Should Trump defend supporters amid criticism over protests?

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 14, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know how many people have been hurt at our rallies? I think like basically none other than I guess maybe somebody got hit once. But there's no violence. I'm a peace loving person, folks.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The guy who is now saying he's going to pay the legal fees of the guy who sucker punched a protester the other day at a rally, I mean, the rhetoric he uses is irresponsible.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This country is not about us tearing one another down or having fist fights at a campaign rally.

SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No one has the right to threaten violence. At the same time it is true that in every campaign responsibility starts at the top.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: A lot of focus on the trail about Donald Trump's campaign events. This as we get ready for Super Tuesday two. As you take a look at the map you can see all the states that are voting, and don't forget the Northern Mariana Islands, nine delegates, winner take all. The big ones, though, Florida and Ohio. In Florida, the RCP average of polls, the average of recent polls, has Donald Trump up big over Marco Rubio. In Ohio, a different story, where Governor Kasich in the average of recent polls has a slight lead over Donald Trump, but it is very tight. And as you take a look at the delegates currently, you need 1,237, a majority of delegates available to get and clinch the GOP nomination.

So with that, let's bring in our panel: editor in chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Laura, a lot of the focus over the weekend, these Donald Trump events, he's dealt with it numerous times. Your thoughts?

LAURA INGRAHAM, EDITOR IN CHIEF, LIFEZETTE.COM: I think there's a disconnect between what people are thinking in Washington and New York, and what, shocking, is being thought in the rest of the country. I think you can hold two thoughts in your mind at the same time. Number one, that some of these Trump comments off the stump, they're not wise. You don't tell people to punch people. It's just is not smart. Don't do it. At the same time, I think conservatives ought to be careful, especially the candidates who are in any way, shape, or form blaming the speakers for people who come in not as protesters with signs, silent or respectfully, but for one purpose -- to attack and to disrupt.

And the videos are out there, what's being done in front of women and children, horrible language, very threatening, an inch away from people's faces. That's not real protesting. That's just violence. That's the kind of stuff you see at WTO rallies. I think this could have perversely for the people who are doing the protests, it could maybe help Trump in places like Ohio. I think people think there's a sense of unfairness even if they are aren't comfortable with some of the things that Trump is saying.

BAIER: Mara, Marc Thiessen, Washington Post op-ed, not exactly on the books as a fan of Donald Trump, wrote this -- "Organized group of left wing agitators intentionally come to Trump rallies to provoke his supporters. What we're witnessing is the latest example of the American left's totalitarian instinct to shut down speech that it finds abhorrent. This is not to suggest that Trump is blameless in the ugliness that is unfolding. He's using them to rally blue collar America by saying we're not going to take this anymore and we are not going to bow to the Alinskyite tactics of the radical left."

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: It's certainly true that in past presidential campaign when there have been protestors it's generally helped the Republican law and order candidate. But I think there are two things going on. One is about the protesters behavior, and if they are violating the law, if they're doing something to the people who are going there, they can be arrested and removed. A lot of them are.

But then there's a big -- a legitimate controversy about for the first time ever we have a presidential candidate encouraging his supporters to, quote, "beat the crap out of the guy and I'll pay your legal fees," or "I want to punch him in the face," or "the good old days when people like that were carried out on stretchers." Those are comments that really do cross a line.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think that's right. There are two separate phenomenon, the one obviously that happened in Chicago, it's organized, and this is the far left, also the far right. We saw it in the '20s and the '30s, the tactic of shutting the opposition down. And it isn't only something happening in presidential politics. This is happening on campus all the time, speakers who aren't allowed to speak outside of the Trumps and the others. We're just talking about the norm on campus, which is that the left acts in a totalitarian way controlling who speaks. That's a phenomenon. It should be condemned. And Trump and the supporters who are the victims here are not to be blamed. There's a second phenomenon which is other events which are happening in Trump events, and you get, as Mara said, Trump winking and nodding, saying, you know, in the old days we carried them out on a stretcher, meaning we used to beat people like that until they were unable to walk. We saw a guy on tape sucker punching a demonstrator in the face, and then saying on camera, if we see him again, we may have to kill him. That's lynch talk. And when asked about it, Trump said I don't condone it. That's great. But he refused to condemn it. And that I think is really unconscionable.

BAIER: He did say he was considering paying those legal fees still.

KRAUTHAMMER: And that's even worse.

BAIER: Let's move on from the rallies. Today John Kasich was campaigning with the past GOP nominee, Mitt Romney.


MITT ROMNEY, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Unlike the other people running, he has a real track record. He has the kind of record that you want in Washington, and that's why I'm convinced that you're going to do the right thing tomorrow. Agreed?


BAIER: So Mitt Romney, who obviously gave this blistering speech against Donald Trump, the last nominee, but in this environment, Laura, is this the right person to be campaigning for you in Ohio?

INGRAHAM: I think it's a cataclysmic mistake on the part of John Kasich. I think we all have a lot of respect for Mitt Romney, but let's face it. He gave that speech against Trump, and Trump goes in and blows everybody out of the water in Michigan, which is one of Mitt Romney's home states. He wins in Massachusetts, another Mitt Romney home state. I don't know how he would do in California, but I bet he would be pretty competitive.

Kasich, he has to see what's happening in these rust belt states. He's the governor and he's pretty popular. If I'm Kasich, I'm going to tell people, I hear you. I'm going to do these deals differently. I'll do them smarter. I'll do them better. Trump says he will, but I know how to do it and I'm going to do it really well and you're going to love what you see from me. To me that would be a smarter move than bringing in the same guy who's lost twice before, establishing his establishment credentials. I think it's a mistake.

BAIER: Mara, let me ask you, if Kasich wins and he pulls out this victory, and Laura's right, he has an 80 percent approval rating in Ohio, this goes a long way when you're governor. If he does that, does the nomination battle take a hiccup for Trump to get to 1,237?

LIASSON: It does. If Rubio could also win his home state, which looks much less likely, then that's a real speed bump if Trump loses Ohio and Florida. But yes, I think it's a hiccup. But then what happens next? You go on to New York, New Jersey, California. Those are big states. Who is going to do better than Trump in those states? John Kasich? I don't think so. The other thing about Ohio, this is a governor, not a senator. He pretty much controls the Ohio Republican party.

BAIER: The machine.

LIASSON: The machine has endorsed him. The Florida Republican party did not make a choice in this election. They stayed neutral. So he has control of the machinery. He has a lot of advantages in Ohio that no other home state senator did.

BAIER: We head to New York tonight to do a show from New York ahead of coverage tomorrow. I'm going to lay out a couple of the scenarios on the delegate math and how you get there or you don't get there. But it gets tougher for any candidate not Donald Trump if he wins both of them. And it's pretty much a lock.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's probably over if he wins both. There are mathematical ways of stopping Trump, but I don't see it actually happening on the ground. The momentum will build. The other two candidates will drop out. For the way -- Romney outlined the only way there would be a way to stop Trump, which is for the others to stay in the race. I could see if Rubio drops out after tomorrow, you still have Kasich, if he stays in there, holds some of the states, they all hold on to their delegates. It's possible you could get Trump coming into Cleveland with a 45 percent plurality. And then you have an open convention. So that's the road. I would even say if Trump doesn't win Ohio, that is a more likely scenario than Trump winning everything, but both are sort of almost even.

BAIER: Quickly, Ted Cruz. I mean, he continues to say he can shoot the moon and get to 1,237. It is really tough mathematically to see that. He's playing in Florida and he's coming in close to second.

INGRAHAM: I've been watching what's happening in Pennsylvania, which is coming up. It's another key state where the issue of trade is so important. I don't think he competes there well. New York, New Jersey, obviously not. California, people think it's all immigrants. But there are a lot of old time Republican voters there too. Does he have the money to compete in California? I don't think he has as much money as he'd like. I think it's going to be hard for him. But he's run a very smart campaign. I think he has an enormous amount of credibility for good reason among conservatives. So if anyone is thinking Ted Cruz is going to drop out if Trump wins Ohio and Florida, why should he?

BAIER: What's amazing, if Trump was not in this race, Ted Cruz would be riding this outsider wave.

INGRAHAM: He had a plan. It was a completely plausible plan. He did consolidate the conservative vote, except for he didn't count on Donald Trump, didn't count on Donald Trump winning evangelicals. But he's done about as best as anyone could. The way he's playing tomorrow night is smart. He's looking for delegates. He is not trying to win these states. He's just trying to rack up delegates.

BAIER: Illinois and North Carolina.

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