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SMERCONISH

Trump and Anger in America; Kasich Reacts to Trump Protest Violence. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 12, 2016 - 09:00   ET

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


(MUSIC PLAYING)

[09:00:05] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish. It's getting scary out there. Is this a presidential race or uncivil war?

In Chicago last night, angry confrontations between supporters and protesters at a Donald Trump rally, things quickly spiralled out of control. Police had to intervene. The event postponed.

And now, you're looking at a packed Trump rally in Ohio that begins in about an hour, unprecedented heavy security, five law enforcement groups represented. Is this the new normal? When the dust settles, do or die week for Marco Rubio and John Kasich, both have to win their home states, Florida and Ohio and that's just to thwart Trump's nomination.

Things have gotten so crazy that Rubio's team has been asking Rubio supporters in Ohio to vote for Kasich and wait, there is more, a ground swell of Democrats are switching parties so that they can vote for Donald Trump, but is it because they believe in him or because they see him as the weakest candidate to face on general election day.

As I mentioned, another Trump rally scheduled to start in the hour within near Dayton, Ohio. Thousands have shown up for a rally in an airport hanger. Can things stay calm?

Mark Preston joins me, from Vendalia (ph). He is the executive editor of CNN Politics. I think, mark, everybody wants to know, is there any presence of protesters in ohio akin to what there were in chicago last night?

MARK PRESTON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, CNN POLITICS: Well, Michael, certainly not at this moment right now. This is a very secure area we are right now. We're right next to the Dayton International Airport. As you said, unprecedented amount of police activity around here. This place is pretty locked down. Having said that, there are thousands of people going inside this hanger right behind me who knows who is a protester and who is not.

I have to tell you though there is a level of support that I haven't seen for Donald Trump in the past few weeks, certainly the past few months of seeing him on the campaign trail and a lot of that is probably going to be based upon what we saw last night in Chicago. These Trump supporters, Michael, are very frustrated by these protesters that keep on interrupting these Donald Trump rallies. SMERCONISH: It's so interesting that you say that because it's a

subject I'm about to pursue with other guests. Mark Preston, a bright bulb politically speaking especially, you think this plays to his benefit?

PRESTON: Look, it does if you are a hardened Trump supporter, Michael, what happened in Chicago last night is only making you even more supportive of Donald Trump. Several people I spoke to today in the line said they say "listen, Donald Trump is going to say what he wants to say and if you don't like it, that's too bad. You have a right to protest, sure, what you don't have a right to do," the said "is to interrupt these presidential rallies."

One gentleman in particular, who said he's a retired police officer said to me "listen, if you get in my face, I'm going to get in your face." So there is this level of anger right now that is percolating certainly something I haven't seen in the several presidential campaigns that I've covered but again, as you said, is this the new norm?

SMERCONISH: But all of the behaviour that we witnessed at these Trump rallies is just a Hillary or a Bernie commercial waiting to happen in a general election. Mark, you can see that loop already.

PRESTON: No question. You know, it's interesting even behind me you look behind me right now and it doesn't look like there's a lot of people here. They have moved several thousand people probably into the hanger behind me but I have to tell you, right off, to the side off camera, there is a line of cars that is stretched right out, people still trying to get into this rally right now.

People, Michael, started coming here in the middle of the night just to get in line to see Donald Trump. It's really an amazing scene.

SMERCONISH: Mark Preston, thank you. We'll come back to you later, OK?

PRESTON: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: I want to tell you what I think. What happened last night in Chicago was a Republican (INAUDIBLE) test. People are going to look at the same footage and they're going to come to completely different conclusions. Some will see as you just heard from Mark, unruly protestors who succeeded in squashing a presidential candidate's first amendment to speak but I think that only makes sense if viewed in a vacuum.

The events need to be seen in the context of Trump's tumultuous campaign and the milestones include Trump himself saying that he wished he could have punched a Las Vegas protester in the face. I saw this coming from the beginning ever since Donald Trump first sported the hat which said "Make America Great Again."

[09:05:00]

His campaign is based on convincing voters that America is not a great place and he has sold that message to a small but very loyal constituency who have been hearing the same thing through their a.m. radios ever since Barack Obama was elected. But remember, two-thirds of Republicans - they don't want Donald Trump as their nominee. Others have been saying that Donald Trump has harnessed the anger that exists particularly among the Republican voters. I disagree. Trump hasn't just tapped into the motions but created and perpetuated them and he knows exactly what he's doing. Get him out isn't just a command to remove protesters from Trump rallies, it's his campaign slogan. It's a double entandra that taps into the concerns of the white middle class which sees its jobs in jeopardy amidst the country's changing demographics.

Donald Trump has shouted fire in a political theater, that's how I see it.

Joining me now, two Trump supporters, Jeffrey Lord. He is a former Reagan White House political director and CNN political commentator and Crystal Wright. She is the publisher of the conservative "Black Chick Blog" and author of a new book called "Con Job."

All right. Jeffrey, you heard from me, take the floor, your rebuttal.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, my rebuttal is this is what the American left does. You know, I am writing a column at this moment and I looked at video from Occupy Wall Street, from Black Lives Matter, from the Chicago Convention of 1968, the democratic convention. This is what the American left does.

Donald Trump has nothing to do with it. Donald Trump is an excuse. At one point it was Hubert Humphry. You know, as they say, there is a video out there going through downtown Seattle smashing windows. A video of the Black Lives Matter people silencing Bernie Sanders at one of his own rallies. This is the American left in action. It's just that Donald Trump happens to be the target of it right this minute.

SMERCONISH: No, Jeffrey, respectfully, I've already read what you pen for the "Spectator" and it's very well done but what you failed to show me is where Hubert Humphry stood up and said "I wish I can punch that guy in the face. Get him out." There is no behavior like that from the elected officials that you cite but where you can draw a causal connection but there is here.

LORD: But Michael, we have free speech in this country. Candidates can say anything they want. You can't blame this kind of stuff on the candidate. Hubert Humphrey used the Secret Service to get protesters out. He ordered them out. He did the same thing as Donald Trump. You can't blame Humphrey, you can't blame Trump. You can't blame some merchant in Seattle. You can't blame Bernie Sanders. These candidates have first amendment rights. They can say anything they choose to say. You can't blame them.

SMERCONISH: Crystal Wright, what I am blaming Trump for is creating an environment and let me say to Jeffrey's point, I don't think it's fair to interrupt these candidates and I recognize the free speech rights that exists on both side of the equation but when you see the old- timer who could cocked that guy - run that footage if you would in Fayetteville. Isn't Donald Trump enciting that kind of a response, when Donald Trump says I wish I could punch him in the face, do we have that footage? Can we put it up on the screen of what happened in Fayetteville.

African American guy walking out of the place. Here it comes. A white guy with a cowboy hat, boom. Isn't he doing what Donald Trump said he wished he could do?

CRYSTAL WRIGHT, "BLACK CHICK" BLOG: Isn't it interesting we're missing a lot of facts when we talk about Chicago and we talk about Donald Trump's rallies? It's interesting that Donald Trump is the only candidate who has protesters show up by the thousands. A friend of mine was in Chicago, she brought her teenage daughter who was about 13 or 14 and got her out of school early at 1:30 to go to stand in line for hours to hear Donald Trump speak, and Bernie Sanders supporters had a calculate coordinated effort on social media to have protesters sneak into Donald Trump's event last night, get in Trump supporter's faces and ripped up signs and they achieved what they wanted.

But nobody is blaming the liberal protesters for stopping free speech and nobody is telling Bernie Sanders to calm him people down and another unreported fact at these rallies, Donald Trump is actually playing over a loud speaker before each rally there is an audio recording telling his supporters not to get into fights with protesters.

SMERCONISH: Wait a minute - but Crytal -

WRIGHT: No, no, let me just finish here. Let's wait a minute here. Donald Trump is one man. He is not - I think the blame is on the protesters, even some of the protesters. There is an article in the "Washington Post" this morning, the protesters are on record saying that it's not Donald Trump's fault. They go in there with specific purpose --

SMERCONISH: Crystal, you have to let me respond. Wait a minute.

WRIGHT: You have to be fair, Michael.

[09:10:00]

SMERCONISH: Being fair, I'm not being asked to vote for any of these protesters for president of the United States. I am being - I am being asked to vote for Donald Trump. And respectfully, you're both comparing apples and oranges when you reference Bernie and the left, I want to say this -

WRIGHT: OK.

SMERCONISH: You can't give to me the litany I'm about to give to you. I want to show you Jake Tapper (INAUDIBLE) the other night reminding Donald Trump of some of the statements that he has made. I'm unaware of any statements from any of the other candidates -

WRIGHT: You're giving a free pass to Bernie Sanders -

SMERCONISH: No, I'm not giving a free past. WRIGHT - liberal protesters. If you shut down free speech last night and you know what -

SMERCONISH: Crystal, no -

I'm talking about the candidates. I'm not defending the behaviour of the protestors -

WRIGHT: You're --

SMERCONISH: You're defending -

I'm going to show you something. Here is Jake Tapper in the debate. Roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Some of your critics point to quotes that you made at the debates, at these rallies including February 23rd, "I'd like to punch him in the face" referring to a protester. February 27th in the good old days they would have ripped him out of the seat so fast, February 1st, knock the crap out of him. Seriously, just knock the hell, I promise you I will pay for the legal fees, I promise, I promise."

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: We have some protesters who are bad dudes. They have done bad things. They are swinging. They are really dangerous and they get in there and start hitting people and we had a couple big, strong, powerful guys doing damage to people, not only the loudness - the loudness I don't mind but doing serious damage and if they are going to be taken out, I'd be honest, I mean, we have to run something. It's not me. It's usually the municipal government, the police because I don't have guards all over these stadiums. I mean, we fill up stadiums.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SMERCONISH: Jeffrey, what I'm saying is that there is nothing you can show me from any of the other candidates where they made similar statements to Donald Trump. I abhor incivility. I'm not about that. I don't like the fact these protesters have interrupted your guy but other candidates have done nothing like he has done. You get to respond.

LORD: Michael, I love you but what I hear you saying is the political equivalent of the woman who was asking to be raped because she wears short skirt. This is wrong. This is wrong. Candidates can say anything they please, anything they please, they do not deserve to be -

WRIGHT: Michael, look, I think that showing that clip you raise an important point, Michael. No other candidate is being heckled and havig protesters disrupt his rallies with the intent purpose of getting into inciting fights with supporters.

And I agree with what Donald Trump said, you have one protestor after another - do I think these people should be punched in the gut? No. I'm with you, Michael. I think on both sides, the violence is not acceptable but to blame it on Donald Trump when you have him being gang banged by protesters and his supporters, I don't think that 75- year-old man should have sucker punched that young black kid, at the same time, we have to ask ourselves a question. Why are so many liberals coming out in hordes in Donald Trump's rallies? Shouldn't they focus energy on supporting their candidate, Hillary or Bernie? Isn't that what democracy is about? I don't like the violence, Michael. I agree with you.

SMERCONISH: I get the final word. I don't see correlation, I see causation. I see a direct connection between fomenting the seeds of discontent and telling an angry white middle class, that the others could be Barack Obama without a birth certificate or the Mexicans who are the rapists or the Muslims that we need to keep as a religion out of this country and then to act like you're surprised when people go crazy at these rallies. I'm sorry, guys.

WRIGHT: I'm not white and I agree with them. The Muslims, we need a temporary moratorium on Muslims coming into the country and get a handle on illegal immigration. I'm not white. I agree with Donald Trump.

SMERCONISH: Next time you come on, don't hold back and tell me what you really think.

Jeffrey Lord and Crystal Wright, thank you.

How will voters react to last night's clashes? What does the rest of the path to the convention now look like?

Joining me three smart individuals, Dr. Terry Madonna, director for the Center of Politics at Franklin and Marshall College, Michael Waldman, former speech writer for Bill Clinton, democratic strategist, Bob Beckel.

Dr. Madonna, Terry, I want to begin with you. Politically speaking, who benefits from what we saw last night?

DR. TERRY MADONNA, DIRECTOR, CENTER OF POLITICS, FRANKLIN AND MARSHALL COLLEGE: Well, I think Donald Trump support just hardens. Remember, he had it early and it's firm. Nothing he has said and done has diminished that support. He is now about a third of the way towards the magic 1237, barring something in this sort of almost insane presidential nomination contest, I think it's going to be very difficult to stop him. We're going to know a lot more Tuesday in Ohio, Florida, and Illinois.

But the facts are his support is firm. It's been consistent. His rallies will only grow. You hit the nail on the head. We are seeing the culmination of these deep divisions, polarization that has come to grow and enlarge over the last decade and a half and it's being crystallized in the candidacy of Donald Trump.

[09:15:18]

SMERCONISH: Michael Waldman, I see part as a part of the continuum that's been building for the last 30 years, I've spoken extensively on the past, the polarization, I believe, emanates from some of the conservative influences in the media because the GOP has abdicated its leadership to them and this therefore shouldn't be a surprise.

MICHAEL WALDMAN, FMR. SPEECH WRITER FOR BILL CLINTON: Well, it comes at a period of economic change and stagnating wages for many people. Significant demographic change and yes, a lot of voices in the media and conservative media telling people this is the fault of the others. And you need to go out and do something about it. Anybody who pretends that this is a surprise, that a major candidate likely to be the nominee of one of the two parties who gets up and speaks in such incindiary and racial terms, anyone whose surprised that violence erupted at these rallies is faking it.

The fact of the matter is, this is an inevitable consequence of this kind of language and while it's not the first time in American history that we've seen this kind of think play out in an election but it's been the first time in a long time not since George Wallace's presidential campaign in 1968 and he used code words, much more than Donald Trump does now.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Bob Beckel, I want to show you how some of the other candidates are handling this, Trump's opponents. I'll begin with Ted Cruz. You tell me if he is striking the right chord with an eye Tuesday. Roll that. Do have -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED CRUZ, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The campaign bears responsibility for creating an environment, when the candidate urges supporters to engage in physical violence to punch people in the face, the predictable consequence of that is that it escalates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Bob Beckel, Marco Rubio said words have consequences and John Kasich said Trump has been sowing the seeds of this for a while. How should they respond?

BOB BECKEL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, they responded the right way because once again, Trump captured the entire news cycle. So the only way you're going to get in is somehow comment on what happened last night. Look, I was at the Chicago convention in '68. I was there as a marshall. You don't know fear until you see a horse bearing down on you at 12:00 at night.

But this was not comparable to Chicago but the seeds are. Trump has a responsibility. Certainly he should have been allowed to speak. He had a responsibility to set the tone. He had a perfect opportunity last night to say when Don Lemon asked him this that we should all come down here, I ask my supporters not to engage. I asked those who want to protest to please do it in the areas they are supposed to but this will in the short run certainly help him probably in Florida and (INAUDIBLE) in the long run, you're right, it's going to get commercial and the intractable Donald Trump will be exposed more. SMERCONISH: Hey, Terry, you've been focused on some of the strategic

implications of what's going on out there. Two things I want to ask you about, quickly, a fusion ticket. Might the net of this be the two candidates on the Republican side pair up and there is a lot of strategic voting taking place in this cycle.

I get phone calls on a daily basis on my radio show from individuals who say I just want out and voted for Donald Trump. Half the time it's because they are for him and half the time it's because they want to elevate him as a weak candidate.

MADONNA: Yes, we'll first of all, there is almost no way I think to stop Trump barring something that we don't know and in this campaign that could occur tomorrow. The fact of the matter is that three of these other candidates are not going to be the nominee, they could put a fusion ticket together, a kind of unity ticket, you know, you pick it, Kasich-Rubio, Rubio-Kasich.

Mathematically, it looks like that Cruz has the outside chance to stop Trump win the nomination as this whole process moves forward. That was done, of course, in 1976 when Ronald Reagan picked democrat - United States senator, a Republican named Richard (INAUDIBLE) from Pennsylvania. It didn't work then. There is probably two ways now, a fusion ticket to try to shake up the Republican process and/or when you go into the convention, it looks like Trump will be shy the 1237, almost under any circumstance and then to do a brokered convention how? There is no one to broker the convention, the old bosses are gone or maybe just a go through some kind of effort by rules changes to stop Trump.

[09:20:06]

There aren't a lot of options out there. A fusion ticket might be one. Now on the other side of the equation it looks now like there are some Democrats who are doing exactly what you say but the vast majority of the party switchers are blue collar working class voters, the kind of support that is showing up at the Trump rallies conversely on the democratic side, Sanders seems to be getting some of the same kind of support because these folks feel left behind, the economy has not kind to them and stagnant wages, too many folks -

SMERCONISH: Strange bedfellows coming -

MADONA: Yes.

SMERCONISH: Hey, guys, gents, I have to move. I want to say this, Michael Waldman, I just read "The Fight to Vote," your new book. It's terrific. Thank you all three of you for being here, I really appreciate it.

WALDMAN: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: What do you think? Tweet me your feedback @smerconish. I'll read some of them later in the program.

Still to come, waiting on the rally in Ohio and Trump's tactics on terrorists and their families have put him at odds with a former general, one-time head of the NSA and CIA, Michael Hayden, General Hayden is about to join me.

And it wasn't just Chicago. Several Trump rallies are now turning into scenes of confrontation and outright brawling. It is it his fault?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:25:27]

SMERCONISH: You're looking at a live picture from Vandalia, Ohio. This is at the Dayton Airport. We're about a half hour away from a Trump rally. Security, very heavy. You're looking at the exterior. It is packed inside. Trump supporters have filled up a hanger there. People started lining up at midnight and many in the crowd, there you go. There is inside. Many in that crowd are buzzing about what happened last night in Chicago. We'll go back to that soon.

But first, Donald Trump said that he wanted to reinstate water boarding of terrorists, then he backed down. He still however insists that he's going to "take out members of terrorist families." This is unsettled some people including retired Air Force four-star general, former director of both the NSA and CIA, Michael Hayden. General Hayden has said the military wouldn't obey such orders and then Trump fired back on CNN's Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll work on it with the generals.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I talked to General Michael Hayden.

TRUMP: He said it's terrible that we talked that way and that's why he's been fighting this war for many years.

COOPER: He's A four-star general, former head of the CIA, former head of the NSA -

TRUMP: Yes, I know. Well, he frightens me because we've been fighting ISIS for many years and this should have taken, this should have been over with quickly. That's the problem. We have these people that - they are frightened because we're protecting terrorists.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SMERCONISH: That's Donald Trump. I've invited General Hayden here to respond. He's the author of a brand-new book, it's titled "Playing to the Edge, American Intelligence in the Age of Terror" and chronicles his long time in the trenches.

General Hayden, thank you so much for being here. Respond please to Donald Trump's saying you frighten him and this ISIS business should have been wrapped up long ago.

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FMR. CIA AND NSA HEAD: Michael, look, the simple explanation is if we could have killed our way out of this problem, this war would have been over 14 years ago. I was a member of, I supported the most magnificent killing machine in the history of armed conflict but we can't kill our way out of this problem.

We have to kill to defend ourselves in the immediate near term. I get it. We need to do other things, as well and some of the things that Mr. Trump is suggesting like killing terrorist families intentionally, like saying they all hate us, living the narrative that jihadists use as their basic recruitment tool. Like there is undying enmity between Islam and the west. All of that gets in the way of actually resolving this issue.

SMERCONISH: General, I have to say, I've read and thoroughly enjoyed the book.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: What I notice though is that you make an effective case for the arsenal of tools that have been at the disposal of the NSA and the CIA since this war on radical Islam began. Donald Trump is making a similar argument that he wants to make sure that you've got all those tools going forward.

HAYDEN: Right. No, there are some things that he suggests that I actually could support, at least, in a modest form. I actually think our forces are a bit over regulated, I think our tolerance for collateral damage is far too low when we talk about striking ISIS. He's not talking about that, Michael. He's not talking about collateral damage to the innocent. He's talking about targeting the innoicent

Look, the title of the book is "Playing the Edge" and you're right, Michael. It's a pretty broad discussion of how I think we have to use all the space but implicit in the title is that there are edges that there are points beyond which we should not go. Not just because it's unethical or illegal, because it's just a bad idea. It doesn't lead to success.

SMERCONISH: General, one thing he would like brought back is waterboarding and it's got a lot of attention on the campaign trail. And there is a segment in the book, a passage it he book where you speak about having personally interacted with the individual who interrogated KSM, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and you then write the following words, the interrogation techniques in KSM's case especially sleep deprivation had pushed him into what interrogators called a zone of cooperation from his previous zone of defiance. After that, KSM's questioning resembled more of an interview than an interrogation. The information we got from him and others was incredibly valuable, is not that a page taken out of the Trump platform?

HAYDEN: Well, I had my circumstances, my predecessors who were the actual officers who used water boarding had their circumstances but Michael, things have changed. One important thing that's changed is American law.

[09:30:02] The Congress has actually said we can only use the techniques in the army field manual and there is no waterboarding in that, beyond that, Michael. Our knowledge of the enemy, our sense of the threat, has also changed.

And so, I've also said quite publicly, if a future president wants to waterboard somebody, he probably ought to bring his own bucket, because I don't think my old agency is going to do it ever again.

SMERCONISH: Ronald Reagan's ambassador to Switzerland for tours of duty was Faith Ryan Whittlesey. Ambassador Whittlesey has just weighed in in written form, embracing Donald Trump in many respects and among other things, she said this, "Donald Trump meanwhile is getting some important things right. The goal is to wipe out ISIS, al Qaeda, al Nusra and other jihadists. Americans should welcome Russia's efforts to at least stabilize Syria and bring an end to the civil war."

"He says he can talk to Vladimir Putin and arrive at understandings. Good, it's high time. Rather than threatening to tear up the Iran nuclear agreement on hi first day in office, as someone of his opponents have pledged to do, he has said he dislikes the agreement, says it was badly negotiated, but will respect and enforce it. Oddly enough, these are mature positions that outclass those of several opponents who love to pose as policy heavyweights but have a penchant for taking childish approaches to serious matters."

Will you respond to the Ambassador Whittlesey?

HAYDEN: Sure. I actually agree with the back-half of her statement. I don't think we should rip up the Iranian nuclear agreement on day one. The candidate I supported, Governor Bush had the same view. Let's take a look and be a mature superpower.

With regard to the first half, though, Michael, I'm in disagreement. The Petri dish in which ISIS was able to grow and thrive and expand was actually created by the Bashar al-Assad government. The Russian interest in the region is to support the continuation of that government. You can never defeat ISIS. You can never under cut Sunni fundamentalism and radicalism in Syria while the Assad government is still there and the Russians support the Assad government.

SMERCONISH: You heard Donald Trump the other night say 20,000, 30,000 troops he'd put on the ground in Syria. What about that?

HAYDEN: I'd have to defer to the generals as to what the sufficient American force is. But, actually, Michael, it sounds like a big number. I think 3,500 is too small a number. I do think we need to have a larger force, and we need to free up the rules of engagement for that force.

But I don't think anyone with any experience, Michael, who knows how to point to Syria on the map, would want American maneuver never brigades back in that desert again.

SMERCONISH: One final question, I invited you here to talk about your book and the war on terror but you're not only a general, you're not only the only individual to head the NSA and the CIA, you're an American with a television set.

Surely, you watched last night or this morning what happened in Chicago. What did you think?

HAYDEN: Let me merge that with the conversation we just had, Michael. I think Mr. Trump and an awful lot of his statements and his rallies has been appealing to the darker angels of our nature, and we've saw the product of that last night in Chicago.

SMERCONISH: General Hayden, I'll see you Monday night at the Philadelphia Free Library. Thank you, sir.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Waiting for a rally today, Donald Trump's rally in Ohio, and we're standing by also for Ohio Governor Kasich who is going to be responding to last night's events in Chicago.

And I'll tell you if Trump wins big on Tuesday, how it might actually make it harder for him to win the nomination.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:37:52] SMERCONISH: Ohio Governor John Kasich now addressing the Donald Trump controversy from Chicago last night.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And, in fact, the sun is starting to rise in Wilmington by bringing people together at all levels at the local community, the state, my friends in the legislature. It was not long after that when the African-American Democrat mayor of Cleveland came to me with the union and the business community to ask whether I would help them to fix the Cleveland schools.

We worked together, struggled together, and passed some of the most comprehensive reform that we've seen in the United States affecting our children. I believe that -- and that was done in great collaboration of the community, the political leaders, the union, the legislature, strong bipartisan results. We worked all over the state to bring people together to create jobs.

And, of course, as a result of that and a result of cooperation, we not only were able to balance budgets but also to put ourselves in an environment where we have now risen to the fact we have over 400,000 jobs in the state of Ohio.

Now, I am the only one on that stage who has run an unwavering positive campaign. Frustrations of the American people, but I have made every effort I can to answer those frustrations with programs that I hope would provide -- would provide a positive sense that we can overcome our difficulties. I learned in the state of New Hampshire I knew it all along that it became very clear to me that you could walk into a room of 100 people a drive them into the ground and give them hopelessness. So, this campaign has been nothing but an effort to try to express a

vision and the things that we can do in America, both at the government level and the community level, to restore hope in our country.

[09:40:16] Donald Trump has created a toxic environment and the toxic environment is 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.

It is important that we recognize their frustrations. It is important to recognize that there are -- that there are challenges that we face -- challenges of job insecurity and a lack of rising wages and a frustration that their children may not inherit the kind of life that they inherited from their parents. That is to be recognized. But it isn't to be used to drive people down. It isn't used to divide people.

I have been talking about vision and hope and solutions, and I'm proud to say that after doing it, basically laboring on obscurity during this entire campaign, I'm pleased to see the other candidates in the last debate began to realize that name-calling, that lowering the bar to politics is not acceptable and they learned in the last debate and the ideas matter and policy matters and giving people hope matters.

It just took too long for them to realize it and frankly, the coverage of this campaign has been disappointing, because it seems as though the attention goes to those who call names. I refuse to do it this entire campaign, even if it meant that I would be ignored and even if I meant that I would lose because our purpose as public officials is to design solutions to unify, to raise, to help, to give a road map for how people's lives can be improved.

I hope moving forward that all of us, all the candidates, including the Democrats, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, my remaining colleagues, who are running for president of the United States will begin to focus their attention on how we can solve the problems in America.

Are they serious? Yes. Are they resolvable? Absolutely. But we will not resolve them by dividing ourselves, including the public officials. If our rhetoric is negative, if our rhetoric is divisive, we will not solve these problems that the American people expect us to fix, but if we can work together, respect one another, allow for a discussion of vision and a path to a stronger America, we won't miss.

Some of the greatest moments I've had in this campaign is the opportunity to give people sense that they are made special that they can solve problems, they need to believe in themselves. Just yesterday at a town hall meeting, a young woman was talking about will she have her hopes and dreams fulfilled, a graduate student at Liberty University.

I listened to her carefully. Maybe I saw a little bit of me in her. Maybe I saw a little bit of my precious daughters to remind her that hope comes to the inside, believe that you're special, believe that you can make a difference. Believe that you can change the world.

Maybe this is the reason why I continued to survive in this campaign because this message needs to be heard in America. I'm proud of what we've been able to do. We're going to continue to do it, and I hope that others will continue to follow the example that we set.

I don't watch much television news as I told all of you, just to see Americans slogging themselves at a political rally deeply disturbed me.

[09:45:09] We're better than that. We're a nation that overcomes obstacles and challenges.

I'm just reminded of when with work together in light of some terrible, terrible situations in Ohio where we brought police and community together where three Democrat legislatures came to see me and expressed concern about pending judicial decisions and how we work together brought community, brought police together to move forward.

That's what we need to do in America, across America, in all of our communities, and all of our states, and the leaders who represent the United States of America.

Yes?

REPORTER: Governor, you have been given repeated opportunities, you talked about Donald Trump, you talked about the tone of his campaign, you were asked yesterday --

SMERCONISH: Ohio Governor Kasich with some strong words and condemnation for Donald Trump. Can I just say that in a campaign of many milestones -- you just witnessed one. Three days ahead of voting in Ohio, his native state, you heard John Kasich say, "I'm the only one who's run a positive campaign and that Donald Trump has put forth a toxic environment."

It will be interesting to see at the top of the hour here on CNN whether Donald Trump responds to those words, it will be interesting to see if Donald Trump responds to General Michael Hayden, the only person to have ever headed the NSA and the CIA who said here this hour that Donald Trump is appealing to dark elements within his constituency. Keep tweeting me your thoughts @smerconish.

We're awaiting this morning's rally in Ohio.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:51:06] SMERCONISH: We're minutes away from what is arguably the most anticipated rally of the 2016 cycle, Vandalia, Ohio, is the location. It's a Donald Trump event. We just carried live a pretty stunning set of remarks from Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Joining me now, "The New York Times" national political correspondent, Jonathan Martin.

Jonathan, please react to all the events of the last 24 hours, but begin with the Kasich comments.

JONATHAN MARTIN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: The Kasich comments don't really surprise me. He's trying to win Ohio, his home state. If he doesn't, he's not going to be able to go forward with this campaign, and he sees an opportunity to rally Republicans in his state who are appalled by Donald Trump's campaign. And so, he's doing that by seizing on what happened last night.

But let's be clear about what John Kasich has done during the course of this campaign. He wants to portray himself as sort of taking the moral high ground and not going after Trump. In reality, he did confront Trump last fall at the CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado. He basically said, the party's gone berserk, these plans don't make sense, what are we doing as a party? Donald Trump smacked him back pretty hard.

And I think Kasich at that point decided it was not wise from a tactical standpoint to confront Donald Trump. So he hasn't done that since, but that's for the purpose of politics, I think, and to his credit, it's worked kind of well here. He's still in the race, going into the home state. He is now seeing that there's an opportunity in finally confronting Trump after what happened last night and is doing that going into his home state on Tuesday.

SMERCONISH: It seems as if -- and I know that you're an astute observer of this process and the numbers, it seems as if it is only Donald Trump who has a path to the 1,237 delegates before arriving in Cleveland --

MARTIN: Beforehand, yes.

SMERCONISH: But he's got a very small margin of error, Jonathan.

MARTIN: Yes.

SMERCONISH: If he doesn't win Ohio and Florida on Tuesday, this thing's going to just hobble along for a long time, and it will get to the convention unresolved.

MARTIN: You're exactly right, Michael. In Ohio, especially. And that's why Kasich, even though he is, I think, 0 for 24 at this point, has not won a single state yet, which is why this candidate is so important to the party's nomination, because if he wins Ohio, John Kasich does on Tuesday, that is crucial to denying Donald Trump from getting that delegate majority that you just mentioned by the last day of voting in June.

If Kasich can win Ohio and Ted Cruz can pick up delegates in North Carolina, Missouri and Illinois on Tuesday, Michael, the states that are kind of forgotten, by the way, with all this focus on Florida and Ohio, then it's a lot harder for Trump to get 1,237 before the roll call at the convention this summer in Cleveland, and that's what the game is now. It's almost impossible that anybody else is going to be able to get 1,237, besides Donald Trump, by the time California and New Jersey vote on June 7th, but it is possible that Trump could be denied from getting that delegate majority himself, and that's the entire game now.

SMERCONISH: Only 30 seconds left for you to react to this. That if Trump wins Ohio and Florida and the field narrows, he may have more of a fight on his hand going toe to toe with Cruz.

MARTIN: Well, that's the big question is, is it better for Cruz to have Kasich in or out of the race?

SMERCONISH: Right.

MARTIN: There's an argument that it's better for Cruz to have Kasich in, because in some of the more moderate states that Kasich could pick up delegates in suburbs and college towns.

The other argument, though, is that it's better for Cruz to have a head-to-head matchup against Trump, Michael, because then, all of the sort of anybody but Trump forces would have to rally to Cruz. It's not quite clear which is better for Cruz.

I can tell you which scenario the Cruz campaign wants -- they want to get Trump head to head. They think that if they have Trump head to head, that there will be a surge to him of folks that don't love Cruz but that want to stop Trump.

SMERCONISH: Jonathan Martin, thank you so much. We really appreciate your being here.

[09:55:00] We are awaiting a Donald Trump rally outside of Dayton, Ohio, and we will bring it to you live.

MARTIN: Thanks, Michael.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Hey, let me show you just one of the tweets that has come in this hour, which raises quite an interesting point, "The problem with the rest of the GOP candidates, they still say they will support Trump if he wins their party's nomination." Well, this is, you know, how can you call Donald Trump a con man at one moment and then say, I'm all for him in the next?

It will be very interesting to see if they will still support Donald Trump in light of the events of the last 12 hours.

So, that is Vandalia, Ohio. And I am not being melodramatic when say this is the most anticipated campaign event thus far in a season that has had a whole slew of them. What will Donald Trump say about the events of last night, about the comments of General Hayden here today, about the comments of John Kasich?

We're about to find out, as I hand off to Christie and to Victor. You're in good hands. Stick with CNN.