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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  February 24, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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he now has the mojo and the math on his side. "the lead" live from houston, texas, starts right now. donald trump pulling a hat trick, winning his third state in a row, getting more votes than marco rubio and ted cruz combined. could they go nuclear in a last-ditch effort to stop him at tomorrow night's critical cnn debate here? the senate gop is going to build a wall and it's going to be a great wall. the senate republicans vowing to block any nominee to the supreme court but what if president obama picks a republican governor? breaking details on what could be the ultimae curveball. plus chilling new images of the uber driver who admitted to a mass shooting in michigan happily wandering around a gun store just hours before the rampage.
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welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we are live in texas today preparing for the final republican debate before super tuesday. it is exciting, we are counting down the hours until tomorrow night's debate. this might be the last opportunity candidates have to stop donald trump and his momentum. breaking right now, cnn is announcing the official lineup and podium placement. in the center of the stage will be front-runner donald j. trump. to his right, senator marco rubio of florida, to his left, senator ted cruz of this home state, the lone star state of texas. to senator cruz's left will be governor job kasich of ohio and all the way over here will be dr. ben carson. this could be the last chance that these other candidates have to try to stop the momentum of the man in the middle. phil mattingly is in virginia
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where donald trump spoke earlier at the christian school founded by pat robertson. it's almost as if trump has so much momentum people are asking as if he's the nominee. people are asking what he would do on the first day of his presidency. >> reporter: and he has some rather ambitious plans on day one. if you look at what's happening in the republican race right now, it's not that outlandish of a question. gop operatives across the different campaigns noting if something doesn't change quickly, donald trump is in a very good place. a sweeping victory. >> we weren't expected to win too much and now we're winning, winning, winning the country. and soon the country is going to start winning, winning, winning. >> reporter: an air of inevitability starting to set in for the republican field. for donald trump, winner of three straight contests, a to do list for his first day in office. >> the first thing i'd do is knock out some of the executive
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orders signed by our president, especially the one on the border. i'm going to work out immediately to knock out obamacare and we'll start taking care of the vets and our military. >> reporter: for other republican candidates, a furious sprint to forestall a trump nomination. texas senator ted cruz picking up the endorsement of his home state governor, greg abbott, just days away from the crucial texas primary. >> we got six days. six days to lead in texas, to lead the country, so let's get to work. >> reporter: florida senator marco rubio, big name endorsements and big donors flocking his way, trying to convince all that there are states he can win. >> i didn't run for office to tear up other republicans. i'm going to tell people who i am and why i'm running and i'm going to give them a choice. if they elect me, they'll have someone who unifies this party, governs this party responsibly. >> reporter: and ohio governor john kasich campaigning in mississippi and louisiana. >> it's really not what the score is at the first quarter,
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it's what the score is at the end of the game. >> reporter: while also setting his sights squarely on other march contests in michigan and in his home state of ohio, vital to his hopes for survival. now each candidate mapping out a crucial week ahead in the lead-up to super tuesday. trump starting in virginia today. >> senator cruz gave us obamacare in a true sense. >> reporter: and moving on to his swing in the deep south. rubio and cruz targeting their own must-win states. >> i didn't just become a conservative like a year and a half ago when i thought about running for president. >> the only campaign that has beaten donald trump and the only campaign that can beat donald trump is this campaign. >> reporter: all trying to halt or at least slow the momentum that has some willing to proclaim the race may already be over. now, jake, the reality is there is still time. 25% of the delegates available in the republican primary contest up for grabs on super tuesday and we're not even to
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the winner-take-all states that come into play march 15th. as long as the race stays the way it is right now, the dynamic setting with this many candidates all battling it out for second place, there's not a lot of hope that somebody is going to step up and really take donald trump on soon. tomorrow night in houston will be a really good at least opening act to seeing what the plans are for what comes next, jake. >> it should be pretty clear, take out donald trump. trump just trounce rubio and cruz in the nevada republican caucuses. that ceiling that all the republican establishment was talking about trump having, well, it might not exist anymore. look at this. through the first four nominating contests, donald trump racked up just as many percentage points as 2012 republican nominee mitt romney. while romney was batting .500, trump is now three for four. but with time running out and super tuesday six days away, it seems rubio and cruz are caught in the seven stages of grief. stuck somewhere among shock and
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denial and bargaining. they could be attacking each other instead of going after the front-runner with focus. rubio this morning walking what's been his line and saying he's not in this to attack others and, thus, will not target trump unless he gets incoming fire first, while cruz last night argued that rubio doesn't even really seem to belong in the race anymore. let's talk about this all with the communications director and chief strategist for the republican national committee, sean spicer. thanks for being here. >> thanks for having us. >> big night tomorrow night. donald trump said he might not even need two months to wrap this up. is it possible that the math could work that way? could this race be wrapped up in two months? >> there's a difference becoming the actual nominee and getting the 1237 delegates that you need and the presumptive nominee. on super tuesday we have 11 dates going, 595 delegates on that day alone. and then between march 1st and
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march 14th, another 993 delegates. so you still need 1237. theoretically if you ran the entire table, he could have that wrapped up, but because they are proportional states up until march 15th, it would be very hard for that to happen. >> so not technically, but he could be the presumptive nominee. >> if someone gets to a thousand delegates and everyone has taken enough pieces and there's three or four people in there, it becomes mathematically impossible for someone else to catch you so in theory, yes, it's possible. >> the last time there was a debate, donald trump complained afterwards and said that the republican party and others had given all the seats away to big money donors and to his opponents. a, if you could address that criticism. and b, who's going to be here tomorrow night. >> that's a great question. so at the last debate we had a total of ten rnc donors, there were 1600 people in the audience. the largest tickets went to the candidates, then to the media partners and the state party.
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the rnc had 50 tickets, ten of which had donated to the rnc. the difference is the candidates have the greater share of the tickets. what that means is now there are more partisans in the room. so it's four against one or, you know, in that case it was six against one where you've got supporters of the other campaigns that are clearly there to support their guy. and that's a big difference in the audience. so they are going to be more lively. tomorrow night you'll see folks from the state party, elected officials, guests of cnn, guests of the university. again, the candidates will have the majority of tickets. the last time they had 107 tickets. this beautiful opera house that we're in right now is one of the smallest venues that we'll have a debate in. just about 700 people. the candidates will have the lion's share of those tickets. >> but you reject the idea that the debate last time was stacked with opponents of his that were from the big money donor classes. >> it's not that i reject it, the facts are what they are.
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just the facts are what they are. the beautiful thing about the systems that we use, which is i'm sure what every cnn viewer wants to know, we can literally track who's in, how many of the candidates have used their tickets, whether their guests have checked in so every one of the 107 tickets that went to each of the candidates did check in. each of them had equal footing going into that debate. >> i know you're not here to pick sides or tell campaigns how to run their campaigns, but i do think it's interesting -- you can hear the rehearsals going on right now. it is interesting this whole idea of lanes and the idea that, oh, i'm not going to go after donald trump until i take care of all these people in my lanes. here's an interesting sentence from "the new york times." in a presidential campaign during which super pacs spent $215 million, just $9.2 million or 4% was dedicated to attacking mr. trump, even as he dominated the polls for months. do you understand what's going on and why the candidates are so reluctant to go after the
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front-runner, the guy who's winning? >> i think that what they want, it seems anyway, is to wait until it's a one-on-one contest. trump has been very successful on people that pop their head up and taking them out one at a time. the one thing that's true about this cycle is comparing it to any other cycle, saying it's 12 or 8 or looking back and playing that analogy just doesn't work. this is a unique cycle in terms of the candidates and the process. and for people to look and say this is what worked in '12 or '08 or 'soo'04 right now -- >> if you're wondering what that distracting noise is, everybody is rehearsing and getting ready for the debate tomorrow night which is much more important than this interview, apparently. sean spicer, thanks for being here. tune in to cnn tomorrow night. it's the last time the republican candidates face off in a debate before the crucial
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super tuesday primary day. wolf blitzer moderates from the stage right behind me. it all starts at 8:30 p.m. eastern only an cnn. for the democrats, it's a fight for votes in the south. in just four days voters head to the polls in the democratic primary where african-americans made up 55% of votes. fast forward to 2016, today hillary clinton picking up a major endorsement as she and senator bernie sanders both try to show how they would confront the needs of the black community. cnn's joe johns joins me live from columbia, south carolina. joe? >> reporter: jake, a new line of attack for bernie sanders today, accusing hillary clinton of actively backing the 1996 welfare reform bill that her husband as president signed into law. some activists have said that bill essentially removed the safety net from needy families, the clinton campaign has said it
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reduced child poverty rates. today, clinton scoring another big endorsement. >> i think the middle class would be better served by hillary. >> reporter: senator minority leader harry reid telling cnn he's all in for the former secretary of state. >> she's a person who is a very quick learner. all you need to do is look at what happened after 9/11. gee, did she do a good job. she fought for new york like i've never seen anyone fight. >> reporter: reid's announcement comes after clinton's victory in saturday's nevada caucuses and could give the democratic front-runner a boost heading into next tuesday's super tuesday when democrats will vote in 11 states. looking to blunt clinton's momentum, bernie sanders is hitting the road, rallying supporters today in oklahoma and missouri. clinton today is keeping her focus on the state up next on the calendar, south carolina, where she holds a big lead in the polls. >> it's a special treat.
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>> reporter: democrats in the palmetto state will cast their ballots on saturday. and while sanders splits his focus with other states, he says he's not conceding the first in the south primary to his rival. >> we're not writing off south carolina. you all know that on march 1st there are a dozen states that are holding elections. and the nature of the world is that we've got to go out. >> reporter: south carolina played host to cnn's town hall tuesday night, providing both candidates an opportunity to make their case to african-american voters, who account for over half the democratic electorate there. >> i think it's important for people, and particularly for white people, to be honest about those and to recognize that our experiences may not equip us to understand what a lot of our african-american fellow citizens go through every single day. >> when youth unemployment in the african-american community for high school graduates is
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51%, 51% unemployed or underemployed, we've got a plan, to invest in jobs and education, not jails and incarceration. >> reporter: sanders again attacking clinton for not releasing transcripts of her paid speeches to goldman sachs. >> i am very happy to release all of my paid speeches to wall street. here it is, chris. there ain't none. >> reporter: clinton saying she would comply if republicans agree to do the same, but countering that she's being held to a higher standard. >> will you agree to release these transcripts? they have become an issue. >> sure, if everybody does it, and that includes the republicans. why is there one standard for me and not for everybody else, chris? >> reporter: the bernie sanders road tour continues tomorrow with stops in ohio, michigan, minnesota and illinois. the clinton campaign sticking around here to try to get out the vote. jake?
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>> joe johns, thank you so much. sticking to our politics lead, a supreme showdown in the works as republicans insist they will not hold a hearing for a nominee until there is a new president. but the white house is pushing forward anyway. reports vetting is already under way for a name that may put republicans between a rock and a hard place. stay with us, we'll be right back. this is my family. being a part of helping people in need is who i am.
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welcome back to "the lead." we're live in houston ahead of tomorrow's republican presidential debate. if you hear noises throughout the show, there's a lot of rehearsals going on, people getting ready, getting excited for tomorrow night. let's stay with the politics lead and what has become one of the most polarizing fights emerging in the 2016 race. indeed in the entire obama presidency. today president obama pushing back on senate republicans who have said they will block his plans to replace the late justice antonin scalia. senate republicans have turned their back on the entire process saying outright there will be no confirmation hearings on the president's pick. they won't even meet with any nominee as a courtesy. cnn's michelle kosinski joins me
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live at the white house. michelle, we're now hearing some of the names of potential nominees. >> reporter: right, jake. a lot of federal judges on that list, one of whom was born in cuba, one in vietnam, another in india, and also a federal -- a form el federal judge, brian sandoval, who is now the republican governor of nevada. that would be interesting. and today a week after we heard president obama just slam republicans over their stance on this, talking about the rancor and venom in politics, today he took ten minutes while he's sitting there with the king of jordan to very carefully make his case. only this time he said things like he understands the politics at play. he recognizes that. even that he's sympathetic. one day after top senate republicans decidedly dug in their heels saying they will not even hold hearings, won't even meet with the president's nominee -- >> this decision ought to be made by the next president.
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>> reporter: the president launched into a nearly ten-minute impromptu speech on why this should happen. >> i think it will be very difficult for mr. mcconnell to explain how if the public concludes that this person is very well qualified that the senate should stand in the way simply for political reasons. >> reporter: but while only days ago the president expressed deep frustration -- >> we've almost gotten accustomed to how obstructionist the senate has become when it comes to nominations. >> reporter: today, a strikingly different tone. >> i understand the posture that they're taking right now. i'm sure they're under enormous pressure. i'm sympathetic. i recognize the politics are hard for them. >> reporter: republicans have made much of the president himself joining a filibuster against now justice samuel alito in 2006, something the white house says he now regrets. president obama today also posted on scotus blog optimistically adding as
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senators prepare to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to consider the person i appoint, i hope they'll move quickly. now comes word that one of those potential nominees currently being vetted in that big black binder is republican nevada governor and former federal judge brian sandoval. says top senate democrat harry reid. >> i know if he were picked, i would support the man. >> right now a meeting is being planned, supposed to take place here at the white house sometime soon with leadership in the senate judiciary committee but it's unclear who will attend. at this point and of course when exactly this will happen, jake. >> all right, michelle, thank you so much. joining me to discuss this, chief council and policy director at the judicial crisis network. she was once a law clerk for justice clarence thomas. also michael eric dyson who's out with a new book called "the black presidency, barack obama and the politics of race in
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america." thanks both of you for joining me. dr. dyson, let's start with you. i want you to take a look at something that bernie sanders said last night at the c nchtnn hall about the supreme court vacancy and the republicans blocking the nominee. >> what you are seeing today in this supreme court situation is nothing more than the continuous and unprecedented obstructionism that president obama has gone through. and this -- and this is on top of this birther issue, which we heard from donald trump and others, a racist effort to try to delegitimatize the president of the united states. can you imagine that? >> dr. dyson, i think a lot of people -- i know there are a lot of people who agree with that and a lot of people who disagree, not just obstructionism, bernie sanders said, but also racism. >> sure. well, it would be hard to deny the fact that obama has faced
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unprecedented levels of obstruction in an american culture that is also skeptical about his birth and also skeptical about his legitimacy as president. 54% of republicans now think he is muslim. if he were muslim, that would be fine, but he happens to be a christian. many don't believe he is legitimately an american citizen. when you overlay that with the unprecedented amounts of obstruction he's confronted, a person on the white house lawn who refuses to let him as a reporter continue his conversation, a wight female governor who puts her finger h his face, a white congressman from south carolina who hollers "you lie." when you put all this together, the refusal to have an automatic raise in the debt ceiling that was denied to not any other president except obama, that gives many people who observe the political situation here the feeling that obama is under extraordinary duress not only that a normal president embodies and endures, but the overlay of racism has certainly sparred people like mr. sanders and others to conclude that there is some racist impulse here as
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well. >> carrie, today a source told cnn that the white house is vetting the governor of nevada, republican brian sandoval. would that be difficult for republicans to oppose if president obama actually nominated a former federal judge who's also a republican governor? >> look, jake, the president is simply not going to nominate someone like sandoval. he has said he was going to nominate someone who was not a moderate. i think this is really just a lot of spin and deception. you and i both know the president wants to know someone who will cement a liberal domination of the supreme court. he's doing everything he can and saying everything he can to make sure the american people don't have an opportunity to have their voices heard on this issue. but i think the reasonable outcome is the people deserve a voice on this issue. they deserve to have an opportunity to decide who will fill justice scalia's seat on the supreme court.
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>> dr. dyson, i want to ask you, couldn't this back fire on republicans if president obama makes a selection soon and that person goes the majority of the year without hearings? wouldn't that be on the minds of voters? isn't that also possibly part of the president's calculation? >> absolutely. i mean if he's smart, and he is, i think that certainly is a part of the calculus. you know, the american people have spoken twice. they put him in office two times. so the american people certainly have a voice that is echoed through obama's choice in that sense, but also more broadly, of course he understands that if he puts this person forward and it's a reasonable choice, that any reasonable person might decide that this jurist would do well on the supreme court, then the republicans look as what they are, an obstructionist bunch of people who refuse to do what the constitution suggests. and what obama does here is play a bit of, you know, wisened and insightful, if you will, because on the one hand he's putting forth a legitimate choice he
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believes in but secondly he understands if they are strict obstructionists and adhering to the letter of the law, his responsibility is to put forth a person in a reasonable amount of time and they should advise and consent about what that might mean. thank you they provide a classic case of obstructionism here, i think obama wins the political battle as well as the legal one in the long run. >> carrie, just a quick question for you, if possible. let's just pause at that if the roles were reversed, democrats would do the same thing to a republican president. either way, doesn't it set a horrible precedent? >> jake, the constitution gives the power to appoint justices to the president and to the senate. what the senate is doing in this case is exercising their shared responsibility to let the people have a voice. the voice they really deserve. what the democrats are doing is they're willing to say or do anything it takes, including going back on the very things they said during previous administrations in order to
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block the american people and deny them from having that voice. the democrats are trying to move the court in a direction the american people are uncomfortable with, whether that means rolling back the second amendment, eliminating any restrictions on abortions, unleashing the epa, the irs, that's not what the american people want and they deserve a chance to make their position known in november. >> all right, carrie severino and dr. michael dyson, thanks to both of you for being with us today. it houses the worst of the worst and president obama says it's time to close gitmo for good because terrorists use it as a recruiting tool. we'll ask the admiral who asked to be responsible for gitmo if the president is playing with fire. plus, disturbing details emerging about the confessed uber killer, including eerie reports about him driving around a playground asking people if they new missy or misty.
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see how you can save energy at pge.com. together, we're building a better california. welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper coming to you live from houston, texas. if you see and hear stuff going on behind me, it's because they're rehearsing for the big republican debate tomorrow. they're blocking, they have candidates -- stand-ins for candidates testing the mike phones, testing the lighting, making sure everything will be perfect for you when you tune in tomorrow night. lingering doubt over a cease-fire agreement in syria between the united states and russia. officials telling cnn that the pentagon is considering a plan b in case the truce fails. the pentagon is growingly suspicious of moscow's motives. that's because while pursuing the agreement, russia has also been stepping up air strikes,
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gaining key ground within the war-torn country. still no word yet on what the plan b would look like, but let's talk about it with admiral james stevritas, currently dean of the fletcher school at tufts university. admiral, good to see you again, thanks for being here. the u.s. and russia agreed to a temporary cease-fire in syria, which is supposed to take effect this weekend. now, the cease-fire does not include isis or the al nusra front which has affiliation with al qaeda. so in reality without those terrorist groups involved, how important or effective could this truce be? >> i think, unfortunately, jake, it's neither one. it has, i suppose, i minor symbolic value, but in reality when the major players here, the united states and russia, iran and saudi arabia are at opposite sides, it's highly unlikely we'll get this thing to take at this point. >> do you believe, admiral, that the russians will uphold their
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end of the bargain? and if not, as the pentagon is discussing a plan b, what might that look like for the u.s.? >> i am not confident that russia will hold their end of the bargain because they haven't held their end of the bargain, for example, in ukraine over the last year or so. highly unlikely they'll do so here in syria. i think they'll continue to strike against the moderate opposition. why? because they're supporting assad. so plan b, i think, is a campaign without russia, and i think it probably at some point has a no-fly zone in a safe area that we can really build out a moderate opposition. it's probably going to include jordan, perhaps jordanian ground troops. i'm sure that was a conversation with the president and the king today. and it will include a lot of work, jake, coming from iraq over into syria. so it's going to be a complicated and messy campaign. let's hope we can get the russians on side, but i'm not
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confident. >> let's turn from isis in syria and iraq to isis in libya. as you know, u.s. air strikes took out an isis training camp in libya friday and killed a top operative, according to the pentagon, but the so-called islamic state is growing its ranks there with more than 6,000 fighters. how can the u.s. slow the expansion of isis across the middle east and africa? >> jake, i think there's a short game which is hard power. we're going to have to use that. we're using it pretty effectively in iraq, in syria, in raqqah against the islamic state. i think the first strike that you saw in libya will not be the last strike in libya. so there's a hard power short game component. medium term we've got to go after their financing and the long game is going against their recruiting efforts, their proselytizing using strategic communications to try to shift this dialogue and that really entails partnering with the arab world. again, back to the conversations
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today between the king and the president, that's the long game, but you're going to need all three from hard power to soft power to get this thing done. >> president obama announced plans yesterday to close the detention center at guantanamo bay. he said it does not advance our national security and serves as a recruiting tool for terrorism. republicans say that these are the worst of the worst and should not be housed on american soil. you were in charge of u.s. southern command, which was responsible for gitmo. you were in charge from 2006 to 2009. what do you think of the president's plan? is it a mistake? do you agree with it? >> first of all, i think we all want to close gitmo. there's no real debate about that. but i think over the long term, the question is have we done the detailed work to come up with a plan that will take this last 100 detainees. and these really are the worst of the worst. let's remember we started with 800 detainees there. we're down to about 100. these are people like khalid sheikh mohammed who personally
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decapitated journalist danny pearl, so i think we need a much better and much more thought out plan than was presented by the administration today. that's what senator mccain is saying, and i think i stand with him on this one. let's figure out a way eventually to close it, but let's have a better plan than what we've seen so far. >> admiral, it's always good to have you on the show. thanks for coming on. >> thanks a lot, jake. breaking news. sirens going off in north carolina and virginia. tornado warnings and lots of them. these twisters could be headed right towards the nation's capital. more on these potentially deadly storms right after this quick break. everyone's lookin' red carpet ready. my man, lemme guess who you're wearing... toenail fungus!? whaaat?!? fight it! with jublia. jublia is a prescription medicine... ...used to treat toenail fungus. use jublia as instructed by your doctor. jublia is workin' it! most common side effects include... ...ingrown toenail, application site redness,... ...itching, swelling, burning... ...or stinging, blisters, and pain. oh!!
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wee some breaking weather news for you now. we have several tornado warnings right now stretching from the carolinas up into the commonwealth of virginia. let's show you some live images from waverly, virginia, where there are reports of a tornado that touched down and caused damage. let's go to meteorologist tom sater in the cnn weather center. >> waverly, virginia, is 40 miles south of richmond, virginia, and we have confirmed two fatalities and possibly a third as authorities are working hectically to figure this out. most likely this was a tornado. this is a very unusual february event where after three fatalities late yesterday in the deep south, tornado watchers are now in effect from central areas of north carolina all the way up into areas of virginia, including washington, d.c., area, also over toward areas of philadelphia. so to have tornado watches this far north is extreme.
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already we have seen numerous tornado warnings in the last hour and a half. we've got about six of them now moving into the raleigh-durham area, moving in toward richmond and it won't be long until they move in toward the d.c./baltimore region as well. the waverly, virginia, tornado, 40 miles south of richmond or 60 from virginia beach has moved so fast, at 60 miles per hour, it has already made its way near the bay bridge. so again, if the winds aloft get down to the surface, even without tornados, jake, there's going to be a lot of damage with this. so again, extreme situation. i mean, sure, there's blizzard conditions right now from chicago to detroit, but when it comes to life-threatening weather, this is where we're going to find it. numerous tornados confirmed on radar or unconfirmed will most likely be confirmed as damage reports will start filtering in. and again, we're going to watch this line move to the east-northeast, but the individual storms, jake, are moving at 55 to 65 miles per hour. so a life-threatening event
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moving into washington, baltimore, philadelphia. the storms will reach new york city a little bit later, but they should not have the severe elements such as isolated tornados. but still, some pretty damaging winds will be associated with these. >> tom, how long do you anticipate this tornado threat will last this evening? >> well, i think it's going to go on for at least a couple more hours. we could see this going into maybe 7:00. again, as it makes its way northward into the cooler air, i think we're going to lose the elements needed for the tornados, but the event continues back to the north. look at the great lakes getting buried. in fact several inches expected there. but as far as the tornados, again, from raleigh, d.c., baltimore up towards just south of new york, probably until 7:00, maybe 7:30, possibly 8:00 tonight. they're moving very fast, jake. >> all right. two fatalities already confirmed. tragic. tom sater, thank you so much. it's the republican establishment's worst nightmare. donald trump looking as if he is the prohibitive nominee. so will they ever actually rally
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around him? that story next.
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welcome back to "the lead." we're live from houston where they're preparing for tomorrow night's republican debate. if you are a republican and you don't want donald trump to be your party's standard bearer in the general election, if you happen to think that he is a pox on your own house, well speak now or forever hold your piece because trump just won nevada and super tuesday is on the horizon and he looks like the inevitable nominee, quite frankly. joining me now to talk about the nominating race, cnn political commentators s.e. cupp and ana navarro. s.e., let me start with you. are you ready for nominee donald trump? >> you know, i think i have accepted that donald trump could be the nominee. i still don't believe that he could become the president. >> why not? >> well, he's got the highest unfavorables in gallup polling history of any political figure on either side. that leads me to believe that he would have a really tough time in a general election. now, hillary clinton's
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unfavorables are high as well but not as high as donald trump's. so, look, i've been saying for months that the damage that donald trump has done and will continue to do to the republican party is lasting and serious. if he wins the nomination, it's increasingly looking like he could, that's going to take a long time to undo a lot of the damage that he's done this cycle. >> ana, do you agree with that? a trump person might say damage? he's getting people excited, we have record turnout in iowa, new hampshire, south carolina and nevada. what damage is he doing? he's bringing in a whole bunch of people that are going to heparins win the election? >> i actually think both things are true. they're not mutually exclusive. i've got to tell you, i'm slowly and begrudgingly moving from denial to grief at this point. i don't think he can be elected president. maybe the answer for me is that i believe in god, there is a god and he loves america and i just cannot imagine that donald trump
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could be the nominee or the president of the united states. >> so you're saying god would support hillary clinton? am i misunderstanding that? >> how about the sandernista. >> you were a big supporter, a very loyal supporter of governor jeb bush who dropped out of the race. you just got off a phone call that he had with supporters. what did he have to say? is there any idea that he's encouraging people to support his former protege, marco rubio? >> he said exactly what i expected him to say kmfz a very sincere, heartfelt thank you. i remember when jeb lost the election for governor in 1994, it was a difficult experience. losing an election is always difficult. i can tell you as a supporter, i feel like i'm sitting political -- i need a few days to recover. i think for him it's even much more so. no, what he did say was that he hoped to make a difference now in the private sector and that he hopes a conservative gets elected to the presidency of the
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united states. >> s.e., "the new york times" is point out how marco rubio's campaign is starting to resemble what jeb bush's campaign looked like in terms of the endorsements. >> yeah. >> donors coming around, an air of inevitability. that campaign strategy didn't really work for bush. >> right. >> are you worried about marco rubio adopting it? >> look, marco rubio has been campaigning as the candidate who can win, and certainly among republican voters, he polls the highest. he is like ted cruz, like john kasich, trying to be the last guy not named trump standing to take on trump in a two-man race. i think he's positioned very well to do that. recent polling in virginia, for example, has rubio creeping up to trump. rubio just won millennials in nevada, the only age voting block that trump did not win. here on college campuses, i knee a lot of enthusiasm for marco rubio. >> you guys sound like -- i'm a
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loyal philadelphia phillies fans. you guys sound like phillies fans. how you're going to make your way to the world series. you don't have any pictures. >> look, it's difficult, right? it's difficult when you have yet to win one state. i think it's very important for marco to win at least one state next week on super tuesday and winning florida on march 15th is that much more important. >> for sure. >> equally for ted cruz to win in texas. if donald trump thumps them in their respective state, i think it's -- you know, it's donald trump or bust at that point. >> tuesday night i want you to know i'm going to have bottles of bourbon in my office if you need them. >> can we have them on air? i know it's lent -- >> that sounds like good ratings. >> at this point we are in a special period. >> i'll get some margaritas as well. i know you're a big fan. when we come back, we'll have much more from the debate stage here and a reminder, of course, be sure to tune into cnn tomorrow night.
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it will be the last time that the republican candidates face off in a debate before the all-important super tuesday and it all starts at 8:30 p.m. eastern only here on cnn. that is it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i turn you over to brianna keilar in "the situation room." we'll take a quick break. back after this. it takes a lot of work... to run this business. but i really love it. i'm on the move all day long... and sometimes, i just don't eat the way i should. so i drink boost® to get the nutrition that i'm missing. boost complete nutritional drink has 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to support strong bones and 10 grams of protein to help maintain muscle. all with a great taste. i don't plan on slowing down any time soon. look for savings on boost® in your sunday paper.
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[ rock music throughout ] [ engine starting ] [ tire screech ] [ car engines roar ] [ pit crew audio ] when you're a fan it's never just one thing, it's everything. introducing nascar on xfinity x1, get live race stats right on your tv. change the way you experience nascar with xfinity x1. happening now, trump stakes. a dominating third straight win has republicans wondering if donald trump is firmly on the path to the republican nomination. can his rivals say anything to slow his momentum during cnn's upcoming high-stakes debate. cruz's warning.
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home in texas and invoking the alamo, embattled senator ted cruz turns up the rhetoric, telling voters the time for clowns is past. supreme fight. president obama jabs back at senators for refusing to consider anyone that he nominates to the supreme court. tonight an intriguing new twist. could he nominate a republican? plus, nuclear nightmare. pentagon planners consider the deadly possibility of kim jong-un lashing out with nuclear weapons if he feels threatened. could he hit the u.s.? wolf blitzer is on assignment preparing for thursday night's presidential debate. i'm brianna keeilar and you're n "the situation room." as we count down to cnn's rip debate here in houston, texas, donald trump is looking ahead to super tuesday. his chance to deliver a series of knockout blows to his remaining rivals. now, trump is also starting to

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