Rush Limbaugh on rift that threatens the Republican Party; Mitt Romney talks Trump attack, future of the GOP

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," March 6, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


With Donald Trump headed towards the nomination, is the Republican Party in danger of tearing itself apart?

We'll ask Rush Limbaugh and Mitt Romney.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  They have no idea why Trump is attracting a crowd.  They have no idea why Trump's crowd is loyal to him.

WALLACE:  Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh in a rare television interview.  It's a FOX NEWS SUNDAY exclusive.

Then, Mitt Romney joins the #NeverTrump movement, and Donald Trump fires back.

MITT ROMNEY, R-FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud.  His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  He was a failed candidate.  He should have beaten President Obama very easy.

WALLACE:  We'll talk with the last Republican presidential nominee about his unprecedented attack on this year's front-runner.

Plus, the feds grant immunity to a former State Department staffer responsible for setting up Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server.  We'll ask our Sunday panel if that is now the biggest threat to Clinton's nomination.

All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE:  And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

We begin with late breaking election results.  Republicans went to the polls in four states Saturday, and it was a split decision between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.  Trump posted a win in Louisiana with 41 percent of the vote, and he took Kentucky with 36 percent.  But Cruz posted a decisive win in Kansas with 48 percent and in Maine with 46 percent.

The overall count now has Trump with 378 delegates, Cruz with 295, Rubio at 123, and Kasich with 34; 1,237 are needed to win the nomination.  We'll have the Democratic results a little later.

But the big story this week is the open warfare inside the Republican Party.  In a few minutes, we'll talk live with former Governor Mitt Romney who launched a blistering attack against Trump this week.

But first, the king of conservative talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, who joins us from his EIB Studio in Florida.

And, Rush, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

LIMBAUGH: Chris, thank you. It's great to be here.  I want to let everybody know at the top, folks, he may have to interrupt me because I don't usually speak in 10 to 11-minute segments.  So, do not get mad if he has to interrupt me to keep him on the track he wants to stay on.

How is that?

WALLACE:  Thank you.  That's a dispensation from the pope.  Thank you very much for that, Rush.

LIMBAUGH:  And I’m going to do my best.  You know, brevity is the soul of wit, though.  Let’s go.

WALLACE:  OK.  Let’s go.  Let's start with Mitt Romney's speech this week in which he basically joined the "anybody but Trump" movement.  You say that is going to backfire with Trump supporters and other voters are going to see it as the establishment trying to tell them what to do.

With Mitt Romney listening, explain what he's missing.

LIMBAUGH:  Well, it's all that and more.  And it's not unprecedented.  His dad did much the same thing against Barry Goldwater with a cabal of Republican establishment guys back in 1964.  The establishment isn't new.  The establishment not wanting outsiders, not wanting conservatives, isn't anything new.

Now, Chris, very briefly, I think there's something remarkable happening here that nobody is talking about.  They're skirting the issue.  For the longest time, the Republican Party has told us that they can't win with just Republican votes.  And that's why they support amnesty.  That's why they support the Democrats on many of their issues to go out and get Hispanics or other minorities.

Well, guess who's doing it?  Donald Trump is doing it.  Donald Trump has put together a coalition, whether he knows it or not, whether he intended to or not, he's put together a coalition that's exactly what the Republican Party says that it needs to win and, yet, look like what they're doing.  They’re trying to get Trump out of the race, because they're not in charge of it.  They’re not in control of it.  And it's the most amazing thing to watch this happen.

Governor Romney comes along and tries to talk people out of Trump, and that's not going to work.  You can't talk his supporters out of supporting him.  The only guy that will be able to do that is Trump himself.

WALLACE:  OK.  Let's talk about that because there is a lot of commentary, and some of it coming from conservatives who say that the Republican Party is in it danger of tearing itself apart.  We've seen splits many times before over political philosophy, but that's not what's happening this time.  This is the establishment, the elite of the party versus the grassroots phase.

LIMBAUGH:  Exactly.  It really isn't anything new.  They were this way with Ronald Reagan, before Reagan was elected.  They tried to deny Reagan in '76 and they tried to deny Reagan in 1980.

They're not conservative.  This is -- when I hear Governor Romney in his speech last week talk about how the Republican Party must stand for legitimate conservative values.  They don't.

That's why they're in the problem -- having the problem they're having.  They're not conservative.  They're being run by their donors.

You look at these primaries so far, do you realize they don't like Cruz either, Ted -- Chris.  In fact, maybe they dislike Cruz more than Trump.  But Cruz and Trump are the only guys that have won anything.  The establishment candidates in this race cannot get noticed.  The Republican primary voters, whether they're close primaries or open, are voting for anybody but candidates attached to the Republican establishment.

WALLACE:  I know that you think that Ted Cruz is the real conservative in this race, and we'll discuss him in a moment, but let's talk about Donald Trump first.

How would you feel -- you talked about him bringing new people into the party.  How would you feel if he ends up as the Republican nominee for president?

LIMBAUGH:  Well, I would feel much the way I feel when anybody is elected.  You deal with what you end up getting.

I’m not under any illusion, Chris, that I have any ultimate say-so in this.  I’m like anybody else that’s in media.  I’ve got my opinions.  I share them.  I’m not afraid of them.

But you don't win everything.  And you ultimately have to take what you get.  I think on the case of Trump, there's a much bigger upside than down side.

A lot of people disagree with me on this, but the people who want somebody not of Washington, it's serious this time.  It's -- the disconnect between the Republican Party establishment and the Democrat establishment and the people of this country is longer, broader, wider than I’ve ever seen it.

These people in the establishment have been telling us they're the ones to fix everything and everything they've tried to fix, they've botched -- TARP, the recession fix such as the stimulus bill.  Look at the college -- college education is an impediment because of how much it costs.  A college education is no longer a step up.

The American people have worn out their patience being told by their so-called bettors that you don't know how to live your lives the right way.  We need to arrange things for you so you can do things better than you would do yourself.  People think it's the other way around.

WALLACE:  Let’s --

LIMBAUGH:  They would rather invest in themselves than listen to a bunch of people in Washington who do not have a record of fixing anything.

WALLACE:  All right.  Let's talk about Marco Rubio.  He had a tough night last night, three thirds and a fourth.  Trump won two states.  Cruz won two states.

Afterwards, Trump called on Rubio to drop out and make this a two-man race between Trump and Cruz.

You live in Florida.  Is Marco Rubio finished?

LIMBAUGH:  I don't see where he's getting traction anywhere and, again, what's harming him?  When Rubio won the election, he was a Tea Party darling, he was a Tea Party favorite.  What happened?  "Gang of Eight".

Whatever the reality is the perception is that he went to Washington and threw in with the, quote/unquote, "establishment".  He cannot -- he cannot recover from that.  Has not been able to recover from that.

He is seen as now the candidate, the Republican Party and its donors have decided to glom onto next.  They tried Jeb.

You look at -- look at Jeb Bush, $115 million and Jeb actually stated in December 2014 that he was going to win this primary by not winning it.  He was going to win it without winning base voters.  They have made it clear they want nothing of their base.  They're embarrassed of their base.

Marco now is attached to that establishment.  I don't see his future, not in this particular cycle.

WALLACE:  You have not endorsed a candidate, but you talk very favorably about Ted Cruz.  In fact, the other day you said he's the closest we're going to come to Ronald Reagan in our lifetimes.

Now, I didn't know Ronald Reagan as well as you did but I did cover him for eight years as president.  I’ve got to say that I felt that Reagan was more inclusive than Cruz is, more about trying to soften the edges to get more people inside the tent.

LIMBAUGH:  I don't think that's strategic.  You're talking personalities.  The -- I said this on the air the other day.

I think Senator Cruz's strategy is that there’s 4.5 million, 5 million Republicans that didn't vote in 2012.  This is the conventional wisdom and they didn't vote because they didn't like the nominee, wasn't conservative enough, or there was a religious component.  Who knows what?

Anyway, Senator Cruz thinks that if he can get those voters, that -- and everybody else votes the same way they did in 2012, they can win in a landslide.  So, he's tailored his message for a specific conservative evangelical.  I think it's limited his appeal.  I think he has the ability to appeal to everybody.

That debate the other night that you guys did, I don't mean this to be insulting to anybody, I’m just telling you what I saw, he was in a different league on a different planet.  Everybody says we need substance in these debates, you've got it.  You've got it from Cruz.

The other guys are doing what they were doing.  At one point, Trump even had to say, yes, whatever Ted said, I agree with.

He's just in a different league.  He understands conservatism because he is.

And he is a nice guy, a likeable guy.  He's not crazy.  He's not nasty.  And he certainly is not -- he’s not a liar.  He's a down -- down the middle guy that I -- anybody could trust.  He has got plenty of integrity.

This is what happens in politics.  The establishment doesn't like him either.  It's not just Trump.  That's because he is who he is.  He is conservative.  He does want to get government out of people's lives and that -- we can't have that in the establishment.

WALLACE:  All right.  Let's look down the line a little bit.  There's a lot of talk among the "Stop Trump" movement about a brokered convention.  First of all, what do you think is the chance of that?

And, second, if they go into the convention and Trump doesn't have the majority, doesn't have 1,237 but he has more delegates than anybody else, what happens if the establishment -- as you put it -- keeps him from getting the nomination?

LIMBAUGH:  Well, you keep a sharp eye who runs this convention?  The establishment.  These guys, whoever they are, the Republican Party, they run it.

I was looking at the rules the other day.  Rule 40 determines everything that you asked me about.  If Trump does not get 1,237, the delegates are pledge d to him whether they want to vote for him or not on the first ballot.  After that, it is wide open.

But there's also, at least as of 2012 and I think it's subject to be changed anytime they want, candidates, in order to be considered at an open convention, have to have gotten at least a majority of delegates in eight states.  They can change that rule anytime they want.  They can change the rules whenever they want.  There are meetings coming up prior to the convention.

So, they will do, I predict, that if they can't stop Trump in the primary process, they will make an effort to stop him at the convention.  I mean, Governor Romney has pretty much telegraphed this.

WALLACE:  And what would happen if that were to pass?

LIMBAUGH:  And if that happens -- if that happens, there's a walkout.  If that happens, then you’ve got utter chaos, because it will exemplify, typify exactly what has happened to the Republican Party and its base.

WALLACE:  Here's the question I get most often, Rush, from folks I run into.  How does this story end?

LIMBAUGH:  I think it ends with everything working out.  I think it ends with a nominee.  I actually think when we get down to this summer and this all comes together and they pressure and intensity now is taken care of, I think we're going to have a nominee, whoever it is, and we'll have support for the nominee.

I think we're going to move forward because I think at the end of all of this, everybody is going to ultimately realize that if the Democrat Party that is the most destructive force in this country.  It's not one of these Republicans.  And they have to be stopped and they have to be stopped in this election if this country is to be restored to its founding principles and the ideals that the majority of Americans associate with this country.

The Democrats have to be stopped and that's going to be what ultimately brings us everybody back to sobriety here.

WALLACE:  So, bottom line -- all this talk about a rupture or shattering of the Republican Party and if Trump wins the nomination there will be a third party run, you think a lot of that is overblown?

LIMBAUGH:  I do but, look, I’m rarely wrong but I could be.  There might be a third party.  I just think that the realization that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party posed the greatest threat to our future, children, grandchildren, all of that, is going to bring everybody back to reality.

The Republican Party may be forever reconstituted and changed, which may not be a bad thing either, in and of itself.

Chris, this is real.  This is not a phase.  This is not a temper tantrum.  The average American who I believe makes this country work thinks the Republican Party is actually oriented against its interests and does not understand or believe the crisis they think the country's in.

So, the party will not be healed by any of this.  But I think clear heads will prevail and the correct enemy will be identified, political enemy will be identified, and efforts will come together to defeat whoever it is they throw up -- Democrats, I mean.

WALLACE:  Rush, thank you.  Thanks for your time.  Always good to talk with you.

I don't think I interrupted you a single time.  I’ve got to applaud both of us for that.

LIMBAUGH:  Thank you, Chris, very much.  Great to be here always.

WALLACE:  Up next, Mitt Romney on the split in the Republican Party and his attack on Donald Trump.

Plus, what do you think of Romney's speech and the prospect of a brokered convention?

Let me know on Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday and use the #fns.


WALLACE:  A look outside the beltway at Detroit, the site of tomorrow's Fox News Democratic town hall with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ahead of Michigan's primary on Tuesday.

Well, this week, the last Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, launched a brutal attack on this year's front-runner, Donald Trump.  He joins me now live from San Diego.

And, Governor, welcome back.

ROMNEY:  Thanks, Chris.  Good to be with you.

WALLACE:  In the interest of equal time, you heard Rush Limbaugh had a lot to say about you.  What do you want to say back?

ROMNEY:  Well, I always enjoy listening to Rush Limbaugh.  I often agree with him.  Sometimes I disagree with him.

But I think we can all agree this is a very important election.  We don't want to see Hillary Clinton become the president of the United States.

I think the great majority of Republicans, mainstream Republicans from across the country, don't want to see Donald Trump as president of the United States either.  They're concerned they'd see a recession and I think they are also concerned we'd see a more dangerous world.

WALLACE:  Here is the criticism that I heard from some people, and I guess that would include Rush Limbaugh, about your speech.  You certainly have a right, you know, the First Amendment is there to criticize Donald Trump and say why he'd be a bad president.  But some people say that your speech was -- their words -- condescending, even un-democratic in the sense that, in effect, you're saying folks who are voting for Trump don't know what they're doing.

ROMNEY:  No, I think folks need to understand the whole background of Donald Trump.  I find from time to time, I talk to people about the campaign and they say, gosh, I didn't know that Donald Trump gave a bunch of money to Jimmy Carter and to Hillary Clinton and to Harry Reid and to John Kerry.

They hear from Donald Trump that he's such an extraordinary success.  They didn't know about Trump airlines and Trump mortgages and Trump vitamin network and Trump steaks and Trump Taj Mahal.  They didn't realize a lot of small people have been crushed by Donald Trump's rise to become a very wealthy man, successful financially, but this is a guy who has not been a uniform success.

As they learn about him, a lot of them say, you know, I want to make sure I take a closer look at the other guys in the race.

WALLACE:  How about the argument and, again, we heard this from rush, this is the establishment basically trying to maintain control of a guy -- and push back a guy they wouldn't be able to control.

ROMNEY:  Well, you can't control Ted Cruz for instance.  No one has suggested you could do that and Marco Rubio, everyone tried to stop Marco Rubio from going against a sitting Republican governor in Florida.  He did it anyway and won.

Establishment suggests there must be some Wizard of Oz somewhere pulling the strings.  That's not the way it works.  There are individuals like myself.  I sat there and watched Donald Trump, and I said, look, someone has got to say something.

I didn't talk to anybody and say, "I’m going to do a speech, do you go some ideas?"  This is something I did on my own because I care very deeply about the country.

I love America.  I’m concerned about America and I believe the heart and soul of conservatives and Republicans recognize that the principles that Donald Trump is talking about have nothing to do with conservatism, nothing to do with keeping America strong.

WALLACE:  Do you see any connection between your speech and the fact that Trump, who was expected to win all four contests yesterday, ended up losing two of them to Ted Cruz?

ROMNEY:  Well, it was a big night for Ted Cruz last night, as you know.  And I think that's overwhelming because people are taking a closer look at Donald Trump.  I think the best look they got was at the last debate.

I think Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio prosecuted their case effectively.  Donald doesn't have some great answers.  When they talk, for instance, about immigration and releasing those tapes from The New York Times, we began talking about flexibility and immigration.

Flexibility.  Oh, that's pretty clearly saying that what he said to The New York Times is very different than what he's saying to the American people.  He is not the real deal.  He is a phony.

You know, he talks about how he's not going to be controlled by the moneyed interests.  Do people understand that he's not giving money to his campaign, he's loaning it because he expects to get money back from those same big donors he decries right now?  He's planning on running a general election based upon raising money from those very people.

Look, he's not the real deal.  I think as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio made that very clear and that's why you saw the kind of night that happened last night.

WALLACE:  While you took down Donald Trump pretty hard this week, you had a very different view of him four years ago when he endorsed you.  Take a look.


ROMNEY:  There are some things you just can't imagine happening in your life.  This is one of them.  Being in Donald Trump's magnificent hotel and having his endorsement is a delight.

Donald Trump has shown an extraordinary ability to show an understanding how our economy works, to create jobs for the American people.


WALLACE:  Governor, what changed?

ROMNEY:  Oh, let me tell you, this is a guy if we look at the past, this is a guy who was very successful and made a lot of money for himself.

But at the same time, take a very close look and look how many small people he crushed along the way and how many failures he had.

And so, we can talk about the past at great length.  A lot of people who endorsed me I wouldn't endorse for president.  Donald Trump just happens to be one of those who endorsed me I do not want to see as president of the United States.  There's a long list of those who are endorsers.

Sixty-one million people voted for me. I don't think all 61 million people ought to be president of the United States.

WALLACE:  But you were talking at the time about his extraordinary ability to create jobs, his understanding of the economy.  I mean, it's not like everything that Donald Trump that you believe he did wrong happened in the last four years.  A lot of those business failures that you talk about happened before 2012.

Before 2012, he was making the birther argument that President Obama needed to show his birth certificate because he wasn't born in the United States.  I guess part of the question is, by legitimizing him back then were you part of the reason he's where he is now?

ROMNEY:  Let's talk about what hasn't happened or didn't happen back then and what has happened during this campaign, calling George W. Bush a liar, cozying up to Vladimir Putin and saying he's a strong leader and popular with his people, equivocating on the Ku Klux Klan, talking about all Muslims as if they're one monolithic group.  This is a person who considered Mexican immigrants rapists.

And then his policy positions one after the other, these are positions which are totally inappropriate.  He doesn't want to balance the budget.  He wants to -- as you saw the other night -- $10 trillion of additional debt.

Look, this is a guy who doesn't represent what's right for the future of the Republican Party.

WALLACE:  In your speech this week, you suggested that the other three candidates should, in effect, work together to try to stop Trump, vote for Kasich in Ohio, vote for Rubio in Florida, basically a "Stop Trump" flub the field.

That isn't working that way.  Kasich rejected it, as you know, in the debate.  We now hear that Cruz is actively campaigning against Rubio in Florida to try to -- even if it means Trump wins, to drive Rubio out of the race.  Are they making a mistake?

ROMNEY:  Oh, I think they reach run their campaign in the way they think is most appropriate for them and leads them to become the nominee.  So, I’m not going to tell them how to run their campaigns.  I think people in Ohio are likely to get behind John Kasich, their popular governor there.  If I were a resident of Ohio, that's who I would vote for.

And in Florida a lot of people look at Marco Rubio, are very impressed with his track record, what he's done in the state.  They're probably going to get behind him.  I think he's going to win in Florida.  We'll see.  It's close.

And in the final analysis, I think you're going to -- you’re going to see one of the three and right now it looks like Ted Cruz which will emerge as the strongest contender.  You know, that can change.  We've seen a lot of surprises in this campaign.

One of those three I’m going to endorse before the convention and I’m sure hopeful I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure one of those three is our nominee.

WALLACE:  There is some speculation that when you call for a contested convention that you are opening the door for a scenario in which the party would end up turning to you.  Here's how you answered that question this week.


ROMNEY:  There are no circumstances I can foresee where that would probably happen.  But let me say something else --

INTERVIEWER:  I can foresee.

ROMNEY:  No reasonable scenario I can imagine.

INTERVIEWER:  Just slam the door on it.  Close the door.  Unambiguous -- you will not run for president.

ROMNEY:  I’m not running for president and I won't run for president.


WALLACE:  OK.  This is the kind of thing -- the question I’m going to ask you now is why people hate reporters.  You say you won't run for president, but you didn't rule out a draft.  So here is an opportunity --

ROMNEY:  Oh, gosh.

WALLACE:  OK.  I know.

ROMNEY:  OK, Chris, this is so ridiculous.  I’m not going there.  You’ve got three people who I'd like to see as the nominee.  I’m going to endorse one of them.  I’m going to campaign with one of them.

I’m not running for president.  I’m not planning on running for president.  And that's what it's all about.

You got four people running for president on this stage.  One of them will be our nominee.

WALLACE:  And as General George Sherman said, if nominated, I will not run, if elected, I will not serve?

ROMNEY:  That's an absurd -- in my opinion, that's an absurd thing to say.  No Republican should say that.  That makes no sense for someone to say if they were drafted by their country, that they'd say no.

What I can tell you is I’m not running for president.  I’m not going to run for president.  I’m going to support one of these four people to be our nominee.  I’m supporting three of them right now.  And that means that we're going to get one of those people as our nominee.

WALLACE:  You realize that by saying what you just said that people are going to say he opened the door to a draft?

ROMNEY:  No, you know how absurd that is?  We have four very strong people who are running for president.  They will be our nominee.

I’ll tell you, Chris, there's 100 percent certainty in my view.

WALLACE:  All right.  Finally, despite saying that they all thought he was unqualified to be president, all three on the stage on Thursday night said if Trump is the nominee, they will support him.  You say you won't.

Do you think -- one, is it a mistake to say they'll support him even if he's the nominee?  And what are your plans if he's the nominee?  Would you support a third party candidacy?

ROMNEY:  Well, I think the guys would remember at the beginning of the campaign they all committed to support the nominee, they didn't imagine it might be Donald Trump perhaps and at the debate, it looked like they were having a hard time getting those words out.  But they honored the pledge they made at the very beginning.

In terms of my own plans, I anticipate supporting one of the three, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or John Kasich as our nominee.  If they don't become the nominee, then I’m probably going to go to the voting booth and find someone else who’s running as a conservative or perhaps just write in the name of someone I believe should become the president of the United States, who I could be proud of and who I believe is interested in balancing the budget, keeping America safe with a strong military, and is not willing to disparage fellow Americans, Mexican-Americans, Muslims, and so forth.

WALLACE:  Governor, thank you.  Thanks for talking with us today.  It’s always good to talk with you, sir.

ROMNEY:  Thanks so much, Chris.  Good to be with you.

WALLACE:  Up next, we'll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the growing Republican split and what it means for GOP chances in November.


WALLACE:  Coming up, the GOP candidates get downright nasty.


TRUMP:  You have lying Ted and he comes and he holds up the Bible, and then he tells you exactly what I didn't say.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  He has been supporting liberal Democratic politicians for four decades.


WALLACE:  We'll ask our panel if the Republican Party may self-destruct, next on "Fox News Sunday."



TRUMP: Marco Rubio had a very, very bad night and, personally, I'd call for him to drop out of the race. I think it's time now that he drop out of the race. I would love to take on Ted one-on-one. That would be so much fun.

CRUZ: Ours is the only campaign that has repeatedly beaten Donald Trump and, indeed, we're the only campaign that can and will beat Donald Trump in this race.


WALLACE:  Donald Trump and Ted Cruz both calling for a two-man race after they each won two states last night.

And it's time now for our Sunday group. Syndicated columnist George Will, Julie Pace, who covers the White House and the campaign for The Associated Press, Mike Duhaime, who was a top adviser to Governor Chris Christie's presidential campaign, and Charles Lane from The Washington Post.

Well, George, what do you make of this week's developments, Trump's continued march toward the nomination, Romney's speech and this escalating talk about the Republican Party tearing itself apart?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think we may have passed peak Trump, as it will be known. I don't think Mr. Romney was under any illusions that he was going to talk Trump's supporters out of supporting him. I think he knows the axiom that you cannot reason people out of a position they have not been reasoned into.

But we now set -- his speech sets up a very interesting phenomenon. If Mr. Trump is the nominee, he will be opposed by the most recent Republican nominee, no way Romney could support him, which sort of fits because the Republican nominee will have be -- said that the most recent Republican president should have been impeached, which gives you a sense of the chaos.

But our parties are not flimsy things. The Democratic Party is the oldest party in the word. The Republican and Democratic parties have been framing this debate in this country for 160 years. What the Republican Party needs to avoid blowing up is to get a binary choice between Mr. Trump and someone else. I think the evidence that we're approaching that is the fact that Ted Cruz announced late last week that he's going to open ten offices in the state of Florida. He's probably not doing that to win Florida. He's probably doing that to prevent Marco Rubio from winning it. If that happens, indeed, you've got your binary choice and you’ve got the best chance of not settling this in Cleveland where, if in the -- what you outlined with Rush Limbaugh, Trump has the majority of the largest share of delegates, but not a majority, then you would have a blow-up.

WALLACE:  Mike, let me turn to you, because we saw last night's results, picking up on what George said, Trump wins two states, Cruz wins two states, Kasich and Rubio win nothing, Trump calling on Rubio to drop out. Is this, in effect, not officially but in effect now a two-man race?

MIKE DUHAIME, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think we've gotten to that point. I don't think we'll know for sure until after March 15th. Governor Kasich and Senator Rubio have each put a premium on winning his home state. I think they have to win that in the bear minimum to stay in. The problem is, both of their strategies at this point was to hope that that would be the moment where it gets to be a two-person race. Senator Cruz has had enough success now that I think he's in and he’ll be in for the long haul and if either Governor Kasich or Senator Rubio win their home state, you're going to have at least three now marching for -- for a long piece in which the effect really is ultimately just to stop Trump from getting a majority of delegates.

WALLACE: And what do you think, as George pointed out, of Cruz's idea of going into Florida, maybe not to beat -- to win the state, winner take all, but to take down Rubio so that it becomes Cruz and Trump?

DUHAIME: Very smart. The goal for anybody who wasn't Donald Trump during this campaign going back six, seven months was to get to a point where you could be one-on-one against Donald Trump. I think Ted Cruz is very smart to do this. This is now a four-way game of chess, as opposed to 17, like it was in the beginning. I think it's a really smart move to try to get to that one-on-one (INAUDIBLE).

WALLACE:  But what about Trump, and he said this -- it wasn't part of the clip that we ran, but he said, I want a two-man race against Cruz because when we go to the northeast, we go to places like New York or we go to Pennsylvania or we go out to California, I'm going to beat Cruz badly.

DUHAIME: I think he's right. I think he wants -- I think he wants that as well. I think he's gotten to that point where he feels that he can go up as well. I think also you have to show that level of confidence that you're not afraid of what everybody else is shooting for and I think he -- he will have an advantage over Ted Cruz in some of those states. And right now he’s got a significant delegate advantage. And if he does win Florida and 99 delegates there, he’s just going to continue to widen the margin.

WALLACE:  Then there was the Fox Republican debate this week. Here’s a clip.


CRUZ: Breathe, breathe, breathe.

TRUMP: Lyin’ Ted.

CRUZ: You can do it.

TRUMP: Right.

CRUZ: You can breathe.

TRUMP: OK, I’m --

CRUZ: I -- I know it's hard. I know it's hard, but just --

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When they're done with the yoga, can I answer a question?


WALLACE:  Oh, boy.

Julie, I know that you're covering the campaign, but you also talk to folks at the White House and you talk to a lot of the Democrats, too, on the campaign trail. What do they make of Trump? What do they make of all of the theatrics that we're seeing, some would say kind of low brow, and do they think that the Republicans are just handing them the presidency or do they actually worry about the appeal that Trump has seen and his ability to bring in new voters?

JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think you've seen an evolution in the way that Democrats view Trump. Initially, there was a sense that this was such a gift to Democrats, if they could just let Trump stay in the race and continue to say these things, that would alienate a lot of voters that Democrats need in the general election, then this would be a huge gift and basically give Hillary Clinton essentially the presidency. The shift that you've seen, though, comes from watching Republicans handle Trump and this realization that you can't just give him a pathway and let him self-destruct. And right now you have groups around Hillary Clinton and inside the Hillary Clinton campaign that are preparing for a general election matchup with him and taking it very seriously, looking at his business record, looking at things he's been saying about women, about minorities, and they would run an aggressive campaign because they just don't know what would happen. You kind of have to take every assumption that we have about politics and throw it out the window and you have to look at the math in a potentially different way. So I wouldn't say that they are worried to the point where they think that Hillary could actually lose, but they are preparing for a tough campaign.

WALLACE:  And what do they make of the fact that -- that whether you like him or not, there’s this huge enthusiasm gap with record turnout in Republican primary after primary and not particularly strong turnout in the Democratic contest?

PACE: Absolutely. I mean this is going to be a turnout game in the general election no matter who the nominees of these parties are. You have to turn out your base. And Trump is -- is showing an ability to energize people, to get them to show up at the polls. And we all know that Hillary Clinton had some problems with her likability, factors that make people want to get out and vote for you. And so they know that this would be a potential issue for her.

DUHAIME: And I think Republicans look, having lost the popular vote in five out of the last six elections, the race against Ted Cruz is much more of a traditional race, like we’ve had in those last six elections. A race against Donald Trump is very much out there. It’s very much -- he’s very much an x factor.

WALLACE:  So you think actually Trump would be a tougher candidate for the Democrats to beat than Cruz?

DUHAIME: I don't know that he'll be tougher in the long run, but I know -- I think it's very hard for them to tell right now who would -- who would be tougher.

WALLACE:  Chuck, I want to go back to our basic question at the beginning of this program, is all the talk about the Republican Party tearing itself apart, is that overblown or is the party of Lincoln, the party that started in 1860, is it in real jeopardy?

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: I would say it's in real jeopardy in two ways. OK. The first way is just prospects for the general election. If you look at the most recent gallop poll numbers, the most popular figure in the general populous in the Republican Party is Marco Rubio. And during this entire process, all the fire of all the candidates and all the money has been aimed at Marco Rubio and destroying Marco Rubio. And the two people who are left standing, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, have the worst favorability going into November. So that’s problem one.

Problem two is just the ideas, the ideology and the coherence and messaging of the party has been completely scrambled by this campaign. If you're down ballot in the Republican Party, if you're running for Senate, if you're running for Congress, even state legislature, you, right now, have no idea who's going to be the top of your ticket and what you’re going to -- who your partner at the top of the ticket is going to be. So it’s destabilized. I wouldn't say split or broken. That remains to be seen. But it has completely destabilized the party in a year where they really had going in pretty good prospects, a real chance of taking the presidency.

WALLACE:  How does a party -- I know you say, well, look, a party is a strong structure and it’s gone through various permutations and combinations over the years, George, but how does a party survive when you’ve got, at least at this point, the two leading candidates, Trump and Cruz who are basically running against the Washington establishment and saying that they're corrupt and they're going to go in and change things?

WILL: It survives by planning ahead in case Mr. Trump is the nominee. There are already reliable reports that Republican senatorial candidates, incumbents and otherwise, are planning to distance themselves even with ads taking on the -- the man at the top of the ticket. Second --

WALLACE:  What -- so -- so you're saying Republican attack ads against the Republican nominee?

WILL: Distancing ads. (INAUDIBLE).

Second, the Republican Party is going to have to rethink the business of having open primaries and caucuses. Seven of the, what, 19 events so far have been closed. Trump has lost five of them. So the question is, is this, as has been said, a hostile takeover of the republican Party and the Republicans have to think whether they want to go forward year after year vulnerable to this.

WALLACE:  All right, panel, we have to take a break here. But when we come back, a new twist in the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal. What could it mean for her nomination?

Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the FBI investigation of Clinton's e-mails? Just go to Facebook or twitter @foxnewssunday and we may use your question on the air.



SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-VT., DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have taken on the entire political establishment.

We are winning state after state after state.

HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am thrilled we're adding to our pledge delegate count. I'm grateful to everyone who turned out to support us, but now all eyes turn to Michigan.


WALLACE:  Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton reacting to a split verdict in three races Saturday night. Sanders picked up wins in two caucus states. In Kansas, he won with 68 percent. And in Nebraska, with 56 percent. But Hillary Clinton won the Louisiana primary with 71 percent. And that takes the overall Democratic delegate count to 1,121 for Clinton, 479 for Sanders, 2,383 still needed to win the nomination.

And we're back now with the panel.

Well, this week the Justice Department granted immunity to a fellow named Bryan Pagliano. He’s a former State Department staffer, former Clinton 2008 staffer, who set up Clinton's private e-mail server. And here’s what Ted Cruz had to say about that.


CRUZ: Listen, I think it is an ominous development for Hillary Clinton. When Pauli (ph) flips and goes to the feds, it ain't good for Fat Tony (ph).


WALLACE:  I love political discourse.

Chuck, you are our legal analyst on this panel. How big a deal is this grant of criminal immunity for this guy who set up her server? I mean what -- to what degree does that show that Clinton has legal exposure here -- criminal legal exposure?

LANE: Well, I -- I don't often agree with Ted Cruz, but I think in his own colorful way he summarized it pretty well, that if the FBI were not worried or serious or didn't think there was much of a case here, they wouldn't have put all the effort into striking this agreement with Bryan Pagliano to find out what he knows. I mean he's the guy who had his hands on this machine, knew -- knew the whole setup of the server and et cetera, et cetera. And it tells me that they are mounting a real investigation, that they are concerned that there was some kind of criminal activity, if not by Hillary herself, but by some of her very closest aides, which would almost be as bad for her. And so it just reconfirms the situation that we've known all along. She has this cloud over her head. And it is not a safe situation to be in as a presidential nominee.

WALLACE:  It -- you know, she keeps talking about, well, this is just a security review. It's not a criminal investigation. You don't give immunity to someone from criminal prosecution unless that's at least -- not saying it's going to happen -- but it's out there.

LANE: That is correct. And he, of course, had taken the fifth on The Hill, right? So he, himself, feared some criminal exposure, which is revealing in itself.

WALLACE:  We asked you for questions for the panel and we got this on FaceBook from Jeff Goldstein. He writes, "what is going to be the process to get a new Democratic nominee when Clinton is indicted and forced out?"

Julie, Jeff is obviously jumping the gun a bit here, but -- but is there any talk in the White House about a worst case scenario, that she gets nominated -- that she gets indicted, either before or after a nomination?

PACE: There's not a lot of active talk about that scenario right now. I mean you’ve got to remember, the -- the White House has really come down on the side of Hillary Clinton in this. They think that she has handled the situation poorly. She thinks -- they think it was a mistake for her to have a private server in her house. But the president of the United States has come out and said that there's nothing that's going to come out in an investigation that will prove to be -- to be criminal.

I think the bigger question for Hillary is, she has gotten a free pass in the Democratic primary on this issue because Bernie Sanders stood down. She will not get a free pass in a general election. And if you actually look at her answers that have evolved over several months, she still doesn't have a good answer. She's apologized and has almost walked the apology back at times. So I think she’s going to be under a microscope in a way that she just hasn't -- hasn’t been in the Democratic primary.

WALLACE:  But there -- from -- the best of your knowledge, and you're a very good reporter, no plan "b" out there? Nobody -- not -- nobody even suggesting, well, what if?

PACE: No. I mean, I haven't heard any active talk about that.

WALLACE:  Mike, all right, let's talk about what if the general election ends up as Trump versus Clinton? Ted Cruz made a big deal of this in the debate and he pointed out, you know, Hillary Clinton may have her problems, but Ted Cruz has his problems. He’s got this civil suit over Trump University and he also pointed out that Trump gave a lot of money to Clinton in 2008. How much of a problem would that be for Trump?

DUHAIME: I think if it's not going to be a problem during the Republican primary, it’s going to be even less of a problem during the general election. I mean it will cause some issues, but in some way it will help Donald Trump run back to the middle in a way that maybe another Republican wouldn't, and a way to get more moderate votes. I mean people haven't talked about that yet. But if that hasn't sunk in, in the Republican primary, I don't think it will do so in the general.

WALLACE:  You know, it's interesting because there are moments in this debate, the Republican debate, when Trump seems to be already pivoting a little bit to a general election strategy. He says, no, look, the abortion aspect of it is over the line, but Planned Parenthood does a lot of good things for women. He talks about being flexible about immigration. What -- are you interested in that? I’ve got to think that you -- you must see that pivot as his -- his at least leaving the door open to what he -- how he would appeal and how he would walk back some of the positions he's taken.

DUHAIME: Absolutely. I think it also shows the confidence level about where he is at this point in terms of marching towards the nomination. And I think he will -- he will be somebody -- he is -- his positions during the Republican primary have been hard to pin down. I think that will allow him in a general election to move to the center a little bit. Now that may alienate some folks on the right, but that's why he poses more of a conundrum to the Democrat Party than maybe a Ted Cruz does.

WALLACE:  George, short of the legal problems with her server, with the e-mails, the handling of classified information, is there anything, in a practical sense, obviously Bernie Sanders is running, anything that can stop Hillary Clinton from getting the Democratic nomination?

WILL: I don't think so. But, look what Mr. Sanders is doing. He's running a campaign that's strong enough to refute its own premise. The premise of his campaign is that big money dominates this. He raised $42.7 million in February. She raised $30 million. And he did it with small contributions.

What this means is, he can lose and lose and lose and live off the land. So he's going to continue this. In this protracted struggle, if struggle it can be called, we're either going to see her become a better candidate through practice, or we're going to find out that the more people see her, the more they don't really like her.

LANE: And -- and -- and the other thing, George, that Sanders is doing, very -- in a very subtle way is sowing the seeds, excuse me, of the Trump campaign against Hillary, because he's pounding the message about the Iraq War. He's pounding the message about trade. He's pounding the message about all the things that wept on with NAFTA and China during the first Clinton administration, or the -- the Clinton administrations, excuse me, and all of those things are themes that Trump has been hammering and can pick up in states like Michigan and Ohio.

WILL: My -- my belief if that if it's Trump against Hillary, he will run to her left to scoop up the disaffected Sanders votes.

LANE: Yes.

WALLACE:  Run to her left as the Republican nominee?

WILL: Yes. Yes.

WALLACE:  On the sort of a populous message?

WILL: On the populous message that the game is rigged, that the -- I understand capitalism and I understand that you're all getting the short end of the stick and I can fix it.

LANE: And I think --

WALLACE:  All right, as long as we're jumping way ahead and not -- and not with being ion March or April or even the convention, let's go ahead to the fall, Mike. Both Clinton and Trump have very high unfavorable numbers. Their numbers are under waters. More people dislike them than like them. Given that, does that mean that we would be looking forward in the fall to a totally negative campaign in which each side would try to convince -- or you hate the other guy even more than you hate us?:

DUHAIME: Yes. I think you’ll see -- I think you will see a fairly negative campaign. At some point they will have to give people a reason to vote for them, though people will want to vote for one of them, but they’re both so well-known and, quite frankly, have such high negatives, it is going to be very much, I think, a negative campaign. I don't think there's any real way around that. But I think because of that each campaign is going to try to move up their own favorable as much as they can.

WALLACE:  Julie?

PACE: I agree with Mike, I think that when you talk about base turnout elections, you're talking about a different scenario than when both sides are fighting for a middle of independent voters where you have to moderate and you have to have crossover appeal. I think Hillary Clinton is going to need to turn out Hispanics, black voters, young people. Donald Trump is going to look, if he is the nominee, to turn out some of these disaffected Sanders voters. If Ted Cruz is the nominee, he’s going to look to turn out conservative white voters who maybe have stayed home in past elections. But this is going to be both parties kind of pulling towards their base.

DUHAIME: And the Trump anti-Washington message that has worked so well during the primary will just continue pretty seamlessly into the general. You saw President Obama with that type of success in 2008 where that same primary message went ahead. The anti-Washington message works very well against Hillary as well.

WALLACE:  The -- the -- just real quickly, we’ve got less than 30 seconds left. There’s been talk, because, obviously, the country is turning more to people of color, more minorities, that Trump's chance would be that he'd have to get a super turnout from whites and especially white men.

DUHAIME: I think that's right. He'd have to do a lot better with minorities than he’s doing right now. And that will be a problem for the Republican Party.

LANE: I'm just saying, it sounds like a November in which both major parties are telling their voters what to fear from the other side.

WALLACE:  Man, that is an -- a spiriting way to end this discussion. Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.

Up next on this theme, haircuts, insults, babies, as we go on the trail.


WALLACE:  What a week on the campaign trail. On Super Tuesday, Donald Trump solidified his front-runner status, but the three remaining GOP candidates, and even a former Republican nominee, dialed up their attacks, as we go on the trail.


TRUMP: 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.

RUBIO: Have you seen his hands? They're like this. And you know what they say about men with small hands.

TRUMP: He wanted to be Don Rickles and it hasn't worked because he's gone down.

CRUZ: If Donald is the nominee, in all likelihood Hillary becomes the next president of the United States.

CLINTON: Hello, gophers. I hope you will "gopher" me.

SANDERS: So, Hector (ph), you’re next. You need a haircut?


CLINTON: I want us to be a country where we are reaching out to one another again.

SANDERS: What this campaign is about is saying, you know what, we can create the nation we want to become.

ROMNEY: If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.

TRUMP: He failed miserably and it was an embarrassment to everybody, including the Republican Party.

I have very good --

RUBIO: He’s asking us to make him the president of the United States of America.

TRUMP: Believe me -- believe me, I know what --

RUBIO: This is not a game. This is (INAUDIBLE) --

TRUMP: I know what's happening with the economy. You don't know anything (ph).

RUBIO: Well, then answer the economy question.

TRUMP: You haven't employed in your life one person.

RUBIO: But he doesn’t --

TRUMP: You’re the one. You’re the one.

CRUZ: Why don’t you release the tape then? Release the tape.

TRUMP: You're the one. Now, let me just tell you -- let me just tell you --

CRUZ: Why are you -- what are you hiding in the tape?

TRUMP: Excuse me, I've given my answer, lyin’ Ted. I've given my answer.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm the last governor standing. There's only four of us. And we're the little engine that can.

TRUMP: Lyin’ Ted and little Marco, the -- these are not -- this is not presidential material, folks, believe me.

CRUZ: If you don't want Donald to be our nominee, then I ask you, come join us.

RUBIO: And anger and fear is not a plan. It's a feeling. You can use it to motivate you to take action, but it by itself will not solve our problems.


WALLACE:  Isn't politics great? And next week the stakes get even bigger. Next week with Republican primaries that are winner take all.

Now for this program note. Be sure to tune in to "Special Report" tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern for a town hall in Detroit with Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. It's Clinton's first appearance on Fox News in two years.

And that's it for today. Have a great week and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."

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