Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Jeb Bush; Trump Tantrum?; Hillary vs. Bernie. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired February 3, 2016 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Two nights ago, we met gracious, humbled, chastened Donald Trump. And, today, we bid that 1-day-old adieu.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Donald Trump gives us the Twitter tantrum we were all expecting Monday night, accusing the Cruz campaign of a serious charge and calling for a do-over in Iowa.

What they say tonight could make the difference in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders get set to face off in a CNN town hall, and things are not getting any friendlier on that side of the aisle.

Plus, Flint, Michigan, residents coming to Congress. They have questions, they have rage, and they have hands full of their own hair. An intense emotional hearing on Capitol Hill over an eminently preventable tragedy.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Our politics lead now: Donald Trump making an explosive charge against Texas Senator Ted Cruz, that Cruz cheated his way to victory in Iowa, Trump says, Donald Trump firing off yet another Twitter tirade this morning saying Ted Cruz -- quote -- "didn't win Iowa," that the Texan committed -- quote -- "fraud" and that there need to be repercussions.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is with Ted Cruz today in Amherst, New Hampshire.

Sunlen, how is the Cruz campaign responding?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ted Cruz, Jake, initially tried to use humor to downplay this, coining a new phrase calling this a Trumper tantrum. But just moments ago, Ted Cruz really took a sharp turn and lashed out, a 10-minute rant at Donald Trump, calling him essentially an immature sore loser.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What kind of people are we dealing with, with these politicians?

SERFATY (voice-over): Trump on a new tear against Ted Cruz. TRUMP: He insulted Ben Carson by doing what he did to Ben Carson.

That was a disgrace.

SERFATY: Today fanning the flames to the controversy over what last- minute tactics the Cruz campaign used in Iowa, accused of trying to shift votes away from Ben Carson to Cruz, declaring fraud, Trump tweeting that Cruz didn't win Iowa, he illegally stole it, and calling for Cruz's results to be nullified.

Cruz responding, suggesting Trump go back to Iowa and join the Democrats, still settling their side of the results. At issue, after CNN accurately reported that Carson was stopping in Florida for a few days after his Iowa loss before resuming campaigning, the Cruz campaign tried to push out its own version to Iowa caucus sites, suggesting Carson was quitting the race, like this tweet that night from Cruz's national co-chair -- quote -- "Carson looks like he is out. Iowans need to know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope."

Cruz has apologized to Ben Carson, who told THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER it was a low blow.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think whoever is responsible for blatant lying should be dismissed, absolutely, unless, unless that kind of behavior is acceptable in your campaign culture.

SERFATY: But, today, Cruz tried to downplay it.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our political team passed on that public news report. What the team didn't do is, there was later a second story where the Carson campaign put out a statement saying they were not suspending the campaign. And our political team did not forward that second statement to our supporters as well. I was disappointed that an impression had been left that was incomplete.

SERFATY: Trump's Twitter tirade in stark contrast to a new tone he's been adopting.

TRUMP: We didn't have much of a ground game because I didn't think I was going to be winning.

SERFATY: Meanwhile, on the ground in New Hampshire, the fight is intensifying within the establishment lane.

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

SERFATY: With Marco Rubio the new target number one.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hear Marco Rubio is here. But, heck, man, he does like one event a day. You never see him, and he doesn't answer any questions.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SERFATY: And, today, the Republican field got a little smaller with two candidates ending their bids. Rand Paul dropped out this morning and CNN has confirmed that Rick Santorum will drop out tonight, and he does intend to make an endorsement tonight, Jake, but no word on yet who -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty in Amherst, thanks so much.

Let's move now to the Democrats, Hillary Clinton firing back at Bernie Sanders today for questioning how progressive she really is. Sanders is pointing to an interview last year when Clinton said she -- quote -- "pleaded guilty" to being -- quote -- "sort of moderate and center."

All this squabbling as the two candidates prepare to take the stage tonight at a CNN town hall, their first joint appearance since Clinton eked out a victory in the Iowa caucuses. Our reporting teams are following both Sanders and Clinton as they campaign across the state.


Let's begin with CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar. She's in Derry, New Hampshire.

Brianna, Hillary Clinton said today she just loves New Hampshire too much to skip ahead to a state that she may be more likely to win.


And you will remember, Jake, back in 2008, she pulled out quite the turnaround here, had a surprise win in New Hampshire. But looking at the polls and how far behind she is, it might not be impossible for her to do, if she can create a moment for herself here in the next few days, but it will be very tough.


KEILAR (voice-over): It's a war of words in New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders sparking the latest debate with this response to a question about whether Hillary Clinton is a true progressive.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some days, yes, except when she announces that she is a proud moderate, and then I guess she's not a progressive.

KEILAR: Clinton firing back at Sanders today.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I was a little disappointed, to be honest, yesterday. It was kind of a low blow.

KEILAR: Presenting a laundry list of her achievements to back up her liberal credentials.

H. CLINTON: It was a good day for progressives when I helped to get eight million kids health care. So I hope we keep it on the issues, because if it's about our records, hey, I'm going to win by a landslide on Tuesday.


KEILAR: The fight spilling over from the campaign trail onto Twitter, Clinton writing "A 40-year record of progressive results boiled down to some days." The Sanders campaign responding with a quote of something Clinton said last fall.

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

KEILAR: Sanders today highlighting that comment from Clinton in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, saying his rival can't have it both ways.

SANDERS: Some days, she says she's a progressive. On that particular day, she said she's a moderate. And you can be a moderate. That's fine. You can be a progressive. But you can't be a moderate and a progressive. Most progressives that I know really do not raise millions of dollars from Wall Street.

KEILAR: As Clinton and Sanders trade barbs, former President Bill Clinton also is getting into the mix, making the case that his wife will be the caretaker of President Obama's achievements.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Barack Obama is not Bernie Sanders. Let's don't play cheap games here.

KEILAR: Clinton is trailing Sanders in New Hampshire by 23 points in the latest CNN/WMUR poll, and she's attempting to manage expectations, acknowledging she needs to improve her standing, especially among younger voters.

H. CLINTON: I'm going to have some work to do to reach out to young voters, maybe first-time voters who have to make a tough decision as they evaluate who should be our president.

KEILAR: She's hoping to connect with voters in the Granite State at a CNN town hall tonight and at a debate tomorrow night.


KEILAR: Now, win or lose for Hillary Clinton, she still has to pay attention to New Hampshire, looking towards the general. This is, after all, a swing state that she will hope to keep -- or have in her column, Jake.

TAPPER: That's right, Iowa as well.

Brianna Keilar, thanks so much.

A reminder that CNN's town hall featuring Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton begins tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

To give us a preview, let's go back to Brianna and let's also bring in CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny, who's covering Bernie Sanders as well.

Jeff, Senator Sanders talking to Wolf Blitzer earlier today saying of Clinton -- quote -- "You can't be both a moderate and a progressive." He's not letting this issue go.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, he's not letting it go and in fact he is doubling down on Twitter.

We can barely keep track of all the tweets he is sending out, pointing out issue by issue of how he believes he's been more progressive than Hillary Clinton. On the war in Iraq, he said progressives don't accept millions from Wall Street. He said he was with gay marriage when it was unpopular, so no question Senator Sanders is trying to appeal to his masses out there, his Internet following and say that he's the true progressive.

It's a bit of a challenge for Hillary Clinton because she did make that comment back in Ohio, saying that she was in fact a moderate. At the time when she said that back in September, we thought is she saying this for the general election, did she misspeak, but it could be an issue here.

But there is one thing. New Hampshire voters are very familiar with her record. Of course, she was here eight years ago and campaigned so hard here, Jake. So, we will see how this plays out.

But independent voters here in New Hampshire also are listening very closely to this.

TAPPER: That's right. She won in New Hampshire two years -- I mean, eight years ago.

Brianna, Clinton noted today that New Hampshire voters tend to support candidates from neighboring states, like Sanders, who's from Vermont, in primaries. The Sanders campaign said that that was an insult to the voters of New Hampshire, that they take their role very seriously and she wasn't respecting that.

Does the Clinton campaign feel like they have to explain what she meant?

KEILAR: I think they're a little sensitive to it in one way that we're definitely noticing, which is she was scheduled to have a fund- raiser on Friday. She was actually heading to Boston and she was going to not only fund-raise, not only leave New Hampshire to turn her attention to that, but also it was going to be hosted by a Wall Street bigwig.


And we saw, right, in Iowa where Hillary Clinton left for a day to go to Philadelphia, same thing, a big finance bigwig hosting an event, and Bernie Sanders had this line that I thought really resonated with some of his followers. He said, "Frankly, I would rather be here with you." So he was able to twofold ding her, I thought. It was one on Wall Street, two on, look, here I am, putting in the time with you guys and she isn't. So, I think they are worried about that. I will say she's made this argument and her campaign has.

They call it the Tsongas effect. Paul Tsongas from Massachusetts obviously won here. And they have been making that case, I think, almost from the jump, when they saw that it was going to be tough in New Hampshire. But, yes, I think it's different now. We're right here in the days before the New Hampshire primary.

TAPPER: Sure. It's not crazy, though. Mitt Romney won and John Kerry won.

Anyway, Brianna Keilar, Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

He's focusing most of his time and money trying to convince New Hampshire voters that he is the anti-Trump candidate, but with Marco Rubio's momentum out of Iowa, can Jeb Bush pull off a Granite State surprise? We will ask him live next.


[16:15:11] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Let's stay with our politics lead.

His logo has an exclamation mark but the results in Iowa might make that more of a question mark. Still, in the middle of placing sixth in the Iowa caucus, the former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, made a Muhammad Ali-like vow to surprise the world in New Hampshire.

So, will Jeb Bush shake up the race? Will New Hampshire revive his campaign?

Let's talk about it with the man himself, Republican presidential candidate, former Florida governor, Jeb Bush.

Governor Bush, thanks for joining us.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Great being with you, Jake. I don't -- I never thought I was Muhammad Ali, but I'll take it.

TAPPER: So, Senator Lindsey Graham endorsed you. He's been stumping for you on the campaign trail. He told "The New York Times" this, quote, "If Rubio beats Jeb badly in New Hampshire, Jeb is toast."

Is that right?

BUSH: That's not going to happen. We're doing better -- you know, great. Jennifer Horn, the chairman of the Republican Party here, said we have the best operation here. There was a poll that came out today that showed me in second place and there have been other polls that show that as well.

I think we're moving forward. The town hall meetings I'm having have good, sizeable crowds, energized. People are signing up to go get five other people to vote for me. That's how you win it in New Hampshire. You win it by working hard. I'm not taking it for granted, for sure.

TAPPER: There's this establishment lane of candidates, pundits say, you, Governor Kasich, Marco Rubio, Governor Christie.

Now, Chris Christie said he has a lot of respect for you but the New Hampshire race is between him and Marco Rubio and "everybody knows it", unquote. Your response?


BUSH: I love Chris Christie. He's a great campaigner, he's a good friend and he's been an effective governor, but the race is wide open. The idea that it's between him and Marco Rubio is -- you know, look, that's just the way politics works.

We're working hard and so is Chris. You know, I admire that. But I'm working really hard and my message of having a proven conservative record of accomplishment matches up pretty well against Senator Cruz and Senator Rubio who have nothing in their background that can suggest they can make a tough decision.

They might be able to do it but there's nothing in their past that would suggest they can lead. They might be able to lead, but how do you know? We've had eight years now of Barack Obama who was not experienced either, and he's created greater divides in our country and our country is languishing now.

TAPPER: What's the toughest decision you've ever had to make?

BUSH: Oh, I've made a ton of decisions that were tough.

How to deal with eight hurricanes and four tropical storms in 16 months. Leading the state through what would have been an unmitigated crisis had I not responded. Dealing with fighting the teachers union to create the first, the second and third statewide voucher programs. Taking on the public unions where we eliminated career civil service protection, reduced the government workforce but did it in a way that wasn't punitive, we just did it the right way.

And we created the environment where 1.3 million jobs were created. I've got a record, and it's a record of accomplishment, and people in Florida respect it.

TAPPER: Donald Trump tweeted today that he thinks Ted Cruz, quote, "stole" the Iowa caucuses, that he cheated, that he committed fraud. The references are apparently to those Cruz mailers that say voter violation on them that voter actually didn't commit any violation, as well as Cruz staffers --

BUSH: Yes.

TAPPER: -- falsely suggesting that CNN and other media were reporting Ben Carson was dropping out when no one was reporting Carson was dropping out.

Carson on this show yesterday demanded that Cruz fire staffers responsible.

What do you make of this all?

BUSH: Well, what I first make of it is that Donald Trump lost and he better get used to it, because it may happen more often than once. He lost.

He talks about how he's going to win everything. He didn't win this one, and Ted Cruz gets credit for winning the Iowa caucuses.

But now the reset button has been pushed. We're in New Hampshire now. And, look, I just think it's more important to focus on what people in the Granite State care about right now, and what they care about is someone with detailed plans to fix the mess in Washington, and it resonates when you give them detailed plans to fix it.

They don't care about the process that much, but they want their hopes lifted by conservative principles being applied the right way to fix the culture and fix how we tax and regulate and all the other issues that make people feel like the future is not going to be bright.

TAPPER: Carson also said that how a person conducts his life or campaign is an indication of who he is. I understand you're saying that you don't think this issue resonates much with voters about what Ted Cruz did, his campaign tactics. But do you think that there are opponents of yours whose conduct in this campaign maybe says some not- so-flattering things about them?

BUSH: Well, Donald Trump for starters who has insulted women, Hispanics, POWs, disabled people.

[16:20:08] He certainly conducts himself in a way that isn't becoming of being president of the United States. I would say that that's the case.

Look, politics is not bean bag. There's give and take. Our records will be scrutinized. Marco Rubio, his PAC has an ad attacking me right now. You don't see me boohooing, it's the way it works. You've got to get out there and earn it.

TAPPER: Let's talk about an ad that you have out now. It's a two- minute ad airing in New Hampshire that goes right at Donald Trump and how he's conducting himself. Let's take a few seconds to watch a snippet.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?

BUSH: I'm sick and tired of politicians that find ways to disparage people to make themselves look strong. It is not strong to insult women. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The ad is long, obviously. It talks about Donald Trump going after women, Donald Trump going after POWs, Donald Trump making fun of the disabled. I did find it kind of interesting that you didn't mention the one group, Muslims, that Trump has suggested should be barred from entering the United States. Why didn't you mention them?

BUSH: I do mention it on the stump all the time, that we should be respectful of people of the Muslim faith. Americans that are patriotic that are of the Muslim faith are just as American as I am, and I do that all the time, Jake. I'm not sure why in that riff it was not mentioned but I bring it up all the time.

It also makes it harder for us to have the foreign policy to destroy ISIS when you say you're going to ban Muslims who you need to rely on to create a coalition to defeat ISIS and bring about stability in Syria so we can be kept safe.

TAPPER: Between your campaign and your super PAC, your orbit (ph) has invested almost $34 million in ads just in New Hampshire. That's more than double any other candidate. We haven't seen any huge result for that in the polls yet, although you say some of them have you in second place.

Do you think it's going to push you over the top or are you just hoping for a strong second place showing will be good enough?

BUSH: I'm not in charge of what the expectations are, that's y'all's job. I'm just going to work my tail off between now and Tuesday and make the case that we need someone with a steady hand, someone who can be commander in chief and have the backs of the armed forces, someone who has big ideas to change direction as it relates to the economy. That's what I'm doing each and every day and having a blast doing it.

I wish it was a little sunnier here, but that's -- today has been a rainy day, but it's been fantastic to be able to campaign amongst people who really take it seriously.

TAPPER: Right to Rise, the main super PAC backing your campaign, they spent a lot of money attacking Marco Rubio, your former protege. Do you worry that they're doing the work of the Democrats in some ways bringing down someone in your party who pundits feel could be competitive for the nomination?

BUSH: No, not at all. You think it's tough right now? Wait until Hillary Clinton's hit --machine hits the party's nominee. This is bean bag compared to what's likely going to happen if she wins.

She has no compelling positive message. She's going to scrape the bark off the Republican nominee. Everybody ought to be, you know, getting ready for it.

And Marco has an ad. His super PAC has an ad attacking me. You're not seeing me crying crocodile tears about it. That's just the way it is. TAPPER: I want to play something you said Monday night. Let's roll

that tape.


BUSH: It's all been written, we're all like actors in a play. The narrative, you know, of the play. I'm part of the establishment because I am Barbara Bush's son.


TAPPER: You are Barbara Bush's son, we fact checked that, it's true. We've heard all this cycle --

BUSH: Finally, I got -- PolitiFact did correctly.

TAPPER: We've heard how angry Republicans are, how much they resent the so-called establishment. Is it possible -- as you know about politics, so much of it is just about timing -- is it possible that you're not the right candidate for this moment for these angry voters this election cycle?

BUSH: Here's what I know to be true. I'm part -- if I'm part of the establishment because my dad was the president, my brother was the president and one of the most popular women in America, Barbara Bush, is my mom, yes, I am. But I disrupted -- when I had a chance to govern and serve, I disrupted the order in Tallahassee for the betterment of 18 million people, and I can do it in Washington, D.C.

I have a proven record. And that's my message and that's what I'm going to keep fighting for. And, yes, my mom is coming to help me out. That is fantastic. It would be kind of weird if she didn't.

TAPPER: "The Tampa Bay Times" interviewed one of your New Hampshire supporters who wants to vote for you but added this caveat, quote, "I don't want to waste a vote if he's not going win or has no chance."

What's your message to voters out there in New Hampshire who like you but they're worried that you can't go the distance and they don't want to waste their vote?

[16:25:00] BUSH: I actually called that person up and asked for her vote and I got it. So, I'm just -- you've just got to be -- show dogged determination each and every day to campaign hard, to show your heart, to show your passion, to show that you're committed to help them up.

This is not about me and shouldn't be about any of the presidential candidates and their ambition. It ought to be the fact that 63 percent of Americans can't pay for a car repair more than 500 bucks. People are living paycheck to paycheck. And when I share that passion that we can fix this, people seem to be moving towards my cause. I'm not going to be deterred by all of the punditry around all this because most people don't care about that.

TAPPER: Governor Bush, thank you. Best of luck to you and we will see you on the campaign trail, I hope.

BUSH: You'll be welcomed by all Granite Staters I'm sure when you come up here soon.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks, Governor.

BUSH: Thank you.

TAPPER: It's a strip of land in the middle of a farm in Syria and now we're getting a firsthand look at the runway that is key in the U.S. fight against ISIS. That story next.

Plus, explosive emotions on the hill as Congress tries to get answers about that poisoned water in Flint, Michigan. One resident literally losing her hair after she showered in the toxic water. We'll bring that to you, next.