PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Transcript 2/28/2016

Guests:
Symone Sanders; Karen Bass; Susan del Percio; Dana Milbank
Transcript:

Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: February 28, 2016
Guest: Symone Sanders; Karen Bass; Susan del Percio; Dana Milbank

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning. I`m Al Sharpton live from Los
Angeles on a special edition of “Politics Nation.”

It`s just two days from Super Tuesday. The biggest moment of the campaign
so far.

For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is looking to cement her front-runner
status after a resounding victory in the North Carolina primary. She beat
Bernie Sanders by nearly 50 points. And in her victory speech, she was
already turning her attention to Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don`t need to make America
great again. America has never stopped being great. But, but we do need
to make America whole again. Instead of building walls, we need to be
tearing down barriers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: On Tuesday, Democrats in 11 states go to the polls. The only
time that Bernie Sanders talked about the South Carolina results was with
reporters on the airport tarmac. He admitted it was a tough defeat. But
is vowing to fight on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On a given
night, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Tonight we lost. I
congratulate Secretary Clinton on her very strong victory. Tuesday over
800 delegates are at stake, and we intend to win many, many of them. Thank
you all very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Sanders will campaign today in Minnesota and Oklahoma. Clinton
will be in Tennessee and Arkansas.

Let`s start with NBC`s Kristen Welker, covering the Clinton campaign in
South Carolina.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Reverend Al, good morning.

Secretary Clinton and senator Sanders set their sights on Super Tuesday
states today, but this race has fundamentally changed after Clinton broke
all expectations with her overwhelming defeat of senator Sanders here in
South Carolina on Saturday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WELKER (voice-over): Today, Secretary Clinton is starting a new phase of
her campaign.

CLINTON: Thank you so much, South Carolina!

WELKER: After her lights-out defeat of Bernie Sanders Saturday night.

CLINTON: Tomorrow, this campaign goes national!

WELKER: Clinton, now on her strongest footing yet, after beating Sanders
by more than 50 points in the Palmetto state.

CLINTON: We are going to compete for every vote, in every state. We are
not taking anything, and we`re not taking anyone, for granted.

WELKER: Sanders, who was on a plane to Minnesota as the devastating
results came in, vowed to fight on.

SANDERS: Tuesday over 800 delegates are at stake, and we intend to win
many, many of them.

WELKER: Perhaps the most worrying sign for Sanders, as they head into
Super Tuesday, Clinton captured nearly 90 percent of African-Americans
here. An even larger percentage than Barack Obama won in 2008. Clinton,
seeming to pivot to the general election, with this less than subtle swipe
at Donald Trump.

CLINTON: We don`t need to make America great again. America has never
stopped being great.

WELKER: But there are still clouds that hang over Clinton`s campaign.
Underscored on Friday when a veteran pressed former president Bill Clinton
about the Benghazi attacks in 2012.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wait, wait, wait,
wait, wait. Do you – do you have the courage to listen to my answer?
Don`t throw him out. If he`ll shut up and listen to my answer I`ll answer
it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WELKER: Clinton aides point out and the video shows that President Clinton
allowed that protester to go on for nearly two minutes before he ultimately
cut him off.

Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton heads to the Super Tuesday state of Arkansas
and Tennessee today, senator Sanders heads to Oklahoma and Colorado.

Reverend Al, back to you.

SHARPTON: Kristen Welker, thanks.

Now let`s bring in MSNBC`s Alex Seitz-Wald in Columbia, South Carolina with
some more analysis.

Alex how does this decisive victory affect the democratic race?

ALEX SEITZ-WALD, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Reverend, I think it`s
very tough for Bernie Sanders at this point. Surpassed expectations and
that huge number with the African-American vote in particular kinds proves
the theory of the case that the Clinton campaign had made all along that
their advantage with minorities would power her to the nomination.

We`re now heading to Super Tuesday, 11 states at play. The Bernie Sanders
campaign is targeting five, the Clinton campaign is targeting six. The
issue is that there are simply more delegates in those six states than in
those five states. And those six states are large African-American
populations, some with large Latino populations. So going forward she
clearly has the initiative now. She has the large advantage, and it`s
going to be tough for Sanders to catch up. More things have to go right
for him in order to get back on the path to nomination and a few things
have to go wrong for her, as well.

SHARPTON: What are the expectations for Super Tuesday from the Clinton
campaign?

SEITZ-WALD: So they`re hoping for a Clinton sweep of the south. And you
have a bunch of states in play, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas,
they`re hoping to win all of those, especially Texas. And they`re hoping
to put up a big margin there because there are 222 delegates at stake, by
far the biggest prize available on Super Tuesday.

For Sanders, they`re targeting the caucus states in the west. You have
Colorado and Minnesota. Also hoping for a win in Massachusetts, of course,
his home state of Vermont, and interestingly, Oklahoma where they think
they can do well, as well. So he could still have a nice night Super
Tuesday. But when you add it together in the grand scheme of the election
you`re looking at delegates, not states. That`s what really matters and
there are just more delegates in the Democratic Party in diverse states
like Texas than there are in other states like Minnesota, where the Sanders
campaign is hoping to do well.

SHARPTON: Alex Seitz-Wald thank you very much.

Now, let`s turn to the Republican race which is getting weirder and nastier
by the day. With nearly 600 delegates at stake on Tuesday, some of at
tacks are almost getting comical. Particularly between Marco Rubio and
Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s flying around on hair
force one, and tweeting, so here`s the one tweet he put out. He put out a
picture of me having makeup put on me at the debate. Which is amazing to
me, that a guy with the worst spray tan in America is attacking me for
putting on makeup. Doesn`t Trump likes to sue people? He should sue
whoever did that to his face.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s a nasty business this world
of politics. I`ll tell you what, the lies, the deception, it`s – I used
to think real estate in Manhattan was bad. That`s peanuts compared to this
stuff. You deal with liars, you deal with major, major sleaze. Do we know
what sleaze is? And, you know, little Marco Rubio, this guy that he`s
going around, he`s going crazy. He`s number two or three in Florida. He`s
a senator. He`s 22 points behind. If he ran in Florida today for an
office, he couldn`t run for dog catcher. He wouldn`t be elected. He
wouldn`t be elected. He`s unelectable. And we`re going to beat him badly
in Florida. That`s going to be in a couple of weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Ted Cruz is also keeping up his attacks on Trump, hitting him
for not releasing his taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maybe his tax returns show that
he doesn`t quite have as much money as he says he does. The other hand,
maybe his tax returns show that he`s been giving money to a bunch of
liberal causes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s a three-way brawl, just as it was at the last debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I got double-teamed by these two characters. I`m sitting in the
middle. And I saw them shaking hands before the debate. And I knew there
was something going on, and then they have a picture of – I`m standing
there and they`re shaking hands behind me, getting ready to go. So we got
double-teamed by two crooked senators. You have one who`s a liar, and then
you have the other one who may be a worse liar, that`s Rubio.

I will say this, Cruz is smarter than Rubio. I will let you know in a few
months who`s the better liar, OK? I haven`t determined.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And with just two days to go, Trump, Rubio and Cruz will be
hitting the trail hard. Once again today.

NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez is live in Virginia with the Rubio campaign.

Gabe, now Rubio is talking about hair force one, and spray tans. Do you
think these attacks will work?

Hey there, Reverend Al. Good morning.

GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It`s hard to believe that this is
a presidential campaign. It`s also hard to believe that just a few days
ago, Marco Rubio was getting criticism for not going after Donald Trump
hard enough. Well that obviously changed in the debate on Thursday. Since
then he has laid in to Trump over and over again.

You played some of those sound bites there. He`s going after Trump from
everything from tweeting on what he called hair force one, to poking fun at
his spray tan. Donald Trump has really gone past using the word liar.
That`s, if he`d stop – he went well past that a few days ago. Now he`s
referring to Marco Rubio openly as a sleaze bag. Again, it`s hard to
believe that this is a presidential campaign.

But the Rubio campaign really believes that they are getting under Trump`s
skin. In his speech yesterday Trump spent large chunk of it talking about
Marco Rubio, and so the Rubio campaign feels it`s really making some
headway. They`re even launching a Web site called Trumpslams.com. Now
this all comes as Rubio faces a steep climb on Super Tuesday. He`s
trailing Trump in virtually all of the Super Tuesday states. Trump really
only behind Ted Cruz in the polling in Cruz`s home state of Texas. But
Rubio, his campaign feels that they can make a play for a few of those
states, do well, pick up delegates –

SHARPTON: Yes but that`s my question, because a lot of the attack on Rubio
is that he hasn`t won anything. Does the Rubio campaign think they`ll win
anything on Super Tuesday?

GUTIERREZ: Yes, that`s the question, Al. The Rubio campaign will only say
that they hope to do well on Tuesday and hope to pick up some delegates
and they`re in this fight for the long haul. However they are making a
play for Virginia. The campaign is buying lots of ad time here, around
$500,000 this week in the super PAC backing Marco Rubio is also doing the
same. And they have four stops here in Virginia. They feel they can do
well in the Virginia suburbs here. And perhaps pick up some momentum then
heading into Super Tuesday.

Now that will be the big test, Al, for Marco Rubio. Can he do well in his
home state of Florida? Right now, of course, as Donald Trump is quick to
point out, Rubio is trailing him by double digits according to one poll.
So that will be the question, can Marco Rubio turn it around.

SHARPTON: That will be the big question that we`ll all be watching.

Gabe Gutierrez, thank you very much this morning.

GUTIERREZ: You bet.

SHARPTON: Let`s turn to NBC`s Hallie Jackson live in Oklahoma City with
the Cruz campaign.

Hallie, Cruz`s home state of Texas votes on Tuesday. Must-win for him. Am
I right?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Cruz himself, you know, has called
it the crown jewel of Super Tuesday, and has called Super Tuesday the most
important day of his campaign so far. So, yes, he`s got to win his home
state. If he can`t win in Texas, the state where he lives, the state where
he`s been brought up, the state where he has some 27,000 volunteers that
have been out working for him, then it is very difficult to see what his
path forward is if he can`t claim victory in Texas.

So you`re seeing Ted Cruz spend a lot of time there tomorrow and then
Tuesday. He is here in Oklahoma City today. I`m told by his campaign to
keep an eye on Arkansas, as well. So, it`s a big day for Ted Cruz. He has
not lowered expectations at all for Super Tuesday. He`s very clear about
what this day means for his campaign in particular. Even though Donald
Trump has been looking strong in some of those southern states where months
ago, the consensus was that Cruz could do very well there. Places like
Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia –

SHARPTON: Hallie –

JACKSON: Setting up really kind of a wild day.

SHARPTON: Hallie is Cruz worried about being left out as Trump and Rubio
focus on each other?

JACKSON: You know, it`s a fair question. Because what we`ve seen from
Marco Rubio in just the last three days is this sort of new tone, these
insults, talking about the slams. Talking about the hits. Talking about
his ears. His spray tan. Hair force one. Ted Cruz hasn`t done that kind
of attack against Donald Trump. His attacks he has tried to say has been
more about policy, has been more about drawing contrasts between the
candidates, have been more on temperament for example.

What you did see, though, which is interesting is Cruz kind of try to
insert himself in that a little bit more over the last day. I think
because we are talking a lot about Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, so Cruz,
this is a way for him to kind of get in the mix a little bit. And make
this a three-man race, ultimately hoping to make it a two-man race. He
hopes between himself and Donald Trump.

SHARPTON: Hallie Jackson, thanks so much.

Still ahead, we`ll hear from the national press secretary for the Sanders
campaign. How will he recover from his big defeat last night?

Also, new buzz about Loretta Lynch as a Supreme Court nominee. That fight
about to dominate Washington and raising the stakes for presidential race.

All that plus a deeper look at what the fight about Donald Trump`s taxes is
really all about. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: I want to take a brief moment just to mention to you the
differences on some key issues between Secretary Clinton and myself. It
must be a really excellent, wonderful speech. And therefore you should be
very proud to release the transcript of that speech. Clearly must have
been an unforgettable speech. Share it with the people!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Senator Bernie Sanders, continuing to attack his opponent,
Hillary Clinton, on her paid Wall Street speeches. In the hours after his
crushing defeat in the South Carolina primary, now he sets his sights on
Super Tuesday. With nearly a third of the delegates needed to win the
nomination up for grabs Tuesday.

Joining me now is national press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign,
Symone Sanders.

Symone, you run press for the campaign. What`s the headline you want out
there this morning?

Well, Rev., thanks for having me this morning.

SYMONE SANDERS, SANDERS CAMPAIGN NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: The head line
we want out there is exactly what we`re doing. The fight rolls on to Super
Tuesday. As the senator has noted, some days you win some, some days you
lose some. Last night Secretary Clinton had a decisive victory here in
South Carolina. And we congratulate her for that. In New Hampshire
senator Sanders had a decisive victory. And now the fight rolls on to
Super Tuesday. Tonight – last night was not the end. It was just the
beginning.

You know, this is going to be a long nominating contest, Rev. Yes, we have
some work to do with African-American voters. But that`s work that we`re
committed to doing. And we think we can win. You know, we had 10,000
people when we were out in Austin, Texas, yesterday. We had almost 8,000
people when we were in Dallas. We had a sizable crowd in Minnesota last
night. So, we`re not down and out. This is just the beginning.

Well, you`re doing good. I mean, I say you`re real good because it`s a
tough morning for you to have to deal with this. What are you going to do
differently on Tuesday? Eighty-four percent of the black vote in South
Carolina went to Mrs. Clinton. You say you have work to do there. How are
you going to approach that differently with what, less than 48 hours to go?
The youth vote did not come out in the numbers that many kept saying he
would bring young people out. It didn`t happen. What`s going to happen
different Tuesday? What is going to make it different than South Carolina?

S. SANDERS: Well, you know what, Rev.? We have been going out there,
meeting with voters. We`ve been in Texas. We`ve been in Chicago. We were
in Ohio last week. We were in Minnesota. You know, so we have been going
out there and doing that work of meeting with voters. We have had state
directors in each of the March 1 states for a very long time now. So they
did not just get there.

So we think that we`re going to turn out some decisive victories on
Tuesday. We`re not going to win them all. But this is a delegates` game.
And so I think our message, taking on this economy held in place by a
system of corrupt campaign finance is something that voters, black, white,
Latino, Hispanic, Asian-American and Native American can get behind. I
mean, we did garner support in South Carolina. If we had more time, Lord
knows what would have happened.

And so as we look forward to Super Tuesday, and beyond Super Tuesday
because it`s not over on Super Tuesday, either, we have March 5th contests,
March 8th, March 15th and so on. So as we look forward to the contests in
March, we are committed to really drilling down our message and taking it
to the voters. You know –

SHARPTON: When you say your message, Symone, I just played a clip of the
senator going after Secretary Clinton on her Wall Street speeches. Are we
going to see more of the attacks, or more of the confronting her, not
necessarily like the Republicans getting kind of mean and nasty, but –

S. SANDERS: Never like the Republicans. Never like the Republicans.

SHARPTON: All right.

S. SANDERS: Because we`re not attacking them.

SHARPTON: Kind of more of a frontal kind of policy kind of attack?

S. SANDERS: Look, Reverend Al, senator Sanders has never ran a negative
campaign. He has noted that this campaign is about bringing people
together. It`s not about attacking anyone. And releasing the transcripts,
Secretary Clinton releasing those transcripts, it`s good for the party, you
know. She noted she`d release them. We just think she should release the
transcripts. It`s good for the party. The American people deserve to see
them. So that`s not an attack.

You know, Senator Sanders is just, you know, being frank and, you know,
saying what the people – what the people want. So, we`re not attacking.
As we go forward in this contest we`re going to continue to speak about the
issues. Senator Sanders has been excellent record to stand on, whether
we`re talking about trade. Whether we`re talking about civil rights,
criminal justice reform. Whether we`re talking about taking on the
billionaires in this country, standing up for hard-working American people,
and we`re going to talk about that record. So that`s what you can expect
to see going on in this nominating contest.

SHARPTON: All right. Well I haven`t endorsed a candidate but I endorse
you as a good person to get up for me on Sunday morning after taking a
licking. Symone Sanders, thanks for your time.

S. SANDERS: I appreciate it.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the fight over Donald Trump`s taxes. Is he trying to
hide how much he`s really worth? Our gotcha is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are releasing their tax returns. But
so far, Donald Trump is refusing to do the same, citing ongoing tax audits.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Until such time as it`s finished, I won`t be going and releasing,
because obviously that wouldn`t be a very good thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But some people just can`t wait for those tax returns. Like the
last GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney who kicked off a firestorm with
this speculation?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Frankly, I think we have
good reason to believe that there`s a bombshell in Donald Trump`s taxes.
Either he`s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is, or he hasn`t
been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, just how much is Trump really worth? Last year Trump said
$10 billion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I built a net worth of more than $10 billion in a world-class
businessman. All over the world I build. I have some of the great assets
of the world. And that`s – I don`t say that in a braggadocios way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But, Forbes says he`s actually worth $4.5 billion. This is a
sore spot for the Donald. In 2006, he sued an author to put his worth
between $150 million and $250 million. In the deposition, Trump explained
how he`s estimating his wealth. Quote “my net worth fluctuates, and it
goes up and down with markets, and with attitudes, and with feelings. Even
my own feelings,” end of quote.

Feelings? But Donald, you can`t spend feelings. So until you release your
taxes, you can take this to the bank. Nice try but we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m going to do my job. I`m
going to nominate somebody and let the American people decide as to whether
that person is qualified.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Obama this week talking about the GOP refusal to move
forward with filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court. On Tuesday,
Republican senator Mitch McConnell, and Chuck Grassley, will meet with the
president to talk about it. Maybe he should bring up how they`ve held the
opposite view in the past.

In 2008, Senator Grassley said quote “the reality is that the Senate has
never stopped confirming judicial nominees during the last few months of a
president`s term.” And in 1970, McConnell wrote quote “the president is
presumably elected by the people to carry out a program, and altering the
ideological directions of the Supreme Court would seem to be a perfectly
legitimate part of a presidential platform.”

To be fair, Republicans point out that vice president Biden once argued
there should be no Supreme Court nominations in an election year. But
Americans largely agree with President Obama. Fifty-six percent say the
Senate should hold hearings and vote on his nominee.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat from California, and
member of the house Judiciary Committee. Thank you for being here this
early.

REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for having me on, Rev.

SHARPTON: What will it take for your counterparts in the Senate, McConnell
and Grassley, namely, to change their minds?

BASS: Well, I think it`s certainly going to be public pressure because
remember the same voices that say that they don`t want to confirm or even
conduct a hearing are the same voices that said that they were going to do
everything they could to block the president before he even took office.
So I think there is some consistency in what they are saying.

But at the same time, they also talk about upholding the constitution, and
the constitution is very clear. The constitution says the president shall
nominate a justice. And so, I think if they really are strong proponents,
and always adhere to the constitution, they absolutely have to conduct a
hearing, and make a decision on a nominee.

SHARPTON: Isn`t this part, in many ways, many of us are viewing of them
continuing seven years in to act as though he is not the real president,
and to limit his powers? Because he is the president until January 20th of
next year.

BASS: I know. And you know, it has been very difficult over these last
seven years to see the way they have disrespected him every opportunity
they have had. You know, if you look at the Reagan presidency, in the last
few months of his presidency, he nominated Justice Kennedy. And it was a
Democratic Senate that confirmed him. So there`s absolutely precedent here
and there`s no precedent to do what they are talking about.

But my point is, even when Democrats were in control, and had many issues
with President Reagan, they still went ahead and fulfilled their duties and
I think that that`s exactly what they should do now.

SHARPTON: We have no idea where the president is leaning in terms of
making a nomination or who he would name. But I`m starting to hear new
buzz around the name Loretta Lynch, the sitting attorney general.

BASS: Well, I think many people would like to see an African-American on
the Supreme Court. We don`t really need to go in to Clarence Thomas`
background or his behavior on the court. But I think to have an African-
American voice that has definitely not been there since Thurgood Marshall
would really be an incredible contribution to our country.

And you know, I`m sure that the president is going to nominate somebody
that it`s going to make it very hard for the Republicans to come up with a
legitimate justification for why they won`t conduct a hearing. But let`s
see, I`m hoping public pressure will make them do their job.

SHARPTON: Do you think that whomever the president would nominate, be they
African-American or not, that would be more moderate, would in any way
temper some of the hostility of the Republicans to going on with the
process, or no matter what he did, no matter who he nominated, there`s some
that are going to dig in and try to stall this until we have a new
president.

BASS: Well, I actually think it`s both. I think that there will be
senators that will feel tremendous amount of pressure. If he nominates a
moderate. And then I think there`s other senators who are going to dig
their heels in.

You know one of McConnell`s points is that we need to wait until the
election until the people have spoken. Well what did the people do over
the last two elections? The president was nominated with clear majorities.
There was no dispute about his election. And so given that, the people
have spoken. What holds them back? The only thing that holds them back is
the fact that they have had difficulty for seven, almost seven and a half
years accepting the fact that Barack Obama is the president of the United
States. It`s so sad, considering the rest of the world have certainly
accepted that, and has held the president in high esteem.

SHARPTON: All right. Congresswoman Karen Bass, and I might note, neither
you nor I are suggesting Clarence Thomas is not African-American. We just
may agree with how he has –

BASS: An African-American voice.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

All right. I just wanted to clarify that. Thank you very much again.

BASS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, are you smarter than a third grader? A very simple
reason why Donald Trump`s message may be resonating with so many Americans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I will address, you know, little Rubio. This guy, has a fresh
mouth. He`s a very nasty guy. And I actually thought that Ted Cruz was a
liar, but Rubio is worse. I listen to this light, little nothing say
Trump`s a con man, isn`t it a disgrace? Rubio`s won nothing. He couldn`t
get elected dog catcher in Florida. They hate him in the state of Florida.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Just when you think the GOP presidential race couldn`t get any
nastier, it does. Donald Trump ripping in to Marco Rubio who is now
hitting back with a sustained personal line of attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: He is a guy that`s been protected his whole life and privileged his
whole life and insulated his whole life, nothing tough about any of that.
This is a massive fraud that he`s perpetuating. Here`s the problem the
stakes are not just a fake degree, the stakes are giving control of the
party of Lincoln and Reagan, of the conservative movement, and ultimately
of the United States, over to a con artist.

That will not happen. I make this promise to you today, I will do whatever
it takes, I will campaign as long as it takes. I will stay in this race as
long as it takes. Donald Trump, a con artist, will never get control of
this party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But, is it too late? “The New York Times” reporting that some
GOP leaders are already prepping for the Trump nomination. Quote “the
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has laid out a plan that
would have lawmakers break with Mr. Trump, explicitly in the general
election.” They would run – they could run negative ads about Mr. Trump
to create space between him and Republican senators seeking re-election.
Mr. McConnell has said we`ll drop him like a hot rock.

It`s an extraordinary idea that Republicans might run negative ads against
the GOP nominee. But one thing is clear, Trump is generating excitement
among the base. With more people voting for him than for Mitt Romney, or
John McCain at similar points in the last two cycles.

Joining me now is “Washington Post” columnist Dana Milbank and GOP
strategist Susan Del Percio.

Susan let me go to you first.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sure.

SHARPTON: Did most Republicans ever think we would be at this point with
Donald Trump?

DEL PERCIO: They certainly did not. Six months ago everyone was still
kind of laughing about Donald Trump, saying, wow I can`t believe he`s done
this. He has led a steady charge. And he has been successful candidate.
He has actually grown a lot as a candidate, as well. The question is, like
you said in your intro, is there anything left to be done to stop him?
Marco Rubio`s making a go of it, but we won`t know for another two weeks.

SHARPTON: Dana, Rubio`s trying to go punch for punch with Trump. But can
he pull it off?

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: Well, look, Reverend, I think it may be too
little too late here. I and many others have been saying you need to take
Trump seriously and take him on. And they just failed to do it. Or you
know, somebody would come out and do it like Jeb Bush and then he got
knocked down. And the next guy would do it. They really had an
opportunity to define Donald Trump, the con man is a pretty good way of
doing it, since it has the additional value of being true. But they didn`t
press this case, and they allowed Donald Trump to get this head of steam,
and it is hard to see, even if this attack sticks, how Marco Rubio can stop
it at this point.

SHARPTON: But Susan, let me ask, if Marco Rubio wins Florida March 15th,
if Ted Cruz wins Texas, if Kasich wins Ohio, does that stopple Donald Trump
to some degree? Do we start seeing his momentum undercut with big states
going to their incumbent senators and governor in the case of Ohio, and
does that lead to a higher possibility of a brokered convention?

DEL PERCIO: Well, it`s an interesting thing that you just laid out there,
Reverend. Because, Kasich came out today saying if I don`t win Ohio, I`m
out. It`s widely believed if Cruz doesn`t win Texas he is out. If all
three are winning their home state, including Rubio, meaning winning
Florida, there`s no reason for them to get out. And the only hope they
have now of stopping Trump is, in fact, to get behind one candidate which
is why Super Tuesday is so important for Marco Rubio, because he should be
able to win or hopefully for his campaign he`ll win one other state, that
will make him look good.

Also, where does he come in on second and third? How does that play out?
Is he getting close to Donald Trump? He has to keep these sustained
attacks up if they are going to work. What you mentioned, and Dana
mentioned about the other candidates, is that they made an attack and then
they pulled back. They always pulled back. Marco Rubio appears to keep
going, consistently on an attack, and on an attack that is getting
underneath Donald Trump`s skin.

SHARPTON: Now, talking about those attacks, Dana, you have the second
candidate, number two candidate, though he`s distant but he`s number two,
now calling the front-runner a con man. Let`s say Donald Trump is the
nominee. You have McConnell, according to “New York Times,” talking about
Senate Republicans running for re-election doing negative ads against him.
How does this fare with the Republican party trying to win the White House,
if their own nominee`s been called a con man by the second man in the race,
in the primary races, and has his own incumbent senators running negative
ads against him?

MILBANK: Well, it`s not ideal, Reverend. In fact, worse has been said
about Donald Trump by people other than Marco Rubio. Assuming that Trump
continues on this trajectory, and clinches the nomination, you`re going to
see the Republicans are going to face a very interesting choice. Do they
swallow it and get behind this guy, who has said all of these horrible
things, and who they think could basically destroy the party, or do they
just blow it up on their own, with a third party candidacy, something that
guarantees that Trump will not get the presidency? It may give Hillary
Clinton the presidency, but the idea is in order to save the Republican
Party you have to destroy it.

SHARPTON: Let me ask about this. Dana, you wrote a column about how Trump
speaks at a third grade level at his rallies. And why that is one of the
reasons that he may be effective. You say quote “Americans, particularly
those who are angry and anxious, as Trump followers are, wish to be told
that they will obey, that there are simple answers.”

How does Trump`s rivals counter that kind of message? And does that offend
the Republicans who –

MILBANK: Well, they haven`t countered it very effectively. And you can
actually measure this sort of thing. You know, you have Rubio and Carson
out there speaking at what`s the equivalent of a tenth grade level. You
have Cruz, you have Kasich in sort of middle school and then you have
Donald Trump talking to the third graders. And that`s why he`s not so much
that he`s appealing to the Republican base, I think the Republican base is
more interested in people like Cruz. But you see him bringing lots of
other disaffected voices in. And this is who he`s speaking to, those who
are less educated, less wealthy, and have been basically feeling abused by
this economy. Those are the people he`s speaking to. Nobody else on the
Republican side –

SHARPTON: Susan is that accurate or offensive? How do you respond to
Dana`s theory?

DEL PERCIO: Well, I`m not a schoolteacher and I don`t know how to grade
what level people are speaking at, but Donald Trump is using a very
simplistic message and it is working, like Dana said, with a group of
people who are angry and frustrated, and he doesn`t have to give a lot of
specifics. And I think that`s more or less what Dana may be referring to.
He just has these three-word answers, make America great or what have you
and he doesn`t give any substance behind it.

But people are so fed up with politicians. They don`t believe what they
say. I mean, Donald Trump is still using something like, we`re going to
get rid of the deficit by waste, fraud and abuse. Politicians have been
saying that for decades now and it`s done absolutely nothing. Both on the
left and on the right. Donald Trump is speaking to a core need that people
want to have their voice heard.

SHARPTON: Dana, Susan, stay right there. After the break we will turn to
the Democrats. Has the Clinton campaign locked up the nomination? Or will
it feel the burn on Super Tuesday?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: We have now gone through four early states, and I want to
congratulate senator Sanders, on running a great race, and tomorrow this
campaign goes national!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Hillary Clinton celebrating her landslide win in South Carolina
last night. Now, it`s on to Super Tuesday, where voters in 11 states will
head to the polls.

Back with me now is “Washington Post” columnist Dana Milbank, and
Republican strategist Susan del Percio.

Dana, do you think even the Clinton campaign is surprised by how decisive
her victory was last night in South Carolina?

MILBANK: I know they were surprised. It was, you know, way beyond
anything that was being seen in the polls. You know, it`s really just a
breathtaking margin. And you know, we have gone from this, you know, just
in the space of just a few days from saying, Hillary`s got some real
trouble to saying she is completely inevitable, and there`s no way to stop
her.

SHARPTON: Susan, one thing I note is that through the first four states,
Republican turnout is much higher than Democratic turnout. Should
Democrats be worried that Donald Trump is firing up the base in ways the
Democrats haven`t been able to fire up their base?

DEL PERCIO: They should be. And what`s also interesting in some of these
states, as well, we have had open primaries. So Democrats and/or
independents can participate on either the Democrat or the Republican
primary. So, that definitely goes to your point there. There was also
some talk back in New Hampshire, you had a lot of people out there saying I
don`t know if I`m a Bernie Sanders voter or a Donald Trump voter. Those
were the decisions. So that is at outsider personality coming through that
people do want, because they are frustrated.

SHARPTON: Dana, so, this general election, if it`s Trump and Clinton as it
appears this morning, may be down to turnout. But, my experience is you
have to turn people on before you can turn them out to vote. And what does
Hillary Clinton have to do to turn more people on? Because even in the
primary races, we`re not seeing big numbers come out compared to what`s
coming out on the Republican side.

MILBANK: Right, Reverend. And it is potentially worrying for Democrats
that they are not generating those kind of numbers. I think it would be
downright alarming if they wound up with Marco Rubio as their opponent. If
they wind up with Trump as their opponent, well, that`s a huge gift to
Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, because that, by itself, has the virtue
of firing up the Democratic base. Also has the virtue of turning off a lot
of independents.

So in a way, Hillary Clinton`s work is done for her because it`s so much
easier to run against Donald Trump. And yes he generates some enthusiasm
out there. But that is not by any stretch a majority of the American
electorate he`s appealing to.

SHARPTON: All right, Dana Milbank and Susan del Percio, thanks and enjoy
the rest of your Sunday.

That does it for me. Thanks for watching. Later today, I`ll be joining a
rally here in L.A. calling for more diversity at the Oscars, and more
fairness in the selection of nominees, and in Hollywood`s hierarchy.

So if you want to talk about that, or about the presidential race, like us
on Facebook at facebook.com/politicsnation and follow us on twitter
@politicsnation.

I`ll see you back here next Sunday.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
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