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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Saturday Night Election Coverage; First GOP Contests Since Romeny's Attack on Trump; Trump Speaks in West Palm Beach. Aired 10- 11p ET

Aired March 5, 2016 - 22:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:02:38] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's Super Saturday, seven contests in five states. It's a critical point in the campaign for both parties, but especially for Republicans, whose race has turned into an all-out brawl.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, coming to you live from the CNN elections center.

There are big wins on both sides tonight, the first votes since Mitt Romney appealed to the GOP to basically dump Donald Trump. Ted Cruz has risen to the challenge. Cruz has won his party's caucuses in Maine, topping Trump there by a wide margin. Very big turnout in Maine as well as in Kansas, where he tallied more than twice the number of votes as Donald Trump.

However, it's a very different story in the delegate-rich Louisiana primary, where Donald Trump has just won there very easily. Trump right now also ahead in Kentucky, where the count, though, continues.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has won big in Louisiana, the state with the night's biggest delegate haul. She's continued her dominance of Bernie Sanders in the South, but Sanders is not letting Clinton put this race away. He has won the caucuses in Nebraska and Kansas. And both candidates can claim momentum heading into the next round of elections in the days and weeks ahead.

I want to go to CNN's Jim Acosta. He's in West Palm Beach, Florida, where Trump is going to be making a statement fairly soon.

You're there at the Trump International Country Club.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

BLITZER: Give us a scene-setter for now. We saw Trump a little while ago, but then he left. I assume he's waiting for the Kentucky results to come in.

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. We're waiting on Donald Trump, and apparently, he's waiting on us. He walked into this room a few moments ago, walked up to a couple of reporters, asked them if the results from Kentucky were in. The answer was no, and he says, well, it looks like we're going to win the two big ones tonight, referring to Kentucky and Louisiana.

So, they're feeling confident that when the results come in from Kentucky that he will be the person that won that state, Wolf.

But it is worth mentioning that Louisiana, where that state's former governor, Bobby Jindal, was one of the first mainstream Republicans to attack Donald Trump very early on in this process, Donald Trump winning his state big time tonight. We are inside the so-called press conference that's going to take place here, but we should point out, the seven rows that are in front of us -- this is the press section right here -- the seven rows in front of us are filled with supporters.

So, this is half election watch party, half press conference, Wolf.

[22:05:03] And I imagine that when Donald Trump walks into this room, he's going to cast this as a good night for him, not a terrific night, not a sweep across the Super Saturday states, but a good night nonetheless, and continues the momentum for his campaign. They feel like the state of Florida, where we are here tonight, is going to be critical in a couple of weeks. It's basically do or die, according to one Trump official I talked to earlier this evening, do or die for Marco Rubio. If he doesn't win this state, he's out -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We're still waiting for Kentucky. Trump is ahead, but we haven't been able to make a projection yet, and that's presumably why he hasn't is waiting to speak to reporters in West Palm.

Cruz has won in Kansas, Cruz won in Maine, Trump wins in Louisiana and we're still, Dana, waiting for Kentucky.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And looking at these numbers coming in, 38 percent for Trump and Cruz is at 32 percent. And, you know, there is no question for anybody, but especially someone like Donald Trump, who thrives on winning -- that's part of his message, part of his campaign platform is winning -- the ability to come out and say I didn't just win in Louisiana but in Kentucky, which he's hoping he can say, the two most delegate-rich states of the night.

I mean, why not wait?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right, no. Just totally wise for him to wait to see what those results are. It's interesting. This is now the second or maybe third time that we've seen Donald Trump hold a press conference, or as Jim Acosta was saying, a sort of hybrid supporter/press conference.

But that is because Donald Trump always seems to use his news conferences to be able to dominate the next day's narrative as best he possibly can -- whether that's sort of going after an opponent, which he may do with Ted Cruz tonight because Ted had a really good night tonight, but he's able to shape the narrative probably more successfully than any presidential candidate I've ever seen. And waiting for the results so that he can shape the narrative as best he can --

BASH: Exactly.

CHALIAN: -- probably makes sense for him.

Listen, Wolf was just talking about Florida and Ohio down the stretch as well. Jim was mentioning that, too. We're in a ten-day period where it's going to be intense campaigning. We do have contests on Tuesday in Michigan, Idaho and Mississippi, but we're in a bit of a holding pattern --

BASH: Until March 15th.

CHALIAN: -- until March 15th right now in this race. It's going to be such a critical night in this race, because not only do some of these states go winner take all, but these two huge home states that are also two huge general election battleground states in Florida and Ohio, are going to dictate how the rest of the Republican contest plays out.

BASH: And if not for that big day, especially for Marco Rubio, there would be a lot more talk about how poorly he has done so far tonight. Not even registering in a couple of these states.

So, it has not been a good night for Marco Rubio. But as David said, in some ways, there's a bit of a pass until he gets to March 15th.

BLITZER: Similarly for John Kasich. Hasn't been a good day for John Kasich, either.

BASH: No.

BLITZER: But both of these men presumably going to stay until their home states vote on March 15th, winner take all in Florida and Ohio.

All right. We're waiting for Donald Trump to come out. He's probably waiting for us to make a projection on Kentucky. That's the only battle that still remains outstanding.

We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:11:57] BLITZER: Once again, Donald Trump will be making a statement in West Palm beach. You're looking at live pictures. Folks there are waiting for Donald Trump. He presumably is waiting for the Kentucky results to come in.

Let's update you on what's going on in the Republican caucuses in Kentucky right now. Here's a key race alert. Almost half of the vote is in. Trump is ahead 38.1 percent to Ted Cruz 32 percent, Rubio and Kasich distantly fighting for third place, 14.2 percent for Rubio, 13.8 percent for John Kasich.

Forty-five percent of the vote is in. Let's go over to John King, take a closer look at Kentucky right now.

Apparently, some of the biggest counties have not yet been able to report anything so far, is that the problem?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is the problem. That's why we're being careful. When it does come in, this number will jump pretty quickly because 17 percent of the state population is right here in Jefferson County, Louisville, and the suburbs to the east.

We have nothing. So, you obviously need to wait. It's one of the largest banks of votes in the state.

In the general election, it's one of the few places that goes Democrat in November, but tonight in Republican caucus night in Kentucky, although it worked kind of like a primary, but a caucus today, we have to wait until this one comes in.

Let's come up here in the Cincinnati suburbs up here, Ted Cruz has done quite well. You see the competition. Kasich actually fighting for third place in the suburbs up here with Rubio down below. Ohio right here. The governor, Kasich's the governor from up here. He's fighting for third place down here.

But this -- Cruz holding on because of his support in the suburbs outside of Cincinnati, but we're missing Jefferson County completely at the moment. I keep touching, I hope we'll see votes pop in.

And we come over here to Fayette County, as well, the Lexington area, we have zero votes. So, there we go. We just got a little bit of votes. Fayette County came in for Ted Cruz at 29 percent.

Let's see what that did to the statewide results when you pop it up. Cruz inches closer, 36 percent to 32 percent. So, as those results jumped in, swinging back to look at the numbers again, a healthy margin, but just cut a little over 1,000 votes there. Not even 1,000 votes there.

So, Ted Cruz picks up some votes there to make up the difference statewide, he's going to need a bigger margin. Ted Cruz would have to pop up in Jefferson County as well. Let's watch them come in. We're up to 52 percent.

When Louisville comes in, that will jump up quite a bit. Most of the other stuff is pretty small. Pulaski County, more than half of the state population. So, we're just essentially waiting right now, and the Louisville area comes in, we'll have a much better sense whether Trump can hold on to that lead.

BLITZER: It's the last contest we're awaiting results on. Right now 52 percent of the vote is in, Trump is ahead, 36.2 percent.

Cruz has won Kansas, Cruz won Maine. Earlier, Donald Trump won Louisiana.

We're waiting for Kentucky. We're also waiting to hear from Donald Trump. We'll have live coverage of his remarks. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:18:21] BLITZER: Let me update you on where we stand right now. Take a look at this. So far, the winners. Let's start off in Kansas.

Ted Cruz is the winner in Kansas. You can see it there. 100 percent of the vote is in. He got 48.2 percent, Trump got 23 percent, Marco Rubio in third place with 16.7 percent. That's Kansas.

Let's move on. In Maine, Cruz wins as well, 100 percent of the vote is in. He got 45.9 percent, Trump 32.6 percent, Kasich 12.2 percent. Ted Cruz the winner in Maine.

In Louisiana, 40 percent of the vote is in. We've projected Donald Trump is the winner. He's got 42.6 percent right now. Ted Cruz 36.4 percent. Marco Rubio 11.8 percent. Forty-six delegates at stake. We've projected Donald Trump is the winner in Louisiana.

Let's go to the Democratic side right now. In Kansas, 100 percent of the vote is in. Bernie Sanders we've projected is the winner. He is the winner with 67.7 percent. Hillary Clinton 32.3 percent. A very impressive lopsided win for Bernie Sanders.

In Nebraska, Bernie Sanders is the winner, we've projected. Seventy- nine percent of vote is in. Right now he's got 55.1 percent. Hillary Clinton 44.9 percent. Bernie Sanders, another win in Nebraska.

In Louisiana, almost half of the vote is in. We've projected Hillary Clinton is the winner, a lopsided win over Bernie Sanders. Right now, she has 70.9 percent, Bernie Sanders 22.4 percent. A very impressive win in the only primary of the night in Louisiana.

Right now, we're standing by to hear from Donald Trump. He's getting ready to speak in West Palm Beach. Once he speaks, we'll, of course, have live coverage.

[22:20:00] I think he's waiting for the results to come in from Kentucky right now. Seventy percent of the vote in Kentucky is now in. It's just been updated.

Donald Trump is ahead with 34.9 percent. Ted Cruz is in second place, 30.8 percent. Rubio in third with 17.3 percent, Kasich with 15.3 percent.

Seventy percent of the vote is in. Trump has the lead over Cruz by 704 votes. We'll see what happens in Kentucky. That's the only outstanding contest of the night.

Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Wolf.

With the benefit of having heard your voice for some seven hours now, might I say that nobody conveys the importance of these proceedings the way you do. And the reason that we are waiting on Kentucky is we don't have any results from Louisville. And with such a big population center out, we'll have to wait.

And while we do, we can talk about something that is of equal importance tonight to who is going to win, which is, who has certainly lost tonight. We have not heard the name Marco Rubio in a positive way all night long.

His distinction, Ron Brownstein, may be that he may lead the night in not meeting the threshold levels in different states. Are you surprised and why?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ted Cruz is certainly separated I think from Marco Rubio tonight. I think there's no question about that. And I think for Marco Rubio, his problem has been he's been a little bit of everything and not enough of anything throughout this race.

I mean, his idea from the start has been to be acceptable to all factions in the Republican Party. And to some extent, he has had a broad appeal, but it's been shallow. He really has not gone deep anywhere.

The best performance for him has been some of the white-collar, higher income suburbs. Didn't pan out in Kansas. I guess we're waiting to see in Louisville. But it just hasn't been a concentration.

He reminds me -- the candidate he reminds me of the most is Lamar Alexander in 1996, who finished second and third in a lot of places, but could never get a critical mass of support anywhere to win and that's where Rubio is kind of stuck.

CUOMO: Smerconish, argue why it doesn't matter what Ron Brownstein just said, because the party needs him to stay in. They want him to make it to a convention.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he needs to stay in to win on the 15th so as to deny Donald Trump getting to 1,237, just as we said at the outset. I'm keeping an eye on that margin as it draws narrower in Louisiana. Assuming that Trump holds on, as we've projected, the night ends, I think, with both he and Hillary in the same position of strength as we began the night.

A lot of fun, a lot of ups and downs, but I think the net-net of where the night ends looks like where it was when we began.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's not -- Marco Rubio I think has moved down a notch. And the question that have, really, is why? And was it a result of him attacking Donald Trump the way he attacked Donald Trump at that debate?

SMERCONISH: Or Chris Christie's influence --

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. Christie decked him -- that's what it was.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Did the trajectory go down starting with the Chris Christie attack?

PAUL: I think so, yes.

BORGER: And then did Marco Rubio add to it with his own attacks on Donald Trump? We don't really know the answer to that.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And he pulled out of Baton Rouge. He was supposed to have this big rally in Louisiana. He pulled out. He canceled that. A lot of Republicans there thought that was in some ways throwing in the towel.

CUOMO: But Rubio had a resurgence after the Chris Christie event, and many people said that he finally did what needed to be done with Donald Trump in the debates.

BEGALA: You know, everybody likes him except the voters.

BORGER: Right.

BEGALA: You know? That's his problem.

Looks like the groom on a wedding cake. He's just perfect, from central casting, but the voters don't like him.

CUOMO: Donald Trump says he's the same size, also.

BEGALA: I don't mean that. Just attractive, he is -- Jeffrey said this, the perfect dog food, except the dog won't eat him.

CUOMO: Is there a finesse point on what Rubio did in attacking Cruz, and maybe that hurts him, the hand stuff? Is it the hand stuff, plus Jeffrey Lord, him not making a case for why he's better than Donald Trump?

He stepped up his game in terms of why Donald Trump is a bad person, perhaps, but he's not telling voters, let alone Trump supporters, vote for me because I'm offering you this, which is better than to what Trump's offering?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There was no real message. And Marco Rubio is a nice-looking good, he's a nice-looking, young guy. And I think, honestly, that this worked against him in the end, when he's standing right next to Donald Trump, who looks the older, mature guy, and then he does the stuff with the hands and all that, when Rubio does this, it makes him look like a kid.

I mean, I would get e-mails from people out there saying he reminds me of my kid on a soccer field.

CUOMO: Sarah Elizabeth's head I think is about to fall off from shaking left to right. You disagree on several levels. Unpack them.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes. Marco Rubio for a very long time, maybe an excruciatingly long time, was running a campaign based on messages and platforms and policies, and that just wasn't breaking through. So, I think what actually happened was Marco Rubio ended up doing a yeoman's job, I mean, the dirty work of the party.

[22:25:07] And I don't think he meant to fall on his sword to do it, but it has benefited Cruz more than Rubio himself.

CUOMO: Do you think he inadvertently pulled a Christie? Which is what my think that, it was a murder-suicide, right?

(CROSSTALK)

CUPP: Chris Christie's no longer in this race, and I can't find a person who thinks that Chris Christie came out of this race better than he --

CUOMO: No, but the way he went after Marco Rubio that many people said --

LORD: The expression, that he was too young and not ready, immature.

CUPP: But then he dropped out. I don't think Rubio's intention was to mess this up and then go away.

CUOMO: Agreed. Agreed.

CUPP: I think he thought he'd benefit from it and I think actually Ted --

(CROSSTALK)

SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He was trying to look like a serious candidate and then he took a sort of juvenile tact and it didn't work.

And, you know, look -- but S.E. is right. The other point is, he tried to run on substance. This wasn't a substantive race. It wasn't his message ultimately. No one has a message, no one has a point, no one has a policy platform.

They haven't offered any solutions to any of the American people, and we're about to elect one of these two candidates on the Republican side who have very dangerous views and they haven't actually surfaced in the details of them.

CUOMO: Did he stop doing it at just the right time?

BORGER: Maybe.

CUOMO: Because if you think about it, there's been a little bit of a confluence here. He went after Trump, but then the party and the elders of the party all started to go after Trump for legitimacy reasons.

BORGER: Right.

CUOMO: Did Marco Rubio stop saying substantive things at exactly the wrong time?

BORGER: Well, maybe, maybe. And maybe he'll switch that now.

CUOMO: So, why isn't that benefiting Kasich, you know what I mean, because he never stopped?

BORGER: It might, it might. Well, you don't know what the polls -- Kasich really wasn't playing here, honestly, and you don't what the polls are going to be in Michigan, or I mean, was the election's going to be in Michigan or Ohio.

What I'd have to say about Rubio is that his people are convinced that they can go to the convention. We'll see what happens in Florida. I think if he comes in behind Cruz in Florida, let's just say, and that's a --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, ouch.

BORGER: Yes, that's right. Ouch is right. They believe that they can go all the way to the convention.

BROWNSTEIN: It's all been a strategic miscalculation from the beginning for Rubio. The voters who are most available for him are the mainstream conservative, white-collar Republicans who have been most resistive to Trump from the beginning and has always been several clicks to the right with the assumption that in the end they would have nowhere to go but to him, and if he could focus on cannibalizing the Trump vote, and Virginia was his hill. He didn't get far enough.

CUOMO: Let's take a quick break, because we are in the unique position. We are waiting on Donald Trump, and he is waiting on us to see what happens in the final race of the night. We'll take a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:31:35] BLITZER: We've get a key race alert on the only outstanding contest of the night. We're talking about Kentucky right now.

Take a look at this, very close. Donald Trump is at 34.6 percent, Ted Cruz in second place, 31 percent. He's got a lead of 5,314 over Ted Cruz, 73 percent of the vote is in. So, we're going to wait to see how that shapes up.

Close in Kentucky right now. Trump slightly ahead of Ted Cruz, at least for now.

We're waiting to hear from Trump. He's probably waiting to see what the results are in Kentucky before he goes out and speaks.

I want to walk over to John King over at the magic wall. John, more of the numbers, more of the vote coming in from Kentucky, but still there's a quarter of the vote outstanding.

KING: A quarter of the vote outstanding, and almost all of it in very small, rural counties. We've been waiting all night long to get Jefferson County, the largest in the state, Louisville in the suburbs, 17 percent of the population. A hundred percent of it, it all came in at once and you Donald Trump won, a narrow victory, but by a decent chunk of votes there.

This is what's holding up. It's very close if you look at all these candidates. I just want to bring, Governor Kasich is fourth down there. Three candidates fit on the screen, so, he doesn't fit on the screen.

If you pull it down and look, Cruz wins narrowly, by a four-point margin in the Lexington area, Fayette County. Trump wins narrowly, a smaller margin in Jefferson County, this is by far the largest county. You look now, the Cincinnati suburbs are in, strong performance by Ted Cruz up here. They're relatively close margins, but Cruz winning one, two, three of the counties just south of Cincinnati into the state of Kentucky, the commonwealth of Kentucky.

Then we go across and look right now. So, you're looking what's out, right? If you look down here, you see a trend? Donald Trump seems to be winning most of the counties down this way. You take a peek at what's out, they're tiny. So, they're less than 1 percent of the state's population. Going to the county next door.

Here's what we're talking about, when these voters come in from these counties. Several hundred, maybe 1,000 votes we're looking for in these counties, and Ted Cruz winning in the southwestern corner of the state, you see by a decent margin in Marshall County. So you move over and look and you're waiting for these to come in.

So, if you look, pull out statewide, right now a little more than a 3- point lead, 3.5-point lead. The major population centers are in, so you have to wait and count them. If you look at the map, as it fills in as it looks, Cruz winning over here, Trump winning over here, then you get to a narrow Trump win, but you never know. Sometimes you get a surprise.

BLITZER: That's why we're waiting, 73 percent of the vote is in. Let's wait and see how the votes come out.

Chris, back to you.

CUOMO: All right. Wolf, so let's play the possibilities.

Let's say Cruz comes back and he winds up winning in the state. What's the difference?

BROWNSTEIN: Then you have a story that, in fact, there is a bump in the road for Donald Trump, I think.

CUOMO: Why does that qualify as a bump but not the other decisions?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, because I think -- first of all, because we don't have exit polls, we don't know what happened with late deciders, so it's hard to know exactly how the, you know, tumultuous events of the past week, starting with the KKK and going through the debate and the hands and all that, we don't know how that played out.

But certainly, if Donald Trump -- both Louisiana and Kentucky are states where Ted Cruz intrinsically should be competitive. They're heavy evangelical states and Rick Santorum won Louisiana. So, it's not a shock, but nonetheless --

CUOMO: You think it's a bigger story if Trump beats Cruz in Louisiana, but not Cruz beats Trump?

BROWNSTEIN: I think it's a bigger story, but Cruz not maximizing the states where he's strong and now facing a less forgiving calendar as he goes further.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: The interesting thing about Louisiana is that if there is a big difference between those two voted early and those who are voting today, it might encourage people who are for Ted Cruz to say, wait a minute, after the last debate, people were changing their minds a little bit, and that's why this is so important. I mean, it's just anecdotal at this point, but we don't know.

CUOMO: Let's make a suggestion the other day, though, I'll make it to you, Jeffrey, because this will be harder for you to answer -- if Cruz wins --

LORD: Kentucky.

CUOMO: Yes, I think he's got an r6 interesting case to make to say, look, I wasn't supposed to win in a state like this. I'm the only one who can beat this guy. And now, we know it for sure.

Doesn't it go further making a statement for him than it would for your man, Mr. Trump?

LORD: I don't know. Am I correct in saying that these returns that are coming in now that are giving Cruz a boost are coming from Jefferson, Kentucky?

SMERCONISH: Nothing from Jefferson County --

CUOMO: No.

BROWNSTEIN: I think John said that Trump would narrowly win Jefferson County.

CUOMO: Right. And control room, tell me again, what do we now know?

All right. So, now we're up to 75 percent of the vote in Kentucky. And you can see right on your screen what the results are.

But again, you have to wait in a state like this, given the makeup of it and the margin as it's moving. So, we'll wait. That's the process.

LORD: Where we're going is that Jefferson county is where Mitch McConnell began his career as the county executive, or county judge, as they say.

CUOMO: Jefferson County is in Trump won narrowly. So, now what?

LORD: Now, look, as long as Donald Trump keeps this bandwagon going -- I mean, you know, earlier, we talked about all the primaries that Reagan and Bill Clinton lost.

CUOMO: Right.

LORD: I mean, as long as this keeps going and he keeps winning in different places, he's going to be in fine shape.

BEGALA: Jeff, you said something earlier, aggregating the Trump and Cruz vote, the two outsiders. Two-thirds of Kentucky, two-thirds are either for Trump or Cruz.

LORD: Right.

BEGALA: Won't there be pressure from donors to Rubio and donors to Kasich, get out of the race -- it's a two-man race now -- let's take on Trump one on one, which is a Trump nightmare, have anybody take him one on one.

LORD: Right.

Except the thing is, they don't like Ted Cruz, either.

BEGALA: No, they don't.

LORD: I go back to Lindsey Graham's statement that, you know, it's a choice between being poisoned or shot.

BORGER: But he's now said --

BEGALA: Good, we agree on that!

(CROSSTALK)

BROGER: -- he likes Cruz.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: Again, these are states where Ted Cruz should do well.

LORD: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: Apart from Maine, he has not proven --

LORD: That's right.

BROWNSTEIN: Michigan will tell us a lot more. Can Ted Cruz compete outside of states --

CUOMO: But at least you're rewarding him legitimacy by saying --

SMERCONISH: Like everyone else, I'm caught up in the who wins Kentucky, but we're treating this like it's winner take all, and it's not, proportionate until the 15th of March, it's a battle over perception. That's it.

HENDERSON: And Rubio wants us to think it's all about Florida, Florida, Florida, and he will win that state. Puerto Rico votes tomorrow, 23 delegates at stake there.

CUOMO: Have you gotten any messages since we've been here tonight -- I haven't, but you're a way more connected reporter than I am -- from Rubio's people saying forget tonight, wait until Florida?

HENDERSON: That's what he's said. He's been doing a gamble because he's in Puerto Rico, and that's exactly what he said, the map gets better.

Alex Conant was on air tonight --

CUOMO: The map gets better, but I haven't gotten any messages tonight of them saying we don't care about tonight, we're looking great in Florida.

HENDERSON: I don't think it's that they don't care. They say listen, they picked up some delegates here and there, because these are caucus states. But still, Florida, Florida, Florida.

BORGER: I've got a message saying "why are you so surprised?"

Why are you so surprised? Nobody expected Rubio to do very well in these states. Cruz should have done better than his original plan, which was to wrap this all up by March 8th. This is the Rubio -- and he hasn't wrapped up --

CUOMO: Is that compelling?

HENDERSON: No, because Rubio's original plan was three, two, one, be the establishment favorite and run the table. His theory of the case has been proven wrong all along.

BROWNSTEIN: And the big picture is you still have Donald Trump --

BORGER: Cruz's plan was to wrap it up, sorry.

BROWNSTEIN: Big picture is Donald Trump as a plurality front-runner who has not expanded into that mid-40s range. But you have Cruz, who so far has strengthened himself tonight, but he's so far been narrow in his appeal, mostly on evangelicals --

BORGER: That's where Rubio --

BROWNSTEIN: And Rubio's been shallow, a little bit of everything, not enough of anything. And Kasich even more than Cruz is narrow.

BORGER: Right. So, I need to correct myself. The Rubio people are saying, look, Cruz was supposed to wrap this up, this was going to be his southern sweep, it was going to be a done deal. And by the way, it's not. I mean, this is -- LORD: And meanwhile, Donald Trump will come out and claim victory and

say let's keep the bandwagon moving.

BORGER: Yes.

CUPP: And Cruz's, like, good spin out of tonight will be to say what Ron has said, which is, look at Maine. I'm not supposed to play in Maine. Well, there aren't a lot of Maines in your future left.

BROWNSTEIN: It's a caucus, right.

CUPP: The other thing is what Gloria mentioned, to say that, well, if these numbers hold, all of Donald's support came from early voting.

[22:40:03] And I got all election-day voting, which means people are getting turned off by -- okay, that resonates with the people in this room.

HENDERSON: Right.

CUPP: I'm not sure to average Americans they're thinking, oh, that Ted Cruz really is coming. He won Maine! You know, I just don't know --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But it creates a problem -- it creates a problem for them in the party. If they want to go to convention, to Paul's point, about, you know, unless they want to pick a Humphrey, you know, somebody from outside the actual race, when Rubio -- when this happens tonight, you can say it's just one night, if you want, but who are you going to go with in that convention if you have nobody with any kind of degree of delegates, except Donald Trump and Cruz?

You know what? I'll make that the question for you. You're smarter than everybody here at these tables, including myself. So, get on social media and give the answer to that question. What do you do if Rubio has a bad night and you want to go to convention and pick somebody else? Answer it and then we'll return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's been a very dramatic night, but I want to update you on the states won so far by these Republican and Democratic presidential candidates.

Let's start with Donald Trump. He's won 11 states so far going back to Iowa. He didn't win Iowa, but he's got Georgia, Vermont, Virginia, Alabama, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, tonight, he wins Louisiana.

[22:45:04] We're still waiting to see who's going to win in Kentucky. That's Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz, he's also won several states. Let's show our viewers.

Well, there's Marco Rubio. We've got Marco Rubio first. The only state he's won so far, Minnesota. Nothing tonight, but he did win Minnesota.

Let's take a look at Ted Cruz and see the states he's won so far. He's won Iowa, Ted Cruz. Let's see if we're going to get those up on the screen. Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Alaska, Maine and Kansas. That's Ted Cruz.

Let's take a look at the Democratic side so far. Here's what we have for our viewers on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton, she's also won 11 states -- Louisiana, Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Hillary Clinton wins so far.

Bernie Sanders, he's won so far Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Vermont. Those are impressive wins for Bernie Sanders.

Let's take a look at the delegate count so far. Delegates won to date. On the Republican side, so far, based on all of our estimates, Donald Trump has captured 362 delegates, Ted Cruz, 270, Marco Rubio, 119, John Kasich 30. The magic number needed to win the nomination, 1,237.

On the Democratic side, right now our estimate, Hillary Clinton pledged and superdelegates, 1,121, Bernie Sanders 474.

Those are the delegates so far that have won.

I want to go to Chris Cuomo right now.

Chris, the delegate count looks lopsided because Hillary Clinton has so many more superdelegates. In pledged delegates, it's obviously a lot closer.

CUOMO: Mm-hmm. Wolf, thank you very much.

We continue to watch Kentucky, over 80 percent now, still not enough to make a decision. Very interesting, the answer on social media about the convention, the overwhelming feeling is nobody wants to see one. They want to have people decide the vote.

That's going to be the big conflict, Nia, isn't it? You know, how do you make this the people's election and not taken by the very people that, whether you like Trump or not or Cruz or not, that's the momentum among the majority of voters, two-thirds of the voters in the GOP contests want an outsider.

HENDERSON: They want an outsider. I was tweeting back and forth with a Trump supporter tonight, and she thinks the RNC is rigging this for Hillary to end up winning, which is bizarre --

BORGER: What?

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: But that's her theory. She more than anything wants to see a revolution in Washington, and she, in fact, said that if it was not Trump, she would vote for Sanders on the other side. So, I think there are these strings in both wings of the party, they want change. And you know I think they would be furious if something -- you there's a funny business at a convention.

SMERCONISH: It puts tremendous pressure on Reince Priebus and Sean Spencer to make sure they are fair arbiters of the way this process is about to play itself. I think up until now, they've done a very good job at doing that and not showing favoritism, but everything they do, particularly any rules changes that would be necessitated will be under a microscope.

BROWNSTEIN: Quickly, it's a little bit of a misnomer, because the only way you get to a brokered convention is that if it's the will of the voters that there's no majority.

CUOMO: We now can project Kentucky, so let's end the speculation and get to Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, guys. This is what we were waiting for, the last contest of the night to make a projection and here it is.

CNN projects Donald Trump will win Kentucky, the Republican caucuses in Kentucky. Donald Trump will win in Kentucky. Donald Trump wanted this win badly. He wins in Louisiana. Now he wins in Kentucky.

Cruz has won in Kansas. Cruz won in Maine.

Let's take a look at the votes in Kentucky right now. There you see it right now: 84 percent of the vote is in. Donald Trump with 35.1 percent, Ted Cruz 31.4 percent. A close race, but Donald Trump, CNN projects, is the winner, is the winner in Kentucky. That's the last contest of the night.

We're going to go to CNN's Jim Acosta. He's over at West Palm Beach, where Donald Trump is getting ready to speak.

I assume all of his friends over there are getting the word that he has won in Kentucky, and pretty soon, Trump is going to come out and speak.

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. This was a press conference that basically became a watch party. The first seven rows in front of me are filled with his supporters.

And I should mention, the bar was reopened several minutes ago. It's going to be hard to corral these people back into their seats. But yes, as soon as you announced the word here, Wolf, people started cheering in this room. They're all waiting to hear what Donald Trump has to say in just a few moments, going two for four for the night.

And obviously, he's going to have a lot to say. There are going to be a lot of questions from reporters back here in the room. We heard Donald Trump earlier today saying that, you know, that the laws need to be expanded when it comes to dealing with terrorist detainees, torture.

[22:50:02] You know, it was just yesterday when he was saying we're going to stay within the laws when it comes to torture and then made a statement at a rally in Orlando perhaps to the contrary. So, I assume he'll be asked about that.

Also, Wolf, these rallies we've seen almost one after another, there have been clashes between protesters and security. What is Donald Trump doing to make these rallies more safe, more secure? I suppose he'll be asked about that as well.

So, a lot of questions that are waiting for Donald Trump as soon as he walks into this room. The other big one, obviously, what is he going to do to get the Republican establishment to get behind him at some point during the course of this campaign? It just has not happened yet.

And, of course, we'll have to hear what he says to Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich tonight, which turned out to be not a big night, not a huge night, like other election nights during this cycle, but he is getting out of here with two wins tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Two wins. Thank you, Jim Acosta, standing by.

We'll hear from Donald Trump momentarily. He was awaiting for this.

Kentucky goes for Donald Trump, Louisiana goes for Trump, but Cruz wins Kansas and Cruz wins Maine. So, two wins for Cruz, two wins for Trump tonight.

BASH: That's right. And a win is a win, no question about that. But part of the reason why it took a little while for Kentucky to be called is because -- well, for several reasons, but one of the reasons is because Ted Cruz is not that far behind Donald Trump, and Kentucky is not alone.

CHALIAN: That's right, Dana. And you're right, a win is a win, but not all wins are equal. So, the Kansas victory right now -- and not every vote has been counted everywhere, but Ted Cruz has a 25-point win there, 25-point lead.

In Maine, Ted Cruz wins Maine with a 13-point lead. The two Trump states -- Trump wins Kentucky by 3.7 percent and Louisiana by 4.8 percent.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States --

BLITZER: Take a look, Donald Trump is getting ready to speak in West Palm Beach over at the Trump International Country Club. He's walking out now.

As we noted for the last hour or so, he was waiting for the results to come in from Kentucky. He has won in Kentucky. Earlier he won in Louisiana.

Cruz won in Kansas. Cruz also won in Maine. So, this is going to be an opening statement by Donald Trump. Then he's going to take some questions from reporters. He's got his supporters in the front few rows, reporters in the back.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much. We greatly appreciate it.

Nice to have you all at Trump International. It's been a great club and a great success, and we appreciate it. Have so many of our members. It's beautiful.

It's been really an amazing night. And I'll tell you what, I've been in competitions all of my life. There is nothing so exciting as this stuff. Nothing.

Winning deals or winning club championships or whatever you want to say, there is nothing like this. It's really exciting stuff and very important. Above all else, it's very, very important.

So, I want to thank the people of Louisiana and the people of Kentucky. It's been just an amazing relationship, amazing relationship.

And Rand Paul, he's senator in Kentucky, fought very, very hard today and the last several weeks, fighting us every inch of the way. And we won and won by quite a few votes, so I'm very happy about it.

So, thank you to Louisiana and thank you to Kentucky. I want to really thank the folks from Maine and from Kansas. We came in second, and we really didn't spend very much time. We spent two hours in one place and two and a half hours in another, and we came in with a strong second. So, I want to thank those folks.

And I want to congratulate Ted on Maine and on Kansas. And he should do well in Maine, because it's very close to Canada, let's face it. I mean --

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

I think Marco Rubio had a very, very bad night, and personally, I'd call for him to drop out of the race. I think it's time now that he'd drop out of the race. I really think so.

I think it's probably time, you know. I don't think tonight he can get up and rant and rave and, oh, he did great. He comes in third, he comes in fourth. Every time he comes in third or fourth, he says, you've got to be able to win. And he has not been able to win and I think it's time that he drops out.

I would love to take on Ted one on one. That would be so much fun, because Ted can't win New York, he can't win New Jersey, he can't win Pennsylvania, he can't win California. I want Ted one on one, OK? (APPLAUSE)

So, I think one of the reasons we did so well tonight and so strong is that we did -- you know, we really had a good debate.

[22:55:00] I think we did very well. I was hit from every side, every angle that you could be hit from, very viciously, actually, but I think we did very well in the debate.

I do say this, we're marching along, and I think we're doing very well in Florida. Orlando. We had a group of at least 20,000 people. We had to send 10,000 people away. The place was packed. And it was an amazing day.

And I love the people of Florida. It's my second home. We're in Florida tonight. And I just want to thank Florida for being, you know, just incredible. And I'm looking at the poll numbers.

(APPLAUSE)

Even though I've never seen any human being hit with more negative commercials, and I'm being hit with them, let me tell you -- no human being should have to have $40 million being spent on negative commercials. And despite that, we have a tremendous lead in Florida, and hopefully, we're going do very well. I think we're going to do very well in Ohio.

I worked when I was a young guy at Swifton Village in Cincinnati, and I think that we're going to be do fantastically in Ohio. I love that state. I love the people of the state. So, hopefully, we're going to do very well there.

The biggest story in all of politics isn't even what's happening tonight and on Super Tuesday, but the biggest story is the tremendous outpouring of voters coming in to the Republican Party. You're seeing what's happening.

(APPLAUSE)

Millions and millions of people are coming in and voting, and they've never seen anything like it before. Actually, they're doing covers on "TIME" magazine because it's a movement. What's happening is a movement, and I'm very honored to say that if I were not involved, that wouldn't be happening.

Well, I'm only kidding, you know. Actually, I'm not kidding, but I'll say I'm kidding because I want them to say I'm a nice person.

But you know, you're talking about millions and millions of people. And we have a dynamic party. And as a party, we should come together and stop this foolishness.

You know, we have something, and, I was thinking about it today for the first time -- the establishment is very unhappy with the way things are going, and I can understand that, although I used to be part of the establishment. You know, seven months ago, before I decided to run, I was part of the establishment. But now I'm not part of the establishment.

Once I announced I was running, they said, what's he doing? Why is he running? He's not supposed to be running. We want people that we can control. We want people that we can give money to, so that if we want something for pharmaceuticals or for electric or for utilities or for lumber or for oil and gas, we have total control over our senator or our congressman.

So, you know, I'm self-funding. I'm not taking their money. They have no control. I'm going to do what's right for the American people, and that's very simple. So, they're not happy.

(APPLAUSE)

But I was thinking today, because I love the Republican Party and I love the conservative and I love a lot of people that are very good friends of mine, and I've been a member for a long time.

But today, I was thinking for the first time, really thinking about this. We lost a great man, Justice Scalia. He needs to be replaced, and you can only replace him with somebody truly great. He can never be replaced. He was really something, a very, very good friend of my sister, who is a federal judge on the court of appeals, and highly respected.

And we have -- and that was totally unexpected. It just shows what's happens. Totally unexpected.

So, we have a situation where they're now saying, well, maybe we're not going to be able to beat Trump the normal way, so we'll run a third-party candidate. And maybe we can't get in all the states, but we'll do enough that it's impossible for Donald Trump to win.

And I'm saying, what are they doing? Because we're going to appoint -- me -- going to appoint a great, conservative, great judge, high intellect, great conservative, something that will make the people in the Republican Party very happy, someone that will make the people very happy.

If they run a third party or an independent party, if they do that, it will make it impossible for the Republican candidate, on the assumption it's me or anybody, to win. If that means losing, that means that Hillary Clinton, who should not an allowed to run because of what she did with the e-mails -- should not be allowed to run --

(APPLAUSE)

But on the assumption, on the assumption, that they did that, it would be impossible for the Republican to win. And obviously, the independent or third party could not win.

So, the Democrats would have an absolute free run. Probably you wouldn't even campaign because it would be impossible to win.

And what does that mean? That means that automatically, they are going to appoint very, very, very liberal judges. And all of this time that the Republicans are fighting, saying that we don't want President Obama to appoint the judge.