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INSIDE POLITICS

Warren And Bloomberg Look For Big Delegate Wins On Super Tuesday; 14 States Votes In Today's Critical Super Tuesday Contests. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 3, 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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[12:32:35]

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Super Tuesday carries enormous stakes for both Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg, even though both insist they are in this race for the long haul.

Mayor Bloomberg skipped the first four contests but has dropped over $234 million in advertising into Super Tuesday states hoping to make a big impression now that he's on the ballot. His take today, you don't necessarily need to win states to carry on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know whether you're going to win any. You don't have to win state you have to win delegates. And I think what happens here is nobody gets a majority, invest somebody who have a plurality by definition, somebody's going to have is a plurality. And then you go to a convention and then we'll see what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want a contested --

BLOOMBERG: Well, I don't think that I can win any other ways. I have no expectations for the day. It will be what it be today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Senator Warren struggled badly in the first four contest and hopes today finally justifies the big investment she's made in campaign staffing. Today's test for Warren, include her home state of Massachusetts, where Senator Sanders also is fighting hard. After casting her own vote this morning, Senator Warren insists she's not worried.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was great. I really liked voting today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For yourself.

WARREN: Yes. I'm not worried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even you're here in Massachusetts?

WARREN: I am happy to be part of this democratic process. You know, 10 years ago, I was walking here to vote. I was a teacher. I was not any part of this electoral process other than as a voter. This is a righteous fight. It is the right fight to be in, that all those kids who are standing in the window, this is about their future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's interesting to watch. Both of these candidates essentially concede they can't win a majority of the delegates both need say they'll stay in anyway. Both need something today to give them a reason to say I can stay in, I can amass delegates. Let's go through this.

And let's start with Senator Warren first. California, she's tried hard. She's fought hard. That's the possibility I look at beyond her home state of Massachusetts where we'll see if she loses to Senator Sanders at home. It's pretty hard to carry on.

But we're also we look at besides California to think of a place where Senator Warren has a plausible path not -- probably not to victory, but to get some delegates.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: She's a one track candidate. She's a college white suburban candidate. So you look for states that have, you know, got those voters.

[12:35:02]

KING: You see that in Virginia and North Carolina.

BROWNSTEIN: You see that in Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, I mean, those are places where she should do well. You see in the remarks from both Warren and Bloomberg, how the possibility of a contested convention, something we haven't had since 1952, changes the incentives for both for candidates in the race, because even if you assume that you are not going to get to a majority, as Bloomberg, I think, you know, quite accurately assumes, you could still have leverage at the end if no one gets to a majority.

So there is a kind of incentive to stay in if you have the money and Warren has certainly raised a lot of money as well. There's an incentive to stay in, if you can accumulate delegates on the theory that when you get to the finish line, they will give you some leverage over the outcome and possibly a better foothold to getting something for yourself in that trading.

So in a strange way, the possibility that no one wins a majority creates I think, an incentive where if you can afford it, for more people to stay in knowing that they're not going to get a majority either.

KING: And yes, let's listen to a little bit of Warren here as she has gotten into a tougher spot meaning, all for four, after the first four contest trying to get some footing. She's been a little sharper in going after both Senator Sanders and former vice president, Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: We find ourselves barreling toward another primary along the same lines as 2016, one for an insider, one for an outsider. Democratic voters should have more choice than that. America should have more choice than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, her argument essentially is if you get to a brokered convention, contested convention, between Biden and Sanders, that she is acceptable, more acceptable to both camps, or at least partially acceptable to both camps. That's it, you can make that case. But don't you need a certain critical mass of delegates to be able to make it with any authority.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You do. And her campaign has been increasingly saying, like Bloomberg that they -- the pathway they see is a contested convention. So she does need to amass a decent amount of delegates today.

And I think that what's interesting is also and we talked about this earlier that even with Buttigieg and Klobuchar dropping out, it doesn't necessarily mean that just because they said we support Biden, that their voters are going to go to Biden. So their voters because they also did well with affluent white voters, college educated voters, their voters could actually decide, well, I don't want to vote for Biden I'm going to go for Warren now that I'm freed up.

KING: But so, again, interesting to watch. You can -- you need delegates to make the case. So we'll see her performance today. If she doesn't perform well today, she's going to have to have a tough conversation, like Klobuchar and Buttigieg and others have had. But we'll see. We'll see what happens today, people voting.

Here's the Bloomberg scenario. This is from our reporting on the Bloomberg campaign and then you guys helped me through this map. The Bloomberg campaign believes Bloomberg has viability and most Super Tuesday states, viability is 15 percent or more, projecting that Bloomberg will have strong finishes in Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Texas said a campaign advisor. The stakes are highest in California. Bloomberg strategy for the final push into Tuesday is all about the coronavirus and how Bloomberg would handle it.

They say that, you know, essentially phone calls and other data to their campaign convinces them voters are really concerned about this, therefore, he's going to project himself as a manager. OK. Bloomberg going to come out of California with delegates, they say Virginia and North Carolina. What is the line here? What is the line for Bloomberg to be able to credibly say tomorrow? Because forgive me, I understand what he says about a contested convention. Is anyone at the table thing, you're at a Democratic Convention, where at least a third of the delegates are Bernie Sanders supporters, and they're going to turn to Michael Bloomberg?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And Michael Bloomberg has to say that, right? Because otherwise, if he doesn't, if he's not projecting a way forward, if he doesn't get the delegates that his campaign expects to, he has to have a reason there. Otherwise, what the heck is he doing other than, you know, supporting T.V. stations with all of his ads.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And I mean, there clearly his campaign believes that there is a case for him in some of these eastern and southern states and then there is a path for him. But if he hasn't said what he thinks the threshold is in terms of like, how many delegates would he have to get in order to have a path but he seems to be saying today that that's all irrelevant that because he is, you know, the most effective candidate. Yes, everyone knows he has the money to continue to compete, that he can stay in and have a case to make to voters still that he is a person that they can come to in the end.

KING: It is. It's an argument. It's just a harder when your whole premise is Biden's week. Biden gets a 30 point victory in South Carolina right before you're on the ballot. It's just a hard psychological thing to make. We'll come back to this a bit.

[12:39:30]

As we go to break though, some sad news we want to note the passing of a member, longtime member of our CNN family, the former anchor and Talkback Live host, Bobbie Battista, died this morning after a long battle with cancer. Bobbie Battista was 67.

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KING: Topping our Political Radar today, down ballot Super Tuesday show downs worth keeping an eye on. Seven Republicans for example running in Alabama's Republican Senate primary, each pitching themselves as most loyal to President Trump that includes the former longtime Senator Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, who is expected to be one of the two candidates moving on if there's a runoff March 31st.

The winner will ultimately faces Senator Doug Jones considered the most vulnerable Democrat in November. In California, 13 candidates are running to fill former Congresswoman Katie Hill's seat. Hill resigned last fall amid allegations of improper relationships with staffers. Among those running, Republican Steve Knight who lost that seat to Hill back in 2018, George Papadopoulos you might remember him the former Trump campaign advisor who spent 12 days in prison for lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation, and the progressive talk show host, Cenk Uygur.

[12:45:08]

And in Texas, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House is facing a challenge from the left by his former intern, 26-year-old human rights and immigration attorney, Jessica Cisneros looking to kick Congressman Henry Cuellar out of the seat he has held for 15 years. She's earned some key progressive endorsements including from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Cuellar has the backing of the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They sacrificed. They fought for our country. Now I fight for them in Congress. I bring in health care closer to home, care from providers they choose, education for their families, and priority for federal jobs.

JESSICA CISNEROS, HUMAN RIGHTS AND IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: I'm running for Congress to fight for health care for everyone and stand up against Donald Trump's wall and cruel immigration policies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: As we go to break a live look at some Super Tuesday voting, this Sacramento, California. That's the Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom waiting in line.

Up next, how Senator Bernie Sanders might benefit from today's unique Super Tuesday electorate.

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[12:50:48]

KING: Twelve big states up on this Super Tuesday voting across the country. Here's your look. And you also remember it's not just the states voting, 14 states. It's not just the state's voting, it's also by congressional district. That's how Democrats award their delegates. OK. Fifteen percent statewide, and then you compete in the congressional districts. Why do we mention that? Well, it's something interesting about these things today.

An electorate that our friend Mr. Brownstein at the table, here seems to think is built for Bernie Sanders. Why do we say that? There are 100, 100 congressional districts of the 169 on the ballot today, were at least one-third of the voting age population is white without a college degree that tends to be a Bernie Sanders constituency.

Thirty-four of those districts have at least one third of the voting age population, as Latinos. Again, something that Senator Sanders has worked very hard on. These districts may be more over to Joe Biden, whites with a college degree. Elizabeth Warren also competes here, 21, African-American districts 10, only 10 were at least one-third of the voting age population.

So how does this play out? This is the national map today for Super Tuesday. I want to go back and look at a map from the House election perspective. This is 2018. Alabama is a Super Tuesday state. If you look over here for Joe Biden, you don't really want to -- you want to win the state. You also want to try to get delegates district by district. Terri Sewell, you might remember her House impeachment manager, here strict over here, Alabama seventh, very high concentration of African- American voters. Watch to see if Joe Biden can perform in places where he needs to, to make Super Tuesday a success.

Now we move to the West and you pop out Texas, come down here at the Houston area. And you look right here into this district, boom, here we go. Texas 18th District, Sheila Jackson Lee's district, very high concentration here of Latino voters, some African-Americans as well but also a heavy concentration of Latino voters, something to keep an eye on as we watch the vote move west into Texas.

Then we come all the way West the biggest prize on Super Tuesday is California. Again, you're looking at a 2018 House District map. If you come down to the L.A. area here and you move down here, the 40th District in California, perhaps the highest Latino population, nationally and you go congressional district by congressional district. If you look here, critical to Bernie Sanders, you want to get more than 15 percent statewide. You also want though compete and win each of these congressional districts to increase your basket of delegates.

One of the reasons Senator Sanders is not unique here, but especially in California, using Spanish language ads to try to win over votes and turn them out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language) for Bernie Sanders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language) Bernie Sanders for Presidente.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).

BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Bernie Sanders and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That is sort of the battle within the battle if you will. You want viability. You want 15 percent but then you want to be smart within each state to figure out, A, where can I win? And B, which districts have the most delegates?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, 169 different elections going on as well as the state and so maybe 183 counting the 14 states.

Look, if you look at the demographics of how voters have divided in the first four contestants, Sanders has an advantage on this battlefield today because the groups where he has done best he has one non-college whites in each of the first four states and he did very well among Latinos in Nevada. They are more dispersed across more places than the groups that have been more skeptical of him.

This really does frame the question, though, does the momentum, the endorsements, the consolidation, allow Biden to change any of these patterns? Can he do better among Latinos in Texas perhaps, than he's going to do in Nevada and California? And even perhaps more important, can he middle class Joe, the premise of his candidacy was he's the guy to bring back working class white voters, can he dislodge Sanders advantage of them under 45 non-college wise under 45? The CNN polling, you calculated, Biden's been in single digits in every state so far. He's got to change that tonight or this will not go as well as the momentum is suggested.

KUCINICH: Or does this consolidation energize Sanders supporters even more to come out maybe people who would have stayed home because they thought he was, you know, golden and Texas will come out because they want to make sure he gets in. He said it earlier. But I think even it could be a factor.

BARRON-LOPEZ: When it comes to the Latino vote, what's interesting in Texas is that Sanders has spent about 4 million there across English and Spanish language T.V. Biden is not sitting ending on Spanish language T.V. It's a decision they also made in Nevada. And they decided that because they say that very few of the Latino voters that they speak to or actually concrete Spanish speakers, they speak more English. They've been here longer. And so that's like a very strategic decision on their point. But whether or not it works is another question.

[12:55:19]

KING: It's going to be interesting to watch this play out, 169 different races. And I think, again, back to the point about Sanders and Latinos, good performance in 2016, worked incredibly hard over the past four years to improve on it today. Nevada was a big win for him today is a big scale test of whether all that work works. We'll be counting votes later. I hope you stay with us throughout the day as we do that.

Thanks for joining us to Inside Politics today. We'll see you tonight. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Brianna Keilar continues our coverage after a quick break. Have a good day.

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