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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Just Two Hours Away From Clinton, Sanders Town Hall; Clinton, Sanders Exchange Fire Ahead of New Hampshire Primary; Trump: Cruz Committed Fraud and Stole Iowa; CNN: Senator Cruz's Claims Are False; Clinton, Sanders in First Joint Appearance Since Iowa; Bill Cosby to Face Trial for Alleged Sexual Assault. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 3, 2016 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:13] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT, we are counting down to the democratic presidential town hall right here on CNN. Big stakes for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tonight. A full preview this hour as we count you down here in New Hampshire and what the candidates need to do.

And our breaking news tonight. Donald Trump accusing Ted Cruz of stealing the election. Cruz's campaign co-chairman is my guest OUTFRONT tonight. And the attacks getting nastier between Clinton and Sanders. Will we see more fireworks tonight? Well, let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett live tonight in Dairy, New Hampshire. That is tonight's CNN democratic presidential town hall site. And OUTFRONT tonight, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They will be facing tough questions from voters starting very soon. The stakes for both candidates could not be higher tonight. In just six days there will be voting in the crucial New Hampshire primary.

First though, I want to begin with the breaking news tonight. Donald Trump speaking today, charging Ted Cruz stole the Iowa caucuses, threatening to sue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I probably will, yes. But no, what he did is unthinkable. He said the man left has just left the race and he said it during the caucus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

TRUMP: And then when the clarification, when the statement was put out by Ben Carson saying it was untrue, they got the statement and they didn't put it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: We're going to have much more on this in just a few moments, but returning to our top story. Now, a two-horse race for the democratic nomination for president. Now tonight, CNN town hall Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will be making one of their speeches to voters here. And we are awaiting Hillary Clinton about to speak to supporters at any moment right in nearby Manchester, New Hampshire. She's there and going to come straight to where I am tonight. Earlier today, she said she's very different than Sanders saying she's as progressive as he is but with a much better record. His response, well, he's been questioning Clinton's progressive credentials all together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Most progressives that I know really do not raise millions of dollars from Wall Street. Most progressives historically were against the war in Iraq. Those are issues that, you know, Secretary Clinton has not been all that progressive about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: We begin with Jeff Zeleny. And Jeff, it's a crucial evening in the democratic race for president. It sounds like the gloves are definitely off. We're going to see fireworks. They're both fighting incredibly hard to win this nomination.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No doubt, Erin. On the very windy night here in New Hampshire, the gloves have come off to use that old metaphor, but I can tell you, the reason is this. They're both fighting for the definition, the heart and soul, of this Democratic Party. Of course, Bernie Sanders is only a new democrat. He's a democratic socialist from nearby Vermont. Hillary Clinton trying to remind people that she's been a lifelong democratic and in the middle comes the tussle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (voice-over): Who is the true progressive?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to win.

ZELENY: That's the question hanging in the air tonight as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders try and win over undecided New Hampshire voters at the CNN presidential town hall meeting coming off the closest democratic contest in Iowa caucus history, the fight bubble to the surface on the campaign trail six days before the first in the nation primary.

CLINTON: It was kind of a low blow when Senator Sanders said in response to a question, well, you know, maybe she's a progressive on, you know, some days.

ZELENY: She was responding to Sanders who questioned her progressive record.

SANDERS: Some days, yes. Except when she announces that she is a proud moderate and then I guess she is not a progressive.

ZELENY: Their sharp exchanges exploded on twitter. Clinton took exception saying, a 40 year record of progressive results boiled down to some days. Sanders quickly responded pointing supporters to this Clinton speech last September in Ohio.

CLINTON: You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center. I plead guilty.

ZELENY: Sanders sent out a series of tweets and held his ground with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

CLINTON: You can be a moderate. That's fine. You can be a progressive but you can't be a moderate and a progressive. Second point Wolf is, most progressive that I know really do not raise millions of dollars from Wall Street.

ZELENY: He said his rival has been far from progressive on trade, gay marriage and the war in Iraq.

SANDERS: I applaud the Secretary for her work and -- for many, many other areas. But I think in terms of comparing recants, you're looking at the guy who took on Wall Street and oppose the regulation.

ZELENY: It's a deep rift and Clinton fired back.

CLINTON: I think it was a good day for progressives when I helped to get eight million kids health care under the Children's Health Insurance Program.

ZELENY: She said she's been fighting for progressive values for decades.

CLINTON: Among the things I've heard the last few days about the contest between Senator Sanders and myself is this idea that you have to either vote with your heart or with your head. All I can tell you is I hope you use both.

ZELENY: Sanders has long held a double digit lead here, but Clinton is fighting hard with the help of that famous comeback kid who made it to the White House after winning here. When asked if Sanders surge reminds him of Barack Obama, President Clinton didn't hesitate.

FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON (D), UNITED STATES: Barack Obama is not Bernie Sanders. Let's don't play two games here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[19:05:38] ZELENY: So, even as both candidates are trying to out progressive one another, the real voters who may make the difference are those independent voters, those famously fickle independent voters of New Hampshire who are going to be tuning in tonight in watching this town hall tonight -- Erin.

BURNETT: Now they will as of course voters will across the country. Thank you so much to Jeff.

And now our senior political commentator and former senior advisor to President Obama David Axelrod joins me along with our chief political correspondent Dana Bash both here with me and there in New Hampshire.

All right. The stakes are incredibly high tonight and this is going to be a small intimate crowd as we can say.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure it is.

BURNETT: We're very much in what we call a crow's nest everybody, I'm not exaggerating when I say that. David, this is one of the final chances that they're going to have to talk to voters en masse. People are going to watch this on TV. Sanders has a 23-point lead on Secretary Clinton. Can he maintain that? Can he build on that?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think one of the problems for him is that's an enormous lead in polling. And as we saw in Iowa, expectations are everything. So, I'm sure there's a little anxiety in the Sanders camp about whether they can maintain that. And, you know, New Hampshire voters are famously contrary. I worked for a candidate who came here five days before the primary in 2008 with an 11 point lead and left with a defeat of two points. So, you know, things can change. And that's why events like this are important.

BURNETT: And expectations are everything, Dana. I mean, that's got to be what Bernie Sanders is incredibly worried about. Because it seemed at this point, he has to significantly beat her to maintain his momentum. Even if he wins but only by a little, that's going to look like a lost in many ways, isn't it?

BASH: Absolutely. So, he's trying to lower expectations, which is not so easy to do right now. Hillary Clinton is desperately trying to lower expectations as well, you know, saying, well, you know, the poll show it did not come in well. But I'll tell you I've spent the last day and a half talking to voters mostly at Republican rallies. And there's been a lot of Bernie Sanders people there. So, it just is a reminder that this is an open primary process. If you're a registered independent, you can vote either way. And so, people who might be telling pollsters that they support Bernie Sanders, never mind their vote going to Hillary Clinton. They could go to a Republican.

AXELROD: And that's actually -- that's where the polls can also be kind of damaging for Sanders because if they conclude that the action is over on the Republican side and that the democratic race is over, these undeclared voters could actually migrate over to the Republican side.

BASH: That's right.

BURNETT: And that's fascinating though so, because most people would say, OK, Bernie Sanders rally is the last place you'd expect to see someone who is generally Republican. So what is it about Bernie Sanders? I mean, are they really checking him out as a possible person they would vote for? And what are they doing at these rallies?

BASH: Yes. I think, look, this is one of those situations where it does. You think, wait, what? How would somebody who is a democratic socialist be attracting people who would potentially vote for a Ted Cruz or even a Donald Trump? But if there are people who are just upset with the status quo, people who want things to change, people who are liking the message of I'm going to change Washington and they're not out for you and I'm going to make sure that they're out for you --

BURNETT: Yep.

BASH: I mean, there are different prescriptions to the same kind of problem that they're hearing defined by all these candidates.

BURNETT: Interesting talking about Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have something in common. A lot of people who like them are angry and are angry at how things have been going.

BASH: Exactly.

BURNETT: Now, David, if this goes on and on for the Democrats, it's fascinating to the American people. They like it, they like to watch it. They love it in the media. It's good for us. Maybe not good for Hillary Clinton. And some would say bad for the Democratic Party because it would show there's a schism. That it doesn't know what it is. Is that true or not?

AXELROD: You know, we had a long fight in 2008 and it didn't work out that way. But I think the reason we had a long fight was because democratic voters wanted to see this young Senator Barack Obama go toe to toe with a heavyweight for all 50 rounds. It's a little bit different now. And the thing I would be worried about if I were the Clinton campaign is that Bernie Sanders has raised an enormous amount of money in small donations. And they are renewable because they're never going to hit those caps whereas Hillary Clinton is much more reliant on what ultimately will be maxed out donors. And so, she's going to have to be watching that as this goes on. The longer it goes, the more his ability to kind of live off the fat of the land is going re-down to his benefit.

BASH: That's so true. Because when you think about it, the Sanders campaign, whenever there's kind of a moment for them, they report, oh, we just raised $20 million. That isn't coming from the lobbyists and the other sort of connected people that Hillary Clinton's donors rely on. You know, the most rely on, it's just people who are out there and who are really energized and that could keep going.

[19:10:26] BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. Something he's used to his advantage. And he says, you know, I haven't checked -- seen any progressives who are getting so much money from Wall Street who is using that financing to his favor. Thank you both so much.

As we're counting down here, next, we have the breaking news. Donald Trump saying, Ted Cruz stole the election in Iowa. The Cruz campaign's co-chairman is going to be my guest next and going to answer these tough questions about what exactly happened that night in Iowa. And this is live pictures right now. The scene of tonight's CNN democratic presidential town hall tonight where we are tonight here in Dairy, New Hampshire. We are counting down, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:14:50] BURNETT: We are live tonight in Dairy, New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are counting down to a face to face with voters. That is right here at our democratic presidential town hall in just these last few days before voters for the first time cast their votes in this primary season here in New Hampshire. And the breaking news now, Donald Trump ramping up his attacks on Ted Cruz, accusing him of stealing the Iowa caucuses. Now, Cruz is firing back big time tonight accusing Trump of losing it and throwing yet another temper tantrum in his words. Trump tantrum as he calls it.

Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump is demanding a do-over. In a twitter tirade Trump says, "Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than he anticipated. Bad." Trump's old Boston Herald radio he'll probably sue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you file a formal complaint?

TRUMP: Well, I probably will, yes. But no, what he did is unthinkable.

ACOSTA: The real estate mogul's accusations came just hours after discussing his gracious concession speech on Monday.

TRUMP: I'm just trying to be a little bit more understated and statesmanlike. Some people like that. Some people don't.

ACOSTA: But Trump was clearly already stewing over false claims disseminated by the Cruz's campaign while people were caucusing on Monday. That Ben Carson was dropping out of the race, a potential boost to the Texas senator.

TRUMP: When they said that Ben Carson is out of the race and come vote for him, I thought that was terrible.

ACOSTA: Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa caucus, Trump twitter, either a new election should take place or Cruz's results nullified. Cruz fired back. Bernie Sanders is contesting Iowa results, he tweeted, "Maybe Donald Trump should go back to Iowa and join the Democrats. Bet they'd love." But the Texas senator did admit his campaign made a mistake.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unfortunately, they did not then forward the subsequent story that was Ben's campaign clarifying that he was continuing the campaign and was not cancelling the campaign. So I apologize to Ben for that.

ACOSTA: Still he later dismissed his arch rival for having what he called a trumper tantrum.

CRUZ: Trump guaranteed a victory in Iowa and then he lost. It is no surprise that Donald Trump is throwing yet another temper tantrum. You know, my girls are five and seven. And I've got to tell you Caroline and Katherine are better behaved than a presidential candidate.

ACOSTA: One of Trump's chief surrogate Sarah Palin entered the fray on Facebook slamming the Cruz camp for what she called "dirty politics." At the center of the controversy Carson weighed in too revealing that Cruz had apologized to him.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He could very well have not known about it, but it is obvious that there were people in his organization who not only knew about it, but who carried it out, who executed it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now as for that talk of a lawsuit, Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski did not rule it out to me in a phone call interview earlier today. Meanwhile, the Iowa Republican Party appears to be having none of this slap between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, the Iowa Republican Party just as certified as results from the Iowa caucuses on Monday night showing that Ted Cruz won by roughly 6,000 votes. Erin, Donald Trump is running a bit late this evening. He should be out within the hour -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim Acosta. Six thousand votes and of course now there are those questioning whether all of those really would have gone to Ted Cruz or not. Ted Cruz continues to blame CNN for reporting that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race.

All right. We're going to go through this in detail here. Here is what Ted Cruz said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: That was a news story CNN had posted it. And our political team passed it on to our supporters. It was breaking news that was relevant. Now, subsequently the Carson campaign put out another statement saying that he was not in fact suspending his campaign. And I apologize to them for our team not passing on their subsequent clarification.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. That's a claim that's just not true. Our senior media reporter Dylan Byers is OUTFRONT now. So, Dylan, let's just go through. Exactly, how did this start? Take everyone back to the beginning.

[19:19:02] DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Sure. Well, it started with a series of tweets from our own CNN reporter Chris Moody all completely passionately accurate about what the Carson campaign was doing and that Ben Carson was going back home. And we can actually read those tweets for you, I think. But effectively what he says is Carson won't go to New Hampshire or South Carolina, but instead will head home to Florida for some R&R. He'll be in DC Thursday for the National Prayer Breakfast next week. Ben Carson's campaign tells me he plans to stay in the race beyond Iowa no matter how the results are tonight. And then one more and hour later. Folks, Ben Carson is just making a brief stop at home in Florida tonight. And his campaign says he'll be back on the campaign trail by Wednesday. Obviously nothing in the reporting there that says that Ben Carson is dropping out of the race or has any intention even to make an announcement.

BURNETT: Right. And even as you laid it out, right? He had a tweet. He said, he plans on staying in the race no matter what the results are. That all was at the exact same time he said he's going to Florida.

BYERS: Right.

BURNETT: Then he waited an hour. And it was, yes, you know, further, hey guys, I made it very clear. I'm going to make it clear again he's not getting out of the race. OK. So, now, what is CNN saying now? I mean --

BYERS: Well, so in the interim, of course, the Ted Cruz campaign comes out with its statement, which sends a message to its supporters basically indicating a major announcement is coming. Carson is getting off the campaign trail, effectively telling them he's going to be dropping out of the race. Not the case and now the statement from CNN. "Senator Cruz's claims about CNN are false. At no point did the network indicate Dr. Carson would suspend this campaign." Our correspondent reported the information provided to him by the Carson campaign. Dr. Carson's staff informed CNN that he would return home to take a, quote, deep breath before resuming his activities on the campaign trail. That information were reported accurately by CNN across TV and digital."

BURNETT: So you have spoken to the Cruz campaign. And we just heard Ted Cruz today, right? Saying, you know, that he was right. Subsequently there was a clarification which was not true. Right? That it was always consistent in the reporting. So, what is the Cruz campaign now saying to you?

BYERS: Sure. I ran into Rick Tyler, his campaign manager here in Manchester. And they're continuing to stand by it. They're saying, look, we didn't do anything wrong. We took what CNN reported and we simply put it out there. We never suggested that he was going to be getting out of the campaign. But of course, if you go back and you look at what the Cruz campaign sent out to its supporters, it was very much suggesting that Carson was coming off the campaign trail. He's going to make an announcement, every indication that he was going to be dropping out of the race which of course is not the case.

BURNETT: All right. So, Dylan, thank you very much. And I'm going to read this e-mail that Ted Cruz's campaign sent that night because I don't think there's any question, it's very clear. It argued for people to go vote for Ted Cruz who were going to vote for Ben Carson.

So, let's go now to Ted Cruz's campaign co-chair Bob Vander Plaats. Bob, let me just start off here with a very basic question here. Did the Cruz campaign do something wrong?

BOB VANDER PLAATS, NATIONAL CO-CHAIR, TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN: Well, I think what it was, I'm a major surrogate for the Cruz campaign, especially in Iowa and at the caucuses in Iowa, I never made any comment at a major caucus site of saying that Dr. Carson is even thinking getting out of the race. And the other part Erin, I don't know one voter in Iowa that has come out to say, you know what, I heard this message and so therefore I changed my vote. Rush Limbaugh is out today saying that Marco Rubio's campaign was pushing it. The fact is that CNN made a report and the reason they made a report, it is big news when a presidential candidate says I'm not leaving Iowa to go to New Hampshire and South Carolina. But I'm going back to Florida. CNN did report that.

Now, Ted Cruz came forward, he talked to Dr. Carson, he's been very open to the public. He said, listen, I apologize for not clarifying or having the campaign clarify that he's just making a pit stop in Florida. But the fact is, this has been blown out of proportion because Donald Trump lost the race. Three candidates --

BURNETT: OK. Hold on one second though. Before we get to the Donald Trump part of it --

(CROSSTALK)

Sorry, we have a bit of a delay. So, Bob, let me just finish here. Let me just finish here because I want to get to the bottom of this first. Putting Donald Trump aside, now we'll give you a chance to respond to that. The tweets that came out from CNN were Carson that announced this news though were, Carson won't go to North Carolina, New Hampshire, South Carolina, but instead he'll head home to Florida for some R&R and D.C. Thursday for the National Prayer Breakfast. Tweet immediately follows, Ben Carson's campaign tells me, plans to stay in the race beyond Iowa. No matter what the results are tonight, that's the fact. That's what CNN put out here. How in any situation could the Cruz campaign justify an e-mail which could put out on the back of that saying, breaking news, I will read that so our viewers know it, "The press is supporting Dr. Ben Caron is taking time off from the campaign trail after Iowa and making a bit of announcement next week, please inform Carson caucus of this news and urge them to caucus for Cruz." How could that be acceptable in any situation?

VANDER PLAATS: I think two things, Erin. One is, the reason it was a news story, a travel schedule of a candidate is not a news story in and of itself. The fact that he wasn't going immediately to New Hampshire and South Carolina is why CNN made it a news story in the first place. And this happened minutes before the Iowa caucuses. And I believe what it -- it was a tweet from somebody that is associated with the campaign to say, did you see this? And then they moved on it. And Ted Cruz again, as I said, you know, he's a very stand-up guy, a man of integrity. He called Dr. Carson immediately, apologized if they had any part in this whatsoever.

I'm saying, there's a lot of other things that are going on here. But the three candidates that over performed in the poll numbers are Carson, Rubio, and Cruz on caucus night. So, there's no show to say that it dented Carson whatsoever. The candidate that lost the race is the one who is making a big deal about this. As Ted Cruz says, he's having a trumper tantrum because he can't handle lose. He's a sore loser.

[19:24:52] BURNETT: Bob, I'm curious though because again, back to the point where, you know, that e-mail was sent out. And that e-mail pretty clearly was saying, look, don't worry about Carson. Come vote for Cruz instead. Right? There was not a clarification that came out immediately during caucuses to fix that. And even today you heard Ted Cruz saying, I apologize to Ben Carson for our team not passing on the subsequent clarification. Again, just to make it clear there was no subsequent clarification. The report was never inaccurate. The report always said, Ben Carson plans to stay in the race beyond Iowa no matter what the results are tonight. What I don't understand is why we can't just get a very clear we're sorry. This e-mail was wrong and never should have gone out.

VANDER PLAATS: Erin, I think you also have to take a look at the timeline of the story. The caucuses started at 7:00 that night. The timeline of the story is when the CNN initially made the report and where the tweet initially went out, it was like two minutes before 7:00. I mean, the caucuses --

BURNETT: 7:43.

VANDER PLAATS: So, which would have been 6:43 in the state of Iowa with caucuses starting at 7:00. But if you follow the subsequent timeline, people were in lines, they were caucusing. My guess is, many surrogates never mentioned it, that's what I'm told. And I don't know if any voter that was impacted by it whatsoever. And I think what Cruz did is he took responsibility for it. But it's being the story today because Donald Trump lost Iowa after he said is all he does is win. And the first contest is he lost. And so, that's why we're talking about this today when I believe there is a lot of issues and why Ted Cruz is doing well in New Hampshire. I'm here in South Carolina right now. It's an exception well in South Carolina. People want principal conservative leadership today. And that's why they're rallying around Ted Cruz.

BURNETT: Bob, do you think though that it does raise a question of character and integrity though that is important for people to understand, right? It may have been a campaign staff that send it out, right? But it's Ted Cruz's campaign. And everything that comes from it is a direct reflection of him and his leadership of his campaign. Right? He wants to be president of the United States. He says, please inform caucus goers of this news and urge that to caucus for Cruz. The news was inaccurate. But why hasn't he just said, I'm sorry it shouldn't have been sent. Because what he said is, I'm sorry for the CNN report, what CNN clarified, and of course, the CNN report was right and was never clarified. And he's blaming it -- it appears on CNN's reporting. So, I'm so confused as to why not just a pure apology?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, you know, Erin, the report that was read at the beginning of this segment of tonight's broadcast, you know, was a fairly lengthy report. We live in a 140 character world today where tweets are going out. And my guess is, there's a tweet going on out by CNN. There's a screen shot by CNN whatever it is. And I mean, you're minutes before the Iowa caucuses. And if a candidate says he's not going to New Hampshire or South Carolina, that is big news. And so campaigns are hyper active. But again I believe Ted Cruz has taken responsibility for this. I think the reason it remains a story today is because Donald Trump lost the Iowa caucuses. I used to coach. I used to see what happens when teams lost. And sometimes when they don't wanted to be about them and about their fault, they blame it on other people. And this is what you see with Trump doing right now, I think American people are going to have a higher standard than that.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Bob Vander Plaats, thank you very much. I appreciate you're taking the time, sir, tonight. And next, two GOP candidates did drop out of the race today. Who is out and who might gain from that?

Plus, Clinton trailing Sanders in New Hampshire by double digits. We're talking 23 points on some polls. She came from behind in a win here in 2008. The big question is, can she do it again and could tonight be her ticket?

And we're counting you down to our democratic town hall where I am here in New Hampshire less than two hours. We'll be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:32:43] BURNETT: We're live in Derry, New Hampshire. In 90 minutes, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are going to sit down for a live town hall event taking voter questions.

And we have breaking news at this moment, Rick Santorum announcing he is endorsing Marco Rubio for president.

Rubio has momentum right now coming into the New Hampshire primary making him a prime target for attacks. Dana Bash is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): There's not much mystery in Marco Rubio's pitch to New Hampshire voters.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you vote for me and I'm on our nominee, I will unite the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

BASH: He's going hard for mainstream Republicans. That's why other candidates who need a New Hampshire win to survive are going after him.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Marco Rubio gives a great speech. He really does. He's a nice young man. But he has been nothing but a first-term United States senator.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Marco Rubio came in third place in a caucus state and we're all supposed to bow out? That's just absolutely absurd.

BASH: Jeb Bush even took out a full-page ad in New Hampshire's conservative "Union Leader" with Rubio's former Florida Republican colleagues saying they support Bush, not Rubio.

Rubio's response --

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just want to do as well as I can here in New Hampshire. We're going to keep working hard. It's not -- I'm not running against any of the other candidates.

BASH (on camera): At his New Hampshire events like this one, Marco Rubio is trying to walk a fine line. He doesn't want to seem too cocky, but he does want to exude an air of confidence because a lot of voters have come here looking for a winner.

BRENDAN FLORIO, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I'm keeping my eye on the prize.

BASH: Which is, which is what?

FLORIO: You cannot Hillary to get into the White House?

BASH: And you think Marco Rubio is the best way?

FLORIO: Yes, I do. I really do. And I thought that way quite sometime. I would be okay with any of the candidates as long as they cannot allow Hillary Clinton into the White House. I think Marco Rubio is probably, in my opinion, the best chance of that.

BASH (voice-over): He's not alone. Lots of voters coming into Rubio events tell us they plan to vote strategically.

TOM BODENSTEINER, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: It's hard to vote for a Christie, a Kasich, Jeb Bush, I like them all, but they don't seem to have a chance.

BASH (on camera): Is it you feel like you don't want to waste your vote?

BODENSTEINER: Well, I don't want to see Donald Trump get in.

[19:35:00] So, I feel if I vote for Christie, Kasich, a Jeb Bush, yes, that gives Trump a better chance of winning.

BASH (voice-over): But not everyone is so sure Rubio is their guy.

(on camera): Are you considering voting for him now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. It's between him and Governor Kasich.

BASH: You just heard Marco Rubio speak. What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm actually not a big fan of Marco Rubio.

BASH (voice-over): Music to the ears of everyone trying to stop what Team Rubio calls Marco-mentum.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: All right. Dana is here with me, along with David Chalian, our political director.

All right. So, you know, you see all this fight for the establishment, but now you have rick Santorum endorsing Marco Rubio. Rick Santorum could have gone another way, could have gone Ted Cruz, could have gone a more evangelical favorite way, so his support was not high, but is that something that could significantly help the Rubio momentum?

BASH: It could help. I don't know how significant it is, but it could help, because if people are looking for negatives on Marco Rubio is that he's too young, he's too inexperienced -- well, now you have somebody who is an experienced senator who says he thinks Marco Rubio is the best guy. And he said the reason he was endorsing, he said because primarily of his foreign policy chops. So that is actually interesting.

But when it comes to Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, he did win the Iowa caucuses four years ago. He does still have a reservoir of support, particularly among movement conservatives. And those are the kind of people Marco Rubio needs whether or not he's a mainstream guy or not, if he wants to bring the whole text, he needs them to.

BURNETT: I mean, it's almost as if he's trying to go as a crossover candidate. He can reach those evangelicals, he can reach moderates, he wants to reach more independents. But together, Rick Santorum's endorsement, someone who's been, you know, those evangelicals and conservatives, opponents for him, I like to do this math on the poll here in New Hampshire, because I think it's incredible, right?

If you add up the establishment candidates, you put Marco Rubio in there, Kasich, Jeb Bush, you get 36 percent, 36 percent. Trump, 31 percent. Ted Cruz 13 percent.

What does that say? When you add them all up, there's a lot of people who do want an establishment candidate?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right. You know what it says? It says Marco Rubio wishes he had all that added up. This Santorum thing is good news for him because he has six news cycles now, from now to the New Hampshire primary, that Marco Rubio wants to giving this narrative momentum, momentum, momentum. Because what he hopes is, you add up all those numbers, he's hoping that Kasich, Bush, and Christie start just bleeding support, because he's seen as the guy who's inevitably moving to own that lane, because he wants to add up all those numbers. It's the only way right now to defeat Donald Trump.

BURNETT: And what about others who are trying to do that? John Kasich, you know, the governor of Ohio, had a big surge here in New Hampshire.

BASH: He did.

BURNETT: He's been trying -- he did. I mean, he's effectively a resident of New Hampshire right now. I'm not sure the people of Ohio will like hearing that. But, look, he's been camped out here trying to be that guy who shows New Hampshire he can listen to their problems, that he's a regular guy, that he can, you know, be the reasonable candidate.

But this is it for him. I mean, even he admits he has not -- he doesn't have very much organization going forward. Marco Rubio does. He's really banking on South Carolina. And he's got more beyond that.

So, people here are very sophisticated, the voters. They see that and they know that. And that's why if we saw on the piece, there are a lot of people who like to vote. They don't want to kind of not vote for Marco Rubio -- but think that's going to (AUDIO GAP).

CHALIAN: Kind of play that governor card.

We've been seeing a year of anger, not wanting people in elected positions, but now that Donald Trump was pierced a little bit in Iowa, seeing now if the electorate reverts back to, hey, a governor that's been in charge and has executive experience, maybe we should have one of those I the mix as well. I think he's hoping for that.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

BASH: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the war of words getting hotter and hotter today. Will they turn it up at tonight's town hall?

And we are (AUDIO GAP) here in New Hampshire, where CNN's Democratic presidential town hall is getting underway moments away. We have lots of energy here. In a few moments, it's going to be Anderson Cooper who's going to be moderating the town hall. He's here with me with Derry. He's coming up in a moment.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:43:26] BURNETT: Welcome back from Derry, New Hampshire, as we're counting you down to CNN's New Hampshire Democratic town hall. Voters who are going to be deciding this election actually have a chance to directly put questions to the candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Today Hillary Clinton is fighting from behind. She's railing Bernie Sanders, a senator from a neighboring state, by more than 20 points from the latest poll.

OUTFRONT now, Brian Fallon, press secretary for the Hillary Clinton.

She, obviously, I know, had an event right to the last moment, and then obviously coming here to get ready.

BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETARY FOR HILLARY CLINTON: Yes.

BURNETT: Here's the thing. The polling is pretty incredible, right? She's got a big deficit right now. In 2008, though, she was behind when she came to New Hampshire, behind Barack Obama. She managed to pull it into a victory and did a big swing.

Could she do it this time?

FALLON: We're going to try. It's going to be tough. This is home field advantage type situation for Senator Sanders. He's from a bordering state. We've seen that sons of New England always do well in the New Hampshire primary going back decades.

I think the only exception to that was Senator Kennedy and that's when he was running against an incumbent president, Jimmy Carter. So, we have our work cut out for us. It's going to be an uphill battle. But we're going to contest it all the way through next Tuesday.

We did three events today. We're going to continue to do events every day until the end of next week. You're right that New Hampshire has been good to the Clintons over the course of their careers, have made Bill Clinton the comeback kid in 1992, propelled Hillary Clinton in 2008.

So, there's a lot of affection here. And she said, despite the fact she's trailing, she's going to work her heart out because New Hampshire means so much to her.

BURNETT: I know you say you're going to do whatever you can to try to turn it into winds. Let's talk about this, the latest poll. I know polls can be right. Polls can be wrong. In this state, very unpredictable because independent voters can vote for whomever they'd like, right?

[19:45:03] But down 23 points, Hillary Clinton from the latest CNN/WMUR poll. Sanders at 57. Clinton at 34. So, when you're talking internally, Brian, what do you consider a win?

I mean, you've got an outright win, of course. You're shooting for that. But what kind of a gap would be a win for you?

FALLON: We have an opportunity to do well. And I think that the polls do show we're behind New Hampshire. We have some head winds here.

But if we continue to put Hillary Clinton in front of New Hampshire voters, they get the opportunity continue hearing from her in the coming days, we think that the choice they'll increasingly have to come to a decision about is who is the Democrat that can best get things done, protect the gains under President Barack Obama and go further to achieve real progressive change.

Hillary Clinton is the one that has that record over her career as first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, senator from New York. We think that that will help clarify the choice in voters' minds here in New Hampshire. So, I think we can eat into that margin right now that Senator Sanders has over us.

CLINTON: All right. So, in terms of differences between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, he laid out what he says a major difference between him and Secretary Clinton. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton recently announced the results, the take from her super PAC, $25 million coming into her super PAC, $15 million of that came from Wall Street. That is a very significant difference.

Our campaign is funded by the people. To a significant degree, her campaign is funded by Wall Street and big money interest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Facts are facts. Bernie Sanders hasn't gotten any money from Wall Street. It's all from individual donors. Secretary Clinton has gotten a lot of money from big donors and big money Wall Street.

FALLON: It hasn't affected her policy positions one jot. If you look at her career during her tenure in the Senate, she was among the harshest critics of Wall Street, spoke out early about the causes of the financial crisis, in 2007. If you look at the proposals that she's put out in this campaign, she's got the toughest, farthest reaching policies in terms of regulating Wall Street and really cracking down, especially on chattel banking. And one competitor after another, from Paul Krugman on down has said that Hillary Clinton's is actually tougher and more comprehensive.

So, the idea she can be bought is ridiculous.

BURNETT: All right. Brian Fallon, thank you very much.

You know, the Clinton campaign really focusing in on trying to narrow that deficit in recent polling. As I said, 57 percent to Bernie Sanders in the most recent CNN poll, 34 percent for Secretary Clinton. They're trying to narrow that.

You heard her press secretary though saying they're shooting for a straight win. If they can get a straight win, that is their goal.

Well, let's talk now about the Bernie Sanders side of the story here. Jonathan Tasini is a Bernie Sanders supporter. He's also the author of "The Essential Bernie Sanders." He's going to be with me in just a second, as we talk about Bernie Sanders side of this.

It's been getting tonally much more negative over the past 24, 48 hours. You see Bernie Sanders with no fear at all about striking out at Secretary Clinton.

Jonathan Tasini is with me now.

So, certainly, it has gotten -- he's been fighting back. He just said, you know, earlier today, look, Wall Street, she gets money from Wall Street. I don't. You just heard me talk about that with her press secretary. Facts are facts. She gets money from Wall Street. He doesn't.

But he points out, look, the reality of it, her policies have been tough on Wall Street. What do you say to that?

JONATHAN TASINI, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: Well, the facts are, as you point out, Hillary Clinton has had a huge amount of money from Wall Street, $600,000 just from Goldman Sachs to give three speeches, which is amazing. I mean, it must be a really great speech that he paid $225,000 per speech.

But more than that, she's gotten money from the pharmaceutical industry, the drug companies. And that's one of our concerns, obviously, the Sanders campaign, and the American people are concerned about that kind of connection that someone has to corporate money.

Look, Bernie Sanders has been clear from the very beginning. And, Erin, I think that if you and I had stood here in June and said that Bernie Sanders would have tied in the Iowa caucuses, essentially it was a tie --

BURNETT: Fair.

TASINI: -- be ready to have a substantial lead in New Hampshire, have after Iowa $3 million raised from contributions -- four out of those ten contributions were new contributors. This political revolution is spreading across the country. So, we're looking past New Hampshire, to the Super Tuesday states and Nevada, that's coming up, to South Carolina. We feel very good about that message.

BURNETT: So, when the Clinton campaign says Bernie Sanders is a Hillary Clinton campaign say, he's a favored son. That gives him a benefit and an advantage, some might say. Does that mean, though, that what he does here can't be replicated?

TASINI: First of all, he tied in Iowa. He's not a favorite son in Iowa, did extremely well. Some say, when we count the actual votes, which Iowa doesn't do, Bernie Sanders actually got more individual people to vote for him in the caucuses.

New Hampshire is very unusual and it's in a state of its own. It's very independent, as you know. People in New Hampshire make their own decisions.

[19:50:04] It has nothing to do with home field advantage.

BURNETT: All right. Jonathan Tasini, thank you very much.

And, of course, we shall see tonight as they make their cases to voters face to face.

OUTFRONT next, as we count down to the CNN Democratic town hall, I'll be joined by Anderson Cooper, who's going to be moderating. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: All right. Breaking news to update you on this moment: Bill Cosby will stand trial on felony sexual assault charges. A judge in Pennsylvania in a ruling just moments ago, denying a request by Cosby's attorneys to have criminal charges against the 78-year-old actor thrown out of court.

The charges against Cosby stem from allegations first made in 2005. With today's ruling, the case will now move forward -- a crucial development. More than 50 women have accused Cosby of sex crimes. Cosby, of course, was once one of the most revered actors in the nation and has vehemently denied all allegations against him.

All right. We're here in Derry, New Hampshire, and it's going to be a showdown tonight. The Democratic candidates with one of their last chances before the voting starts here in New Hampshire, in just about an hour, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders going to be facing off in our presidential town hall.

Anderson Cooper is going to be moderating.

And, Anderson, it's a very intimate room. You have a small -- we heard opera house, we didn't know what that meant.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's a small opera house.

BURNETT: It's a small opera house. You've had a chance to get a sense of what they care about. What do they want to ask these candidates?

[19:55:00] COOPER: You know, the New Hampshire audiences and town halls are very smart, they're very well-informed. So, there's a lot of very specific questions, you know, we ask the people who come up with their own questions, we ask them to at least show us the questions in advance, so that there's not a lot of duplication. So, you don't have ten people asking the exact same question.

BURNETT: Right.

COOPER: That's really the level of involvement we have in on this.

But they're very detailed questions, very specific, you know, covering all the topics you would think a lot of Democrats would be interested in -- education, there's climate change, there's a whole range of subjects. But you also have independent voters who have said that they plan to vote in the Democratic primary and are eligible to vote.

BURNETT: Allow independents go whichever you want.

COOPER: Either one, right.

So, in the room tonight are going to be Democrats and also independents, registered independents who say they're going to be voting next Tuesday in the Democratic primary. So, they're going to be able to ask questions as well. And some of the people who ask questions have already decided what

candidate they like, and many of them, in fact, are undecided and could be swayed one way or another. So it's a big night for these candidates.

BURNETT: It is, and I think the intimate room actually makes it even more personal and special, what you're going to be doing.

All right. Well, we're looking forward it. Of course, Anderson is going to be hosting this. It's going to be, as you said, one of these final moments they have to make a final pitch to voters.

Thanks so much for joining us. Our special coverage from the site of tonight's Democratic town hall continues after this.