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Dozens of Protesters Disrupt Kansas City Rally; CNN Democratic Town Hall Tonight at 8PM. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 13, 2016 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:04] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell live from the Mershon Auditorium on the campus of the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, for tonight's presidential town hall.

But, first, Donald Trump wants disruptive protesters to face charges. His campaign events were interrupted several times yesterday after the rally that turned violent in Chicago. Actually, the rally was canceled and the aftermath of that cancellation turned violent.

Look here. This is Vandalia, Ohio. You saw that man rush the stage. The Secret Service jumped in to protect Mr. Trump. The man was taken away and arrested. Trump was not injured.

You heard the booing there in Kansas City, Missouri. Dozens of protesters inside and outside interrupted Donald Trump by the end of the night calling for arrests of protesters who interrupt his rallies.

Our Ryan Young has more for us.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, the big wonder was what was going to happen after what occurred in Chicago? Kansas City said they were prepared for it. a lot of people in the community talk about it would not be out of control.

Protesters across the street, in fact, you can see how police set up a dividing line to keep protesters and Trump supporters apart from each other. But as a long line stretched around this building, thousands of people showed up for Trump. In fact, at 2:30, the first person arrived here and now, 3:30, more than a thousand were still in line.

Now, if you look this direction, the line stretched all the way down as people waited to come in to see Trump speak, but Trump was interrupted several times because protesters made their way in and made their voices heard.


The conversations did get tense out here. There was some pushing and shoving. Some punches were thrown but police were able to get that pretty much under wraps pretty quickly.

Reporting in Kansas City, Ryan Young, CNN.


BLACKWELL: All right. Mark Preston back with us now.

Mark, of course, what we've been talking about all weekend will loom large here at the town hall tonight. But the question as it relates to this race, can Bernie Sanders do in Ohio, what he did in Michigan?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, he is certainly hoping to and talking to the Sanders strategists, they say that they are looking for delegates. Now, they're in the hunt for delegates. But why this is critical right now, Victor, is because he has talked to his whole entire campaign about this time in the campaign right now.

They needed to get out of south because they did not have the support of African-Americans in the South, but they thought when they got to the industrial Midwest, they would do well. We saw that in Michigan. We have Ohio on Tuesday. We have Illinois on Tuesday. We have Missouri on Tuesday.

And of all of those states, you know, some Sanders folks are saying that they think Missouri might be their best bet. But could you imagine if they were to win Ohio? That would be a big boost to their campaign, certainly psychologically.

BLACKWELL: So, in Michigan, there was the issue of the auto bail out in that last CNN Democratic primary debate in which Hillary Clinton said he voted against it. His defense was that he voted for the bail out on its own but vote against the larger bank bail out as he could called it.

And I wonder if this reference that Hillary Clinton made yesterday about healthcare and where were you, and the Sanders campaign response of, I was right behind you --


BLACKWELL: -- if this could play a similar role on Tuesday as it did in Michigan.

PRESTON: Well, in some ways, when she came out and criticized Senator Sanders on that yesterday, and they were able to come out very quickly and say we were right there, certainly diffuses the argument that he wasn't there trying to get healthcare at that time. You know, of course, that goes back when her husband, of course, was in office and she was leading the charge on healthcare.

But when it comes to the auto industry we really all would have thought that attack line would have worked and it didn't. But why it's important today where we stand is because you do have a lot of auto manufacturing in Ohio and a little bit in Illinois and in Missouri as well. So, that argument they made in Michigan they were hoping to work there and then boomerang into these three states probably is not going to work. BLACKWELL: All right. Mark, stand by for us.

I believe we have on the phone with us, Symone Sanders, national spokeswoman for the Sanders campaign.

Symone, can you hear me?

SYMONE SANDERS, NATIONAL SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE SANDERS CAMPAIGN (via telephone): Yes, I can hear you. How are you doing, Victor?

BLACKWELL: I'm doing very well, Symone. Good to have you with us this morning.

First, I want to start with the reason we're in this auditorium of Ohio State University.

What does Bernie Sanders need to do tonight to close the gap here but also pull off what many did not expect was possible, that win in Michigan? How he can do that in one of the states on Tuesday?

SANDERS: You know, I think Senator Sanders has to go out there and do what we have been doing is talk about the issues. And the issue of unfettered free trade deals and how they have literally devastated communities in the state of Ohio is something we are going to talk about.

[07:35:02] We're going to talk about how he's been strong when it comes to standing up for hard working American people, standing up to Wall Street.

I assume we're going to talk about healthcare tonight, an issue that is extremely important especially when we talk about the fact that more 29 million Americans in this country as still uninsured, millions more still underinsured, and we have been there for the health care fight, and Senator Sanders has always been there for the healthcare fight.

So, I think those are some of the things that we are going to talk about. I think the people of Ohio, the American people are ready for that conversation and those are the kind of things they want to talk about.

Undoubtedly, something else you are going to want to talk about not only the protest and violence we saw not only in Chicago at Donald Trump rallies, many of the people who were outside and some of the people who were inside that auditorium in Chicago were Bernie Sanders supporters, holding up Bernie Sanders campaign sign, shouting "Bernie, Bernie".

There have been calls for Donald Trump to speak clearly and distinctly and have a moment of punctuation, I'm calling it, with his supporters. Why hasn't Bernie Sanders spoken to his supporters about the protests and going to these events? Should he also have a moment of punctuation?

SANDERS: Look, I think what is happening at this Donald Trump rallies and Senator Sanders had said it's a direct result of the things Donald Trump had talked about. So, this is not -- Donald Trump is doing this. He is using rhetoric that speaks to the worse part of people and the worse and (INAUDIBLE) parts of America, I think those are things we need to focus on.

Look, our campaign is not orchestrating anyone going into Donald Trump rallies and what not. But what this is, is the American people are fed up and they are tired. They would like to speak about the issues and when you see folks --

BLACKWELL: But, Symone, let me jump in here please and I hate to interrupt. There is a bit of a delay between the phone call and my being here in Ohio. So, it seems like I'm jumping in the middle of your sentence, I'm trying not to do that. But did the Sanders supporters not just hand a gift to Donald Trump? Any time there is a protester, he can just point and say see, they're the Bernie Sanders supporters again?

Your supporters went in to try to protest what they see as intolerance in their words, but they handed him a gift by holding up your candidate's signs, chanting his name and now, Trump has been validated every time there is a supporter to call out your candidate's name.

SANDERS: Look, Victor, look, Victor -- Donald Trump is showing the American people that he is literally a pathological liar as the senator would say. Look, obviously, we appreciate that we have supporters at the rally in Chicago. But again, our campaign did not organize those protests.

What caused -- and I want or the clear, what caused the protests at the Trump rally is a candidate, frankly, that has promoted hatred and division. And we don't have to look far. He's promoted against Muslims and women in this country, Latinos, people with disabilities, African Americans, his birther attack against the legitimacy of President Obama.

So, it is not -- again we are not orchestrating anyone going into the Donald Trump rallies. What causes the violence at these rallies is the campaign, and the senator put out a statement about this, is the campaign whose words and actions have encouraged it on the part of his supporters. You know, Donald Trump said, "I want to punch him in the face", he said of a protester, you know?

So, Donald Trump yearned for the "olden days", quote/unquote, when the protesters were being punched and carried out in a stretcher. So --

BLACKWELL: No question there have been people --


SANDERS: -- over Trump.

BLACKWELL: -- from both sides of both Democrats and Republicans have called for a calming of the rhetoric.

Symone Sanders on the phone with us. I know it was a last minute call after Jeff Weaver got a little sick. So, Symone, I appreciate you getting on the phone with us this morning.

SANDERS: My pleasure, my pleasure, thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: All right. Certainly, certainly. Enjoy your Sunday.

Remember to tune in to the CNN Democratic presidential town hall tonight. It's at 8:00 Eastern, right here on that stage here. It is all set up ready for tonight, right here on CNN.

Also, an impressive lineup of candidates -- Jake Tapper has all of them -- Kasich, Trump, Rubio, Sanders. All of "STATE OF THE UNION", 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

All eyes on Ohio, ahead of Super Tuesday part three. Can John Kasich win his home state? Or will Donald Trump be able to beat him on his own turf?

[07:40:00] What the Ohio governor must do to stop the Republican front runner from gaining even more ground.


[07:43:31] BLACKWELL: Governor John Kasich says very clearly all eyes are on Ohio. And he's right about that. The voters need to step up in his words. Watch.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In this election here next Tuesday, it's not just the eyes of the United States that are on Ohio. It's the eyes of the world. And we can send a message.


BLACKWELL: Presumably that message: send Donald Trump packing.

And joining me now, Matt Borges, the executive director of the Ohio Republican Party.

Matt, is the state party has endorsed Governor Kasich, endorsements from the state party don't come that often in presidential race.

Let me ask you, why make the call to endorse the governor?

MATT BORGES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, OHIO REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, this governor has turned the state around from 400,000 job loss to 415,000 new private sector jobs. In Ohio, you turned $8 billion budget deficit into $2 billion budget surplus, while cutting $5 billion worth of taxes, governing as the conservative.

It is exactly the kind of recipe that we know we need for Washington. He did it for Ohio. And we're very proud of our governor. We're looking forward to seeing him win here on Tuesday.

BLACKWELL: Let me throw in a tweet which comes, you know, at all hours of the day and night, just a couple of minutes ago and I'm paraphrasing here, Donald Trump saying John Kasich was for NAFTA. The state never recovered. Now he wants to bring TPP to the nation.

We're putting up the exact tweet there. Ohio steel and coal dying.

[07:45:00] Your response to whether we're seeing from Donald Trump?

BORGES: It's certainly not the only thing we've heard Donald Trump say that's been wrong on this campaign and voters are going to remember that on Tuesday. And John Kasich will carry the state.

Donald Trump doesn't like to lose and he's about to lose here on Tuesday and this race then takes a entirely different turn. So, we'll see where it goes from there.

BLACKWELL: Well, if you're wrong. If Governor Kasich does not win here, and I know you're going to tell me, but he will win.

BORGES: Right.

BLACKWELL: OK, if he does not win here. Is there a rationale for him to stay in the race? Having won nowhere else?

BORGES: Again, I'm not -- I'm not even dealing with that, because everything is trending his way. He's winning among the early voters. He's been surging late in New Hampshire and Michigan. He'll do it again here in Ohio and I think he'll win here on Tuesday. So, it won't be an issue that we'll have to deal with.

BLACKWELL: But does he have simply a state message and not a national message? I mean, you support the governor but he's not won in any contest. He's come in second place most notably in New Hampshire, but why hasn't that message resonated if he has such a good fiscal message where's the fruit?

BORGES: Well, we had a larger field. That field has narrowed. I think will even more after Tuesday and the map and calendar start to become more friendlier for a candidate like John Kasich.

So, I think, as we get to the northern state contests and certainly start with the Rust Belt, the Midwest, John Kasich will do well. It all starts here in Ohio on Tuesday.

BLACKWELL: So, there was this ruling from a judge of 17-year-olds here in the state who will be 18 by Election Day in November, will be able to participate in the primary on Tuesday. The secretary of state says he's not going to appeal that.

We know that plays well for the Democrat well for Bernie Sanders winning that bloc of voters. Who does it play for well in the GOP field?

BORGES: You know who may answer is going to be. John Kasich, of course.

BLACKWELL: But does Rubio play better with younger voters here?

BORGES: No, this is a situation where our secretary of state was properly interpreting the law. A judge said the law should be interpreted differently and therefore, that's what is going to stand for Tuesday. We don't need any more chaos or confusion with regard to way the judges make up the rules and law as we go along. So those voters will be able to cast their ballots on Tuesday and if they are smart they will vote for John Kasich.

BLACKWELL: John Kasich says it is getting harder to support Trump if he's the nominee. Should he break from this pledge?

BORGES: He makes it hard, doesn't he? No. I think our governor has said that when you are arena, which he is, that you take a different approach to your fellow competitors. And we'll see -- when we get to Cleveland, we have the convention coming back here to the Buckeye State for the first time in 80 years in July, we'll know who our winner eventually is and that person will be the person we strongly support for president of the United States.

BLACKWELL: All right. Matt Borges, good to have you with us.

BORGES: Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: The weather was good in the shot yesterday. I had to come and get some of myself.

BORGES: Might be a buckeye donuts kind of morning today.

BLACKWELL: Oh, it sounds good. Thank you, Matt.

And remember to tune in to the CNN Democratic presidential town hall tonight at 8:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

Still ahead, as we said that the judge ruled in favor of 17-year-olds can vote in Tuesday's crucial primary. We heard from Matt that should help Governor Kasich. But will that fuel Bernie Sanders here in Ohio?

Up next, I'll chat with the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party to get his reaction.


[07:52:17] BLACKWELL: And we're live from the campus of the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

Tonight, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will take questions from voters right there on that stage in a town hall event here on CNN.

Then, on Tuesday, 691 delegates are up for grabs for the candidates as voters head to the polls in five states, including Ohio.

And joining me now is the chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, David Pepper. Good to have you in this morning.


BLACKWELL: So, I just want to start with the question after that major upset win many call it for Bernie Sanders in Michigan. Can he do the same thing here in Ohio, and specifically in Michigan the exchange in the last CNN debate over the auto bailouts? Many credit with Bernie Sanders' ability to win Michigan. This exchange we're seeing over $, health care now, can that help Bernie Sanders here?

PEPPER: I think either way it's going to be tight in Ohio. We've known that for some time. We've seen it tighten a lot in the last couple weeks, so I think issues like health care but especially issues like trade, you are see candidates pushing those points.

I think it's going to be tight. I don't want to predict one way or another, but I think it's going to be tied all the way to the end.

BLACKWELL: So, if it's tight the impact of this ruling from a judge that the 17-year-olds who will be 18 by election day in November can participate in the primary, is that -- are we talking about a substantial number that could push Bernie Sanders over the limit here?

PEPPER: You know, I don't know how many. I'm just thrilled the judge ruled that way. I mean, we have seen years -- every year the Republicans are trying to keep people from voting, they've talked college voters. And here, even though the law has been clear since 1981 that 17-year-olds with vote as long as they're by age in November, it was terrible the secretary of state tried to stop that.

And I'm just thrilled -- he lost to a group of 17-year-olds who took him to court and said, we want to vote, we're excited to take part. And, frankly, I don't care if they vote -- you know, some are Republicans and they're going to vote in that primary, some are Democrats. I'm excited that they simply have the right to vote. It was great that they won.

BLACKWELL: You were here just passing by matt and we know the GOP has endorsed Governor Kasich.

My question for you, why no endorsement from the Ohio Democrats?

PEPPER: Well, the truth is, almost no party in the entire country has endorsed in either presidential primary. I think New Jersey did and now, Christie is out so that one is irrelevant. The Ohio Republican Party to my knowledge is the only party that endorsed their home state candidate. Not even Vermont endorsed Bernie Sanders.

So -- but big picture, the deck is certainly stacked for John Kasich. He's got Urban Meyer's endorsement, Marco Rubio's endorsement, his own party's endorsement, they're handing out sample ballots with his name on every one.

So, he should win Ohio. Ted Cruz won Texas 44-27.

[07:55:03] He didn't have his own party's endorsement.

So, in a way everything is in favor of him here. I would expect if he doesn't win by a big amount, it actually doesn't look very good for him because it's such a home field advantage at this point.

No other state party in the country again so far has endorsed their home state candidate.

BLACKWELL: Yes. David Pepper, head of the Democratic Party here in Ohio. I appreciate you coming in this morning. Big night here in the Mershon Auditorium. Stage is set and the questions will be flying tonight. Thank you so much.

PEPPER: Great to be here.

BLACKWELL: All right. Again, the Democratic presidential town hall is tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN, just two days ahead of the big contests, one of them being here in Ohio. For the Republicans, it's winner-take-all, proportional, of course, for the Democrats.

Let me send it back to you, Christi, in Atlanta.

PAUL: All righty. Hey, Victor. Thank you so much. Enjoy Ohio. It's a pretty awesome state, just saying.

BLACKWELL: I know, it's a lovely place. I'm just here for maybe 18 hours or so, but I have enjoyed it thus far.

PAUL: I know, I know. Well, enjoy it, nonetheless. I know everybody in the Buckeye State will be good to you. I'm just a little biased and I admit it. I'm very open about it.

Thank you, Victor. Always good to spend my morning with you and with all of you who are out there. Thank you for starting your morning with us. We certainly appreciate it and love your company.

"INSIDE POLITICS" starts right after a quick break for you. Stay close.