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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Awaiting First New Hampshire Primary Results; Long Lines, Traffic Delays in Merrimack; State Official: Voter Turnout Heading Toward A Record. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 9, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:18] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's New Hampshire's turn to shake up the presidential race.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: For some candidates, this may be the end of the line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the northeast right now, the ground of shifting in the presidential campaign, with two insurgents counting on a comeback.
BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now is not the time for establishment politics.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm number one in New Hampshire. Will you please keep me there? It's ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who will rise and fall in round two. It's New Hampshire's choice. Tonight in the Republican race --
TRUMP: Go and vote!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump fighting for his first win after a bitter loss to Ted Cruz in Iowa.
TRUMP: These politicians are brutal. They are a bunch of dishonest cookies.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think people are interested in a temper tantrum, or you could call it a trumper tantrum.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The two way brawl, now a free-for-all after Marco Rubio support surged.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are not waiting any longer to take our country back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For other GOP rivals, New Hampshire may be do or die.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This state is it for me.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: New Hampshire voters reset elections.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You all are the most powerful people in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The democratic race tonight --
SANDERS: The American people are saying, no to a rigged economy.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie Sanders aiming for his first win after a razor-thin loss to Hillary Clinton in Iowa.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've been fighting the progressive fight and getting results.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their face-off now more fiery than ever as they battle for votes in his backyard.
SANDERS: We will transform this country.
CLINTON: Let's go win the nomination!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, it's time for voters to have their say.
TRUMP: We've got to get out of it. No matter where you are, no matter how you feel, I don't give a damn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you thought the first contest was intense, get ready for the rematch.
CLINTON: I've won and I've lost. It's a lot better to win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Hampshire is choosing. The field is narrowing. And this night may shatter expectations again.
BLITZER: Take a look at this. These are pictures from New Hampshire. Look at this. Traffic is gridlocked in Merrimack as voting continues in parts of the state. Look at this. We're also seeing very long lines of people at a polling places in Hudson, New Hampshire, that is right outside of Nashua. We're standing by also for the first results of the lead off primary election of 2016. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN election center.
The presidential race is down to eight Republicans and two Democrats, and a pair of contests that are more competitive than ever. And we're counting down to our first chance to project one or possibly both winners, once all the polling places in the state are closed. That happens less than one hour from now. On the Republican side, Donald Trump has high expectations that he could pull off his first win. But New Hampshire voters, they are famous for making up their minds at the last minute, so there could be potentially surprises. There's also a volatile race unfolding to be Trump's strongest competition tonight.
Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, they were all in the top tier heading into this primary. The battles for second and third place could be -- for the Democrats, Bernie Sanders is looking for a clear and commanding win over Hillary Clinton tonight. The Vermont senator has an advantage coming from the state right next door. But don't forget, the Clintons are known for comebacks in New Hampshire.
Let's go straight to Jake Tapper and Dana Bash there in Manchester for us right now. Guys, this is going to be an exciting night.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: A very exciting night and Dana, I have say, I mean, two years ago, if someone told you that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were favored to win the New Hampshire primary based on polls, you'd say, on what planet?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Exactly. And it's not just that, if they do end up winning tonight, they actually will show that maybe New Hampshire doesn't fly in the face so much of what happens in Iowa, because they have been in double-digit leads since September --
TAPPER: In New Hampshire.
BASH: In New Hampshire.
TAPPER: Absolutely. We have correspondent and said key locations across the Granite State, at polling sites and inside the campaigns. Let's first go to Jim Acosta, he's at Donald Trump's headquarters here in Manchester. Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake and Dana, a top Trump campaign official tell me they're seeing jaw-dropping, record-breaking turnout across the state of New Hampshire. So much so, that they are now keeping their eyes on certain polling places that they are insisting stay open late. They're hearing reports of long lines, especially in the town of Merrimack, and Donald Trump I'm told does not want anybody turned away, period. Now, one top official here tells me in the state, at this point they are confident Donald Trump will win tonight.
[19:05:23] They are OK with the 1.1 I'm told by this official. They want to win big. Ten points, 20 points. That's how they want to send a message to the rest of the Republican field tonight. And one more item from a top GOP operative in the state. Internal polling at a rival campaign, not Donald Trump's, is showing that the undecideds here in New Hampshire are breaking away from Rubio after his debate performance over the weekend. This operative believes that may help Donald Trump in the end here -- Jake and Dana.
TAPPER: Fascinating. Thanks, Jim. Let's go to Sara Murray, she's at the headquarters in Concord, New Hampshire, of Ohio Governor John Kasich. Sara?
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, I don't think a couple of weeks ago we would have been talking about John Kasich as one of the expected top -- potential finishers here in New Hampshire. But look, his campaign is dialed in on the Independent voters tonight. Their internal polling as well as polling from rival campaigns has been showing that Independents are breaking late in Kasich's favor. They're going to be looking for those folks to potentially carry them they say here at the Kasich campaign to a second-place finish.
Now, that is a far cry for a campaign that has been languishing in the single digits and it's mostly stayed away from these expectations game. But they said that Marco Rubio stumbled on the debate stage, as well as an intense push on the ground here could help them with a strong push tonight. They brought in more than 500 volunteers from out of state and about 250 of those were out pounding the pavement today trying to move those undecided voters into their camp just hours before the polls close. As for the candidate, he's fitting in a little R&R before things really get moving tonight. He went to the gym a little bit earlier. He will be joining his wife to go out to dinner. And of course, we'll expect to hear from him a little bit later. Back to you, Jake and Dana.
TAPPER: Thanks, Sara. Those undeclared, or Independent candidates so important in New Hampshire. They are the largest voting group in the state. Almost 400,000 of them. And there are a lot of candidates in competition for them. Trump, and, of course, Kasich, and, of course, Sanders. And let's check in with Brianna Keilar, she is at the headquarters of Bernie Sanders, who until recently was an Independent. Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Jake. Well, so much for managing expectations. Bernie Sanders is expecting a big win here in New Hampshire tonight. And you can tell that by the fact that he already has his victory lap planned. We've learned that he'll be going to New York City where he will appear on "THE VIEW" as well as on the late show with Stephen Colbert. We've also learn he'll be meeting tomorrow with Reverend Al Sharpton as he tries to secure the endorsement of prominent African-Americans as he looks toward South Carolina, where he's struggling with black voters compared to Hillary Clinton. A top aide to Sanders telling CNN that they have not seen a concession speech.
So that shows you just how confident Bernie Sanders is. And he spent the day, like a candidate who does think he's going to win, breakfast with the family. He went to just one polling station before taking a walk. And heading to his hotel where he's going to watch the results come in. We understand Bernie Sanders when he comes here tonight, if this primary goes his way, he's going to relish this moment and make this case that this is a bigger, his win, his potential win here bigger than just New Hampshire as he looks toward Nevada as well as South Carolina, guys.
TAPPER: Thanks, Brianna. We'll come back to you very shortly. And the big question for Sanders is, if he does indeed win here in New Hampshire, is he then front-runner? And if so, does he then get the scrutiny that has fallen upon front-runners in the past?
BASH: Well, you know, if you're the Clinton campaign, you're thinking if he's considered the front-runner, maybe that's good. Because she tends to run better as the underdog. But one thing I'm struck by again in listening to all of our colleagues out there is how incredibly important these undeclared or Independent voters are. I was over at Kasich headquarters today, and there was a guy who had made 500 calls just in the first few hours of the day. And his pitch was specifically to undeclared voters who they thought were leaning toward Bernie Sanders saying, come on, you think Bernie -- Bernie sanders is going to win. Why don't you try to stop Trump and come vote Kasich. It's that strategic when it comes to trying to game out these swing voters? Literally the swing voters.
TAPPER: Of course Donald Trump very appealing to a lot of these Independent voters as well.
BASH: That's right.
TAPPER: Not being part of really the establishment in terms of politicians. Let's go back now to Washington, D.C. The election center and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, thanks very much. Take a look at these long lines, both in Hudson, New Hampshire, as well as Merrimack, New Hampshire. People have less than an hour to go ahead and vote. We're awaiting the first real votes coming in right now. I want to go quickly to Brian Todd, he is in Hudson, New Hampshire. Brian, set the scene for us. This is right near Nashua.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. A dynamic turnout here in Hudson. My photojournalist Bob Corey (ph) and I are going to move along the line. Let's go, Bob. This line extends about 60 feet out the door. It's been doing that now for a couple of hours. This place could break its record. About 9,000 voters came here in 2012. About the same in 2008. They think they've got a good shot to eclipse that. Because as of an hour ago, more than 7,000 had been here. These lines are out the door. Now, here's an update from the moderator of this precinct. He says, if you're in the line here, even way out the door by 8:00 when the polls close, you're going to get in and vote.
Let's show you something else here that we can (INAUDIBLE). Look at this line of cars over here. It extends at least -- be careful Bob, there's someone backing out here -- extends at least six blocks back. At one point it extended about a mile back. And the moderator just told me a short time ago that even these people in the cars way back, blocks back, they'll going to try to get all of them in, even if it's after the polls close. So they may -- they may extend that time.
The undeclared voters are also the real story here. We've seen several, hundreds of undeclared voters come in and declare one way or the other. We believe they favor the Republicans based on what we've observed and what the moderators have told us. But again, they don't have an official count of that. This is the first election where you have to show a photo I.D. to get in here. So, that may account for some of the lines. But it really is the dynamic turnout that is driving this right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Certainly is Brian, thanks very much. The polls there in Hudson, they close at the top of the hour, about 50 minutes or so from now. All the polls in the state close at the top of the hour. That's when we'll get the first real indications of who is winning. Will it be Bernie Sanders? Will it be Donald Trump? What is going on in this race for the White House? The first real results are about to come in. We're getting initial results, real votes coming in. Let's take a quick break. Much more right after this.
[19:15:52] BLITZER: We're just being told by the deputy secretary of state of New Hampshire that he believes there could be record turnout in the state on this primary in New Hampshire. They won't know for sure until the top of the hour. That's when all the polls in New Hampshire are closed. But potentially record turnout. The first votes by the way are about to be released. We'll get to them momentarily. I want to share that with our viewers. Look at these long lines, though, especially in Hudson, just outside of Nashua. Look at these long lines. There's word now that potentially they could extend the deadline, they're supposed to close polling at the top of the hour, but people are lined up -- they have been lined up for a while there.
Brian Todd, tell us what's going on over there in Hudson. Is it possible they may extend the deadline?
TODD: Wolf, the moderator did tell us it is possible they'll extend it. They do want to close this at 8:00. We're going to move along the line here and show you the -- just the crush of people. This really started in earnest this latest influx during about the rush hour time, about 4:00 Eastern Time. They really started to pile in here.
But it's been a steady flow all day. The moderator says, he would like to close the doors at 8:00, but he may extend it a little bit. They really just want to get everybody in who wants to vote. That's what they really want. That's what they're going to try to accomplish. They have these volunteers here who are scrambling, working in overdrive to manage this crush of people. But it's been very orderly, been very high-spirited.
Let's show you over here. It's been like this all day since we got here Wolf, several hours ago. Lines of cars. They want to get all these people in, too. So the moderator says, if you're in a line of cars, they're going to try to get you in here, try to get you parked. And at some point he says they might ask a police officer to stand at the end of one of the lines of cars and say that's it. But they're going to try to avoid that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Brian, stand by. I want to get back to you. I want to go to Kate Bolduan, she is in Chichester for us, that's outside of Concord right now. They're counting ballots over there already, Kate?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf. I'm going to step out of the way so you can see this truly unique process that they've just started. They've pulled out the tables, and what you're seeing play out here, we are going to show you real close. Jim McMichael (ph) is going to push in. Their first -- they dumped all of the ballots out, separated them all up. Then now they're dividing them into blue and pink. Blue is a democratic ballot. Pink are the Republican ballots. Before they start tallying results, they're going to all count all the pieces of paper so that they can get a firm read on what the turnout is here. You've got three tables, teams of two that are going to be counting through these numbers. This is just starting as we speak.
Once they get these numbers, then they will start going through the results one by one, and tallying them up. And then the moderator you and right here, he will eventually be announcing the final results. The early read they suggested to me early, Wolf, that they seemed on track to have a big turnout here in Chichester. They handed out 1,250 ballots, that was early, that was before even the last people had voted. The last big number was in 2008 where there was just over 1,100 was their total turnout. So, it's looking to be on track for a big turnout. The counting of the turnout is just beginning, Wolf.
BLITZER: It is. I love to see those pictures of democracy in action. Kate Bolduan, thanks very much.
I want to walk over to David Chalian, our CNN political director. You're looking at the exit poll numbers. It's pretty fascinating what's going on.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, you were talking with Jake and Dana before about the all-important Independent voters. These are the undeclared voters they make up the largest swath overall of the voters in New Hampshire. And take a look at how they're playing in the primaries. If you look at the democratic electorate today, 41 percent of those voting in the democratic primary today are undeclared or Independent voters. Fifty percent are Democrat. If you look at the Republican primary electorate today, you see that 35 percent of them are Independents, 62 percent are Republicans.
So, what you're seeing here, Wolf, is that the Independents are infiltrating, if you will, choosing to play in a greater degree in the Democratic primary than they are in the Republican primary. And if I was sitting in Bernie Sanders' headquarters tonight, I would look at that and say, wow, four out of 10 Democratic primary voters are Independents. They have been parts of fueling Bernie Sanders' candidacy thus far. I would look at that number and think that that was a really good number for me tonight.
[19:20:11] BLITZER: All right. I think your assessment is obviously correct. All right. Let's go to Anderson. Anderson, this is a moment that a lot of people have been waiting for right now.
COOPER: Yes. It's incredibly exciting to actually have a night where we're going to get the votes finally from this first primary state. I want to go to our reporters, and our analysts' table over here. We have Gloria Borger, CNN chief political analyst. Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN senior political reporter. David Axelrod, senior political commentator and obviously, former senior Obama advisor Michael Smerconish, CNN host Michael Smerconish.
Gloria and David, you have been looking very closely --
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: We have.
COOPER: -- at these exit polls. What stands out to you?
Which, well, you want to start with the --
BORGER: We'll start with the Democrats. What stands out to me is the Independent voters, that David was just talking about. Because Sanders is grabbing a large chunk of those Independent voters, almost three to one?
AXELROD: Well, we can say in Iowa, he won by 73 percent.
BORGER: And here it looks to be about the same. Could be. About the same. And --
COOPER: We can't say for sure how they're voting.
BORGER: Exactly. Exactly.
COOPER: In terms of turnout --
COOPER: We're seeing a large number.
AXELROD: But the point is, we know that he has a propensity to take a lot of these Independent voters. So, the fact that so many of these voters are Independent --
AXELROD: -- is great news for him.
AXELROD: On the Republican side, the fact that there's such an anti- establishment mood among the Republicans.
COOPER: Right. A lot of Republicans feeling betrayed by the GOP.
AXELROD: About half of them. And that is a real playground for Donald Trump. And you know that he's going to do very well with those voters. So, the front-runners going in would look at these exit poll numbers and say, there's a lot to feel good about right now.
BORGER: You know, I think voters on both sides feel betrayed by the establishment to a degree. Hillary Clinton is running on her experience, Bernie Sanders while he's been in Washington for a very long time, is running more or less as an insurgent saying the government doesn't work for you. The government is corrupt. The campaign finance system is corrupt. And that's, by the way, that's kind of what Donald Trump is saying. They are the flip side to this thing.
COOPER: And Nia and Michael Smerconish earlier did a -- which showing us more exit polls in which electability which Hillary is something Hillary Clinton has ran on, scored very low in terms of what voters were thinking about mainly when they go into the voting booth. Really what they were looking for was honesty. An and --
BORGER: Cares about me.
AXELROD: Bernie's wheel house.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And I think one of the interesting things, sort of off camera, Hillary Clinton's campaign has been sending information to South Carolina. All of those people she's aligning up in terms of endorsements. So, they're clearly looking ahead to South Carolina.
COOPER: She was also in Nevada -- excuse me, Flint, Michigan.
HENDERSON: She was in Flint, Michigan. She'll go to Nevada, she's going to go to South Carolina. She rolled out on his endorsements. So, they are clearly trying to look past what is probably going to be a drubbing tonight. I think one of the things that is interesting, looking at the exit polls in terms of the GOP, Rubio has come in saying that he's the consensus candidate, right? That he can bridge all of the different divide --
AXELROD: He's running on electability as well.
HENDERSON: Electability. But also a bridge builder between all of the different strains of the Republican Party. It looks like that is something that Trump is going to be able to do. If you look at some of these exit polls, he does well with voters across all spectrums. He comes in second. I mean, he does pretty well among the evangelicals, the higher income voters, higher educated voters, lower income voters. And so, I think that's going to be -- I mean, we've seen that previously in the polls, but to see it here with some of these voters voting.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL HOST: It's an interesting night, insofar as if the predictions come true, the real story won't be, who wins the Democratic or the Republican primary, but rather the second place finish among the Rs. And the data that I'm looking at, I think tees up quite nicely for John Kasich, among others. And what's ironic Anderson to me is that this is an electorate that largely mirrors what you'll get in a general election for the country at large. Meaning, the Independents play a very large role, 42 percent according to Gallup are Is. They are not Rs and they're not Ds. In New Hampshire, they get a say and they're probably going to determine the outcome of both the Republican and the Democratic race. I don't know the Kasich gets another scenario like this. As we look forward in the next couple of primaries, so it's really an important night for him in particular. COOPER: And he's invested as Jeb Bush and most recently Chris
Christie. I mean, an awful lot of time in New Hampshire is that more than 100 town halls according to him.
AXELROD: I think they may be eligible to vote there actually --
BORGER: The interesting thing about Christie to me in all of this is that he started this campaign as the tell it like it is candidate. And then came Donald Trump. And suddenly if you look at these early exit polls, that Donald Trump is now the tell it like it is candidate. And Christie not so much.
[19:25:03] COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We are standing by for the first raw vote totals to come in on this important primary night. And take a look in that traffic gridlock in Merrimack. Police cruisers are marking the end of the line, if the cars are ahead of the police cruiser, they can get in to vote. If they're behind, they cannot. We'll keeping a close watch in this situation. A lot more ahead. Amazing, amazing night ahead.
[19:29:08] BLITZER: We're standing by momentarily. We'll going to get the first real numbers coming in from New Hampshire. But look at these long lines. In most of the state, the polls are already closed, but some places are still open for another half hour or so. They are long lines. They may have to extend the polling opportunities for the people. Jake and Dana are in Manchester for us. This is a moment half an hour ago but it could be extended.
TAPPER: It's incredibly exciting. And obviously the Secretary of State has talked about the turnout in New Hampshire.
TAPPER: And how strong it's expected to be. What exactly is going on in Merrimack, which is south of us, in the southern part of New Hampshire?
BASH: What's going on now is the traffic pattern was apparently changed in order to try to help with voting. And for some reason it had the opposite effect. There's a real bottle neck there. So, at this point, police cruisers are marking the end of the line.
[19:30:01] We're talking about the line on the road, not the line of people. They've gotten close to the polling stations. And right now, everybody on the far side of the police cruiser, you're too late.
TAPPER: You're out of luck.
BASH: You're out of luck. But, and this is an important but, D.M. Scanlan, the deputy secretary of state of New Hampshire says that they're considering, quote, "other strategies," and are talking to people inside the polling places. Assuming other strategies means because of the problems, perhaps leaving them open later. TAPPER: But to be clear, this is not only because of the traffic
pattern, this is because of a strong turnout in the town of Merrimack, which is just south of us. And just to give a little more context, this is a town that Hillary Clinton won over Barack Obama in 2008. And it's an area that basically broke even between Mitt Romney and John McCain in 2008.
We have correspondents fanned out across all of the state, at ballot centers, as well as election HQs.
Let's go to Joe Johns who is at a voting precinct in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Joe, what's going on?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is just one precinct, this is just one ward. It's in the center of Manchester.
What I can tell you is Bernie Sanders has won decisively here in this one place, 61 percent for Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton in second place, 38 percent for Hillary Clinton.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump 48 percent, and -- I'm sorry, 46 percent for Trump there. Second behind him, of course, is Cruz with 15 percent. And in third place was Jeb Bush.
So, that is the count here from this one precinct, this one ward in central Manchester. Of course, it is not indicative of the big picture, but in this one place, a big win for Bernie Sanders as well as for Donald Trump.
Back to you.
TAPPER: All right, Joe Johns in the ballot cam location in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Let's go back to our election center in Washington, D.C. Wolf Blitzer has some breaking news -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We have a key race alert on the Democratic side.
Right now, 1 percent of the vote is in. These are actual votes. The first votes that have been reported, Bernie Sanders ahead by 252 votes over Hillary Clinton, 58 percent to 38 percent. No votes reported on the Republican side.
Once again, this is very, very early. These are the first real votes.
Let's go over to John King magic wall. Show us what's going on in Merrimack. This is significant potentially, John. You're familiar with this area.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me go back to 2008. We're just starting to see some results fill in. But let me show you where we're talking about down here. We're talking about south of Manchester.
I want to go back to the 2008 race in the Democratic primary, Merrimack is right up here, just above your south of Manchester, north of Nashua. It's about 2 percent of the state population. It was very big for Hillary Clinton in a very close 2008 race, which she narrowly won there.
And Hudson is just down here to the south. You pull it up, Nashua is very important to Secretary Clinton tonight. Hudson over here. Again, 2 percent of the state population, an area she did very well with blue collar traditional Democrats and suburbanites, along the Massachusetts border.
So, it is key in the Democratic race tonight. And, Wolf, as Jake just noted, it's also key in Republican politics, too. Mitt Romney a big win in Hudson. Again, all of the governors there. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, all competing down in here. You come back up here to Merrimack as well, very important to Mitt Romney.
If you go back in time to the very close 2008 Republican race, this is it. This is the battle that we're going to see for the center right Republicans tonight and for Donald Trump if he can make inroads. The suburban voters who live in the southern part of the state, key to the Republicans. You see how hard-fought it was in Merrimack.
And let's come over here to Hudson, again, how hard fought it was between Romney and McCain. This similar, two candidates fighting for it in the race in 2008. Four or five candidates fighting for it this time. So, those votes, those people waiting in line, they matter. They matter to Hillary Clinton and they matter as we try to shake out the center right of the Republican race.
BLITZER: It's pretty significant, though, the deputy secretary of state says potentially record numbers, and now we're hearing that they may need to keep the polls open a little bit longer because of those long lines.
KING: You can be certain that the campaigns that think they're going to do well in Hudson and here in Merrimack are on the phone to the state, saying, let those people vote. If they try to stop people when they're in line, the polls are not officially close yet, those people are there, their intention is clear, if the state says it's getting out of control, if the traffic line's too long, if the police cruiser is there, you can be sure the Clinton campaign and the governors, the center right, are going to be on the phone to the state saying, keep them open, let them vote.
BLITZER: All right. Anderson, I want to go back to you. The first real numbers are coming in. We're going to update our viewers.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we'll watch that closely. Let's talk to our commentators, Jeffrey Lord, who's a Trump supporter, former Reagan White House political director; S.E. Cupp, political commentator; Van Jones, political commentator, former Obama administration official; and Mayor Michael Nutter, former mayor of Philadelphia, also our political contributor. When you see these long lines -- I mean, the idea that they would shut
it off sort of arbitrarily where the police cruiser is --
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They will find the first guy behind that police cruiser and there's your lawsuit, right there.
[19:35:04] COOPER: Absolutely.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and expect any candidate who doesn't win or perform to say, well, none of my voters, you know, my supporters who were going to come in late, and they were shut out. That's why I didn't close --
COOPER: As you look at the exit polls, what stands out to you all?
LORD: Well, 35 percent independents, or, you know, in the Republican primary.
COOPER: Lower percentage than the Democratic --
LORD: But still, a lot of -- you know, again, this open rebellion, this civil war in the Republican Party is --
COOPER: And nearly half of the GOP voters are saying they feel betrayed by the party itself.
LORD: Correct. I mean, this is just unbelievably fertile ground here. So, I think this is going to be a big night for Donald Trump. But we'll see.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: On our side, the revolution is real. The revolution is real.
CUPP: It's real in New Hampshire, OK?
JONES: Watch this process go forward. First of all, let's not take anything away from New Hampshire. The Clintons, God bless them, they didn't cede the state, they went in and they fought very, very hard. They threw the kitchen sink at Bernie Sanders. They brought in senators. They brought in governors. They brought famous icons.
They threw the -- and they could not stop him apparently. If you look at the thing as it's going down. I think that you have a young generation trying to send a signal to the Democratic Party.
These people -- they don't hate Hillary Clinton. They don't feel heard yet. They're trying to send a signal. In that state, you've got crushing student debt. It's one of the three worst states for student debt.
So, I think what you're going to see, when you have this level of participation, this many independents not wanting to vote with you, guys, trying to come in to this party to send a signal, I think the Bernie Sanders surge is a real thing. COOPER: Then the question becomes, in Nevada, in South Carolina, in
Nevada obviously the Democrats, how big a victory for Sanders here, how does that impact Nevada?
JONES: There is a big myth that Bernie Sanders cannot do well in South Carolina with the African-Americans. Bernie Sanders can get 35 percent, maybe 40 percent of the vote in South Carolina.
Don't -- listen, part of the thing that's very interesting is when you talk to the younger people, they respect the Clintons, but there's no great well of love for the Clintons. These people were not even born, some of them, when the Clintons were in office. She's going to have to work very, very hard with that young black vote just like she had to work hard for the young white vote.
CUPP: I think if Hillary --
MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think before we call the race for this evening, why don't we let the folks in New Hampshire vote? And all should be able to vote, whether you're physically with your body in line, or apparently now in your car. Everyone should be able to vote. Every vote should be counted and every person should have their franchise record numbers.
Second, you know, many of these young people weren't alive when the Clintons were in office, they definitely weren't alive when Bernie Sanders has been in office. I mean, again, let's see what's going on and what's on people's minds. We know from some of the other polling data, the economy. The student loan debt you talked about. Just the general sense of what's going on.
People have a lot of things on their mind that they're upset about. Senator Sanders certainly has a message that has resonated with folks. Secretary Clinton has solutions to those challenges. And that's the battle that you're seeing.
CUPP: I think if Hillary Clinton gets one decisive, and I mean blowout victory, maybe in South Carolina, or Nevada, that really is the proof that she's been sort of evidencing, and suggesting, that he's unelectable. She hasn't had that yet. He's electable in Iowa. He's electable in New Hampshire. She needs the moment to prove, I told you guys, he just can't do it nationally.
COOPER: More to talk about, let's go back to Wolf right now.
BLITZER: All right. We have another key race alert. I want to go first to the Democratic side.
One percent of the vote is now in. Bernie Sanders is ahead by 400 votes or so, 57 percent to 39 percent. Still very, very early in this contest.
On the Republican side, we're finally getting the initial numbers coming in from the Republican side as well. One percent of the precincts reporting. Donald Trump is ahead by 300-plus votes, 42 percent. Ted Cruz and John Kasich sort of tied at 11 percent right now, 9 percent for Marco Rubio, 9 percent for Jeb Bush, Chris Christie 7 percent, Carly Fiorina 4 percent, Carson 3 percent.
But one again, these are initial numbers -- very, very early. Donald Trump coming out to an initial lead.
We're also standing by for more raw vote totals. They're just starting to come in -- as you can see, people continuing to line up to vote in parts of the state.
We're closing in on our first chance to project winners tonight as well. Once all the polls in the state are closed, that happens right at the top of the hour. We're just getting started. We'll be right back.
[19:43:36] BLITZER: All right. We have another key race alert just coming in right now on the Republican side. One percent of the precincts reporting, Donald Trump maintaining an impressive lead, 532 votes ahead of Ted Cruz. John Kasich also doing well right now at 10 percent, Cruz at 11 percent, Bush at 10 percent, 9 percent for Marco Rubio, 7 percent Chris Christie, 4 percent for Carly Fiorina, 2 percent for Dr. Ben Carson.
There's a battle under way for second place. Once again, this is early, 1 percent of the vote in. Trump doing very well.
On the Democratic side, 2 percent of the vote is now in. Bernie Sanders, he's 573 votes ahead of Hillary Clinton, 54 percent to 44 percent.
Once again, here it's still early.
I want to go to Brian Todd, he's over in Hudson, New Hampshire, right now, where the lines, I guess they're getting ready to close the polling at the top of the hour.
Brian, what's the latest there? Are they extending the opportunity for people to vote?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They may do that, Wolf. They are ready to close the polls at 8:00. The line here has physically thinned out a little bit.
Taking it to the door here, but it goes another 60 feet to the tables where you check in.
Now, what we've learned from the moderator a short time ago is here are the line of cars, this is going to be key. They're going to station police officers at the ends of the line of cars at 8:00 to mark the close of the vote. Anybody beyond that is not going to be able to vote.
But still, a steady stream of cars is coming in here. They want to try to get all these people in, Wolf. The volunteers here have really been scrambling all night long to get these volunteers here. [19:45:05] The story of this precinct today, as many places in New
Hampshire, the undeclared voters. We can come in a little bit here. I can take you toward the desks here where the people check in.
The undeclared voters have really been the story here. Hundreds of them have come in as undeclared. They've broken one way or the other. It takes the average voter about 35 seconds to vote.
And what's interesting about this place is, Wolf, if you're undeclared and you go one way and you want to remain undeclared, you can re- register at another desk to remain undeclared. The slogan of this state is Live Free or Die, you can't get more free voting practices than that here in New Hampshire.
Another interesting thing -- this is a sample ballot we've got here. There are 30 names running for president on the Republican side, 28 on the Democratic side. If you pay $1,000 to the secretary of state of New Hampshire, you can run for president in New Hampshire. They have got to count all the votes for all these people once these polls close, Wolf.
BLITZER: Interesting. A little nugget over there. We'll see what happens at the top of the hour, Brian. Thank you very much.
I want to go back to John King over at the magic wall.
You're taking a close look, the initial numbers, 3 percent of the Democratic precincts reporting now. Bernie Sanders still considerably ahead over Hillary Clinton.
KING: Very, very early results. These communities in the northern part of the state, they're the ones that voted at midnight last night. So, what we're watching for really is where most of the people live down here, no surprise early results.
Concord, this the capital city, a little over 3 percent of the population. There's no surprise with 10 percent of the vote to see Bernie Sanders in the lead because this is traditionally more of a liberal part of the state. Barack Obama carried it in the 2008 race.
This down here in Manchester, this is the largest of basket of votes in the state, 8.3 percent of the state population, critical to both the Democrats and the Republicans, because it's the largest population center. If this stays light blue, Bernie Sanders blue throughout the night, game over.
This is where Hillary Clinton came back -- 33 percent right now. We got a ways to go. And remember, in 2008, we got up to a certain point, and then we were here for a while.
And Obama looked like he had momentum, and Hillary Clinton did this and she won convincingly in Manchester which made up the difference in a very narrow victory statewide. Manchester was it. It was pretty much the whole, there are other places that were critical, but the votes in Manchester were the game for Hillary Clinton back in 2008. So, if you want to watch one place tonight, see if this stays Bernie
Sanders, the lighter blue. If it goes back to Hillary Clinton, you'll know she's still in the hunt.
And as we talk a little bit about earlier, here's Manchester here. Then we go down here. This is Merrimack where we're waiting to see how the votes. We don't have anything in yet. This is where we had lines here. And Brian Todd was just talking to us about Hudson, which is down here next to Nashua.
Again, I just to -- remember those communities, Merrimack and Hudson. This is Nashua. Let's go back in time to 2008, all for Hillary Clinton.
These are traditional blue collar Democrats that she was able to win against Barack Obama in a three-man race. The big question tonight is, can she win those traditional blue collar Democrats in a head-to- head against Bernie Sanders.
BLITZER: Still very well. We'll see what happens.
What about the Republican side?
KING: Let's pick it over, come back to 2016. Flip over to the Republican. Again, these communities here, the tiny communities who voted last night. So far, the only votes we have so far are from Manchester.
As I just said, Donald Trump winning statewide. Let's pop it open to Manchester, 25 percent in so far, 35 percent for Trump, 14 percent for John Kasich, the Ohio governor. Jeb Bush at 11 percent.
Let's scroll down a little bit -- Marco Rubio at 10 percent, Ted Cruz at 10 percent, Chris Christie at 9 percent, Carly Fiorina at 5 percent.
This is what we've been talking about for days leading into this -- how would the center right lane break, would there be a muddle between those candidates. Well, 5, 9, 14. You don't count Cruz there. Rubio 10, that will get you to 24.
That will get you -- look this -- you're going to have at the end of the night, early results suggest that Donald Trump is on his way. But you're going to have at the end of the night in the Kasich, Rubio, Bush, Christi, Fiorina count, that's going to get you about 50 percent of the vote. How it will split, that's where we're waiting to find out.
But that's going to get you above 50 percent of the vote, which is going to be the big conversation with the Republican establishment. But again, this is the biggest population center. This is where the most votes are. Donald Trump opens an early lead. You can do the math at home. If Trump keeps this red all night, Trump is on his way to his first win.
BLITZER: Early lead for Donald Trump, 2 percent of the vote now in. He's still maintaining his lead, 33 percent for Trump, 18 percent for John Kasich.
What about statewide?
KING: First votes just came in. So, I pop that up and see what the numbers were. Statewide with 2 percent, statewide.
All right. Stand by, John.
I want to go over to Jake -- Jake and Dana there in Manchester for us right now.
Very early, guys. But it's beginning to show a little indication of what's going on.
TAPPER: That's right. Very, very early. Just 1 percent or 2 percent of the votes in. So you can't determine anything big statewide. But still, they are in line with what we anticipated based on polls -- Donald Trump having a good night on the Republican side, Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side.
BASH: Absolutely. Right now it doesn't look like, again, very, very --
[19:50:02] TAPPER: Very, very early.
BASH: A big surprise there. But, really, what we're looking at, and I think the most interesting thing is, even if it does happen on the Republican side, that race for second, who's going to turn out top, who's going to come in third and fourth. That is -- there's so much drama and there's so much tension. I've been texting the sources in all of those camps. It's really palpable.
TAPPER: Yes, and Donald Trump has been a little bit chasten, with one or two exceptions at a campaign event last night, for example, as he campaigns across New Hampshire, having now suffered a loss in Iowa, coming in second there, not first as he hoped he would.
Let's go to Jim Acosta at Trump headquarters in Manchester.
Jim, the returns are starting to come in. It looks as though very, very early Donald Trump may, in fact, have the night he hoped he would have back in Iowa. What's the mood there?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jake and Dana. Just to give you an example of what's happening in the room right now, we have all the TVs tuned inside this auditorium here to CNN, and so every time we're up on screen, every time you see the results on the screen behind me, this place starts to cheer. So, they're starting to do that right now. They've been doing it every ten minutes or so. So you can definitely feel the excitement building inside this room in Manchester.
They have a taste for what's about to be announced. They feel like later on this evening, when you talk to the campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, he's pretty humble right now, has his head down, he's waiting for these results to come in before offering any kind of official response from the campaign.
But when you talk to high-level people inside the state part of this campaign, they're predicting victory. They're feeling very good about tonight. As you can hear this crowd behind me, every time CNN comes up on screen and shows those numbers that are starting to come in, they're getting very excited here, Jake and Dana.
TAPPER: And Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager for Donald Trump, a New Hampshire boy, himself.
BASH: He sure is.
TAPPER: He and his family live in New Hampshire.
Of course, a lot of eyes are on Marco Rubio having finished in a strong third-place finish in Iowa. A lot of people wondered if that was going to bring his campaign momentum especially in that establishment lane, so-called establishment lane.
Manu Raju is at Rubio campaign headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Manu, very, very early returns in, can't be predictive of what we're going to get the rest of the night. What is the mood at the Rubio headquarters?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, the mood is, Jake, that Rubio campaign really believes they're going to end up in the top tier of candidates. And that's really sort of a change from earlier in the week last week after Iowa when they came out with a head of steam and polls showed them as a clear second place, potential finisher in which they could sort of make the case that they are the candidate that can unite the party establishment and take it to Donald Trump. What they are seeing here is that Norton, New Hampshire, probably will not be a state that will winnow the field. It will only whittle it further and keep the race going.
Now, the Rubio campaign also recognizes they can't afford any sort of criticism over missed votes. Something that Jeb Bush has been going after him pretty aggressively on. Just now, as the Rubio campaign has announced that Marco Rubio will be returning to the Senate tomorrow to cast a vote on North Korea's sanctions legislation in order to make sure that he can claim that mantle, that foreign policy mantle he's been running on pretty aggressively here.
Clearly, Jake, one of the reasons why this may not be a second-place finish for Marco Rubio which they hoped for earlier is because of that debate performance on Saturday night increasingly they believe the media coverage, relentless media coverage afterwards really impacted his momentum going forward. They still hope to end up in the top tier, but not that first and second-place finish that they initially hoped for after Iowa -- Jake.
TAPPER: A devastating takedown of Marco Rubio at that debate seeming to possibly have had an impact on his momentum in the state. Nobody happier about that perhaps than Senator Ted Cruz who had that strong Iowa finish. First place in Iowa.
Sunlen Serfaty is at Cruz campaign headquarters in Hollis, New Hampshire.
Sunlen, Senator Cruz not necessarily a big public presence this week in New Hampshire, but he sure would love to come in top three.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Jake.
I can tell you the mood here within the Cruz campaign is on one, a very stark contrast in how this campaign was only a week ago going into Iowa and taking that Iowa victory. Much different mood here now.
The Cruz campaign for a while has been setting their bar low for their performance here tonight. They've been saying all week they hope to come in fourth, anything above that will make them very happy. They'll celebrate that.
But just tonight, taking a little shift saying they now expect potentially fourth or fifth, so lowering expectations a bit more tonight. We do know that Senator Cruz has had a last-minute schedule change as well.
[19:55:02] He will speak here later tonight in Hollis whenever results come in. He will then travel on to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, hold an event there tomorrow morning, but then he will come off the campaign trail to do his day job.
He will, like Senator Rubio, return to the Senate to cast his vote on the North Korea sanctions bill. His wife, Heidi, will take his place at an event that was scheduled for Spartanburg, South Carolina. He will then quickly hit the road back on the campaign trail in South Carolina -- Jake, Dana.
TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty at the Cruz campaign headquarters in Hollis, New Hampshire.
Let's go to our colleague, Kate Bolduan. She is a ballot cam in Chichester, New Hampshire.
Kate, what's going on in Chichester?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let me show you and try to keep it down so I don't distract them because they are mid-count. This Chichester is where they hand count all the ballots here.
As you can see on these tables behind me, these are the tables -- the table is counting the Democratic ballots, all of the blue ballots, all of the Democratic ballots right here.
And then you have tables over here. Pan over here. You can see these pink ballots. This is what they're -- this is where they're counting all the Republican ballots. These are very preliminary numbers. They're just starting to count them. They go very methodically working in teams of two.
One person calls out the candidate, the other person puts the tally on their sheet.
Now, I'll tell you, Jake, we did get the preliminary turnout numbers from them and they are already showing what they think is a very big turnout so far, but we're mid-count right now. We'll be bringing this to you.
TAPPER: All right, Kate Bolduan at the ballot cam in Chichester, New Hampshire.
Anderson, back to you in the campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C.
COOPER: Yes, we are just about three minutes or so away from the top of the hour when the polls are officially supposed to close, though as you've seen in some places like Merrimack where there's that long line of cars no doubt they're going to stay open.
If you're in line at this point up until 8:00, you should be allowed to vote in the state.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, well, hopefully. We're too used to long lines at polling places in this country, and I think people who got in line to vote ought to probably be able to vote.
COOPER: You and David Axelrod have been -- our entire panel of analysts over here, Michael Smerconish, Nia-Malika Henderson, you've been looking at the exit polls. What's been jumping out at you in the last few minutes?
BORGER: There's one thing sort of becoming clear to me. That is the muddle in the middle will remain.
COOPER: There's not going to be a clearer picture necessarily on the Republican side.
BORGER: You know, normally what happens in a Republican primary is that you have kind of an anointed establishment candidate and then there's kind of a bevy of movement conservatives, right, that this year, it's totally flipped and there is kind of a different movement kind of candidate. You've got, you know, your Trump populist, you've got your Cruz conservative. And then you have this huge group of establishment people who are trying to figure out the pecking order.
COOPER: And the idea that after New Hampshire, that establishment sort of center right order was going to be much clearer --
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Ain't going to happen. No, I think the whole circus moves on to South Carolina.
COOPER: You look at the numbers right now with Kasich, 17, again, only 3 percent, but 12 percent, 10 percent, 10 percent, 9 percent.
AXELROD: Yes. No, I think what's likely to happen is a whole bunch of them are going to move down to South Carolina. That's good for Donald Trump.
AXELROD: Donald Trump may have a ceiling. But that ceiling works for him as long as the field is large. So, this is not just -- he'll be celebrating if he wins tonight, not just the win, but the lack of clarity among those who might wan to oppose him.
COOPER: If you're Donald Trump, and you do win tonight, you can say, look, I came in second in Iowa, and now I've won New Hampshire. That certainly bode well moving forward.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Totally.
AXELROD: Yes, absolutely.
HENDERSON: That's right. I mean, South Carolina, that would be a good state for him in many ways, at least he's been leading in some of the polls down there. Again, if you have all of these splitting whether it's the evangelical vote or any other vote, you got Jeb Bush down there, for instance, saying he's the one to kind of defend the military, it's a very military state in terms of a lot of bases. So, yes, I mean, that debate I think we'll see --
SMERCONISH: I'm wondering if the candidate within the muddle who has the most to lose tonight is Marco Rubio because he did deliver that victory speech for his third-place finish in Iowa. It seemed like he had a head of steam, then, of course, came last Saturday's debate and perhaps we're going to see some of the residual impact of him being on the loop.
BORGER: He had to distinguish himself this evening. That was the goal of their campaign.
SMERCONISH: Get past it.
BORGER: To get over that and this one we just don't know.
AXELROD: And a lot of establishment -- a lot of these establishment Republicans were on the runway ready to go for Marco Rubio if he came through tonight.
COOPER: Top of the hour, let's go to Wolf -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much. We're getting ready right at the top of the hour, all the polls in New Hampshire were closed. We will be ready to make projections in this race for the presidency of the United States.