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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Tosses Several People Out of Rally; Voter Turnout Up in Tennessee; GOP Rivals Fear Big Night for Trump; How to Caucus; Sanders Vermont Rally Starts Soon; How the General Election Matchups are Shaping Up. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired March 1, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:09] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, decisive day in a dozen stated from Alaska to Massachusetts. Democrats and Republicans making their choice. Will they also make it a real Super Tuesday for the two front-runners?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Exit interview: Who voted and why, and what could it say about the outcome? New exit polling just arrived. And in just minutes we'll bring you the first read.
BLITZER: Location, location, location. Where the candidates went today and what that says about their confidence after today.
COOPER: And dueling Democrats, South Carolina left Sanders stinging but vowing to stay until the end. Can he recapture some mojo tonight, or will Clinton effectively put the kibosh on his candidacy?
I'm Anderson Cooper.
BLITZER: And I'm Wolf Blitzer. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Good Super Tuesday evening to all of you. With voting locations still open for several more hours, we're beginning now to get some initial indications of the turnout size and, just this moment, our first batch of exit polling.
We have our correspondents blanketing the country, traveling with candidates, talking to voters, providing special coverage you simply won't see anywhere else. That, and our team of analysts and political professionals on this, a day that could put Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton a lot closer to the nomination, or could spring a surprise on all of us.
We begin with CNN's Chris Frates. He's in Louisville, where a Donald Trump rally wrapped up, an event that saw one protester after another tossed out. What's the latest over there, Chris?
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'll tell you. A lot of protesters tossed out. That's not unusual here for a Trump rally. We saw a group of about 20 or 30 protesters, young people, both black and white, holding signs that said "Fascism is un-American" or "We will overcomb," making a little bit of fun of Donald Trump's hair. Also, some Bernie Sanders being tossed out, as well. Bernie Sanders supporters, holding their signs up, having them ripped out of their hands by some supporters before they're escorted out of the building.
Donald Trump, of course, taking it all in stride, saying, "Get them out of here. Get them out of here."
He's very confident. And you see that by the fact that he's here in Louisville, Kentucky today. He's got (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tonight. Louisville and Kentucky not voting until Saturday. He started today in Ohio. Ohio not voting until March 15. So Donald Trump already starting to look ahead, taking swipes at Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz along the way.
But he saved a special knock today, Wolf, for Hillary Clinton, who he said isn't strong enough to be the president of the United States. So Donald Trump may be looking ahead to a November matchup, where he's the Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.
Crowds love that, Wolf. They love that line. In fact, they waited in a line outside, around the block at this convention center in the rain to hear from Donald Trump. And they love this rally, I'll tell you that, Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris, the ongoing feud that's intense between Rubio and Trump, did we see much of that today?
FRATES: We did see a little bit of that today. He continued to talk about Marco Rubio as a featherweight, that he's a lightweight, that he did respond to that knock that we heard a few days ago from Marco Rubio, who said that Donald Trump has small hands and you know what that means. Donald Trump saying, you know, he'd always been told that he had beautiful hands. So maybe a joke out of that, saying that, of course, Marco Rubio is too much of a light weight to occupy the Oval Office -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris, Secretary Clinton, she was taking aim at Trump once again today on this continued controversy over David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan. Did Trump mention this at all?
FRATES: No, he has not mentioned it. He didn't mention it today. And that's not something he's talked about a lot on the campaign trail. But he certainly did go after Hillary Clinton, saying she's not strong enough to be the president of the United States. So he did mention her.
But not at all talking about the brouhaha over his failure to repudiate David Duke just a few days ago on our Jake Tapper show, "State of the Union."
BLITZER: Chris Frates, thanks very much. Let's go to Martin Savidge in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with state election officials there reporting heavy turnout.
All right, Martin, what's the latest over there?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in this precinct here in suburban Chattanooga, the word that officials are using over and over is remarkable. Because there were people waiting to vote at 7 a.m. this morning. The doors didn't open until 8 a.m. That set the tone for the remainder of the day. You can see that already, people are still waiting in line here.
And normally, in a precinct like this, you get a rush in the morning, a rush in the evening and then nobody during the day. It has been solid voting all day long; and officials say they haven't seen anything like this in years. Add to that early voting. In this state they broke all kinds of records. They were up 17 percent from the last record.
So, it all means there is a huge interest. One problem, let's show it to you right now. This is the Republican ballot. It's a sample. The candidates are up here. Down here, you can vote for the delegates. That is causing all kinds of confusion. You mess that up, your vote is invalid. You are allowed to do it over. The stack of do-overs is that thick. It is complicating what is already a very busy day here in Tennessee -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Seems always some glitch in all these states sometimes always develops.
All right, Martin, thank you very much.
They're voting in Virginia, which promised to be a pivotal state in the general election. Brian Todd is in the town of Ashburn for us. He's joining us now. What's it like over there, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, high energy from most of the day here. We're expecting a rush hour surge as we get to the rush hour, with two hours left until the polls close, steady turnout all day. People checking in here. Again, more of an influx that has just come in here.
What's really cool about this, we get to show you the voting in real time, on live TV as it's happening. They check in there, paper ballots. A pretty simple process. And you've got 13 candidates on the Republican side, three on the Democratic side. They cast their ballots there.
Then watch this gentleman here. He puts his ballot into a scanner. Then it's tabulated out and sent to the headquarters, the headquarters, the various of the voting district here in Louden County, Virginia.
Now we talked about turnout. One thing that's really driving the turnout here in Loudon County, and especially in that district, in Dominion Trail district, Wolf, is first-time primary voters. We did a sampling, an exit poll of dozens of voters as they exited here, and fully one-third of them say they are first-time primary voters than reflects a lot of energy at the polls.
It could reflect well here for Marco Rubio on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. Rubio is especially counting on districts like this one: affluent, highly-educated voters. That's who he scores well with. He's counting on the district, and he's made an all-out assault here, Wolf, for stops in the state, a couple of them here in this district over the weekend. A 500,000 ad buy over the weekend. Wolf, Marco Rubio counting on this district to at least win him some delegates, if not maybe pull an upset of Donald Trump in the state of Virginia.
BLITZER: All right. Brian, thank you.
They're voting in Texas, 155 Republican delegates up for grabs. The only state with a polling edge for senator Ted Cruz. He's the junior senator from Texas.
Ed Lavandera's on the scene for us in Allen, Texas, just north of Dallas. What's it like over there, based on everything you see?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it has been a record turnout already. In fact, officials here are saying that already that this has already been the highest turnout they've seen in a Republican primary in the history of this county.
We're just north of Dallas, in what is Colin County. So a great deal of turnout. And of course, this is Ted Cruz's home state, where he has been polling ahead, talking to voters throughout the day, and we've seen a mixed bag, a lot of Cruz supporters here, as well. But a lot of Donald Trump supporters, as well.
And of course, the big focus here is just exactly how the state of Texas is going to play out. The way that the delegates are divided up from Texas, this is, you have to take majority of the voters, take all of the delegates. It appears that might not necessarily happen, it a long, complicated system, how those delegates would be divided up after that. But so far, Ted Cruz polling well. We'll see if it holds throughout the rest of the evening.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Ed Lavandera in Allen, Texas, for us. That's a big prize, the biggest prize of the night in the state of Texas. As we mentioned at the top of the hour, we're standing by to get the first batch of exit polling, the first chance we'll get to see what this year's primary voters are looking like demographically, what their outlook is and a whole lot more. Our political director, David Chalian, we have a team crunching the numbers right now. Momentarily, we're going to start getting some initial indications of where these voters are on this Super Tuesday.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Exactly. We're digging through numbers now to sort of find out not so much who won. We won't know that until votes start coming in, but who showed up today and what were they looking for in the candidates. That's sort of what we're digging in for right now to learn a little bit of what was in their mind as they headed to the polls.
BLITZER: We have exit polls in all of states where there are primaries tonight.
BLITZER: And so we'll get -- once all the polling is closed, and each state will be able to share the actual exit poll estimates with our viewers.
CHALIAN: Right. And we'll determine at that time whether or not we're able to make a projection or if we need more raw vote to come in to make that projection later on this evening.
BLITZER: And some of states, they actually start releasing the raw vote information, even before all of the polls in that state are closed?
CHALIAN: Some states, especially, because those with early voting or absentee voting, some states dump those results in first, and they are the first votes that we start seeing coming in.
BLITZER: We'll start getting results pretty soon.
BLITZER: And we're standing by for the initial exit poll indications. I know you and our folks are crunching those numbers right now.
BLITZER: David, thank you very much.
We're watching all of this as it unfolds, Anderson. This is going to be a huge night in this race for the White House.
[17:10:03] COOPER: A long night, indeed, for all of us. Also ahead, the panel's going to weigh in collectively. They've seen a lot of elections, nothing so far like this from a democratic socialist, the GOP meltdown over the possibility that Donald Trump will be their nominee and fear spell an end -- will it spell an end to the party? Some are wondering.
BLITZER: All that and a lot more coming up as our special Super Tuesday coverage continues right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: With millions of Americans heading to the polls on this Super Tuesday, 12 states today were looking at early exit polling for some clues to the outcome later tonight.
Once again, our political director, David Chalian, is with us. You're getting a sense of the anger out there among these voters.
CHALIAN: This is one of the key factors that you and I have been talking about throughout the first four early states before Super Tuesday. And we are seeing -- and a little bit of differences in some of the states tonight, the more angry the electorate, the better Donald Trump has done in the past.
So take a look at this. Texas, 50 percent of voters in the Republican primary there tonight tell us they're angry. Forty-one percent tell us they're dissatisfied. Georgia, 47 percent say they're angry; 45 percent say they're dissatisfied. But, Wolf, take a look at these next two states. Virginia, much less
angry electorate: 36 percent say angry; 50 percent say dissatisfied. And Vermont, 37 percent say angry, 53 percent dissatisfied.
So we shouldn't confuse anybody here. The Republican electorate is either angry or dissatisfied. Nobody is satisfied. But you take measure of the more angry the electorate, probably the more receptive to Trump's message, and right now we're seeing differences in some of these states across Super Tuesday. Here in Texas and Georgia, more angry than Virginia and Vermont.
BLITZER: Usually, at least, historically, anger's the result of a bad economy. People are suffering a little bit. Is that an indication we're getting here? People are angry because they're not happy with their jobs, with their income, stuff like that?
CHALIAN: Well, we're certainly seeing that the economy is a major issue of importance to voters, so combine that with the anger, there's no doubt there's a connection there.
BLITZER: But you're going to keep crunching numbers all night?
BLITZER: And we're going to get more in the next few minutes. All right, David Chalian, thanks very much.
Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: All right, Wolf. Thanks very much.
Want to talk to our panel here. Let's start over here. Before we get to our commentators, let's start with our reporters and analysts. David Gergen, when you look at those exit polls, I mean, it seems a fine line between anger and dissatisfaction. I think it all probably plays well for Donald Trump.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I kept wondering, can people be angry or dissatisfied? But you're showing both of those tonight. You couldn't quite tell from the numbers.
GERGEN: But it is -- but it's clear, you know, Virginia, it interesting. You wonder whether the people in Northern Virginia, a lot of those folks work for the government. You know, and those are pretty -- those suburbs have done very, very well economically. So it's not surprising they wouldn't be quite as angry or dissatisfied.
You go into the Deep South, you get a lot of angry and dissatisfied.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And Virginia tailor-made for someone like Marco Rubio, moderate voters, those more highly-educated voters, and that's why you've seen him spend so much time there, and also hit on the KKK point. He has always been trying to get those moderate voters, not so much some of the red-hot angry voters.
It will be interesting to see how he does tonight and what his statement is after -- after this evening is done. How does he kind of modulate his tone? And essentially, I mean, he probably isn't going to win in many states, but what does he say at the end of the night to kind of jump-start, in some ways, reset his campaign?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, the -- the sense of betrayal that we've seen in the Republican electorate is -- is consistent throughout every primary and caucus we've seen. They feel betrayed by the Republican Party. And as a result, they want an outsider.
And they've looked towards an outsider, and that has really been part of the key to Donald Trump's success. And so the more anger you see, the more betrayal you see within the Republican Party, the better it is for Donald Trump.
The less angry electorate, the better it is for the so-called establishment candidate. And I'm not quite sure when Rubio -- when Marco Rubio became the establishment candidate, but he seems to be one now, and that's better -- that's better for Marco Rubio.
JOHN KING, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But timing is also everything in politics. And if you had this Virginia, a state like Virginia earlier in the campaign, it might be a little different.
Donald Trump has built his support among affluent Republicans. The foundation was people with high school degrees or college, it was more blue collar. But as he's started winning he started expanding his coalition. Donald Trump has the broadest coalition of all Republican candidates. And that helps you when you move into more diverse states.
And in a place like Virginia, where you have got a more rural electorate, in the southern part of the state, southwestern part of the state. And then you the military installations along the coast, you have -- where any close race in Virginia, Democrat or Republican, has won in the Washington suburbs. And if people are looking for change, people are dissatisfied with Washington, that benefits the outsider, and he is the ultimate.
GERGEN: Right. Raises a question, how many states does Trump need to win tonight to keep his momentum?
BORGER: As many as he can.
GERGEN: Keep his momentum.
COOPER: I mean, is there any question..?
GERGEN: Well, no, I think -- how many does he need to win?
KING: I think that's a great question in the sense is it a runaway takeover of the Republican Party? Does he just run away with it or are there speed bumps tonight. Cruz winning Texas tonight would give Cruz -- again, it's still a very difficult path ahead for Ted Cruz, because we have seen so far he's had difficulty winning what he thought would be his base, states where you have a high percentage of evangelical and Tea Party voters.
So let's watch. How does Ted Cruz do in Georgia? How does Ted Cruz do in Alabama? How does Ted Cruz do in neighboring Oklahoma? Does Ted Cruz get more than Texas? Does he get some lifeline that says, "Look, it's beginning to come together for me"?
COOPER: Because Trump could easily argue, well, Ted Cruz should win Texas. It's his home state. So a win there is not as satisfying, perhaps, as elsewhere.
[17:20:09] KING: When Rick Santorum started winning in 2012, OK, it was great, and he was winning some states because he was a Tea Party evangelical type candidate, and he won in the South. He was also winning some states because he wasn't Mitt Romney and the voters, there's a little bit of buyer's remorse or a little bit of "We don't like Romney in the South." The combination of those things helped Santorum, but it was obvious Romney was going to be the nominee.
If Trump hits a speed bump tonight, he's still going to mathematically have a pretty big lead. The question is can you by March 8 and by March 15, not just start picking up states; fundamentally bend the arc of the race? That's what they need to do.
COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. The other interesting thing that I'll be looking for is people who decided late in the race, who did they go for? Did they go for Rubio as we saw in Nevada, or Trump? That will kind of show if -- what impact some of the things that have come up in the news cycle have had.
We're going to take a quick break. We're going to be back in just a moment. More from our panel, Super Tuesday. The polls open right now in 12 states, the first big contest of this election season.
[17:25:33] BLITZER: We're getting live pictures. They're lining up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the primary there. People are voting. The polls in Chattanooga and throughout all of Tennessee, they close 8 p.m. Eastern, about 2 1/2 hours or so from now.
Going into Super Tuesday, Donald Trump was leading in the polls in every state except Texas. He's leading in Florida, as well, which votes two weeks from today.
Sara Murray's in Florida for us right now. The Trump Super Tuesday headquarters at his Mara Lago club in Palm Beach. I understand they're pretty confident about what's going to happen today. Is that right?
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. They're not out there predicting they're going to sweep every state, but they certainly do feel confident going into this.
And just to give you a sense of the difference in rhetoric we hear from the Trump campaign and expectations versus other campaigns, when I was talking to their campaign manager, he was saying, "Well, you know, it's not like we can come out with all of the delegates on Super Tuesday." A very different sentiment than these other campaigns were saying: "We're looking to come out with some delegates."
Like you mentioned, here in Florida tonight, Donald Trump is clearly looking ahead to some of these winner-take-all states that vote further down the field. They see the same public polling that we do. They feel comfortable here.
But look, Marco Rubio has recently taken a shot at Donald Trump's small hands and it appears to be getting under his skin. Take a listen to what Trump had to said about this earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I called him little Marco, little Marco. Hello, Marco. He said I have small hands. Actually, I'm 6'3", not 6'2". He said I have small hands. They're not small, are they? I never heard -- I never heard that one before. I've always had people say, "Donald, you have the most beautiful hands."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: There is your preview. This is what the race has come to. And this, I think, sort of foreshadows the dirty fights we are going to see ahead of Florida. Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, fighting about the size of Donald Trump's hands.
Back to you.
BLITZER: Who would have believed it? All right, Sara, thanks very much.
And by the way, Trump is going to hold a news conference, we're told, by his campaign 9 p.m. Eastern, later tonight -- Anderson.
COOPER: Wolf, we're back with our panel. Back with the panel as we get ready to learn how 595 Republican delegates and 865 for the Democrats are divided up. The biggest state so far in what's already an extraordinary presidential race.
I want to go over to our contributors: Kayleigh McEnany, Trump supporter; Bakari Sellers, a Clinton supporter; Mary Katharine Ham, conservative writer, who's not endorsed anyone yet; and Bill Sanders -- excuse me, Bill Press, a Sanders supporter. Not that much of a supporter. You're not a member of the family.
Kayleigh, what are you looking for tonight? You expect, clearly, a big night?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I do. I think Trump takes 10 out of 11 or possibly 9 out of 11. And I really want to emphasize what Gloria said during last night's segment. I think it's so important. She really captured what is driving Trump voters. You look, 90 percent in Georgia and Vermont and Texas, 90 percent are angry or dissatisfied.
COOPER: Are angry or dissatisfied. Yes.
MCENANY: And the lowest number we've seen is Vermont, where 87 percent are angry or dissatisfied. It's hard to get 90 percent of people to agree on anything, but they agree on this: they're angry at the federal government.
COOPER: And that not only leads them to Trump; it also brings them out to vote, which may be the reason we're seeing that enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans. So many more Republicans coming out.
MCENANY: No doubt about it. It's driving people to the polls, and it's going to play very well in Trump's favor, and perhaps Cruz's, as well.
COOPER: Bakari, does that enthusiasm gap worry you a lot with the Democrats?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It doesn't.
COOPER: It doesn't?
SELLER: I've been beating this back throughout the day. I look back at 2000, and that's the best indicator we have for what's happening presently, where you had Republicans who outvoted Democrats in primaries by over 3 million voters. That's a fact. And then we had Al Gore, who won the popular vote.
So, no, it doesn't bother me. I think that there is a lot of excitement on the other side. It's a more attractive train wreck to watch for all practical purposes.
So what we're seeing -- and it's hard because Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, for all their differences about Wall Street or guns, they're actually talking about issues. They're not talking about little hands. They're not talking about, you know, your mama. I mean, there's none of that's going on. I mean, this is a substantive debate on issues. And so sometimes it's hard to get your base excited.
COOPER: Mary Katharine, what are you watching tonight?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's going to be a good night for Trump. I think that's the way this is set up. I will say that, if there's going to be a surprise for Rubio, who's pretty good at playing the expectations game -- he's always like, "Well, I've done second or third. Look at that. Look what I've done here" -- it might be in Virginia, where you see a lot of new primary voters. It is a less angry electorate; it's set up nicely for him.
And anecdotes are not data, but I do know a lot of people in the area who are saying this anti-Trump vibe has hit a fever pitch a couple days before this happened, and it's an open primary in Virginia. So who knows what happens there.
[17:30:09] COOPER: To your first point, have we ever seen a race where so many candidates have declared second or third place a victory?
SELLERS: Marco Rubio gives the absolute best second and third place speeches I think anybody...
COOPER: He's got a lot of experience.
SELLERS: We saw it in Iowa. If you walked by his speech in Iowa and you didn't know what happened, you thought he won the race.
COOPER: Bill Press.
BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I was just -- every Rubio speech, it talks about "When I take the oath of office," right, or "When I give my first State of the Union," even though you have to win a primary.
But I'll tell you what I'm looking for. First of all, there's a sort of spin out there, I think, of a lot of media caught on to from the Clinton campaign, that this is it for Bernie Sanders. Poor Bernie, he put up a good fight. It's all over. It's not over.
COOPER: We started hearing that a lot after South Carolina.
PRESS: Yes. Right. And look, South Carolina, he got walloped, and he's the first one to admit it. But it's not going to be over tonight. Bernie's going to win Vermont. If he wins two, three, four, he's still in. He's got $42 million. Final point, he's got a role model to follow. Hillary Clinton in 2008, you just keep chugging and rolling up delegates.
COOPER: All right. A lot more to talk about with our panel. It's going to be a really fun night, a long night.
Let's get back to Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Anderson.
We've got more exit polling to release, as well. Our political director, David Chalian, he's here, together with our team. They've been crunching all of the data as it comes in. We'll share that information for you right after a quick break.
[17:35:58] BLITZER: We're heading into the final stretch of the most pivotal day yet in this race for the White House. Democratic and Republican voters have been having that their say across a dozen states on this Super Tuesday, and they're talking about what's on their mind. We have some Democratic exit polling information to share with you
right now. Our political director, David Chalian, has been crunching the numbers with our team. On the Democratic side, you're looking specifically at the attitudes among various races. Is that what you're saying?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You're looking specifically just to see the sort of composite of the electorate across these states, because what we saw in the early states, Wolf, we saw a big huge African-American vote in South Carolina that helped Hillary Clinton have a huge victory there. We saw African-Americans power her victory in Nevada, as well.
So we took a look across the state tonight to see what the racial makeup of each of these electorates are. Take a look at this. It's very interesting. In Georgia, we're seeing a nearly half of the voters there in the Democratic primary are African-American. Forty- six percent -- 42 percent white, 8 percent Latino.
Take a look at Alabama, another southern state, also nearly half African-American, 47 percent of the Democratic voters in the primary there in Alabama are African-American, 46 percent white.
Compare that, go up north, to Vermont, which is Bernie Sanders' home state, of course, 95 percent white in Vermont, 1 percent black is the turnout there today.
And in Massachusetts, also a predominantly white electorate, 86 percent white in Massachusetts, 4 percent African-American.
So you can see the different type of states across -- when you're battling across 11 states, as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are tonight on Super Tuesday, there are different makeups of the electorate that will potentially really alter the outcome in some of these states.
BLITZER: In South Carolina, more than 60 percent of the voters who turned out on the Democratic side were African-American, and they voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton. That's why she had a landslide win there.
CHALIAN: That's right.
BLITZER: All right, David. Thanks very much. Go back to crunching those numbers.
Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much. Let's continue with our analysts and our commentators.
Bakari, what are you looking for tonight?
SELLERS: Well, tonight, what we're seeing is Bernie Sanders is playing in five states in particular. He's playing in Vermont, where he should do very well. He's playing in Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and the two caucus states. But when you think about that, that only adds up to 282 total delegates, even if he were to win them all.
But in the Democratic Party we give away participation trophies. Everybody gets some. But Hillary Clinton in Texas is 222 delegates. So what we're going to see, as the night progresses, is that, even though Bernie Sanders may do well in these five states, we -- I anticipate Hillary Clinton actually building a delegate lead as she learned back in 2008, which may be insurmountable.
PRESS: I was going to point out, Bakari mentioned it, Bernie -- we give -- in the Democratic Party the delegates are given out proportionately.
PRESS: So even if Bernie wins five, he's not going to get all delegates in those five states. She will not -- she will not get all the delegates in the other states. There's going to be a real mix of the delegates here enabling both to move forward.
COOPER: And John King, I mean, Bernie Sanders can, no matter how he does tonight, can continue the message which he has been saying. He said it even after the huge loss in South Carolina, which is, you know, "We're continuing in this. We're going to continue to talk about things that other people aren't talking about."
KING: And he's had a mind-blowing fund-raising month, even though he's has had some setbacks at the polls. He's in this to stay. Does that mean all the way to the convention? That's what they're signaling right now. We'll see how it goes as we go.
There are states ahead when he gets to the Midwest, for example, you know, his message in Michigan, his message in Ohio, an interesting test for him in blue-collar states, where you have a manufacturing base which has had issues.
But I do think, if the Clinton campaign carries over the demographics with African-Americans across the south tonight, I do think there will be pressure on the Sanders campaign, to the degree that she will stand up and say, "I know you're a formidable candidate. I know you're still in the race. But you're not getting votes in the hard-core traditional base of the Democratic Party. How can you lead a party if its most important constituencies are so overwhelmingly voting for me?"
So Sanders will have something to prove. If he gets trounced again in the South tonight among African-Americans and in Texas against Latinos, he's going to have to work harder.
It's -- he's from Vermont. As David just said, Vermont is -- you know, it's 90 percent white. He -- it's not for lack of effort. In the history of his running he just hasn't had to compete for these constituencies. So he got a late start. The Clintons have been at this for 30 or 40 years, but he has to -- he's going to have to work harder to prove himself. You cannot lead the Democratic Party if African-American voters are going overwhelmingly for the other candidate. [17:40:18] COOPER: Does he then change his focus to Donald Trump at
that point? I mean, if he can't actually win against Hillary Clinton, does he continue in the race but sort of maybe shift more toward looking at Republicans?
KING: Building delegates gives him a big role at the convention, No. 1. If he builds a lot of delegates, even if he's not the nominee, he can have an impact on the tone, the tenor and the platform at the convention. But if he wants to be -- if he wants to compete later for the nomination, he needs to keep working to build these relationships.
Again, he's made the effort. He's -- I'm not criticizing him at al. He just has no history of doing this. And it's hard. It is a more traditional community. It is a place where relationships matter, and the endorsements that Hillary Clinton has in that community are helping her enormously. And it's just hard for Senator Sanders. She has a lead now, and she's going to -- trust me; she's going to keep her foot on the pedal and try to take advantage of it.
BORGER: And you know, the Achilles' heel that she has had against Bernie Sanders if two-fold: one, young voters; two, the trust issue. And you -- if you look at those, if those continue this evening, you'll see that those are issues, if she becomes the Democratic nominee, in a general election campaign, because those have been problems for her all along. They've been pretty consistent. And trust in particular will be an issue that I am sure that any Republican nominee would use against Hillary Clinton in the fall.
GERGEN: Anderson, he's obviously got the money. But very importantly, he's got a movement that he's still trying to build, and he wants to bring that movement into the convention where he can be a power broker.
COOPER: Right. He doesn't want to let that movement down.
GERGEN: He doesn't want to let the movement down, but he can also get commitments he would hope on the substantive side, on the policy side from her in terms of what her priorities would be as president. That, in effect, he delivers for his movement. So you can see that he has the incentive.
I think the path is a lot steeper than Bill makes out. But I see the incentives, and I think a lot of people think...
HENDERSON: And the path is steeper, not only because Hillary Clinton is doing well in those Obama 2008 states, but she's also doing well in those big states that she won in 2008. Places like Texas, it looks like she'll win tonight.
Can Bernie Sanders compete in a state like California, New York, Ohio, a state, Pennsylvania, states like that. So he does have a difficult -- really difficult path, I think, going forward.
We talked earlier about how these Republican primaries were shaped to get a nominee up early and it looks like they might get one tonight, right? This, to Super Tuesday, was designed by the Republican Party to sort of let somebody come in, more conservative Democrat in the South and get an early head start. Lying ahead, as people pointed out, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, could be better states among African- Americans in those states than the African-Americans in the South for Bernie Sanders.
COOPER: We have to take a quick break. Just ahead, a late update from everywhere in this multistate race that's making headlines, including Sanders' headquarters.
[17:47:25] BLITZER: They're lining up to vote in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as well as in Allen, Texas. The polls in Tennessee close at 8:00 p.m. Eastern in Texas, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Stay with us for all the latest information.
This Super Tuesday, by the way, looks different, depending on where you cast your vote. Some of the contests today are caucuses which involve a lot more steps than a primary.
Tom Foreman is joining me -- joining us now. Tom, walk us through the process, for example, in Colorado, once all of the precincts there are counted. Will we have a final delegate count?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Interestingly enough, no, we will not, Wolf. I'll explain why in just a moment. But first of all, let's talk about how chaotic it has been in trying to anticipate how many people are going to show up. Democratic officials at this school told the officials here to be ready for 200 to 2,000 people coming here to express their preferences in the Democratic caucus for either Bernie Sanders or for Hillary Clinton.
And unlike other caucuses we've seen, where they count people by having them actually physically separated into groups where they say, for example, all the Clinton people here, and all the Sanders people go over here. In this case, they're simply going to raise their hands where they are, and they will be counted one by one.
There are 29 precincts in this school, four will be in this room alone. And of course, as they are counted, Wolf, we'll be following moment by moment with real-time assessments of what percentage each candidate is getting from all of these combined precincts here or we can do it one precinct at a time.
But to your initial question, Wolf. Why would we not know who the real winner is here? Because, in Colorado, for both the Democrats and the Republicans, these delegates do not have to vote the way the room voted. As they progress through the process of getting ready to go to the national convention. They likely will, in some ways but they don't have to. And that makes all the difference in the world and it reflects a lot of the attitude in Colorado for many years, being a bit of a contrarian state, and that it's equally divided between Democrats, Republicans, and independents. And the people of Colorado very much want to have some flexibility as they go through the process -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So just to be precise, Tom, even when all the voting is done there, these Republican caucuses, we won't necessarily know how many delegates will go to each candidate, right?
FOREMAN: Well, Republicans and Democrats. We will have the math that will tell us roughly who's going on the Republican side, we may not even have that because they basically have said we're not going to do that process because they're trying to get around the national rule that says that these delegates then must vote for the party's nominee.
[17:50:05] That grew out of several years ago, Wolf, when we had people who supported, for example, Ron Paul, who said we want to go to the national convention and place that vote anyway -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Tom, thank you. Tom Foreman reporting for us.
We're waiting to hear from Senator Bernie Sanders. He's expected to address the crowd at his Super Tuesday headquarters in Essex Junction, Vermont.
I want to go to our Brianna Keilar who's there for us.
So, Brianna, what are you seeing and hearing where you are?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi. Well, you can see and hear what I am seeing and hearing, and while Bernie Sanders is off-site awaiting results coming in, you can hear this crowd here. And this is Essex Junction, Vermont, but this is just outside Burlington. This is a hometown crowd. And they're very excited to be here, already chanting his name, yelling, "Feel the Bern."
What we are hearing, Wolf, from the Sanders campaign is I think they feel good. I think they also feel a little realistic about what they're expecting here tonight, that perhaps they don't expect to perform as well as Hillary Clinton but they're sort of looking to the future. Even weeks ago they were talking about looking beyond Super Tuesday and looking to the contest in March, all the way to March 15th as more important to their strategy.
Of course, depending on how he performs tonight, that's really, I think, going to indicate how much he would have to make up here in the coming days, in the coming weeks and if he's able to do that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brianna, we'll check back with you, thank you.
This is the biggest day in the primary season so far and could give us a much clearer picture of what the general election will look like.
John King is standing by. He'll crunch the numbers as only he can right after a quick break.
[17:56:21] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the road to the White House is paved with delegates, of course, and there are hundreds up for grabs today on Super Tuesday. The candidates hoping today's contest get them one giant leap closer to their party's nominations in the general election.
John King has a closer look at how it's shaping up.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we'll start with the Republicans. Donald Trump already in the delegate lead, three wins after the first four states, looking to have a Super, Super Tuesday, to make a statement that he is inevitable as the Republican Party's nominee.
Again as he starts with 82 delegates, here's the state of play on Super Tuesday. Eleven states allocating Republican delegates. The one state that's in play, look, according to the polls, is Texas. Ted Cruz leading in most of the polls in Texas, so far this scenario we give Ted Cruz Texas. He gets the bulk of the delegates there. But if Donald Trump comes in a strong second, he'll still pick up some delegates.
Then 10 other Super Tuesday states where Donald Trump enters as the favorite. If he runs the board in those 10 states, look at this, he could be above 280. And if he wins by bigger margins, actually closer to 300 delegates by the end of the night on Super Tuesday.
Donald Trump believes that would make a statement to the Republican establishment. I have a big mathematical lead, you can't catch me.
Now is there any place on the map Marco Rubio can win? He very much needs that heading into later March including Florida on March 15th. As we watch tonight, let's look in Minnesota. It is one place where the Rubio campaign thinks it's possible. So for the sake of a scenario, let's assign Minnesota to Rubio. Wouldn't make that much of a difference, but it could give Rubio competition with Ted Cruz.
One of the big question marks today, not only will be how much is Donald Trump ahead of the delegate race, but who's in second and what's the gap between seconds and third? So Minnesota is one place, Virginia is another. We'll watch the Rubio campaign to see if they can overperform in northern Virginia and pick up that state. That would be a great night for Marco Rubio to finally get in the win column. But if you look at the math coming in, you would have to say that Donald Trump is the favorite in both of these states. Donald Trump expected to win them both.
Donald Trump expected, Anderson, to make a big jump in terms of his delegate lead heading into later March where Donald Trump hopes, again, to run the board and get past the halfway mark on his way to the Republican nomination. It's a big night for the stop Trump movement.
Now let's go over to the Democratic side. Like Trump, Hillary Clinton has won three of the first four. She's trying to make an emphatic statement tonight that she will be the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination. Same 11 states counting for the Democrats, let's know this for a fact, Bernie Sanders likely to win at home in Vermont. So we'll switch that one to his side. Bernie Sanders thinks the caucuses in Minnesota will play out to his favor. Clinton's completing but let's give it to Bernie Sanders for the sake of argument there.
Colorado, another state where the Sanders campaign thinks it can win. For the sake of this scenario, let's say he's right there. Oklahoma, the other fourth big target for Sanders on Super Tuesday. So let's assume Sanders succeeds in all four of his top targets, right? Even then, Hillary Clinton begins to pull away, but the Democratic rules are different. Sanders keeps it relatively close. Massachusetts another place to watch. The Clinton campaign thinks it can win. Sanders making a late charge there. That could be iffy. But here's the math.
Hillary Clinton likely to be over 540, maybe a little higher than that in terms of pledged delegates, the number of delegates you win on primary caucus day. And then on the Democratic race, there's this. You have to factor in -- she now has, Secretary Clinton, nearly 500, 468. The card number, super delegates, elected and other Democrats who get votes at the convention.
What she is hoping to say by the end of the night, Anderson, is Bernie Sanders, I'm beating you in pledged delegates, I have this whopping lead among Superdelegates, I'm almost to the halfway mark in the Democratic race. Hillary Clinton hoping Super Tuesday is a giant statement for her especially because of her support across the south with African-American and in Texas Latino voters as well -- Anderson.
COOPER: John, thanks very much.
The polls close in Vermont, Virginia and Georgia one hour from now. 12 states voting on Super Tuesday. 595 delegates at stake for the Republicans. 865 for the Democrats. Stay with us throughout the night for our full coverage of Super Tuesday which continues right now.
BLITZER: We're closing on the first results.