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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Sheriff Weighing Charges of Inciting Riot Against Trump; Clinton Says Trump "Inciting Mob Violence"; Blue-Collar Democrats Flocking to Donald Trump; Sheriff Weighing Charges of Inciting Riot Against Trump; Jane Sanders: Supporters Not Told to Go to Trump Events; Putin Pulling Forces Out of Syria; CNN Goes Undercover Deep in Rebel-Held Syria. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 14, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next, North Carolinian saying he's investigating Donald Trump. Could he really be charged with inciting a riot? We're live at Trump's rally in Ohio tonight.
Plus, it could be the most crucial day for the GOP so far. Does Trump sweep all the states tomorrow or will Kasich stop him? And Trump blaming Bernie Sanders for protesters at his rallies. Should Sanders tell his supporters to stop? Well, his wife Bernie Sanders is my guest. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, a North Carolina sheriff tonight saying he's investigating Donald Trump in his campaign. He said he's looking into whether the GOP frontrunner could be charged with inciting the riot. Now, the investigation, which could be political in part, stems from this incident when one of Trump's supporters sucker punched a Black protester at his rally. Trump's campaign put to response saying, and I quote, "It is a protesters and agitators who are in violation, not Mr. Trump or the campaign."
Well, at this moment, Donald Trump is speaking live with a crowd of supporters in the crucial state of Ohio on the eve of Super Tuesday numeral three. It comes as the war of words over the level of anger and violence at Trump rallies ramped up today. Hillary Clinton taking it to a whole new level, speaking to a televised town hall meeting responding to a question about President Obama and the birther issue with strong language. And she said, when you are inciting mob violence, which is what Trump is doing, there is a lot of memories that people have. People remember mob violence that led to lynching. People remember mob violence that led to people being shot, being grabbed, being mistreated. Well earlier today, Sarah Palin before returning to Alaska to see her husband who has been seriously injured in a snow mobile accident had her own take on the protester's Trump rallies and here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: What we don't have time for is all that petty punk ass little thuggery stuff that's been going on with these, quote-unquote, "protesters."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And against all this, the backdrop of what maybe the most crucial day so far in the face for the White House. Donald Trump could be racking up some major delegates tomorrow. If he does really well, basically he could be all but ensuring a stoppable path to the nomination. Voters will be going to the polls in five states in less than 12 hours. And as you can see, a lot of delegates at stake. All eyes though right now on Ohio where that state's Governor John Kasich is locked in a virtual dead heat with the Donald Trump.
Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT in Vienna, Ohio where Trump is speaking to supporters right now. And Jim, you know, this is a last minute shift. Donald Trump was going to be in Florida. And he'll be there tomorrow night for his speech at the end of the voting, but now he is in Ohio. What does this say?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, he was supposed to be in Florida just about all day today except for that rally in North Carolina. They scrapped an event in Florida so he could add this one here in Ohio just outside of Youngstown. Basically what he says is he's worried about John Kasich. Just a few moments ago Donald Trump said, John Kasich can't make America great again. And he's gone after the Ohio governor for the several minutes here talking about these trade deals, which is obviously a very important issue in the industrial heartland of the United States. There's a rust belt area of Youngstown, Ohio, and other portions of this region.
And, you know, one thing that you can say about this event so far in terms of how things have been going the last few days, Erin, there hasn't been any trouble. No demonstrators, no protests, no clashes. Essentially, it's been a pretty tame rally by recent standards, but we can tell you that we have been putting in some different security measures throughout the afternoon. Unlike many of the Donald Trump rallies where a person could just park in the parking right outside the event. People who are attending this rally had to park some seven miles away at a local shopping center and then get bussed in. They get bussed in periodically throughout the afternoon.
Talked to a Trump organizer here according to my colleague who said, well, part of that, is because they want to try to tamp down on the protesters, try to keep people out who are against Donald Trump. Talk to a law enforcement officer here though Erin who said, you know, really this is about the parking issues. So, we're sort of getting two stories in terms of why they were bussing people under this event. So, sort of a unique security precaution there, logistics precaution there that we should point out. As for Ohio, as for what's up for grabs tomorrow, Erin, as you said, it does seem like it's coming down to Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.
Donald Trump is feeling very confident about beating Marco Rubio down in his home state tomorrow night, but here in Ohio if John Kasich can pull off a victory here, that might put us right back in that muddle where John Kasich stays in the race. Ted Cruz still in the race. Marco Rubio has to drop out. It's just sort of up and eras to where the things stand. However, as you said, if it is a clean sweep for Donald Trump, this becomes a candidate who is just going to be very, very difficult to stop on the way to the nomination -- Erin.
[19:05:06] BURNETT: All right. Jim Acosta, thank you very much. Donald Trump obviously trying to make that happen, switching his entire schedule to be in Ohio tonight instead of Florida.
Phil Mattingly is traveling with the Kasich campaign in the Governor's home state Ohio.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Battleground Ohio.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we win Ohio, we'll have to take some pictures because you might be taking a picture with the next president of the United States.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He may win Ohio. It's right now a tie according to most of the polls. We're literally tied. He may win in Ohio. I mean, who knows? He's the governor, but he has not done a good job.
MATTINGLY: With polls trending sharply away from Marco Rubio in Florida --
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tomorrow is the day -- tomorrow is the day when we're going to shock the country and we're going to do what needs to be done. We're going to win the nine delegates here in Florida.
MATTINGLY: The Buckeye State has become the latest and perhaps the last that could halt Donald Trump's march to the nomination. Governor John Kasich rising in the polls and challenging the tone of Trump's campaign.
KASICH: This country is not about us tearing one another down or having fistfights at campaign rallies. That's not what America is.
MATTINGLY: Turning the 2012 nominee and harsh Trump critic Mitt Romney for a boost in to a must win counties on Monday.
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER 2012 PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Unlike the other people running, he has a real track record.
MATTINGLY: Kasich pulling out all the stops with legends of Ohio's state football. Trump feeling the pressure, eager to wrap up the primary.
TRUMP: You know, the beauty would be if we win Florida and we win Ohio we could go and attack Hillary. No more attacking each other.
MATTINGLY: As Kasich's numbers have gone up, he intensity of Trump's attacks have followed suit on the trail.
TRUMP: You can't be an absentee governor. If you run for governor, you have to be governor. And you know what? If you don't want to do that, you take out. Same thing with Marco Rubio. He runs for the Senate. He never shows up to vote.
MATTINGLY: On Ohio television --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kasich, just another all talk, no action politician.
MATTINGLY: And of course, on Twitter. Republicans opposed to Trump's campaign including Rubio calling on supporters to consider breaking from their preferred candidates all in order to boost Kasich.
RUBIO: If a voter in Ohio concludes that voting for John Kasich is the best chance to stop Donald Trump there, I anticipate that's what they'll do.
MATTINGLY: Erin, John Kasich just wrapping up his rally here in Westerville, Ohio his hometown. Mitt Romney leading off for him. It's been interesting to note today Erin that Mitt Romney has been criticized for not really having the effect he wanted when he came out to go after Donald Trump. His efforts today were very targeted by the Kasich campaign. He was in stark county and he was here in Westerville which straddles huge counties. Delaware and Franklin.
Mitt Romney only won in 2012 this state and Republican primary by 10,000 votes. Six thousand of those votes came from those three counties. All three of those counties big counties for John Kasich if he wants to beat Donald Trump. So, Erin, for Mitt Romney, coming into town with a very, very targeted approach today in an effort to push John Kasich over the top.
BURNETT: All right. Phil Mattingly, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, Donald Trump's supporters Carl Higbie here with me, former Navy SEAL, Tara Setmayer, service communications director for Republican Congressman. John Avlon, editor-in-chief of "The Daily Beast." And Doug Thornell who is press secretary for Howard Dean's presidential campaign in 2004.
All right. John, let me start with you. And so, even not what Donald Trump is saying, Kasich may win Ohio. So, let me just flip the question and phrase it to you this way. John Kasich is a sitting governor, he is a very popular governor. It is his home state. Why is it even this close? He should be running away with this.
JOHN AVLON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE DAILY BEAST": That's exactly right. Look, fighting to win your home state is not a sign of strength. That's just the reality. Normally when folks running for their home state, the other candidates kind of treated it as a gimmick because they want to focus their energies elsewhere, but the two big prizes tomorrow Florida and Ohio. Marco Rubio seems to be in real trouble in Florida. But Ohio is tight. Kasich seems to have a narrow lead but Trump bills he can maybe surge. If he can put both away, as he said unfortunately maybe over. But Kasich is a popular governor. And if that's not enough to win your home state, that speaks to a different dynamic in the Republican field. BURNETT: All right. Now, let me flip the table on you Carl though.
If Donald Trump does not win Ohio, as he keeps talking about wanting to sweep, so let's just say he fails to do so, how much does that hurt?
CARL HIGBIE, FORMER NAVY SEAL: I don't think it hurts him that much. And one thing we need to look at these polls too is the fact that they are likely voters. Now, a lot of people that are coming up for Donald Trump are not likely voters. Because they have never voted before. They have no history of voting. They have no history of voting. They're not need any registrar database. The other thing is the Republican Party is reaching in and they're basically whoring out Mitt Romney to try to get him, to try to get some steam behind the Republican establishment and it's not working. I mean, look, good on John Kasich for getting out there and bringing us close as he can but the fact of the matter is, I think that the unprecedented surge of unregistered, previously unregistered voters --
HIGBIE: No unregistered. Unregistered voters. My mistake. Unregistered voters, that would be illegal. I don't say undocumented but unregistered voters coming out for Donald Trump would be a huge surge for him. I think that's going to carry him over.
[19:10:04] BURNETT: Tara, so when you look at the numbers though. John Kasich, let's just say he wins Ohio. He would then need to win every other delegate, a hundred percent of all the delegates out there and he still couldn't get the majority. So, the only way for John Kasich to be the Republican nominee is for a floor fight at the convention.
TARA SETMAYER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R): Right. And I think that's what they're counting on. I mean, at this point, you can already see that they're telegraphing that's what they plan to do. Now of course there's a difference between a contested convention and a brokered one. The convention rules, they allow for that. If no one has the majority, that's why you have conventions. People forget because in recent memory we haven't had a contested convention since 1976.
So, I don't really think that that's such a bad thing even though we want to saying, oh my God, we're going to have a contested convention. If Donald Trump does not reach that threshold of 1237, then that's what the convention is for. So, you know, God bless John Kasich if he wants to move forward. He wins his home state, and then, well, we'll see you all in Ohio --
SETMAYER: -- given that Cleveland is in his home state as well.
He will get the money to keep going because the absolute horror at the prospect of Donald Trump being the nominee as a Republicans, well, you know, I guess that depends on what side you're on.
BURNETT: But to this Doug, let me ask you though. Donald Trump has won 15 contests. Have you seen that word? Because there's states, there is territories.
DOUG THORNELL, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: Sure.
BURNETT: Fifteen contests. Hillary Clinton has won 12.
BURNETT: The Democrats see her as their presumptive nominee. Right? They're going to fight this out, but that's how they see it. But Donald Trump is not. You have -- you have anything. They want the contested or brokered convention. When is that going to change for Donald Trump? If he wins everything tomorrow, will Tara be seating here saying, presumptive nominee?
THORNELL: Well, I think if you had --
SETMAYER: Not happily.
THORNELL: So, I think -- would be a candidate who won New Hampshire, who won South Carolina, who did so well in Super Tuesday as Donald Trump did, he would be the presumptive Republican nominee. There's been a lot of backlash and there's been a lot of resistance among Washington Republicans to oppose him. I think if he wins to North Carolina tomorrow, if he beats Marco Rubio in his home state of Florida and if he beats John Kasich in Ohio, I don't see any rationale for any of these folks going on. Now, Ted Cruz will continue --
THORNELL: But I just, you know, he's done everything he was supposed to do. I'm not a Trump supporter. But if you look at the map --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could be though.
BURNETT: But it's about the math. But John, at this point, Ted Cruz needs to win 66 percent of all the remaining delegates to get to the number.
BURNETT: Better than John Kasich. It's still an -- it's a Mount Everest.
AVLON: It is a Mount Everest. But this becomes a sort of, you know, keep game, keep away. It's about blocking Trump from the nomination. What's fascinating is that, you know, Rubio and commonly decent act in politics is saying, look, if you're a Rubio supporter in Ohio, support John Kasich because we're broadly in the center right lane. And Ted Cruz in contrast is trying to figure out how to kneecap Marco Rubio in his home state by going in -- he has no hope of winning. But it really then becomes a test. Cruz hopes to win tomorrow by the other candidates losing. And then it becomes a two-man race. Then you have the surreal spectacle of Ted Cruz running as the establishment's center right alternative to Donald Trump --
BURNETT: It's incredible.
SETMAYER: It's pretty remarkable. I mean, I think a lot of people are standing back going, oh my God, how did we get here? You know, the fact that Donald Trump won all those states is also because there were so many candidates splitting the vote. I mean, he's only won an average of about 30 percent, 35 percent. Yes, in Alabama was an outlier for 49 percent of whatever. But for the most part, it's because all of these candidates split the vote. So, Donald Trump has yet to get the majority of support because the majority of Republicans do not support Donald Trump two to one almost two to one. So, that's the numbers. I mean, 65 percent of the Republican Party does not support Donald Trump. And in general election --
BURNETT: But when their candidates drop out, some of them may come over to Trump and you may see those numbers change. I will hit pause but how did we get here? Either we just watch the days go by, didn't watch what voters wanted and then hear you end up and then telling you what you want.
All right. Next, tensions rising at Donald Trump rallies. Why is Trump blaming Bernie Sanders?
Plus, could Bernie Sanders pull off another upset tomorrow? His wife, his closest adviser Jane Sanders is our guest OUTFRONT.
And our special report on Democrats for Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been a registered "D" since 1980 and I'm taking a Republican ballot. I'm supporting Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:17:28] BURNETT: Tonight, Democrats for Donald Trump? Blue-collar Democrats are flocking to the Republican frontrunner in some of the rust belt states. That includes the crucial state of Ohio of course which we're hours away from the polls opening there tomorrow morning. Trump is not shy, of course, about touting this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Remember the Democrats for Reagan? We have it bigger. It's Democrats for Trump. It's a bigger number, so it's Democrats. We're taking also though from Independents, big league, and we're talking from people that have never ever voted before and they're 50 years old in some cases. And the numbers are astronomical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: How is Trump getting Democratic voters to crossover? Martin Savidge went into the field to find out.
RON VERB, NEWS RADIO 570 WKBN: All right. From News Radio 570 WKBN, Ron Verb we're under way here.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Youngstown, Ohio, Ron Verb has been talking politics for 31 years. I sat down to listen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been a registered "D" since 1980, and I am taking a Republican ballot. I'm supporting Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had enough of these hand-picked, hand chosen, bought and paid for candidates. Voting for Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From day one, I have been for Donald Trump, and I was a Democrat.
MARK MONROE, CHAIRMAN, MAHONING COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, it's like nothing I've ever seen before.
SAVIDGE: That's Mark Monroe, head of the Republican Party in this part of Ohio where finding a fellow Republican is almost as hard as finding a job. Unemployment here is close to nine percent. No wonder change is on the minds of many.
NELSON "GUS" GUSTAFSON, YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO RESIDENT: I mean, this is something that's never happened before.
SAVIDGE: That's 84-year-old Gus Gustafson. These days guys like Gus go by another name. Crossovers.
GUSTAFSON: Democrat all the way.
SAVIDGE (on camera): And now what are you thinking when it comes to voting?
GUSTAFSON: I'm going Trump.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Then there's twin brothers Don and Ron Skawron painting Trump signs and making Trump campaign buttons. They're retired cops and apparently retired Democrats.
RON SKAWRON, YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO RESIDENT: For 50 years, I've voted for Democrats since the Vietnam War and served over there and came back. And I've always backed Democrats. And it was the right party to be in.
SAVIDGE: So now you will vote how?
SKAWRON: I'm going to vote Republican and I'm going to vote for Donald Trump. At the local board of elections early voting has been under way since
mid-February. Tom McCabe is been crunching the numbers.
TOM MCCABE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE MAHONING COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS: Fifty five percent of all the Republican vote is coming from Democrats to Republican or what we consider nonaffiliated voters.
SAVIDGE: You heard right. Of the Republican votes cast so far, more than half have come from voters who up until just recently were either Independents or Democrats. It's not just in Ohio. Exit polls show crossovers in other primary states. The same polls show anger is the biggest motivator, but Trump isn't the only benefactor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, let me tell you something, there is a guy running that is for the people that's funded by the people and it's Bernie Sanders.
SAVIDGE: Back at local Republican headquarters, Cathy Miller is worried about running out of Trump yard signs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hard to keep, hard to get, and very, very popular.
SAVIDGE: You know, we want to be clear here that a lot of the voters that I've talked to, Erin, say that they were regular voters and always voting Democrat. In fact, they said they can't remember ever missing having to vote and they say it was like that in their families for generations going back maybe three generations. All of that now is changing as they change parties and vote for Donald Trump -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Martin with that pretty incredible reporting there. My panel is back with me. So, Doug, let me go with you first. You're a Democrat.
THORNELL: I am.
BURNETT: This is pretty powerful reporting. I mean, he's showing, you know, Democrat after Democrat. Not just people who though of themselves as Democrats, people who voted every single election Democratic who are now switching for Donald Trump.
THORNELL: Well, let me go to some exit polling. Michigan, seven percent of the GOP electorate was Democrat. That's not a lot.
THORNELL: Four percent of the Texas GOP electorate was Democrat. Not a lot. So, with all due respect to your reporting, I'm looking at the exit polling of these states and it's not really -- it's not supporting your reporting here. Now, I would say that --
BURNETT: Now, you did see a drop in Michigan, but in a lot of other states we have seeing significant increases versus last time around, a number of Democrats voting for Republicans. THORNELL: No, what we're seeing is an increase in turnout for
Democrats, for Republicans. I'm looking at the exit polling and I am not seeing a huge number of Democrats as part of the exit polling that are part of the GOP electorate. Now, we should also say that Donald Trump --
[19:22:12] BURNETT: What you're seeing is an increase. What you're seeing is an increase versus 2012 with the exception of Michigan and a couple of --
SETMAYER: Twenty thousand Democrats which switched to Republican.
BURNETT: Right. But look what she's saying there. When you are seeing this in a lot of states. I see your point in Michigan. But --
THORNELL: Which is a rust belt state and I think we'll look in Ohio.
BURNETT: Fair point.
THORNELL: And we'll look in Ohio and let me just also say, Donald Trump is losing to Hillary Clinton by 13 points or by nine points in most recent national polling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but that's fine --
THORNELL: No, hold on, hold on, hold on! If he was doing so well with Democrats, his numbers would not be that. So, I'm just -- I appreciate the reporting, but I'm not necessarily sure it's accurate.
BURNETT: All right. John, go ahead. Because we are seeing an increase in many of the states in terms of Democrats who have switched to Republicans.
AVLON: Particularly and where Martin reported from originally which is Mahoney County, Youngstown, Ohio where my grandmother lived and as a swing part of his swing state. And there have been instances of Democrats calling and wanting to register. That is significant. And you can say especially in the primary electorate that Donald Trump is expanding the field because he is appealing to folks who have been Independent or Democrat. The question is, are they genuine swing voters who voted to carry Obama. Many of the folks in that package said they were. The other question is, is it simply enough to increase the map of White people supporting you to win a general election.
AVLON: Because Ronald Reagan capped out at 66 percent. And any Republican to win the presidency is going to have to get it roughly the same, which is a very tall order, but about 30 percent of the minority vote. And if you have 80 percent of Hispanics and African- Americans saying that they really feel that you are not on their side, that math is going to be tough no matter how much you're expanding the percentage of the White vote in the primary. HIGBIE: The fact of the matter is, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders
are essentially the nuclear option. They are the reset button. Now, people won't go with Bernie Sanders because he would have been thrown in jail during the cold war for his proposed policies. But they see Donald Trump as --
BURNETT: Put that aside because it's not the topic --
HIGBIE: Right. Exactly. So, you'll see someone like Donald Trump come out who is just basically, we've got to rewrite the book, we got to reinvest the system. And that is why people are going for him. We don't care that much where his gun policy is. Pro-life, pro-choice. You know, we don't care what that is. You see, hey, here's a problem. Here's a solution. Let's just do it.
BURNETT: Let's just ask the other Republican at this table. Do you agree with the we?
SETMAYER: At least he's honest though that Trump, that a lot of Trump supporters have been very one dimensional in that facts don't matter and that it is all about the messaging of we're going to make America great again and we're going to bring the jobs back and move very protectionists ideas, terrorists. Everything is very ra-ra it's great. But unfortunately, Donald Trump's economic plan is completely unworkable. It will actually hurt the blue-collar middle-class workers that he claims that he is fighting for, but we don't get past that because we're too busy worrying about the, you know, Donald Trump throws out this word vomit all the time where we're never are able to focus in on how unworkable a lot of the things that he's promising actually are.
So, he's duping people like a snake oil salesman because he's very good at that just looking his business record. And he's duping people into believing that he's actually going to do the things that he yells and screams about all the time, but that's just not possible. And I think when people find that out it's going to be too late. You can't --
HIGBIE: -- getting behind this economic policy?
THORNELL: The other thing is, you know, let's say that report is right. I think there will be an offset in the number of Republicans -- moderate Republicans who may be not vote for Hillary, but will skip over Donald Trump and vote for Senate Republicans. I mean, we're hearing all of this talk about from Republicans who -- no, they vote. But they just don't vote for him.
BURNETT: Don't vote for the top of the presidential -- SETMAYER: The other poll shows 58 percent unfavorables for Donald
Trump right now in a general election. So, I just don't see where, you know, this snippet --
BURNETT: The two most unpopular people Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump -- where does that say to our country. Quick final word, John.
AVLON: Look, just -- Donald Trump is appealing to a lot of folks on a gut level. They see a strong leader who wants to call bs on a lot of the niceties, but that does not necessarily translate to the kind of coalition building you need to win an election.
SETMAYER: And what we've seen the last week certainly isn't helping the situation as far as unifying her coalition building. That's for sure.
BURNETT: All right. Pause. All of you coming back as we count you down to this polls opening with this major two for Tuesday heading our way.
Next, the anger ramping up at Trump rallies. Why Donald Trump is blaming Bernie Sanders? And my guest Jane Sanders, the candidate's wife, his closest adviser on why she isn't buying it.
[19:30:28] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump is pushing back tonight against a North Carolina sheriff who's looking into whether he could charge the Republican frontrunner with inciting a riot after a protester was suckerpunched by a 78-year-old. The campaign just releasing a statement saying it's the protesters and agitators who are in violation, not Mr. Trump, which comes because protesters were again shouting the Republican frontrunner down today.
It's a scene that's been playing out more frequently as Trump comes under increasing pressure to address the unrest. He's opting instead to point the finger at Bernie Sanders.
Chris Frates is OUTFRONT.
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump campaigning in North Carolina today trying to make the case that his rallies aren't violent.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's no violence. There's a love fest. These are lovefest.
FRATES: Even as he seemed to acknowledged that a protester was arrested last week for sucker punching a protester.
TRUMP: You know, how many people protesters have been hurt at our rallies? I think like basically none, other than I guess maybe somebody got hit once. But there's no violence.
FRATES: At his next stop in Florida, Trump again facing off with protesters.
PROTESTER: You're obnoxious.
TRUMP: Oh, get out of here.
These people are crazy.
FRATES: Sarah Palin joining the GOP frontrunner on the trail today also offering some choice words.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Hi, guys. What we don't have time for is all that petty, punk ass, little thuggery stuff that's been going on.
FRATES: Trump thinks he knows where many of the protesters are coming from.
TRUMP: A lot of them come from Bernie Sanders, whether he wants to say it or not. If he says no, then he's lying.
FRATES: Sanders is firing back in kind.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hesitate to say this because I don't like to disparage public officials but Donald Trump is a pathological liar.
FRATES: The Democratic presidential candidate arguing he's not responsible for his supporters' actions.
SANDERS: I never have and never will condone violence.
FRATES: Sanders also blasting Trump for saying he may pay the legal fees of his sucker punching supporter.
SANDERS: What that means is Donald Trump is literally inciting violence with his supporters. He is saying, if you go out and beat somebody up, that's OK. I'll pay the legal fees.
FRATES: The war of words between the two candidates following a weekend marred by unrest, with Trump cancelling a Chicago event Friday night due to protests, and then on Saturday, a Sanders support rushed the Trump podium and was arrested.
THOMAS DIMASSIMO, JUMPED BARRICADE AT TRUMP RALLY: I was thinking about going up on stage and take his podium away from him and take his microphone away from him and send a message to all people out in the country who wouldn't consider themselves racist.
FRATES: While Sanders supporters remain a popular target for Trump.
TRUMP: Oh, Bernie. Bernie. It's another Bernie sign. That's a Bernie supporter, folks. Got the Bernie sign. Were you put in here by Bernie?
(END VIDEOTAPE) FRATES: So, Bernie Sanders continued to hammer Donald Trump here in Charlotte, North Carolina, telling his packed pavilion that his campaign will continue to fight Trump's bigotry. And in Florida, Marco Rubio jumped into the fray, joking with a Bernie Sanders supporter at one of his rallies, "Don't worry. You won't get beat up at my event" -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Chris.
I want to bring back my panel, along with CNN political commentator Sally Kohn.
And, right, we're laughing and yet dismayed and upset all in one fell swoop.
SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The alternative is unthinkable.
BURNETT: Is Bernie Sanders to blame?
KOHN: No, of course, he's not to blame. I mean, Listen, Donald Trump must be feeling pretty desperate. It's pretty obvious when you look at the rhetoric he said -- I mean, look, the paradox is people are voting supposedly supporting Trump because they say he says what he means. When he says, hey, you know, I'd like to punch that protester in the face too, or, hey, if somebody is going to throw tomatoes, give them hell, rough him off, or maybe we should have roughed up protester up more, when he says those things, we shouldn't be surprised that his supporters thinks he means it.
It's not just that direct correlation, though, let's be honest. There is -- you know, voters are angry across the board. The job of leaders is to channel that anger in a positive and constructive direction. And instead, Donald Trump has chosen deliberately to incite that anger, to spark that anger and to expand that anger.
KOHN: I'm sorry, but that is what he's saying and he is responsible.
CARL HIGBIE, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Here is the problem with the liberal agenda is that they want to say, instead of blaming the agitator, they're blaming the people that are there to support Donald Trump. At some point, you have to say, this moron shouldn't have been in a rally, you know, inciting riot.
Look, the guy was wrong to take a swing at him.
[19:35:02] It's not Donald Trump's fault that some whacko in the stands. It's just like, you know, when the KKK guy endorsed Donald Trump, it's not Donald Trump's fault that this is happening, but some moron somewhere doing that.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: By that logic, it's not Bernie Sanders' fault that people are showing up at his rallies. Bernie Sanders maybe a lot of things, but he's probably not a Machiavellian political genius who's deploying people at Trump rallies to gas-light your candidate.
I think what's happening here is you have the politics of incitement. You have somebody who is a celebrity demagogue whose whole campaign is based on us against them. And that makes people who are part of the perceived us feel really good, but they direct their anger to them, and the protesters come. And that is a combustible combination. That's what we saw in Chicago, and that's we're seeing --
BURNETT: Let's play some clips here of the kinds of things Donald Trump says, to your point. Let's just play it. Here we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They're Bernie fans.
I'd like to punch him in the face. I'll tell you.
If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously.
Do you know what they use to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks.
Looks a little wacky. He's a whack job. We have one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Carl, to Sally's point, though, you know, this is a guy who has gotten where he is because people believe that he says it like it is. He says what he thinks. He says what he means, means what he says. So, how then can he say, oh, I'm not really saying that? I don't want people to fight back? I don't want people to just punch --
KOHN: I didn't mean that.
HIGBIE: No, here's the thing, though. He's not going out there. These people are coming in and agitating at his riot. He's saying, defend yourself. And that's the American strength.
That's the American strength that people believe in. The fact is he's like, I'm not going to take your crap and stand up for yourself. That's what Donald Trump is like.
DOUG THORNELL, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN CMTE: Candidates have a responsibility to set the right tone at these types of events. A lot of people were angry in 2008 as well. You had a lot of people coming to rallies with Barack Obama at the time. You never saw stuff like this. So, candidates --
HIGBIE: They just destroyed places like the Washington mall. They left it a mess.
THORNELL: But the reality is you have to set the right tone. Using that sort of inflammatory rhetoric is totally irresponsible. AVLON: You're not seeing this stuff happen at a Kasich rallies. And
there's a reason. You're not seeing it at Rubio rallies and there's a reason. Either Donald Trump is an insult comic or something sinister is going on, but you got to pick between the two.
KOHN: I'm sorry, but you can't try to be president and believe in free speech. Donald Trump has a right to say the hateful fear- mongering us versus them things he's saying, but those protesters have a right to show up and stand up for the American values that frankly Donald Trump is repeatedly punching in the face. But that, if he can't handle, if he can't handle that, then he's not fit to be president.
BURNETT: All right. We will hit pause there. We'll just say at the beginning of a Donald Trump rally today, overhead speaker said if a protester starts demonstrating in the area around you, please do not touch or harm the protester, something that we found has actually been running for a couple of months at the beginning of Trump rallies.
OUTFRONT next, one week after Bernie Sanders stunning upset in the Michigan primary, are there more Sanders surprises tomorrow? My guest Jane Sanders.
And as Putin announces he's pulling forces from Syria, our exclusive report shows the utter devastation caused by a Russian airstrike on civilians. Our reporter actually there and what you see will stop your heart.
[19:42:14] BURNETT: We're just hours away from a number of crucial primaries that could dramatically change the Democratic race for the nomination. Senator Bernie Sanders gearing up to address supporters in Missouri, one of the five states voting tomorrow in all nearly 700 delegates at stake for Democrats, a massive haul that could make or break either campaign in the race for 2,383. That's what you have to get in the Democratic side, 2,383.
Tonight, Sanders hoping to build on his growing momentum from last week's upset in Michigan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. SANDERS: When people come out to vote in large numbers to reclaim their democracy, we win. When voter turnout is low, we lose. Let's make sure that tomorrow we have a huge voter turnout.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Jane Sanders, the wife of Senator Bernie Sanders.
And, Jane, it was just about a week ago, your husband pulled off the biggest political upset in years, if not decades, winning Michigan. Tomorrow, Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, you've got a whole lot on Super Tuesday. Do you think there'll be more upsets?
JANE SANDERS, WIFE OF SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I do. He's in four states doing five rallies today. So, I think that we have a chance in Illinois and Ohio and Missouri. So, I think North Carolina and Florida will be more difficult, but we're not -- he's in North Carolina today.
BURNETT: Of course, Jane, we've been reporting on people who are often choosing between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, which surprises some, but it is a phenomenon we've seen happening. Now we have this issue of protesters at rallies, Trump rallies specifically. And he's been blaming Bernie Sanders' supporters for that unrest.
Do you think that's fair?
J. SANDERS: Well, I think people are protesting what he's talking about. He's talking about division. He's talking about racism. He's talking about blame and people are saying, no, we don't want to divide our country, and they're outside protesting peacefully.
I don't think that the protesters that have been at his rallies all along have anything to do with us, but I think his message is bringing people out to say, no, we can't -- we can't go down this road.
Yes, people are deciding between him and Bernie, because he's raising some of the issues. He's speaking to the frustration and the anger about the decline of the middle class, about the fact that they're not getting what they hoped for as they worked all their lives, but the differences end there.
BURNETT: Donald Trump says Sanders' supporters are being told to go and protest at his events. This is what Donald Trump is now saying and he went on Twitter, Jane, and he wrote over the weekend, "Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disrupters aren't told to go to my events. Be careful, Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours."
[19:45:04] To that you say, Jane?
J. SANDERS: I say, no, our supporters have never been told to go to Donald Trump's events. We have a lot of events we want our supporters to come to. That's all we've ever asked. And I think if you go to our rallies, you'll see people filled with hope and optimism. And if you go to Donald Trump's rallies, you see a lot more -- a lot more anger in the general population.
BURNETT: And one thing just happened a few moments ago here on CNN. Actually, Donald Trump was asked about Bernie Sanders and Bernie Sanders popularity because, of course, people talk about who gets all the attendees at their rallies and it's Donald Trump said Bernie Sanders.
And Donald Trump actually said here on CNN today that should be thanking him for his popularity. I wanted to play it for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP (via telephone): He should be very thankful to me because frankly he was doing very badly until I spoke about Hillary and Bill when they hit me very unfairly about five weeks ago. And then, all of a sudden, Bernie started doing better, and they gave him a lot of credit for that. But he wasn't the one that took Hillary Clinton down. I will tell you he should be saying, "Thank you very much, Mr. Trump."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I see you smiling.
J. SANDERS: I -- we don't do that kind of politics. Bernie is offering a vision for the future. We do not do negative politicking. I wasn't wild about what Donald Trump said about Hillary Clinton. So -- and neither was Bernie.
I don't think that's what helped us. I think what's happened is that the media has begun covering him. People are hearing about him. Online presence is very strong. I think that's what's igniting the populace.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Jane Sanders, thank you so much for your time tonight.
J. SANDERS: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Vladimir Putin announcing today he is pulling Russian forces out of Syria.
Tonight, an exclusive and incredible report inside Syria, a place virtually no Western journalists have gone for nearly a year. You see the street, you see the attack from the air. Our reporter was there on the ground and she's with us next.
[19:50:49] BURNETT: And breaking news: a surprise announcement out of Moscow tonight. Russian President Vladimir Putin saying he will be withdraw forces from Syria.
Our senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward went undercover, reporting exclusively from deep within Syria, a place where virtually no Western journalists have gone for nearly a year. I want to warn you, this piece contains graphic images.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moving through rebel-held Northern Syria is difficult and dangerous. As foreign journalists in areas with a strong jihadist presence, we had to travel undercover to see a war few outsiders have witnessed.
The city of Idlib is the only provincial capital under rebel control. This was its courthouse until it was hit by an air strike in December. Dozens were killed.
Forty-year-old lawyer, Tala al-Jaway told us he was inside the building when it was hit. His arm was smashed, but he was lucky to survive.
TALA AL-JAWAY, BOMBING VICTIM (via translator): The Russian planes target anything that works in the interest of the people. The goals is that people here live a destroyed life, that people never see any good, that they never taste life. This is the tax of living in a liberated area.
WARD: An hour later, we saw that tax for ourselves while filming in a town nearby. We heard the scream of fighter jets wheeling overhead.
Moments later, a hit.
(on camera): There was just an airstrike here in the town of Ariha, so we're now driving very quickly. It's not clear yet what was hit but we are hearing that there are still planes in the sky.
(voice-over): Arriving on the scene our team found chaos and carnage.
Volunteers shouted for an ambulance as they try to ferry out the wounded. For many, it was too late a woman lay dead on the ground a jacket draped over her, an intent to preserve her dignity.
Russia has repeated claimed it is only hitting terrorist targets. This strike hit a busy fruit market.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): This is just a civilian market. This is not a military area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): There are no military installations here or anything. It's a market. Look, it's a market, a fruit market. Is this what you want, Bashar?
WARD: We couldn't stay long. Often the jet circle back to hit the same place twice. It's called a double tap.
(on camera): We just arrived here at the hospital where they're bringing the dead and the wounded from those three strikes in Ariha which hit a park and a fruit market. We don't know the exact number of casualties there but scene of devastation, blood on the ground, dismembered body parts, and the injured and dead that we've seen arriving here indicate that this was a very bad strike indeed.
(voice-over): Among the injured brought in, a young boy moaning in pain, died moments later.
The strikes on Ariha that day killed 11 people, among them a woman and two children. Rescue workers wasted no time in clearing away the rubble. In this ugly war, massacres have become routine.
BURNETT: Clarissa, it's a stunning reporting and you were in Syria, obviously, at risk of being hit by an air strike yourself. You were this close to one. What was it like when you heard and saw this happen so close?
WARD: I think you never really get used to that horrible feeling in your stomach when you hear the noise of fighter jets in the skies above you, because while you know statistically that you'd be really unlucky to take a direct hit, there's a psychological effect it has -- the not knowing -- the not knowing where that's payload will drop.
[19:55:07] We were working with a filmmaker, Bilal Abdul Karim (ph), who was based in Syria, who was the one who was right up in the carnage, in the mayhem and moments after that hit struck and he said no matter how many times he sees this, and believe me, he sees it on a daily or weekly basis, you never get used to it. You never become accustomed to seeing civilians massacred like that, to seeing hospitals and courthouses and fruit markets targeted in such a deeply cynical way.
BURNETT: And in terms of Putin saying ground forces are coming out, will that change anything? I mean, you're talking about air strikes here as what you were dealing with.
WARD: Well, exactly. And I think the devil is really in the detail with regards to what Putin's announcement today will translate into on the ground. What type -- are we talking about a full military withdrawal? How long will this withdrawal take? And is aerial bombardment included in the rubric of that withdrawal, because it's really the aerial bombardment that is causing so much suffering to civilians on the ground.
BURNETT: Just horrific things you saw but so important to show them to the world because the world doesn't see this every day. It's so easy, unfortunately, for people to not think about it.
Clarissa, thank you.
And we'll be right back.
BURNETT: And thank you so much for joining us. Be sure to set your DVR to record OUTFRONT so you can watch us any time, as we get you set for this crucial Super Tuesday.
Let's hand it off now to "AC360".