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CNN/WMUR Poll: Cruz, Kasich Tied for Third in N.H.; New Poll Has Donald Trump on Top in New Hampshire, Marco Rubio Second; Democratic Rivalry Heats Up; Al Shabaab Group Suspected in Airliner Explosion. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 5, 2016 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:17] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now: scramble for third. Our new poll shows Donald Trump and Marco Rubio running a clear 1, 2 in New Hampshire, but the battle is now on for the middle of the pack. Ted Cruz and John Kasich, they are now tied for third. Now, we'll hear from Kasich this hour.

Trump trapped. His rivals are campaigning in the New Hampshire snow, and even Jeb Bush's mother is out on the trail. But after flying home in his private jet, the frontrunner was grounded in New York.

Not mincing words, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, they throw the gloves off in a stormy debate. And trailing badly in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton complains that she's being smeared by her rival.

Plus, laptop bomb. Investigators believe it was a computer packed with TNT that blew a hole in an airliner, and the man blown out of the plane may have been the bomber. Is Al Qaeda's African affiliate growing more dangerous?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: The breaking news: with only four days to go until the nation's first primary, our brand-new CNN/WMUR poll just out shows Donald Trump holding onto his big lead in New Hampshire. with Marco Rubio all alone now in second place. Ted Cruz and John Kasich, they are deadlocked in third. Jeb Bush is fourth.

But while other candidates are slogging through the New Hampshire snow and Jeb Bush's mother hits the campaign trail, Trump was stuck in New York City after flying back home overnight in his private jet. The Democrats are throwing off enough heat to melt all that snow. They slugged it out in a fiery debate, and Hillary Clinton tries to gain ground in New Hampshire, as she sees her national lead shrinking dramatically. She's gone on the attack, accusing Bernie Sanders of smear tactics.

And we're getting chilling new details on the explosion aboard a Somali airliner. Investigators now suspect the man blown out of the plane was the bomber and carried a laptop computer packed with military-grade explosives.

Our correspondents, analysts and guests, they'll have full coverage of all the day's top stories.

With Donald Trump trapped in New York, the other candidates had the snow-covered campaign trail to themselves today, but it's tough sledding out there. CNN's Jim Acosta is following the Republican field.

Jim, what's the very latest?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, with just four days to go till the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump is missing crucial time on the campaign trail today. He was forced to cancel an event in New Hampshire, because his plane could not make it out of the snow in New York. But Trump is still scheduled to appear down here in South Carolina as his rivals try to take advantage of his absence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By the way, I'm No. 1 in New Hampshire. Will you please keep me there? This is ridiculous.

ACOSTA (voice-over): After deciding to fly back to New York and spend last night at home, Donald Trump learned a cold, hard lesson in New Hampshire politics. Sometimes it snows. His private plane stuck in New York, Trump scrapped his lone event of the day in New Hampshire, tweeting, "Big storm, moved my event to Monday." Instead Trump released a video message from his office, praising New Hampshire's motto, "Live Free or Die."

TRUMP: It means liberty. It means freedom. What a great slogan. Congratulations, New Hampshire. Wonderful job.

ACOSTA: Jeb Bush mocked Trump on Twitter, noting his mom, Barbara Bush, is still braving the elements, saying, "My 90-year-old mother made it out to campaign."

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: Vote for Jeb.

ACOSTA: Candidates trudging through the pre-primary snow is a New Hampshire tradition. Marco Rubio joked the real-estate tycoon was behind the winter storm.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll make America snow again, right?

ACOSTA: A new CNN/WMUR poll finds Trump's lead in New Hampshire may be melting as GOP rivals are catching up, with nearly a third of the voters surveyed undecided.

And Rubio, who has surged to second place, is taking a pounding. Jeb Bush is knocking Rubio's complaints about attacks coming from other contenders as childish.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's so unfair.

ACOSTA: The publisher of "The New Hampshire Union Leader," who's endorsed Chris Christie, piled on: "Rubio just got out of day care," adding, "I don't think he's got the gravitas that any of the three governors still in the race have."

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Experience and judgment count in the Oval Office. Jeb Bush is a leader who will keep our country safe.

ACOSTA: Bush is touting his experience and steadiness, from an ad featuring his brother, the former president; to his mother, the former first lady, hitting Trump.

B. BUSH: I'm not getting in a spitting match with him. He can spit further than I can.

ACOSTA: Barbara Bush told CBS her son is just too polite compared to Trump.

[17:05:03] TRUMP: We're going to knock the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of ISIS. Going to knock the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of them.

J. BUSH: I don't think a president would ever shout profanities in a speech in front of thousands of people with kids in the crowd.

ACOSTA: But Mrs. Bush told CNN's Jamie Gangel she isn't wasting any energy thinking about her son's nemesis.

B. BUSH: I'm not crazy about what he says about women. I don't even think about him. I'm sick of him. That's very strong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, it may seem strange for Trump to be down here in South Carolina, but this has been his strategy all along. He likes to jump ahead and speak in front of big crowds in states where contests loom down the campaign calendar. And Trump will be back in New Hampshire tomorrow. He's got events scheduled all day tomorrow through primary day, Wolf.

And just a few moments ago, an indication of how they were concerned about that ground game. They were doing a tutorial on how to conduct the ground game down here in South Carolina just a few moments ago outside this arena here in Florence (ph), Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Jim Acosta reporting for us.

The breaking news this hour, our brand-new CNN/WMUR poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, shows Donald Trump sitting on a comfortable lead in New Hampshire, with Marco Rubio solidly in second place, Ted Cruz and John Kasich now tied for third.

Let's bring in our CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. She's taking a closer look at the numbers. So not much of a change, although Kasich now -- Kasich is now solidly tied with Cruz in third.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. If we can put those numbers back up, I think we can kind of tell a bigger story here. Donald Trump is 28 percent. He is still in the lead by a pretty

healthy margin. But as you said, Rubio is No. 2; and Cruz and Kasich are tied for second.

But I think what we need to remember here, Wolf, is that it's still a 1, 2, 3, Trump, Rubio, Cruz race. Even in New Hampshire where Cruz has not spent a lot of time, where he -- it's not kind of his natural constituency, the voters of New Hampshire, and Kasich is doing much better than the other people who have been living there, basically, for so long. Jeb Bush maybe to a lesser extent, but Chris Christie especially. He almost has not gone home to New Jersey very much.

But one of the things I should say our viewers might be saying, why are you doing a poll? You did one yesterday. This is a tracking poll. And the reason we historically do tracking polls between Iowa and New Hampshire is because of the fact that it is a very finite amount of time, and things change so much historically in the five days to a week between those two time periods.

And the electorate and the field tends to be so volatile, it is important to track every day, because things do change very fast.

BLITZER: It looks like Kasich, the Ohio governor, is gaining momentum in New Hampshire. He's moving up in all these polls in recent weeks. He's really spent an enormous amount of time over there. It's possible he could come in second or third. Cruz could come in fourth after winning in Iowa. That would be a pretty significant setback for Cruz.

BASH: It would, exempt that, as I said, he was sort of tailor-made for Iowa, less so for New Hampshire. He went to New Hampshire right after Iowa and then right -- went right away to South Carolina.

But one of the things that -- one of the things that we should point out also, if you look at another screen here -- and Jim Acosta alluded to this in his piece -- is that 30 percent say they are still considering. Twenty-six percent say they are leaning towards someone. It's that last number, 45 percent definitely decided.

So what you have here is less than half of New Hampshire voters say they know who they're going to vote for. Having come back just last night from New Hampshire -- I was there for several days -- you hear that at every rally, no matter who it is. A lot of people, most people who I talk to, they're just not entirely sure yet.

BLITZER: It's very fluid if you go anyway right now. We'll just keep track with that tracking poll that we have. Thanks very much, Dana. Don't go too far away.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California. He's endorsed Senator Marco Rubio's White House bid.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

As you know, Rubio coming under a lot of attack right now. Jeb Bush attacking Rubio's lack of accomplishments. Take a look at this brand- new Bush ad using clips from that Rick Santorum interview. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you list as Marco Rubio's top accomplishment that made you decide to endorse him?

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: I guess it's hard to say there are accomplishments.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: I'll ask it one more time. List one accomplishment that Marco Rubio has achieved in four years in the United States Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeb Bush ran Florida. Marco Rubio, finish the sentence.

SANTORUM: I would just say that there's a guy that's been able to, No. 1...

SCARBOROUGH: The bottom line is he didn't get accomplishments done. Neither did President Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Congressman, what do you list as Marco Rubio's top accomplishment over the past four years as a United States senator?

ISSA: Well, there's two that I think the American people need to know about. First of all, he's the only one to author any legislation to defund Obamacare that actually became law. And there are billions of dollars that the president would be backpedaling into shoring up Obamacare that Marco Rubio was there to make sure didn't happen.

And every senator knows that it was Marco Rubio that did it. It's well-documented.

[17:10:11] Additionally, by becoming a real specialist, a real expert on national security, he's carved some solid record of where we should be, including on the Iran sanctions and other legislation.

And as someone who headed up investigations on the House side, I worked very closely, since Marco Rubio came there, on getting his support and help in blocking many of the worst things this administration does. Nobody is looking when you do that. You don't necessarily get the headlines, but I'll tell you, senators were key to my success in the house.

I worked with Marco Rubio. That's why I called him several months ago and asked him if he would take my endorsement. I've been campaigning for him, not because he called me, but because I called him.

BLITZER: Is Marco Rubio part of the Republican establishment?

ISSA: You know, I'm not sure who the establishment is. What I'll tell you is he charts his own course. He tells you what he believes. He's willing to be seen sometimes as a little moderate and sometimes as extremely conservative.

But just like Eisenhower and Reagan, one thing that Marco Rubio has going for him -- you see it in New Hampshire, you saw it in Iowa -- is he's likeable. When you ask about what people like, Marco Rubio is always one of the top two names mentioned, usually No. 1.

When you ask who they trust, they trust him. Is he always the first choice? No. But as you saw in Iowa and you're going to see in New Hampshire, when the undecided break, they break towards somebody they like and trust. And that's Marco Rubio.

And, yes, for a fairly junior senator, he has an extremely good record of accomplishment. Something that, if you've been around long enough, I suppose after 20 or 30 years, you accumulate a list. He has a very good list for the time he's been there, but the top of the list with me is the help he gave me in oversight and in holding accountable this administration.

BLITZER: Listen to what Governor Christie of New Jersey, presidential candidate, says about Senator Rubio's stance on abortion rights for women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On the issue of pro-life, Marco Rubio is not for an exception for rape, incest or life of the mother.

Now, you know, I think that's the kind of position that New Hampshire voters would be really concerned about. I'm pro-life, but I believe that, you know, rape, incest and life of the mother, as Ronald Reagan did, should be exceptions to that rule.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I think you agree with Ronald Reagan on that, too. Are you uncomfortable with the very strong position against any abortion rights for women taken by Senator Rubio?

ISSA: You know, Marco Rubio is a man of faith who has his own convictions. But let's be honest. Whether it's the Democrats calling Republicans non-pro-women or it's Republicans slinging back and forth one way or the other, the law of the land is well-settled. And unless you're actually authorizing a constitutional amendment, all of this discussion is for naught. The fact is, Roe decided this before most of the young voters were born. It is not an issue.

But it's a great issue for Chris Christie, who doesn't have a conservative record and has essentially become the second governor of New Hampshire, to make.

It's not working for Chris Christie. People understand that, although Marco Rubio does have deep faith, he also recognizes you change what you can change, and you can't change the constitutional interpretation. It's not going to happen under this president, and it won't happen under the next. BLITZER: So Roe v. Wade settled law, obviously that's what you

believe.

But what Christie says, and he's said it now several times, that when people in New Hampshire -- Republicans, moderates, independents -- when they hear that he doesn't believe a woman, a 14-, a 15-, a 16- year-old girl who was raped, she doesn't even have a right to get an abortion, they're going to be pretty angry at him. They're not going to like him.

ISSA: You know, it's amazing that he wants to have it both ways. Chris Christie wants to be, quote, "a conservative," not a moderate and then he wants to have the argument that the Democrats have.

Let's make it clear: if you're pro-life, you disagree with the decision that was made in Roe, taking it away from the states, making it the law of the land that a woman as an absolute right to an abortion on demand. The reality is the court made that decision while I was still just entering college decades ago, and this argument is a false argument. The real question, I think, for these candidates are where are you on national security, what have you been doing about it, where are you on getting our economy going again through a private free market solution.

And, by the way, can you build and grow our party? Marco Rubio has proven he can expand a base of supporters for him. He's proving it in those polls because New Hampshire, the independents pull tickets and they're pooling Rubio tickets.

So this is somebody that, much more like Dwight David Eisenhower or Ronald Reagan, pulls crossovers and independents; and maybe Chris Christie doesn't like it. But the reality is, a man from Florida is outperforming, and a state that's a swing state is outperforming someone who is very proud of being a Republican in a Democratic state. That's for the voters to decide. But I'm not going to engage in sort of the petty arguing over settled issues.

[17:15:21] Marco Rubio's major stance, his work in the Senate has been on confronting the excess and overreach of this administration. He is an advocate to really reform the government, make it more responsible and more transparent, and that's why I've been supporting him, is I know he's where I am. And I think I'm where the American people have wanted us to be. Hold the government accountable, let the private sector work, start believing in people again, not government.

BLITZER: Darrell Issa, thanks very much for joining us.

ISSA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We've got a lot more coming up. We're getting more information. We're also standing by. We're going to release the latest CNN/WMUR numbers on the Democratic side. Wait until you see those numbers. Much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:20:25] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news four days before the nation's first primary contest. The new CNN/WMUR tracking poll shows Donald Trump with a strong lead over his Republican rivals in New Hampshire.

But the field is crowded in the middle, and many candidates are pinning their presidential aspirations on a very strong showing in the Granite State. One such candidate is John Kasich, who ties now for third place with Ted Cruz in our new poll. Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, asked Kasich about his campaign experience in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What has been amazing in these town halls that I have noticed and my friends pointed it out, I think they've turned in some of them into a safe harbor for people or a safe haven. And people come. They talk about the trouble their kids are having. They -- I mean people will come, and they'll cry. They'll give me a big hug or I'll give them a big hug. They need somebody to care about them. Somewhere to go where it's safe. And it's so weird for me to find it at a political event.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Let me ask you, now here in New Hampshire, Trump has started to go on the retail circuit a little bit, is doing a few town halls.

KASICH: Isn't that interesting?

BORGER: What do you think about that?

KASICH: That's the way you do it here. They don't -- they don't care about celebrity. They don't care about money. They don't care. These people want to know who you are.

BORGER: What's your advice for him? Because he hasn't really done it. Didn't really do it -- didn't do it in Iowa.

KASICH: I just think it's -- you can't play catchup here.

BORGER: Who's your biggest competitor right now, if you look at this, at this field?

KASICH: I think my biggest competitor is being able to get my message out and correct, you know, the millions of negative about me. That's what I think the biggest challenge is for me. I mean, people have spent four, five, $6 million on the air, in mailboxes, you know, talking about...

BORGER: Jeb and Christie you mean?

KASICH: All of them. Even Rubio. They've all spent money bashing me. Fiorina calls me the media candidate. You know. But my challenge is just -- I just wish people would say, "Well, tell us about this" or "answer this question." BORGER: You are tied for third in our latest poll behind Rubio and

Trump, and you've said that, if you get smoked in New Hampshire, that it's over.

KASICH: Yes.

BORGER: What does getting smoked mean?

KASICH: Finishing sixth or seventh. That's not going to happen. I don't even think we're third. I think we're -- I think we're running second.

BORGER: Would you ever accept a vice-presidential nod from somebody?

KASICH: No, no. I don't even -- that's kind of crazy. I mean, I wouldn't even think about that. I'm running for president.

BORGER: Well, you are governor of Ohio, so other people might think about it for you if you didn't get the nomination.

KASICH: Well, it doesn't matter. I don't -- I don't even think that way.

BORGER: You don't?

KASICH: I'd be the worst vice president anybody could ever imagine. I'd be worse than Biden, because I'm my own man. I'm not going to take orders from these people. It's not what I do; it's not who I am. I'm basically an unrelenting agent of change.

BORGER: And you couldn't do that as a vice-presidential nominee?

KASICH: No. I have no interest in that. I'm running for president.

BORGER: What do you say about Bernie Sanders' charge against Hillary and others that, if you have a super PAC, then you're bought -- you're bought and sold?

KASICH: Well, it's an extreme statement. I knew Bernie when I was in Congress. Give me a break.

BORGER: What was he like?

KASICH: Just way out in the middle -- you know, floating around Pluto somewhere. I mean, he's not -- this is ridiculous. I don't dislike Bernie, I just don't take it serious.

BORGER: I was going to ask you about Hillary taking money from Goldman Sachs, hundreds of thousands giving speeches.

KASICH: Just because somebody makes a speech doesn't mean they're on the take. I don't think that's Hillary's biggest problem.

BORGER: Is there anything that drives you crazy about running for president? KASICH: No. Look, here's the thing. Somebody said how would you

feel, would you do it again if you had to do it? The answer would be yes. I mean, it's been a great experience. Now, we're not done yet. Maybe something is going to happen, and I'm going to hate it. I don't know. But right now I've enjoyed it.

Drive me crazy? Nothing is driving me crazy. You know, we're like a traveling band of minstrels, to tell you the truth. I mean, this is -- they talk about no drama Obama. We don't have drama.

BORGER: No drama. And let me ask you, if you could finish the sentence this way, I ran for president...

KASICH: To change the world.

BORGER: And maybe I lost, but...

KASICH: I held my head high, kept my integrity, and created another -- created a positive legacy for my children and grandchildren.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And Gloria is joining us now live. Gloria, good work.

It's still a pretty crowded field up there where you are in New Hampshire. You have Rubio in second place. There's three governors out there. Kasich just told you he thinks he's really in second place ahead of Rubio, and Trump clearly is still in first place. That's pretty bold of him.

BORGER: It is. And I think what he's really counting on, Wolf, are these undeclared voters that can vote in either the Republican primary or the Democratic primary. People are not affiliated with any particular party. That's 40 percent of the electorate here.

And I think Kasich's aides and Kasich believe that he has a good shot with a majority of those voters. So they figure, if those people turn out and he can -- you know, tonight he's doing his 100th town hall, he says, Wolf. If those people turn out because he's become familiar to them, he hasn't run a negative campaign and they like him, then they believe they can come in second. We're just going to have to wait and see.

And I think, you know, him being out here, somebody like Donald Trump being kind of stuck in New York works to their advantage.

BLITZER: It probably does. Kasich is a likeable guy, certainly in Ohio, twice elected. And as I like to remind our viewers out there, no Republican has ever been elected president of the United States without carrying Ohio.

Gloria, I want you to stand by for a moment. I want to bring in more of our political experts.

We're joined now by Rebecca Berg, a national political reporter for Real Clear Politics; our CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro; and our CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein. He's the editorial director of "The National Journal."

Guys, in fact, stand by for a moment. I need to take a quick break. We've got a lot to address right when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:31:22] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get back to the breaking news. According to our brand new CNN/WMUR tracking poll Donald Trump holds a significant lead over the rest of the Republican field in New Hampshire, but the contest for second place and third place for that matter could be just as important for candidates hoping to consolidate support as the nomination contest heats up.

Let's bring back our political experts. And Ron Brownstein, I'll start with you. Talk about this battle for second place. You just heard John Kasich tell Gloria he thinks he's really in second place ahead not only of Cruz but Rubio as well.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, you know, it's hard to say what was hitting New Hampshire harder today, snow or polls because there was certainly a whole bunch of both descending on the state. And I think they've really converged, Wolf. You know, largely Donald trump in first, somewhere around 30 percent. A little lower than he's been in national polling and in state polling before Iowa, so I think a little bit concerning for him, even though he's still ahead.

And then I think most of the polls have converged with Marco Rubio at second. But as you say a big pileup in that lane of kind of center right more white collar where you have Rubio, Kasich, Bush and Christie. And it is hard to see. I mean, I know Governor Kasich in that terrific interview that Gloria did said that he is going to continue if he performs well but if after all the time that he and Bush and Christie spend here, if they don't finish ahead of Rubio, it's really hard to see what is their path to do so later down the road.

BLITZER: How much is, Gloria, Rubio is suffering because of the attacks against him from the other Republicans, especially Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, for that matter?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think he does suffer from it. Look, negative ads work, and that's a problem for him. I think, however, he creates a larger problem for the three amigos, the governors who are here. And you know, I asked Kasich about it and you know Kasich said, look, don't call me establishment. He said, they're all establishment. I'm a reformer. I'm not establishment, even though I've been in political office and I'm currently the governor of Ohio.

And so he's trying to run in a funny way as an anti-establishment candidate. I'm not quite sure that works for Kasich, but that's his -- that's his sort of narrow path he believes.

BLITZER: Ana, I know you support Jeb Bush. You're friendly with Rubio. I'll ask you what I asked Darrell Issa just a few moments ago. Rubio's refusal to accept any exceptions as far as abortion is concerned, not for rape, not for incest, not for life of the mother, is that going to hurt him with more independent moderate Republicans in a state like New Hampshire?

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it's much more of an issue in a place like New Hampshire than it is, for example, in a place like Iowa. And I heard Darrell Issa's answer and I agree with him. Marco Rubio is a man of faith. He's got a very deep faith and I think that he is being truthful when he says that he is a pro-life candidate who does not believe in those exceptions.

And I -- you know, I give him credit for being truthful, for saying his truth. He does not believe in exceptions, in abortion exceptions, so I think, you know, it is a different -- much different issue, plays much differently in New Hampshire than it does in Iowa. But Marco is staying consistent.

BLITZER: Rebecca, as you know, Donald Trump couldn't make it up to New Hampshire today. Last night he flew back to New York, there was snow in New York. He's going to be in South Carolina later tonight. Is this going to hurt him a little bit in New Hampshire, the fact he couldn't campaign there on the ground personally? Personally he did, what, four or five events yesterday in New Hampshire.

REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, the fact of the matter is, Wolf, it hasn't hurt him to this point. Donald Trump has been in New Hampshire much less than most of the other Republican candidates, and especially when you're comparing him to candidates like John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie who have essentially moved to New Hampshire for their presidential campaigns.

[17:35:13] Donald Trump by contrast actually has only done 45 events, according to the latest tracker that I saw in New Hampshire. 45 events in New Hampshire for the whole election cycle and even in spite of that he's pulling in the top of the Republican field. I think if he wins New Hampshire, and there's a good chance he will, it's really going to throw into question this idea of New Hampshire as a retail politics state because Donald Trump just hasn't had that approach.

BLITZER: What do you think, Ron Brownstein?

BROWNSTEIN: I think we've already moved past that. I mean, I agree. I think that organization is somewhat overrated in New Hampshire. It is a primary state. And the entire process, Wolf, is being shaped more and more by the national dialogue. I mean, the amount of media coverage is so much vastly greater than it was when I started covering presidential politics in the 1980s and voters everywhere are receiving then.

And what really matters in these states is kind of the underlying demographic makeup of the state. I mean, this is a state where evangelical Christians are much less important than Iowa. That's one reason no one on the Republican side has won both of them since Gerald Ford in 1976. This streak is probably going to continue here. And you see I think voters everywhere responding to the same currents in the national dialogue and the state's tipping one way or the other depending on kind of the makeup of the electorate on each side.

BLITZER: And, Gloria, you're there -- go ahead, Gloria, I know you want to weigh in.

BORGER: Yes. I was just going to say -- I was just going to say anecdotally in talking to voters here, Republican voters over the last couple of days, it seems to me that while some of them like Donald Trump and they seem to be deciding if they like Trump, it's usually, am I going to vote for Cruz or am I going to vote for Trump? Those are the two.

And voters here want to think that you're as serious about the campaign as they are, and they're very serious about it. And I think that Donald Trump not being here today sends a signal, and the signal is, well, you know, why couldn't you have stayed overnight here in New Hampshire? Why did you have to go back to New York? And I think that's a bit of a problem.

BLITZER: Ana, go ahead.

NAVARRO: I absolutely agree, you know, Wolf. I'm here, I spent a lot of time on the phones today. I was at Jeb Bush's headquarters making phone calls. I can tell you there is still a lot of voters out there in New Hampshire who have not made up their mind. Probably over 50 percent of the voters still not made up their mind. And everybody else is here. And you know, let me say this. Voters in New Hampshire, they show up to the town halls. They don't just show up to the town halls for the person who they're leaning for or who they know they're going to vote for.

They show up to everybody's town halls. They have very particular issues they want addressed and they ask about. Things like addiction, things like the moose population, EPM, things that you may not get asked in other states. And I do think that it's going to make a difference. We all thought that it wasn't going to hurt Donald Trump to skip the debate in Iowa a few days before that Iowa caucus and it did.

And let's all remember that just a few days before Iowa, practically every single poll we saw had Trump on top and he ended up losing.

BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by. There's a lot more coming up. On the Democratic side it's getting pretty intense over there as well. Much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:53] BLITZER: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they're on the campaign trail tonight fighting for every vote just four days before New Hampshire's crucial primary contest. The candidates have also been tangling on the debate stage as Clinton tries to fight off suggestions from Sanders that her campaign is beholden to Wall Street.

Our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is following all the action. He's joining us now live from Manchester, New Hampshire.

Jeff, what is the very latest?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's far less shouting today on the campaign trail like we saw last night at that debate, but that does not mean their differences are any less distinct.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am not going to stop fighting for New Hampshire.

ZELENY (voice-over): In their bitter primary fight, Hillary Clinton extended a hand today to Bernie Sanders.

CLINTON: I will call Senator Sanders, the first call I will make.

ZELENY: But it sounded like more of a consolation prize than an olive branch.

CLINTON: I look forward to working with him as a partner in the Senate.

ZELENY: Four days before the New Hampshire primary, Clinton is looking beyond Sanders' commanding lead here and playing the long card of inevitability.

CLINTON: I'm so fortunate as to get this nomination so we can turn our attention to what we really need to do and make sure we don't get a Republican back in the White House.

ZELENY: But Sanders is also playing the long game, armed with a wave of support he never imagined, putting up a fight that's shaking the Democratic Party.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What this campaign is trying to do is ask the American people to think big and not small.

ZELENY: One thing the campaign is getting is heated. Face to face for the first time since the contest became a two-person race, the rancor was clear on last night's debate stage.

CLINTON: Time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is this attack that he is putting forth, and I really don't think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you.

ZELENY: She's talking about his charge that she's beholden to Wall Street.

CLINTON: Enough is enough. If you've got something to say, say it directly, but you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received.

[17:45:08] I think it's time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out in recent weeks.

SANDERS: What being part of the establishment is in the last quarter having a super PAC that raised $15 million from Wall Street.

ZELENY: Sanders is trying to make money and judgment to fighting issues in the race.

SANDERS: Experience is not the only point. Judgment is. And once again, back in 2002 when we both looked at the same evidence about the wisdom of the war in Iraq, one of us voted the right way and one of us didn't.

CLINTON: A vote in 2002 is not a plan to defeat ISIS. We have to look at the threats that we face right now and we have to be prepared to take them on and defeat them.

ZELENY: The acrimony continues, but Sanders is taking a brief detour for his turn on "Saturday Night Live" where his uncanny double ganger, Larry David, is hosting.

LARRY DAVID, ACTOR: I don't have a super PAC. I don't even have a backpack.

ZELENY: He played along with their resemblance at CNN's presidential town hall with Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, MODERATOR, CNN TOWN HALL: Do you do a Larry David imitation?

SANDERS: Anderson, I'm going to -- I know you've been in journalism for a long time.

COOPER: Are you doing your Larry David right now?

SANDERS: This is the scoop. I am Larry David. And you didn't get it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: So we're about to see Bernie Sanders as Larry David on "SNL" on Saturday, but, you know, the humorous aside, this is really getting intense between these two. The Sanders campaign was offended, I'm told by one adviser, that his rival said that she would enjoy working with him in the Senate. They said he is running for president and this race is going to go on for a long time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens, can't wait for tomorrow night, "SNL "as well. Thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny.

Coming up, as the Democratic campaign heats up in New Hampshire, our new poll results show where that race may be headed. We'll share the results right at the top of the hour.

And investigators now believe it was a computer packed with TNT that blew a hole in an airliner. Was the man blown out of the plane? Was that man the bomber? We have stunning new information.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:51:45] BLITZER: Breaking news tonight. Chilling new details about the bomb that nearly brought down an airliner this week. The man who may have been the bomber and the deadly terror group that may have been responsible.

CNN's Brian Todd has been trying to put it all together for us now for several days. You have new information, Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight we have new very disturbing information about this explosion. Chilling new evidence that a second major terrorist group may have developed creative, very dangerous methods of evading airport security.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): A source close to the investigation tells CNN the blast that ripped this hole in the fuselage of a plane full of passengers was caused by a bomb concealed in a laptop. And it appears the only passenger killed may have been the bomber, blown out of the hole by the explosion.

The source tells CNN investigators believe the attack was orchestrated by al Shabaab, al Qaeda's brutal affiliate in Somalia. Tonight Somali officials identify the bomber as Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, an elderly Somali national. They're not certain if he was a member of the terror group. Either way, analysts say, if al Shabaab is behind the attack, it shows a frightening advancement in its capabilities.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: What we've seen from al Shabaab over the last few years is the group increasingly getting into the international terrorism business. They have been developing a more sophisticated international terrorist unit capable of launching attacks in the region.

TODD: The explosion occurred between 12,000 and 14,000 feet and the pilot was able to make an emergency landing in Mogadishu. A source familiar with the investigation says if the plane had reached cruising altitude when the blast occurred, it would have been catastrophic. More chilling, the bomber apparently knew precisely where to sit and how to place the device to maximize damage.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB DIRECTOR: And in this case you have it along the outer edge of the seats, directly against the fuselage skid and directly over the center wing. Both of those are recipes for real damage.

TODD: Sources say TNT was the explosive used. It should have been easily detected. Tonight, investigators are asking serious questions about airport security in Mogadishu.

ROBERT LISCOUSKI, IMPLANT SCIENCES CORP: The question is what technologies are being deployed? Physical inspection is not sufficient enough. You actually have to use that can detect and trace explosives and that might be secreted in a laptop or other types of technologies.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: One man who could have helped al Shabaab get this bomb past security, Ibrahim al-Asiri, he is the master bomb maker for another al Qaeda affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Western intelligence officials say he is the man behind the underwear bomb and printer cartridge bomb plots targeting planes heading to America. Terrorism analysts say al Shabaab and al-Asiri's group have forged ties with one another and al Shabaab's recruits have trained in bomb making in Yemen.

Wolf, if they've learned from this man, they know it.

BLITZER: And, Brian, this may not necessarily have been the first time al Shabaab has actually concealed a bomb in a laptop, right?

TODD: That's right, Wolf, in 2013 explosions in a hotel in Mogadishu killed at least six people. Witnesses said there were actually two blasts, a car bomb detonated after a smaller device planted in this laptop went off inside the hotel's reception area.

[17:55:04] Al Shabaab also claimed responsibility for that attack, so they may have done this at least more than once, planting a bomb inside a laptop computer.

BLITZER: Could have killed a lot more people. All right, Brian, thanks very much.

Coming up, their exchanges are hot enough to melt the New Hampshire snow as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they take off the gloves. Our new poll shows just where they stand right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, artful sneer. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders take off the gloves in their most heated debate yet, battling in a series of feisty exchanges over who's more progressive.

And breaking now, exclusive new poll numbers on their race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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