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INSIDE POLITICS

January Debate May Shake Up On-Stage Candidates; Corey Lewandowski Won't Run for Senate; New Year's Eve Weather Mild Around the Country. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 31, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Less than 12 hours are left in 2019. And for the 2020 Democratic candidates, that means less than 12 hours to lure in those critical campaign donations.

Today marks the deadline for fourth-quarter fundraising, and it's the cutoff for over half of the 2020 field to satisfy the DNC donor requirement to make the January 14th debate stage. And just remember, that's the final debate before the all-important Iowa caucuses, so time and opportunity are starting to shrink for these candidates.

But for some of these candidates, today's deadline is just one more way to feel like they've ended the year strong. Take a listen at Bernie Sanders, for example.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In terms of fundraising, our campaign has done what no campaign in the history of the United States of America has done up to this moment in a campaign. And I believe that within the next day, by tomorrow, we will have, for this campaign, received 5 million contributions from over 1.3 million Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: And Bernie Sanders, quite strong throughout this process. If you look at the numbers, he wants to continue this momentum from Q3. These were the top five Democratic fundraisers, he's at the top, $25.2 million; Warren, $24.6; Buttigieg, $19.1; Biden at $15.7; and Harris -- no longer in the race -- at $11.6.

Sanders, he had sort of a slump, I think, in the beginning of this campaign in terms of poll numbers, but certainly has rebounded. He's, you know, top two.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHYDC: And he has the money to sustain him for as long as he chooses to be in this campaign --

HENDERSON: That's right. CHAMBERS: -- regardless of what his polling is. And Elizabeth Warren

as well, and that's going to become critical as you turn the corner past these first four states, and go into places like Super Tuesday, it's very, very expensive to run advertising in states like California, in those media markets.

And one thing that the Sanders campaign has stressed this entire time -- and I think the same applies to Elizabeth Warren -- is because these are often small-dollar donors, they're able to keep tapping the same people over and over again, whereas these other candidates, who are mostly doing these big-dollar donors and fundraisers, have to keep replenishing those funds. And as it goes along, it's going to get tougher and tougher for them to do that.

HENDERSON: And Warren, kind of sounding the alarm in some of her e- mails and some of her statements about where her fundraising would be this quarter, and here's what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It looks like we're closing in on about a million people who have pitched in two bucks, five bucks, 25 bucks, even people who have stretched budgets. They are giving money, they are contributing time, they're making phone calls and I really appreciate it because I think that's the way we should run a democratic primary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: And of course, she's been making the comparison with Pete Buttigieg and the wine cave, saying she doesn't spend time with those big-dollar donors. Of course in previous campaigns she did, but details, details, details.

(LAUGHTER)

She -- we'll see where she falls this time, right? She was at 24.6. Does she top that, does she tie it, does she fall a little bit behind?

JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, there's a reason why candidates historically don't fundraise the way that Warren and Sanders are fundraising, because it's really hard to rely on these small-dollar donors. If you do it successfully, it has a lot of advantages. But you have to keep up a tremendous amount of momentum and energy.

And what we've seen with Warren is that she had this big burst over the summer, where this message that's she's talking about here, about spending her time talking to real people, not with big donors, really seemed to resonate. And what came next, I think, has been sort of the question. You know, she's been trying to ride that same message through the fall, into the winter.

And it's been overtaken a bit by some other candidates. Bernie has a movement, really, he talks about, that he started in 2016, and that has proven sustainable. We will see, I think, in these numbers, and going into Iowa and New Hampshire, whether Warren can compete with that. But I do think it's a real question of whether you can sustain just that kind of organic --

HENDERSON: Right.

PACE: -- energy that we saw from her over the summer.

HENDERSON: And pivoting a bit to this next debate, January 14th, we saw that Booker wasn't on the stage last go-round, Yang was on the stage; predicted that Booker might get on the stage, but it looks like Yang himself might have some problems at getting on the stage. Here's what he had to say, both Yang and Booker.

[12:35:05]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All we want is for there to be polls in order for us to demonstrate that we would easily qualify by the DNC's own threshold. We're well over the donation threshold, we're looking to raise $1 million just today alone --

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're seeing the signs of a surge. The problem is, there hasn't been a poll in Iowa since early November, since my last debate stage, since Kamala Harris dropped out. A lot has changed that's not being picked up. So I don't understand the DNC --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: They don't understand the DNC. What we do understand is, they might not make the debate stage because of these rules that have been put in place by the DNC, because they're not going to meet the polling threshold.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and we'll see. I don't know what -- how many more polls there are scheduled to be released between now and the debate or when the cutoff is. Obviously, the candidates are very sensitive to all of those machinations.

But the DNC's been in a tough spot throughout this process and they're getting this really contradictory message from their own members, from rank-and-file Democrats, saying, on the one hand, hey, this is unfair, why isn't my favorite candidate up there? On the other hand, oh, why are there so many candidates --

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON (?): This is exactly right.

BALL: -- narrow right now. Why are we having these awful debates with 10 people on a stage where nobody gets to talk --

HENDERSON: Right.

BALL: -- for more than a minute. The last debate, I thought, was so great because, with fewer candidates --

HENDERSON (?): It was a smaller crowd.

BALL: -- they can actually have exchanges, get into it a little bit, finally started to feel like there was some productive conflict that taught us something about the candidates.

So that's always been the dilemma for the DNC, trying to balance those two imperatives. They have not wanted to break it up into separate debates the way the RNC did, four years ago. And so, you know, it's obviously frustrating for these candidates that are on the edge. But at some point, there can only be one.

And, you know, I think to -- Francesca made a really good point about the fundraising, which is that the candidates who can -- who have the fundraising can stay in past the early states, but that's really potentially a problem for Joe Biden, who has fallen behind in the early states even as he remains the national frontrunner. Because we've already seen him really suffer in fundraising as his campaign seemed to falter earlier in the year.

And so he's the one, I think, who could really have a problem with fundraising past those early states.

HENDERSON: Yes, yes. And we'll see what his fundraising numbers are, as you said. He was lagging in these last quarters, and he surely has been bombarding everyone's e-mail inbox --

(LAUGHTER)

-- with pleas to donate to his campaign.

Next up, Corey Lewandowski calls his shot in, then decides not to swing the bat.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:42:19]

HENDERSON: Topping our political radar, Corey Lewandowski says he won't run for Senate, even as he guarantees that he would win. The former Trump campaign manager, announcing the decision on Twitter this morning, citing family and working to re-elect the president as the reasons he won't run.

TEXT: Corey R. Lewandowski: After much consideration I have decided to forgo a campaign for the U.S. Senate. While taking on a career politician from Washington's swamp is a tall order, I am certain I would have won. My priorities remain my family and ensuring that @realDonaldTrump is re-elected POTUS

HENDERSON: Phil, I'm going to go to you on this one. What do you make of this decision? Is it a surprise? Was he ever really going to run or was this just sort of a publicity thing, what's your sense?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, I was definitely going to get into the NFL draft --

(LAUGHTER)

-- because I knew I was going to be the -- I was going to be the number-one overall pick. But I just don't feel like doing it right now, I've got a family and a job --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTINGLY: -- and everything like that. I think I would have been a great Bengals quarterback.

No, look, I think the big part about this over the course of whenever this trial balloon was raised by Corey Lewandowski, is that nobody that I talked to was ever really sure that it was real. You talk to NRSC folks, you talk to folks back in New Hampshire and they certainly, most -- the majority of them did not want him to run --

HENDERSON (?): Yes.

MATTINGLY: -- they felt like they've got a decent crop of candidates up there, it would be a tough race no matter what. And while I think everybody likes the idea of somebody with that close of a connection to the president, given the president's juice (ph) inside the Republican Party, perhaps hopping in there, I don't think most national Republicans thought that was a very good idea, and certainly New Hampshire Republicans --

HENDERSON (?): Yes.

MATTINGLY: -- didn't. So I never really took it that seriously. It all felt like a little bit of a ploy, particularly since a lot of it came out when he was about to testify in front of the House, and that turned into kind of a circus for everybody.

But, you know, the good part about Corey Lewandowski is he's certainly going to be around --

HENDERSON (?): Yes. We'll see what (ph) this (ph) --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTINGLY: -- and I'm sure we will all have opportunities to ask him about this process --

HENDERSON: -- we'll see.

MATTINGLY: -- in the days, weeks and months ahead.

HENDERSON: Indeed.

[12:43:53]

And coming up, no New Year celebration would be complete without a peek into Times Square. And we're going to take you there, live, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDERSON: We are barreling toward the end of 2019, so we're going to head to CNN Weather Center for your New Year's Eve forecast. We've got CNN's Jennifer Gray joining me now.

So what's it look like? What do we think we're going to see for this New Year's Eve, in terms of weather across the country?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Weather's actually going to be pretty nice across much of the country, much different than years previous. We actually have really nice weather in Times Square right now, 40 degrees in New York.

It is chilly across the northern tier of the country, but nice mild weather across much of the South, at least the southern two-thirds of the country. We do have some leftover snow from that system yesterday, but that's all going to break up before we make it to the big cities across the Northeast.

So as we go forward in time, you can see it just breaking up by the time we get into 8:30, 9:00 tonight. So all of the folks sitting in Times Square should remain dry for their entire time there.

So going through the night, 8:00 tonight, 44. It will feel like 39 in Times Square. 10:00, 42 feeling like 37, skies will gradually clear. The stroke of midnight, temperatures right around 41, feeling like 34 degrees. So not bad at all, dry conditions.

Here we go, the rest of the country. This is for the midnight hour. Twenty-seven in Chicago; 14, Minneapolis; 29 in Denver; a nice 49 degrees in San Francisco. Ringing in the new year in Dallas, temperatures will be around 42 degrees.

And then your high temperatures tomorrow, really not bad. A beautiful day across much of the country, 49 in D.C.; 57, Atlanta; 55 in Memphis; 48 in Denver; 52 in Seattle -- Nia.

[12:50:06]

HENDERSON: Jennifer, thanks for that. I've got to say, though, 34 degrees in New York -- I'm a southerner -- that sounds really cold to me, but we'll see how --

GRAY: Bundle (ph) up.

HENDERSON: -- those people fare in New York.

Hundreds of thousands of people are heading to New York's Times Square tonight to ring in the new year. They are bold, they are brave and I'm really glad that I'm not one of them.

And one of the first party-goers to arrive is going to be CNN's own Miguel Marquez. Miguel, give us a glimpse of the wild, crazy, amazing, and cold celebration to come tonight. MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, not quite that yet.

You are utterly sensible, and you have 20-20 vision, let me say, Nia. Look, this is where it's all going to happen. That's where the ball will come down, a huge police presence here and they will be protecting this area from the sky, from the rivers and all around this area.

And these people -- how are you? --

(CROSSTALK)

MARQUEZ: -- they have the best seats in the house because they are right next to the main stage here. There are people from Japan here, from Nashville, from Queens, New York -- I thought New Yorkers weren't supposed to come here -- but it is going to be a massive -- they even have drones that they will fly this year, if the weather permits. They even have an anti-drone, a rogue drone team. So if there are rogue drones up, there'll be a way to bring them down. Back to you.

HENDERSON: Well, thanks for that, Miguel.

And a quick CNN programming note, ring in the new year tonight with best friends Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. I'm going to be on my couch, watching this. All of the New Year's Eve coverage starts, live at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

And up next in our 2020 lightning round, Michael Bloomberg has a hot take on how to organize the office furniture at the White House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:56:26]

HENDERSON: And we'll end the show with a quick lightning round. Francesca, I'm going to go to you on this one first. Bloomberg, promising that if he's president, he's going to have an open office plan.

"As president, I'll turn the East Room into an open office plan, where I'll sit with our team. I'll use the Oval Office for some official functions -- never for tweeting -- but the rest of the time, I'll be where a leader should be: with the team." He was mocked heavily on Twitter and on social media for this.

My sense is, secret things happen at the White House, which is probably why an open office plan isn't a great idea.

CHAMBERS: But from a practical standpoint -- and I actually did speak to the Bloomberg campaign --

HENDERSON: Right.

CHAMBERS: -- about this, the East Room is used for joint press conferences, it's used for Medal of Honor ceremonies. I asked where those sorts of things would take place, and they told me that he's an engineer by trade and he does have an electrical engineering degree and they would find other places to do those things, like the Diplomatic Reception Room.

But here's the thing. The Diplomatic Reception Room is less than half the size of the East Room, so it'd be very hard to fit large groups of people in there.

HENDERSON: And, Phil, you used to work at Bloomberg, and Bloomberg had an open office plan there --

MATTINGLY: Which is --

HENDERSON: -- what was (ph) that (ph) like (ph)?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTINGLY: -- why I was not even remotely surprised and didn't think it was strange at all. Like it was funny, I saw the tweet yesterday. And I was like, well, yes --

HENDERSON: Of course, right?

MATTINGLY: -- that's exactly what -- that's what he did with -- when he was mayor of New York, and that's what he did with 731 Lexington, the headquarters of Bloomberg, up in New York. You -- when he came back, after when he was -- his time as mayor, he came back to the company. And I was based down here, but I would go up there every once in a while.

And he is literally sitting in the middle of the room. You're wandering around, and you accidentally bump into Mike Bloomberg, which is a little awkward and uncomfortable --

HENDERSON (?): Right, right.

MATTINGLY: -- when you're 97 rungs below him on the employment ladder.

But if there was --

HENDERSON (?): You weren't 97. You were --

MATTINGLY: Ninety-four, ninety-four. But if there was one idea that I just presumed at some point he would be talking about, it's this. He's been wedded to this at every aspect of his professional life, and there is no doubt he would probably extend that, to some degree, to the White House.

HENDERSON: Yes, that would be interesting. Construction marvel (ph), I think, at the White House.

And, Molly, I'm going to go to you on this. Biden's saying that he would be open to having a Republican running mate -- here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wonder if Joe Biden would consider choosing a Republican as a running mate. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The answer is, I would. But I

can't think of one now.

(LAUGHTER)

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, look here. No, I'm serious. No, here's what I mean, let me explain that. You know, there are some really decent Republicans that are out there still. But here's the problem right now: The well-known ones, they've got to step up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: Molly?

BALL: Well, it is important to put that in context, right? He's saying, in theory, he would consider a Republican, but he can't think of any that -- that --

HENDERSON: None come to mind.

BALL: -- in practice, he would actually consider.

HENDERSON: Right.

BALL: But this is a key part of his message, and he has refused to back down from it, right? It's a continuation of the message that started when he was, you know, praising the segregationist senators that he used to work with, earlier in the year. And he was criticized for that.

And he said, look, the whole point of politics is, you work with people that you have vast differences with, and you try to find compromise. And I think that's a part of his message that is really appealing to those voters in the moderate lane.

HENDERSON: Julie, quickly, I want you to wrap up here with Mayor Pete Buttigieg, saying that he would not have wanted to see his son serving on the board, sort of going after Biden there.

PACE: A little bit of a jab at Joe Biden. Democrats have been dancing around the Joe Biden role in the impeachment controversy. This is Buttigieg, both trying to say the attention shouldn't be there, but putting a little bit of the attention there, on Joe Biden.

HENDERSON: Yes, a little bit of attention there. And a bit of a pattern now, with Buttigieg going after Biden, we'll see where this goes.

[13:00:01]

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Happy New Year. Brianna Keilar starts right now.