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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Presidential Candidate Battle for New Hampshire Voters; Bill Clinton: Some Sanders Backers Are "Sexist"; Is Debate Damage to Marco Rubio Overstated. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired February 8, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: And he was talking about some of the ailments that go -- sharing with him.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Coy Wire, have to leave it there. Thanks so much.
Thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.
AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.
Good morning from Manchester, New Hampshire, center of the political universe right now. Just 13 hours now until the critical primary begins in this state. And that means, if you're running for president, you are literally running across this state right now.
For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they are fighting for every last vote.
BERMAN: On the Republican side, it's an old fashioned battle royal. Maybe not for first place. Donald Trump seems to be solidly in the lead, but it is a mess back in the pack. Look at the CNN poll of polls. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Jeb Bush in a traffic jam with some 30 percent of Republican voters yet to make up their minds, and it's all up for grabs.
As we speak, the candidates, they are out clawing for votes. You can see right there, there's John Kasich on your left. He's nearby in Manchester, New Hampshire, right now. Donald Trump is speaking in Salem. He has another event later this hour.
Manu Raju is waiting for Donald Trump.
Good morning, Manu.
MANU RAJU, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, John. He's doing something unusual behind me. He's addressing voters in a town hall format, getting questions from voters. It's common among candidates doing this in this state that's known for its retail politics, but it's something that Donald Trump is not known for. He's been doing huge rallies instead. He'll have one later today. He increasingly is getting into a war of words with one of his rivals. Jeb Bush. He took direct aim at Jeb Bush when talking to voters earlier today. Here's what he had to say
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a stiff, Jeb Bush. Here's a guy, honestly, if you weren't in government, if he weren't in government, you wouldn't hire him to do anything. OK? You wouldn't hire him. If you had a company, you wouldn't hire him. He's on every show. Donald Trump said that and that, and then he says, I'm the only one taking on Donald Trump. I'm not afraid of Donald Trump. He's like a child. He's like a spoiled child. He spent $110 million on a campaign, and he's nowhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Really, really rough words there from Donald Trump. But Jeb Bush didn't hold back his. He took to Twitter and shot back. I'll read you what he said: "Donald Trump, you aren't just a loser. You're a liar and a whiner. John McCain is a hero, over and out."
Now, this goes to show you sort of the two-front war that Jeb Bush is waging in the state. He's really the only candidate going after Donald Trump as he saw in Saturday night's debate. And he's also worried about folks in the so-called establishment lane, Rubio as well, to get a second, third, or fourth place finish, end up strong here.
When you talk to a lot of voters here, there's a strong anti-Trump contingent. About 36 percent of voters, according to a recent CNN poll, have ruled out supporting Donald Trump. That's far more than anybody else in the race. Clearly, Jeb Bush sees some opportunity to grow there if he picks off some of those potential Trump supporters. We'll see if he has success. He's been low in recent polls. Can he end up in second or third place or fourth place? What would that mean heading into South Carolina for Jeb Bush?
BOLDUAN: If he is nowhere, then why is Donald Trump taking him on, you have to wonder. John makes a good point. What happened to the kinder, gentler, Donald Trump?
BERMAN: Yeah, Manu, we were all talking about the nice guy, Donald Trump, coasting from primary day. Not so much now, huh?
MANU: No. It's interesting. When someone goes after Donald Trump, it gets under his skin. That's what we're seeing here. Jeb Bush went after him about the eminent domain. And Donald Trump got to mad. No one else is going after Donald Trump. Marco Rubio has avoided going after Trump at all costs because that's part of his debate strategy. He doesn't want to get into back and forth with Donald Trump. Once you begin to pick that fight, Trump will punch back very hard.
BERMAN: And now Jeb Bush has called him a loser and a liar.
BOLDUAN: And a liar.
BERMAN: I don't think he meant it in a nice way.
Manu Raju --
BOLDUAN: Only when you say it to me does it feel like love. I don't know why.
BERMAN: Thanks so much, Manu.
On the Democratic side, something we have not seen before, Bill Clinton naming names. Really, for the first time, he went right at Bernie Sanders, going after his record, his health care plan, and accusing some of his supporters of being sexist. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:05:11] BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People who have gone online to defend Hillary and explain why they supported her have been subject to vicious trolling and attacks that are literally too profane, often, not to mention sexist, to repeat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CNN senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is in Manchester, New Hampshire, with the Clinton campaign.
You've been watching this all play out. Jeff, what is the Clinton campaign saying about this, this morning, and what more -- you heard from a Sanders spokesperson. But are we going to hear from Sanders himself responding to this?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the Clinton campaign is saying Bill Clinton knows what he's doing. He speaks for himself. He's not necessarily telegraphing Hillary Clinton's message. They know by Bill Clinton saying this, it gets attention. That's exactly what this -- one of the best minds in politics is doing. He's trying to draw voter's attention to what he believes is a candidate who hasn't been scrutinized. This is coming from Bill Clinton. The come-back in 1992, whose candidacy seemed on the roadside some 24 years ago, and he came back to New Hampshire. And he's asking the voters of New Hampshire to do the same for his wife. He's calling for voters to look carefully at Bernie Sanders' record. Is it possible and doable? Has he been on pure as fundraising? I was struck by how specific Bill Clinton was in bringing up Bernie Sanders' record. He mentioned names of regional newspapers across New Hampshire who endorsed the Clinton campaign. He mentioned specific things in all those. He mentioned a CNN.com report that said Bernie Sanders attended a lot of fundraisers over the years in Martha's Vineyard where there were Goldman Sachs representatives. He said, I got a good laugh out of that. So Bill Clinton is paying attention to Sanders, a sign he believes this is a real campaign, the race is on. But the Sanders campaign said this -- Mike Briggs, the campaign
spokesman, said, "It's disappointing that President Clinton has decided to launch attacks. Obviously, the race has changed in New Hampshire and elsewhere in recent days." That could be an understatement. The race is on in New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders has a lead. This race is going to go on well beyond New Hampshire into South Carolina, Nevada and a lot of Super Tuesday states. Bill Clinton is trying to get people to focus on Bernie Sanders' specific record. I don't believe he'll repeat the words here today when he appears at a rally with Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton. We'll find out when he takes the stage here -- John and Kate?
BERMAN: Jeff Zeleny, that was no drive-by campaign attack. He went armed with information and to say those things. As you say, it will be interesting to see what he says when he takes the stage in a little bit. We'll take it live when it happens.
Jeff Zeleny, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.
BOLDUAN: Let's discuss this more. Let's bring in CNN political reporter, Maeve Reston; as well as Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist whose firm advises Democratic candidate and the DNC; and Donna Brazil, democratic strategist and CNN political commentator.
Guys, it is great to have us all together in New Hampshire.
So on this Bill Clinton issue, why now, Hilary? Tell me what you think.
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's very much a view within the Clinton camp that Bernie Sanders has not been defined by the Clinton team and that they maybe missed their opportunity to do it earlier. And I think now people are looking for -- look, Sanders has performed well. He has now got to be subject to the same kind of scrutiny that Hillary has been subject to. And when you look at some of those things, it infuriates them, like, he did participate in a Democratic Senate campaign committee fundraising outreach to investment banks and to other kinds of big corporations that he rails against now. I think it's a level both of frustration and strategic.
ROSEN: They're looking for that scrutiny.
BERMAN: Donna, up until now, Bill Clinton has not said a thing about Sanders. I was with him in Iowa last week. He spoke for 40 minutes, did not mention the name, Bernie Sanders.
BOLDUAN: People are saying he was becoming nonissue, really.
BERMAN: This was a big difference to see what he said last night. And in 2008, a lot of Democratic voters thought he went too far going after Barack Obama. What are the risks here?
[11:09:38] DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I understand why former President Bill Clinton had to speak up. Over the last couple of days we've seen incidents where people have come down hard on the Clinton gore administration. I had to defend the Clinton gore administration last week. And I am just -- I understood the context of the conversation, whether it was criminal justice reform, welfare reform. The battles we had in the 1990s, in the Democratic Party and the country are a lot similar to some of the battles we're having today, but it's a different conversation. And Bill Clinton is defending his record. That's what he's doing. These allegations that somehow or another that Bill Clinton was asleep at the wheel while millions of Americans were jailed, I mean, he found -- it's offensive to Bill Clinton. That's why he's speaking up now. And I also believe that these allegations of sexism, look, women have faced unequal treatment throughout history. Women have faced different barriers to political participation, and again, some of the sexist things.
That being said, Bernie Sanders has been on the front lines helping Democratic candidates. He's raised money and been out there campaigning for Democratic candidates.
This fight, this battle, this is interesting. It's a great battle we have in the Democratic Party. We're not demonizing Muslims. We're trying to find the best candidate who can take on the issues and challenges of our time. That's what this campaign is about.
BOLDUAN: Also, in this conversation, you're not hearing the Clinton campaign talk about their policy proposals. They're talking about women's issues. You also have Bill Clinton just simply attacking the record and padding his endorsement resume of Bernie Sanders. What does that say to you about where Hillary Clinton's campaign, where they think they are?
MAEVE RESTON, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: I think they think they're in a difficult spot. They're tried to lower expectations here. I will say that when Hillary Clinton is on the stump as I was with her this weekend, she really is talking about all of those issues. So it's interesting that you're seeing Bill Clinton come in here as the attack dog. And she, of course, has been a lot, you know, stiffer in her criticism of Bernie Sanders as well, saying that his ideas can't be accomplished, that she's the one with the progressive record. But I do think that there is a risk of going a step too far with this women thing. You know, I was at the rally with Madeleine Albright where she said there's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women. This is at an introduction to Hillary Clinton. I talked to young women in the crowd who were taken back by that. I know Bernie Sanders supporters who heard that were offended. There is a risk in alienating women by doing that, almost shaming a little bit.
BERMAN: Donna --
BERMAN: Go ahead. ROSEN: Yesterday, Bernie Sanders said, "I don't like it when my
supporters go after women. I don't like the sexist behavior." An hour ago, on air, someone said, "We don't want that kind of support. Bernie rejects it totally." In many respects, they both recognize that it's really happening, that this is a real phenomenon, the sexist attacks for their supporters, and they're appropriately rejecting it.
BERMAN: They are. And it isn't the campaign.
BOLDUAN: A lot of bad things are said on Twitter and Facebook. We all know that.
Donna, I want to backtrack a little bit. You're neutral in this race. You haven't supported anyone. It seems to me that you said Bill Clinton is asking reasonable questions. Do you think that Bill Clinton has a gripe here? It interests me because we have you on a lot. You're pretty careful. It seems like you threw a play.
BRAZILE: Can I tell you something? We don't have a therapist.
Act as my therapist. In 2008 -- I'm black. Can you notice that? But I'm also a female. And so people say you're black, you're female. I didn't want to come down. I didn't want to split myself apart. And I kept telling them, I'm getting old and grumpy. I could be for John McCain, so back off.
But the truth is this is a campaign. Bill Clinton has every right to defend his record. His record is being brought into the conversation. And then they're saying, well, he did this in the 1990s, so therefore, because he's married to Hillary, that's her record. That's not her record. She has her record in the United States Senate, as secretary of state, and let's campaign on her record. If you want to go back to the 1990s and campaign on Bill Clinton's record, fine. But Hillary Clinton has her record, and she's on the ballot. Not Bill Clinton. That's where the efforts should be focused.
Now I have to tell you something. Madeleine Albright is a friend of mine and so is Gloria Steinem. I am proud of them. I love them. They have been phenomenal women. They have been women who have been daring, who have been breaking through glass ceiling all their adult lives. And Gloria said she's sorry for the unfortunate remarks she made about young women. Young women need to understand what's at stake in this election, and they understand that they have two incredible candidates who will fight for them to be at the table. That's what this battle is about. Who will make sure they're at the table. And Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are 100 percent on those records. I can't speak for Republicans. Some of them good. But I can speak for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on those issues.
BOLDUAN: A big issue. My goodness, we're going to be talking about -- (CROSSTALK)
BRAZILE: Thank you, therapists.
[11:15:13] BOLDUAN: And you can pay me in love and hugs.
BRAZILE: I got a credit card.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys. Great to see you.
Coming up for us, after his take down of Marco Rubio at the Republican debate, Chris Christie is hammering him once again, saying Rubio isn't electable. Is the damage that was done, is it overstated or is it right on?
BERMAN: We're right on, that's for sure. Right on.
Plus, the race for second place, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Jeb Bush? What about Ted Cruz? They say there can be only one. But has that changed now here in New Hampshire?
This is CNN's special live coverage. Stay with us.
BOLDUAN: Is Marco Rubio looking for a reset button after the weekend debate performance that was widely seen as lackluster? Well, if you see Marco Rubio on the trail, he would say no. He is out there and he is moving on. He is getting ready for retail politics here in the next hour in Manchester. But he did take a wholesale bashing for his repetitive debate answers on Saturday, and his rivals are making the most of it.
[11:20:03] BERMAN: We've heard from a number of these campaigns who say this is the break they need to get back into this race.
Joining us, CNN political commentator, Jeb Bush supporter and friend, at least, until yesterday, of Marco Rubio --
-- Ana Navarro. We're also joined by Matt Lewis, senior contributor for "The Daily Caller," and our old friend, Paul Steinhauser, CNN's former political editor and now with NH1 in New Hampshire.
Matt, I want to start with you. These other campaigns, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, they all think they have a new life, that Marco Rubio gave them a new chance to claw through here.
Listen to what was Chris Christie was saying on TV this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV.CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think there's anybody, even his most loyal donors, now who thinks now he's the most electable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The question is, is Marco Rubio really that damaged, or are we making too much of this, and how much of an opportunity is there for these guys?
MATT LEWIS, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY CALLER: It's a really big deal. It's the only debate between Iowa and New Hampshire. Rubio had momentum coming out of Iowa. He finished third. He declared victory. It was an opportunity. Rubio was poised to go into New Hampshire to finish a strong second and to basically close out that establishment lane, to make it a three-man race with Trump, Cruz and Rubio. He botched that, and now it is muddled, and I think that it was -- I wouldn't say it was so much a disaster for him as a huge missed opportunity.
BOLDUAN: A huge missed opportunity. Quickly, with 24 hours out, does that become a disaster?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it really was the wrong place for this to happen. It's New Hampshire where genuineness and authenticity and giving real answers to real people with real problems really matters. They show up at the town halls and they expect that for you. It was the wrong time. It was exactly when he was on the rises, when he had the momentum out of Iowa, and just a couple of days before the primary. It was the wrong issue. It was a place that is his Achilles heel that is seen as a weakness for him. People see him here and have complained here about him being robotic, rehearsed, scripted. It's a problem for him, and he should acknowledge it. He could deal with it with a sense of humor. He's actually a very witty person. He has a great sense of humor. We saw that when he had the water bottle issue a few years ago after the State of the Union. He dealt with it with humor. I'm surprised by him not addressing it, and just kind of laughing it off.
BERMAN: Him saying, I said it, I meant it. I'll keep on saying it. He said it again yesterday.
Paul, we're all about the future here. The question is, what does this mean going forward? You've been talking to Kasich. We've heard from a number of campaigns in the last 24 hours. They thing, as Matt was saying, this changes the equation out of New Hampshire heading down to South Carolina. It may not just be three or four guys. There may be no reason for the field to winnow so much after tomorrow. What are they telling you?
PAUL STEINHAUSER, POLITICAL DIRECTOR & ANCHOR, NH1: That's a great point. If we have a close contest between the governors and Cruz, Trump and Rubio, they all may go onto South Carolina. When I spoke to Kasich, he didn't want to take any shots at Christie or at Rubio. He wanted to stay positive. That's what he's been doing. Christie, I talked to him last night, and he was very happy with his performance, and he said that he did what he wanted to do, which was show the difference between him and Rubio when it comes to experience and who can take on Hillary Clinton. Christie was very jovially yesterday, no doubt about it.
Also, I spoke to voters yesterday at a Kasich event. They were Rubio supporters until Saturday night. They said they are probably not going to vote for Rubio anymore and they want to look at Kasich. So, yeah, it could change things.
BOLDUAN: We have to talk about Donald Trump. We have to talk about --
NAVARRO: America, she's being sarcastic.
BOLDUAN: You couldn't sense that. Does everyone assume that Trump just wins this? Is that a foregone conclusion? No one can believe the polls.
LEWIS: I think so. I think Trump wins. Unlike Iowa, New Hampshire is tailor made for Donald Trump. The New York thing doesn't hurt him, the New York values. But it's more secular, more liberal Republican voters. The evangelical voters in Iowa obviously hurt Trump. I think if Trump is to win anywhere, this is the place. He's up big. I think you have to pencil in Donald Trump. The race for second then becomes the issue.
NAVARRO: I have to idea. Every single poll had him four or five points up in Iowa, and he ended up losing by four points.
BERMAN: This is New Hampshire, though.
NAVARRO: But here's the question. The question we still have with Donald Trump is, are all these people that show up to his rallies and his events turning up to vote for him?
BERMAN: I can tell you, I met, at a Donald Trump rally yesterday, I met a former Obama supporter at a Trump rally who told me he's voting for Chris Christie.
I'm like, this is only New Hampshire. I have to be in New Hampshire right now, because that could happen. People sample all these candidates and then they choose at the very end.
NAVARRO: It's wonderful. I met a guy yesterday who was from Pennsylvania but was there with his son because he wanted to expose him to the political process. It is democracy in action in New Hampshire.
[11:25:16] Paul, I want to give you the last word on New Hampshire and the issue of Donald Trump. He's going at it with Jeb Bush, back and forth. I'm not going to play the sound because it's too long. He called Jeb Bush a spoiled brat. Jeb Bush --
BOLDUAN: A stiff, too.
BERMAN: A stiff, too. Equally unflattering.
NAVARRO: Funny, though, because Jeb Bush didn't get a million dollars from his daddy.
BERMAN: Well, Jeb Bush called Donald Trump a loser and a liar. In New Hampshire, how do voters respond to this type of food fight?
STEINHAUSER: It's funny. That's the kind of stuff you hear in the media interviews. At the town halls, when the voters get a chance to ask questions, you don't hear that nearly as much. The candidates don't bring it up as much. And the voters are asking about the issues. Is it a real turn off to voters? They are savvy. They get what's going on.
BERMAN: They like that game.
STEINHAUSER: The like it. Politics is the national state sport here in New Hampshire, no doubt about it.
BOLDUAN: I'll tell you the candidates know it. You see it at the rallies. I was standing in the lobby this morning, Jeb Bush came in to greet the waitresses and the chef at the hotel.
STEINHAUSER: He knows them.
BOLDUAN: He knows them and he says it was great to see them and walking through the lobby talking to people. They're not letting anything get past them.
BERMAN: Paul Steinhauser, Matt Lewis, Ana Navarro, great to have you all with us. Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: The former secretary of state, not named Hillary Clinton, has a harsh message for women voters who are not supporting Clinton. Madeleine Albright saying there's a special place for them. This, as Bill Clinton accuses Bernie Sanders supporters of "sexist attacks." The Clinton campaign is here to respond to the backlash. That's next.