tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN March 10, 2016 5:00pm-6:01pm PST
donald trump arriving here at the university of miami. you can see him walking inside right here where i am getting ready for the republican presidential debate. we saw marco rubio arrive with his wife jeanette. donald trump with his wife melania and also ted cruz also here. just waiting for john kasich as we count you down to the crucial debate. "ac 360" starts right now. good evening from the university of miami here in coral gables, florida. site of the 12th republican primary debate. and the stakes could not be higher. we are now just five days away from another super tuesday. winner take all tuesday in ohio and, of course, here in florida.
home states for john kasich and marco rubio. do or die states for their campaigns. like i said, tonight's debate is big. jim acosta is inside the debate hall with a preview. the last republican debate was knock down, drag out fight. what can we expect tonight? >> i'm told donald trump's campaign is bracing for another onslaught of attacks. a close adviser to ted cruz just told me in the last several minutes expect the texas senator to attack donald trump on the plujs the real estate tycoon has asked his supporters to make in recent days calling that raising of hands at recent trump rallies, quote, disturbing. a senior adviser to marco rubio says the florida senator won't go after trump on a personal basis, no more wise cracks about trump's tanning methods and hand size, but the rubio campaign says everything else, just like trump university, is fair game. >> and with next tuesday's winner take all primaries in florida and ohio, this debate
comes at a crucial time for all these candidates but particularly for cruz and rubio. >> that's right. this is a turning point in the campaign. this could be marco rubio's last stand. if he loses his home state of florida next week, there will be deafening calls inside the party for marco rubio to get out of this race. a rubio adviser does tell me they think their internal polling tells them they'll still win next week. they're that optimistic. but it's also critical for john kasich to capture his home state of ohio. the latest polls do show kasich could indeed win ohio but if trump sweeps both of those states a top gop operative says get ready for trump steaks, trump wine to be on the menu at the republican national convention in cleveland later this summer. trump will be the nominee if he pulls off that kind of sweep on this biggest of all super tuesdays. >> should just point out -- >> the stakes, those kinds of stakes are just that high.
>> and i want to point out the trump steaks are actually bush brothers steaks bought by trump and sold at mar-a-lago. they aren't actually things anybody else can buy. really could be something else to see tonight. plenty to talk about already as we wait for john kasich and donald trump. donald trump arriving. sources telling us that's ben carson will be endorsing donald trump tomorrow morning. with that, let's bring in our cnn political commentators, s.e. cupp, jeffrey lord and amanda carpenter. kevin is a republican strategist, s.e. cupp a conservative columnist, jeffrey lord, a former reagan political director and amanda is a communications director for ted cruz. what are you expecting from ted cruz tonight? does he focus on donald trump, trying to make this a two-person race? getting that idea across? or does he try to go after marco rubio and make it as much of a two-person race as possible? >> it's going to backfire if he
goes against marco rubio. marco rubio's campaign is imploding as we speak. a lot of people who like marco rubio and supported him. if he attacks him hard he's going to look like he's kicking a puppy. he needs to direct it at donald trump. he is the alternative to trump. if you want to take him down you have to support ted cruz on super tuesday right now. >> jeffrey lord, what do you expect from donald trump? when i talked to him yesterday, he is clearly trying to be in a more presidential mode. whether or not he's capable of restraining himself when attacked is another question. he told me if attacked, i'm going to attack back. >> in a word, i think this is going to be a slugfest? >> you do? >> yeah. i think serve going to be on everybody else. they all have something at stake. ted cruz can't let donald trump get away. donald trump can't let ted cruz get away. they both can't let marco rubio get away. and -- >> do you think it's as much of a personal slugfes, personal insults as we saw at the last
debate or, look, marco rubio has already said publicly that he regrets some of the tactics he was use, some of the language he was using. >> maybe a little less of that. such universal condemnation of all this that i think, frankly, maybe they'll pull back a little bit. but let's be clear here. they all want to win. and a couple of them are really close to winning. so, yeah. all the gloves are off here. >> s.e., marco rubio if he's saying that stuff didn't work, it just made me look bad, does he try to go after donald trump on policy or lack of policy specifics which is clearly something trump has been hit for before. >> absolutely. in addition to the policies, i think rubio and cruz and maybe to a certain extent kasich are going to go after donald trump on his rhetoric. and that doesn't have to involve his hand size. you can talk about the kind of language donald trump uses, for example, with you when he talks about islam hating america. i expect there to be some of
that pushback from the other candidates to, in a more sort of adult way. communicate that he does not have the temperament to be president. he doesn't have the discipline to lead the free world. i expect -- i hope, i expect there to be a little of that. >> it is interesting that at this stage of the race and when you ask for specifics from donald trump, there's not a lot of meat on the bone. not a lot of policy specifics. and yet certainly not as much as some of the other candidates have. it certainly doesn't seem to matter to trump voters. i mean reporters have tried. everybody has tried this in interviews. it's been tried on the debate stage. no one has really been able to sort of get him to try to actually or to be able to elaborate in a specific way. >> your core point is the most obvious one, which is the fact that his supporters, they don't really -- they aren't drawn to him because of policy papers or white papers on issues.
instead, they are drawn to him because he exudes these attributes that they find are -- that sort of run counter to what they see from the last eight years in washington. they like the fact that he's strong. they like the fact he has clarity on some of the big issues, whether it's the economy or immigration or national security. and that has been, to the great frustration of all of the other campaigns. they have wanted to try and pin him down on the fact he doesn't have specifics. they've tried to pin him down on the fact that some of what he says is just impossible, or not even serious. and i think they'll continue to do that tonight because one of the things lacking as well has been a broad and sustained attack on donald trump. now it is getting very late in the campaign to do that, right? but what other choice do they have? >> you use the word clarity. his supporters see his statements as being full of clarity. his detractors say it's a complete lack of clarity. that he's all over the map and, you know, he says, look. i have a strong core but i'm
also believe in -- >> flexible. >> -- making deals and i'm flexible. you can say that's clarity or, wait a minute, that's double talk. >> there's a quote from "house of cards" where frank underwood says a public opinion doesn't have a law degree. that's one of the reasons -- one of the things donald trump has taken advantage of. folks aren't as immeshed in the details about economic policy. they aren't as immeshed about the details of what a real national security posture, the details of a strong national security posture or foreign policy involved. instead they want the broad proclamations that run counter to what they've seen with the last eight years of president obama that they disagree with. >> as kevin mentioned, congress, the constitution, the geneva convention. a lot of things are going to stand in the way of donald trump's policies. and his supporters, even don't seem fazed that all of his promises, he's probably not going to be able to keep. >> what they want is message and direction. they want the country to go this way, not this way. and they don't want 10,000
specifics. they want to know where are we going? >> one thing donald trump does well and other candidates should learn from is the fact he owns 100% of everything he says. he doesn't take it back like marco rubio. and then, oh, i apologize for that. it wasn't a good -- >> there's never the word apology. this is the arrival of governor kasich. we saw donald trump arriving a short time ago. we watch governor arriving, i want to bring in cnn's john king, anchor of "inside politics" and chief political analyst gloria borger who are inside the debate hall where we'll also be shortly. how big of a deal that dr. ben carson is going to be endorsing donald trump? >> i think it's -- the timing of it is a great political move, first of all, by the trump campaign. if he doesn't do well tonight, he's got a new news story tomorrow morning. and that's this endorsement. and i think that, you know, carson's people are really, really loyal to him in the way that trump's people are loyal to him.
carson lives here in florida. so i don't think it hurts donald trump at all and probably helps him a little bit. >> john, there's a new fox news poll showing governor kasich leading in ohio. that's different from our cnn poll which shows trump leading. and also different from the, i think it was the quinnipiac poll also released yesterday. but that's who kasich really is talking to tonight. ohio voters. he's not focussed on talking to florida voters like the other candidates are. >> he is a one state wonder because just like marco rubio, this debate is survivor. this is debate survivor edition for marco rubio and john kasich. the polls are mixed in ohio which means it's a close race. governor kasich knows maybe he's a little ahead. maybe he's behind. he has the state party on his side in ohio. his campaign team, i was speaking to one of his top people. they are confident they can pull it out but also know the wild card in their confidence is tonight's debate. kasich has not been an attack
dog but might come under attack tonight. trump has been a little more aggressive with kasich of late because trump wants to run the board. you cannot understate the importance for donald trump and that means because of that for everybody else. trump enters the debate with 461 delegates. if he wins florida and ohio which are winner take all and wins the other states, gets 30% of the delegates, even if he came in second, but assume he won the other states with 35%, he'd end tuesday night with about 700 delegates. you need 1,237 to clinch. donald trump is looking for an exclamation point over the next few days, beginning with tonight's debate. if you are john kasich and marco rubio, your life depends on stopping that. >> when donald trump said yesterday if he wins florida and wins ohio, he believes it's pretty much over. is he right? >> well, psychologically maybe. mathematically, not quite. he would still need to win something like 50% of the
remaining delegates. and that's why the interesting dynamic will be how does the quote/unquote never trump movement adapt to that? can you block trump from getting 1237? conceivably? is it better to do that with a two-man race? the cruz campaign would make that argument. but there will be some some people who say not all the states after march 15th are winner take all. there's a misperception about that. many are still proportional. there will be some who say marco rubio or governor kasich, stay in anyway. stay in even if you lose your home state, which is frankly kind of humiliating because with forpeople on the ballot it's more likely to deny donald trump the 1,237. imagine trump and cruz in a one on one in those proportional states. if he gets 45% like we see on the democratic side with bernie sanders, he'd get those delegates. thi this is a complicated game of math. the lawyers are involved in everything else. let's see what happens tuesday night and then the math will be
clearer. >> we'll continue the conversation after a quick break as we count down to tonight's debate. we'll also be joined by carly fiorina who is now supporting ted cruz. we'll be right back. my office needs new laptops at a great price. well, staples has low prices and a price match guarantee. i took a body language class once and the way you're standing
we're getting closer to the final debate before voting on tuesday which could seal the fate of at least two of the remaining four republican candidates. donald trump goes in striking a softer tone, perhaps, unless he says he's attacked. marco rubio expressing regrets about attacking him personally. ted cruz on the other hand took another swipe at trump today. they are all grappling with a question they've been grappling with this whole time. how to confront trump and prevail whether on a debate stage or on the trail. they are all still seeking the winning formula. joining us wither panel, someone who faced that same challenge, carly fiorina who has just endorsed senator cruz. what do you expect to happen at tonight's debate? nobody knows better what it's like to be on that stage than you. for your candidate, ted cruz, is it important for him to take on donald trump specifically on policies? or more important to draw distinctions with marco rubio? >> one of the things that i've admired about ted cruz is he's
never gotten down in the gutter. he has always stayed on substance and policy. he's offered very specific policy positions of his own. when he's challenged donald trump, he has challenge him on substance. and on positions. and i think that's what you'll see him do tonight. that's what i always try to do in my candidacy. and i think you'll see him squarely focus on not only introducing himself to those people who perhaps had not considered ted cruz in the past, but now are willing to consider him and embrace him. and i think you'll see him focus on donald trump because ted cruz is the only guy who can beat donald trump. he's the only guy who has beaten donald trump, and we need to beat donald trump. >> when marco rubio started kind of trying to match donald trump's rhetoric, some of the language he was using, i wonder what's you thought. when you were on the stage, you were very effective in using a slight sense of humor, slight sense of irony to push back at
donald trump, but it wasn't -- i found it effective some of the things you said. the audience knew what you were talking about but it wasn't a head-on frontal assault. did you know when marco rubio started using the kind of language he did on the campaign trail that that was a mistake? >> well, marco rubio has to answer for his own campaign strategy. but i guess what i would say is i don't think talking about spray tans and body parts is helpful to the american citizenry who are trying to make a choice. these are serious times. these are serious issues. i don't really know why donald trump gets away with half the stuff he gets away with. i guess it's entertaining. that's why every network, including your own, broadcasts his entire press conference, if that's what you can call it. more like a qvc commercial for a full hour without commercial break. i don't know what that is, but it doesn't actually help americans understand the
solutions to real problems in their lives. >> well, i think -- >> having been out there on the campaign trail for a long time, i think citizens are concerned and they want solutions. >> i just for the record, i think we broadcast it because no other candidates were actually speaking at that point. particularlyior candidate had stopped speaking at 5:00 that afternoon, and no other comments were being made. and he is the republican front-runner. but i'm curious for dr. ben carson, what an impact do you think an endorsement from carson to trump is going to have? clearly it's an endorsement ted cruz would have liked. they are similar in terms of evangelical support. it would have been -- obviously could have been a big positive for senator cruz. do you think a lot of ben carson's supporters are going to go to donald trump, or do you think your candidate, cruz, will pick up some of them? >> you know, i honestly don't
really know what the impact is. what i know in looking at the last several election results is that dr. carson's support was fade away. he barely registered, honestly, in the last couple of contests. i don't really know what impact it will have. what i know is this. if you look at the polling data, and you and your great panel of experts have said this, what you'll see is that late deciding voters don't go donald trump's way. donald trump has a very solid core of support. but he's actually not growing that support. on the other hand, ted cruz is growing his support. he's the only guy in the race right now who actually has momentum. one of the things that i think was unfortunately underreported on tuesday night was that ted cruz beat john kasich in michigan. it isn't what people expected to happen. and i think it's indicative of growing support for ted cruz and sort of plateauing or maybe even waning support for donald trump
and, frankly, the other two guys still in the race. >> gloria borger and john king are with you. they want to ask you some questions as well. gloria, john? >> i would love to ask you a question about women republican voters. because if you look at all the exit polling, donald trump does the best with women. and cruz is second. can you explain that to me? why trump does so well with republican women? >> you know, i know a lot of trump voters, and contrary to some of the way that some of the media characterize them, they are smart. they're educated. they're concerned. and so i think donald trump's appeal is that people think, well, he's going to challenge the system. and i think the reality is that donald trump has no intention of challenging the system. he is the system. he's benefited from the system
all his life. he's made his billions of dollars by buying off people in the system. to his benefit. and i think the more that comes out, that's the reason you see late-breaking supporters. >> he's honest about it. i did it. now i know how to run against that's because i was a part of it. >> i ran because i think the game is rigged. the deck is stacked. towards the big, the powerful, the wealthy and well connected. guess what? donald trump is big, powerful, wealthy and well connected. so it works for him. and it's very revealing when he asks his supporters to pledge their support to him. the truth is the president of the united states should pledge their support to the nation and to the citizens of the nation. so donald trump has it exactly backwards who this is about. his whole career has been about him and this run is about him, except it should be about the citizens of this nation. >> carly fiorina, thanks for joining us.
we'll be watching to see how your candidate senator cruz does tonight. we enjoy talking to you always. want to bring in our political commentators. kevin, in terms of what you'll be looking for tonight, what's the top thing that our viewers should watch for? >> i was very struck by your interview with donald trump. just the other day, where he seemed to take a more unifying tone. it's as if he's watching the trajectory of this race and believes the time now is to start bringing some elements of the party together because he could be the eventual nominee. and in a way that maybe invites some of the -- some of his opponents in a debate like this to go after him but for him to quickly deflect and start looking more toward the general election, making the case against hillary clinton. i'll be interested to see if that donald trump shows up tonight. the thing is, if he gets attacked, donald trump seizes to be donald trump if he's not swinging back. we may see glimpses of it. but the donald trump that knows how to counterpunch better than anybody in this race, he'll be
here. we'll see a little bit of that here as well. >> i don't know what a disciplined donald trump looks like. that's not a joke. i don't know what that looks like and if it's compelling even to his supporters to see a guy who can -- who is restrained and can hold back from taking the punch. i don't know. and i don't expect we'll see that guy tonight. i'm looking for a big night for marco rubio. i mean, if he needs to have the best debate performance of his life. he's in his home state. he needs to remind floridians of who he is and why the stakes are so high in this election, whether it's supreme court, national security, immigration, jobs. all of that. he needs to make that case. i've seen him do it before. that's marco rubio isn't completely gone. it's in there somewhere. i'm hoping he harnesses it tonight. >> jeffrey lord? >> donald trump and discipline, the entire trump organization, meaning his business, could not possibly have been built without
discipline and vision and all of that sort of thing. so i would respectfully disagree with you. i do think that marco rubio's got a problem on his hands. he had that terrible debate with chris christie, and then seemed to recover and then had this whole business with donald trump which he has felt compelled. what's the knock on him? it's that he's not quite ready. that he's young and not quite mature enough, et cetera. tonight he's got to recover from this yet again. i'm not sure that he can do that. >> i think carly touched on something really powerful in that interview. i say this almost in a complimentary way toward donald truffle. he may be the greatest self-promoter we've ever seen in our lifetime. there's a lot of tactics other candidates should adopt from that. but who is he really in this for? is he running for himself, for his ego, for the expansion of trump empires into infinity, or is he in it for the betterment of the country? i don't think he's ever proved the latter and if another
candidate can prove he's only in this for himself, you can't trust him to fight for the little guy, that's a powerful argument. >> there's a lot to watch for. get ready for the main event. i'm heading right into the hall. we are looking at more arrivals. there is the debate hall itself. get ready for tonight's make or break cnn republican debate. we'll be right back. those new glasses?
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welcome to the cnn republican presidential debate live from the university of miami in coral gables, florida. i'm anderson cooper. the stage behind me is set. the audience is here, and the candidates are ready. >> in florida right now, the republican candidates are heading into a climactic contest in one of the most coveted prizes in presidential politics is on the line. >> if we win florida, believe me, it's over. >> it's a big stake battle that could change everything. >> it always comes down to florida. >> tonight, the last gop debate before a pivotal primary night, including the winner take all votes in florida and ohio. >> who likes me in this room? >> donald trump.
looking to lock up the nomination and defy his critics. >> i'm act presidential you but if somebody hits me i'm going to hit them back harder. >> ted cruz. eager to go one on one with the front-runner. >> for those who have supported other candidates, we welcome you on our team standing united as one. >> marco rubio. in a make or break bid to win his florida home turf. >> i will campaign as long as it takes and wherever it takes to ensure that i am the next president of the united states. >> john kasich. staking his campaign on his home state of ohio. >> a positive message and raising the bar for our kids will win. we'll win in this country. >> now the stage is set for an intense debate about who should lead the republicans and the nation. >> a turning point is coming in this election and for this country. >> we are seeing republicans uniting. >> the republicans are eating their own. we have to bring things
together. >> the fight for the white house returns to florida right now. and welcome inside the debate hall where the four remaining republican candidates are waiting to take the stage for the 12th republican presidential debate. let me tell you what's ahead as we get ready for the start of the debate which will be moderated by cnn's jake tapper. we'll hear shortly from the chairman of the republican national committee, reince priebus, then we'll see the candidate comes to the stage at 8:55. debate itself begins sharply at 9:00 and will last for two hours. the debate hall filling up as we speak. more than 1,800 people will be in the audience tonight. it's usually home to the university of miami basketball team. tonight it's a different kind of march madness. with me high above the hall is
chief political analyst gloria borger and anchor of "inside politics," john king. so much to watch for. so many different games and strategies at play on the stage tonight. >> each of the candidates, all of their teams and everybody in this room understands the stakes of this debate. you really can't understate them. donald trump has a chance to pull away from the field on tuesday. this is the last big debate before those elections on tuesday. big basket of delegates at stake. winner take all in florida and ohio which happen to the home states of senator marco rubio and governor john kasich. rubio has two wins so far. modest states, puerto rico and minnesota. and then kasich has none. and so they either win or the pressure will be to get out of the race or they won't be able to raise the money. the stakes tonight -- >> gloria mentioned the pressure on marco rubio tonight backstage right now. this is such a cliche to say it's make or break, do or die for him, but it certainly is.
and he knows that the tactics he's used out on the campaign trail, he's already said publicly it was a mistake to kind of talk about the spray tan, to use some of trump's language against trump. he's got to come up with a different way of distinguishing himself from donald trump. >> absolutely. he hurt his brand when he did that. and marco rubio was always known as this optimistic candidate. and suddenly, he was attacking trump in the gutter, and he's got to do it differently this time. he has got to talk about trump on the issues. i think that's what you're going to hear from cruz who wants to establish himself as the only alternative to donald trump. that stop trump movement doesn't have one horse yet and cruz wants to, after this debate tonight, be that horse. and kasich here wants to say, you know what? not so fast. >> let's check in with our reporters covering each of the candidates. of course have been for some
time. get a sense of what they are hoping to do tonight. sara murray is covering the trump campaign. what are you hearing from mr. trump about his strategy tonight? >> well, anderson, donald trump told you just last night that he wants to see a softer debought. and that is because he knows he's now the undisputed republican front-runner. he wants to appear presidential, above the fray. and he wants to look like someone who can actually unite the party behind him. of course, he could face challenges doing that. there are a number of his rivals who want to take him out on stage. that's why donald trump is coming in with a backup plan. and that backup plan is a big flashy press conference tomorrow morning at mar-a-lago where he's going to pick up an endorsement from dr. ben carson. they do feel good going into this debate. they think it will be a solid debate performance and they called it what should be the last republican debate. this may be's last time you see all these candidates on stage
together. >> sara, as gloria pointed out in our last half hour, donald trump no matter how he does tonight, he gets to change the news cycle or at least attempt to change the news cycle tomorrow with the endorsement by dr. carson. so even if he has a bad debate performance tonight, perhaps much of the story tomorrow will be about the endorsement. let's go to sunlen serfaty covering the cruz campaign. what are you hearing from his people? >> well, in talking to the cruz campaign today, it's very clear that senator cruz is going to try to distinguish himself tonight on the tone. his goal, they say, is to remain above the fray to avoid specifically any mud slinging tonight. and like donald trump's playbook to appear presidential up there on the debate stage. cruz campaign advisers say that make no mistake about it. he is prepared to draw a clear contrast with marco rubio, with donald trump and that's an expansion of what he's been focused on the last few days. he's been exclusively focussed on donald trump.
so very clearly adding marco rubio, of course, to his sights tonight. very clear the cruz campaign sees that as a chance to help shut the door on marco rubio's campaign. >> sunlen serfaty, thank you very much. let's go to manu raju covering the rubio campaign. what are you hearing? >> anderson, the rubio campaign is telling me that they want to make it very clear to florida voters that this is the state that could stop donald trump. and what does that mean? marco rubio, i'm told, is going to make it very clear that the way to stop donald trump is to vote for him and not vote for john kasich or ted cruz. they'll say -- he'll say actually that would be helping nominate donald trump. now he may not launch into those personal attacks but he's going to try to draw trump out on policy. he's also believes that's those attacks against his business background, even calling him a con artist, that is still fair game. in addition, wants to remind voters why they elected him in the first place and try to
present himself at the one candidate electable in the general election. they know this is do or die. the stakes are very high. high bar to clear. that's the game plan going in. >> all right. we'll see if that game plan is executed on the stage. phil mattingly is covering the kasich campaign. governor kasich clearly focussed on ohio as much as anything that's happening here in florida. >> yeah, no question about it. and the strategy tonight is really to stick with what he thinks has worked up to this point. stay under the radar. stay positive. look presidential. look experienced. and the reason he's not trying to shift is his advisers think that as this field has winnowed, their message has started to break through. so stick to that message, stay positive throughout the night. hope to come out of this debate with some momentum heading into that big tuesday race. one quick thing to keep an eye on his advisers are cognizant of tonight. last night donald trump attacked john kasich at a rally in north
carolina, really for the furst time we've seen in this campaign. they are wary about what could happen tonight on that debate stage. john kasich with pretty good numbers in ohio challenging trump. that will be something to keep an eye on as this debate plays out. >> we've seen different polls. fox news poll shows kasich ahead in ohio. a cnn poll and quinnipiac poll both showing donald trump up by 6 or 7 points. an important night for john kasich. thanks to each of our correspondents who are here with the candidates. they are expected on the debate stage in less than 15 minutes. the debate starts at the top of the hour. after last week's debate in detroit, there's a lot of talk about bringing down the temperature for tonight's debate. bringing the rhetoric. chris cuomo is on the debate stage with that part of the story. is there any sense that folks would like to see less personal attacks tonight, and is that even possibly? >> i think the answer to both of those questions is yes, anderson. no question the campaigns, especially and their primary
support teams do want that. but for very different reasons. john kasich's team says we don't change. we've always been consistent. that's how we got where we are right now and we're building. so they want it to stay the same. the cruz campaign is saying they want a tone shift but it's because they believe that especially tonight this could be their night. on points of contrast of policy, ted cruz can get the momentum that he needs. from the rubio camp, more of a negative influence. they do not believe it worked for them the last time. they are laying off some of the recent displays in the elections, the different cycle that's they're in right now as a function of that. so they want marco rubio to get back to what they believe is his strongest suit, staying positive. trump supporter said something interesting. he wants to be presidential, but he said don't forget who we're talking about. you mess with the bull, you get the horns. >> all right, chris, thanks. chris will be on the stage right after the debate ends to talk with the candidates.
we look forward to that. gloria, john, let's bring them back in here. and the debate -- the hall is pretty much filled up. everybody is pretty much in place. a lot of anticipation, certainly. anything else we should watch for? >> i think we all know cruz is going to punch up. the question is whether trump is going to punch at all and punch down to kasich. and i heard phil saying that the kasich people are going to have the same game plan. if they are attacked, as trump has been attacking him as being an absentee governor, others have attacked him as being a tax raiser, i think he has to fight back if he wants to win the state of ohio and continue on in this race. >> he's been offered the chance to directly contradict or attack donald trump. he hasn't chosen to do it. we'll see what happens tonight if he is attacked by trump. when we come back, the anticipation building. the chairman of the republican national committee will be talking to the audience and telling people to sit down right
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welcome back to campus of the university of miami. the 12th republican presidential debate is now just minutes away. the candidates will take the stage at 8:55. right now the chairman of the republican national committee, reince priebus. >> good evening, everybody. we want to welcome you -- we want to welcome you to the debate of our great party. the party of equality, the party of freedom, the party of opportunity. and i want to get something really clear. because there's been a lot of talk about this. this party is going to support the nominee, whoever that is, 100%. there's no question about that. and i want to -- what i want to do is explain that what's happening here is that these candidates are competing to see who is going to be the nominee
that joins the republican national committee, the republican party, all of you, the conservatives, the tea party, our entire wonderful group of people that are going to come together and unify in cleveland and get behind that nominee. that's what we do as republicans. can you at least agree with me, without question, that any one of these four gentlemen would be a world better than hillary clinton or a socialist in bernie sanders? [ applause ] we have something to fight for. we're in a battle for freedom in this country. it's a same battle that founded this country, the same battle that james madison reaffirmed in the bill of rights. the same battle that's founded our party. and here we are again together. and that's where we're going to end up together.
thank you. god bless you, and let's have a great debate. >> that's reince priebus, the chairman of the rnc. let's bring back gloria borger and john king for a quick final thought. certainly an interesting message from him. >> the chairman of the republican party needs to state we're all going to be behind the nominee. that that's an open question this far into the process after this many debates tells you everything you need to know. there are still candidates on that stage and forces in the party who say we're going to try to block donald trump no matter what it takes and some people say publicly, i will never support him if he's the nominee. prince priebus as the chairman knows his party may fracture if the trajectory of donald trump continues. his party may yet fracture. he's trying to hold those pieces together. good luck. >> not only justice people who say they won't support donald trump but the former republican nominee for the presidency, mitt romney, has come out and said i will never support donald trump. so he had to do that tonight to sort of tell everyone we are
going to be behind whomever it is. and the unspoken words were donald trump. >> it's interesting because we know even the candidates on that stage who have been hitting donald trump hard, they have said they will support donald trump if he is, in fact, the nominee. >> they have said that, but they've also said, until the very end, essentially until the convention votes, they'll do everything they can to throw themselves in front of the train. that's the big challenge tonight. can donald trump have a strong debate and a very good tuesday and make the math so convincing that the air just comes ot of the balloon. or as donald trump gains strength does the anti-trump movement gain energy even if it doesn't have momentum or math on its side. there's a huge open question which is why this debate going into tuesday, the stakes are enormous. >> enormous stakes. a lot of tension. a lot of excitement about tonight. we'll be back, of course. john king, gloria borger. all our panelists and analysts and reporters will be back with me after the debate for complete
analysis. this debate is a two-hour debate. we'll be on from 11:00 to at least 1:00 a.m. and our coverage will continue throughout the night, longer with the entire team. when we come back, the candidates will be introduced, take their places behind their podiums, and the debate will begin. jake tapper is moderating tonight. he'll pick it up when we come back to the university of miami campus right after this. the debate is next.
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live from the bank united center on the campus of the university of miami, this is the cnn republican presidential debate. for our viewers in the united states and around the world, welcome to miami, florida. i'm jake tapper. in just five days, voters will go to the polls here in this state as well as in ohio, illinois, north carolina and missouri. the race for the republican nomination for president could change dramatically. florida and ohio each have a large number of delegates at stake, and they award all of them to the candidate who wins. they are winner take all states. that's the first time that will happen in this primary season. and this is the last debate
before that critical round of voting. we hope tonight the candidates will give the voters specifics on their visions for america. so now, let's welcome the candidates. ohio governor john kasich. [ applause ] senator ted cruz of texas. [ applause ] real estate developer and businessman donald trump. [ applause ] senator marco rubio of florida. [ applause ] ladies and gentlemen, the republican candidates for president of the united states.
before we begin this evening, we want to remember former first lady nancy reagan who passed away this week. her funeral will be held tomorrow, and we would like to take a moment of silence to remember nancy reagan. now please rise for our national anthem performed by the frost singers from the university of miami. ♪ o say, can you see by the dawn's early light ♪ ♪ what so proudly we hailed
at the twilight's last gleaming? ♪ ♪ whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ and the rockets' red glare the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ gave proof through the night that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ o'er the land of the free ♪
♪ and the home of the brave? ♪ [ applause ] >> thanks to the frost singers from the university of miami. candidates you can now take your positions behind the podiums while i briefly explain the rules. as moderator, i will attempt to guide the discussion asking questions and follow-ups. joining me in the questioning this evening will be "washington times" reporter stephen dinan, cnn chief political correspondent dana bash and salem radio's hugh hewitt. candidates, you will have one minute and 15 seconds to answer each question and 45 seconds to respond to follow-ups or rebuttals if your name sinn voked. timing lights will be visible. they'll warn you when time is up. and as you requested, a bell
will also sound like this. we know that each of you wants to debate these important issues but please wait until you are called upon, and please do not talk over one another. these are the rules to which all of you agreed. our goal this evening is a serious debate on the issues. it's time now for opening statements. you'll each have 30 seconds. governor kasich, we will start with you. >> well, thank you. you know, i look in the faces of people all across this country, and i know they want to be hopeful. and many are hopeful. look, i can talk conservative policies to the white house, washington, to restore the strength of our economy. but i also want to transfer power, money and influence to where you live. because i believe the strength in this country rests in the neighborhoods, the families, the communities and our states. and i believe it's a new partnership. a partnership that can allow us to restore the spirit of america and strengthen america for the best century we've ever had. thank you. [ applause ]
>> senator rubio? >> every election is important. i believe this is the most important election in a generation. because what's at stake in this election is not simply what party is going to be in charge or which candidate wins. what's at stake is our identity as a nation and as a people. for over two centuries, america has been an exceptional nation. now the tomb has come for this generation to do what it must do to keep it that way. if we make the right choice in this election, our children will be the freest and most prosperous americans that have ever lived and the 21st century will be a new american century. [ applause ] >> senator cruz. >> 59 years ago, florida welcomed my father to america as he stepped off the ferryboat from cuba on to key west. he was 18. he was filled with hopes and dreams, and yet in the freest land on the face of the earth. this election, this debate is not about