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Trump Savors Victory Preps For Super Tuesday; Trump, Cruz, Rubio Brawl Ahead Of CNN Debate; Border Voters Weigh In; Trump: Romney Is Attacking Me Because He Lost In 2012; Trump: "I Get Audited Every Single Year"; Trump On V.P. Pick: "I Would Want Somebody With Political Skill"; Can Cruz Win In Texas?; Deadly Tornadoes Hit The Southeast; Possible Supreme Court Contender; Obama Vetting Gov. Sandoval As Possible Nominee; Apple, FBI Spar Over Privacy Rights. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 24, 2016 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:46] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, thanks for joining us, 8:00 P.M. here in Houston, inside of tomorrow night's CNN Republican Debate and Tuesday's primary. One of 13 primaries and caucuses being held March 1st, any or all of which Donald Trump now stands a good chance of winning. Which would only add and it going bus that he could take it all after dealing his two main rivals across in blow last night in Nevada, it was his third straight victory and fair to say it's shaken the Republican Party.

In a moment, more of my conversation with Donald Trump, but first CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta with a tour of the political landscape and political rumble.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump's first campaign event after his win in Nevada says it all.


ACOSTA: Eyeing the Bible belt states up for grabs on Super Tuesday next week, Trump appealed to Christian conservatives by sitting down with Televangelist, Pat Robertson.

TRUMP: You inspire us all.

ACOSTA: Trump talked about forgiveness, perhaps even for his arch rival Ted Cruz, maybe.

TRUMP: I can forgive every once in a while there will be something that went too far and over the last few weeks and, you know things were said that were lies. I've got to be a good person today, at least for the next hour or so.

ACOSTA: That Trump isn't spending much time talking about his opponents. He's busy envisioning his days in the White House. The ultimate political outsider saying he would likely want a political insider as his vice president.

TRUMP: I do want somebody that's political because I want to get lots of great legislation that we all want passed.

ACOSTA: And strong conservatives for the Supreme Court.

TRUMP: Pro-life.


TRUMP: That a very conservative, very, very smart. I mean like Judge Scalia he was a perfect representative.

ACOSTA: On day one of the Trump administration, the GOP front-runner vows he'll scrap ObamaCare, improve veteran's health care and end the president's executive actions to slow deportation of the undocumented.

TRUMP: Especially the one on the border where people are allowed to come in just pour into our country like Swiss cheese.

ACOSTA: Trump is heading in the Super Tuesday with a lead that is ballooning quickly with five times the number of delegates as his nearest rivals.

TRUMP: The establishment, the media, the special interest, the lobbyists, the donors, they're all against me.

ACOSTA: Trump is also warning a new ad, warning that D.C. establishment is out to get him. And he's making the case Republicans should consider how he's expanding the party and get on board.

TRUMP: We won with highly educated, we won with poorly educated. I really love the poorly educated. And you know what I really, I'm happy about because I've been saying it for a long time, 46 percent with the Hispanics, 46 percent, number one with Hispanics.

ACOSTA: The contenders vying to be the anti-Trump insist the race is far from over.

TED CRUZ, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can't get this wrong. We can't be fooled by P.T. Barnum. The time for the clowns and the acrobat's of the dancing bears has passed.

ACOSTA: Cruz went back to delegate-rich Texas to secure the endorsement of that state's popular governor. Marco Rubio is urging supporters to pick a candidate who can actually win in November.

MARCO RUBIO, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can just to like someone as angry.


ACOSTA: We maybe way to have but Trump is not slowing down, his got a bunch of events lined up throughout the South and Southwest to set a table for Super Tuesday next week and all of the early polls indicate Trump has a chance to clean up and perhaps force some of his rivals out of the race. Anderson?

COOPER: Jim Acosta, Jim thanks very much. Back with panel board Gloria Borger, David Chalian, Amanda Carpenter, Kevin Madden, Ana Navarro and Jeffrey Lord. David Chalian in terms the road ahead for Donald Trump, I mean the numbers look, just the delegate count looks very good.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, he's got a significant delegate lead right now and those are not easy to give up because especially between now and March 15th, everything is awarded on a proportional basis, so no matter - you know if he continues to win the contests with the kind of margins we have seen in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada now, he consistently builds up a bigger and bigger delegate lead and just makes it difficult for Cruz or Rubio or anyone else to sort of dig into that.

COOPER: And Gloria at some point, somewhere along the way, Ted Cruz, any of his other opponents have to start winning somewhere. And it's not clear where that's going to be other than ...


COOPER: ... that's Ted Cruz in Texas.

[21:05:03] BORGER: Cruz can say he wants something because he did, but Marco Rubio started out this campaign as everybody's second choice and seems to be finishing this so far as everybody's second choice. He's got to win somewhere. You can't become the establishment sort of candidate with all of these endorsements, but don't have -- you need voters, too.

You know, endorsements aren't enough and I think that's Marco Rubio's problem, which is why today, we see him more frontally taking on Donald Trump.

Gradually tip toeing into that arena. He understands now, I think, that he's got to start taking him on.

COOPER: Well, what is the route forward for a Cruz, for Rubio, if there is one?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if you think the dynamics of this race has to change in some manners. Something big has to happen before next Tuesday from shift the momentum that Donald Trump is building in building.

I mean, like David pointed out, next week on Tuesday, there's going to be proportional delegates allocated if Trump rolls and then goes into the next Tuesday where it's winner take all states.

Trump is going to swing like a guillotine and take everything up. So, I've been encouraging, you know, Cruz last night and even online today to do something very bold, shift the way talks about.

Adopt some of Donald Trump's frankness in talking about issues, not in the lens of being conservative or ideological but just straight to the voters, because that's appealing right now. And as race to deal about adopting to what the voters want without mimicking the worst of his tactics.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And it has to be a two-man race. I think that's one of the big problem is that this looks like a big stare down between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and who's going to be that person to take Donald Trump head on.

And the only way to make that argument is to have somebody like Ted Cruz get upset in his own home state and then leave the rest of the calendar for Marco Rubio to go with Donald Trump. But ...

COOPER: Somebody has to drop out.

MADDEN: Yeah. And that's -- it's a dream scenario for Marco Rubio, but it's hard to see it happening.

COOPER: But I mean, Jeffrey, to Donald Trump's point, even if Ted Cruz drops out, he believes he would pick up a fair amount of Ted Cruz supporters.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. I mean, I think that's reasonable to think that he will get that a lot of Ted Cruz supporters.

I think I heard today that a New York congressman who had been supporting Jeb Bush endorsed Donald Trump today.


LORD: And that, I think, is that's definitely about that opponent. You just can't expect all of the Bush people and all of the support for these other candidates to go, you know, behind Marco Rubio. I think some of them are going to go to Donald Trump.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think one of the problems that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are having is that they are so bogged down in this intra-fight amongst themselves.

It's now lasted very long time. It's gone on now for about two months. It's getting very exhausting, very repetitive. And it makes them look as wealthy candidates. In the mean time, you've got John Kasich who has no plan to drop out, playing the role of Mr. Rogers.

Isn't it a beautiful day in the neighborhood, waiting for these two guys to kill each other off and be the last man standing. At some point, there is going to be one last man standing against Donald Trump.

He's going to be battered, bruised, maybe poverty stricken. But the question is, will it be in time to be able to take on Donald Trump?


LORD: One of the thing that's going to start to happen here very suddenly is, one of these people is going to start to think, well, maybe I can't win, but I better not overstep because I could be number two.

That's what happened with George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and finally ...

BORGER: You mean Marco Rubio?

CARPENTER: I think there's a better chance of the third party going on.

CHALIAN: What they could possibly popped in my head?

NAVARRO: I actually think there's less of a chance of a Marco Rubio or even a Ted Cruz being number two than maybe setting themselves up to be the next one in line which in the Republican Party has been an important notion.

CHALIAN: People do not end campaigns for any reason other than they run out of money. And I think that is completely true. And if you look at Cruz ...

NAVARRO: Or fresh laundry.

CHALIAN: ... and John Kasich right now, I just don't see anybody running out of money and not being able to go through at least to get to March 15th and those winners take all states.

MADDEN: All right.

CHALIAN: So, I don't see anyway that this is going to be short circuited into a two-man race in the next two, three weeks.

MADDEN: No, I think your right.

BORGER: And the more they take on each other, Cruz and Rubio, the more they enlarge Donald Trump who sort of hovers above them and, you know, that's why you're going to see them start, or Rubio start taking on Trump.

NAVARRO: You'll also going to see him start to take him on because, I think that for a lot of Jeb Bush donors and Marco Rubio is going after them and wants to appeal ...

BORGER: Right.

NAVARRO: ... to some of those supporters.

It's important to have a candidate and back a candidate who can and will take on Donald Trump.

COOPER: So tomorrow night at the CNN Debate here in Houston, did you anticipate that or do you anticipate more assaults on Donald Trump?

CARPENTER: Yeah, I do. Just because there's been so much pressure on both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to stop fighting each other and take on Donald Trump.

I think Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will be competing to see who could take a stronger stand against Donald Trump.

Because what this is really all about, who can stop Trump? Who will the donors get behind and give them the money and say, this is our guy. This is our best chance going forward.

CHALIAN: Amanda.

[21:10:09] COOPER: Kevin, have donors been giving money to run ads against Trump? I mean, doesn't seem like really ...

MADDEN: Well, if you talk to folks in both camps, probably Cruz and Rubio camps, they'll tell you that the money is coming in, that they feel that they have enough of the resources that they need to go on and take Donald Trump on.

And I think tomorrow night, there will be enough attacks to go around.


MADDEN: But I think it's very clear that I believe that one of these campaigns has to come to the conclusion that the way to consolidate, that anti-Trump or to become the alternative is to show that your best position to take Donald Trump on and finally start making some -- making some progress.

COOPER: But right now, Cruz and Rubio are both arguing that. I mean, they're both arguing that they're the ones ...

MADDEN: I think the best way to take it on is not to, not to play bumper cars with Cruz and Rubio ...

COOPER: Right.

MADDEN: ... but is to point the boat directly into the wind of Donald Trump and take him on.

NAVARRO: And actually Cruz has been doing it a lot more forcefully the last several weeks. And Rubio has I believe that's going to change and then may start changing tomorrow.

LORD: I have -- at this point, Donald Trump has had everything including the kitchen sink thrown at him. I'm honestly not sure what more can be said in one of these debates that's going to hurt him.

COOPER: We -- Gloria and David stick around. I want to get there take in a moment on Senate Republicans fighting any Obama Supreme Court appointee and what the president can do about it.

And also next my -- more on my conversation with Donald Trump, covered a lot of ground including that questions of his taxes and when the public will get or look at them if they will.


TRUMP: And I have many, many companies. I have, you know, tremendously, you know, I have a very complex system of taxes. And frankly, I get audited every single year. But we'll make a determination over the next couple of months. It's very complicated.


COOPER: And later, Gary Tuchman goes to Texas-Mexico border talking to voters there about the issue that Trump has made such a big part of his campaign.

We'll be back in a moment.


[21:15:33] COOPER: As the candidates get ready for tomorrow night's CNN Republican Debate here in Houston with all eyes on Donald Trump. We had a chance to talk with them late today. We spoke quite awhile about quite a lot form primary wins to vice presidential pits to his taxes whether he is going to release them. Here is some of the moment.


COOPER: Mr. Donald congratulations. An enormous win last night in Nevada you're third in a row beating your opponents nearly every category. Do you see the race of the nomination ending sooner than maybe a lot of pundits predicted?

TRUMP: Well, I don't see is going to the convention. I think we're doing very well.

COOPER: Compare to Senator Cruz I mean you've been pretty modest in going after Senator Rubio. I just want to get your reaction to something that Rubio said this morning about your in Nevada. I'm going to play a sound bite from him.

RUBIO: The majority of Republican voters in this country do not want Donald Trump to be the nominee. I think that's been pretty clear. Now, the problem is that they are divided up among four people.

COOPER: Do you buy that argument that it's the fact that there's a divided field going against you that is allowing you to win?

TRUMP: No, I don't. Because actually I think I would do every well with, you know, one on one. I'd almost like that. It would really be a simplification. You know, when you get up to 46 and 47 percent and that's in a five-person field. So that's a very, very high position. And, you know, I laugh at the pundits when they say, well, you know, if you add on all of the rest, it's 53. Well, when people leave, I pick up a lot of votes.

COOPER: You're gearing up obviously for the CNN Debate tomorrow night in Houston. What do you see as Senator Rubio's biggest vulnerability?

TRUMP: Well, I think I'll save that for tomorrow night. So we have to keep some good action for tomorrow night. But, we'll, you know, we'll be totally prepared. And, you know, people have not done very well against me. So far everybody that's attacked me has gone down.

COOPER: You talked about also winning the 44 percent of the Latino vote last night. Obviously there are some polling experts who point out there were so few people involved in the caucus in terms of Latinos the win for you represents about one-half of 1 percentage of the entire Latino population in Nevada. Are you planning to make more of an outreach to Latinos, to African-Americans?

TRUMP: Well, I think so. I mean and I don't when you say one half of 1 percent, I don't know what that represents. I can say that we got 46 percent of the Latino vote or the Hispanic vote, and that was far more than anybody else in the field. And that's pretty good, I think.

You know, now obviously, it's not the whole nation but it's what we had to deal with. We were dealing with that area and we got 46 percent of the vote. And I think that's indicative of the nation, actually.

COOPER: You've been asked when you'll release your tax returns on Monday you said you'd do it, "At some point." Just today your probably know Mitt Romney said, "I think there's reason to believe there's a bombshell in Trump's taxes." Now, we should point out, and Mitt Romney refused to release his taxes for quite a while. He ultimately did. But, why not just put it out there?

TRUMP: Well, because by return they're extremely complex and I'll make a determination at the right time. I mean no rush to do it. Nobody is bringing it up except to Mitt Romney and the reason he brings it up is that he lost in the last election and lost very badly. That many, many companies.

I have, you know, tremendously, you know, I have a very complex system of taxes. And, frankly I get order that every single year. But, we'll make a determination over the next couple of months. It's very complicated.

COOPER: That point blank, is does that mean you absolutely will release them? Just a question of when?

TRUMP: No, I'll make a determination I will be making that determine over the next, I would say, couple of months we'll make that determination, absolutely.

COOPER: And, finally did you actually make it and become president of the United States, I'm not going to ask you who your vice president would be. Obviously it's too early for that. You wouldn't even say if you had been considering it, but are you going to look for somebody with political experience to kind of help you with Congress. To actually help you once you're in Washington if you get there?

TRUMP: Yes. The answer to that is yes. I would, I would not do. I mean look I'm very political and I've been political. But, I would absolutely not pay another business person. I will have many, many business people, I mean, some of the great, you know, Carl Icahn endorsed me. Many of them endorsed me, the best ones. But we'll going to have them in terms of play. COOPER: For vice president, you would want somebody with Congressional experience

TRUMP: I would want to somebody with political skill because I think that's where I would really want that. You know, with the dealing with Congress, et cetera, et cetera.

I also I think in terms of vice president, the key is, who would be a great president. If something should happen, who would be a great president? That has to be the first. But I would really want somebody that would be in the world of politics in that case.

[21:20:04] I will keep it going really beautifully, but I like the concept of politics. Not 100 percent, but I think I like the concept of having somebody that's in the world of politics for that position.

COOPER: Donald Trump, again, congratulations on last night.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Anderson.


COOPER: As you there he mentions support with Latino voters in Nevada which might mean his comments about Mexicans earlier in his campaign or illegal immigrants, I should say from Mexico won't hurt him with that demographic. The question is, now how is it playing with voters where living on the borders of this state. Our Gary Tuchman tonight reports.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: George Brenzovich is a ranch owner in El Paso County, Texas. His ranch are short walk from the Mexican border. And one of the most violent border areas there is.

Are you carrying a gun right now?

GEORGE BRENZOVICH, EL PASO COUNTY RANCH OWNER: Yes, sir. It's a normal thing out here.

TUCHMAN: Would you ever walk down here without carrying a gun?


TUCHMAN: Because?

BRENZOVICH: I'm no fool.

TUCHMAN: Brenzovich never voted for a Democrat for president. And that string will continue this year. Illegal immigration issue he says has a lot to do with it.

BRENZOVICH: We need to secure the border and prosecute those that came in illegally. Deport but going to secure this border first. TUCHMAN: The Rio Grande separates the United States from Mexico from one end of Texas to the other. There are fences and walls in this state but not right here. And you could see the Rio Grande right over here which separates the two countries, Mexico is over here, has no water in it. It's just mud. Very easy to cross. The only water we see is right here in this swampy area.

About a half mile away there is a border fence but it abruptly comes to an end. Anyone can just wander around it. One more reason George Brenzovich and his wife want this area more secure ASAP. So who is their choice for president?

BRENZOVICH: I've got all my cards on the table for Donald Trump.

TUCHMAN: Brenzovich he has faith in the New York City billionaire.

Do you think Donald Trump knows what he's talking about?

BRENZOVICH: I think absolutely. I think NAFTA is a big failure. We'll use all that money to build a wall you can't imagine.

TUCHMAN: There are registered Republicans on the Texas border who don't much like Trump. Steven Brewer likes the immigration stance of Ben Carson whom he will vote for Tuesday.

Do you think Carson is tough enough on that?

STEVEN BREWER, EL PASO REPUBLICAN VOTER: I believe that he's tough enough. I believe he's fair. I believe that Donald Trump is over the top. He really is. What he wants to do with immigration, especially in this area on the border it's just its going to breed ill will between the two countries.

TUCHMAN: But this Republican says the former reality show host is not over the top. Saying he was thinking of voting for Rubio but will instead vote for Trump.

Does it trouble you that he talks about sending everyone back who is undocumented in this country?

JOEL CHACON, EL PASO COUNTY REPUBLICAN VOTER: No, I'd help him. I think a lot of people would help him.

TUCHMAN: In George Brenzovich is one of them. He wants his land back from the people crossing through it illegally. He wants his safety back so he doesn't have to carry a gun nearly everywhere he goes.

BRENZOVICH: I'm retired. My roots are deep. My property is paid off. I'm staying.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, El Paso County, Texas.


COOPER: Right along the border. Just ahead, how Ted Cruz is faring in his home state we know he's a polarizing figure in Washington certainly and Capitol Hill. But can he win the hearts and minds of the Texas voters? We'll take you to a diner in Dallas to find out what people there are thinking and saying.

And later, deadly tornadoes strike the Southeastern United States. The latest on whether the powerful storm system is hitting as we come to you live from the University of Houston where the side of the CNN GOP Debate is tomorrow night.

We'll be right back.


[21:27:35] COOPER: After coming in third in Nevada, Ted Cruz has his eyes planted firmly on Super Tuesday. Today he said he believes it will be the most important day of the election and that he'll have a very good night. And one of the states voting on Super Tuesday is obviously is his home State of Texas.

Randi Kaye went to a Dallas diner to find out whether Cruz style which can be divisive certainly on Capitol Hill is playing well with the voters in the Lone Star State. Here's what's she found.


UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to have with topping, please.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the diner of Dallas, super sized burgers, and Super Tuesday go hand in hand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chicken, fries and stake.

KAYE: Everyone here had an opinion about whether or not Texas Senator Ted Cruz will win his home state. Especially after finishing third everywhere but Iowa.

Do you think Ted Cruz can win his home State of Texas?


KAYE: Do you want him to?

GEORGE SPARKS, TED CRUZ SUPPORTER: No. Negative, no. This is a very conservative state. And I feel he'll have the backing to do it.

KAYE: You don't think his too conservative for Texas?

SPARKS: I hope not.

KAYE: Do you think that Ted Cruz can win Texas on Super Tuesday?

RACHEL FENION, UNDECIDED REPUBLICAN VOTER: I really don't think he can, no. I think he's too divisive.

KAYE: Sam Rogers thinks Cruz will win Texas. She is voting for him because he is anti-establishment.

SAM ROGERS, TED CRUZ SUPPORTER: The fact that he's not popular means he's hard to work with. If he's hard to work with that means he's not just going along with how things have been. And things honestly haven't been good.

KAYE: This Republican voter disagrees suggesting Cruz's unwillingness to bend has done his party more harm than good.

DAN CRIMMINS, UNDECIDED REPUBLICAN VOTER: He's unwielding and he just will not negotiate.

KAYE: And you think that would be bad for Washington?

CRIMMINS: I think it's what we have now. I mean, what's the change? And that's why Trump is winning.

KAYE: Some here are looking for a more compassionate conservative. After all, this is Bush country and there's no love lost between George W. and Cruz.

CRIMMINS: I think George Bush, George W. Bush was more compassionate, more outreaching. Ted Cruz to me, I am a Republican. However, but I think he is kind of the bison.

FENION: I think that we have a lot of hard-liners in Washington right now and we see where the country is because of that, you know, 17 percent approval rating for Congress, things like that. I think people need to come together a lot more and I think that to his being a hard-liner would not go over well in Washington.

KAYE: This woman disagrees.

ROGERS: I think compassionate is not what's playing well right now.

[21:30:01] KAYE: Do you think Ted Cruz is the guy who can bring down Donald Trump?

ROGERS: If anyone can do it, it will be him.

KAYE: And like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz is extremely polarizing, almost a Rorschach test what you see is in the eye to the beholder.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I like that he stands to

SPARKS: I like that he stands for the constitution.

CRIMMINS: He looks fake, I just don't think people really believe what he says.


COOPER: Randi joins me now from Dallas. Where is Ted Cruz in the polls in Texas? Is he making headway? KAYE: Well, there's a new statewide poll, Anderson out tonight in Texas from the University of Houston. And that poll does show Ted Cruz 15 points ahead of Donald Trump. I should point out that only about 400 voters were included in that poll but here's what's interesting, Anderson, 19 percent of those polled say they are still undecided.

So, I guess we'll have to watch the CNN Republican Debate tomorrow night to try and make up their minds. I mean we hear Donald Trump saying that he would like to win Texas. He is also saying that he expects to see Ted Cruz go way, way down in Texas. Those are his words. So we'll see what's happens come Super Tuesday. Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Randi, thanks very much. Be sure to tune in tomorrow night when the Republicans meet here at the University of Houston. Wolf Blitzer is going to be moderating the CNN Telemundo Salem Radio Network Republican Presidential Debate starting at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. Join us here at 8:00 p.m. for the run-up to the debate.

Just ahead you may not recognize this man. Not a household name, at least it's not nationwide. His name is being floated as a potential nominee for the Supreme Court Justice. And he's a Republican.

Question is, how that play into Senate Republicans plans to block any nominee by President Obama. We'll look into that next.


[21:35:33] COOPER: We see developments tonight in the battle over replacing the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

There's a name being floated. The source confirming that CNN the Republican Nevada Governor Ryan Sandoval is being vetted by the White House. Now the news, comes even as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is saying there will be no hearing for anyone President Obama choses.

Today the President said it's his job. He's got a year left, and he's going to do it.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: One side made a nomination, then Leader McConnell and all the members of the Senate are going to make a decision about how do they fulfill their constitutional responsibilities.

I recognized the politics are hard for them because the easier thing to do is to give in to the most extreme voices within their party and stand pat and do nothing. But that's not our job. Our job is to fulfill our constitutional duties.


COOPER: But joining me now is CNN Senior Political Reporter Manu Raju. So you spoke with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada State. What did he have to say about the possibility of Sandoval being the nominee?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Hey Anderson, Reid and Brian Sandoval have a long and sometimes complicated history together, Reid had proposed Sandoval to a federal judgeship during the George W. Bush era.

Sandoval later ran for governor and defeated Reid's son Rory in the 2010 elections. And Sandoval is actually heavily courted by Republicans to run in 2016 for the Senate seat that Reid now holds. But Sandoval have already declined.

Now Reid told me today that he thinks it would be smart for President Obama to give Sandoval a lifetime position on the Supreme Court.


RAJU: You met with Brian Sandoval. He's been mentioned as a possible Supreme Court justice. Do you think that he'd be a good Supreme Court Justice?

SEN. HENRY REID, (D) NEVADA: You know, I don't pick the justices but I know if he were picked, I would support the man. He's a good person. He has a great record and he's been a tremendously good Governor. In spite, in spite of having to deal with some very big problems there.

RAJU: So do you advise the White House to pick a moderate Republican who could divide the Republican Party or pick a progressive that could fire up the liberal base?

REID: I've talk to the President, I talked to his chief of staff many times. I talked to his political guy today. And he should pick who he thinks is the best.


RAJU: Now Anderson, it's unclear if this is just a trial balloon floated by Reid to make Republicans look unreasonable for refusing to consider a moderate Hispanic Republican. But we do know that Reid and Sandoval discussed the possibility of a Supreme Court nomination in that private meeting on Monday.

And while Sandoval's office says the Obama administration has not yet contacted the governor, he is at least being considered as of now.

COOPER: And how are Republicans going to react to the news?

RAJU: Well, not very well Anderson. Leading the party lunch today, I talked to a number of Republican Senators. And up and down they're saying they will refuse to consider a nominee no matter who it is. They think it let should be left to the next president and as Deb Fisher, a Republican of Nebraska told me, it's not about the person, she said.

COOPER: All right. Manu Raju, thanks, Manu. Well, joining me now, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, with me again, CNN Political Director David Chalian and CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger. Jeff, I mean, you know the court probably better than anybody. I loved your book "The Nine." is this a political trial balloon to see how the Senate reacts or do you think the White House is seriously considering Governor Sandoval?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, FMR FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well I think it's probably a combination of all of those things. I mean, look, the most important fact here is that the Republican Senate is not going to consider anybody. Barring some political development that just seems completely unlikely at this point.

So this is a political act. And the idea of considering a moderate Republican is a good symbol for Democratic President. Makes him look broad minded is a comparison to the what he would say is the very close minded Republican Senate.

But keep in mind also, the Democrats would not be happy with a Brian Sandoval appointment. He is certainly more liberal than most Republicans today, but he is someone who said the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. Yes, he's been pro-choice as a governor. But Democrats care too much about this seat to give it away to a Republican.

So, I don't think it's going to happen. But this is the first of several names we're going to hear, and they're mostly for political positioning, and I think that's really what Sandoval trial balloon is.

[21:40:03] COOPER: Yeah then Gloria, I mean to Jeff's point, how bad of a position would it put Republicans in to just obstruct it?

BORGER: Well, I think Harry Reid knows that it would make them squirm and that's why he's talking about it.

But I think, to Jeff's point, that this would truly alienate the Democratic base to such a degree that I don't think President Obama would do it. He has said that he is going to take the long view and not the short-term view.

The short-term view would be to do something that makes Republicans squirm. And I just don't think that that is what the President has been talking about doing ...

COOPER: And David, part of this is also to fire up the Democratic base?

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: To Gloria's point, Senate may not be the one do it.

CHALIAN: Yeah. The way I've been thinking about the politics of this is sort of whoever Barack Obama names to this job is basically going to become de facto, Hillary Clinton's running mate for the rest of this season, because she's going to want to use this to fire up the base and bash the Republicans for saying they should be giving this person a vote.

And so, Brian Sandoval doesn't fit that mode ...


CHALIAN: ... in my mind of what the White House would really like to put forward, what Hillary Clinton with the Democratic Party would like to have out there every single day as sort of a calling card and to uses cajole against the Republicans.

TOOBIN: And Anderson ...

BORGER: I mean the politician. I mean, he is a constitutional scholar ...

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: ... but he's a politician.


TOOBIN: Well, you know, he -- the president wrote a post today for SCOTUS blog which is a website devoted to the Supreme Court. And he talked about, you know, the kind of justice he wants. And it was, it was very clear, I thought, that the president is talking about a sitting judge, someone who is a judge now, who has a record as a judge, who has impeccable qualifications.

So I think that returns us to the judge universe of candidates, the Paul Watford's, the Sri Srinivasan's, the Jean Kelly's, not the politicians, even though I think it would be a good idea to have some politicians on the Supreme Court again. They used to be on the court all the time.

COOPER: And Jeff, where do you stand on the sort of the precedence of this? Because I mean -- again, the president today said, "Look, this is not something that written in the constitution that a sitting president in the last year, can't nominate", in fact that he is saying this is part of his duty.

TOOBIN: You know, it is certainly the president's right to nominate someone and he will, and he should. But it's also the Senate's right to advice and consent or withhold consent.

And these Supreme Court nominations have always been more about power than principle. The Republicans know this is a seat that could turn the court to five liberals for a generation. There have not been five liberals on the Supreme Court for two generations, since the late 60s.

There is no way the Supreme Court is going to give President Obama this opportunity. And it doesn't matter what Joe Biden said in 1992. It doesn't matter what Mitch McConnell said today. They're just not going to do it because they don't want to give up that seat and they have the power to stop him.

COOPER: And yet, I mean, again, Republicans do point to Joe Biden said ...

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: ... you know, and to sort of show the hypocrisy that exists, frankly, on both sides.

BORGER: Right. And Joe Biden said that by the way, I think four months before the election. Not 10 or 11 months before the election.

CHALIAN: But still.

BORGER: But still. But of course they're going to use it. But the time frame is a little bit, is a little bit different.

COOPER: Right.


COOPER: All right. Gloria Borger, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you, David Chalian as well.

Coming up, the battle intensifies between the Apple and the FBI over killer's iPhone. What Apple CEO Tim Cook said just a short time ago.

And next, and deadly storm system sends tornadoes ripping through the Southeast and now dangerous weather hitting parts of the Northeast. Well, the latest from our weather center when we come back.


[21:47:45] COOPER: A rare February, tornado watch has been issued for parts of the Northeast including Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia as a powerful storm system is on the move.

Reports of buildings down to the west in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, degree reportedly making hard for emergency vehicles to get through and no information yet on any injuries.

At least six people were killed as tornadoes ripped through Mississippi and Louisiana and a possible tornado touched down in Waverly, Virginia, devastating that small town.

Right now, there are more than 200,000 people without power from the Carolinas up to the Northeast.

Meteorologist, Tom Sater joins me now from the CNN weather center at Atlanta with the latest. What's happening with the system, Tom?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's still pretty strong, Anderson.

I mean, we've got massive winds right now that are still creating blizzard conditions in the great lakes.

We still have a threat for severe weather from around the Philadelphia area to New York City and we still have rivers and streams that have been rising.

This storm is massive in its size taking up a third of the country. And it's been a triple threat, really.

Besides the flooding and blizzard conditions, it's been the severe weather.

Take a look, yesterday afternoon, 36 tornadoes, three fatalities, two in Louisiana, one in Southern Mississippi. Over toward Escambia County in Florida near Pensacola, over 200 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

But, it didn't end there. Again, during the heat of the day, which believe it or not, up were 60s and 70 degree temperatures on the east coast, we had many more, a total of 51 tornadoes.

And unfortunately, the tragedies continue. About 45 miles south of Richmond, Virginia, in a town of Waverly, Virginia, we lost three more citizens, another tornado moving through the area. See that thunderstorm right there.

The youngest of the three victims was a 2 year old boy. Authorities found the three bodies thrown 300 yards from their destroyed mobile home.

We had hail, numerous reports of golf ball-sized hail, baseball size hail, even one report of softball sized hail near the North Carolina border.

2,100 flights, Anderson, were canceled today in the U.S. Blizzard conditions in Chicago canceled over 650 of them.

But, really, it's been about the rare event. I mean, the northern extent of having tornado watches and warnings in February just does not happen when you get up to areas of Pennsylvania into New York. It's just unbelievable.

[21:50:06] COOPER: Yeah, I mean, how unexpected was this?

SATER: Well, the storm prediction center did do a pretty good job of yesterday's bulls eye in the South East. And today's they expanded it somewhat.

But I have to point out, I mean until 11:00 a tornado lot and still and affect moving east now at Philadelphia but in yellow here Anderson, including New York City until 2:00 in the morning. We could have some strong thunderstorms, just now looking at the possibility of tornadoes, thank goodness, but highly unusual, changing the lives of thousands of U.S. citizens the last couple of days.

COOPER: Yeah. Tom Sater. Tom thanks.

The "New York Times" is reporting that Apple engineers have begun developing new security measures that would prevent the government from breaking into a locked iPhone like the ones that belonged to one of the San Bernardino terrorists. The killer's iPhone is that the center of the stand of the both sides digging their hills, is a short time ago. Here what's Apple CEO Tim Cook said on ABC News.


TIM COOK, APPLE INC. CEO: This case is not about my phone. This case is about the future. What is at stake here is can the government compel Apple to write software that we believe would make hundreds of millions of customers vulnerable around the world including the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you have to write that system in order to unlock that phone.

COOK: Yes, the only way we know will be to write a piece of software that we view as the software equivalent of cancer. We think its bad news to write. We would never write it, we have never written it and that is what is take here.


COOPER: Well the FBI and Justice Department see it differently. Earlier I spoke to John Miller, the New York City Police Department of Deputy Commissioner of the Counterterrorism and Intelligence here, and the NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton reaching it wrote an off head about this battle to the "New York Times".


COOPER: So John, Tim Cook did an interview today with ABC News. And in the interview he said the request by the FBI would set a precedent that he said is bad for America and that he could and his words could expose people to incredible vulnerabilities, essentially he saying they're been asked to create new software that could potentially create a backdoor that would make everybody's phone vulnerable.

JOHN MILLER, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARMENT: So this is the kind of talk that's confusing the issue here. We've got to get to the baseline issue. So what's this really about, it's not about a back door, it's about a front door when the government comes in with a legal search warrant.

Under iOS 7, Apple very proudly announced that not only does it provides a security and privacy for Apple's users but allows Apple to comply with legal search warrants in cases involving robbery, kidnapping, lies in the terrorism.

So one has to asked him Cook, what changed between the time that Apple held a key of its own that could open a phone for legal process and when they came out with iOS 8 at which point Apple announced and, "Apple will not perform iOS data extractions in response to government search warrants."

But behind every phone where we request a search warrant, there is a crime behind every crime, there's a victim.

COOPER: But aren't the phones more vulnerable potentially to hackers if there is a master lock or a back door to an operating system?

MILLER: I don't see how. It's about the physical phone. It's not about hacking into the system. The Apple that says that they're so worried about this back door also encourages users to pay Apple to store large amounts of data in the cloud, which is far more vulnerable to hackers than the actual device where you'd have to figure out the code.

COOPER: But one of the arguments is that the FBI made a mistake, essentially, that Apple was willing to help them get access to the Cloud of this particular user, but the city which owned the phone along with the FBI changed the password remotely thereby making it impossible for Apple to help the FBI get access to the Cloud.

So wouldn't this not have happened if there hadn't been a mistake by the FBI?

MILLER: I think the only Cloud that is relevant in this scenario is clouding the issue. By zeroing in on one obscure fact about this case. Obfuscates the real question here. The real question for Apple and for Tim Cook is do we want to produce a warrant-proof phone that is a mass storage device for information at a time when every criminal and every criminal network uses these communications these devices for their bread and butter.

COOPER: I want to read something that at the director of the FBI James Comey recently said, he said quote "We have awesome new technology that creates a serious tension between two values we all treasure, privacy and safety. That tension should not resolve by corporations that sell stuff for living. It also should not be resolved by the FBI which investigates for a living, it should be resolved by the American people, deciding how we want to govern ourselves in a world we have never seen before".

[21:55:05] I mean for those millions of iPhone users who see this as an invasion of their privacy, what do say?

MILLER: I don't see how any iPhone users see this as an invasion of their privacy. The one thing that, you know, Director Comey says better than anybody else is, this isn't going to be solved by the FBI yelling at Apple and Apple yelling back at the FBI. This is a question for the American people that's not really about privacy.

Apple is framing it as privacy, I think in some measure because in marketing products that other people make similar products of -- the thing that sets you apart in a business model is what makes my product different.

COOPER: So, you're saying essentially this is about marketing? You really believe that this is just kind of a marketing effort by Apple to kind of show the world they have a great private secure system?

MILLER: I'm saying in the marketplace, the thing that makes you sell over the other guys and Apple and Android are locked in this competition in a daily basis. The thing that will set you apart is the thing that was -- that makes you different. COOPER: John Miller. It's always good to have on John. Thanks.

MILLER: Thanks. Thanks for having me.


COOPER: We talked about a lot more. You can the entire interview with

We'll be right back.


COOPER: And that does it for us. Live from the campus here, at the University of Houston.

[22:00:02] We'll see you again at 12:00 a.m. Eastern for another edition of "360".

"CNN TONIGHT'' with Don Lemon, starts now.