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First Voting in New Hampshire Will Happen At Midnight; Beyonce's Super Bowl Performance Became Controversial. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired February 8, 2016 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:13] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Back now at the top of the hours. The first polls will open for voting in one hour, midnight eastern, in the New Hampshire primary. This is - there they are. They are getting ready.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon live at the foundry in Manchester, New Hampshire. We're happy to be here in the snow. Look how beautiful it is outside. Yet cold.

Residents of the tiny town of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, will cast their vote at midnight. We are going to bring those results to you right here on CNN. The rest of the voters here in New Hampshire can begin casting their ballots. They will do that tomorrow morning when polls open around the granite state in the first primary of 2016, presidential race. First primary of 2016 presidential race. It is a busy hour ahead here on CNN.

Joining me now is Paul Steinhauser, the political director and anchor of "New Hampshire One News" Jennifer Horne, the chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker," And Alison Pyott, an undecided New Hampshire voter who stole our hearts. We have to thanks here on CNN.

My first question is to Paul Steinhauser. What do you do after tomorrow?



LEMON: Paul, we are so close here to the very first votes I Dixville Notch. We saw the pictures of them getting ready. The polls showed Donald Trump is leading by double digits. Do you think that's going to change? Do you think his change in tone helped him here in New Hampshire?

STEINHAUSER: His change of tone sine Iowa. He has not been as bombastic, I guess you could say bombastic as he was. Earlier, he wasn't been bragging about the polls. Though, tonight, he did get a little off the rails, maybe and use a profanity to describe Ted Cruz. But his supporters welcome anyway up here, Don. LEMON: He repeated that for a minute as someone else.

STEINHAUSER: Repeated for somebody else.

LEMON: But you got the chance to speak to him just a short time ago. What did he say?

STEINHAUSER: I did. I was talking to him one-on-one earlier this afternoon. I asked him about the expectations games, what do you need here in New Hampshire? Take a listen.



STEINHAUSER: Can you continue on if you don't finish first here and if you didn't finish first in Iowa?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I can. But I would love to finish first here. And I think I probably finish first in Iowa if you had the votes back that were taken away from, you know, wrongly taken away from Ben Carson. I would have been first there. And I finish the urge doing second. So I think I did really great in Iowa, to caucus state, not the kind of place that I'm used to certainly. I like this much better where you are going on vague. But I think we are going to do very well in New Hampshire.


LEMON: I love that he won Iowa.


LEMON: That is Donald Trump, right. I mean, he is at is who he is.

STEINHAUSER: (INAUDIBLE) that is classic Donald Trump. And let's be honest. He has been big time in the state for a long time. He needs a double digit win here. If he doesn't get it, that's a loss, almost.

LEMON: Are you surprised -- anybody surprised by how much he is winning here because the word is that his ground game isn't very good here, but yet he's really far ahead.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, the ground game is nothing you can necessarily be able to pick up in the polls, right? It might explain why in Iowa some of the polls had him leading and then he didn't meet expectations because he just didn't have an operation to get people out.

A primary is a little bit different, right? People can vote all day long. The ground game is not as important in New Hampshire as it is in a caucus where it's sort of everything. I think the big surprising thing is you have a series of candidates not named Trump who have let this guy just advance in the polls without doing much at all to take him down. You have Christie and Rubio and Jeb Bush and John Kasich in a sort of four-man, you know, pile-up attacking each other and letting Trump sort of waltz, you know, waltz along here without taking any fire.

LEMON: You live here. What do you think of the ground game because we are outsiders, right? And we are saying, we hear his ground game isn't so good. Is that true? Do you feel that?

ALISON PYOTT, UNDECIDED DEMOCRATIC VOTER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, it has been interesting that he only flies in and flies out. He hasn't spent an overnight.

LEMON: Does that have an effect on you?

PYOTT: On me, personally, no.

LEMON: But on the voters?

PYOTT: It hasn't. I mean, he has been doing well. People seem to like him for some reasons, so I'm not sure.

LEMON: It seems, Jennifer, that the spot, the - I don't know, the race for number two, the candidates, are all bunched up for number two. Marco Rubio was supposed to be the one who was surging who was going to come in second. Now people are saying it's going to be John Kasich. Do you think that his debate performance hurt him?

JENNIFER HORN, CHAIRMAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, I don't think that any one moment in the campaign defines it is what I think. There is no question that 30 percent of undecided voters that we were talking about late last week, they were tuned in to the debate. So certainly what happened there is going to influence how they see these candidates going forward. But one debate moment, one moment on the trail, one moment in town hall, that is not going to decided, you know, especially for people here in New Hampshire. I think our voters are very engaged. They're very sophisticated. They understand there is a lot more to this than any one moment.

[23:05:06] LEMON: Allison, the question you asked Hillary Clinton at the town hall last week, I want to play that and then we'll discuss it. Here it is.


PYOTT: My question has number of factors, some you just described have eroded trust in you. What will you do to regain that trust and gender trust in Americans and me?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you have been subjected to the level, the velocity of attacks that come every day, even if there is no factual basis to it, it's just normal for people to say, God, there's got to be something. Why do they keep saying this and then we do that? And you know, I testified for 11 hours. There's nothing to Benghazi. They don't give it up. They keep coming after it.


LEMON: So you've heard Bernie Sanders is a lead among young women. You said part of the -- one of your issues was sexism, correct? So what are people saying? How are people reacting the night before the primaries here?

PYOTT: It's been really fascinating to watch all my friends react to the last few days and to be `part of this process. Some really, you know, this has been more engaging for me. And what I'm hearing is a lot of people coming out with their personal stories. Some people saying that they don't trust that Hillary would be there if they needed her and that they feel that from Bernie. I do feel that she is being held to a higher standard, and you know, the attacks are happening again today.

LEMON: Do you think she's being held to a higher standard? How so?

PYOTT: I think that no matter what Hillary does, people have a different viewpoint of her. She can't seem to, you know, whatever she does comes back on her in a negative way. And I think just this weekend the activity that we saw happening with the comments from Gloria Steinem, from Madeleine Albright, while all trying to engender support for her, have backfired even when they were trying to bring out support.

LEMON: You're still undecided, correct?

PYOTT: I am still undecided. I'm in that position you've heard from a number of voters the last few days. I'm balancing my head and my heart. My head is saying Hillary has this amazing experience, but my heart is saying Bernie. And I'm still trying to reconcile that.

LEMON: Yes. You are in the - I mean, people here are inundated. Do you feel overwhelmed with the amount of ads and the amount of canvassing?

PYOTT: Yes. Especially as a registered independent. Your mailbox is filled. You are getting phone calls. You just stop answering the phone. And my Facebook feed is just filled with tons of great commentary which, you know, both sides. It's an opportunity to learn.

LEMON: So let's put the, you know, the polls and everything away and let's talk here. Because you know, I got here and I can't imagine being a voter here. And I've been here for a day and a half, two days and I feel inundated. I can't imagine what it's like living here for like Alison. Go ahead, what do you think?

LIZZA: Well, I'm just sort of fascinated by anyone who is not decided at this point. And I think, you know, when I was watching you ask that question the other night, a lot of people on twitter, on social media were saying, what's wrong with this person? Why can't she make up her mind? What more information do you need to know about Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton? So many people are sort of -- see the differences between those two and just I'm fascinated by what's the final thing that will put you over the edge?

LEMON: I don't want to speak for her but it's not just Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton because it is independent. Some people are choosing --. LIZZA: You are going to vote on the Democratic side, right?

PYOTT: Right.

LEMON: Yes. But it's your head and your heart, you said, correct?

PYOTT: Yes. There are so many factors that are leading for me. The knowledge -- I was saying to people if I was hiring somebody for a job, I look for the person that has the most experience, the most breadth of experience. I look for that person that has those relationships to make things happen. It sounds like I'm voting for Hillary. But there is a part of me that doesn't sit well, and my heart is going, Bernie, I'm being $, inspired by his rallying cry for the people and for wage inequality and campaign finance reform. And I think that's one of the turn offs with Hillary right now is that she is seen as being connected to Wall Street and to -- a lot of people are really turned off by privilege, privilege of wealth and privilege of corporation.

LEMON: And Bernie speaks to that.

PYOTT: And Bernie is speaking to that. And Hillary has those connections while they will help her get things done. That privilege and that backlash to privilege I think is one of the things that is really turning a lot of voters off and turning to Bernie.

LEMON: She speaks for a lot of voters here.

HORN: There is no question that she does. And I would say, you know, obviously I'm not going to be voting for Hillary or Bernie. But I think she is a great example of this extraordinary disconnect between Hillary Clinton and her base, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. That, you know, that Senator Sanders offers a very sincere approach, you know, a very sincere message, and that it kind of highlights the insincerity and you know what I have said before, the craven dishonesty of Hillary. And now, I'm flag into what you have said a second ago that when Hillary Clinton says something, she gets criticized, but I think that there is a reason for that, you know. I think that she does have this history of being willing to say and do anything, and I think that's really starting to -- that's had a significant influence in why senator Sanders has done so well here in New Hampshire.

[23:10:22] LEMON: For independents, do you think independents here in New Hampshire, they are going to vote Republican or Democrat?

STEINHAUSER: Independents like to go where the vote counts and where the action is. Now, if they believe that Bernie Sanders is truly 20 points ahead of Hillary Clinton, they are going to go to the Republican side where you have a big battle right now for second, third and fourth and that's going to be more crucial. So yes, maybe independents do start swinging back over to the Republican side.


LIZZA: That's a great point, Don, because that can have a huge impact. In 2000, when independents had a choice, vote on the Republican side, vote on the Democratic side. Bill Bradley on the Democratic side was attracting a lot of independents. McCain on the Republican side. And a lot of people think Bill Bradley lost to Al Gore on the Democratic side because the independents flooded over to the Republican primary.

LEMON: So Alison, when does it happen? Right at the moment, or when you get off the air tonight?

STEINHAUSER: The clock is ticking.

PYOTT: Look. I have this crazy --

LEMON: You're going to let Dixville Notch outdo you?

PYOTT: I have this crazy notion right now that I want my cake and I want to eat it to. I want to vote Bernie tomorrow because I want him to continue to push Hillary on the issues that I most I care about and I'm also excited about how he is energizing the base and he is, you know, bringing so many people to the party. And yet, in the end, I think my heart, my brain is saying Hillary Clinton is the right candidate.

LEMON: That she has the most experienced but you want - but if he is not in there?

PYOTT: I feel like she is not going to get push on those issues. And I also don't want to lose those people that are really attracted to his message. I thought, you know, I thought a lot this weekend and I was thinking about, you know, Obama has had hope, Bernie has believe. And those are really inspiring. Hillary has an H with an arrow. It doesn't bring that enthusiasm.

LEMON: That says a lot about the message and what folks have been talking about, that perhaps Hillary Clinton needs to take a good long look in the mirror, because maybe the problem is right there. You said hope and belief and she has an H. That's very well said.

PYOTT: An H with an arrow. So, it's not inspiring that passion.

LIZZA: Like a FedEx symbol or something.



LEMON: I have to say that when people say your vote doesn't count -- my vote doesn't count because it's one person. I love that your vote - yes, your vote does count, and it's very important because one person's vote can absolutely make a difference, and you believe that, and you epitomize that.

PYOTT: I take it very responsibly, and I think New Hampshire voters take this very responsibly. I said this the other day on NPR. I was in line to get to the debate and they said, you know, when will you decide? I said, I have until Tuesday. I take all my decisions very seriously -- not seriously, but you know, every decision comes to me with a lot of thought and process other than that it might (INAUDIBLE) my husband. That would just came naturally.

LEMON: You put much thought into that.

PYOTT: No. I put a lot of thought into it but it just came naturally. And it is funny. Somebody else said that to my friends said I put more time and energy into it deciding who I'm going vote for, than who I was going to marry.

LEMON: And I won't response to that. I will give myself a trouble.

Thank you. I really appreciate you coming on. Thank you so much.

PYOTT: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: All right. Thank you Alison. I appreciate everyone. Thanks for taking your time to come on tonight.

There is a report that Hillary Clinton is about to shake up her campaign.

Plus a billionaire who says he may run as an independent. We are going to see how a run by Michael Bloomberg went in back 2006 race. Don't go anywhere.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, so are you excited about the race?

GRANTZ: Yes, but I like Bernie Sanders as a person. I don't believe in socialism but I love the guy. I think he is a cool dude.


[23:17:13] LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. Manchester, New Hampshire.

Bernie Sanders has a 26-point lead over Hillary Clinton in the latest CNN New Hampshire poll. With me now, Symone Sanders, Bernie Sanders' national press secretary. Ryan Lizza is back with us, also Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen is here and CNN contributor Bakari Sellers.

Ryan, I want to get your reaction. This is the "Politico" story out that the Clinton campaign is shaking up her staff in New Hampshire. Here is what John Pedesta (ph) from the Hillary camp tweeted out. He said, there's zero truth to it. Hillary herself says they are going to take stock. A source close to the campaign tells CNN it's hard to fight passion with reason. Can she turn this around, do you think, in this state? Do you believe this story and can she turn it around.

LIZZA: I believe this story. There's probably something to it. It's this little light on the details, but look, she barely, barely won Iowa after eight years of having an organization that should have been preparing for this, right? And in a state like New Hampshire that has been very good to her, her husband came in second but won because he was the comeback kid in 1992. She, of course, defeated Barack Obama in 2008. And to be losing to a 74-year-old socialist, you know, I think that shows some serious weakness in a campaign as well funded, as organized and one that should have been prepared for all of this. So yes, maybe some rethinking make sense at this point.

LEMON: You're saying it in a nicer way than David Axelrod said it because here is what he said. Hilary, I want you to respond. And he said, when the exact same problems crop up in separate campaigns with different staff, at what point do the principals say, hey, maybe it's us? How do you read that?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I actually don't think the problems are the same as they were in 2008 where you had a really divided campaign staff, a lot of hostility internally. You're not seeing that with Hillary Clinton's team now.

LEMON: That's a pretty strong statement from David Axelrod.

ROSEN: Yes, because that serves his interest because he was there in 2008 and, you know, no drama Obama. I think Hillary has lived by the no drama Clinton. But I think it's also turned into a little bit for her supporters not enough excitement Clinton. And you know, so I don't think it's true that there is a staff shake-up happening. I don't think anybody inside, including the secretary and Bill Clinton, want to see this story out there.

[23:20:02]LEMON: Yes.

ROSEN: But they're struggling. There's no question. They don't want to be behind.

LEMON: Hold your fire, Bakari. We have to get Symone in, because Symone is, you know, with the Bernie Sanders campaign. So what do you make of what's happening in the shake-up? Apparently your side has rattled Clinton enough, if this story is true that she's rethinking her strategy.

SYMONE SANDERS, BERNIE SANDERS' NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: You know, I think all of the things we have seen in the last couple days, one of the negative attacks lobbed by the Clinton campaign and some of their supporters, they're shook and they're a little bit nervous because senator Sanders has really built this coalition, this political revolution that we talk about is real, you know. We are uniting young people. We are bringing out young people. We brought record numbers of young people out in Iowa second highest --

Some of those supporters and maybe some of those young people, they're controlling Hillary Clinton and saying awful, awful things about her.

SANDERS: And you know, Sanders addressed that. He was like -- and he addressed that and he noted that that crap has no place in his campaign and --

ROSEN: He said that was to his credit that he did that. SANDERS: Exactly, because you know, he is not supporting anything

like that. But I think that is, you know, we can't control everything. Everyone who supports the senator said. But senator Sanders has not engaged in any of that. We, as a campaign, have not engage any of that. We have really been about the issues.

LEMON: OK. Hillary Clinton is also going on the offensive, calling out the senator on his own connections to Wall Street. Listen to this.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was kind of amused just the other day. Senator Sanders took about $200,000 from Wall Street firms. Not directly, but through the Democratic Senate campaign committee. You know? There was nothing wrong with that. It hasn't changed his view. Well, it didn't change my view or my vote, either!


LEMON: Does this undercut Sanders' argument against Hillary Clinton on Wall Street?

SANDERS: Absolutely not. And frankly, it's absurd. Secretary Clinton whose super PAC raised $15 million, just recently they put those numbers out, has accused senator Sanders who has never taken corporate PAC money in his life. OK? They assumed THAT all the money that came from the DSSC came from corporate money when that's not true at all.

You know, there were these reports out there that, you know, senator Sanders was at these fundraisers. Senator Sanders was doing his due diligence as a member of the party. If he didn't show up to those, they would have said, he's not a real democrat. He wasn't even running for election when these last things popped up. So this was just another attempt.

LEMON: You were the young guy in the group, alright. Because you say this whole Bernie Sanders youth vote is a myth? Why?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is a myth. But let's back up a little bit first. And I think Symone and Bernie Sanders and everyone at this table have to step back and actually acknowledge something that they have which is that Hillary Clinton is the first woman in the history of this country to win the Iowa presidential primary. She actually won that race. So I think that's very important, not only for this country but for everybody to acknowledge.

And second, yes, I do believe this myth is being portrayed about Bernie Sanders and the young voters is simply that, a myth. Because what we haven't seen, is we haven't seen millennials of color actually be of influence in this race. And you are going to see that in Nevada, you are going to see that in South Carolina, so it's going to change. And let me also, to Ryan's point, I need to clarify something really

quickly. There is a vast difference between 2008 and where we are right now. And the vast difference is that Barack Obama had a springboard, because Barack Obama won Iowa. Bernie Sanders did not. Also, what we have to remember is we are counting all of our chickens before the eggs hatch or whatever the old saying is.

LEMON: They're about to hatch soon. In about an hour, less than an hour.

SELLERS: What we do know, though, is that sitting in South Carolina talking to David Axelrod and plough a few hours before it happened, Barack Obama was up nine points and lost by 2.6. So there is still a lot of role to be played and I look forward to seeing Symone. I look forward to seeing everyone down in South Carolina.

LEMON: Hold that thought. I got to get a break. We will continue right after a quick break.


[23:28:08] LEMON: It is on. The countdown is on, the first votes in the New Hampshire primary will be cast shortly at midnight eastern. There we go. That is Dixville Notch, live pictures. Can we listen a little bit? I guess it's just applause. They're applauding us.

Back with me Symone Sanders, Ryan Lizza, Hilary Rosen and Bakari Sellers.

So basically, Bakari just said that your entire campaign is a farce.

SANDERS: And Bakari --

SELLERS: That's not what I said.

SANDERS: Let me help Bakari clarify. What he said was the political revolution was a myth. And I have to push back on that to say that we have over 3.5 million contributions in this campaign.

LEMON: You said to me, why won't he let the revolution live?

SANDERS: And that's my question, why won't you let the political revolution live? Young people are coming out in droves, young people of color as well. So you can't say the political revolution is all young white people. That's not true. I'm part of the political revolution.

SELLERS: I'm with you. I'm the son of a revolutionary. In fact, 48 years ago today in South Carolina, my father was shot along with 27 others in the Orangewood massacre. And we all stand on the shoulder of true revolutionary. So I applaud you being part of the campaign. I applaud me having this voice on CNN tonight. So I definitely understand the revolution.

But my only point is simply that there are more voices that have to be heard. And I'm saying that this process, the demographics will change. As we move forward, I believe Hillary Clinton is better prepared to deal with those tasks, and I think her message -- but it's still yet to be seen.

SANDERS: It is still yet to be seen. You know, we have state directors and --.


SANDERS: We are prepared to close the gap in South Carolina and in Nevada. So you just have to wait and see. You know, your folks were tempering expectations earlier today in one of these articles in "Politico" about, well, you know, the Latino and Hispanic voters is not what it is in Nevada. So we have seen folks start to walk things back why? Because the political revolution is alive and well.

[23:30:04] LEMON: As much as I love this, Bakari -- I love this so much.


LEMON: And to do that, to tee that off, I want you guys to take a look. This moment happened tonight at a Trump rally. A voter shouted out of vocal word for a woman's anatomy in regards to Ted Cruz and Trump repeated it for the audience. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You heard it the other night at debate. They asked Ted Cruz a serious question, what do you think of waterboarding, is it OK? And honestly, I thought he would say absolutely, and he didn't. He said well, you know, he was concerned about the answer because some people -- she just said a terrible thing. You know what she said? Shout it out because I don't want to say it. OK. You're not allowed to say. And I never expect to hear that from you again. She said, I never expect to hear that from you again. She said he's (bleep). That's terrible. Terrible.


TRUMP: That's terrible.


LEMON: What do you think, Ryan?

LIZZA: This is my question?

LEMON: I mean, you could pass.

LIZZA: He's like a 13-year-old boy.

ROSEN: This makes the conversation between Bakari and Symone so much better, doesn't it? That we have a conversation here with Democrats in this Democratic primary which is about, what are we doing? Are we dreaming? How are we going to reach our progress? Are we going to do it, you know, with you know big, maybe unrealistic dreams, or are we going to, you know, march along and get our primary done. What they're doing in the Democratic primaries, they are calling each other, you know --.

LEMON: Republican.

ROSEN: Republican primaries, they are just calling each other names. It's just nauseating.

LEMON: It is too much being made of this. Do you think people care so much about that word, on do you think their ears are saying --

SANDERS: I mean, I think it is offensive. It is offensive. And in this election, and I would been to - I mean, on the Republican side they're not having this conversation, but folks want to talk about the issues. And this is just yet another example of why the Republicans cannot take the White House in 2017 and in 2016, and why a Democrat will be president of the United States.

ROSEN: And you know, if Donald Trump wins tomorrow following this comment, this you know, this is just be one more notch in that belt, you know, for Democrats to go after.

LEMON: OK. I want to show this and we'll put it up. I have this flyer here in my hand. If we can put that up on the screen. They passed this out at Marco Rubio's rallies and posted it on windows. You are quoted here, Bakari Sellers, as saying quote Marco Rubio scares me. Is that still the case, you think? Is he the candidate that Democrats most fear?

SELLERS: Marco Rubio's story is amazing. His ability to tell that story is amazing. He was a great orator. After the debate the other night, I have to take a step back and say that my fear is tempered. I think most Democrats breath the sigh of relief because once Marco Rubio is not Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio is not Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio damn sure is not Barack Obama. We learned that.

And what we are starting to see is the myth of who Marco Rubio is, it's peeling away. It is peeling away. And that's the most amazing thing about this process. Mike Tyson said it best. You never know who a fighter is until you get punched in the jar. He got punched in the jaw and we saw how Marco Rubio really was.

LEMON: But Chris Christie hit him.

ROSEN: The interesting about the Republicans race I think is that people keep talking about this narrative of we have the, you know, the outsiders and the establishment lane. And people are thinking that this establishment lane means that their politics are more moderate, right? That those that's what that means, and you know, that Marco Rubio or John Kasich or Chris Christie or Jeb Bush.

But the truth is they all have an exactly the same radical positions as each other, that the tea party sort of forced on the Republican primary. And so, it almost doesn't matter which one of these guys now gets elected. They are all saddled with this. LIZZA: The most significant thing that may come out of this Rubio-

Christie moment, is that Rubio does not do what he thought he was going to do here come on second and a strong a second. And you just have Kasich and Rubio and even Jeb Bush still bunch up all at a similar number. This, New Hampshire did not do what it usually does in the past and win outfield. They all go down to South Carolina. Maybe one or two drops out, but if so, it could be a four or five person race. And that's when you start to get in to the scenarios of an actual contested convention.

LEMON: Thank you, everyone. Thanks for getting up.

Coming up, we're keeping an eye on the votes in Dixville Notch.

And also coming up at the top of the hour, consider this your pregame. Super bowl 50 was a great game, but other than the Broncos victory, many people are talking about Beyonce's half time performance and what political statements she is making. You don't want to miss that.


[23:39:16] LEMON: Mega star Beyonce's super bowl half time show performance is causing quite a stir because it was political and it was controversial. Here's a little part of it.


LEMON: Joining me now is Nischelle Turner, CNN contributor and "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT" host, DeRay McKesson, the activist for Black Lives Matter is with me via Skype and also Kierna Mayo, the editor in- chief of "Ebony" magazine.

I'm laughing because the panelists sitting in and they are going to weigh in on this as well. Bakari Sellers is dancing on the set. I went to a party on Saturday night.

Karen, I went to a party on Saturday night and they played this song over and over because she released it on Saturday, and everybody was like, we woke, we woke!

Nischelle, so that was part of the super bowl half time show that you saw last night. The video perform that really had people talking. Let's look at that piece of it and then we'll discuss.


[23:41:13] LEMON: All right. So she references black hair, she talks about creole, Louisiana, Alabama, hurricane Katrina, black lives matter. She has a plan for everything. Why do you think does she is speaking out in this way now?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, because I think that she has finally come into her own as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a person of color, and I think she's making a statement. You know, for so long in the music industry, Beyonce has been at the top of her game and at the top of the charts, but she long was thought of a little bit of a safe artist until her last album and then people started getting a little -- she started getting a little blowback because they thought she was a little too sexual. Well now, she's saying, listen, this is who I am. See me for who I am. See me, love me, or leave me alone. And she is making a statement. I think it's fantastic. And whether you agree with it or not, the art is great.

LEMON: It's beautiful, yes. So, and she is not particularly political or hasn't been, at least, Kierna. She manages to use the super bowl half time show as a showcase for a black message. What do you think of the timing of this?

KIERNA MAYO, EDITOR IN-CHIEF, EBONY MAGAZINE: Well, the timing was spot on as Beyonce always tends to be. You know, she has got that kind of magical timing that works with every project that releases.

But you know, I really think that the controversial aspect of this is being overblown to some extent. I mean, it all ties back to the Black Panther reference, I would say, and really, when you unpack the Black Panthers, you're talking about a group of young people who came together -- first of all, it's called the Black Panther party for self-defense. They were defending themselves against police violence. This is the same conversation we're having today exactly 50 years after the advent of the Black Panther party. So for Beyonce to use this as a cultural reference -- and it's a moment. She's simply nodding. It's also a style thing. I mean, let's not have that be lost on the conversation. I mean, they look amazing. And it was wonderful to see black women centralized in that way, to be seen as powerful, to be seen as essential, and everything -- at no point in Beyonce's show did you ever forget that black women were outstanding. So I just think it is spot on.

LEMON: I'm so glad that you said that you didn't think it was controversial, because I didn't think there was anything controversial about a Black Panther. Artists have always done this.

TURNER: Really? On that stage?

LEMON: No. I didn't think it was controversial at all. I was like, more power to you. Deliberate but not controversial.

DeRay, you tweeted out, you said formation shouts out to Malcolm X and M.J. were excellent. What did you think of her performance?