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Cruz Steals Trump's Thunders on Super Saturday; CNN Debate Tonight in Flint, Michigan. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 6, 2016 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This country belongs to all of us, not just those at the top.

MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The math only gets friendlier for us after tonight. We knew this would be the roughest period in the campaign.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The spirit of our country has been lower because we don't like what's happening in Washington.



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell live in Michigan -- a bit of a delay there -- the site of CNN's Democratic debate tonight, two days before Michigan's primary.

And the ever changing face of this year's election is our lead story today. Republican -- the candidates, of course, are waking up to a potential shake up in the race for the White House. Ted Cruz may be stealing Donald Trump's thunder, winning two out of Saturday's four contests, and inching his delegate count closer to the front runner. Cruz won in Kansas and Maine. Trump took home narrow victories in Kentucky, that primary in Louisiana as well.

But Trump still leads in the delegate count, 385 by CNN's estimate. Cruz now narrowing that gap, he's at 298.

Let's turn to the Democrats now. Hillary Clinton brought in a solid win over Bernie Sanders in Louisiana. But came in behind her rival in Nebraska and Kansas, the caucuses there.

Clinton, though, still has a strong lead in the delegate count. Take a look at the numbers, 1,131 to Sanders 479.

We've got our team of correspondents covering the story, of course, but we're going to begin with Mark Preston, our CNN politics executive editor.

I want to start with you about Ted Cruz. His surge seems to be the story this morning and it is not just that he won two of the contests but his wins were thumpings. The Trump wins were much narrower than expected.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: They were. So, the big question is, was Trump's performance at the debate last week, did that hurt him? And was Ted Cruz able to reach out to conservatives and say, listen, I'm the true conservative and Donald Trump isn't.

I don't think we can really make that conclusion yet at this point. These are contests that Ted Cruz won, that Donald Trump wasn't necessarily expected to do super well in. But the fact of the matter is, as you've noted, Donald Trump is still very far ahead in the delegates. We're heading into a crucial three weeks of this campaign right now, which could perhaps decide who's the next Republican nominee.

BLACKWELL: OK. So, let's talk about Marco Rubio, because Marco Rubio has been hitting Trump hard and consistently for more than a week now, but it doesn't seem to manifest itself in wins for him. In fact, he didn't take delegates home in two of the four states.

PRESTON: Right. So, the question is, if you go back probably about a month or six weeks ago, Chris Christie went hard after Donald Trump, he went hard Marco Rubio in particular. And he ended up falling on the sword and losing, right? It didn't work well with the voters.

And I think Marco Rubio took a gamble by going out and really becoming the attack dog on Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz sat back in many ways and allowed that to happen. So did Rubio go out and help Cruz because he's is won who looked like he could have been slightly unhinged by going down into the gutter with Trump. And perhaps, that is what has happened.

BLACKWELL: So, of course, for Rubio, everybody is waiting for the 15th, when they get to Florida, the winner take at all. He has to win Florida. But racking up the losses as we get to the 15th, I mean, how much does that undercut his entire narrative or the reason for his campaign even if he does Florida?

PRESTON: Well, I got to tell you, again, like I look at all of this as moments in time. And over the past three weeks, the moment in time has been Marco Rubio is going to be the establishment pick. He's the one that everyone should get behind.

However, that doesn't seem to be happening. The establishment is now looking at Ted Cruz, somebody they don't even like, Victor. They don't like Ted Cruz, in some ways, they may want Donald Trump to win. But they are now talking about maybe we get behind Ted Cruz.

We saw Erick Erickson just this morning, a very influential social conservative voice, is saying that Marco Rubio needs to get out of the race and run as Ted Cruz's vice president and if that happens, he thinks that they can take out Donald Trump, which is really interesting.

But when we talk about losers on the night you have to say that Marco Rubio was a big loser but perhaps even the biggest loser right now is the establishment, because they have yet to have a candidate win a mainly contest or a contest al all.

BLACKWELL: All right. So, speaking of winning a contest, let's go to Boris Sanchez who's in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Marco Rubio is hoping to pick up their 23 delegates.

Boris, what are you hearing from Rubio's campaign? It couldn't have been a great night for them we know in the delegate count. He didn't pick up delegates in half the states that voted and caucused.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, obviously, a less than Super Saturday for Marco Rubio. The campaign making light of the fact that those were not exactly states that he was expected to well in.

[07:05:06] He said the kind of voter in those states he doesn't necessarily have the best appeal for those voters.

But he's hoping to win today in Puerto Rico, particularly because there are about a million Puerto Rican voters in Florida. And he's hoping that success here translates to those million voters and that they can help the tip the scales in his favor when it comes to that contest on March 15th. Despite that, it was still a rough Saturday for Rubio.

Here he is responding, when I asked him about how he felt about his performance -- lackluster performance yesterday.


RUBIO: What you need to understand is that all of these states are awarding delegates by proportion. So, tonight, we will have more delegates than we did last night. We continue to pick up delegates and we will continue to do so and this map only gets better for us as we move forward in some of the other states. Many of the states that voted tonight are states that quite frankly some of my opponents just do better in. We recognized that going in, but we wanted to make sure we got our fair share oaf delegates in this proportional process. We're soon going to be in the winner-take-all process, in larger state likes Florida and other places like that, and that's where we feel very confident as we move forward.


SANCHEZ: You heard the senator trying to take delegates proportionately away. He didn't do that in state likes Maine, so it's going to be very difficult moving forward. He's looking to turn the tide here in Puerto Rico. This would also be a major symbolic victory and a challenge to Donald Trump's claim that Hispanics love him. Again, Rubio hoping that this translates to success in Florida, and that that keeps his campaign afloat and a campaign that is quickly losing momentum, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Boris Sanchez there in San Juan, thank you so much.

Let's turn to the Democrats. Brianna Keilar at the site of tonight's Democratic debate here in Flint, Michigan. And let's talk about momentum, because Bernie Sanders last night had a momentum win but it seems that Secretary Clinton had a mathematical win with taking home more delegates. What are we looking forward to tonight?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. He won two states. She won one. But she won more delegates and she already has a big lead over him. So, you're right, it was a mathematical victory for Bernie Sanders.

Tonight, we'll be seeing both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton here in this debate hall behind me in Flint, Michigan. Some of the questions they will be fielding will come from Flint residents who, of course, are very frustrated over the water crisis here over the last few years, where lead has gotten into the water affected the children of this community very negatively.

These candidates are we expect coming to talk about specifics because that is what the residents want.

This is what the mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver, said.


MAYOR KAREN WEAVER (D), FLINT, MICHIGAN: I really want to hear them talk about what, you know, some solutions to this. That is one of the things we're lacking for because we've been dealing with this situation for such a long time that it's time to move past. We know we continue to need water and we continue to need filters, but we've really got to look at long-term solutions and what it is the people of Flint deserve to have as a result of what's happened to them.


KEILAR: Now, Hillary Clinton's national political director said as this crisis became part of the public consciousness here in the last couple of months, that this wouldn't have happened in a white affluent city. So, this is something -- this is a chance for Bernie Sanders and for Hillary Clinton to say not only that they are paying attention, they care about Flint, but also they are paying attention to the concerns of African-Americans.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the people here don't want just sympathy. They want solutions.

Brianna Keilar at the site of tonight's debate.

Mark, quickly on the Sanders/Clinton race. Did yesterday's vote dramatically narrow the path for Sanders?

PRESTON: No, it didn't. But what it has done is give him a little bit momentum at his back. He needed wins yesterday. He perhaps could have a win today.

What the Sanders people will tell you, Victor, is that March was Hillary Clinton's month or certainly, you know, the South was Hillary Clinton's month and we're going to look for Bernie Sanders, he thinks he's going to start winning out west and here right now in the industrial Midwest.

BLACKWELL: All right. Mark Preston, thank you so much.

And today at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, do not miss "STATE OF THE UNION". Chief political correspondent Dana Bash will be hosting. She will be talking with Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders ahead of tonight's debate. That is at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

And still ahead on NEW DAY, an update on Trump's tone on torture. He's now saying that he will broaden laws to fight ISIS. We'll ask a supporter what that means and how he'll pull it off.

Plus, a supporter of Ted Cruz joins us to discuss his surge and his call for both Marco Rubio and John Kasich to get out of race so he can go one on one with Trump.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sixty-five to seventy percent of Republicans recognize that Donald Trump is not the best candidate to go head to head with Hillary Clinton. That if Donald Trump is our nominee, in all likelihood, Hillary wins.



[07:13:14] BLACKWELL: Live look here at the Flint River just behind me here in Flint, Michigan. I'm here on the campus of the University of Michigan. Tonight, 8:00 p.m., Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton will face off in the next Democratic debate, as their primary rolls on.

And the calendar for the Republicans is entering a critical ten-day stretch. For the Democrats, of course, voters in me are casting ballots today, Michigan and Mississippi on March 8th. Then the race moves to Arizona, Idaho, Utah, out west on the 22nd, before the big prizes in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio on the 15th.

And several dates for the Republicans, Michigan, Mississippi join Idaho and Hawaii on the 8th. But, of course, the big day is March 15th. That's what everyone's looking ahead to. Florida, for Marco Rubio, will be crucial, as well as Ohio on that day for John Kasich.

Let's talk about the path ahead. Joining me now, Ron Nehring, national spokesman for the Ted Cruz campaign, and Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Donald Trump.

Stephen, I want to start with some video out of Kansas, as I say good morning both of you.

The turnout for Kansas, 70,000 there for the GOP. More than double in 2012 when it was about 30,000. But Trump lost wig there and this seems to undercut his narrative that he is growing the party. This was a closed contest.

What do you think about what we're seeing here? A big numbers here, but a big loss for Trump in the state.

STEPHEN MILLER, SNEIOR ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP: Well, in a fifty state contest you are not going to win every state. But there's no doubt that Mr. Trump has brought millions of voters into the Republican party and growing it in a way we've never seen before and the turnout all over the country demonstrates that, and Mr. Trump's huge margins in states geographically diverse all over the country demonstrate that.

[07:15:04] I'll give you a good example of how we're growing the party. We have a huge election coming up in Michigan where Mr. Trump is doing very well. Mr. Trump has talked about how our trade policies are crushing the middle class.

Now, you have Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich all in favor of the Trans Pacific Partnership which will export our jobs to Japan and Vietnam, especially car jobs. Mr. Trump is reaching disaffected Democrats and independents with his message of creating more manufacturing jobs in the United States instead of forcing our workers to compete against the lowest wage workers around the globe.

BLACKWELL: Certainly a point we've heard Mr. Trump make on the stump.

Let me come to you, Ron.

How do you expand it? And your candidate had a very good Saturday. How do you expand demographically, geographically what we see as strength for Ted Cruz specifically in the South? We saw that, what some call a surprise win in Maine.

RON NEHRING, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN, TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN: Well, let's look at the fact that Donald Trump's people have said that Ted Cruz is a regional candidate, for example. Well, in Maine and Alaska are not exactly in the South. So, Senator Cruz has drawn support from a variety of demographic segments of the Republican Party regionally and the like.

So, his appeal has been broad and continues to broaden in that regard. For example, that's why we're here in the state of Florida. I mean, Jacksonville, Florida, here today, because we have an opportunity here. Marco Rubio is not going to win Florida. We have an opportunity to win Florida, that's why we've opened 10 offices here.

So, this campaign is on offense. We've seen a tremendous change in the numbers in recent days. I think this debate performance on the part of Senator Cruz which was absolutely stellar had a powerful effect on the voters.

We saw in Louisiana, for example, the ballots that came in that were cast absentee, that is that they were cast early, they favored Donald Trump. But the ballots that came in on Election Day, people who voted on Election Day, people who voted later were supporting senator Cruz and that is why Donald Trump's margins were so small in Kentucky and in Louisiana.

BLACKWELL: Ron, let me ask you about Florida. You are there in Jacksonville. I lived and worked there for many years.

Do you believe that Ted Cruz can win Florida? I mean, there is no do well in Florida. It is win or go home with nothing. Is this an attempt just to keep Marco Rubio from winning there? Or do you think Ted Cruz can take home the 99 delegates?

NEHRING: Yes, just to be clear, I think this is a really important point and thanks for the question. We don't compete anywhere in order to deny someone else winning. We're competing in order to win. We have to get to 1,237 delegates. We're not far behind Trump at all. In fact, we're a lot closer after yesterday. We won more delegates than Donald Trump did yesterday.

But we're competing to win. We're opening 10 offices here in the state of Florida. I'm here today, and this is a great opportunity.

And what's important to note is that Senator Cruz won his own state by 17 points, versus the most recent polling in Florida has Marco Rubio down by 16. That's a 33-point differential. It shows the political dynamic here in Florida. It's very, very different than it was supporting Senator Cruz in his own state. So, Marco Rubio is in big trouble in his own state and we're going to compete to win.

BLACKWELL: Stephen, let me come back to you, and Donald Trump's call to narrow this field last night. Let's play that.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Marco Rubio had a very, very bad night. And personally I'd call for him to drop out of race. I think it is time now that he crop 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 got to able to able to win, and he has not been able to win and I think it is time that he drops out.


BLACKWELL: So, Stephen, I understand why Ted Cruz and John Kasich would call for Marco Rubio to drop out of race. But it seems counterintuitive that Donald Trump would call for Rubio to drop out, because then that would consolidate the I guess non-Trump or anti- Trump vote if you go one on one. What do you say?

MILLER: Well, one of the reasons we've called for Mr. Rubio to drop out of the race is because Mr. Rubio betrayed the voters of Florida and that is a big deal. Mr. Rubio -- and I'm in Florida right now and there's a lot of anger towards Mr. Rubio in the state. Mr. Rubio campaigned in 2010 and CNN covered it extensively on a pledge to defeat amnesty. He hammered Charlie Crist -- (CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: But that wasn't Donald Trump's point last night. What he said last night was that Marco Rubio wasn't winning.

MILLER: Well, I'm going to finish my point though.

Right. But my point is that it is a huge issue in the state of Florida. He promised he'd defeat amnesty and Mr. Rubio became the biggest champion of amnesty in all of America.

[07:20:06] And he is losing --

BLACKWELL: I understand the talking point. But what we heard from Donald Trump last night was not a call because of immigration policy. It was a call to get out pause he wasn't winning.

MILLER: Right. We are going to win -- look, I understand that in political circles everyone is always debating a this person wins or that person wins, this person gets this vote and that person is going to get that vote.

We are trying to get everybody's vote and we are going to win the voters that Mr. Rubio once had who supported him on the amnesty issue and then were completely and totally betrayed. And we're also going to get votes for Mr. Cruz because Cruz's support and his vote for fast-tracking Obama's trade deal is going to send away working class voters --

BLACKWELL: I get it.

MILLER: -- by the millions.

BLACKWELL: That's what we certainly heard from Mr. Trump on the stump, but you make the point that in political circles, people are worried about who's getting what vote. You, sir, are an advisor to Donald Trump's campaign. You are in a political circle and this is a primary for the nomination. I thank you for making the point.

Stephen Miller, Ron Nehring, thank you both for being us.

I'm going to send back to Pamela back in Atlanta.

BROWN: All right. Victor, thanks so much.

And coming up right here on NEW DAY, we have some new details in the investigation of the knife found in O.J. Simpson's former estate. What the former cop who held on to it for years is telling his lawyers.

Also, families and friends of doomed Malaysia Flight MH370 remember their loved ones two years after their disappearance.


[07:25:00] BROWN: Welcome back. I'm Pamela Brown on this Sunday. We're going to get back to Victor Blackwell in Flint, Michigan, in just a moment.

But, first, here's a look at some other stories we're following this morning.

We're hearing from a lawyer for the L.A. police officer who says he was given a knife found on O.J. Simpson's property. He says a construction worker gave former officer George Maycott the knife. His client tried to turn the knife over to the department but they said there was no need for it. The department is now testing so see if there is any DNA evidence on the knife.

A Texas man is missing after falling 100 feet from a cruise ship yesterday. Forty-six-year-old David Mossman was in the Royal Caribbean ship Navigator of the Seas" and fell off near the coast of South Florida. The coast guard has been searching for Mossman since early this morning.

Well, today is a day of remembrance for the family members of the missing Malaysian airliner. Malaysia Flight 370 disappeared mysteriously two years ago Tuesday. Two hundred and thirty-nine people were onboard the flight when it took off from Kuala Lumpur, headed for Beijing. A piece of debris found this week in Mozambique could soon be tested to see if it's part of the missing jet.

Well, two brothers won the lottery while vacationing together in Florida. But get this -- look at the checks right here. The winnings weren't exactly equal. Pennsylvania Judge James Stocklas won the Powerball jackpot of $291 million. His brother only one 7 bucks. The lottery went ahead and printed them both winning checks and, hopefully, the winning brother will share some of his winnings.

And just ahead on NEW DAY, did the media put too much focus on Rubio and missed Cruz's surge among voters? CNN's Brian Stelter joins us to examine media coverage of the candidates.

And turning to the Dems, what should Clinton and Sanders' debate strategies be tonight? We'll ask an expert in the show. Stick around. We'll be right back.