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Special Report

Is the debate Marco Rubio's last chance before Florida?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 10, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One thing I do that nobody else can do, I'm going to bring places like Michigan into play. Nobody else is going to win. Ted Cruz and Rubio, I think Rubio is out of it now. But Ted Cruz, Ted Cruz is not going to win Michigan.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have never discussed dropping out with anyone on my team or anyone on the planet earth, or anyone on any planet, for that matter. I am not dropping out of this race. We're going to be in this race. We're going to fight this until Tuesday. We're going to win Florida and we're going to go on.

SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's do some real simple math. It takes 1,237 delegates to be to nominee. I have just over 300. Donald has about 80 more than I do. Both of us, we're within 80 delegates of each other.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is really, really jammed and close. And, you know, I think anything is possible this year, Greta, that somebody could get there. It's possible, but probably not. But can you go to a convention and actually come out united? Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: All right, as you look at the polls that we have from Florida, another element to it that we didn't show you yesterday is already voted and yet to vote. And there you see Donald Trump still with a big lead over Marco Rubio in a must-win state for him of Florida. Just getting word from The Washington Post that Dr. Ben Carson has said to be ready to endorse Donald Trump, and that may happen as soon as tonight.

Let's bring in our penal, Charles Lane, opinion writer for The Washington Post, editor in chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Laura, Dr. Carson possibly getting back into the fray. Does that mean anything?

LAURA INGRAHAM, EDITOR IN CHIEF, LIFEZETTE.COM: That doesn't surprise me. They're old friends. And I thought when you noticed the trajectory of their onstage relationship during the debates, there was a lot of affection there, both Trump for Carson, Carson for Trump. It doesn't surprise me at all.

I think there's a lot of support still for Ben Carson's demeanor, which is obviously a lot different from Donald Trump's demeanor. I think a lot of people watching, say, wait second. He is a strong Christian. He's so meek and respectful and gracious. That's quite a difference from the guys that you're endorsing. I think it maybe softens Trump for some people, and maybe on the margins helps him a little bit.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think it would take some steak tenderizer to soften Trump. I'm not sure Carson is really that kind of ingredient. I think if you go back and remember how Trump talked about Cruz, or lying Ted stealing the Carson votes by accusing him of spreading the rumor that Carson was leaving, you could see the beginning of that a few week ago. So I think the premise was set. At the tie I suspected Trump was tactically using Carson as a way to go after his main challenger, namely Cruz. But I think it is understandable, outsiders. Carson had no particular affinity with the other candidates. I think it will have zero effect, however. Whatever effect he was going to have on the race, Carson, already happened when he pulled out. And I think probably his vote split between Cruz and Trump.

BAIER: So set the table, Chuck, for the debate tonight down in Florida.

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think it is sort of the last chance Marco Rubio has to make an impression, or maybe make a new impression, for that matter, on his own home state voters who are already very familiar with him, which is another way of saying he has a very, very narrow opportunity here if any. That number you showed of Trump way ahead, even if you adjust for the margin of error way ahead of when people already voted, it must be devastating news to Marco Rubio. And notwithstanding the polls kind of drifting his way recently, he is really up against it. But I think we can expect him to try and really go after Donald Trump without lapsing into that personal childish stuff that did him so much harmful.

BAIER: Yes. This is Rubio from "The Kelly File" last night, copping to not really liking that past couple of weeks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: You got a little dirty on a campaign. You got a little naughty on the campaign.

RUBIO: First of all, that's not who I am. On the other stuff that has to do with personal stuff, I would do it differently. I really would. And the reason, my kids were embarrassed by it. My wife didn't like it. I don't think it reflects good. That's not who I am. That's not what my campaign is going to be about.

KELLY: So you regret that?

RUBIO: Yes, I do regret that on the personal stuff. I'm not telling you he didn't deserve it. I'm not telling you he didn't deserve it. But that's not who I am.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: So Laura, you think a change of tactic tonight?

INGRAHAM: I think a little bit. A week ago he told Savannah Guthrie on "The Today Show" that he had no regrets about the personal stuff or the policy differences. I don't think any of it really mattered. He didn't look all that comfortable doing it. He looked a little frenetic when he was doing Trump to Trump. It didn't work for Rubio, because Rubio has the boy wonder kind of image. He's the policy guy. America is the greatest country on the face of the earth. He's very positive, so that was an odd contrast.

I think what people are missing about Rubio's decline are issues. If Rubio was the Rubio of 2010 when he ran and took down Charlie Crist and had thousands of people from across the country donating to his campaign, if that was the Rubio we saw today in this campaign, I think Rubio would be sitting in a very enviable position vis-a-vis the other candidates. But Rubio became more of an establishment, ruling class figure on the two issues that are really motivating voters. They certainly did in Michigan, I think they will in Ohio, trade and immigration, TPP and immigration. I think both of those substantive issues really, really in the end damaged him.

BAIER: Yes. The trade thing has come up as talked about the other night. I want to play this sound bite from CNN last night. This is Donald Trump on the issue of Islam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think Islam hates us. There's something there. There's a tremendous hatred there. There's a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There is an unbelievable hatred of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Islam itself?

TRUMP: You're going to have to figure that out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is, is there a war between the West and radical Islam, or is there a war between and Islam --

TRUMP: It's radical but it's very hard to final. It's very hard to separate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, if he got away unscathed with saying he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, he'll get away with this. But, a, it's not helpful. And also he posing it as a question. I'm not exactly sure if it is Islam itself or it's not. What does that mean, "Islam hates us"? Islam and the west have had a 1,400 year relationship. Sometime we're warm. Sometime we're not. Sometimes there are alliances of convenience. Sometimes there weren't. So I'm not sure it helps, but it's certainly not going to hurt him.

If I could say a word about Rubio. If I were him, I would be regretting his regretting. He stepped all over his own story. There was no reason he had to back down. He simply could have said I was having a good time and now that's over, which is what Trump has been doing with great successful. And, second, don't forget, he attacked Trump in two debates in that personal way. In the first it was successful when he put Trump back on his heels. In the second it was unsuccessful. He went way overboard. So I think it is a wash. He shouldn't have stepped on the story. The story I saw this morning was "Rubio regrets." It should be "Rubio advocates x, y, and z," or "Rubio says he is staying in the race" or whatever. Regrets have not worked in this campaign. The one guy who has no regrets is way out ahead of everybody.

INGRAHAM: But Rubio has been behind in Florida for the entire campaign. There's never been one month since Trump's got in this race that Rubio has been leading, not that I'm aware of in any poll ever. So we can talk about whether you insult or don't insult. But in the end, the people of north know him pretty well, and he was beloved in Florida when he ran. So what happened between 2010 and 2016? To disabuse the notion of any substantive problem --

BAIER: What happened in this campaign, frankly, to Marco Rubio is that the others tried to take him out early, and $30 million from Jeb Bush on Marco Rubio's head did not help in Florida.

Chuck, final thing. John Kasich, can he still play above the fray as he is getting closer and closer and now leading in Ohio. Don't you think that somebody is going after him, namely Donald Trump?

LANE: Well, there is only so many people Donald Trump can attack at one time, and Kasich has enjoyed, as sort of been able to hide over here in the bushes, and he has not gone after Trump himself. In fairness to Trump, I think you have to say a lot of the nasty things he said have been in retaliation.

BAIER: Counterpunch.

LANE: Yes. And Kasich has avoided that. Florida and Ohio, and maybe even Illinois which we haven't heard that much about could be some kind of, if they're not the end of it for the other candidates, a firewall against Trump. And I do believe Kasich of all of them has the best chance of holding his home state. And if it is a significant win in one of these white working class strongholds like Ohio, that could change the psychology of the game.

KRAUTHAMMER: But why should Kasich attack Trump? He wants to be his running mate.

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