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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Trump Stumps in Iowa on Caucus Day; All Candidates Making Final Pitches in Iowa; Former Senator Endorses Bernie Sanders; Iowa Caucuses Could Launch Candidates. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired February 1, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:29] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Because it is caucus day in America. We are here in beautiful Des Moines, Iowa hours from now the first real numbers will be tallied in the very first contest of the 2016 race.
BERMAN: The caucuses start at 8:00 p.m. eastern. It is what we know for sure. Beyond that, anything could happen.
Both races are close. For Democrats, Hillary Clinton with the tiniest of leads over Bernie Sanders. For the Republicans, Donald Trump with a slight edge over Ted Cruz, who has a slight edge over Rubio.
All the candidates making their final pitches across the state today.
Donald Trump is about to hold his first rally of the day.
Jim Acosta is with the campaign in Waterloo, Iowa -- Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Guy, it is caucus day. This is the day this phenomenon in Republican politics, the candidacy of Donald Trump is put to the ultimate test. The question of the day, obviously, is whether all these thousands of people who show up at these big events at these auditoriums and stadiums around the country, do they show up and vote or do they show up in caucus in the case of Iowa.
We've seen the Trump campaign has been pulling out all the stops over the weekend, even doing a fly by at one event in his 757 in Dubuque. He was with Jerry Falwell Jr out on the campaign trail yesterday courting evangelical voters. Today, he has Sarah Palin out later on in Cedar Rapids.
Even though Donald Trump is well known as a brash tough talking business tycoon, he has his doubts about whether or not all of this is going to come to fruition later tonight. Here's how he explained it earlier. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (voice-over): Well, you have to be a little bit nervous. And I like to win. I want to win for the country. I don't want to win for myself. This is actually my first election night.
ACOSTA: Now, I talked to Corey Lewandowski briefly, the campaign manager for trump, about how they're feeling. He said I'll tell you later tonight at 10:00 when all the results come in. They're not predicting victory at this point. I think if you look at the polls, Donald Trump has a lot to feel good about, especially if he wins and goes to New Hampshire where he has a huge lead, this could be a difficult train to stop.
But later tonight, Donald Trump will be doing something that he has never done before, and that's sit in a hotel room in one of these early states and watch the election results come in. Donald Trump is usually the one who does the judging, telling contestants on a show, "You're fired." Tonight, it's the other way around. It's the voters who get to decide his fate later this evening -- John and Kate?
BERMAN: This is no reality show. This is reality.
Jim Acosta --
BOLDUAN: The best type of reality.
BERMAN: Jim Acosta, in Waterloo, thank you so much.
Back here in Des Moines, joining us, CNN political reporter, Maeve Reston; CNN political commentator, Patti Solis Doyle, former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign manager; and CNN political commentator, Matt Lewis, senior contributor for "The Daily Caller" and author a book entitled "Too Dumb To Fail.
Matt, because you wrote a book, I'm going to ask you the first question.
BOLDUAN: And when you read the title of the book, you looked me. Is that --
BERMAN: I think Donald Trump has been leading in the national polls for so long we've lost sight of what a phenomenon this is. Put this in big picture perspective. What happens if Donald Trump wins the Iowa caucuses?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & AUTHOR: It would be huge. That's an understatement. Huge. But when Donald Trump first got in this, we thought it was a joke. Then the McCain comments and Megyn Kelly and Mexican comment, he was going to fall apart. If he wins, this is like the last hurdle -- because no votes have been cast and no caucuses have been held yet. But if he does, the reverberations, it's going to be -- and then if Bernie Sanders, we won't get into that yet. But the outsides zeitgeist is very large. BOLDUAN: And to Matt's point, since June, Maeve, everyone, no matter what you say about it, everyone has said can he turn celebrity into votes. Today, finally, that will be answered. What are you watching for? What clues, what signs are you watching for first?
MAEVE RESTON, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, after going to all of his rallies over the past week, it's been fascinating to talk to a lot of people in the crowd who are first-time caucus goers. Some of them have clicked on the Twitter link he sent out for their caucus finder. The Trump campaign has been trying to educate people about how to caucus, where to go, but that's the big if tonight. We're not seeing huge numbers of new Republican registrations. Of course, people can go to their caucus and register tonight. But the Cruz campaign on the other side is just very confident that their ground game is far more sophisticated than anyone else. That they know who their people are and they can turn them out. When you're on the trail, it feels so close. There's no way to predict what's going to happen.
[11:05:49] BERMAN: Patti, let's talk about the Democrats. Hillary Clinton feels she's as well organized as Cruz. The Clinton campaign has been here for months and months building up the roles. The polls are close. Describe the level of pain and agony within Clinton world tomorrow if they don't win tonight.
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, having been through the pain and agony in '08 --
BOLDUAN: Take us back.
SOLIS DOYLE: It's big. It is big.
No, look, the stakes are very high for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. If Sanders wins, that's huge. It will have momentum going into New Hampshire and on to the rest of the primary states. For Hillary Clinton, if she wins tonight, there's an opportunity to blunt Bernie Sanders' momentum, maybe whittle down the margin in New Hampshire, and then it's clear sailing on March 1st on the Super Tuesday states.
BOLDUAN: Serve to, Matt, blunt some of the heart burn or heart ache that she couldn't pull it off?
LEWIS: Yeah. Hillary Clinton -- the narrative has been origin electrical Hillary was going to be nominated, waltz into the nomination.
LEWIS: Then we've had a reversal where it feels like there's a revolution with Sanders. The Churchill quote, "There's nothing more exhilarated than being shot at without effect." If she dodges the bullet and pulls off a win in Iowa, as we now think she will, that could give her a lot of momentum, and then New Hampshire is an anomaly. Bernie Sanders is the Senator from next door. Not a big deal. Different than if Bernie wins Iowa and New Hampshire.
SOLIS DOYLE: And there's also, if he wins here tonight, there's some redemption here for her. It's big.
BOLDUAN: Nobody remembers third place so much.
BERMAN: Well, that's the thing. But, Maeve, you would think winning is always better than losing, but you listen to the Rubio campaign, the campaign for Marco Rubio.
They make third place seem like the best thing ever. It's like winning the Powerball jackpot.
RESTON: In their case, in this field given the number of candidates, if Rubio pulls off a strong third place, that could do a lot for his campaign rolling into New Hampshire where he will be battling it out with Jeb Bush. Cruz has been here longer than anyone else. Rubio has had a light footprint around the country and --
BERMAN: Until recently.
RESTON: Until recently. But in terms of the long game that he's playing, he's talking about his faith. He's really in the last couple of weeks reaching out to the evangelical voters who are split between Trump and Cruz. It will be fascinating to see if he can sway some of them in the final hours and go roaring into New Hampshire.
BOLDUAN: Someone saying third place would be amazing sauce. Then you have Ted Cruz -- yes, I did say that. Then you have Cruz, they out the ground game. They have 12,000 volunteers. They are confident in their data and what they have, and how many people they have reached out to. He's hit all 99 counties as of today. With all that in mind, if he doesn't win Iowa, Matt, what went wrong?
LEWIS: Right. I think that Rubio and Cruz are examples of the expectations game. And so it matters who wins and also who meets or exceeds expectations. Ironically, Ted Cruz, a second place finish for Cruz feels like a loss. He's invested so much time, money, resources. He's tailor-made for Iowa. He's an evangelical. He should win it. If Cruz comes in second, it's a loss. If Rubio comes in a strong third, I think it's not just spin, it is a win. He's been playing it that way.
BOLDUAN: What's a strong third?
LEWIS: 18 percent, maybe.
RESTON: And the other question also is just to watch tonight, watch where the evangelicals end up. So many of them I talked to who were considering those three guys were saying that this had been an agonizing choice for them. They know that they should be with Cruz, but a lot of them keep looking at Trump and saying I think he'd be a better candidate. These hits on Cruz and his likability are making others look at Marco Rubio and him talking about his Christian faith. So it's really anyone's ball game.
[11:10:16] SOLIS DOYLE: I think for Cruz, especially, it's a question of he just peaked too early. Donald Trump skipping the debate was really not a good thing for Cruz.
BERMAN: In politics, a trend is your friend, unless it's not, right? That's a big problem.
All right, Matt Lewis, Maeve Reston, Patti Solis Doyle, thank you all so much for being with us. Great discussion.
BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, guys.
And when the caucuses wrap up tonight, the race moves to New Hampshire, and CNN will be there. This Wednesday, all three Democratic candidates will take part in a presidential town hall facing questions directly from the voters, moderated by Anderson Cooper. Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN.
BERMAN: That is a big deal.
Coming up next, the Clinton camp says Bernie Sanders is running one of the most negative campaigns in primary history. Is that for real? We'll ask one of Sanders' most high-profile supporters about that claim and get her reaction.
BOLDUAN: Also ahead, one of Hillary Clinton's biggest supporters here in Iowa just revealed his top-10 list of reasons why she should be president. Hear what Senator Tom Harkin included in that list.
And a reminder, moments from now, Donald Trump will be taking the stage to give his final pitch to Iowans at a rally in Waterloo. What will he say to change minds? What do you say on this final day? Please, show up, don't worry about the weather, it's not that bad.
We've live in Des Moines. It's not that bad. We'll be right back.
[11:15:53] BERMAN: All right. John Berman here with Kate Bolduan, back live in Des Moines, Iowa, on this hugely important day. The first votes of the long, long-awaited, highly anticipated, super important 2016 presidential race.
The Democratic side is so close, Sanders and Clinton scrambling for votes this morning.
BOLDUAN: One person trying to help ensure a Sanders win is Nina Turner, a former Ohio State Senator who has endorsed Sanders for president. She's here now. Senator, thank you for being here.
NINA TURNER, (D), FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR: My pleasure.
BOLDUAN: You're doing everything you can to get Sanders elected. Two years ago, Bill Clinton campaigned for you. What happened? Why Bernie? What is it about him?
TURNER: President Clinton didn't exactly campaign for me. That's a story for another time. But I'm supporting Bernie Sanders because he has heart/soul agreement. When he talks about needing to lift the middle class in this country, that speaks to people in my state and across this country.
BERMAN: Is your endorsement a repudiation of Hillary Clinton? In other words, would you be comfortable with Hillary Clinton has president?
TURNER: I wouldn't say it's a repudiation. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. I'm here to support Bernie Sanders. Make no mistake, Democrats have the strongest candidates regardless. I expect Sanders to be the nominee.
BOLDUAN: When you look at the field, the Democratic candidates, Clinton campaign strategist was on the show with us the end of last week. He said Bernie Sanders are running the most negative Democratic primary ever.
TURNER: Give me a break. Ridiculous. This man hasn't run a negative ad in all his career. There's nothing negative about pointing out the differences between you and the opponent. What's negative is what the Clinton campaign is doing to distort his record. Turning around and scaring people, that's negative. He's not running a negative campaign. They know it, it's and it's ridiculous.
BERMAN: What they say, what the Clinton people say is that Sanders compared the leadership of Planned Parenthood, the human rights campaign, called them establishment, and he didn't mean it in a nice way.
TURNER: John, I'm a member of the Planned Parenthood national board. He has 100 percent record of fighting for women's reproductive health. Now all of a sudden, his record isn't good enough? They're stretching it. I will say that to Planned Parenthood, being a member and a pro choice woman and a woman who took it to Republicans in Ohio, introducing my own man's love bill, my erectile dysfunction bill, to really do something about the extremism that's happening on the Republican side, when women can't control their own bodies. But Sanders has 100 percent record. Why is it now he's running for president? It's not good enough?
BOLDUAN: On the Republican side, there's a lot of talk of certain candidates will say anything to get elected. Donald Trump saying that Ted Cruz is a liar. You're strongly defending Bernie Sanders. You're saying what the Hillary Clinton is putting out, that they are lying? TURNER: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. You distort
the man's record. It's one thing to argue on the issue. Secretary Clinton agreed with universal care in 2008. It was this station where she repudiated then Senator-Barack Obama. Now all of a sudden, it's pie in the sky. It's not good enough.
BERMAN: Is it pie in the sky?
TURNER: No, it's not.
BERMAN: Do you think universal health care, single payer, has any chance of passing?
TURNER: John, we have to fight for it. We have to fight for it. The beauty about Senator Sanders, the energy will have a tail that brings in energy. It doesn't matter who it is. The bottom line is that Paul Ryan is the speaker of the House and both chambers are controlled by the Republican. Any Democrat is going to have a hard way to go. But beauty of what Sanders is saying, it's not I, it's us. And that is, it's your obligation to get out there and make sure that we force elected officials to do what is in our best interest as a country. I don't think so.
[11:20:07] BOLDUAN: So this is a message that is resonating with many young voters, that Bernie Sanders wants to see turn out tonight. How critical is Iowa?
TURNER: It's critical. People have discounted him all along the way. It's important. They're in a dead heat, and whoever gets the turn out, you have to count the numbers. I don't doubt the resolve of young people. The other side is saying they're unreliable. We want everybody to vote and participate. That includes our young adults. I don't doubt their resolve. They're going to come out and caucus.
BOLDUAN: All right. Nina Turner, great to see you. Thank you so much.
TURNER: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: You heard it here, strong support for Sanders. Tonight, we'll see as people head to the caucuses this evening.
Just ahead, an Iowa power player, supporting Hillary Clinton, joining us live, former Senator Tom Harkin. He is comfortable with Bernie Sanders in the White House if his candidate loses? A lot to discuss with him ahead.
And Donald Trump just about to take the stage in Waterloo, Iowa. He calls Ted Cruz a liar. We'll speak with one of the most-powerful Ted Cruz supporters in this state, a congressman who has been working hard to get Cruz elected.
Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:25:31] BOLDUAN: Just hours to go now until the big kick off in Iowa, caucuses will get underway. Candidates are making their final push knowing tonight's results could be a launching pad or something much less fun.
BERMAN: What's the reverse of a launching pad?
BOLDUAN: A heating pad.
That you put on a sore muscle.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Or a crash pad.
BERMAN: As if they need an introduction after that. We're joined by Ana Navarro, CNN political commentator, a friend of Marco Rubio, a supporter of Jeb Bush; and Donna Brazile, Democratic strategist, CNN political commentator, all around phenomenal human being.
Donna, I want to start with you.
On Friday, on this broadcast, Bill Beneson, a senior strategist for the Hillary Clinton campaign, said Bernie Sanders was running the most negative campaign of all time. We asked Nina Turner, a Sanders supporter, if they were lying about it. Her response was, "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck." Have things turned nasty as we get close --
BRAZILE: Not as nasty as the Republican side.
BERMAN: It's not a comparison.
BRAZILE: There's no question. It's a competitive race, both sides, including Martin O'Malley. I met some O'Malley folks the other day.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Who?
BRAZILE: Martin O'Malley --
-- the former governor of Maryland. It's heated and competitive. But it's also exciting. And there's no question that they're a little sharp in the elbows, a little bump at the side. At the end of the day, I'm proud about the way they're running the campaign. They've tried to inject a little bit of "human" to the race in the closing days in fact. It's going to be a great turn out tonight. And we'll see what happens tonight.
BOLDUAN: On the Republican side, we're talking about what's going to happen to Donald Trump and Cruz and Rubio. We know your allegiance. At this point, Ana, and what you're hearing and seeing, do you think anyone polling in the single digits, your man included, can breakthrough?
NAVARRO: Breakthrough in Iowa, you mean?
No. But Iowa is Iowa. It plays a very unique position. I think for a lot of people they're already looking at how they move on. They're looking at New Hampshire. I think you see John Kasich has been in New Hampshire for a couple of days now. He's been campaigning there hard. Has had the state for himself. Christie and Bush, you know, Iowa is today. The rest of the primary season begin begins tomorrow. Jeb Bush is not going to win the Iowa primary. Let me make that very courageous prediction and go out on a limb. But I'm proud of him for having tried to run a national campaign and for having put the effort and the resources here. We can argue after if it was the right thing to do or not, but it's what he wanted to do.
BERMAN: You don't get a participation ribbon in presidential politics.
NAVARRO: No, no.
BRAZILE: And there's an old saying, there's three tickets out of Iowa, three plane tickets. They're first class. Donald Trump has his own plane. We know how he's getting out.
BOLDUAN: That means there's four tickets.
BRAZILE: No, that means somebody has to get the bus.
And there's no question that Cruz and Rubio are really fighting it out for the number two spot. Ben Carson is still a factor, I think, in the Republican race, and then you have the single digit candidate that might surprise us tonight. I think on the Republican side, you have a couple of single digit candidates looking for a little lift so they can get into New Hampshire tomorrow and say, guess what, I came in fourth place.
BRAZILE: Fourth place.
BOLDUAN: Be careful, Donna. You're getting too nice.
NAVARRO: There are three Republicans duking it out, Rubio, Cruz and Trump. Everybody else is here to put out an effort and show that they can campaign in Iowa.
BRAZILE: Ben Carson might be a sleeper.
BOLDUAN: I don't know what to do with that.
BERMAN: Let me turn to the Democrats for a second. I have to say something to break up this party over here.
BERMAN: Donna, there is this question of how many new voters will show up on the Democratic side. The new, young, first-time caucus goers will be decisive in this election. I know you're careful. You're not picking sides here, but give me your honest assessment. Do you see a wave of first-time voters coming to the caucuses tonight? Is that something you've observed?
BRAZILE: First of all, I gave Ben Carson some love. I want that on the record. He's not dead. He's fading, but he can come back. He might wake up tonight.
Last year, in 2015 --