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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 2/29/2016

Guests: Harold Cook, April Ryan, Sam Seder, Charlie Pierce, Christine Todd Whitman

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 29, 2016 Guest: Harold Cook, April Ryan, Sam Seder, Charlie Pierce, Christine Todd Whitman


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In other words, we`re winning with everybody.

HAYES: With Trump poised for a big day tomorrow, Republicans are now doing and saying anything to stop him.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Have you seen his hands? They`re like this. You know what they say about men with small hands.

HAYES: Plus, Donald Trump`s selective memory.

TRUMP: You`ve got David Duke just joined, a bigot, a racist, a problem.

HAYES: Why Trump is feigning ignorance of the KKK.

TRUMP: I don`t know anything about David Duke, OK?

HAYES: I`ll speak with a former Republican governor about why she plans to vote for Clinton over Trump if that`s what it comes to.

Then, after Clinton`s landslide win in South Carolina --


HAYES: Why Bernie Sanders says it`s not over yet.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we`re going to win a number of them. We`re feeling very good.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from the Harris County smoke house here in Houston, Texas. I`m Chris Hayes.

And we`re in one of the 11 states where voters head to the polls tomorrow on Super Tuesday, that could give Donald Trump with effectively be an insurmountable delegate lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, which means that for Trump`s rivals and the rest of the anti- Trump forces in the Republican Party, it is now the 11th hour, quite possibly their last best chance to throw everything they`ve got at the front-runner and hope that something, anything finally sticks.


RUBIO: He doesn`t sweat because his pores are clogged from the spray tan that he uses. Donald is not going to make America great. He`s going to make America orange.

Have you seen his hands? They`re like this. You know what they say about men with small hands. You can`t trust them. You can`t trust them. You can`t trust them.


HAYES: That was Marco Rubio doing his new insult comedy shtick in Virginia yesterday, and yet, that last comment does appear to have been a not so subtle reference to the frontrunner`s endowment, because apparently GOP race thus far just hasn`t been vulgar enough.

Rubio and Ted Cruz have spent much of the campaign mercessly (ph) attacking each other have now effectively joined forces against Trump, with both today seizing on a "BuzzFeed" report that Trump may have told "The New York Times" in an off the record conversation with the editorial board that Trump is far less of a hard liner on immigration that he claims publicly.


RUBIO: Donald Trump should ask "The New York Times" to release the audio of his interview with them so that we can see exactly what it is he truly believes about this issue he`s made the cornerstone of his campaign.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald, if you`re sitting in Manhattan telling "The New York Times" that you`re lying to the voters, the voters have a right to know this.


HAYES: The Trump campaign has not immediately responded the request for comment on this issue. Trump`s opponents have not settled on a single line of attack, opting instead for an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. After Mitt Romney suggested that there`s a, quote, "bombshell" in Trump`s tax returns, for example, Cruz and Rubio released their own returns and demanded Trump do the same.

And then, Cruz did a little speculating of his own.


CRUZ: Chuck, maybe it`s the case that Donald, there`s been multiple media reports about his business dealings with the mob, with the mafia. Maybe his taxes show the business dealings are a lot more extensive than has been reported.


HAYES: Over the weekend, the anti-Trump forces in the conservative movement began using the hashtag, #NeverTrump, which trended worldwide, and spoke to a coming schism in the Republican Party. We`ll discuss much more later in the show.

Yesterday, the never Trump folks seized on the latest in a seemingly never ending series of last straws. Trump`s failure to disavow endorsement from former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.


TRUMP: I don`t know anything about David Duke, OK? I don`t know anything what you`re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. Honestly, I don`t know David Duke. I don`t believe I`ve ever met him. I`m pretty sure I didn`t meet him and I just don`t know anything about him.


HAYES: Trump, this morning, told NBC`s "Today" show he does disavow Duke and he blamed a, quote, "very bad earpiece" for his failure to say so in the interview, prompting mockery from Rubio.


RUBIO: He blamed it on the bad earpiece that he couldn`t hear the question. I don`t care how bad the earpiece is, Ku Klux Klan comes through pretty clearly and he refused to criticize it.


HAYES: While Trump claimed yesterday not to know anything about David Duke, he sure seemed familiar with Duke way back in the year 2000.


MATT LAUER, TODAY: When you say the party is self-destructing, what do you see as the biggest problem with the Reform Party right now?

TRUMP: Well, you`ve got David Duke just joined, a bigot, a racist, a problem. I mean, this is not exactly the people you want in your party.


HAYES: Big question going into Super Tuesday tomorrow is whether any of this matters. Republicans in 11 states are voting tomorrow and recent poll shows Trump leading in seven of them. Barring a big question, Trump will emerge tomorrow night with a large delegate lead over his rivals. A new national poll meanwhile shows Trump with a massive lead, 49 percent support, half the Republican Party, with Rubio and Cruz trailing by more than 30 points.

As to the candidate himself, he promised today in a rally tomorrow will go down in history.


TRUMP: It`s going to be a very important day, because what`s going to happen is you`re going to look back on this day in two years from now, in four years from now, and you`re going to see that you were there at the beginning.


HAYES: The person who won`t forget where he was today, a photographer at the rally who was choke-slammed down by a member of the Secret Service. We`ll bring you much more on that also in just a bit.

Joining me now are MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid, MSNBC political analyst Rick Tyler, former national spokesperson for Ted Cruz for president campaign, and Democratic strategist Harold Cook.

Rick, let me begin with you.

Explain to me why people who are scared about Trump in the Republican Party shouldn`t be blaming you and the Ted Cruz campaign that basically pursued a strategy for months of hugging him, of refusing to criticize him. Ted Cruz says, establishment hopes it`s us in a cage match. I think the guy is terrific -- vouching essentially for his conservative credentials by a guy in the form of Ted Cruz who has as much ideological legitimacy on the right as anyone.

You created this monster, didn`t you?

RICK TYLER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris, when people -- when we were saying today, we`re not criticizing Trump, we were in single digits in the poll. And, look, you`ve got to do things in a certain way. I mean, first, they have to know your name. They have to like you. They didn`t know what they stand for and then you got to have -- get to the contrast.

We can argue about the timing of that, but all those who try to attack Trump, who`s a celebrity with 98 percent name ID and was well known, who has a fan base, he calls his supporters "fans" to attack them. That`s what happened to Walker. That`s what happened to --

HAYES: So, you guys literally saw that and said no. It will backfire and hurt us too much.

TYLER: Look, if you look at the Cruz campaign, we went from being an asterisk before the announcement to doing well after the announcement to being in single digits. And now, we`re one of three.

HAYES: So, you do not -- you don`t question it. You don`t watch what`s happening now.


TYLER: I`m not taking responsibility for this guy, no.

HAYES: No, I`m not asking you to take responsibility. I`m saying, when you look back with the benefit of hindsight, you don`t think yourselves, we broke a little late.

TYLER: I agree with this late.


HAYES: We should have maybe --

TYLER: Well, the news media too. They`ve only been on Trump recently as a serious candidate.

Yes, yes, I know what you`re going to say.

HAYES: From the very beginning, we talked about his golf course, we talked about Trump University. I mean, we`ve talked about his immigration practices.

TYLER: Right. But most people are hearing all these things about Trump University now, the bankruptcies now, the failed businesses now, the imminent domain now.

HAYES: And partly, Joy, that`s because these sorts of things, these sort of news stories in the context of the campaign only get traction and movement if another campaign picks them up and runs with that. We`ve seen that time and time again. "The New York Times" can report a great piece about the use of guest workers. It will land with a thud unless people like Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or Mitt Romney or other high profile folks pick it up and run with it.

JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly. And it`s not as if the media hasn`t done some enterprise stories on Donald Trump. I mean, there was a story not too long ago that "The Daily Beast" did reviving the story about Donald Trump`s real estate empire in New York being built in part on denying African-Americans access to his building, right, and blatant discrimination that landed him in lawsuit, a federal lawsuit. Now, had one of the other campaigns picked that up and run with it, it might have gained some traction.

But to your point -- it is not the media`s job to take down the presidential front-runner of the Republican Party. If anyone in the Republican Party had bothered to begin marshaling not even opposition research but just the Google, and just started to do what Newt Gingrich managed to do in the 2012 campaign to Mitt Romney. He didn`t wait for the media to go after Mitt Romney and characterize him as a one percenter. His super PAC, I think, did a 30-minute ad that they were running taking down Mitt Romney.

So, these campaigns have tried to draft on the Trump momentum. They tried to wink and nod at the Trump supporters who knew they like his birtherism, who they knew like what he was saying about Mexican migrants, and they wanted to benefit from it.

HAYES: When you watch, Harold, when you watch this new Rubio routine. And Rubio actually, I guess somewhat to his credit, A, I think he`s pulling it off well. B, he`s basically saying, well, look, you guys won`t pay attention when I talk about policy, now I`m making insults about the guy`s -- size of the guy`s hands, you`re paying attention, little something to that.

But does this all feel too little, too late?

HAROLD COOK, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it`s way too little, way too late. Look, I don`t fault Rubio for it. He`s kind of right. I mean, he`s getting more attention now than he was before. He`s pretty good at snark.

And by golly, it`s worked for Trump for a whole year. But, look, I mean, I cannot believe it`s unfathomable how late Republicans waited for this. If you remember, Alex Castellanos, Republican consultant was warning of this, six or eight months ago, and coming up with plan that nobody ever funded to stop Trump.

And I also don`t blame Ted Cruz for it because he had watched Rick Perry attack Trump and get -- he watched Bobby Jindal attack Trump and get pounded down. Later down, I mean, Jeb Bush was trying it, he got pounded down.

HAYES: Well, but also, let me just spare me for a moment. I mean, they -- you know, today Rubio is on the trail and he`s in Oklahoma and he`s getting an applause line out of condemning the KKK, which is great. I`m glad that Marco Rubio is sitting up at a rally and saying, it`s no place in this party and in the year 2016, thank the Lord there`s a standing ovation to reject the KKK.

But, I mean, this was not just yesterday. The guy`s been retweeting an account called white genocide, OK? His online supporters have been inextricably linked up with the most vile kinds of white supremacists for months now. This was hiding in plain sight.

TYLER: It has been. (INAUDIBLE) pointed out, but part of what`s going on with Donald Trump is he`s actually playing into his brand. So, when he says these crazy things, people expect him to say these crazy things. So, it`s inoculated in a sense.

So, Marco Rubio goes out and talks about crazy things and it`s sort of shocking, because it`s not his brand. So, now, we`re all talking about Marco Rubio. But Marco Rubio, it`s just diminishing him. Trump in a sense can`t be diminished because he`s inoculated, because he`s living out his brand. Everybody else does it, they get diminished.

HAYES: Well, part of the problem, too, also, I think, and Joy, I`ve seen some of the reporting on this when we talk to Trump supporters, right? And I have found this when I talked to Trump voters. Two -- top two things, says what his own mind and not politically correct, and he`s a businessman. Those are two things I`ve heard.

REID: Right.

HAYES: This not politically correct ends up not proving too much, right? I mean, the (INAUDIBLE), if your default position is, when people say things that provoke offense and outrage, the default is like, oh, that`s just political correctness. There`s no limiting condition on that. So, when a guy just openly is saying, well, I don`t know, KKK, whatever, and you can say, well, that`s the media being politically correct. That same argument is applicable in any situation.

REID: Yes, exactly. I think Trump is inoculated but also because he`s a media figure. Let`s be honest. Part of the reason he`s been able to get so much free media time and really play the media in a lot of ways is because he`s one of us. He comes from the media world.

He`s been doing a reality show for more than a dozen years and he knew how to play it, and yes, because he`s an entertainer the things he says gets fielded into the sort of entertainment brand, where somebody like Marco Rubio, I think Rick Tyler is right. All he can do is diminish himself, by doing the school yard taunt game. He came in with this brand he`s supposed to be the fresh face of conservatism. It`s now what he`s doing, is doing crash, weird, schoolyard taunt.

I`m not sure how that`s, A, an affirmative case for why anybody should vote for Marco Rubio, or B, why it doesn`t just diminished him down to the level of Trump, as somebody who not as good as Donald Trump.

HAYES: In terms of where things stand, we`re here in Texas, right, largest delegate pool tomorrow. The only state where Trump is behind considerably. He`s losing to Cruz in polling here.

Is your expectation that Cruz pulls it out here?

COOK: I think Cruz does pull it out here. I think it may be closer than it appears for a lot of reasons. But, look, I mea, the delegate rules here, Cruz should have gotten 50 percent. And if he had, he wouldn`t have to worry about the delegates mass stacking up against him after this. But now he does, and it may well be seen as a loss for Cruz, even if he takes the lion share of the delegates.

HAYES: Let`s keep that on the board for a second, because I want to point something out. If I am not mistaken, the delegate rules have a 20 percent clearance thresholds.

COOK: Twenty percent.

HAYES: If you don`t get 20 percent, you get zero. So, right now, with Marco sitting at 19 percent, he could be hundreds, dozens, thousands of votes away from delegates or no delegates.

COOK: Well, that`s a very important point, because if Rubio ends up at 20 percent, that means Trump walks away from here with a bigger percentage of delegates. It looks like that Cruz lost even if he won.

HAYES: This is win or go home for Ted Cruz.

TYLER: Yes, I would say. But I do think Cruz will win here. The problem is Marco Rubio who hasn`t won anything yet. If Cruz wins here, he will have won in Iowa, he will have won here and --

HAYES: He`s got a better argument to stay than Rubio does.

TYLER: That`s right, because Rubio won`t be able to say, well, gee --

HAYES: You don`t think Rubio is going to win a state tomorrow.

TYLER: It doesn`t look -- he may not. He may not and he may not win his home state in Florida.

HAYES: He has trailed in Florida polls, I think it`s in the last 15 polls, if I`m not mistaken. So, unless something miraculous, small hands jokes are big for the Republicans --

TYLER: Until we get down to two candidates, no one is going to beat Trump.


REID: Chris, I was going to say, one of the other problems Rubio will have is Florida already voting, several counties. Remember, there was a federal issue with the Voting Rights Act.

But a lot of counties have already started voting, including Miami-Dade and some South Florida counties. The most active voters are the Trump voters. Five hundred plus thousands Floridians have put their ballots. Here where I am in Arkansas, more than 140,000 people have already voted. So, the problem is, there might be Trump votes banked even if Rubio starts to move up.

HAYES: All right. Joy Reid, Rick Tyler, Harold Cook, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

Still to come, does Bernie Sanders still have a chance beyond Super Tuesday after massive defeat in South Carolina? We`ll look at the candidate`s best case scenario and a big piece of news out of that campaign for tomorrow night.

Plus, what happens to the Republican Party as we know it today if Donald Trump becomes the nominee.

And later, the conversation I seem to be having with everyone everywhere I go, who should Democrats root for to get the Republican nomination? We`ll talk about that and more, ahead.


HAYES: Earlier today, there is yet another violent incident at a Donald Trump rally. This is becoming a pattern. This time between a Secret Service agent and a "Time Magazine" photojournalist. The altercation which was captured on video reportedly stem from a discussion about access outside the reporter`s pen, which is an innovation of the Trump campaign, you can see the discussion turn violent.

Multiple videos showing a Secret Service agent on Trump`s detail appearing to slam "Time" magazine photojournalist to the ground, Christopher Morris, to the ground, his arms around his neck. "Time" magazine says it`s contacted the Secret Service to express concern about the agent`s behavior.

After the incident, "Time`s" Christopher Morris spoke to NBC`s Jacob Rascon. Here is what he had to say.


CHRISTOPHER MORRIS, TIME MAGAZINE: I stepped 18 inches out of the pen and he grabbed me by the neck and started choking me and slammed me to the ground. I never touched him. At the very end, I tried to show the press lead what he did to me, I said he choked me so I put my hand on him. That`s when I was arrested.


HAYES: Morris is briefly detained, not arrested. No charges were press.

The Trump campaign put out a statement saying, quote, "There was an incident involving a photographer and a USS agent at today`s Radford University Trump rally. We`re not aware of the details and all future inquiries should be directed to local law enforcement."

We should note this happened during a Black Lives Matter protest which disrupted the event.

Earlier this evening, the United States Secret Service said, quote, "The Secret Service is aware of an incident involving an employee of the Secret Service that occurred earlier today in Radford, Virginia. This time our local field office is working with their law enforcement partners to determine the exact circumstances that led up to this incident."


HAYES: A day before Super Tuesday and the Democratic primary is looking a lot different than it did just two weeks ago. And Bernie Sanders have pulled off a 22-point win in New Hampshire. After carrying Nevada by five points, Hillary Clinton picked up her biggest win yet over the weekend, as she managed to outperform even the highest expectations in South Carolina, where she beat Bernie Sanders on Saturday by nearly 50 points, and she id by overwhelmingly winning the same group of voters she lost back in 2008 against Barack Obama, African-Americans.

For months, the Sanders campaign has had to answer questions about whether they could expand their coalition and make inroads with voters of color, particularly after African-American voters, which is, of course, key to securing the Democratic Party nomination.

And on that front, things could not have been worse for Sanders in South Carolina, where according to exit polls, he lost black voters by a whooping 72 points, which does not bode well for Super Tuesday for tomorrow. Six of the 11 states where Democrats will be casting votes, Alabama, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Georgia look quite a bit like South Carolina in terms of the racial make up. But black voters making up a substantial part of the electorate.

But this is still a numbers game that comes down to delegates. At this point, the Sanders campaign is betting on a drawn out race to finish, one which they appear to have the war chest to support. Tonight, the campaign reported they had already raised $40 million in February, hoping to hit the 45 million mark by midnight tonight.

In the last few days, Sanders has picked up the endorsements of Bill Clinton`s secretary of labor, Robert Reich, Florida congressman and Senate candidate, Alan Grayson, and Hawaii Congressman Tulsi Gabbard who quit her job as the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee to endorse Sanders.

And no matter what happens tomorrow, Sanders doesn`t seem to have any plans to exit the race soon.


SANDERS: At the end of tomorrow, I think 15 states will have spoken. Last I heard, we have a lot more than 15 states in the United States of America, and I think it is more than appropriate to keep all of those states and the people in those states a chance to vote for the candidate of their choice.


HAYES: Joining me now, April Ryan, White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks.

And, April, I think people had a sense that Saturday was going to be a big Hillary Clinton win. There was a sense based on the polling cross tabs that Sanders really failed to kind of make the sorts of inroads among black voters, that he needed to to be competitive in that state. And yet, still, the results were worse than the Sanders campaign could have imagined and better for Clinton than I think they were hoping.

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: You`re right. No one ever imagined it would be such a wide gap. When I say wide, we saw how wide. One thing Hillary Clinton can tout is the fact that she is linked to Barack Obama and she`s playing that up and she`s playing it up rightfully so.

She was there with many issues, historic matters and she was taking the -- they took a picture of her in the room when Osama bin Laden was killed. So, she is linked to one of the greatest presidents in modern times, next to her husband, on the Democratic side and Bernie Sanders has to find way to rebuff that or go against that and find way to get his stride. He had his stride for a moment before, you know, Nevada.

He`s trying to figure out how he can regain that momentum and also figure out if he can play the cards tomorrow and Super Tuesday.

HAYES: Well, this is the question I think the Sanders campaign faces now. They`ve been up on the air on the variety of states, Super Tuesday states, Minnesota, they`ve been running ads, Massachusetts, Vermont, obviously, his home state, he`s winning by a huge amount. Oklahoma, he`s pulling ahead in Oklahoma and Vermont. But he`s behind in Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and even Massachusetts is beginning to be quite close.

They have to figure out, there`s two strategies, right? They either have to take a new approach and figure out how to win over voters of color, particularly African-American voters, or they can concentrate on stage with low concentrations of black voters as a way of prolonging the race.

But it`s hard to see way to the nomination if the margins that he has among black voters endure.

RYAN: Well, Chris, you know, I talked to Bernie Sanders Thursday morning. I was asking him about this and about the potential loss in South Carolina. He said we`re looking to Super Tuesday.

He was clear and keenly aware that young people were the plus for him. He understood that older people, he clearly said, older people are not really in his base, his base grouping. He said young people, he`s counting on young people. He said young people of all races.

So, we`ll have to see how it plays out. When you go to places like Georgia, you have the icon, Congressman John Lewis who`s in the camp of Hillary Clinton, that`s a problem. But you still have him saying he`s gotten the support of Spike Lee, he`s gotten the support of Harry Belafonte, you know, Killer Mike, the rapper. He goes on with this list.

But you still have that machine, the Clinton machine that seems to be gaining momentum every step.

HAYES: You also wonder, too. I think there`s a certain kind of Trump factor at play here. I mean, I think this Saturday was the first Democratic primary that happened under a kind of presumption that the nominee is finally, this sort of daunting awareness that`s Trump.

And you got to think that that makes voters a little risk-averse, voters that may have been inclined to vote for Bernie Sanders sort of going with what`s more familiar, what they know in the sort of face of that kind of threat.

RYAN: Well, you know, Chris, I`m glad you brought that up, because I asked him about Donald Trump. The RNC is hopeful that Bernie Sanders would win the nomination, but expecting Hillary Clinton to win the nomination. He said, you know, the RNC may not need to count their chickens too fast.

He said because if you look at the polls, he said he may not have the numbers that Hillary Clinton has as it comes to going against Donald Trump, but he still would win. He said, according to the polls, the current polls if, he were the nominee, he could still beat Donald Trump. So, he`s also holding on to that factor. So, both the Democratic nominee seem to be the winner over Donald Trump, but the Republican Party pretty much is hopeful for Sanders but expecting Hillary Clinton.

HAYES: Yes, it`s true. He`s right about that. The polling consistently shows him beating Trump, in some cases outperforming Hillary Clinton but that`s all academic at this point until the nomination is secured.

April Ryan, joining us from Maryland tonight, thank you for much of your time. Appreciate it.

RYAN: Thanks.

HAYES: Up next, Marco Rubio`s latest attack on Donald Trump`s so-called Trump University.

Plus, is Rubio in any place to criticize? I`ll explain, ahead.



RUBIO: And they would tell people, go call your credit card company. Have them increase your borrowing limit so that you can borrow that money and pay us.

And they gave us their money. They gave their money to Trump University and they got nothing. The only thing they left with was a picture with a cardboard cut out of Donald Trump.

I realize what he did to those students is what he`s trying to do to you.


HAYES: One of the many new attacks Marco Rubio launched against Donald Trump since the last debate, is the over the Republican front runners now defunct Trump University, which is neither a real university nor even an accredited educational institution.

The venture was essentially a series of motivational seminars held in hotels around the country. And it`s now the subject of at least three pending lawsuits, one in New York and two in California, accusing Trump of scamming students out of their money.

According to Yahoo Politics Trump may actually take the witness stand in the coming months during the presidential campaign.

And now Rubio is making Trump University a key part of his stump speech. An outside spending group called the American Future Fund is running ads featuring so-called Trump University victims.


UNIDENIFIED MALE: I spent about $30,000 in Trump University and basically all it did was ruin my credit and ruin my life. Trump University -- they promised everything from start to finish. Their expertise, their knowledge, their input, the financing. They didn`t really deliver on anything. You got to remember, there`s 5,000 victims in this.


HAYES: The American Future Fund is unaffiliated with any candidate, but they previously run adds (inaudible) John Kasich in New Hampshire and Ted Cruz in South Carolina.

Trump University certainly seems to have had some extremely shady practices, as we reported on the show even when the story broke a few years agao.

But, here`s the thing, Marco Rubio may not be the best spokesman for the cause. The presidential hopeful is connected with perhaps the most notorious for profit school system in the country, Corinthian Colleges, which went bankrupt last year after being fined $30 million and sued by the federal government for misrepresenting job placement numbers to boost enrollment.

Last June the education department announced it would forgive federal loans for tens of thousands of students duped into attending Corinthian school. Though, we should note, advocates for students said the process is so onerous, its leaving many behind.

Now, not only has Rubio advocated for what he calls alternative education, including as a presidential candidate, but according to Bloomberg, he`s benifited from over $27,000 in donations from Corinthian Colleges over the past five years.

Rubio even stood up for the company when the feds began investigating its marketing practices in 2014.

Bloomberg reports he wrote a letter to education department officials asking them to quote, "demonstrate leniency and keep federal aid dollars flowing during the investigation".

According to the department, since 2010, Corinthian enrolled around 350,000 students who took out financial aid loans worth up to $3.5 billion.

In a statement to Bloomberg, a spokesperson for Rubio said quote, "Senator Rubio felt it was important to protect the thousands of students in Florida from being punished and having their education disrupted while the investigation was under way."

Not sure those students holding thousands of dollars in debt for a worthless degree would see it the same way. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party, and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person?

We`re looking for you to raise your hand now. Raise your hand now if you won`t make that pledge tonight.

Mr. Trump.


HAYES: With just six months to go the nine leading Republican candidates minus Donald Trump pledged with millions of people watching to support the eventual nominee for president.

Even Trump would later go onto sign a pledge to that affect.

Now with Trump poised for a huge victory on Super Tuesday, that theoretical exercise which took place over the summer suddenly seems very, very real.

As a reality of Trump`s strength becomes unignorable, we`re seeing massive fissures in the GOP on that very question posed back at that debate in Ohio.

Will Republican elected officials, leaders, and candidates support Donald Trump if he is in fact the Republican nominee?

Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, last night became the first sitting senator to say categorically no. He will not be voting for Trump. And this evening he elaborated, saying he could end up leaving the Republican party.


SEN. BEN SASSE, R-NEBRASKA: I think that a lot of people who want to protest vote to try to scream Washington is broken, they need to recognize that there`s a whole bunch of other people who say if this becomes the David Duke Donald Trump party, there`s a lot of us who are out.


HAYES: His colleague Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin today declined to rule out a break with Donald Trump if he`s the nominee, calling this election depressing.

Both of those statements came after The New York Times reported that senate majority leader, Mitch McConnel has said of Trump quote, "will drop him like a hot rock".

Meanwhile, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman, has gone one step further. Whitman, who criticized the current governor and former presidential hopeful Chris Christie for his endorsement of Trump, said this weekend that if it came down it, she would vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump if Trump is the nominee.

I spoke with the former Governor Whitman and asked her first if she was surprised by Christie`s bombshell endorsement.


CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, (R) FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: It didn`t really surprise me. I`ve heard rumors that this might be happening. It disappointed me, because as the governor of a diverse state as New Jersey to feel comfortable after all that he said about Donald Trump during that primary with which I had agreed to get endorse and get comfortable with someone who is race baiting, is using some of the worst -- appealing to some of the worst emotions in people really was a disappointment to me.

HAYES: Does it change your view of who Chris Christie is?

WHITMAN: Well, Chris, feels this. He does believe that at the end of the day Donald Trump will be the winner. And that`s, I think, what he feels is most important.

I have a problem because I`d like to see someone elected to the presidency who can bring the country together and actually make things happen. That`s what I`m looking for and that`s why I`m supporting John Kasich, because he has those qualities and he`s proven it and he can do it.

And it`s not over yet. Some in the media like to think it`s all over and say it`s all Donald Trump, but we forget that tomorrow, Tuesday, is going to be I think only one state that has a winner take off. The rest are all proportional. And there`s a very good chance that John Kasich, if people don`t just believe the polls and decide to go with him, can win a substantial number of delegates and go into Ohio in a very strong position.

HAYES: You know, you refer to John Kasich who you have endorsed. You wrote a book about the Republican Party, about its tendencies, its ideological tendencies, particularly moving to the right over a period of years.

There`s this argument I`ve seen in some quarters, particularly among conservatives who want to disown Donald Trump that Donald Trump actually is amoderate republican. He is the resurgence of the northeastern moderate Republican. And as someone who is, I think, fair to say a northeastern moderate Republican what do you think of that argument?

WITTMAN: I think it`s absolutely -- well, I can`t use that language on television, but it is not true. It is invalid.

He does not -- he`s not even a Republican. I mean, he`s just sort of become a Republican. But he really doesn`t stand for anything. He makes - - he blusters, he bullies. He makes great promises but doesn`t have anything to back them up of how he is going to accomplish these things. And frankly the perception of this country and the way we move forward is not -- should not be based on someone who thinks they can shout other people down and that`s the way to get things down. It just -- that`s not the way our democracy was founded. And believe me, there were -- our founding fathers had very strong and in many cases very contemporary prejudices and desires of where they thought the country ought to go, but they understood that they needed to get something done. And in order to do that you have to find consensus. You don`t find that by denigrating people, by shouting at them and bullying them.

HAYES: You have said, if I`m not mistaken, that you won`t vote for him in the general election. You would vote for Hillary Clinton were she the nominee on the Democratic side over Donald Trump. Is that something you think you`re going to see from a lot of Republicans? Are we looking at a genuine split in the party right now, one of those things that comes along maybe every century or will people sort of suck it up and fall in line?

WITTMAN: A number of people will suck it up. But don`t forget you have got Mitch McConnell, who is the leader in the Senate, saying to the senatorial candidates in really contested races that if they think -- if Donald Trump is the nominee and they think he is going to damage them, that they can run ads against him.

Well, what`s that saying to their constituents about who they should vote for in the general election? I`m not the only one that`s facing this kind of a quandry. I don`t want to vote for Hillary Clinton. I don`t want more of the policies we have seen over the last seven years. And I think there`s way to avoid that. And that`s why I feel so strongly that we shouldn`t give up this soon.

But certainly Donald Trump is not my candidate.

HAYES: What does it mean for the future of the Republican Party? It seems to me that if Trump gets the nomination and loses, people can sort of clean house and go back to what was before. But if Donald Trump were to become the president of the United States, it`s hard for me to see the currently Republican Party in its current incarnation surviving that in a wierd way.

WITTMAN: Well, I -- you know, I can`t possibly speculate on what that would be like. It`s not something I want to see, so I don`t want to go there. It would keep me up too much at night. I`m already kept up enough at night worrying about where we`re going and how things are progressing.

You know, it`s really sad. We have seen over and over cyber bullying and the problems that bullying can bring and the hurt that can occur from that. And yet our kids are seeing this is the way you win an election. This is the way you get support is you bully people, you demean them, you call them names.

The minute they question you, you dismiss them as being out of hand, or nobody listens to their radio show, or, you know, fortunately. That kind of thing, it`s just not the message that we should be sending for the future.

HAYES: It`s the sad truth about adult life that bullies win a lot. Christine Todd Whittman, thank you very much.

still to come, the question i`m getting from so many democrats, which outcome amongst the republicans should they be rooting for? we`ll talk about that just ahead.


HAYES: So much focus right now on the presidential race with Super Tuesday knocking on the door.

But there`s something on Wednesday morning that is just as important and ties into the race in a crucial way. The single biggest abortion case in nearly 25 years will be decided by a Scalialess Supreme Court. And it could profoundly impact women`s access to health care for year`s to come.

Argument happened on Wednesday. And Scalia, of course, was quite anti- choice.

The case, Whole Women`s Health vs. Hellerstedt pertains to a law here in Texas which has been replicated across the south, one that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and also prohibits clinics from providing abortions unless they meet the standards of outpatient or ambulatory surgical centers.

Advocates say those certifications are completely unnecessary to provide safe abortion.

The law was enacted in 2013 and was partially blocked from taking full effect last summer by the Supreme Court 5-4, upholding a lower court`s decision.

Now, the Supreme Court`s current make up is 4-4, which means if there`s a tie on Wednesday, which is entirely possible, the lower court`s decision will stand.

Before the law was passed, there were about 40 licensed abortion providers in Texas, currently about half of those remain. If the law is allowed to take full effect, there will only be 10 left.

Again, those are the arguments on Wednesday. The decision will come later this summer.

Ahead, should Democrats be rooting for Trump to win the day tomorrow? We`ll talk about that next.


HAYES: Here`s the one question I`ve been getting over and over from liberal leaning friends and family members and Democrats I`ve run into on the road: what exactly do they want to be the outcome of this insane Republican primary? As I see it, there are two ways of thinking about this. One is that Donald Trump represents a kind of deserved comeuppance for the conservative movement, the karmic result of stoking a paranoid and racialize political backlash throughout the entire Obama era.

And that if Trump won the Republican nomination, he`d lose the general election by a landslide, sending the Republican Party into crisis and forcing it to repudiate its not so latent white identity politics.

On the other hand, if Trump wins the nomination, he`ll be just one election away from becoming president of the United States of America, a possibility that for more of the liberals and Democrats I know is truly too terrible to contemplate.

Friends on social media are now considering switching their registration to vote in Republican primaries if their state allows it so they can vote against Trump.

While commentators like The Atlantic`s Peter Feinart (ph) are even calling on liberals to rally behind Marco Rubio.

So, on the eve of Super Tuesday, with enough delegates at stake to give Trump a commanding lead over his Republican rivals, the big question for liberals is this, what should liberals be rooting for tomorrow. We`ll discuss it after the break.


HAYES: Joining me now Sam Seder, host of the Majority Report and an MSNBC contributor, and Charlie Pierce, writer-at-large for Esquire magazine.

So, this is the question, I had a birthday party this weekend. A bunch of friends I was talking to, the folks who are not news junkies but are pretty politically informed.

And this is what everyone wants to know. What do I want to see here if I`m not a Republican, if I am on the other part of the political spectrum? Sam, what`s your feeling?

SAM SEDER, HOST, MAJORITY REPORT: You know, I`m glad that what I want doesn`t necessarily always come true. Because, listen, I`m terrified at the idea that Donald Trump could be the president of the United States. And of course if he becomes the nominee of the Republican Party, he`s one step closer.

But I have got to think that at the end of the day, regardless of who the Democratic nominee is, that the American public is just going to broadly speaking reject him. I mean, I think he`s doing well with Republicans. But I don`t think he`s doing well, necessarily with normal people and I think that to a large extent, it`s going to hurt down ticket a lot more than any other Republican candidate.

HAYES: Yeah, Charlie, that`s the theory here, right, is that he will be both an electoral disaster at top of the ticket, but also have tremendous drag at the bottom of the ticket.

But, look, I think there`s a good reason for that. And I think all things being equal and standing as they are now, that`s probably true.

But the other thing is you can`t control what happens the next six months whether an economic crisis precipitated by some huge problem in China or a horrible attack of some sort on American soil, I mean, those can change the calculations in ways that are somewhat terrifying to consider.

CHARLES PIERCE, ESQUIRE: Well, first of all, if I say something that later proves to be wrong, I`m blaming it on my ear piece. I`m telling you guy this right now.

No, I mean, is Marco Rubio any better, though? Is Ted Cruz any better? Marco Rubio is a bag of feathers they have the tie to the floor so he doesn`t float out the window and Ted Cruz is a religious maniac.

So, I`m sorry, I mean, I am with Sam. I think the people are speaking in the Republican Party and a lot of nice, polite Republicans and their nice, polite liberal friends don`t particularly like what the people are saying.

But, hey, this is the party that in 2008, had a -- 2004, had a line of candidates in New Hampshire and a third of them said they don`t believe in evolution. So, this has been a slow burning process.

HAYES: Right. Go ahead.

SEDER: Well, I mean, we have to remember, eight years ago, John McCain, the so called moderate, chose Sarah Palin to be his runningmate. I mean, that`s also, when you think about it, a fairly terrifying idea as well.

HAYES: Right. That`s a perfect example, right, because the question I remember having a very similar conversation after he chose Sarah Palin with a Democrat, someone who is actually fairly high ranking in the Democrat Party. And he said, basically on the one hand I think she`s going to be ultimately she`s going to be a liability on the ticket, and on the other hand, if he wins she is going to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Like, the stakes are larger than the short-term political stakes, because if -- you know, we`re a 50/50 nation, right, it`s essentially a little more than a weighted coin flip.

SEDER: Right, but you know one of the things you have to think about, too, is what is making these candidates so terrifying? And to a large extent it`s their constituency, right? I mean, you know, Mitch McConnell, there`s no calculation where it makes sense for him to reject a nomination, even the process of nominating a Supreme Court nomination out of hand.

The smart play, of course, is to do Kabuki theater, pretend like you`re going to take the process seriously and reject the nominee. But his constituency demands that he pay no respect to the process and no respect to the president.

So, the real concern here is not just these candidates, it`s who`s voting for them. And that`s a problem regardless of who on the Republican side wins.

HAYES: Charlie, you take the line, Peter Beinart basically said that liberals should rally to support Marco Rubio. And the argument basically is that Donald Trump is an abnormally bad candidate in the distinct way that could threaten the republic and Marco Rubio is just a run of the mill bad candidate, or bad candidate that you might disagree with.

But you don`t buy that distinction?

PIERCE: No. I don`t buy that at all.

First of all, I don`t know why any liberal would vote for Marco Rubio for the purpose of propping up the Republican Party as it falls apart. If the Republican Party and the Republican coalition such as it is is falling to smitherens, the best thing for a liberal to do is step out of way, because the Republican Party, as Sam pointed out, has got to reconstitute itself back into a sane political party. And that won`t happen unless it collapses entirely.

HAYES: Well, as a journalist I should be clear of my biases, which is that I am of course rooting for a contested convention.

Sam Seder and Charlie Pierce, thank you both.

PIERCE: Thank you.

HAYES: That is All In for this evening. Live from the Harris County Smokehouse in Houston, Texas. The Rachel Maddow show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.