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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
What Voters Love And Hate About Trump; One-On-One With Melania Trump; Super Tuesday Stakes; Clinton, Sanders Make Final Push Into Super Tuesday; One-On-One With Kasich. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired February 29, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
Tonight, with Super Tuesday voting just hours away for both parties, the growing possibility that Donald Trump has a lock on the Republican nomination and a growing fear among top Republicans that he now presents a threat to the party's very existence. No exaggeration. That's what one U.S. senator told our Dana Bash this afternoon. He does not think his party will survive this.
And Dana says he is not alone. Just think about that for a moment. A political party that's been around since 1854 might not be around after Donald Trump is through. Tonight we have new polling that will probably only increase the anxiety for those who think Donald Trump's frank is a sham. We'll tell you more about Marco Rubio's latest effort ongoing live at this moment to head off a Trump rout tomorrow, turning up the volume to the point he blew out his voice. And we'll talk with the soft spoken Melania Trump about her husband's tone, the advice she gives him and the way over the weekend he declined to disavow the support of a prominent white supremacist leader.
A busy two hours ahead starting Sara Murray in Valdosta, Georgia, where a Trump rally finished up a short time ago. It's been a tumultuous two days for this campaign.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Anderson, tumultuous might be an understatement. We are talking about just hours before voters head to the polls on Super Tuesday. And this was a day when Donald Trump had to explain why it took him so many times to disavow white supremacists and a former KKK leader. It was a day where he had this awkward run- in with protesters and asked if they were Mexican. It was a day where a photo journalist was slammed to the ground by a secret service agent. Got into some kind of physical altercation there.
This is not the kind of messaging that Donald Trump was hoping to go into Super Tuesday with. But here in Georgia this evening, he rallied a crowd of thousands. And it was clearly a look ahead message. He said look ahead to tomorrow. He wanted people to get out and vote. And it is worth noting that on his schedule tomorrow, he is looking ahead himself. He is going to be in Ohio. He is going to be in Florida. These are both states that do not vote until March 15th. And you may notice they are both the home states of two other candidates who are still in this race, Anderson.
COOPER: And Sara, how is the Trump campaign feeling ahead of Super Tuesday?
MURRAY: They are feeling -- they are certainly feeling confident. They see the same public polling as we do which shows them with very wide leads in a number of these states. And that Donald Trump has said himself he really does want to try to beat Ted Cruz in Texas which many people feel would be the death blow to Senator Cruz's campaign. But they are careful. They got burned in Iowa. And this is a lesson that sticks with them. And one of the messages that they give to their supporters and their volunteers is you need to sort of get rid of the public polls in your mind and assume that we are running ten points behind. They are very aware of this anti-Donald Trump sentiment out there that there's a belief among party leaders that the nominee should be anyone but Trump. And so, they feel like they are waking up every day running against that message, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Sara Murray, thank you.
Now, Marco Rubio is yet to win a contest. Remains behind in polling for his own state primary two weeks from now. He continues to hammer away at Donald Trump including today in Oklahoma.
Our Phil Mattingly joins us now from the town of (INAUDIBLE).
So Rubio fired back at the fact Trump didn't immediately disavow the former KKK leader yesterday in that interview with Jake Tapper. What did he say?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he has continued to attack on that interview. And this really feeds into the lines that Marco Rubio has been deploying over the last four or five days, Anderson. Just a few minutes ago at a rally in Oklahoma City, getting a standing ovation for disavowing Trump's comments and saying more or less this would make him unelectable. It's a message he's been repeating across the south. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot be a party that nominates someone who refuses to condemn white supremacists n the Ku Klux Klan. By the way, not only is that wrong, it makes him unelectable. How are we going to grow our party with a nominee that refuses to condemn the Ku Klux Klan? Don't tell me he doesn't know who the Ku Klux Klan is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And Anderson, that last line from Marco Rubio, don't tell me he doesn't know who the Ku Klux Klan is, that is something that echoes from here and from a lot of GOP strategist from the competitive campaign saying this is intentional by Donald Trump. The is coming along the SEC primary, these southern states and they are very, very upset and a little bit ruffled by the fact that he would be willing to do this going into Super Tuesday, Anderson.
COOPER: How does the Rubio campaign feel ahead of tomorrow? I mean, do they actually think they will win anywhere, which is ultimately what it boils down to?
MATTINGLY: It's been the big question from donors. A big question from supporters. A big question from critics of his campaign over the last couple of weeks, Anderson. They don't expect any wins across states. They expect to play well, though, and their big thing throughout Super Tuesday is these delegates are handed out proportionately. They want to pull as many as they can. For the Rubio campaign, it's all about Florida. 99 delegates, winner take all. That's what they are pointing at. In the meantime, pull out as many delegates to the can and try to keep Trump and Ted Cruz from getting as many as they can, Anderson.
[20:05:01] COOPER: All right. Phil Mattingly, thanks.
Now, that new polling already we mentioned where state by state polls already showing Trump leading in every race but Texas tomorrow. Our new CNN/ORC national survey is if anything even more daunting for the stump -- the stop Trump forces.
Chief national correspondent and "INSIDE POLITICS" anchor John King breaks it down for now us by the numbers. It's a national poll, obviously. The next challenge is 11 different states tomorrow on Super Tuesday. Is there a message in the new numbers?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. There's a huge message in the new numbers. You are right. It's a national poll before 11 states vote. So on the one hand, by normal argument, at this point of campaign, is don't even read national polls. Don't pay any attention to them.
But this one is worth looking at for couple of reasons. Donald Trump is at 49 percent in our national poll among Republicans. Rubio 16 percent. Cruz 15 percent, Carson 10 percent and Kasich six. Donald Trump up eight points from our January poll. So look. Whatever business you're in, whatever sport you play, whatever competition it is, whether it's politics, whether it is baseball, whether it is you sell products, you don't want to let the other guy get ahead when you are trying to catch up. Donald Trump is stretching his lead in the time the other candidates are facing pressure to catch up or drop out. So the numbers are simply not good. Even though it's a national poll.
And here is something else you look at. Remember, national poll means some people in these 11 Super Tuesday states are among those being polled. Some in the states just to follow among those being polled. Seventy-eight percent of Trump voters say they are locked in. They definitely support him. Only 57 percent of the voters who support the other state are definitely locked in. So if you are somebody trailing Trump and you are trying to catch up, sure, if you are Rubio you want Cruz, you want Kasich votes. But if you are Rubio or Cruz or Kasich, you also need to get Trump voters to switch sides. And Donald Trump voters are locked in, Anderson. It makes it harder as we go forward.
COOPER: If you are one of the others trying to defeat Trump, I mean, what worries you in these numbers beyond his big national lead?
KING: If you are Ted Cruz, let me give you a number that has you very unhappy tonight. Choice for nominee among white evangelicals, Trump 44, Cruz 20, Carson 16, Rubio 12, Kasich five. Why does that matter? Let me show you on the map here where evangelicals live in America. The deeper the shading, the higher the percentage of evangelicals. So let me strip that down a little bit.
Most of Super Tuesday, bring back a little bit, most of Super Tuesday is played out below this line. Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama. Remember Trump won in South Carolina. This is supposed to be Ted Cruz's wheelhouse. Evangelical America. Down here is supposed to Ted Cruz's wheelhouse, Donald Trump leads 44, more than 2-1 over Ted Cruz among evangelicals. So Ted Cruz doesn't like that number.
Let me show you one more number from our new poll. Let me turn this up. One more number for our poll to show you is Donald Trump is expanding his coalition. Remember earlier in the campaign we talked about Trump had a lot of support among those who did not have a college degree, well, he holds that support, 50 percent. But now he is broadening his coalition, 46 percent of Republicans who do have a college degree say they support Trump. That's a troubling number, Anderson, to Marco Rubio and John Kasich. Traditional Republicans win in the suburbs. And say Virginia is on the ballot tomorrow, the suburbs just outside of where we are tonight in Washington D.C., a lot of highly educated, college educated, masters degrees and the like. Donald Trump runs strong in those areas as he does in its national poll. And Marco Rubio won't get away tomorrow night.
COOPER: Yes. John, fascinating numbers.
I want to bring in -- let's go to our analysts' table. Our chief political analyst Gloria Borger, also senior political commentator and former top Obama adviser David Axelrod, host of the "Axe Files". The newest member of the CNN podcast family. You can sign up at CNN.com/podcast. With us as well is senior political reporter Nia- Mallika Henderson.
Nia, I mean, first of all, those numbers, 78 percent have already -- are firm in their Donald Trump commitment. I mean, that's an extraordinary number for this candidate.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It's an extraordinary number. The 49 percent is an extraordinary nu number. The conventional wisdom at least among establishment folks has been when the field winnows then there will be an establishment on a white horse who will rescue the party from Donald Trump. These polls suggest something very different. And again, there's this broad coalition.
But there are also some numbers in here that I think if you are Rubio should be troubling. This idea of there's a question here about who is the candidate who can bet handle the responsibilities of being commander in-chief? Trump wins that 48 percent. Cruz come in at 17 percent. Rubio comes in at 14 percent. He is now trying to be the anti-Trump, but it isn't clear that even if he fires Donald Trump that people want to hire him. COOPER: David, is there anything, if you were one of those other
candidates, is there anything or representing one of them, that you would take pleasure in in those numbers or be looking to chip away at? Where is there --
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I don't think there's a whole lot of it. The other number that I find interesting was that an even number of people percentagewise-wise said that Trump, Rubio and Cruz would be unacceptable to them. That's a change. There's growing acceptability of Donald Trump as the nominee among the party, even as the republican establishment frantically is trying to alert voters that he would be, as we heard earlier, the end of the party and it would be a disaster in the fall. Voters don't seem to be buying it, at least not in this poll.
COOPER: Yes. Acceptability and inevitability.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think some of the Republican establishment is actually feeling the same way going through the stages of grieve and they are finally sort of accepting Trump to a degree. I spoke with a lot of them today. Some of them were saying, all right, we just have to learn how to live with Trump. That he's malleable. There are others who say we ought to disown him completely, like senator -- and say I can't support the party nominee. I'm not going to vote for Hillary Clinton but I can't support him. And then there's the third way which is the Marco Rubio campaign and other campaigns which are now looking for the sort of Hail Mary contested convention scenario.
[20:10:33] COOPER: Let me ask John. John, I mean, is there anything Rubio or Cruz do to stay viable tomorrow? He is coming in second in a lot of states is that enough?
KING: Well, Cruz has to win Texas. I just brought the delegate map. Let's go through Super Tuesday. Let's bring it up here. If you bring up Super Tuesday, move this over. If Donald Trump wins them all, which is possible, Cruz is ahead in the late polls in Texas. Donald Trump wins them all, he starts to opens up the delegate lead. Remember, we are still proportional.
But for Ted Cruz, survival means winning your home state. So let's say he wins it. We'll give second to Trump and third to Rubio and fourth to Kasich in Texas. That's survival at stake. Ted Cruz hasn't said this publicly but if he doesn't win his home state, it is very hard to continue on. Now then, he would say he is the only candidate to beat Donald Trump twice.
But Anderson, look at the map. If Ted Cruz wins Texas and Donald Trump wins the other ten states allocating Republican delegates tomorrow, not only does he starts to pull ahead in the delegate lead but it's just -- it just speaks for itself. It is what I'm trying to say here. And this is why you have this debate in the Republican establishment. Some of them are saying we have no choice. We have to embrace him. The customer is always right. The customer is our voters. And they are picking Donald Trump. And then the debate about never Trump. But as you go forward, if you go forward from here, if Donald Trump
keeps winning, up until March 15th, look what happened. He starts to pull way ahead. This is the defining day in the race. Because Rubio has to win at home in Florida, this becomes winner take all. If Rubio wins at home in Florida and Trump comes in second, really, doesn't matter who comes in second or third or fourth there, this is the defining day for Rubio and for Kasich. If Kasich doesn't win his home state he has said, he would get out. Rubio hasn't said it, but if he doesn't win, it's hard to see how he continues on. This is the only chance for somebody to take their state. But if they all stay in and start splitting states they can't catch Trump.
The only way is to catch him is get a one on one and then from this point on, Anderson, if you catch him, you would have to run the board. You'd have to essentially hold Donald Trump to no states for maybe one or two small states if you got to catch up at that point. And even then, you might not clinch the nomination.
The Republican establishment is now hoping and praying that somebody can keep Donald Trump from reaching the majority, 1237. But if you look at the map right now, this is not only tilted in Trump's favor. It's heavily tilted in Trump's favor.
COOPER: David, beyond the numbers, I mean, Marco Rubio's strategy, do you think it's making any headway against Donald Trump? I mean, all the rhetoric that's been thrown around, it's like a real housewives reunion episode, spray tans and makeup and little hands and you know what else that means. I mean, it's incredible. Does it work?
AXELROD: Well, you know. Well, we don't know. But my question is this. If your target are upper educated, you know, upscale Republican voters which we're told they are for Marco Rubio, are they impressed with what he has been doing the last few days? I have some real doubts on this.
One thing I would like to say about the map, though. I think that's the perfect map for Donald Trump. The best outcome for him tomorrow would to be take everything but Texas and keep Ted Cruz in the race for a few more weeks because for Donald Trump, the more the merrier.
COOPER: We got a lot more ahead. A lot more to talk about this. We're also going to talk to our commentators. After the break, you are going to hear what one Republican U.S. senator said on camera today about what he would do if it comes down Hillary Rodman Clinton versus Donald J. Trump in November.
And later, a rare wide-ranging conversation with the former Slovenian fashion model who could become America's next first lady, Melania Trump. I sat down with her earlier today, a break first.
[20:17:26] COOPER: We're talking Super Tuesday and the possibility that will turn out super for Trump but not for the party whose nomination now seems his to lose. Hunter Thompson titled his classic act of the 1972 election, fear and loathing on the campaign trail. Tonight among many of the GOP, the fear and loathing is real and for some, it's directed toward Donald Trump as we have been talking about. You now have Republicans not just going On the Record opposing him but going on camera as well. Today on "The LEAD" Jake Tapper, confronted Republican U.S. senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska with the general election choice of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and pressed him to answer the question which he eventually did. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Those are the two front-runners, and it looks as though they are likely to be the nominees. If that -- I understand you reject the premise. But given that most people out there know those two are the front-runners, what's would you do?
SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: I'm not going to vote for Hillary Clinton. Given what we know about Donald Trump, I can't vote for that guy either. I believe in the constitution. I have taken an oath to preserve and protect them, define the constitution. And if it got to a place where those are the two major party nominees, and I certainly hope that they are not. I'd have to look for a third party option.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back with the panel and joining us CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Ana Navarro, Democratic strategist Angela Rye, former executive director of the congressional black caucus, also a Trump supporter and conservative columnist Kayleigh McEnany and Clinton supporter and former South Carolina state house meme, Bakari Sellers.
Ana, I mean, this idea of a third choice, that doesn't really obviously translate into anything that's going to get somebody elected, or does it?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Who? You know, they have thrown around the name of Michael Bloomberg. Certainly, he has been polling his name out there. But until there's a third choice it's theoretical. Look. I think a lot of folks are going to have to cross that bridge when they get there, when we get there. For a lot of us, the idea of voting for Trump is just --
COOPER: OK. I got it. Buy Kayleigh, you are a Trump supporter. It is interesting, if I was a Trump supporter listening to this kind of talk and hearing folks from GOP hand wringing and complaining, I mean, I would -- if anything, it would harden my support for Donald Trump. Do you think it has that effect?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I definitely think it has that effect. And focus groups have found that it does have that effect to consolidate the support. And I would argue that this whole notion of no one getting behind Trump is an opinion of the political class. Because when you look at the CNN poll that came out today, just 25 percent said they wouldn't vote for Trump. But the way, the same number said they wouldn't vote for Rubio or Cruz. So I think that this is an opinion, a conventional wisdom among the political class because Donald Trump poses a threat to their interest. He is an outsider. He's not in bed with lobbyists. He is not in bed with Washington. And he poses a threat to the Republican establishment.
[20:20:02] COOPER: I mean, the other side of that, the flip side of that, and you are also a Republican, is if, I mean, he is the GOP nominee, he is obviously bringing a lot of people out. There's a lot of enthusiasm among his supporters. Support among his supporters is calcified. They are saying they are going to vote for Donald Trump come hell or high water. The other side of that is, stop the hand wringing and just get on board and, you know, possibly win the presidency.
NAVARRO: Well, you know, look. There is such a thing as conviction and principle. I know it might sound strange and corny, but some still hold on to those notions. And I think that Donald Trump has said and done some things throughout his campaign that bothers some of us to such a point where we just cannot imagine voting for him.
That being said, you are absolutely right. He is also bringing an entirely new universe of voters into the tent and into vote for him. And I do think that there are some members of the Republican Party, like me, who just cannot come to grips with it. But I think there are members of the Republican establishment who are coming to grips with it.
Today we saw that in Valdosta. Brian France, the owner of NASCAR endorsed him. I will tell you. He was one of the major donors for Mitt Romney. He is a guy that every single Republican candidate has heavily courted. He has stayed on the sidelines until today. And to my surprise, this is also a guy who led NASCAR in calling for the lowering of the confederate flag in South Carolina, who has spoken up in favor of gay rights, who has spoken up against the Kentucky law. And yet today he was on that e endorsing Donald Trump which talks about a couple of things.
First of all, that New York donor beltway. They all know Donald Trump. They may not particularly think he was the best candidate, but they all know him and have a relationship. They also see him as having a path to victory. And, third, they think they can make a deal with him.
COOPER: Angela, it's interesting. I mean, there were a lot of Democrats early on who were kind of chomping at the bit to have Donald Trump be the GOP nominee to go against probably Hillary Clinton. Do you still feel that excitement over that prospect, or do you now see Donald Trump as a more formidable candidate, more formidable foe as a Democrat?
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Right now, I'm not afraid of Donald Trump. I think to quote Cory Booker from an earlier segment today, he said bring it on. And I whole heartedly agree with that. And here's why.
The type of voter that Donald Trump is turning out is the exact type of voter that when Barack Obama was elected in 2008 we wanted to stay home. And now that voter if they did stay home is angry and feels frustrate and left out of what America is becoming, which I think is a beautiful thing. A blacker and browner America, more inclusive. We're seeing these folks frustrated, angry and I think we are seeing all type of hatred and vitriolic speech coming from not only his mouth but also his supporters' mouth.
COOPER: But Bakari, what we are also seeing is greater enthusiasm on the Republican side in terms of coming out to vote. We've been seeing in primaries and caucuses, much more than on the Democratic side.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And we have seen that. But one thing I do have to caution and I had to tell my Democratic friends in the words of Aaron Rogers I guess to r-e-l-a-x. Because we saw in 2000, we saw where George Bush in that primary, they had more -- the Republicans had more than three million more voters in that primary than Democrats had but yet Al Gore won the popular vote. We know what happened. But yet Al Gore still won the popular vote.
So I do think Democrats don't do primaries well. And it is not as much excitement on our side. And we have all watched these debates which have just been very, very highly televised train wrecks. I mean, it's been exciting. You can't take your eyes off of it.
But to Angela's point, I think that there are a lot of Democrats like myself who want to take on that hatred, who want to take on that bigotry. You know, it was Donald Trump and POWS. It was Donald Trump and Hispanics. It was Donald Trump and Muslims and now we have Donald Trump and the KKK. And I think everyone in this room can disavow the KKK if asked on the first notion. And so, I want to beat back that hate. I want to beat that vitriol. So yes, I think Democrats are excited about the possibility but it is not as easy as we once thought it would be.
COOPER: I should be pointing out, Donald Trump is saying, claiming that he had a faulty ear piece and did not understand --.
RYE: He said back to Jake Tapper, David Duke. He said -- what do you mean by white supremacist, white supremacy.
COOPER: Clearly heard the name.
RYE: He heard him. And I think that what he's doing is actually strategic. They call Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE). He's not dumb at all. But this was the same week that in tomorrow he is taking on seven southern states. One of them the founding place of the KKK.
COOPER: Kayleigh, you believe the ear piece?
MCENANY: I do. I don't think he is a liar. I mean, not believing the ear piece is saying Donald Trump is a liar.
NAVARRO: I think he's a liar.
MCENANY: He has disavowed David Duke four times prior to this. And since, in fact, in 2000, he called David Duke, a great --. COOPER: But the thing I just don't understand about the ear piece
thing is he clearly said I don't know David duke. I don't believe I've ever met him. I'd have to look into him. Two days before he disavowed David Duke. And in 2000, when he was thinking of running with the reform party he called David Duke a bigot and racist. Why would he say in that interview he didn't know who David Duke was? That's the thing I don't understand. Because clearly his ear piece was working enough to hear the name David Duke and know --
[20:25:23] MCENANY: I believe he didn't know what the question was. I believe that his ear piece went out. And here is the thing. I don't believe Donald Trump is a racist. And most of America does not believe Donald Trump is a racist or sexist. "The New York Post" came out with an article today showing him beating Hillary Clinton in Democrat New York. So most of America does not believe this man say racist. That's a really heavy charge to levy. If you are going to levy that charge you need to have some really big facts to back it up.
COOPER: Do you think this whole KKK kerfuffle, do you think it actually does impact anything or it is like so many other things where we have seen something the chattering classes talk about on TV but it doesn't really translate?
BORGER: Well, I don't think it's going to affect people who are solid Trump supporters. And what we've seen in all the polling is that if you are for Trump, you are for Trump no matter what. You have been there and you will remain there. Where it could affect people is around the margins, I think.
COOPER: And getting out Democrats to come to vote.
BORGER: In general election --
COOPER: One at a time. David --
NAVARRO: Every time somebody says that Donald Trump just said something that is disqualifying, I now have more billions than he claims to have.
AXELROD: No. I want to hear you describe how you feel about that whole thing about how you react to Donald Trump. That was -- I want to see that tape later.
AXELROD: Every reaction, every action in politics creates a reaction. I do think Donald Trump is going to encourage people to come to the polls in the fall as he has in the primary if he's the nominee who haven't come out before. I also believe that despite the fact that people fear that Hillary Clinton, if she's the nominee isn't spurring a lot of enthusiasm that will be will be a lot of enthusiasm on the other side of the fight if Donald Trump is the nominee. And in that sense, you know, he will have a turnout effect on each side of aisle.
KING: It has made senior Republicans very, very nervous because he gave several interviews with that same ear piece and he didn't have the problem in other interviews. So they are very suspicious of it. I wasn't there. I don't read minds. Donald Trump said what he said. But people who watched it don't believe it. They believe he was in a different place when he was thinking about running for the reform party. So, of course, you would say Donald Trump is a bigot. They believe it is strategic calculation. Again, we don't read minds but that's what senior Republicans think.
And Reince Priebus, the party chairman, has had several conversations with Trump over the last several weeks as Trump is winning. And it becomes pretty clear that Trump may well be their nominee. What he's told them is we cannot win Mr. Trump unless we increase our share with non-white voters. Please be careful in what policies you advocate, and perception matters. Be careful what you say and how you say it. And what they view, this as a poke in the eye, that they are asking him to get better in this area and he keeps poking them back.
COOPER: We have to take a quick break. We are going to continue the conversation throughout the evening.
Just ahead, we will hear from some voters who are equally passionate about Trump. They either love him or hate him.
Plus my conversation with Melania Trump. We talked about the advice she gives her husband and what she thinks about some of the language that he uses on the campaign trail. That and much more ahead.
[20:32:08] COOPER: We've been talking about a growing sense of fear within the establishment in the Republican Party if Donald Trump wins the nomination as its increasingly appears likely could mortally wound the GOP. That's the opinion of some in the GOP.
As we just heard, some establishment, Republicans are fall out saying they will not vote for Trump if he's the nominee. Others including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, they jumped on the Trump train endorsing the front-runner and taking something heat for it from fellow Republicans.
On a campaign trail, the same kind of divide splits divide Republican voters as our Gary Tuchman reports tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 11 hours before this Trump rally started, is when Dale Ranney say, she marked her place in line.
DALE RANNEY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: We have waited for decades for someone to tell us the truth. He tells us the truth.
TUCHMAN: Thousands of people came to Valdosta State University to see Trump. But five minutes away in downtown Valdosta, Republicans are feeling much differently.
MARIAN BELANGER, REPUBLICAN VOTER: I would not vote for Donald Trump because I would not vote for P.T Barnum. TUCHMAN: Marian Belanger will be voting Republican on Super Tuesday but is afraid like many in the Republican establishment that Donald Trump could wreck the GOP.
BELANGER: I think it's keeping more qualified candidates from rising to the top. It's dividing the party and it's dividing our nation.
TUCHMAN: You hear similar sentiments from Republicans in the downtown coffee shop.
What do you think of Donald Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he is arrogant and not what our country needs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president needs to be someone who is respectful and will not call women ugly or insult someone.
TUCHMAN: You hear it from Republicans in the hardware store. The store owner cast his ballot in early voting.
You want to tell me who you voted for?
DUTTON MILLER, REPUBLICAN VOTER: Well no, I'd rather not tell you but I can tell you who I didn't vote for. I didn't vote for Mr. Trump.
TUCHMAN: Why don't you like Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I think he doesn't have a clue of what he's doing.
TUCHMAN: But back at the line to get into the Trump rally ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 37 years of experience.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 24, 38, 25.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And with the two others that in our group, it represents over 250 years.
TUCHMAN: These retired teachers say they want to show that the perception some have that Donald Trump doesn't appeal to the highly educated is untrue.
When Donald Trump makes references to like Carly Fiorina, looking at her face. When he's talked about certain anchor people who are women, derogatory terms, does that bother you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will be the first to tell you that we don't approve of everything that's comes out of his mouth, but when we look at the big picture, we are pro-Donald Trump all the way. TUCHMAN: And when you ask people here if it concerns them the nomination of Donald Trump could disrupt the Republican Party, some people just laugh. And many others say, bring it on.
The retired teacher, say they welcome disruption in the GOP.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We might need to drain the swamp a little bit as they say in South Georgia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Gary, did any of the Republicans do you talked they say they would vote for a Democrat if Trump gets the nomination, for Hillary Clinton?
[20:35:06] TUCHMAN: None of the anti-Trump Republicans we talked to Anderson, said they would vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. But some of them did tell us that if Trump gets the nomination they might not vote. And they tell us that not out of sense of satisfaction but out of sense of sadness. Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Gary, thanks very much.
Just ahead, one-on-one with Melania Trump. I sat down with Donald Trump's wife today and asked her about what she thinks about his tone on the campaign trail, the campaign in general. What kind of first lady she'd be and a lot more with my interview with Melania Trump, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You watch a lot of news, I know ...
MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S WIFE: Yes.
COOPER: ... and he watches a lot of news too ...
COOPER: ... and he's tweeting. Do you ever get bothered how much -- I mean he must be up late at night tweeting, watching television. Do you get bothered by that?
TRUMP: I don't get bothered by that. We are both very independent and let him be who he is and he lets me be who I am. And you know ...
COOPER: You don't try to change him?
TRUMP: I don't try to change him. He's an adult. He knows the consequences. And so I let him be who he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We haven't heard a lot from Melania Trump as her husband dominates the Republican race for the White House. She said she may start taking a larger role but her focus is taking care of her son and she's not thinking about making speeches just yet.
[20:40:08] I sat down with Melania Trump today for a rare interview, covering everything from what bothers her about the campaigns. What kind of first lady she might be.
We'll have more with the interview in the next hour of "360''. But right now, here's part one of our conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: When you first came down the escalator, when your husband first announced, what was going through your mind? Were you excited?
TRUMP: Yes, we were excited. I was excited. I was just looking forward to it. I didn't know what he will say. I didn't know the speech. But we were all excited. And, you know, it was exciting time actually.
And it's a lot of guts to have to do that kind of stuff.
COOPER: Has your opinion -- I read an article -- well an interview you did back in with "Talk" magazine in like 2000 or 1999. You said politics is a business. Has your opinion of politics changed in the last couple of months watching it so closely like ...
TRUMP: Oh, yes, of course. I follow it from A to Z. I know exactly what's going on.
And, of course, it changes. You know, it's many, many years ago, like, what, 20 years ago almost. So, yes, it changed a lot.
COOPER: What do you think of the campaign so far? I mean, in the last couple of days there's been all these fights between now Rubio saying all these things about your husband. What do you think of the tone of it?
TRUMP: I think it's more desperate tone because, you know, my husband is leading in the polls. So he wants to attack in very low manner way. So -- and it's kind of -- we expected that. And ...
COOPER: You expected it?
TRUMP: Yeah. I have a thick skin.
COOPER: It doesn't bother you?
TRUMP: It doesn't bother me and it's very nasty, but I have a thick skin. I can handle it.
COOPER: You know, your husband has been criticized for sometimes for his tone on a campaign trail. One thing he said to me is as president, you know, campaigning is one thing. As president he would have a different tone if he was actually in the White House.
Do you think he can have a different tone?
COOPER: Is there another side to him?
TRUMP: Yes, he can have a different tone. He really can have a different tone. Because to build the empire and the business that he built, you cannot always use that's kind of a tone. And he can really change.
I know him, and he could really change the words and the tone. And -- but, you know, he is who he is. And you could see he's following and people agree with him because they are tired of Washington and politicians in Washington that they don't do much.
And he is a doer. He does things and he's not just talking it. He will have things done for the states, for America, for American people.
COOPER: You watched a lot of news, I know.
COOPER: He watches a lot of news too and he is tweeting. Do you ever get bothered in how much -- I mean he must be up late at night tweeting and watching television. Do you get bothered by that?
TRUMP: I don't get bothered by that. We are both very independent and let he be who he is and he lets me be who I am and ...
COOPER: You don't try to change him?
TRUMP: I don't try to change him. He's an adult. He knows the consequences.
And so I let him be who he is. I give him my opinions many, many times.
COOPER: You do?
TRUMP: Yes. And I don't agree with everything what he says, but, you know, that is normal. I'm my own person, I tell him what I think.
I'm standing very strong on the ground on my two feet, and I'm my own person and I think that's very important in the relationship.
COOPER: Do you -- can you say something where you disagreed with him on?
TRUMP: Oh, many things. Some language, of course.
TRUMP: Yes. Some language I didn't feel ...
COOPER: Language you hear him using in the campaign trail? TRUMP: Especially, I was in New Hampshire when the woman was shouting out the inappropriate word.
TRUMP: And I was there and I'm thinking like don't repeat it, in my head, just for him. Don't repeat it. Just don't say it because the next day, media, all they will talk is about that. But he repeated it.
He's with the momentum, he goes with the flow, he goes with the people. They're having fun. Everybody were cheering. And, you know, he said it and the next day, but he repeated the word. That was not his words.
TRUMP: So ...
COOPER: So he heard from you about that?
TRUMP: Yeah, I told him that. Yes. And, you know, he did it. As I said, he's an adult and he will do what he what he was like.
COOPER: It does seem like a lot of -- "The Wall Street Journal" did a piece about how way he makes decisions. A reporter kind of followed him around and I thought it was really interesting. I talked to him about it.
He seems to make a lot of decisions from his gut, form his instincts.
TRUMP: He does. He does and he is who he is. He speaks from the heart. And I think it's very important. He doesn't lie. He is who he is. He doesn't hide anything. And people as they are connecting to that.
[20:45:00] They really connect with him and they know what he will do for the country. He's self-funding. He's his own person. He will not listen -- people donors, lobbyists, nobody can buy him. And the American people, they -- I guess they got smart, and they know that, you know, he will work for them.
COOPER: When you see him on television, you watch interviews, he does, even if you're not with him, I assume you're watching interviews, what he does. Do you give him comments about what you think of the interviews, how it went?
TRUMP: Yes, after we always talk. We talk many, many times a day. Yes, I do. I do.
COOPER: There was -- I'm sure you know there was an interview he gave yesterday where Jake Tapper was asking him about David Duke, disavowing him, the KKK, and he didn't disavow. He had done it previously, several days before and he's now put out a statement so he ...
TRUMP: But he disavowed many times.
TRUMP: He disavowed press conference on Friday. So I don't know why media needs to ask him so many times, because he disavow.
COOPER: When you saw that interview, did you think that's going to be a problem?
TRUMP: I don't think so, because they were asking him about the groups, and he said I don't know about the groups, what you're talking about, the groups. So he disavow, so -- many, many times. So media just bringing up, bringing up all the time.
COOPER: And when you hear, you know, people saying he's racist, hearing him say he's anti-immigrant what do you think?
TRUMP: No, he's not. He's not racist. He's not anti-immigrant. He wants to keep America safe. He wants to have illegal immigrants taken care of that they will not be in the country, that they don't pay taxes, that they are criminals, and that they are not good for the America. He wants -- He was talking about the illegal immigration, not about everybody.
COOPER: As an immigrant yourself ...
COOPER: ... we talked about that a little bit, from Slovenia, what was it about America that you -- that drew you here, that made you want to come to America?
TRUMP: I lived in Slovenia when I was a child. And I went to Milan in Paris for modeling career and I had a very successful modeling career. And I came to the United States to New York in 1996.
And just the energy of New York, the opportunities, different world, different culture, it really attracted me. And I did very well here, and I stayed here.
COOPER: As somebody who came to this country and sort of, you know, wanting to be part of America, obviously, ultimately become a citizen, do you understand the drive that brings other immigrants here, legally and illegally?
TRUMP: I understand, but I came here legally. I came here on visa. I flew to Slovenia every few months to stamp it, and came back. I applied for green card, and then after few years for citizenship. I obeyed the law. I did it the right way. I didn't just sneak in and stay here. So I think that's what people should do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I'll have more of my interview with Melania Trump in our next hour coming out just ahead, in this hour. And Hillary Clinton hoping to follow her landslide win in South Carolina with a Super Tuesday sweep. Bernie Sanders vowing to stay in the race. What's at stake for the Democrats when the polls open just hours from now?
[20:52:21] COOPER: Welcome back, Super Tuesday now just hours away. The Democrats will face off in 11 states, 865 delegates are at stake.
Hillary Clinton certainly has momentum on her side coming off a landslide victory in South Carolina. Right now she's wrapping up a rally in Norfolk, Virginia. Earlier today, she campaigned at Massachusetts. The polls opening in both states just hours from now.
Bernie Sanders began the day in Minnesota. He's ending it in Massachusetts where he just wrapped up a rally as well. Today's campaign said he's raised more than $41 million this month alone.
He got a shaky (ph) of course, in South Carolina but he is vowing to stay in for the long haul. Our Jeff Zeleny has the latest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Massachusetts is right in the middle of it. And I need your help.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hillary Clinton is riding a wave. Hoping her South Carolina landslide becomes an even bigger Super Tuesday victory lap.
CLINTON: I will work as hard as I can every single day. I will get up and go to work for you and fight for you.
ZELENY: The delegate fight with Bernie Sanders will go on. But a strong finish could make Clinton all but unstoppable, at least, mathematically. Politically it's a long race ahead.
CLINTON: If I were grading some of those Republicans, you remember the little box that used to be on your kids report cards? Play well with others? I'd had to put a big no. Democracy requires that we play well with others.
ZELENY: She is steadily shifting her focus from Sanders to Republicans, one in particular.
CLINTON: Yes, I don't think America has ever stopped being great. What we need to do now is make America whole.
ZELENY: In battleground Virginia, the early outlines of a potential general election fight starting today.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie Sanders is over, unless he gets indicted.
ZELENY: Sanders isn't sugarcoating his 48 point blowout in South Carolina.
BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We got decimated, George. We got decimated.
ZELENY: But he says the race is just getting started. He's drawing big clouds from Oklahoma to Colorado to Minnesota with thousands of supporters answering his call for a political revolution. And he's making it clear he's far from finish with Clinton.
SANDERS: We are listening to the American people, and their pain and their needs rather than hustling all over the country collecting millions of dollars from the 1 percent.
ZELENY: A new CNN/ORC poll today shows a majority of Democrats across the country favor Clinton, 55 percent to 38 percent over Sanders. But it also shows warning signs. 59 percent say Sanders is more honest and trustworthy compared to 36 percent who say Clinton is.
[20:55:01] CLINTON: Hello, Virginia. Hello, George Mason.
ZELENY: Tonight in Virginia, Clinton sounded like she had the general election on her mind.
CLINTON: Because at some point you can't just say whatever pops into your head if want to be the president of the United States of America. People around the world actually listen to what people running for president say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Jeff joins us now. Sanders is getting some high-profile endorsements.
ZELENY: He is and one was a big surprise to everyone across the Democratic Party. The Hawaii, a Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, she's a former Iraq war vet. She came out this morning and said she supports Bernie Sanders because of his judgment. She said he would make a better commander-in-chief.
And this is one of the arguments that the Clinton campaign makes all the time that she would be the better commander-in-chief. So this is a pretty compelling argument for her to make. She also had to step down as vice chair of the DNC to do this. It's a very interesting endorsement.
But one endorsement that didn't happen was Elizabeth Warren. We're just now a few hours before the Massachusetts primary, she's decided to not weigh in on this. The Clinton campaign was worried she might jump in for Bernie Sanders at the end, she has not so far. But there are 41 million reasons the Clinton command is still watching Bernie Sanders, all that money he raised in February.
ZELENY: Incredible amount of money.
COOPER: Yeah, I know as we all know from him, in small donations by and large.
ZELENY: Right, $27.
COOPER: Yup, so I've heard. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.
Much more ahead tonight on 360, I'll talk to Governor John Kasich who's under growing pressure from his party to drop out of the race. He hasn't won a contest yet. Some say he's tilting at windmills, but he is not giving up.