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SMERCONISH

Romney's Plan to Stop Trump; Will Sanders Play the Email Card?; What Would A Hillary Vs. Trump Race Look Like? Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 5, 2016 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:11] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Jonathan, thank you very much. Let us start with the voting today. Super Saturday across five states. That's it for us. We'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for CNN NEWSROOM.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't go anywhere. "SMERCONISH" starts now.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish, live in Washington as five states go to the polls today to nominate a president but with many GOP leaders rallying against their own front runner, Donald Trump, American politics seems to be hurdling into chaos. You remember the summer of 1968? The Democratic convention in Chicago? Protesters facing off with police and national guard in riot gear?

With Mitt Romney urging Republicans to split the vote, hoping this July's convention in Cleveland will have to be brokered, today's "New York Times" reports the rank and file are rebelling against being told what to do. One Trump supporter said Trump would have to quote "shoot her daughter for her vote to change."

To prepare for possible protests, Cleveland has requested thousands of more police officers for this summer plus 2,000 riot suits and batons. Meanwhile, one person that did stop Trump this week at least in television news was O.J. Simpson with the alleged discovery of a knife on his former property. Might it be the long missing murder weapon?

The past continues to haunt Hillary Clinton as her former staffer gets immunity to talk about the classified e-mail controversy. Was Bernie Sanders too quick to absolve her.

First, the battle rages on as Americans are caucusing this weekend in Kansas, Kentucky, Maine and Nebraska and voting in primaries in Louisiana and Puerto Rico. In today's races Republicans have 155 delegates at stake, Democrats 109. By the end of this weekend, almost one-third of all GOP delegates and nearly a quarter of the Democratic delegates will have been allocated.

As for the Republicans, in the midst of his 20-minute take down of Donald Trump on Thursday, 2012 GOP standard Mitt Romney seemed to concede the only way to stop Trump will come in Cleveland at the party's summer convention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: Given the current delegate selection process, that means that I vote for Marco Rubio in Florida and for John Kasich in Ohio and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: That's not a plan to defeat Trump before the convention. That sounds like a strategy to stop Trump from getting the required 1,237 delegates on the first ballot taken in Cleveland and Romney might be on to something.

On my Sirius XM program yesterday, Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report noted that thus far Trump has captured 46 percent of the delegates. More than anyone else but not the 51 percent that he'll need to win the nomination. If things continue the way they are, this will be decided at the convention. And that would be a tough pill for Trump supporters to swallow.

So, is a brokered convention now the only way that Donald Trump will be denied the GOP nomination? Joining me now, CNN's chief national correspondent, the host of "Inside Politics" John King.

John, Governor Romney said he would like these three other candidates, the non-Trump candidates to each win their respective states. Ted Cruz has already done so. He would like John Kasich to win Ohio. He would like Marco Rubio to win Florida and if each is able to do and presumably a little bit more, is it enough to deny Donald Trump the 1,237 delegates he needs?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Maybe, maybe not, Michael. But it is crucial if they are going to try. It's the necessary essentially downpayment. Let's put it to the test.

This is a map with Donald Trump winning evening through the 15th. You see all that red filled in for Donald Trump. That would put him well on his way and this would be game over. If he ran the board or even came close to running the board, it would be game over.

Let's put the Romney test into effect. Rubio wins his home state of Florida. It doesn't really matter who comes in second, third or fourth because it's winner take all. John Kasich wins the state of Ohio. Let's give him that. Again, it doesn't really matter who you do second, third and fourth because it's winner takes all.

If that happens there, Trump is still progressing if he wins everything else this weekend and everything else next Tuesday and evening else on the 15th, he's still progressing but you have at least a bit of a start and then the issue is what happens in the rest of these states?

So let me give you a scenario. Let me go forward to the convention. This fills in the entire primary calendar. This also gives John Kasich Illinois. As you put, you just can't win your home state. If Kasich were to win Illinois and then lets say it's Rubio gets hot, it could be anybody. You see this red here for Rubio? That could be Kasich, it could be Cruz, it could be a combination of them.

[09:06:10]

But let's say somebody gets hot and starts winning and Trump wins some but they win the others including the big giant prize of California. It is conceivable this has Donald Trump at 1,012, this has Rubio at 700, again you can make this Kasich, you can make this Cruz. Cruz at 387. It's conceivable. This is the Romney plan.

Get to the convention with something like this. They would hope that Trump were actually lower in the 800 or the 900s but it's conceivable you can get to the convention. He's short of the victory line and that's when the chaos or the negotiations, you close the word, Michael, ensue. Does Donald Trump try to cut a deal with John Kasich. Do Ted Cruz, Rubio and Kasich all get together? Who is on first, who's on second, who is the president, who is the vice president.

So if you get to an open convention, the map would look something like this. These guys would claim well we had momentum at the end. This guy would claim I got the most delegates, it should be my nomination and you would have chaos.

SMERCONISH: The stop Trump argument here before had been one of the field needs to win. It sounds like if the goal is to stop Donald Trump, everybody needs to stay in position.

KING: And most people in the Republican establishment and in the conservative establishment, I'll call it that, Cruz people too, accept that strategy now because what do they think? They think Marco Rubio is the only guy in this field who might be able to beat Trump in Florida. Can he? Who knows. But if Cruz can't, Kasich can't. They think Kasich is the only guy who can beat him in Ohio. Rubio can't. Cruz can't. Then you look at these other states, there are some states even this weekend, for example, if you want to have a surprise, why can't Ted Cruz win in Louisiana. He's losing in the polls but there are some states, (INAUDIBLE) they're down here. Alabama still - Mississippi, I mean, is still in play. Why can't Cruz surprise us and win a state down there? If he could do that. But up here they don't think Cruz is as strong. That's why they think they actually need all three of these guys.

Because there are parts of the map that suit Cruz, that suit Rubio and parts of the map that suit Kasich. So essentially even though they're not going to say this collusion, they need all three to pick their shots, win some states and stop Trump. It's a huge, it's like winning the Powerball, Michael. I think the odds are about roughly equal to winning the Powerball. But the goal is to keep Trump short of this line when he gets to the convention and then somehow even though he's likely to be in the lead delegate wise to somehow cut some deals and take it away.

SMERCONISH: John, thank you so much for that report.

KING: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: John will have lots more on the war inside the GOP and all the politics of the day tomorrow morning, a special extended edition of "CNN's Inside Politics," it begins at 8:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow.

Even if voters follow Romney's instructions, won't it create such havoc nobody leaves the convention happy or wanting to vote Republican if at all. Joining me are two prominent Republicans who said they won't vote for Trump if he's the GOP nominee.

Former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman and political consultant Stuart Stevens, a senior strategist for Mitt Tomney's 2012 campaign. Stuart, let me begin with you. I heard John King use the word conceivable. It's conceivable the so-called Romney plan can work. Here is an idea that I have. Shouldn't Marco Rubio right now tell Ohio residents "hey, I want you to vote for John Kasich? And shouldn't John Kasich say to Floridians, you better vote for Marco Rubio because the only way to derail Trump is to push it to Cleveland.

STUART STEVENS, FORMER ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Yes, I think that's exactly what should happen. I don't think Ted Cruz should compete in Florida. Look, you know, this isn't really the Mitt Romney strategy. This is the Ronald Reagan strategy. This is how the 1976 Reagan-Ford race come down to the convention.

There is nothing really new about this. There is rules. You have to get to these number of delegates and whoever gets to the number of delegates will win. If someone doesn't get to the number of delegates, there is rules to provide how you're going to get there. So I mean, it's really quite simple. We've got a contest, there is different ways to win it and I would think that the Trump people who think that winning is great, which is wonderful would appreciate that this is going to be contested all the way until someone wins.

SMERCONISH: But for the purpose of this conversation, I think the two of us are both conceding that there is not a path for Marco Rubio to up end this cycle and suddenly to get to 1,237 or Cruz or Kasich, the best they can hope for is that they continue to chug along and deny Trump.

STEVENS: I think that's probably right, short of a dramatic Trump collapse which I see no reason that would happen. Look, the reason that we ended up here is because none-of these campaigns took Trump seriously enough. Trump is only been engaged leading now by Rubio in a serious way for a couple of weeks. Had this started in September, we wouldn't be where we are.

These campaigns competed all bizarrely in mind to see who could come in second to Donald Trump with this idea that if only they got Donald Trump one on one or something would happen to Donald Trump or whatever, some mystical account, something mystical would happen, I think it was an incredibly flawed strategy and this is where we are.

[09:10:11]

So given where we are, the best way if you want to save the Republican party from Donald Trump, which is 100 percent chance of defeat in November, he represents what the Republican party doesn't stand for, shouldn't stand for, you need to take it to the convention and let the delegates vote. SMERCONISH: I want to ask about your former boss. I thought he

delivered a pretty strong set of remarks on Thursday. Some questioned whether he was the appropriate messenger. In an interview with my colleague, Gloria Borger, I did not hear him say never. He seemed, am I wrong? He seemed to leave that door open that if this crazy cycle continues and there is a draft movement in Cleveland, he could be game?

STEVENS: Mitt Romney has no intention of running for president. If he wanted to run for president, he would run for president now and go out and get on the states and acquire delegates. That would be the path to do so. It's obvious. Look, if you go to just think about this now, if you go to a convention, which we're going to have this convention and either someone, Donald Trump is going to have enough delegates to win on the first ballot or they are not, by far the most likely strategy that will happen here is that two of the three remaining candidates will probably join together in a ticket.

I mean, that's what always happens when you play risk. You have alliances and that that on a second ballot would allow that ticket to win. So I can't really imagine a scene where you're going to say these four candidates out there, will go to a convention with a bunch of delegates and say look, we've been banging our brains out for a year and a half but let's give it to someone else. It's just not logical.

It will be someone who is in the race now and I think it could very well be a Cruz, Rubio ticket, a Kasich, Cruz ticket, whatever it is but that is the most likely scenario.

SMERCONISH: It will be very interesting to see if the candidates that we've just discussed take Stuart Stevens' advice and if Ted Cruz says "I'm not going to Florida, I'm not gong to Ohio and the others do like-wise. Stuart Stevens, thank you so much for being here.

STEVENS: Great to see you, buddy.

SMERCONISH: Stuart Stevens isn't the only Republican who won't support Donald Trump. Former governor of New Jersey Christine Todd Whitman says she'll not oy refuse to vote for him, she'll probably cross the isle and pull the lever for Secretary Clinton.

Thank you so much for being here, governor. You know what words keep running through my mind this week and the last couple weeks? You reap what you sow. If people aren't satisfied within the GOP with what has become of the party under Donald Trump's "leadership," frankly, they have the party and themselves to blame. Don't you agree?

CHRISTINE TODD-WHITMAN, FMR. NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I do. I absolutely do. Not only did the party not take Donald Trump seriously way back when when we started the birther thing, they embraced it. I mean, they didn't say no. They didn't move away from him and unfortunately, frankly, both political parties have been focussing on this split. We can't talk to the other. If I don't agree with you, you're my enemy and this has been so divisive. This has what made people absolutely furious at the status quo because nothing gets done because people won't talk to one another and we've been moving to the extreme in both parties and that's just wrong, it's bad for the country, it's bad for policy. We haven't gotten good policy out and people are furious now.

SMERCONISH: If it ends in a train wreck and maybe it ends in a President Trump but if it ends in a train wreck for the party, who picks up the pieces?

WHITMAN: The people are the ones who have to decide that. You don't know who is going to emerge. I mean, to my mind, we have some very qualified candidates. I would love to see a Kasich-Rubio ticket. Putting both Ohio and Florida in play and that gives you someone who has been shown and experience and working together and across the isles balancing budgets at the federal level and at the state level taking a state $18 billion in debt and giving it a surplus.

Then you have, the new face of the party, fresh young face who doesn't have executive experience, enough yet, I believe, to be the president of the United States. We don't want more on the job training. And we don't need to look further than that. We have the solution and team that I believe can beat Hillary Clinton in the fall.

SMERCONISH: But as you and I know, governor, the problem is passion rules the day. I'm a firm believer in those numbers that show 42 percent of Americans really are Is, not Rs, they're not Ds, they are Is and they want to be represented but unfortunately passion rests on the fringe and so I keep hoping that there is solace, some comfort in the fact that this will be the cycle that will awaken the middle, am I wrong?

WHITMAN: No, I'm with you 100 percent. I believe, frankly, the majority of the American people are in that center. Right now what you have, as you say, passion rules and you have a very passionate group that says I'm sick to death and I'm not going to take it anymore and the way - the one thing I will give the Trump campaign and the Sanders campaign is they have finally gotten people to recognize the way to make change in our democracy is through the ballot box.

[09:15:10]

Because up until now people haven't been voting. I mean, when you look at - we think we did a bang up job when we get over 53, 54 percent in a presidential race and the average until this year voter turnout in primaries was 10 percent. I mean, the message you're sending to the people in office is either we don't care or we think you're doing a fine job and that was not clearly what any poll said the public thought about our representatives in Washington and yet people weren't using the ballot box. Now they are.

But I hope before this is over, a little sense of balance comes back into play. Those that are in the center realize you just had a discussion about how this could play out and that it's not over yet and yet so many in the media want to say it's over, it's Donald Trump no matter what. No. There's still a possibility for a different ticket to emerge from the convention in Cleveland.

SMERCONISH: OK. Let me - WHITMAN: People will remember that.

SMERCONISH: Let me ask you about an even more different ticket. There is a report today that Michael Bloomberg within the last 30 or so days has moved his private e-mail away from his business and more toward an independent server, perhaps a precursor that he really does get into thing. Would you like to see Michael Bloomberg become a presidential candidate?

WHITMAN: I doubt he'll do it. Frankly, I respect the job he did in New York because he has always been pretty pragmatic about a New York billionaire could do and his polls just start showing him that. And my feeling is, if it's Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and it certainly seems that's going to - she's going to be their candidate I don't think you're going to see him run.

SMERCONISH: In New Jersey, in the garden state, six newspapers this week all published a joint editorial saying that one of your successors, Chris Christie, should resign. As a matter of fact, the New Hampshire union leaders say "boy, were we wrong." Do you think Governor Christie should resign?

WHITMAN: No, they are calling for resignation based really on his and what he did during the campaign and the amount of time he was out of the state which to my mind was very unfortunate and unfair to the state of New Jersey, to his constituents and his endorsement of Trump.

He's now back instate. He's now focussing on the job as governor and as long as he stays on that, there is no reason for him to resign. You can call for that and you can be mad at how much money we spent on all the various problems that have gone on since he hasn't been managing on a day to day basis but that's different and that's showing up in his poll numbers, which I think his approval is even a little bit below 30 percent. But it's not a reason for him to resign. He can still be governor of the state of New Jersey as long as he focuses on the state of New Jersey.

SMERCONISH: Final question, the star ledger said he was gone 72 percent of the days in 2015. Should he have run for reelection if he knew he would be running for president and he'd spend all that time out of the state?

WHITMAN: Mmy philosophy is always to do the job you were elected to do and the rest will take care of itself. New Jersey is the strongest governor constitutionally or one of the strongest of the 50 states. You really need to be there. It's a hands on job. Yes, internet gives you ability to communicate that we haven't seen in the past but that's not the same thing as sitting down (INAUDIBLE) to work through these major issues that we face face-to-face with the people that need to be with you to make the decisions.

SMERCONISH: Governor, nice to see you. I hope you're right, that this is a cycle that awakens the center. Thank you for that.

WHITMAN: Fingers crossed.

SMERCONISH: Tweet me at @smerconish with your thoughts.

Coming up. Does Bernie Sanders continue to miss a huge opportunity by not questioning Secretary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server. I'll ask his campaign manager.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton will destroy him in the election. Assuming she's allowed to run, assuming she's not arrested for the e-mail situation.

Which is so terrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:22:48]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNIE SANDERS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the secretary is right, that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.

HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: That was Bernie Sanders last October. Did he miss a big opportunity by letting her off the hook. This week, the FBI and Justice Department granted immunity at the IT staffer who set up Hillary Clinton's private server. A federal judge appointed by Bill Clinton has said that he wants some of Hillary's key aides questioned, leading to today's "Wall Street Journal" to editorialize Clinton's aides should shouldn't take the fall for her self-serving actions but the Clinton and Sanders campaigns are well represented here today.

First Brian Fallon is the press secretary for Hillary Clinton for America. Brian, thanks for being here. I want to point out the "New York Times" reported this there is no evidence that has come forth to suggest any hack of her private e-mail server.

So let's get that out of the way and make sure that it's clearly understood. The issue that nevertheless troubles me is one of transparency or a lack of transparency.

Here is my question, if I as a member of the public or media put forth a freedom of information act request on her watch and there were e-mails on her server that would be responsive to my request, did I have any chance of getting that information?

BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY CLINTON FOR AMERICA: Yes. Because actually, most of the almost all of the threads and e-mail exchanges that she was apart of involved aides at the State Department that she deliberately copied or forwarded messages to for the purpose of preserving those records for FOYA compliance and even now that she has turned over all the materials from her personal server when you match things up, it turns out that there is over 90 percent overlap in terms of what was on her server and what was already in the State Department system.

SMERCONISH: OK. So you're saying if she were e-mailing a colleague, an underling within the department, that I might not have my FOYA request responded to by her, by the secretary but one of the others, but what if she were seeking advice from Brian Fallon, what if my friend Lanny Davis was consulted by the secretary and it was a matter of public significance and relevance? I wouldn't be able to get that information and therein lies the problem with the way in how she went about it, no?

[09:25:05]

FALLON: Well, there are disagreements about what constitutes a public record, a government record. There are plenty of exchanges involving her and personal friends of hers or people that had served in her husband's administration in the 1990s and a lot of it was personal interactions and exchanges and not something that would be treated as a government record.

But in turn things over to the State Department, she and her team made a very conscious effort to make sure that they were over inclusive and turned over things that even a reasonable person might conclude was not a government record at all, and they turned it over anyway and as a result, some 1200 e-mails that she turned over have been actually returned back to her because the State Department decided that it didn't constitute a government record.

SMERCONISH: Right. But the problem is that she had sole power and authority to make the determination and you know from your experience in the Justice department, that's not the way this should work. There should be a FOYA technician, someone whose job it is to review that information and because she went the private e-mail server route, it empowered her to be the sole arbiter of what the public would see. I don't know that the public understands that but that's what this issue is all about.

FALLON: Well, like I said, Michael, we were over inclusive and that's been vindicated by the fact that some 1200 e-mails already have been returned to her as not necessary for the purposes of responding to the FOYA request.

But look, we would be the first to recognize that there are more, there is more that can be done to improve the FOYA compliance process. The State Department IG did a report a few weeks ago to that effect. And I know that Hillary Clinton herself during her time there sought to improve the department's compliance policies to ensure that the department was operating in as transparent a manner as possible and with respect to the recommendations that got made, in the report several weeks ago, I know John Kerry, Secretary Clinton's successor is implementing many of those reforms now.

So we can always do better. It's a constantly evolving process to try to improve FOYA compliance.

SMERCONISH: I want to switch gears, let's talk about the Republican race. Are you looking at it and saying this is great, give us Donald Trump or are you saying oh my god, you know, we don't want to open up that can of worms?

FALLON: We're really focused on our primary contest. I know that Jeff Lever is going to be on after me and Senator Sanders is going to be in this for awhile. He said that. Today we have three contests playing out. Our goal going into today is to win more delegates than Senator Sanders.

I know that they are going into today thinking that they are favoured in two of the caucus states. We feel very strong about the Louisiana primary. We are going to be contesting three of the states and our goal is to amass as many delegates as possible to build the lead that we already have.

There will be plenty of time to look ahead to a general election once we get closer to the nomination and when we do, I think the stakes are so high that Democrats will rally around our nominee and the prospect of a Donald Trump candidacy on the Republican side will only further motivate Democrats to turn out next November.

SMERCONISH: I hear you and I know you're focused on today but the "Times" had a great story earlier this week where they talked to Clinton staffers about the way in which this war will be waged. Here is part of what the story said.

"That strategy is beginning to take shape with groups that support Mrs. Clinton preparing to script and test ads that would portray Mr. Trump as a misogynist and an enemy to the working class whose brash temper would put the nation and the world in grave danger.

The plan is for those themes to be amplified later by two prominent surrogates, to fight Mr. Trump's ability to sway the news cycle. Mr Clinton, meaning Bill Clinton, would not hold back on the stump and President Obama told allies he that would gleefully portray Mr. Trump as incapable of handling the duties of the Oval Office. Is that the plan? A one to punch of Bill and Barack?

FALLON: Well, that report got ahead of things by quite a big margin. I think it was largely based on some supporters of our campaign but who are outside of our campaign, giving their thoughts about what they think would make for an effective strategy. We're not there yet but when we do get closer to clinching the nomination on the Democratic side, we will start to plan how we want to run a general election campaign.

When that time comes, though, regardless of whether it's Donald Trump or anybody else, we'll know that we'll be running against somebody that wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, who wants to turn back the president's executive actions on immigration, who doesn't support pay equity, who doesn't support an increase in the minimum wage.

So the contrast is going to be clear. Donald Trump certainly presents more of an unconventional candidacy.

[09:30:03] And so, he can't be dismissed for that reason. But, fundamentally, the contrast will be clear between the Democratic nominee and Republican nominee, whoever emerges on the other side.

SMERCONISH: I'm sure -- I'm sure the Clinton campaign hopes if you get that for by winning the nomination, you're not dismissive of him in the way many of his Republican opponents regret having been dismissive of him heretofore.

Brian Fallon, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it.

We'll hear from Jeff Weaver among other guests when we come back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: On this day where five states and Puerto Rico are voting, and with another Democratic debate tomorrow might, we just heard from Hillary Clinton's press secretary.

Now to the Bernie Sanders' campaign and their manager, Jeff Weaver.

Jeff, thank you so much for being here. You perhaps heard Brian Fallon talking in response to my questions about what you're guy would call the quote/unquote "damn e-mails".

[09:35:01] And perhaps you heard me frame this as an issue of transparency or lack of transparency.

Why isn't that in Bernie Sanders' wheelhouse when lack of transparency is such an important weapon in his arsenal when it comes to campaign finance?

JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, look, Michael, you know what the senator said back at the debate and what he has continued to say is that there is a process going on, there's a legal process going on as you mentioned earlier, a one staffer has now gotten immunity.

You know, that suggests that that person, you know, when you get immunity, that means you gave what's called a proper to the government. You told the government what you would tell them if you're given immunity and the government says, oh, that's pretty good, we'll give you immunity, so we can get it from you.

So, I mean, there's a whole process going on and that's going to work itself out. And so, the point is, is that let the process work itself out. It will end where it ends. Talking about it doesn't make the process go one way or another. It's not a process you can influence in any way.

But what he does want to do is there are a number, as you know, substantive differences between he and Secretary Clinton like trade policy, you know, which is very important like Michigan that lost tens and tens of thousands of jobs, through the trade agreements that Secretary Clinton has supported over the years. These are the kinds of issues that he's talking about, because these are the issues that are of concern to voters.

SMERCONISH: I just -- I just don't get it as a close observer. You know the data. You know the difficulty that she has relative to honesty and trustworthiness. We have some of that information. We could put it up on the screen.

I also know that you probably want to be protective of his brand and not have him go negative on her but where a federal judge who was appointed by Bill Clinton said there is a, quote/ unquote, "reasonable suspicion" that the public's right to know has been thwarted with Freedom of Information Act request and I think my interview with Brian just illustrated the gap that exists where the public perhaps was denied information it was owed.

I don't know why Senator Sanders tomorrow night in the debate doesn't say, look, just as I'm worried about the Koch brothers giving money through 501c4s, dark money where we don't know where it comes from, I think the secretary has to answer for the private server, and the thwarting of the public right to know?

WEAVER: Well, and she will answer for it through the legal process that's currently going on. I mean, there are other areas outside not part of this that we have been very forward in in asking for disclosure and transparency, such as the speeches that the secretary gave where she made millions and millions of dollars, talking to corporate interests to foreign interests, to oil companies to drug companies.

She has all these speeches because the contracts required that these companies transcribe these speeches and give them to her. She has all them in a box somewhere. She can turn them out tomorrow. She hasn't.

And, you know, this is actually very disturbing, Michael, because, as you know, we put out a piece of film from an Indian television station in 2012 where while here in the U.S. she was saying how bad outsourcing was, she was telling an audience in India about how outsourcing has benefitted a large part of the United States. So, I don't think anybody in Michigan or Cleveland, or Ohio or Illinois we saw there, auto jobs ship to Mexico or China, thinks that they benefitted from outsourcing.

So, we really think that we should be able to see what's in the speeches. I mean, this is a critical issue for voters. They will see what's in the emails, because there's a legal process going on. But in terms of these speeches and we certainly would like to know if there are other foreign speeches where the secretary told people in foreign countries, something very different than what she tells people here in the United States.

SMERCONISH: All right. Jeff Weaver, thank you for being here.

WEAVER: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: We'll find out what Bernie Sanders does tomorrow night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, when Anderson Cooper moderates the CNN Democratic debate, live from Flint, Michigan.

What are you looking for at the Democratic debate? Tweet me your thoughts @Smerconish. I'll read some at the end of the program.

Coming up, if the nominees are Clinton and Trump, what would that contest look like?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:43:12] SMERCONISH: So, what's going to happen with those Hillary e-mails and what might a Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump race look like if we should get that far?

Lots to talk about with our political panel, Julian Epstein is a Democratic strategist and former Democratic counsel to the House Judiciary Committee and supporter of Secretary Clinton, Joe Watkins is a Republican strategist, former aide to George H.W. Bush, and A.J. Delgado is a conservative columnist and Donald Trump supporter.

Joe, let me start with you. I know you to be a level-headed and smart political guy.

Is Bernie Sanders blowing it but not raising the e-mail issue in the manner that I just did with both Jeff Weaver and with Brian Fallon?

JOE WATKINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, I think he's not. I think he's actually staying in character. I mean, what people like about him is that he's not attacking Hillary Clinton on any perceived and obvious weaknesses. Sticking to his message talking to the people hurting and he's saying, you know what, it's about a rigged economy and I'll fix it. The economy is broken for you and I'll fix it for you.

And so, that's why he's done as well as he has. I mean, otherwise, somebody who is 74 years of age and who's been 74 years old and who's been an avowed socialist wouldn't be this popular and doing this well.

SMERCONISH: I know, Julian, you'll agree with that assessment, and I'm just thinking Bernie has got a card in his arsenal he's not playing because he fears it puts him into a category of the Republicans complaining about Benghazi.

JULIAN EPSTEIN, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I think it's not his style. He would anger a lot of Democrats.

And, you know, to your earlier interview, Michael, I slightly disagree with you a little bit. Freedom of Information only requires that she preserves the e-mails, which she did. It doesn't say on an official account. Secondly, the big issue on the e-mails is whether or not they were placed into an unsecure location. The e-mails that were marked classified, none of the emails in question were marked classified.

[09:45:03] SMERCONISH: I don't think that's the issue.

EPSTEIN: At least that we know of -- SMERCONISH: I know that's an issue.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: I think many have overlooked the bigger issue, which is public access to information.

EPSTEIN: Freedom of information, the freedom of information law is not changed at all by the fact that it was on her private server. Freedom of information only requires that she preserve them, which she did.

My point here is that whether you want to take shot at the freedom of information angle or the classified angle, it doesn't take you that far legally. Republicans have tried to use this against her for years. This and other attacks, it hasn't worked. I just don't think it will take the opponents that far in the election.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: A.J., I know -- I know, A.J., you feel differently about this issue but I want to ask about your guy because it was embarrassing, was it not, that Donald Trump said what he said in the debate about torture and I'm paraphrasing, but he spoke of the military establishment as "They'll follow my direction" and very quickly did an about face and said he would honor treaties that the United States has with other nations?

A.J. DELGADO, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I commend Mr. Trump and I think we're all relieved to hear he clarified that he wouldn't ever ask our military to commit any illegal acts.

But I think the bigger picture is that is a concern, which it should be for American voters, then they should be supporting Mr. Trump, because aside from Bernie Sanders, who's really the only candidate and I'm including Hillary Clinton in this, who isn't out to put our military into harm's way, who isn't interested in globe trotting or in starting additional wars in the Middle East. He's clearly said the Iraq war was a mistake.

So, when we come from concerns of "let's preserve our military, let's make sure that we're not out there committing war crimes or any sort of illegal acts," then let's look at Donald Trump's candidacy and the way he said the Iraq war was a mistake where thousands of children were killed and isn't interested in meddling in the Middle East further or getting us into any additional conflict.

EPSTEIN: Except for the factor torturing families of terrorists is a war crime. Donald Trump, I mean, amongst his many flaws and he's a highly flawed candidate that I think Democrats would much prefer to run against Donald Trump than, say, a Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.

I mean, he changed his position on torture last week. He changed his position on campaign finance last week. He changed his position on immigration last week. He couldn't answer a straight question on the KKK affiliation last week. I mean, one of the themes that del Democrats -- I don't think Donald

Trump will get the nomination, I think you'll have a brokered convention and Republicans will realize it will be suicide to put Donald Trump up because his negatives are 60 percent and because he loses in almost every poll against Hillary Clinton. One of the themes will be, is this guy really doesn't have the competence for the job, doesn't understand anything about the job and the evidence for that is he keeps changes his positions.

And I think you put that, you take that and you combine that with the kind of a hit, which will be he's got the temperament of a fifth grader. You put that with a long history of him betraying the people that were close to him, whether it was the American workers, whether it was his students at his school, whether it was position supporters that supported him based on a position that he later changed his position like he did on immigration.

I mean, really, if you ask Democrats off the record, they would rather run against Donald Trump. He's such a rich target.

SMERCONISH: Joe Watkins --

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN: I know you think we underestimate him, but he's a rich target.

SMERCONISH: Well, Joe, I was going to say, a lot of Republicans underestimated him. And, Joe Watkins, I know you've been watching the show. Stuart Stevens and I had a conversation at the outset of this program where we pretty much agreed Marco Rubio should say in Ohio to Republicans, vote for Kasich and Kasich ought to say to Republicans in Florida, vote for Marco Rubio.

Do you think we're going to see that and they realize the way that they deny Trump is if everybody wins their own state and then a little bit more and they deny him the 1,237?

WATKINS: Well, in a perfect world for them, that's one way of making sure that the math doesn't work for Donald Trump as you head toward the convention. That's a possible.

But you have to consider what's in it for each candidate. Obviously, each guy running wants to be the nominee and got to consider what their path is to get there and the path is not clear or obvious for any others for Cruz, Rubio or for Kasich right now because Trump has a sizable lead, and I think that after March 15th, we'll probably really know where we stand with all this, especially if he wins Ohio and Trump wins Ohio and Trump also happens to win Florida.

But I don't think that -- I think it's just too tough for -- and not likely Rubio will say, hey, folks, Republicans, vote for John Kasich in Ohio and John, and Ted, tell the voters to vote for me in Florida, so I can win Florida. And then this week, we can keep the race competitive.

They are each in it for themselves, of course.

SMERCONISH: If they don't do it, Joe, I think time will run off the clock.

A.J., let me ask you a question --

WATKINS: There's no doubt. There's no doubt.

[09:50:01] SMERCONISH: A.J., let me ask you, today's front page of "The New York Times". Front page of "The New York Times" says "GOP pleas draw anger from Trump supporters."

How do you think it's going to go down within the Trump constituency if they believe that now the machinations of establishment Republicans is to deny Donald Trump at the convention in a brokered situation?

DELGADO: Well, Trump's constituency has always believed that's the case. I mean, we saw that writing on the wall since the very beginning, and the establishment has been trying to take him down since the beginning.

I do hope it won't come down to a brokered convention, because if Trump were to walk away from that convention without the nomination, he could go third party, and his constituents would go with him. It's just not a good look for the conservative movement, for the country as a whole to have a brokered convention. It would really create a lack of confidence in the system, in the political process, for Donald Trump to walk in there the front-runner but somehow be denied the nomination.

I can hope and I'm confident that there will be some sort of a coalition that forms once Donald Trump wins Florida, and possibly even Ohio, that deals are made.

SMERCONISH: If he does win Florida.

DELGADO: I firmly believe he will win Florida.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Guys, I wish we had more time, but we don't. Thank you all so much for being here.

DELGADO: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Up next, your best and worst tweets, like this one, and more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:55:36] SMERCONISH: I always say, you can follow me on Twitter if you can spell Smerconish.

Time only for one today. Check this out. TVEPFOX says, "Smerconish, it's not right to try to take away the race. @realDonaldTrump is winning, fair and square, like him or not". Hey, I'm a rule of law guy. I agree with you. If he gets to the 1,237, he deserves to be the Republican nominee.

I'll see you next week.