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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Bush, Trump Campaigns Get Nasty; Interview with John Kasich; Shake up in Clinton Campaign. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired February 9, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


[02:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we wake up and he's talking about John Kasich. It does seem as if you've changed focus a little bit, subtly. The question is why.

DAVID KOCHEL, CHIEF STRATEGIST, JEB BUSH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: He's been comparing and contrasting the records of several people. John Kasich doesn't have the record. None of the governors have the records Governor Bush has. More tax cuts, $19 billion, than any other person in the race. He created 1.3 million jobs, much more than Kasich. Kasich supports Medicaid expansion, Obamacare. He doesn't have the conservative record of success that Governor Bush does.

BOLDUAN: David, on this back and forth with Donald Trump now, it's gotten nasty in the past 24 hours. First, you have Donald Trump calling Jeb a child and a stiff. In response, Jeb calling him a loser, liar and a whiner. Why do you want this to be the conversation this close to the primary?

KOCHEL: When you get in a fight with a bully, you have to hit back. He is a loser for calling POWs loser. Come on.

BERMAN: I know you are, but what --

KOCHEL: The rhetoric ratchets up at this point in the campaign. Trump has taken this campaign into the gutter where he went last night. The language that Mr. Trump uses is really not appropriate in a campaign. We've kept it pretty much on the issues, and we've tried to stick up for handicapped people he insulted, women he insulted, Hispanics he insulted. He can't insult his way to the presidency. Jeb is pushing back.

BERMAN: David Kochel, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

KOCHEL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Good luck tonight. Thanks so much, David.

KOCHEL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Ahead for us, Donald Trump wants a win. Can he pull it off? He's leading in the polls. The polls suggest he can. What about the undecided voters. We'll talk to the Trump campaign next.

BERMAN: And you heard David Kochel talking about it. Ohio Governor John Kasich, now in a little bit of a back and forth with Jeb Bush. John Kasich won the first voting place in the state today, Dixville Notch, narrowly edging out Trump. Could that be a sign? What does he think? He joins us live, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:41:40] BOLDUAN: Welcome back. We'll show you a live look at a polling station in Hudson, New Hampshire, where all the action is happening. Donald Trump is looking for a win in today's primary after coming in second place behind Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses.

BERMAN: Some of those people standing in the polling place might still be undecided.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You have to be decided by the time you're second in line. That's my decision.

BERMAN: The red jacket lady, she knows. The guy in camo is still deciding.

(LAUGHTER)

Let's talk about where we are with the front runner on the Republican side. We're going to bring in Trump national spokesperson, Katrina Pierson.

Katrina, thanks for being with us.

KRISTINA PIERSON, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Hi.

BOLDUAN: Hi, Katrina.

BERMAN: How do you feel? And Donald Trump is leading in the polls. Is a win a win for him? I mean, he's been up 10-plus points. If it's a narrow win, is that an expectations problem?

PIERSON: I think a win is a win. We've seen the volatility in the polls and the race, the volatility even in the voters and the broad spectrum of base. So a win is definitely a win for us.

BOLDUAN: Katrina, what is going on between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush? We just had the chief strategist for Jeb Bush on. He repeated what we've heard from Jeb Bush over and over, that Donald Trump cannot insult his way to the White House. Why is Donald Trump taking on Jeb Bush so strongly? Why? What is the strategy here?

PIERSON: That's a back and forth. Trump has made it very clear, you go after me, I'll go after you. And Jeb Bush has donors he has to keep happy. He wants to stay in the race beyond South Carolina because some of the other campaigns won't be viable. The only way to do that is to take on the front runner.

BERMAN: Can I ask you, has anything Donald Trump has ever said, as an observer, have you ever said, you know, I wish he hadn't have said that. I'm thinking of last night at the rally here. He said the comment that a lot of people are talking about. Has he ever said anything you thought maybe just would have been better -- no?

PIERSON: I think if we're looking politically at the conditioning of the voters, maybe yes. With my personal response, absolutely not. We have a full-blown assault on the First Amendment. Donald Trump has singlehandedly brought back freedom of speech. Yes, he did repeat what a voter said but, at the same time, this is also the "Live Free or Die" state. This is where your rights are really important to you as an individual. The fact that Donald Trump is out there saying what he thinks and means it is important. He's not controlled. He's not polling. He's not testing messages like so many other candidates are. He's just being himself with voters.

BOLDUAN: But there's an interesting kind of wrinkle to that. Out of Iowa, we saw a softer, toned-down Donald Trump. He was taking a different tactic. Everyone commented on it when he made his way into New Hampshire. Now that seems to be completely out of the window. Which Donald Trump are we seeing? And what should voters being expecting?

PIERSON: I think it depends on the crowd. When Mr. Trump is at his rallies that's the Mr. Trump that with his friends. He talks to supporters the way he talks to friends. That's why we see that different side of Mr. Trump. And we're in a situation in the country where you have people like former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling Republican primary voters arsonists and Nazis. You have the president calling Christians and equating them to terrorists for that matter.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: -- is that what you want in a president?

PIERSON: He's reading his crowd. As we all saw after that statement was made, the crowd went wild. They like someone that's strong and will say what he thinks.

BERMAN: That's what we'll see in South Carolina.

PIERSON: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Katrina Pierson, thanks for being with us. Appreciate you being here.

PIERSON: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

BERMAN: Just moments ago, CNN's Dana Bash caught up with presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, as he was leaving a polling place in Derry, New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[11:40:15] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: How are you feeling? SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm feeling great. We are seeing a lot of energy. A lot of people coming into the office last night just to volunteer at the last second, so we're feeling great. We're going to leave here with more delegates than we came in and we feel very positive about that.

BASH: Yeah, and you feel like all the kafuffle about the debate is --

RUBIO: Yeah, that's a media thing. For voters, voters are excited about it, especially in New Hampshire. Voters in New Hampshire are serious about this. They understand what's at stake. It's not a theater. It's the future of America at stake. It is every four years, but now more than ever. We're excited and proud of our campaign. We'll leave with more delegates than we came in and we're going to keep building. We look forward to South Carolina.

Thank you, guys.

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Marco Rubio saying he feels great right now as voters head to the polls.

You know who else feels great right now? Governor John Kasich. His campaign says he is also gaining momentum. He's spent more time here than any other candidate. He's taken votes. Some say he could be pulling votes from other candidates, even pulling votes from the Democratic side, if you look at the undeclareds. Could he be a threat? Who is he a threat to? We'll talk with the governor himself. He joins us live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:45:36] JOHN KASICH, (R), OHIO GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you win big in Dixville Notch, like I did --

(LAUGHTER)

-- I mean what else can you say? It was huge. I just saw Trump. I said Trump, I crushed you. He said, yeah, you did. You killed me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That was Ohio Governor John Kasich with Michael Smerconish this morning. He was bragging about the fact that he emerged with the most votes from Dixville Notch, which votes at midnight. He got three votes there. Donald Trump got two. This is predictive of, I would say, just about nothing other than the fact that he can be president of Dixville Notch if he wants to.

BOLDUAN: Better than we could be.

Governor John Kasich is joining us from the campaign trail.

Governor, thank you for joining us.

So, you snagged a big win in Dixville Notch. What does that mean for you today?

KASICH: Yeah. Well, you know, it's fantastic. You can always say you carried the Notch. And I couldn't quite hear the sound. I told Trump this morning when I saw him, I said I crushed him. He said, yep, you killed me up there, absolutely.

We're having a great time. And it's -- I can't begin to tell you how many millions of dollars have been actively spent against me by virtually every candidate in the field. And yet, we're continuing to do well, and we think we have the momentum. And we're going to take a big plane tonight down to South Carolina. I've been traveling around like sardines and now all the press wants to go. It's pretty interesting to be in the center of this tsunami.

BERMAN: So, to be clear, you always said if you got smoked in New Hampshire, the whole thing would come to an end. Now you have a big plane ready to go to South Carolina. Your bus is going to head down there as well. Does this mean you've decided there is no way you're getting smoked here in New Hampshire?

KASICH: Oh, no, no. Look, I was just saying if you finish at the bottom, you can't continue. But we're not going to do that. Look, I'm not bragging or arrogant about anything. I have volunteers. In fact, where I'm standing we have one volunteer who has made 10,000 phone calls. Another gentleman came in from Seattle. There are people here from Virginia. I am amazed. And as the man who has made the 10,000 phone calls, he said, when I heard you say the other day that life is but a breath, he said it transported me back to the times in college when we talked about the meaning of life.

You can't buy this. This has been a wonderful experience. I'm deeply appreciative of the volunteers and also the people of New Hampshire.

BOLDUAN: Of course. And you want this to carry on, of course, Governor. Can you guarantee you're going to be headed to South Carolina no matter what?

KASICH: Well, I think the volunteers are going to pretty well guarantee it. I can't predict the finish or anything, but we feel good. We have to wait until the polls close.

The good news is we've run a positive campaign. We feel the momentum. And we'll see what happens. And we'll live with the results. But there will be no regrets in the Kasich campaign for all the work we've put in and the positivity of all of it. And so I'm having the time of my life. My wife is here. The kids keep texting her. They saw the Dixville Notch votes come in. They wanted to know the outcome. We have to count the ballots. So pretty interesting.

BOLDUAN: You can tell us any time. BERMAN: So, Governor, you woke up to a web video from the Bush

campaign that went after you. It said that Jeb Bush is the conservative you can trust, and it discussed your record on guns, defense, said there's no comparison between the two of you. There seem to be a quiet truce between the governor's campaigns in the last few days. That seems to be over right now.

KASICH: Well, look. I can only tell you I've balanced more digit budgets than anyone in the field. I have a health care plan that we're beginning to roll out in Ohio that we'd like to take nationally. Look, I mean, it's a shame when you see people take the low road to the highest office in the land. But I've decided not to do it. As the lady said to me yesterday, she said, you can leave New Hampshire with your head high, with your integrity. And you can't -- what can you pay for those kinds of feelings here? It's interesting. I talked to the callers and they say all the negative attacks don't seem to be working. If I do win or come if I finish strong, I'm going to come back, and we're going to talk about has politics changed from the politics of negativity to the politics of positivity. We'll have to wait and see.

[11:50:17] BOLDUAN: We'll have to wait and see. We would welcome that conversation. Absolutely.

BERMAN: Sure. Consider yourself booked.

BOLDUAN: Exactly, booked. You're coming on tomorrow, Governor.

Before that -- I guess after that, you're talking about moving forward and where things go from here. We had a strategist for Jeb Bush on. He says clearly John Kasich has no play in South Carolina. So no matter how well you do here, it's going to end here. What do you say to that?

KASICH: I would say you ought to believe virtually nothing of what you read and hear on this campaign day and only half of what you see. If you want to see what we have, you come on down to South Carolina. You hear me? Y'all come. Y'all come because we're going to be changing some snowshoes for some flip-flops, and we're going to go from fried clams to jambalaya. Come on down and see.

BERMAN: You're trying. You're trying --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: I think it -- more and more desperate. They need to relax a little bit. You know, it's just an election, a campaign. It's like they're freaking out.

Calm down, Bush people. It's not that serious.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: John Kasich, this is cable TV. We can't calm down. It's all about the shouting and yelling.

KASICH: No, you're right. You're right. It's all about the eyeballs. I gave you a great quote. You can play all day long.

BERMAN: Yeah, we appreciate that.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: We will.

BERMAN: Governor John Kasich, thanks for speaking with us. Good luck.

BOLDUAN: Good luck tonight, Governor.

KASICH: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: He is a funny man.

BERMAN: The Ohio accent and South Carolina accent -- it turns out they're not so similar.

BOLDUAN: Not so similar.

BERMAN: Not so similar.

BOLDUAN: I appreciate the effort.

BERMAN: We'll see if the people of South Carolina do.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Folks, coming up for us still, it has already been a long road for these campaigns. It's just beginning. Today, it is make or break -- it is a make-or-break moment for some campaigns, especially on the Republican side. Will there be a whittling of the field after tonight? Who could win a boost heading into South Carolina? It is New Hampshire primary day in America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:56:26] BOLDUAN: It is decision day here in New Hampshire. Voters had hitting the polls to make their choice for president. The country's first primary is underway.

BERMAN: We're going to bring in CNN political commentator, former Hillary Clinton campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle; New Hampshire 1 political director and anchor, and former CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser.

Paul, you are a New Hampshire expert. What I want to know is when we will know who wins. How fast does New Hampshire count?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, POLITICAL EDITOR, NH1: It counts pretty fast. Most polls close at 7:00. A couple towns stay open until 8:00. The process here should be quick. It's not like the late nights we've had in Iowa the last couple of cycles. I think it should be a little quicker here. Then again, remember, we may have a bottleneck on the Republican side for second, third, fourth, even fifth place. Could be very close. Maybe everything I said, throw it out the window -- John?

BOLDUAN: And undeclareds, one of the big stories when it comes to New Hampshire voters.

BERMAN: Oh, yeah.

BOLDUAN: You look back 2000, 2008, undeclared voters, they went different ways. What do you think that means? What's your sense this time around, install what are you hearing?

STEINHAUSER: Listen, undeclared voters -- and I'm one, you see I'm an undeclared voter. I made up my mind a few minutes before I came here. Undeclared voters want to go where the action is in New Hampshire. Right now, if Hillary Clinton is that far behind from Bernie Sanders, the action is more on the Republican side. So you could see those Independents maybe swing more to the Republican side. That's the beauty of New Hampshire. They've got a choice last minute like I did. Polling station, decided which party I wanted to vote in, voted, and then re-declared as undecided voter.

BERMAN: So, Patti, we need to do an uncomfortable discussion right now. There are stories coming out about the Clinton campaign, there could be a staff -- rumors that there could be a staff shakeup, that Bill and Hillary Clinton are unsatisfied with their campaign staff. There were issues in 2008 when you were working on the campaign, as well. I guess we don't know whether they're true or not. We know that they're going to take stock after tomorrow, we're told, or tomorrow. But what does it tell you that these stories even bubble to the surface?

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, we know it's not true because both Hillary Clinton and John Podesta said it's not true. They're going to take stock.

Look, it's not good, particularly the timing. First of all, it's demoralizing to the staff. For the staff, who have been working, you know, 16, 18, 20-hour days, to read this is demoralizing. Two, the timing's not great. In 2008 when rumors came out about a shakeup, it happened in New Hampshire. It happened just as the polls were closing. This time around, it's happening the day before, you know, that could affect turnouts for Hillary Clinton. Third, most importantly, I think Hillary Clinton is still the very likely Democratic nominee here. Tomorrow morning, Iowa and New Hampshire will be over, and she's headed into a primary calendar that favors her demographically. We didn't have that going on in '08. After Iowa and New Hampshire, the schedule favored Barack Obama. It's not a great story, but Hillary's going to work her heart out. We're facing a calendar that favors her.

BOLDUAN: We will soon know one way or another the way this shakes out at least in New Hampshire.

Patti Solis Doyle, Paul Steinhauser, great to see you guys. Thank you very much.

Thank you for joining us AT THIS HOUR for our special edition. BERMAN: That's right. You're headed to a polling place where you'll

be the rest of the day. I'm headed back to New York to pick up our coverage, at 2:00 a.m. Don't miss that.

"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.