Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

CNN Projects Bernie Sanders Wins Nevada Caucuses;' Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) Talks About Pete Buttigieg's Presidential Bid; Russian Interference In The 2020 Race Setting Off Shockwaves In Washington. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 23, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:38]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right. Hello again, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thank you so much for joining me. It was another huge night for Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail.

CNN is projecting the Vermont senator to win the Nevada caucuses, pulling in nearly 50 percent of the county delegates confirmed so far.

The win cements Sanders status as the Democratic frontrunner as we enter a critical stretch in this election season.

The South Carolina primary is now only six days away, but Sanders is already looking to Super Tuesday coming up on March 3rd campaigning today in Texas. His message after the Nevada victory only he has the momentum to win in November.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In Nevada and in New Hampshire in an Iowa what we showed is that our volunteers are prepared to knock on hundreds and hundreds of thousands of doors that no campaign has a grassroots movement like we do, which is another reason why we're going to win this election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And as Sanders celebrates, he is getting support from the most unlikely of places, the White House. President Trump defending Sanders this morning, blasting Democrats for trying to take away his possible nomination and treating Sanders, in the words of President Trump, very unfairly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They don't want Bernie Sanders to represent them. It sounds like it is '16 all over again for Bernie Sanders, and he won. He had a great victory yesterday, but you know what's happening. You can see the handwriting on the wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right, CNN's Athena Jones is on the campaign trail

joining us from Austin, Texas, Senator Bernie Sanders campaigning in that State of Texas today.

Athena, he is the frontrunner, but he's not easing up at all on the campaign trail, is he?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. Well, the fact that Bernie Sanders is in Texas shows that he's looking ahead, he's looking past South Carolina, to the big cache of delegates that will be awarded on Super Tuesday, March 3rd, just a couple of weeks from now.

We're in Austin. This is where he will end it today. Right now, he is speaking in Houston at a rally there and he was here yesterday. He was -- he spent all of Saturday at a rally in El Paso and then later in San Antonio, so he was here when he chalked up that big win in Nevada, but it's a sign of confidence that he came on and went ahead to Texas.

Listen to some of what he is telling that crowd in Houston right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: Let me say this to my friends in Texas, this state, maybe more than any other state has the possibility of transforming this country.

[APPLAUSE]

SANDERS: On television, they say you know, Texas is a conservative state. It's a red state. I don't believe it for a minute.

[APPLAUSE]

SANDERS: If the working people and the young people of this state, black and white and Latino, Native American, Asian American -- if our people stand together, come out to vote, we're going to win here in Texas.

[APPLAUSE]

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: So there you heard Senator Sanders making his pitch about the size of his coalition. He's talked a lot about how he has the biggest grassroots army. And he's building a multiracial, multigenerational coalition of people, many of them who have felt overlooked by the political system in the past, working class voters.

And you know, Fred, this all comes down to, you know, success in politics comes down to resources, energy and enthusiasm and we know that with some of these big crowds, and with the resources Bernie Sanders has, I mean, he checks those two things off.

The other thing is organization, this is something that his campaign really stressed in Nevada. This is one of the reasons they would say they won. They had more than 250 staffers on the ground knocking on half a million doors.

They specified out, they put a focus on outreach to Latinos, but also they had campaign material in multiple languages Chinese Vietnamese, Thai, Tagalog, which is the language of the Philippines.

They're hoping to have a similar approach here in Texas where Hispanics and blacks make up about half of the electorate here in this state.

So they are they're focusing on Latino outreach here. They've also done a town halls on things like criminal justice, so they're trying -- they say to do the work to reach as many people as they possibly can in order to expand this coalition and for Bernie Sanders to build the kind of winning coalition that he thinks could take them across the finish line here in Texas.

And should he be the nominee, he could even flip Texas down the road -- Fred.

[15:05:29]

WHITFIELD: All right. Athena Jones there in Austin.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is campaigning in South Carolina. Next Saturday's primary will be a key test in his bid to win the White House. He actually just spoke with CNN's Jeff Zeleny a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: So finally, South Carolina.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE Finally.

ZELENY: This is what you've been waiting for.

BIDEN: Yes.

ZELENY: Is this state still your firewall, sir?

BIDEN: Well, I think it's the state that I'm going to do well in. I think, you know, it has 60 percent of its vote, it is African-America vote. They have an opportunity to basically choose who the nominee is because depending on what they do, and if they do it strongly, I think it's a real --

Look, the issues are the issues that are of great concern and one of that, you have healthcare was actually available.

This governor, the previous governor did not extend Medicaid, and in my proposal, anybody who qualifies for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled. We're able to pass it and we're going to able to get it done quickly.

ZELENY: You told the worshippers here today that they can own this election. Do you think that some candidates are trying to buy this election?

BIDEN: That's not what I meant. What I meant was that they -- by the African-American vote coming out of this state today, they can put a stamp on the Democratic Party that says, look, we're entitled to a big piece of the reason we won. We won the presidency, and they are entitled to that.

No Democrat should be able to win the presidency without a significant support from the African-American or Latino community.

ZELENY: Would Senator Sanders as the nominee be a McGovern-like mistake for this party?

BIDEN: Well, that's for the voters to -- look, I think it's going to get down to a race between Senator Sanders and me for the nomination.

As I said all along, it's not just, can you beat Donald Trump? Can you bring along -- can you keep a Democratic House of Representatives in the United States Congress, and can you bring along a Democratic Senate? Can you help people up and down the line?

And I think I'm better prepared to do that than Senator Sanders.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right, with our Jeff Zeleny there. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is looking to build momentum following another strong showing in Nevada.

Joining me right now Maryland Congressman Anthony Brown, who is endorsing Buttigieg for President. Congressman, good to see you.

REP. ANTHONY BROWN (D-MD): Nice to be on with you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, so there you are in Conway, South Carolina, the next state to hold a primary and a state Buttigieg is hoping to gain ground.

This morning, a new poll shows him at only 10 percent support in the Palmetto State. So why do you think he is having so much trouble gaining traction in the Palmetto state?

BROWN: Well, if you look at the progress that we're making, we're showing movement in South Carolina, and we're doing what we did starting 12 months ago in Iowa and New Hampshire, building a coalition that is cross generational, geographically diverse.

We demonstrated the ability to build a coalition that's a racially and ethnically diverse in Nevada, where we may very well finish a second. You know, there's some irregularities in that count, so we're waiting for the results there.

But, you know, we're the only candidate -- one of two, I should say that had finished first, second or third in a primary, and that's because we've been able to build a diverse coalition, and that's what we're doing on the ground in South Carolina. WHITFIELD: Okay, well, it will be a very diverse electorate in South

Carolina. Buttigieg attended a church service in Charleston this morning. He talked about how important African-American votes will be in this election. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that that is not just an expression of a political preference. It is something that was hard won, that that vote is something that was kept often through violence out of black hands for generations.

And won only through struggle, through blood and through sweat and tears and only won within living memory.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So many times, it's been pointed out that he doesn't have huge black support. Can he win South Carolina without significant black voter support?

BROWN: Look, in order to win the Democratic primary, you're going to have to have significant support from the African-American community, and that's what we're working on every day to build a, you know, larger and larger. I think we're going to exceed expectations in South --

WHITFIELD: Do you see that it is being built? Is it building larger?

BROWN: I think we're going to -- yes, I think we're going to exceed expectations in South Carolina, and as we've exceeded expectations in Nevada, in both the Latino and the African-American community, it's meeting voters where they are where, you know, relationships -- engagements I should say at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Pete was in church today. I was in church this morning as well in South Carolina. We've got volunteers and surrogates who've been engaging the faith community here in South Carolina. Digital ad bytes.

[15:10:14]

WHITFIELD: And what are people saying to you?

BROWN: I am sorry?

WHITFIELD: Have they been you know -- have people been candid? Are they forthright with what their thoughts and opinions are about Buttigieg as you are meeting with people there? I mean, what are they saying to you about his campaign? About his prospects? His potential promise?

BROWN: Sure, first of all, he doesn't have the benefit of having run for a President before as, say, for example, Senator Sanders, or has served in national office like Vice President Biden. What I'm observing and what we are seeing on the ground is as voters

get to know Pete Buttigieg and they get beyond being able to just pronounce his name. They know his values. They know that he's a man of faith. That he's a veteran, he put on the uniform, served our country in Afghanistan.

But perhaps more importantly, when they learn about what he plans to do for voters and their families, for example, the Douglass Plan empowering African-American entrepreneurs, bringing much needed resources -- healthcare resources to underserved communities of color. That's when people get really excited and they start leaning in to Pete Buttigieg.

So that's the challenge of every campaign. We're no different. It's meeting voters where they are and sharing with them a vision for a better America for voters and their family, and that's no less true in the African-American community.

WHITFIELD: And Congressman Brown, this afternoon we also learned that Pete Buttigieg is raising concerns about irregularities he sees within the Nevada caucus results.

Senator Bernie Sanders is the projected winner there by a rather sizable margin. Are you concerned about the caucus results or are you even concerned about the candidate Buttigieg casting doubt on the results?

BROWN: Yes, now listen, there are some irregularities that have been pointed at or highlighted in a letter from the campaign to the Nevada Democratic Party.

And, you know, clearly the results are slow to come. You know, I don't think it's going to change the result in terms of who places first in Nevada, but certainly we are very close to Vice President Biden for a second place finish.

And so we just want to make sure in fairness to the caucus goers in Nevada, and all of the supporters and people that have supported every campaign on the ground in Nevada, that the results are accurate and timely.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there. Maryland Congressman, Anthony Brown, thank you so much.

BROWN: Thanks, Frederica.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead. Russian interference in the 2020 race setting off shockwaves in Washington. Why President Trump is attacking Congressman Adam Schiff.

And then later, a romantic vacation turns into a harrowing ordeal. A couple rescued from the woods after disappearing on Valentine's Day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:17:05] WHITFIELD: All right, right now, President Trump is en route to India

aboard Air Force One with the First Lady. He will be making a brief 36-hour visit to India to meet with Prime Minister Modi, a tour of the Taj Mahal and attend a rally.

The President departs amid a growing controversy over Russian plans to interfere in the upcoming election.

A top U.S. Intelligence official told lawmakers earlier this month that Russia was interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump's campaign.

Let's bring in Jeremy Diamond at the White House. So Jeremy, the White House is disputing this.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not the White House disputing this, Fredricka.

What it is, though, is that we've heard from three national security officials now telling me and my colleagues Jake Tapper and Zachary Cohen, that the U.S. Intelligence's top election security official, Shelby Pierson in that briefing with lawmakers actually appears to have overstated the Intelligence Community's conclusions and formal assessments about Russian interference in the 2020 election.

Essentially, here's where the distinction is. Shelby Pierson told these lawmakers that Russia was interfering with the expressed goal of helping President Trump get reelected, that they had already decided that they have a clear preference for President Trump when it comes to these upcoming elections.

What these officials are telling us is that the U.S. Intelligence Committee has actually assessed that, one, Russia is indeed interfering in the election. And number two, that they have -- that they believe that President Trump is a leader that they can work with.

Now, putting those two things together is essentially what Shelby Pierson did. But that is not where the U.S. Intelligence Community's formal assessment actually stands.

And so that is part of some of the confusion here and some of the -- that has led to a lot of consternation both at the White House and across the administration.

Now, the administration, of course, has been flatly denying any Russian interference on behalf of the President. Listen to what the National Security adviser, Robert O'Brien had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, there's no briefing that I received, that the President has received that says that President Putin is doing anything to try and influence the elections in favor of President Trump. We just haven't seen that intelligence.

If it's out there, I haven't seen it. I'd be surprised if I haven't seen it. The leaders of the I.C. have not seen it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And so you have that from Robert O'Brien flatly denying that. Of course, what he's not saying is that the U.S. Intelligence Community has nonetheless concluded that Russia is interfering in the 2020 elections.

One national security official told me that the only goal that is clear as of now from Russia, is that they are attempting to sow discord here.

Of course back in 2016, after that election, the U.S. Intelligence Community concluded that Russia had a clear preference for President Trump and that Russia had interfered to help his presidential campaign.

And so essentially what these officials are telling us is that as of now, the U.S. Intelligence Community is watching this. They do know that Russia is interfering, but they do not yet have the evidence to say that Russia is interfering with the expressed purpose of helping President Trump get reelected -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thank you so much.

[15:20:04]

WHITFIELD: Let's to talk about it now. Let's bring in Shawn Turner, a former Director of Communications for U.S. National Intelligence and a CNN national security analyst.

Shawn, good to see you. All right, so you heard, you know, that latest verbiage that that officials would rather use -- do you see a distinction between, you know, Russia potentially, and tampering and meddling with the U.S. elections to assist the President versus any tampering because they feel Russia feels like they can work better with this sitting President?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think there is potentially a distinction here.

Look, I think that it's important for people to understand how Intelligence Community assessments are done. But first, you know, after everything that the Intelligence Community has been through, Fred, you know, Intelligence officials understand that when it comes to these briefings and these assessments, they have to be very careful about what they say and how they say it.

Intelligence Community assessments are done with confidence levels. The key question to ask here is whether or not the confidence level of the claim that Russia was intervening on behalf of the President, whether or not that confidence level was a high, medium or low confidence level.

At this point, if the Intelligence Community cannot say that the claim was made with a high confidence level, then I think that there is a legitimate concern here.

Now, look, we are talking about two different issues. One, the interference, and I know that there's a high confidence level that there is interference, and there's likely a high confidence level that the Russians believe that they can work with President Trump.

But I don't know that we get from those two facts, a high confidence level that the Russians are intervening on behalf of President Trump.

So that'll be something the Intelligence Community has to look hard at and perhaps even make a correction if that's not the case.

And I think it's important to point out that that doesn't mean that we will not ultimately get there and that that's not the Russians intent, but we just may not be to that point, yet.

WHITFIELD: Was it not likely a high confidence level if, you know lawmakers on the Intel Committee were briefed about this?

TURNER: Well, my understanding of the briefing that the lawmakers received was that it was actually supposed to be a process briefing.

It was supposed to be a briefing where Intelligence officials discussed how they were going to go about protecting and safeguarding the 2020 presidential election.

I do think within the context of those briefings, and I've been part of some of those briefings, occasionally conversations get going and lawmakers will press very hard on questions that they have.

And I can imagine a scenario in this briefing where lawmakers are asking for the bottom line. You know, if Intelligence officials are saying Russia is interfering, then I imagine they were pressed on whether or not they were interfering on behalf of President Trump.

Again, it's certainly possible that that is the case, but perhaps in terms of that being part of the actual assessment, we may not -- we just may not be there yet.

WHITFIELD: So the President is saying he wasn't briefed about this, you know, and that Russians may have been trying to help Bernie Sanders in the 2020 election, that was part of the whole package of reporting.

What does that say to you about trust, if that is indeed the case that the Intel Community wouldn't brief the President, but lawmakers would be briefed on this?

TURNER: Yes, well, you know, there's a -- I think there's a little bit of a misunderstanding out there with regards to where this information came from.

You know, after there is a Democratic nominee, the Intelligence Community will begin to give official briefings to that Democratic nominee, but right now, it's actually the F.B.I. that's responsible for looking at whether or not there's any interference on behalf of a particular candidate and the F.B.I. take steps to keep the candidates informed on those sorts of things.

So it wouldn't be the kind of thing that the President would be informed of necessarily, because it's not part of the broader Intelligence Community effort to keep the President informed, but there is a lower level at which the F.B.I. takes the initiative to keep the candidates informed.

WHITFIELD: Okay. And it has not been made clear publicly what kind of interference Russians may be carrying out. What would be your view on how the Russians would be trying to interfere?

TURNER: Well, I think there are --

WHITFIELD: What will be the methods of use?

TURNER: Yes, think there are kind of going to three buckets here.

You know, in 2016, the Russians needed to create sort of disinformation and kind of inject through stories and social media, inject narratives into the information stream here in the United States and that was either in favor of a particular candidate.

We know in 2016, they started out, you know, going after Hillary Clinton because they thought they could bring her down, but eventually, they actually shifted over when they saw that President Trump could win, and they began to support President Trump.

So it's either supporting a candidate or trying to bring down a candidate. Those are the two with regards to candidates.

And then the third bucket is just the bucket of sowing discord here in the United States, trying to -- you know, using the issues that we already have to try to separate us and rile up emotions here in the United States.

[15:25:06]

TURNER: We're seeing the exact same thing this time around. The key difference this time around, though, is that there's so much domestically generated disinformation, that the Russians will have a much easier time because they simply can go out there in the information space in cyberspace and grab the domestically generated disinformation and amplify it. And that's a way that they'll use it this time, so a bit of a change in tactic for Russia.

WHITFIELD: All right, Shawn Turner, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

TURNER: You, too, Fred. Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right. Up next, a powerful moment on the campaign trail involving Pete Buttigieg and a nine-year-old boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: And this is a really touching question. He says thank you for being so brave. Would you help me tell the world I'm gay, too? I want to be brave like you.

[APPLAUSE]

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:30:19]

WHITFIELD: Pete Buttigieg's campaign is questioning the result of the Nevada caucuses. The 2020 candidate's campaign alleging irregularities in the early vote count after he was projected to finish third in the contest behind former Vice President Joe Biden.

CNN's Abby Phillip is joining me now from a Buttigieg event in Arlington, Virginia. So Abby, what are you learning?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the results from the Nevada caucuses are still trickling in, but the Buttigieg campaign is raising some concerns about the early vote and how that was being integrated in the in-person precinct caucus voting that happened in Nevada.

The deputy campaign manager for the Buttigieg campaign says in a statement that he currently believes that their data shows a razor thin margin for second place.

Right now, based on the data that we have released from the state party, Joe Biden is in a narrow lead over Buttigieg for that second place spot. And so they're asking for the early vote to be released and also asking for the state party to explain the irregularities and to reconcile those numbers.

Now, we don't know if there are in fact any problems with this, but we have a statement from the Nevada Democratic Party's spokeswoman who says, "We laid out our early vote and Caucus Day processes step by step and we communicated these processes to all campaigns. We are continuing to verify and to report results. We never indicated we would release a separate breakdown of the early vote and in-person attendees by precinct and will not change our reporting process now. As laid out in our recount guidelines, there is a formal method for requesting a challenge of results."

So it is not clear how this is going to get resolved. But the Nevada Democratic Party making it pretty clear that they are not -- they have no intention at the moment of releasing specifically the separated out early vote data, which they said is not part of the process that they laid out to the campaigns ahead of time.

WHITFIELD: And then Abby, you know, Pete Buttigieg shared a really special moment with a nine-year-old at an event in Denver last night. What more can you tell us about that?

PHILLIP: Yes, well, you know, this campaign has been really a tough one for all of the candidates. But one thing that I think maybe some people feel like hasn't gotten a lot of attention is the history making factor in Buttigieg's candidacy -- the first openly gay candidate to win a Democratic primary or caucus.

And last night in Colorado, a young nine-year-old boy submitted a question to Buttigieg in a town hall. Just take a listen to this very poignant moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think you need a lot of advice for me on bravery. You seem pretty strong.

To see you -- it took me a long time to figure out how to tell even my best friend that I was gay, let alone to go out there and tell the world. And to see you willing to come to terms with who you are in a room full of a thousand people, thousands of people you've never met. That's really something.

I can't promise it'll always be easy. I can promise you that I'm going to be rooting for you and I think there's a whole bunch of people here who are going to be rooting you every step of the way.

[APPLAUSE]

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: Now after that event, that young boy met up with Chasten Buttigieg, who is Pete Buttigieg's husband, backstage, Chasten Buttigieg handed him a challenge coin, which is a coin that, you know, they give out at these events that has what the Buttigieg campaign calls the rules of the road.

These are a number of sort of items that describe the values of this campaign. But that moment I think will go down as one of those moments on the campaign trail that marks this, you know, extraordinary history making candidacy, even as there's still so much uncertainty about where things will go in the future for that young boy and for the for the Buttigiegs frankly, they were able to share that moment.

The young boy also gave Pete Buttigieg a bracelet that Buttigieg said he would wear for the duration of that event as well -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, these tender moments are the ones that are most memorable on a very hard fought campaign trail, indeed. Abby Phillip, thank you so much.

All right, coming up. Fresh off his win in Nevada, Senator Bernie Sanders talks foreign policy while criticizing President Trump. Our political strategists will discuss the future of the Democratic race, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:38:55]

WHITFIELD: All right, with the South Carolina primary less than a week away, House Majority Whip James Clyburn has yet to make a public endorsement in the 2020 race. Clyburn says he is waiting until after Tuesday night's Democratic debate, Wednesday.

The South Carolina Congressman says he will publicly make an endorsement and announce it. He says he owes it to the South Carolinian voters.

Earlier I spoke with Clyburn about how Senator Bernie Sanders' Nevada Caucus win influences South Carolina's primary and he says he is among those worried about Sanders Democratic socialist label.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): People are concerned about this whole self-proclaimed Democratic socialist.

Socialism since I was a student in grade school, it was something that engendered a kind of vociferous reaction among people, negative in nature.

People are very concerned about that and we are trying to rebuild our party in South Carolina. We are trying to elect more people to Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:40:06]

WHITFIELD: Joining me right now to discuss, Jennifer Granholm, former Michigan Governor and CNN Senior political commentator, along with Andrew Gillum, a CNN political commentator and former Florida Governor candidate.

Good to see you both.

All right, Andrew, how about you first? You know, what's your reaction to Clyburn and the concerns that he says South Carolina voters seem to have about Bernie Sanders?

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, obviously, I have to take the Congressman at his word. South Carolina is his home state. And I will, you know, say -- and I've written about this a little bit since my race down here in Florida that Bernie Sanders will have to do some educating of the American public around what does it mean to be a Democratic socialist.

In my race for governor, my opponents tried to attack me as a socialist in spite of my embrace of capitalism and being a Democrat, but obviously having fair rules of the road for corporations, as well as for people.

But I will tell you in Florida, that term will come tinged with some preconceived notions, largely because of the role that socialism has played in a lot of Latin American countries that tends to send, you know, warning signals to a lot of our Latin American community.

That being said, I will say this, Bernie Sanders has struck a nerve and I think it is shocking a lot of people that he is resonant with a whole range of folks.

And I said, after New Hampshire on this network, on CNN, after those results came in that the people are trying to communicate something to us and we better listen.

And it seems that they're saying that they want to meet the force of Donald Trump with an equal and opposite force and that is causing many of them to choose Bernie Sanders as their choice in the Democratic nomination.

WHITFIELD: So Jennifer, you know, how do you see it? You know, Clyburn says that, you know, he is concerned particularly about the impact Sanders would have on down ballot races if Sanders were to become the nominee. Do you see that as well?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, I can't tell you how many people that I've spoken to over the past 24 hours, who are a whole bunch in the moderate camp who are clutching their pearls saying, oh my god, we're going to lose the House.

And then I've got young people who are saying, come on, this is a different world. People are angry and they're without houses, when there are young people who can't afford to buy a house, they can't pay off their student loans, and we need something different.

So there is within the Democratic camp, as everybody knows these two things, and I think that the socialism issue will play out among generations.

And you saw in Nevada, that a huge number of young people did in fact turn out, so you know, who knows what's going to happen into the next -- I would say the next nine days are absolutely pivotal.

But after Super Tuesday, I think the argument will really play out because you'll have somebody who is clearly, in one of these two camps. You'll have two people, maybe three who are in one of these two camps and that that argument is really going to be part of the Democratic nomination.

WHITFIELD: And then Andrew, you know, Senator Sanders is campaigning in Texas right now. And he says that if he wins, Texas, Trump is finished. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: Now is the time for action. Now is the time to get involved in the political process.

[APPLAUSE]

SANDERS: This is the most consequential election in the modern history of this country. Texas will play an enormous role.

If we win here in Texas, Trump is finished.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: So Andrew, how do you see it? If he does get a Texas

victory, what is the message sent?

GILLUM: Well, first of all, without a doubt, if Republicans have to be concerned about Texas going blue, then it's all over except the shouting. And the same is true by the way here in the State of Florida.

Bernie has, through his Nevada win has shown the country that he has been able to pull together a pretty diverse coalition of people. And I will say, I don't think that these are voters who are simply trying to be on a suicide mission.

Their number one concern is beating Donald Trump. They're not willing to take just any candidate in the process of doing that. They are simply communicating to us that they believe that Bernie Sanders is offering the best alternative to what we face to Donald Trump.

And I will tell you, I think there is some merit to this conversation that it will take a candidate who has the ability, the capacity to bring more people to the electorate, in order for a Democrat to overcome what is already a pretty strong and what appears to be an unmovable base of supporters who are there for Donald Trump.

I don't know who that will ultimately be. But it seems pretty clear to me that many voters are choosing, you know, Bernie Sanders as that alternative choice.

WHITFIELD: And then Jennifer, you know, in a recent interview, Sanders also said that he'd be open to meeting North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un if he becomes President, listen.

[15:45:13]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: I have criticized Trump for everything under the world -- under the sun, but meeting with people who are antagonistic is to me not a bad thing to do.

I think unfortunately, Trump went into that meeting unprepared. I think it was a photo opportunity and did not have the kind of the diplomatic work necessary to make it a success.

But I do not have a problem with sitting down with adversaries all over the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Jennifer, your thoughts? Is that an asset?

GRANHOLM: Yes, you know what? This is a really more of a primary question because obviously Trump has been meeting with Kim Jong-un and a whole bunch of other people that hereto fore, we've never would have thought any President of the U.S. would meet to without preconditions. So this is really a primary question, and in the primary, if you look,

even just at the Nevada outcomes, it looks like Joe Biden has an advantage in foreign policy.

That said, the number of people who put foreign policy as their number one issue is much lower than those who put healthcare, for example.

In this, I think that everyday people think, well, why not meet with people as long as you are not being sucked into something that's anti- American, and nobody is suggesting that Bernie Sanders would do that.

So I don't think it's really that big of an issue for the general and it may not even be that big of an issue for the primary.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there. Jennifer Granholm, Andrew Gillum, good to see you both. Thank you.

GILLUM: You too.

WHITFIELD: All right, with the days counting down until the South Carolina primary, six presidential candidates take voter questions in a special two-night CNN Town Hall event live from Charleston.

It all starts tomorrow night, eight Eastern right here on CNN.

All right, still ahead, a remarkable story of survival. An elderly couple saved after being stranded in the woods since Valentine's Day.

But first a preview of tonight's all-new episode of the CNN original series, "The Windsors: Inside the Royal Dynasty."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SALLY BEDELL SMITH, BIOGRAPHER: Before he was king, George was living a relatively normal free under the radar life, happily married and as a younger member of the Royal Family, he does a few public duties and is contented with that life.

PROF. JANE RIDLEY, HISTORIAN: He was always known as Bertie in the family, but when he becomes King, his whole life has completely changed. He is intensely aware that he has been sort of tasked with this incredibly difficult job.

So one of the first things he does is change his name to George, stressing the continuity between his reign and that of his father, George V.

ED OWENS, HISTORIAN: The new King George VI is extremely worried on taking over the throne because the abdication looms large.

His brother Edward was the most popular man in the English speaking world, and now George has got to stand up to the plate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: "The Windsors: Inside the Royal Dynasty" airs tonight at 10 Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:52:50]

WHITFIELD: A couple in their 70s missing since Valentine's Day has been found alive. Searchers made a dramatic rescue after locating them in a densely overgrown drainage ditch after the couple got lost on a hike in Northern California.

The Marin County Sheriff called the rescue a miracle. Here's Natasha Chen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JON KIPARSKY, CAROL KIPARKY'S SON: All I can say is, I hope nobody watching this ever knows just how happy I was at that moment because to be that happy you had to have been through a pretty dark place.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The sons of 77-year-old Carol Kiparsky and 72-year-old Ian Irwin were in a dark place for eight days.

Their parents had gone on a hike on Valentine's Day, in an area of Marin County they frequently visit, but at nightfall, they got lost.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J. KIPARSKY: My mother said, oh, you know, I lost a shoe, and so I was walking with one shoe and then I lost the other shoe and I kept walking in my socks and then I got tired of walking with my socks so I was walking bare feet for a while, and she is 77 years old.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN (voice over): Irwin's son said despite his dad not being in his prime, he had plenty of experience with survival skills and back country trips.

His son said when his dad was in the most intense biggest brush --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONAS IRWIN, IAN IRWIN'S SON: He was laying his body flat into that awful thorny crap, which poison oak -- you name it so that Carol could go over him. That's chivalry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN (voice over): And that's also why Irwin has injuries to his face. Besides scratches, the couple had to be treated for hypothermia. They'd been drinking out of a muddy pond when they were found by a team including Quincy Webster, Rich Cassens and a trained search dog named, Groot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUINCY WEBSTER, RESCUER: It was very tough going, very tough

drainage. About halfway up, we hear voices. First, we thought it was another team, but then they start yelling help. We looked at each other and we were like, that's them.

This is the best possible ending.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHEN (on camera): And the Marin County Sheriff's Office says that there were hundreds of people including lots of volunteers who worked like 12 hours a day for more than a week to try and find these people.

The family says they're incredibly grateful and the expectation was that the couple wouldn't have to spend too much time in the hospital, Fred, but we're trying to figure out if they've been released yet.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And you're from this area, Marin County.

CHEN: I am, yes.

WHITFIELD: So you know how treacherous those conditions can be and were.

CHEN: They got really lucky.

[15:55:10]

WHITFIELD: Yes, I'm glad for them.

CHEN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, thank you so much.

CHEN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Appreciate it. All right, coming up next, a big win for Bernie Sanders in Nevada. But Pete Buttigieg is raising red flags about the integrity of the contest. The latest fallout as the race for the White House shifts to South Carolina.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:00]