Presidential Candidates Await Results In Super Tuesday Contests
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
And here with me in the studio is Rachel Martin, who you're used to hearing on Sunday mornings.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
SHAPIRO: So happy to have you here on Super Tuesday.
MARTIN: I'm very happy to be here. I'm...
MARTIN: ...Metaphorically buckled in and ready to do it...
SHAPIRO: ...Strapped in and ready for the next few hours of live coverage. And also here with us are Ron Elving and Mara Liasson to walk us through everything that's happening. Ron, what do we know at this moment?
RON ELVING, BYLINE: At this moment we know that Donald Trump is the projected winner of the Republican primary in Georgia, according to the Associated Press. But we do not know who has won in the Republican primaries in either Vermont or Virginia...
SHAPIRO: ...But on the Democratic side we do.
ELVING: We know much more on the Democratic side. We know that Bernie Sanders has won his home state of Vermont. We presume he did so handily. He has already come out and given a victory speech. And Hillary Clinton is projected to win in the much more numerous - much more populous states of Georgia and Virginia. Virginia in particular, I think, was a focal point because with large suburban populations in that state, that was seen as maybe a little more typical of the national electorate than some of the states that have voted in February and tonight.
SHAPIRO: And before we go out to our correspondents in the field - Mara, you and I have been here night after night, talking about one state, maybe two states. Tonight, it's totally different.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Well, it's a huge, huge field. But as Ron says, Virginia - so far, of the states that have come in, Virginia is a true battleground in the fall. And it is representative. And we do know that Hillary Clinton won there, and it sounds like she won white voters, which is another blow to Bernie Sanders because that was his - the way he was going to win. Bernie Sanders did come out and talk. It was interesting. He said this is not a general election, it's not winner-take-all. If you get 48 percent, you get roughly the same number of delegates. By the end of tonight, we're going to win many hundreds of delegates, and his supporters cheered. And that is true. You can't say any - that anything he said wasn't accurate, but it doesn't really matter if he wins hundreds of delegates if Hillary Clinton wins many, many, many hundreds more than he does.
MARTIN: Does it matter, Ron, that he came out so early, relatively speaking, in the night? It's kind of early for someone to hold the big rally and make the big speech.
ELVING: We were wondering about that because obviously, he's interested in Massachusetts, a neighboring state, a state with a very high white population in the Democratic electorate, a state that he was expected to do well in. Colorado and Oklahoma are still states that he expects to do well in. Minnesota is another one he's talked about being a focus. None of those results has even begun to come in yet, and yet he decided to wrap up his evening early. We don't know what that may be.
SHAPIRO: Let's talk now with Sarah McCammon. NPR's Sarah McCammon is at Trump headquarters at the Mar-a-Lago Beach club in Palm Beach, Fla. Sarah, what is Trump looking for tonight after what is projected to be a win in Georgia?
SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Well, momentum. I think he's hoping to come out of tonight looking like the unstoppable front runner. And I've certainly talked with supporters in the last few days who say after Super Tuesday, Trump is going to be unstoppable. We will see. He did just pick up Georgia which, other than Texas - after Texas, is the second-biggest delegate prize for the Republicans tonight. So, you know, he's having a good night so far. Still lots of returns that need to come in.
SHAPIRO: Obviously, Ted Cruz is hoping to win Texas. Are Trump supporters even talking about this as a possibility for Donald Trump tonight?
MCCAMMON: You know, a few that I've met think that he's going to win everything, that he's going to, you know, run the table tonight. Trump himself has said, we're going to do great, we're going to really well on Super Tuesday. We might even win Texas. I think at a minimum, Trump is expecting a strong showing in Texas. Winning it, beating Ted Cruz would be a huge coup for him and, you know, would really, really damage Ted Cruz.
SHAPIRO: All right, thanks, Sarah.
MCCAMMON: Thank you.
MARTIN: We're going to stay in the state of Florida, and we're going to move to Don Gonyea, who is with the Rubio campaign at campaign headquarters there. Don, what's...
DON GONYEA, BYLINE: ...Hey.
MARTIN: What's the vibe?
GONYEA: The vibe is waiting. There's a pretty good crowd here. We're inside a giant equestrian center, a beautiful setting - open walls, covered roof, giant fans and ceiling and a red dirt floor. And people are just waiting. There are hundreds and hundreds of people here. But again, you know, you can almost sense the anxiety that he needs to do well. And they're watching the big TV monitors and they're hoping that they'll get good news throughout the course of the evening. And then the other thing is this is billed as...
MARTIN: ...Sounds like something's happening behind you...
GONYEA: ...A big kickoff ally for Florida. So Florida votes in two weeks, and you can bet Marco Rubio will be spending a lot of time here in the next couple of weeks.
SHAPIRO: Don, so much has been made of Marco Rubio's better-than-expected performance. If he comes in strong second in a dozen states tonight, is that enough? Does he need a first place win?
GONYEA: Well, he'd certainly like a first place win. Strong seconds across the board they would probably take. Now they're hoping to get a win in Minnesota. We'll see there. They're still hoping for a win in Virginia. But a bunch of strong seconds would, you know, keep him in the race and allow him to be looking ahead to the showdown with Donald Trump in Florida and to those winner-take-all primaries that start on that day, on the 15th, including Florida. The math gets difficult, obviously, and you can almost look at the winner-take-all contests as kind of, you know, Hail Mary passes in some ways. You can pick up a lot of ground, but you have to win them. And again, he hasn't gotten a win yet anywhere.
SHAPIRO: Thanks, Don.
GONYEA: Thank you.
MARTIN: We're going to move northward to Burlington, Vt. That's where our Sam Sanders has been covering what appears to be pretty much a victory speech by Bernie Sanders in his home state. Sam, how is the crowd reacting?
SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Oh my goodness, you guys just missed it. He was onstage with a folk band singing "This Land Is Your Land." This is a party. This is party, and the mood in here is very, very strong. Sanders said that he is going to win hundreds of delegates tonight. He has said that he's going to go to all 50 states and he's going to take his fight there. So this is not at all a mood of loss. It is a mood of pure victory.
MARTIN: So clearly, this was the big party of the night for those supporters. They're still going to be watching the other races, but this was their moment.
SANDERS: This was their moment, and they're already leaving. I mean, like, Sanders left the stage, the crowd is leaving. It seems as if the idea is to get these folks out of here before some losses come through.
SHAPIRO: Let's wrap up with our guests here in the studio. Ron Elving, Mara Liasson are going to be here with us all night. Do you expect that if Hillary Clinton outperforms Bernie Sanders tonight, even though he has committed to staying in the long haul and certainly has the money for it, will there be pressure on him to fold up shop and go home?
ELVING: There will be those who suggest that would be a thing he could do at this point. I don't think there's really any serious expectation that he would do that. There are just too many things that he can gain by going on. Even if he is not going to be the nominee, Ari, even if he is not going to be on the ticket, he is...
SHAPIRO: ...Walk us through what some of those things are.
ELVING: Well, some of those things are an opportunity to perhaps have a night to himself at the convention where, like Jesse Jackson in 1988, they turn over the whole complete shooting match to him for one entire evening in the convention week. That would be a tremendous opportunity to take his message to a national audience. And he also wants to take his message to the audience all through these remaining primaries. We've got several months in primaries, right into the month of June. And wants to keep making his views known. He wants to put his vision of America before people. It's very simple. He's got it down to about seven or eight sentences. They're there in his ads, they're there in his speeches. And it's getting through.
SHAPIRO: Well, another round of polls is about to close on this Super Tuesday, where a quarter of the delegates, give or take, will be allocated, and about a dozen states are voting. Many stations are going to have live special coverage continuing on into the night. You can also follow our coverage online at elections.npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.