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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
North Korean Satellite "Tumbling" In Orbit; Nearly 400,000 Undeclared Voters In New Hampshire Primary. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired February 8, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's probably about four people I'm considering. Carly is one of them.
TAPPER (on camera): Who are the other three?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kasich, and Bernie Sanders, oddly enough.
TAPPER (voice-over): This could be Carly Fiorina's last chance to change voters' minds.
(on camera): So, you're obviously the underdog here. What's your pitch to voters?
CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The same pitch I have had all along. See, I'm not a politician, so the pitch doesn't change. We have to take our country back, the system is rigged, the game is stacked, the odds are stacked against the American people.
We have to restore a citizen government. We have to take our country back.
TAPPER (voice-over): Across town, Hillary Clinton brought the full force of the family name to Manchester Community College. The former first lady of Arkansas had dozens of supporters from that state in the crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's been solid, and we're solid with her. She's there. She's going to step right in the first day and do this job that we need to be done.
TAPPER (on camera): It's called snow.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now we can we have some white hair.
TAPPER (voice-over): Across town, we caught up with Marco Rubio as the Florida senator braved the snow to get his message out.
RUBIO: Well, first of all, I'm as conservative as anyone in this race, but I'm the conservative that can unite the conservative movement. I can bring our party together. I can grow it. I can take our message to people that haven't voted for us before and we're going to win this election. Hillary Clinton doesn't want to run against me.
TAPPER: Your rivals are saying that the debate performance shows that you wouldn't be ready for Clinton. What's your response to them?
RUBIO: Well, look, not just that debate, but every debate before it, I have shown consistently the ability to answer important and difficult questions I think in a very compelling way. We raised more money after this debate than any other debate we have ever had. And so we're excited about it.
TAPPER (voice-over): Excitement is in no short supply for one candidate leading the polls here.
(on camera): At the Palace Theatre here in downtown Manchester, the crowd is getting prepared and excited for a Bernie Sanders get-out- the-vote event.
(voice-over): It was a mixed crowd of both older voters and the younger vocal ones who may help him win this state on Tuesday.
REBECCA LENNON, SANDERS SUPPORTER: He actually has a game plan on how he wants to get stuff done, whereas with Hillary, I don't trust Hillary as a candidate with the recent thing with the e-mails and also I feel like she's been too involved in the corruption of politics. We are younger, we're in our 20s. We're paying attention and we're going to vote based on what we see and what's going on.
TAPPER: CNN's special coverage of the New Hampshire primary will start tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Look for early results after the first polls close at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
North Korea launches a satellite it says is for innocent purposes. The rest of the world ain't buying it. Now frantic meetings to determine how to respond -- that story next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
This week, Congress is holding another hearing on the Flint water crisis, but once again key Michigan officials will be absent, including Governor Rick Snyder. The Republican governor declined an invitation to attend Wednesday's hearing because he's delivering his budget presentation that day, he says.
And now Flint has become a major subject in the Democratic presidential contest, with Hillary Clinton even taking a campaign detour this weekend to Flint during crunch time in New Hampshire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What happened in Flint is immoral.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: CNN has announced we are hosting a Democratic presidential debate in Flint on March 6, two days before the Michigan primary.
Also, more celebrities are joining the aid effort to citizens of that city. Beyonce has said up the BeyGood fund to provide fresh water and filters to the people of Flint. Flint is a majority African-American town, a point that both Sanders and Clinton have suggested is one of the reasons why the poisoning was allowed to happen for so long.
The African-American vote will soon come to play in a major way in South Carolina, the site of the next primary after this one. Clinton has held an overwhelming lead with voters of color in that state, according to polls, but Sanders got a big endorsement from our next guest, Ben Jealous, former president and CEO of the NAACP.
Mr. Jealous, thanks so much for joining me.
I want to ask you first about Flint. Hillary Clinton visited the city just yesterday. Before she arrived, she had this to say to reporters. "I know Senator Sanders went to New York to be on 'Saturday Night Live' and I'm going to Flint to see if we can help with the kids."
What's your reaction?
BEN JEALOUS, FORMER PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: You know, look, that type of stuff just always strikes me as petty.
There was a big union gathering, you know, back two states back and she went to a party with Kim Kardashian that night rather than showing up to talk to the AFL-CIO. So, you know, folks make their make their choices. I'm fairly certain that if she had been asked to go on "Saturday Night Live," she probably would have gone to Flint on a different day.
But we have opened up a big office there. We have the support of one of the great sons of Flint, Michael Moore, and I think you will see that our campaign is really the best campaign for making sure that these sorts of things don't happen down the road.
TAPPER: So, you were the head of the NAACP from 2008 to 2013. The last rating Hillary Clinton received from the NAACP was for the 2005- 2006 legislative session. She earned a 96 percent approval rating. Obviously, Bernie Sanders also has received high marks, but why Sanders and not Clinton?
Well, yes, Clinton got 96. I think Bernie in his last rating got 100 percent. But, obviously, I don't speak for the NAACP and I don't use just the report card, although his grade was slightly higher.
For me, this comes down to what Dr. King referred to as the three giant triplets of evil, racism, militarism and greed. On each of those categories, Clinton's history is, frankly, complex and also confounding.
Bernie's is very, very clear. And it's for that reason, kind of going through that matrix, the same thing that led me to support Jesse Jackson in 1988, same thing that led Bernie Sanders to support Jesse Jackson in 1988.
TAPPER: What do you mean her record on these issues is complex and confounding?
We will just take them one by one. We will start at greed and work our way back. On the issue of greed and the issue of Wall Street and our biggest banks, her record is mixed. I think most people in this country really don't know if she would go as far, being the former senator of New York, having very close relationship with Goldman Sachs and several other banks -- folks aren't quite sure whether she would go as far as she possibly could to rein them in, possibly to break them up, and make sure that we couldn't see a repeat of the recession that frankly too many of our communities are still struggling to completely come out of.
You go to the issue of militarism, Bernie Sanders very clear, voted against the war in Iraq, just like he had opposed the war in Vietnam as a young person. Hillary Clinton also had opposed the war in Vietnam, but, of course, she voted for the war in Iraq, the war that Barack Obama referred to as a stupid war.
And then on the issue of racism, Bernie Sanders early 1960s goes to jail with the Congress of Racial Equality fighting to desegregate university housing in Chicago. Quite frankly, I'm a black leader who happens to be the son of a white man who went to jail with the Congress of Racial Equality at that time, something very few white men did.
Then you fast-forward, 1988, supporting Jesse Jackson. You fast- forward to today, he has a comprehensive racial justice platform.
JEALOUS: Hillary, the senator -- Secretary Clinton's record on this issue again is more complex. You can just simply look at the 1980s and '90s, 1980s associated with the Children's Defense Fund, doing great work, 1990s, pushing the super predator theory, this notion that a child at age six months could be so sociopathic as to be beyond redemption that was, frankly only ever used to describe the actions of young black men.
TAPPER: I would have to say, we don't have enough time to go into it, and I hope you can come back another time.
JEALOUS: Any time, Jake.
TAPPER: But, obviously, just to make the point, Hillary Clinton still enjoys the vast majority of African-American leaders, their support, and the vast majority of African-Americans, according to polls. But who knows what's going to happen.
Ben Jealous, thank you so much for coming on the show.
JEALOUS: Thank you. Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Did you want to say something?
I just want to say, look, she's at her high watermark. I think you will see that begin to change as folks start to tune in and as we head into the Super Tuesday states. And, yes, so that's what we will see is that support will begin to shrink. Thank you.
TAPPER: All right. OK.
And we will have an advocate for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the show tomorrow to speak as full-throatedly in favor of her as we just heard some things said about her that were not so supportive.
In just a few minutes, the final CNN New Hampshire polls will be released, a fresh look at the state of the race and just hours before voting starts. That's coming up.
Plus, North Korea defying warnings from the rest of the world, again launching a long-range rocket -- now the United States and South Korea may be responding with some missiles of their own.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Topping our World Lead today, new details on the satellite that North Korea launched over the weekend.
TAPPER: North Korea is celebrating calling the launch a complete success, but U.S. officials are saying not so fast. A senior defense official tells CNN that the satellite is, quote, "Tumbling in orbit," which would mean the satellite is incapable of functioning as it is supposed to function.
Whether the launch was a success or not, it is sparking fears and angering neighbors. In just hours, President Obama will hold emergency talks with the leaders of South Korea and Japan, preparing for the worst case scenario that North Korea could be developing a nuclear-capable missile that could hit the United States.
Let's now go to our CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, at the Pentagon. Jim, tests are ongoing to learn more exactly what North Korea launched into space. What's the latest intel? JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The senior defense official tells me that the satellite is now tumbling in orbit. As explained to me, it's in an unstable orbit, which means it can't perform any useful function.
A similar launch in 2012 by North Korea, the same thing happened. Now, that doesn't mean that there weren't worrisome signs in this launch because in effect they got something into space.
That's the first two stages of an ICBM launch. What they haven't proven is the ability to have a re-entry vehicle, which would in effect be a missile and strike whatever target you're going after.
So they haven't got to that stage and haven't been able to launch a successful satellite, but still this launch is concerning to the U.S. and its allies. As you saw in North Korea, certainly there both the government and the public still celebrating.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): North Koreans took to the streets celebrating the missile launch with an exuberant daytime rally and a massive nighttime fireworks show.
Their excitement mirroring that of their leader's, North Korean state photos showing an elated Kim Jong-Un. The second successful satellite launch in recent years, causing U.S. and western leaders to express outrage and condemnation.
SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Pyongyang claims it launched what they call a peaceful earth observation satellite, but nobody is fooled.
PETER COOK, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We are in a situation now where we have at the U.N. Security Council not just the United States but Russia and China condemning this action.
SCIUTTO: Beyond the angry words, the west has limited tools to respond. Economic sanctions are difficult because the west has virtually no trade with North Korea.
[16:50:03]Most effective new sanctions would further block access to world financial markets by North Korean leaders. Still China, North Korea's closest ally and trading partner has resisted cutting off economic support such as fuel and food, fearing a collapsed state.
Faced with those difficulties, the U.S. is now considering a military response. CNN has learned that the launch has accelerated talks to deploy terminal high altitude aerial defense missile system to South Korea. That could be in position within weeks.
The U.S. system today deployed only as close in the region as Guam could apply pressure to Pyongyang but also to Beijing.
JOSEPH CINNCIONE, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: South Korea wants to do it, has protection against any North Korean missiles, but this really concerns China. They don't want to see increased South Korea, U.S. military action on the peninsula, on their border.
SCIUTTO: Today, the Pentagon said the missile system will be focused solely on North Korea.
COOK: This is a defensive system put to place to deal with the threat posed by North Korea. We don't believe it should pose any sort of concern to the Chinese.
SCIUTTO: China doesn't necessarily believe that reassurance. In fact they summoned South Korea's ambassador to protest over the deployment of that missile system, Jake. They're making their feelings very clear.
TAPPER: Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.
Here on the ground in New Hampshire, political insiders think this race is much closer than polls show. Could Hillary Clinton even eke out a victory?
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Tomorrow it's all about New Hampshire voters. Whom do they want to be the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees? But before they go to the polls, let's talk about what is influencing those, especially those who have not made up their minds.
Neil Levesque joins me now. He is the executive director of New Hampshire's Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College. Also with me Trent Spiner, executive editor of New Hampshire's biggest newspaper, "The Union Leader" newspaper.
Neil, let me start with you. Obviously one of the greatest things about New Hampshire is the biggest group is not Democrats, not Republicans, it's undecided or undeclared or independent voters.
When you're out there, do you get a sense that they are -- that they are inclined to support one party or the other or one candidate or the other?
NEIL LEVESQUE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW HAMPSHIRE INSTITUTE OF POLITICS, SAINT ANSELM COLLEGE: Well, there's a lot of political scientists who have tried to study this. Some believe there's a lean towards Republicans, but the truth is, is that you really just don't know. So if you're an outsider candidate right now and you're the campaign manager, you've been trying to target these people. This 44 percent that exists in New Hampshire.
TAPPER: And you see them tailoring their arguments that way. John Kasich most notably talking about bringing people together. Let me ask you, when we spoke a few days ago, you said it's even possible that Hillary Clinton could win New Hampshire despite polls. Do you still feel that way? Do you think that she could pull it off?
TRENT SPINER, "UNION LEADER" EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I think it's really up to those undeclared voters that you just talked about. More than 300,000 people here in New Hampshire who can show up and pick a Republican ticket or Democratic ticket.
These data scientists are trying to figure out how many of these people will vote in each election. You talk to Kasich and he said people are trying to decide between me and Bernie Sanders. That's interesting.
TAPPER: I met a guy at a Carly Fiorina affair and he was trying to decide when Kasich, Sanders, and Carly Fiorina.
SPINER: And these people are the people who are going to make the election right here, these undeclared and undecided voters who get to pick which primary they get to vote in.
TAPPER: How does Donald Trump appeal to the voters of New Hampshire? Is it because he seems so untethered to the Republican establishment, so completely independent?
LEVESQUE: Yes, and I think he's refreshing. A lot of voters like his approach. It's straightforward, it's sort of tough, and the other factor is he is wealthy and they believe that he's incorruptible. That seems to be a great appeal in this time where politics seems to be or money seems to be all over politics.
TAPPER: One of the things we've been seeing these last few days, it's just a mad dash to voters. The candidates are out there and this isn't just for show. I mean, this really could make a difference. A lot of voters make up their minds in the last couple days.
SPINER: We don't believe in what some of the polls are saying, but if you do really look -- dig into the numbers, what you'll see is that more than 50 percent of granite staters are still undecided, 50 percent of people. So there's a lot of traction that candidates can still get here on the ground and that's why you see so many events happening in New Hampshire.
TAPPER: Marco Rubio certainly had momentum when it came to talk show hosts and the chattering class after his third place win in Iowa. Do you think his debate performance and the criticism of it might have slowed that or even caused him to lose support?
LEVESQUE: I definitely think that. Obviously, there's always chatter after these debates, so even if a New Hampshire citizen didn't watch it, they hear the chatter. The other thing that he did is he had several days after Iowa to throw the long pass, if you will. And he didn't do that, he played it safe. Now, that might be a good campaign strategy, but I haven't seen that his numbers are going up by any means.
TAPPER: Lastly, the weather. It is not blizzarding, but there's some flurries out there. I know that y'all are hail and hardy stock, but could bad weather in New Hampshire make turnout less? SPINER: I don't think so. I think our secretary of state is predicting record numbers of people coming out, more than half a million voters. I think we'll probably break a record. It's going to be 3 to 5 inches and for New Hampshire that's really nothing so no big deal.
TAPPER: That's in your house in the summer on the floor. Do you agree it won't have an effect?
LEVESQUE: I definitely do. People are just really excited about this election. There's been a lot of activity, a lot of candidates and they're ready to go tomorrow.
TAPPER: It is exciting. I can't remember a race I've been this excited about. You guys? Thank you so much, Neil Levesque and Trent Spiner. Appreciate it.
That is it for THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper in beautiful Manchester, New Hampshire. I now turn you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer who is in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.