This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 11, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I'll beat John Kasich, yes. I mean, John Kasich has been an absentee governor. He's been campaigning for the last -- he lived in New Hampshire.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Clearly John Kasich has a better chance of winning Ohio than I do. And if a voter in Ohio concludes that voting for John Kasich gives us the best chance to stop Donald Trump there, I anticipate that's what they'll do.
SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would encourage the people of Florida, I would encourage people voting across this country in Ohio and Missouri and Illinois and North Carolina, if you don't think Donald Trump is the best candidate to go head to head with Hillary Clinton, then join us.
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BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Sounds from the trail today. Meantime, John Kasich tonight campaigning in Ohio, his home state. Here's how The Washington Post put it for the debate performance, "John Kasich with a campaign built on hope and optimism ignored Trump. Kasich's debate performance speaks to the larger conceit his campaign is built on -- hang around, don't make mistakes, and offer yourself as an optimistic alternative. The only way a strategist like that works, of course, is if all the other people in front of you implode or kill each other off."
Now take a look at the RCP average in Ohio. Here you see this is the average of the most reason poll, Donald Trump with a slight lead. And there you see the others. Marco Rubio saying maybe you should vote for John Kasich if you think he can win in Ohio. And here is the RCP average in Florida. And that is also a Donald Trump lead. And there you see Marco Rubio in second.
With that, let's bring in our panel: Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard; A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.
A.B., today, a big endorsement from Dr. Ben Carson for Donald Trump, who seem like he's on a unity pitch at least ahead of Florida and Ohio.
A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: Right. Last night he came with a shrewd message about unifying, about the new voters he's bringing to the party. He tried to make a case that there is going to be vacancies on the Supreme Court. That's obviously near and dear to Republican voters as a conservative, so he was trying to appeal to them that way.
He didn't name call. He only cited briefly his polls against Hillary Clinton which are actually inaccurate because he does the poorest of everyone against her. But he was very prepared to sort of be the presidential runaway frontrunner last night. It was smart. With Ben Carson today, it was interesting, he also is going to get Phyllis Schlafly's endorsement.
BAIER: She introduced him actually today.
STODDARD: Yes. So he is on his way to a bandwagon effect that is going to just grow stronger and louder.
But you hear people, there is this moment right before Florida and Ohio where the establishment who wants to stop Donald Trump doesn't really know what to do. And Senator Mike Lee was asked about his endorsement today of Senator Cruz, and he said there are just so many questions about Donald Trump I have, I just don't even know what he believes about federalism, the size and scope of government. So when you look at the debate last night, there are so many things he's unchallenged on, so many policy questions that he sort of dodges and circles back to the making of great deals. And that is really what's going to be hard as he tries to save the party. Be smart and unite, they want more answers to those questions.
BAIER: Here is Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump today:
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BEN CARSON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are two different Donald Trumps. There is the one you see on the stage, and there is the one who is very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully. You can have a very good conversation with him. And that is the Donald Trump that you're going to start seeing more and more of.
TRUMP: I don't think there are two Donald Trump. I think there's one Donald Trump. But certainly you have, look, all of this, and you have somebody who sits and reads and thinks. And I'm a thinker.
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CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I tend to side with Trump on this. I think there's one Donald Trump. I thought it was a slightly odd endorsement to say what you see about this man, he is not what you think. He can actually have a conversation. That's not exactly a high bar for the presidency.
Look, I think Chris Wallace who said what this endorsement actually is, it's a character witness. Everybody kind of likes and respects Dr. Carson, and so you say if he is going to endorse him, then I suppose he's OK. And that's the effect it's going to have, a minor, a very minor effect, but I think A.B. is right. Once the logjam was broken by Christie endorsing Trump. It is only a matter of rolling them out one at a time.
And look how interesting and how pointed was the timing of this. Trump planned it the morning after the debate. He has always been able to steal the thunder of whatever story is coming out of the debate. That was insurance against having a bad debate. And in fact, Trump didn't have a bad debate. There was no debate the night before. His opponents have no idea what to do and they hung back. And that could be the last chance for challenging him in that kind of forum, and he escaped completely unscathed.
BAIER: We'll see. We have a scheduled debate in Salt Lake City, but we don't know what exactly is happening with that. We'll let you know when we do. It is Friday and it is a time to go to a place that we call Candidate Casino on the GOP side. And we have done this before. But Steve has escaped the wrath of the evolution of Candidate Casino. So let's just give it a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I don't have any money on Donald Trump people will be surprised to hear.
I'm giving $55 to Marco Rubio, $25 to Ted Cruz, $10 to Chris Christie, $5 each to Ben Carson and Donald Trump.
I have got it $40 on Cruz, $40 on Rubio, $15 on Trump, $5 on Christie. I kept it at $5 for a Door County Brewing Company pastoral beer.
I have $30 each on Trump, Cruz, and Rubio.
I have $30 on Trump, $30 on Cruz, $30 on Rubio, and I put $10 on a very good Wisconsin brew. And you'll notice that I've upped my beer budget.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BAIER: All right. So there you are, the evolution.
BAIER: The evolution. All right, what do you have today.
HAYES: I have changed a little bit. I am now $60 on Donald Trump, $25 on Ted Cruz, and $15 on Maker's Mark. I'm just going straight bourbon. The draft beer didn't quite do it given the times that we're living in.
BAIER: OK, A.B.?
STODDARD: OK, I'm $80 on Trump for, what is this, the third week in a row. Cruz gets $10, Kasich gets $5, and other gets $5 because there could be more than John Kasich or Ted Cruz or even Marco Rubio at that convention.
KRAUTHAMMER: I still have $80 on Trump, $15 on Cruz. I have abandoned wine, women and song. It wasn't really doing it for me. So I went to Prozac last week, and I'm doubling the dose.
BAIER: So at this table, the whole contested convention thing.
KRAUTHAMMER: That's the $15. I think it is unlikely that Cruz will win outright. But it's possible if he comes in a close second in a plurality, yes, I can see that being the outcome.
HAYES: Yes, that's why I have $25 on Cruz. Look, I think, Donald Trump, $60 on Trump, he is more likely than not right now to be the Republican nominee. There are plenty of other options where he wouldn't be or scenarios where he wouldn't be, including the contested convention.
BAIER: A lot of it comes down to Tuesday.
STODDARD: A lot of it comes down to Tuesday, that's exactly right. It's reset if Kasich gets a win or Florida. Look, Cruz is making a mistake to say that this would be an outrage because he's going to want a contested convention if he gets close to him in delegates.
BAIER: All right, quickly, we go to the other side of the casino, and it is the Democratic side. And we have our bets down the road here. Steve, Democrats?
HAYES: I've got $65 on Hillary Clinton, $25 on Joe Biden, John Kerry, and the field in the event of an indictment, and $10 on Bernie Sanders, who I think is smart to stay in as long as the convention, and in the event that he has the most delegates, he will at least have an argument to make against the Democratic establishment.
BAIER: Peter Maxwell has $75 on Clinton, $25 on Sanders. Stonewall has $50 on Biden, $25 on Clinton, $10 on Sanders, and $15 on other. OK, A.B.?
STODDARD: I have, I think I dropped Hillary to $60, and I upped Bernie from $10 to $15. And my other is $25 because there might be a grand jury that's been impaneled.
KRAUTHAMMER: I have $85 on Hillary, $15 on Biden, and I'm proud to say that I think my unbroken record of not putting a dollar on Sanders remains intact.
BAIER: And with that we leave the Casino. The house always wins.
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