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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Source: Romney Team Explores Blocking Trump at RNC; Anti-Trump Movement Spending Millions in Florida; Four GOP Candidates About to Debate; Interview with Congressman Scott Rigell of Virginia; Former Clinton Staffer Cooperates with FBI. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 3, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:10] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, the Grand Ole Party in an all-out war. As Mitt Romney calls Donald Trump a fraud, senior party leaders are saying, back-off. Is the GOP melting down?
And the anti-Trump forces pouring millions and millions into one state. Is it working?
Plus, an American astronaut returns from outer space and he is two inches taller. What happened? Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. We begin OUTFRONT tonight with the breaking news. GOP meltdown. Chaos erupting today in the Republican Party all on live television. Tonight, in the roller coaster of an election, Mitt Romney, the 2012 nominee, accusing his own party's frontrunner of being a phony and a fraud. He gave a spanning speech aimed at destroying the very core of Donald Trump's identity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: But you say wait, wait, wait. Isn't he a huge business success? Doesn't he know what he's talking about? No, he isn't, and no, he doesn't. Whatever happened to Trump airlines? How about Trump University? And then there's Trump magazine and Trump vodka and Trump steaks and Trump mortgage. A business genius he is not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And CNN has learned that Romney has told his aides to come up with a plan to block Trump at the Republican convention in July. A major development tonight. An idea that other senior GOP leaders are also said to be seriously considering. Donald Trump wasting little time in firing back speaking to a big crowd in Portland, Maine. Trump defending himself for 45 minutes and hitting back at Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mitt is a failed candidate. He failed. He failed horribly. That was a race I have to say folks that should have been won. That was a race that absolutely should have been won. And I don't know what happened to him. He disappeared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: As the last Republican nominee for president slammed Trump, one prominent GOP Senator of Tennessee's Bob Corker who has not endorsed anyone released a statement which said in part, "Here's my message to Republican Party leaders. Focus more on listening to the American people and less on trying to stifle their voices." A slam at some of the anti-Trump voices out there today.
Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT tonight in Salt Lake City, Utah. And Jim, Romney not backing down. There is now word, there's this late breaking news tonight of a possible new Romney plan to stop Trump this summer at the convention.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. This could be the beginning of the fracturing of the Republican Party. Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, he savaged Donald Trump here in Utah engaging in an all-out war of words with the real state tycoon. And yes, sources close to Mitt Romney are gaining out scenarios I'm told, where we could still ride into our fractured GOP convention and somehow become the nominee. At this point it's clear he is considering potentially some of these options.
ACOSTA (voice-over): In what could be a pivotal moment in the future of the Republican Party, the GOP's 2012 presidential candidate, Mitt Romney shredded its current frontrunner.
ROMNEY: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He's playing the members of the American public for suckers.
ACOSTA: Laying out a scathing jaw-dropping indictment, warning the nation would be less safe if Donald Trump is elected president.
ROMNEY: Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart. I'm afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart.
ACOSTA: Romney also mocked Trump's business background.
ROMNEY: He inherited his business. He didn't create it. A business genius he is not.
ACOSTA: He even went where the current GOP field had not really gone before, Trump's personal life.
ROMNEY: There's a dark irony in his boost of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam war while at the same time John McCain, whom he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured.
ACOSTA: John McCain blasted out a statement shortly after Romney speech saying, I share the concerns about Donald Trump. Trump who argues his expanding the party brushed off Romney's attacks as sour grapes coming from a presidential looser. TRUMP: He let us down. He let us down. Mitt ran. Probably it was
the worst that most people have seen. He doesn't have what it takes to be president. That I can tell you.
ACOSTA: The real estate tycoon defended his business record.
TRUMP: They don't want to talk about 92 story buildings all over the place.
ACOSTA: Any joke Romney once courted his endorsements.
TRUMP: I could have said Mitt drop to your knees. He would have dropped to his knees. He was begging. He was begging me.
ACOSTA: That love fest was four years ago.
TRUMP: Mitt is tough. He's smart. He's sharp. He's not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love.
ROMNEY: I spent my life in the private sector not quite as successful as this guy.
[19:05:12] ACOSTA: Romney tried to explain his change of heart later on Twitter tweeting, "If Trump had said four years ago the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would not have accepted his endorsement."
ACOSTA: And Mitt Romney said, he was not out there today to announce his own candidacy or even endorse another contender. But it's clear that all of this talk of what might happen later on this summer at the Republican convention in Cleveland has gotten under Donald Trump's skin. He even talked about the possibility of a floor fight with Mitt Romney in July, in Cleveland, should Mitt Romney decide to pull the trigger on this option. It is getting very interesting out on the campaign trail. Who would have thought Erin that Mitt Romney would have been talked about as a potential nominee for this party at this stage of the campaign -- Erin.
BURNETT: I mean, pretty incredible. I'm getting an email about this a couple of days ago and thinking, wow, I can't believe this could possibly happen. And here we are. It is actually happening.
ACOSTA: Here we are.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Jim Acosta. Manu Raju is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill.
Manu, you've been talking to multiple members of Congress today. What are they telling you about this, I mean, earthquake is a fair word. I mean, this is a seismic event in the GOP.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Indeed, Erin. You know, of course, Republican lawmakers by and large are very, very nervous about the prospect of Donald Trump as their party's nominee, but what they are not united behind are the tactics in going after him. Not only you mentioned at the top Bob Corker, a very senior member, someone who is respected in his party, close to Mitch McConnell, putting out that statement saying that leaders should not stifle the voices of the American people.
And I spoke to a lot of senators who are not willing to align themselves with Mitt Romney, even John McCain who put out that statement. I asked him straight up, I said, asked him about whether he would expand on that and he would not. He did not want to entertain any more questions about it. And one lone Trump supporter Jeff Sessions really fired back at his party leadership earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ENDORSED DONALD TRUMP: I think it's dangerous. I think it's dangerous in the sense it has the potential to backfire on them because what this sort of says is the change agent Donald Trump is unacceptable, but these others are acceptable to the establishment. And I think we do need change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And that is the real fear, Erin. What Jeff Sessions told me there that look, even if we stop Donald Trump, all of his supporters -- all of supporters, where are they going to go? Because there are lots of people, there are millions of people getting behind Donald Trump and a lot of these Republican candidates will need those same supporters heading into November's elections. This is a real concern within the party going forward. Even if they go after Donald Trump, what will that mean come November? That was Jeff Sessions right there making a case that a lot of members are saying privately, but not quite sure if they can voice publicly.
BURNETT: All right. Manu Raju, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, Trump's senior advisor Stephen Miller. Ryan Williams who served as spokesman for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign. Looks like he might have a job again. Hogan Gidley who was a senior adviser to Mike Huckabee. And the 2016 presidential bid and a former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty who win against Romney in 2012 and then serves as his campaign co-chair.
So, Ryan, let me start with you on this breaking news. You heard Jim Acosta reporting that Mitt Romney is instructing close advisers to look into a brokered of contested convention this summer and looking at himself as a possible nominee that could emerge. Do you know anything about this?
RYAN WILLIAMS, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR ROMNEY'S 2012 CAMPAIGN: No, I don't. I haven't talked to the Governor. I haven't heard that. I think the Governor came out today because he is deeply concerned about the future of the party and of the country. He exposed the Donald Trump con job today. Donald Trump is someone who has said he is standing up for working people. But he outsources Trump Clothing Line to China. He has built the Trump Tower with foreign workers. He has staffed his posh Palm Beach Country club with foreign workers. This is the con job that Governor Romney discussed today. He was speaking to the working man and women in America who Donald Trump is trying to sell himself as a hero too. That's why I think he came forward to say not because of any kind of personal campaign.
BURNETT: Stephen, it was personal and it was today Mitt Romney making a case aggressively and repeatedly against Donald Trump's character. And you just heard Ryan say, con job, that was the takeaway that you were supposed to take away from Mitt Romney today.
STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I would say that what every American needs to hear tonight is that Mitt Romney, who wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in a failed bid in 2012 and whose campaign drove away working class Americans by the millions. Mitt Romney did the bidding of donors today to try and clear a pathway for the failing campaign of donor class favorite Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio who ran in 2010 against amnesty than push through the biggest amnesty bill in American history.
Marco Rubio used a GOP credit card to spend lavishly on himself for trips to Vegas and painting his driveway. Marco Rubio who sold a house to a lobbyist. Marco Rubio who according to ICE officers treated law enforcement like absolute trash. Marco Rubio is failing campaign, the absentee senator of Florida, the man who doesn't show up to work, who betrayed the people of Florida, Mitt Romney is doing the bidding of donors to deny the working people of this country a candidate who cares about them and who will fight for them and who will bring jobs back to America. And it was a shameful desperate display slandering the good and decent patriotic citizens who want change in this country.
[19:10:45] BURNETT: All right. So, let me bring Governor Pawlenty. Of course, you support Marco Rubio. You just heard Stephen taking him on. Romney eviscerating Trump today. But, you know, he used to talk about Mitt Romney flip-flopping. Let me just give a little taste here of what Mitt Romney said today about Donald Trump and what he said about Donald Trump back in 2012.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Whatever happened to Trump airlines? How about Trump University? And then there's Trump magazine, and Trump vodka, and Trump steaks, and Trump mortgage. A business genius he is not.
Donald Trump has shown an extraordinary ability to understand how our economy works to create jobs for the American people. He's done it here in Nevada. He's done it across the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. That's pretty rough obviously Governor, to hear those two things put side by side. Is what Governor Romney said today going to change people's minds?
TIM PAWLENTY, 2012 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ENDORSED MARCO RUBIO: Erin, I don't think it's going to change people's minds. But I want to say a few other things, one is the core of what Mitt said today -- and I respect Mitt and I appreciate his efforts, but the core of what he said today was he called it into question Donald Trump's character. And there's a lot to call into question there. But look, the Trump supporters have already factored in Donald Trump's character. And so, that's not going to change much between now and March 15th. If you want to stop Trump, you've got to aggregate and get the support of the other parties of the party and bring people in. And that's the important part. The other thing about all this talk about the convention shenanigans and blocking this or blocking that, look as to the nomination, win it, lose it, but don't steal it. I don't think that would go over well. I think that would be a disaster to the party.
BURNETT: Hmm. And that's a reference to the reporting that we have here. Hogan, you just heard what Governor Pawlenty had to say. Right? He's a Rubio supporter. But he is saying, you don't want the voters to perceive that the election was somehow stolen, the nominee, was stolen by party leadership. And you just heard Jim Acosta reporting, Mitt Romney reportedly is trying to stop Donald Trump at the Republican convention this summer looking at a possible path to the nomination even for himself. How would that be for the party?
HOGAN GIDLEY, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, MIKE HUCKABEE, 2016 CAMPAIGN: Disastrous. I mean, you think people are upset now. It would be a political Jihad and take delegates away from the person who had the most. Look, Erin, I ran the numbers today. You take every state that's voted to this point and compare them to the exact same states in 2012. Donald Trump has about 3.3 million people who voted for him. Mitt Romney only had about 2.5 million which means 800,000 more people support Donald Trump in the same states than did Mitt Romney. And Donald Trump is facing a larger field and a much more well-funded field that Mitt Romney ever thought about facing.
What that means is, Mitt Romney's speech today wasn't deriding Donald Trump. It was mocking the American people. And the condescension and quite frankly the arrogance of telling voters that they haven't thought enough about this. That they need to think about this more is exactly why the insiders are on the outside this election. And the outsiders are running the show because they're sick and tired of being lied to. Their jobs are going overseas. They can't put food on the tables for their kids or clothes on their back. And that's the issue. And no one is addressing it. They're worried about their own pockets and their own establishment power. And that's what we're seeing the rejection of in this campaign so far.
BURNETT: Ryan, you just heard Hogan talked about Mitt Romney today saying that he was talking with condescension and arrogance. What do you say to that?
WILLIAMS: Look, I think Governor Romney -- he wasn't talking to the establishment, he wasn't talking to the 65 percent of GOP primary voters who voted against Donald Trump on Super Tuesday. He was talking to working Americans, working Americans who are listening to Donald Trump's message right now of being a hero for the middle class. And what the Governor laid out was, look, Donald Trump, his record is clear. This is a guy who has made millions of dollars, hosing working men and women in America, who has bankrupted companies. Four major bankruptcies. Who has shift jobs overseas. Who has not been a champion for working Americans. And that's the argument Governor Romney has laid forward. This guy is a fraud. He's trying to con working men in American, women in America right now. And somebody had to stand up and talk about it. And as a party elder, I think Governor Romney failed to compel to do so today.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much for your time tonight. Now, OUTFRONT next, Marco Rubio tearing into Donald Trump at the last debate. It didn't help with the polls on Super Tuesday. Will he try it again tonight?
Plus, the breaking news. The staffer who set up Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server has begun cooperating with the FBI tonight. We have the late breaking details.
[19:15:06] And the delegate crown jewel of Florida, Rubio maybe from there, but Donald Trump's ties are deep and lucrative in the sunshine state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're campaigning against a guy that has the worst voting record in the history of the state of Florida named Rubio. Got the worst record in the history of Florida. So, I don't know. I should do well there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:18:46] BURNETT: Tonight, the anti-Trump forces, an all-out push in the state of Florida. The Republican frontrunner fighting back reportedly buying ad time to counter the attack ads that are blanketing the state. Trump hoping a win in Florida will deliver a lethal blow to Marco Rubio's campaign. Rubio today picked up a big endorsement from one of the state's largest newspapers, "The Miami Herald." Will that matter though?
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
TRUMP: We're doing really well in Florida.
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trump's target, Florida, a crown jewel for the GOP frontrunner. Less than two weeks than the states winner take all primary. The anti-Trump movement is spending monstrous amounts of money targeting the billionaire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Former student say Trump University was a scam.
LAH: Flooding Florida this week a slew of coordinated attack ads from multiple Political Action Committees pouncing on his failed businesses like Trump University to this $1.5 million ad buy, an alleged business tactics. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump entrusted convicts to help him run his
LAH: And there's more. This add part of $1.75 million in ads paid for by the main group attacking Trump, the American Future Fund.
STUART ROY, AMERICAN FUTURE FUND SPOKESMAN: There is no doubt that we are again, we're on a compressed time frame and it is very urgent that we focus now. And to be in politics, you have to be optimistic. And we're optimistic that it's going to work.
LAH (on camera): You think people in Florida are going to buy that, the anti-Trump movement?
GIL DEZER, PRESIDENT, DEZER DEVELOPMENT: I don't see the negative noise -- it might fall onto just deaf ears because people here who are Trump fans are really Trump fans.
LAH (voice-over): That is why Gil Dezer believes the ad campaign will fail in Florida. Dezer is admittedly biased, business partners and friends with Trump for years. Dezer developed this high rises that carry the billionaire's name.
DEZER: OK. So, this project is called the Trump Grand. Trump Towers -- Trump Towers one, two, and three.
LAH: Towers that went up during the 2008 housing meltdown.
(on camera): Were you panicking during this time?
DEZER: You know what? There was a few sleepless nights but --
LAH (voice-over): Dezer he credits a Trump run for bringing in international investors and saving his Miami area properties. Not every Florida investment led to a windfall. But for decades, the state's skyline has grown with tens of millions of successful Trump brands. According to Federal Election Commission filings, Trump made 15.5 million at his Mar-a-Lago Resort. Fifty million at Trump National Doral. Marco Rubio maybe Florida's senator but the Republican establishment and the endorsement of the state's largest newspaper --
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have some states awaiting for me in the next few days, but then we're coming to Florida.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
LAH: But Trump's business partners say Trump is Florida's investor. Decades long work that supporters believe is more potent than any attack campaign and may payoff in two weeks.
(on camera): Do people in Florida really see Donald Trump as a local man, as somebody who is going to make a difference?
DEZER: I think he's a Florida guy as much as he is a New York guy.
LAH: That's one man's opinion. Latest Quinnipiac University poll does show that Trump is leading Rubio 44 percent to 28 percent. But here's an important number to note. In that very same poll 30 percent, 30 percent say that they haven't made up their minds yet. They could shift their opinion, shift which candidate they decide to support Florida very much in play. The Rubio camp continuing to say they believe their senator will win his home state -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Kyung Lah from Miami tonight.
OUTFRONT now, Marco Rubio's Communications Director Alex Conant. And Alex, I want to ask you about Florida, but I want to start with the breaking news this hour. Our Jim Acosta and Jamie Gangel reporting that Mitt Romney is having his aides look into the possibility of contesting the convention if Trump has the majority of delegates at the time and possibly looking at Mitt Romney as the nominee than for the GOP. What's Rubio reaction to that?
ALEX CONANT, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, MARCO RUBIO CAMPAIGN: I haven't heard those reports. I really don't have anything to add to that. Obviously, we have a long way to go before the convention in Cleveland, including as your report just said the primary in Florida next week, which we think is really going to be the beginning of a big momentum surge for Marco. After the Florida primary, the map gets much better for us. We're going to have a lot of money coming out for the win there. So, feel confident even though we had Super Tuesday was not the best night for Marco's campaign. We're looking forward to the Florida primary. We are still confident that we will have the required delegates going into Cleveland to win the nomination.
[19:23:16] BURNETT: And look, you say Super Tuesday was not the best night for your campaign. You're confident you're going to win Florida. But on Super Tuesday, right? You had Trump winning seven states, Rubio won, of course one Minnesota, but overall ending up in third place in most of the states. Seventeen percent of the delegates available that night actually going to Marco Rubio. How Alex do you go from third to first?
CONANT: Well, first look at the states that were voting on Tuesday. It's called the SEC primary because it is a lot of Southern states. These were states that Ted Cruz had guaranteed his supporters and donors that he would win. In many cases, he came in third. For example in Georgia where Marco Rubio beat Ted Cruz in Georgia just like we'd beat him in South Carolina. Just like we'd beat him in Nevada. So, we knew that it was going to be a challenging map on Tuesday. Our goal was to win as many delegates as we could. We did very well in the delegate front on Tuesday. Now we're well positioned. The states moving forward, they are going to look a lot more like Virginia, where Marco finished very strongly, strong in second place in Minnesota, which Minnesota won -- which Marco won. The states - look more like Minnesota in Virgina than Texas in Alabama where Ted Cruz and Donald Trump did well. BURNETT: So you see after Florida you're saying you see a path for
Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz was talking about Texas. He actually said he talked to his team and that they decided if he did not win Texas this past Tuesday, he would have dropped out. That would have been the end of the road for the Ted Cruz campaign. Is it the same way for Marco Rubio in Florida? If he loses, is he out?
CONANT: Well, we are going to win Florida. You can bank on it. There's been no talk because we're going to win Florida. And I understand why Ted Cruz's campaign would say that. Look, even though he won Texas, it's not clear where he goes from here. The map gets dramatically worse as the primary contests move to the Upper Midwest, to the Northeast and out west.
Those are not good states for Ted Cruz. They're very good for states for Marco Rubio when you look at where we've been doing well. Be it in the urban areas, in Northern Virginia, Minnesota of course and Florida, we're posed to have a victory in less than two weeks. If you look at Minnesota, Virginia, Florida, states where Rubio is going to do well and the rest of the map, we feel very confident about where we are tonight knowing that we have a long way to go to the convention in Cleveland.
BURNETT: Alex Conant, good to talk to you again. I appreciate it.
CONANT: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, I want to go to our senior political analyst David Gergen. David, you just heard Alex Conant, when I asked him the question if, would Rubio would get out if he doesn't win Florida, he paused for just a second and he said, look, you can bank on it, we're going to win Florida. What do you say?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I wouldn't bank on it. Listen, he may win Florida. He has, you know, he has got a lot of popularity there. And he's going to have this massive amount of money pouring against Trump. But Erin, the climb there is very steep. I mean, he starts out -- the average in the polls is he is about 18 to 19 points behind Trump. You have also got a situation where a lot of Bush people are there who have come to hate Marco Rubio.
They think he betrayed their candidate. They think that Jeb ought to be the guy winning Florida right now and he's out because of Marco Rubio. It's also true that Trump has got a lot of strength there. So, you know, this whole Romney thing, that may well backfire. And we'll see in the next few days. But the way this was done, and especially this report he's maybe now maneuvering with the Republican National Committee that you just had on and so he can get the nomination himself, that undercuts -- it was a very powerful speech by Romney, but he was a wrong messenger and they may have well have come at the wrong time.
BURNETT: You know, David, Marco Rubio's tone changed last week's debate, personal attacks started. He started in on Donald Trump. And he has continued over the past week. Just here's a quick snippet for anyone who hasn't heard some of his best hits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: Have you seen his hands? They're like this. And you know what they say about men with small hands. He doesn't sweat because his pores are clogged from the spay tan that he uses. Donald is not going to make America great. He's going to make America orange.
Then he asked for a full length mirror. I don't know why because the podium goes up to here but he wanted a full length mirror. Maybe to make sure his pants weren't wet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Trying to out-trump Trump. Is that tone going to help? Is that attractive coming from Marco Rubio to voters?
GERGEN: It didn't help him last week going into to Super Tuesday. It may have helped in some pockets such as Northern Virginia where, you know, the closing days a lot of people did come over to Marco Rubio. But it's general in my proposition, it didn't. I think he's got to have something fresh to say tonight. He's got to come at it a different way. There is that letter out there by a large number of National Security folks who works for Republican presidents saying Trump is the wrong guy.
He has got to bring it up some fresh things and make his point -- he has to do it with more humor. But the bottom-line is, if he loses Florida, he's out. He's not only out in this run. He's out for getting the vice presidential nod. Donald Trump will never going to put him on the ticket if he wins the nomination. And I don't think Marco Rubio would be the alternative if it ever got to a brokered convention. He's got to win Florida.
[19:28:17] BURNETT: All right. David Gergen, thank you. He'll be back with us of course later this hour.
GERGEN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, the GOP debate down to four candidates tonight. Could it be the last night on stage for one of them?
And breaking news, a late development in the FBI's probe into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail account.
[19:32:29] BURNETT: At this moment, the Republican presidential candidates are in final preparation for tonight's primetime debate.
Front runner Donald Trump says he's ready.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you have incoming and you can't be too presidential, right? They said act presidential tonight. I said, I'll act presidential, but if somebody hits me, I'm going to hit them back harder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Will Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or John Kasich be able to take on Donald Trump tonight?
Sara Murray is OUTFRONT live at the debate site in Detroit, Michigan.
And, Sara, this is the smallest debate stage so far. We have just heard Trump say he'll be presidential, but he'll fight back harder than what gets thrown at him.
Do you expect attacks from Cruz and Rubio like last week?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Oh, Erin, I think absolutely. I think the time is over where Cruz and Rubio thought they were just running against just each other and Donald Trump was something to deal with later. They know they need to deal with Donald Trump now and over the last couple of days, we've seen them foreshadowing some of these attacks. We've heard Marco Rubio going after Trump University, which, of course, is facing a fraud case, going after some of Donald Trump's business deals.
We've seen Ted Cruz questioning whether Donald Trump says one thing in public on immigration and another thing in private. And I think we can definitely expect all of that to come out on the debate stage.
I think this is especially true for Marco Rubio. He knows Florida is just ahead and Donald Trump has made it clear he wants to win that state. He wants to knock off Marco Rubio once and for all. So, I think we're going to see a very heated debate stage tonight -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much, from the debate site in Michigan.
And OUTFRONT now, Republican congressman from Virginia, Scott Rigell. He has endorsed Marco Rubio. And the former Reagan White House political director, Jeffrey Lord, a Donald Trump supporter.
Congressman, let me start you. You have said point blank, you will never support Donald Trump, even if he is the nominee. Is there anything, anything he could say tonight that would change your mind?
REP. SCOTT RIGELL (R), VIRGINIA: Well, no. The candidate's own words indict him as I see it. He's talked about killing the families of terrorists.
See, I represent the district that has the highest concentration of men and women in uniform in the country. I think about them and their families every day. And who is equipped to lead our troops if we need to go into combat?
And this idea that we would kill the families of terrorists, it's against international law. It's not who we are as American people. It's a reckless statement for him to make and he doubles down on it and says, "Well, I'm a leader," implying U.S. troops would execute that order.
Look, as a young marine, I would have not have executed that order. I think he's disqualified himself.
Look at what he said about Mexico. I think he thinks he's going to bend the will of a foreign nation to build and then pay for a wall.
[19:35:04] And, Erin, let me say, I get the frustration with where we're headed as a country. It caused me for the first time in my life to seek an elected office. I came up here to take a gavel away from Nancy Pelosi. I mean, it was everything I could do to run for 17 months. I get it.
The more I looked at Donald Trump, the more I examined who he is and what he believes, I think he is the antithesis of who we are as American people and who we are in the Republican Party. The more I know about Donald Trump, the less I trust him, and I would not want him as a commander in chief for the United States Armed Forces.
BURNETT: Jeff, that's a pretty damning assessment you've just heard from a sitting congressman. No way, in any situation will he vote for Donald Trump.
Could someone like Congressman Rigell cost the GOP the election?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, it's always possible.
And let me just say that -- I mean, I respect the congressman's service and all that kind of thing. Very important. And thank you.
But I must say that what you're hearing from the congressman is the kind of thing that comes from Republicans, establishment Republicans, all of the time. I just wanted -- in light of Mitt Romney's speech today, I wanted to hold up this book. This is "The Making of the President, 1964." And I'll read you two sentences, or once sentence.
"Governor George Romney of Michigan, Mitt's father, June of 1964 when Barry Goldwater was closing in on the Republican nomination, held a press conference and said, 'If Barry Goldwater's views deviated as indicated from the heritage of our party, I will do everything in my power to keep him from becoming the party's presidential candidate.'"
Not only did he do that, and he failed, he then went on to refuse to endorse Barry Goldwater for president in 1964. He never joined any time when Goldwater came onto the ticket into the state.
This is what establishment politicians do. They do it all the time. They demand party unity on the one hand, but if they lose, they pick up their marbles and they go home.
BURNETT: Congressman, what do you say to that, especially with the reporting that we have tonight that Mitt Romney is looking at contesting the convention so that he himself might be the nominee and not Donald Trump? RIGELL: Jeff is talking about 1964 and Mitt Romney's father. I'm
talking about what Donald Trump has said in the last week. He -- everything he said in terms of disavow any association or support of David Duke, I mean that was -- he stumbled all over that.
LORD: Come on, come on.
RIGELL: He said that he admires Putin and that he quotes Mussolini. He doesn't back off of that.
And with respect to what should have been done at the convention, anything and everything that is fully consistent with the bylaws of the Republican Party should be used I think to stop him because he is not a Republican.
Look, again, I understand the anger.
BURNETT: Let me make sure I understand. Would you support a contested convention if Donald Trump has close to the number of delegates to secure the nomination, but not quite? If it is in that gray area that would divide the party for a long time, would you still support a contested convention?
RIGELL: Well, I think our bylaws are well written such that we wouldn't have the confusion that I think you've just indicated that we would have.
I'm certainly not advocating for anything that circumvents our own bylaws. In fact, it's that kind of thing that Donald Trump has been saying, especially with the use of military force, I think has disqualified him to lead our young men and women as our commander in chief.
I really believe it would be one of the most reckless presidencies that we've had. I think he's the most prone to get us in a conflict with a foreign country.
When Jeff implies that I'm part of the establishment, he does not know me. He does not know why I ran. I voted against John Boehner. I'm an entrepreneur businessman, all right, Jeff?
I set aside everything to run for this office to take a gavel out of Nancy Pelosi's hands because I was convinced she was bankrupting my country and putting my children and grandchildren at risk.
BURNETT: OK. Jeff?
LORD: OK. But let me ask you, Congressman, are you going to support Donald Trump if he wins the nomination?
RIGELL: I cannot in good conscience for the reasons I've stated. I think --
LORD: There you go. There you go. (CROSSTALK)
RIGELL: Exactly. Here we go, because I think he is not -- look, if you look at his checkbooks, he is so proud of the contributions -- look at checkbook who's given to, Jeff, he's not -- he's proud of who he has given to and they're Democrats.
BURNETT: So, Congressman, would you support -- to the point you won't vote for Donald Trump, would you be OK with Hillary Clinton is president as a Republican?
RIGELL: For the first time in my life, it aggrieves me to be in this condition and this situation, but I cannot in good conscience, I will never vote for Hillary Clinton because of the structural flaws in her character --
LORD: But you will elect her.
RIGELL: No, I could not vote for your candidate, because I'm convinced that his reckless statements like saying he's going to take out the families -- what are families? Families are women and children, OK? That's what families are.
So, he's not only going to take out the terrorists, which I support, but he's going to take out the women and children of terrorists.
[19:40:05] This is not who we are as American people. It's type of public policy that will put us at risk as a nation.
LORD: So, in other words, when Franklin Roosevelt massively bombed Germany and killed the families of Nazi leaders and when Harry Truman dropped atomic bombs on Japan and killed the families of Japanese leaders, those two presidents are war criminal is what you're saying?
RIGELL: Erin, I hope you give us the time to finish this debate because this is a serious point.
BURNETT: Well, go ahead and respond, Congressman.
RIGELL: Well, what he didn't say, what Donald Trump didn't say was if I had to, if the moral high ground was to take out the terrorists and I did everything I could to avoid collateral damage, but I knew that are people in that house, that the moral high ground was to take the house out, we weren't sure -- look, American president has struggled with that question. It's a difficult one.
We're not dealing with World War II, with weapons of mass destruction. Our targets are now are more tactical. They're more individualized. We have gotten better at it in that respect.
But this categorically -- he's saying this is different. This is different, Jeff. He's saying the categorical taking out of families.
This is the antithesis of who we are as American people. And I will not --
RIGELL: -- massacre in Vietnam. That's the kind of thing that gives our young men and women who are serving in this country's uniform -- that sends the wrong signal that we are cowboys. We're gun slingers and we're tough guys.
And that's what happens with Republican candidates. I've seen it generally. We start talking tough --
BURNETT: Final word to you, Jeff, to respond.
LORD: Well, you know, all I can say is this reminds me also of 1980 when Ronald Reagan was called a cowboy. He was called a cowboy. That he was reckless. He was going to get us into a war.
That he had no business being a commander and chief. He wasn't qualified for the job. So, again, I've heard this kind of thing before. This is what happens.
Whether the congressman knows it or not, he is repeating these kind of talking points from establishment's past. That's just fact.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you.
RIGELL: Ronald Reagan never said he would take out the family of terrorists, never, and nor would he.
BURNETT: Thank you both very much.
I appreciate it.
And OUTFRONT next: breaking news, new developments tonight into the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal and it could throw her campaign a curveball.
[19:45:58] BURNETT: Breaking news in the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe tonight. CNN learning that Bryan Pagliano, the former staffer who helped set up her private server, has been granted immunity by the Justice Department and is cooperating with the FBI.
Our Justice reporter Evan Perez broke the story.
And, Evan, what are you learning tonight?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Erin, we know that the cooperation has already begun. We know Pagliano has already sat down for one interview with the FBI.
And under the terms of this cooperation agreement that he has signed with the Justice Department, immunity agreement, he has agreed essentially to come in for any other interviews that the FBI wants. He's also turned over documents related to the setting up of this server.
What the FBI really wants to know is really what happened at the time when the server was set up back in 2009. Were there any discussions about the security and the fact that this private e-mail setup was going to be handling sensitive government business, Erin?
BURNETT: All right. What happens from here, Evan? The question is when are we going to know everything that there is to know. To know if this is continuing in terms of the probe? When are we going to know if we're ever going to see the personal emails that Clinton deleted because she says they were indeed personal -- related to personal matters? What is the timeline?
PEREZ: Well, the FBI certainly, they say they don't have a timeline, simply because they don't believe that they can prejudge what this investigation is going to find out.
The one thing, Erin, that you never want to is let the FBI starting rooting around your private business. We know that there's some estimates out there that perhaps this could be done by May. "The New York Times" is reporting that.
I can tell you that one of the things that happens with FBI investigations, it all depends on what they find. They've done the review of these 30,000 e-mails that have been released already. And some of them have found classified information on this. So, that's the focus of this investigation now to determine whether a crime was committed in setting up this server.
BURNETT: All right, Evan. Thank you very much.
And the Democratic presidential debate next one right here on CNN. It is Sunday night at 8:00, and we will have your post-debate analysis.
OUTFRONT next, as the GOP candidates get ready for another debate night, one fatal flaw could end a campaign for good. Our CNN special report next.
[19:52:13] BURNETT: Right now, the Republican candidates getting ready for another debate. As we know, one bad night can destroy a campaign. That's just part of what you'll see on Sunday's episode of "THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE", our look at America's most dramatic presidential elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They asked if they want makeup and Jack Kennedy says no. And Nixon wants to be manly says, well, I don't need it either. Meanwhile, Kennedy goes back and gets some Max Factor applied to him, and Nixon sends somebody down to Michigan avenue to buy some hideous thing called shave stick. Which he rubs on him like gray grease across this face.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nixon was pacing around the studio. He was asking people questions.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think I better shave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it was past time for all of those questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Studio, 30 seconds to air.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kennedy did not present himself until he was fully ready. He wasn't going to stand around with Richard Nixon and chat before the main event. He was going to come in like the prize fighter he was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Nixon made every mistake he could think of in that debate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at the faces of the two candidates in this debate. And ask yourself who is presidential? And who is scared?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The contrast is dramatic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: David Gergen worked for Richard Nixon as a speechwriter, went on to work for three more presidents of both parties.
I mean, this has to bring back memories when you look at this. Finally, the back story of the ultimate sweating story of all time. Shave stick. Pretty stunning.
You know, the big debate tonight, you still see echoes of this, right? The whole past week we've heard Donald Trump and Marco Rubio yelling about who needed more makeup last week.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you certainly do but there was a lot of crafty innocence that Nixon/Kennedy debate. What was really interesting, of course, that first debate -- which did decide the election according to many historians, was that the people who listened to the debate on the radio which had been the medium of the past, thought Nixon had won. He made the better argument.
But people who watched on television thought Kennedy won because he was the TV candidate of his age. He was the first one to really understand the power of television. After it was all over, Kennedy told his press secretary Pierre Salinger, he pointed to televise and said, Pierre, we won the election because of that. And it was absolutely true.
BURNETT: Which is pretty stunning, I guess, when you look at a new medium that transforms things. Maybe this time, that medium is Twitter and whether Donald Trump -- GERGEN: That's right. Look how Donald Trump is using Twitter.
[19:55:03] Yes, well, look how Donald Trump is using Twitter as he does. The call-ins he makes. You know, he's been a master of that.
But a lot of things have changed. We've gone from the age in 1960, of Walker Cronkite and Teddy White, to the age of John Oliver and "Saturday Night Live." It's a big, big change culturally.
BURNETT: It is. All right. Well, thank you very much, David Gergen. And "THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE" premiered Sunday night at 10:00 Eastern.
Next, an American astronaut who just returned from space not just standing tall but taller. We'll be back.
BURNETT: American Astronaut Scott Kelly is back after a 340-day mission aboard the international space station. Did you know that the spine elongates in space because of gravity?
So, according to NASA, Kelly grew two inches while he was on the ISS. But it's temporary. When you come back, gravity takes hold fast.
Scott Kelly's identical twin brother Mark Kelly just e-mailed me this hour to tell me they're back to the same height, went back-to-back last night an hour after he landed. In an hour? Whoa.
We're going to have much more on the science behind this stunning story tomorrow because it really is absolutely incredible. That's tomorrow night. Thanks for joining us tonight.
Be sure to set your DVR. You can record OUTFRONT and watch our show at any time. I'll see you back here tomorrow. Have a wonderful night.
"AC360" starts right now.