Return to Transcripts main page
AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Trump, Clinton Change Strategy Ahead of N.H. Primary; New Finding Could Tamp Down Clinton E-mail Controversy; RNC Comments on Fiorina Not Making Debate; 1 Dead in Crane Collapse in New York City. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired February 5, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.
It is Friday and days before the big primary in New Hampshire, so it's time to change everything, at least that's what it looks like for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Now Donald Trump is offering a softer tone saying he's over the back and forth with Cruz. No more about the stolen Iowa caucus or the election fraud accusation.
And Hillary Clinton, she's sharpening her attacks against Sanders.
BERMAN: As a brand new poll shows Sanders closing the gap nationally and Clinton within 2 points with 11 percent undecided.
BOLDUAN: Only 11.
BERMAN: CNN senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, joins us live from New Hampshire.
Good morning, Jeff.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Kate. You can see Senator Bernie Sanders speaking behind me. It's a much more civil affair this morning than it was last night. I can tell you the battle lines are drawn between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders here with four days remaining before the New Hampshire primary.
Listen to a few of the exchanges. Who was a member of the establishment party? Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Secretary Clinton does represent the establishment. I represent, I hope, ordinary Americans, and by the way, who are not all that enamored with the establishment.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Senator Sanders is the only person who would characterize me, a woman to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: The fight went onto from there on who has better judgment on foreign affairs. This fight is going to continue throughout the day and into the weekend.
Now, Bernie Sanders has a strong lead in New Hampshire. The Clinton campaign is trying everything here. She won in 2008. They're trying to temper expectations, lower them, for good reason. He is some 30 points ahead in the latest New Hampshire poll. But watch the Independent voters. They could vote in the Democratic or the Republican primary, which makes this difficult to determine.
But in the final days, the Clinton campaign is trying everything to align Democrats to vote for her, not that Independent from next door, Bernie Sanders -- John and Kate?
BOLDUAN: And every move and every fundraiser and every gathering matters. What are you hearing about why Hillary Clinton is postponing a fundraiser?
ZELENY: It's not because of the weather. She's cancelling or postponing the one in Boston because it's controversial. Every time she goes to an out of state fundraiser, like she did last week in Iowa, Senator Sanders reminds his supporters she's taking money from super PACs, from hedge-fund donors and wall street, and he's taking his money from average contributors. His average contributor, #27. That's why the fundraiser is postponed and that's why she's staying in New Hampshire and not going to Boston for that.
The money is a serious worry for the Clinton campaign. They're going to have to continue to have fundraisers in big ways. He is raising his money organically. It's surprising nearly everyone in his campaign. He's raising more money online than Barack Obama did. That's a challenge going forward for the Clinton campaign. For tonight, she's not fundraising in Boston -- John and Kate?
BERMAN: Jeff Zeleny there talking in hush tones like he's on the 16th green.
BOLDUAN: He's always like, I can't talk to you right now.
BERMAN: Or Bernie Sanders will miss the putt. Nobody wants that.
All right, Jeff. Thanks so much.
This morning, could a revelation from the State department tamp down the accusations against Clinton receiving emails on her personal account?
BOLDUAN: The department inspector general now says both former secretaries of state, Colin Powell and members of Condoleezza's Rice's staff received information now considered classified on their private e-mail accounts.
Justice reporter, Evan Perez, is live with more on this.
Oh, Evan, what more are you learning?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think the Clinton campaign certainly wanted to embrace this finding from the State Department's inspector general, because what we're talking about are two e-mails that were received on Colin Powell's private e-mail account while he was secretary of state. And in Rice's case, there were 10 e-mails that the inspector general says were sent to her aids that are now deemed classified. It's important to note that the Clinton campaign says this shows that this is not a very big deal. The whole controversy over her e-mail is not a big deal because everybody does it. Certainly, everybody in Washington, high-level officials, if you look at their e-mail, you will find sensitive materials in there and that this is not a big deal.
Obviously, the only thing that matters here is the FBI investigation, which is still hanging over the campaign. And it's important to note that Hillary Clinton set up a private server to handle all of her government e-mails. Neither of the previous two secretaries of state did it. In the case of Secretary Rice, she didn't use e-mail, according to her aides.
[11:05:14] BERMAN: Evan Perez, thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Let's talk more about this and the politics today with Jonathan Martin, the national political correspondent for "The New York Times; and Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist, and former communications director for John Edwards' presidential campaign; and Mr. Bob Beckel, Democratic strategist, CNN political commentator.
We could list all the campaigns you've been involved with, Bob, but I think --
BOB BECKEL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You can do that. That's fine.
Bob, first to you.
The e-mails we were just hearing from Evan Perez. Now you have -- it's happening on the Democratic side, and Hillary Clinton will point out on the Republican side as well. What is the impact here? Does this change anything?
BECKEL: Well, only if the FBI decides to get aggressive and the Justice Department has a grand jury. They're not going to do that. This is a front runner for the Democratic nomination. They're not going to do that in this campaign. When I was in the White House, we didn't have e-mails. I got in trouble for leaving things on my desk. I got a red note and stuff. But I think it has been -- it's a problem, but it's not a big problem. I don't think it's as big a problem as Goldman Sachs is.
BOLDUAN: Is it a problem in the general? Democratic voters don't necessarily care about it. But what about a general election? Could it still turn off Independent voters? Do you think this neutralizes it for her?
BECKEL: I don't think a lot of people get up in the morning and say gee, the e-mail problem is killing me. I don't think it matters that much to people. A lot of other things do.
BERMAN: Jonathan Martin, you wrote the debate wrap for "The New York Times" this morning. You watched Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on that stage. It seemed like a very different debate than we had seen before with Hillary Clinton really in some ways answering Bernie Sanders' charges directly and answering them aggressively. I want to play one moment that sums up the entire evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I really don't think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you. Enough is enough. If you have something to say, say it directly. But you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, Jonathan, what do you think she's trying to do here? Who is she trying to win over here? I'm not sure it's just New Hampshire where she's trailing by 30 points right now.
JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: No. She's looking past New Hampshire, John. You can see the snow behind me. I think her mind is on the palmetto trees of South Carolina where there's no snow coming down today. She is trying to get past the primary next Tuesday where her folks know she's going to lose. It's a matter of how bad she's going to lose in their minds. They're telling her to go to South Carolina and recover, and obviously, Nevada comes before South Carolina. The combination of those two states, they hope, can put her on the path to recovery. She's trying to show fight and take it to Bernie. She was on the offensive all last night against him, and that's a more aggressive side than we've seen from her. It speaks to just how dramatically different this primary is now versus a month, a month and a half ago. Right before Christmas they had a debate and she mentioned Donald Trump I don't know how many times. Last night she mentioned Trump's name once. It's a world of difference.
BOLDUAN: The fight is really on when a lot of folks didn't know who the fight was with before. They only wanted to talk about Donald Trump.
To the point that Jonathan is making, Chris, Clinton is taking the day off from New Hampshire and heading to Flint, Michigan to talk about the water crisis there. Is that just perfect evidence that she is -- I'll say it, and you can yell at me -- but she's giving up on New Hampshire and moving on?
CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, I don't think she's giving up. I think that maybe being realistic about what the numbers show. The one thing about New Hampshire, if you look at it over the last many cycles, it's a state that breaks late. Everyone remembers, in 2008, then-Senator Obama runs Iowa, everyone assumes he'll win New Hampshire and then Clinton wins it. I think New Hampshire has a history of surprising people. That being said, the numbers are pretty significant.
Listen, I think the Clinton campaign and all of us understand one thing, it's South Carolina that is her firewall. That's the state that, if Senator Sanders was able to keep it really close or win, would change the entire perception of this race, and I think that's what they're focusing on. They're really focusing on, we've got to make sure we're going to have a big win in South Carolina. I think Flint is as much about South Carolina as it is about Michigan and what's going on there.
BERMAN: Bob, go ahead.
[11:10:04] BECKEL: Let me tell you something. Having done six presidential races up there, either doing them or covering them, the longest four days in presidential politics are today through Tuesday in New Hampshire. A lot of things change. Bernie Sanders has a 30 percent lead. He won't have that when this is over. You'll see the movement among particularly Independents and undecideds, obviously, but weak Sanders and weak Clinton supporters, Bernie is set up for a big win, and I don't think he's going to get.
BERMAN: Jonathan, you're part of the national media. You make minds up for America. What is a good win for Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire right now? It's not going to be 30 percent.
MARTIN: Yeah. I think the Clinton folks would be happy if they could get the deficit down to somewhere south of, you know, 12, 13 points. I think they would probably declare that a win. I'm not sure if everybody else would go along with that. I think they want to try to get it at least down into the teens if not further south than that. And Bob is right. This is New Hampshire. Things move quickly. It can change. She does have a reservoir of support here. The challenge that she has is that Independents can vote in either primary, and overwhelmingly they support Bernie Sanders. That's going to be a real challenge for her. There's no John McCain running on the Republican side to soak up a lot of Independent voters. Some of them may go for Kasich, but this is not like 2000 or '08, John, where you have McCain winning a lot of those votes.
BERMAN: A point of history, John McCain beat George W. Bush by 19 points in 2000. You can take a drubbing in New Hampshire. You can get beat bad and move on.
BOLDUAN: To that point, on the Democratic side --
(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: -- when you look at the Quinnipiac poll that came out, nationally, there's only a two point difference between them, when it was much larger before. What's the conversation in the Hillary Clinton campaign right now about that?
BECKEL: First of all, take any national polls right now and just throw it.
BOLDUAN: Throw it?
BECKEL: Right. They're useless. In fact, polls from New Hampshire from yesterday are useless.
BOLDUAN: They're all over the map.
BECKEL: They are. And I think that the tracking polls which we used to do, every day, we'd track two times a day to see the movement. There will be movement. New Hampshire comes up and surprises. It always has. And I would not be surprised to see it be below double digits, a loss for Clinton, and also keep your eyes on Kasich looking at this thing for the Republican side.
BOLDUAN: Who has spent more time there than anybody else.
BERMAN: Last word, quickly, Chris?
KOFINIS: I think it's a reality you're going to see tightening in these polls. But here's the thing. The average voter is not dissecting polls. They're reading headlines. That's the risk in terms of this race. If Senator Sanders wins New Hampshire, it's the headline risk. And then I think everyone focuses on South Carolina. That is the critical state that I think we need to think about. If the dynamics change there, this race is completely different in a few weeks.
BERMAN: I agree. The Flint decision is focused on South Carolina. I'm also wondering about campaigns that track twice a day.
BERMAN: Jonathan Martin, Chris Kofinis, Bob Beckel --
-- thanks very much.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, if the new Trump and Clinton are on display, then Jeb Bush is not going new. He's going retro. See how Barbara Bush and George W. Bush are coming out to help, and what the former first lady says about Donald Trump.
BERMAN: Plus, despite pleas from high-profile Republicans, including Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz and others, Carly Fiorina will not be part of the big weekend debate. What does the RNC think about that? Republican National Committee official, Sean Spicer, joins us next.
And breaking news out of New York. A crane collapses in the middle of a busy street in lower Manhattan. At least one person has died. At least three more injured. We have some new information on this story, next.
[11:18:05] BERMAN: All right. Big debate controversy this morning in New Hampshire. In fact, it would not be a debate this year if there were not controversy. Carly Fiorina will not be part of the debate Saturday night. Not be part of the Republican debate Saturday night. Two of her rivals, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, they say she should be. Mitt Romney says so, too.
BOLDUAN: Joining us to talk about this is Sean Spicer, the chief strategist and communications director for the Republican National Committee. He's joining us from New Hampshire.
Sean, it's great to see you.
Everyone from Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, even Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, they're all saying let Carly on the stage. What's one more?
SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, I think she's a phenomenal candidate, but there's criteria issues, and unfortunately, it's not as easy as just saying that. I think that's part of the problem. There are candidates that have dropped out that did well in Iowa as well. They got delegates and made a decision in part probably because they didn't think they were going to make the stage. And now to sort of change the rules 24 hours out I think would be unfair to them. The criteria was issued. ABC made it available. Everyone knew what they had to do to get into the debate. It was inclusive. The top six people in New Hampshire, the top folks nationally, had an opportunity to make it in.
BERMAN: I feel like this is the third or fourth time we've gone through something like this. Every time we ask a question, I can see the frown on your face.
So we'll move on. Enough debate over who gets on the debate stage.
John doesn't want to make you unhappy, but I do.
BERMAN: Let's talk about Iowa. The "Des Moines Register" put out an editorial last night that said, "Ted Cruz's campaign of deceit should worry voters." They slam Cruz for what it calls a deceptive mailer sent out before hand about voting it raises, and also talking about voice mails from campaign staff saying Ben Carson may drop out of the race. Do you have a position here? Do you think the Cruz campaign went too far?
SPICER: That is not for me to decide. I mean, you talk about --
BERMAN: But isn't it, Sean? Doesn't the Republican National Committee --
SPICER: No --
BERMAN: -- have to weigh in on how campaigns are run?
[11:20:11] SPICER: No, we don't. No. Because there's things that each of these campaigns have to run their own race. Sometimes you go over the line and the voters are the ones who make the decision you've crossed the line or a judge or whatever. It's not our job -- you've heard me say it before, to call balls and strikes. That's up for the voters and the states. That's what's important.
I look at what happened on the other side. And you want to talk about egregious, six precincts in Iowa were decided by a coin toss in a Democratic party. A party that champions this whole idea of people participation and rights and all that, they used a coin toss to decide six precincts. If you want to talk about egregious that's --
BERMAN: You're calling balls and strikes on the Democrats but not your own party. You're willing to criticize a party you have no control over. But you don't want to talk about something that is within the parameters of your office.
SPICER: No. But what you're asking me is to talk about how a campaign message or used tactics pro or con against another candidate or talked about themselves, that is just deciding how a campaign -- that's campaign strategy. Each campaign decides for themselves how to run it. That's vastly different than deciding the outcome. The Democrats literally chose who would get delegates by the flip of a coin.
I get your question, and you're asking me to decide whether a mailer or action or how somebody conveyed something is fair. Sometimes in politics it's not pretty. I get that. That's different than deciding the outcome of a precinct's election by a coin toss. The "Des Moines Register" talked about how poorly --
SPICER: -- how undemocratic the other side was. And I think that's where the discussion should be, the idea that that is how we're deciding our elections is pretty sad.
BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about this. Hillary Clinton's e-mails, that has been a very big target, not only of Republican candidates but the RNC. The RNC say it disqualifies her for being president. Now we know that under a Republican administration, the secretary of state, Colin Powell, his e-mails -- they also found classified e-mails in his personal e-mail account. So does this neutralize the issue, or more importantly, does this disqualify Colin Powell running or from being secretary of state?
SPICER: Well, he's not secretary of state, and I don't know that he's trying to serve as secretary of state.
BOLDUAN: Thank you for reminding me of that.
SPICER: But I don't want to diminish this. I think if he were to run for president of the United States, I think he would probably have to answer this question. If Colin Powell chooses to seek the presidency, I think it would be a fair question to ask. My understanding is he's not.
But second of all, there's a few distinctions. Number one, it's one thing to have a few isolated incidents, which I think they found in the Colin Powell situation, and he should have his opportunity to explain that, which is not what's going on with the Clintons. They took their thing on a private unclassified server, said they scrubbed it themselves. There was no classified information. That's not just false one time but hundreds of times. It's not just sensitive information. It's multiple incidences of top-secret information. And we still don't have access to all the e-mails. It was the Clintons who scrubbed them first. We don't know what else they never actually turned over that's classified. So --
BOLDUAN: So you don't think this neutralizes --
SPICER: So the way that -- the way --
BOLDUAN: -- the issue for Republicans at all? You're still going to continue to bring this up?
SPICER: Absolutely. It's a fair thing. She took them, put them on a private server, which is unclassified, never mind the cyber issues we face in terms of a country, in places like China and Russia that are constantly trying to seek information about how our government operates, something Secretary Clinton herself wrote about in her book. But we see, for instances, of how this callousness has now cost -- allowed certain sensitive up to top-secret information be put in the public secret sphere. That's very dangerous. Seeking to be commander-in-chief. So there are different circumstances that existed in those two circumstances.
The last thing I'll say, Kate, is from my understanding, the only reason we know about this is the FBI spoken Colin Powell. I don't believe that's occurred with Secretary Clinton. If she wants to talk about a standard, she should sit down with the FBI, as I believe Colin Powell did, and then we'll have a conversation about what's fair. BOLDUAN: Sean Spicer, from the Republican National Committee.
Thank you, Sean.
SPICER: Thanks, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Of course.
Coming up for us, the paper of record in New Hampshire really ripping into Marco Rubio, saying he basically just got out of day care. The editor is joining us live, ahead.
[11:25:00] BERMAN: Plus stunning pictures out of lower Manhattan. A crane has collapsed, killed someone in the middle of the street. We'll have the latest information on this. Wow, look at that. We'll be there, live.
BOLDUAN: Breaking news this morning out of New York City. One person is dead. Three people injured, two seriously, after a crane -- look at these pictures and videos -- after a crane collapsed in lower Manhattan. Several parked cars were crushed. We know that one person was killed sitting in one of the cars and was not part of the construction crew.
Here is Mayor Bill de Blasio just moments ago talking about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:30:00] BILL DE BLASIO, (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Our hearts go out to the families of the individual who has been lost and to all those who have been injured. We're concerned obviously for everyone who lives and works in the area to make sure they'll be safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)