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Trump Responds To Violent Protests At His Chicago Rally; GOP Candidates Condemn Trump Rally Violence; Trump: "Thugs Shut Down My First Amendment Rights"; Sanders: Our Supporters Are Not Inciting Violence; Ohio Judge: Some 17-Year-Olds Can Vote; Rubio: I'll Support GOP Nominee, But It's Getting Harder; Protesters Taken Out Of Trump Rally. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired March 12, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:59:58] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because we have people that are so amazing. And it's not necessarily loyal to me, it's loyal to the country. We want to see things happen. We want to see things happen. And they're loyal to the country. It's OK. "USA" is right.
They're loyal. They're loyal to the country. They want great security, they want great military, they want to take care of their vets, they want a border, they want a wall, they want --
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
We're going to build the wall, folks. Don't worry about that.
Who's going to pay for the wall? Who?
TRUMP: Do we have a good time? Do we have a good time? You know, it's sort of interesting. I watched -- well, I shouldn't say it, but I watched little Marco and I watched lying Ted Cruz, lying Ted. He holds up that bible, and then he puts it down and he lies. Lying Ted. Even Rubio said, boy, he's a liar, he lies about everything. And you know, I have the evangelical vote, and I've had great support from Jerry Falwell, Jr. and everybody, Sarah Palin, we have such unbelievable support. But I have the evangelical vote and I won in South Carolina all of the -- I mean, we did so well. And he was supposed to win in South Carolina, and I won in a landslide and we got the evangelicals.
You know why? Because they don't like liars! They don't like liars. Right? True? So, anyway. So, but they said, just as I was coming in, I'm watching and I'm watching the news, and they said, well, at our rallies, we would never have anything like that. They don't have any people at their rallies, folks. There's nobody there. Nobody cares. If they had this hangar, they'd have about four people in the corner over there, in that little corner office. You know. And they'll call it a town hall meeting. Do you ever notice, they say town hall meetings? They always say, why don't you have more town hall meetings?
I said, because I have too many people! Can't have them. So, anyway. I'd actually like to have a couple of town hall meetings, but I just -- you know, like, we have to turn away how many people, like 24,000? We'll have 500, we'll turn away 24,000 people. So, what happened yesterday was incredible. We dealt with law enforcement -- so good, so good. We love our police. We love our police. But we dealt with law enforcement at every level. Secret service, great, the whole group. And it was determined that if we go in, it could cause really bad, bad vibes. And you have to understand, they want me to tell my people, please, be nice, be nice. My people are nice.
The people that came there were so nice. And let me tell you, the people that were there that came there, that were invited there, thousands and thousands of people, they caused no problem. They were taunted, they were harassed by these other people. These other people, by the way, some represented Bernie, our communist friend.
Now, really, Bernie should tell his people -- there weren't too many Hillary people there. You know why. I mean, in all fairness to Bernie, the reason there weren't Hillary people, they have no fervor. There's no fervor. Say what you want about Bernie, at least they have a little bit of fervor, right? But with beanie, so, he should really get up and say to his people, stop. Stop. Not me. Stop. They said, Mr. Trump should get up and this morning tell his people to be nice. My people are nice, folks. They're nice.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
They're great. They're great. My people are great. My people are great. So, here's the story. So, we get up, and I make the decision, and the people in the audience were really devastated. You know, some of those people got there, like you, they got there like eight hours early. Now, they're standing there for eight hours, like you, right? Like you. Raise your hand. We love you people. Don't worry, I'll sign autographs. Don't let them -- don't let them rip you away from that position. No one's -- the only one who could rip you away is Nick Mangold. Him, we can't do anything about, right? So, anyway.
So, what happens is everybody was fine, everybody was behaving, and what they've done really on the other side -- it was MoveOn.org or one of these groups -- bad groups. These are bad people. Let me tell you, these are people that truly don't want to see our country be great again. I'm telling you. I'm telling you that. And we want to get along with everybody, and we can get along with people. We're going to unify the country. Our president has divided this country so badly.
[11:05:27] He has been a -- I call him the great divider. You know, when he got elected originally, I said, you know, I don't think he's going to be a very good president, who knows? I hope, frankly, I wish he were. I wish I didn't have to do this. I wish we had the right people. I wish we didn't have to do it, but we have to.
We have no choice. When you look at the Iran deal, when you look at the horrible trade deals where we're losing a fortune to every country we do business with, our jobs are being sucked away, our jobs are being sucked away. It's unbelievable what's happening. Our military can't beat ISIS. It's being depleted. It can't beat ISIS. Our veterans are being treated horribly. Our border is like a piece of Swiss cheese. The people just come pouring across. We don't have borders anymore. So, let me just tell you -- and on top of that, we have a divided country. We have black and white and every other thing, income groups, everybody hates everybody. Even in Congress. You look at Congress, you look at Washington, look at the politicians. The politicians hate each other. The Democrats hate the Republicans. The liberals hate the conservatives. We have got to change our thinking. Yes, and if there's a group out there, just throw them the hell out. That's OK.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(CROWD CHANTING "TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP!")
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, a lot of excitement there in Vandalia, Ohio. Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta.
We are watching a live event taking place right now, the first one to take place after that violent scene in Chicago last night for a Trump event. Donald Trump canceling, postponing that event because, he explained right off the bat, after getting off the plane and getting to the podium there, that he said they had no choice. He called it a disgrace that there were people there protesting. He called them professional people with their professional signs there, and he's also been going after the makeup of the country, saying that it is divided, divided by race and blaming in large part, he says, President Obama, for being, in his words, the great divider. Let's talk more about what's taking place there and what seems to be a very super excited crowd of supporters there in Vandalia, Ohio, just now, three days ahead of the primary to take place in that statement.
Phil Mattingly is there. So, Phil, let me ask you, it does appear as though just listening audibly to the crowd, they seem more excited, more supportive, more eager to hear what he has to say.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot of enthusiasm, Fredricka. And right now they're dealing with more protesters, throwing them out. Not nearly the tone and tenor of last night, but still a few here. Worth noting, there have been some people that waited in line for more than ten hours to come to this event today. That's the excitement that was around this event. One of the most interesting elements, though, Fredricka, that I have heard throughout in talking to Donald Trump supporters what happened last night actually helped sparked a number of them to come to this rally. They feel like them showing up is in some way a measure of defiance and also a show of support for the candidate that they want to be the President of the United States.
WHITFIELD: All right. Phil, let me check in with "CNN POLITICS" executive editor Mark Preston, who is also there at the rally. And you saw a little bit of a dust-up there. Describe what's been happening.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, we have, Fred, certainly. Towards the end as Mr. Trump was speaking there, we saw a protester get in a tussle with security officials, basically being forced out of the building as some very harsh words were speaking now. If you look over my shoulder behind me, you see behind that fence there is a whole pen of protesters out there, not necessarily a pen. They're standing in the parking lot holding signs, talking about Donald Trump and telling him that hate doesn't matter and what have you. But we've only seen one major dust-up certainly out here right now. We'll see how this goes on over the next few moments or so, but we have seen something happen here.
PRESTON: Nowhere near what we saw last night, though.
WHITFIELD: All right. Mark, let me ask you to take a pause there, because Phil Mattingly also is there inside that hangar. And I understand that, Phil, you also had a view of something else, potentially someone who's being escorted out?
MATTINGLY: Sorry, Fredricka, say that again?
WHITFIELD: So, what have you observed? I understand you may have witnessed someone being escorted out?
[11:10:01] MATTINGLY: Yes, we just saw somebody escorted out. There's been actually a couple handful that have been escorted out. One of the interesting elements of that, though, Fredricka, is the crowd around them. Nobody taunting, nobody showing middle fingers, none of the stuff that I've actually seen in the number of Trump rallies that I've been to in the past. Most people trying to be fairly calm here. And I think it's fair to say, everyone is cognizant of what happened last night and cognizant that people are watching right now. Donald Trump urging his security to throw people the, quote, "hell out," but his supporters themselves staying pretty much in control as they've been walked out around me -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And Phil, you know, Donald Trump didn't hesitate. As soon as he took to the microphone, he said, you know, first off, let's talk about, you know, last night, and he used the word, you know, disgrace to describe the protesters. And he said they had no choice but to postpone that event because he said he wanted to make sure that his supporters were safe, calling his supporters loyal to the country. Is this in large part what many of the supporters who gather today were expecting to hear from him, hoping that he would address right away what happened in Chicago?
MATTINGLY: Yes, and not just expecting, Fredricka, but hoping that he would. And I think what you've see from Donald Trump, talking about how last night was an effort to try and suspend his First Amendment rights, to stump on his ability to talk to his crowds -- everybody that I've talked to here subscribes to that same exact theory. Donald Trump saying earlier that he thought last night was a planned attack on his rally. And when you talk to supporters here, they believe it was very much the same thing. Some people are convinced that this was paid protesters, that these were very well-organized protests designed to try and shut down their ability to watch their candidate. So, you have a lot of strong supporters here for Donald Trump and very much so in agreement with what his perspective is on those protesters last night, despite what some critics may disagree with on that front.
WHITFIELD: All right, Phil Mattingly, thank you so much. Mark Preston as well from Vandalia, Ohio, there. All right, well, we've heard from Donald Trump, his reaction to what took place last night. There are other candidates that have been reacting as well within the GOP. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich all condemning the violence at last night's Trump rally, but they also say Trump shares some of that blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Leaders cannot say whatever they want, because words have consequences. They lead to actions that others take. And when the person you're supporting for president is going around saying things like, go ahead and slap them around, I'll pay your legal fees, what do you think is going to happen next?
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has created a toxic environment, and a toxic environment has allowed his supporters and those who sometimes seek confrontation to come together in violence. There is no place for this. There is no place for a national leader to prey on the fears of people who live in our great country.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any candidate is responsible for the culture of the campaign. And when you have a campaign that disrespects the voters, when you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence, when you have a campaign that is facing allegations of physical violence against members of the press, you create an environment that only encourages this sort of nasty discord.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, so, you're hearing from some of the other candidates in the GOP putting in large part some of the blame on Donald Trump, the kind of violence, disruption that evolved last night in Chicago. All right, so, he is still speaking there in Vandalia, Ohio, now three days ahead of the primary. So, let's let you look what it looked like last night, a chaotic scene, protesters in Chicago. Some wondering if Donald Trump bears the responsibility for inciting violence at the rallies. Raucous protesters being removed from his campaign events have become a recurring theme.
Let's bring in Kayleigh McEnany who is a Donald Trump supporter and a CNN political commentator to discuss this. So, Kayleigh, you heard from Ted Cruz and you heard from John Kasich. Kasich saying Donald Trump created this toxic environment. Cruz says all candidates are responsible for the culture of their campaigns. So, what's your response as a supporter to Donald Trump? Does he bear responsibility? Should he accept some of the blame for what has erupted?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think he bears responsibility for the actions of others. It is their choice to incite violence, it's not his fault. He can't control other people's actions. And as for Ted Cruz and Rubio and Kasich, you know, this is political opportunism. There is a reason they came out and are taking advantage of his opportunity. We are two days before Florida and Ohio, potentially the most consequential day in the election season thus far, and you know, my response to them would be two days ago you stood by Donald Trump and you were asked specifically about violence in the rallies and not one of you took the opportunity to denounce Donald Trump or his rhetoric.
Moreover, a week before that in the previous debate, you were asked if you would support the eventual nominee, who looks like it will be Donald Trump at this point. All of them said, yes. So, if they truly believed this in their heart -- and this was more than political opportunism -- they would have called Donald Trump out Thursday, they would have called him out in the debate before that, but they are using this as a political moment. I think it's very unfortunate.
[11:15:23] WHITFIELD: But you agree it did reach a new level last night. And is it your feeling that if they did not say anything -- I mean, call it, you know, being an opportunist or not -- but if they did not say anything, I mean, that silence would be deafening and very odd, would it not?
MCENANY: I think they all three should have come out and they all three should have said last night was inexcusable because thousands of protesters showed up and thwarted an event, stopped an event where people wanted to peacefully gather, listen to a candidate and make their choice for president of the United States based on what that candidate said. It is the culpability and the responsibility of the protesters who thwarted free speech last night, who blocked paths of ambulances. One protester's on video saying, "We are here and it's not going to be peaceful tonight." These people showed up with the intent of stopping a rally and committing acts of violence, and that's where the blame should lie, and I'm very disappointed in the rest of the GOP field for using this moment to better themselves, rather than to call out the protesters.
WHITFIELD: And then Kayleigh, you know, it's one thing to evaluate what took place last night, but isn't it incumbent upon all of those involved to reflect on how did it get to this point, what are the sequence of events that led up to this, whether it be the tone, the behavior, the end result?
MCENANY: Yes, I think people realize Donald Trump is the front- runner, which is why they've targeted his rallies to go to. I think if Ted Cruz were the frontrunner you would see protesters at this level at his rallies. WHITFIELD: Is it that, or is it something else? I mean, when you
look at some of the signs that people were holding up, signs that said, you know, "I am not a racist," making direct, you know, connection to language that Donald Trump has used, you know, saying that this country is divided. So, aren't they, those who were protesting, were they not being very clear about what has troubled them and why they felt like they had to take this action?
MCENANY: Yes, some of them were clear in their signs as to why they have a problem with Donald Trump, and I would fault many in the punditry class, you know, commentators like me, many from the other side of the aisle, who have generalized about Donald Trump's policies. I have heard several commentators come out and say, Donald Trump wants to ban all Muslims, Donald Trump refuses to denounce the KKK. Really, though, when you look into the facts, what you will find is that Donald Trump would denounced the KKK five times. In one interview, he alleges he did not hear the question properly, but five times he has denounced this horrible, reprehensible group.
Likewise with regard to the Muslim ban. It was a temporary ban for non-U.S. citizens who happen to be Muslims until we figure out why a terrorist got into our country and killed 14 Americans. There are nuances here that are really important. And when you have pundits coming out and generalizing and making these racist accusations or racial accusations, I should say, it really enflames people --
WHITFIELD: Well, are they pundits? Because you saw some of the signs out there in the audience in Chicago. One sign said, you know, "Liberation, not deportation," another, "We are not rapists" and another sign that I was able to see there, "Trump Equals Hate." So, it sounds as though these protesters, you know, took this action on their own, as opposed to, you're describing pundits are, you know, are saying this. These were, you know, folks who turned out in fairly sizable numbers to this Chicago support rally for Donald Trump.
MCENANY: Sure. I'll bet if you ask many of those protesters, you know, what specifically did Donald Trump say with regard to a temporary ban on immigration, I'm sure that they would not know the details and the nuances, and partly responsible for that are people who have generalized and who have spun this narrative of Donald Trump as a racist or a bigot. Those are very, very serious accusations. We just saw yesterday Ben Carson come out, an African-American man, one who I tremendously respect, one of the most peace-loving, kind, gentle-spirited Christian men I think we've ever seen in politics, come out and endorse Donald Trump.
People can see through these accusations and, really, these falsehoods. But when you're someone who's just watching your TV and you hear someone make a statement or passing in the airport, hear someone say Donald Trump refuses to denounce the KKK, which, in fact, is not true -- he has repeatedly denounced this group, you might walk away thinking that that is the end of the story, because people put the thought out there and it becomes the narrative. But unfortunately, the nuance and the details and the specific words has gotten loss in this. And I think for sure the pundits have something to do with that. WHITFIELD: All right. Kayleigh McEnany, thanks so much for your
time. I appreciate it. Joining us on the phone there. And of course our CNN crews were in the crowds of the protesters outside last night in Chicago capturing a lot of these images right here. Those who were trying to deliver their message.
Plus, while more protests pop up today, at Trump's next event, not this one, but the one scheduled later in Cleveland and later on in Kansas City, Missouri, we're following the latest throughout the day.
[11:24:34] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. The fallout, the criticism, the observations about what happened last night in Chicago at a Donald Trump expected rally that ultimately ended up being postponed, and now today, Donald Trump himself responding, tweeting this -- "The organized group of people, many of them thugs who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America." And then he just spoke just moments ago. You saw it live right here from Vandalia, Ohio, calling those protesters organized and a disgrace. Let's talk more about what happened, the chaotic scene in Chicago. What a contrast to that hangar shot there of Donald Trump with his Trump force one as the backdrop there.
CNN political commentator and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker," Ryan Lizza, Political Science professor and politics editor for TheRoot.com Jason Johnson, and CNN Senior Washington Correspondent Jeff Zeleny. All right. Good to see all of you.
So, Jeff, let me begin with you. You were there last night in Chicago. How did these events unfold? How did it get to the point that it got?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, it should have been not a big surprise, actually, because online in the days leading up to this event, there were organized protests of people saying come outside to protest Mr. Trump and also inside. So I mean, I think that we have a couple different things. One, inside, things got quite rowdy. They got very rowdy. People were confronting one another. I was outside the rally, and I can tell you, the protests really represented a diverse tapestry that is Chicago and that is America. And we saw Black and White, Hispanic and Asian, young and old.
A lot of people brought their families. So, people outside the event really were trying to send Donald Trump a message that his rhetoric is not welcome in the city of Chicago. Now, inside, it definitely was confrontational. But you really have to raise the question of why the Trump campaign was coming into the heart of the city of Chicago, a Democratic City, to have a rally like this. Of course, you can have a rally anyplace he wants, but this is a very diverse university, a diverse campus. It's not his base or his crowd at all. That is why we're seeing a different view from last night versus today in Ohio.
WHITFIELD: All right. And of course, all the candidates, all of the other candidates are talking about what happened. This is Ted Cruz just a moment ago talking about his observation, what he sees as a reflection of the culture of a campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: It's sad, number one, that you have protesters that resort to violence, that resort to threats of violence, that resort to yelling and screaming and disruption to silence speech that they don't like. Everyone has a First Amendment right to speak, but the First Amendment does not give you the right to silence others. And we've seen, whether it is the Bernie Sanders campaign or the Black Lives Matter Movement or others, we've seen some protesters that take speech into intimidation, into violence, into trying to silence anyone who might disagree with them. That is wrong. I think it is also true that any campaign, responsibility begins and ends at the top.
And it is my hope that all of us can appeal to civility, all of us can carry a message of unity that brings people together, rather than seeking to divide, rather than seeking to enflame hatred. We should be bringing people together. Far more unifies us than tears us apart. Right now, all Americans are hurting, not just Republicans, not just Democrats, all Americans are hurting right now, and all Americans are hurting because the Obama/Clinton economy is a disaster, because millions of Americans are out of jobs, have seen their wages stagnate, are stuck in part-time work. Millions of Americans are scared about their future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, Ted Cruz there responding to what took place involving a Donald Trump support rally last night in Chicago. Back with me now, Jeff, Ryan and Jason. All right, so, Jason, how does another contender, such as a Ted Cruz, speak out about this without looking like he's opportunistic?
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Well, he is opportunistic, to be honest with you, Fred. And this is disingenuous. And I hate to quote Trump here, but this is lying Ted. OK. He's lying here when he suggests that he has a huge problem with this because this has been going on in Donald Trump campaign for a very long time. Ted Cruz wasn't saying anything about it before until he thought that he was serious competition. And let's put this in a larger context, there have been protests at Sanders rallies, protests at Clinton rallies, protests at every single person's rallies, Republican and Democrat.
You don't see anybody else's rallies turning to people getting veto. There were people who protested George Bush in 2004. He started a war and you didn't see people get beat up. This is uniquely problematic about Trump and that's what these candidates should be saying but they're still trying to appeal to his voters, so they're not being all that honest.
WHITFIELD: So, Ryan, is that placement correct? You know, while there are protests at all of the candidates' gatherings, the difference here is this one became violent and
[11:30:00] Donald Trump bears some responsibility? RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think he does bear
some responsibility. And I think it is true that Rubio and Cruz have been a little bit late, and Kasich, have been a little late to condemning this, but what they're saying yesterday and today is right. You know, the tone of a campaign starts at the top. And the truth of the matter is, when Donald Trump gets up in front of huge audiences that are taken live on cable networks and says his supporters should deck someone if they look like they're going to throw a tomato at him -- that really happened.
And when he says that a supporter who is beat up at one of his rallies should have been roughed up, and when he in general is very coy and declines to condemn violence, well, what do you expect?
His supporters think that they have the green light to do that and it's not just Trump, unfortunately. He sets the tone, and it's now filtered down into his campaign leadership and his people that go on TV for him.
So, you have Corey Lewandowski, who has allegedly grabbed Michelle Fields, a journalist for, ironically, one of the most pro-Trump news organizations in the country, Brightbart, and he now has criminal charges pressed against him by Michelle Fields in Florida. He has denied that.
But someone, obviously, grabbed her, whether it was him or a Trump security personnel. And then you have someone, you know, so you have the guy in the cowboy hat deck a protester because he thinks this is OK.
And then I've even seen on TV, you know, Trump supporters sort of laughing about the fact that that cowboy-wearing -- the 78-year-old punched that protester.
So, it's just infused not just Trump, but his campaign, his supporters on TV, and his supporters in his audiences. And he got up there and said enough is enough, I think it would change, but so far, he's been reluctant to do that. He's blaming everything on the protesters instead of himself.
WHITFIELD: And then Jeff, from a voter's standpoint, why does it matter, the sequence of events in which other contenders, the other, you know, candidates vying for this job that they would wait until now to say something, as opposed to not saying something, you know, weeks ago? Why would that matter for voters?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It matters because it's a leadership test. They're running for president of the United States of America and presidents face all types of issues, expected and unexpected, planned and unplanned.
And how a candidate responds is really a sign of what kind of leader they will be. I mean, I can't even -- it's difficult to even draw a comparison to the previous presidential campaigns.
This is nothing like we've seen in modern time. This is the fifth presidential campaign I've covered, and certainly, the anger out there is different, but it does come from the top down. We all remember that moment in 2008 when John McCain instantly, on the spot --
WHITFIELD: I knew you were getting ready to bring that up --
ZELENY: -- told the woman she was wrong about calling Barack Obama a Muslim, and he said, no, ma'am, he's a good American. We have differences, but he's a good American. That was an instantaneous leadership moment for John McCain.
WHITFIELD: That said something about him, his character.
ZELENY: These candidates have had months and months and months and we have not heard from them until it's probably politically expedient for them, you know, for John Kasich to say this is wrong and for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to say that. They've had a long time to do this.
WHITFIELD: Yes. All right, thanks so much to all of you. We'll chat again. Ryan Lizza, Jason Johnson, Jeff Zeleny, appreciate it.
All right, at one point, protesters at that rally that we were talking about last night could be heard chanting Bernie Sanders' name. You heard Donald Trump commenting about that. Next, hear how Sanders reacted to that violence in Chicago.
WHITFIELD: All right, the Democratic presidential candidates are also speaking out after Donald Trump's supporters and protesters clashed in Chicago last night. Among those in the crowd last night were people holding Bernie Sanders signs, and some demonstrators could be heard chanting the senator's name.
Last hour, Sanders was asked if his supporters incited some of the violence in Chicago, and this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don't think our supporters are inciting. What our supporters are doing is responding to a candidate who has, in fact, in many ways encouraged violence when he talks about, you know, things like I wish we were in the old days when you could punch somebody in the head.
What do you think that says to his supporters? And what happened the other day when some young man was being escorted out and he was sucker punched? And we have seen other incidents.
So, the issue now is that Donald Trump has got to be loud and clear and tell his supporters that violence at rallies is not what America is about and to end it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right, Sanders' rival, Hillary Clinton, is also condemning the violence. Both candidates weighing in just three days now before primaries in several key states, including Ohio.
Joining me right now is CNN's Joe Johns. So, Joe, Secretary Clinton says she is worried about this divisive tone in this primary season, and she tweeted this morning, in fact, that, quote, "Violence has no place in our politics. We should use our words and deeds to bring Americans together."
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred, and I think it's really interesting to look at the dynamics between these two Democrats and the dynamic when you put Donald Trump into that as well.
Look, we have Bernie Sanders now on the record denying that his supporters were inciting in Chicago, but admitting that they were responding to Trump.
[11:40:04]We also had Trump just a few minutes ago on our air essentially calling Bernie Sanders a communist and saying some Sanders supporters were involved in the protests in Chicago.
So, that's a dynamic that is very much worth watching right now. Now, the statement from Hillary Clinton, as you mentioned, she said in part "The divisive rhetoric we're seeing should be of grave concern to us all. We have our differences and we know many people across the country feel angry. We need to address that anger together."
So, a very much conciliatory statement from Hillary Clinton, if you will, asking, why can't we all just get along? And that is very different from what's going on, or at least what went on in the streets of Chicago yesterday.
WHITFIELD: And then, Joe, another big headline on the Democratic side is this decision by an Ohio judge allowing 17-year-olds to vote in the presidential primary, which is a potentially significant win for Senator Bernie Sanders, since he appeals to, you know, younger people.
And I guess the feeling is if they are 17 at the primary, by the time the general election, they'll be bona fide, they'll be eligible and 18.
WHITFIELD: So, is any dust-up coming from this, or are there plans of an appeal? Is anyone contesting this decision?
JOHNS: Right. OK, so, absolutely right, and the headline today is information that came out late last night and probably got buried, partially because of what was going on in Chicago.
And that is that the secretary of state in Ohio has decided not to appeal the decision of the court there in Franklin County, Ohio, which is where Columbus is. So, he's going to go ahead and let 17-year-olds vote in the primary, partially because he said the appeals court would not allow that case to be heard before Monday, which is one day before the primary, could have set off chaos for elections officials.
So, no appeal in Ohio on this decision by the judge. And you're right, Fred, Bernie Sanders has been pushing hard on those younger voters and very much wants 17-year-olds who are going to be eligible to vote in the general election to vote in the primary.
And apparently, that is what he's going to get on Tuesday, based on this judge's decision.
WHITFIELD: Wow. Pretty extraordinary. All right, thanks so much, Joe Johns. Appreciate that. We'll check back with you.
Don't miss the CNN Democratic town hall tomorrow night live from Columbus, Ohio. I'll be there with our live special coverage from the campus of Ohio State University starting at 2:00 p.m. and the town hall hosted by Jake Tapper gets under way at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
All right, Marco Rubio is blasting Trump today, saying it's getting harder every day to think about supporting Trump as the nominee. Next, what Rubio' campaign is saying about Ohio that may reveal a bigger strategy against Donald Trump.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So just hours ago, Marco Rubio reiterated somewhat more reluctantly that if he does not win the nomination, he will stand by the party and its eventual winner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I still at this moment continue to intend to support the Republican nominee, but it's getting harder every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Let's talk about this. Joining me once more, political science professor and politics editor for theroot.com, Jason Johnson, and CNN political commentator and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker," Ryan Lizza. All right, welcome back. So, Ryan, what did you see in Marco Rubio there?
LIZZA: Well, I mean, his campaign is actually tweeting out that footage. So, this is not like it was, you know, a stray moment. They want everyone to know that Marco Rubio is obviously having serious reservations about supporting Donald Trump if he's the nominee.
You know, if you look at sort of wing of the party that Rubio is from, the people who he's come up with, the people who he's relied on advice from, especially on foreign policy, those people are the core of the never Trump movement.
You know, especially in the so-called, the most hawkish foreign policy leaders in the Republican Party, sometimes described as neoconservatives.
They, you know -- Rubio sort of has associated himself with that crowd, and they are the die-hard anti-Trump people right now in the sort of intellectual class of the Republican Party.
So, I think he's looking at what's happening at these rallies, he's looking at the condemnation that's coming, frankly not just from the media or from liberals and Democrats, but from Republicans.
And he's saying he's having -- to me, it looks like someone with grave doubts about the willingness to support Trump if he's the nominee.
WHITFIELD: And so, Jason, you know, does it not seem that the Republican Party was starting to really try to support, gather around Marco Rubio, hoping that he was the one --
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Right.
WHITFIELD: You know, he was the non-Trump candidate, the one to give Donald Trump the biggest fight because the establishment -- that's not their guy.
WHITFIELD: They don't want him. So, now, though, it's quite the quandary. What is the party to do to consider? How are they strategizing, if Marco Rubio is not the one to save the party from Donald Trump, if that's been what the effort has been then what?
JOHNSON: They don't really have an option. You know, Marco Rubio is not going to save them all from the evil Trump. It was never going to happen.
[11:50:02]I don't think Marco Rubio was ever that strong a candidate and when you literally have your own campaign jokingly or not saying "Hey, vote for the other guy to block Donald Trump" that doesn't make any sense. You're either trying to win or not trying to win.
WHITFIELD: In fact, let's hear that because that's essentially what we heard from Marco Rubio. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: If a voter in Ohio is motivated by stopping Donald Trump and comes to the conclusion that John Kasich is the only one who can beat him, then I expect that's the decision they'll make.
I can tell you that in Florida I'm the only one that can beat Donald Trump and whether someone supports Ted Cruz or John Kasich, if you vote for them in Florida, you're in essence voting for Donald Trump. And if a voter reaches the same conclusion in Ohio then I think that's what they're going to do as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you joining forces with John Kasich?
RUBIO: I've never talked to John Kasich about this. You asked me a question, I'm giving you my observation. Clearly, John Kasich has a better chance of winning Ohio than I do. If a voter in Ohio concludes that voting for John Kasich gives us the best chance to stop Donald Trump there, I anticipate that's what they'll do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: This race for the White House has been filled with lots of surprises, this being the most recent one. What is happening within the GOP when they hear their candidate saying something like that?
JOHNSON: They're giving up. It's kind like when you're going to the Super Bowl and you asked a quarterback which team do you want to face. They'll say I'll face whoever.
Marco Rubio is like, no, no, I want to face the guy I can beat. They're admitting that they cannot stop Donald Trump. The problem with all of this is they wasted so much time kissing up to Donald Trump or dismissing him as a real option that they failed to actually run effective campaigns.
And now there's a good chance he's going to have most delegates even if he doesn't get the number he needs.
WHITFIELD: So Ryan, of course, the party wants the party to win. They want to see a Republican in the White House. But this is so extraordinary because we're talking about a movement within the party to say anybody, but this guy even if this guy is the one who stands the best chance of getting closest to the White House.
LIZZA: Look, I agree that obviously Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and John Kasich and the whole series of Republicans who did not -- who did not figure out how strong Donald Trump was last year, they made a huge error by not taking him on frontally.
WHITFIELD: How did that misjudgment happen in your view?
LIZZA: I think because they were not -- there were so many candidates trying to draw from the same pool of voters that were not really the Trump voters that they were too busy beating each other up and fighting over that part of the electorate and decided that Donald Trump would be a problem to face down the road.
Well, now we're well down the road and they're facing him. I disagree that Rubio is giving up. I sense he's giving up because he's saying he can't win Ohio, but he's basically embracing the open convention strategy, right?
This is the strategy, this is the only chance that Republicans have now to stop Donald Trump. It does not look like Rubio or John Kasich or Ted Cruz -- never say never but it doesn't look like their strongest option is to actually get a majority of the delegates and be the nominee that way.
What they can do is deprive Donald Trump of having a majority of delegates before he gets to Cleveland for that convention in July and that's really what Rubio is saying here.
He's saying, look, we need the strongest anti-Trump candidate to win in Ohio and that's Kasich, not me. That will deny Trump a big cache of delegates and I've got to do -- Rubio is saying he has to do what he can to win those delegates. That's their last-ditch effort.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan, as you are talking we continue to look at live pictures now. Donald Trump still talking there in that hangar in Vandalia, Ohio. Our Phil Mattingly is there. Phil, I understand that you've been witnessing more people being escorted or some kind of disruption happening?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Usually most of the protesters show up at the very start of the rally, they've waited towards the very end, including one who started to jump towards the stage for Donald Trump.
Five Secret Service agents quickly rushed the stage to cover Donald Trump before the man was walked off the stage. A little bit of a harrowing moment. Donald Trump then joking around that he could have taken the man himself, but he preferred to let the cops do it.
So in all a very calm day until about the last 15 minutes, Fredricka. Then obviously a lot of protesters, one particularly harrowing moment and now Trump departing Ohio for his next rally.
WHITFIELD: Wow. All right, very tenuous situation growing even more so as Donald Trump wraps up his support rally there in Vandalia, Ohio. This after that disruption in Chicago where his rally had to be postponed.
Mark Preston is also there. So Mark, is this becoming a distraction for Donald Trump or is he seizing this opportunity that it means now he continues to get even more attention and it seems like his supporters are getting even more dialed up and excited?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, no doubt about it, Fred, as these thousands of people are flowing out of this rally, right now, Donald Trump is certainly feeding off the energy of the crowd and, of course, we've seen what he said here earlier today.
[11:55:04]He was not backing down from what happened in Chicago last night, not taking any responsibility for anything that was said or that he has said, perhaps, to incite some of the violence that has occurred.
Now, but as you see, what's happening here right now, thousands of people showed up here this morning here in Dayton, Ohio. They got here as early as 1:00 a.m. to get in line. They had to shut the line down because they were overcapacity and the fire marshal shut it which led to protesters and supporters co-mingling together on the outside right off of the tarmac.
We saw some disruptions during this rally. People brought out, forcibly removed but certainly, Fred, nothing like we saw last night in Chicago.
WHITFIELD: All right, Mark Preston, thank you so much. Phil Mattingly there in Vandalia, Ohio.
Meantime, Donald Trump, he still has more to say and John Kasich both joining Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION" tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN and we will be right back.
WHITFIELD: All right, on the heels of a violent protest last night at a Donald Trump rally that ends up being postponed in Chicago, now you see people dispersing, large crowds showing up to see Donald Trump there in Vandalia, Ohio.
There were a few disruptions, a few protests but nothing like what was seen in Chicago last night. Donald Trump right off the bat taking to the stage calling the protesters a disgrace and calling it planned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But what happened, it was very interesting, and these were great people, these are people like yourselves. These were people that want to make America great again. That's all it is.
It's very simple and they were pouring into the arena, good arena, everything nice and all of a sudden a planned attack, just came out of nowhere printed by -- and it was printed by people that were professional people.