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Kasich, Rubio Rally in Home States; Carl Bernstein: Trump Embodies Fascism; Trump: Our Rallies Are Love Fests. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 14, 2016 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] JOHN KASICH, (R), OHIO GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I didn't -- we didn't talk a lot about this. I found out my mother is one of four, two brothers and a sister. My cousin told me the other day that my mother was the only one to have graduated from high school, and the other three, she didn't think, even got beyond the eighth grade.

You see, folks, all of my career, those folks, my family, the place where I grew up, in McKees Rocks, all blue collar, all Democrat, when the wind blew the wrong way, people found themselves out of work. And I could see it as a kid on the ball field. My buddies would come up and you could see when they were down. I didn't figure it out until a few years ago why they were down, is because dad or mom lost a job. I learned the value of work.

Let me tell you another thing that I feel strongly about. You know, the Lord has made each and every one of us special. Do you know that? There's nobody ever been born like you. There will never be another person that will come after you that will be like you. You were made special, sir. You were made special to accomplish something significant, to change the world. You don't have to change the world by running for president.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: That is Ohio Governor John Kasich there in his home state of Ohio.

Let's skip back to Florida, to Florida Senator Marco Rubio, answering questions from some reporters. Let's dip in.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And that's why from the very beginning our message has been out -- because I honestly believe while we have real problems. We're fixing every single one of them. So I hope that Americans will choose optimism over fear and hope over anger. And that's what we're going to offer them tomorrow and in the months to come.


RUBIO: We haven't even analyzed it that way and never have. We plan to win tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator, two days ago, you said you didn't know if you could still support Donald Trump.

RUBIO: You want to know if I thought about it some more? UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes.

RUBIO: It's getting harder every day. That's all I can tell. Right now, we want to just focus on the vote tomorrow. I think my concerns about his candidacy have been expressed already. I think he'll splinter and divide the Republican Party. The rhetoric he continues to use. He continues to tell the story about an American general who executed prisoners of war with bullets soaked in pig's blood. That never happened. He talks about it as if -- it's a guy now saying he's going to pay the legal fees of a guy who sucker punched a protester the other day at a rally. The rhetoric is irresponsible and over the top. I don't think it reflects well on our party, doesn't reflect well on our country. Again, I ask Americans, do we really want to live in a country where people hate each other, where people are at each other's throat? Where we can't even have a debate, a passionate debate, but a debate nonetheless about our tax rate, our health care laws? But if we become a country where everybody hates each other, we're in a lot of trouble. We shouldn't have leaders who encourage that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you think of Jeb Bush?

RUBIO: What's that?


RUBIO: No, I absolutely have not -- well, except for one day.


RUBIO: Except for one day, because the guy makes fun of everybody. That was one day. This is 10 months, every day for 10 months. I don't think there's anyone in the history of American politics that compares to the vulgarity of a Donald Trump candidacy in American politics.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- focusing on the end, remaining optimistic, how important is that -- (INAUDIBLE).

RUBIO: I think that's always important, any of us, you know, elections are also -- you have a job to do, you have a plan, you execute on the plan. The outcome is up to voters and to God's will. That's true before Florida. That's true for every state. My job as a candidate is to go out there and execute on our ultimately voters decide.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator, speaking of your campaign, speaking of Donald Trump's rhetoric -- (INAUDIBLE)

RUBIO: Yeah --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have any regrets about not striking this contrast -- (INAUDIBLE).

RUBIO: Oh, I did, when he said John McCain was not a hero because he was taken prison, I said it was a disqualifier. He did it again during the summer. We've done it. There comes a point when you're not going to allow --


RUBIO: Well, because there comes a point where you're not going to allow your campaign -- if all you do is react to Donald Trump every day, you would do nothing all day but react to Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The first 10 debates, you didn't say a word.

RUBIO: That's not true. The fact of the matter is I've always distinguished myself from Donald Trump, especially if the questions were directly on point about him. But the bottom line is, at some point, you had 11 or 12 people running at the time. If all you do is react to every outrageous statement he makes, my campaign would have been nothing but reactions to Donald Trump's outrageous statements. We also had to spend time telling people who were in the hopes that voters would see this and eventually reject it. Obviously, that has not worked as well as we hoped. But I think as the race continues to narrow, it will. Two-thirds of Republican voters reject Donald Trump as their nominee. Hopefully, that will come to fruition here sooner rather than later before it's too late.



[14:35:25] RUBIO: I don't know. I don't know.

In terms of voters? I have no idea. Friday, in Chicago, I already told everybody, Chicago has a professional class of protesters, people that do that for a living, and they don't have a right to do that. You don't have a right to disrupt an event because you don't agree with a speaker. This is about the broader scope of this campaign, where his campaign manager is accused of assaulting a reporter, where he has openly mused about how great it would be if protesters were carried out in stretchers and how he's going to pay their legal fees when they assault someone. He has a campaign that has offended women, offended minorities, offended a disabled reporter, used profanity repeatedly. I mean, the discourse of our elections has become the equivalent of the comment section in a blog.

I mean, you have to be a country where you are capable of having compassionate debate about issues, but there's got to be limits. What are the limits now to what you're allowed to say before it goes too far? I don't know if they exist anymore. So I hope we'll take a step back and realize this is really not good for our Republican, it's not good for our process, it's not good for our people.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator, President Vladimir Putin has said he's ordering Russian forces to withdraw from Syria. What do you think that means for the peace talks that are currently under way?

RUBIO: Well, other than the fact -- again, it just came over the wire so I wouldn't necessarily want to reply on it without any more information other than to say that, as you've seen the Syrian army, under Assad has helped Hezbollah and Putin, has been able to make significant advances in key areas. So perhaps this is part of a new phase in that. But as I said, it just came over the wire a few minutes ago so I'd have to have more details before I could comment on that. Suffice it to say, I believe they will continue to keep a permanent presence both in the naval base and aerial assets in the regions.


BALDWIN: Marco Rubio answering questions from reporters. A lot of them are in regard to Donald Trump. From Senator Rubio himself, talking about the vulgarity, the rhetoric, something he said he has not really seen in American politics. We'll talk about that, some of the anger, some of the vitriol coming up. Also, bottom line, we'll talk about Rubio's chances against Donald Trump in Florida.

And we saw John Kasich a moment ago speaking. His chances to beat Trump in Ohio.

Just a reminder, all day long tomorrow, we will have complete coverage, Super Tuesday, part three, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri and Ohio, all up for grabs. Our teams of reporters and analysts and correspondents will be covering the contests from every single angle. Definitely join us tomorrow, of course, live here on CNN.

Quick break. We'll be right back.


[14:42:44] BALDWIN: Donald Trump's political rhetoric and style has been described in many ways, but is it fair to call the Republican presidential front runner a Neo Fascist? That is how one of America's must well-known and well-respected journalists is describing Trump. Carl Bernstein, who with his reporting partner broke the Watergate scandal, argues that Trump is the first presidential candidate in modern American history to embody the classic definition of Fascism.

So, CNN political commentator, Carl Bernstein, is with me; along with Barry Bennett, a senior adviser to Donald Trump and a former campaign manager for Dr. Ben Carson, who has now endorsed Trump.

Gentlemen, thank you for being me.



BALDWIN: Carl, to you first, to set this up, you've been on my show for months dating back to the fall. You have thrown out the word Neo Fascist. I want to begin how, in 2016, in this political climate, how do you Neo Fascist?

BERNSTEIN: I think the word "Neo" is crucial because it means new and it's a particularly American kind of Fascism. Fascism is about a maximum leader, who is contemptuous of real democracy, of real Democratic institutions, contemptuous of the press and a free press, who extols torture and violence, who incites hatreds. And there's a great book, Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here," published in the '30s, and we've never quite had a presidential candidate reach this level of prominence who embodies kind of what Sinclair Lewis was talking about in that book, "It Can't Happen Here." Well, maybe it could happen here. That's not to say that Trump hasn't said and isn't saying some very sensible things about policy, about criticism of past leaders and presidents, but he's a demagogue. Above all else, he's a demagogue, and he aspires to say, I can do this, I can do that, I can wipe out this, I can wipe out that, to hell with democratic processes. Let's get there the fast way. Let's put up the wall. Let's expel Hispanics really. Let's keep out Muslims. Let's not like the other.


BALDWIN: So are you putting him in the same category -- just so I hear you correctly. Maybe "neo" is the appropriate way to say it because I think of Mussolini or Hitler --


[14:45:] BERNSTEIN: No. This is not anything about Hitler or genocide or Italian Fascism, which was an economic system as well.


BERNSTEIN: But this is much more in terms of a maximum leader, an authoritarian, dictatorial, demagogic, who does not respect, encourage or want real Democratic processes.

BALDWIN: How do you explain --

BERNSTEIN: And who exploits.

BALDWIN: -- how so many people support him and some of what you just laid out?


BALDWIN: People believe he can make America great again.

BERNSTEIN: I think, first of all, that many of the things he, and Bernie Sanders, for that matter, are addressing in this country are real people, are angry for the right reasons. Their grievances are, indeed, because working class people have been screwed in this country for some 30 years now. It's an environment in which there's rich and fertile soil for exploitation of nasty movement that marginalizes those who are immigrants. That marginalizes --


BALDWIN: Let me get Barry on this, too.

We hear a lot of words -- there are a lot of words thrown out, but also just exploiting. How would you respond to the accusation that Carl is throwing down? BARRY BENNETT, ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & FORMER

BEN CARSON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Carl, you've had an amazing career and so many people across the country look up to you. You're above being a shock jock. I mean, that's ridiculous. It's Neo McCarthyism. "Neo" is the most important word. Of course it isn't. Fascism is the most important word. That's what people are hearing and that's ridiculous. He's not running for dictator. He's running for president. There's a primary process. We're trying to choose our nominee. I mean, that's absurd.

BERNSTEIN: I couldn't hear the last word.

BALDWIN: He said that's absurd.

BERNSTEIN: It's absurd? Again, I think this is a very loaded word. And I've never used it before, Fascist or Neo Fascist, to describe a living American politician. But I think the appeal that the methodology, that the underling message embraces Fascism and Fascist tendencies in a classic sense, but with an American twist on it. That is not to say that those who are voting, supporting Trump, are Fascist in any regard.

BALDWIN: Is it possible that you're reading too much into this, that this is someone who wants fame, who knows fame, who has a big ego, who perhaps got into this race having always wanted to run for president and, lo and behold, he has tapped into something extraordinary in this country, people feel screwed economically, he's tapped into that, as has Bernie Sanders, and that's that?

BERNSTEIN: It's possible, but I also think it's a fascinating intersection of celebrity and Neo Fascism. You have to go to what the message is. It's not accidental. About incitement. There is real incitement. Look at what he has done in terms of saying I'll pay the legal fees for that guy who punched out a protester.


BENNETT: America is very angry at our leaders in Washington. He's not inciting --


BERNSTEIN: With good reason.

BENNETT: Absolutely. I mean, my kid's future has been mortgaged, all right? We were promised a secure border 10 years ago, nothing happened. I mean, lie after lie after lie. Our taxes go up and up and up. And nothing ever gets done. That's why America's angry. It has nothing to do with what Trump's saying at rallies. He's not inciting anyone. All he has a good politic ear for how angry they are.

BERNSTEIN: I think you're right. I think you're right. He has a very good political ear. I think the problem is Trump and what he advocates. Not what his followers believe. I think that he --


BALDWIN: What he's advocating with regard to Hispanics and building a wall and banning Muslims.

BERNSTEIN: And also --


BALDWIN: To that point, Barry, how would you respond to that in terms of what he's advocating?

BENNETT: We have a bunch of illegal immigrants in this country. Illegal immigrants. Not legal immigrants. People who violated the law to get here. We have to figure out what to do with them. I mean, that's a problem.


BENNETT: And our leaders in Washington have done nothing about it for 10 years.

Now, Muslims, if you can tell me how it is we can separate the good ones from the ones that want to kill us, I'm open to it. How do you do that?

BERNSTEIN: Well, I think that there's many processes to do that. Donald Trump is not --


BENNETT: The Obama administration can't figure it out.

BERNSTEIN: Again, criticism of our policies is one thing. Just saying, OK, keep them all out, expel them, build a wall, this is a nativist message. It is no accident. It is not about policy. If it were about policy, I would agree with you 100 percent. Where is the policy? Where are the details? It is --


BERNSTEIN: -- this one point --


[14:50:06] BENNETT: I'm from Ohio. I'm from Ohio where heroin is overrunning our schools and our families and our kids. It's the same in New Hampshire. It's the same everywhere. Where does this heroin come from? It comes from our porous borders. We need to secure the borders for a lot of other reasons than just immigration.

BERNSTEIN: You'll get no argument --


BALDWIN: It sounds like you're agreeing. You're both agreeing --


BENNETT: Why, if Donald Trump is talking about it, it means it's suddenly Fascist?

BERNSTEIN: No argument out of me that we need secure borders. We need very, very important safeguards about who is admitted to this country. But talk about just throwing 12 million people out of the country, to hell with them, let's get them out of here, that is a nativist appeal.


BERNSTEIN: That is not about orderly democratic process. My whole point about Neo Fascism is a rejection of democracy and its institutions.

BALDWIN: Carl Bernstein, Barry Bennett, thank you both so much. I appreciate both perspectives. There's a lot more I think you're meeting in the middle on than perhaps we realize.

With that said, let's go to live pictures. Did I hear Tampa correctly? Tampa, Florida. We're going to see Sarah Palin. Actually, her husband has gotten into some horrendous accident, but she has surprised and has shown up. Do we have pictures?

Here we go.

SARAH PALIN, (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR & FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Literally, before I get on a flight, I was ice fishing on my frozen lake, and my husband was out snowmuching. And thank you, guys, for your prayers for my husband who is recovering right now in ICU after a little wreck on a snow machine, so thank you. A big wreck. Thank you.

But you know, when real life happens, right, when somebody is sick in your family, there's an accident that happens, all these challenges, these struggles in your business, in your family, with your finances, trying to get your kids to be able to afford to go to college, all these real-life issues that happen, it really puts things in perspective, doesn't it? Doesn't it make you so appreciate your time? Time is our most valuable resource. It makes me appreciate the time that we have to spend in doing something so worthy, and that's to get Donald J. Trump elected president.


BALDWIN: Sarah Palin there in Tampa, Florida. As you know, she has supported Donald Trump.

Carl, thank you.

Barry, standby.

Hillary Clinton revealing she has a secret game plan in the works to beat Donald Trump. What is her strategy?

And as Trump blames Sanders for some of the violence at the rallies, Ben Carson is now warning the violence could escalate.


BALDWIN: Pepper spray, punches, shouting, fighting and, in some cases, blood, all in the name of politics. But if you ask Donald Trump, he will tell you, at his rallies, folks don't get injured. Take a listen to what he said just a short time ago.


[14:55:06] TRUMP: We had one two weeks ago in Alabama, 35,000 people. No disruption. No nothing. But the press is calling saying, oh, but there's such violence. There's no violence. You know how many people have been hurt at our rallies? Basically none. Other than I guess somebody got hit once or something. But people say, well, is there violence? There's no violence. There's a love fest. These are love fests.


BALDWIN: Let's just fact check the love fest here. Watch.



TRUMP: Isn't it great to be at a Trump rally? Really?


TRUMP: Right? It's more fun.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe, man. I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is becoming violent. There's pushing and shoving going on inside this arena. People are throwing objects.



BALDWIN: With me now, Keith O'Brien, who is a freelance writer embedded with protesters at University of Illinois/Chicago before and during that Trump rally; and Barry Bennett is back with us, senior advisor for the Trump campaign and former campaign manager for Dr. Carson, and a Republican consultant.

Welcome to both of you.

And, Keith, beginning with you, you were there. I read your piece. Shoulder to shoulder with, you know, some of these USC students who wanted to stand in solidarity and some other Trump supporters. What was the purpose of the protest? KEITH O'BRIEN, FREELANCE WRITER: The protesters at the University of

Illinois/Chicago wanted to go in and raise their voices to what they perceive as a personal attack. Many of those students are Latino, Muslim, African-American. They believe that the statements that Trump has made in recent weeks and days at his rallies is threatening to them. They wanted to go in, like a lot of people across the political spectrum these days, and raise their voices to that -- to that perceived threat.

BALDWIN: So we know it happened. The rally was called. You say there was zero violence until Trump's officials, you know, cancelled that event. When you were there, you know, standing shoulder to shoulder in between these different groups of people, you said you could feel it. What exactly did you feel?

O'BRIEN: I was standing with the protesters, or the soon to be protesters, about 50 feet from Donald Trump's podium about two and a half hours before that rally was canceled. In that two and a half hours, there was great tension amidst the protesters, the students, who were just standing there quietly and the Trump supporters around them. The Trump supporters knew simply by the color of the skin of the folks who were there that something was going to go down. Everybody was clear on that.

But it wasn't until the Trump rally was canceled, until the campaign staffer took the stage and canceled it, that it grew violent, that it grew to the point of people were afraid for their physical safety. At the point it was canceled, the Trump supporters were very angry. The protesters were thrilled. Never in a million years could they have imagined that just standing inside the arena would lead to the GOP front-runner canceling his appearance.

And so they erupted in celebration. And the people around them, after getting their bearings for about 45 seconds, turned on the protesters with a great fury and a great anger, expressed to them often just inches away from their faces, and some of the most insulting things anyone would want to hear.

BALDWIN: So on the fury, Barry, I want to make sure I hear from you. Trump talked to Wolf Blitzer and said essentially there hasn't been much violence at his rallies. Later saying that at his rally to date, maybe there were some injuries. Why contradict himself like that?

BENNETT: Well, you know, these people in Chicago, despite what we just heard, they came there for one reason, and that was to stop the rally, to stop Donald Trump from talking. That's what they planned to do. That's what they were going to do according to other reports. That's what they admit they were going to do. They wanted to stop Trump, which is what they were chanting after the rally was canceled. They had won. They had stopped Trump. They were so excited.

You know, this was a Trump rally. Republicans don't go to Democrats' rallies and try to shut up Hillary Clinton. We think that's rude. We don't do that. The left is the one that does that. They do it to Hillary Clinton. They do it to Bernie Sanders. But, I mean, it's ridiculous. That's where all the trouble comes from. If they weren't there --


BENNETT: -- nothing would have happened. Nothing.

BALDWIN: And I hear that criticism, you know, why have folks shown up just for --