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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Frontrunners Wins Big on Super Tuesday Three; Rubio Drops Out After Florida Loss; Interview with John Kasich; Clinton-Sanders in Virtual Dead Heat in Missouri. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 16, 2016 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:01] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Special post Super Tuesday edition of EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. We welcome all of our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world.

BERMAN: It was a big, big night for the frontrunners on both sides. Donald Trump -- Donald Trump won at least three states. Right now he is locked in a very, very tight race in Missouri with Ted Cruz. Look at that. Separated by 1700 votes. The outcome of that, we are told, they are done counting for the night in Missouri. They're going to look at provisional ballots and absentees when they wake up. We may not get an official word from Missouri for some time.

But the big story, Florida, winner-take-all state, 99 delegates at stake. Donald Trump won every last one of them. This is what he said.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a great opportunity. And the people that are voting are Democrats are coming in, independents are coming in, and very, very importantly, people that never voted before. It's an incredible thing.

We're going to go forward and we're going to win. But more importantly, we're going to win for the country. We're going to win, win, win and we're not stopping. We're going to have great victories for our country. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.


BERMAN: All right. Donald Trump wins at least three states, maybe four. But he's not the only guy who won overnight. John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, won Ohio. He beat Donald Trump there. Actually pretty easily. Ohio, a winner-take-all state. So John Kasich gets all 66 delegates there. But one man is the clear loser from this Super Tuesday, Marco Rubio. He suspended his campaign after the thumping that he took in Florida.

Again we are still waiting on Missouri right now. Right now Donald Trump does lead there. The delegate map as of now looks like this. Donald Trump at 640. He extended his lead importantly in this Super Tuesday. Ted Cruz has 405. Marco Rubio whose campaign is now suspended, leading still John Kasich. John Kasich has 138.

ROMANS: That's right.

All right. Missouri also undecided this morning for the Democrats. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders separated by -- look at that -- the slimmest of margins, 1531 voters, otherwise a clean sweep. A clean sweep. A good night for the frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Winning four states, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Illinois. Clinton taking a big step toward being her party's nominee.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know we will add to our delegate lead to roughly 300 with over two million more votes nationwide. We are moving closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination and winning this election in November.


ROMANS: All right. The Democratic delegate count then, Hillary Clinton, 1,568, Bernie Sanders, 797.

Here to help us break down the Super Tuesday -- we're calling it Super Wednesday results because it is Wednesday now.

MJ Lee, CNN Politics and Money reporter, is in Washington for us.

And, MJ, the headline here, it was a great night for the frontrunners.

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICS AND MONEY REPORTER: Yes. That's absolutely right. Super Tuesday part three is not actually over yet. As you mentioned we are still waiting for results from Missouri on both sides of the political aisle. But you're absolutely right, Trump and Clinton both having very good nights.

Let's take a look at what happened on the Republican side first. Trump won the state of Florida. The winner-take-all state where 99 delegates were at stake. He also won the state of Illinois and North Carolina and again we are waiting for results in Missouri where Trump and Cruz are neck-and-neck so we may not find out exactly who takes that state but if Trump were to win that state that could be four victories for him in just one night.

And of course John Kasich also having a big night winning his home state of Ohio where 66 delegates were at stake and remember Kasich has said, made clear all along that if he did not win his home state he would be dropping out. By winning his home state tonight he was able to continue his race for the GOP nomination.

Now let's take a look at the Democratic side where Hillary Clinton also had a good night. She won the states of Florida, Ohio, and Illinois and North Carolina and again on the Democratic side as well, we are waiting to find out whether she is able to have a fifth win to add to her victories tonight. You know, the results are too close right now between Hillary Clinton and Sanders. You can see just how close those numbers are. So we are waiting for those results. But no doubt about it, a great night for both the parties' frontrunners.

And of course on the Republican side with Marco Rubio not being able to defeat Donald Trump in his home state, he has suspended his White House campaign.

[02:05:02] This means that the Republican race, guys, is now down to a three-man race with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich. This could drag on for a little while longer, but again, Donald Trump is the undisputed Republican frontrunner right now.

ROMANS: All right. MJ, thank you so much for that.

Again, big headline here overnight that it was a great night for the frontrunners. Marco Rubio is out. And Kasich, John Kasich, wins his home state. Makes it sort of interesting going forward.

Stay with us, MJ. Let's bring in the rest of our panel. Josh Rogin, CNN political analyst and columnist for "Bloomberg View." He's in Washington. In Los Angeles, Dylan Byers, CNN senior reporter for media and politics, Chris Moody, senior correspondent for, he's in Boynton Beach, Florida, for us. And here on the set with us, Alex Burns, national political reporter for "The New York Times."

Thanks for being with us. Alex, let me start with you, I guess. What are your first impressions from the night here? Big night for the frontrunners, but a lot of wrinkles that could be interesting going forward here in these next contests.

ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES: Absolutely. The Democratic side is I think a lot more clear cut than the Republican side. Clinton, really just an overpowering favorite at this point. It would take just a staggering upset for her not to be the nominee at this point.

Trump, on the Republican side, we can now pretty confidently -- really confidently say is going to go into that convention with a majority of the delegates. But whether he's able to get -- excuse me.


BERMAN: With plurality.

BURNS: He's going to go to the convention with the delegate lead. Whether he can get a majority is an entirely different question because you do see, you know, John Kasich winning Ohio, taking those 66 delegates off the board, that's a big setback for Trump if he's going to clinch this thing before the Cleveland convention. There are a bunch of other states coming up, Arizona, Utah, winner-take-all contests, that can go a long way toward determining whether he can actually lock this thing down or whether he's going to have to fight for it on the floor.

BERMAN: Well, at the end of the day, he lost 66 in Ohio, but by winning the way he did in Illinois and leading in Missouri, heck more than make up for that Ohio loss with the delegate pickups he is likely to get in those states.

You know, Josh, what an awful day for the establishment. Yes, John Kasich won in Ohio. But Donald Trump, after all the money that they spent going after him in Florida, all the money they spent trying to, you know, depress his vote totals in other places, too, he wins three, if not four, states today. And the golden boy, the future of the Republican Party, Marco Rubio, he's out.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I think the way that these other campaigns are looking at it is, did Donald Trump improve his chances of getting to that magic number 1237? And if you look at the numbers, these many delegates coming out of the state, these many delegates coming out of that state, he did. He now has a lower threshold in terms of the total number of percentage or number of percentage of votes that he has to get going forward in order to get to that magic number.

So the question for the Republican establishment is a really twofold. One, is there any real benefit for John Kasich to stay in this race? I mean, he doesn't really have a path to the nomination. Can he shave delegates away from Donald Trump by sticking it out? He's going to have to make that case. And I think most Republicans in power will say that it's really better for everybody if he gets out if you're in the never Trump movement.

The second big question is, will all of that money support advertising infrastructure now go to Ted Cruz? Some of it will, some of it won't. But now that it's clear that he's really the only candidate that can stop Trump and no one can say otherwise, the establishment will have to either place all of its chips on him or sit it out for the rest of the cycle.

ROMANS: Dylan Byers, you write that the GOP establishment is in utter chaos tonight.

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA AND POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, they absolutely are. I mean, to be frank, they've been in utter chaos since Iowa and certainly since New Hampshire. But now they're getting down to a point where, you know, they've got Kasich, which is their last worst hope. He has no chance of getting the delegates necessary to win the nomination. And so they're sort of left between the devil they know and the devil they don't know.

The devil they know, of course, is Ted Cruz, who is someone who many members of the GOP establishment can't even stomach. And then they have Donald Trump who, you know, I think for many, not just members of the Republican establishment, but for many Americans they don't really know what he would do when in office. They don't even know what he would do if he became the nominee of the party.

So I think there's a lot of fear and trepidation among the Republican establishment tonight. They don't have a clear horse to bet on. It's not clear who would step in for them at a contested convention or an open convention, as Kasich likes to call it. And yes, Kasich won Ohio, but of course, that's his home state. He's a two-term governor there. You know, we've reached a point in this election where the bar for success is winning your home state unless your last name is Trump or Cruz. I don't see how Kasich has a clear path going forward.

BERMAN: And, Chris Moody, back to the Democratic side right now. It could end up being a five-for-five for Hillary Clinton. She won four states leading in Missouri, this after the dramatic upset in Michigan where people thought she could lose Ohio. Thought Illinois was in jeopardy. Missouri may have been the state for the Sanders people but it looks like right now, you know, Hillary Clinton is at least leading there as well.

[02:10:07] We did not hear from Bernie Sanders tonight, except, you know, in really a paper statement after all of this. But that paper statement says he's fighting until the convention. Is this a genuine fight at this point going forward?

CHRIS MOODY, CNN POLITICS SENIOR DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie Sanders supporters were certainly energized after Michigan. But then the real test, of course, was whether they can pull it off again. And tonight Hillary Clinton came through and said no, you can't. I'm still going to be the presumptive nominee. And I think she really fought for a hard test tonight.

You need to look no further I think than her comments tonight here in West Palm Beach, Florida, talking about not looking back to the primary, not doing more than just mentioning Bernie Sanders, but talking a lot about Donald Trump. Looking forward to the general election.

Tonight, Hillary Clinton was giving a speech as though she were the nominee. She was already laying the ground work for the attacks she and her campaign and her Democratic allies are going to be making on Donald Trump. And certainly looking ahead instead of looking backwards.

And I think in the future contests we have later this month, they are caucus contests and those are the opportunities for perhaps Bernie Sanders to have another big media night. But as the other panelists have mentioned, the math is getting tougher and tougher for him. But I don't see him leaving anytime soon. He's got the grassroots support and the money to stay in if he wants to. The question is, is he going to get the delegates? And it's looking even more difficult.

ROMANS: And his supporters keep pointing out that she stayed in against Barack Obama I think until June, although she had a tighter point spread.

BERMAN: That's a great point. She was -- you know, Barack Obama never led Hillary Clinton by as much as Hillary Clinton is now leading Bernie Sanders.

ROMANS: Yes. Yes. All right. Let's listen to what Hillary Clinton said last night.


CLINTON: Tonight it's clearer than ever that this may be one of the most consequential campaigns of our lifetimes. The next president will walk into the Oval Office next January, sit down at that desk and start making decisions that will affect the lives and the livelihoods of everyone in this country. Indeed everyone on this planet.


ROMANS: There she was, MJ, in Florida, on her way now or maybe home by now in New York. And now she pivots towards sounding like a general election candidate.

LEE: Yes, absolutely. Something that all of the candidates other than Donald Trump have gotten a really good at doing during this cycle is talking about Donald Trump without actually mentioning his name. It was so clear in her victory speech tonight that Hillary Clinton was, in fact, talking about Donald Trump.

She briefly congratulated Sanders for running a vigorous campaign, but she quickly turned to Donald Trump and was talking about how the president has a very difficult job and cannot do that job without trying to bring the country together. And that there is no place in this country for vitriolic language and that the country really needs to come together and the president has to be the force behind that.

When you hear her pivoting to the general election, I think even if her campaign aides and the candidate herself is not saying that this is in the bag yet, I think all of the signals point to a boost in confidence coming out of tonight.

BERMAN: The pivot. She's trying to -- so we've been here the last three Tuesdays talking about how she wanted to pivot. Finally tonight she's trying again. We'll see if she regrets this one as much as she's regretted the last five times but maybe this time finally she turns to the general election.

ROMANS: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Everyone, stick around. There is so much more to discuss.

Donald Trump, the win in Florida was just huge. I mean, hundreds of thousands of votes over Marco Rubio. Knocking Marco Rubio out of the race. Changing the future of the Republican Party. Remember, that was supposed to be Marco Rubio. So what happens now?

We're going to speak to Florida's Republican chairman next.




[02:17:37] TRUMP: I have to say that, number one, I want to congratulate Marco Rubio on having run a really tough campaign. He's tough, he's smart, and he's got a great future. He's got a great future.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: That's the nicest thing Donald Trump has said about Marco Rubio in months. Why? Because he crushed him tonight. Donald Trump won Florida big. Delivering a knockout blow to Marco Rubio who suspended his campaign for president.

So what does it mean for the Republican race going forward? What does it mean for Marco Rubio in Florida?

Joining us now by phone is Blaise Ingoglia. He is the chairman of the Florida Republican Party.

Mr. Chairman, just let's start out by asking, you know, what happened in Florida? I know the polls had been suggesting that Donald Trump was going to win big. But when you see the votes counted, it is still stunning to see, you know, the homegrown native son Marco Rubio lose as badly as he did.

BLAISE INGOGLIA, CHAIRMAN, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY: Yes, it is. You know, when we were looking at these original poll results coming in, we thought the race was going to be a lot tighter because what we've seen over this election cycle is that close primary states came in a lot closer on the final day of election than what the polls were seeing. But this was a big day for Mr. Trump. And we had record, historic turnout here in the state of Florida.

ROMANS: What -- record, historic turnout there. What was the -- what was the driving factor for all of those people coming out? Was it the Donald Trump celebrity? The Donald Trump new candidate, outsider candidate? Was it another issue?

INGOGLIA: I think the overriding issue here was the economy. And somebody wanting to do something about the economy. And that's a referendum on the failed policies of the last seven years of Barack Obama. And people here are really afraid of having Hillary Clinton as president for the next four or eight years, which would mean to them more stagnating economy, more national debt. And unfortunately, that would also mean a 5-4 liberal majority on the Supreme Court. That was a driving factor.

Now I will tell you that in this record turnout that we've had here in the state of Florida we've had a lot of new voters. We've had people turn out the vote that did not vote in 2008 preference primary or the 2012 preference primary. And that all benefited Mr. Trump in the end.

[02:20:02] BERMAN: Mr. Chairman, I don't know if you can see a TV screen right now but we just had a map of Florida to point out that Marco Rubio only won his home county, Miami-Dade County, in the state of Florida. Donald Trump won every single other county. But I want to go back to some of the things you've been saying. You've been saying record turnout. You've been saying new voters. You've been saying Donald Trump excited the voters and drew them largely to the polls.

This is the argument that Donald Trump and his campaign are making. They're saying look, we've started something here. You know, Republicans around the country, the establishment, you shouldn't be afraid of us because we're drawing new people to the polls and we can win in November. So based on what you've seen in your own state, Mr. Chairman, what would you tell all these establishment folks who are so nervous about Donald Trump?

INGOGLIA: The first thing I would say is that Donald Trump is definitely activating a lot of voters that have been dormant and sitting on the sidelines for at least the last two presidential elections. You know, only time will tell if these people are going to come out and cast their votes in the general election. We hope that they would.

Now I would say that if you look at the Republican turnout as compared to the Democrat turnout, we are putting a lot more people during this presidential preference than the Democrats. (INAUDIBLE)

ROMANS: All right. Blaise Ingoglia, we're losing your sound a little bit there. But thank you for joining us.

BERMAN: It's just really interesting to hear the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, again a state -- you know, we don't know, he never supported anybody. It's the Florida Republican Party's policy not to endorse a candidate o another, but Marco Rubio has got thumped there. And the chairman of the Republican Party of that state, you would think he'd be fairly establishment, is acknowledging that Donald Trump is bringing new people to the polls.

ROMANS: How can you not acknowledge. Look at those -- look at the margin of victory for Donald Trump. Something about Donald Trump really captivated those new and returning voters in Florida.

BERMAN: We have some spare time because we lost the chairman. Hopefully we can bring back our panel now.

Alex Burns is sitting here right with us so I'll ask you, Alex. Since you're here, looking at that map. What's the future hold for Marco Rubio?

BURNS: Well look, I think that it was always sort of assumed that he would have some reasonable fallback options if this race didn't work out for him, that there's an open seat governor's race in 2018. It's actually not technically too late for him to file for re-election if he were able to --


BERMAN: It's not too late?

BURNS: It's not too late. The filing deadline is not until later in the spring. So if national Republicans really twisted his arm, maybe they could make the case, although he's made it pretty clear that he's not interested in being in the U.S. Senate.

ROMANS: Doesn't like the job.

BURNS: But, actually, MJ wrote an excellent story on Tuesday just about how this campaign has exposed some of the weaknesses that Rubio has in his home state. Some folks who -- some other folks who are sort of eyeing that governor's race in two years now say that Rubio is not capable of even clearing the field in a Republican primary.

ROMANS: It certainly must be -- I mean, a sting to your reputation, no question.

MJ, I want to get your thoughts on some of that reporting. Let's listen to something that Marco Rubio said last night and talk about it the other side.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While it is not God's plan that I be president in 2016 or maybe ever. And while today my campaign is suspended, the fact that I've even come this far is evidence of how special America truly is. And all the reason more why we must do all we can to ensure that this nation remains a special place.

I ask the American people, do not give into the fear, do not give into the frustration. We can disagree about public policy. We can disagree about it vibrantly, passionately. But we are a hopeful people, and we have every right to be hopeful.


ROMANS: MJ, he has been campaigning so, so hard. You have to wonder what he does tonight. Goes home, pulls the cover over his head and then, you know, that's it.

LEE: Well, he probably will just want to take some time to be with his family, enjoy being at home. Obviously he has been on the road for a really long time. But, you know, the speech was interesting because he made it clear that this year just was not his year. And I think that's an interesting thing that we have been hearing from Republican establishment folks who are pointing to sort of the Donald Trump phenomenon and saying look, how can we blame some of these other candidates for not being able to stand up to Donald Trump?

This phenomenon is truly remarkable and extraordinary. So that was an interesting point from Rubio's speech, I thought. And clearly, he was condemning Trump as well. You know, seizing -- you know, Trump for seizing on sort of the anger and the frustration that has really boiled over this cycle. And he said look, it would have been easier for me politically as well to go down that route but I'm proud that I did not do that.

Now in the state of Florida, in the reporting that I did this week, it's interesting. The Republicans that I spoke to, many of them saying essentially that the state has sort of moved on while Rubio has been out there running for president over the last year.

[02:25:11] That there are many other folks who are now interested in running for that governor's position in 2018, that it's not like Rubio can just suddenly just swoop in and have this -- you know, have -- you know, seize the nomination and just have that be his. And the other important dynamic here to remember as well is the Jeb Bush factor. Remember, Rubio getting in the race in a lot of ways was viewed as a betrayal of Jeb Bush and there are some hard feelings there.

A lot of folks who are Bush loyalists still hanging on to the fact that Rubio challenged him at all. And so all of these factors I think will make sort of his political future, if he decides to pursue another one in Florida, sort of complicate it. But again, I think a lot of people also acknowledge that he's a very politically talented person and that he probably could have another future if he were to pursue, you know, that path again.

BERMAN: Well, we did learn tonight, Chris Moody, the one thing he's not doing, Marco Rubio, is taking phone calls.

ROMANS: That's right.

BERMAN: At least not from Ted Cruz. Our Sunlen Serfaty says that Ted Cruz tried to call Marco Rubio. It went right to voicemail. It could have been that he turned off his cell phone and went to sleep. I mean, honestly.

ROMANS: Or he could have said --

BERMAN: It would be understandable, or he could be screening calls from other presidential candidates. Those are the range of things that could happen. What happened to Marco Rubio voters? And before you laugh and say, well, he finished, you know, in third or fourth place in many states, they don't matter. But look at Missouri. I mean, there's only 1500, 1600 votes separating Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio voters absolutely would have mattered. So going forward, where do they go?

MOODY: Isn't that the great question? We all would love to know. I want to also just emphasize, the map that you've been showing, it's absolutely crazy, the thumping that Trump gave to Rubio. Rubio only winning basically his friends and family. Like his neighborhood. That I think was unexpected, the level of that.

Now the question of where his supporters go, I think a lot of them will go into the whatever, the never Trump pipeline becomes. They could possibly go to Kasich if Kasich can make the case that he's someone who's viable, who could actually make this a front to Donald Trump going forward.

But over the next couple of days, we're really going to find out who's going to be the person, who's going to be the anti-Trump, and Ted Cruz is making a very strong case for that. He's got most delegates. He's won far more states than any -- than Kasich. And so I think both of them are going to be vying for those Rubio votes. Certainly Ted Cruz is trying to make amends for maybe any bad blood during the campaign by making that phone call to Rubio. So I think it's going to be very interesting how they go after it and whether Rubio gets involved in this thing. He certainly did not seem thrilled to be -- with the idea that Donald Trump would be -- possibly the nominee so he's not going to be endorsing him. I think they could do well to try to get his endorsement if you were John Kasich or Ted Cruz, ROMANS: All right. Chris Moody for us in Boynton Beach.

You know, the good people in Florida get their life back now. They get their airwaves back.

BERMAN: They do.


ROMANS: They have this behind.

MOODY: Their phone calls, everything.

ROMANS: No more phone calls.

BERMAN: So, too, with all those states. But for John Kasich, the problem is Ohio only gets to vote once. Right? They voted for him, though, big time on this Super Tuesday on the heels of this big victory, what does he do next? We will hear from him later this morning.

I should tell you, I actually had a chance to interview Ted Cruz after his speech that he gave right there. He had some choice words actually for John Kasich. I'm not really allowed to tell you what they were. But I will tell you they were quite pointed and that interview will air at 5:30 this morning on "NEW DAY."




[02:32:49] BERMAN: John Kasich still in this race. Why? He won Ohio. A big win, 66 delegates. He won his home state beating Donald Trump there and his campaign goes on. He will be in Pennsylvania he says today. And Governor Kasich had a chance to speak with Wolf Blitzer just after this big win in Ohio became official.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, the winner of the Ohio Republican presidential primaries, joining us on the phone right now.

Governor, congratulations on your very important win in your home state of Ohio. I know you're going to be speaking to your supporters soon, but give us your reaction. How excited are you?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we're all very, very happy, Wolf. We run a positive campaign. And one that -- you know, that shows a record of balancing budgets and cutting back, the most important growing job, and leaving no one behind. And I'm just so appreciative of people of Ohio that my third straight statewide win and we got one more to go. We'll have one more to go this fall when we beat Hillary Clinton here because I'm in the best position to beat her. And we're going to get a lot of momentum.

We have a lot of people now joining us who -- they were on the sidelines. They want to come now. I heard Jake Tapper saying he doesn't have any money. I mean, tell Jake I'll have all the money we need, OK? And we also are lining up great political support. And look -- look at these people, how happy they are. And you know what it is? What it is, is it's a real election for somebody that knows how to fix the country, the economy.

That;s what this is about. And we're fired up. I'm going to Philadelphia tomorrow. I think we'll have a great event in Philadelphia. And we're just all thrilled. My wife and my kids are here, my sister-in-law, the whole family, and many, many volunteers.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit about your path forward. Right now you've got all 66 delegates in your home state of Ohio. But walk us through. There's still an enormous number you need to capture the Republican presidential nomination.

KASICH: Yes. Well, there's over 1,000 delegates yet to be selected. And we're going to be working all across this country. Like I say, we're in Pennsylvania tomorrow. We'll be headed to the eastern seaboard.

[02:35:02] I'm going to get into a covered wagon and hope for a big breeze. And we're going to head out to the west and we're going to go out to Colorado and we're going to go to Maryland, by the way, down on the eastern shore. We'll be out in California where I think we'll be very competitive.

And so look, this is the little engine that can. People said we wouldn't be at this place. Said we were not going to be able to make it. So for those people who like the underdog, for that person in the March Madness that can go from the bottom seed all the way up now, there's three of us left, it's pretty cool. So we're excited, Wolf.

BLITZER: Do you think you're going to be able to go all the way to the convention and see what happens at the convention? If no one gets that 1237, that magic number needed to capture the nomination?

KASICH: Yes. Look, I may go to the convention before this is over with more delegates than anybody else. There's 1,000 yet to pick. And look, we've only been paid attention to for about the last two or three weeks. I've had more attention in the last three weeks than I had in the last six months. So people are finally starting to hear the message of success in Washington, balancing the budget, job growth in Ohio, turning it around. Job growth.

And, Wolf, at the same time, all that has happened, we've left no one behind. We helped the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the working poor. I mean, we're proud of what we've done. We want to bring the country together and not divide this country anymore. That's why this was such a big victory tonight because what it does is it says, you want to go and divide them? OK, you came to Ohio, you threw everything you had at me and guess what? It didn't work.

Because we know that we need to unite this country and be Americans and not spend our time dividing people in this country.

BLITZER: Governor Kasich, congratulations. 66 delegates in Ohio. You captured them all. It's a winner-take-all state. Congratulations. We'll see you out there on the campaign trail.

KASICH: Well, we'll see you tonight. I'm going to be out there to make a speech pretty soon to all the supporters. And the people of Ohio, love you. I love you. Fight for you every day.


ROMANS: All right.

BERMAN: I bet you he does love the people of Ohio. There's no question about that right now.

ROMANS: He says it's awesome, although he's on his way to Pennsylvania. No question.

Josh Rogin, our whole team is here. I want to go to Josh Rogin quickly and talk a little bit about the path ahead for John Kasich. There's a big -- a big deficit of delegates for him to be viable here. What does he do next?

ROGIN: Sure. Two really interesting things coming out of that interview with Wolf Blitzer. One, John Kasich is proudly touting his positive campaign which is sort of an indication that his earlier, you know, threats to sort of go negative about Trump, he might be having second thoughts about that. The second thing he said that was really newsworthy was, I will have all the money that I need.

ROMANS: Yes. Plenty of money.

ROGIN: So the question is, need for what, right? I mean, if you look at Rubio dropping out, that frees up a lot of money, a lot of donor infrastructure. But most of them will go to either Ted Cruz or sit on the sidelines. John Kasich will have enough support to keep trudging along but not enough to build a national infrastructure that can really make up the gap. So the question most Republicans I talked to tonight say is, what is he running for? You know, is he running just to be a spoiler? Is he running to make it to the convention or try to -- do something clever in a contested environment? Or maybe he's running to be vice president? You know, any one of those three scenarios could be inside John Kasich's mind tonight.

BERMAN: Well, the math is literally not there. There is not the math for him to get to 1,237 delegates prior to the convention. You have to win 125 percent of all the delegates between now and the convention to do so, Dylan Byers. So the strategy as laid out in a white paper essentially from John Weaver is to get to a convention. And, you know, it's to win a contested convention. Is John Kasich that type of candidate?

BYERS: Well, no. Frankly, he's not. You know, it's very enticing to try and think about this sort of late Kasich surge because, you know, all of a sudden he's the last candidate standing for the GOP establishment. It's certainly true that well, Donald Trump has a commanding lead the majority of Republican voters have voted against Donald Trump because they voted for another candidate. The problem that Kasich has is that the candidate they tend to vote for is Ted Cruz.

I think what's really going on here is that throughout -- for the last nine months especially since the voting started in Iowa, the Republican establishment has failed to see that the majority of Republican voters do not want the establishment pick. And, you know, it's too early to predict what's going to happen, but it seems hard to see how at some point they don't have to come around with the prospect of siding with Ted Cruz as a means of standing in the way of Donald Trump.

BERMAN: All right, Dylan Byers, panel, thanks so much.

Later today let me note that I will talk to Senator Ted Cruz. A little secret, I already did talk to him. But it's embargoed until about 5:30 Eastern Time. I asked him, is he going to reach out to the Republican establishment? What are his plans to fight at the convention? You might be surprised by some of those answers.

[02:40:05] Also Donald Trump will be on "NEW DAY." That's beginning at 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

ROMANS: All right, coming up, a huge night for Hillary Clinton winning four states. And Missouri still up for grabs here. What does it mean for Bernie Sanders and the Democratic race? We focused on the Dems next.



ROMANS: No Michigan miracle tonight for Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton wins the primaries in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Illinois, 4-4. Missouri could make it 5-5. That race simply way, way too close to call. And we're told that they won't be done counting ballots for days. Still in the Democratic race, is this essentially over here? Is this Clinton's nomination?

Our whole panel here is back. I want to go first to you, Dylan. It looks as though Hillary Clinton managed to fend off that Hillary Clinton is too tarnished by free trade deals to be the shepherd of the middle class. She fended that off.

BYERS: Right, absolutely. And if Bernie Sanders was going to make the case that he still had a shot at the nomination, he was going to do so by -- by working off of that Michigan miracle momentum and picking up more states in the rustbelt. You know, he was polling behind Hillary Clinton in Ohio, but not by as much as he was polling behind her going into Michigan. He looked like he could do well in Illinois. Now in Missouri it looks like it's going to be an effective tie.

[02:45:02] And if she edges him out, even if, you know, they split the delegates, the case can be made -- certainly the narrative will be that she really has all the momentum. And it's really hard to see how, after winning Ohio, after winning Florida, wrapping up the south, you know, stopping him in the Midwest, it's really hard to see how Bernie Sanders has a shot at this thing.

And I think what happens now is he continues to run to advance his agenda, to try and keep Hillary Clinton, you know, to the left before she pivots too strong toward the general.

BERMAN: You know, and he's had some success running on his agenda and he's been able to move a lot of the discussion in this entire race toward his agenda.

MJ, I'm going to commit a sin in TV. I'm going to look backwards a little bit here. How is it that Hillary Clinton so stunningly lost Michigan when no one was expecting it, yet seems to have been able to go 5-5 overnight when no one was expecting it? I mean, deep down inside, everyone thought she was in trouble in Ohio and that Missouri may be her worst state. It looks like she's even eked out a victory there. At least she's ahead there right now. So how was she able to pull this off?

LEE: Right. I mean, even just purely in terms of optics for Hillary Clinton to win Ohio tonight was so, so important because of the fact that she unexpectedly lost Michigan last week. I mean, it's hard to believe that that was just a week ago when all of us on this show were trying to dissect, you know, all of the reasons why she lost Michigan, maybe that she had moved on too fast to the general election. Clearly she had not campaigned hard enough throughout the state where, you know, Sanders was really cris-crossing the state and making the calls.

And I think, you know, her victory showed that she, you know, at the base of it has support that she can draw on across the base. She has obviously a strong ground operation. And all of these things can come to fruition in an evening like this.

I thought it was interesting. Her communications director telling reporters tonight that they clearly do expect her to be the nominee. But they're not willing to say that it's in the bag. So I think even still, even after a very good night, they want to remain humble and not get ahead of themselves, probably because they are, you know, still thinking about Michigan and last week.

ROMANS: Well, you know, Alex, it's interesting because team Clinton would not say that, you know, it's time for Bernie Sanders to step aside but they clearly have a delegate lead and they really had a great night last night. They do think they had a great night last night. But in part, maybe they're in a kind of difficult position because, you know, Hillary Clinton stayed in the race with Barack Obama all the way until June last time.

BURNS: She did. And she did ultimately lose. So we don't want to sort of overstate or overindulge the sort of Sanders campaign's theory of the case here, but at this point the calendar is Bernie Sanders' friend. That the states coming up tend to be places like Utah, Wisconsin, Washington state, that looks like contests he has won in the past. So you do have this sort of odd dynamic on the Democratic side where it is clearer than ever that Hillary Clinton is the prohibitive favorite to be the Democratic nomination, but she's going to have to lose a bunch of times in order to get there.

And I think we'll just sort of have to watch her -- just sort of body language and sort of rhetorical presentation for how she deals with those contests which are ultimately almost certain to be really minor trivial setbacks.

BERMAN: So we know that Hillary Clinton won four out of five contests last night. In Missouri -- if we can throw that up there, Missouri, she is ahead right now. She is leading. CNN is not going to be able to declare a winner in this race. Not tonight, maybe not tomorrow. Because they have to count the provisional ballots and the absentees. But she is leading there. And it's all proportional for the Democrats. So for them, it may not matter so much if it shifts, you know, half a point this way or that way.

Josh, you know, on the Democratic side, another thing that they have as unique is these super delegates, right? And Hillary Clinton leads with the super delegates, too. These are party officials who pledge their loyalty and vote for a candidate at a convention. And she's got a lot more of them lined up than Bernie Sanders. Part of his path to victory, if there is one, is to convince somehow these super delegates to get over to his side. You know, any sign that he can do that or even has a strategy to do that?

ROGIN: Right. I mean, what we have to say here is that super delegates are pledged, not promised. They can change their minds. That's within their rights. But there's a ground truth here is that having not played the super delegate strategy well in 2008, for the last eight years, the Clinton machine has been rounding up super delegates, you know, trading favors, doing all sorts of things to make sure that if it actually came down to super delegates that the vast majority would come out on Hillary Clinton's side.

And they've done that. So I don't think that Bernie Sanders can claim a real actionable strategy for peeling off those super delegates. Of course, right, that's what the super delegates are there for, to help the establishment candidate against a popular insurgency. I bet the Republican Party is wishing they had a few of those right about now.



[02:50:01] BERMAN: But it is worth noting. On the Democratic side, even without the super delegates, Hillary Clinton is extending her delegate lead, more than 300 right now. And that gap very hard, very hard to close that.

All right. Guys, stand by. Coming up, much more on the Democratic side. How does Hillary Clinton now shift her strategy? How much will she focus on Donald Trump? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: All right. Hillary Clinton winning at least four states on this Super Tuesday and may win Missouri as well. You're looking at the results right now from Missouri. Actually 100 percent precincts reporting. 1500 votes separate Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. We're not going to get a final call on this tonight. She is leading there. But they need to look at the absentee and provisional ballots to make it all official.

I want to bring in Chris Moody right now.

Chris, Hillary Clinton, turning her focus to Donald Trump. How much do you think she'll do that going forward? What are the risks there for her and maybe taking the eye off the ball when it comes to Bernie Sanders?

MOODY: Well, earlier -- last night in her speech in West Palm Beach, Florida -- yes, we didn't get sleep tonight. We've been up. But in her speech, we did see her train or lay the groundwork for the attacks that we will see from the Democratic campaign, whether it's her or Bernie Sanders, against Donald Trump if he is the nominee. And it's going to be fierce and I think we're going to see more of Hillary Clinton doing that, at least hinting toward it, or at least wanting to, pointing, looking forward instead of backwards.

[02:55:10] She did give a nod to Bernie Sanders saying I believe that he had ran a vigorous campaign, which was kind of her saying, OK, that was fine, now let's move on. But that's not necessarily going to happen at least here in the short term. As we talked about in the panel a few moments ago, the next few contests look very good out west, caucus states, for Bernie Sanders. Could give him a little bit of a media bump. He also still has a lot of money left over.

And I was just reading a Politico story actually saying that his campaign plans to make a former outreach effort to the super delegates to try to bring them over to his side. Now that's a long shot effort.


MOODY: But it is certainly showing that he has a plan going forward that's going to keep him in the race for a while.

ROMANS: But, MJ, let's talk about the math. Even if he has some friend states, even if he can get more delegates, even if he does well, you know, the math is in Hillary Clinton's favor, no question.

LEE: Yes. Definitely. This is not a situation where the race is so close that Sanders has a very good chance of catching up to Hillary Clinton. I mean, I think with all of, you know, these races taking place after every night, we see Hillary Clinton moving closer and closer to being the nominee and really getting ahead in the delegate math.

But I think clearly the Sanders campaign is making it clear that they will not get out of the race. They intend to stay in the race for the long haul. I mean, look at what Jeff Weaver, Sanders strategist, said just tonight or last night, I should say, saying look, these are the states that we are targeting heading into next week. These are the states where we are going to --

BERMAN: Right.

LEE: -- continue, you know, running TV ads.

BERMAN: Which is all the states going forward for Jeff Weaver.

ROMANS: Thanks, MJ. Thank you, guys.

BERMAN: All right. Guys, stick around, there's a lot more to discuss from this Super Tuesday on this magnificent Wednesday. EARLY START right after the break.