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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Polls Open In South Carolina; Clinton Hoping For Big Win In South Carolina; Trump, Rubio Launch Attacks After CNN Debate; Ted Cruz Vs. Donald Trump; Apple Ratcheting Up Their Fight with the FBI. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired February 27, 2016 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:00:22] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: It's 8:00 on the dot. I know it's early on a Saturday morning. We're so grateful for your company because you know what, the polls are open in the South Carolina Democratic primary.

I want to wish you a good morning. I'm Christi Paul in Atlanta. And Victor Blackwell leading our political coverage from the campus of the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Good morning, Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Christi, good morning to you and good morning to you at home. Yes, polls are open here in South Carolina. They have been open for about an hour now and people are starting to trickle in.

The big contest this week is on the Democratic side. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, of course, fighting for every last vote. So far Clinton is leading by a wide margin in the polls, expected to win here.

She spent most of the week campaigning in the state, but this afternoon she's going to Alabama. She'll head back to South Carolina for a watch party tonight and now Bernie Sanders, there was a concert and rally in Colombia last night.

He's already looking ahead to the Super Tuesday states campaigning in Texas and tonight, he'll be in Minnesota. Not expecting to win here in South Carolina.

CNN senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is live from a polling station in Lexington. Joe, what are you seeing there and statewide, what are we expecting for the turnout this cycle?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Still just seeing people trickle in right here at this high school in Lexington, South Carolina. It's early here and they are not expecting a huge turnout, Victor, across the state quite frankly.

The absentee ballots indicate about 36,000 people voted beforehand. They are expecting a turnout estimated around 350,000 or so, which would not match what the Republicans did just last weekend, what the Democrats did in 2008.

We did have closing arguments, as you said, just last night. Hillary Clinton in Columbia, South Carolina making her case to the voters trying to get a big turnout here. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody is perfect, and nobody has a right to look down on anybody else. So I need your help tomorrow. The South Carolina primary is personally important to me because I want to send a strong signal that South Carolina is ready for change, ready for progress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: So there you have it. Hillary Clinton in Columbia, South Carolina, Bernie Sanders also in this state. Now out west in Texas, as a matter of fact, as we approach the end of this primary day.

Interesting to see just what is going to happen with Hillary Clinton. She pushed really hard to try to get a huge turnout here to try to make a statement -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joe Johns at the polling location in Lexington for us. Joe, thank you so much. Of course, a win here in South Carolina could give Hillary Clinton even more momentum heading into Super Tuesday.

A key to victory, the African-American voters. Why is she seen as the first choice over Bernie Sanders in the "Daily Beast," Bakari Sellers, the CNN analyst writes, "From his bouts with the president to the laws he contested to the company he keeps, Sanders raises alarm bells for Obama supporters, especially those from the African-American community."

Let's talk about it. Let's bring in Terry Alexander, a South Carolina state representative and a Bernie Sanders supporter, and also Maria Cardona is joining us this morning from Washington, a Hillary Clinton supporter, whose firm worked for one of the super PACs supporting Clinton's campaign.

Good morning to both of you. Mr. Representative, I want to start with you. Was Cornell West who's been very critical of President Obama the best choice to be kind of a spokesperson for Bernie Sanders across this state when we know that many African-Americans are primarily looking for someone who is going to continue the Obama legacy?

TERRY ALEXANDER (D), SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, first of all, let me say, I think Cornell West is one of the best persons to represent Sanders because of what Cornell West stands for and that is change in this country.

Now, as far as carrying on Obama's legacy, I doubt that's going to happen very seriously. What president is going to carry on another president's legacy? For the Clinton campaign or staff and for Clinton herself to say I want to carry on Obama's legacy I think it's misleading.

[08:05:06]No president in this country is going to pick up someone else's legacy and carry it. Where would it lead them? So I have serious concerns about that comment coming from any of her members.

They know it's not the truth. This is the same person that ran against Obama eight years ago. So why would she want to continue on his legacy?

BLACKWELL: Let me challenge that, it's not just the campaigns that are saying that. I was at Clapton University in South Carolina State, now those students who were some of them decided, some of them undecided, they disagreed on a lot.

One thing they agreed on, they wanted someone who would carry on and protect the legacy of Barack Obama. Let me come to you, Maria Cardona. The representative says there is no candidate who is going to carry on and protect the legacy of another president. What do you say?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think absolutely Hillary Clinton would carry on Obama's legacy because it's part of her legacy. She served at his secretary of state. She has been the team player as part of his administration.

She has focused her life's work on many of the issues that he has been able to implement as president, especially Obamacare, which has given health care to millions of Americans who didn't have it before.

Let's remember that she was the one who tried to make the big push for that back in the early '90s and has the scars to show for it. So I think she feels very strongly that Obama's legacy could be her legacy.

Now that doesn't mean that she won't do other things differently. That she won't continue build on his legacy, which is actually what she's been saying.

So I think for African-Americans and Latinos and middle class families all around the country who are looking for a champion to continue to be their voice, Hillary Clinton speaks very loudly to those folks and her message is resonating.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about Bernie Sanders and his effort to make those inroads to minority communities, especially the African-American community. Has he been successful here?

It seems that the expectation is that he will trail by double digits maybe 20 or more points here. That obviously does not prove well for moving into other southern states, east coast states as the primary season continues.

ALEXANDER: He always had questions, excuse me, he always had questions about the state of South Carolina and coming into this state. We knew that the Clinton folks had us locked down. We knew that African-Americans had rallies around her and guarded her and took care of her. So we knew there was going to be an uphill challenge. But I think what we're trying to do now is trying to marginalize, trying to bring this margin together.

Losing South Carolina does not mean he's losing this whole election. It means that he's losing the state. Matter of fact, we lost Nevada by five points where they thought he would lose by 20 points or 15 points or something of that nature.

BLACKWELL: What do you expect the margin to be here?

ALEXANDER: We are not quite sure yet. Not as much as we want it to be, but we're not quite sure what that margin will be soon.

BLACKWELL: Maria, let me come to you with what we learned overnight, that Bill Clinton, former president, his former labor secretary, Robert Reich, has endorsed Bernie Sanders saying that if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, he'll support her of course, but he believes that Bernie Sanders is the agent of change that the country needs right now. Has to be a blow to Clinton folks?

CARDONA: Well, I'm sure they would have preferred for him to support Hillary, but look, at the end of the day, you know, people are going to support whoever they and it actually doesn't surprise me that Secretary Reich had supported Bernie Sanders.

I think they are very similar in terms of ideology. That doesn't mean, though, that Hillary Clinton is not going to continue to press on and focus on her message of progressive change, on her message of making sure that the barriers that have been setup for people all around the country that keep them from reaching their God-given potential.

She's the one that is going to be able to knock them down, that's going to be able to get to real solutions and that will focus on growth in all sectors of our society. But look, Bernie Sanders has run a terrific campaign.

Secretary Clinton is not taking anything for granted, even in South Carolina. She's working her heart out and working her heart out all across the south.

I think this primary has been terrific for Democrats and great for the country and when you look what is going on in comparison to the other side, Victor, I think all Democrats would be very proud --

BLACKWELL: We will be talking -- the Republicans in just a moment. Let me ask you about South Carolina and Bernie Sanders, he says he has not written off South Carolina. He's not here today. Won't be back. He's going to be in Minnesota tonight. I mean, do South Carolina voters feel like he's --

ALEXANDER: I don't think they feel that way. We don't feel that he's been written off. He was hear last night and I there was until about 10:30 last night. Only thing that will happen today is folks are voting and that's it. [08:10:05]Let me challenge the myth that Hillary will be better for black folks. When her history does not always dictate that. You know, just recently she started carrying Obama's legacy, who just recently she started talking about racial equality, women's rights.

Come about October, November, she was so far right, you didn't know if she was running for Republican or Democrat. It wasn't until Sanders began to start challenging her and began to talk about race and equality and began started to talk about reform --

BLACKWELL: The push back is she worked for him for four years. She didn't just start in October, but she worked for him.

ALEXANDER: But she did not start holding up his banner until she came into the African-American communities and Bernie started challenging in terms of her issues and concerns.

BLACKWELL: Right. Representative Alexander, thank you so much. Maria Cardona, thank you so much. I know you want to come back to that, but we have to move on to the Republicans because there is a lot of action on that side too. Thank you both.

BLACKWELL: Of course, the insults we've seen firing back and forth between Donald Trump and Marco Rubio. We'll have the best and the worst just ahead.

Plus, Donald Trump is ratcheting up the rhetoric against the media saying he'll open up liable lawsuits to sue people who write, quote/unquote, "nasty articles."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: It's 14 minutes past the hour right now and thinking about the folks certainly in Kalamazoo, Michigan today because funeral services are being held this weekend for five of the six victims of the shootings there.

Richard Smith and his 17-year-old son, Tyler are going to be laid to rest today in a joint funeral service. Memorial service also being held this weekend for Barbara Hawthorn, Mary Lou Nye and her sister- in-law, Mary Jo Nye. A private service for Dorothy Brown was held yesterday. And that suspect, Jason Dalton, charged with six counts of murder.

[08:15:04]Yoko Ono in a New York hospital this morning. Her publicist saying she was having extreme flu-like symptoms and likely she will go back home sometime today. He says her son, Sean Lennon said his mom is fine. She's dehydrated and tired. Ono, of course, is the widow of ex-Beatle, John Lennon. She turned 83 last week.

Police say a crash near Los Angeles has left three people dead severely and critically injured several others. A UPS truck collided with two other vehicles on Interstate 5. Look at the pictures we're getting in here.

It flipped over and as you can see burst into flames. There was reports of explosions coming from the truck, in fact. Authorities are still trying to determine what caused it.

Air Force has released the first official drawing of the new B-21 bomber. Testing will begin sometime in the next decade. The plane will be designed to take off from the U.S. and hit any target on earth. Defense Secretary Ash Carter calls the $21 billion program a strategic investment for the next 50 years. That's one of the top stories on CNN.com right now.

The Republican mud fight is continuing. We've got Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, taking their debate night battles on the road. Will it win over any voters is the question? We'll take you back live to South Carolina.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Friends do not let friends vote for con artists. So how does this guy not in one tweet, three tweets misspell words so badly?

[08:20:03]And I only reached two conclusions, number one, that's how they spell those words at the Wharton School of Business where he went or number two, just like Trump Tower he must have hired a foreign worker to do his own tweets.

In the debate during two of the breaks he went back stage having a meltdown. First, he had to this little makeup thing applying like makeup around his mustache because he had a sweat mustache.

Then he asked for a full length mirror, I don't know why because the podium goes up to here. He wanted a full length mirror, maybe to make sure his pants weren't wet. I don't know then --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's Rubio. He's a nervous basket case. Here is a guy, you ought to see him back stage. He was putting on makeup with a trowel. Honestly, I thought he was going to die, Rubio. He was so scared like a little frightened puppy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Marco Rubio and Donald Trump there trading barbs from the campaign trail showing no signs of stopping as we head towards Super Tuesday.

Let's bring in the panel this morning, conservative columnist and Donald Trump supporter, Kayleigh McEnany, and senior advisor to the Marco Rubio campaign, Jason Rowe. Good to have both of you.

Jason, I want to start with you. Marco Rubio had said that he wasn't going to get into the mud with Donald Trump. Why is he slopping in it now?

JASON ROWE, SENIOR ADVISOR TO SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, I don't think it's so much getting in the mud but it's exposing what we have as a conman who is leading the fight for -- BLACKWELL: But suggesting that the man urinated on himself, that's

slopping in mud.

ROWE: Well, I'll tell you what, I have a 6-year-old son and I wouldn't tolerate this kind of behavior that we see from Donald Trump from my 6-year-old. Imagine a world that we live in, in which we have to tell our children not to believe like the guy who could be the leading candidate for president of the United States.

I think this whole circus of this presidential election has become a national and international embarrassment because of Donald Trump. He insults anyone that he disagrees with.

The wild and erratic behavior that he showed on the campaign stump is just not befitting for the leader of the free world and at some point we have to wake up from this lunacy and say enough already.

We need to elect an adult president. We need to elect somebody, who is actually laying out a vision for what they do as president rather than just attacking anyone that disagrees with him.

BLACKWELL: Kayleigh, let me come to you. Does Donald Trump not own the tone of this race moving forward? He has to take as good as he's given for the last several months, but as this gets muddier and dirtier, doesn't he have to own that, even you said in the last hour that sometimes this can get over heated.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Yes, I definitely don't like the way the rhetoric has turned. I don't think it's productive, but this is a presidential campaign. We hear rhetoric like this going back into history.

I would turn to Marco Rubio, if you say that you disapprove of Donald Trump's rhetoric so much then why did Rubio turn to the same rhetoric I would argue possibly worse rhetoric yesterday insinuating Donald Trump urinated in his pants. That's not upstanding.

Moreover, you know, Marco Rubio, I watched a press conference yesterday used the term conman in the upwards of 20 times. I mean, this is further playing into the narrative of you must have tested the word and conman polled well so we're going to repeat it over and over and over in this same robotic politician way that doesn't resonate with the American people.

This is an act of desperation. Chris Christie said it, Donald Trump said it, this is the last-ditch effort to try to take Donald Trump and to have this radical change in tone is not very befitting of Marco Rubio.

BLACKWELL: Joe, let me ask you about strategy. Aside from the specific words that are being used, we know that there are Republican voters who do not support Trump because they don't like his brash street fighter style. How does Marco Rubio win over those voters by adopting that style?

ROWE: Well, I don't really think we're adopting that style. I think we're finally calling this guy out and if you don't like the word conman, this guy is a fraud. In fact, he's being sued and has three lawsuits over Trump University for fraud, two of them class action.

And the New York attorney general said that this is a classic bait and switch scam, Trump University. And I just can't imagine that we're at the point where we'll nominate a guy who is under that kind of investigation.

I mean, this is an embarrassment and we need to start speaking the truth about this. At this point, I think this behavior from Trump has been tolerated and I think the media has ignored a lot of deficiencies in his candidacy.

[08:25:00]And we can't allow our party to be hijacked by somebody that by the way on most issues has been all over the map. He is without a doubt the most liberal candidate running for president.

And I understand Republicans out there that are furious that in Washington we haven't done the things as a party that we need to with Barack Obama in the White House.

But we have to remember that it's been Marco Rubio that's been taking this fight to this administration. He's been taking the fight to the establishment.

When he got elected in 2010, it was running against the establishment as one of the original Tea Party candidates. So set aside, you know, the frustrations that we have and think about who it is we really want to lead our party into the future. Donald Trump would rip our party apart by the seams.

MCENANY: Not true.

BLACKWELL: Kayleigh, let me come to you quickly about the tax returns because we know that he won't release the tax returns he says because of an audit, at least not yet, but the IRS says an audit does not prevent someone from releasing the returns.

The IRS said that it is rare for anyone to be audited for 12 years in a row as Trump claims he has been. If he can't release the ones that are being audited presently, why can't he release other ones? When are we going to see these documents?

MCENANY: It is rare to be audited 12 times and you know, I would ask what is going on in the IRS within the Obama administration. Ben Carson alleges that he was audited right after he came out against Obamacare.

He had proof that the IRS was attacking or going after targeting key party groups. So yes, it is probably odd to be audited that many times. I would look to the Obama administration and ask why --

BLACKWELL: Is that a suggestion that President Obama is using the IRS to go specifically after potential nominees?

MCENANY: It's been done before. So I don't doubt that it could be done again. It is possible and certainly possible and as for releasing the returns, this is Donald Trump not playing by the typical political playbook.

We saw Mitt Romney debated by Harry Reid into releasing his tax returns and then they used those tax returns to beat Mitt Romney over the head and paint him as a rich billionaire.

Donald Trump will play by his rules. He is not going to play by conventional political wisdom and it's going to serve him very well in the future.

BLACKWELL: All right. Kayleigh McEnancy, Jason Rowe, thanks for being part of the conversation this morning. We got to wrap it up there. Jason, Kayleigh, thanks so much.

We're going to speak with a representative from the Cruz campaign later this hour because we've seen the back and forth between Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, where does that leave Ted Cruz? Some have said this was a three-man race. Where is the third man? Can he repeat his success in Iowa after those straight loses?

Voting in South Carolina, though, where we are, here in Columbia, we, of course, half into voting here, democrats choosing between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Clinton expected to win the state, but will Bernie Sanders be able to narrow that margin? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:31:25] BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell live from the campus of the University of South Carolina here in Colombia. And it's time to vote here for the Democrats in South Carolina.

Primary votes being cast right now. The polls are open, but voter turnout at least at some of the polling stations, anecdotally, is a bit thin. Hillary Clinton, though, is expected to win here. She's expecting and hoping to win big in the state that she lost to then Senator Barack Obama back in 2008.

Bernie Sanders does not expect to win here. He, of course, hopes to narrow the margin, but he's already stumping in Super Tuesday states.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is live from that polling station in Lexington.

Joe, give us an idea of where the candidates are today, and we're seeing a different strategy from Bernie Sanders here in South Carolina where he's expected to lose versus what we saw from Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, where she was expected to lose. She ran hard in New Hampshire. Sanders has already moved on.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He has moved on. And I think it's important to say this is so much about expectations, Victor. Hillary Clinton's expectations bar is set very high that's because she's far ahead in the polls and the question is whether she gets a huge turnout. The expectations bar is set very low for Bernie Sanders because he's so far behind in the polls in South Carolina. And if he were to just bring it within single digits, it would be viewed by some as almost a win for him.

Now, as far as where the candidates are today, Hillary Clinton off to Alabama and then will return here to South Carolina. Bernie Sanders on to Texas and then Minnesota.

He was here yesterday in Orangeburg, South Carolina, at South Carolina State University hammering away at some of his key messages -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not have a Super PAC. I do not raise millions of dollars from Wall Street or powerful special interest.

There was a bill called so-called "Welfare Reform Bill." And the thesis, the idea behind that is that poor people were ripping off the welfare systems. I vigorously opposed that legislation. Secretary Clinton supported that legislation. That's an important difference between us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: The one thing we can say for sure is, Victor, the pivot to the Super Tuesday states is happening very quickly. These candidates now looking forward to win so many states vote on Tuesday.

Back to you.

BLACKWELL: Just three days away. Joe Johns for us there in Lexington. Joe, thank you so much.

Let's talk about the issues now starting with gun control and Hillary Clinton trying to show that contrast between herself and Bernie Sanders, and now she has some backup.

Her latest ad with former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who, remember it was back in 2011 when she was severely wounded, shot in the head at an event there. Listen to part of the ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GABBY GIFFORDS (D), FORMER ARIZONA CONGRESSWOMAN: I'm fed up. We have a gun violence problem. So I'm voting for Hillary Clinton. She's tough. She will stand up to the gun lobby. She will fight to make our families safer. It matters.

CLINTON: I'm Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP).

[08:35:08] BLACKWELL: Hillary Clinton making the pitch to voters that she is stronger on gun control. Lead Sanders with African-American voters here in South Carolina.

So can she start looking ahead to the general election?

Back with us, CNN political contributor Errol Louis.

Errol, as we look ahead to Super Tuesday and beyond and for both sides, but we'll start with the Democrats. Will Sanders still be a threat? He can't just stay close in these first 11 states and moving through March. He's got to win somewhere.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we know he's going to win on Tuesday probably in his home state of Vermont. He's also polling very well in nearby Massachusetts. So he won't be completely routed, I guess, at that level.

But, you know, with the Democratic rules when it comes to assigning delegates is if he does stay close, he actually does have a scenario where he can get to the convention with a sizable percentages, sizable number of delegates and use that as a bargaining chip to force some issues into the party platform, maybe get the party to adopt some new rules and, certainly, if he loses to Secretary Clinton, get her to take on some of his people, some of his issues, that sort of a thing.

So there are some very good reasons for Bernie Sanders to fight really hard not to get blown out, even understanding that there are some states that are probably out of his reach on Tuesday, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the Republicans now and the states that Donald Trump up in ten of the 11. One poll in Texas has him virtually tied with Ted Cruz. But I wondered does Donald Trump secretly or the campaign want Cruz to win in Texas. That way he'll stay in the race and continue to divide the vote?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's an interesting scenario. If only they have the ability to fine tune these things. I mean, this is really where the campaign turns into a flat-out, kind of crazy brawl. I mean, it really goes national on Tuesday.

And on Tuesday, I'm sure Donald Trump would love to beat Ted Cruz in his home state, because that will then sort of flip the switch and Ted Cruz is almost suggesting as much that it's critical in that there really might be some legitimacy to calls for him to drop out.

If you can win your home state and Ted Cruz is said to have thousands and thousands of volunteers on the ground in his home state. If he can't win there, then you really have to start asking questions about where can he win.

I think Donald Trump, though, in fending off this new surge, this new challenge from Marco Rubio has -- got to also beat him and sort of tap it down. I mean, there's been a lot in this fast-moving story over the last couple of days, but between now and Tuesday, politically speaking, it's not quite an eternity, but quite a lot of time and a number of chances for Marco Rubio to make some encouragements in a lot of the different states. BLACKWELL: All right. And the question will be as we move into deeper to March. And if Marco Rubio can't win Florida, several polls have Donald Trump up there. Errol Louis, thanks for staying with us all morning.

LOUIS: You got it.

BLACKWELL: The countdown is on, of course, to Super Tuesday. Just three days away now and the stakes are high for Ted Cruz as we spoke about. He may win Texas, but would a Super Tuesday loss end his campaign? We'll ask a member of his campaign -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:41:54] BLACKWELL: Ted Cruz will hit the stage in Atlanta in just a few hours. The first of his stops across Georgia before he heads on to Arkansas, part of his push across the south. He's trying to regain momentum after that win in Iowa.

Let's talk about this. To discuss, we have with us the California chairman of the Ted Cruz for president campaign, Ron Nehring. Also, political columnist and Donald Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany is back with us.

And I want to start with you, Ron.

Does this one-on-one between Marco Rubio and Donald Trump marginalized Ted Cruz. I mean, we haven't seen or heard much from or of him since we've seen the sustained back and forth between Cruz and Rubio -- sorry, Rubio and Trump?

RON NEHRING, CHAIRMAN, TED CRUZ CALIFORNIA CAMPAIGN: Well, I don't know where that comes from. I mean, Ted Cruz is aggressively campaigning throughout the SEC primary states all the way up through Super Tuesday. We've got Texas Governor Greg Abbott very, very popular here in the State of Texas out campaigning here in the state along with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Former Governor Rick Perry.

So Ted Cruz had a strong performance in the debate the other night. He's aggressively on the ground in those key SEC states and we're doing well. We're going to win Texas. Marco Rubio has his burning dumpster fire of his poll numbers back in Florida that he has to be worried about. He still can't explain where he's going to win anywhere on Super Tuesday, much less, you know, thereafter. So I think we're in a very, very strong position and Ted Cruz is campaigning hard.

BLACKWELL: You know, Donald Trump paid your candidate a rare compliment, backhanded compliment, but it was a compliment. I want you to watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have had, you know, I've had a lot of difficulties with Ted because he does lies, you know. I've dealt with much tougher. A guy like Rubio is a baby, but a guy like Ted is tougher. Actually, he is tougher and he's actually smarter. In all fairness, Ted is actually smarter. I have to give that to him. He's a smarter person than Rubio.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: So what do you think about that? I guess a backhanded compliment to hit back at Rubio, but Donald Trump calling Ted Cruz smarter and the tougher guy.

NEHRING: Well, I mean, that's very nice, but Donald Trump is not in very good position to evaluate any of the candidates particularly when it comes to their honesty.

I mean, look, Donald Trump recently just said that he's won, quote, "most of the lawsuits" over his fraud problem over Trump University. And, in fact, "The Washington Post" this morning is reporting that that's actually not true at all. They gave it three of their, you know, Pinocchios because those three lawsuits, two of which are class action, have not been resolved. So, you know, Donald Trump is not a very good judge of anyone else's character or himself for that matter.

BLACKWELL: Kayleigh, I want you to listen to a part of an interview and this segment is from former Mexican President Vicente Fox in which he compares Donald Trump to Hitler. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICENTE FOX, FORMER PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: Never before America, United States was so big, so strong, so powerful, so successful as it is today. He's going to take that nation back to the old days of conflict, war and everything. He reminds me of Hitler. That's the way he's started speaking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Kayleigh, when we look back to parliament in the U.K., discussing banning Donald Trump from coming into the country, we look back to the spat that he had with the Pope in South Carolina, now we're seeing this from former President Fox.

I mean, does this start to erode the, I guess, expectation that he can work with world leaders if you've got one now calling him Hitler?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't think so. I think Vicente Fox is completely out of bound here. It's reprehensible to compare the frontrunner and the G.O.P. race to Hitler. Someone who committed genocide on an entire population. It is a horrid comparison, whether you're making about a Democrat or a Republican. It's uncalled for.

As for cooperating with world leaders, Donald Trump can do that. He's done that. He built a $10 billion brand only by cooperating with people all around the world. And I think that you're seeing some backlash because Donald Trump's main message is America first, America before free trade agreements. That's for American workers. America before allowing illegal immigrants to come across our border. And America first poses a threat to other nations and other interests. So it's America first and I think that's why you're seeing backlash from some world leaders.

BLACKWELL: Ron, there was a comment from Lindsey Graham, former opponent. We know South Carolina senator. It was at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner and he was -- it was a light-hearted dinner. He said if you kill Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you and the room erupted in laughter.

I mean, I think that just continues that narrative that he is not a well-liked man. And what do you think about what we're hearing from Lindsey Graham, this joke based on killing your candidate?

NEHRING: Well, you know, I think it's -- if anything is a vote of confidence and Ted Cruz is having a bunch of Washington D.C. insiders, you know, laughing at a joke like that.

I mean, look, Ted Cruz said that he was going to go to Washington D.C. and he was going to challenge the leadership in both parties. Particularly, he was going to challenge leadership in the Republican Party which he's noted quite accurately that in conflict after conflict with Barack Obama, that Republican leadership, they surrendered before breakfast. And we've seen that to be true. And that message resonates with Republicans who had been very frustrated with the lack of progress in terms of moving forward with a Republican agenda even though we've won the House and even though we've won the Senate.

You know, Ted Cruz did not go to Washington, D.C. to change who he is and become somebody else and try to, you know, climb the latter. Ted Cruz went to Washington as an insurgent conservative candidate and he has remained an insurgent conservative leader challenging that status quo. That is a winning message that resonates very strongly with Republicans who very much want to have someone who wants to challenge that status quo.

BLACKWELL: Three days until Super Tuesday. We'll see how he does in Texas. Ron Nehring and Kayleigh McEnany, thank you both.

MCENANY: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Christi, back to you in Atlanta.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Right, Victor. Thank you so much. Great conversations there as we also have to talk about Apple. They are ratcheting up their fight with the FBI warning that complying with the order to hack a phone could mean a government with quote "limitless powers."

But first, a New California start-up company allows busy pet owners to leave their dogs with personal sitters rather than sending them to the kennel, which they say offers better quality care. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) AARON HIRSCHHORN, FOUNDER, DOG VACAY: What do dogs really want? Hi, my name is Aaron Hirschhorn and I'm the founder of Dog Vacay. We're the leading online community where people care for your dog instead of leaving it in a kennel when you travel.

My wife and i travel to visit our family on the East Coast and we left our two dogs in a kennel for ten days and came back to a $1400 kennel bill and Rocky, a traumatized dog, hiding under my desk for three days. And that led us to questioning the whole way that people care for their dogs.

We put up a listing on Yelp called Aaron's dog boarding. In 2011, we watched over 100 dogs and made $35,000 in cash and realize that this was actually a huge opportunity.

We moved from pet sitting ourselves to actually getting pet sitters to come on to the Dog Vacay Web site.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Fanny. I've known her since she was a teeny, tiny puppy and watched her many times. When the guest leaves, I tried to send them a photo within the first 15 minutes just because the immediate separation that normally the humans have a harder time with than the dogs.

[08:50:00] HIRSCHHORN: Establishing trust is critical. We have an extensive online application process and we only accept about 15 percent of the applicants. We cover all insurance so your dog is taken care of and 24-hour customer care.

We started the business in Los Angeles in 2012. We're in over 3,000 cities across the U.S. and Canada. We think we're changing the way that people care for their pets.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Edging toward the 9:00 hour here. A police state, a government with, quote, "Limitless powers." That's what an Apple attorney says may happen to the U.S. if the tech giant loses it's privacy fight with the FBI.

Now over the next few days, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, all expected to file letters to the courts stating their support for Apple.

CNN money correspondent Laurie Segall has been investigating this.

Hi, Laurie.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christi. While Apple has formally laid out its legal defense against the court order forcing it to help the FBI unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Now the company is claiming that complying with the FBI's order violates the company's First and Fifth Amendment rights. I spoke to Ted Olson. He's the high-profile attorney. He's representing Apple. He had some pretty strong words telling me that if Apple looses the fight, the government's demands would mount. And he warned of a government with limitless powers.

So I asked him, what about national security? What happens in the future when the FBI is sitting on the phone of a known terrorist, there's an appending threat and no one can get in. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[08:55:12] TED OLSON, ATTORNEY, APPLE: We have to do everything possible to defeat terrorism, to defeat and capture and punish people like Osama Bin Laden and so forth, but we can't do it by breaking our constitution. We have got to stop at someplace. We cannot break someone's back in order to get them to tell somebody where somebody else is. If we're saying there's a serious threat, throw out the constitution in order to prevent that threat, where do we draw the line?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SEGALL: Now, the government is expected to respond to Apple by March 10th. A final hearing will be held on March 22nd. And Olson says they are prepared to take this case all the way to the Supreme Court. We'll keep you updated.

Christi?

PAUL: All right. Laurie Segall, thank you. We appreciate it.

Well, you know, President Obama had the mike in his hand, but he wasn't just talking. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: (SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Oh, yes. President Obama doing the Ray Charles at a White House tribute to the late great musician. Earlier, the president said, no, I'm not going to be singing. I guess he couldn't resist.

Victor gets like that, too, sometimes during the break, but we'll never show you.

Hey, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Christi. We'll continue our live special coverage of the Democratic primary here in South Carolina coming up at 10:00 Eastern. That show will continue.