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Biden-Trump Rematch Closer After Decisive Super Tuesday Wins; Schiff And Garvey Advance In California Senate Race; Kelce Brothers Honored With Bobblehead Giveaway. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 06, 2024 - 05:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Now, Nikki Haley did win Vermont. Her campaign is not commenting on whether she plans to stay in the race. They did release a statement that says, quote, "We're honored to have received the support of millions of Americans across the country today, including in Vermont" where Nikki became the first Republican woman to win two presidential primary contests. "Today, in state after state, there remains a large block of Republican primary voters who are expressing deep concerns about Donald Trump. That is not the unity our party needs for success."

Trump, for his part, calling the outcome of Super Tuesday historic, but could not help bringing up the same old grievances from the 2020 election.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A tragic thing happened during the election. It was a tragedy because you wouldn't have -- think of it -- all of the problems that you have today. I don't think you would have had any of them. You'd only have success. And that's what's ultimately going to unify this country and unify this party.



President Biden's campaign is out with a new memo just minutes ago at the top of the hour. They call Trump a "wounded, dangerous, and unpopular" man. And this -- quote, "We have a clear path to victory."

Let's bring back our panel -- Geoff Duncan, Jackie Kucinich, and Nick Johnston.

Nick, it's actually kind of interesting to me that we have to use the caveat language "near sweep" -- and that's near sweep on both sides.


HUNT: I mean, Biden actually lost in American Samoa of all places.

JOHNSTON: I learned that this morning. I didn't know they had a primary in American Samoa.

HUNT: They did.

JOHNSTON: Totally.

HUNT: Yeah. And, of course, Trump lost in Vermont.

Because on the one hand, the broad storyline is this rematch is set. There's no way around it. But the underneath of it is there are a heck of a lot of people --


HUNT: -- who are really unhappy.

JOHNSTON: No. The top line of this race didn't change yesterday. It didn't change a week ago. It didn't change two weeks ago.

HUNT: Yeah.

JOHNSTON: I think we've been on pretty much a runaway freight train heading to one result -- the one result most Americans don't really want, which is a Trump-Biden rematch.

And so, what makes it more interesting is instead of looking at the topline numbers, looking at those bottom line or the numbers beneath those. And again --

HUNT: Right.

JOHNSTON: -- 20, 25 percent, and 30 percent in some of the states, Donald Trump running as a presumed incumbent -- like, in charge of the party and losing a lot of voters in his primary.

And then on the Biden side, right, there was the big result in Michigan and Minnesota. Eight, nine, 10 percent of people, like, voting none of the above for Joe Biden.

So I think both of these --

HUNT: And saying uncommitted, right?

JOHNSTON: -- candidates have problems that they need to solve. And the one thing that's been interesting with the primaries has been raising that as opposed to answering the question of who the nominees are going to be. We knew that, to be honest, probably in January.

HUNT: It's -- in some ways, this is the shortest primary contest I've covered --


HUNT: -- probably in my career just because of how quickly this has come together. But, Jackie, the problems for President Biden kind of in here -- or, I'm sorry, the problems for former President Trump contrast to me with, obviously, the polling for Joe Biden is tough, right? People are very focused on his age. They think he's too old to run.

The thing that I'm still trying to wrap my head around is, sort of, the Biden campaign contention, like, people don't actually believe that Donald Trump is going to be the nominee. And when they come around to accepting that that's the case, then the battle will formally be joined. It will become not just a referendum on Joe Biden but a referendum on Donald Trump.

Do we think anything in the results last night bears that out or not?

KUCINICH: That's tough because I think -- I think it might be -- because they're now -- Nikki Haley has kind of lost the argument that most of America hasn't voted. We're now I think at the halfway point. And so, you are seeing the Republican Party, by and large, embrace Trump again. So I don't know that that's bearing out.

However, I do think that there is a -- people are waking up to the fact that this is going to be a rematch, which is why you hear Joe Biden say things like don't judge me -- what is it -- against --

HUNT: Don't judge me --


JOHNSTON: -- by the alternative.

HUNT: The alternative.

KUCINICH: I think that's going to be -- I mean, that's definitely going to be like a watch phrase --

HUNT: Right.

KUCINICH: -- that you hear over and over again because they're just going to keep pointing at Trump and hope that contrast pulls him over the line.

HUNT: Yeah.

I mean, the argument that they're making this morning, Geoff, is that -- the Biden campaign -- Trump is greatly underperforming with voters who will decide the election in November. They say Trump continues to lost moderates, underperformed among suburban voters. He's shown -- and that showed up in Super Tuesday.

I guess my question is is that going to be enough? Do you think that that's convincing at this point that if Trump has these weaknesses that we've seen through Super Tuesday, that he can't win in a general?

GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER GEORGIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Well, those statements are true. They're accurate and that, I believe, expresses the roughly 35 percent that we keep seeing show up state after state after state. It really is just surprising to see how consistent this heartbreak meter has been for Republicans and for Democrats. It's been about 35 percent of Republicans. It's about 10 to 15 percent of the Democrats, whether it be an uncommitted vote or some of these other folks in the Democratic primary.

Look, at the end of the day, I think America needs a vision going forward, and that's really this heartburn. It's not just about the fact that Joe Biden's issues are age-related and policy-related and Donald Trump's issues are character-related. It's nobody's got this vision going forward.

Like, really, what is the solution to immigration? I think almost all Americans realize we've got to do something there. We've got to have a consistent message -- a national tone and tenor around the world that we actually know what we're doing with foreign policy. What is the strategy with inflation?

I think that's the part that the rational-minded folks sitting in the suburbs are going what's going to happen here?


That's the lack of leadership and I think that's really the ultimate void here. Neither one of these folks are appearing in people's living rooms or kitchen tables as actual natural-born leaders anymore. Joe Biden had his day. It's passed him. Donald Trump's never had his moment. He's always kind of been a carnival barker but it is what it is. He's tricked the Republicans to think he's a conservative.

HUNT: I will say that underlying all of this -- and we don't have this statement in that I'm going to reference here at CNN but NBC has it on the record. There are a lot of people who seem to think that, Nick -- that there is going to be some way where these two are not the nominees, right, despite what we've seen tonight on Super Tuesday.

JOHNSTON: I'd like to meet those people and how they got to that conclusion.

HUNT: Well, Michelle Obama's camp had to put out a statement she's not going to run for president.

JOHNSTON: Michelle Obama is not running for president. She was not running --

HUNT: I know.

JOHNSTON: -- for president the last election. She did not run in the previous election.

HUNT: It's almost magical thinking at this point, honestly --



HUNT: -- for those who don't -- who don't want this. And, yeah, the Michelle Obama thing has been this bizarre thing on the right.

JOHNSTON: Maybe the next election.

HUNT: Yeah.

JOHNSTON: I mean, there's a big difference here between, like, the world that people wish it to be. I think. Deliberately talking about, like, that kind of new leadership -- what people are hoping for -- and the world as it is, right?

Joe Biden and Donald Trump are -- aside from some sort of disaster happening, will be the nominees and we'll be the standard bearers.

HUNT: But you keep saying aside from some disaster. The rate at which I have conversations where people on both sides, Democrats- Republicans, seem to have this specter of disaster, whether it's health-related or -- I had one Republican --


HUNT: -- call it a magic cheeseburger. Like, what on earth, you know? Like, it's just -- it's unprecedented.

JOHNSTON: I mean, barring a magic cheeseburger -- we can -- we can talk about that. But, like, unless that happens -- I mean, these are the nominees.

And I think to the point about where there's a real sense of leadership there's a pivot to what we can talk about coming up next at the State of the Union.

I think what the Biden campaign would like to do and what President Biden would like to do is now, at the State of the Union, maybe pivot that to say, like, look, I can be the leader, right? I'm not the carnival barker, as you explained about Donald Trump. And sort of take that into the general election, which I think that's a fight they want knowing that -- but that weakness in the Trump -- the GOP electorate for Donald Trump -- I think that's why the campaign is pivoting to next.

HUNT: Yeah.

So one of the places where we saw Haley have particular strength last night was in Virginia. And some of our reporters were out there talking to Virginia voters about why they made their decision. We can play a little bit of what they had to say -- watch.


ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: You're supporting Nikki? You do --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she's great, yeah. I think she's an outstanding candidate.

TREENE: If it ends up being a Trump versus Biden rematch do you know who you'd vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. I'm going to hold my nose and vote for Biden again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really like her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like her a lot. I think she's got a good record and I think she's got the best chance of winning in November.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She just seems real --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- and honest, and not boom, boom, boom, boom, you know?


HUNT: That's our Alayna Treene there talking to these voters.

I mean, Geoff, clearly, there are -- there are people out there that are backing Nikki Haley, and it is not a small amount to what she says.

But I want to talk about her future because she clearly has a decision to make. She has not yet dropped out of this race but it's clear that the door is all but closed. We may -- you know, it's going to take another contest or two to get Trump over the actual finish line for delegates.

If you're her -- and presumably, she wants a future in, likely, Republican politics -- what do you do? What's the right move?

DUNCAN: Well, first of all, I want to applaud her for her efforts and her energy. It takes a lot to do what she's doing and she's certainly gained a lot of momentum. To take on a -- essentially, an incumbent president and to do what she's doing is encouraging.

And certainly, she's got a bright political future in front of her. She's well-spoken. She's got great -- you know, a great resume. She's been a conservative governor.

I think -- you know, Ron DeSantis probably fits in this category, too. I think that if you're doing a post-game analysis you would look to see -- they probably should have come out harder and just championed their conservative record as a governor. They should have taken Donald Trump straight on and stopped trying to split the hair or thread the needle -- whatever your analogy is. They should have just taken it right to him early in this primary process to really define themselves.

I mean, Ron DeSantis, at the time -- I mean, he's governor of Florida. I mean, they got COVID right. The economy is growing. Nikki Haley had a super conservative track record. And the world has been on fire and she knows the globe better than anybody.

And so that, I think, is going to be some of the post-game analysis. But she's got a bright future in front of her.

HUNT: Right, but I think the challenge, Jackie, is she's got to decide what to do about Trump, right? Like, does she endorse him? Does she not? Like, how -- at what point does staying in this race kind of start working against her in terms of her future?

KUCINICH: Well, and it seems like at this point she may have gone too far against Trump to come back to Trump. We've seen that a little bit with Ron DeSantis, frankly. I mean, he -- his -- Trump's campaign --

HUNT: Yeah, but some of that's personal.

KUCINICH: Some of that is personal. But Trump's campaign has not forgiven this. You have to imagine that Trump would -- continues to humiliate him. And it feels like Haley might be in that pocket at this point where she can't come home to the Republican -- the Republican Party as it is right now. And what does that mean? Perhaps not. I mean, right? The politics are filled with people who said very nasty things on the campaign trail only to endorse that person at the end of the day.

I just think --

HUNT: Looking at you, Ted Cruz.


KUCINICH: Well, yeah. Well, right.

HUNT: Sorry.

KUCINICH: But I just mean when it comes to the loyalty that is demanded of Republicans by former President Trump and that campaign, she may have breached that.

HUNT: Yeah.

DUNCAN: Yeah. I think it's interesting. If I'm Nikki Haley and I'm watching a replay of Tim Scott do what he's done, that would be enough for me not to go down that road --


DUNCAN: -- of endorsing Donald Trump.

I think -- in my opinion, the Republicans are going to purge themselves at some point of Donald Trump, right? He's either -- if for some reason he does get elected as president he's going to embarrass -- every single day he's in office he's going to embarrass us as true conservatives. And to take that route just for a short-term sugar high of endorsing Donald Trump I think is a mistake.

JOHNSTON: Every other person, though, has taken that short-term sugar high, right? I've learned my lesson the hard way of saying no, I think this one has gone too far and he won't endorse. And so, I don't see a way Nikki Haley doesn't in the end when this is over, but I guess that's why we have to watch it.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, I have to say if she were to just endorse the Republican nominee right before the convention that might split it.

JOHNSTON: And she's not going to go on stage at the Democratic convention and say don't vote for Trump, is she?

HUNT: I would be very surprised.

All right, everyone sticks around. They're going to be back with us in just a moment. Because up next, the jungle primary that is California's Senate race. How Adam Schiff played hardball to get the November matchup he wanted.

Plus, you know you've made it when you have your own bobblehead.



HUNT: Forty-five minutes past the hour. Here's your '24 -- 2024 race roundup.

Democratic Congressman Colin Allred will take on Republican Ted Cruz after winning Tuesday's Democratic Senate primary. Allred topped a crowded field of nine Democrats to take on Cruz who is a target. We'll see if it works this year.

And Democrat Josh Stein will square off against Republican Mark Robinson in North Carolina's gubernatorial race. Robinson is a right- wing firebrand and a Holocaust denier. He does have backing from Donald Trump.

And this.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We are so lucky -- so lucky to live in a democracy where we all have the right to protest.


HUNT: Protesters calling for a Gaza ceasefire stepping on Democrat Adam Schiff's victory speech. The California congressman and longtime Trump nemesis won his primary for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein's seat and will face Republican Steve Garvey in November.

Our panel is back. And Republican Steve Garvey, in California -- this was not a foregone conclusion because California has what's known as a jungle primary where it's the top two vote finishers of any party who then face off in the general election.

And the Schiff team actually spent -- and his allies spent quite a bit of money attacking Garvey as too conservative. This was viewed as a way to try to boost him. In fact, I think we can show you a little bit of -- so Katie Porter was running against Schiff. She's a Democrat. Built a very high profile for herself. Here's kind of how she talked about what happened in the primary in her concession speech.


REP. KATIE PORTER, (D) CALIFORNIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Because of you, we have the establishment running scared. We're standing three to one in TV spending and an onslaught of billionaires who spent millions peddling lies, and our opponent spending more to boost the Republican than promoting his own campaign.


HUNT: So she's attacking Adam Schiff there, Jackie. What do you make of this?

KUCINICH: I mean, we should say she's a -- she's an Elizabeth Warren protege, very much to the left of Adam Schiff. But yeah, this is like the old Claire McCaskill boosting Todd Aiken over the other conservative. Now, the difference is he did it over a fellow Democrat.

But he clearly thinks that with Steve Garvey in the race and not Katie Porter he's a much -- he has a much easier case to make and a much easier race to run than trying to run against a fellow Democrat.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, I guess if you add up these numbers the Democratic vote is considerably larger than the Republican one, although Schiff and Garvey are really not that far apart in the state --


HUNT: -- that's this large.

Nick, was this the right move for Schiff? I mean, he locked it down.

JOHNSTON: Of course, it is. It worked. He's going to be a senator now. I mean, as opposed to -- like, this is different than explaining any kind of broad national political trends. Just a really interesting story that we'll tell in political science classes about campaign jiu- jitsu, right? How to boost somebody that you really don't want to run against so you can crush them in a general election. I mean, it was clearly a good idea because it worked and he's going to be a senator.

HUNT: It did work.

Geoff, let me talk to you a little bit about this race in North Carolina that I know you've been paying attention to and we touched on it. Mark Robinson -- this very right-wing, currently the lieutenant governor of North Carolina.

Can you, like, explain to us where he came from, what his deal is, and what this means in terms of who actually might become governor of North Carolina?

DUNCAN: Yeah. I -- as I remember, we were both in the Lieutenant Governors Association at the same time. I remember he kind of came onto the scene through a viral YouTube video talking about gun rights. And it was a very powerful message and he was outspoken and well- spoken, and it kind of took his trajectory into the -- into the office of lieutenant governor.

But I think what you're watching play out in these positions and just -- these just hard, gut-wrenching words that come out of his mouth are just a true example of what Donald Trump has done to the Republican Party. He's taken us straight to the gutter and he's confused us with angry and loud equal (PH) conservatives, and that's just not the case.

These positions that he's -- that Mark Robinson is taking are not conservative positions. They're horrific positions. But --

HUNT: Can you give us an example? We know he's a Holocaust denier but --

DUNCAN: Well -- and that's the one I was going to speak to -- the Holocaust denier. I think that and some of these other ones -- it's just -- it's so gut-wrenching to hear him go down these pathways.


And look, North Carolina should be in play for Republicans if we had a rational-minded set of candidates that were walking into North Carolina. It's a very business-friendly state. It's a very suburban state. It's also got rural areas. I think it's an opportunity zone for us.

But when you run a candidate like that up on the top of the ticket, I think it -- I think the math is really simple for a Democrat if you're sitting there thinking about it. I'm sure the Democrats are licking their chops and see this as an easier win than maybe they would have if they would have had a real candidate that was focused on real policies -- you know, kitchen table issues. And that's what we've gotten away from as a Republican Party.

HUNT: Yeah.

DUNCAN: We need to focus on these policies that matter to people because at the end of the day -- I mean, we've got this unstable economy. Where are we talking about as Republicans about the economy? Are we going to just talk about inflation or are we going to talk about how we navigate people forward?

And what is our solution on the border? Even if you're in North Carolina, immigration is an issue. Brian Kemp puts it well. Every state is now a border state.

HUNT: Yeah.

Nick, we see for candidates like Robinson in North Carolina who are really too -- more conservative or -- I mean, I don't even know if conservative is the right word.


HUNT: -- in the case of Robinson. But they don't -- Donald Trump seems to be able to win -- like, when he's on the ballot he has kind of -- there's like a separate calculation than when he is won some of these other -- they don't have the same protections, I guess, is what I would say.

JOHNSTON: It's very -- it's very -- it will be interesting to see how he performs versus, like, with Donald Trump on the ballot. But, like, what -- I think what Robinson is certainly an example of why we don't have senator Walker, or senator Dr. Oz, or senator Kari Lake right now. These are candidates that were picked by Trump in the primary elections who were far more conservative. Who may have been far more incendiary even than the general electorate at large and went down to defeat.

Like, I'm already getting emails from Democrats from North Carolina --

HUNT: Um-hum.

JOHNSTON: -- being, like, oh, this is perfect. This puts that state in play. We're very excited about this right now.

And that's exactly I think what Geoff was saying about it. About like how what the Trump-based candidates do to widen that field I think for Democrats.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, I guess I shouldn't -- I shouldn't say that -- I mean, Trump lost the election in 2020. He won in 2016 but he lost in 2020. So we wouldn't -- we shouldn't say that when he's on the ballot these people do better. But certainly, they didn't do very well without him in the 2022 midterms.

Jackie, Nick, thank you very much. Geoff is going to stick around with us. I will see you at the top of the hour.

All right, time now for sports. The Cavaliers pull of an incredible comeback to snap the Celtics' 11-game winning streak and they did it on Kelce brother's bobblehead night.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, good morning, Kasie.

You know, fresh off retiring from the NFL, Jason Kelce and his brother Travis were both back home in Cleveland to celebrate their dual bobblehead night. I'm not sure how many pro football players have had a bobblehead night at an NBA game, but I'm pretty sure this is the first brothers to get one together at the same time.

And check it out. The Kelces said they were quite impressed by the bobblehead, with Jason saying he thought it looked way better than he expected.

Now, the Kelces -- they got to watch a great comeback in this one. The Celtics riding an 11-game winning streak coming into this one. They built a 22-point lead with nine minutes to go in the game, but the Cavs came storming back thanks to Dean Wade. The reserve power forward just caught fire. Wade making five threes in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 points and singlehandedly outscoring the Celtics in the period.

You can see Jason all pumped up -- or Travis, I should say.

He also got the putback dunk here with 19 seconds left to put the Cavs up for good. They'd hold on to win 105-104 completing their biggest fourth-quarter comeback in franchise history.

Wade, the unlikely hero with a career-high 23 points.


DEAN WADE, FORWARD, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: You know, it feels good. It just feels good that my teammates had the trust in me to take those shots. And in the first half, I missed a whole bunch of shots but they -- at halftime they were like you shoot it every single time no matter what. You shoot it 100 times in a row. We don't care if you miss. And just having that belief in me and motivating me I had confidence -- and I loved it and went in.


SCHOLES: And our friends over at TNT got their hands on one of the Kelce brother bobbleheads and, well, Shaq -- he has some very strong hands.


SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, HOST "NBA ON TNT": He even got the little gold chain.


JAMAL CRAWFORD, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Did you break it, Shaq? Shaq said this ain't no damn Reeboks.

LEFKOE: Geez, man. We can't even have nice stuff around here. He just broke Jason Kelce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). Them ain't no damn Reeboks.


SCHOLES: Oh, Shaq.

All right. Now, the Celtics -- they were not the only team to blow a 22-point lead last night. The Suns were up 22 on the Nuggets before Denver came all the way back to take the lead with under a minute to go. But Kevin Durant making this clutch three with 26 seconds left to get the game to overtime. And K.D. would then score eight in the extra period to help the Suns pull away to win that one 117-107.

All right. And finally, March Madness is underway and we've had or first buzzer-beater in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Sun Tournament. Lipscomb thought they were headed to overtime after Owen McCormack sinks a deep three here to tie the game at 75 with just four seconds remaining. But North Alabama's KJ Johnson -- he's going to take the inbound pass, sprint across the court, and puts in a left- handed floater. It goes in to win the game 77-75.


And get this, Johnson played three seasons for Lipscomb but transferred to North Alabama before this season. Now he ends up ending Lipscomb's season.

I'll tell you what, Kasie. March Madness -- there's not many things in sports that's better. I can't wait for the rest of them.

HUNT: Yeah, I know. It's a great -- it's an absolute great time of year.

And I have to say -- I mean, I'm thinking about, like, how many football bobbleheads are there ever at NBA games? Like --

SCHOLES: I can't name another one.

HUNT: Like -- and poor Shaq, man. We're like sitting here laughing watching him do that. I don't know if we can show that video again, but I think it's in your system.


HUNT: All right, Andy. Thank you very much for that.

SCHOLES: All right.

HUNT: I really appreciate it.

And coming up here on CNN THIS MORNING, a near sweep on Super Tuesday for Donald Trump. How much longer before the nomination is clinched?

Plus, President Biden preparing for a State of the Union address that could make or break his reelection bid.

And before we go, an out-of-this-world image. I love this. NASA astronauts casting their Super Tuesday ballots from space.

We'll be right back.