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INSIDE POLITICS

CNN Polls: Sanders Lead In Two Key Super Tuesday States; Pompeo Clashes With Dem Lawmakers On Iran, Coronavirus; Hillary Clinton Creating Podcast To Debut This Spring. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 28, 2020 - 12:30   ET

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


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[12:30:36]

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: South Carolina primary tomorrow, Super Tuesday then follows quickly, California and Texas are the two biggest prizes, 14 states plus American Samoa vote on Tuesday. Let's take a closer look at those poll numbers we were just talking about, one of the reasons Bernie Sanders has a reason to smile today.

California, the biggest delegate prize in the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders on top in our new CNN poll at 35 percent, Elizabeth Warren at 14, Joe Biden at 13, Michael Bloomberg at 12, Pete Buttigieg at 7. The progressive candidate on top, everybody else splitting the vote beneath.

Look at this change from our poll in December. Sanders rocketing up 15 points, Warren down a little, Biden down, Bloomberg up a little, Buttigieg static to down a little bit, 35 percent as a top of the delegate rich California for Bernie Sanders.

Texas, Sanders again on top. You see here 29 percent to 20 to 18 to 15 to 8. Sanders up 14 points. Joe Biden was on top in our last Texas poll. He's now in second place. More competitive here, but still Sanders on top in delegate prize number two on Super Tuesday.

Here's why? You ask voters on the issues, Democratic primary voters in both states, those likely to vote, Sanders wins on health care, he wins on the climate crisis, he wins on race relations and he wins on immigration. Sanders with the chance to open up a significant delegate lead on Super Tuesday, especially if he gets decent-sized wins in California and Texas, North Carolina the next biggest prize. So what are you hearing from the Democratic establishment? More warnings that if Bernie Sanders is atop the ticket, Democrats running for governor, for House, for Senate and for other races will suffer.

Here's the number three, House Democrat Jim Clyburn, remember to put it in context, he supports Joe Biden, not Bernie Sanders but he insists this is a legitimate worry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I talked to members on both sides of our political equation. They were very, very concerned about whether or not you will do something or have somebody on the ticket that will cause down ballot carnage. I've been in the Congress 28 years. I mean, that's surprising to know that 21 of those years we're in the minority. And that ain't a good place to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Congressman Clyburn said that before these numbers come out. Again, he supports Joe Biden, so let's put it to be fair, it's not an unbiased opinion. He talks about down ballot carnage. If you look at those poll numbers, the Democratic establishment is going to be only more frightened, especially the size of that lead in California. The fact that Sanders now is ahead of Biden, to go back to our December poll, Biden was ahead in Texas. That is a chance in the two biggest prizes to open up a pretty decent lead.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: And you have to remember that California was so much later in 2016. And the reason 2016 is a relevant year is because Bernie Sanders was competing in 2016. Well, he competed all the way through California, and he still did pretty well there even though the race was being called for Hillary Clinton the day before. And you look at the CNN numbers, it's not just CNN, it's the University of Berkeley who is also giving Sanders quite a lead, so it is not an anomaly.

Texas, another very important one. He was down by 30 points to Hillary Clinton in that state in 2016. So for him to be in the lead now, that really says something. And I want to make a final point about Virginia on Super Tuesday. I was at the Pete Buttigieg rally last weekend, walking around asking people whether they were for Pete, they were undecided. Many people at that rally undecided, very few for Pete Buttigieg really showing that it's still quite open and it was anyone's race.

KING: So you -- the other states, especially if you're on the cusp trying to survive, you know, Amy Klobuchar, you need to when you're homestead in Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren needs too in her homestead in Massachusetts. The word is Pete Buttigieg, can he get a win somewhere or he'd just delegates, that'll be what we're talking about on Wednesday. I just want to show the significance of California and Texas. Again, we'll start voting in the east, so we won't get to those states until later in the night.

But look at this, there's 415 pledged delegates in California. If Sanders got 35 percent, if those polls numbers are right, that would give him 145. I'll come back to this. In Texas, there are 228 pledged delegates. If he just got his 29 percent that we have in our poll, he would get 66. The issue is if he poll -- if he gets on Election Day those polls, he'll actually get more delegates because that means a lot of candidates won't reach the 15 percent viability threshold, so he could get even more. But even if he just got those, again, if you're talking about stretching out a lead, someday we'll have a, you know, a contested convention conversation and everything else.

Right now, the idea is get ahead, get momentum. And if you're winning Texas and California, you're probably winning in some other places as well.

[12:35:03]

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in a scenario where, you know, someone like Elizabeth Warren is right on the cause of that 15 percent threshold, you know, she could get delegates from congressional districts. But if she doesn't get sort of the -- get over the 15 percent statewide threshold, then this is a situation where Bernie Sanders not only comes out with a big lead but a massive lead, right?

I just wanted to point out that, you know, something else that Jim Clyburn said on our air today was -- about Joe Biden was that he would like to see him with a double-digit win in South Carolina, and he's not just talking about 10 percent or 11 percent but really in the teens. And what this signals is that the Biden campaign and Biden's allies see the importance of Joe Biden not only being victorious in South Carolina but really having a decisive victory, right?

The headlines they want to see the next day are not Joe Biden won, but just eke out a victory. They want to see the decisive victory headline, because so much of that matters for sort of the optics of the Joe Biden candidacy, you know, this candidate who ran on and has been running on sort of the electability message. So far, he has not had a win, and I think it is going to be so important for him to have a big win in South Carolina so that he can be propelled into better spots in the Super Tuesday contest (INAUDIBLE).

KING: A very much need to free media of that because they don't have the spending right now to be competitive in the Super Tuesday states, they're not. And you mentioned this earlier in the context of Trump. We play Jim Clyburn saying there'll be down ballot carnage. You talk to any other number of people, it's not just Jim Clyburn in the Washington "establishment" that, you know, Bernie Sanders is atop the ticket, Democratic socialism, all these free stuff will get killed. We don't know if that's true, but that's what they think. That's what they think.

We went through this in 2016.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, we did.

KING: Trump, this is horrible. It's going to ruin the party.

HABERMAN: I have run ahead of actually many of the people on statewide contest (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Right. And so -- yes. And so it's the disconnect often between the establishment and this town --

HABERMAN: Right.

KING: -- in America, in the sense that, you know, the establishment is warning about Bernie Sanders. Look at this from our California and Texas polls, 77 percent of all of the people planning to vote in the California Democratic primary, meaning people are going to support the other candidates too, say they would be enthusiastic or satisfied if Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee in the end. In Texas, 75 percent. Again, a lot of them are going to vote for somebody else, say they would be enthusiastic or satisfied if Bernie Sanders is the nominee at the end.

Now, you ask, well, how does that compared to other Democrats? Elizabeth Warren came the closest in Texas and -- but most of the other candidates are in the 60s or the 50s.

Bernie Sanders is liked by Democratic primary voters. Now, that doesn't mean he can win a general election. That doesn't mean the establishment figures are wrong, that they might not hit downballot. But they are sending this message that this guy is horrible, he's going to ruin us, and the voters will say, no, we like him.

HABERMAN: One of the big disconnects here, John, that I was thinking about as you were talking, and I think this is really something that the Sanders folks are going to have to contend with and they know it and it actually helps them to keep saying he's an outsider. He's been a senator forever and they're making it sound as if he just arrived out of nowhere and is much more akin to someone like Donald Trump than who he actually is. But you've had a lot of Democrats, a lot of people who have described themselves as members of the resistance to Donald Trump, who have said, Donald Trump represents an existential threat to the republic, oh, but I can't vote for Bernie Sanders.

I think voters are going to hear that as a bit of a cognitive dissonance. And so I think that the more that this case gets made, as you say, it may end up being that that's true if Bernie Sanders is the nominee, that there's a lot of downballot concern. It also might not be and we just don't know until we get there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think it's --

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: When we talk about the commanding lead that Bernie Sanders has in California and Texas and the enthusiasm that he has, you can't underestimate the power of the Latino, though, in those states.

KING: That's right, right.

KIM: And I think that was a really major critical factor that I thought it was stunning that the interest poll show that he won more than 50 percent --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

KIM: -- of Latino voters in Nevada. Joe Biden came the closest after that.

KING: Yes.

KIM: We're talking about 16 percent, and I think that, you know, he has a generous immigration policy, clearly, that's a part of it but his campaign has made a consorted effort to reach out to these communities to hire Latino staffers to really be there in those cities. And I think that is a huge part of why he's doing so well in those states right now.

KING: Right, and to do the work over the last four years. He did pretty well in Latinos four years ago, but I think people think sometimes Sanders just pops around to events and does big events. He has worked really hard --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

KING: -- the last four years to improve on what he had.

I just want to come back to California for a minute. Bernie Sanders at 35, Michael Bloomberg at 12. Look at the TV ads spending. This is just California. Michael Bloomberg spent $52 million in California alone. Senator Sanders, $7 millions. Again, familiarity, organization, working hard. I think one of the conversations, if these numbers hold up on Wednesday, is going to be is Bloomberg getting anything near value for the dollar there.

HABERMAN: Well, I mean, it's -- with that level of spending, it's almost impossible to -- even if he did unless he won California by a lot. I think in fairness to the folks who are guiding Bloomberg and I think that there's been a lot of calculations that I think have been questionable, but Bloomberg himself had to get himself over the hump on that debate stage.

KING: Right.

HABERMAN: And he had a pretty terrible debate performance. I think the risk for them always was that they were selling a product on television that was so not necessarily driving with whom might Bloomberg actually is when he speaks to people.

[12:40:07]

He's gotten a little better this week in interviews. He had seemed more comfortable, but when you have a political animal who wasn't a political animal and who hadn't done this in --

KING: Right.

HABERMAN: -- seven years, there was likely going to be a runway that was necessary, and that is the disconnect between the ads and the campaign.

KING: I think your point about the rest is very willing.

LEE: I also just wanted to point out, you know, based on the polling numbers you were showing before about the number of people who would be satisfied or happy if Bernie Sanders ended up being the nominee, it's hard to overstate just how toxic it would be if there actually ended up being some kind of consorted efforts by the non-Bernie Sanders candidates to strike a deal, to come up with some solution to prevent Bernie Sanders from becoming the nominee. Obviously, there's a lot of discontent that we still see left over from 2016. I think if that would have play --

KING: That's an understatement.

LEE: That's an understatement. If that would have play out in 2020 --

KING: Right.

LEE: -- there is going to be a lot of anger.

CHAMBERS: But to that point, though, it has not -- that that is not happening if you look at this poll, it'll show you that if, again, that some people were to drop out, then they could consolidate that support, but no one wants to do that. And by the way, when I spoke to those voters in Virginia, they couldn't decide who's to drop out.

KING: Right.

CHAMBERS: Probably somebody, but they couldn't decide who.

KING: Well, that's the issue. There are a lot of egos involved and it's hard to run for president. And if you're anyone of the other candidates, no one else has emerged yet, therefore, why should you get out again. That's why the margins are going to matter tomorrow and on Tuesday.

Up next for us, the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, gets a grilling on Capitol Hill by Democrats with no shortage of compliance.

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[12:45:59]

KING: This coronavirus update just in to CNN. A top Centers for Disease Control official telling CNN there are now 62 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. That's up two from earlier this week. The new number the CDC says includes 44 people who are aboard that cruise ship, three people repatriated from China, and 15 U.S. cases.

Moving on now to our political radar, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, stepping up his investigation into whether there was improper political intervention in cases that interest President Trump like the Roger Stone case. Among the request from Chairman Nadler, he wants the Justice Department to allow his committee to interview or get testimony from 15 people connected to those cases, including the four prosecutors who quit the Stone case after their sentencing recommendation was overruled by senior Justice Department officials.

Growing global condemnation of the violence in Syria's Idlib province today. This, after at least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike. That strike was launched by Syrian regime forces backed by Russia yesterday. NATO says the alliance stands "in solidarity" with Turkey. The United Nations Security Council has an emergency meeting set for later today. And the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, addressing CPAC, right now, that, after facing criticism from some Democratic lawmakers this morning on Capitol Hill. Democrats upset that secretary would only take questions for two hours, grilled him on Iran, and they clashed with him on several other topics while be on the hearing scope, including the government's response to the coronavirus outbreak.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We agreed that I would come here today to talk about Iran, and the first question today is not about Iran.

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): It's not even a got-you question.

POMPEO: Look, you're --

LIEU: Do you believe the coronavirus is a hoax?

POMPEO: Yes, it is. It's a got-you moment. It's not useful.

LIEU: Is the coronavirus a hoax? Can you just answer that question?

POMPEO: We're taking it seriously.

REP. ANDY LEVIN (D-MI): You're not willing to tell us which embassies were under attack? Under a threat of attack?

POMPEO: I'm never willing to disclose classified information. I've never trivialized any injury --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're part of the administration, you speak for the administration, do you want to apologize for the administration trivializing those injuries?

POMPEO: Are you looking for me to answer the question?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Contentious to say the least. Up next, what to expect from Hillary Clinton's new podcast. It might be as personal as the interviews that inspired it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD STERN, RADIO HOST, "THE HOWARD STERN SHOW": Bill was the first guy you loved.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, no. There was --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No?

CLINTON: There was somebody before him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boys were not your problem. CLINTON: Boys were not my problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

CLINTON: But I never -- I had not until I met Bill, met anybody that I thought I would ever marry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[12:53:15]

KING: Before we go, a couple other quick things, interesting in the world of politics today. One being Hillary Clinton is going to have a new podcast inspired, apparently, by interviews she has given like this one with Howard Stern.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: You know, I went to the inauguration of Donald Trump which is one of the hardest days of my life. He started on that speech which was so bizarre. And that's when I got really worried. And then that carnage in the street and the dark dystopian vision, I was sitting there like just, wow, I couldn't believe it. And George W. Bush says to me, well, that was some weird shit.

STERN: Wow. Do we hate Bernie Sanders?

CLINTON: No, I don't hate anybody.

STERN: Bernie could have endorsed you quicker.

CLINTON: He could have. He hurt me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do we make of this? I'm old enough to remember first lady of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton. She's actually very funny. She can be a great conversation. She also has some strongly held views about Bernie Sanders and others that some Democrats would prefer not to be in the mix.

HABERMAN: She has some strongly held views about the media, too. So I think it's wonderful she's embracing the industry but -- and joining it.

Look, it's going to -- I think it is interesting that she wants to maintain a voice and I think it's interesting that she wants to be part of the conversation, and I think not being, I hate to phrase it, in the arena, but not being in the arena in some way, I think, has clearly been frustrating to her. It will -- the success of it will depend on who she gets on air, like all the rest of us.

CHAMBERS: But it's happening in the middle of the 2020 election, I don't think that we can downplay that, because certainly still some hard feelings as you said earlier, to say the least, between her and Bernie Sanders, particularly if he does become the nominee. And there have been candidates, including Amy Klobuchar, who have sought her endorsement, so it could also become a very powerful voice if she does choose to endorse them and not name Bernie Sanders and talk about it on the podcast.

KING: A contested Democratic invention might need an outsider, you know, could come that way, he says joking.

[12:55:00]

CPAC is undergoing -- is going on right now and some people view this as a welcome to 2024. Mike Pence is going to speak, Mike Pompeo is speaking. As we speak, Nikki Haley has been there, Ted Cruz has been there. Is this the -- is it too soon?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not ready for 2024, no.

KING: We're still having issues with 2020. We're not ready for 2024?

LEE: Oh, we know the nominee is done for the Republicans.

CHAMBERS: But even on the Democratic side, I actually just interviewed Stacey Abrams who is definitely someone, depending on what happens in election, who has got her eye on the White House and could be a candidate in 2024. So on both sides, people are readying themselves.

KING: She's going to have a role in the 2020 convention. We'll see how that will goes from there. Thanks for joining for us in INSIDE POLITICS. I hope to see you tomorrow. Come in and watch us on Saturday, special coverage of the South Carolina primary. We'll count the votes all afternoon.

Brianna Keilar starts after a quick break. Have a good afternoon.

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