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THE SITUATION ROOM
North Korea Fears; Trump Tantrum?; Clinton, Sanders Clash Over 'Progressive' Tag; New Images Suggest North Korean Launch is Imminent. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired February 3, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: CNN town hall, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton facing voters in New Hampshire tonight, where Sanders holds a strong lead just days before the nation's first primary. Will we see any skirmish as they battle over Clinton's progressive credentials?
Preparing to launch, North Korea believed to be on the verge of firing a long-range rocket allegedly to put a satellite into orbit, but many suspect it's part of Kim Jong-un's effort to build a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the United States. What is Kim's secret plan?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking political news tonight.
Donald Trump about to speak publicly for the first time since this bombshell accusation against Republican presidential rival Ted Cruz. In a series of tweets, Trump alleges the Cruz campaign stole its victory in the Iowa caucuses by suggesting that Dr. Ben Carson was actually dropping out of the presidential race and encouraging Carson supporters to vote for Cruz.
Trump is expected to address the controversy when he speaks at a campaign rally that's getting under way right now in Little Rock, Arkansas.
And we're also standing by for CNN's Democratic town hall. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders facing voters tonight in New Hampshire, which holds its primary just six days from now. Clinton and Sanders in a new war of words tonight. Sanders questioning Hillary Clinton's progressive credentials. Clinton calling that a low blow.
We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our correspondents, our expert analysts and our guests. They're all standing by.
As we begin and as we wait to hear from Donald Trump in Little Rock, let's go to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. Sunlen, you're there. You're in New Hampshire right now, but there's
a new fight that's taking place about what happened in the Iowa caucuses.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Donald Trump is on attack, basically calling into question Ted Cruz's win in Iowa. Now, the Cruz campaign is trying to brush it all off by arguing that Donald Trump is just being a 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: Jumping into the controversy over accusations the Cruz campaign tried to shift votes away from Ben Carson in Iowa Monday night, and declaring fraud, tweeting -- quote -- "The state of Iowa should disqualify Ted Cruz from the most recent election on the basis that he cheated. A total fraud."
Trump is demanding either a new election takes place or Cruz's results be nullified. Cruz today is responding.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it is no surprise that Donald is throwing yet another temper tantrum, or, if you like, yet another Trumper tantrum. It seems his reaction to everything is to throw a fit, to engage in insults.
SERFATY: At issue, when CNN accurately reported that Carson on the heels of his Iowa loss would stop in Florida for a few days before resuming campaigning. The Cruz tried to suggest at Iowa caucus sites that Carson was quitting the race, prompting tweets like this one from Cruz's national co-chair.
"Carson looks like he is out. Iowans need to know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope."
Cruz apologized to Ben Carson and today tried to downplay it.
CRUZ: Passing on a true and accurate news story, it is in fact something that voters found relevant. And I would note, listen, there is a reason why the media is chattering about this, because the media wants to stir up a fight between Ben Carson and me.
SERFATY: Trump's Twitter tirade against Cruz is a stark contrast to the new more subdued tone.
TRUMP: I'm just trying to be a little bit more understated and statesmanlike. Some people like that, some people don't.
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.
SERFATY: And the Republican field got a little smaller by two today. Earlier today, Rand Paul dropped out of the race and CNN has confirmed that Rick Santorum intends to drop out later this evening. Wolf, it is understood that he will give an endorsement, but still a mystery at this hour who -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We will see who it is. All right, Sunlen, thank you.
Let's go to Little Rock, Arkansas. The Trump campaign getting ready for a rally in Little Rock.
CNN's Jim Acosta is the scene for us.
Jim, another big crowd turning up to hear Donald Trump right behind you. It's getting intense right now between the two Republican rivals, Cruz and Trump.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And Donald Trump's campaign, Wolf, is signaling that the real estate tycoon will indeed fire back at Ted Cruz here in Arkansas.
As Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, put it to me earlier today, stay tuned. The two top GOP contenders, as Sunlen said, have been in a war of words all day long. Trump accusing Cruz of stealing the Iowa caucuses by engaging in dirty tricks. At issue, Trump says the tweets and statements released by team Cruz suggesting Ben Carson was dropping out of the race.
Trump is demanding either a do-over in Iowa or that the Cruz victory there be thrown out altogether. His top surrogate, Sarah Palin, posted a message on Facebook page today, her Facebook page today accusing the Cruz campaign of dirty tricks.
Now, Cruz, as you have been saying, is saying that Trump is just flowing a Trumper tantrum, but it could get more serious than that. Earlier today, Trump warned during a radio interview he might file a lawsuit over this, and Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, Wolf, he told me that that is a possibility. He did not rule it out when I talked to him earlier today, Wolf.
BLITZER: I take it there is a big crowd there in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Arkansas primary is on, what, Super Tuesday, March 1, right?
BLITZER: So it's not that far away. A big crowd gathering there. How many people do we anticipate will show up?
ACOSTA: Well, we have several thousand people here right now. As we know from all of these Donald Trump events, he's going to take note of the size of the crowd. It is one of those big arena-sized crowds here for Donald Trump.
And it is a little odd considering the fact that Donald Trump is trying to make a comeback in New Hampshire that he's here in Arkansas, Wolf, but Super Tuesday is now looming large on the horizon, so doing well here in Arkansas would be a good thing. I should point out, though, Wolf, when I talked to Corey Lewandowski earlier today, he said Donald Trump is adding events to his calendar up in New Hampshire. There may be as many as four events tomorrow in New Hampshire, so Trump understands that after what happened in Iowa, he needs to prove those polls right that show him in the lead in New Hampshire.
That's what he hopes to do, but just goes to show you that Trump has more than Ted Cruz to talk about. Marco Rubio announced a whole slew of endorsements that he's picking up here in Arkansas. He did that earlier today as Trump was making his way here, Wolf.
BLITZER: Tell Donald Trump when you see him that we have shown pictures of that huge crowd there in Little Rock, Arkansas, at that venue where you are. He always complains that we only show a closeup of him speaking. We have spoken the big auditorium there on several occasions, including today.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Jim Acosta.
Let's get back to politics in a moment. We're getting some breaking news in the sexual assault case against the entertainer Bill Cosby. Just now in Pennsylvania, a judge ruled the case can in fact go forward. The judge rejected an argument from Cosby's legal team that a deal made back in 2005 should prevent the case from going forward.
Our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, is joining us on the phone right now.
Jeff, the pretrial hearing has been going on now for a couple of days. Explain the judge's ruling today.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Cosby was investigated by this district attorney's office in 2005 for this very alleged crime, and his lawyers asserted that there was a verbal promise made to him that he would never be prosecuted in this Pennsylvania county.
What the judge said, and I think it's a very, frankly, easy case, is he said, look, if there is ever anything as serious as a promise not to prosecute, it has to be in writing. You can't rely on an oral promise all these years later. So the case will not be thrown out on this ground and it looks like it's going to proceed to trial.
BLITZER: There's also been a battle under way between the current prosecutor and the previous prosecutor, Jeffrey, right?
TOOBIN: That's right. That was played out in politics. The previous prosecutor investigated, but then failed to bring a case against Cosby. The incumbent, the new prosecutor, used that issue to win the election and then brought this case.
That's a political issue. That really has no bearing on the legal issue of whether the case can proceed, and now we know clearly that it can.
BLITZER: So walk us through, Jeffrey, quickly, what happens next?
TOOBIN: Well, what happens next is there are some other motions to be resolved. But unless Cosby can get an appeals court to intervene, this case in the relatively near future will go to trial.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin reporting for us, thanks very much.
Once again, the trial, the rape case involving Bill Cosby will in fact be allowed to go forward.
Let's take a quick break. Once again, we're standing by to directly from Donald Trump. He's getting angry at Ted Cruz. You see a big crowd gathering there at Little Rock, Arkansas. We're told by Trump's aides he will speak forcefully.
That's coming up.
BLITZER: All right, take a look at this, a beautiful setting. This is -- these are live pictures coming in from Derry, New Hampshire. A CNN presidential town hall, that takes place two hours 45 minutes from now. Anderson Cooper will moderate.
Voters in New Hampshire will have a chance to ask direct questions to both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Anderson will be able to follow up. I'm going to be speaking later this hour with Anderson. We will go through some of the ground rules. This is an important moment just days, five, six days, before the New Hampshire primary. We will have live coverage only here on CNN.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will directly answer questions from voters in New Hampshire. Stay tuned for that. That all begins 9:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight. There's other breaking news we're following this hour. Donald Trump,
he is about getting ready to speak moments from now at a huge rally in Little Rock, Arkansas. You see the crowds gathering there. This will be his first public comments since he accused Ted Cruz of fraud, stealing the victory, he says, in the Iowa caucuses.
Our political experts are here with us to discuss what's going on.
Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is joining us, as is our CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston, and Republican strategist and former Mitt Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom.
Gloria, take a look at some of these tweets that Donald Trump posted earlier today. I will put some of them up here on the screen, for example, this. "This was sent out from Ted Cruz as Iowans arrived at their caucus sites to vote." That was one. "The state of Iowa should disqualify Ted Cruz from the most recent election on the basis that he cheated, a total fraud." You see that one.
"Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa caucuses," Trump tweeted, "either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified."
Very strong words. It's getting really bitter, isn't it?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
You know, when Trump gave his post-caucus press conference, he seemed to be a little subdued, gracious, almost understated. And that lasted like a nanosecond, Wolf, and then he took to Twitter. And understatement is not a natural ally, I don't think, of either Twitter or Donald Trump.
And what he's trying to do is, he's trying to turn that election into kind of a character issue against Ted Cruz, saying basically the guy cheated, and he cheated at the expense of poor Dr. Ben Carson. And it's a risk, because it's a question of how the voters in New Hampshire are going to accept that.
And don't forget, Trump right now, according to our last poll, and that was before the Iowa caucuses, so we're going to get another, but Trump is in the lead substantially in New Hampshire. And what he doesn't want to happen is he doesn't want to lose a lot of altitude here.
So he's fighting and he's fighting against Cruz, who he sees as the person in his way. And I wouldn't be surprised if he starts extending that to Marco Rubio.
BLITZER: And, Mark, Cruz is firing right back, calling it in his words a Trumper tantrum. He says his own children are better behaved than Donald Trump. He also said this. He said, "We're liable to wake up one morning and Donald if he were president would have nuked Denmark."
So the words are flowing back and forth. MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: They are.
And it was just a few weeks ago when I was in Ted Cruz up here in New Hampshire where he decided to go on the attack against Donald Trump. Wolf, as we all know and as our viewers know, Ted Cruz was very careful not to attack Donald Trump, especially during the debates. He called him my friend Donald.
That was a strategy that he thought that Donald Trump would implode and those Trump supporters would come to him. But now there's so much on the line and so much at stake, Ted Cruz coming out of Iowa as the winner, they feel like they need to go on the attack against Donald Trump because they can't take the incoming anymore, and really the best defense is a very strong offense, specifically in politics, Wolf.
BLITZER: Eric, as you know, the exchange between Cruz and Trump very, very bitter, very, very intense. Less discussion about Marco Rubio, who came in third in the Iowa caucuses. But given the fact that now Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee earlier, they have dropped out of this race, the field is getting more focused.
Does that benefit Rubio, for example, if there is an intense war between Cruz and Trump?
These are live pictures we're showing our pictures. Rubio is at an event as well in New Hampshire.
ERIC FEHRNSTROM, FORMER SENIOR ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, it's possible.
I mean, I give Rubio's team a great deal of credit for managing expectations really well around that Iowa third-place finish. But they're also smart enough to know that we don't build monuments to bronze medal winners. Rubio is going to get a fresh look. There's this grouping of candidates, Cruz, Kasich, Bush, Christie and Rubio, all within the margin of error.
And if Rubio can emerge from that scrum as the main challenger to Trump, then he will be on his way. But he's got to do better than finish third in New Hampshire. I'm not saying he's got to win New Hampshire, but he's got to improve on his third-place finish in Iowa to be considered a viable long-term contender.
BLITZER: Yes, I will be anxious to see in the coming days. There will be some new polls in New Hampshire. We will see what the impact of Iowa, the Iowa caucuses has been on voters in New Hampshire.
Mark, you're there in New Hampshire. Rubio today, he turned a question involving Donald Trump into an attack on Ted Cruz. He sort of avoided Trump, for that matter. So what's his strategy here?
PRESTON: Well, you know, just to dovetail what Eric said, right now, Marco Rubio is really getting a look at being the establishment candidate. Now, there are three others here in New Hampshire that are hoping that
they can eke out a victory or do very, very well. John Kasich, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush all have to do well here in New Hampshire to try to claim the mantle of the establishment candidate. Three lanes out of New Hampshire, Wolf, the establishment lane, the Donald Trump lane and the conservative lane.
The conservative lane is all Ted Cruz. Donald Trump is going to be all Trump. And there really is going to be this really jam going into that lane right there for moderates and centrists, what have you. What Marco Rubio has got to be careful about is not to take his eye off of Ted Cruz, because if this race comes down to himself, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, there may be enough establishment Republicans who say, you know what, Cruz has got the momentum, he's a U.S. senator. Yes, he's anti-establishment, but he's not Donald Trump and maybe we should go with him.
I think that Marco Rubio wants to try to take Ted Cruz out as quickly as he can.
BLITZER: As you know, Gloria, the Republican establishment, at least most of them, they really don't like Donald Trump, they don't like Ted Cruz. They're increasingly, I think, getting ready, at least many of them, to like Marco Rubio. What are you hearing about that?
BORGER: Yes, I spoke with a senior fund-raiser for Marco Rubio who said his job just got a lot easier after the Iowa caucuses. And you can see the establishment looking at Rubio because what they're thinking about, Wolf, is not only the presidential election, but they're thinking about all those down-ticket races, those Senate races, those House races, and who would they fare better with at the top of the ticket?
And I think there's a sense among those people who think about those things that they would do a lot better with Rubio and they believe Rubio could make the case against Hillary Clinton than they would with a Donald Trump or a Cruz.
But let me just say one thing about Donald Trump. He was surprised, I believe, by his showing in Iowa. I do not believe he wants to be surprised again. And what we see him doing now is getting into that sort of retail politics that he hasn't really done much of in the past.
He's added events in New Hampshire, and he is going to be out glad- handing, which we don't see him do a lot, Wolf, because he understands that that's what Iowa voters have come to expect. That's what Chris Christie is talking about when he takes on Marco Rubio and says, oh, he's only done one event. He only does one event a day.
So I think Trump is going -- you're going to see him start behaving more like the rest of the candidates in this field and trying to make that connection with voters in the way he hasn't done in the past.
BLITZER: It seems to me, Eric, tell me what you think, that Trump is feeling pretty good about New Hampshire, probably feeling pretty good about the next contest in South Carolina, Nevada. He's got a longer game going, and that's why he's in Arkansas right now. We're awaiting to hear from him. That's March 1, Super Tuesday.
Arkansas voters will go and have their primary. Does it exude confidence on his part that he can skip New Hampshire, for example, on this day, Eric?
FEHRNSTROM: Oh, I'm sorry. Could you repeat? I lost audio for a second there.
BLITZER: I was just wondering, is Trump exuding confidence that he's skipping New Hampshire right now to be in Arkansas, which doesn't have their contest until March 1.
FEHRNSTROM: It's a big mistake for him to be in Little Rock, Arkansas, Wolf.
Look, in 2008, I was with Mitt Romney. He was the poll leader in Iowa and in New Hampshire for the longest time. He lost Iowa and then in a week's time he saw his lead in New Hampshire evaporate.
You know, humility is a great teacher in politics, and Trump after the Iowa caucus sounded very humble and gracious. Those are not two words we usually associate with Donald Trump. But the feeling was setting in that maybe he's learned some lessons. He himself admitted that he should have spent more time focused on his ground game and his turnout operation.
But for him to be on the plane flying around the country and not on a bus in New Hampshire going from town to town, I'm not saying he has to do town halls. Jeanne Shaheen didn't do any town halls in her reelection two years ago. But he's got to show the people of New Hampshire that he is not taking them for granted.
BORGER: I think he's trying to do that.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Gloria.
BORGER: No, I think -- I agree with Eric that Arkansas is a little off the beaten track right now, given what he's got to do, but he has scheduled like a bunch more events tomorrow in New Hampshire. And I think he understands what he messed up in Iowa.
And I think they're going to try to make up for it. Whether he can is another story. And whether he is such a celebrity that it's difficult for him to kind of go one-on-one with people, you know, remains to be seen.
BLITZER: Mark Preston, you're there in New Hampshire. What are you sensing?
PRESTON: I mean, look, Donald Trump in Arkansas means Donald Trump is not in Nashua. Donald Trump in Arkansas means Donald Trump is not in Concord.
Donald Trump in Nashua -- Don in Arkansas means that he's not in Manchester. To Eric's point, he needs to be on a bus, he needs to be shaking hands. These are voters here that are attuned and used to being glad-handed, just like they were in Iowa. He didn't do nearly as much retail campaigning in Iowa as he should.
And certainly, in these closing days, Wolf, he should be here. As Eric said, he's lived it. He has seen the lead evaporate. Mitt Romney, who owns a house here in New Hampshire, saw his lead evaporate. Donald Trump, he's down there now, there's no getting him back.
But if he wants to maintain that lead, if he wants to maintain his status as the front-runner here heading into Tuesday, he needs to get back here and he needs to start shaking hands, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by.
Once again, we're awaiting Donald Trump to show up at that rally. We will hear what he has to say about Ted Cruz and some of the other Republican candidates.
And we will also take a look what's going on, on the Democratic side. They're getting ready for their big town hall, the presidential town hall that is coming up here on CNN later tonight. There you see live pictures. Anderson Cooper will moderate. He will be hosting that town hall between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
More of my interview, by the way, with Bernie Sanders, that's coming up as well.
BLITZER: We're standing by, once again, for tonight's CNN Democratic presidential town hall, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They're getting ready to take questions directly from New Hampshire voters just six days before the state's crucial primary. That's the first primary in the nation.
[18:31:40] Leading up to tonight's event, they've been skirmishing over Hillary Clinton's progressive credentials.
Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is in New Hampshire for us. Brianna, Bernie Sanders is leading in the polls in New Hampshire ahead of tonight's town hall, but it's getting more and more intense.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He is leading indeed, Wolf.
You'll remember back in 2008, Hillary Clinton pulled out an unexpected win, a come-from-behind win here in New Hampshire, so it's not impossible. But with the distance that she has to gain on Bernie Sanders, it will be a lot tougher this time.
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 (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC 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 is firing back.
HILLARY 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.
CLINTON: It was a good day for progressives when I helped to get 8 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: And the fight is 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.
CLINTON: You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center. I plead guilty.
KEILAR: Sanders highlighted that moment from Clinton in an interview today with Wolf, 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. 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 is also getting in 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: And win or lose here in New Hampshire during this primary, Hillary Clinton needs to keep an eye on the general, as well, Wolf. As you know, New Hampshire is a swing state, and she'll want it to be in her column if she is the Democratic nominee.
BLITZER: Yes, she'll need -- any candidate, they will need those electoral votes. Thanks very much for that, Brianna.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they've also been battling over debates. They seemed to finally reach an agreement. I spoke about that earlier today with Senator Sanders.
BLITZER: You now say you will be participating in that Democratic presidential debate tomorrow night. Did you get the commitments from Secretary Clinton you wanted about three additional Democratic presidential debates down the road?
[18:35:08] SANDERS: Yes, to the best of my knowledge we have. We didn't get all of the commitments that I wanted. We got California. We got Michigan, and that's good.
I wanted a debate in New York City. Secretary Clinton represented New York state, I believe, for seven years in the Senate. New York City is our largest city. I would have loved to have a debate in that city, but Secretary Clinton has not agreed to do that.
But I believe we're looking at a debate, perhaps, in Pennsylvania or somewhere else. But we do have her commitment, as I understand it, for three additional debates.
BLITZER: I get this from some of your supporters. Now, you're 74 years old. Young people love you out there. They came out overwhelmingly for you. And a lot of these people are wondering why did you wait so long to run for president of the United States? Why didn't you run four years ago, eight years ago, 12 years ago? Why now?
SANDERS: Well, you know, I am running for president of the United States, as I said many, many times, not because I wake up in the morning and say, "Boy, Bernie Sanders has to be president." That's not it.
I'm running for president, because the crises facing this country -- income and wealth inequality, the disappearance of the American middle class, a corrupt campaign finance system, the horrendous dangers of climate change, a broken criminal justice system, et cetera -- the problems are so severe that I honestly believe in my heart, as somebody who respects and likes Secretary Clinton. You know, media tries to create this, you know, attack mode. I respect her. But I just believe it is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics.
We need leadership now which is prepared to take on corporate America, whose greed has done so much damage to this country, taking on Wall Street. That's what we need, and that's why I'm running.
BLITZER: All right. Gloria, let's talk a little bit about that. What did you think of the main argument that Bernie Sanders is now leveling against Hillary Clinton? You're either -- Hillary Clinton, you're either a moderate or you're a progressive. You can't be both?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's not a surprise. This has been what Bernie Sanders has been talking about from day one. Only now he's really much more emphatic about it, because he's got so much at stake right now, which is that I was there before she was; and, thank you very much, she's changed her mind on a whole host of issues, including trade, you know. The trade agreement, which she once said was the gold standard she's now opposed to. He was for gay marriage before she was. And he goes through this litany, including Wall Street reform, including her taking money for speeches from Goldman Sachs, et cetera, et cetera.
I think it used to be that Bernie Sanders would say, "You know, it's you in the media who are just trying to get me to say something nasty about Hillary Clinton, and I won't. I'm just going to start drawing contrasts." Well, now those contrasts have become nastier and nastier, because he understands where his votes are; and he's trying to sort of push her into a corner.
And she's in a really tough situation, Wolf, because if she goes too far left -- and I don't think she's done that yet -- but if she goes too far left, it's a problem for her if she becomes the nominee in a general election. So he knows exactly what he's doing.
BLITZER: You know, Mark, you're there in New Hampshire. You're following this closely, following the Republican side, the Democratic side. Bernie Sanders just listed a whole bunch of examples of what he regards as non-progressive positions taken by Hillary Clinton.
He said among other things pleads guilty to being moderate and center, has a Wall Street-funded super PAC, promoted fracking, opposes Medicare for all, says a universal single-payer system will never happen, blamed homeowners for the financial crisis created by Wall Street. It goes on and on and on. Continues, architect of the forced regime change in Libya, supported NAFTA, supported all sorts of stuff.
So how is that playing over there in New Hampshire among likely Democratic primary voters?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, a couple things. One is Bernie Sanders realizes that he needs to win here in New Hampshire. And if he can win big, that will be a big boost to his campaign. He didn't come out of Iowa with the clear-cut win. Hillary Clinton won it by just, what, millimeters, basically. She came out of Iowa, but this was going to be his stronghold.
Now, I will tell you, the people in the Clinton orbit, Wolf, are telling me a couple things. One is, you might want to expect to start hearing Hillary Clinton calling herself an Obama Democrat, an Obama progressive, because many of those things that she said she was part of during his administration and we have heard her talk about that a little bit, certainly, in the past few weeks. I think we're going to hear more and more of that here.
Also, the Clinton folks think that, while he might have gotten a lot of help from the youth vote in Iowa and he's expected to here, they think once this race turns south, you're not going to see the fervent activity from younger voters rallying around Bernie Sanders' candidacy.
[18:40:07] So Bernie Sanders needs to do well here. They know they need to do well here, because they want a bigger boost. They also want to try to convince folks that he is the viable alternative to Hillary Clinton. Quite frankly, can start getting even more money to fuel his candidacy, Wolf.
BLITZER: Eric, are you surprised that our entrance poll results in Iowa showed that Bernie -- Bernie Sanders really destroyed Hillary Clinton among the younger voters, not just younger men, but younger women, as well. Older voters, at least the Democratic caucus goers, went with Hillary Clinton. Are you surprised by that?
ERIC FEHRNSTROM, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, because Bernie Sanders has a great amount of appeal with young voters. That's a critical part of the Obama coalition.
Look, progressives don't take six-figure speaking fees from Wall Street banks. That's like Ralph Nader taking on honorarium from Ford auto dealers. You just don't do it.
And I -- I think that -- that Bernie has a very potent line of attack that he's using now with respect to Hillary's plans to cut the costs of going to college. He's pointing to some very large speaking fees that she got from both public and private universities, and his point is simply this. We need to focus on reducing administrative expenses at our universities if we're going to get the costs of tuition down.
That goes right to one of Hillary's big vulnerabilities, which is, is she honest, is she trustworthy or is she a hypocrite?
BLITZER: Gloria, as you know, Bernie Sanders really goes after Hillary Clinton, their connections to Wall Street.
BORGER: Oh, yes.
BLITZER: The Wall Street money that's going to her super PAC. He keeps talking about that.
I spoke to Brian Fallon, her campaign press secretary, a little while ago, and he says, "You know what? Hillary Clinton is doing exactly the same thing when it comes to super PACs, big money, that Barack Obama did when he was elected..."
BLITZER: "... and then re-elected, so that's the nature of the game. You can't unilaterally disarm against the Republicans."
BORGER: Well, good try, but -- but Bernie Sanders isn't taking that kind of money. His average contribution is $27, and he's raised an awful lot of money, so she can say that in a general election. But against Bernie Sanders, it's a little bit more difficult.
I think, you know, to go back to Mark's point about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, what she's going to do tonight and what she did at our last town hall, Wolf, was become Hillary Rodham Obama, right? And she will continue to do that, because he is so popular in the Democratic Party. More popular than Bernie Sanders is and more popular than she is even, and she's in the stratosphere.
And I think that, by tying herself to the president, and by saying, you know, "I did this. I was with him on this. I was with him on this reform or that reform," she can do that; and that can help her as she heads into the South and can help deflect some of the criticism that's coming from -- from Bernie Sanders. Not from real hard-core progressives, but from Democrats who still like the president.
BLITZER: But Mark, you hear from the Hillary Clinton supporters all the time that, even if she does lose in New Hampshire, and they'll say, "Look, he's from Vermont. It's a neighboring state. It's his home turf" and all of that. Even if she loses there, she's well- positioned to win the following contest in South Carolina, Nevada, Super Tuesday, March 1, all those SEC so-called states in the South. Is that accurate?
PRESTON: It is accurate. And look, make no mistake about it. They put Bill Clinton down in South Carolina for a reason, to help shore up South Carolina for Hillary Clinton. She already has a big lead down there.
But what Bernie Sanders has in enthusiasm and passion amongst his supporters, Hillary Clinton has that amongst her supporters, but she also has an infrastructure in place. She also has been organizing in all those East states. They understand how to play the long game.
Not that Bernie Sanders' campaign doesn't. It's just not as developed, not nearly as developed, Wolf, as the Clinton campaign is.
So look, when they tell you that they're in it for the long game, they are in it for the long game. As you remember, back in 2008, she didn't get out of the race until the first week in June versus Barack Obama. So the Clintons have staying power, and I would expect that Hillary Clinton is going the whole way to try to win this nomination. She will not step out.
BLITZER: I remember in 2008, June 2008, they were waiting for the results from Puerto Rico to come in. And I never thought I'd see that, but we absolutely did. Let's see how long it goes this time. All right, guys. Stand by. We're awaiting CNN's Democratic presidential town hall in New Hampshire. Anderson Cooper is standing by. He'll give us a preview of what to expect as Bernie Sanders and as Hillary Clinton get ready to face questions directly from New Hampshire voters. Stand by for that.
Also, we're awaiting Donald Trump. He seems to be running a little bit late there. They're in Little Rock, Arkansas. He's going to be speaking momentarily, we're told. Lots of news coming up, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[18:45:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He's going to be speaking momentarily, we're told. Lots of news coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We're counting down to tonight's CNN Democratic presidential hall, where voters in New Hampshire will have a chance to directly question the two Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
[18:50:00] They're locked in a tight race for supporters. Next week's, new Tuesday's New Hampshire primary could propel either one toward the nomination.
Let's get a preview. CNN's Anderson Cooper is joining us right now.
Anderson, you're the moderator for this town hall. Walk us through the procedures, how this will all unfold.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we've got more than 200 or so, I think about 260 or so people who are going to be here in the opera house here in New Hampshire. They are registered Democrats, also independents. As you know, independents can vote in the primary, either in the Democratic primary and the Republican primary. These are independents who have indicated to us that they plan to vote in the Democratic primary next week.
They're going to have the opportunity to ask questions directly to Bernie Sanders and then to Senator Clinton. It's really just a chance for New Hampshire voters and frankly voters all around the United States to really kind of get an up close look at these candidates. It's not a debate in the traditional sense where you have candidates on the same stage. It's more personal than that. It allows for more conversation between the voters and the candidates and myself and the candidates as well.
So, we're looking forward to a fun night, Wolf.
BLITZER: So, you'll be able to ask some questions as well, Anderson, and maybe follow up. Is that right?
COOPER: Yes, I'll probably start off just asking a few questions about kind of stuff that's been going on in the last couple of days, as you know, as you've been reporting on your broadcast. You know, there's been sniping between Sanders and Clinton campaigns over is Secretary Clinton is a true progressive? She says she's progressive who can get things done. We'll probably talk about that a little bit at some point. That's certainly probably something that some of the voters is going to bring up as well.
And then, you know, I'll be able to do follow-up questions as well. But this is really about allowing voters a chance to directly interact with the candidate and get that kind of personal sense of who these candidates are.
BLITZER: It's going to be exciting. Who goes first, by the way?
COOPER: Senator Sanders is going to go first. And then Secretary Clinton will be coming out after that.
BLITZER: We look forward to it. Anderson, thanks very much for doing this. It's going to be really important not only for the people in New Hampshire voters out there, all across the country.
So, be sure to tune in later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern for CNN's Democratic presidential town hall. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they will field direct questions from the people of New Hampshire. That airs tonight live 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
Just ahead, we're following some breaking news. We're getting new images from North Korea. And they're stoking fears that Kim Jong-un's regime is preparing to launch a rocket and the North Koreans developing a long range missile capable of reaching the United States.
[18:57:09] BLITZER: We're following some breaking news here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
New satellite images of a top secret facility in North Korea show what appears to be preparations for a rocket launch. Many analysts fear the reclusive regime could be developing a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, as far as the United States.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has been tracking the latest developments.
Barbara, what are you learning?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, with those new satellite images emerging, the pressure is mounting on North Korea from around the world to give up this launch. Don't count on them to do that.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STARR (voice-over): North Korea could launch a long-range rocket in a matter of days. Pyongyang calls it an earth observation satellite on top of a rocket. Few are buying it.
MARCUS NOLAND, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: This is an attempt to build an intercontinental ballistic missile that's capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the United States and other destinations.
STARR: Nations across the region, including the U.S. on high alert. The U.S. has advanced Aegis radar warships and aircraft stations. The Air Force spy plane like this one and these U.S. radars in Japan also on watch.
The first sign on the launch pad may be fueling of the rocket. Once that happens, launch is imminent.
China, one of the few governments North Korea talks to, is weighing in.
LU KANG, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): We hope the North Korea government will exercise caution and restraint in their actions. They shouldn't act in a way that could escalate tensions on the peninsula.
STARR: The secretary general of the United Nations called for the launch to be scrapped. International shipping across Asia has been warned in detail of the path of the potential satellite launch.
After launching from North Korea, the first stage is supposed to drop off into the Yellow Sea, west of South Korea. Then a shroud covering the satellite will drop into the East China Sea. And the second stage is planned to fall into the Philippine Sea before the satellite goes into orbit.
Defenses are being deployed in Japan, which is not along the path. Patriot missiles are in place to shoot it down if it goes off course. In Guam, the U.S. has longer range missile defenses called PAD, which could also be called into action.
STARR: Wolf, let's take a look at some of those images -- satellite images just into CNN a short time ago from a commercial satellite passing overhead, also seeing activity at the site, seeing evidence that the North Koreans are beginning the process of trying to get ready for this launch, possibly even fueling activity. This launch could come as soon as Sunday night in Washington -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Pretty scary. Barbara, thanks very much.
That's it for me.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.