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Face the Nation transcripts February 21, 2016: Trump, Rubio, Sanders, Cruz, & Kasich

This is the February 21, 2016 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Bob Schieffer, Susan Page, Reihan Salam, Mark Leibovich, and Ron Brownstein.

[*] JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: Donald Trump rolls on, after the showdown in South Carolina. And Hillary Clinton rebounds to score a win in Nevada.




DICKERSON: Clinton manages to hold off the late challenge from Bernie Sanders in the Silver State, as their battle moves forward.


CLINTON: Some may have doubted us, but we never doubted each other.



DICKERSON: And the Republican field shrinks, after the pushing and shoving in South Carolina leads to a big win for Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's go. Let's have a big win in Nevada. Let's have a big win at the SEC. Let's put this thing away.


DICKERSON: A virtual tie for second place between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and a loss for Jeb Bush.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken. And I really respect their decision. So, tonight, I am suspending my campaign.


DICKERSON: We will talk to the top three finishers in South Carolina, plus Bernie Sanders and John Kasich.

It's all coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.

It was a night for the front-runners, with Hillary Clinton finishing ahead of Bernie Sanders in Nevada by a six-point margin. Donald Trump came up with a big win in South Carolina, where he finished with 33 percent of the vote. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz battled it out for second, separated by just 1,000 votes. Jeb Bush finished a distant fourth and ended his campaign.

We have four Republican presidential candidates joining us this morning.

And we go first to Donald Trump, who joins us from West Palm Beach.

Mr. Trump, is it now your nomination to lose?

TRUMP: I don't think so.

Look, I'm dealing with very, very talented people, smart people, good people. And I think they will be competing. We still have a competition. I had great victory yesterday. South Carolina was amazing. New Hampshire was amazing. The size of the victories, I think, were incredible.

Yesterday, I won every delegate. I won all seven congressional districts, on top of having a big margin. So, that was a great victory. But, no, we're now off to Nevada. I'm going to go to Atlanta tonight. We're making a big speech in front of many thousands of people.

And then I go to Nevada, where I will be for a couple of days. And I have lot of property out there and a lot of great employees. And I think I should do well in Nevada.

DICKERSON: But if you didn't get the nomination, you would be shocked?

TRUMP: Well, I wouldn't be shocked.

Look, again, I'm competing against professional politicians, senators, top of the line. I know Ben Carson is still in, and he's a terrific guy and a talented guy. And so I'm competing against a lot of very good people.

So, I don't want to say it's mine. Certainly, I'm leading, there's no question about that. But we have got a long way to go.

DICKERSON: Marco Rubio says that now that the campaign is in this phase, you have to be more specific about your foreign policy vision and knowledge.

TRUMP: Well, I think I have great knowledge of foreign policy, frankly. And despite what some people said, I was always against the war in Iraq, and a lot of people weren't.

And they just got on that bandwagon recently because it was a disaster. And I think I have great knowledge of -- for military, and I think I have better vision for Syria than a lot of the so-called great military geniuses that are saying how to fight the war with Syria. In my opinion, they're doing just the opposite. Are we going to start World War III over Syria? Are we going to be there for the next 40 years?

We have been there for 15 years in the Middle East, and much more than that probably. And we have spent probably $4 trillion, maybe more than that. And it's time to do something about it. And it's time to also knock ISIS out. You got to knock ISIS out.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about that -- your position on the Iraq War. You have referred to that a lot. This week, everybody has kind of gone through the things you said.

It seems like it was a lot more muted, your opposition to the war. Everybody knows when you say something, it's pretty clear what you mean. On Iraq, it was a little bit more muddled than you have been making it seem.

TRUMP: Well, John, you have to understand, first of all, I wasn't a politician. I had no -- no -- even thought of being a politician. So, nobody even talked to me about the war. Nobody said, should we do the war, should we not? It's not like now, where every day you're being asked questions about things.

And I spoke with Howard Stern, who is a friend of mine, on his show. And this was many, many months before, and he was talking about it. I said, yes, I don't know. I was thinking about it. But I didn't even think about it.

And then when the war started -- and, actually, Joe Scarborough called yesterday and put something out where basically is on my side, and that was early on, and that was before the fact, and it was very early on. I guess he interviewed me years ago at the very beginning. And that was just put out yesterday evening. And I thank Joe for that.

But, look, I was against it. And I was against it very early. And we shouldn't have been in there. And I think it is probably perhaps the worst mistake we have ever made. First of all, they didn't knock down the World Trade Center, OK? It wasn't Iraq. It was other people.

Without mentioning names, it was other people. Some day, they ought to open the report and find out. But it was other people that knocked down the World Trade Center. So, it's no reason to go into a big -- now. But it was a horrible mistake that unfortunately we should never have done it. We have lost trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, wounded warriors, who I love, all over the place. And here is the other part. Iran is taking over Iraq. They have wanted it for decades and decades and decades. They're taking it over.

As you sit there and as I sit here, they are going in. They're taking over, and they just walk in and they can do whatever they want. They have essentially already taken it over.

DICKERSON: Last week, when the pope made his remarks questioning your Christianity, you said -- quote -- "No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith."

But just last week, you questioned Ted Cruz's Christianity several times in the course of the campaign. It might even have helped you win South Carolina. So, why is it OK for you, and not OK for the pope?

TRUMP: No, I never -- I never -questioned Ted's -- anything having to do with his religion.

I just said, you can't lie and hold up a Bible. And you can't do that. You just can't do that. It's not appropriate. And I was tough on him on that, because things were said abut me that were not true. And Marco Rubio actually said that he lied. And I have never seen a politician say to another politician that he lied.

I guess it happens. What -- Marco actually gave me cover, because he actually said the same thing, and he said it during the debate, that he was lying. So, I just said you can't say things which are lies and claim Christianity. You just can't do it. I just don't think it's good.

I'm not questioning his Christianity. I just think it's inappropriate to hold up the Bible and lie.

DICKERSON: Now, do you think the pope actually may have helped you in South Carolina?

TRUMP: Well, I'm asked that question so much.

I just don't know. I was -- first, I was in a state of shock, because I have never seen the pope talk about something as unimportant as Donald Trump. OK? And I was like, the pope is talking about me? This can't be happening. And then I said, is it good or bad? They said it's bad.

I said, oh. And this was the day before the election. I said, the pope is saying bad things about me the day before the election? And then I gathered myself, and I realized that it had to do with illegal immigration, that he was opposed to my measures, which is basically creating a border.

And I came out very strongly that we want a border, and the Mexican government probably convinced him that Donald Trump was saying not nice things about the border. And I think it worked out well. I don't think it was a positive, though. I think it was probably a neutral. I don't think it was negative, but it could have been a tremendous negative.

But it turned out to be probably neutral. I don't think it was a positive.

DICKERSON: All right, Donald Trump.

TRUMP: And the pope was very nice, by the way. Yesterday, the pope issued a very nice statement. And I appreciated it.

DICKERSON: We're going to have to leave it there.

Mr. Trump, thanks so much for being with us.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

DICKERSON: We go now to Nashville and Senator Marco Rubio.

Senator, you're saying that it's now a three-man race. That means to get to the nomination, you have to get past Donald Trump. Is that just going to happen, or do you have to make that happen?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, you have to make that happen.

But part of the dynamic up to this point is, Donald has been in the mid-30s to low 30s, high 20s in most polls. And then you have 70 percent of the Republican electorate that says, we're not voting for him. But they're divided up among five or seven people.

So, as that five or seven people continues to narrow down, I think it's going to make the race clearer and clearer. Of course, we still have to go out and earn that vote. And, by the way, there are people supporting Donald Trump that we believe we can win over as well.

And so it is a smaller race and field today than it was last night. I think, practically speaking, it is down to three people who are still running full-scale national campaigns. I have tremendous respect for Governor Carson. I know he's going to stay in the race and continue to fight. And I know John Kasich is out there basically going to spend a week in Michigan and make that his priority.

But today alone, we're going to be in three states and we're going to continue to campaign everywhere. And we feel really good about this coalescing. And, of course, if anyone wants to join our effort, they should go to our Web site, We need their help.

DICKERSON: How are you going to take those voters away from Donald Trump, as you say? What is your argument?

RUBIO: Well, I think our -- here is the argument. Number one, I'm very realistic about the challenges we face. OK? I have seen it up close in 2010. It's why I ran for the Senate five years ago. I have only been there five years, but it's been enough time to know the damage Barack Obama has done to this country.

But while I'm realistic about our challenges, I'm optimistic about our future. There are a few things, and if we do them, we're going to have the greatest era in our history. And I have detailed what those things are specifically.

And I think that is important. If you're running to be president of the United States, you can't just tell people you're going to make America great again. I think you need to begin to explain exactly how you're going to do it policy-wise. We're not going to win a general election with a candidate that refuses to detail policy.

Obviously, Donald still has time to do that, and then we can have a policy debate about whose ideas are better. But I honestly believe that once people begin to understand what's at stake here, that we have a chance here not just to make our country great, but greater than it's ever been, and we have a plan to do it, I think is going to begin to influence a lot of voters, not to mention coalesce those maybe who were with someone else first around us.

DICKERSON: You want Mr. Trump to be more specific, offer more policies.

People have been asking abut that for him for months. And in the polls, what it show is that voters seem to be flocking to him because they think he's the stronger candidate on issues of national security.

So, are people wrong about that? How do you convince them they're not right to be for Trump because he's stronger?

RUBIO: Well, I think strong rhetoric and strong action are two separate things.

Anyone can use tough words. Anyone can go over the top and say things that sound strong. But sounding strong is not enough. You have to know exactly how you're going to do it. And if you look at some of the policies he's talked about, they would not make America stronger.

His views on Vladimir Putin, I think, are troubling. And I don't think he fundamentally understands exactly who Vladimir Putin is or exactly what he's trying to do. So, these are the kinds of things that I think in detail you need to begin to understand.

When you're the commander in chief, you're the commander in chief on day one. You don't get like a six-month grace period. The world doesn't just stop and say, well, let's wait until the president catches up before we start challenging America.

You have got to know what you're doing on your very first day there. So, look, this is not an attack or anything of that nature. It's just a very simple observation. If you want to be president, you have to start detailing some specific public policy. And I don't think from this point forward in the campaign, voters are going to be as tolerant of the lack of that as they have been up to now.

DICKERSON: Would else, other than on Vladimir Putin, would you expect to see specific policy from him on?

RUBIO: Oh, I mean, on everything, about -- on health care. We all agree we're going to repeal Obamacare, but what will you replace it with?

And that's something we have detailed and he has not. I think, again, on issues of energy, how are we going to fully utilize our energy resources in this country? What is the role of the federal government in higher education? What kind of justices would you appoint to the Supreme Court, not just because we have a vacancy now, but at least one or two potentially in the next four to eight years?

I mean, on virtually every major issue before this country that is the natural purview of the federal government, it's important to have some specificity about what you're going to do if you want to be the president. And so I agree that, up until this point, it hasn't been a huge factor.

But it will be moving forward. And let me just say this. The Democrats, if we nominate someone who is nebulous about these things, they're going to eat our lunch in November. And so we have to absolutely have someone ready to go that can win, because we cannot lose this election. Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders cannot be the next president of the United States.

DICKERSON: Last question on politics.

There have been three contests. You have yet to win one. Is there a danger that you're everybody's second choice?

RUBIO: No, I don't think so, because, as I explained earlier, when you have seven or eight people competing for the same chunk of votes, it's a lot of votes, but you have seven or eight people, it's all segmented.

I think now that the race begins to narrow, you are going to have clearer indication of it.

DICKERSON: All right.

RUBIO: And as we looked at this race, we understood that this narrowing had to happen before the winner-take-all states that will begin in the middle of March. So, we feel good about the states we're going into and the process they award delegates by.

And we're in real good shape. We got to keep working hard.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Marco Rubio, thanks for being with us.

RUBIO: Thank you. DICKERSON: Next up from Columbia, South Carolina, is Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Senator Cruz, you said last night your campaign was defying expectations in South Carolina. But wasn't the expectation that you should have done better in South Carolina, given that large share of conservatives in the state and the very large share of those who self- identify as evangelical Christians?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, John, if you look at the first three primaries, we started in Iowa, where all of the media said we didn't have a chance, we couldn't win. We won an overwhelming victory in Iowa with a big, big margin.

We went on to New Hampshire. All the media said a conservative could not compete in a moderate New England state. We won a very strong third-place finish in New Hampshire. And then we went to South Carolina, where a week ago Donald Trump had a 20-point dominating lead, and we ended up closing that gap tremendously and finishing with -- effectively tied for second place.

And that combination, what that has done to the race is, at this point, we have seen the race, the field narrow dramatically. And there is only one strong conservative who has a path to winning. And that is having the effect of unifying conservatives nationally and teeing us up for Nevada and especially for Super Tuesday, coming up in nine days.

And that was always our plan. Do well in the first three states, and then compete and have a very strong night on Super Tuesday. I think we're ideally positioned to do exactly that.

DICKERSON: You have made the case that you're the only candidate who can unite the diverse parts of the conservative coalition. But when you look inside the exit polls, you do very well with those who identify as strongly conservative, but you have trouble in the other areas.

How are you going to solve that problem?

CRUZ: Well, you know, one of the very encouraging things we saw last night in the exit polls is that we young people. We were at first place among young people in South Carolina.

It's interesting, because we also won young people in Iowa, and we took second among young people in New Hampshire. If you can stitch together that kind of coalition with young people, bringing together conservatives and evangelicals -- and I will tell you, in Iowa, we also won Reagan Democrats, working-class voters.

And, as you know, John, historically, in order to have chance to win the nomination, you have to win one of the first three states. There are only two people that have done that, Donald Trump and me. And one of the things we're seeing is, listen, across the country, there are a lot of Republicans who think Donald Trump is not the right guy to go head to head with Hillary Clinton, that we probably lose that matchup.

About 70 percent of Republicans believe that. We're seeing people come together behind our campaign because we're the only campaign that has beaten Donald Trump and that can beat Donald Trump. You can't beat Donald Trump from the left. You can't beat Donald with a candidate who has supported amnesty. Donald wins that head to head.

Head to head with me, we beat Donald Trump by 16 points. And so what we're seeing, John, it's incredible. People all over the country are going to We got over 980,000 contributions the because we want a strong conservative. We want someone who can beat Hillary.

And I beat Hillary. And Donald, sadly, the polling shows, doesn't.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you a question about evangelical voters in South Carolina. Their exit polls showed that they went for Donald Trump over you. Do you think that he questioned your Christianity during the course of the South Carolina campaign?

CRUZ: Oh, listen, there's no doubt that both Donald and Marco got very personal, got very nasty.

And both of them, when you point to their records, they follow the same pattern. They scream liar, liar, liar. They impugn your integrity. They attack your character. And, as you know, from the very beginning of this campaign, nearly a year now, I have consistently refused to respond in kind.

I'm not going to impugn anyone's integrity. I'm not going to attack their character. And, in fact, I will happily praise both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio as men who I admire, as people who I'm not going to go personal with them.

But I do think we should be focused on substance and record. If you want a candidate who opposes amnesty, who opposes citizenship for the 12 million people here illegally, I'm the only candidate in the race who opposes that. If you want a candidate who is led the fight against Obamacare, who will lift the burdens on small businesses and bring back jobs, I'm the only candidate in the race with that proven record.

If you want a candidate to defend life and marriage and religious liberty and the Second Amendment and to appoint strong constitutionalists to the court, I'm the only candidate with that record. That's why conservatives are uniting behind our campaign. And if they want to continue with the attacks, that's their prerogative.

We are going to stay focused on the substance, because I think that is what the voters want. And I think that is what they deserve.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the substance of immigration and building a wall. But you and Donald Trump want the same thing. But he's had a lot of experience in the business world executing, getting things done as a businessman. What would you say to a voter who says, OK, you may share the same goals with Donald Trump on this, but you lack that experience of having executed the way he has in the private sector?

CRUZ: Well, listen, I have joked more than once on the campaign trail that I'm going to build a wall, and I have somebody in mind to build it.

There's no doubt that if you wanted a building contractor, Donald would be certainly a strong contender for that. But the question we have here is, who is a leader on this issue? You know, back in 2013, when we were having the epic battle on amnesty, when Marco Rubio joined up with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid to push amnesty, I led the fight against it, standing shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and millions of Americans.

And Donald Trump was no where to be found. In fact, he was tweeting support for amnesty just couple of years ago. And even now, if you ask Donald, he wants to give citizenship to the 12 million people here illegally. He wants to deport them, but let them come right back in with citizenship.

DICKERSON: All right.

CRUZ: Listen, if you're a hardworking steelworker or truck driver, that drives down your wages. That takes away your jobs.

DICKERSON: All right.

CRUZ: I think we need to be fighting for the working men and women of this country, not the moneyed New York interests.

DICKERSON: Senator Cruz, we're going to have to leave it there. We appreciate you being with us.

We will be back in a minute.


DICKERSON: The Democratic primary in South Carolina is Saturday,

And Senator Bernie Sanders joins us from Columbia, South Carolina.

Senator, I want to start with that South Carolina primary. You said last night that you think you have an excellent chance on Super Tuesday, but are you kind of skipping over your chances in South Carolina?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, John, I'm talking to you from Columbia, South Carolina.

We have a major rally this evening. We're not skipping over anything. But I think that, after South Carolina, we have 11 states. We stand a good chance of winning a number of those states. We think we have a whole lot of momentum.

You know, we lost yesterday in Nevada by five points. A month ago, we were 25 points behind. If you look at the national polls, those numbers are tightening up. In some cases, we're actually ahead nationally. So, I think people around this country are responding to our message of a rigged economy, a corrupt campaign, finance system and a broken criminal justice system. I'm feeling quite good.

DICKERSON: How should people judge the Sanders campaign? As you say, you have come a long way. Your message has influenced Hillary Clinton a great deal. But should people say, where are some big wins for Bernie Sanders? Or should they say, hey, this is a message campaign and let the message continue through the contest?

SANDERS: No, this is not a message campaign. We're in this race to win.

And I think, on Super Tuesday, for example, you are going to see some major, major victories. And, John, as you know, and I hope most people know, that these primary elections and caucus elections are proportional. And that means that it's not winner-take-all.

For example, Hillary Clinton in Nevada got 19 delegates. We got 15 delegates. We are going to need 2,400 delegates to win. And so it's a state-by-state process. We are going to win some big states, I think, on Super Tuesday.

DICKERSON: In the CBS poll of Nevada caucus-goers, 90 percent said they thought Hillary Clinton had the right experience to be president. Only about 10 percent said you had the right experience.

How do you change that feeling?

SANDERS: Well, I think, remember, when we start this campaign -- when we started this campaign, Hillary Clinton is almost universally known.

She was a first lady. She was a secretary of state. She was a senator. I am a senator from the very small state and great state of Vermont. Not a lot of people know me. They don't know my experience, my 25 years in Congress, my eight years as mayor of the city of Burlington.

So, we got to get that word out. I think we are making progress, but we have long way to go. People also have got to understand the agenda that we are fighting for. This is a senator who has taken on every powerful special interest, whether it's Wall Street, whether it's drug companies who are ripping off the American people, the military industrial complex.

I think the more people know our record, the better we do. And I would point out, John, that, just yesterday, to the best of my knowledge, we actually won the Latino vote in Nevada. That is a major breakthrough for us in reaching out to a diverse nation.

DICKERSON: That is a major breakthrough. Hillary Clinton, however, won among African-American voters, which is a large portion of the electorate in South Carolina. You don't seem to be making inroads, and the clock is ticking.

SANDERS: We are making inroads.

We are doing better. Interestingly, a lot of the polling that I see is not along racial lines, but along generational lines. We are doing better and better among younger people, not so well among older people, whether they're African-American, whether they're white or whether they're Latino.

But we have a -- you're right. We have a lot of work to do. But I think, when the African-American community understands my record on criminal justice, my record on economics, the agenda we're bringing forth, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, dealing with the fact that we have more people in jail, shamefully, than any other country on Earth, that I am against the death penalty, Secretary Clinton is not, I think, as people become familiar with my ideas, we are going to do better and better.

DICKERSON: Senator Sanders, thanks so much for joining us.

We will be right back.


DICKERSON: With Jeb Bush's exit, there's now only one governor left in the race, Ohio's John Kasich. He's standing by this morning. He's in Columbus.

Governor, we need to take a quick break right now, but we will be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Plus, we will be talking to our new CBS News political commentator, someone we all know well. And we will have our political panel.

Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.

Ohio Governor John Kasich joins us now.

Governor, I was talking to two of your supporters in a Super Tuesday state. They'd like to vote for you but they're worried that as the -- these primaries happen, they should get behind maybe Marco Rubio because they're worried about Donald Trump. Make your pitch to them about why they should stick with you. GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, you know, I'm starting to get known in this country for the first time and a message is being heard. And, look, these guys have spent $50 million in the campaign. I've spent about $15 million. And the fact of the matter is, a lot of the money they spend has been designed to, you know, hammer me, negative ads against me.

We're getting big crowds everywhere we go. I was just in Vermont. A tremendous turn out. Massachusetts. I'm heading to Virginia tomorrow. And we just keep going. And, look, you know, we finished second in New Hampshire. I think Marco finished fifth. So we never expected to -- to finish at the top in South Carolina and I think, frankly, we've exceed expectations there. The late voters, we did very well with, the late deciders. And we're moving on. And we feel good about where we are.

And, look, I mean all I can tell you is we've risen in the national polls. We're still strong. We've got good grassroots and everybody just hang on, things are going to settle down.

DICKERSON: Well, but isn't there a sense of urgency. You're getting maybe well-known. You're -- you're on the rise. But that -- there's also contests that are happening, people are coming in ahead of you. Where do you have to do well and win to still have a shot at this thing?

KASICH: Well, I -- look, we've got to do well in -- in Vermont, in Massachusetts. We think we're going to do well in Virginia. We believe that we will over perform in Mississippi. We think we get to the Midwest, whether it's Illinois or whether it's Michigan -- and, remember, John, as I -- I heard Bernie Sanders saying, it's proportional. I don't have to win these places, I just have to hang in there and continue to gain momentum.

And no one ever expect me to get in the race. They didn't think I would get on the debate stage. I did. They didn't think I'd do well in New Hampshire. I finished second. And so we went to South Carolina. In a short period of time later, two weeks ago people in South Carolina had no clue who I was.

So, we're the engine that can. Everybody out to just relax on this. And, look, think about it, there were 16 people in the race, including a number of governors, and there's only one left. And I think that at the end we have to make sure that we have somebody that can go to that town, change that system, grow employment, change the whole way in which it works and ship power money and influence back to the states. So I'm optimistic about it.

DICKERSON: One of the other arguments that people who would consider themselves mainstream Republicans are making is that only until there becomes one mainstream alternative to Donald Trump is there any chance for Trump to get knocked off by people whose -- whose beliefs they share. So why aren't you just continuing to split the vote with Marco Rubio? Address those concerns.

KASICH: Well, maybe, you know -- again, you know, we -- I finished second in New Hampshire. He finished fifth. I did play in South Carolina. And we're going to go to -- on March the 1st to a number of states where we think we're going to do well. so it's a matter of continuing on, John, and being able to take advantage of the grassroots.

We now have some Bush people who have come our way, both from a political point of view and a fundraising point of view. And we're going to keep struggling to make sure that we can be out there, keep putting the resources together to be in a position of doing well. And, look, remember this, I'm the person who beats Hillary Clinton by more than any other Republican candidate for president. In the "USA Today" poll, I beat her by 11 points. And, again, I've risen to third police in the national polls out of nowhere without spending really much money. I get the money, continue to put the grassroots together, and you're going to see a great result. So people want to consolidate. They ought to consolidate my way.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you a policy question. When -- when we debated -- or discussed Donald Trump's effort to -- to stop Muslim immigration, you said that's not who we are as a country. In the exit polls in New Hampshire, 65 percent supported a Muslim immigration ban. And now in South Carolina, 74 percent supported that policy.


DICKERSON: Maybe that this is who Americans are.

KASICH: Well, it's not all Americans. But I understand those polls. But as a result of that, that's not going to change my position. I mean I don't think it is even practical and I don't think it's right. I mean just because somebody happens to be of the Muslim faith, doesn't make them a terrorist or make them a threat to America. And we've had relations with people all over the world of the Muslim faith.

And, look, nobody wants anybody who's radical, who wants to move in here to be able to gain access. I said we should take a pause on these Syrian migrants. And I believe we should do that. But, frankly, to try to create some sort of a religious standard in terms of who can come to America, we're a melting pot. And as long as people have positive and good intent, they ought to be able to come.

DICKERSON: All right, Governor John Kasich, thanks so much for being with us. We'll look forward to seeing you down the road.

KASICH: All right, John, thank you.

DICKERSON: And we'll be right back. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: We turn now to a very familiar face for our viewers. He's in Greenville, South Carolina, this morning. And I just want to say, Bob, it wouldn't be a presidential campaign without you. We're very happy to have you back.


DICKERSON: And we're happy --

SCHIEFFER: Thank you, John, and how do you like that job?

DICKERSON: Well, I like it pretty -- I like it all right. I had a great predecessor.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you're doing a great job.

DICKERSON: Bob, what do you make of all this that's going on?

SCHIEFFER: You know, I was listening to Donald Trump this morning and he was Mr. Nice Guy this morning. He was almost humble talking about he's, no, he doesn't have it wrapped up. He's running against some very good people.

I think Donald Trump is the favorite to get the Republican nomination, to put it in one sentence. He didn't win here in South Carolina by as much as some people thought he would in the beginning, but it was -- it was a good, solid victory. He goes in to Super Tuesday in Nevada in a -- a very strong position.

But I also think that Marco Rubio is right when he said and told you this morning, look, this is now a three-man race. And I think for the first time it is. And I think with -- with the race winnowing down as it is, I -- Donald Trump may wind up getting the nomination, but he's not going to cruise to it, John. He's going to have his work cut out for him and it's -- it's going to be -- it's going to be a really -- a really right -- a good race from here on in, I think.

DICKERSON: Yes, usually it's a loss that humbles you. Maybe in his case it's the opposite. What do you think in Donald Trump's case actually -- what -- what -- how would you stop it? I mean how can he be -- how can he be stopped?

SCHIEFFER: Well, you heard Marco Rubio say today that he thinks he's got to start giving some -- some -- some, you know, details on how he's going to do all of these things that he's promising to do. I mean, you know, in many cases, Donald Trump is really connecting with voters. I went to one of his rallies down here the other night and you have to go -- you have to be there in person to get the feel of what's going down. And people -- he really connects with people. He speaks in -- in language and in sentences that they can understand, the people who like him. And sometimes you get the feeling they -- they're not even worried about what he says, they just enjoy hearing him say it. I asked one man, what do you really like about Donald Trump? And he said, you know, he speaks his mind and people just don't do that much anymore.

So, you may agree with him, disagree with him, you can certainly question some of the things that he -- that he puts forth, but the people who really like him, he is connecting with them. And -- and I think that's his great asset. But, you know, the great follow up to most of the things he proposes is, how are you going to do that? And he hasn't -- hasn't given us many details on that front yet, but this is a great setup for Super Tuesday and it -- this is going to really be an exciting night. And we may see this field winnow down even more after that.

DICKERSON: And, Bob -- quickly, Bob, before I let you go. The Democrats, what's your take on -- on that race?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I think Hillary Clinton, her ship may not have been totally righted, but it's no longer taking on water. I think she comes now into South Carolina in a very strong position. I think she's going to win down here overwhelmingly. If she doesn't, her -- her campaign is really in trouble because so much of the vote here is the black vote and she has got to carry the black vote. I -- I think she will and I think she'll win some more of these southern states on down the line.

DICKERSON: All right, Bob Schieffer, once a reporter, always a reporter, thanks for being with us. And we'll be back in a moment with our panel.


DICKERSON: And we're back with our panel. Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief for "USA Today," Ron Brownstein is senior editor at "The Atlantic," Reihan Salam is the editor of "The National Review" and also a policy fellow at the National Review Institute, and Mark Leibovich is the chief national correspondent for "The New York Times" magazine.

I want to start with you Susan. Donald Trump insulted George W. Bush. He got booed at two consecutive debates, got into a fight with the pope was in a fight with Ted Cruz for a month back and forth and he still won South Carolina. Is this -- is it? Is that it? Is he going to get the nomination?

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": I think history is on his side. You wouldn't want to say that its point that it's his -- it's -- you wouldn't want to say that he's won it, but I think the nomination is now his to lose and we can't figure out a way in which he would manage to lose it given the things he's done that haven't even cost him. You know, he won South Carolina by ten points. He won New Hampshire by nearly 20 points. No Republican has ever won both those contests and failed to then get the nomination. And two of the three who did that won the White House.


RON BROWNSTEIN, "THE ATLANTIC": You know, I would say, as I -- as I've said since the fall, I think the Republican race can still be summarized in two sentences, Donald Trump has consolidated the blue collar wing of the party and the white collar wing of the party remains fragmented. He won in South Carolina an incredible 42 percent of Republican voters without a college education. Exactly the same number as he had in New Hampshire, and as much as Rubio and Cruz combined. He's less imposing among college educated Republicans. He was only at 25 percent among them. He was only low 20s in Iowa as well. But the problem -- Cruz and Rubio have kind of a mirror image problem. Cruz's coalition is to narrow, overly dependent on evangelicals, and Rubio is too shallow. He's got a little bit of everything, but he's not dominant anywhere. And until one of them shows that they can broaden more effectively, you'd have to agree, Trump is in the driver's seat.

DICKERSON: Reihan, Marco Rubio made the case that it's now going to become about policy specifics with Donald Trump. We -- people have been trying for a while to make that case. Do you think there's any chance that Rubio is right about that?

REIHAN SALAM, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, my concern for Rubio is that, if you're looking at those Trump voters, they're an important part of the coalition. They're -- and a lot of them think of themselves as moderate. So you'd think that they'd be flocking to a candidate like Rubio, and yet Rubio has been relying on this idea that the quote/unquote, establishment lane is going to clear and then he's going to kind of automatically win these voters over. And that hasn't happened.

Now, on the other hand, you've got Ted Cruz, who has a very different problem. Now Ron mentioned Cruz's strength with evangelical voters. The truth is, however, when you look at South Carolina, there's an interesting split. When you're looking at evangelical voters who go to church once a week, Cruz does very well with those voters. But, of course, they're actually not that many of those voters in the southeast compared to Texas, Oklahoma, and the great plain states, whereas if you look at people who identify as evangelical Christians but who are unchurched, those are the folks who are going to Trump. And that's a constituency no one else has been able to crack, including Marco Rubio.


BROWNSTEIN: Here's one other cut on the evangelicals real quick. If you look at -- with evangelicals by education as well, Donald Trump won 44 percent of the evangelical in South Carolina without a college degree. He crushed Cruz among them. On the other side, Rubio narrowly beat Cruz among the evangelicals with a college degree.

DICKERSON: So he's squeezed.

BROWNSTEIN: So he's getting squeezed from both sides. And especially if you look in the south, if Donald Trump can hold that 44 percent, anything like it among blue collar evangelicals who are really big in many of the southern border (ph) states that Cruz wall will be overrun pretty quickly.

DICKERSON: Mark, let's talk about the Cruz wall, because his argument is that he was going to do very well in those Super Tuesday states. He's now been in a protracted back and forth with Donald Trump for a month. Here is a guy who knows how to debate. He knows -- he has currency with those voters and it hasn't worked so far.

MARK LEIBOVICH, "NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE": Well, the reason it hasn't worked is just frankly numbers. I mean it's this -- people have -- you know, the word is coalescing, consolidating. I mean these -- these long "c" words have been, you know, very popular this morning. And -- and the fact is, Donald Trump has his own consolidated base at this point. It cross many demographics. It crosses, you know, many, you know, evangelicals, I mean young voters, older voters. Rubio thinks that, you know, well, the establishment will coalesce around me. Cruz seems to think that the evangelicals will -- will flock to him. And until there are just two people in the race, which could happen, you know, not for another six weeks, two months, there's not going to be a clear shot at Donald Trump.

PAGE: And -- and by that time, you still have a three-way race. You're into big states that have winner take all primaries, which means Donald Trump with 35 percent of the vote could mas -- amass enough convention delegates to insure his nomination.


LEIBOVICH: Right. And I also think the only way it's going to change I mean is -- as the very promising CBS intern Bob Schieffer pointed out before, I mean there was a sort of graciousness in pretty much everyone this morning I thought, maybe it's just a -- a rest period. But I -- I do think that -- that to take the fight to Donald Trump, you have to take the fight to Donald Trump. I mean Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz really have to open this thing up, really have to go after him, maybe harder than they have before, but that's how it's going to move.

SALAM: What I -- I also think the policy specifics thesis. The problem with it is that Trump's whole point is that, look, I'm just going to make America great again. The specifics, let's -- let's, you know, leave that aside. He actually has some plans. He doesn't appear to have fully engaged with them all the time.


SALAM: Whereas if you're looking at Marco Rubio, there is one area where he has very detailed policy specifics on immigration and he has moved sharply away from that position.


SALAM: And or months it's been very clear the number of Republicans who want to increase immigration levels at 4 percent of self-identified Republicans.


SALAM: And you have all of these Republican candidates fighting over that little constituency. Rubio needed to do a better job of getting specific about exactly how and why his position had changed and he failed to do that. And that's a problem.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, and the fact is, the things where Trump has articulated a specific position, he has -- that's where his support is rooted. I mean clearly part of it is that they like that he's an outsider, they like that he's a business guy. But if you look at the exit poll, 44 percent of the voters in South Carolina, a minority, supported deported all undocumented immigrants. Trump had almost half of them. He had -- he had -- he had over 40 percent of those who supported the ban on Muslim. So he has -- he has established, as you said, a -- you know, he has a constituency that cuts across many traditional demographic boundaries, but I think is still rooted in this one new slice for the first time the blue collar wing of the Republican Party is driving a candidate toward the nomination. The white collar wing was really essential for McCain and Romney. We are seeing an internal power shift in the party if Trump can take this all the way to the nomination.

DICKERSON: Susan, set the table for us for the next big Super Tuesday fight. What does that look like? It's -- it's bigger. Lots of states at the same time. We've been focusing on little, tiny states. Now it gets opened up.

PAGE: So a dozen states, including Texas. That might be a state to watch. In the polling that we've seen, we've seen Cruz ahead of Trump in Texas. What if Trump comes up and beats Cruz in Texas, in his home state? How does he stay in it? And two weeks later that, we've got Ohio. I think that would be a test to see if John Kasich manages to stay in the race until Ohio and win it there. At the moment, Trump is -- is winning Ohio.

When you look at the Super Tuesday states, you know, you've got a bunch of them across the south. That's important. You've got a couple in other places. But it's really a contest that goes to the base of the Republican Party. which is a southern base, and we -- and we'll see who can carry that.

DICKERSON: Mark, usually people like to get behind a winner. In politics in Washington, we see them running and grab ahold of them. Donald Trump doesn't have any endorsements, of Senate or the Congress.


DICKERSON: Do you expect any of that to come?

LEIBOVICH: If -- no, I don't. I mean I think if it does, I don't think it will help or hurt. I mean the fact that Marco Rubio is -- is, you know, surrounding himself with so many endorsements and is trying to roll them out, you know, periodically in the next few days, I don't -- I don't think it matters. I think it's shown traditionally that it doesn't matter. I mean one of the reasons Donald Trump has been such a standalone phenomenon is that populism -- and this is still a very populist party -- is celebrity in this day and age and Donald Trump is a celebrity.


BROWNSTEIN: I was going to say that, you know, just to underscore Susan -- and for Ted Cruz, I mean the future really is now. I mean the states that are coming up are the heavily evangelical, heavily blue collar states. Not only in the south, but in the Midwest. And if he cannot drive Donald Trump off of his beach head that he's established, particular with blue collar evangelicals, which he's now won in both New Hampshire and in South Carolina, then you're looking at places like Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, but also Missouri, Ohio, Michigan to some extent, Illinois to some extent, Wisconsin later in the Midwest, where if Trump can hold those voters, there just isn't enough for Cruz because Cruz is so weak, has been so weak among voters who are not evangelical.

PAGE: And yet Cruz has a lot of money.


PAGE: So Cruz is staying in this race. And I assume Rubio's staying in this race. And that is also good for Donald Trump.


SALAM: Rubio could, in theory, make a blue collar pitch, going back to the policy specifics idea. If he actually said, look, this guy is a plutocrat charlatan and I have a real agenda for working families. But the funny thing is that that's something he'd always teed up for a long time and yet he actually never talks about it unless a -- a very skilled debate moderator actually brings up, hey, here's your tax plan, here's what you plan to do for families. Now, whether or not that substantively works, that's the kind of message that could theoretically resonate with some working class voters, so why isn't he talking about it?

BROWNSTEIN, But, Reihan, here's the thing I don't understand. I mean Rubio -- the opening that's there is that Donald Trump faces more resistance in the white collar side of the party. Rubio has actually now won college graduates in two of the first three races, but by tiny margins, not enough to really make a difference. It seems like there is a door open for him that he simply does not want to walk through and instead is pitching himself more, trying to cannibalize the conservative support of Cruz and Trump rather than veering more toward the lane that elected -- I'm sorry to use that word, Mark --


BROWNSTEIN: That used -- that elected John McCain and Mitt Romney.

DICKERSON: But is -- but, Mark, wouldn't Marco Rubio, to take Reihan's point, have to go right at Donald Trump? And isn't that the grave yard of candidacies?

LEIBOVICH: It has been to this point. But I think that's his only option at this point. I mean he does seem to -- I mean his star (ph) the last few weeks and I think seems to be going forward is to just sort of wait for things to coalesce around him. The endorsement. The -- you know, the establishment, which to his point has shown not to exist over and over and over again. I mean, but, yes, I mean I don't think that's his style or his inclination in this.

PAGE: Here's the most --

DICKERSON: Susan, we've got --

PAGE: I'm sorry.

DICKERSON: We've got to go to the Democrats before we run out of here.

PAGE: Yes. Right.

DICKERSON: Give me your take on what you think. Did Hillary Clinton do herself some good in Nevada or is it a long -- what -- where do you think things are?

PAGE: Well, I think she definitely did herself a good (INAUDIBLE). She had lost it in Nevada, a state that we expect her to win, that she won in 2008. So, yes, a definite victory and a clear victory, unlike the very narrow one she had in Iowa. But unlike the Republicans, who go to winner take all, the Democrats require proportional representation. That means I assume Bernie Sanders stays in this race, continues to get convention delegates, goes to the convention, even if she's -- she's got it wrapped up -- the nomination wrapped up, presses his cause, which I think was his original agenda.

DICKERSON: So it becomes just a message per say now?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, yes. Potentially. But, no, look, the good news for Bernie Sanders in Nevada is that his generational advantage that we saw among white young people in Iowa and New Hampshire extended to minority young people in Nevada. That -- that all goes well for him. He lost the older minority voters by even more than he lost older white voters. And again with -- underreported fact, he's having trouble with Democrats. He only won 40 percent of self-identified Democrats roughly in Nevada. The same number as he won in Iowa. And as John McCain found in 2000, it is hard to win a party's nomination ultimately if you can't get people to that party to vote for you in sufficient numbers.

So, yes, he is a serious challenger. He's not just a one track candidate. He's not just young people. He's running well with blue collar whites. But until he shows he can fully expand across the spectrum, especially into African-Americans, really hard for him to get over the top.

DICKERSON: Mark, if Susan's right and Sanders can stay in for a long time and stick with his message, doesn't that become, though, that he's constantly there, poking the bruise of Hillary Clinton, which is, you can't bring in young voters. They were a part of the Obama coalition. Just he -- it -- that would be quite damaging to Hillary?

LEIBOVICH: Yes. Yes, I think that -- you know, look, I think -- well, first of all, I want to praise Ron's incredible specificity on demographics, which I find very intimidating to follow and I think we all can applaud that.

I would say that, look, that's a bruise that doesn't need poking. It's there. It's been proven to be there over and over and over again. And, look, it's a problem for her. It was a problem for her six months ago. It's going to be a problem for her a year from now -- we'll, maybe not a year from now, but close to a year from now. So, look, I mean he is a constant reminder. I think in some ways he remains the ideal opponent for her because he moves her left and also he's probably not going to win.

BROWNSTEIN: But, Mark, the only antidote for that problem, Hillary Clinton, maybe Donald Trump. That Donald -- Hillary Clinton may not provide positive momentum if she's the nominee for the Democratic coalition, but the negative kind of response to Trump --

PAGE: Although we had a -- we had a new poll out this week --

BROWNSTEIN: Might do it.

PAGE: That said, what's your dominant reaction to these people's nomination. And the dominant reaction of Americans to Hillary Clinton's nomination was, "scary," and that was also the domination -- the dominant reaction to --



PAGE: To Donald Trump's nomination was "scary." So just imagine a general election (INAUDIBLE).

SALAM: It's really worth noting that if you look at how liberal these Democratic primary electorates are today versus what they were like even four years ago, in a way the Sanders phenomenon is a reflection of the shrinking of the Democratic coalition, whereas Trump, you know, for better or for worse, he appears to be growing the Republican coalition at the margins in some ways. He's also repelling others. It's complicated. But that is one pattern that I found very striking between the two parties.

DICKERSON: All right, we're going to have to end it there. Nothing scary about it -- any of you all.


DICKERSON: I want to thank our panel. And we'll be right back.


DICKERSON: Yesterday, Washington paused to reflect on the life and work of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Some 3,000 people attended his funeral, including vice President Biden and 10 of the 11 living Supreme Court justices. Among the mourners Scalia's wife of 55 years, Maureen, and their nine children and dozens of grandchildren. His son, Paul, a catholic priest, led the services. Justice Scalia was 79 years old.

That's it for us today. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm John Dickerson.

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