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CNN Projects Trump Wins South Carolina, Nikki Haley Vows To Stay In Race; Putin's War: Ukraine Marks Two Years Since Russia's Invasion. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 24, 2024 - 22:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In South Carolina this evening, Donald Trump has extended his 2020 for winning streak with an overwhelming victory in the state's Republican presidential primary. Trumps solidifying his status as the party's expected nominee and delivering a powerful blow to his last remaining rival, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

But Haley is sticking to her vowed to fight on despite being trounced on her home turf.

If you're just joining us, I'm Jake Tapper with our special coverage of this first GOP primary in the south in 2024.

Let's take a look at the vote right now. With 86 percent of the vote in from the South Carolina Republican primary, Donald Trump is ahead with 60 -- 6-0 percent of the vote, 385,207 votes. That's more than 132,000 votes, more than two-time Governor Nikki Haley of the same state, who has 39.4 percent of the vote, 252,971 votes.

Now let's listen to what we've heard from Trump and Haley this evening speaking to their supporters a little while ago. Here's Trump focusing on his anticipated rematch with President Biden and Haley insisting she's in the fight to the bitter end.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're both friends and we're going to be up here on November 5th and we're going to look at Joe Biden and we're going to look him right in the eye. He's destroying our country and we're going to say, Joe, you're fired, get out!

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the next 10 days, another 21 states and territory this will speak. They have the right to a real choice, not a Soviet style election with only one candidate.


TAPPER: Trump's victory this evening means he is taking the lion's share of South Carolinas 50 delegates based on the vote so far he's gaining at least 38 delegates. Haley currently, according to our tabulation, has no delegates from South Carolina. That is widening of course, Trumps delegate lead over Haley and the rivals he forced out of the race already ahead of the delegate rich Super Tuesday contests ten days from now.

Let's go to John King at the magic wall now. John, tell us what we're seeing here when it comes to the remaining votes that were waiting for.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, what we know, Jake, is overwhelming as you just laid out, both from a count -- the vote counts and percentages and the delegates. Let's see if we can answer the remaining questions or at least gives some clues.

Again, most of the boats in. We're up to 86 percent of the vote, 60 percent to 39 percent. The former governor twice elected in the state of South Carolina, losing by 20 plus points in her home state.

If you look right here at the map right now, right now, she is winning three, winning leading in just three of the state's 46 counties. One of them where she's running most impressive is down here in Charleston County. And I mentioning this, I'll come back to why in just a moment, 62 percent there if you round it up. So as we wait for the final votes to come in.

Donald Trump's going to win South Carolina tonight. He has won South Carolina tonight. He will win it convincingly.

The question is, does Nikki Haley get anything does she get any delegates at all out of her home state? Just come over here quickly this way and take a look. This is where we are at the full count right now, but we still have a few more allocated in South Carolina.

Let me just pop it up this way to take a look. We've awarded already allocated 38 to Donald Trump of the 50, which least 12, that means for congressional districts that we're not comfortable calling just yet, we're counting more votes, a couple of them are pretty close. So there's 12 delegates, 12 delegates, three for each of those four congressional districts.

Now, as we try to figure out the only mystery left tonight, where do those 12 delegates go? Let's see if the map offers us any clues. This is your full map. You see the lines you're seeing right now follow along because what I'm about to do could be a little confusing. But these lines are county lines.

These are the seven congressional districts. You see, it's a little different if you realize. So I'm going to draw it down here. This is the one were following most closely. That is, where Governor Haley seems to be in play.

That is the first congressional district, right? A little rough. My lines are not perfect, but you see them along the lines of the area of the district. Why did I do that?

We're looking here at the district vote and Trump is leading right now in the first congressional district. The question is, is it possible for Nikki Haley to get three or six delegates by winning one or two congressional districts?


This is the one I think we might be counting for, for a while. And let me show you why.

Let's come back now to the countywide votes. We have the countywide votes, you see within this district the green line. She's winning in Charleston County and she's winning in Buford County down here. But you see there's also some Trump country in this district. So in Berkeley County, Trump is winning with 59 percent of the vote.

In Charleston County, Governor Haley is running with about 62 percent of the vote. We come down here to view for she's running with 55 percent of the vote and there's this tiny slice right here, of Colleton County in there, where Trump is winning with 70 percent of the vote.

So that's what makes it complicated. The district has a big area where Governor Haley is leading, and it has some healthy areas were Donald Trump is running it up big, which is why it gets a little more complicated as you go through it. So if you look at it, if you take the lines away and you look, you say, Governor Haley's winning down here, but when you lay in the congressional tunnel map, Trumps competitive. He is currently leading.

The possibility is what's out, right? That's always at this time at night, you're saying what's out? Well, here's your live outstanding votes. The bigger the circle, the more votes were still waiting to count.

Up here in the Greenville area, that's your biggest circle. Is it possible, Governor Haley could get a bunch of votes up there? There's a congressional district right there. It's possible, but why is that circle red? Because Donald Trump at the moment is leading in that area.

You see down here, that's the first congressional district, the one where I said is possible, emphasis on possible, Governor Haley wins the one district down here because you see the big circle of outstanding votes there. Jake, where she's running strong.

So still more votes to count, but we know the top line. Trump wins, Trump wins big in Haley's home state, the only question now is, does he get all 50 or does she get three or six of those delegates?

TAPPER: All right. John King, thanks so much.

Let's check in now with CNN's Kristen Holmes. She's at Trump headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina.

And, Kristen, how much harder will be Trump -- will Trump be pivoting to the general election now that he has had this resounding victory in Governor Haley's home state?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, I want to be clear here. He is going to pivot to the general election, but this is not some kind of messaging pivot. It's not as though he's going to change who he is as a human being. But we're talking about a rather big campaign pivot. They want to focus on where they need to be for a general election or potential general election rematch with President Joe Biden.

That means talking about where they can build out their campaign apparatus, particularly in those critical swing states. We're talking about Michigan as well as Arizona and Georgia. They are going to start having these conversations stations as to how to make an actual general election campaign.

And the other part of this is a Donald Trump is still very annoyed frustrated. He is vented privately that Nikki Haley remains in the race. He's annoyed after tonight that she's still in the race and his advisers have told him time and time again to focus that ire on President Joe Biden. They want to make this about Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

But one senior advisor acknowledged that will likely be difficult as they themselves have to have -- has had to remind Donald Trump time and time again to ignore Nikki Haley.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks so much.

Lets go to Priscilla Alvarez now who's at the White House for us.

And, Priscilla, what is the Biden's campaigns reaction to Donald Trumps big historic victory in South Carolina this evening?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Jake, were getting a statement from the campaign just minutes ago where there was sounding message here is still about the threat that they say former President Donald Trump poses if he were to win a second term.

I'm going to read you part of the statement here. It says every free day, we are reminded of the thread Donald Trump poses to our future as Americans grapple with the damage he left behind. The campaign here goes on to note, Roe versus Wade, the economy and later goes on to say, we all have more to do to push towards a more perfect union. But Trump wants to take us backwards.

Now Jake, soon after former President Donald Trump was projected the winner in South Carolina primary, the Biden campaign was already fundraising and saying that he was positioned to be the GOP nominee and the campaign looking for contributions to shore up support for President Biden. And that was really the thought going into this evening and talking to campaign officials. This was just another moment. They said that confirmed what they already knew that former President Donald Trump is going to be the GOP nominee, and that is exactly what they are preparing for.

In fact, sources tell CNN that President Biden has directed his senior campaign aides to focus more and more aggressively on the former presidents inflammatory rhetoric and we're already seeing that come to life with the statements they're putting out about the former presidents remarks about NATO, as well as on reproductive freedoms.

Now, I will also note, Jake, we did see the president earlier this evening. He gave remarks to governors who are here for a black-tie dinner. He said that politics has gotten too bitter. Now he did talk about the South Carolina primary, but it is a bitter and tight race that his campaign is preparing for come November.

TAPPER: All right. Priscilla Alvarez at the White House for us.


And joining us now here in studio, key supporter of former Governor Nikki Haley's presidential campaign, New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu, who has shed his black tie.


TAPPER: Dress it down for us. We appreciate it.

SUNUNU: It was a heck of a car ride over the black side, just wasn't going coming out the window.

TAPPER: For those who don't know, the governor was obviously at the black tie event, at the White House, were all Democrats and Republican governors from across the country were participating.

Governor, let me just ask you bluntly why is Nikki Haley still in this race? She has not won a contest yet. She just got trounced in her home state. However much, you like her, support her, want her to be present and want her to be the nominee. The Republican voters in this country don't agree.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Republican voters in three states so far don't agree. Forty-seven to go.

TAPPER: Four states, Nevada.

SUNUNU: Oh, we're counting Nevada? Really? Great job, Nevada.

No, there's Super Tuesday to go. There's a lot of opportunity here, where we are a party where I don't believe Nikki doesn't believe -- most Republicans don't believe that just some party elites in a few state should dictate the nominee.

So, you know, she has done what no other candidate could do, which is wipe everybody out of the race, challenge him in New Hampshire, come to South Carolina, and again, challenge here, hopefully collect the delegates as you go. She has a multimillion dollar ad buy going forward in the next 16 states into Super Tuesday.

She's going to challenge him in Michigan as well. So I think there's still a lot of opportunity. After Super Tuesday, I think the campaign will probably reassess and say, okay, where do we go? Where do we pivot as every campaign will do? But this is about the voters, the voters decide where they should go

and folks want a choice. Forty percent is nothing to shrug and it's really not. A lot of folks said that this is going to be an absolute runaway and all that.

And again, Nikki Haley never had to win any of these early states. The early states are all about filtering and she filtered this field down faster than anybody.

So, to get the 40 percent to carry that momentum, to have the resources to do it. If she had no resource and can no backing, that would be one thing. But there's a lot of folks still coming out. There's a lot of opportunity on Super Tuesday.

BASH: But she has to win something, right?

SUNUNU: Sure. Oh, no, absolutely. I think everybody would agree on that.

BASH: Does she have to win a state or multiple states in -- on Super Tuesday?

SUNUNU: I think if you don't win anything on Super Tuesday, it might be tough going for it, obviously, I think you'd have to look at the resources. What the next states are, what those demographics are, what the opportunity is. But that'll all be here. We assessed efforts after Super Tuesday, but she's on the ground. She's making the case.

She's -- I think the big thing that the Haley campaign is doing very well is they're trying to galvanize new voters out, new Republicans that typically don't vote. They're galvanizing about there, having them participate in the process and making sure again that this is decided in the ballot box, not in the media, not by the RNC, not by party elites.

That's just -- that's not the right process. It's a Democratic process to make sure you carry it all the way through.

TAPPER: I want to quickly go to CNN's Kylie Atwood, who is at Haley headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina.

And, Kylie, you're getting some new information about what Governor Haley is doing after tonight's disappointing results for her. What is she up to?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Well, Nikki Haley's campaign was busy reaching out to donors less than an hour after she gave her speech here, telling them that they're going to be ten fundraising events over the course of the next ten days or so, listing out those fundraisers in these Super Tuesday states that they're urging donors to attend and they're saying in this email to those donors that Nikki Haley defied the odds, that she has done better than the pundits expected her to calling former President Trump a de facto incumbent.

So they're trying to cast South Carolina as something that's sort of in the rearview mirror. She's headed on. She's trying to raise more money. Of course, there are a few things that we have to look at. There's a few questions we don't know the answers to how much is she going to raise during the course of these next ten donor events.

We really don't know. We do know that the minimum amount that donors can give to get in the door with Nikki Haley at those is $1,000. That isn't such a high amount so appears maybe they're trying to expand the tent.

But the other thing is that she had her most successful month of fundraising in January, but still she wasn't able to win here in South Carolina. So, of course, Jake, money isn't everything, but she has money in the bank. She's probably going to keep her campaign alive.

TAPPER: All right. Kylie Atwood in Charleston, thanks so much.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Governor Sununu, I just want wonder. I mean, Nikki Haley tonight said what she said in the past, which is that she thinks Donald Trump would lose to Joe Biden. She thinks that he's a divisive candidate, all of that. What message does it send to voters if after saying all of that, if she is not the nominee, she ultimately ends up supporting Donald Trump.

SUNUNU: Again, that's not even entering Nikki Haley's head or the campaigns mind right now. That's a hypothetical. That's a post-Super Tuesday, post result --


PHILLIP: I mean, shouldn't it enter --

SUNUNU: No, absolutely not.

PHILLIP: -- because she's making a case that this guy who looks likely to be the nominee cannot win. So then if she turns around and then says, hey, but I endorse him -- I mean, don't you think that that's confusing? Maybe --

SUNUNU: No, no, not at all for two things. Number one, if a candidate is wondering what they're going to say if and when they lose, then that would be a problem. I guarantee you. Nikki Haley's not thinking like that at all, nor should she be.

Primaries are always hard fought. I mean, you had 13 candidates in the race. A lot of them lost to Donald Trump already, right? And some of them have gotten behind some, some haven't. So, you -- that's kind of hypothetical down the road. Her job is to say I'm going to raise money, I'm going to fight hard. I'm going to make sure the voters have a say.

If you want to worry about hypotheticals three weeks from now, we can deal with those hypotheticals then. But right now, all Nikki Haley is worrying about is how to keep, keep that momentum going, keep people excited, and making sure that folks aren't giving up and they are getting out the vote.

The challenge with Donald Trump is the RNC is practically broke, leadership is leaving like literally in a week or something like that. He drags down the rest of the ballot. Republicans want winners all the way down. Even if President Trump were to win, there's no doubt were probably going to lose the House and the Senate and governorships and all that. That's the case that she's really out there making.

She's connecting with people about their school board seats in their local seats. She kind of puts all -- kinds of throws gasoline on the fire in a very positive way for the entire Republican Party. It's a tough argument to make when you're effectively running against the incumbent, but she's the one fighting the fight.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But why is it electability argument not gaining traction among Republican voters? And I guess if you broaden it out, was it a mistake not to go after him on his liabilities like the 91 criminal charges he's facing, his role in January 6. She shies away from that for the most part, talks about chaos, or Donald is a chaos, but does not seize on some of the very serious criminal allegation. Is that a mistake?

SUNUNU: No. Look, anyone who's who says that her strategy is a mistake -- I -- she's the last one standing. So clearly she did something that all those other candidates probably should have --

RAJU: Yeah. I mean, think of the state of the race and still lose, losing as much she is, though.

SUNUNU: No, they couldn't. They were all -- they all got wiped out. There's a reason she was -- she did well in Iowa. She did very well in New Hampshire. Everyone else got wiped out. Her strategy is where it's gotten.

And she's gone after Trump hard over the last month. I mean, really, really hard in the exact right way. But as a candidate, you want to talk about what you're bringing to the table, going against an incumbent is tough. Going against the establishment is tough and again, when it comes to what is driving that result, you guys will talk about Trump say his name, 1,000 times on every media station, every single night.

He is winning the earned media war because that's all you guys talk about. Nikki has to ---

TAPPER: He's tried in four courtrooms.

SUNUNU: That's right.

TAPPER: I mean, that's why were covering.

SUNUNU: That's right.


SUNUNU: He plays the victim card. PHILLIP: He's winning the earned media war because he's also winning.

I think that's fundamentally what I'm curious about is, if Nikki Haley's staying in the race, what is she trying to accomplish when it comes to voters, if not beating Donald Trump?

SUNUNU: She's trying to get more voters than Donald Trump, and it's not --

PHILLIP: So if that's the case, where is she going to win?

SUNUNU: On Super Tuesday, she's going to do the ad buy. She's going to hit the ground. She's going to go galvanize these voters were very little campaigning has actually been done, very little campaigning has even hit the ground in a lot of these states.

So she's -- again, she has the resources to do it. She has the ability. She's way better on the ground.

Trump come in and do his rallies and get people hyped up. I mean, Trump looks forward to the trials at this point, because he gets to play that victim card. And again, the media plays that up.

So at the end of the day, there's a lot of Republican voters that look, they're tired of whether its again, present company excluded, whether its liberal media, pushing back on Republicans or the liberal establishment, or they feel like the trials are attacks or whatever they might be.

But people are just making a vote very often for the former president, simply on connecting with anger because they're tired of the, quote/unquote, liberals of Washington standing on the shoulders of hardworking Americans, folks that the defendant in this country, and their single -- the enemy of my enemy is my friend. That's it. Nikki is trying to get past that --

BASH: Governor, I want to go back -- I want to go back to the beginning of this conversation. You did come from the White House.


BASH: You're not wearing your tuxedo anymore. Did you get some face- time with the president?

SUNUNU: I did. We had a conversation.

BASH: And?

SUNUNU: Well, I graciously congratulated him on his win in the first- in-the-nation primary which he laughed at, he got, which he did win. I know he tried to steal the first nation primary from New Hampshire. It didn't work.

So I think we kind of made the point. He knew that was probably a bad --

BASH: And what was what was the vibe like in the room with all the governors --

SUNUNU: It's very positive, but governors get along very well, right?

BASH: What about with the president?

SUNUNU: Oh, it was very positive. Yeah. Yeah. With the first lady was there. The vice president was there. The president was there.

We had a nice conversation. Some of the secretaries were there. We spent some time with the secretaries.

I tried to squeeze in a little businesses as best I could. This is a week where at National Governors Association where we really governors really agree on, I think a lot of the issues might be not the strategies around these issues, but a lot of the issues that are important. Immigrations, the number one, Democrats and Republicans all agree immigration is the number one issue. Something has to be done.

They all agree that this bill probably isn't going to pass. So the big question of the White House is, so what's plan b? What's next? You got to do something right? And we got into some details there.

That was a little bit yesterday morning as opposed to tonight.


But again, spending some time with the EPA administrator or some of the various secretaries, I sat next to the secretary of agriculture tonight. While I'm not from a big ag state, we talked just a lot about the dynamics of what's facing folks.

So it's a good opportunity to be social, but also kind of get the feel of folks, but it's all very positive.

BASH: No other T on the president.

SUNUNU: You have to buy the book.

TAPPER: All right. Governor Chris Sununu, good to see you. Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate it.

We're tracking the vote totals as ballots are counted across South Carolina. Nikki Haley hoping to pull closer to Donald Trump despite losing tonight in her home state. Where will the final margin lands?

A lot more ahead. Stay with us.


TAPPER: And we have another key race alert for you now. Let's look at the big board with 89 percent of the vote in, Donald Trump is ahead, 59.9 percent of the vote. He has 397,524 votes. He is more than 135,000 votes ahead of two-time Governor Nikki Haley, who has 39.4 percent of the vote, 261,731 votes. That's roughly been the dynamic for the last couple of hours, roughly 60/40 Trump.

Joining us now to discuss, key supporter of the Biden-Harris reelection campaign, Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois.

First, Governor, your reaction to this resounding Trump victory in South Carolina. Do you think this is now officially a Trump-Biden rematch?

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D), ILLINOIS: I do. We are finally in the battle, the head-to-head battle between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. It's clear though that Donald Trump has a problem of 40 percent problem. His base isn't behind him, 40 percent of it anyway, and we saw this its an Iowa to 50 percent of his base, not with Donald Trump.

So he's got a real problem going into this head-to-head match and this is a great night for Joe Biden. It shows the division in the Republican Party and the fact that finally, finally were going to get down to this battle between these two individual candidates.

TAPPER: Well, with all due respect, sir, I mean, in terms of a 40 percent problem in Joe Biden, President Biden's approval rating is under 40 percent. And in terms of head-to-head, most of the polls I've seen suggests that Donald Trump would win in a head-to-head match up and then include state-by-state polls in places such as Michigan.

Aren't you worried?

PRITZKER: Well, we haven't had a head-to-head battle yet. The truth of the matter is that Donald Trump also has a low approval rating and low favorability.

Look, the American public coming out of COVID, dealing with inflation, lots of things on peoples minds, haven't really focused on the head- to-head battle yet because you've got a lot of noise going on on the Republican side. Like I said tonight, you're seeing that this is the beginning of the general election battle.

TAPPER: So you are in Las Vegas, Nevada. You spoke at an event today pushing to add an amendment protecting abortion rights to the 2024 in Nevada ballot. How central is that issue of abortion rights to the Democratic strategy for November, to get voters out to vote for that and then the hope being from Democratic strategists and folks like yourself that then they will turn out and also vote for President Biden.

Its a strategy that Republicans used successfully in 2,000 for to get people to turn out to vote for George W. Bush, except then it was about an amendment declaring marriage to only be between a man and a woman. But how central is this to the strategy of getting out the vote for Democrats?

PRITZKER: Well, fighting for reproductive rights is what Joe Biden, Kamala Harris have been all about. And the fact that there are amendments on the ballot across the United States is going to be good for turnout. There's no doubt about it.

It's good for Democrats. It's good for people who are standing up for women's rights and freedom, and bad for Donald Trump and the Republicans who want a national abortion ban. And you saw what happened in Alabama. You know, court rulings that are a direct outgrowth of the decision by the Republicans to go hard against women's reproductive rights.

So, now, you cant even get IVF. Think about the way in which they are insidiously going after women. This is going to be a problem for Republicans throughout this election cycle. And its Democrats and Joe Biden that are demonstrating that were the ones standing up for their rights in their freedom.

BASH: Governor Dana Bash, I want to ask about an upcoming Democratic primary in Michigan, your neighboring state. And the concerns that many Democrats have about the strategy by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and others to urge voters to vote undecided, undeclared. And so that would send a message they hoped to President Biden that he needs to pay attention to their concerns, uncommitted rather.

So the question is how concerned are you about what is going on in Michigan and what that says about Joe Biden and where he stands with the Democratic Party and the coalition he needs.

PRITZKER: Look, the demonstrators, protesters have a lot of passion and compassion and want there to be a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas and so does Joe Biden and indeed is working very, very, very hard to make sure that there is a real direct negotiation going on to release hostages and see a cessation of hostilities.


Unfortunately, Hamas has been unwilling to actually complete those negotiations. And I know that Joe Biden cares deeply about this.

Now, let me be clear. I think that there are passions on all sides here and that will probably be demonstrated in some way in Michigan in this primary. But in the end, what I think people really understand is that do you think things would be better if Donald Trump were the president of the United States? Think about what his reaction has been to this? He doesn't have any solutions to the problem of Iran actually stoking the attacks on Americans or stoking the attacks on our allies.

And Joe Biden is the one trying to manage through this war, as well as the war in Ukraine -- and between Ukraine and Russia.

BASH: Governor Pritzker, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it

PRITZKER: Great to talk to you.

TAPPER: Thanks, Governor.

Votes are still coming in from South Carolina, giving us a clearer idea of where the final margin will land. Next, were going to check back with our Michigan focus group ahead of the primary coming this Tuesday. A lot more ahead.

Stay with us.




Donald Trump big winner in tonight's Republican presidential primary in South Carolina, a huge blow to the state's former governor, Nikki Haley, in her own backyard certainly.

We're talking to Republican voters about tonight's results in the next primary battleground state Michigan.

I want to go back to Gary Tuchman in Detroit with voters planning to take part in Michigan Republican primary three days from now -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we've been honored to be watching CNN South Carolina primary coverage with Michiganders who are American veterans, Vietnam veterans, Iraq veterans, Afghanistan veterans. Two Republicans right here, two Democrats right here. The man in the middle, the people in the back, all say they're independent.

Show of hands after watching the coverage, who's ready to vote for Trump in the primary Tuesday, raise your hand.

One, two, three, four, five.

Who's ready to vote for Biden and the Democratic primary?

One, two.

Who's ready to vote for Nikki Haley at a Republican primary?

One, two. We have a little splitter.

A question for you to independents in the back, these gentlemen in the back is Jeff and Cory.

Jeff and Cory, do you think Nikki Haley has a shot of getting this nomination?


TUCHMAN: A good shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slim, but I think so.

TUCHMAN: You go to Vegas on at Cory?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wouldn't go to Vegas on it. Wouldn't go to Vegas on it.

TUCHMAN: Okay. So I think most of you think is most likely to be Biden against Trump. Okay.

You two folks in the back here, both of you, you, Sal and Poncho, by the way, where did you serve?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iraq, 2003, '04.

TUCHMAN: Poncho, you're a friend and family members, veterans?


TUCHMAN: What would it take for you to switch your vote from Trump to Biden in the general election?


TUCHMAN: Not a chance at all?


TUCHMAN: Anything at all.


TUCHMAN: What about if Trump is convicted of crimes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That it's a kangaroo court.

TUCHMAN: Kangaroo. All the -- all these different cases, you feel the same way?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. I would just not vote in that scenario.

TUCHMAN: You two gentlemen, what would it take for you to vote for Trump instead of Biden?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a snowball in hell.

TUCHMAN: Not a snowball in hell?


TUCHMAN: Why do you say that way?


TUCHMAN: Okay. This is Gitmo and this is Bill.

Tell us where did you serve, Gitmo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I served in Vietnam.

TUCHMAN: Okay. And Bill?


TUCHMAN: What about, you know, chance at all, even switch?



Do you have any problem with the age of Joe Biden where the age of Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Age is no matter. No.

TUCHMAN: Okay. What about you two folks, both of you Republicans? What would it take for you to switch your vote for Joe Biden? What do you think? How do you think he's done as president United States right now?


TUCHMAN: How come you're laughing?


TUCHMAN: Why? Why do you say that though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he cant remember his own wife's name, you can't -- forget how to ride a bicycle, fall of going up the stairs, doing a lot -- and you're most about the same age group, and one is sharper a pencil and his guy talk to an invisible man, shake his hand, the invisible man, I got a problem.

TUCHMAN: Everyone does make -- Donald Trump makes mistakes, too, when he speaks.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I do. I just am not for any of his policies at and any of his philosophy of how America should be run.

TUCHMAN: I want to ask our Democrats here. Are you going to be voting for Biden on Tuesday primary?


TUCHMAN: Are you voting for him also?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've already voted.

TUCHMAN: You've done early voting.


TUCHMAN: And you expect him to be the next president of the United States?


TUCHMAN: What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still wonder.

TUCHMAN: You still wonder. Why is that, Bill? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not sure who's going to be the president. We


TUCHMAN: One question I want to ask all of you because you're all -- you're all part of the military and the question regards Donald Trump to South Carolina recently. He mocked Nikki Haley. He was talking about her husband, Michael Haley, and he said what happened to her husband, where is he? He's gone.

Well, her husband is a soldier in the National Guard and was deployed to Africa. What people consider that a very significant insult to a military member. How did that make you feel as a Democrat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, as bad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the same way with well, the Republican, McCain.

TUCHMAN: Well, John McCain before he died and after he died was --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He talks about him, too.

TUCHMAN: Yeah. I want to ask, you're an independent for Trump?


How do you feel about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a question and a thing to ask. I mean, you know, where is her husband -- where is he supposed to be? Where he supposed to be is on duty.

TUCHMAN: I want to thank all of you for talking to us and once again, thank you for your service to this country





TUCHMAN: Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Gary, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Back now with the panel here in New York.

What -- I mean, let's talk about this general election. You got -- I mean, if it's a rematch of 2020, what's different? There's no pandemic. Both men facing age questions that you have to Trump trials. What does this go look like? ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, these groups

discussions are always so interesting, interesting especially now, because it is a rematch that so many voters didn't want. And I think what were seeing is a lot of people have entrenched viewpoints.

There's not a lot of minds to change up. What its really going to come down to a Joe Biden, can he hang on to the core constituencies he needed to turn out young progressives, young people the Black community.

For Donald Trump, there's some pretty glaring signs about where he could lose support. He's doing he's performing even worse with women. There's this third of the party that wanted someone other than him, but we all know the election comes down to essentially seven swing states and half-a-million.

COOPER: Yeah, I mean, he won in 2020, Wisconsin, Biden won with 20,000 votes, 20,700 or something like that. Michigan was closed and now he's having all these problems in Michigan?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. All these states are going to be close to -- going to be, you know, within Pennsylvania will be within 50,000 votes again, right? All these states are going to be balanced on the tip of a pin.

Interesting to see these veterans here is Alyssa was talking about kind of people are entrenched in their views now one of the vectors talked about Afghanistan like a policy position, some good actually matters. They talked about things they've heard on social media or the top of the daily mail someplace, these kind of things that resonate amongst the talking heads. Not here.

But no one is really delving into some of the issues the policies. It'd be interesting to see if we get to that or it's all just about age, he's too old, he's too crooked. That kind of mudslinging or people get to are we going to have a debate? We're going to get this done.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think -- I think what we see in these groups, a lot of times there's something that we fall into the trap of all of us where we get outraged about the things Donald Trump says and does. Whereas I think a great deal of the American public are either checked out or desensitized because the insults to the military, for me, I adore those individuals who had the courage to go and serve, particularly looking at all of them, you just want to work harder to ensure the country is perfect for them to live in.

But they don't care about it. I mean, it was not a big deal to the overwhelming majority of them. I mean, they were desensitized to it, and it just seems as if Donald Trump can say and do about anything. And I go back to my analysis, which is really simple about this race. I say it all the time until I'm blue in the face, but this is Joe Biden, Donald Trump and the couch.

And the couch is going to be very, very successful in November of 2024 because I think more people are going to stay at home that you can possibly imagine.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: But one of the interesting things we did here I think is there was actually a split, those two voters who said that they were going to the top right corner of the screen. One of them said, if Trumps convicted, oh, it's a kangaroo court, right? And that's what Donald Trump is going to try to convince everyone of, you know, basically -- I mean, he already is, right?

But the other one said, you know what, that scenario I'm not going to oh, it actually was a difference, right? And so that's that group of people that we keep seeing that 30 percent or so in the very conservative Iowa electorate that say a conviction, not, not these indictments, but a conviction would make a difference. And when were talking about these margins that you raised, Anderson, right? That, you know, 50,000 votes in Pennsylvania --

VAN JONES: Razor thin.

HUNT: -- that's a lot.

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. The way I look at this is absolutely a conviction could cost Trump the election, so- called rain, like literally rain. Like in 2016, it was 68,000 votes over three states. And in 2020, it was 48,000 votes over three states.

And if its a two-way race, its very, hard -- very hard for me to see Biden losing with his coalition because the Democratic coalition is much bigger than Republican coalition. Nikki Haley is representing a slice of the electorate that are the majority-makers for a Republican, you need those swing voters, those independents, those anti-Trump or non-Trumpy, moderate Republicans.

The problem is, its just not going to be a two-way race.


GOLDBERG: You throw in a couple of third-party candidates, plus you throw in the couch because I think is a real thing like we were talking earlier about the Black vote. I agree with you entirely that in terms of percentages of the Black vote, Democrats are going to score historically normal rates. The question is, how big will the Black vote be? And that's a huge issue.

AXELROD: I do think that the third party issue is important. I've said for a long time, Donald Trump has a high floor and a low ceiling. You lower the threshold for him it makes it easier for him to win the race.


So if you have -- he didn't -- he had that advantage in 2016, it helped him win the race. He didn't have it in 2020, he narrowly lost the race. We've talked about the 7 million that Biden won nationally by, but we don't run elections that way. It was 44,000 votes in the three closest states. Those can be tilted by third-party.

But just one last point, Van. Joe Biden and very few presidential incumbents can win or a referendum. It has to be a choice. And that means every single day he needs to be drawing contrasts with Trump and drawing and he needs a larger narrative about what this election is about. And I'm not sure people are clear on what that narrative is right now.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I've just gone back. Somebody said earlier, David, about strength. You know, there's going to be a contrast that's true, but people also need it to vote for something. The economy is actually doing reasonably well in that gas prices are low. Unemployment is low, stock market is up. But food prices are stuck.


JONES: And that's what's hurting people. Some strength from a grandpa like Joe Biden would be to go and challenge these national chains at grocers who are just now, just pure profit that was all this, all the supply chains are dying. They are just purely rip people off.

Joe Biden stands up to national chains -- chains of grocers and says, quit ripping off the American people, lower these --

AXELROD: I think you're going to see that in the State for the Union speech. That's what I would predict.

COOPER: We're learning more about what Donald Trumps final margin of victory will look like as the votes in South Carolina are coming in. Nikki Haley, as you know, vowing to fight on. Will Trump walk away with all the state delegates? Much more ahead. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Donald Trump gaining even more momentum tonight in his march toward his, the Republican presidential nomination with the sounding win in South Carolina's GOP primary tonight. Nikki Haley defeated in her home-state, failing to capitalize in what may have been her last best chance to slow Trump down.

As Donald Trump takes another leap toward the GOP presidential nomination, the world is marking a full two years of war and bloodshed in Ukraine, a milestone that does not seem to be moving Trumps allies in Congress who are standing in the way of new us aid for Ukraine in its battle against the Russian invaders.

CNN chief national security analyst, Jim Sciutto, joins us now to mark this two-year occasion.

And, Jim, the primary season is playing out as we mark these two years. You've reached out to sources in Ukraine, in Europe, and the Pentagon on the Hill for their assessment of the war, two years in what are they telling you? JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, big picture.

Remember, you remember this well. At the start of this war, the U.S. intel assessment was it was going to be over very quickly. They expected Russia to overwhelm Ukraine, take Kyiv, and 72 hours, that didn't happen. Two years later, Ukraine is still fighting, but a year ago, the feeling was that Ukraine was in a position to gain back territory, start pushing Russians back.

But the counteroffensive didn't really accomplish that. Certainly hasn't yet. And its pretty much a frozen conflict in the east with even Ukrainian forces losing ground and fear is rising that Ukraine could be at a tipping point primarily because the largest military in the world, and its number one backer, the U.S. is standing on the sidelines.

I want to tell you what a senior Ukrainian military has officer told me just in the last 24 hours. He said that my biggest worry is that wed be left on our own to fight against embolden evil. In case the West is overwhelmed by domestic politics, of course, speaking in the U.S., populists, pacifists, it would be a massacre and exodus of biblical proportions as Russia continues to escalate in its brutality.

That's the Ukrainian view here. They feel that they're being abandon and without that help, that could be the faith that they're facing. They're not alone in that. I spoke to Mike Quigley. He's the co-chair of the congressional Ukraine caucus, and he's concerned that if aid doesn't come very, very soon, it could effectively be lost.

To his point, first and foremost, he says, my concern is that time and speed providing arms and ammunition the pipeline is emptying and it takes a lot of time to refill the point being, you could vote tomorrow or next week or next month, but that doesn't fill those ammo dumps. It doesn't provide the weapons that they need right away. There's a lag time.

And during that time, Russia is pushing by the way, there's a Russian presidential election next month. The feeling is when Putin wins again because its not really an election that he feels emboldened. He might mobilize more officers and push even harder to put Ukraine on its back foot.

Bigger picture, when I speak to senior U.S. military officials they're concerned that they're not learning from the war so far. This is what a senior U.S. military official told me. I've been speaking with since the very start of this war.

He says: We aren't learning enough from Ukraine events. We have again tried to build their forces in an image of our own. And it is unlikely to succeed in the short term. He goes on to say, it matters today for Ukraine, but he also says it matters tomorrow for Taiwan.

The point being, they tried to turn the Ukraine into an American name 8:00 style fighting force there in the span of weeks, with weapons we were providing and saying basically, go out and fight with this new weapon system over and over, and it just didn't work and it didn't match the Russian forces. And that's where we are today. So you have concern that from Ukrainian certainly that they're being

abandoned, from us lawmakers, that if they don't act now, then they're really going to put the Ukrainians in a position to lose and then the U.S. military saying, we didn't adjust quickly enough to.

TAPPER: So this is how they feel now, with Trump and his skepticism and hostility towards Ukraine and his allies in Congress doing what they do. But he's not president. He's just wielding influence. How do foreign leaders and Ukrainians view the possibility that Donald Trump may very well be president, again, control, controlling the Pentagon, controlling Congress even more than he is now?


SCIUTTO: I spoke to the prime minister of Estonia last night. This is, of course, a NATO ally. It's a front a forward-facing NATO ally. They're right on Russia's border.

And when she hears Trump say, listen, I may not defend you NATO allies in the east as he did the other day, and he stood by those comments. If you don't pay your two percent, they listen, they say we have to listen and take that seriously, because he said this before. He said this while he was president and since he was president, and the point of the alliance is, is confidence. And if you don't have confidence that your allies is going to come to your defense, then you doubt that, you doubt that commitment.

And by the way, and she makes this point all the time as do other eastern European leaders Russia than doubts it, because if the commanders and chief is saying he's not going to fulfill that commitment. Our adversaries might calculate. That may very well be true.

TAPPER: Even more so, I mean, as Nikki Haley and John Bolton pointed out, Donald Trump has made it very clear he doesn't see -- much see the point in U.S. membership in NATO.

SCIUTTO: And might pull us out of NATO.

TAPPER: Yeah, absolutely. Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.

As Donald Trump it takes another step towards the Republican nomination after this dominant South Carolina, win this evening, we're going to take a look at another contest between the two oldest men to face each other in the presidential race. What that might could mean for the November general elections.

Stay with us.