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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Candidates Make Final Pitches; Trump's Final Push; Cruz Rally Tonight In Des Moines; Trump, Cru7z Jockey In GOP Nailbiter; Trump Calls Cruz "Total Liar" On Caucus Eve; Cruz Losing Momentum; New Polls; Clinton, Sanders in Virtual Tie In Iowa; Blizzard Watch: Will Voters Stay Home?; GOP Battle: The Key To Winning; Candidates Make Final Pitches; Clinton Campaign On Caucuses; Clinton: GOP" Grasping At Straws With Email Scandal"; Campaigns In Overdrive On Eve Of Caucuses; Evangelical Vote In IOwa; Where Conservative Candidates Get The Most Support. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 31, 2016 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening to you. If you somehow think this is another sleepy Sunday, well, you're just not in Iowa tonight. The candidates have been working hard all evening. Donald trump in Sioux City. Marco Rubio in Davenport. Jeb Bush in Davenport. Rand and Ron Paul in Iowa City, all holding events tonight.

Same for the Democrats, who just agreed to appear in a CNN Town Hall with me Wednesday night in Derry, New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders with competing rallies right now in Des Moines, all the candidates campaigning like there is no tomorrow because for some candidates tomorrow could be the beginning of the end.

Tonight, we're going to bring you their closing pitches before Iowa voters go and caucus. We'll tell you what's behind the lead polling that gives Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump the narrowest of leads and talk about the factors that could move those numbers from precinct captains to lower pastors to Mother Nature itself.

Any or all of it tomorrow could help propel two candidates toward the White House and send the rest packing. A lot to get to, starting with Jim Acosta at the Trump event in Sioux City. Has Trump done anything different to try to win over last-minute voters?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'd say Anderson, this is something -- and I've covered four campaigns in a row now that you don't see very often the night before the Iowa caucus. The only way I could describe this is sort of late night with Jerry Falwell Jr. The president of Liberty University's on stage right now. He's interviewing Donald Trump, asking him questions about what he would do about a variety of topics.

At one point during this program they handed out a check to a local veterans group. This is the money that comes out of that money raised by the Donald Trump Campaign a few days ago when he decided to skip that debate over at Fox News. So it's not very often, Anderson, when you see a presidential candidate handing out big checks before the Iowa caucus. But we're seeing it out here. And it just shows you this is one unorthodox campaign, Anderson.

COOPER: Trump tempered his language in Iowa a little bit earlier, didn't he? Will that happen to ...

ACOSTA: A little bit, yes, he was asked -- right, yeah. He was asked, "Are you going to win Iowa?" And he said you know what, maybe we won't win Iowa. And just a few moments ago here in Sioux City on stage with Jerry Falwell Jr., he said, "Maybe it won't work out that I'll win Iowa." But he said, and this is key, he said, "If we do, we're going to run the table." So they are feeling very confident inside the Trump campaign.

If you look at the Des Moines Register Poll, his support is rock- solid. 71 percent saying they've made up their minds. So the nearest candidate in that regard is Ted Cruz. And this is the same poll that foreshadowed the Rick Santorum surge four years ago. So they've got a lot to feel good about. And they are deploying just about every weapon in the Trump arsenal. The Trump sons were out on the campaign trail all day today, they made four campaign stops, three of them were at the famed pizza ranches of Iowa politicking. So they're pulling out all the stops in this.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta. Thanks, Jim. Donald Trump has Jerry Falwell's son to help him win evangelicals. Ted Cruz can call on the fiery support of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson. Some controversy is surrounding that tonight as well as the mailer at the campaign prompting Iowa's top election official to denounce it.

Joining me now with all in that is CNN's Phil Mattingly in Des Moine. So Ted Cruz's closing argument, what's it sounding like tonight?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's four words, Anderson, don't roll the dice. What you're hearing from Ted Cruz is don't roll the dice towards other evangelicals on Donald Trump, somebody's who's made a good show of it but perhaps doesn't have the history both on political positions and on ideology.

Don't roll the dice on Marco Rubio somebody with immigration pass that doesn't track with what Ted Cruz has been pushing over the last couple of months.

Anderson, what you've seen over the last couple of weeks particularly at the Des Moines Register Poll Jim was talking about. Ted Cruz has lost the momentum. He's been bleeding evangelicals down 12 points with the evangelicals down 12 points with evangelicals just over the last month. The push for Ted Cruz over the last 24 hours here has been to try to bring them back into the fold, try and undercut Donald Trump a little and really focus on cutting out any support for Marco Rubio, Anderson.

COOPER: What about this mailer that was sent out by the Cruz campaign? What did it say?

MATTINGLY: So what you're getting here is people were opening their mailboxes and seeing what looked like an official document from the government within a red bold box saying voter violation on it and having grades, Fs and Cs and Ds. What it was, if you looked at the bottom was paid for by the Cruz campaign.

Now, what this is, is a voter persuasion tactic. This is something that's actually been used by both parties for years. But's it's a little bit on the seedy side of politics so much so. As you mentioned, the Iowa secretary of state said it was not in the spirit of what the Iowa caucuses are all about.

Anderson, what this is, is essentially an attempt to shame voters to the polls, to shame voters to caucuses, make them turn out. Ted Cruz has not run away from this saying he's not going to apologize for trying to boost turnout for his team.

What you're seeing here is a Ted Cruz ground operation, what most campaigns say is the best in the state really trying to get every possible voter to come out no matter the tactics it takes to get them there, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly.

[20:05:00] Phil, thanks very much. The best panel in politics, the longest intro in television, Joing us is CNN's senior political reporter, Nia Malika Henderson, chief political analyst Gloria Borger, senior political commentator and former top Obama adviser David Axelrod, chief national correspondent John King, anchor of "Inside Politics", also CNN political commentators Van Jones, S. E. Cupp, Paul Begala, Jeffrey Lord. Van's a former Obama adviser, Paul's an adviser to big Pro Clinton SuperPAC. S.E. is leading conservative writer who's not a Trump supporter, Jeff Lord is. He also served as White House political director during the Reagan administration.

David, you've been ...

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER TOP OBAMA ADVISER: I'm exhausted.

COOPER: Yeah, I know. David, you've been on the ground in Iowa with the candidate eight years ago. How accurate -- I mean how much do the campaigns know about what's going to happen tomorrow night?

AXELROD: Well, you don't know because you know what you can know which is you know who's given you commitments, you know what number can you bring out. You don't know whether that number is going to be sufficient. And so the big mystery is turnout. And that's what both of these races are going to turn on whether it's the Sanders/Clinton race or Trump and Cruz. Cruz is hoping that the turnout is manageable and that the hard count that he has will suffice. And the same thing is true for Hillary Clinton. But nobody knows for sure until tomorrow night.

COOPER: And, John, do we know much about Trump's ground game since they're not letting people in the area where they're making calls. And the big question I guess is are the people who're willing to wait in line for hours to see him actually going to caucus?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": That -- our first clue will come about an hour before the caucuses. You have a caucus, you have to be in the door in line getting ready to get in the door by 7:00 local. So show up at 5:36 and see if there's a line and start talking to the who are they. Are they there just to get in or a lot of people there to register to vote or change their registration that will tell you in the Democratic and Republican sides, you know, if you have a Trump and a Sanders crowd.

One of things interesting about the last poll was the gold standard, the Des Moines Register Poll has a very good record in the state. But the poll projects a relatively average number of new voters. If that's the case, that's a bad night for Donald Trump and a bad night for Bernie Sanders. If you have, you know, new people who moved to the state or new people who decide to play for the first time but not an unusually high number, it also projects in the last poll a shrinking in the percentage of people who are evangelicals, a significant shrinkage from four years ago and eight years ago.

So that's something else to watch. If those numbers -- if the Des Moines Register has the electorate right even though trump leads in the last poll I could easily see a Cruz victory.

COOPER: Why would there be a shrinkage of evangelicals given that you have so many candidates who are trying to appeal to evangelicals? Is it less people call themselves evangelicals or just some opting not to come?

KING: Well, the pollsters call people and say are you likely to vote? And that's the model ...

COOPER: OK.

KING: ... they run. And that's where she came out. You know, running her model, taking the calls and weighing the population and doing what they do with the computer scaling. That's her model. She knows the state better than any pollster in the country. However, she'd also concede to you that there's always variables in the end. And these are -- if that number's higher, it's a better night for Cruz. If that number stays where it is, probably helps Trump and it might even help Marco Rubio.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: The surge of all surges was Barack Obama's in 2008 when 57 percent of Democrats said they had not caucused before. So ...

AXELROD: This number is 34 percent last time.

BORGER: 34 -- and right, and for Republicans it's 40. So I think you're -- so far at least, I mean anybody can go to a caucus, sign up, decide what they want to do but the early signs are, that you're not going to have anything like the surge we saw.

AXELROD: To John's point and to your pointy ...

BORGER: Yes.

AXELROD: ... we knew before the caucuses even began, that we were in really good shape because there were lines pouring out into the street before those caucus places opened. Nothing in this data suggest we're going to see something approaching that. Except perhaps in the college towns where there's great enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders.

BORGER: Did your data show that though? Did you know in advance that you were going to have those lines?

AXELROD: We had an ambitious number that we felt confident about. But we didn't know -- the turnout was, you know, toward 240,000 people which was twice as much as four years earlier. So nobody anticipated that.

NIA MALIKA-HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And partly it was because it was so early in the calendar year, right? It was in January so all of those college students were actually home in their different towns, across Iowa. So they were able to fan out all across Iowa in a way they're not home this year because it's late in the calendar.

AXELROD: Yeah.

HENDERSON: So I think in those college towns they'll be concentrated there. And it won't be the same kind of advantage I think that Obama had last time for Sanders this time.

AXELROD: She was concerned about Bernie Sanders ....

HENDERSON: Yeah.

AXELROD: ... we talked about bussing kids back to their home counties. But that's really not -- that's never been a very good model.

COOPER: You've also seen candidates try to kind of lower the expectations games or play the expectations game. I mean there's a bit -- I mean Ted Cruz all along there's been this expectation that he's going to come in first in Iowa. Donald Trump is now kind of trying to downplay it. Whether or not he actually believes he should downplay or not, I don't know.

JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think he's got it exactly right. If he loses, they go on. And this will fade into the rear-view mirror pretty quickly. If he wins, this is the start of a tank rolling through the primaries. So you know we will see.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And the fact that we're -- say, I mean I don't know who is going to win tomorrow.

[20:10:01] I know who has already lost. Every political expert has lost. Except for this one. But you know the idea, I remember when Bernie Sanders threw his hat in the ring. The people who didn't yawn, laughed, they thought it was going to be Dennis Kucinich all over again.

You know, just a good auto liberal out there to kind of fly the flag, you know, bound gracefully before he got destroyed by the Clinton machine maybe he would get percent, maybe he would get 10 percent. But the idea we're sitting here right now, we can't tell if the Clinton machine can take out Bernie Sanders, every political expert on both sides said six months ago, said no way.

AXELROD: In fairness, Can, I think Bernie Sanders has run a spectacular campaign.

JONES: Please.

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: And I wouldn't take it away from him. But Iowa is a peculiar place. You say how could she be fighting in this battle with a 74-year-old socialist? Well a lot of people go to those caucuses are 74-year-old socialists. So ...

HENDERSON: Right.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I think tomorrow we'll get our first indication of just how valuable or accurate all of these national polls that we've been basing every single prediction really are. You know, these are people who answer landline phone calls to talk to pollsters. And I'm not sure how accurate that's going to shake out to be for someone like Trump who has been leading in these polls. I think we'll have our first indication tomorrow how the rest of the map is going to look.

If we can ureally use these polls or if we've got this new wave of voters, millennials, you know, 20 to 30, people like 30-40 who don't even have landline phones, who can't be polled. So I think that will be useful for people like us who have been wrong.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yeah, we have a free society. Free speech. Great.

JONES: I second for that.

BEGALA: There's so many pollsters ...

LORD: I second that.

BEGALA: ... it's a bunch of (inaudible) ...

CUPP: Right. Right.

BEGALA: ... it's a bunch of garbage.

COOPER: How do you mean?

BEGALA: Well, here's one, for example, if you look at the assumptions embedded in a poll. There was a poll of Iowa Democratic caucus goers that suggested 300,000 people would show up. I mean the average is like 120, 140.

CUPP: Never. Right. Right.

BEGALA: Barack Obama blew that out and hit 240.

BORGER: Right. BEGALA: Nobody with a lick of sense thinks that. Somebody got paid for that poll. So God bless her or him. The thing that has struck me, looking at David pointed out, the gold standard of the "Des Moines Register". OK? The political experts as Van said, is something else.

Hillary's people were on a forced march, they were really only for her. It was like a soviet grocery store. There's only one product you have to buy and Bernie was the candidate of passion and emotion.

Guess what, in the Iowa poll from the "Des Moines Register", Hillary supporters are more passionate to support her ...

AXELROD: Yeah.

BEGALA: ... than Bernie's are to support him just by outside the margin of error. Hillary's supporters are happier with her even when Bernie's are with him. Bernie's run a great campaign but again we all not fall back just kind of the stale analysis.

CUPP: Right.

AXELROD: Yeah, what's interesting is, she has done what she didn't do in 2008.

KING: Right.

AXELROD: She has gone to the small towns. She's gone to living rooms, she has gone one-on-one with voters.

HENDERSON: Yeah.

COOPER: She has taken in Iowa seriously.

AXELROD: Bernie Sanders has basically held rallies throughout Iowa. But he hasn't done that person-to-person campaigning that Hillary Clinton has done.

BORGER: He doesn't like that.

AXELROD: Frankly she's better at that than she is at big rallies.

BORGER: Well, he doesn't like doing that. You know, I asked him about it why don't you ever shake hands with the people who come at your rallies? And he said, "Because I have to rush to the next rally and I'm not really good at that."

BEGALA: But Bernie had to show that he was viable.

BORGER: He doesn't like it.

BEGALA: So you have a big rally, that's a brilliant strategy.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: Right.

BEGALA: Hillary had to show that she was accessible.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: The great thing about the caucus environment that most states don't get and most people don't understand if you don't go see one, it's not an all-day voting like a normal primary. You have to show up at one time. So the stories from the Clinton people eight years ago, when they think they hit their number, to David's point. The campaigns say X number of people are going to vote.

BORGER: Right.

KING: To win in this precinct, we need this. They show up, saying we have our number. They thought it was great and they walked in the gyms in the community centers and went uh-oh. They saw the Obama people across the room. And that experience -- look at the clinton people who volunteer for her now who remember eight years ago, trust me they came earlier and stayed later at every phone bank this time because they remember eight years ago.

LORD: That's not being said to running twice for president.

COOPER: Yeah. We got to take a short break.

Coming up next, so many candidates running there will not be a landslide tomorrow. Whoever there might be a blizzard. The impact and the forecast, when we come back.

And later we'll dig deeper into the polling on what is shaping up as a three-way GOP race. More on the big question is Ted Cruz losing momentum in exactly the wrong time or right time depending on which side of the aisle you're on.

And we touched on this a better earlier precisely why the Clinton/Sanders race is closer than many ever believed that it would be. We'll take a look at the role if any that the State Department e- mail controversy is playing among Iowa Democrats in particular.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:18:15] COOPER: You saw at the top of the broadcast, we'll be seeing it all night. Candidates trying to get in one last shot at opponents, making a final appeal for votes, telling anyone they can get to go out tomorrow and caucus tomorrow night which could mean going out in a blizzard. The two big headlines tomorrow could be caucuses begin and blizzard hits. CNN's Tom Sader joins us now with the latest on what could be a major storm. So it starts about 7:00 p.m. local time tomorrow. What kind of weather do caucus goers have to deal with tomorrow?

TOM SADER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It really is going to be more interesting for the western, I think, counties, those western precincts. The storm is really going to be moving quickly, in fact, dumping several feet of snow in the Central and Southern Rockies. These are all storm warnings in pink. Red is blizzard warnings, so that's in Kansas, Nebraska. In yellow it's a blizzard watch. In a matter of hours, this is going to turn Red, we will have a blizzard warning. Notice the sliver not covered in from Davenport southward this is going to be problem. I mean we could see eight to 12 inches some higher amounts.

Des Moines could see a foot. So I bet the airport will shut down. So not just for the campaign managers, the entire teams, the thousands of journalists that are there from around the U.S. and around the world may have to wait a day to get out unless they can get over to the quad cities.

But it really looks like the timing with this has been interesting. It looked like it was a Tuesday event and a Tuesday event only. But now the timing brings it up a little bit sooner. Everything in purple is a good seven to 12 inches.

And then we've got over a foot in some areas in pink. When you look at some of the models, Anderson, they creep it in a little earlier and a little earlier. This is an 11:00 p.m. at night when some caucus goers are still out obviously. That's a good swath of snow.

If we break it down further and give you a timeline, again, the western precincts, we believe the snow could start at 6:00 p.m. 7:00 or 8:00, you get a couple of inches on the ground.

[20:20:00] And when the winds kick up that could be enough to strike fear in some of the older caucus goers, some of the elderly caucus goers, just not knowing what to expect when they leave the caucus. So again, we all know what blizzard conditions can do on a highway system on those real country roads in Iowa.

COOPER: One more factor to consider. Tom, thanks very much. Weather or no weather you can you get a good read on how candidates are doing by looking in just a few places across the State. There are they're the keys to winning the caucuses and to follow along at home tomorrow night is always. They're the main specialty of "Inside Politics" anchor John King who joins us again to break it all down by the numbers starting on the Republican side John.

KING: Anderson, let's start, we're quickly reviewing the final numbers in the Des Moine Register Poll put out here. We have Donald Trump at 28, Ted Cruz at 23, Marco Rubio at 15. So it seems like a three-man race at the top. But don't forget the people down below, the candidates in second and third tier of the race because they could affect the outcome.

Now where are we going to look for? By this time tomorrow night, thank the good Lord, people will be voting, we'll be getting results and we'll actually start to fill in the map here with actual votes. We can stop talking and start counting.

What are we going to look for well let's go back to 2012. Remember Rick Santorum won the State by just couple dozen votes. Look at all this brown, that's Rick Santorum. I just want to tap him for second so you can see how much of the State he won. You would think a guy who won so many Counties of the State would have run up the score right would have won big? He didn't because these are small world counties. Look how many votes were talking about and some of these counties just a couple hundred votes, maybe 300, 500, 800.

So what happens here Mitt Romney was able to be essentially in a virtual tie, because he won in all the population centers, in the Des Moines area Cedar Rapids area over here in the Quad City where the airport will be open apparently and up here in Dubuque.

And so the main point is can Donald Trump succeed on the Romney map. You see all the red on this map. This is the success that Mitt Romney had. Donald Trump needs to succeed on the Romney map where he faces competition for Marco Rubio and also Jeb Bush. Marco Rubio needs to succeed on the Romney map if he's going to make a strong show in there.

So watch these areas tomorrow night. And then see out here all of this brown which was Rick Santorum four years ago, the green was Mike Huckabee eight years ago, the way to win an Iowa caucus if you're the evangelical candidate is to run up the score in the small rural counties to offset the establishment candidates support in the areas with suburbs, Des Moines, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Davenport.

Romney wins in the suburbs. Rubio wants to win in the suburbs. Trump needs to perform strongly in the suburbs. If you're Ted Cruz you need a map like this, you need the Huckabee map or the Santorum map. If you see tomorrow night, Anderson, a lot of Donald Trump red up in this part of the state that's trouble for Ted Cruz. Has he made enough inroads with the evangelicals.

Where's Donald Trump right now? He's in Sioux City. What is he trying to do? He's trying to make inroads among evangelicals in the Western rural part of the State.

So right now our 2016 map is blank as we fill it in tomorrow night if you're watching at home go online. Go to cnnpolitics.com pull up the 2012 or the 2008 Republican map. Make the comparisons. You'll have some clues as this fills in tomorrow night who has strength and who maybe is underperforming.

COOPER: All right, John King, thanks very much. I want to bring in, in our panel, you know it's interesting. We hear so much about ground game all the candidates say they have a great ground game do we know much about, I mean whose ground game on the GOP side truly is the best?

BEGALA: You hear a lot about how good Ted Cruz's is.

CUPP: Yes.

BEGALA: Ted has built this from the ground up. Now he's from Texas where we don't have -- it' too big of a State. There's two different time zones in medium markets. But he has adapted to the person-to- person and frankly church-to-church campaigning that's so important. COOPER: Right particularly reaching out to pastors.

BEGALA: Absolutely.

LORD: His Senate race -- I mean he won his senate race doing this kind of thing. I mean he was by far the -- if you're Texan you would know I mean he was by far the underdog in that primary race. And he came from behind and won.

JONES: And all the tech people who are kind of data geeks are impressed with Ted Cruz on that. He actually the more data-driven of all the Republican candidates. So, you know, I mean that going to we're going to see if that tech-enabled ground game can deal with the air force. You got, you know, basically you get a major air war being launched by Donald Trump and I don't think anybody knows how ...

COOPER: it is interesting that Trump really kind of doubled down in all Iowa. I mean he would have been forgiven a lot of people kind of though OK he's just going to come abandon Iowa, give it up to Ted Cruz, focus on New Hampshire where he's leading in the polls. But he seems to really have decided that at a certain point you know what, we're going to try to win this.

LORD: I mean I think his strategy is to compete everywhere.

COOPER: Right.

LORD: And try to win everywhere.

CUPP: Yeah, and I think when he saw the first couple of months, the first time he started leading among evangelicals, he said, "Why am I going to write off Iowa?" And so, he really started to focus.

I think there are two potential advantages I think Trump might have on this Iowa that I'm going to be looking for one. You know Republican caucuses, you're not, you know, voters are not given a ballot with a bunch of names. In some cases they're given a blank piece of paper. And you can you write anyone's name down.

Well, a lot of Iowa caucus goers are very informed voters. But if you've really only marginally been paying attention, Trump's name is pretty big.

COOPER: Yes.

CUPP: You might write that name down and ignore the rest.

[20:25:00] The other thing is that a Democrat can go to a Republican caucus, switch their voter registration in that moment and vote for Trump.

HENDERSON: Yeah.

CUPP: I don't think you're going to see a lot of Republicans going to Democratic caucuses to vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. You might see some Democrats going to the Republican caucuses switching their registration and voting for Trump.

If those two advantages are, you know, work out for Donald Trump, he could actually do very well.

LORD: Yeah, Trump is -- go ahead.

BORGER: You know, I think that what we, what we've seen in Des Moines Register Poll is that Trump has, you know, some issues here, he's got a huge gender gap. Even among women who self-identify as evangelicals. He has a gender gap, 50 percent of the -- 56 percent of caucus goers don't like the fact that he supports what's called imminent domain which means the government can seize your property if it needs to. And they don't like the fact that he was once a pro choice.

And these things are sort of the beginning, I think, of a narrative that Cruz has been driving. That could have some effect. Moving on. I think we're beginning ...

COOPER: That's what Cruz has been hammering in commercials most recently.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: But not afraid as much as she should. In some ways I think that's one of the issues here. Did people wait to attack Donald Trump too late? Even Ted Cruz at this point is training his fire much more on Marco Rubio than Donald Trump.

At this point, in terms of Donald Trump's other advantages, I think he's also advantaged by the fact that Mike Huckabee is still in this race.

AXELROD: Yeah.

HENDERSON: Ben Carson is still in this race. He's getting about 10 percent. And Rick Santorum is in this race. They all have rather good ground games and certainly the high name I.D. and they're going to eat into that home-schooling evangelical crowd.

AXELROD: I think one of the most tallying numbers in this poll was that if you ran Ted Cruz against Donald Trump in Iowa and there were no other candidates, Trump would lose by 18 points.

HENDERSON: Right.

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: So that tells you that Trump has a ceiling. But he's benefitting from this divided field.

COOPER: Yeah. Donald Trump has been running to a lot of television commercials just in the last couple of days especially.

KING: Trump is ramping up the ads. But everybody's ramping up the ads. It's really interesting what's happened to the ads was Marco Rubio is running a lot of nice guys you like me ads because he knows other people including SuperPACs. A lot of Marco Rubio are dumping on Ted Cruz. Some people are dumping on Donald Trump so if you're Marco Rubio, you're trying to run these hey I'm a nice guy ad. The people peel off the other guys, you want them to come to you.

To Nia's point I think it's very important to go to a couple of things. First let's go back to 2012. We don't have Ron Paul in this race. Ron Paul got 21 percent. He ran a very strong third in Iowa. He won a lot of counties. The question is he's in Iowa tonight campaigning for Rand Paul? Can Rand Paul surprise? His campaign says they made 1.1 million phone calls. They insists they will over perform their polling, if they, do a lot of conservative tea party libertarians could come out of Ted Cruz's vote total.

So the people lower down in the battle, they're going to impact this race. Let's come back to 2016 to Nia's poitn. You come down here, here's Jeb Bush. Now Jeb Bush is what? Tiny single digits in the poll, right? Right now but where is he campaigning? And where is he seeking votes? On the Romney map.

Jeb Bush is most active in the very same areas where Marco Rubio is most active and where Donald Trump needs to get some votes, in the population centers, the suburbs of Des Moines, the suburbs of Cedar Rapids, this is where you have Bush, Rubio and Trump in sort of a three-way competition for the main line establishment votes.

One other point, if we come back to 2016, you also look to Nia's point about Carson, you have Ben Carson and then you have two past Iowa winners, down here, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. I lost Mike Huckabee on the map, but here we go 12 names it's hard to keep them all in the scroll.

We got the a mic large scroll. If Santorum can repeat anywhere, anywhere, even if he's not winning counties if he's getting decent numbers in those counties, he's keeping Cruz's total down. If Huckabee, I was up with Huckabee right up here last weekend in Winnebago County, 18 people in the room. That's pretty depressing right for a candidate who once won the state.

But again if Huckabee, Santorum and Carson can drain evangelical votes from Ted Cruz and just keep his margins down and Donald Trump can do on the population centers, the candidates way down ballot, Anderson, could have a huge impact on the guys up top, and the margins at the top.

COOPER: A lot to watch for tomorrow night. Yeah, David?

AXELROD: They should point out that unlike the Democratic Caucuses, there isn't a second-choice option. It's not as if you have ...

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: ... a second vote.

COOPER: Right. AXELROD: So they just -- this purely drains votes from probably from Cruz all of these evangelical candidates, they're not going to reorganize and support Cruz as a second choice, you do have that option in a Democratic caucus.

COOPER: Right. I want everybody to stick around, we have a lot more to talk about over the next 90 minutes, as we're focusing the Iowa caucuses. Up next, digging deeper into the democratic battle. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, virtual tie and still campaigning into the night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:33:21] COOPER: We're bringing this first. Our coverage tonight, the blitz of 11th-hour campaigning on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. The candidates have already held more than two dozen events today across the state. Two dozen campaign events.

These are live pictures from a Bernie Sanders rally happening right now in Des Moines. On the other side of the screen, a rally for Hillary Clinton expected to start in about 25 minutes.

Also, in Des Moines, the new "Des Moines Register"/Bloomberg Politics poll we talked about earlier shows Clinton leading Sanders 45 to 42 percent, a three-point lead that's within the margin of error.

Joining me now is Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook. Robby, thanks for being with us.

Obviously, we all know Hillary Clinton infamously loss to a different insurgent candidate who was very popular with younger votes back in 2008. Are you concerned at all? Is Secretary Clinton concerned of a repeat of that tomorrow?

ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Not at all. You know, as we go around the state, what we've been hearing again and again, I was just out with our volunteers canvassing this weekend is that voters here are really looking for a president that can get results. Get real tangible results for people, help them afford college, help them afford their health care premiums, help lower their prescription drug prices.

And the voters here in Iowa know that Hillary Clinton is a fighter. She sticks with it until she gets the job done and she's really going to deliver for people here in Iowa and across the country.

COOPER: So you think you're going to, well, win tomorrow night?

MOOK: We do. We feel really good. I can tell you this weekend I was in our field offices and knocking on doors. The enthusiasm is palpable. People are really excited. They know that they're going to make history in this caucus. And begin nominating the first woman nominee for a party and hopefully the first woman president but also picking someone who's going to go to the White House and fight hard for middle class families every single day and get results for them. [20:35:06] COOPER: Obviously, you know, on Friday, the state department reported it would not release 22 of Secretary Clinton's e- mails that had gone through a private server because they were deemed top secret by the intelligence agency.

She was asked about that on ABC's "This Week" today. She said she wants them to be released. I want just play that for our viewers and ask you about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's just get it out. Let's see what it is and let the American people draw their own conclusions. This is very much like Benghazi, George, you know the Republicans are going to continue to use it beat up on me, I understand that. That's the way they are. But after 11 hours of testimony, answering every single question in public which I had requested for many months. I think it's pretty clear they're grasping at straws and this will turn out the same way.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Finally on this ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPPER: So is the secretary saying that she believes there's a Partisan motive behind the announcement of these e-mails because I'm obviously there's all the civil servants who I tasked with analyzing the e-mails or classifying them that might take issue with that.

MOOK: Well, there are number of leaks leading up to this announcement this week from the Republicans on the hill and we've seen Partisan Republicans on the hill earlier or rather last year, hauled her in, subjected her to 11 hours of questioning about the Benghazi incident. He never found a single thing. So sure, there's a lot of partisan motivation behind this. But I'll tell you I was out this weekend talking to a lot of voters here in Iowa, it didn't come up once. So I think they're really focused on the issues that matter in this race.

COOPER: It did come up with Bernie Sanders who said that the e-mail issue was quote very serious in an interview on CNN today. Is he wrong?

MOOK: Well, I think what Senator Sanders has said in the past and I certainly agree with is that what the voters really care about in this election, is how we help them in their daily lives and they get in again these accusations have been thrown around. Nothing is come up.

The Republicans are going after her because they know she will not only be effective in Washington, but she's our best chance to make sure that the White House stays in Democratic hands so of course he's going to be making these attacks.

COOPER: Well the question is do you believe -- but that's Bernie Sanders saying it's very serious today. I know what you said with the first democratic debate about not caring about the damn e-mails but today he is saying he's serious. Do you think this is very serious? MOOK: Well, like I said I let Senator Sanders answer for himself. I was out of doors this weekend in Iowa. We've been having events all week with thousands of people. This doesn't come up. What the voters here care about is affording health care, affording college, affording child care.

COOPER: OK.

MOOK: So I'm not hearing about it from the voters here. I think they take a lot of other's issues and much more seriously.

COOPER: Robby Mook, I appreciated you being on. Thank you very much.

Coming up next and the next hour will talk to Bernie Sanders campaign manager. Just ahead how the top Republicans spent their day in Iowa. All three campaigns in overdrive knocking on doors making thousands of calls, doing everything they can to nail down votes. Dana Bash takes us inside.

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[20:41:38] COOPER: The campaign is still going on tonight in Iowa live pictures there from the Sanders event on the left, Rand Paul on the right, everyone campaigning hard because anything could happen as we said, Donald Trump is leading Ted Cruz by just five points in the latest "Des Moines Register" Bloomberg politics poll. Marco Rubio is in third place.

And Iowa voters are known for often waiting until the last minute to make up their mind that's why these final hours of campaigning are considered crucial. On the eve of the caucuses, all three campaigns are in overdrive. Dana Bash takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOLLY MADDOX: Hi this is Molly Maddox with the Ted Cruz campaign.

BASH: Hustle in Boston at Ted Cruz Iowa headquarters accelerated to an all out frenzy.

MADDOX: Are you supporting Ted Cruz?

BASH: To get out the vote, you can see. I mean there is obviously a lot buzz here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are definitely making a lot of calls, 27,000 calls yesterday which is just -- it beats our record.

BASH: Cruz campaign aides boldly boast about the size and scope of their operation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2500 doors yesterday at this office alone. We have camp Cruz were a lot of the people are staying we have two dorms 830 plus people.

When people check in, they put a pin where they're from. So we have people from California, we obviously have a lot from Texas, a lot from Iowa, Missouri, Florida, and Georgia, Massachusetts, New York.

BASH: Still it's the candidate who has to close the deal. He did with some, but James Graybaugh (ph) still isn't sold.

Are you still on the fence after hearing Ted Cruz?

GRAY: You know I think I'm probably closer.

BASH: But you're still not a 100 percent filled.

GRAY: Well you know I'm going to go listen to Marco you're in a little bit so.

BASH: Iowa Congressman Steve King is a veteran of the caucuses and a fixture on the trail with Cruz.

GRAY: I'm going to pick 135,000 Republicans as the turnout. And if that number goes well above that, then Donald Trump has a shot.

BASH: That's because Donald Trump is trying to turn out first-time caucus goers like Sue Alpen who we met at a Trump rally. Had you caucus before?

SUE ALPEN, ATTENDED TRUMP RALLY: No this would be my first time. I'm really excited. I didn't ever think I do something like this but he certainly got recharged to.

BASH: Tewanta Lopez told us she's a Born Again Christian usually drawn to candidate to talk her talk but not this time.

TEWANTA LOPEZ, ATTENDED TRUMP'S RALLY: Right now we don't need a pastor. We don't need a Sunday school teacher. We need someone who has the authority and the power and the guts to say what's on his mind.

BASH: Trump aides are somewhat secretive about their get out to vote operation. But several Iowans here say the campaign is reaching out. The open question, will the celebrity candidates' crowds translate to votes? It may with Stephanie Reagan Lavarone. We talked to her before seeing Trump. So you're not sure if you're going to support him?

STEPHANIE REAGAN LAVARONE, ATTENDED TRUMP'S RALLY: Right and teetering between Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

BASH: On the way out all in for Trump

LAVARONE: Is that you're listening to him and just thinking about everything that he does. I just feel like he resembles in the American dream.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Meanwhile at Marco Rubio headquarters.

TIM HUTCHINSON, FORMER SENATOR: I learned to do a new word, "Marco- Memtum."

BASH: Friends like former Senator Tim Hutchinson flew in from Arkansas to help.

HUTCHINSON: Yes, we'll be driving about an hour and a half out to one of the caucuses and representing the campaign.

JILL CAPS: And then volunteering since before Christmas so I've probably made close to 1000, anyway.

BASH: But now, volunteers like Jill Caps are calling Iowans already committed to Rubio to make sure they actually show up because for all the rewritten rules in 2016 ...

[20:45:02] CAPS: And every vote does count.

BASH: ... that rule will never change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Dana, I understand the Trump campaign they've been less forthcoming about the ground operations than some other campaigns, do we know much about their final push to turn out voters?

BASH: Well, you might have noticed in that piece, I was inside the headquarters of Rubio and Cruz, but not Trump. And that is because the Trump campaign didn't want us or any media to come in, because they want to keep it kind of mysterious.

The answer to your question is in talking to Trump sources that they do have a data-driven campaign just like Ted Cruz and others that they have been making calls over and over again and again.

I did find evidence of that just talking to people who were at some Trump rallies.

But at the end of the day, we're still not exactly sure how many people there are touching and then retouching to make sure they get to the caucuses and how much they're just depending on that good, old- fashioned motivation, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah. Dana Bash, well, we'll know tomorrow, won't we.

Just ahead, Dana mentioned the evangelical vote we've been talking about. We're going to take you to a county in Iowa that typically backs the most conservative and most overtly religious candidate and greatly here what voters there are thinking about their choices this time around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:50:01] Take a look at Bernie Sanders tonight in Des Moines with his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton campaigning just across town. Jeb Bush also on the stump. Let's listen right now to Bernie Sanders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The future for their kids, they're worried about their parents. And meanwhile, almost all of the new income and wealth in this country is going to the top 1 percent. What this campaign ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: They're talking about religion playing a major role, especially outside the big city. Sioux County in the northwestern part of the sate is known for picking the most conservative and religious candidates, Randi Kaye went there to see what people were feeling about the batch of Republican candidates. Here's what she had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the Sioux County Livestock Company it's steaks and chops on the menu and politics in the air. Who's going to caucus? Anyone? Raise your hand? Some of you, OK.

Every member of this family is still undecided. They like Trump. But aren't sure he's genuinely conservative.

DEANNE DENHERDER, SIOUX COUNTY RESIDENT: I just wonder about his beliefs. How deep of a believer or Christian he really is. Or is he saying that just to kind of win us over.

KAYE: He has said that, that he's never asked God for forgiveness, does that bother you?

DENHERDER: Yes, that would bother me, because we're all sinners and he needs to ask just like the rest of us.

KAYE: That potentially could be a problem for Donald Trump.

KIRK TEGROOTNETHUIS, SIOUX COUNTY RESIDENT: I'm tired of politicians. I've had this all my life. I'm tired of it.

KAYE: Farming corn and faith are the cornerstones of life in this part of Iowa. And most are looking for someone who shares their Christian values. That potentially could be a problem for Donald Trump.

Trump says the bible is his favorite book. You don't believe that?

JILL HARSKAMP, SIOUX COUNTY RESIDENT: I'm sure he does say that that's his favorite book because right now he is campaigning in Iowa.

KAYE: And here in Sioux County, Iowa, conservative Christian values run deep. This northwestern pocket of the state is known for backing the most conservative and the most religious candidates. Family is the foundation here. And church pews are filled every Sunday. It's been called "The Bible Belt" of Iowa.

Which is exactly why this man says he'll caucus for Ted Cruz, he thinks he's a strong conservative who believes in freedom of religion. Though he does acknowledge Cruz may have some extreme views.

ROBERT CUNARD, SIOUX COUNTY RESIDENT: Candidates that are real strong on moral issues, like against abortion, against same-sex marriage. You know, holding up those values in the Bible is very important and I think Ted Cruz embodies that.

KAYE: Cruz earns points for pushing an amendment that would allow states to decide on same-sex marriage, undermining the Supreme Court which legalized it.

DENHERDER: God made, you know, created man and female and male and female and he wants us to marry as male and female and I go with God's way, I don't think there should be any change in that.

KAYE: Cruz's biggest problem here is the ethanol mandate which he opposes. Farmers and Donald Trump support it. Trump's tough talk on supporting the second amendment helps him here, too.

KEITH CUNARD, SIOUX COUNTY RESIDENT: Well, I am conservative and the abortions, I'm anti-abortion and like they said, we cling to our guns and our bibles, in this part of the country.

KAYE: Still, to some here, Trump is simply a showman who doesn't belong in the White House.

HARSKAMP: I'm a Republican, but honestly, if Donald Trump was my only choice, I would choose not to vote.

KAYE: Randi Kaye CNN, Sioux County, Iowa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Hearing from some evangelicals, Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics Commission and author of "Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel." He joins us now from Nashville. Dr. Moore, Always good to have on.

You recently wrote -- I saw in National Review, and you said, Donald Trump is not a moral leader we need. And yet, I mean, you look at the polls, there's a lot of conservative voters, a lot of self-identified evangelical voters who are lining up behind him. Why do you think that is?

RUSSELL MOORE, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION ETHICS COMMISSION: Well, I think that there's a general sense of cynicism and almost a giving up on looking for leaders of good character and of good morals.

I had to laugh the other day when I saw a journalist post on Twitter that his Uber driver, had said that he worried that Donald Trump might be the antichrist. But that he was probably going to caucus for him, anyway. I think there's a sense in which people have such a frustration that they're almost willing to give up on the things they used to value.

COOPER: I mean, I've heard some people say look, I'm not very religious. I think I heard a pastor say it on CNN the other day. You know, I'm not looking for a pastor in chief. I'm looking for somebody who can I think, you know, can give the country what it needs as a leader. Do you think the self-definition of what it means to be evangelical is changing for some people? Or is it just the anger and as you said the cynicism that's out there?

MOORE: Well, I definitely don't think we need a pastor in chief because I think the qualifications of pastor and I think the mission of the church is more important than the mission of the state.

[20:55:02] But we do need leaders who have good character and good integrity. And so, I think that if evangelical leaders are wanting to say that that has changed that we no longer need to articulate a leader who has good character and good integrity.

And we need to apologize for the things we've been saying for the past 50 years. Instead I think that when we're looking at this election, I'm frankly more worried about what's happening within evangelicalism than I am about whoever is up and whoever is down in the polls. Because I think evangelical is increasingly becoming an almost meaningless term.

When you have people who -- I mean evangelical means gospel, it's talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we have evangelical leaders who are suggesting that repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ isn't what makes someone a Christian. That someone's political opinions or someone's job creation record is enough to demonstrate that one is a Christian, within the term really doesn't mean anything any more.

And so I think you have -- I think you have generational divides within evangelicalism from a younger, more theologically-oriented evangelicalism as opposed to an older, a much more politically activist evangelicalism that's not a theologically focused. I think those divides have become even more exposed through this election cycle and over the past several weeks.

COOPER: So you actually think younger evangelicals are more theologically based?

MOORE: Yes. Younger evangelicals are more theologically conservative, more theologically orthodox, more theologically rooted than their parents and grandparents because they don't have the same cultural identity. For most of the 20th century in the Bible built in this country, it was easier to leave a teacher's union than it was to leave an evangelical church. You were simply part of it because you were born into it.

Now, younger evangelicals are having to articulate what they believe from the time that they're very young. And so, it's a much more theologically-oriented group of people.

What I fear after a really cynical campaign. Such as the one we're seeing right now, especially one that is so charged with religion, that we may see groups of evangelicals, younger evangelicals who are even more inclined to disengaging from the political process which I think is bad for the country.

I think that we have to be the people who take our citizenship seriously, even as we don't make it ultimate. We're not Americans first, we're Christians first, but we are Americans and we do have responsibilities to our neighbors.

COOPER: Russell Moore, it's always good talks you, sir. Thanks for being with us, I appreciate it.

MOORE: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up, another live hour of 360 on this Iowa caucus eve. So much to talk about, a Clinton rally about to get under way in Des Moines and Clinton family event and daughter Chelsea will take the stage, we'll take you there, next.

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