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George W. Bush to Join Jeb in S.C.; Jeb Bush Attacks John Kasich's Staying Power, Military Record; Is it the End of Christie; Significance of Trump New Hampshire Win; Bernie Sanders Meets with Al Sharpton . Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired February 10, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.


Game on in South Carolina. In the next few minutes, both Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush will be holding their first events in the key state following the stunning finish in New Hampshire. This is the kickoff of a 10-day scramble with a state known for full-contact, not be always so fair, but intense campaigning. Or as one Rubio aide puts it, "It's going to be a blood bath."

BERMAN: Ted Cruz coming off a surprising third-place finish behind Donald Bush and John Kasich. Jeb Bush finding new 2016 life by finishing fourth and beating his one-time protege, Marco Rubio.

This week, Jeb Bush will be joined for the first time on the trail by someone who took the South Carolina primary back in 2000, his brother, George W. Bush. It worked out pretty well for him in 2000.

CNN anchor and correspondent, Victor Blackwell is in Bluffton, South Carolina, following the Bush campaign.

Good morning, Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kate, good morning to you. We're 30 minutes out from a rally starting here in Bluffton with Governor Bush.

You mentioned George W. Bush. He's recorded a radio ad, the first for the campaign, although he has recorded television ads for the super PAC Right to Rise, the pro-Bush super PAC. The campaign believe the New Hampshire fourth-place finish last night reset this race and as they come into this state with strong momentum. Of course, the fight for the establishment lane continues, primarily between Governor Bush and Governor Kasich and Senator Rubio.

First, their narrative against Senator Rubio is that, after the poor performance, admittedly by the Senator on Saturday himself, he's been weakened and is unprepared for the job of commander-in-chief. And we heard from a Rubio adviser that this will be a blood bath in South Carolina. Already 25,000 television ads have aired here and more to come. The Bush v. Kasich fight, the Bush folks say that Kasich had a one-

state strategy. Yes, he did well in New Hampshire but he cannot match the finances, cannot match the infrastructure here in South Carolina that the Bush people have put together. The campaign says they have 20 staffers at four offices across the state. They also believe that he will continue this narrative, of course, and prove to the people of South Carolina that he has the best temperament and the strongest credentials to be commander-in-chief.

And who is helping him to sell that story, to continue that narrative? Former opponent and now supporter, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

So that will be the narrative we see today as this rally starts soon and as we look ahead to two town halls later this afternoon and evening -- John, Kate?

BERMAN: Victor Blackwell in Bluffton.

We look forward to the rally with Jeb Bush taking the stage saying, fourth place, on to victory.

BOLDUAN: That's great.

BERMAN: That's Great.

Thanks so much, Victor.

There's a new focus in the battle for GOP establishment, John Kasich, Ohio governor, finished second, a strong finish in New Hampshire.

BOLDUAN: Jeb Bush is already going after Kasich's staying power and military record. Very important in South Carolina. But the Ohio governor says his rivals are, quote, "messing with the wrong guy."

CNN's Gary Tuchman is live in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where a Kasich town hall is about to begin.

What are you hearing there?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John and Kate, good morning to you. John Kasich did not win the New Hampshire primary but he did come in second place, which translates to first-place finish among establishment candidates. That has punched hit ticket out of New Hampshire and he has come here to make his first campaign event at this pizza restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina. Never too early for pizza. People here are waiting for Kasich to arrive.

South Carolina, an incredibly important primary. A week from Saturday, the GOP primary, and then the following Tuesday the Nevada caucuses, both important for Kasich. He doesn't necessarily expect to do particularly well here in South Carolina. But he hopes to propel himself to the Midwest primaries. What you have on March 8th, Tuesday, the Michigan primary. And then March 15th, Illinois, Missouri and his home state of Ohio. He thinks he could do very well there. His donations will be increasing. And also donations against him are also expected to be increasing after his finish yesterday.

Now, we can tell you that what is happening right now is that people don't really know who Kasich is. For example, his name is pronounced "Kasik," not "Kasish." Donald Trump even as recently as last night has mispronounced his name. He is an establishment candidate, nine terms in the Congress. He's in his second term as the governor of Ohio.

He's trying to differentiate himself from a guy like Donald Trump, trying to be optimistic and positive, as we heard in his speech, after the results were announced from New Hampshire last night.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight, we head to South Carolina and we'll end up in the Midwest and you just wait. Let me tell you, there's so much going to happen if you don't have a seat belt, go get one.


KASICH: -- from to bottom.


[11:05:06] TUCHMAN: So Kasich wants people to put on those seat belts.

He's run for president before, another thing you may not know about him, in 2000. But he didn't make it to the Iowa caucuses when fundraising dried up. He supported George W. Bush. Now he runs against his brother and the elder Republicans still in the race.

John and Kate, back to you.

BERMAN: Gary Tuchman, in Mount Pleasant.

We're about to hear from John Kasich. Always so interesting to hear what they say after they think something went well.

BOLDUAN: The first words out of his mouth will be very interesting to hear. Absolutely.

While Kasich is running high into South Carolina, CNN has learned this could be the end of the road for another governor, Chris Christie.

BERMAN: CNN political director, David Chalian, has the details.

David, what's going on in Christie world as we speak?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good morning, John and Kate. Our Mark Preston, Phil Mattingly, John King all reporting from Christie sources, the governor is indeed huddling with advisers in New Jersey trying to determine if there is a path forward here at all. Indications point to aides and sources familiar with Christie thinking that he may, indeed, end up suspending his campaign today at some point.

Listen, this is really a math issue. He got nothing out of last night, basically. Tough to raise money off of that kind of performance. And he may not qualify for the upcoming Republican debate in South Carolina, according to the criteria put out by CBS News. So as the team huddles and sort of looks at, is there a path here at all, sort of political realism may set in on Governor Christie. As you know, he was originally supposed to go to South Carolina today but said last night to his supporters that and he his wife, Mary Pat, will head back to New Jersey and assess where things stand.

BOLDUAN: David, if the math doesn't add up, the math doesn't add up. What's next then? Does a Chris Christie endorsement come or is it just his legacy, especially in the last three, four days, of taking down Marco Rubio?

BOLDUAN: That legacy is tattooed on Marco Rubio's forehead.


CHALIAN: Exactly. Quite the legacy. I don't think Marco Rubio will be celebrating that legacy in any way. I wonder if Marco Rubio is thinking, god, I wish my super PAC had not pummeled Chris Christie with television ads back in early January. You know what they say about payback.

Listen, I don't think we don't expect a Chris Christie endorsement today. I would be surprised if he doesn't endorse at some point in this race if, indeed, he bows out. I would be surprised if the endorsement didn't go to one of the other governors in the race. It's been a huge part of his message and what he has been selling this entire campaign. So it would be in conjunction with that message if he ended up back one of the remaining governors at the end of the day.

BERMAN: David Chalian with the bold prediction that Chris Christie will not endorse Marco Rubio.


David Chalian, great to have you with us.

Again, we're watching those meetings in New Jersey with Chris Christie and his advisors and we'll bring you information as we get it.

I want to bring in Barry Bennett, the former campaign manager for Ben Carson. He is now advising the Donald Trump campaign. We're joined by Republican consultant, Bruce Haynes, who worked for South Carolina Governor Carol Campbell, a legend in South Carolina. Also, Amanda Carpenter, a CNN political commentator, former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz.

We are across the broad spectrum of Republican politics here.

Barry Bennett, I want to start with you, because you are a Trump guy. I want to talk about the significance of the big victory in New Hampshire for Donald Trump. What does this mean going forward? Is this now Donald Trump's world and we're all just living in it?

BARRY BENNETT, ADVISOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN & FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR BEN CARSON: Well, if you look at the polling in South Carolina as we start this 10-day battle, he's in a very good position. He's about where he was in New Hampshire. So, yeah, people keep throwing up these dreams that Donald Trump will melt away, and he keeps bursting the bubble. He's our favorite to be the nominee.

BOLDUAN: Bruce, that's a harsh reality for all the establishment guys. That's the other big story coming out of New Hampshire and quickly landing in South Carolina, the not so winnowed establishment lane. What's the state of play right now in South Carolina for those guys?

BRUCE HAYNES, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have known this moment would come. They are both very organized in South Carolina they've been investing in the state for a long time. And this contest is in South Carolina, almost about the two of them more than anything else. And there's two things going on with Bush and Rubio, I think. There's a contest for voters and for donors. It's all nice and good if the super PAC has money to run ads, but if you can't buy a plane ticket out of your campaign account, you've got a problem. So one of them needs to ascend and begin to try to bring in money from the other side. So that's going to be a crucial thing.

[11:10:04] BERMAN: You agree, though, there was the beginning of a tidal wave to Marco Rubio from Jeb Bush, and that's stopped completely because of the results in New Hampshire?

HAYNES: Stopped in its tracks. David is right, no one is going to be happier to see Chris Christie off the debate stage than Marco Rubio. That's the test now for Marco Rubio. He's taking a tough shot. Presidents need to be tested. This is a moment to past that test and see if he can be the comeback kid in South Carolina.

BOLDUAN: What does he make of it? Is this the Marco Rubio comeback? We shall see. We like to say when we can't make any predictions because we don't know.

Amanda, Ted Cruz has an event at this hour. How does he reframe his message in this state which has now become very critical to any Ted Cruz win?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it changes his message but he needs to continue framing this as a Trump/Cruz race. That's what it is. I feel like the establishment is just living in an alternate universe where they can continue grading themselves on a curse as if they don't have to compete with Donald Trump. It's like, well, we can display in this bracket and we'll all compete with a consolation prize and maybe we'll get around to a Trump and Cruz later. No. You're out of time. The clock has run out. If Chris Christie intended to conduct that political hit-and-run job that he did against Marco Rubio, why did he direct Donald Trump and do some good for the establishment lane. He didn't. But this mushy middle, you know, that we have in the past, they can't figure it out. They can't think beyond themselves. And it's paving the way for a Trump and Cruz to go against each other and one of them take away the nomination.

BERMAN: Barry, how long does it last? There's a lot of people talking today, the results in New Hampshire point to a campaign that could go on for a very long time, maybe even into overtime to Cleveland and to the convention. If no one racks up enough delegates, enough majorities in enough states, this could be settled on the convention floor. Do you see that as a possibility now?

BENNETT: Only after we get to the winner-take-all states in the middle of March, if alternate people are winning the races, but I think Donald Trump is going to continue to win all those races and he's going to scoop up all of the delegates. Amanda is right. They're spending a ton of money for the bronze medal. It makes no sense.


BERMAN: There's no prejudice medal for fourth place and Jeb Bush and his super PACs spent $70 million.


BENNETT: $30 million in New Hampshire for tin medal.

BOLDUAN: The tin medal. That's very tough.

Bruce, one person you did not mention -- we're talking about the fight in South Carolina and the establishment lane -- is John Kasich. He had a big finish in New Hampshire, very different in South Carolina. Do you think, even though he says they are making a play for it in South Carolina, he's already looking past?

HAYNES: Look, I'm the son of a mailman, too. I have a lot of affinity for John Kasich but it's not an idea that will work very effectively in South Carolina. He hasn't invested in South Carolina. He doesn't have that long history of relationships. You know, deep relationships, obviously, the Bush family in South Carolina --


BOLDUAN: He's sending people there now. It's too late now, though?

HAYNES: It's too late. You can't just start running ads now and start knocking on doors now when thousands of doors that have been knocked on. Those relationships have been built. John's argument is, can I get back to the Ohio, can I get back to Michigan, can I get back to the Midwest?

And I would disagree a little bit with the idea that this thing is over. Trump needs 1200 delegates to win and he's got about 12 now. We've got a long way to go. There is a lot more left in this race and it's not going to be a dull moment.

BERMAN: The brokered convention, is there a possibility would you say right now? HAYNES: There's a higher possibility than we've seen in a long, long

time. Very easy to see how people are going to pull delegates here and there. They will win some states in a winner-take-all. But Trump is getting around 30 percent of the vote, 35. That means there's two- thirds of the vote out there that may not be willing to vote for him. If it consolidates around another one of these candidates, then it's really game on.

BOLDUAN: Reince Priebus is having heart palpitations right now.

HAYNES: Exactly.

BERMAN: Amanda, quickly, George W. Bush has done well in South Carolina in 2000. And his father did well in '88. The Bush family does well in South Carolina. Do you think it will help Jeb Bush there? Plus, the former boss of your former boss, Ted Cruz?

CARPENTER: It will help Jeb Bush a little bit. South Carolina has a weird dynamic. When I was working for Jim DeMint, as one Senator, and Lindsey Graham as the other. There's a very conservative activist wing there and then there's the good-old-boy network. This will help him in that column. But Jeb Bush didn't really need any help in that column. And I think it's a sign of weakness that he's relying on his family legacy to promote his candidacy. Let's say Bush does perform there -- I think that's being charitable -- there's no appetite among the base for a third President Bush. It's a very hard sell. He's not going to be overcome that, but it may help him in South Carolina.

[11:15:10] BERMAN: It will be fascinating to see George W. Bush back on the trail. It's been a long time since he's campaigned for anything in public.

BOLDUAN: Back in South Carolina, here we come.

BERMAN: Barry Bennett, Bruce Haynes, Amanda Carpenter, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

For the Democrats, before South Carolina, before Nevada for the Democrats, Bernie Sanders in Harlem, a breakfast date with Al Sharpton. What's his play for African-American voters? We'll tell you what happened inside.

BOLDUAN: Plus, Hillary Clinton heading south and looking for a boost and hopefully a win. It's long been called her southern firewall but could it now be at risk?

And a reminder, moments from now, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz holding their first rally since the big night in New Hampshire. We're going to take you live to South Carolina. The next big battle in the fight for the GOP nomination.


[11:19:50]BERMAN: All right. New this morning, the breakfast of champions. That is singular. An eyebrow-raising breakfast in Harlem between New Hampshire winner Bernie Sanders, the Reverend Al Sharpton. This is Sanders trying to make inroads with minorities around the country, most immediately, in South Carolina.

BOLDUAN: Coincidentally, this is at the same restaurant that Al Sharpton met Barack Obama when Barack Obama in 2008 when Obama was running for his first term as president.

Let's bring in CNN national correspondent, Jason Carroll, who is outside the restaurant.

Jason, what have we learned? Tell us about the meeting.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the meeting took place about 20 minutes. That's how long both men decided to meet. They didn't actually have breakfast. They ended up just having tea. But the big headline out of this is obviously Sanders was looking for some sort of endorsement from the Reverend Al Sharpton. Sharpton coming out later and saying that he was not offering up an endorsement, not just yet. He still needs to meet with Clinton. That meeting is going to take place next Thursday. We are told he says he's not going to be making any decisions before that particular time.

We did have an opportunity to ask Sharpton what the two men talked about during their 20-minute tea. He said they spoke about issues affecting the African-American community, affirmative action, the Flint water crisis. Police brutality was another topic that came up as well.

As you guys both know, Clinton has been outpolling Sanders among African-Americans and Latinos. But Sanders picked up the endorsement of Ben Jealous, former NAACP leader. Was actually out here today with Sanders and talked about why he is supporting him and endorsing him. He says that Sanders has been on the right side of the issues affecting communities of color for years. And it's his prediction that heading into South Carolina, a number of African-American leaders, religious leaders down there, are going to be announcing their support for Sanders.

Back to you.

BOLDUAN: Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about this. Let's bring Mo Elleithee, who was the Clinton campaign spokesperson in 2008, and now the executive director of the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service; and Emily Tisch Sussman, campaign director for the Progressive Center for American Progress Action Fund, and a Hillary Clinton supporter.

Great to see both of you.

Mo, here we go. This meeting this Harlem, this breakfast or just tea in Harlem, Bernie Sanders is making a run for it. It's official. This meeting with Al Sharpton, and then the campaign saying overnight that they've raised some $2.6 million just between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and midnight. Is it decided that Bernie Sanders is now running a national campaign?

MO ELLEITHEE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGETOWN INSTITUTE OF POLITICS AND PUBLIC SERVICE: He receive as ton of credit for running a two states that have much different political landscapes, much different demographic make-ups and particularly in communities where he has been struggling so far. So it makes sense for him to, right out of the box, go meet with Reverend Sharpton and begin to make the rounds in these communities. But I think he's got a pretty significant hill to climb and not a lot of time to climb it.


Now, Emily, talking about hills to climb, the Clinton campaign wanted to narrow that gap in New Hampshire. It was 22 points. That's a chasm right now. So what's the level of your anxiety, scale of one to 10, in Clinton world right now? You're a Hillary Clinton supporter.

EMILY TISCH SUSSMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST & CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, THE PROGRESSIVE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Absolutely. I'm hoping that the Clinton campaign does a real serious analysis. Her messaging is not resonating with young people. That's the biggest thing that concerns me, under age 30. That's where it's really breaking for Sanders. And we know there's strong potential there, strong potential, because, on substance, Clinton and Sanders are not very far apart on the substance of their policy. It's the messaging that he has broken through. He's driving with this anti-Wall Street message. Everything comes back to anti-Wall Street. That's hitting him. I think it's going to be more challenging once he moves into states that have strong communities of color. That's not a message that they are internalizing and driving them to the polls.

BOLDUAN: Emily is talking about needing to make inroads into the youth votes. If you look at the exit polls, Mo, not just the 22-point gap we're talking about here, with women she lost. On the trust portion, she lost big time, 91-5. That has to send a very strong message. And these are issues that transcend New Hampshire. This is going to continue on, continue on, continue on, unless they can make a serious change. Does this put her southern firewall in question, this kind of a gap?

[11:24:55] ELLEITHEE: Well, I think last night they proved they can't take anything for granted. Look, I'd take it one step further. I don't think Bernie has been resonating with an anti-Wall Street message. I think what people are looking for is someone that they can trust to be their champion and fight for them. Most Democratic primary voters believe people are screwing them, above and below them on the economic ladder, and no one is fighting for them. So Bernie has been very crisp and clear in this message that we need a revolution that will look out for the every day American.

She needs to figure out how to connect better with people with that message of her own. I thought her speech was one of the best speeches I've actually heard her give this entire election cycle, because she came out as a forceful champion and an advocate. Now she's got to make that community by community in the next two states, Nevada and South Carolina, and beyond, because this will go beyond, at least until Super Tuesday, if not longer.

BERMAN: Mo Elleithee, Emily Sussman, thanks for being with us. Great to get your insight.

A lot of work to do for both of those campaigns, starting now, because this programming note, tomorrow, February 11th, CNN will simulcast the PBS News Hour Democratic presidential debate live at 9:00 p.m. You can watch it on CNN and also your PBS station. Watch it here, because I've got to say, this is a turning point in this campaign. Hillary Clinton supporters, she's got to turn things around do it than that debate stage.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

Still ahead for us, Marco Rubio says it's on him. He's blaming that weak debate performance for his poor showing in New Hampshire. So can he turn things around in South Carolina or is his momentum headed in the wrong direction?

BERMAN: Plus, Jeb Bush, a fourth-place finish gives him new life in his campaign. He's about to take the stage in South Carolina. Ted Cruz, a third-place finish in New Hampshire, beating expectations there. He's about to take the stage in South Carolina, too. These are the first big events of the day in the Palmetto State. You'll see the very next stage of this campaign set off live right here coming up.