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Republican Nikki Haley Suspends U.S. Presidential Run; Senate Republican Leader Endorses Trump; Russian Missile Strike Hits Odessa Near Where Zelenskyy Met with Greek PM; Biden-Trump Rematch Almost Cemented. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 06, 2024 - 10:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well, so to your point, what's interesting is what we were expecting -- we are expecting with the

reporting from our colleague, Jeff Zeleny, is that what you should be listening for in terms of what she is going to say is that Nikki Haley will

likely use the word "suspending."

She is suspending her campaign. So then, in fact, to your point, should something like that happen, she could jump back in. The reality is, waiting

it out, though, and money is key here -- as we know, money really talks when it comes to politics -- is that it West going to be difficult to

continue to make the case to donors.

Which is why, as you point out, she was reaching out to donors, speaking with some of her bigger donors on Tuesday night as those results were

coming in. It's difficult to sustain that campaign.

She already (ph) wasn't advertising in a number of these Super Tuesday states, which was a message in and of itself. So tough to hold on, simply

from a numbers perspective when we talk about delegates but also when we talk about funding, Becky.

ANDERSON: When you look at the polls and the exit polls and the conversations that have been had with those who were voting in these

primaries, the difference, for example, on the issue of immigration, was huge between Donald Trump and Nikki Haley.

Other issues, foreign policy, the economy, relatively close. But when you talk about policy, it does seem as if Donald Trump has really nailed it

with regard Republicans when it comes to one of the -- if not the key issue in this election, that being immigration, Erica.

HILL: You're right. And to your point, those numbers really do. Those numbers from those exit polling, you look at the disparity there, 80

percent right for Donald Trump versus just 20 percent for Nikki Haley when it comes to immigration.

And you're absolutely right. This is if not one of the top -- the top -- issues for Americans at this time, there will be a lot of questions moving

forward, right?

Donald Trump has sort of owned this and making it his -- part of his stump speech, part of his campaigning. Oftentimes, though, there is not as much

detail there.

And you can expect that, in the months ahead, as there is more of a push for specifics from Donald Trump about how exactly would you make good on

those promises, how would you tackle immigration, you will likely continue to hear questions certainly be pushed by the campaign of Joe Biden and by


But also questions from voters about, if this was so important to you, why then, Donald Trump, did you work so hard to squash (sic) this bipartisan

effort that we saw in Washington just a couple of weeks ago, right?

So there will be more of those questions. Immigration though, you're right. It is key and for a number of hardcore Donald Trump's supporters, who are

with the former president, regardless, they will follow him.

And we heard even some of our colleagues out there on the trail, specifically in some of these Super Tuesday states yesterday. We heard from

a number of voters who said they were voting for Donald Trump because immigration was important to them.

There was two young voters who were speaking with John Berman in Colorado, who said they really feel that he has the best plan to secure the border

and to address this problem head-on. So it is certainly going to be at the top of the conversation heading forward.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: There will be many questions about what happens to those who voted for Nikki Haley. She has sort of emerged as a kind of

leader of the Never Trumper sort of campaign as it were. And if, as is likely today, she -- and here she comes. Let's listen in.


Just over a year ago, I launched my campaign for president.

When I began, I said the campaign was grounded in my love for our country.

Just last week, my mother, a first-generation immigrant, got to vote for her daughter for president.

Only in America.

I am filled with the gratitude for the outpouring of support we've received from all across our great country.

But the time has now come to suspend my campaign.

I said I wanted Americans to have their voices heard.

Sign up for the "On Politics" newsletter, your guide to the 2024 elections. Get it sent to your inbox.

I have done that.

I have no regrets.

And although I will no longer be a candidate, I will not stop using my voice for the things I believe in.

Our national debt will eventually crush our economy. A smaller federal government is not only necessary for our freedom, it is necessary for our



The road to socialism is the road to ruin for America.

Our Congress is dysfunctional and only getting worse. It is filled with followers, not leaders. Term limits for Washington politicians are needed

now more than ever.

Our world is on fire because of America's retreat. Standing by our allies in Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan is a moral imperative. But it's also more

than that. If we retreat further, there will be more war, not less.

As important, while we stand strong for the cause of freedom, we must bind together as Americans. We must turn away from the darkness of hatred and


I will continue to promote all those values, as is the right of every American.

I sought the honor of being your president. But in our great country, being a private citizen is privilege enough in itself. And that's a privilege I

very much look forward to enjoying.

In all likelihood, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee when our party convention meets in July. I congratulate him and wish him well. I

wish anyone well who would be America's president. Our country is too precious to let our differences divide us.

I have always been a conservative Republican and always supported the Republican nominee.

But on this question, as she did on so many others, Margaret Thatcher provided some good advice when she said, quote, "Never just follow the

crowd. Always make up your own mind."

It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him. And I hope he does that. At its best,

politics is about bringing people into your cause, not turning them away. And our conservative cause badly needs more people. This is now his time

for choosing.

I end my campaign with the same words I began it, from the Book of Joshua.

I direct them to all Americans but especially to so many of the women and girls out there, who put their faith in our campaign, "Be strong and

courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. For God will be with you wherever you go."

In this campaign I've seen our country's greatness. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, America. God bless you.


HILL: And Nikki Haley there, coming out as expected this morning, announcing that she is in fact suspending her campaign for president,

noting that it was always grounded in the love that she has for her country.

Taking a moment there off the top, too, to highlight how her mother, an immigrant, was able to vote for her daughter last week. Of course, not

enough votes there for her to continue the campaign.

Notably, as expected, she did not endorse Donald Trump. She did note that she expects him to likely be the nominee, saying that she congratulates him

and wishes him well. And interestingly, went on to say, as she would wish anyone well, who will be the next president.

Also went on to say that it's now Donald Trump's turn to work for more votes, to work for the people who backed her.

And Becky, I thought it interesting, too, noting, making it very clear that this is not about simply following the party, that this is about following

your beliefs and what you believe is best for the country. Even she took a moment there, Becky, to quote Margaret Thatcher, "Never just follow the

crowd. That message clearly out there for voters.

ANDERSON: Yes, invoking Lady T.

I thought it was really important that you just pointed out that she hopes that Donald Trump will earn the vote of those who didn't vote for him. But

as you rightly point out, she very specifically did not endorse him. Let's bring in our panel. Lots to explore, Erica.

CNN reporter Alayna Treene is with us and has been following all the news out of Super Tuesday and CNN senior political commentator, Scott Jennings,

joins us, a conservative columnist, special assistant to President George Bush and a regular on our show.

Let's start with you, Scott.

How many Haley voters are Never Trumpers?

And what options do they have at this point?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, most of them, actually -- I was just looking at some exit polls from Virginia and North Carolina last

night. I mean, that the percentage of voters who identify as actual Republicans, that voted for Nikki Haley.


It was like at 14 percent in one state and 9 percent in the other. The rest of these people were Democrats and independents and people who are just

behavioral Democrats, even if they're not self-identified that way. So a lot of these people do not like Donald Trump. They voted for Joe Biden in


They may not have voted for Donald Trump in 2016 even. And I don't know how, if you're Donald Trump, you would spin your wheels on that particular

group. So I think when we analyze what she had put together, it's easy to overestimate all of these people as just Republican primary voters.

Yes, they voted in the Republican primary but, believe me, they have not been behaving like Republicans in general elections. And I'm not sure

they're going to start now.

HILL: Alayna, in your conversations with the Trump campaign, especially in light of Super Tuesday, they know they have work to do with a lot of those

Haley voters. Many of them moderates, many of them suburban women.

Is a question this morning is how confident are they that the former president can shift his message to actually appeal to them.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think they recognize it's going to be very difficult. And when I talk to Donald Trump's campaign advisers, his

senior advisers, they acknowledge that this is going to be tough. They think that a general election rematch against Joe Biden is going to be very


They also recognize they can't take those voters -- and the Haley voters specifically -- for granted. They're going to need every vote they can get

in order to try and defeat Joe Biden in November.

Part of that is them going to be expanding rapidly their ground game strategies across the country but specifically in the battleground states

that they know they're going to be -- need to have a bigger presence, in which are places like Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, a lot of the

states that Trump had won in 2016, lost to Biden in 2020.

And a lot of them are those white suburban voters. They acknowledge that they saw Nikki Haley yesterday do very well with a lot of those voters

across the Super Tuesday states, the states that participated. And they know they have worked to do there.

So I think they recognize that now they really need to start shifting in earnest to a general election campaign. And part of that as well is the

fundraising and the donors.

They've been really eager to try to have Donald Trump become the nominee or presumptive Republican nominee not only to get these holdout voters but

also the holdout donors and really help him on the money side of this.

HILL: As we look at this, Scott, you were pointing out the number of Republicans, registered Republicans, who were voting for Nikki Haley.

What I was struck by in some of our exit polling as well, that, of those Republicans who did vote -- exit polling from Virginia, North Carolina and

California yesterday -- 25 percent or less of those Republicans said that they would support the nominee.

So when you're looking at Republican voters, how troubling is that number for Donald Trump, for his campaign moving forward, which is clearly -- you

could see Nikki Haley trying to make that point. Hey, you don't just have to follow because you have the same -- the same letters with your voter


JENNINGS: Well, there are going to be some Republicans, people who may be registered that way or have identified that way in the past, who simply

wind up migrating out of the party. I mean, this has started under Trump several years ago.

The migration out of college-educated, suburban, white-collar, they voted to some degree Democrat. And 18-20-22, you're just seeing -- even though

they don't love Joe Biden, they just have migrated away from the Republican Party.

The algebra for Trump though is, can you replace them with this new working class, non-college educated, multiracial coalition?

It's starting to show up in some of the polling and he was getting nearly a quarter of African Americans in "The New York Times," Siena (ph) poll this

weekend. He was winning Hispanics. And so that's really the math equation here.

Some of the old college-educated Republicans moving out, some of the new non-college working-class voters moving in.

Is it a one-for-one replacement or is it better than that?

And that's really the bet that the Trump campaign is going to wind up making here, is remaking, almost in total, the image, the internal

constituency of the Republican Party, to try to put together enough votes to actually beat Joe Biden this time.

ANDERSON: Alayna, Nikki Haley, then, just in the past 15 minutes, suspending her run for U.S. president -- "suspending" being the operative

word here. Let's just underscore that.

What happens next?

TREENE: Well, Becky, this is exactly what Donald Trump and his campaign wanted. They really wanted to have a big enough win on Super Tuesday and

across the board in most, if not all of the states, which is what we saw yesterday, for him to definitively be able to force Nikki Haley out of the


So now what happens is pretty twofold. One is what we just discussed about his general election strategy and how they're going to be building up their

teams across the country and trying to raise money to defeat Joe Biden.


But there is a big question as well about, what is the future of Nikki Haley in the Republican Party?

And also how will Donald Trump and his team react to that?

Now we know that, with his other former primary Republican rivals, that he had embraced them, especially those who had dropped out and endorsed him

and then became surrogates for his campaign, people like senator Tim Scott, Governor Doug Burgum.

I'm not so sure. And from my conversations with the Trump campaign, I don't really expect anytime soon them to embrace Nikki Haley in a similar way.

I know that Donald Trump himself has really been very frustrated with Haley for what he argues as her standing in the way of him being able to unite

the Republican Party behind him as early as possible.

He also believes that she has flip-flopped on policy, that she is not loyal, because she had launched her presidential campaign. And these are

all things that I think will make it difficult for them to really build on any sort of relationship moving forward.

Again, though, I have to point out that anything is possible with Donald Trump. We know that some people have nine lives with him. And even though

he may have feel (sic) one way in the past, he will sumtimes put that aside and embrace them in the future.

But as of now, I do not expect from my conversations with Trump's campaign that they will be open or wanting to really implement Haley on the campaign

trail form at any point in the near future.

HILL: In terms of the anything can change with Donald Trump, Scott, curious your take on. We heard from Donald Trump, not that long ago, that

Haley voters are going to be barred permanently from the party, where I mean, she went -- I think she had T-shirts printed.

Do you anticipate Donald Trump saying, perhaps so clearly to voters, you know what?

I'll take you now.

JENNINGS: Well, and some of the people donating money to Nikki Haley, I think, have no intention of ever donating money to Donald Trump. So being

barred from him is, I mean, it's of no consequence to them.

I think if people start sending him contributions from that crowd, I don't think he's going to refund them. I mean, they do need money and they're

facing a well-funded incumbent in Joe Biden.

I mean, ultimately campaigns are about getting more votes and you got to get them wherever you can. I'm just -- Haley became an avatar for a bunch

of different groups of people that just don't like Donald Trump -- Democrats, some independents, some Republicans. But they all had one thing

in common: they hate Trump. They don't like what he's done to America. They don't like January 6, whatever.

Whatever it is, your problem is with Trump. And they all found Haley to be the vessel to exercise that opinion. And so whether they're donors or

voters or whatever, I'm just dubious that some of these folks are coming back.

I'm not saying they love Joe Biden but we saw this in the '22 midterm. A lot of people who don't like Joe Biden, who are in that bucket, they

modeled out as people who might have voted against the incumbent party.

But they wound up voting Democrat anyway, because they don't like Donald Trump. And so he tries to make an argument to them now, I just feel like

it's going to be some wheel-spinning on behalf of the Trump campaign.

They'd be better off, in my opinion, spending their time on bringing in these new voters that I think are moving away from the Democratic Party's

working class coalition that I mentioned earlier. I think that's really -- in politics, you got to hunt ducks where ducks are.

The ducks for Donald Trump are non-college-educated, working-class voters, who feel like the Democratic Party has left them behind, not these college

educated people in the suburbs who've long had a distaste for Trump.

ANDERSON: It's good to have you all. Thank you very much indeed.

You're watching CNN's special coverage. More on that after this.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

ANDERSON: We are getting breaking news in to CNN right now, an attack in Ukraine's Odessa, close to where Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy

was with the Greek prime minister.

Mr. Zelenskyy says the attack has left people dead and wounded and that it was close enough for him to see and hear. Let's get you more on this. I'm

going to get you right to CNN's Clare Sebastian -- Clare.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is still the early stages of getting information about what happened. So far what we're hearing comes,

as you say, from President Zelenskyy himself.

He was in Odessa, meeting with the Greek prime minister. And he said there was a strike which he himself could see and hear, which left people dead

and wounded. At this stage, we don't know how many or where exactly the strike was or what could possibly have been the target.

He said, in a statement, "You can see who we are dealing with. They don't care what they strike."

And he used this moment to call again for more weapons, saying the best way to defend ourselves is to do that with an air defense system.

This is something that we know Ukraine is short of, in its current ammunition crisis, air defense systems and the ammunition that go with

them. So we are still waiting for more information of that.

But Odessa, of course, is that port city on the Black Sea, the biggest seaport in Ukraine and has been regularly in the firing line, including the

site of one of the deadliest attacks for civilians in recent weeks overnight Friday in to Saturday, at least a dozen civilians killed in a

drone strike on a residential building.

So this seems to have been another attack on that city. But still waiting for more information, Becky.

ANDERSON: You're right to point out that president Zelenskyy himself had called on Western allies to deliver more air defenses after those -- that

deadly strike, those deadly Russian drone strikes on Odessa just earlier on in the week -- or late last week.

Just briefly, if you will, what is the situation on the ground?

I mean, there's clearly a huge appeal for military support at this point.

What's going on on the ground, on the front lines?

SEBASTIAN: Ukraine is trying to hold back Russian attempts to build on their mid February capture of the town of Avdiivka, on the eastern front.

That is where most of the activity has concentrated now.

Russia did manage to push beyond that, take a few more tiny villages and continues, of course, to have the advantage in terms of ammunition and

indeed personnel. Ukraine has an aging, exhausted force on the front line, has been -- has been struggling to find a way to mobilize more people.

So that is the situation on the ground. Of course, we're not just talking about a ground war here. We're talking about sea and air. And the sea and

the air in Ukraine has been showing its mettle recently, just on Tuesday, saying that it managed to hit another ship, a patrol ship in the Kerch

Strait in the Black Sea.

It claimed in February that it had managed to take out about a third of Russia's Black Sea fleet. So seeing more success there. But this latest

attack on Odessa concerns not only that city, that port city, but also going so close -- or closer, they say, to a presidential convoy.

Concerns the safety of the president himself, something that he has continued to, you'll remember, shrugged off over the course of this war,

those famous comments at the beginning, when he said, "I don't need a ride," when the U.S. offered to get him out of the country, "I just need


ANDERSON: Yes. Good to have you.

Back to our -- all the breaking news this hour -- Erica.

HILL: Becky, thank you.

Well, new this hour, Republican Nikki Haley suspending her 2024 presidential campaign just about 10 minutes ago. She made that announcement

in her home state of South Carolina. And the move, of course, comes after she was soundly defeated by Donald Trump in numerous primaries on Tuesday,

Super Tuesday in the United States.

Donald Trump taking 14 of the 15 states. Her decision that leaves Trump as the last remaining major candidate for the Republican nomination.


Joining me now, Larry Sabato, who's the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

Larry, always good to see you. As we look at this moment that we're in right I think I've lost count of the number of political reporters and

commentators who have written about this being the moment that everyone expected but perhaps not many American voters wanted.

Here we are eight months, eight plus months, 8-9 months until the November election.

How does this change things today?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, people adjust. Certainly at eight months, they usually adjust to these

sorts of things and, remember, most voters don't expect all that much out of politics anyway.

I always say, the great moral philosopher, Mick Jagger, once put it best, "You can't always get what you want."

And these two candidates are going to be the candidates and one of them is going to be president. And people will adjust to that. And I think, for

those who pay attention, since New Hampshire, it's been perfectly obvious that Donald Trump was very, very, very, very, very likely to be the

Republican nominee.

And good for Nikki Haley, that she stayed in to give him a challenge, to make him face up to his record to a certain degree. I was interested in her

comments because it's almost as though she's waiting to be wooed.

And if there's one person in politics that we know will never grovel in any way, shape or form, even if it's in his own interests, it's Donald Trump.

So this could be an interesting courtship, if there even is a courtship.

HILL: Does Donald Trump need Nikki Haley's endorsement?

SABATO: I think it would be useful to him in that, while he may think the Republican Party is united, it is not united. If you look at the Haley

coalition, the people who actually voted for her, consistently 25, 30, 35 percent, very occasionally 40 percent in certain states.

A large piece of that says, we will not vote for Donald Trump in November. Now I understand, what people say in March and what they do in October or

November can be very, very different things. But not all of them are coming back to Donald Trump. Some of them will vote for Biden.

Some of them will go to one of the third-party or independent candidates. Some of them will go back to Donald Trump. Other ones will stay home. And

that's what Trump needs to worry about, having people at home sitting on the couch.

HILL: Yes, the couch voters, as we so often hear them referred to.

What is your sense -- the campaign machine and the staff that Donald Trump has behind him now in 2024 is far different than who he had with him in

2020. We're talking about professionals here, who, I think most people you talk to will say they're really seeing the fruits of those decisions.

How much though do you think they can convince Donald Trump to shift his talking points to policy and specifics as opposed to just grievances?

Because that's going to be key moving forward as well.

SABATO: Trump actually appears to be listening, which he has not been known for in the past.

Of the two leaders, he pointed them out last night in his victory address, one of them I know very well, Chris LaCivita. They seem to have worked out

a formula that doesn't control Donald Trump but produces suggestions that, for various reasons, he's inclined to follow.

That's a plus for his campaign if it continues. When Donald Trump gets angry, when he hears charges that send him through the roof, he's inclined

to say and do things that actually hurt his own candidacy, cuts off his nose to spite his face. So I'm not convinced it will continue. But they've

done a better job than anybody else has.

HILL: Well, we will continue to watch it. Larry, always appreciate your insight. Thank you

SABATO: Thank you, Erica.

HILL: Kylie Atwood, who has been following, of course, Nikki Haley's campaign is with us out of South Carolina.

So Kylie, this reporting this morning, we were expecting to hear her suspend her campaign, which, in fact, happened just about 20 minutes ago. I

thought it was interesting some of the points that she hit on more than one occasion, talking about not following the crowd.

Whether she was talking about who she sees in Congress right now being a bunch of followers, not leaders, or how she was encouraging voters to move

forward, bring up Margaret Thatcher, saying, "Never just follow the crowd."

Anything else that stood out to you in those remarks?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, we have heard from Nikki Haley since the beginning of her campaign that she is not

someone who goes with the crowd, that she defies the odds, that she's willing to challenge people, even within her own party.

So what she was saying today is in line with what we have heard from her in that front, over the course of the last year of her campaign. Now as she is

suspending her campaign, however, she is making clear that she will be using her leverage in the Republican Party.


Even though she did not gain enough support from the Republican electorate in order to surpass former president Trump's stronghold on the party, she

still believes that there were a significant number of voters that voted for her.

And they're looking for something different than what former president Trump is offering them. So what she said here today is that Trump is going

to have to earn their support.

That's significant. We're going to have to watch to see how that plays out because Trump has not made really any grandiose efforts to draw in Nikki

Haley supporters. He even, last month, said that, any of the donors who support Nikki Haley would be barred permanently from MAGA.

So we'll have to watch to see what kind of tone he takes up as he goes ahead. But Nikki Haley making it clear that she is still going to use her

voice. That's what she said for the issues that she cared about.

And she listed a few of those, including what she called the moral imperative, to side with U.S. allies, to keep U.S. allies close. Of course,

that is something that people have concerns about when it comes to Trump.

She also talked about the need for conservative, fiscal responsible policy. That's something that she's talked about time and time again on the

campaign trail. And again, she called for term limits for politicians. These are all themes that she has touched on throughout the entire course

of her campaign.

So it's not surprising to see her highlight them again, as she is getting out of the race. But she is making clear that, even though she is

suspending her campaign today, she is not going to be staying silent.

She's still going to be standing up for the issues that she cares about and daring to challenge Trump to try and draw in her voters.

HILL: Telling him it's up to him now, now up to Donald Trump to do that. I think so important you pointed out that note that she made about standing

with allies. She did specifically mention Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, saying, if the U.S. did not stand with them, there would be more war, not


Kiley, appreciate the reporting as always. Thank you.

And stay with us here on CNN. Our breaking news coverage continues just ahead.





ANDERSON: Well, welcome back to CNN's special coverage of a big day in U.S. politics as Nikki Haley exits the race for the Republican nomination.

I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi.

HILL: And I'm Erica Hill in New York. What a bit of breaking news this hour. U.S. presidential candidate Nikki Haley is out, announcing she has

suspended her campaign for president, paving the way once again for a showdown between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Speaking in South Carolina earlier this hour, Haley congratulated Trump but she did not go as far as officially endorsing him as the Republican



HALEY: Our country is too precious to let our differences divide us. I have always been a conservative Republican and always supported the

Republican nominee.

But on this question, as she did on so many others, Margaret Thatcher provided some good advice when she said, quote, "Never just follow the

crowd. Always make up your own mind."

It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him. And I hope he does that.


ANDERSON: Well, that's Nikki Haley's suspending her campaign. We've just heard from President Joe Biden. He issued a statement, praising her courage

in standing up to Donald Trump. Joe Biden also encouraged Nikki Haley's supporters to back him now that Donald Trump has all the momentum on the

Republican side.

It is time to consider how voters are feeling about his legal issues, how might the outcome of various court cases affect voters' decisions. CNN

senior data reporter Harry Enten spoke to my colleague, Kate Bolduan, earlier. Have a listen.


HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: To Trump fit for the presidency if convicted of a crime, look at these numbers in Virginia, North Carolina and

California, look at this.

The majority, again, all these states said yes; 68 percent in California, 65 percent of Virginia, 55 percent in Virginia, too; 65 percent North

Carolina. And I think that this really gets at the strength that Donald Trump has within the GOP.

Because this isn't just asking whether or not he can -- has, in fact, committed a crime. It's if he was convicted of a crime, which is still, in

fact, think he was fit for the presidency.

And overwhelmingly in all these states, they said, yes, he was. And again, look here, how they vote in the GOP primary, think Trump is fit for the

presidency if convicted. Look at this across California, North Carolina, Virginia, an 85 point margin for Donald Trump.

If you don't think he was fit, you voted for Nikki Haley but it was just a 47 percent margin.


ANDERSON: Well, CNN's congressional correspondent, Jessica Dean, is covering the very latest this for us. She is live from Washington.

And let's focus on the general election if we can. We've just learned that Donald Trump now has the endorsement of the Senate GOP leader, Mitch


Will people fall in line with Donald Trump completely now?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, I think that is absolutely the expectation. There will certainly be some holdouts that have existed since

Donald Trump has been on the political stage.

And even some of those -- I'm thinking about somebody like Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz -- have come around to be huge supporters of his.

So to see the Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who, of course, his push for Ukraine aid and also that border security bill that they were

trying to get through the Senate, was foiled by the former president telling Republicans not to vote for that.

So it's not as if Mitch McConnell has been in lockstep with Donald Trump all the time. But to see somebody like that, to see the minority whip, John

Thune, endorsing Donald Trump, I think we're just going to continue to see that.

And the big takeaway now, Becky, is that, to your point, we turn our attention and the candidates turn their attention to the general election.

Of course, we have President Joe Biden doing his State of the Union address tomorrow night. And everyone really sees this as the time where they both

set their sights on November. Tomorrow night, the president is going to have what is arguably his largest audience, aside from if they even end up

doing debates in the fall.

To really drive home his message. And so much of that data, some of which you just went over but we've got a lot of data from those exit polls last

night, shows some that both candidates have some work to do with different parts of the constituencies out there.

ANDERSON: Just to lay the table, as it were, for that general election, now, for our international viewers, in a two-horse race -- and that is what

we have got -- we got a rematch of 2016.


What are the polls telling us at this point?

DEAN: Well, look, the polls are showing a lot. Most polls poll -- and we do Poll of Polls here, where we kind average them all out. And those are

still showing Donald Trump leading and leading in a lot of battleground states that Joe Biden had won and that delivered him the presidency in


And I look to that "New York Times" Siena (ph) poll, again just one snapshot in -- at this moment in time. But we got that over the weekend.

And it showed that some of these key groups that made up Joe Biden's coalition in 2020 -- we're talking about younger voters, voters of color,

women -- he has really softened his support amongst those groups.

So his challenge as the clock ticks is to really solidify that support. And meantime, if you're Donald Trump, look, Nikki Haley was getting not an

insignificant amount of votes in some of these states. They weren't huge numbers, obviously not enough to keep her in the race and not to make her

candidacy tenable.

But he, again, this is going to likely be a race that is won in the margins. It is just going to be such likely a tight race in a handful of

states. And those are a lot of swing voters, independent voters, suburban voters.

And then also, too, just getting the basis for each of these parties to show up. Trump doesn't struggle with that with his base. They show up for


Joe Biden again building that constituency in 2020 that he's going to need, that coalition to show up again. And there is, if the data is correct, some

work to be done to make sure that happens.

ANDERSON: It's good good to have you, Jessica. Thank you very much indeed.

DEAN: My pleasure.


HILL: Joining us now with more, Republican strategist Sarah Longwell. She's also publisher of "The Bulwark" and executive director of the

Republican Accountability Project.

Sarah, good to see you this morning. Just sort of picking up where Becky and Jessica left off, as we look at where we stand this morning, right?

We are moving forward. This is all about looking now at the general election, this rematch between Trump and Biden. What's fascinating is the

number of supporters that Nikki Haley had, who may not have been Republicans right, she had this coalition in many ways of sort of Never


How do you, when we're talking about a rather diverse group of people, how do you, as Donald Trump, the candidate, go after that group, especially

after having disparaged them so often?

SARAH LONGWELL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. I think Donald Trump's been getting a little enamored of his own polling and seems to be actively

taunting this group of people, right?

It's not that he said just that -- just that he said that Nikki Haley and her supporters were permanently barred from the MAGA movement. He also said

that they were running out people who supported Mitt Romney and people like him.

And so Donald Trump is sort of actively antagonizing this group of voters, this group of voters that hasn't liked Donald Trump, really from the

beginning. But many of them have held their nose and voted for him twice.

And look, I do focus groups every for week. And I hear from a lot of two- time Trump voters, who say, after January 6, I was done. This guy lied about the election being stolen.

And one of the ways to think about the Republican Party right now is there's almost a 70-30 split, right, 70 percent of Republicans think that

the election was stolen; 30 percent don't. About 70 percent -- you see these big numbers, where people say they'd vote for Trump if he was

convicted of a felony.

But you've still got about 31 percent of self-identified Republicans who say they won't if he's convicted of a felony. And that tracks pretty

closely to the margins that Nikki Haley is getting in a lot of these states from self-ID'd Republicans.

And so 30 percent in a general election is a big number. And so obviously some of those people are going to go back to Donald Trump. But he is -- he

needs to build that coalition. And instead he's playing a game of subtraction and not addition.

It is very smart of Joe Biden to tell those voters that they are very much welcome in his coalition, because a lot of them did vote for him in the

past. And there's even more of themthat could vote for him in the future, even though they're not big fans of Joe Biden because -- I'll just say this

last thing.

The persuadable voters in this election are actually people who don't like either candidate. We call them the double haters. They don't like Joe

Biden. They don't like Donald Trump. And so it's really going to come down to who do they like less.

And if you have somebody like Donald Trump telling him, hey, look, I don't want your vote anyway, that could be the thing that says, all right, forget

it then.

HILL: And we will be watching for all of that. Sarah, appreciate it as always. Thank you.


ANDERSON: Thank you.

More on our other breaking news this hour, a blast in Ukraine that landed close to a convoy of President Zelenskyy. What we know is after this.





ANDERSON: More breaking news coming to CNN this hour. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that an attack in Ukraine's Odessa struck very

close to a presidential convoy where he was with the Greek prime minister.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Well, this is new video in from just after that attack. Mr. Zelenskyy says he saw and heard that attack and that it has

left people dead and wounded.

He says the strike highlights Ukraine's ongoing need for its air defense. Let's get you right to CNN's Clare Sebastian.

And we are just getting this video in.

What more have we heard?

What more are we learning at this point?

SEBASTIAN: Yes, Becky, we know that President Zelenskyy was in Odessa today, meeting with the Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. And I

think, in a sign of how regularly Odessa is targeted, they did visit the site of one of the deadliest attacks for civilians. In recent weeks, a

nine-story residential building, what 12 people, including five children, were killed on March the second. And at some point today, that convoy they

say was very close to another strike, one that President Zelenskyy says they could see and here we don't know exactly how close but that would

suggest pretty close. He said, you can let's see who we're dealing with it. They don't care what they strike. Again, as you say, renewing his call for

more air defense systems, deaths are regularly targeted Ukraine as a whole, also regularly targeted by drones, including overnight when more than 40

drones were fired at Ukraine in the air force managing to shoot down most of them. So this is an area as I say, that is in the firing line but it is

not something you hear every day. These attacks come close to a presidential convoy, Becky, so we are still waiting for more details on

exactly what how close it came, what exactly the target could have been and Zelenskyy saying that there are dead and wounded. But at this stage, we

don't know how many

Let me just get you. What Ursula van der Leyen and the president of the E.U. Commission has said, just tweeted literally as you've been speaking to

me, "I strongly condemn the vile attack on Odessa by Russia during Zelenskyy and the Greek prime minister's visit.

"No one," she said, "is intimidated by this new attempt at terror, certainly not the two leaders on the ground nor the brave people of

Ukraine. More than ever, we stand by Ukraine."

I thought it was particularly interesting that she wanted to make the point on intimidation. No one is intimidated by this new attempt at terror. She

said Clare

Yes. I mean, I think that we have suddenly heard from Europe in recent days and weeks.


Lots of rhetoric, lots of statements that they are together with Ukraine for as long as it takes, including president Macron of France even

suggesting that they should step out well beyond what they've done so far in terms of military aid and open the debate on putting Western troops on

the ground in Ukraine. I think obviously the question here is, was Zelenskyy specifically?

The target?


Don't know at this point, Russian weapons are not always known for their precision and certainly to target him while he's meeting with the Greek

prime minister, the head of a NATO country would be extremely bold and provocative even in this unprovoked war by Russia. So that is the major

question. But obviously we are going to hit statements of support probably for more than just as the lava underlying after this because as I said, it

really is unusual. We don't know if there have been other close calls when it comes to President Zelenskyy but it is very unusual for us to hear of

something like this happening so close to where he was. His safety is taking extremely serious seriously by Ukraine

Clare Sebastian on the story, Clare, always a pleasure. Thank you.

One quick update on another story that we follow very closely here on the show, Hamas says, it wants Israel gone from quote, every inch in Gaza, as

well as a permanent ceasefire before any prisoner exchange, they say can take place while statement came Tuesday after Hamas was presented with a

new ceasefire proposal from Egyptian and Qatari mediators negotiators in Cairo are scrambling to reach a deal before the Muslim holy month of

Ramadan begins in less than a week, the response came just hours after U.S. President Biden said a potential ceasefire was quote, in their hands of her

will after this break, we return to our top story this hour, the race for the White House and just this hour we have seen a major development now

that Nikki Haley has suspended her campaign more on that. After this.




Well, you saw it here at the top of the hour.

Republican Nikki Haley suspending her U.S. presidential campaign after losing cool. But one state in more are known as the Super Tuesday

primaries. Haley said it was now up to likely nominee Donald Trump to earn the votes of her supporters.

I've been with you here in our w for this special coverage and my colleague, Erica Hill has been with us in New York and Eric, let's just sum

up, what is this incredibly important day in the U.S. for our viewers, if you will?

Yes, certainly is Donald Trump now, the presumptive Republican nominee,, of course, that convention doesn't happen until the summer. But what this has

solidified, especially since Nikki Haley made that announcement just about 45 minutes ago is that we are seeing a rematch of 2020 and it will in fact

be President Biden versus former president Donald Trump. It's what many Americans and frankly many folks around the world who've been watching this

closely have anticipated, have expected. There is also, as I know that, you know, there is some lack of enthusiasm in this country from some voters for

both of these candidates.


But the reality is, this is where we stand now. And so we'll be watching is to see how each one of them moves forward in trying to court not only all

of those Nikki Haley voters but some of the folks who haven't even had a chance to cast their vote yet because their states hadn't yet come up.

ANDERSON: Well, Joe Biden as an opportunity to get his get his piece said at the State of the Union address, which he, of course, has Thursday.

What are we expecting?

HILL: Yes, that's right.

And talk about talk about timing, right?

So the State of the Union Address, as you point out, is his chance to talk to voters, is a chance to talk to all Americans about where he sees the

state of the country in this moment.

It can't be a campaign speech but, of course, I think what we can expect is that he will really lay into what he sees as his accomplishments and

improvements in the State of the Union at this point over the last several years.

So look for that at and perhaps some more veiled but clear comments, directed at his predecessor and his competitor.

ANDERSON: It's been super having you. Thank you for your time.

That's it for this hour. From me, Becky Anderson, here in Abu Dhabi, and my colleague, Erica Hill in New York. Stay with CNN, more special coverage

after this.