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Countdown to CNN GOP Town Hall; Pope Suggests Trump "Is Not A Christian"; Jeb Bush Polling Fourth, Puts Everything On The Line In S.C.; Awaiting Trump, Bush and Kasich at CNN Town Hall; Sources: Rep. Jim Clyburn to Endorse Clinton; Moments Away: Trump, Bush, Kasich at CNN Town Hall. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 18, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:18] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. And tonight, we are live from Columbia, South Carolina for a special edition of OUTFRONT. In less than one hour, Republican candidates will take the stage behind me for the second night of CNN's exclusive presidential town hall. Right now, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich are preparing to come face to face with voters in these final hours before votes are cast Saturday.

And tonight's big event coming on a day with stunning developments, the Pope taking on Donald Trump. The comments overshadowing the campaign trail today. The Pope suggesting Donald Trump is not Christian because of his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border.


POPE FRANCIS (through a translator): A person who thinks only about building walls wherever they're maybe located and not building bridges is not Christian. This is not in the gospel.


BURNETT: And Donald Trump responded.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Pope said something to the effect that maybe Donald Trump isn't Christian, OK, and he's questioning my faith. For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful.


BURNETT: Despite the only thing perhaps more shocking than this back and forth between the Pope and Trump was Trump's rivals, Catholics, taking his side on faith and the wall.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think his Christianity is between he and his creator. SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As far as building

walls on the border, the wall is not just about immigrations. It's also about potentially terrorists crossing that border.


BURNETT: So, in Trump versus Pope, who will win?

Sara Murray is OUTFRONT in Gaffney, South Carolina. Donald Trump just held a rally there obviously and rode here to the town hall. And Sara, what are you hearing? Can we expect Trump to make more comments about the Pope at the town hall?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Erin, I think it is safe to say that Donald Trump will be asked about this at the town hall tonight, but here in Gaffney he did not bring up the Pope, but he did say repeatedly that we are going to build a wall. And he spoke about crime that undocumented immigrants are bringing into the country. So, clearly a defiant Donald Trump in what must be the most bizarre political feud of this election cycle.


MURRAY (voice-over): Today an incredulous Donald Trump is facing off against his most shocking foreign partner yet. Pope Francis.

TRUMP: What did the Pope say? I like the Pope. But I mean, was it good or bad, because if it is good, I like the Pope. If it is bad, I don't like the Pope.

MURRAY: The Pope speaking to reporters after a visit to Mexico offered a sharp rebuke of Trump's plan to build a wall.

TRUMP: I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.

MURRAY: And questioned the candidate's faith?

POPE FRANCIS (through a translator): A person who thinks about building walls wherever they maybe located and not building bridges is not Christian. This is not in the gospel. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.

MURRAY: The pontiff hasn't shied away from the political arena, once proclaiming a good Catholic meddles in politics and even becoming the first pope to address Congress.

POPE FRANCIS: We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners.

MURRAY: It's not the first time Trump has taken a swipe at the Pope.

TRUMP: The Pope is a very political person. I think he doesn't understands the problems our country has.

MURRAY: But today marked a dramatic escalation and a combative response from the billionaire businessman.

TRUMP: If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS' ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.

MURRAY: Tonight the holy war of words is quickly drawing in other GOP contenders.

BUSH: The Swiss army guard is probably taking pretty good care of the Pope.

MURRAY: His rival candidates steering clear of judgment on Trump's faith.

BUSH: His Christianity is between him and his creator. I don't think we need to discuss that.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Listen, that's between Donald and the Pope. I'm not going to get in the middle of that. I'll leave it to the two of them to work that out.

MURRAY: And defending their own proposed immigration overhauled after months of tough rhetoric on the trail.

RUBIO: There's no nation on earth that's more compassionate on immigration than we are. The Vatican City controls who comes in, when they come in and how they come in as a nation-state or a city-state. And as a result, the United States has a right to do that as well.

MURRAY: All is Trump is let justifying one of the cornerstones of his candidacy.

TRUMP: The Pope only heard one side of the story and he didn't see the crime, the drug trafficking, and the negative economic impact. People can come into our country, folks, but they have to come in legally.


MURRAY: Now, Erin, there's always the question, will this be the thing that finally hurts Trump? And talking to voters here tonight, I've got to say that doesn't seem to be the case. I talked to one woman who said she's not a nice Southern Baptist lady. And she doesn't give a hoot that Donald Trump is fighting with the Pope. Back to you.

[19:05:13] BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you.

And OUTFRONT now, our political commentator and host of "The Ben Ferguson Show," Ben Ferguson. Pastor Mark Burns supporting Donald Trump for our president here in South Carolina, and our political commentator S.E. Cupp.

All right. So, Pastor Burns, let me start with you. Obviously not Catholic, but Christian, a man of faith. Donald Trump, not Christian? PASTOR MARK BURNS, EVANGELIST: Donald trump is a Christian. He's

made very clear his stance on supporting our conservative values. He's made it clear that he -- we Christians will have a friend in the White House. He stood by that and I'm going to stand by his fact that he is a Christian. I mean, obviously, I would not vote it for the next pastor of the United States of America, I've said this over and over and over again. We're voting for the next president of the United States of America. So, we can't expect Donald Trump to be again as I said early -- he's not qualified to preach in anyone's pulpit, but is he qualified to be the president of the United States? I absolutely think so. And I also think he would be a person that would defend the rights of Christians here in America.

BURNETT: So, Ben, you know, the other day President Obama said that Donald Trump will never be president. Donald Trump said, that's a great compliment. The sitting president of the United States just as engaging with me. Well, now the Pope is engaging with Donald Trump. Do, did he just get elevated even further?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know if this elevating the way that you want to. I mean, getting headlines, the Kardashians can get headlines. Doesn't mean that they're good people or we should be excited about what those headlines are. I think what you look at today is, Donald Trump has a very unique dynamic now. Because he uses being a Catholic as a negative, he uses a negative against Ted Cruz, implying he wasn't an evangelical Christian which for him and now say, well the Pope shouldn't be judging my faith, that's what he's done the entire time to take Cruz.

He said, well, Catholics come from Cuba as if that is a negative thing to be Catholic. And then you see it. And I think that's the reason why the Pope probably got involved a little bit here is, I think he feels like Donald Trump has been very unfair to Catholics. I think he feels that he's used them in a negative light and find that someone that's not evangelical, not a Catholic, somehow shouldn't be president of the United States of America. So, I don't think this was a smart move, especially when you go to places like Ohio. That's going to be a place where this will play a lot different than it will in South Carolina.

BURNETT: S.E., you know, people say the Pope right, that he was on the cover of "Rolling Stone," "Time Magazine." When he came to the United States, I mean, these are people who were not Christian at all, were moved and touched. But when you look at his popularity among Republicans, people may be shocked. It's only 56 percent.


BURNETT: For comparison, George W. Bush is at 88 percent among Republicans.

CUPP: Right. The Pope is popular. This Pope is not very popular among Republicans. And that's because we all remember when he came to Congress and basically lectured Republican lawmakers about climate change and capitalism. Republicans remember that. And there's a group of evangelicals for whom there is some distrust with the Vatican, with the Pope. So, I think this is a 100 percent win for Donald Trump. We're in a state, South Carolina, where there's a very small Catholic population, incredibly small. It's the 49th of 50 states when it comes to Catholic populations. We don't think it hurts from here. And nationally, the 20 percent of the population. And frankly, they are voting more Democrat these days than Republican. I cannot see any downside out of his feud --

BURNETT: For Donald Trump?

CUPP: -- for Donald Trump.

FERGUSON: I think it's a downside for one reason. I don't think Republicans like it when you attack someone's religion and demean someone's religion. That's where I think it gets Donald Trump in trouble, is the fact that he uses it against Ted Cruz as if it is a bad character flaw.

BURNETT: And he's used it against Donald Trump.

FERGUSON: Yes. And I think he did. And I think he took offense to that. And I think that's the issue --

BURNETT: He should.

FERGUSON: What he's basically saying is that Donald Trump is saying, I can criticize anyone's religion I want to, but you can't criticize mine because you're the pope.

CUPP: You're holding Donald Trump to a standard to his supporters are not -- they are not abiding by.

FERGUSON: No, I agree with that. His supporters --

CUPP: Of course, there's hypocrisy. But among his supporters, I don't see that mattering.

BURNS: I also agree that Ted Cruz I believe personally has evangelical -- has done the same thing.

FERGUSON: Tell Donald.

BURNS: No, no, no, no. I think Ted Cruz has done the same thing to Donald Trump. Again, when he removed that and I said this yesterday, but I have so many positive responses of those who said Pastor Burns, thank you so much for standing up. Ted Cruz removed the ad of the former porn star, who I will -- say and listen, Pastor Burns, thank you so much for teaching Shawn Grace. Ted Cruz --


Well, it was horrible day to day. It was completely judgmental.

FERGUSON: But it's smart not to have someone in your ad.

BURNS: That was her lifestyle and it is not who she is today. She should not be criminalized for what she did in her past when Grace teaches us --


BURNETT: Does the Pope influence anyone that you are preaching to? I mean, OK, he's not an evangelical, but he is a Christian. He is a man of great faith. Other people who say, well, gosh, if he doesn't trust Donald Trump, maybe I should think again.

[19:10:06] BURNS: Well, you know, again I want to think about what Donald Trump said earlier, I really think it is horrible, in my opinion and so does Donald Trump, that really, the Pope has really been kind of a political pawn in this to really put focus more so on the wall that millions of Americans are agreeing that should took place. And really this is -- and media also has a part in this because the Pope didn't say Donald Trump you're not a Christian. That's really what's coming out of this whole meeting outcry. But the Pope never said Donald Trump is not a Christian. He simply said, listen, we should be focusing more --

BURNETT: He said anyone who wants to build a wall is not Christian, it's what he said.

CUPP: The other problem with that is that it's so overly simplified. I mean, the Pope is standing there taking a question on a plane about something that is incredibly complicated.


CUPP: To complex issue, to reduce our National Security, our illegal immigration problem, our problem with drug trafficking, all of the terrorism, to acute adage about building bridges and not walls, I think is doing a serious disservice to the complexity of this issue.

BURNETT: And final quick final word to you, S.E., you know, you saw Marco Rubio jumping in defending the wall.

CUPP: Yes. Yes.

BURNETT: This is something to keep in mind. Everybody running on the Republican side here wants a wall. They made us disagree that he's going to pay for it. OK. But they want walls.


FERGUSON: It's very important to point out is this one issue and that is today Donald Trump was saying the people in Mexico, the government had brainwashed the Pope into hating him and not liking him. And -- let me get this straight, Donald Trump is now saying that the Mexican government cannot stand him and is brainwashing the Pope?


That's absurd.

BURNETT: All right. I'll hit pause there. Thank you all very much. And high stakes for Jeb Bush tonight. You saw him there on the issue

of religion coming to Donald Trump's defense. Tonight though, he's putting it all on the line at our town hall. Can he finally break through? And all eyes on Donald Trump's escalating feud with Ted Cruz. South Carolina's lieutenant governor is OUTFRONT to talk about why he is siding with Trump. It's a big night here.

CNN's town hall kicks off in just about 45 minutes right where I am in Columbia, South Carolina. We'll be right back.


[19:15:58] BURNETT: Welcome back. We are live in Columbia, South Carolina tonight. Behind me in less than one hour, the leading Republican presidential candidates are going to be taking the stage. Donald Trump along with Jeb Bush and John Kasich will appear in our Republican presidential town hall.

Tonight, it is a crucial event for all of them, but especially for Jeb Bush. He has put everything on the line here in South Carolina from campaigning with his mother and his brother to spending millions of dollars on campaign ads. And yet our latest polls has the Florida governor in fourth place at 10 percent. Now, it's South Carolina's tradition of re-shaping races. There's a lot riding tonight for Bush. Could he turn around and stage a big upset?

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.


BUSH: I'm going to get on my hands and knees and asking for your vote after I answer this.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jeb Bush looking for a campaign comeback.

BUSH: We're working hard until the end.

SERFATY: But the hit keep on coming.

GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is not about picking friends. It's about picking who you think would be the best president.

SERFATY: Bush not only missing out on the coveted endorsement of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley but losing it to his onetime protege Marco Rubio.

BUSH: She's a great person. I'm disappointed she didn't endorse me.

SERFATY: And the polls are grim in South Carolina. A CNN/ORC survey shows him in fourth place while some national polls show him trailing the pack. And now, two days before the first in the south primary, Bush is pulling out all the stops.

BUSH: You can trust Jeb Bush to be measured and thoughtful on the world stage.

SERFATY: Showcasing the Bush family artillery.

BUSH: I'm so honored that my brother is here.

SERFATY: Bringing a new urgent aggressiveness.

BUSH: With all due respect, Senator Rubio, your four years or five years or whatever it is as senator does not match up to my capabilities of understanding how the world works.

SERFATY: And even changing up his look swapping out his glasses for contacts.

BUSH: People said, wow! You look 20 years younger.

SERFATY: This as the Bush campaign in his Super PAC have been throwing piles of money into the race. In New Hampshire where he came in fourth combined they spent $36 million on TV and radio ads. That's nearly $2,900 for each single vote. And in Iowa, they invested $15 million to come in sixth, amounting to $1,200 per vote. On the ground in South Carolina, his supporters seem aware of this moment for him giving him a pep talk and some unsolicited advice.

BUSH: I'm afraid that your message doesn't resonate to a national community.

SERFATY: Bush's response, there's no need for Monday morning quarterbacking yet while he is still in the game.

BUSH: Pundits have made it all, it's all decided. I mean, we don't have to vote I guess. It's all finish. I should stop campaigning maybe, huh? It's all done. That's not how democracy works, right?


SERFATY: And a Bush adviser tells me that they want to continue taking the long view here. They believe that they have the resources to continue to compete strongly, but there is a real awareness within the Bush campaign right now about where they do stand. And that's why it puts so much pressure on Jeb Bush tonight at that CNN town hall to perform, Erin, and also to leave South Carolina with a strong showing -- Erin.

BURNETT: Sunlen, thank you. And OUTFRONT now, Michael Steel, he's with me, he is with me along with Hogan Gidley. Hogan Gidley of course, former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party also served on Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee's campaign. And of course, you are the policy and communications adviser for Jeb Bush. You did a little popping around there. Good to have both of you with us.

Let me start with you, OK? It's a big night. We just heard Sunlen reporting $10 million of ads. His family has been a part of this, his popular brother. His mother we expect will be here tonight. How important is tonight? Is the voting on Saturday for Jeb Bush's campaign?

MICHAEL STEEL, JEB BUSH CAMPAIGN POLICY AND COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER: This is a wonderful venue for Governor Bush. He does best answering real people's substantive questions. He has the best record in the field. In Florida as governor he cut taxes every single year, a total of $19 billion. He managed to create 1.3 million new jobs. He also has details plans for the future, to fix the mess in Washington, reform our tax codes, create 19 million new jobs, rising middle class incomes, and protect the American people from ISIS.

[19:20:12] BURNETT: Can he though, I mean, what's the place that he has to have? I mean, I know, you know you don't like it when you say you have to come in third, you have to come in fourth, I know. But these are real questions right now. For him to continue, he's got to do well here.

STEEL: We feel really good about South Carolina. We feel good about the results here. We focused on, this is a commander-in-chief debate. This is the most military friendly state in the country. Governor Bush has been endorsed by Senator Lindsey Graham by 40 retired admirals and generals. Twelve Medal of Honor recipients including two from here in South Carolina. So, we think we have a great case to make that he is the best candidate on National Security, which is the leading issue here in South Carolina.

BURNETT: What do you say, Hogan?

HOGAN GIDLEY, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, S.C. REPUBLICAN PARTY: I don't disagree. I mean, he has an amazing resume. I'm just afraid in this cycle, in this time in politics, the conventional candidates are having a difficult time resonating because it is an unconventional year. It is almost like voters have put on blinders to all the things he just said. And there are a lot of things Governor Bush has done toward conservative, but for some reason, they're gravitating towards folks who have no accomplishment or who were the loudest about a particular issue. It's an amazing cycle to watch. But Jeb Bush has -- he's kind of built somewhat of a fire wall here. He obviously got some money to continue on. It's going to be very difficult for Governor Bush should he finish behind Marco Rubio here --


GIDLEY: -- we know this is a tough election.

BURNETT: You're looking at Donald Trump and you have Ted Cruz, you have Marco Rubio and then most of the polls have been Jeb Bush. So, is that enough coming in fourth? Is that enough?

GIDLEY: I'm not sure. I'm sure his folks will be out saying how great it is and how he came back from nothing and he was in single digits and he mounted a good comeback. I'm sure they're going to say things like that. But the perception and the narrative may already be written. Once he leaves here, if he finishes behind someone like Marco Rubio, it's going to be very difficult. Now, there are Jeb Bush friendly states coming up. We're going to go through the south. So, he'll have some momentum. But they're all very Trump friendly as well. So, it is going to be very difficult for someone who finishes fourth to continue.

BURNETT: You know, Michael, you've also had some blows for Nikki Haley, right? He's a personal friend of Jeb Bush, came out and endorsed Marco Rubio, which you know, the governor was very honest about in a very gracious moment yesterday saying, yes, I'm really disappointed, what he truly felt. You know, here's what she said though today about why she chose Rubio and not Jeb Bush. Here she is.


HALEY: Jeb is a dear friend and he has been a great mentor and has helped me along the way. This is not about picking friends. It is about picking who you think can be the best president.


BURNETT: I mean, how does that feel? That is a big blow. I mean, it wasn't just a friend. A mentee.

STEEL: We obviously disagree with Governor Haley. We think that you're not going to beat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders which is the ultimate object of this exercise without a conservative candidate with a genuine record of accomplishment. And the people that we're talking about, we have a candidate, Donald Trump who is not a conservative, who is essentially hijacking the Republican Party, and then two senators with no real record of accomplishment compared to the most transformative Republican governor of the 21st Century. So, we think in the end, we have the best qualified candidate to achieve the ultimate goal, which is defeating Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders and having a Republican commander-in-chief.

GIDLEY: And if you look at Nikki, which is interesting of Governor Haley, she's my governor. Early on in this process, she said she wanted a governor as president. She thought it was time for a governor. So, for her to make this switch is very interesting as well. There's another thing going on in her mind from what she said before. But again, I can appreciate the accomplishments because I work for a man who is well accomplished too. Governor Huckabee served with Jeb Bush. So, they are -- spirits in this.

And typically I gravitate towards governors, but for some reason, the people don't seem to care about accomplishment. They want something different this time. It's almost as though, the anger and seething rage that exists that we've all talked about is somehow embodied by a person who has captured that and regurgitated some of the things that they say around their own personal private living rooms and it's making him be the frontrunner. It's an amazing to watch. I don't understand.

BURNETT: Well, thank you both very much. You're echoing what a lot of people out there say and thank you.

And next, amidst the Trump-Cruz mudslinging which is going on tonight. South Carolina's lieutenant governor is going to join me and tell me why he's going against the Governor Nikki Haley and endorsing Donald Trump. Plus the breaking news, Hillary Clinton winning a major endorsement

tonight. We'll tell you who it is and why it matters as we count you down to tonight's GOP town hall just 30 minutes away from where I am in South Carolina.


[19:28:26] BURNETT: Welcome back to a very special edition of OUTFRONT live from Columbia, South Carolina. We are 30 minutes away from the second night of CNN's presidential town hall taking place on the stage behind me. Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and John Kasich will come face to face with voters. Making their final pitches, taking voter questions. The polls here open in just 36 hours. The frontrunner will likely talk about his threats to sue Ted Cruz over his eligibility to be president and controversial ads that Cruz is running against Trump.

Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT.


TRUMP: He just comes out and boom, boom, boom. Absolute lies. Now, he'll apologize. And if he doesn't, I'm going to bring a lawsuit because --

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump the candidate still the businessman, who is not afraid to turn to lawyers when he feels wronged. Ted Cruz says, bring it on.

CRUZ: You know, look, you can never write off the possibility of Donald Trump suing you. If he wants to file a lawsuit, he can file it and lose.

CASAREZ: It would not be the first time the billionaire has used the courts after saying this about Mexico sending its people to America.

TRUMP: They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.

CASAREZ: Univision announced it would not air Trump's Miss USA or universe pageants. Trump sued the network for $500 million alleging they engaged in a politically motivated attempt to suppress Mr. Trump's freedom of speech under the First Amendment. A confidential settlement was announced this month.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Donald Trump has been a one-man full employment agency for lawyers, corporate lawyers, bankruptcy lawyers, defamation lawyers, divorce lawyers.

[19:30:07] He's hired and fired them all.

CASAREZ: In 2006, Trump sued the author of "Trump Nation" for underestimating his wealth saying it injured his credit and harmed business deals. Trump lost that case but won against former Miss USA contestant Sheena Monnin who claimed on her Facebook page, the pageant was fraudulent, trashy and rigged. Here is Trump announcing his action plan on ABC's "Good Morning America."

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, what we're doing is we're going to be suing her.

CASAREZ: An arbitrator ordered Monnin to pay Trump $5 million.

From "The Chicago Tribune" to Bill Maher, to a company bearing his last name, the lawsuits are countless and not even his family is off- limits.

In 1992, a New York state appeals court allowed Trump to sue his ex- wife Ivana for violating a confidentiality clause in their divorce agreement. The court ruled in Donald's favor.

And who can forget this battle that never went to court after Rosie O'Donnell said this about Trump on ABC's "The View"?

ROSIE O'DONNELL: This man is like sort of one of those, you know, snake oil salesmen.

CASAREZ: "Watch out," Trump replied.

TRUMP: I'd probably sue Rosie because she doesn't tell the facts.

CASAREZ: Rosie responded.

O'DONNELL: She's going to sue me, but he'll be bankrupt by that time, so I won't have to worry.


CASAREZ: Donald Trump did not go bankrupt and he's now running for the president of the United States -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you very much, Jean.

OUTFRONT now, the lieutenant governor of South Carolina, a supporter of Donald Trump. Henry McMaster.

Lieutenant Governor, thanks very much. Good to be here in your statement in these crucial final hours.

All right. You're a former prosecutor attorney general.


BURNETT: You know, what do you think about Trump's threats to sue Ted Cruz?

MCMASTER: Well, we're sitting in a law school full of law students and lawyers and you're asking me that question. There is a question there about -- what I understand the suit is about the natural born citizen -- the natural born citizen part of the Constitution. That's something that's never been cleared up.

It was sort of addressed when John McCain ran because he was born on U.S. soil, although on a military base. He had the Senate pass a resolution saying just to be sure that he was clear.

It's been suggested that Ted Cruz do the same thing. He hadn't done it. Now this thing has erupted and has come back up. It's a question I'm sure will be answered one day, I'm sure.

BURNETT: Which, of course, Donald Trump says, as well.

All right. A war of words, of course, broke out between Donald Trump today and Pope Francis. We were joking that the Donald and the pope are now in a war of words. Here's what the pope said and what Donald Trump said in response.


POPE FRANCIS (through translator): A person who thinks only about building walls wherever they may be located and not about building bridges is not Christian. This is not in the gospel.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which is as everyone knows is ISIS' ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have president.


BURNETT: You obviously support Donald Trump. You know, he called the pope disgraceful for saying he wasn't Christian. And you said, look, Donald Trump is a man who means what he says, says what he means. When you hear this, is this the kind of rhetoric that you had in mind when you endorsed him? Does this disappoint you? Are you all right with it?

MCMASTER: Well, with all due respect to the pope, the immigration laws and the issue of building fences and building walls has been one since the beginning of the country. We've had legal walls since the very beginning. We've had fences. I think we have about 700 miles worth of tall double steel fences built under Presidents Clinton and President Bush. There had been congressional acts that call for the building of that kind of border.

I think immigration is something that's important to every country. Of course, it's important to Mr. Trump. As he explains, you cannot have a country if you don't have borders. And we're here, again, we're in a law school, we believe in the rule of law.

With all due respect to the pope, I think that Donald Trump understands that situation very well and we do need to protect the borders. That's what he's saying in very clear unmistakable words that everybody can understand.

BURNETT: So, when people look at South Carolina, they say, all right, you've endorsed Donald Trump. Lieutenant Governor, Nikki Haley now has endorsed on Marco Rubio. Did you talk about it?

MCMASTER: That's right.

Did you talk about it? Did you plan it out? How is this going now between you and Nikki Haley?

MCMASTER: Everything is going just fine. Lindsey has endorsed somebody. Some congressmen endorsed other people. That's typically how it goes.

I'll tell you this -- Donald Trump is having people come to see him not only from South Carolina but other places. I've been to three, four rallies here where we've had two of them in excess of 10,000 people. Those are real counts.

[19:35:00] Those are not just estimates, and it is a phenomenal thing. It's something I have never seen before in a lot of years in and out of politics. It's something that other people haven't seen and it is because he is a strong and powerful man and he has built an empire.

Something you don't build on words, but you have to be precise in building something in the way he's done it. He means what he says. Everybody understands it. He has the power and capability and determination to get it done. That's why people believe in him.

BURNETT: So, when you talk about things you like about him with his strength and his conviction. Here's what Marco Rubio said after Governor Haley endorsed him in Republican Party.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got the endorsement of a governor of Indian descent who endorsed a presidential candidate of Cuban descent and tomorrow will be campaigning alongside an African-American Republican senator.


BURNETT: And that, of course, is Senator Tim Scott. So, you have Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, and Marco Rubio. You know, you have a woman, you have an African-American man, an Indian-American woman, and, of course, Marco Rubio, a Cuban Hispanic. The Governor Haley said this was a Benetton ad.

Is that more the future of the Republican Party than what Donald Trump is selling?

MCMASTER: The future of the Republican Party and the future of this country is great. It is very bright if we do some very important things that we haven't done in a long time, and that is we've got to see that our people have work and jobs by stopping this unfair trade that's going on.

We've got a deficit -- a trade deficit of about $700 billion. With Mexico, I think it's -- with China, it's $366 billion. It's not fair trade. They're putting up tariffs. They're requiring our companies to build plants there in order to sell things there.


MCMASTER: We're strangling them here with regulations and higher taxes. Mr. Trump understands that. He understands that we have to knock ISIS out. We can't wait around on this. We've got to get it done. He understands that. And he wants to make America great again.

And I'll tell you, the people here believe and I believe that he is the one that can do it. It's his vision. It's his understanding of the greatness of America, his determination and power. And he has demonstrated that he is a builder. He can get things done.

You can't fake that. You can't fake all the work that he's done. He's a man of great accomplishment.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Lieutenant Governor McMaster, thank you very much. I appreciate your time here in South Carolina.

MCMASTER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, breaking news on the Democratic side of this race. Hillary Clinton winning a crucial endorsement as a new national poll shows a statistical tie with Bernie Sanders.

Plus, just 20 minutes from now Trump, Bush, Kasich taking the stage right behind me for our CNN town hall live right here in Columbia, South Carolina.


[19:41:34] BURNETT: Breaking news: we are live tonight in Columbia, South Carolina, where in just a few minutes, our town hall with Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and John Kasich will begin, a crucial night for all three candidates.

There is breaking news tonight though on the Democratic side of things and this is significant.

A source telling CNN, Hillary Clinton will pick up a key endorsement from Congressman Jim Clyburn tomorrow, one of the most influential black leaders in South Carolina. This endorsement coming in a pivotal time in the campaign with the Nevada caucuses taking place Saturday and South Carolina's primary one week later.

Our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT live in Las Vegas.

And, Jeff, you know, there has been this courting of black voters here in South Carolina, which, of course, are more than half of the primary voters on the Democratic side. Clyburn has withheld that endorsement. It was highly coveted and perceived as influential.

What are you learning about the timing of it?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Erin, I'm told that Congressman Clyburn is going to issue that endorsement tomorrow morning at 11:00 in South Carolina. He really wants to make an impact in the week leading up to those South Carolina Democratic primary next Saturday, but he also thinks he can have a bit of influence in Nevada. You know, African-American voters very important here in Nevada as well. That's why he decided to do the endorsement on Friday. Now, there were some in the Clinton campaign who were hoping for an endorsement to be timed on Sunday, perhaps as a bit of a campaign reset if things aren't ending as they would like here.

But they're happy to have the endorsement whenever they can get it, because, of course, in 2008, Congressman Clyburn did not endorse. He famously did not side with either Barack Obama or the Clinton campaign here. So, it is significant that he is endorsing tomorrow morning, Erin.

BURNETT: And there's also, though, this poll coming out tonight, a FOX News poll just released that shows Hillary Clinton's lead nationwide has evaporated now. She and Bernie Sanders in a statistical tie. Bernie Sanders actually ahead by three percentage points within the margin of error.

Obviously, this is the first poll to show him actually in the lead, but this has got to be a concern.

ZELENY: Sure, it is a concern, Erin. No doubt about it. I mean, but it's not that surprising that a national poll would be finding this because Bernie Sanders, of course, is raising so much money across the board. That's showing his broad base of national support.

But the Clinton campaign is focused on these contests state by state by state. The poll they're more concerned about is the poll here in Nevada, which shows the race absolutely tied with Bernie Sanders. They thought they would have a good advantage here, they thought this would be the launching pad for -- a sign to show she is able to reach out to this diverse electorate and he is not.

But the reality here is, this race in Nevada could go either way. And the Clinton campaign knows that this election -- this primary is going to continue for at least another month, perhaps much longer than that.

So, the national polls are just one more indication that more people are getting to know Bernie Sanders, more people are finding some reasoning in his argument. They're finding that, you know, they're really buying what he has to say. That's why the Clinton campaign is trying to shut him down here in Nevada and South Carolina -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeff, thank you very much, live from Las Vegas.

And OUTFRONT now, our chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

So, Gloria, let's start with the endorsement. This endorsement matters a lot.


BURNETT: There has been a huge fight for this and a history of Clyburn with the Clintons not always positive.

[19:45:02] So, it was feared he could -- BORGER: I think it is a make good.

BURNETT: This is a make good.

We talk about do endorsements matter or not. I mean, will he sway black voters to Clinton?

BORGER: Look, I think he is revered in this state. When the political action arm of the Congressional Black Caucus endorsed Hillary Clinton, he did not.

And I think the timing of this is very interesting because, of course, as you point out and as Jeff was just talking about, the polls in Nevada very close in the caucus. Obviously, she's ahead here in South Carolina. National polls are clearly tightened over the last two months, so I think that this is Clyburn's way of sort of just putting his foot on the gas here for Hillary Clinton.

BURNETT: And, obviously, we talk about her ahead here in South Carolina solidly so. It doesn't seem like there's any risk whatsoever. But when you look at Nevada, a few months ago Bernie Sanders was pretty much no one knew who he was and now it's dead heat. And now, you've got this national polls tightening. This FOX News poll is the first to show Bernie Sanders in the lead.

BORGER: Right.

BURNETT: Margin of error, but in the lead by three percentage point.

BORGER: But again, you have to look at these polls over a long period. They have been tightening. There's no doubt about it. And our poll of polls here at CNN shows that nationally, 48 to 43 for Hillary Clinton, but I do think Nevada is very difficult for Hillary Clinton right now because they were supposed to be so far ahead.

The thing about a caucus is that in organizing for a caucus, your passion matters of your supporters.

BURNETT: Which, of course, favors Bernie Sanders.

BORGER: Favors Bernie Sanders. And so, you know, that's an issue that he has on his side. But again here in South Carolina, this endorsement tonight really does matter. We say endorsements don't matter --

BURNETT: But this one does.

BORGER: This one does.

BURNETT: So, a big endorsement for her tonight, and, of course, that national tightening and really anyone's race on the Democratic side very exciting.

Gloria, thank you.

And next, just moments away from CNN's town hall where Trump, Bush, and Kasich will take the stage.

Earlier, a powerful moment from a voter whose family has been through suicide, divorce, and a lost job, in a very dark place -- until he found hope in John Kasich.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd really appreciate one of those hugs you've been talking about.




[19:51:18] BURNETT: Welcome back to a special live edition of OUTFRONT in Columbia, South Carolina.

You can see or maybe hear them getting ready for the town hall on the stage behind me. We are just moments away from the second night of CNN's presidential town hall.

OUTFRONT now, our political director David Chalian, our chief political correspondent Dana Bash, and the host of our special town hall, Anderson Cooper.

Anderson, last night, you know, it was great. There were personal moments. There were so many good moments, but there was also Ted Cruz and his ongoing war with Donald Trump.


BURNETT: So, what do you expect tonight about Donald Trump now firing back?

COOPER: Well, I mean, I have no idea what to expect, really. I mean, obviously, one of the -- you know, the big story today was the pope's comments about Donald Trump. That's something we're going to be talking to Trump about, I'm sure.

You know, how much of that will come from voters. How much will come from us, I'm not exactly sure.

But I don't think you can -- given the nature of the race at this point, I think you're going to see continuation of what we've seen out on the campaign trail. The allegations against each other, the word liar -- all the things we've heard in the campaign trail. You know, that's what he hear in these town halls.

But it really is an opportunity for not only undecided voters here who are going to be voting in the Republican primary to ask questions. But also, these candidates, we want to give them an extended period of time where they can actually talk. That's one of the -- for me, the highlights of these town halls, is that, it's not 60-second responses. It's not little sound bites. Ideally, it's a conversation. BURNETT: Right, right, there's no ding-ding that goes off.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) as somebody who covers these candidates day in and day out, they enjoy it. They enjoy the idea of being able to not be a 30-second sound bite and not just speak to the room of 300, 400 people but to actually have a longer conversation about their ideas and the personalities.

COOPER: Right. I mean, we've all complained about sound bites and talking points for so long in the world of politics. This is actually a venue where they are allowed to talk. I'm not cutting them off. You know, we want a conversation between them and the voter.

BURNETT: So, what's at stake tonight? Obviously, this is a room full of people who say they are undecided. And that means a lot is at stake. They can actually win over people tonight.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I mean, the stakes are so high as they entered the room because we're two days away from the primary. And this primary is going to be critical in redefining this race. I really think we're going to be at a real turning point come Saturday night when the results come in.

So, obviously, everybody I think is a little on edge, these candidates, but it gets back to this kind of format that works so well for them all. They all benefit from this. Obviously, Donald Trump as a frontrunner always has the most to lose whenever he enters sort of a venue like this.

But this kind of conversation with voters about the issues most important on voters' minds, that is something that benefits each of these candidates and, by the way, benefits the voters.

COOPER: And also, let's remember, the latest polls in South Carolina show as much as 50 percent of the electorate could change their vote or is completely undecided. So, there's a lot of minds that have not been made up.

BURNETT: It's still the single biggest category when you look.

COOPER: And, you know, these town halls can be so meaningful whether they are like this that are televised, or ones that are, you know, smaller out in far corners of the state. Governor Kasich had a moment with a voter going through a horrible time that's truly has touched a lot of people.

Let me just play it for you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A man who is like my second dad, he killed himself. And then a few months later, my parents got a divorce and then a few months later, my dad lost his job. But -- and I was in a really dark place for a long time. I was pretty depressed.

But I found hope and found it in the Lord and in my friends. And now I found it in my presidential candidate that I support. I'd really appreciate one of those hugs you've been talking about.



[19:55:12] BURNETT: Just a reminder of how personal this truly is.

COOPER: And, you know, I mean, I've talked to John Kasich about this. He's talked about moments like that in other town halls. And I think that's one of the things that voters in particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, these early voting states really get the chance to have this interaction with a candidate.

And you really do hear remarkable things. We heard in the Democratic town hall where you had a rabbi asking really an intriguing question, you had a man who was walking with cancer, with a terminal diagnosis asking about death with dignity.

BASH: And the other side of that equation is the candidate and what this means for the candidate. We do talk about all of the nastiness, the liar and everything that's going on with the mud slinging. But in addition to that, there are moments like this that the candidates say genuinely affect them and change their perspective.

John Kasich, for example, has told me and others that he is going to focus a lot more, win, lose or draw, on human beings and talking to people and looking them in the eye. And that is something that I think everybody can benefit from in their leaders.

BURNETT: A very genuine moment. I mean, we have talked to him. He had moments like that in New Hampshire. He's been moved to tears as have some of these other candidates. It's going to be an important night.

And, of course, Anderson is going to be back.

Up next, our Republican presidential town hall where for the first time, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and John Kasich are going to be answering questions from the voters of South Carolina in a forum that all of you can be a part of.

We'll be right back.