Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Presidential Candidate Donald Trump; Interview With Texas Senator Ted Cruz.; Interview With Ohio Governor John Kasich; Can Sanders Stop Hillary?; Politics On The Red Carpet. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired February 28, 2016 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Campaign chaos: inside the Republican Party struggle.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For, the party of Lincoln and Reagan is on the verge of being taken over by a con artist named Donald Trump.


TAPPER: But with Trump poised to win big again on Super Tuesday, can anyone stop him?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Part of it is anger, and part of it is, you're tired of the politicians. You're tired of guys like little Rubio, who, you know, little mouthpiece, goes, like, a mile a minute.

TAPPER: Donald Trump will be here next.

And Ted Cruz.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is my country, damn it, my country. Stand up and fight for it together.

TAPPER: Can his Southern strategy halt Trump's momentum? He will be here in minutes.

Plus, Hillary's huge win.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything and we're not taking anyone for granted.


TAPPER: After Clinton's cleanup in South Carolina, can Sanders still pull off a Super Tuesday surge?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Democracy is not a spectator sport.


TAPPER: And the best political minds will be here with insights from the campaign trail.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is steeling for Super Tuesday in just two days.

Eleven more states are going to vote, creating the largest delegate prize yet. Will Donald Trump win big again? That's a scenario giving establishment Republicans nightmares.

But, even in their most fevered dreams, they probably never envisioned this.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We need to have a leader who will once again stand up for the American people first, not the rest of the world first, America first. Donald Trump is that man.



TAPPER: Will New Jersey Governor Chris Christie prove to be an outlier or a trailblazer? As the stakes get higher, the race is getting uglier. And Senator Marco Rubio seems to be taking a page from the Trump handbook.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump likes to sue people. He should sue whoever did that to his face.


TAPPER: And joining us now is the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump, thanks for joining us.

TRUMP: Good morning.

TAPPER: So, big endorsement for you from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. During the campaign, he had some tough words for you. Do you think he was just playing politics back then? How did you get him on board?

TRUMP: I think it is politics. I mean, people say things, and then, all of a sudden, reality sets in.

And he's great. He's a great guy. He's the one endorsement I really wanted. I wanted it badly. We have some great endorsements, but Christie is one that I really wanted to get. And I have many others coming, frankly, but, you know, endorsements have never meant that much to me, but that is an endorsement that was good.

But I love our endorsements. We have Sarah Palin. We have, as you know, Jerry Falwell Jr. And you see I'm leading with the evangelicals in just about every state and nationwide. And Jerry's helped so much. And, you know, we have -- as an example, we have Joe on the border in Arizona, Sheriff Joe. And Joe Arpaio, there's nobody better for borders than Sheriff Joe.

So, that was a big endorsement too. So, we have some great endorsements, and a lot of them are coming.

TAPPER: I know you're big on Twitter.

The hashtag -- #neverTrump hashtag exploded on Twitter this weekend. These are Republicans saying they will never vote for you. Marco Rubio himself even used that hashtag. What do you think of that?

TRUMP: Well, he can do whatever he wants. You know, I signed a pledge. And the pledge is a two-way street.

And if it's not that way, you're going to have a big problem. They're going to have a big problem with me. We have tremendous amounts of people. We have -- as you know, you know, I'm going to Alabama today. We're going to have 25,000 people and probably more than that.

We had to go to a football stadium because no building held it. And we're going to have an amazing crowd. And yesterday in Tennessee, I had 15,000 people in a hangar. In Arkansas, you probably saw that one in the morning. In Arkansas, we had about 15,000 people in a hangar.

And, you know, we have a lot of people. I'm representing people. I'm not representing myself. I'm representing a lot of anger out there, and there's -- we're not angry people, but we're angry at the way this country's being run. And a lot of them are angry -- angry at the way the Republican Party is being run, Jake.

TAPPER: Yes, I want to ask you about...

TRUMP: And the Republican Party is not being run properly.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about that, because Republicans in Washington, D.C., are starting to tell Republican senators that they don't have to go to the convention if you're the nominee, that they should think about running against you if you're the nominee.

That, combined with Marco Rubio doing the #neverTrump hashtag, do you think Republicans are violating the pledge?


TRUMP: Totally. Totally.

I mean, if they want to play that game, I can play it much better than they can. And I have a lot more people than they do -- and, you know, totally. If they're doing that, that's a total violation of the pledge, yes.

TAPPER: Yesterday, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz released summaries of their tax returns. You have yet to do so. Rubio and Cruz have been saying that you're trying to hide something, Cruz yesterday also going on this little tirade, saying that maybe the returns show that you're not as rich as you say you are or that you gave money to Planned Parenthood or you pay very low tax rates.

Can you deny that those charges are true, and when will we see your taxes?

TRUMP: Well, number one, I fully disclosed my financials. And I put them in actually right on time. And nobody else did, by the way, but I put them in on time.

And it's almost 100 pages of financials. And it shows over $10 billion. If you figure it out, it's over $10 billion in net worth. And it's an amazing company with great cash flow, very little debt, all of that.

You can't tell anything from tax returns, because you take deductions, massive deductions and lots of other things. And you can't tell very much from a tax return. You really can't tell anything as to that.

As far as gifts, I give a lot of money. I could probably release a lot of the gifts that I have given over the years. And I probably will do that some time next week. We will just make a listing of the various monies that I have paid for two charities. And I think that's a good idea, actually.

But I can't release tax returns when there's an audit. Now, it's very unfair. I have been treated very unfairly by the IRS, because I have been audited almost every year for 10 or 12 years. And I have friends that are very rich people. They never get audited.

And so I think I have been really singled out. I don't know why I'm singled out, maybe because I'm a -- very conservative, maybe because I'm Tea Party. I feel Tea Party. I have always been sort of that feeling of Tea Party. I have always had great Tea Party support. I don't know what it is, but I have been singled out.

And so many of my friends, they don't even know what I'm talking about. When I say, "Do you get audited?" they don't know what I'm talking about. And I'm audited every year.


TRUMP: So, until the audit is completed, obviously, I'm not giving my papers.

And you had people on your show and on CNN with -- tax experts said, no, it would be crazy to give papers before the audit is completed.

TAPPER: I don't know if you saw Cruz's charges, but can you deny the charges he made about you not having the worth that you have or you have given a lot of money to groups that support abortion?

TRUMP: Jake, I just -- I just told you. And let Cruz go -- let Cruz go to the FEC, where I made a financial disclosure, unlike him, where he did not disclose that he borrowed money from Goldman Sachs, a million dollars between Citibank and Goldman Sachs.

He didn't disclose it, illegally didn't disclose it on his financial disclosure forms. I mean, Cruz shouldn't be the one talking, because he didn't disclose his loans. And he made big loans from big institutions, Goldman Sachs and Citi, and he never, ever mentioned them in his financial disclosure form, because he wants to talk like Robin Hood, you know, like he's Robin Hood, and he's going to help the people with the banks.

But, in the meantime, he's borrowing money at very, very low interest rates, rates that nobody can get. And I think it's disgraceful. And then he tells me.

So, just -- just to finish, I have fully disclosed my net worth. And all you have to do is go and check my financial statements, because I fully disclosed my financial statements, and that was a big deal, and they're very good. And, obviously, you would have heard about it if they weren't, because they have been gone over by everybody.

As far as the tax returns, I obviously cannot give tax returns that are under audit. And every expert that you have had on your show said you shouldn't do it. You should wait until the audit is over.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about the Anti-Defamation League, which this week called on you to publicly condemn unequivocally the racism of former KKK grand wizard David Duke, who recently said that voting against you at this point would be treason to your heritage.

Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don't want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?

TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke. OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don't know.

I don't know, did he endorse me or what's going on, because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you're asking me a question that I'm supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.

TAPPER: But I guess the question from the Anti-Defamation League is, even if you don't know about their endorsement, there are these groups and individuals endorsing you. Would you just say unequivocally you condemn them and you don't want their support?

TRUMP: Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don't know what group you're talking about.

You wouldn't want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I would have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them. And, certainly, I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.

TAPPER: The Ku Klux Klan?

TRUMP: But you may have groups in there that are totally fine, and it would be very unfair. So, give me a list of the groups, and I will let you know.

TAPPER: OK. I mean, I'm just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here, but...

TRUMP: I don't know any -- honestly, I don't know David Duke. I don't believe I have ever met him. I'm pretty sure I didn't meet him. And I just don't know anything about him.


TAPPER: All right.

In terms of a potential running mate, sir, you said a few days ago that you would look for a political insider to help you get legislation through.

Are you specifically looking for someone with government experience in general, such as a Governor Chris Christie, or someone who has spent years on Capitol Hill such as Governor John Kasich?

TRUMP: Well, I have a great business ability. I have always had a great business ability. And I built a great company.

And I don't need that, really, I don't believe, for what I'm doing. I would want somebody that can -- you know, that does have a little bit of an insider track, so we can get things through Congress. He can work -- he or she can work with me on getting, you know, papers filed, papers approved, so we don't have to use executive orders, like President Obama is always using his executive orders because he can't get -- he just can't get anything approved. He can't get anything through.

So, I would like the idea -- I mean, just conceptually -- it doesn't mean I'm going to do that, but, conceptually, I like the idea of a political person to go along with my abilities.

Now, I'm a very political person also, which people are just about starting to find out. But I would rather have, I think, somebody that's political that can help. But the most important position -- now, look, for vice president, you have got to pick somebody who's going to be a great president, because, if something should happen -- hopefully not -- but if something should happen, the single most important quality would be a person that can be a great president.

TAPPER: All right, Donald J. Trump, thank you so much. Good luck on Tuesday, sir. We will see you on the campaign trail.

TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much, Jake.

TAPPER: Everything is bigger in Texas, including the delegate count. So, can Senator Ted Cruz use his home state as a launching pad to take Trump on again?

Cruz will be on here next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Super Tuesday just two days away, and at the final debate before the big day, the insults were flying fast and furious.


CRUZ: Donald -- Donald, relax.

TRUMP: Go ahead. I'm relaxed. You're the basket case.


TRUMP: Go ahead.

CRUZ: Donald...

TRUMP: Go ahead. Don't get nervous.


TAPPER: Ted Cruz heads into Super Tuesday trying to keep his Southern strategy alive, vying for wins over Trump in states such as Arkansas, Georgia and, of course, his home turf, Texas.


TAPPER: And Senator Ted Cruz joins me now.

Senator, thanks for joining us.

CRUZ: Good morning, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: So, Governor Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump this week. You have said this will hurt Marco Rubio, in your view.

A source close to Christie told me that one of the main reasons for Christie's endorsement was Christie sensed that Trump is the inevitable nominee and it's time for the party to rally behind him.

Your response.

CRUZ: Well, listen, that's really what this election is about.

It's a choice. And I think Super Tuesday is going to be the most important day in the entire primary election. You know, we have seen now that there's only one candidate that has beaten Donald Trump and that can beat Donald Trump. And 65 percent of the primary voters recognize that Donald Trump is

not the best candidate to go head to head with Hillary, that he agrees with Hillary on too many issues, whether it is supporting partial- birth abortion and Planned Parenthood, whether it is, as Donald said on the debate last week, that he believes that he will stay neutral between Israel and the Palestinians.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

CRUZ: Listen, if I'm president, I don't intend to be neutral. America will stand unapologetically with Israel.

Or whether it is Donald's longtime support of expanding Obamacare into Bernie Sanders-style socialized medicine, putting the government in charge of your health care, putting government bureaucrats in a position to ration your care, especially that of seniors.

All of those are issues that make Donald vulnerable to Hillary. And I think what we're going to see and what I hope we will see on Super Tuesday is those 65 percent of Republicans that don't think Donald can beat Hillary will continue to unite behind our campaign, because we're the only one that has beaten him and that can beat him.

TAPPER: The hashtag #neverTrump exploded on Twitter this weekend, Republicans saying they will not vote for Donald Trump. Marco Rubio even tweeted it.

You have said that electing Donald Trump to the presidency would be a grave mistake. Just for the record, if Trump is the nominee, will you support him?

CRUZ: I will support the Republican nominee, period, the end.


CRUZ: But I will tell you this. Listen, I think, if we nominate Donald, Hillary probably beats him. Not only does she get to attack him on a whole host of issues where he agrees with her, but, you know, he's described Hillary Clinton as one of the best secretaries of state in history.

You know, one of the big scandals with Hillary, I think even bigger than e-mails, is this Clinton Foundation that was essentially a slush fund, it appears, for foreign governments and foreign individuals and corporations to give six- and seven-figure checks to the Clintons while she was secretary of state.

Any Republican needs to be able to make that case. Donald can't, because she will turn to Donald and laugh at him at a debate and say, but, Donald, you gave $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. How could you possibly be complaining?

And I think we need a candidate who can beat Hillary. And I will say this beyond that, Jake. Listen, if Donald becomes president, who the heck knows what he would do? Even Donald doesn't know what he would do. And I think the challenges facing this country, they're too grave to roll the dice and risk losing the Supreme Court for a generation, risk yet more economic stagnation, and risk, on foreign policy, allowing radical Islamic terrorism to continue to rise and threaten America.

TAPPER: But, just for the record, even though you think all of that about Donald Trump, you still would support him for the presidency if he gets the nomination?

CRUZ: I -- I will support the Republican nominee, but I'm working very hard, and I intend for that Republican nominee to be me.

TAPPER: All right, Super Tuesday just two days away, as you noted.

You're favored to win in your home state of Texas. There are 11 states voting that day. Beyond Texas, are there any other states you think are must-wins?


CRUZ: Oh, listen, we are very strong in Texas, and we are running neck and neck with Donald in a number of the Super Tuesday states.

It really depends on turnout. And so, if you're in one of the Super Tuesday states, and you share the concerns of so many Americans that these are serious times and Donald Trump is not the right candidate, then I ask you to come together behind our campaign, even if you like other candidates.

Listen, there are good people in this race who I like and respect. But our campaign is the only one in a position to beat Donald Trump on Super Tuesday. And if you want to stop this -- this Trump train, the only way to do so is to beat him on Super Tuesday.

So, I'm encouraged that we're seeing conservatives coming together, but I think Super Tuesday is going to be critical in that regard.


TAPPER: All right. Senator Ted Cruz, thank you very much.

Coming up: He is the last governor left standing. So what does John Kasich say to critics who say, hey, maybe it's time for you to get out of the race? That story next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

#NeverTrump, that's the hashtag gaining steam on Twitter. This weekend, Marco Rubio picked up the motto and ran with it, pumping out a string of anti-Trump tweets tagged with the slogan. The social media message reflects a rising tide of Republicans who are openly opposing the Republican Party's front-runner, but can Trump be stopped, especially with four other candidates still in the race? (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: And joining us now, Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Thanks so much for joining us.


TAPPER: I have to ask, I know you're good friends with Governor Chris Christie. What did you make of his endorsement of Donald Trump? He's making the argument that it seems as though Trump is inevitable and no one else can beat Hillary Clinton, and it's time for the party to rally around Trump.

KASICH: Well, look, you know, I like Chris. You know, I'm as friends as much as one can be with another politician, to be honest with you. I do like Chris and I like his wife, Mary Pat, and the kids. They are doing really, really well. And they're good people.

You know, in terms of Donald Trump's the only one that can beat Hillary, I beat Hillary by more than any other person in this race by 11 points. And, in Ohio, I go head to head with Donald Trump, I beat him by 18 points, and we're basically running even.

And, Jake, what I tell you is I think it is critical for anybody who is left in this race to be able to win their own home state. You can't win your home state, you need to get out. So, we're going to go to Ohio. I will win Ohio. If I don't win Ohio, then it's time to call it over.

But I am going to win that state. And then it's -- you know, we're off to the races.

TAPPER: So, Governor, Senator Marco Rubio has started saying that Donald Trump is a con artist. Do you agree?

KASICH: Jake, I have been in a lot of elections, and, you know, I have never resorted to name-calling.

I mean, it's fine to talk about, you know, a person's record, their accomplishments, or lack thereof, but I don't -- name-calling is not how we should be picking a president. And, frankly, we're going to look back on this time, and we're all going to shake our heads and say, did we really degrade the process of picking the leader of the free world?

And I'm very disappointed. It's why people are passionate about my continuing forward, because they say: You're an adult, and you're running a positive campaign.

And, frankly, I would call on everybody to start doing that and stop the name-calling. It's just not good.

TAPPER: I hear you on the name-calling, Governor, but you don't seem to be asserting yourself when it comes to some of your rivals and why you're better and why some of the things that they say upset you. You did that earlier, but you haven't really been talking much about

Donald Trump and his proposals, whether it's the Muslim ban or the things he has said about building the wall. You did months ago, but you have stopped. And I wonder if to some voters out there it might look like you're afraid of a fight.

KASICH: No, look, I -- just the other night, I stood on the stage and told my position on immigration, about how splitting families was not going to work. I have said all of these things.

But, you see, I think the way in which you beat somebody like Donald Trump is not wrestling in the mud with him, but rather talking about your record, your accomplishments and your vision. I mean, I think people get elected president on the basis of record, accomplishments and vision, not on who can shout the loudest.

TAPPER: Why would you think that's the way to beat Donald Trump?

KASICH: Pardon?

TAPPER: Governor, why -- I mean, we have had -- we have had four contests now. Why would you think that that approach is the way to beat him?

KASICH: Well, first of all, we're following our campaign plan to right where we wanted it to be.

And, Jake, I'm the last governor standing. And we went from 16 down like four or five. I think I'm doing just fine. Most people didn't think I would get in, and then they didn't think I would make the debates, and then they didn't think I would get to New Hampshire.

And then they didn't think I would win there. Then they thought I would get 1 percent in South Carolina. I'm very happy with where we are. We have had -- I had 1,000 people at Memphis, 1,000 people in Nashville coming. They're intense. We're grassroots people.

And we believe that when this race turns to the north, when I get to Ohio, it's going to be a whole new game. And I'm not going to resort to name-calling. I don't agree with Donald Trump. And, at some point, if somebody says what's your position, the other night, I said my position on immigration is finish the wall, have a guest-worker program, and for the 11.5 million that are here, they -- if they haven't broken the law since they have been here, they will pay a fine, back taxes, but they should have a path to legalization.

Now, I don't know that I need to get into a shouting match with somebody to prove my point. See, I think that what happened the other night in the debate, for the people out here who watch carefully, they said, he's an adult in the room.


I've got it -- I got it, you know, from so many quarters, it's amazing. And you know what? I would like to be president and I'd like to raise the bar to get there. And I believe that this is the way in which to do it.

And Jake, I've won a lot of elections in my lifetime. And by the way, I'm beating Hillary Clinton by more than anybody else in the field. So why would I change?

TAPPER: Well, I mean, no offense, but you haven't won a contest, and it doesn't look like you're going to win any on Tuesday and --

KASICH: No. I think Trump's probably going to win probably all of them. But you keep holding your own and we have our campaign plan.

I mean, everybody has to do it the way they want to do it. Our way of doing it was --


KASICH: Our campaign plan was ultimately to, you know, hold our own in some of these places, and we will, I expect. And then we're going to head north.

But at the end of the day, what changes this race is my ability to win in Ohio. And if any of these people can't win their own states, they probably ought to get out. We ought to consolidate the race.

In Ohio head to head, I beat Donald Trump by 18 points. Why is that? Why is it that I'm running even with Donald Trump in Ohio without making really any real effort in Ohio?

Let me also ask you this. Why am I beating Hillary Clinton by more than any other candidate in the race? Is that because I'm not being combative enough?

TAPPER: Let's --

KASICH: I take my positions and I have strong positions, but I'm going to run my campaign the way I want to, not the way that some pundit wants me to do it so they can get more eyeballs.

TAPPER: I hear you --

KASICH: To be honest with you, Jake.

TAPPER: I hear you, sir. That's fine. Let's talk about your path.

Former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg told the "New York Times" your emissaries sketched out an outcome in which you end up hypothetically with the second highest delegate count going into the (ph) convention (ph) and then you dig in there at the convention to compete with Trump. Are you OK with the scenario in which primary voters choose one candidate by a plurality and party leaders nominate someone else at the convention?

KASICH: Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. I mean, I love Judd Gregg. He's one of, you know, he's one of my favorite people who served in the Congress with me, but he's not exactly in our inner circle and you know that. I mean, there's always a scenario of a chance of a brokered convention, but I don't think that's going to happen. And I think after Ohio, we're going to have a whole new race.

And look, Jake, let's be honest about this. The media from the day I got in this thing has been skeptical and announcing, you know, I wasn't going to win. Remember I went to a breakfast and I said, if I get smoked in New Hampshire -- and they're, like, oh, he's on death watch, you know. And then we finish second and then all of a sudden I got some attention. For the first time since I've been in this race, people are beginning to hear my message. And I'm going to keep speaking it. And I'm going to stay as positive as I can.

Now, if somebody wants to come and attack me, I'm not going to take anything from them. You know, Jeb tried to say stuff about my Medicaid record or my record in Ohio. And I told him he's wrong. But I am not going to get down in the mud.

I believe you win elections with accomplishments and vision. That's how I do it. Now, if I'm wrong, I'll admit that I'm wrong. But you wait and see what happens in Ohio.

TAPPER: That's fair, but there are a lot of Republicans, as you know, who are very alarmed by the idea that Donald Trump could get the nomination. The hashtag on Twitter #nevertrump -- never Trump exploded this weekend on Twitter. Marco Rubio used that hashtag. And you know, the hashtag means they will not vote for Donald Trump even if he is the nominee.

Just to be clear, if trump's the nominee, you'll support him?

KASICH: I -- you know, we're down to now five people. We're all in the arena. And I will show respect to the person that emerges from that arena. I believe it will be me. But at the end of the day, I'm going to support that person who went through the arena and became the nominee.

Now look, there's a lot of people out there that have never been in the arena. They've never -- they've never been in there. They've never been engaged in any battle. They sit up in the stands. And then they have a lot of opinions.

You know, I can remember -- I could sit up in the stands and tell people how to play football or basketball or whatever. But you know, you really don't know what's going on on the field unless you're there. And frankly, all these people that have these opinions that have never competed, hey, it's a great thing! It's like a spectator sport, right? It just is -- it just -- it doesn't have (ph) carry (ph) credibility with me. Until you have competed, until you have been in this position, you really don't understand what's happening. So, look. Anybody that emerges from the arena, I'm going to be for.

TAPPER: All right. Governor John Kasich, good luck on Tuesday. We'll see you out there on the campaign trail.

KASICH: All right, Jake. Thank you. Always a pleasure.

TAPPER: A big win for Hillary Clinton last night in South Carolina. Did the results of the race reveal a fatal campaign flaw for Senator Bernie Sanders? That's next. Stay with us. We'll dig into it with our all-star panel.



CLINTON: Tomorrow, this campaign goes national.


We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything and we're not taking anyone for granted.



TAPPER: That was Hillary Clinton last night fresh off a huge victory in South Carolina. She heads into Super Tuesday with a lot of momentum.


Twelve contests in just 2 days. And though he was trounced last night, Senator Bernie Sanders is vowing to stay in and fight.

With me on this great panel, former president and CEO of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, who's supporting Bernie Sanders. Congressman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. Former South Carolina state representative Bakari Sellers, who's supporting Hillary Clinton. And Republican strategist S.E. Cupp.

So Ben, let me start with you.


TAPPER: That was quite a shellacking last night for your guy.

Hillary won with something like, 75 percent.

JEALOUS: I mean look -- you know -- and --

TAPPER: Look, by the way -- I'm sorry to interrupt, but look at the black vote there. Clinton, 86 percent. Sanders, 14 percent.

JEALOUS: You know, and last week it was New Hampshire, before that we were dealing with. These first four states are strange. The reality is to dig in for a very long time. They talked to virtually everybody in the state. And when you're fighting the most powerful dynasty in our country's politics right now, you should expect that these states will, you know, will be tough.

What's going to, I think, really be definitive is what happens in the next week, what happens in the next two weeks is the movement that's building across the country going to be enough to prove things out (INAUDIBLE) before (ph).

TAPPER: And Bakari, you're --

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I refuse to believe that South Carolina is strange. And I just have to say that --


JEALOUS: No, no, no -- of course - of course --


SELLERS: But I will tell you this. I don't -- I don't --

TAPPER: You said all four.

SELLERS: All four states, I get that.

But South Carolina is not New Hampshire in one simple fact. That South Carolina actually reflects a lot more of the Democratic Party. When you get to Super Tuesday, you're going to have a lot of persons of color...


SELLERS: ... whose votes will matter and will count. And I said that the Democratic electorate does not look as much like New Hampshire and Iowa. And we're beginning to see that. And when you're getting beat 86 to 14 you have to begin to transition your message. You have to have some intersectionality. You have to be able to talk about environmental justice, criminal justice and all of those things and not just what's happening on Wall Street.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: The important thing there is in South Carolina, the Democrat vote shrank from where it was in 2012 (ph).


TAPPER: Turnout is down in South Carolina.


SELLERS: But that is -- I agree with you. And that is -- as Paul Begala said, that is what keeps us up at night.

I mean, it's higher than it was --

BLACKBURN: And it should.

SELLERS: It's higher than it was -- it's higher than it was in 2004.

TAPPER: The fourth state in a row where the Republican turnout has gone up and Democratic turnout has gone down. S.E., do you see that as a sign of trouble for the party -- for the Democratic Party to come?

S.E. CUPP. CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes and no. Republicans are coming out because the party has framed this race as one about anger, frustration and urgent change. And the Democratic Party thus far of Hillary Clinton is framing this race as preserving Obama's legacy.

Now, that might be the love language of Democratic operatives, but it's not really a turn-on to average voters. They don't care about preserving someone's legacy. They want kitchen-table issues discussed. So if Hillary Clinton can, I think, reframe that argument to sound a little bit more like Bernie Sanders' maybe they'll get more turnout but it's just not that kind of year.

JEALOUS: You know, and the concern here is that beating Trump has just become the first objective for the -- for the Democrat Party in choosing who's going to rep us.

TAPPER: Right.

JEALOUS: And it's clear that Bernie beats Trump much better each time every head-to-head poll. Now, you know it's true. You know, we've -- we've seen things shift as we head towards the south. But the question is, you know, quite frankly, how are things going to shift as folks keep asking the question, who can beat Trump? Who can beat Trump? Because she's starting to look a lot like Mitt Romney right now and that scares me. Unless (ph) there's (ph) --

TAPPER: The electability argument you know.

SELLERS: I don't know any poll -- and I don't mean to push back like this but I'm not sure where any poll where Bernie Sanders -- people feel that Bernie Sanders is more electable than Hillary Clinton. In fact, that's Hillary Clinton's major selling point. And the reason being -- and the reason being --


JEALOUS: Every single head-to-head poll, Trump versus Sanders, Trump versus Clinton.


TAPPER: Let the congresswoman (ph) talk.

BLACKBURN: Part of the problem for the Democrats right now is people are saying, their voter turnout is down. And if Republican turnout was down 25 percent and Democrat turnout up 25 percent, as is happening in the reverse at this point in time, you all would be saying oh, Democrats are here to stay. But --


JEALOUS: We have one candidate that brings energy.

BLACKBURN: But Hillary has so many problems. Will she be the final nominee? Bernie is not electable in a general election. You know that.

TAPPER: Can I ask a question of you, congresswoman (ph)? BLACKBURN: Sure.

TAPPER: Just because it happened earlier in the show. I asked Donald Trump three times if he would disavow the support of David duke and the Ku Klux Klan. He did not. And he said he didn't know enough about them.


Is that an acceptable answer to you?

BLACKBURN: To me, that would not be an acceptable answer. I think that should have been an easy answer for him to give. But I'm not somebody that's advising Donald Trump.

JEALOUS: And that in his debate performance -- you know, that in his debate performance the other night suggests that, you know, there's some chinks in his armor. And one of them is that he's not confident enough to simply say, I disavow the Ku Klux Klan.

CUPP: No. It's remarkable, Jake. I remember I was on your other show "THE LEAD" talking to Trump's spokesperson about Marco Rubio's eligibility.


And she said, well, Donald Trump doesn't know every aspect of the constitution. This is a man who's running for president. If he doesn't know about the Ku Klux Klan, if he doesn't know about...

SELLERS: The (ph) Duke. Yes.

CUPP: ... white supremacy and David duke, if he doesn't know every aspect of the constitution, ding, ding, ding, that should be kind of a red flag.

SELLERS: And for all -- and just to push back, congresswoman, for all the problems that we may have with enthusiasm, I mean, we don't have the problems that the Republican Party have in Donald Trump. The fact of the matter is you have to be able -- the country's getting browner. And the fact of the matter is you have to be able to reach out to these other minority groups, these other coalitions if you're going to be president of the United States. And Donald Trump has built a wall literally and figuratively.


BLACKBURN: ... flood into the Republican Party at this point in time. They're running out of ballots for people to change their party registration. People are so fed up with what Barack Obama and that administration has brought to them. They are tired of wage stagnation. They are fed up with Washington.

It is a change election. It is send a message to Washington. We're sitting here with $19 trillion worth of debt. We haven't had a balanced budget in 15 years. We have people who are struggling, absolutely struggling --


SELLERS: She's preaching this Sunday morning.

BLACKBURN: I know. Let me tell you, they're sick of the southern border not being secured. And they want to see some action. And so they're sending a message, and God bless the American people for standing up and saying, we're going to get this country back on the right track.

JEALOUS: Here's the thing. You cannot beat Donald Trump playing defense. You can't just beat him and say I'm here to defend (INAUDIBLE) president (ph). You have to play offense. You have to say I want to extend what the last president did. That's what Bernie is actually drawing people to him and building a movement.

You know, your state's a great state. And but you also know that no one else gets to camp out for -- you know, for a year in any state. What we're seeing right now in places like Chicago, places like Detroit, places like Flint, we'll both be there next week, is there's actually a movement building that looks like this country of people saying, I want to extend what President Obama did. And there's only one candidate who's really fighting to extend that, and that's Bernie.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the Republican race for a second. I want to play some sound of Rubio and Trump going at each other.


RUBIO: He's flying around on hair force one and tweeting -- so here's the one tweet he put out. He put out a picture of me having makeup put on me at the -- at the debate which is amazing to me that a guy with the worst spray tan in America is attacking me for putting on makeup.




TAPPER: S.E., thoughts?

CUPP: Well, that, to me, looks like a man -- Marco Rubio looks like a man just released from prison, right? He is -- the handcuffs are off. The governor is off. He's finally saying the things that I think he probably wanted to say for a long time. At the very least, having fun. Who knows if this is too little, too late, if it plays, if it saves him for Super Tuesday, I don't know.

But this has been an election where being good, being moral, being right, taking the high road means you're out in, you know, the first three weeks. So he's doing what he thinks he has to do to get through this election in time for Super Tuesday.

TAPPER: All right. To be continued. Thanks to our great panel. Super job. Really appreciate it.

Coming up next, who are you wearing, Mr. Vice president? That's right, you might see Joe Biden around the Oscars red carpet tonight. What's he doing there? We'll tell you after the break.



TAPPER: Welcome back.

For a while now Washington has been called Hollywood for ugly people, but tonight the two towns will collide on the Academy Awards stage as Vice President Joe Biden introduces Lady Gaga's Oscar-nominated song about sexual assault, a cause he has long worked on. We know we will be watching tonight but will the candidates? You might be surprised by their love of the movies.


TAPPER (voice-over): And the award for best presidential candidate in a supporting role goes to...

SANDERS (as Rabbi Manny Shevitz): I prepared a few words.

TAPPER: ... Senator Bernie Sanders.

SANDERS: Testing, testing. One, two, three. Can you all hear me? My name is Rabbi Manny Shevitz.

TAPPER: That's right. Sanders once appeared in this 1999 (INAUDIBLE) movie called "My X-Girlfriend's Wedding Reception." OK. So it's probably not Oscar material, but, hey, even Ronald Reagan never took home one of the little golden guys.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (as George Gipp): Win just one for the Gipper.

TAPPER: The closest Reagan got to the stage was appearing via satellite in 1981 to say hello to his old Hollywood pals. And most of the current crop of candidates say they will settle for being fans.

CRUZ: I'm a huge movie buff. I love movies.

TAPPER: Cruz's favorite flick? "The Princess Bride."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, what's so important?

CRUZ: So what is it you have that is so worth living for.

TAPPER: Which he often acts out for polite audiences.

CRUZ: True love.

TAPPER: As for Donald Trump, well --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (ph): Now in complete control!

TAPPER: He loves the classics.

TRUMP: I love "Citizen Kane." I love "Gone With The Wind."

TAPPER: We imagine that his favorite line might be.

CLARK GABLE, ACTOR: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

TAPPER: Politics may divide the country but movies unite us. And when it comes to our all time favorite flicks there is no red America or blue America.


There are only people who hate "The Godfather Part 3."

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think my favorite would have to be "The Godfather" one and two. Three not so much.

RUBIO: "The Godfather" one and two. Three is OK.


TAPPER: And don't forget the next round of voting begins in just two days. CNN will have special coverage for around the country all day Super Tuesday.

Will Trump and Clinton solidify their leads. Be sure to watch CNN for results from all 23 contests this Tuesday.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. You can catch me here every Sunday and weekdays on "THE LEAD" at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. And go to -- STATE OF THE UNION for extras from the show.

I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next.