away in an establishment -- like tradition state like South Carolina. But this is a wacky Republican race.
BURNETT: And it is sure -- exciting to watch. John King, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT tonight, national spokesman for Ted Cruz's campaign, Rick Tyler. And Donald Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord who served as political director for President Ronald Reagan.
All right. Let's get straight to it. I want to talk about the polls. But Rick, first, Donald Trump just spoked a moment ago, he talked about Ted Cruz, and I wanted to play for you what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you remember the debate from just before the last one, where they were talking about torture, and they were talking about water boarding, and they asked Ted Cruz who I think is totally unfit to be president, but these are minor details --
I really mean that. I think this guy, a senator just came out today, a senator from Oklahoma who's a very highly respected senator and said he's one of the most dishonest people he's ever worked with. That's a hell of a statement. I've never heard of a statement like that, and a respected, one of the most respected senators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. Rick, dishonest, but Trump saying Cruz is totally unfit to be president.
RICK TYLER, TED CRUZ'S CAMPAIGN NATIONAL SPOKESMAN: I will not let that go by. You know that the statement from the Oklahoma senator was not true, right? We've reported that. That that is not true. That was false. He reported it. He's repeating it. It's not true. So, let's just be clear about that. Donald Trump starts out making a statement about a senator who made a comment about Senator Cruz. That senator has said that that is not true. So he's making a point about Senator Cruz when he's lying, I mean, it's just absolutely unbelievable.
BURNETT: Jeff, what do you say to that?
JEFFREY LORD, DONALD TRUMP'S SUPPORTERS: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Rick, Rick, I mean, I've had United States senators tell me personally that they don't trust him. That they think he doesn't tell the truth. I mean, said to me directly face to face.
TYLER: When you go publicly and say that a senator -- when you say a senator said something publicly, and then put it on your twitter feed and they go announce it on television just now, and CNN is not going to correct that, because that's been withdrawn, it needs to be withdrawn. That was a lie. He never said that. The senator from Oklahoma never criticized Ted Cruz.
LORD: Rick, Rick, look, I admire Senator Cruz for what he does. But it's patently obvious that members of the United States Senate don't like him. I mean, they can't stand him. And this is a problem if you're going to be president of the United States.
[19:15:22] BURNETT: All right. Just for the record, I will say, Rick, you're correct, it was Senator Coburn, it is not --
TYLER: Yes, thank you.
BURNETT: It is not true in that case. I understand, Jeff saying, others have told you that to their face that they agree. But in this specific case in Oklahoma, not true.
BURNETT: The point is here, though, between Cruz and Trump is, you're a liar, you're a liar, you're a liar. And yesterday Rick, Cruz said Trump was insulting him yesterday because he was rattled by internal polling. And Cruz said that was perhaps because Trump was plummeting in South Carolina. But hold on, Rick, let me just ask you. Our ladies poll, Trump is doing 16 points better than Ted Cruz. So, it doesn't seem at least from that particular data point that the numbers were dropping.
TYLER: Well, it would helpful if people -- if it actually had been reported that they lied. See, here we have Donald Trump lying, and it gets reported, and no one challenges on it. And so, you know, let's start with that. So Donald Trump says that Ted Cruz lies. When in fact, in the very debate where he said you lied, he was referring to his support for Planned Parenthood. Then he went on the same debate and said Planned Parenthood does wonderful things. So, Donald Trump says one thing that Ted Cruz is lying and then goes on and says the very same thing --
BURNETT: Now Rick, just to be clear -- just to be clear and I think Ted --
LORD: Wait. Are you saying --
BURNETT: But hold on. Just to be clear on the Planned Parenthood issue. Because I know this keeps coming up. What Donald Trump said he didn't support the abortion aspect of the Planned Parenthood but that some Republican women had told --
LORD: Correct. Correct.
TYLER: Right. And I like the money -- I like the money in my hotels -- that's like saying, I like the money in my hotels make on room service but I don't like the money that makes on gambling.
LORD: Rick, I think it's safe to say --
I think it's safe to say -- Rick --
TYLER: And anybody's whole life does not understand --
LORD: Rick, one of the reasons --
BURNETT: Hold on one second. Hold on one second. One second. On this issue, though, I mean, you've got a majority of Republicans still supporting Planned Parenthood. Right, Rick? And Planned Parenthood does abortions, Republicans don't like that. Donald Trump says he's against that. It also does, you know, check-ups for women, screening exams, things like that. That's what Donald Trump is saying he's supporting. Is there a problem with those things?
TYLER: Yes. There are lots of organizations who do that for free and don't provide abortions. There's a lot of organizations that do that don't provide abortions. Planned Parenthood is not one of them. Look, if you're pro-life --
LORD: One of the reasons --
TYLER: Planned Parenthood is incompatible.
BURNETT: OK. Jeff.
LORD: One of the reasons I suspect Senator Cruz is having a problem with evangelicals in South Carolina by such a large margin is that as both Donald Trump and Governor Huckabee pointed out, is that he's in theory, in public, opposed to gay marriage and yet he's meeting with people who support gay marriage and he's being funded by people who support gay marriage. That's a big issue with the evangelicals. And there's a double -- and clearly there's a double standard here. I'm sorry, what?
TYLER: No, there isn't, Jeffrey. Because if you read Mega Higgerman's (ph) piece --
LORD: So, it's OK to take their money?
TYLER: No. He has met with gay people. They sent the money. They actually asked for it back. And we sent it back. But when they asked him in a meeting what they thought about gay marriage --
LORD: Yes. You can be poor or you're against --
BURNETT: Wait a minute. Go ahead, Rick, finish. TYLER: No, he said -- he told them, they talked about gay marriage.
And they said are you for or against? He said, I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. He didn't tell it anything differently. And they still sent the money. And then they wanted it back because they got boycotted by their own clientele because they own gay hotels. But look --
LORD: All I'm saying is, I'm looking --
TYLER: By the way, Jeffrey, but Jeffrey, is that your mailer that's out there? I've seen that. I read the report on that today. And there's a smear campaign going on with Ted Cruz. Is that the Trump mailer that you're talking about?
LORD: I have no idea. Literally, I don't know.
TYLER: Well, you do because --
LORD: I don't know. I have no idea what you're talking about. Jeffrey, you mentioned exactly what was in the mailer. Jeffrey, you mentioned exactly what was in the mailer. That's really funny.
TYLER: I have no -- I have not seen any mailer. Nobody's told me about a mailer.
BURNETT: We'll get to the bottom of the mailer. The battle of the mailers goes on back and forth. Each way, we will get to the bottom. I know that this is something that charges have been levied both ways. All right. Thank you both very much.
This week, a unique two-night town hall event, you'll going to see only on CNN and you'll going to see both of these candidates as well as the other GOP candidates, all six of them will answer questions from the voters of South Carolina.
Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz kick it off tomorrow night. And then John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump on Thursday night. Both events live at 8:00 Eastern.
And next, a Republican senator breaking ranks on a Supreme Court nomination. Why he's saying give President Obama chance?
And Hillary Clinton with a big lead over Bernie Sanders and our newest South Carolina poll out tonight. Why Sanders says she's in for a big surprise.
[19:27:52] BURNETT: Breaking news tonight on the brewing battle to replace Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court. Just a short time ago, President Obama sending a strong warning to Republicans vowing to block any nominee until he leaves office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It's the one court where we would expect elected officials to rise above day-to-day politics. And this would be the opportunity for senators to do their job. I intend to do my job between now and January 20th of 2017. I expect them to do their job as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Is the GOP united in its opposition? Well, maybe not. Michelle Kosinski is OUTFRONT.
OBAMA: That's not how the system is supposed to work.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): President Obama taking questions now for the first time on the Supreme Court vacancy, wasted no time hitting back at defiant Republicans who vowed to not even bring his nominee up for a vote.
OBAMA: We've almost gotten accustomed to how obstructionist the Senate's become when it comes to nominations. There's no unwritten law that says that it can only be done on off years. The venom and rancor in Washington has prevented us from getting basic work done.
KOSINSKI: He described his ideal nominee.
OBAMA: We're going to find somebody who is an outstanding legal mind, somebody who cares deeply about our democracy, and cares about rule of law. Any fair-minded person, even somebody who disagreed with my politics, would say, would serve with honor and integrity on the court.
KOSINSKI: As for whom, a number of names have been circulating, and it is an interesting diverse group. Sri Srinivasan, a federal judge born in India, served in both the Obama and Bush administrations. Worked on cases that supported gay marriage, but also big oil and mining companies. Congress approved him to the federal bench unanimously two years ago. You can see how such choices could put Republican opponents in a tough spot. And that may well be the strategy. Choose a moderate that could spark a storm of criticism if Republicans refuse to even take it up. Or if a liberal choice helped rally Democrats to get out and vote.
[19:30:08] Today, in a "Washington Post" op-ed, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid blasted Republicans' vows to shut a nominee out. "If Republicans proceed, they will ensure that this Republican majority is remembered as the most nakedly partisan, obstructionist and irresponsible majority in history."
Other potential choices, more federal judges. Paul Watford, who's African-American, Jacqueline Nguyen, born in Vietnam, Jane Kelly, a long time public defender, Mexican-born California Supreme Court Judge Mariano-Florentino Cuellar. Also, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, confirmed by the Senate just last year, after a record delay that infuriated the White House.
Now, though, some Republicans are intimating that stonewalling could be the wrong choice. Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley now says --
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decision.
KOSINSKI: And this from Senator Thom Tillis.
SEN. THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I think we fall in the trap if we say sight unseen, we fall into the trap of being obstructionist.
KOSINSKI: Democrats, of course, want to see statements like that as may be cracks in what appeared to be an immediate Republican refusal to even hold a hearing on a potential nominee. We don't know yet though how this is going to play out.
Today, the president reiterated he's going to do his job. He expects the Senate to do its job -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Michelle, thank you.
And OUTFRONT now, the editor of "The Weekly Standard", Bill Kristol, and senior spokesman for the 2008 Obama campaign and former DNC national press secretary, Hari Sevugan.
Thank you both very much.
Bill, President Obama just challenged anyone who believes in the original intent of the Constitution to come up with a plausible rationale to not even hold a hearing, not even hold a hearing to consider his nominee. Can you come up with one plausible rationale?
BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, maybe they should have a hearing, maybe not. It's up to the Senate. They have the absolute power to choose to advise and consent in any way they wish, which might include not proceeding on the nomination. Elections have consequences. I don't think voters elected a Republican Senate to check President Obama. I think they're well within their rights to not let President Obama make such a crucial appointment in his last year in office.
The Supreme Court functions -- you know, you don't have a justice there. It functions fine with eight justices. If there's a 4-4 decision, the decision in the lower court is upheld. So, there's no need to confirm anyone right now.
HARI SEVUGAN, FORMER DNC NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I would like to see if the Supreme Court had only eight justices when they --
KRISTOL: They would have upheld the lower court decision. It would have upheld the lower court decision.
(CROSSTALK) SEVUGAN: It would have been unprecedented. Let's just spell a couple of other things. It's not unprecedented for a president to act in his fourth year in office. In fact, this idea of -- in fact, there have been 24 nominations by presidents of the United States in the course of our history in their last 10 months in office, of Supreme Court, to fill Supreme Court vacancies.
And the American people elected this president to a four-year term. This notion that we need to have a new election for a new president for the American people to weigh in is utterly false. They have weighed in twice and they've chosen Barack Obama to make those nominations.
KRISTOL: I totally agree. Let me just make this clear: President Obama has every right and he should nominate someone and he should put pressure on the Senate and he should make his case to the American public and maybe he'll cause Republican senators to break.
Incidentally, I don't think it's a political matter. I mean, it will be a challenge to the Republican senators to explain what they're doing, why they don't want the Constitution to be interpreted in a way that an Obama appointee would do.
So, I have no problem with President Obama obviously making a nomination, and he has every right to go to the public and make his case.
BURNETT: So, but, Bill, not all Republicans are against the president's right to move ahead with the nomination. OK? Thom Tillis is one of them. Let me play --
KRISTOL: No one is against the right to make the nomination. What the Republican senators are saying is they don't -- they're not inclined to confirm someone President Obama nominates.
BURNETT: They're also in some cases, of course, they don't even want to have a hearing if they don't like who he puts forward, which is a little bit of a strained argument. You know, if we like it, we'll have a hearing, if we don't, we won't, right? I mean, it's either on principle or it isn't. Let me play Senator Thom Tillis again for you, Bill.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TILLIS: I think we fall into the trap if we simply say sight unseen, We fall into the trap of being obstructionist.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Obstructionist, said from a Republican, though.
KRISTOL: Well, he can say that. He was elected in part to obstruct President Obama from moving the Constitution and constitutional law further in the direction, which President Obama sincerely believed it should move in, which is two appointees so far. Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan have moved in and whom any Obama appointee is 99.9 percent likely to move the Constitution in.
So, I mean, one could be cute and say, I'm going to withhold judgment. But I think what Mitch McConnell said is basically correct. That if you are a Republican senator who believes in the purview of the Constitution you probably campaigned on. And the Republicans won the Senate in 2014. They are not going to be inclined to confirm President Obama's nominee.
BURNETT: And, Hari, isn't it true the Democrats would do the exact same thing as Chuck Schumer indicated years ago when the shoe was on the other foot, they would just hold up any of Republican nominee?
[19:35:07] SEVUGAN: Sure, (INAUDIBLE) got a hearing and was confirmed.
But here's the point. I think I agree with Bill, like it is cute to say that, you know, you shouldn't do this sight unseen. It's just a fig leaf on obstructionism. If they've already made up their mind that they're not going to vote for them, that's their prerogative. But that's something I think they will pay a political price for.
I look forward to Senator Johnson, or, you know, Senator Kirk explain to voters why they voted to obstruct, and their governing strategy isn't about small governance, it is about no governance.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. A debate to be continued.
And OUTFRONT next, conspiracy theorists out in full force following the death of Justice Scalia. What are they claiming? Well, we've got a report.
And Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead over Bernie Sanders in South Carolina, according to our poll tonight. But what Sanders is saying could really cut into her big lead.
BURNETT: Today, the Supreme Court honored Justice Antonin Scalia by draping a black court over his chair and a bench in front of it.
[19:40:02] Outside, the flags on the plaza were being flown half staff. Meanwhile, there are questions surrounding the circumstances of his death. While law enforcement official tells CNN there are no signs of foul play, that's not stopping conspiracy theorists.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump heating up the latest South Carolina polls, fanned flames of conspiracy on a talk radio show, the Savage Nation.
HOST: We needed an immediate autopsy before the body is disposed of. What do you think about that? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a horrible topic, but
they say they found the pillow in his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.
LAH: But a pillow wasn't found on Justice Scalia's face, the owner of the ranch where Scalia died tells CNN. It was over his head.
A U.S. law enforcement official tells CNN the pillow question is absolutely ridiculous. Still, other details surrounding the death of Scalia haven't stopped conspiracy theories, being fueled on social media by guys like this, the so-called "Nature Hacker", mispronounces the late justice's name.
NATURE HACKER: Antonin Scalia, amazing conservative justice.
LAH: As he wonders if Scalia was poisoned.
Many of the theories begin with questions about the procedures after the justice's death.
The U.S. Marshal Service provided security for U.S. Supreme Court justices, but Scalia declined security detail for his vacation. So, deputy U.S. marshals from Texas responded to the death. They saw nothing out of the ordinary. And given his age, 79, and his chronic health issues, a county judge declared his death from natural causes over the telephone after consulting with Scalia's doctor, according to "The Washington Post."
Scalia's family asked for no autopsy. Texas law doesn't demand one. But a friend of Scalia's tells CNN they had been on multiple fishing and hunting trips together, and he did not appear to have a serious health problem.
All of this leads a former D.C. homicide investigator William O. Ritchie to say more should have been done.
WILLIAM O. RITCHIE, RET. DC POLICE INVESTIGATOR: This is a sitting justice on the Supreme Court. And we cannot have any questions about cause and manner of his death.
LAH: Ritchie says a death investigator should and still could be called in to end any questions.
RITCHIE: One of the things that a trained investigator, death investigator looks for is any signs of particular hemorrhaging in the eyelids, in the lips, which would be a sign of possible suffocation.
Also, to smell the breath to see whether there are any unusual odors, such like the smell of almonds that might suggest cyanide or some other type of poison.
LAH: But here's something important to remember. We live in an Internet age that questions of validity of every single major news event. So even if an independent investigation were done, even if it were completely transparent, Erin, it might still not satisfy the conspiracy theorists.
BURNETT: Nothing ever seems to satisfy people in that camp. Thank you very much, Kyung Lah.
And OUTFRONT next, breaking news, a new poll in South Carolina showing a double-digit lead for Hillary Clinton, with just -- with four days away. Why it may not be a sure win.
And the Zika virus now in more than 20 states. Dr. Sanjay Gupta tracks down America's first patient. His remarkable story is ahead.
[19:46:57] BURNETT: Breaking news: Hillary Clinton holding a double- digit lead over Bernie Sanders in South Carolina. The latest CNN/ORC poll has Clinton at 56 percent, Sanders at 38 percent. And among black voters, a constituency she and Sanders have both been courting aggressively. She has a 37 percentage point advantage, crucial given what a big part of the vote they are in South Carolina.
Brianna Keilar is OUTFRONT.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hillary Clinton in Harlem, speaking at a black cultural center about racial injustice.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to begin by facing up to the reality of systemic racism, because these are not only problems of economic inequality. These are problems of racial inequality.
KEILAR: She met earlier with leaders of nine historic civil rights organizations, including the National Urban League, the NAACP, and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition's Reverend Al Sharpton.
CLINTON: My campaign is really about breaking every barrier, because I believe absolutely that America can't live up to its potential unless every single person has a chance to live up to theirs.
KEILAR: A number of the organizations don't endorse candidates, but Clinton was looking to send a message. That she hears the concerns of African-Americans.
Their votes are key to a Democratic win in South Carolina, where she leads Bernie Sanders by 18 points in a new CNN/ORC poll.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we're going to surprise people here, on Election Day.
KEILAR: Sanders is trying to cut into Clinton's support with black voters in the Palmetto State, which holds its Democratic primary later this month. He's investing valuable time in South Carolina this week, attending a prayer breakfast this morning. SANDERS: When we talk about what's going on in this country, and the
fact that virtually the entire nation suffers terribly as a result of the greed and reckless and illegal behavior of Wall Street, which drove this economy into a terrible recession, the African-American community suffered more, and has recovered in a much less significant way.
KEILAR: He's also campaigning with Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner who died in 2014 after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold during an arrest.
ERICA GARNER, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: I believe he is the best candidate.
KEILAR: Garner appeared last week in a powerful campaign video.
GARNER: I think we need to believe in a leader like Bernie Sanders.
KEILAR: She endorsed Sanders in January, shortly after Garner's mother endorsed Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is the justice?
KEILAR: President Obama still isn't taking sides. But at his California press conference today, he noted his close relationship with Clinton.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know Hillary better than I know Bernie because she served in my administration and she was an outstanding secretary of state. And I suspect that on certain issues, she agrees with me more than Bernie does. On the other hand, there may be a couple issues where Bernie agrees with me more.
[19:50:00] KEILAR: And as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, Erin, focus on African-America, you're seeing this generational divide play out there as well. Hillary Clinton may be leading by almost 40 points over Bernie Sanders when it comes to black voters in South Carolina, but he is actually gaining a little bit on her. And that's really because of young African-American voters. It's part of the reason you see him like today here's at Morehouse College as a tour.
BURNETT: And the question is, can he move them over quickly enough into his camp?
KEILAR: It would be quite a heavy lift.
BURNETT: All right. Brianna, thank you so much.
David Gergen is back with me.
And, David, you know, you hear Brianna's reporting. There are interesting numbers on the poll, particularly on race, when asked who would be best on the economy, whites say Sanders, blacks say Clinton. On who best represents Democratic values, you see the same split. Whites say Sanders, blacks say Clinton.
Look, more than half the Democrats in South Carolina are black. You hear Brianna saying he's trying now to win them over. Does he have a shot of winning enough of them over before the primary?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Almost no shot. You know, Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead now in South Carolina. And there's a little more time, of course, before the South Carolinian vote in the Democratic primary. The GOP is this Saturday.
But, you know, and she also got a commanding lead among blacks. Even with the generational split. The surprise to me was the white vote.
And the white vote, Bernie Sanders is beating her 54-40 in South Carolina. That's in a Democratic Party in South Carolina. You got a lot of moderates. And you think there are not that many Sanders-type liberals you would think.
So, that may be a warning sign for their campaign as they go forward. But she's very, very likely to win South Carolina. It'd be stunning if he pulls off an upset there.
BURNETT: But the bottom line is, you're saying South Carolina probably almost certainly hers, but given the split you're seeing, he remains competitive down the line?
GERGEN: Well, I think he may be more competitive in other states that are much more predominantly white. You know, the -- I don't know how he's going to break with the Latino community. We'll have to see how Nevada comes out.
White voters, she needs to build bigger bridges there. I'm surprised by that number.
BURNETT: All right. And, of course, Nevada going to be so crucial, those caucuses there for the Democrats this weekend.
Thank you very much, David Gergen.
And next, the deadly Zika virus spreading like wildfire. Could an American infected with the virus eight years ago actually unlock to how it is spreading so virulently? Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to that patient zero, next.
[19:56:32] BURNETT: New evidence tonight that the Zika virus is deadlier than anyone thought. In Brazil and Venezuela, officials say six Zika patients have died, including one young woman who had no history of chronic diseases. This comes as the virus is spreading rapidly, 30 countries now battling outbreaks. In the U.S., at least 50 local cases in more than 20 states.
But could America's first patient discovered years ago actually help us figure out how the virus is spread?
Here's Sanjay Gupta with tonight's "I.D.E.A."
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just looking at the images, it isn't hard to understand why Professor Brian Foy became so sick.
The year was 2008. Brian was in Senegal studying an insect most of us would rather avoid. Mosquitoes.
(on camera): I hear mosquitoes killed more than any other animal on the planet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By far, yes.
GUPTA (voice-over): With this sort of work, it wasn't unusual to feel a little miserable when you got home. But this time was different.
DR. BRIAN FOY, MICROBIOLOGIST, COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY: It really hit me. I think was driving in the car and I just couldn't keep my eyes open.
GUPTA: Tests came back negative for just about everything. The only thing Brian was fairly certain about, this virus was from mosquitoes and it hit him hard. His whole body hurt -- ankle pain, hip pain, wrists and thumbs, a rash here on the chest and back, mild fever.
Brian's wife, Joy, who hadn't been to Africa, in fact, hadn't even left northern Colorado in more than a year, also got sick.
FOY: She got worse than I did by far. She -- her arthralgia was stronger and it lasted a lot longer. She couldn't really open cans and things like that for quite a long time.
GUPTA (on camera): So, at this point, you knew she had what you had.
FOY: I felt very confident, yes.
GUPTA (voice-over): Brian and Joy were convinced the virus had been transmitted by sex.
FOY: We had just saw each other, you know? You do what husband and wives do.
GUPTA: But what many don't know is that the testicles are an area of the body known as immune privileged. That's an area where the immune system won't attack probably because it could affect the man's ability to have children in the future, but it also means viruses can hide more safely here and be sexually transmitted.
Brian decided to freeze his and Joy's blood in the hopes they would one day find the answer and by the time Zika hitchhiked its way around the world to the Americas, they knew the virus had already made its way to the United States nearly a decade earlier, even if no one else had listened to them.
FOY: They wanted to see more evidence. Now, unfortunately, we have more evidence.
GUPTA: And consider this: if we had paid attention back in 2008, maybe today, we would have a therapy or even a vaccine for Zika virus.
(on camera): All right. This is it, huh? Insectary.
FOY: It's the insectary.
GUPTA (voice-over): Today, Brian is giving some of the mosquitoes he studies the treat they need more than any other, human blood. It helps him better understand how they transmit the virus.
The Aedes Aegypti mosquito which typically only lives 30 days takes 14 days before it can spread the virus. So, a solution may not be to eradicate the deadliest animal on the planet, but just to shorten its life span.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Ft. Collins, Colorado.
BURNETT: Pretty fascinating. And thank you all so much for joining us. Be sure to set your DVR to record OUTFRONT so you can watch us any time. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.
"AC360" starts right now.