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Exclusive Interview With Donald Trump's Wife; Donald Trump Does Not Disavow David Duke Outright. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired February 29, 2016 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:01:41] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Super Tuesday could shape up as an epic battle in the GOP. Donald Trump may win enough votes to leave his competitors in the dust.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Hours from now voters in a dozen states will begin asking their ballot. It could be a defining day for Trump. A new CNN national poll shows him beating his Republican rival by more than 30 points.
On the Democratic side, though, could Super Tuesday victories by Hillary Clinton force the end of Bernie Sanders campaign? What does he need to do to stay in the race? We're going to talk about that straight ahead.
Donald Trump's wife Melania has so far kept a very low profile in this race for the GOP nomination, but with his lead widening, she's starting to speak out now. My colleague Anderson Cooper sat down with Mrs. Trump.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, AC 360: When you first came down that escalator, when your husband first announced, what was going through your mind? Were you excited?
MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S WIFE: Yes. We were excited. I was excited. I was just looking forward to it. I didn't know what he would say. I didn't know the speech. But we were all excited. And, you know, it was an exciting time, actually, and it's a lot of guts to have -- to do that kind of stuff.
COOPER: Has your opinion -- I read an interview you did I think back in talk magazine back in 2000 or 1999 and you said politics is a business. Has your opinion of politics changed in the last couple of months watching it so closely like you have?
M. Trump: Yes, of course. I follow it from a to z. I know exactly what is going on and of course it changes, you know. It's many, many years ago, like 20 years ago almost? So, yes, it changed a lot.
COOPER: What do you think of the campaign so far? I mean, in the last couple of days, there's been all these fights between now Rubio saying all of these things about your husband, what do you think of the tone of it?
M. TRUMP: I think it's more desperate tone because, you know, my husband is leading in the polls so he wants to attack in very low manner way. So it's kind of -- we expected that.
COOPER: You expected it?
M. TRUMP: Yes. I have thick skin.
COOPER: It doesn't bother you?
M. TRUMP: It doesn't bother me. And it's very nasty but I have thick skin. I can handle it.
COOPER: Your husband has been criticized for sometimes for his tone on a campaign trail. One of the things he said to me is as president, campaigning is one thing. As president you would have a different tone if he is actually in the White House. Do you think he can have a different tone?
M. TRUMP: Yes, he can have a different tone. He really can have a different tone. Because to build an empire and business that he has built, you can't always have that kind of a tone. He can really change. I know him and he could really change the words and the tone. And -- but, you know, he is who he is and you could see his following and people agree with him because they are tired of Washington and politicians in Washington. They don't do much. And he's a doer. He does things and he's not just talking it. He will have things done for the states, for the America, for the American people.
[23:05:05] COOPER: You watch a lot of news, I know.
M. TRUMP: Yes.
COOPER: And he watches a lot of news, too. He's tweeting. Do you ever get bothered how much -- he must be up late at night watching television and tweeting. Do you get bothered by that?
M. TRUMP: I don't get bothered by that. We are both very independent. Let he be who he is and he let me be who I am.
COOPER: You don't try to change him?
M. TRUMP: I don't try to change him. He's an adult. He knows the consequences. And so I let him be who he is. I give him my opinions many, many times.
COOPER: Do you?
M. TRUMP: Yes. And I don't agree with everything that he says but that is normal. I'm my own person. I tell him what I think. I'm standing very strong on the ground on my two feet and I'm my own person and I think that's very important in the relationship.
COOPER: Do you -- can you say something where you disagree with him on?
M. TRUMP: Oh, many things. Some language, of course.
M. TRUMP: Yes, some language I didn't approve. Especially when I was in New Hampshire and the woman was shouting out the inappropriate word and I was there. And I'm thinking like don't repeat it in my head, you know, for him, don't repeat it. Just don't say it. Because the next day, media, all they would talk is about that. Repeat it. He goes with the momentum. He goes with the flow. He goes with the people. They are having fun. Everybody was cheering. And you know, he said it and the next day -- but he repeated the word. That was not his word.
COOPER: Right. He heard from you about that?
M. TRUMP: Yes, I told him that. Yes. And you know, he did it. As I said, he's an adult and --
COOPER: It does seems like -- "Wall Street Journal" did a piece about how he makes decisions, a reporter kind of follow him around. And I thought it was really interesting. I talked to him about it. He seems to make a lot of decisions from his gut, from his instincts.
M. TRUMP: He does. He does. And he is who he is. He speaks from the heart and I think it's very important. He doesn't lie. He is who he is. He doesn't hide anything and people, they are connecting to that. They really connect with him and they know what he will do for the country. He is self-founding, he's his own person. He will not listen to donors, lobbyists. Nobody can buy him. And the American people, I guess they got smart and they know that, you know, le work for them.
COOPER: When you see him on television, you watch interviews he does, even if you're not with him, I assume you're watching interviews that he does, do you give him comments about what you think of the interviews, how it went?
M. TRUMP: Yes. After we always talk. We talk many, many times a day. Yes, I do. I do.
COOPER: There was -- I'm sure you know there was an interview he gave yesterday where Jake Tapper was asking him about David Duke, disavowing him and the KKK and he didn't disavow. He had done it previously several days before and he's now put out a statement --
M. TRUMP: Well, he disavowed many times. He disavowed at the press conference on Friday. So I don't know why media needs to ask him so many times because he disavowed.
COOPER: When you saw that interview, do you think, that's going to be a problem?
M. TRUMP: I don't think so because they were asking him about the groups and he said, I don't know about the groups, what you're talking about the groups. So he disavowed many, many times. So media just bringing up, bringing up all t time.
COOPER: And when you hear people saying he's racist, hearing him say he's anti-immigrant, what do you think --
M. TRUMP: No, he's not. He's not racist. He's not anti-immigrant. He wants to keep America safe. He wants to have illegal immigrants taken care of, that they will not be in the country, that they don't pay taxes, that they criminals and they are not good for the America. He wants -- he was talking about the illegal immigration, not about everybody.
COOPER: As an immigrant yourself.
M. TRUMP: Yes.
COOPER: I mean, we talked about that a little bit from Slovenia.
M. TRUMP: Yes.
COOPER: What was it about America that drew you here, that made you want to come to America?
M. TRUMP: I lived in Slovenia when I was a child and I went to Milan and Paris for a modeling career and I had a very successful modeling career and I came to the United States, to New York in 1996. And just the energy of New York, the opportunities, different world, different culture, it really attracted me and I did very well here and I stayed here.
COOPER: As somebody who came to this country sort of wanting to be part of America, obviously, and ultimately become a citizen, do you understand the drive that brings other immigrants here, legally and illegally?
[23:10:03] M. TRUMP: I understand. But I came here legally. I came here on visa. I flew to Slovenia every few months to stamp it and came back, applied for green card and then after a few years for citizenship. I obeyed the law. I did it the right way. I didn't just sneak in and stay here. So I think that's what people should do.
LEMON: I want to bring in now Jeff DeWit. He is a state treasurer of Arizona who is a Trump supporter, a Trump surrogate. Matt Lewis is a senior contributor to "the Daily Caller" and author of "Too damn to Fail, how the GOP betrayed the Reagan revolution." And also Ryan Lizza is with me, Washington correspondent for "the New Yorker" and Donna Brazile, Democratic strategist here with me as well.
Jeff, I'm going to start with you. She's obviously a very attractive woman and also smart. What role does she play on his campaign and at his event?
JEFF DEWIT, ARIZONA STATE TREASURER: Well, don't forget, they have a young son. And she is a great mom on top of it which hasn't been discussed. And so, she goes back and forth but she spends a lot of time in New York taking care of Barron. And she's a beautiful, strong and intelligent woman. She speaks five languages. And she was very successful by her own right before they were ever married. She's a wonderful asset to not only Donald Trump but to the campaign. As you can tell, she's very well spoken and she'll make a great first lady.
LEMON: Matt, how do you think that Melania Trump is perceived by rank and file Republicans and why is she coming out now?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think they know her yet that well. We haven't seen that much of her. And look, I think she certainly, you know, in that interview, you know, comes across quite well. You know, you always take it with a grain of salt. And I would hope that any candidate spouse would say nice things about him and say, he's a good guy, he's a nice guy.
But, you know look, if this Donald Trump is the front-runner, he very well could be the Republican nominee. At some point, you start thinking about what's the first lady going to be like? What's Donald Trump like, you know, behind the scenes? And so, you know, I think that so far, so good. I think that, you know, it's a success.
LEMON: Ryan, does Melania Trump potentially make her husband more palatable to people who, you know, may be put off by some of his language, his harsh language, some of his actions?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, that was thought watching. She comes across very smart and sophisticated and, frankly, in manner, the opposite of her husband. And there is a long tradition of candidates who had some rough edges showing another side of themselves by featuring their spouse. So maybe there's a little bit of that going on. I mean, look, if Donald Trump gets the nomination --
LEMON: That's why the spouse is usually brought in, right?
LIZZA: A little bit. And look, if Donald Trump is the nominee, he will be the most unpopular general election nominee that any party has nominated since polling began. So he is going to have to --.
DEWIT: I disagree with that.
LIZZA: It's not really something you can agree or disagree with. It's just something that the polls show. And so he will be -- really need this kind of help in terms of getting his favorabilities up because it's going to be quite a challenge if he's the Republican nominee.
LEMON: Donna, she says that she wishes he wouldn't say some of the things that he says on the trail and she speaks to him about it when she's unhappy about it. What do you think of that?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, she's a smart lady and God bless her for trying to control what comes out of Mr. Trump's mouth. Look, there's no question that she will be an asset to him. I'm sure she has been an asset in terms of the campaign trail, in personal ways and other ways. But the truth is, what she said tonight, hopefully Mr. Trump will find
the -- not just the tone and demeanor to say that as well because I think the American people are tired of some of these old divisions and it reminded me of back in 2005 when (INAUDIBLE), the former chair of the RNC went to NAACP and issued an apology for the Republican party's embrace of the southern strategy.
So this is a pivotal moment for, I think, not just the Republican Party but also Mr. Trump. And if she's able to get him to change his tone, well, let's see. We might be all singing oh happy day.
LEMON: Thank you, Donna. Thank you, everyone. (INAUDIBLE), by the way, is transform in many different ways and when he was, you know, deeply involved in politics.
Thank you. Appreciate all of that.
DEWIT: Thanks, Don.
LIZZA: Thank you, Don.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
LEMON: All right. Stay with CNN for Super Tuesday coverage all day tomorrow as voters in a dozen states cast their ballots. And everyone, I want you to stay with me ahead.
Rival slammed Donald Trump for his initial refusal to disavow the KKK. Comedian John Oliver on his HBO program launches a blistering attack on the GOP front-runner.
Plus, how far will establishment Republicans go to take Donald Trump down? We are going to hear from a member of the Republican national committee.
[23:18:48] LEMON: Comedian John Oliver launching a blistering attack at Donald Trump on his HBO program last night. Back with me now, Jeff DeWit, Matt Lewis -- I'm putting you guys together -- Ryan Lizza and Donna Brazile. OK.
So Jeff, you know, John Oliver also included Trump's comments to CNN over the weekend about David Duke. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Honestly, I don't know David Duke. I don't believe I've ever met him. I am pretty sure I didn't meet him. And I just don't know anything about him.
JOHN OLIVER, COMEDIAN: Really? That's your best answer there? Because you definitely know who he is. Probably, because you called him a bigot and a racist in the past. But that's not even the (bleep) point. The point is, with an answer like that you are either racist or you are pretending to be and at some point there is no difference there. And sure, he disavowed David Duke later in the day but the scary thing is, we have no way of knowing which of his inconsistent views he will hold in office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, that's the thing, Jeff, whether you're doing it for a strategy to get as many voters as possible, I don't -- I shouldn't say that. Having met him, it's hard to believe that he is a racist. But still, he gets on television and he has an answer like that and what other conclusion can you draw?
[23:20:08] DEWIT: Racism is disgusting. It's awful to think that racism still exists in any form in this country. We have such a diverse culture and this country is built upon many different races coming together to build what we know as America.
LEMON: The question is whether he is pandering for votes by having this nebulous answer -- let me finish -- by having this nebulous answer about the KKK. Go on.
DEWIT: Look, he has disavowed it for decades. I'll tell you right now. I would never support a racist candidate. I know Donald Trump very well and he is not a racist, by any means, not at all. He has disavowed racist comments for decades, for his whole life. He's not a racist guy. And so you have one technical misstep where the ear piece didn't work right. You know, it's been a long campaign day. He said one little thing, even just days before it he was disavowing racism. He has minorities coming on all the time on the stage with him and presenting him and endorsing him. He is absolutely not a racist.
And I'm telling you, I would never support anybody who is racist. It's terrible and it's awful and it should never be a part of America, any form of racism. And I can tell that you Donald Trump is not a racist. So but what we have is the day before Super Tuesday and everyone is jumping on board that doesn't like him, trying to make something out of nothing to take him down on Election Day.
LEMON: Who wants to weigh in here?
LEWIS: I would just say is this was one little thing. IF this was one little thing, then I think we would all be forgiving. If it was a faux pas, maybe he couldn't hear, even though he repeated that. But this comes, you know, a lot of things like New Mexicans are sending rapist and trying to ban all Muslims from coming to the country. So this is actually a pattern of behavior that makes it a little harder to like be, you know, really generous in terms of excusing Donald Trump from this one occasion.
LEMON: OK. Listen, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, was on the trail today. She's endorsed Marco Rubio, by the way, but here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: And the KKK came to South Carolina from out of state to protest on our statehouse grounds. We saw and looked at true hate in the eyes last year in Charleston. I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow KKK, that is not a part of our party, that's not who we want as president. We will not allow that in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So Trump is saying now and also his surrogates, as you hear Jeff saying, he has disavowed the KKK. But no matter how the establishment tries to damage Trump, it doesn't happen. How long can that last? That's for you, Ryan.
LIZZA: Well, look, I think everyone agrees that he's the most likely person to be the Republican nominee. And, you know, the train has left the station. And, you know, the scenarios by which Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio defeat him are increasingly more, you know, delusional. And at a certain point, I don't see how you put the toothpaste back in the tube here. You have candidates like Nikki Haley and other elected officials on camera now saying that they will do anything to stop him and associating him with the KKK. I mean, just step back and think of that for a second.
LEMON: Is that going to work?
LIZZA: I'm saying in a general election.
LEWIS: Ryan, this is an important point there because I think this is not about winning an election. This is actually deeper. This transcends that. If you are a conservative --.
LIZZA: Yes, I agree with you.
LEWIS: If you're a conservative and it's incumbent upon you to be concerned to a certain degree about brand management and this speaks to actually -- it violates our moral code, it is the death to conservatism. If you care deeply about issues, like whatever it might be, like having free market, having an opportunity society, protecting the unborn, to allow that to be tarnished by the taint of racism cannot be permitted.
LIZZA: But this is a crisis for the Republican Party because this person is on the way to being the nominee. And as far as I can tell, there's really no plan to stop that. There's no break glass in the case of an emergency at the convention and substitute someone else. This is a crisis. This is a party that is falling apart here.
LEMON: Don, I'm not going to say this.
BRAZILE: Donna, you know about branding candidates, right? Go ahead.
BRAZILE: Look, having, you know, embraced a party that once had many racial stains, I mean, look, the Democratic Party, we are not perfect.
BRAZILE: You can call them names of everyone but we have renounced them. We have moved on. But the party now embraces opportunity for all. We're an inclusive party. This is something that the Republican Party has to come deal with, the hate mongering, the fear-mongering, the obstructionist, the anti-governance party.
I mean, this is a party that has to really come and look at America and deal with this. And not just repudiate Mr. Trump or disavow him for not, you know, saying quick enough, fast enough that he, you know, disliked or disavowed David Duke, but as a party that has to come to terms with some of the things that has happened across the board, the (INAUDIBLE). Those issues, those treats are deep within the Republican Party and they need to be rooted out.
[23:25:41] LIZZA: And can I just add one thing, Don, about the conversation whether he's a racist or not and I don't know if Donald Trump is personally a racist.
DEWIT: He is not racist. I do know. He is not a racist.
LIZZA: I don't know what I in his heart. But I do know that he has become the candidate of racists in this election. And that has been very, very obvious since he announced. If you go to any of the fringe websites where racists gather object the internet, he's their candidate. You have the former --.
DEWIT: You cannot help who supports you.
LIZZA: Right. But that's what we're talking about tonight, Jeff. You can't tell -- right. You can't control who supports you. That's why you condemn them when you are asked.
DEWIT: And he did condemn. He has condemned them. For decades, he has condemned it.
LEMON: But here is the thing, Jeff.
LIZZA: Not on Sunday.
LEMON: Jeff, I'm going to let you respond.
DEWIT: He did.
LEMON: Standby, everyone.
Here's the thing. And I said this earlier. Ryan, I think you're exactly right. I don't think Donald Trump is a racist but he has become the candidate for racists and that in itself is bad. When people say you can't control who supports you, absolutely right. But what you can control is your response to those people who support you at every single turn. So if Donald Trump doesn't believe in anything that the KKK says or racist people or people who are on the fringe, he has every opportunity, Jeff, to say, I do not support that. I disavow that. I don't believe in it and if you believe that, then don't vote for me. I'm not your candidate. Go ahead. DEWIT: And he has said that at every turn. He is absolutely not a
LEMON: I have never heard him say, don't vote for me. I'm not your candidate for that.
DEWIT: Well, he has. He disavowed the entire thing. I mean, look. It's unfortunate. But when you have the top three contenders for the nomination and two of them have Hispanic background, unfortunately, those terrible, awful, disgusting groups are going to support the one that does not have Hispanic background. You can't help that. He has disavowed it. He has said I don't want the support. Everything that he can do, he has done. But it's the day before the election. And honestly, it's very dishonest, this attack, where they are trying to Trump this up into something that it is not.
LEMON: Does it bother you what Ryan said? Because I believe there is some truth to that. That he hasn't -- because we would not be having this conversation. It's not that the KKK has endorsed him, but he has become the candidate who, you know, racist people support, people like the KKK support, and who, you know, fight for support. You can see it on social media. You probably go to my twitter feed right now, any one of our feeds --
BRAZILE: But it would be treasonist if they voted against their heritage.
LEMON: That doesn't bother you, Jeff? That doesn't bother him.
BRAZILE: The hateful rhetoric that comes from these fringe groups and white supremacist groups. That's what the problem is. He's a magnet for them.
LEMON: Donna, Donna, hang on. I'm going to go a little longer because I want to continue this conversation. When we were talking about -- OK. We're going to come back to this conversation. Take a break and we'll come back to this. I'll see you on the other side.
[23:32:40] LEMON: Back now with my panel.
OK, so let's get Jeff back in.
So Jeff, that doesn't bother you, as we were saying that he has become the party where white supremacist, racists, people like the KKK support? That doesn't bother you?
DEWIT: It bothers me immensely. And quite frankly, I don't understand it. We actually during the break pulled up the KKK and one of their core tenants is they are against all immigrants, all immigrants. And don't forget that Donald Trump is I think the only one of the race who is married to an immigrant. And just so you know, myself, I am married to an immigrant to this country.
So, again, honestly, I'm sick to my stomach sitting here talking about this topic. It's the last thing I ever want to be associated with and the last thing I ever want to look like is that I'm defending racism in any way because it disgusts me to no end. And I just wish it was so far gone from our country that it would never even be talk about again. It's absolutely disgusting in every form. And so I'm sick that we're talking about it. I will tell you, I know Donald Trump on a personal level and he is not a racist.
LEMON: OK, Jeff. All right. So listen. And Donna, you can help me out with this. I'm wondering why the double standard from all of the folks were like, my God, he disavowed. Why do you keep going? This is about racism. Why is Donald Trump and his supporters, what's different about Donald Trump than was different about Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 when had he to give a race speech, when he had to denounce the Reverend Wright, when he had to denounce (INAUDIBLE), when he had to explain why (INAUDIBLE) Al Sharpton going into the White House so many times. He had to give an entire speech.
So if you're running for leader of the free world and you don't want to be bothered by such questions, then why are you doing it, then? What is different about Donald Trump versus any other person who has to answer these questions from reporters and the American people?
BRAZILE: Look, when you start off with this July and open in the Salvo (ph) claiming that the Mexicans who are coming across the border were racists and blah, blah, blah and then you go down that slippery Islama phobia, you know, surveilling a mosque and banning all Muslims (INAUDIBLE). And look, there is a lot out there, OK. But look.
LEMON: Why would he expect not to have to answer these questions?
BRAZILE: The Donald Trump that I used to read about -- of course, I'm a student of history. I remember that political race in Louisiana very well. This was the one, vote for the lizard not the wizard. I mean, remember, you know, then Governor Edwards said I'm the crook. And it's important to vote for me, not the wizard. So look, Donald Trump condemned President George Herbert Walker Bush.
You know, denounce David Duke. David Duke was receiving 55 percent of the white vote and yet, you had leaders, and that's the word I'm using it, leaders who is denounce that type of racist, bigoted campaign. Donald Trump in 2000 continued along that vain. The Donald Trump of 2015, 2016 has totally flipped on these issues and to say --
DEWIT: He has not flipped.
BRAZILE: He doesn't know enough about these organizations. Excuse me? The blood that is still on the sidewalks and the trees from people who have been bombed and beaten and burned? And you don't know that history? You have to Google that? You have to Google the Ku Klux Klan? I am sorry. I never stay up this late to talk abo the Klan. I want the Klan to be part of the past. Not the future.
LEWIS: Trump also attacked -- you don't have to go back that far to find inconsistencies. He attacked Mitt Romney for self-deportation, a policy that now --
LEMON: I have to go, guys. Final thoughts.
BRAZILE: Happy birthday to you, baby.
LEMON: Thank you. That will be the final thought. I was going to ask Ryan his.
Ryan, go ahead.
LIZZA: I mean, I think the obvious answer for why he's doing this is he thinks there is a racist vote out there that this --
DEWIT: That is not correct. He has not condoned racism. He's condemned it.
LIZZA: He played coy with whether he accepts the support of David Duke and the KKK.
DEWIT: He had a bad ear piece.
LIZZA: Jeff, please. Don't come on TV and embarrass yourself by repeating that. We just watched the clip. He didn't have a bad ear piece. Come on, man.
LEMON: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. It was a good conversation.
Jeff DeWit, Matt Lewis, Ryan Lizza, and Donna Brazile, thank you.
And thank you for the happy birthday message, Donna. Thank you.
BRAZILE: God bless.
LEMON: I'll see you guys soon.
Up next, do Trump's opponents finally have the ammunition to stop him?
[23:41:05] LEMON: We're talking about Donald Trump's stumble on disavowing the KKK. So joining me is Henry Barbour, the RNC national committeeman for Mississippi who are supporting Marco Rubio and Lanny Davis, who was special council and Bill Clinton's White House. He is a long-time friends of Hillary Rodham Clinton but doesn't speak for the campaign.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us here on CNN this evening.
Henry, I will start with you. Texas senator Ben Sasse and two former RNC chairmen saying no way they are going to support Trump. Alabama representative Mel Brooks say he cannot support Trump because he's a serial adulterer. Mitt Romney calling his KKK remarks disgusting. We know politics, dirty business. Is this takedown under way?
HENRY BARBOUR, RNC NATIONAL COMMITTEEMAN FOR MISSISSIPPI: Well, I sure hope it is. There is no question and after Donald Trump's comments, that somehow he didn't hear what somebody was saying about the Ku Klux Klan.
Look, I'm from Mississippi, Don. I know what he was doing. He was trying to appeal to southerners because he thinks somehow because we're from the south, surely we must like the Ku Klux Klan. And it is despicable and disgusting and equally bad, of course, is what he did to students at his Trump University which the New York attorney general has called a bait and switch program.
LEMON: Henry, explain this to me. If I hold Donald Trump's feet to the fire about these comments, then I'm racist. If you hold his feet to the fire about this comments then you're doing it because you don't like Donald Trump. Explain this pretzel logic to me regarding this particular issue.
BARBOUR: Well, I don't know if I can explain that. What I can explain is, as a southerner, it is repulsive that a politician would try to appeal to a group of voters assuming that somehow or another he can't act like he likes the Ku Klux Klan because he doesn't want to upset those southerners, because we got Super Tuesday, seven states are voting them all. Don't want to upset anybody.
LEMON: Is it insulting to you as a southerner?
BARBOUR: It is insulting to me as a southerner and Christian and as an American.
LEMON: You are no stranger to bare knuckle politics. How far should Republicans go to take Donald Trump down if he is the choice, you know, of the plurality of the voters so far? Is anything off the table here, do you think?
BARBOUR: Well, look, you want to be tough but you want to be honorable. You want to be factual and truthful. So there are plenty of things to talk about with Donald Trump. I just mentioned Trump University. And what happened there, you got a lot of people who were trying to do something with their lives to learn about real estate and to make a living. And he just rips them off. How do you think he made $10 billion or however much money he's made? He's ripped them off. And certainly in Trump University, that's what happened.
And I think if you look at for me, I'm pro-life, the fact that he gave money to Planned Parenthood that funded abortion, you know, that is not something that certainly appeals to me but, you know, one day he's pro-choice and the next day he's pro-life. He's all over the map. You know, we just have to define him as he is and make certain that people understand him. You can't trust Donald Trump any more than the American people trust Hillary Clinton.
LEMON: So Lanny, the Democrats have been sniffing about Donald Trump and how they love him to be the nominee. Are they so sure about that?
LANNY DAVIS, EXECUTIVE VP, LEVICK: You know, Don, I have done this snicker on your show and I have to admit that I now regret it. We Democrats certainly want to win in 2016 but when I hear somebody like Mr. Barbour who must be a conservative and good Republican to be on the national committee, speaking about -- and the truth about what is a very dangerous possibility. He is the likely Republican nominee. And the rest of the world will be seeing the major historic party of Abraham Lincoln led by somebody who uses such caricature, such hate words, such divisive rhetoric and I do think it's no longer funny for to us celebrate the nomination of Trump. I am sorry that I did that. I now realize that this man is shameful to even consider being the nominee of the great Republican Party that we have differences of philosophies between Democrats and Republicans. So I think this is very, very serious. And I've been hearing from a lot of very loyal Republicans, Republicans who don't want to vote for Hillary Clinton but see Donald Trump as contrary to the entire heritage of not only the Republican party but of this country.
[23:45:58] LEMON: Henry, why are Republicans --
LEMON: -- conservatives, so opposed to Donald Trump beyond the KKK, you know, and so many people, so many voters are supporting him. Why are conservatives so opposed?
BARBOUR: Well, look, we want somebody that we can trust and for me, you know, that person is Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio is the epitome of the American dream and he is a conservative that we can count on whereas with Donald Trump, we don't know where he would be on the issues. But Senator Rubio is a man who can deliver for us, who can win and who I think if you ask Lanny, I don't think Mrs. Clinton really would want to run against Marco Rubio. He does well against her in the polls. He's got a broad appeal. I think he is the type of leader who I think is of the future as opposed to the past.
LEMON: But the person you're supporting, Marco Rubio, I mean, he is fighting hard, right. He's fighting tooth and nail but he's so far behind Donald Trump. Now, let's just say -- I know you're hoping that Marco Rubio wins the nomination. If by chance Donald Trump does become the nominee, are you going to support him?
BARBOUR: You know, I have consistently said that I'm going to support the nominee and I will tell you, I'm going to fight for Marco Rubio. And I think if Donald Trump is the nominee, it would be a real struggle to vote for him, to be honest. But I'm fighting for Marco Rubio.
Look, the key here is, you've got to get to 1,237 delegates and Donald Trump is going to have a good day tomorrow on Super Tuesday. By the way, tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and your birthday, I understand. I hope you have a good day. I think Donald Trump is going to win delegates. But I also think Marco Rubio is going to win a lot of delegates. And I really do think that Marco Rubio now is the candidate who can go toe to toe with Donald Trump. Senator Cruz had set up tomorrow as a big day but he's kind of been fading and he's fighting to win Texas, which he probably will.
LEMON: Final thoughts, Henry. I have got to go.
BARBOUR: But his campaign has struggled a bit.
LEMON: Lanny, I apologize. I have to run. I'll have you back on. As you know, you're on this show all the time.
Thank you, Lanny Davis. Thank you, Henry Barbour. I appreciate both of you joining us.
BARBOUR: Thanks, Don. Thanks, Lanny.
LEMON: Coming up, while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders do battle on Super Tuesday, there's one subject that they are completely unified on and that's Donald Trump. That's next.
[23:52:14] LEMON: The antics in the Republican race have drawn reaction from many people including the Democratic candidates. So let's discuss now. Bob Beckel here is an author of "I should be dead, my life surviving politics, TV and addiction." Political strategist Angela Rye and Marc Lamont Hill, CNN political commentator.
OKL, nice to see you. Bob Beckel, you first. Let's listen to Hillary Clinton and her reaction today for the tumultuous few days for the GOP. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I were grading some of those Republicans, you remember the little box that used to be on your kids' report cards, play well with others? I would have to put a big no, democracy requires that we play well with others. That's what it's all about.
At some point we can't just say whatever pops into your head if you want to be the president of the United States of America. People around the world actually listen to what people running for president say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So does all of this, you know, the name calling and mudslinging, does it help the Democrats?
BOB BECKEL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure it does. But I mean, here's the biggest advantage for Hillary Clinton. And, you know, I'm not saying there's a lot of people about Donald Trump. I mean, the guy pulls rabbits out of the hat and if he gets to be the nominee, he could win. But I doubt it.
But Hillary Clinton's biggest problem going into a fall campaign -- and that's what she's doing spring training for right now, is her trust issue. And Donald Trump single handedly gives her back trust because by the time we're done with him, in terms of trust, the things he said and then flip-flops on, he's going be to the candidate with the trust problems. It's not Hillary Clinton.
LEMON: Angela, you said the Democrats are uniquely positioned to compete against Donald Trump. Why is that? Because Bob just say it. I'm not saying about Donald Trump. Listen, no one is counting him out here for anything. We're just saying, you know, we're just talking about his comments on the KKK. But why do you say that?
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: I think for several reasons, Don. One of the things that I even mentioned earlier is, of course, the GOP produced this autopsy report in 2012 once they got slaughtered in the presidential and now we're in a day and age, four years later, four years after that fact, we're now fighting on whether or not we're repudiating and disavowing the KKK should be a thing. So - and I just -- it's beyond me at this point because, of course it should be a thing. Of course it shouldn't have any place in our political discourse. So Democrats are uniquely positioned because they are battling right now on who has the better funding for college affordability, making college free, making sure HBCU stay open on whether or not they should have reparations in their platform like there is no contest. And whether or not there should or should not be a wall is not a point of discussion for Democrats. That's why. It's truly the big tent party.
LEMON: There had been a lot of people in the country want to hear what -- they are not that interested in that and, you know, sadly. I know Democrats are, right?
RYE: Well, there's a reality TV show happening on the other side. Who wouldn't watch that? It's for the ratings, right?
Marc, I want to read this. America's first black president cannot and will not be succeeded by a hatemonger who refuses to condemn the KKK. That is from Bernie Sanders. He tweeted that. Hillary retweeted it even though they are rivals. I mean, it is important and they unified on this front. What does this say?
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it says that it's a great opportunity to take the conversation away from Bernie's loss. His slaughter in South Carolina and Hillary Clinton has an opportunity and there should no longer has to talk about the crime bill.
If you - you know, we can go, people were saying, wait a minute. What is Hillary's relationship to black people, this crime bill led to mass incarcerations? No, Hillary can say in implicitly, I might put Negros in jail, but I'm not burning crosses. You know, it is a whole of a leverage. So in some ways it shields her and Bernie from their own political (INAUDIBLE) last week.
Hillary has had a big week because of South Carolina. She is moving on. And now Hillary is no longer thinking about Bernie Sanders. She is thinking about the national election. And she's preparing the nation for a Hillary/Trump standoff. And if that happens and Trump has this kind of baggage, it makes the way a lot easier for Hillary Clinton. But don't underestimate, as Bob said in his answers, don't underestimate Donald Trump here. He's pulled rabbits out of hats and I wouldn't be surprised if he still get bigger numbers after this, not smaller.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, I have been telling you, you know, I have been telling the people who come on my show who underestimate Donald Trump that you should not do that. If someone says you're going to run for president, don't underestimate them.
Bob, what does he do about this KKK, so called snafu after Super Tuesday?
BECKEL: He had an opportunity to do something about it and didn't do it. I mean, this is one of those things that when you make a snafu like this, unless you can cut it off right away, come out and say, I was wrong, I'm sorry, I didn't understand the question but nonetheless, it shouldn't have been said, there is no room for disavow Duke and all of that, the fact of the matter is, that this will just carries it on for him. So my guess is Donald Trump is going to do what he always does, come up with another controversy on some other candidate. And also tomorrow will be a good day for him and that will give him a chance to put it in the rearview mirror but this digs a little deeper. And you know, and this is only one. There are a whole lot of other things about Donald Trump that have yet to come out, not only taxes, "the New York Times" interview, a bunch of things that are going to put him in the defensive condition for a long time.
LEMON: I have got to go, Bob. I have got to go, everyone. Thank you. I will see you soon.
LAMONT: Happy Birthday, Don Lemon.
LEMON: Thank you very much.
LAMONT: It's his 65th birthday. Don't believe with the PA says.
BECKEL: It's 65. I thought it was 60.
LEMON: I'm really mad.
RYE: You should be.
LEMON: I'm kidding. It's all good. Thank you.
Make sure you stay with CNN for Super Tuesday coverage all day tomorrow as voters in dozen states cast their ballots.
Good night, everyone.