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Frontrunners Wins Big on Super Tuesday Three; Rubio Drops Out of Presidential Race; Obama to Pick Supreme Court Nominee as Early as Wednesday; Clinton, Trump Hold Narrow Leads in Missouri. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 16, 2016 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:01] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So he's going to stay in it and there you go. Our coverage of Super Tuesday number tres continues right now.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight it's clearer than ever that this may be one of the most consequential campaigns of our lifetime.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It could be a game change for the Republicans right now.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, today my campaign is suspended. The fact that I've even come this far is evidence of how special America truly is.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to thank the people of the great state of Ohio. I love you, is all I can say.

TAPPER: My god, we're probably going to be covering a contested Republican convention.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The anti-Trump movement is reminding us don't call it a contested convention, call it an open convention.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to win but more importantly, we're going to win for the country. We're going to win, win, win. And we're not stopping.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What Trump is about and other demagogues have always been about is scapegoating minorities, turning one group against another group. But we are too smart to fall for that.


BLITZER: super Tuesday still not over. We're watching two key races that are very, very close right now. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center and this is our special

live coverage. There have been some major victories tonight, some important states. We're going to get to that in a minute. First, let's get to the two races we're watching closely right now.

Take a look at this in Missouri on the Republican side. Look at how close it is between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Donald Trump has a very, very slight advantage in Missouri right now. 40.8 percent to 40.7 percent. Trump is ahead by only 1,636 votes. 99 percent of the expected vote is in. We're watching Missouri on the Republican side.

Similarly on the Democratic side, look at how close it is between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. She has 49.6 percent. He has 49.4 percent. She is ahead now by 1,531 votes. 99 of the expected vote is in. Very, very close in Missouri on the Democratic and Republican sides.

The Republican field got smaller tonight. Donald Trump won Florida and pushed Marco Rubio out of the race. Trump desperately wanted to back a W in Ohio but John Kasich fended off the frontrunner in Ohio.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has to be smiling. Ohio and Illinois did not follow Michigan's lead. Bernie Sanders was certainly hoping for wins in those states. He did not get them. And that means his path to the nomination now becomes even slimmer.

For the Republicans, we have no indications tonight that the never Trump movement as it's called is taking hold. The establishment lost the obvious choice, Marco Rubio.

Will enough Republicans get behind either Ted Cruz or John Kasich to block Trump from clinching the nomination? Kasich, Cruz and Trump all making their cases tonight as Rubio bowed out.


RUBIO: While it is not God's plan that I be president in 2016 or maybe ever, and while today my campaign is suspended --


RUBIO: The fact that I've even come this far is evidence of how special America truly is.

KASICH: I think we can rally the people in Washington because I'm going to remind them that before we're Republicans and Democrats, we're Americans and we have an obligation to our children.

TRUMP: We have something happening that actually makes the Republican Party probably the biggest political story anywhere in the world. Everybody is writing about it all over Europe, all over the world they are talking about it. Millions of people are coming in to vote.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Only one campaign has beaten Donald Trump over and over and over again.


CRUZ: Not once, not twice, not three times but nine times all across the country from Alaska to Maine.


BLITZER: Let's bring in John King.

John, Missouri, both of these contests doesn't get much closer on the Republican and Democratic sides.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 1530 votes on the Democratic side and 1600 and change on the Republican side. Hillary Clinton pulled ahead. Remember we told you we're waiting for the final votes from Kansas City and St. Louis to come in. They are in. They are in now. And Hillary Clinton, that's how she pulled ahead. In Jackson County and Kansas City in the suburbs. And then over here in St. Louis County and St. Louis City and St. Louis County suburbs just outside. Healthy winds in the suburbs.

I was just looking, Wolf, because we had a couple of counties that were still out. One of them was here, Cass County, but it just came in when you're resetting at the top of the hour. Cass County came in. Sanders won there and he picked up a few votes but not enough and then the other county that was out in the western part of the state was up here, Buchanan County, and again a place where Sanders is winning but it's a smaller county and we're now at 100 percent.

[01:05:10] I've been searching. It says we're at 99 percent. I've been searching to try to find any missing votes. Can't find them right now. Again 1500 -- 1531 I think it was last time I checked on the Democratic side. A very narrow lead. She came back again because of the late counts in Kansas City and St. Louis.

You come over to the Republican side, look at that. You're in the 1600 vote territory. 40.8 to 40.7. The distinction there if this were the Democratic race, we would say who cares, proportional delegates, but in the Republican race, the statewide winner gets 12 to get you started off the top and if you overlay a congressional district map here, you would also see that Donald Trump is going to get the bulk of the delegates out of the state of Missouri tonight. And it looks like we got to wait just to get it certified but it looks like he'll also get the 12th for the state wide winner.

How did he do it? He did it even though Ted Cruz -- I want to show you something. Ted Cruz did something very interesting in Missouri tonight. I'm circling these areas for a reason in the green. Watch that. And I want to circle -- just mark this out here in yellow. If you go back and you look at how he won here and won here, if you go back to the last time we had a very competitive presidential primary here, this was McCain and Romney and Huckabee. So down here is your evangelical voters, your conservative voters, right?

You would think that would be Cruz territory. Here you have Romney, and Romney and McCain. In this part of the state, you would think these are your mainstream Republicans. What happened tonight, Donald Trump won a lot of areas where the evangelicals are and Ted Cruz competed much stronger than he has previous states in the suburban areas where you think in other states they are Rubio votes or Donald Trump and Rubio fighting in those states.

Ted Cruz did a very good job in Missouri cutting into some more mainstream Republican areas in addition to conservative votes. Sorry, that took a little walk on me there. Just trying to clear that up. He did a good job cutting into it but as we get down to the very final handful of votes, Wolf, it doesn't look like it was enough, and again, there's no moral victory here in being so close because when you pull it out, not only would Donald Trump get the 12 statewide delegates and then the -- most of the congressional district delegates, you heard Ted Cruz tonight talking as if he was a winner. Look at the map.

I mean, if you just look at the map after so many contests, yes, Cruz has some wins in the middle of the state -- middle of the country, excuse me, but that was supposed to be his wheelhouse. It's all Trump.

BLITZER: Yes. In terms of delegates, it's not going to make a huge amount of difference on the Democratic or Republican side because it's proportional but bragging rights if Hillary Clinton wins all five of these contests tonight, she'll be able to brag about that.

If Donald Trump wins four of the five, Kasich winning Ohio, that will be a huge bragging right for him, as well -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to brag about Mark Preston who's just joined us here.


COOPER: CNN Politics. Mark, I mean, one of the things we haven't talked about tonight is what this means on the Republican side for House races and for Senate races. I mean, does Donald Trump do in the House races, those running for Senate, do they follow Donald Trump? Do they try to ride it? Does he have coattails that they can ride?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Right. So I've talked to a lot of strategists that are working with candidates across the country and right now they see Donald Trump as being too radioactive to be connected to him at this point and what they are being told now by leadership is run your own races, do not connect yourself to Donald Trump, try to stay as local as you can.

Now we do see this every four years or every two years when these elections do come up, you need to run your own race. However, this is a very unique time in history where Donald Trump, you know, says very inflammatory things that some candidates do not want to be associated with. So right now the messaging to these candidates that are running -- as we all know, the Senate is very much on the line right now. Democrats could take it back. These candidates are being told run your own race, stay away, try not to answer any question.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The hard part -- the hard part is that whether you embrace or run away from the presidential candidate, increasingly you are tied to them whether you like it or not. I mean, the pattern in presidential voting is now routinely close to -- certainly over 80 percent, close to 90 percent of voters are voting the same way for president as they do for Senate in contested races.

You know, you look at the states that Obama won both times. Democrats have 80 percent of the Senate seats, Republicans have 90 percent of the Senate seats in the states that voted against Obama both times. So whether they want to embrace Donald Trump or not, if he is the nominee, they are going to be on the ballot with him, just as Democrats are going to be on the ballot with Hillary Clinton in the Republican states.



HENDERSON: Democrats sort of tried to run away from President Obama and it didn't work so well. I mean, all of the ads the Republicans ran they were tieing people, senators and Congress folks to President Obama.


COOPER: Gloria.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I was talking with somebody who's involved in a lot of these Senate races and he - tonight and he said to me, look, our candidates can answer questions about Ted Cruz. There are a lot of questions they can't answer about Donald Trump. And that's a real problem.


ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that there's not only two choices of whether to embrace him or not embrace him. There is also the choice of to actively reject him, and I think in some districts and some states you may see that. I can tell you that in Miami and South Florida there is the Carlos Curbelo race. And Carlos Curbelo has come out already and embraced the never Trump movement.

[01:10:05] I think that in Ohio, you know, it's going to be a question about what Rob Portman is going to do. And New Hampshire with Kelly Ayotte. Some of these folks are going to have to make a decision, do we embrace him? Do we ignore him?


COOPER: Amanda?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What's going to happen in this, if Donald Trump were the nominee, people need someone to run to. They will run into the arms of Paul Ryan. They will start identifying themselves as Ryan Republicans. Paul Ryan is speaker of the House, has the bully pulpit that he has not used. He can exploit that. He can roll out his own agenda, you know, like a "Contract with America" if he ever wants to go down that route. I think he would be wise to do it and give something -- give Republicans something to campaign on and a person to identify with who is very positive, that has high favorability and is not named Donald Trump.

COOPER: Although, Jeffrey, on the flip side of this is if Donald Trump is getting new voters coming in, a lot of folks who want to gravitate.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Exactly. And they're not going to be very happy with candidates that reject him and they will -- I mean, if we're talking about passion and the passion vote and all these people surging out to vote for Donald Trump, and they find out that the guy that's in their party is rejecting him.

COOPER: Donna, what do you --

BRAZILE: He's radioactive to these so-called down ballot races and the Republican Party is in much deeper trouble than I thought, and maybe I should give you the coffin because the autopsy report --

NAVARRO: Try to wipe that smile on your face.





CARPENTER: You're not falling for it, Donna.

BRAZILE: Give you a piece of candy. But look, you have Senate races. You got North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, you have big Senate races in these states and if the Republican Party is walking away from their nominee because he's radioactive, that will benefit the Democratic Party.

BORGER: In a lot of House races, I mean, there are people who are looking at these House races in conservative districts, Trump is running really well.

LORD: Yes. Right. Right.

BORGER: Really well. So everybody is going to have to cherry pick and do what's best for your state or your district .


NAVARRO: It's going to be the old, you know, saying, all politics is local, for example, in South Florida, you know, Carlos Curbelo has got a lot of Hispanics in their district. Donald Trump polls 12 percent with Hispanics.

BORGER: Right. NAVARRO: The chupacabra is more popular than Donald Trump with



NAVARRO: Do you know what the chupacabra is?

COOPER: Donna, you don't know what chupacabra is? I'm obsesses with it.

CARPENTER: The things you learn on CNN.

PRESTON: But Anderson, we should --

COOPER: I think I might have even seen the chupacabra. It was very late at night.

PRESTON: He was in "Star Wars," right? But we should note this, that running a House race is much different because it is very concentrated and especially in the south where we saw Donald Trump do very, very well, running a statewide race such as a Senate race is a little bit more difficult because you're appealing to different types of voters in different parts of the state, and in a state of Florida, there are three or four different regions right there with three or four different voters that you have to appeal to.


BROWNSTEIN: Yes, the other factor is you have a series of Republicans who are defending Democratic leaning states in a presidential year, all of whom -- when did they run last? 2010. In an off-year, when the electorate is older and whiter to begin with. And it was a challenge -- you know, a challenge even without Donald Trump being in -- in Illinois, in Wisconsin, in New Hampshire, in Pennsylvania.

All of these states in a presidential year much tougher for Republicans to hold. You add to the unpredictability, Trump is a stabilizing force in a general election, could turn out a lot more culturally conservative blue-collar voters, could also enormously alienate suburban social liberals, millennials and minorities. So it is a huge tight rope especially because of the states that are at stake. They are mostly on Democratic leaning terrain that the Senate will be --


BORGER: So, you know, this is why party leaders are so worried because not only is the presidency at stake.


BORGER: And this is not to say that Donald Trump could not win the presidency because he could, but it's because the House and the Senate are --

BROWNSTEIN: And the Supreme Court now. BORGER: And now the Supreme Court. Of course.

NAVARRO: But if you're in a state like Florida, which is a purple state.


NAVARRO: Where Hillary Clinton is popular, where Bill Clinton was very popular.


NAVARRO: And you are a Republican, you end up being the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate and just saw tonight's primary results, you got to think real long and hard.

BROWNSTEIN: After last weekend's -- after last weekend's events.

BRAZILE: Right. And speaking of Florida, Hillary Clinton received more votes tonight than Donald Trump in Florida. He calls it his second home. But she received more popular votes in Florida tonight. She's a resilient candidate and I think --


CARPENTER: There's only two of them.

COOPER: Although -- I mean, but there's more candidates on the Republican side. That's not really a comparison.

BRAZILE: You know what? Everybody get a chance to brag --


BRAZILE: She's resilient. And -- I'm just saying.

COOPER: All right. All right. I'll give it to you. It's late. Why not?

NAVARRO: And Bernie Sanders practically didn't set foot in the state --

COOPER: I'll give you that if you'll give me a seat. I don't know why I'm the only one without a seat.

We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues. We're watching the race very closely, races in Missouri.





KASICH: Believe it's about America by pulling us together, not pulling us apart. It is about USA. Exactly.


BLITZER: Let's get right to a key race alert on this important night, the Super Tuesday, the only two contests remaining outstanding in Missouri, very, very close. Donald Trump, he maintains a slight advantage over Ted Cruz right now. 40.8 percent to 40.6 percent for Ted Cruz. Donald Trump's lead right now 1,726 votes. Almost 900,000 votes there, a very small lead for Donald Trump. 99 percent of the expected vote now in.

Similarly on the Democratic side in Missouri, Hillary Clinton has a very, very slight lead over Bernie Sanders. 49.6 percent to 49.4 percent. Her lead 1,531 votes. A tiny, tiny lead right now. 99 percent of that vote is in right now.

Let's take a look at the states won so far on this important night. On the Republican side, Donald Trump, he's won in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina. John Kasich, he won his home state of Ohio. He needed it. He needed the win to continue. He won Ohio.

[01:20:06] On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton so far has won Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Illinois. We're only waiting for Missouri. That's the only outstanding race.

Let's take a look at the map right now and the Democratic and Republican side to see states that they've won. On the Republican side first, you see that dark red, all those southern states basically with the exception of Texas, you see Donald Trump, he's done really, really well. Including in Florida, which he won today. Donald Trump there, you see Cruz with that pink -- he's not done well tonight so far. So far he hasn't won. We'll see what happens in Missouri. Rubio, as you know, he's now dropped out.

On the Democratic side, take a look at this. Hillary Clinton doing remarkably well. All that dark blue in the south, a clean sweep, including in Texas and now in Florida for Hillary Clinton. That dark blue are all the states you see over there on that map of the United States where Hillary Clinton has won. That lighter blue Bernie Sanders win right now.

Let's walk back over to Jake and Dana. I got to tell you, still, we're waiting for Missouri. Could be potentially a clean sweep on the Democratic side for Hillary.

TAPPER: And it could be five out of six for Mr. Donald Trump and one of the big questions, Dana, that we've been asking and talking to a lot of Republican commentators over the last few weeks, especially those in the hashtag never Trump movement is, can Republicans coalesce around Donald Trump as the frontrunner should he end up securing the presidential nomination?

A lot of people have been very negative about Donald Trump but his crowds seem to get bigger, his vote count seems to get larger, and he is, without question, the frontrunner and on his path to securing the nomination. Let go to our political director David Chalian who has some exit poll

results from the states of Ohio, Florida and North Carolina, three states that Donald Trump won.

David, let me put it to you, will voters come around and support Donald Trump, those who are -- voted against him today?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, we have some evidence tonight in the exit polls from those three states that they will but he'll have some work to do which is not unusual for a nominee who will potentially come through a pretty bitter nomination fight, Jake. We looked at those three states, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina because they are three general election battle ground states that voted today.

So let's start with Ohio. We asked the Republican primary voters in Ohio, if Donald Trump wins the nomination, would you not vote for him? 30 percent said they would not. Probably vote for him 22 percent, definitely vote for him 47 percent.

Take a look at Florida. In Florida we asked the same question, if indeed Trump wins the nomination, 24 percent of Republican primary voters there say they will not vote for him. 16 percent say probably will vote for him and 57 percent say definitely vote for him.

And then take a look at Ohio -- sorry, at North Carolina. There 23 percent say not vote for him. 21 percent say probably vote for him and 55 percent say definitely vote for him and here is what is key, Jake. We asked this question about Senator Cruz and Senator Rubio, as well, and the numbers are remarkably similar. So Donald Trump's work ahead to get the party to rally around him should he emerge with the nomination, although we are hearing all about this stop Trump movement, the number shows tonight that Republican primary voters are about equally prepared to join whoever sort of was going to emerge with the nomination, so yes, he has work to do but as you and I know through many presidential cycles, the party does tend to come around its nominee.

TAPPER: And that's what I wanted to ask you, David, when we've done this question in the past, do we have anyway of gauging how much these voters are just caught up in the heat of the moment or lying to themselves about who their ultimately going to vote for? I can imagine there are some Rubio voters who went to the polls today who thought there is no way I will ever vote for Donald Trump and should he end up getting the nomination, quite a few of them probably will.

CHALIAN: Right. We don't have the -- a great exit poll history because different states and different cycles but just if you look at non-exit polls, just regular polls that we have taken each cycle of the American people and of partisan saying about, will you rally around? Look, we did it with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, they're in very close race in 2008. And yes, in the heat of battle, people are resistant but then when somebody emerges with the nomination, people do tend to revert to form.

TAPPER: All right. David Chalian, thanks.

And I remember, do you remember the PUMAs or PUMAS?

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: The Hillary Clinton supporters, P-U-M-A, Party Unity My Ashtray. They were not going to support Barack Obama, obviously quite a few of them came around.

BASH: They did. And I agree with you that certainly in our lifetime covering politics, there is always then that sense of "oh my gosh, never, never," and then you -- then they fall in line.

[01:25:01] But this feels different because so many Republicans think of Donald Trump as an interloper. You know, the fact that Marco Rubio was talking about him as a con man. Obviously that didn't work. He fell flat. But he was giving voice to what a lot of Republicans do feel.

That is something that Donald Trump has to turn around, which is different from convincing people from within the party.

TAPPER: And speaking of party unity in terms of coalescing, we understand from our own Sunlen Serfaty who is -- has been covering the Cruz campaign that Senator Ted Cruz did reach out to Marco Rubio, did call Senator Marco Rubio, the two have been, I wouldn't call them close friends but they've been friends. They were both elected around the same time. They are both Cuban American. They are roughly the same age.

And they were very heated at one point but in the last few weeks, when they really realized that Trump was really the one who was going to walk away with the nomination perhaps and not the other one, they were a little bit more conciliatory. But apparently, Cruz got voicemail and he wasn't able to get through to Senator Rubio.

BASH: I thought you were going to continue with that parallel. And they both know how to use the decline button on their phone.

TAPPER: Right.

BASH: Not saying that Marco Rubio was screening Ted Cruz's calls or anything. But look, if I were Marco Rubio, I wouldn't want to talk to anybody, particularly people who were my opponents. You know, the two of them didn't really clash so much of late but they did at the beginning of the cycle and so, you know, if I were Marco Rubio right now, I would turn my phone off and I would go hang out with my wife and my kids and call it a night.

TAPPER: You can argue that Ted Cruz did more damage to Marco Rubio in terms of Rubio's support for the Gang of Eight Immigration Reform Bill, Anderson. But who knows. Bygones are bygones, I suppose.

COOPER: Yes. And certainly we heard virtually all the campaigns sort of reaching publicly to Marco Rubio. We heard it from Donald Trump, he mentioned Marco Rubio. We certainly heard that from John Kasich, as well. There is no reason -- I mean, obviously, and Ted Cruz. They would all like to pick up Marco Rubio supporters. BORGER: Sure.

COOPER: How likely do you think it is that Rubio comes out and then actually endorses somebody?

BORGER: I'm still waiting for Jeb Bush to come and endorse somebody. And I was told tonight that he's waiting. I think at some point --

COOPER: Waiting for what?

BORGER: I don't know. That's what I -- I got no response.

BROWNSTEIN: Maybe 2020. Maybe 2020. Get early start with that.

BORGER: I think that -- I think if I were Rubio, I'd kind of wait to see how this thing settles out, just a touch because -- and I think he'd be more likely to endorse Cruz than anybody else obviously.

CARPENTER: I will say Rubio's speech was very pointed tonight. I mean, he really took it to Donald Trump and really Republican leadership in a way that I thought was very unexpected.

BORGER: And it was very much like Cruz-like, if you will. I mean, here the irony is you have the Republican establishment trying to figure out a way to love and hug Ted Cruz and tonight, Ted Cruz gives an anti-establishment speech.

COOPER: But it also sounds like -- I mean, John Kasich has been sort of hinting that in the coming days he is going to make some sort of announcement or something about Donald Trump. I mean, when I asked him point blank yesterday if he will still support the nominee, he wouldn't answer. He said, I'm going to have something to say about that in the coming days.

BORGER: He's got to get more aggressive, I think. I don't know what you guys think. But he's got to get aggressive about Trump because he's now running against him and may run against him at the convention. So --

BROWNSTEIN: You can imagine.

BORGER: You can't be wimpy out there about Trump.

BROWNSTEIN: Now you have Kasich and Cruz bracketing Trump. You can imagine an informal tag team. Kasich obviously is a stronger candidate in blue states. Think about coastal states, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, lots of college educated, lots of moderates, a lot of suburban voters. Kind of places where he has done best in a limited way. And then Cruz remains predominantly a red state candidate, very conservative voters, evangelical voters, places like West Virginia, Nebraska, Indiana, stronger for him.


BROWNSTEIN: So you can kind of imagine this informal division, although Ted Cruz when given that opportunity going into this week, chose not to play.

BORGER: Well, that's the strategy, by the way. That's -- this Republican just e-mailed me. Cruz gets those red states.


BORGER: And Kasich does well in the mid-Atlantic states.

BROWNSTEIN: That's the logical --

BORGER: And they gather their delegates in six months.

HENDERSON: But there is no proof so far, at least, that it works. I mean, they tried these tag teams before. We had Krubio four times. That didn't really work. I mean, Kasich hasn't really shown much strength and should have done well in like Michigan.

BROWNSTEIN: It's really because Trump's coalition transcends the geographic divide than we've seen before. I mean, didn't ask. They divided that way. Evangelical or northern candidate, southern candidate. Trump is a different cut.


PRESTON: So I think this campaign has really been about moments in time. OK. And I just had -- I just received an e-mail from a Republican operative, very well known, said listen, 24 to 48 hours right now if we all don't get behind Ted Cruz then it's over. The game is over and Donald Trump is going to be the nominee, but it's a moment in time if we go back about seven, eight, nine days ago, it was a Cruz and Rubio ticket about trying to put them together. The principles never spoke but there were forces within the Republican Party trying to make that happen. The question is, could there be a Kasich-Cruz moment but at that moment it's going to happen soon.

COOPER: We got to take another break.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a Cruz and Rubio ticket about trying to put them together. The principals never spoke but there were forces within the Republican Party trying to make that happen.

The question is, could there be a Kasich-Cruz moment?

But at that moment, it's got to happen soon.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We got to take another short break. Our coverage continues in a moment.





SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The politics of resentment against other people will not just leave us a fractured party, they're going to leave us a fractured nation.

They're going to leave us as a nation where people literally hate each other because they have different political opinions. That we find ourselves at this point is not surprising, for the warning signs have been here for close to a decade.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Senator Marco Rubio, earlier tonight, dropping out of the race for President of the United States --


BLITZER: -- after suffering a defeat in his home state of Florida. Donald Trump won Florida tonight. Rubio now suspending his campaign.

Let's take a look at a key race alert we have right now. The only two contests outstanding on this what we called Super Tuesday in Missouri right now, 99 percent of the vote is in.

Donald Trump maintains his very slight lead over Ted Cruz, 40.8 percent to 40.6 percent. He's got a lead of 1,726 votes, not much. We'll see what happens there but Trump maintains that lead. It's been steady.

Similarly on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton maintains her very slight lead over Bernie Sanders in Missouri, 49.6 percent to 49.4 percent. Her lead only 1,531 votes, 99 percent of the vote is there in Missouri, as well. Two key races still undecided. We're watching them very closely.

Let's go over to Jake and Dana.

This is a night. We may not know for a while because they got to count I guess some absentee ballots. They got to make sure they got it right. It's very, very close on the Democratic and Republican side.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Now we know why they call it the Show Me State. People are constantly having to tell election officials they need the election results.

CNN does have some news, though, that I want to break right now, our Supreme Court team has put together the following report, in which is that President Obama has finished vetting the possible Supreme Court nominees and an announcement could come as early as later today, Wednesday, about who he has picked. We are told that the likely nominee will come from an appellate court.

It could be Sri Srinivasan or Merrick Garland from the D.C. Court of Appeals or it could be Paul Watford from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California.

CNN does not have enough information yet to say who it will be but we are confident that President Obama has finished vetting and will soon make his pick.

It could be as early as Wednesday, Dana, and this could be another curveball thrown into the presidential race.

DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely it could. We've talked about this before, ever since the death of Antonin Scalia, that traditionally the concept or the possibility of a Supreme Court nominee usually gins up the Republican base more than the Democratic base.

It's -- there's no way that's going to be the case this time around. If Republicans in the Senate keep their promise to not even give the nominee a hearing or even have a face-to-face meeting, Democrats, there is very little doubt in my mind that Democrats out in the country, who are going to the voting booth -- never mind in the primary season but more importantly in the general election -- are going to say, wait a minute, this is not the way it's supposed to be.

Republicans generally are ginned up about the Supreme Court pick and they're going to be, you know, very energized as well. But I think it will be interesting to see how galvanized Democrats are.

TAPPER: What is interesting about it is that usually the Supreme Court nominee and the fact the next president will pick at least two or three Supreme Court justices, it's always a theoretical argument and only resonant really with the people who really care about the Supreme Court decisions, people who are on either side, and very passionate about the abortion debate or school prayer or religious liberty, things along those -- same-sex marriage, things along those lines but it's not theoretical.

BASH: Exactly.

TAPPER: It truly, truly whether or not Antonin Scalia, may he rest in peace, whether or not he is replaced by a conservative or by a liberal or progressive, could have an enormous impact on what the United States will look like over the next generation.

BASH: Yes. And you better be sure that both candidates, both general election candidates are going to play that to the nth degree because why wouldn't they?

It would be political malpractice not to. And more importantly, it really is a real difference that could make a difference in people's lives, that, you know, people every day think about who they're going to for but it really is a Supreme Court justice, especially, as you said, in this case, which could tip the balance, which could make a difference in a lot of these issues. TAPPER: More food for thought for you, Anderson.

COOPER: Let's talk about it. We'll start off with Donna Brazile.

Donna, is this one of the reasons you're not as concerned about the so-called enthusiasm gap that some Democrats say Paul Begala has expressed concerns about because the issue of the Supreme Court nominee is going to galvanize Republicans?

DONNA BRAZILE, VICE CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, in 2000, for example, Al Gore did not get a lot of primary votes. We only had two of us and in the general election we won the so-called popular vote. So I'm not as, you know, I guess concerned right now.

Let's find out what happens after this three --


COOPER: Oh, lord.


But they're over here; they're so sad. I didn't --



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm down to one Cuban.

BRAZILE: But you know what, you always have me.


You always have me.


BRAZILE: And Jeffrey, I'm just saying, OK, Anderson --


COOPER: I like how their sadness just sort of overwhelmed you (INAUDIBLE) with joy.

BRAZILE: -- break into giggles --


COOPER: Yes, let's talk about politics.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- coming tomorrow, I'm very interested in the fact that President Obama is going to throw down the gauntlet on judges, test the Senate Republican blockade on judges. At the same time you also have Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid

scheduled for a big speech in downtown D.C. to, as the "Huffington Post" said, put a blowtorch to Republican leadership over Donald Trump.

Democrats who are still in power in Washington are going to flex their muscle tomorrow and show Republicans that they are still in charge, they know how to run things and Harry Reid is going to have a lot of fun doing what I think Hillary Clinton probably wishes she could but can't right now.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: The out-of-the-box prediction would be, the out-of-the-box prediction would be that if Donald Trump continues to steamroll towards the nomination and does not look better as a general election candidate, it's not inconceivable that Mitch McConnell before the end of the year decides that he can get a better deal on whoever President Obama nominates, than who might be the nominee.

(INAUDIBLE) because in the situation Republicans are in now is extraordinary.

Whatever you think about Donald Trump, he is someone who is unpredictable to them, who does not come out of the tradition of the party and now they are linked to him, not only for the presidency but given the increasing correlation between the way the people vote for president and the Senate, for the Senate and also potentially for the Supreme Court.

The entire control of the government could be in the basket of someone who you really don't know from day to day as a Republican what he is going to say or do. Might turn out well. But there's a lot of red flags out there as well. So just an extraordinary moment for the party --


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: So why do you think they are rallying around Ted Cruz?

Because they may not like Ted Cruz but they know that he's a constitutional conservative and that it's dependable, you know, to your point, and that nothing, there's no higher stake than the --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not saying we don't like Ted Cruz, I told you already


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- like a rash that you will get develop an affection for.

BRAZILE: But President Obama's going to fulfill his constitutional duty. That's what I wanted to start by saying. And the Senate should do its job and not obstruct the presidential. I think he's going to announce a very qualified person with impeccable

credentials and characteristic and it's going to be up to the Republicans to look like obstructionists, like they looking now, with their nominee.


JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I've been through five of these things when I worked in the White House and then a friend of mine was a Bush 43 nominee for the 3rd Circuit. And that became like a Supreme Court situation.

The fact of the matter is that Democrats have no credibility on this. They will say anything and do anything; if they are in, they want these people confirmed.

If they are out, they will obstruct until the cows come home. So it is up to Republicans to deliver that message, to illustrate how this goes -- and lord knows there is plenty of videotape out there that can illustrate the point.


COOPER: Ron, and then we got to go.

BROWNSTEIN: Don't you think that if the Democrats win the White House and win the Senate, they will end the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees?

I think that's a guarantee that that was the one thing that was preserved before. I think it will end and thus is the risk, if you lose the White House, you probably lose the Senate and you get a nominee that would probably be well to the Left who --


COOPER: Donald Trump is going to be a guest on "NEW DAY" tomorrow morning. Watch for that.

We're still watching the races on the Republican side and the Democratic side in Missouri. Amazingly close races, still votes to be counted, absentee ballots. We'll be right back.






BLITZER: It's been a big night for both the Democrats and the Republicans as far as the presidential nominations are concerned. Let's take a look at the states won so far on this night. On the Republican side. Donald Trump, the front-runner, he has won

Florida, Illinois and North Carolina, three important states. John Kasich has won his home state of Ohio. He needed to win in order to stay in the race. He stays in the race.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has had a very good night, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Illinois, four big wins for Hillary Clinton.

There is a key race alert. I want to update you right now on the two outstanding contests. Right now, the only two contests outstanding, Missouri.

Let's take a look at the Republican side first. Look at how close it is with almost all of the votes counted, 99 percent in; Donald Trump maintains his slight lead over Ted Cruz, 40.8 percent to 40.6 percent. He is winning -- look at this -- by only 1,726 votes, almost 900,000 votes were cast in Missouri. Donald Trump has a slight lead in Missouri.

On the Democratic side, similarly, Hillary Clinton maintains a very slight lead over Bernie Sanders, 49.6 percent to 49.4 percent; 99 percent of the vote is in. She has a lead of only 1,561, more than 600,000 votes cast in Missouri on the Democratic contest right there. Two close races.

We have not projected winners in Missouri for the Democrats or the Republicans, not yet. Let's walk over to John King, who's taking a much closer look at Missouri right now.

Still some outstanding votes that have to be counted. Doesn't get much closer than this, though, John.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Doesn't get much closer than this. There are some absentee ballots, there are some provisional ballots and there also are, if you look at Jackson County, which is Kansas City in the suburbs, it's the only place we can find that's under 100 percent.

Two precincts apparently still out in Jackson County, at least of a few moments ago. Ted Cruz is winning in that part of the state.

Is it enough to make up the difference?

Most likely not, but you count the votes to the very end and you get there, it makes a big difference in Missouri on the Republican side because, even though it will be very close either way, the statewide winner gets 12 delegates to start with. So it does make a difference. We'll count the final votes there.

We may not get official certification until tomorrow because of absentees and provisionals and we'll wait for those final two precincts but, wow, what a race there.

On the Democratic side, same exact area comes to the same, Jackson County, where Hillary Clinton is -- has been ahead consistently in this county so there's no reason at all to believe it will change the results if the two precincts are still out. So it looks like Hillary Clinton will end the night or in the morning now with a narrow lead in Missouri.

Again, some absentees and some provisionals to double check. Most of that will probably happen when the sun comes up. But there's no reason to believe that at least unofficially those aren't your results. So again, now come out to the map.


KING: And what do you get?

You get a national map when you pull this out. Very impressive night for Hillary Clinton. She sweeps as long as Missouri holds, she sweeps tonight, she stretches her delegate lead; in terms of pledge delegates, Wolf, never mind the super delegates she has in her back pocket.

She has to win 59 percent of the remaining pledge delegates to clinch with just pledge delegates. If she needed them, she could pull out the super delegates but let's leave that off the table for now.

And then you come to the Republican race, this math is not final. We still have some delegates to allocate in Missouri and in Illinois tonight. Trump's number will go higher. Cruz's number might bubble up a little bit. But Trump's number will go up quite a bit because of Missouri and we just did some math.

It's a ballpark number. If will fluctuate a little bit. But we will wake up tomorrow morning with the contest remaining, Donald Trump will need about 54 percent. Could go a little higher, could go a little lower but about 54 percent. ballpark of the remaining delegates, Donald Trump would need, to get to 1,237, which is your magic number and clinch the nomination.

Obviously the Stop Trump people want to block him. That's a number that will be tough but it's within reach.

BLITZER: Yes, and Marco Rubio has 170 pledge delegates but he's now dropped out of the race. We'll see what happens with those 170 delegates. That could be significant, there's no doubt about that. John, thanks very much.

Let's go back to Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, let's talk more about what's happening in Missouri and also just some final thoughts on the night -- Mark.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Anderson, CNN's Robert Yoo (ph) has spoken to the Missouri secretary of state. And he had told Robert that they have stopped counting tonight and the reason being is that's there is nothing left to count at this point.

So if you can imagine. So right now what they are going to do is they are going to start up again tomorrow. They're going to look at the provisional ballots, they're going to

look at the absentee ballots, no absentee ballots, especially the ones from overseas, need to get into the country, into their hands by noon on Friday. They're also going to recanvas the entire state to make sure that the vote is accurate.

Now here is the interesting part: if it's less than 1 percent, then a candidate can ask for a recount. Well, look at the boards right now. Four candidates can ask for the recount.

So as we're all just kind of sitting here, talking about what could possibly happen, expect the lawyers to start flying into St. Louis to see, to make sure and also the state capital, as well, to make sure --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I tell you, that you are able to explain that so coherently and at 1:52 in the morning, I mean, whatever they are paying you, they got to pay you more.

PRESTON: It's the leprechaun, it isn't the Chewbacca thing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what it sounds like, it sounds like a very good warmup for an open convention.


COOPER: Not chupacabra.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or chupacabra is singular, chupacabra --


COOPER: I don't want to argue with that.


COOPER: Just get some final thoughts, I mean, you know, we started off tonight, talking about is there going to be clarity?

Is there clarity?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I think you continue to see Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump steamrolling toward what could be an epic fall confrontation that would test the competing theories on each side.

But how do I (INAUDIBLE)?

Trump is the embodiment of the Republican conservative belief that the way to win is by turning out more culturally conservative whites. And because of Trump's negatives with groups, he will test the Democratic theory, that if you turn out this coalition of the ascendant, of minorities, Millennials, socially liberal white, that is now the majority of presidential politics. It will be an epic fight and there's nothing that happened tonight

that does not bring us closer to it.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Part of that fight is going to be Kasich versus Trump.

What is that going to look like?

How is Trump going to unload on Kasich?

He hasn't really done that yet.

What does that look like?

And does Kasich come out in the coming days and say, listen, Trump is somebody I could never support?

COOPER: Which he's already been hinting at and he's certainly -- has been changing rhetoric towards Trump just the last couple days -- Mark.

PRESTON: Right. You know, basically the establishment, if they want to stop Trump, they've got days now, if not hours, to try to figure out how to stop him like now, now, now at 2 o'clock in the morning.

However, Donald Trump can turn it around and if he wants the establishment to come to him, then he needs to change his rhetoric and he needs to start reaching out.

COOPER: Gloria?

BORGER: I think after tonight, Never Trump looks like Neverland, honestly. I think it gets more and more difficult and they don't have a plan.


BORGER: There is not one plan; there's each man for himself still. It doesn't work.

COOPER: The Donald started the end for you, I mean, huge night for Hillary Clinton, I mean --


BRAZILE: You cannot under estimate just the percentage, the lead she has now with superior delegates, I'm calling them superior.


BRAZILE: We still have about 27, 28 more contests on the Democratic side. Bernie Sanders will continue to compete. There is no question. She has real momentum going into the next few contests.

COOPER: Ana? ANA NAVARRO, CNN COMMENTATOR: If Never Trump is Neverland, some of us are seeking asylum there. I think that on the Republican side, it is clear, what's clear is that we are polarized.

I don't that think the establishment or anybody else is going to be able to come up with one plan. I think this is going to now go to a convention and it's going to be open hunting season.

COOPER: Only got about 30 seconds left.

CARPENTER: I think people should look at -- envision what a Trump versus Hillary election looks like. It would only come down to which side hates the other the most.

Maybe that's the ultimate angry face-off. We deserve this election but I think it would be very bitter.

LORD: Trump is --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With that happy thought.

LORD: Trump is capable of unifying the party.


LORD: But there is an outlier here, it's the platform fights in both parties, between Sanders and Clinton Left and Right.

And on the Republican side with Trump and the establishment.

COOPER: Hillary Clinton wins big, no doubt about it. Her message tonight, focus on the general election now.

Donald Trump, too, is calling for Republicans to get on board.

But did he do enough to give himself a clear path to nomination?

Is he expecting a floor fight at the Republican convention?

We'll ask the Republican front-runner in just a few hours on CNN's "NEW DAY," 7:00 am Eastern. Don't want to miss that. Our live coverage continues with John Berman and Christine Romans just after this.