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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin  CNN  February 25, 2016 11:00am-1:01pm PST

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all right, top of the hour. i'm poppy harlow in for my friend brooke baldwin. you're watching special coverage of the debate which is, john berman, tonight. >> thanks, poppy. i'm john berman at the university of houston. right here in less than seven hours, you will see the smallest field of republicans on stage so far under the greatest pressure in this campaign so far. behind me are the great students of the university of houston. they were talking to cnn's jake tapper just a few minutes ago. you can see they are excited and
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for good reason. because tonight the debate, the stakes are very high. donald trump with all the momentum now after three straight wins. the last, a near landslide in nevada. now at least some of the established resistance looked like it might be beginning to crack. trump just received his first endorsements from members of congress while each of his competitors to some degree is calling on all of the others to get out of the race to give a single trump alternative a chance to break through. senior white house correspondent jim acosta is live. i think he is inside the debate hall. where any moment, the candidates will arrive to do their walk-throughs. jim, give us the lay of the land. >> you bet, john, that's right. these candidate walk-throughs are expected to happen any moment. you'll see all five of them where we think representatives for trump are filing through over the next couple of hours.
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let me show you what it is like. on the end, john case,ic then ted cruz, then on the other side, marco rubio. on the far end behind me, ben carson. the debate layout, stage layout, is essentially an illustration where the race stands right now, john. donald trump is the man in the middle. he is taking heat from all sides. including from the past gop nominee mitt romney. earlier today, marco rubio was saying donald trump supports parts of obamacare. ted cruz last night was saying this is no time to take a chance with somebody out of pt barnum's circ circus. so, you know, this is going to be really the last -- one of the last chances for some of these establishment figures to try to leave a mark on trump. everybody who's attacked them so far has been unable to knock them off the front-runner
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status. donald trump said every time i'm attacked, it doesn't work. so he says he's prepared for what he thinks is coming later on tonight and that is a much more aggressive posture for marco rubio. but donald trump has more problems than these candidates who are going to be on stage here. he's dealing with mitt romney as you know, john, over the last 24 hours, he and mitt romney have been in the twitter war over trump's tax returns. the gop front-runner has not released his tax returns. last time around, four years ago, you know that all too well, there was a controversy about mitt romney's tax return, when are his tax returns coming out. so mitt romney is sort of dishing this out to donald trump, saying, hey, i did this, all the traditional candidates did this. you got to do this too. just in the last hour, mitt romney put out a tweet saying #whatishehiding, so i think that's a clear indication inside the gop establishment, john, there's some panic going on about donald trump and they're trying perhaps what is a last
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ditch effort here to weaken this gop front-runner to perhaps give people like marco rubio and john kasich a chance to shine on this debate stage later on tonight, john. >> jim acosta, thank you so much, inside that debate hall where as we said, it may be the last best chance for some of these candidates to shake the momentum that trump does seem to have now. so much to discuss. with me, david gergen. cnn political commentator amanda carpenter who used to be the communications director for senator ted cruz. also with us, todd gillman, the washington burreau chief for th dallas morning news. this back and forth over donald trump's taxes, where the main aggressor is one willard mitt romney, the 2012 republican nominee. i suppose there are two questions. you've been on the record with us saying you think at some point donald trump will be vetted more than he has in the past and this may be one of those areas that will take place in. be that as it may, is willard
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mitt romney the right messenger for this attack? >> it certainly does show he is the embodiment of the establishment. for him to compae out, i think it's unprecedented to come out like this. but where's his evidence? what does he know that we don't know? interesting to hear. >> impressive for the man who was the republican nominee. i should note that donald trump announced mitt romney four years ago and in case anyone forgets, mitt romney went hat in hand to trump towers to essentially beg for that endorsement. >> we will eventually see his tax return but we will not see him in march. >> all right, amanda carpenter, ted cruz had some good news today in the form of a poll here in the state of texas. texas is a super tuesday state. it votes five days from now, next tuesday. ted cruz out in front in that poll. fairly comfortablcomfortably. nevertheless, of all the
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candidates, he has had the slowest path recently. >> if he can do what he's done well in previous performances, which i really think is read the mood of the room. he sensed the anger at the media, who, they're trying to get the candidates to fight each other. you listen through tick tock, well, you ask the candidate this, and that, and i'm not going to stand for it. but the stakes are a little higher this time around because you can't just beat up on the media. you have to take it to donald trump who is so wild, so unpredictable, you don't know what's coming. something has to shut the dynamic of the field. if anybody is equipped, in a position to do it, think it's ted cruz and we'll just have to see what happens. >> take it to trump. you say there's a lot of people inside cruz's world who say that means stop taking it to marco rubio, leave marco rubio alone. where do you stand on that? >> well, listen, trump is the front-runner. i think you have to go at him. wasn't good enough for marco rubio to beat jeb bush. we're not playing for second place. i think now is the time to play
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for first and so i think that's where you have to train the fire. >> todd gillman, last night, we saw what could be a preview for marco rubio. one of the big questions this entire campaign has been will marco rubio ever take on trump? last night, he did. he actually named trump by name, went after him on his statements on israel. said he would be neutral towards israel and the palestinian authority when he becomes president and marco rubio says that's a bad idea. is that a sign of what's to come tonight? and do you think marco rubio pushes it even further? >> there's no question, for rubio, there are two questions to go after trump. one is because he has to beat trump. and the other is because he needs to stop focusing on ted cruz because he needs to establish himself as primarily the anti-trump. someone's got to do that. now, there's also an imperative for him and trump both to kill off ted cruz. a lot of reasons to think that trump still sees cruz as the guy who most overlaps with his
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potential electorate and in trump world they think they can dispatch of the more establishment friendly rubio although he's not so establishment as kasich. but i think everybody's going to go after trump and i don't think everybody's going to lay off of cruz either. >> you know, it's interesting, we saw a bunch of polls come out today. there's the texas poll i was just talking about. hopefully we can look at these polls that shows cruz out in the state texas, also a quinnipiac poll from the state of florida which shows trump in front of rubio fairly comfortably. and that could be fairly indicative of the fact that marco rubio can't wait anymore. he can't sit back and wait for the field to winnow anymore. it's time to talk about donald trump. >> that quinnipiac poll had trump up 44 to 28 and marco rubio's home state. so that is wow. let me just say, it is obviously in trump's interest to knock off ted cruz in his home state of texas. knock off rubio in his home
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state of florida. to knock off john kasich in ohio. but i don't think it's bad news for trump if he loses texas. if he wins both the other states and loses texas, he'll have momentum coming out of it and cruz stays in the race and he needs cruz to stay in the race. >> that is right, because that keeps rubio weak with the field splintered and allowed trump to keep going forward, rally state by state. >> cruz needs to buy time in order to catch up the delegate race. if he can make it to the winner take all states in the second week of march, there's more time to play. >> the conspiracy theory, if we can put that back up, do say that is the best trump could have because it means cruz sticks around, means the field doesn't clear, it means john kasich makes it, marco rubio is vulnerable and there's just as many candidates. and that means, you know, donald
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trump keeps racking up enough delegates -- >> one person we haven't talked about quite yet, but i'm interested to hear the dynamic, he has been more aggressive than i expected to marco rubio. i got to think that makes many people, especially in the establishment who do want to see marco rubio do well, mad at john kasich. how far can he push the envelope because he hurts the party? he's pushing it. >> you know why he's pushing, because marco rubio's people is pushing him. no one likes to be hold to drop out the race. kasich had just as many second place finishes as marco rubio so i think they resented. >> game plan donald trump for me. it was really easy to do, really easy to guess what donald trump might do. >> i think that he is going to try to project being presidential. i think it's time for him. i think he understands the time has come for him to be vetted on policy. he's going to take all kinds of
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incoming from the moderators from his opponents and hopefully for his sake he's boned up a little bit and he'll lash out at anybody who lashes out at him. i think that's his typical game plan. >> you think he's capable of that? that requires restraint, david gergen, do you think donald trump can show restraint on that debate stage? >> i keep wondering that and keep disappointing. i just think he can't help himself, you know, it's sort of in his nature. if somebody goes at him, he goes back, he goes back hard. he's pujleistic. >> people have said he does that and still wins. last word, amanda, it may have hurt him in south carolina. he may have won by more in south carolina, had he not had that demolition derby over september 11th and george w. bush. >> let's not forget, in previous debates, usually donald trump is more quiet than he is in interviews. there's a lot of pressure on donald trump maybe to finally start answering questions but usually he just sits back, lets other people fight and goes on twitter late that night to break into the headlines the next day.
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so i think this will be harder for trump than we anticipate. >> hang on one second, it's marco rubio, the senator from florida, arimriving for his walk-through on this debate stage. can't see -- there he is, getting out of the car, walking in. he's going to walk on that stage any minute, check out his lectern, see where his family will be sitting, and make sure he's comfortable on that stage. >> a water bottle. >> very comfortable -- well, one debate, not so much. but we'll talk about that in a little bit. david gergen, amanda, thank you. more candidates will come for their walk-throughs tonight. we'll be watching all afternoon long. don't forget tonight is the night. wolf blitzer, moderates the final debate before super tuesday. it all begins at 8:30 p.m. right here on cnn. also on cnn international. poppy, back to you in new york. >> all right, thank you so much. we'll be back with berman in houston in just a moment. coming up next, a lot ahead this
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hour. donald trump, ted cruz, john kasich, to tour that stage ahead of the debate. you'll see it live here. a debate coach joins me live on why he thinks donald trump should be completely different on the debate stage tonight than he was the last go-around. a pretty fascinating strategy he'll put forth. as the mitt romney/donald trump fight escalates, a blast from the past. video that may teach us a lot about this race. you'll want to see it. this is cnn special live coverage. stay with us. ♪virgin islands nice ♪ ♪so nice ♪so nice, so nice ♪ spend a few days in the u.s. virgin islands and return with a lifetime of experiences. that's virgin islands nice.
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john berman here at the university of houston. inside the opera house here, inside the debate hall, you can see marco rubio, i'm taking a look at him right now, he is standing behind the lectern where he will be at the debate tonight. that is cnn washington bureau chief showing him the ropes. the candidates usually like to see. they like to see where the moderator wolf blitzer will be sitting. they want to know where the cameras. they want to know where their families will sit. they want to know if there are any lights or buzzers that will go off. this is a moment just to get comfortable with the surroundings. you don't want that moment to be the first time you're there. you don't want any surprises at all. such a big night for marco rubio. easily the most important debate for him so far this cycle. he needs to do something to knock donald trump off his perch. just a few days to go before the
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crucial super tuesday voting. voters in 11 states will cast she btheir ballot. rubio wants to make sure trump doesn't enjoy a clean sweep, the likes of which he's been having the last three contents. as marco rubio gets comfortable there. takes some notes. we'll go back to poppy harlow in new york. poppy. >> beberman, thank you so much. follow the money they say, follow the taxes in this case. mitt romney with the accusation against donald trump that a, quote, bombshell, could be hidden within trump's tax returns. trump calling romney a dope and giving no indication when he will release his tax returns. romney tweets this, methinks the donald doth protest too much. show voters your back taxes. #whatishehiding. the tension between the two men is not exactly a new thing.
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in 2012 trump said this about romney. >> he's a great guy in person. he's got a great personality. family, everything. >> can you help him bring that to the -- >> i don't know, maybe it doesn't translate, but that doesn't make him bad in terms of what he does. he'll be a great president, you know, the sad part about the world in which we live, if you do well in television, you maybe can get elected to something, but that doesn't mean you're going to be any good at what the big picture is, which is run a country. >> let's remember, trump backed romney, supported him in 2012, let's talk about this with zeke miller, a times political reporter. let's listen, zeke, to the last part of that interview he did with ashleigh banfield. >> the sad part about the world in which we live, if you do well in television, you maybe can get elected to something but that doesn't mean you're going to be any good at what the big picture is which is running a country. >> zeke. what do you make of that?
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>> i mean, that's donald trump making the case that every establishment republican has been making against donald trump for years. that you can -- that year, that you can take advantage of the celebrity, the platform that television gives you. and then turn it around. but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be any good at the job. that's what republicans have been arguing about all year. but voters don't seem to buy it. donald trump discovering it makes you a very good candidate for sure. he doesn't even have to ask that second question of whether or not he'll be a good president yes. >> i assume he'll say in his case it's different, right, zeke? >> certainly, he would argue he would take the business experience and spin that forward. but that's, you know, that's the same trump has been making all cycle, his celebrity has given him such a boost here, that he hasn't had to turn around and answer that question himself, kind of amazing. >> the tax return fight it all started with this -- >> we have good reason to believe that there's a bombshell
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in donald trump's taxes. either he's not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he or he hasn't been paying the kind taxes he would expect him to pay or perhaps he hasn't been giving money to vets or the disabled like he's been telling us he's been doing. >> that was mitt romney yesterday. no idea what this bombshell could be. as david gergen said, we have no insight into what mitt romney's talking about, he hasn't put anything specific out there, but what could be that bad in the tax returns that could derail trump, zeke? >> donald trump has gotten away with a lot this cycle. it's hard to come up with a figure that would be so bad, maybe he didn't pay taxes, whatever, but notable this is the same charge leveled against mitt romney four years ago by harry reid, the democratic leader in the senate, and really it was the charge that hurt him more than anything else. most people don't have to think
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about hiding a bombshell in their taxes, they pay taxes and they don't think about it again. this just highlights the wealth. it cuts to that point. it's notable mitt romney is making that charge against donald trump, the charge made against him four years ago. >> everything's fair in love and politics this happens all the type, but can you take us through what was most crucial from romney's tax returns you think hurt him with voters? because what's very clear is it does not hurt donald trump with middle class voters or even lower income voters, the fact he was a millionaire, that hasn't hurt him at all. >> with mitt romney, it was his tax rate was lower than what most people were paying. charitable contributions. with donald trump that would just come back to, if he doesn't pay anything in tax, it's because he's exploited the tax system. he would just say i'm winning and i'll bring that to the country. he's kind of teflon on those
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issues. >> finally want to listen to what cruz said about this. let's roll it. >> you know, an awful lot of people speculate that he hasn't made nearly as much money as he says. who know because he hasn't released his tax returns. i do think mitt has a good point. that the voters are entitled to know before they vote because you better believe that democrats if there's anything in there, the democrats are going to go to town on this. >> okay, he says that, zeke, but he hasn't released his tax returns. none of the candidates that are going to be on stage tonight have released their tax returnset. >> that is kind of striking. none of them are going to be able to make that charge unless they've released the tax returns in the next six, seven hours before they get on stage. you can almost imagine back in cruz headquarters or rubio's headquarters somebody's frantically running off photocopies of these things to try to get out there so they can make that challenge to trump. none of them have the capability to make that argument because they haven't done it themselves.
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>> miller, thank you very much. next, inside the cnn spin room at the debate hall as the candidates begin their walk-throughs before tonight's big showdown. also with donald trump sitting at the undisputed front-runner, one congressman says it is time for either marco rubio or ted cruz to drop out of this race. so which candidate should stand down? try heads or tails? >> i don't want to suggest how they should do it. it's not a matter of running from the fact but yes, if it comes down to flipping a coin, then flip a coin for the sake of future.
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welcome back. john berman at the university of houston in houston, texas, the site of cnn's political debate tonight. there we go. this is video from moments ago. ohio governor john kasich arriving, outside the debate hall. he is going to take his final walk-through. get the lay of the land. see the stage. be instructed where everyone else will be sitting. we're going to see him on that stage. stand by for that. governor kasich of ohio trailing in most polls but saying he is in this for the long hall. at least through march 15th when the state of ohio votes. we are just a few hours away now from this debate. donald trump, he will be at center stage in the debate tonight as a function of the fact he's led in all the national polls. he's coming off three straight wins including a big win in nevada, the win in south carolina, and the win in new
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hampshire. our sara murray is in a room right now where everyone says they win. the spin room, where the candidates and their staffs will go after the debate to declare victory no matter what happens. sara. >> john, you're absolutely right. this is where everyone will declare victory. the stakes for these guys on stage tonight could not be higher. this is the last debate before super tuesday. this is where they'll try to stop donald trump's momentum or at least slow. if you're marco rubio or ted cruz, not only are you trying to do that, you're trying to kill each other off. both honest about the fact they're trying to take on trump one on one but they need the other guy to get out of the race in order to get after it. marco rubio sort of foreshadowed last night some of the attacks we might see from him, saying essentially this is a guy who is not prepared to be commander in chief and this is not a guy who is going to defend israel. as for cruz, he's got rubio to deal with and he's got his own
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problems. he has to put to bed this narrative that he has a campaign that is running dirty tricks. i'm told by his advisers he is going to push back forcefully on the narrative tonight, john. >> all right, sara murray for us inside the spin room, wonder what the spin will be after the debate tonight. who will leave smiling, who not so much. we did just get one piece of news from the debate stage itself. donald trump will not be doing the last-minute walk. that is one of his aides, an adviser to donald trump. we are told his adviser. going around, checking things out for the billionaire businessman. he'll no doubt relate the lay of the land so donald trump feels comfortable when he takes that stage tonight at 8:30 p.m. eastern time. here to talk to me about what we can expect tonight, chief washington correspondent jake tapper, anchor of "the lead," host of "state of the union," winner of one cnn "quiz show."
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>> that was coffee kofland. you don't know him? >> tonight, want to know what each one of these guys has to prove on this stage. start with donald trump. >> donald trump i think can start thinking about the general election, i think he can start positioning himself for that. which is not to say he needs to start running left or toward the center, but i think in temperament it might be advised for him to start reassuring the republican base donors, et cetera, that he really can be president. he certainly can be a formidable political candidate. can he actually be president? i think that's something that he could think -- not that he takes anybody's advice, especially mine, but that's something he could think about. rubio and cruz, they need to not only lay a glove on him, on trump, they need to throw a punch. that's marco rubio for sure. they need to throw that -- he
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needs to make -- first of all, amanda car pent, former cruz aide, has been making this argument for days now. you almost see no adaptation by cruz or rubio to what the republican electorate is. you've seen both sanders and clinton have modified how they talk about things to try to appeal to democratic voters where they are. you don't see that from rubio and cruz. you see then doing what they have been doing for six months, for nine months, and not particularly trying to pick up on the fact that many, many republican, as we've seen them go to the polls in the fourth states that have voted, are angry, do not like the establishment, do not like the republican establishment, want an outside, want somebody who's going to change things and shake things up. a lot of these voters, as much as people want to dismiss them, a lot of these cruz voters, i'm association a l
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sorry, a lot of these trump voters have a lot of economic anxiety and want somebody to talk about be jos in this country and you don't hear that from the other guys. >> and for marco rubio what it will look like when he takes on donald trump. we know what it looks like when he went head to head with christie. we don't know how marco rubio will respond. >> yes, we have yet to hear anybody wage an effective campaign against trump and it's not my job to say here are the three ways you can do it, but it seems to me you need to go after the things that are the strength. you need to be able to go at the idea that he is a fighter and will fight for american jobs and will fight with anyone, whether it's isis or mexico or china doesn't have the best interest of the united states at hand. and at heart. and if you can't defeat him on those terms, then you're not going to defeat him. >> we just got word from josh earnest in the white house that
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president obama will meet with senate majority leader mitch mcconnell on the issue of the sco supreme court next week. i don't think much will come from the meeting. but the fact of the meeting, that's a change. >> isvictory? the senate majority leader will meet with the president and all is well with the world? the bottom line is the republicans control the senate. and any time any republican, whether chuck grassley or senator murkowski or anybody has said anything along the lines of maybe we'll have hearings and maybe a nominee should be given a hearing, immediately that person gets whacked and -- >> right. >> and reverses course and automatically starts saying no, no, no, no hearing, no hearing, no hearing. you saw with the brian sanovel incident, name leaked by senate democrats, as i understand, he was not a serious candidate for
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obama, and yet even a republican govern governor, even a republican governor, with the majority, the republicans wouldn't even entertain a courtesy meeting with the republican governor if he were nominated to the supreme court. >> can vanno val take his name out of the running? >> nobody wants you to run. >> and i'm not 35 so that's a problem too. jake tapper. >> you're like 43 at least. >> coming up, donald trump has promised to build a wall along the mexican border and make mexico pay for it, but moments ago, a former president of mexico responded, i think he used a dirty word, you do not want to use it. also coming up, donald trump has already proven that he can handle himself on the debate stage sometimes, not every time. this time around, though, he goes in with three straight wins at his back. will that change his strategy?
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an award-winning debate coach joins us live. stick around. ♪ every insurance policy has a number. but not every insurance company understands
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tonight's debate is uncharted territory for the five remaining republican candidates for president and for donald trump, it is not just the polls showing him in the lead. now it's not just a hypothetical, tonight is about the votes that he has. three could be snsecutive wins. and the confidence that he very well could be the party's nominee. does this at all, should it shift to strategy on stage tonight? what should he do? talk about it with a man who knows this stuff inside and out.
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todd graham, the debate director for southern university at garbindale. so thank you for being here. >> you're very welcome, thank you, poppy. >> let's look at this clip from trump's performance in the last debate. >> and you can't do that with assad in power -- >> let me tell you something -- >> this is ridiculous -- >> -- okay, mr. trump, all right -- >> you have no idea who they are. >> gentlemen, think we're going to leave that there. >> this is a guy who goes his foreign policy from the shows. this is a guy who thinks hillary clinton is a great negotiator in iran. we're living in dangerous times. this is a man who insults his way to the nomination. >> give me a break. >> let me take a quick break from this because we want to bring you up some live pictures, john kasich, now on stage, making the rounds. as john berman was saying this earlier as he's with our
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washington bureau chief. they want to get a feel for it. this is very important when you go on stage, to be comfortable, make sure the lights aren't blinding you, get a sense for your bearings before the big show tonight. for kasich, it's so important to do well tonight. >> it's absolutely right. i always have my debate teams get to the auditorium first. we try to get set up. we try to get comfortable with where we are. with where the cameras, in this case, the judges, the audience. it's critical. >> it is critical. he's seeing -- they're telling him things like where his family will be seated, et cetera, where he is on the stage in terms of the podiums. so john kasich taking a tour of the stage. doesn't look like donald trump is going to do that ahead of time. all right, let's move on. because, todd, i wanted your response to trump and bush going at each other in the last debate. you wrote an op-ed. you called it childish. but look at the numbers. after that, he won three
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straights in a row. >> he was going to win three states in a row regardless. that doesn't make his debating any better. listen, i've actually said that trump has had two good debates. in both of those debates, he sort of limited his name calling. he limited his interrupting. but in the last debate, in the very last debate we had, he was back at it again. he wouldn't let anyone speak without interrupting them. for a debate, it was a little unseamly. he was going to win anyway. for tonight, it's a little bit risky, because of who's in the audience. >> why do you say that? >> well, because tonight the audience is the university of houston. there's about 800 seats. it's an opera house. it's got very good, you know, sort communication from the speaker to the audience and then back. the audience has been very lively lately. tonight, there will be more latino voters and hispanic voters because that's going to be a central theme of the debate and that's why i say it's a little bit risky for trump.
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because while trump is running on a campaign of what i would call almost anti-immigrant and it's working for him, he will either have to do one of two things. either he will try to placate the audience tonight which doesn't sound like donald trump so i don't think he'll pander to them. or perhaps he'll attack the audience if they boo him. he's done that in the past with some success. >> let's talk about what else is critical tonight. we heard our jake tapper just say cruz and rubio have to throw a punch tonight. we know cruz's camp came out this week. they said, look, he's hit a boiling point when it comes to trump. walk me through an effect attack against trump would look like from cruz what it will look like from rubio. >> an effective attack from either one of them almost requires trump to not interrupt and there's no better way to put it, because you have to have your speaking time if you need to go after donald trump, if you need to go after his positions
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or his lack of positions. but so far in every debate when they try to attack trump, he simply interrupts them and the moderators let them get away with it. i think an effective attack would require trump to be silent for a while. and the other thing is for trump to get out in front of being called a liar. there's no doubt in my mind that trump will call cruz a liar again in tonight's debate. given he fired his communications director for misleading the public, trump needs to get out in front to be a more effective debater. >> todd graham, thank you. we appreciate your type, your expertise on this, as we look at john kasich there, with our sam fise, getting a tour of the stage. tonight, only right here, moderated by our very own wolf
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blitzer. coming up next, not mincing his words, the former president of mexico responding to donald trump's promise to build a wall along the border and make mexico pay for it. what he said is provocative. it is quite candid.
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john berman here at the university of houston in houston, texas, the sight of cnn's presidential debate. a republican debate that takes place in just a few hours. how important is this debate? well, all the students you see behind me, hi, guys, they are excused from classes this afternoon so they can be here and be part of this event. that is a true story. the stakes here in texas very, very high. a new poll out today shows ted cruz with a clear lead in this state. this is his home state. it votes next tuesday. it is part of super tuesday. you can see the numbers right there, a 15-point lead. cruz desperately needs this to be so. there was almost no path to
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victory for him that does not include texas. he's asking texans for their vote. >> the time for the clowns and the acrobats and the dancing bears has passed. now is the time for texans to stand together. texas has 155 delegates. it is the crown jewel of super tuesday. texas has alone almost 15% of the delegates you need to be the republican nominee. >> i think i sensed a little bit of texas twang there from cruz. for the first time in a long time. joining us now, political science professors here at the university of houston. he is also the co-director of another statewide poll that shows ted cruz with a 15-point
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lead over trump. let's start with the polling in texas. talk about the nature of the cruz lead. how strong is it? and where might he be vulnerable? >> his supporters were not quite as committed to their candidate as trump who finished second here in texas. it's not a lock solid lead. 35 points. trump's 20. but 20% of the voters were undecided. with several candidates in the race in texas and other states, there's a lot of movement. >> evangelical support cruz has here appears stronger than the last couple of states? >> he lost the evangelicals in south carolina. that was devastating. in our poll, he's winning them in texas. >> texas has a political situation and a political scene here that in some ways, you know, is different than the rest of the country. in texas, the immigration issue is part of everyday life. there's a long border with mexico. a lot of shared relationships and values and a lot of interest with people across the border. so today i want to play some
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sound from you. the former president of mexico vicente fox was on fusion with jorge ram moz and he latshed ou at donald trump about the wall and the fact he wants mexico to pay for it. >> i declare, i'm not going to pay for that [ bleep ] wall, he should pay for it, he's got the money. >> are you afraid he's going to be the next president of the united states? >> not at all. >> what would that mean for mexico? >> democracy cannot take us to crazy people that doesn't know what's going on in the world today. >> not only is he not going to pay for that wall, he's not going to pay for that blanking wall. that's the former president of the nation of mexico right there. how does the immigration issue here play do you think for voters? >> oh, i think it's hugely important. you have to remember texas is one of those proportional states so the areas closest to the border are going to matter and
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trump is not going to be able to come in and win a huge chunk of delegates without winni ning at least some of the support along the areas where those issues are really the most important. >> you see some of the views moderating on immigration? >> in north texas, areas remote from mexico, voters are more conservative. trump's anti-immigrant appeal, it's much stronger there than along the border where people go back and forth all the time. many people have business and family relations. it's a more moderate part of the state. >> do you have a sense of the political machine ted cruz has? he's a freshman senator. it's not like he has 30 years of service to fall back on. he does have the support of a fairly popular governor. >> i think what ted cruz has been able to do good getting his name out there is pretty remarkable, like you said, for a freshman senator, he's definitely a topic of national conversation, and he's proved that he's somebody who can make himself one of those names that's talked about in the republican party. >> all right, elizabeth,
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richard, thank you for being with us. really appreciate your time. great to have you here. straight ahead, rumors swirling that some of the biggest supporters for ted cruz, some allies, some who have endorsed, they're getting impatient, getting wobbly. but the head of a prominent conservative group calls these claims baseless. there's no chance he would jump ship. tony perkis joins us live. to truly feel healthy on the outside
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top of the hour, 3:00 p.m. eastern. i'm poppy harlow, today you are watching special cnn coverage of cnn's presidential republican debate, a big debate, tonight in houston where we find my friend john berman, hey, john. >> this debate a little more than five hours from now. you will see the smallest field of republicans on stage so far under the greatest pressure in this campaign so far. why? 3 for 3 in the last three states, donald trump with all the momentum.
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new hampshire, south carolina, in that, you know, landslide in nevada. any second now ted cruz or his supporters, we don't know which one, they will arrive to do a predebate walk-through. they will go on the debate stage to check things out. as there's one report that surfaced that some of those reporters might be getting nervous. this is a combustible controversial story in the national review that says a group of prominnt conservative leaders that endorse cruz months ago, that they held an emergency conference call this week and talked about a possibility of dropping cruz and maybe defecting to marco rubio if ted cruz does not turn things around next week on super tuesday. joining me now from nashville is a key supporter of ted cruz. the president of the family research council tony perkins, the family of noer too, real stories of a courageous new generation standing for truth. tony, thanks for being with us. you simply say that conference call never happened.
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>> i got nervous when i read the story. i thought maybe they didn't invite me. i checked out. there was no conference call. there is no one i found that has embraced what was said in that story. no doubt, someone's spinning yarn here. i think somebody who may be like rubio is trying to plant the seed. but i can tell you, it's not happening. there's no defections. the reason people support ted cruz and the reason i came out as an individual, not as the organization i represent, is simply because he has a vision of the future. we're looking at, now, very clearly in front of us, a president who is going to a point supreme court justices and unfortunately, we have seen how important the question has become in our culture and it has literally reshaped the cultural country. we want a president who understands the temperament and will make the right picks. >> you say the call didn't
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happen, you say it might be dirty tricks of a rubio support they're planted that story? >> let me just say i think someone is being less than truthful. there was no conference call in which this was discussed. i'm not going to say a couple of people talked about it, leaked a story or created a story for a reporter. but no, there was no conference call to discuss what was laid out in that story. >> so you say there was no conference call. does that mean there's no angst within the broad group of folks supporting ted cruz? because the last two contents did not go the way you thought they might. third place is south carolina, losing the evangelical vote there. third place, nevada, losing the evangelical vote there. how much concern is there within the ranks right now? >> we were led to do victory laps around each state. but not surprised. this is a very tough difficult contest. it's uphill. but as you've been talking about
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here just moments ago, ted cruz is leading in texas by about 15 points. but you look at, you know, marco rubio's under water, he's about 16 points behind in his own state of florida, so it doesn't really make any sense to say we would go to marco rubio who's not yet won a state who has not really -- does not have a track record of being a fighter. and that's what -- we need in the next president, who's not going to simply baby-sit america's demise but someone willing to go and do the things that needs to be done to counterwhat this president has done, and that is really disassemble the republic and the constitution for which it stands. >> there seems to be a split within cruz's world among folks who thinks maybe he should stop talking about marco rubio altogether and really focusen the front-runner donald trump especially in the debate. and others who say, you know, he can walk and chew gum at the same time. where do you think among those
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camps? >> i think first off, really he's got to address both policy fronts in terms of where they stand on the policies. i think this whole episode that has occurred since iowa has been somewhat of a distraction from taking his attention, his campaign's attention off the vision they're casting for america. i think americans want to know where we're going. i don't think they care so much about the infighting and the elbowing that's going on here but they want to know where we're going. that's the reason i'm with ted cruz is because i believe he has the ability, the intellect, the fo fortitude to take the country where it needs to go. >> tony perkins, thank you. in clearing what is did and did not happen from your eyes at least on that conference call or the nonconference call as the case may be. thanks so much, tony. >> all right, john, good to be with you. let's talk about the big debate
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tonight. joining me, cnn political commentator kevin madden, republican political strategist who worked for mitt romney's presidential campaigns, plural, among others it also, cnn contributor and attorney becarey sellers who once served in the state for lieutenant governor. also with us, cnn reporter mallika henderson. that conversation with tony perkins was interesting and he used a word that set off alarm bells, he used the word distraction. he's actually there towards the end, admitted a lot of the back and forth between cruz and rubio in the last few weeks, it was a distraction. >> yeah, and what happens, it inevitably happens, whether or not campaigns get side tracked, whether or not there's too much of a focus on the process and a lot of these arguments about conference calls between supports, that's not what voters -- that's not what's going to influence voters. tony perkins did correctly
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allude to this, what's your vision for the country. why is it i should become invested in your campaign and why is it i think you're going to be a better steward of america's future. i think that is key for marco rubio and ted cruz to make sure that their message is oriented to what really is going to make up their mind. >> does that mean what really mattered to voters, does that men talking about trump and talking to trump, maybe with some stern words? >> one of the things you see in all these polls, from these contests, from states coming up, is people want strength, people want leadership. what does that mean? does that mean you want somebody to appear strong against trump in terms of going after him on the debate stage or going after him in commercials? or whatever way they can? but also have a stronger vision, i mean, if you're somebody like marco rubio, his entire case is essentially he's the most electable that he can bring the
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party together. most average voters are thinking i want a person who can bring the republican party together. they want somebody who can make america great again or make america strong. i think both marco rubio and ted cruz have got to sharpen their message but also try to figure out how to take on trump -- >> a new poll from florida, quinnipiac poll which shows marco rubio trailing by a lot. trailing donald trump there. we heard marco rubio last night, it didn't get a lot of coverage, but really the first time he used donald trump's name and criticized him on policy, israel policy. do you think the citization of that poll and that tell means tonight we'll see a feistier marco rubio? >> we have to see a feistier marco rubio because rubio has to have a breakout-type performance tonight. we know one thing marco rubio doesn't do well and that is either attack or get attacked. we've seen this play out one time before. when he attacked chris christie,
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it just did not go well for marco rubio. marco rubio really has some soul searching to do. i brought this up with kevin earlier today. at what point does marco rubio, and i know this is going to drive people crazy, think about what's best for the party and actually think about getting out of this race. because for the simple fact -- >> by the way, i disagree -- >> he did, but the simple fact is no one sitting on this panel, i don't believe anybody in rubio's world can literally point to one singular state that marco rubio can win. >> what is it about this campaign that every candidate but donald trump, there's someone suggesting they have to get out of the race? >> look, one of the top staffers in marco rubio's campaign basically put it on the line and said they're going to win in florida. for the first time, i think he's sending a message to a lot of those marco rubio supports out there the who do believe he's the candidate that's best positioned to bring together some of these different functions inside the party and beat hillary clinton in
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november. he is -- he is embracing expectations. >> there's no forever. >> there's no more of this playing second, managing expectations going forward. we have close to 24 contests over the next 18 days. marco rubio has to start winning. sending a message he believes he's the best candidate to start doing that ideally will maybe persuade some minds. >> something else happened within the last hour that was fascinating. vicente fox, the former president of mexico, gave an interview to jorge ramos on fusion where he was talking about donald trump and the proposal for lack of a better word from trump to build a wall on the mexico border and have mexico pay for it and this is what the president of mexico said about this. >> i declare i'm not going to pay for that [ bleep ] wall. he should pay for it. he's got the money. >> are you afraid that he's going to be next president of the united states? >> not at all. >> what would that mean for mexico? >> democracy cannot take crazy
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people that doesn't know what's going on in the world today. >> former president of mexico, in case you didn't get the point there, he dropped an f-bomb. >> we got that. >> and, you know, it's interesting on many levels but now in a week period here, you had the pope, pope francis, and former president of mexico, dealing directly with a guy who hasn't even won a nomination yet. i can't think of another time where this has happened. >> yes, this is good for donald trump. the former president of mexico is talking about him. the pope is talking about him. obama has talked about him. this was a guy in the summer nobody thought would run, people thought he would fade away and now leaders around the world are talking about him. and he's always able to turn these moments around and benefit him. all of these fights he's having. he said all along he's sort of setting the pace of discussion and setting the terms of the discussion of this race. and he is. one of the things i think also his supporters know, you know,
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he has these rallies and he says who's going to pay for the wall and everybody says mexico, mexico. >> it's called a response. >> yes, exactly. >> this outlines one of the larger problems that drives the gop establishment crazy. because that sentiment there is absolutely awakening a sleeping giant which are voters of color in this country. you simply cannot be the 45th president of the united states with white male conservatives it the republican party, like reagan, has to begin to open doors. something marco rubio could do. and bring more people into the party. and, you know, he stated it best. i mean, he used some different language but he did state it best and he's echoing a sentiment that a lot of hispanic voters feel. we saw a poll recently where hillary clinton is crushing donald trump with hispanic voters. that's going to be a problem in november. >> we did see a recent poll which shows trump with the lowest favorabilities. we'll talk about that. kevin bacari, thank you for being with us, appreciate it.
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the final republican debate before super tuesday kicks off in a little more than five hours. it is only right here on cnn. wolf blitzer doing his last-minute stretching exercises, poppy, back to you. >> i'm just picturing that, berman, like what are predebate stretches. who knows. all right, thank you. coming up next for us, the remaining republican candidates all set to tour that debate stage, including ben carson who will join us live this hour. stick around for that. also, the "washington post" editorial board releasing another op-ed, five of them in a month, calling on republican leaders to stop donald trump. are they ignoring the voice of the voter? a trump supporter and columnist from "the post" will be with me live. have you seen this moment from last night? when a protester con fronts hillary clinton during a private fund raiser. >> you're being rude. >> that protester will join me
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live. this is cnn's special live coverage. stay with us. you premium like clockwork. month after month. year after year. then one night, you hydroplane into a ditch. yeah... surprise... your insurance company tells you to pay up again. why pay for insurance if you have to pay even more for using it? if you have liberty mutual deductible fund™, you could pay no deductible at all. sign up to immediately lower your deductible by $100. and keep lowering it $100 annually, until it's gone. then continue to earn that $100 every year. there's no limit to how much you can earn and this savings applies to every vehicle on your policy. call to learn more.
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debate stage in houston, ahead of cnn's gop debate. the last debate before the critical super tuesday contest. ben carson there flanked by our washington bureau chief sam fiest who's explaining it to him, running him through the drill. where he is on the stage with those five podiums. also the vice president of cnn design. they want to get up there, get him a sense of what it will be like. again, ben carson will join john berman live for an interview this hour. so stay with us for that. now to this, the unthinkable is start to look like the inevitable. not our words. that line, from the fifth "washington post" editorial board piece this month alone, pleading with voters in the republican party to stop donald trump. they write, history will not look kindly on gop leaders who fail to do everything in their power to prevent a bullying dem
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ma going from becoming their standard barrier. pull a republican ballot and vote for john kasich because it's a vote against donald trump. editorials from the des moines rejs,"the new york times," also decrying the possibility of a trump presidency. here's the question though. are they just not hearing the voice of the people? the voter. let's debate it with the writer of the blog for "the washington post" and cnn contributor jeffrey lord. jennifer, to you, you have no role in the editorial board obviously, you work as a journalist for the paper, they are separate. they are calling trump a menace. this after he gets 40% of the vote in nevada. is that kidisrespecting the voi of the voter? >> no, i think they're advocating. they're trying to alert the public to someone they feel is dangerous, is a menace.
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listen, i do not think, nor do i think they think, although they can certainly speak for themselves, that the core of trump voters are reachable. they're reacting in an emotional visceral way. what they're trying to do is speak to republicans who are supple to reason, who can rally around a single alternative to trump. although it doesn't seem like that is having much of an effect, in fact, we are seeing a narrowing of the republican field. and you are getting down to a few candidates who potentially have the opportunity to upend him. >> jeffrey, what say you, do you think it's ignoring the voice of the voter? >> yeah, i'll tell you, i read that "washington post" editorial and some of the others that you've quoted. this reminds me of a couple years ago there was a small best-seller called "the ruling class" by a professor out of -- professor emeritus from boston university. basically what he's talking about is we've got a ruling class in this country, elites,
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who have decided that they're smarter and morally and intellectually superior to the rest of us and they get to make all the decisions. that editorial in "the washington post" this morning was a perfect example of that mentality. it was snippy, snooty, elitist. >> we know you're a trump supporter -- >> cnor do i find anything more elitist than trump who's a bill far billionaire -- >> let me push back with this question, this is an unprecedented race, this is a candidate who has said that this week he, quote, liked to punch him in the face, talking about a protester, jeffrey. this is also a candidate who said if i stand in the middle of fifth avenue and shoot somebody, i wouldn't lose voters. so some would say, look, this is just responding to something we have never seen before, jeffrey. >> you know, the other week, the other day, poppy, i did a book event on trump in front of an
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audience of -- supplied by a conservative radio station. i listened to them. i was really amazed at the intensity of the feeling they have about the kinds of things we're talking about. in terms of these protesters that show up, i have a column today at the american spectator. these are the kind of folks who trailed herbert humphrey in 1968 yelling sieg hiel. this is what i call the violent left. people who go looking for a physical fight, looking for violence, hoping they can get it. the difference is herbert humphrey, who used to sic the secret service on them. we just removed from, you know, any number of years, but it's the same phenomenon at work and, you know, it's thuggary, that's what it is. >> i want to get your response on this, jennifer rubin. what do you say? >> listen, donald trump is a
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bigot is a misogynist, an ignore rammess and people who are concerned about the republican party are speaking up. the problem is jeffrey lord goes to a group of talk radio audience members and thinks that's the republican party. it's not. it's a very small segment of it. the issue is whether a very small -- >> who are all these voters in new hampshire and south carolina, jennifer? >> they're divided amongst other candidates. the question is whether those other republicans who are amenable to reason can rally in opposition to this guy. we're going to see whether they do or not. if not, they'll be a new republican party under some other name. >> thank you, jennifer rubin, jeffrey lord, i wish we had more time. i have to get a break in here. thank you so much. coming up next, i will be joined by an activist who confronted hillary clinton at her fund-raiser. how did clinton handle it? wow will see the video next. also, we're back live in houston
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as we count down to tonight's cnn gop debate. the last one ahead of superer tuesday. dr. ben carson will join us live for interview just moments away.
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john berman here at the university of houston in houston, texas. just five hours from now, the five remaining republican candidates will take the stage in the final republican debate before super tuesday. super tuesday, the single day when the most delegates are at stake this entire primary
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season, which means a lot is at stake tonight and in the next few days. joining me to discuss, maeve resten, cnn political reporter. and joining us as well, jason casellas, associate professor of political science at the university of houston. professor, you outrank us all so i'm going to start with you. donald trump, the man in the middle tonight. literally, he's been leading in the polls since august so he's been center stage of every debate. this time, with the wind at his back with winning three states. a new poll out today which does show where there could be some problems with him long term. i'm talking general election. that's among hispanics, where he is unfavorable to some 80%. then trailing hillary clinton, 73% to 16%. this is just what the republican party feared after 2012 when they wrote their so-called after action report, this is just what
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they wanted to fix. >> trump's campaign has gone to the right on immigration. that's been a problem i think for a lot of reaching out to latino vote. mitt romney didn't do so well last time, he got about 27% of the latino vote. if the polls look right, it looks like trump, if he gets the nomination, will do much worse. that could pose a problem in swing states like florida, colorado, states where the republicans need to win florida in particular in order to get the white house. >> in nevada, there was a lot made of the interest polls because it did show donald trump is able to win in nevada. or at least according to the polls, it was a small sample size. look, he didn't get crushed. at a mim mum, he did okay. maybe that's because like every other demo graphic group in the country, he knows there's no monolith when comes to voters. >> to be clear about nevada, these are only republicans voting. if you look at all latinos, 93% voted for someone other than trump and most of them voted in
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the democratic primary. but nevertheless, i think you're right, in some instances donald trump has been doing okay with latinos but accord to "the washington post" poll and a lot of other analysis, that it would be a big problem in terms of latino outreach if trump gets the nomination. >> so one group that donald trump is not doing well with today is the mitt romney group. he is in this twitter war with the last republican nominee, mitt romney and donald trump are going back and forth on twitter in a way that's almost unimaginable. you think gerald ford did this to ronald reagan? you think reagan did this to george h.w. bush? this doesn't happen in politics. mitt romney says he thinks there might be a bombshell in his tax return. donald trump says mitt romney was the worst nominee ever, said he'd won, unlike mitt romney. then today mitt romney came back and said methink donald trump
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protests too much. is there a winner here? >> everybody keeps talking about this irony but mitt romney knows better than anyone what going through the scrutiny of your tax returns can do to your campaign. it's very true that the public looks differently at donald trump and sort of aspires to his wealth than they did with mitt romney where his wealth became a huge problem. i was talking to a number of sources today who are close to romney and they said he's been thinking about this for some time, donald trump's tax returns, thinking about the problems that could be in there, not only charitable giving, but has he sheltered any of his investments, will he have any kind of off shoring issues. i think he's saying this is an issue that should be raised now so it's not an october surprise that really sures the republican party. in that way, i think it's a legitimate issue for romney to raise and for the other candidates also to be forced to release their tax returns. >> it's not unusual to call for. what is unusual is who is
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calling for it. >> that he's trolling him. >> he's trolling donald trump. you know, matt lewis, one of the things that donald trump has managed to do benefit from his enemy's list. at first blush, a lot of the times when someone speaks out against donald trump you think it's bad for donald trump, then it doesn't turn out to be so. is this one of those cases where donald trump wins because romney's going after him? >> i think mitt romney has too much time on his hands. maybe he's still fighting the last war. maybe he's, you know, still feeling what it was like when he came under attack for the tax issue. i think maybe mistakenly assuming that donald trump would face the same, that the same backlash would happen if trump was not paying a tax rate that normal people would with normal income. trump has spent decades studying leadership and i think he's a
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master demagogue and until somebody turns it around on him and outma enouneuvers him, it's the benefit of donald trump. >> at the end of his race, there was that huge bubble of discussion about whether he would run this time, so maybe it's better to have mitt romney make this attack then marco rubio, his close ally, for example. >> a really good piece this week about how surrogates -- when gingrich was surging, you had s surrogates who would follow him around and when trump says something about religion, why aren't their pastors following him around? why weren't there veterans and former p.o.w.s who followed him around and spoke out? really the surrogate battle didn't happen. >> it will be interesting to see if this takes place on the debate stage. thank you so much for being with us, really appreciate it. next, he just finished his
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walk-through of the cnn debate stage. dr. ben carson will join us live to talk about what his plans are for tonight on that debate stage. and maybe what his plans are for beyond. i asked my dentist if an electric toothbrush was
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hillary clinton is counting on african-american voters to show their support for her at the polls in south carolina this saturday. but one protester says what clinton needs to do is apologize to black people for the mass incarceration policies that she supported as part of her husband's administration. this is what happened during a private fund-raiser for clinton
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in south carolina last night. >> we're making sure that south carolina became the first state. there's more work to be done but got to lay down these markers, you got to build towards common sense. we have somebody saying here -- >> -- we have to apologize for mass incarceration -- i'm not a superpredator, hillary clinton. can you apologize to black people for mass incarceration? >> well, can i talk, maybe you can listen to what i say. >> you're being rude. >> you called black people superpredators. >> you want to hear -- >> i know that you called black people superpredators in 1994. please explain your record. explain it to us. you owe black people an apology. >> sign read bring them to their heels. it was a reference to this comment made by clinton in the '90s when talking about some youth offenders. >> not just gangs of kids
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anymore. they are often the kinds of kids that are called superpredators. no conscience, no empathy. we can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel. >> ashley williams is the activist who confronted clinton last night. ashley joins me live from charleston. thank you very much for being with me. >> that is correnks for having >> what were you hoping to hear last night. >> >>i was hoping to hear clint be accountable for the things she said in 1996. i was hoping to hear an apology to black communities and other communities of color. i was hoping to hear her reconcile the inconsistencies in her record. >> so let me read you, because i don't know if you've seen this yet, ashley, but she just responded to the encounter last night by telling a reporter from "the washington post" this, in that speech, referring to the '90s, in that speech, i was
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talking about the i pampact viot crime and vicious drug carts were having and the particular danger they pose to children and families. looking back, i shouldn't have used those words and i wouldn't use them today. what is your response hearing that now? >> so one of the things i don't hear in that response is an apology for mass incarceration. i also don't hear her taking responsibility for the ways in which those words and her backing certain policies have affected black communities and communities of color. >> so let's play for you part of this interview that she did give to the b.e.t. earlier this month, talking about the '94 crime bill, et cetera. let's play it. >> there was a crime bill and as most bills turn out to be, there were things in it that i didn't particularly like and there were things in it i approved of. there p it was implemented in
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ways that i think did go too far. >> so in that interview, she spoke extensively about the '94 crime bill that was passed during her husband's administration. she supported it. do you believe the president, because she talks a lot about the problem of mass incarceration, do you believe as president she will govern differently, has learned from this, ashley? >> i believe from what she has given us, whether that be the b.e.t. interview or the things she said in re rens to what i did last night, i think she's inconsistent. i fear we don't know which hillary we're voting for. we don't know if we're going to get the hillary from '94, the hillary clinton from 2008, or this refined hillary that allegedly shows up for racial justice. i'm just not convinced and i'm unsure. as a voter, this is something i'm looking at very closely. and i also want her to be
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accountable for the things she said and done. >> bernie sanders, her competitor, they have a big race in the state you're in this weekend. bernie sanders signed and supported the same crime bill in '94. do you have the same concerns about him? >> absolutely. i think bernie sanders and all of the presidential candidates can be held to the same scrutiny. i think they all can get it at this point. i think we need to hold all of them accountable in terms of the way they have and have not shown up for racial justice and i'm interested in holding them to the same scrutiny. i hope voters do as well. >> ashley williams, thank you for joining me. skwh thank >> thanks, poppy. >> dr. ben carson, one of the five men on the stage tonight, along with our moderator wolf blitzer, he will join my friend john berman next live to talk about prep and much else ahead of tonight's big republican debate. stay with us for that.
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john berman here at the university of houston in houston, texas, the site of tonight's cnn republican presidential debate, the final debate before super tuesday. the debate with the fewest number of candidates on stage yet. only five. and we have one of them sitting with us right here right now. dr. ben carson, you just had your tour of the cnn debate stage. thank you for being with us now. >> thank you. >> simply, what do you think you need to do tonight? >> well, the one nice thing is, as you mentioned, there's only five people so it's going to be kind of difficult for them to ignore me. so i want to have an opportunity actually to talk about some of the real issues. and maybe perhaps be able to
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deflect it away from people attacking each other so we can actually get to the crucial issues, because i think america is actually in a lot of trouble, which is the only reason that the people drafted me to run. and i want to really expose some of the solutions to the problems that we're facing. >> what breaks through? what breaks through on that stage tonight? >> i think one of the real keys is our financial situation. you know, it's amazing how many people in america have never even heard of the fiscal gap, and yet our financial foundation is about to crumble and we're talking about spending more money. it's unbelievable. >> can i ask you about one of the issues that's come up over the last three days, having to do with transparency and those running for president, the idea of candidates releasing their tax returns. mitt romney, who was the nominee four years ago, has called on donald trump to release his tax returns. first of all, i don't know if you've released your tax returns, have you? >> i know we sent a bunch of stuff when we did our financial
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disclosure. i don't know where it end eed up but i don't have any problem with it. >> do you think all candidates should be as transparent as possible? >> absolutely. >> do you think donald trump should? do you think donald trump should go ahead and release those tax returns? >> i think we all should do that because the people have a right, i believe, if they're choosing the president of the united states to know what kind of person they're choosing. >> what's your strategy now to win this campaign just a few days before super tuesday? realistically what can you pull off next tuesday? >> well, the strategy is really to continue to tell the truth, continue to talk about the solutions, encouraging people to read about our policies at ben carlson.com and recognizing at some point, i don't know when that point is, people will actually be interested in your policies and how you're going to solve problems and not so much in the personality and the wwe raw match. >> do you still think you can
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win? >> absolutely. >> armstrong williams is a friend of yours, a business advisor. he says that sooner or later you're going to have to think if you should keep doing this. he says you have some tough decisions to make. >> well, everybody has tough decisions to make. you know, we make decisions every single day. i don't know that you can read a whole lot into that statement. >> you don't -- he says that it could be by march 2nd, the day after super tuesday, when a decision needs to be made. >> that's arbitrary. it doesn't really matter. you can talk to ten people and they'll say you have to do it here, you have to do it now. you know, that's just so irrelevant. what's relevant is what direction are you going in, how much support do you have, and what are you trying to accomplish. what i'm trying to accomplish is to save our country. i really think that this is an incredibly serious situation that we're in right now. >> it's got to stink having people ask you that question constantly.
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it would tick me off if people asked me that every day of the campaign. >> you have probably noticed that i don't get ticked off very easily. and some people think that's a sign of weakness, but it's actually a sign of strength. it means that you are able to look at the big picture and you're able to keep things in perspective. >> do you think it's been worth it, this campaign? >> it wouldn't be worth it if i was just doing it for myself, but it's very worthwhile because we're trying to save this country for our children. that's what my whole professional life was about, trying to create a good environment, longevity and quality of life for children. and i recognize that they are not going to have that. they are not going to have the american dream if we continue along the course that we've taken so far. >> 11 states vote on tuesday. which ones do you think you can win? are there any you need to win? >> you know, my entire professional career and even before that i faced people saying that's impossible.
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that can't be done. how are you going to do this? you know, you just continue to do your best and the rest of it is taken care of by the good lord. >> dr. ben carson, appreciate you being with us. again, you are one of the five candidates on the debate stage tonight. it is the final debate before super tuesday. a lot at stake for all five of you. >> absolutely. >> of the other four candidates, who do you think has the most to lose tonight? >> well, this is in the state of senator cruz, so obviously he needs to do very well in his own state. >> setting the bar high for senator ted cruz. dr. ben carson, that's so much for being with us. >> thank you so much. >> just a reminder, it is just a little more than four hours from now, the cnn republican debate takes place right here. wolf blitzer will be your moderator. special coverage continues in just a moment. look how beautiful it is... honey, we need to talk. we do? i took the trash out. i know - and thank you so much for that.
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♪ it gets better, it gets better in time ♪ >> that is lady gaga's oscar-nominated song "till it happens to you." it is from the cnn documentary "the hunting ground." it's a film that highlights the disturbing rate of sexual violence on college campuses. it's an issue that is also very close to the heart of vice president joe biden. so this sunday night he will take to the oscar stage to introduce lady gaga's awards performance. last year you'll remember that it was biden who called on young men to speak out against and to act to prevent campus sexual assault. >> have the gumption to step in! tell him! expose him! save him! have the nerve! look at that young woman as if she were your sister or your
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mother. you know it's wrong. you know! >> a passionate vice president joe biden there. again, he will be on the oscar stage sunday night. thank you so much for being with john and i today. "the lead" with jake tapper begins right now. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper, we're live in houston. it's debate night in america, quite possibly the most critical debate of the republican race so far. five candidates still standing five days before super tuesday. donald trump has decisively won the past three states in a row. will he go for the kill tonight? will he make the case that this is already over? will marco rubio and/or ted cruz with one win between the