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Democratic Iowa Caucus Results Unknown; Jeb Bush Has Moved on to New Hampshire; John Sununu Talks John Kasich Campaign. Aired 11:30- 12p ET

Aired February 2, 2016 - 11:30   ET



[11:34:04] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Happening now, overtime in Iowa. Take a look at where things stand in the Democratic side of the Iowa caucus race. There it is, 49.8 percent for Hillary Clinton, 49.6 percent for Bernie Sanders. Virtually nothing separated them. CNN has not declared a winner at this point, despite the tiny, maybe sort of slight edge there for Hillary Clinton.


Joining us to discuss that and the Clinton campaign strategy going on, campaign chief strategist and Democratic pollster, Joel Benenson.

Joel, great to see you.

Long night for you, early morning for you. CNN has not called this race in Iowa quite yet. Hillary Clinton, you guys say you have won. Explain it to us.

JOEL BENENSON, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, it's pretty clear. The measure of success in these caucuses, they're intricate, but it comes down to the state delegate equivalents. There's a narrow lead there. Delegates to the national convention, we've won 23 out of 44. That's a majority. We have won the caucuses. That's what matters, who is going to the convention, eventually, with more delegates than the other person.

Look, I think we can debate the intricacies of the caucus. They win it by winning more state delegates than the other and more delegates to the national convention than the other, and that's what Hillary Clinton did.

[11:35:41] BERMAN: The Sanders campaign says it wants the count sheets. It has some questions about the process. They don't feel 100 percent solid on it. What would you say?

BENENSON: I think, the day before, we heard them say they had the complete confidence in the Iowa Democratic party. Campaigns have done this in the past. Years back, I believe one campaign or the other does that. I think at the end of the day, the numbers aren't going to change. I think we've won the caucuses. I think they're trying to not just run out the clock. They're trying to keep the clock running. Time has expired, and they lost. They lost a close race. They ran a great campaign. So did we. They talked about how they were going to win if turnout was 175,000. They did that, and they came up a little short.

We're in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton is in New Hampshire. We're going to be campaigning here. We know this is in his backyard n. It's going to be a strong state for him. We're going to fight to earn every vote. Hillary Clinton came here eight years ago. She showed people her tenacity. The strength of what she brings to the table as a president to make a difference in their lives.

And Kate and John, I should share with you some interesting stuff. Last night, from the entrance polls, among people who said that the economy and jobs are the most important issue, Hillary Clinton defeated Sanders by about 10 points. On health care, about 30 percent of the people said it was the most important issue. It happens to be his signature issue. She defeated him by about 20 points.


BENENSON: So we feel good about making the case in New Hampshire about who has what it takes to make a real difference that will improve people's lives.

BOLDUAN: And, Joel, you mentioned the entrance polls. There are also other numbers that could mean a lot going forward. On the issue of who is honest and trustworthy, Sanders wins, 83 to 10. First-time caucus voters and first-time voters, Sanders wins. On young voters, who are key, Sanders wins big on that. What do you learn from that? How do you fight that going forward?

BENENSON: Well, I think we have to keep making our argument to young people who are looking for better paying jobs in the economy and who has a better plan to do that. Who has a better plan to get them out from under college debt when they're working that first job? To working parents who are worried about the education of their children and their future. We've had a lot more to say about that. And who is really going to be able to deliver the results to get those things done.

I will say, Kate, that on the issues I describe to you, those two alone were most important to two-thirds of the electorate. And she won double digit pretty much leads among both of those people. If you throw in terrorism as an issue, she really won big, and you're over two-thirds of the electorate on the issues they thought were most important, they voted for her more. We think we're in a good position to make those arguments in New Hampshire. It will be a tough fight to the end. Always competitive in these states. But also, always a state that's been favorable to people who are from New England. They've typically done pretty well here. But we're not giving up the fight here at all. We feel like we're ready for a week of foreign debate and making the case to people here in New Hampshire for Hillary Clinton.

BERMAN: Joel, we have to let you go in about 20 seconds, but I always wonder, on nights like this, level with us, how nervous with you at 1:00 when this thing was still not called, when it was changing every minute, and was this just how you planned it?

BENENSON: You know, you're a little bit nervous, but we're getting a lot of data just has ever other campaign is. You have models to model out and you know where you're winning and trailing behind and where you're hitting your numbers. We were very confident late in the game. It gets a little edgy. You're double and triple checking. We were confident. We'd eke out the narrow win. That's what we're thrilled with given the size of the turnout, which should have been a Sanders night. They said they were going to win if it got to 175,000, and they didn't.

BOLDUAN: Joel Benenson. Great to see you, Joel. We'll see you in New Hampshire very soon.

BENENSON: Great to see you, Kate.

Thank you, John.

BOLDUAN: Thanks.

[11:40:03] BERMAN: Programming note. First of all, Hillary Clinton is about to talk. We'll take you live when it happens.

Second, programming note. Hillary Clinton will be joining Wolf Blitzer live at 1:30 p.m. eastern time. She's going to talk about the situation Iowa. She's going to respond to the Sanders camp saying they want to check the count sheets. She'll tell us her next step in this campaign, down by more than 20 points in New Hampshire.

BOLDUAN: And even before that happens, Hillary Clinton will be speaking live in New Hampshire. We'll see how she reacts to questions surrounding what is still unfinished business, even though Joel Benenson say it's finished business, in Iowa. We'll take you there live.

BERMAN: Other people in New Hampshire speaking right now. One Republican candidate who needs New Hampshire, who basically didn't compete in Iowa at all, Chris Christie. He has received a big endorsement there. And right now, he's going after his rivals pretty hard. We'll go to his town hall, live.


[11:45:18] BOLDUAN: While the caucuses were still happening in Iowa, Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, had moved on to New Hampshire where you see him talking there live right now, trying to make his case to the voters there.


JEB BUSH, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: New Hampshire voters reset elections. That's what you do. I know you will not let this country down, because the reset has started as of tonight. And I'm going to be here for the next eight days asking for your vote. If you're on board, I hope you'll get five of your family members or friends to sign up to be all in for Jeb. And on next Tuesday, we're going to surprise the world.


BERMAN: That was Jeb last night. Jeb Bush speaking again this morning.

CNN correspondent, Athena Jones, in New Hampshire with the Bush campaign.

Good morning, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Bush has been here since last night speaking even before the Iowa caucuses began trying to make the case in New Hampshire that he is the candidate who should be nominated because he's the only one with a proven record. He says, yes, congratulations to Cruz. Cruz and Rubio, the two Senators to emerge from Iowa in strong positions. They're backbench Senators, he argues. They can speak, but they don't have the kind of record he does. That's the case he's making to this audience here.

Quite a few of people, young and old, or at university. A lot of voters here are undecided based on my informal polling. He's fighting for their vote. As you heard him say at the beginning of the intro, he believes he can surprise people in New Hampshire. His campaign believes this is a state that can reset the race. The voter profile is different than Iowa. Not many evangelical voters. I asked, what does it mean to surprise folks. Senator Lindsey Graham, who was campaigning with Bush a couple of days ago, said it would mean finishing third or fourth. A Bush campaign official said he could finish in fourth or fifth place.

But the goal is to convince voters to come to his side. New Hampshire is a state where people notorious pick in the final days. Bush will doing a hard push this next week -- John?

BERMAN: Athena Jones with Jeb Bush there.

We want to talk more about the governors trying to get in the game perhaps after skipping Iowa.

Joining us now is former New Hampshire Senator and chairman of John Kasich's campaign, former Senator John Sununu.

Senator, thank you for being with us.


BERMAN: Governor Kasich has put all his eggs in the New Hampshire basket. That's safe to say at this point. What does he need to do now? There has been so much focus on Iowa, all these guys coming out of Iowa. If the governor said he needs to finish first among the governors. That's what he needs to do. But you can do that and still finish fourth. Can he survive that?

SUNUNU: Well, look, Iowa doesn't really matter to New Hampshire, traditionally. It's a totally different ball game. It's not all the eggs in New Hampshire for Kasich. We have organizations all over the country, in Midwestern states that are great opportunities for Governor Kasich because he has a great record in Ohio balancing the budget and cutting taxes.

Over the last couple weeks, we've been polling on average in second place. If you average the online polls at RCP, we're in great position. The only real news coming out of Iowa, I think, is that Donald Trump badly underperformed the polling. He's beatable. That makes New Hampshire wide open. And I think John Kasich, because of his record on fiscal issues, because of his success as a governor and a fact that he's done it before and will do it again, we have a great chance to pick up undecided voters in the last week and surprise everyone in New Hampshire.

BOLDUAN: What does Marco Rubio's strong finish in Iowa -- you said the big news coming out Iowa was Donald Trump is beatable. What does Rubio's strong finish mean for Kasich in New Hampshire?

SUNUNU: Nothing really. Success in Iowa might pick you up delegates, but it's a different contest, not just from New Hampshire but from primaries around the country. We have a broad Republican electorate that will come out in New Hampshire, conservatives, undeclareds all across the board. They're not focused on evangelical issues, like in Iowa, but fiscal conservatism, cutting taxes, turning around the economy, rolling back regulations to get innovation in our economy moving. That's exactly what John Kasich did in Ohio. He created 400,000 private sector jobs, and took an $8 billion deficit and turned it into a $2 billion surplus while cutting taxes. That's the kind of leadership, no-nonsense leadership and effective leadership that the country wants and that resonates in New Hampshire.

Look, that's why John Kasich has done so well so far in New Hampshire, even though he started later than everyone else. We've had well over 80 town hall meetings on our way to 100 campaigning town to town and person to person. And when you move in the polls with that kind of person-to-person campaign, you know John Kasich's leadership and effectiveness and a vision for the country, a great, positive economic vision, is resonating.

[11:50:22] BERMAN: Senator John Sununu, you know the state very well. Seven days to do until the voting. We'll see what happens.

Thanks so much for being with us.

SUNUNU: Thanks. Great to be with you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Senator.

BERMAN: Moments from now, Hillary Clinton will speak in her first event in New Hampshire after the Iowa caucuses. She's got a warm-up act. You might recognize him. Former president of the United States Bill Clinton speaking to voters there. We'll bring you this event right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:54:52] BOLDUAN: All eyes to New Hampshire now, folks. You see right there, two events ongoing right now. Bill Clinton speaking on -- I know it's so hard. Speaking before his wife, Hillary Clinton. And you have Chris Christie on the other side speaking to voters there, trying to win over their support. Bill Clinton, the cliff hanger in Iowa, still remains, though, John.

BERMAN: Let's listen in to see if he talks about that.

Bill Clinton in Nashville.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Her opponent said what the governor did was terrible and he should resign, and maybe he should. But her instinct was, what can I do right now to make it better?


CLINTON: And so, look, next month will mark the 45th year since I met Hillary. When I met her, I was amazed at how she would sort of zero in on things and make something good happen. Whether it was legal services in law school or working for the Children's Defense Fund and tax breaks for segregated academies in the south and getting Africa- American teenagers out of prisons where they've been held for years as adults, or bringing our state into its very first prekindergarten program all the way from Israel, to teach parents who couldn't read to be their kids' first teachers, which is now all over the country just because she did it, and there are untold numbers of young people, young adults who have better futures.

BERMAN: Bill Clinton in Nashua, New Hampshire. This is the case he's been making to voters. I heard him make it in Iowa. Saying there is no change agent that he has seen in his life that measures up to Hillary Clinton. She can bring change. That's the message he clearly wants to send.

She will take the stage any moment. We'll bring you that life.

Very curious to hear what she says.

BOLDUAN: All our coverage. Stay with us. We will be right back.