The biggest voting day of the presidential primary race was a big victory night for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, who each won in seven states and gained a majority of delegates. Democrat Bernie Sanders won four, including his home state of Vermont. Republican Senator Ted Cruz also won his home state of Texas, along with Oklahoma and Alaska. Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio scored his first victory in the race in Minnesota. Republican John Kasich came in second in Vermont, and Ben Carson had no wins. We play highlights from the candidates’ Super Tuesday speeches and host a roundtable discussion about the race to the White House with Donna Murch, associate professor of history at Rutgers University and author of The Clintons’ War on Drugs: When Black Lives Didn’t Matter; Hans Noel, associate professor of government at Georgetown University and the co-author of The Party Decides, whose new piece for The New York Times is called “Why Can’t the GOP Stop Trump?”; and James Peterson, director of Africana studies and associate professor of English at Lehigh University.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The biggest voting day of the presidential primary race was also a big night for Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, who each won victories in seven states, along with a majority of delegates. Democrat Bernie Sanders won four states, including his home state of Vermont, as well as Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado. Ted Cruz won his home state of Texas, as well, along with Oklahoma and Alaska, despite former Governor Sarah Palin’s endorsement of his rival, Trump. And Republican Marco Rubio won only one state – Minnesota. He also fell short of winning the minimum 20 percent of the vote needed to earn a proportional amount of the delegates in Texas, Alabama and Vermont. Meanwhile, Republican John Kasich came in second in Vermont. Ben Carson had no wins. Both Kasich and Carson vow to stay in the race.
Hillary Clinton dominated among older voters and African Americans as she swept the South and beat her challenger, Sanders, in seven of the 11 races contested by the Democrats, including the delegate-rich states of Texas, Georgia and Virginia, and by a narrow margin in Massachusetts. She celebrated with supporters at a victory rally in Miami.
HILLARY CLINTON: What a Super Tuesday! You know, all across our country today, Democrats voted to break down barriers so we can all rise together. And it might be unusual, as I’ve said before, for a presidential candidate to say this, but I’m going to keep saying it: I believe what we need in America today is more love and kindness. Because you know what? You know what? It works. Instead of building walls, we’re going to break down barriers and build ladders of opportunity and empowerment, so every American can live up to his or her potential, because then and only then can America live up to its full potential, too.
Now, it’s clear tonight that the stakes in this election have never been higher, and the rhetoric we’re hearing on the other side has never been lower. Trying to divide America between us and them is wrong, and we’re not going to let it work.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Meanwhile, in Vermont, Clinton’s rival, Bernie Sanders, celebrated a massive win and vowed to fight on until the Democratic convention in July.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, tonight, you’re going to see a lot of election results come in, and let me remind you of what the media often forgets about. These are not – this is not a general election; it’s not winner take all. If you get 52 percent, you get 48 percent, you roughly end up with the same amount of delegates in a state. By the end of tonight, we are going to win many hundreds of delegates.
SANDERS SUPPORTERS: Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Ten months ago, as you know better than any other group in America, when we were out on the lake, we were at 3 percent in the polls. We have come a very long way in 10 months. At the end of tonight, 15 states will have voted, 35 states remain. And let me assure you that we are going to take our fight – for economic justice, for social justice, for environmental sanity, for a world of peace – to every one of those states.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In the Republican race, Donald Trump swept to victory in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Vermont, where he was in a close contest with John Kasich, and in Virginia, where Rubio had campaigned hard. During a victory party in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump claimed he is a unifier.
DONALD TRUMP: We have expanded the Republican Party. When you look at what’s happened in South Carolina and you see the kind of numbers that we got in terms of extra people coming in, they came from the Democratic Party or the Democrat Party. And they’re Democrats, and they’re longtime Democrats, and they were never going to switch, and they all switched, and they were independents. And we’ve actually expanded the party. Look at the number of votes we had in that area, as an example. Four years ago, they had 390,000 or so votes. We doubled it – we were almost 800,000 – whereas the Democrats went down. There’s much less enthusiasm for the Democrats.
So, look, I am a unifier. I know people are going to find that a little bit hard to believe, but, believe me, I am a unifier. Once we get all of this finished, I’m going to go after one person – that’s Hillary Clinton – on the assumption she’s allowed to run, which is a big assumption. I don’t know that she’s going to be allowed to run.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, today we spend the hour looking at the race to the White House. We begin with three guests. In Washington, DC, Hans Noel is an associate professor of government at Georgetown University, co-author of The Party Decides. His new piece for The New York Times is “Why Can’t the G.O.P. Stop Trump?” Here in New York, Donna Murch joins us. She’s associate professor of history at Rutgers University, whose recent piece in the New Republic, “The Clintons’ War on Drugs: When Black Lives Didn’t Matter.” And in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, James Peterson is with us, director of Africana studies and associate professor of English at Lehigh University, a lead MSNBC contributor and a host on NPR affiliate WHYY in Philadelphia.
We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Hans Noel, let’s begin with you. What’s happening within the Republican Party right now? It is very clear that Donald Trump is the front-runner and is well on his way to the convention. Who knows if it will be brokered or not? Talk about what the leadership is doing right now. Hans Noel, can you hear us?
HANS NOEL: I’m sorry, you’re coming in and out a little bit. Yes, you’re asking about Trump. He does appear to be in a position of – you know, it’s going to be difficult to stop him at this point. It does look like he’s likely to be the nominee.
AMY GOODMAN: And talk about the response of the Republican Party. I want to go to a clip right now of Paul Ryan, Paul Ryan who is the House speaker, who said on Tuesday that the Republican presidential nominee must reject any group built on bigotry.
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: So today I want to be very clear about something. If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people’s prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals. This is the party of Lincoln. We believe all people are created equal in the eyes of God and our government. This is fundamental. And if someone wants to be our nominee, they must understand this. I hope this is the last time I need to speak out on this race. It’s time we get back to focusing on how, very specifically how, we are going to get to solving the many problems that American families are facing after seven years of Barack Obama.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s House Speaker Paul Ryan. Also Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sought to distance himself from Donald Trump by condemning the KKK. He said, quote, “Let me make it perfectly clear: Senate Republicans condemn David Duke [and] the KKK … That is not the view of Republicans that have been elected to the United States Senate,” he said. So, Hans Noel, talk about what is happening here and the possibility that he could – that Donald Trump could win the popular vote leading up to the convention, but the forcing of a brokered convention because they don’t like Donald Trump.
HANS NOEL: Yeah, the Republican Party leadership really doesn’t like Trump, and so they’d like a strategy to stop him. And while Trump is clearly going to have, I think, if not the most delegates, clearly a very large amount, probably an outright majority, you know, he is also doing that winning 45, 35, 40 percent of the vote, so there’s a lot of the voters in the Republican Party who also don’t like him. They just haven’t coordinated on who they don’t like. So the Republicans would love to find a way to come up with some other candidate, but the rules that they’re playing under don’t give them a lot of options.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Hans Noel, the calls of Ted Cruz for all the other candidates to drop out so that he can go head to head against Trump are also not necessarily receiving support among the Republican leadership. Could you talk about that?
HANS NOEL: Yeah. Well, the problem is that the Republican leadership doesn’t much care for Cruz, either. If there were no Trump, Cruz would probably be the candidate that everyone on the leadership was trying to stop. I mean, the party was essentially divided – before Trump got involved, the party was essentially divided between a party regulars group, that kind of liked Jeb Bush, and then a more ideological tea party, Freedom Caucus-type group that came to like Ted Cruz. But that divide is not easily bridged. And what they need is a candidate that can abridge that divide. There are a lot of possible candidates, but none of them really seem to get traction in both places. So you already had a fractured party. The solution to getting rid of Trump is to go to one half of that fracture, isn’t very satisfying to a lot of people in the party, either.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I wanted to ask Donna Murch – on the Democratic side, you’ve got this enormous racking up of votes from African Americans by Hillary Clinton throughout the South now, and yet Bernie Sanders is still – has the support of many of the progressive African-American intellectuals around the country, and he’s managed to dent the Latino vote, at least in Colorado and Nevada, not necessarily in Texas, because South Texas went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton last night. Your sense of what is happening in terms of the debate in the African-American community over Clinton and Sanders?
DONNA MURCH: Well, you know, I think that it’s interesting. A lot of the mainstream coverage of the Sanders campaign has really talked about how it’s an all-white campaign and they have very few black campaign workers. I have been to some of the events, I’ve met the organizers involved, and there is significant black staff. So what this does is raise larger questions about political coalition in the history of the Democratic Party.
I think that, looking at the results, first in South Carolina and now on Super Tuesday, what we’re seeing were immense black voter turnouts for Hillary Clinton. And she is a compelling political figure for significant portions of the African-American electorate. On the other hand, there really is a very big base of support particularly among the black left and among academics, intellectuals and also working-class people in other parts of the country. So I think we have to do a little bit of an analysis about what’s happened. One of the things that I’m surprised about is that the issues of mass incarceration and the Clintons’ history, not only with the war on drugs, but also the war on gangs, which is the context in which that “superpredator” and “bring them to heel” comment was made, that much of the historical memory of that doesn’t seem to be informing the voting practices. And so, I think all of us who are very concerned about mass incarceration and these larger issues about equity and social justice are trying to interpret what’s happened in the South.
What I would say is that there are real social constraints in getting out the vote. Hillary Clinton and her husband have built a patronage network. They’ve been supported very strongly by a black leadership class, not only electoral. We know about the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, but Congressman Clyburn was supporting Hillary very strongly, as were local ministers and the local and municipal and state black legislatures. So I think that trying to make Bernie Sanders legible to a black population, many of whom don’t know who he is, a 74-year-old senator from Vermont, that is a large part of the challenge. In that sense, we have to think about it in that way. This is really an insurgent campaign inside the Democratic Party that can’t draw on long-standing patronage networks.
AMY GOODMAN: You have these interruptions of Hillary Clinton’s private fundraisers or when she’s just walking. You had the recent one in South Carolina. Then, we reported in headlines today, in Minnesota, a Somali young woman – a Somali-American young woman also referring to the superpredator comments. If you could say more specifically what they are saying about Hillary Clinton’s comment in 1996? And then also talk about Georgia, which she swept, but you have looked at that state.
DONNA MURCH: Well, what they’re talking about is a comment that she made about, essentially, superpredators that needed to be brought to heel, so, you know, using a language that’s really a language of dehumanization, talking about black youth as animals. And it’s precisely that kind of discourse that made the war on drugs and war on gangs possible, this utter stripping of humanity. So, in that sense, just like Black Lives Matter’s confrontation of her last summer, this is the same issue about mass criminalization of black youth. And I think that, interpreted in that way, this is very important, because it’s opened up a broader dialogue within the African-American community and also within the broader electorate about: How do we prioritize mass incarceration? People are very upset about it, but how does that translate into policy change and into supporting particular types of candidates? And I think that that debate is going to continue long after these results.
In looking at Georgia, there were remarkable things that happened that have not made it into the mainstream media. One of the most incredible – and I found this on social media – was a massive rally, a protest – a campaign rally that took place at Morehouse, in which the Omega Psi Phi fraternity got up and did a full step show right before the Sanders rally. And if you looked into the crowd, it was filled with thousands of people, and you saw this mobilization of black millennials. And that’s something that I wanted to highlight, that speaks also to what Juan was saying about Latino millennials.
If you break down the South Carolina voting totals, Hillary still won among black millennials, but it was much closer. It was roughly 56-43. So, that speaks to the successful organizing efforts of the Sanders campaign and also to the future of seeing black millennials who are very concerned about mass incarceration, but also these economic questions, real concern about the cost of higher education, social welfare, things that are about people’s bottom line. So, looking – disaggregating by age, I think, is quite important in the African-American community also.
AMY GOODMAN: And you had Trump throwing out 30 black students at Valdosta, Georgia, this week, many of them extremely upset, saying, at Valdosta State University, they had come to see what a Trump rally looked like. I wanted to get James Peterson’s comments, overall, on the – on Super Tuesday and the tremendous sweep of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
HILLARY CLINTON: South Carolina became the first state with body cameras. There’s more work to be done, but got to lay down these markers. You’ve got to build toward commonsense gun reform, criminal justice.
AMY GOODMAN: When we come back, we’ll go to James Peterson. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Nellie McKay, “Justice,” here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. This is Democracy Now! on the morning after, on the day after the Super Tuesday primaries, where both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump swept many of the states that they were competing in, each of them getting seven states, Bernie Sanders winning in four states, Ted Cruz winning in three states, and Marco Rubio picking up his first state, Minnesota. Our guests are James Peterson at Lehigh University and Donna Murch from Rutgers University. James Peterson, your overall reaction to what took place on Super Tuesday?
JAMES PETERSON: Well, first, there’s the extreme irony on the Republican side to hear establishment Republicans try to push Donald Trump on his KKK maneuvering around those comments, and calling for him to reject those kinds of groups, when the party, on the whole, over the last – I don’t know – six or seven presidential elections, has deployed what we refer to as the Southern strategy, which is a strategy that usually uses like dog whistles and different kinds of underhanded ways of forcing their base to sort of think more racially in terms of the American body politic. And so, when you saw Trump maneuvering around that question, just days before you have Super Tuesday, which features Georgia, Texas, these huge Southern states, he was actually playing into the establishment Republican playbook. He just does it more explicitly, and he does it in a way that I think the base of the Republican Party, particularly in the South, can identify with as not being politically correct. And so, his strategy was realized on Super Tuesday, but it’s interesting to see Republicans reject something that they’ve embraced in a more subversive way for a long time in Republican politics.
Obviously, Hillary Clinton is also a big winner coming out of last night. Professor Murch is absolutely right, though, that we have to kind of break down some of the numbers to think about what’s been successful on the Sanders side of the Democratic presidential race at this point in time. There are some interesting maneuvers that he’s made with millennials, with the black left and the intellectual class. But at the end of the day, the Clintons have built a machine in this country, particularly in the South, that’s – it’s not just patronage. You know, they’ve gotten a lot of black officials elected, but they also have an extensive ground game in many of these large states, a lot of the Super Tuesday states, that’s been in place for almost a couple of decades now. And so, Hillary Clinton is certainly a beneficiary of the long sort of history of Clintons in American politics.
I think the Sanders campaign and the surrogates for Sanders have to be careful about how they chastise black folks and other folks who don’t come over to their cause, because at the end of the day some of the commentary has been condescending coming from the black left directed at black folks who support Hillary Clinton. And so you have these sort of internecine squabbles in and around people being smart about politics, who we should be voting for, what are the particular issues for the Democratic Party and the left going into the future. I loved Juan’s piece about the Latino millennials, because that is going to more and more become an essential piece of this. I hope, though, that for all the voting folks on the left in the Democratic Party – I hope it becomes less about rejecting Donald Trump and more about what the progressive values of the Democratic Party need to be, going into the 21st century.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, James Peterson, I wanted to ask you about a line of argument that Donald Trump is increasingly pressing in his press conferences and his availabilities, and that is about the energy level of the voters in the Republican primaries versus the Democratic primaries. We’re seeing record numbers of people voting in the Republican primaries, and we’re seeing pretty much, so far, a diminished turnout in the Democratic primaries, nothing like what occurred when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were contesting the nomination in 2008. Do you have some concern? Or your perspective on this argument that the Republican base is much more energized at this point?
JAMES PETERSON: Well, it’s a pendulum swing, Juan. And here’s the thing. This is less about like establishment versus outsider politics on the right, and much more about the ways in which Donald Trump, because of his media presence, because of the simplicity of his message, and because of his rejection of what folks think of as being politically correct, he has tapped into the broad swath of Americans who are rejecting the first black presidency. And I know for a lot of folks it’s hard for them to think about this all being about race – and maybe it’s not simply about race – but there are a lot of Americans who honestly feel as if Barack Obama and the current demographic shifts, some of the shifts that you talked about in your piece, Juan, are in some ways taking the country away from them. There are folks who feel as if – this is the nativist impulse on the right, that America needs to go back to some point in time where white folks were dominant and predominant. So the demographic shifts, two terms of the first black presidency, has created a groundswell of folks on the right who are rejecting the future of America, essentially, the demographic future of America. Donald Trump is tapping into that. That is a very real base of the Republican Party, and it does galvanize and excite folks who have checked out of a system that they think has been taken away from them via these different demographic shifts and the changing sort of racial makeup of the United States. And so, it’s more that, especially on Super Tuesday with all those Southern states, that Donald Trump is tapping into.
On the left, or in the Democratic Party, the left is depressed, partially because of disappointments from the Obama administration, partially because of the sort of two decades’ drift towards the center or towards the right that the Democratic Party has embraced. And so, this is why when you – even when you play the clips from the Clinton rally versus the Sanders rally, you hear that enthusiasm and that energy in the Sanders rally, you don’t hear it at the same level in the Clinton rallies. And part of that is because, you know, Sanders has this national ad out right now that’s a very simple breakdown of how money in the political process in America is destroying the political process. It is very compelling, very convincing, and folks on the left understand that, especially those of us who are a little bit older, who have been experiencing this drift towards the right of the Democratic Party. And so, Sanders is definitely tapping into that energy, but the left and the Democratic Party are depressed because of that move towards the right and because of some disappointments in the Obama administration. That great hope that Obama cultivated at the top of his candidacy has diminished, unfortunately, over the last two terms, based upon different policy things. And we could talk for hours about the different – the minutiae of the policies of the Obama administration and how that has disappointed the left, but that’s essentially why you’re seeing a depressed turnout on the left and then a sort of enhanced turnout on the right for Donald Trump.