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Chaos and Confusion in Iowa as Democratic Party Delays Results; Trump to Deliver State of the Union Address Tonight. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired February 4, 2020 - 05:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is "NEW DAY".

It's Tuesday, February 4th. It's 5:00 here in Manchester, New Hampshire.

And I came here to meet the winner of the Iowa caucuses when they arrived here for that next contest. The thing is, there is no winner. There is just a clear loser.

And that loser is the Iowa caucuses. There are no results. Not anything. Anything at all.

What went wrong? Not exactly clear. We've heard from some officials in Iowa who say that there was a problem with the app that they were using.

And then when the app didn't work, they tried to phone in the results across the state. And that didn't work. People were left on hold. Just a full-on simple mess.

We are now told we might not get the results from Iowa until sometime later today.

There is one official telling CNN we might not get them at all today. So, we're just in a sense of stasis and hold right now.

This is what one Democratic official said overnight.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TROY PRICE, CHAIR OF THE IOWA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: We want to emphasize that this is a reporting issue, not a hack or an intrusion. And it's exactly why we have a paper trail and systems in place to uphold the integrity of our process. We are validating every piece of data we have against our paper trail. The system is taking longer than expected but it's in place to ensure we are eventually able to report results with full confidence.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

[05:00:03] BERMAN: There's not a lot of confidence left, I have to say, in that system there.

As I said before, there were people across the state reporting problems with the app they were using, left on hold for hours trying to call in the results. The Democratic Party, some of them, say they were knocking on doors of precinct chairs who haven't reported their results yet -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: John, I remember Harry Enten telling us yesterday the math was going to be complicated even without the technical issues. And so here we are this morning. The Democratic candidates are trying to explain what happened and they're spinning the night as a win.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You probably heard we don't know the results. We know there's delays but we know one thing. We are punching above our weight.

(CHEERS)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, looks like it's going to be a long night but I'm feeling good.

(CHEERS)

In case it's going to be close.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is too close to call so I'm just going to tell you what I do know.

[04:40:05]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You won!

(CHEERS)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When those results are announced, I have a good feeling we're going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious!

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: OK. So everybody's feeling good, they say, at the moment. Predictably, President Trump and his campaign are already mocking the debacle ahead of tonight's State of the Union Address.

So let's get right to Jeff Zeleny.

He is live outside of Iowa's Democratic Party headquarters in Des Moines with the breaking news.

What's happening, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, good morning. There are winners spinning the results and losers spinning the results. The problem is we don't know which is which.

The reality here this morning in Des Moines, the numbers we are told by Democratic party officials will be coming later today, perhaps. But as you heard in that overnight phone call from the chairman of the Iowa Democratic party, he was saying they are trying to uphold the integrity of this process.

There's no question that has been vanished in all of this. So, what we do know is this. There was a strong turnout from Democrats across the state. But after that, things broke down in the reporting of these results.

We did hear complaints throughout the afternoon that the app was not working. So the party officials said well just call in the results like you used to. Well, one problem. There were operators -- obviously not enough to answer the calls so people were on hold for so long.

So you heard the candidates there all trying to spin the results in their favor. Joe Biden campaign has questioned the results overall. Of course, some of his rivals said he fared some of the worst.

So we're left with just anecdotal evidence from the precincts we were at. I was at a precinct here in Des Moines last night, Elizabeth Warren won that precinct. Bernie Sanders came in third, Pete Buttigieg, second, Joe Biden a distant fourth.

That was only 1 of about 1,700 precincts or so. So we are going to begin an autopsy here of what happened in the Iowa caucuses, but one thing is clear, this process, a byzantine process here of holding town meetings across the state clearly is in shatters here.

But a lot of questions to be asked when the sun comes up this morning here in Des Moines -- Alisyn.

BERMAN: I'll take it, Jeff. Jeff, stand by there for a second.

ZELENY: John.

BERMAN: One of the things Elizabeth Warren said that may not be true is it's too close to call. We don't know how close it is because we have no results. We have nothing yet. It may or may not be a result, this whole mess of this being close. It's simply not yet known.

Now, at least four of the candidates have hit the ground here in New Hampshire -- here in New Hampshire where I am.

Just a few minutes ago, I caught up with Amy Klobuchar when she arrived at the Manchester airport.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Senator Klobuchar, welcome to New Hampshire.

KLOBUCHAR: I'm -- it's great to be here. I'm so excited. I'm wearing my gold coat from the blizzard announcement. Just to, you know, commemorate it.

BERMAN: Senator, what happened in Iowa?

KLOBUCHAR: They had, apparently, they had a problem with the computer system in getting the numbers on. I think they'll be able to count them by hand just like people used to. And then they'll get them in.

BERMAN: Has the state told your campaign anything about when they might expect it? Or what exactly happened?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, coming from a state that's had to count a few ballots, as in recounts in Minnesota, I am an expert on this. And they can get it done. I'm sure they can get it done by tomorrow. I would hope so.

BERMAN: I was at a rally of yours -- I lost track of time. I think it was two nights ago in Des Moines in Beaverdale, at a junior high. And you -- one of the lines you used that got the most applause was we better not screw this up.

KLOBUCHAR: Oh, I didn't mean the numbers. I meant --

BERMAN: But -- but -- but is Iowa screwing it up?

KLOBUCHAR: Oh, no, you know what I meant by that. I meant that we need to have a candidate that can lead the ticket, that can bring people with her instead of shutting them out.

And I made the argument that night that I make every day in New Hampshire, that you want a candidate that can bring a fired-up Democratic base with her, along with independents.

[05:05:09] There's a lot of them in this state. And moderate Republicans so that we can win big. And not just eke by victory.

And I think that's really important if we want to get things done on climate change and prescription drugs and add -- and finally get some decency back into the White House, then we're going to have to bring people with us. And the -- my argument is that I'm the one to do that and my argument to our friends out here in New Hampshire and across the country is we know we can win in Kentucky. We just did in Louisiana, in states like Kansas and Michigan where we won the governors race. So, yes, we better not screw this up.

BERMAN: But you're not including actually counting the ballots in this case in that category.

KLOBUCHAR: No. I believe they'll count the ballot. I'm sure they're working hard. It must have been devastating to them and they are getting it done and we'll get the numbers. I just know that we are doing well. And I think a lot of people just

like they didn't think I'd get through that speech in the middle of the snow, they didn't think I'd get through the summer. They didn't think I'd get through the debates and I've been on every debate stage and shown that I have the toughness and I'm nimble enough to take on Donald Trump.

And I bet I'm the most -- I bet that I'm the most energetic -- what time is it, you guys, here?

BERMAN: It's -- it's 5 of 4 right now.

KLOBUCHAR: I'm the most energetic candidate you meet (ph), with no sleep.

BERMAN: We don't have official results yet, obviously. Obviously, we have no results yet. But what have you heard from your precinct captains around Iowa?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes. Well, we heard that we've done very well. There were a number of places where we won. We did well in some of the rural areas that I don't think people have focused on as much. We got some really good numbers out of Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities area. So we are just waiting on the final results like everyone else. Think there's some numbers that show that we did a lot better than people thought we were.

BERMAN: Just the last couple questions here. Some of the campaigns are questioning whether this throws in doubt legitimacy of the whole process. There are people who are upset.

KLOBUCHAR: No. They just had a problem with a computer glitch. They can count them by hand. That is not hard to do. There are witnesses at every precinct, every campaign had people there. There's precinct chairs. They're going to be able to get the numbers.

Now, you know, there's going to be a number of the total number of people that were there, as well as the delegates. But that's not that strange.

BERMAN: One Senate business question. Your colleague Joe Manchin of West Virginia was on the floor yesterday while you were in Iowa on your way to Iowa suggesting maybe there should be a censure vote in the senate. Would you support that?

KLOBUCHAR: Right now, I am focused o the impeachment vote. I hope after the House managers' statements at the end, my colleagues will listen on the Republican side. And I really believe when you look at some of the support that I got in Iowa, Republicans who change parties, including Andy, the legislator, who had literally -- Andy McKean, who had been a Republican until last spring and changed to a Democrat. We've got two former legislators who are Republican who joined our team.

People in the country are not like the ones in the Senate. It seems to me a lot of the Republicans in the Senate, with the exception of two when it came to the witnesses, basically Donald Trump says jump and they say how high? There is a lot of moderate Republicans out there that don't agree. They see this election as a patriotism check, as a decency check, and they want to have a president that understands that the heart of America is much bigger than the heart of the guy in the White House.

BERMAN: Senator Klobuchar -- it's about 30 degrees here, which I know is warm for you.

KLOBUCHAR: Are you kidding? Like, you know, this is not even hat weather. This is not even mitten weather. Although, we do have some good hats. A display. The kind of hat you wear when you go door knocking in New Hampshire like we will be doing in the next week.

BERMAN: I'll let you catch some sleep, thank you very much. Nice to see you, Senator.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Of course, Senator Amy Klobuchar from the state of Minnesota. So 30 degrees really isn't that cold for her.

Jeff Zeleny is back with us. Also joining us, CNN correspondent Ryan Nobles, who's been covering the Sanders campaign in Iowa.

And, Jeff, I want to start with you because Amy Klobuchar's in a very interesting position. She may be helped by the fact that there are no official results yet. There's a sense that her campaign was doing maybe better than expected. But we don't know for sure because we haven't seen official numbers. So, she was able to land in New Hampshire this morning, when I was there just a few minutes ago, and say, hey, we've got the wind at our backs.

ZELENY: No question. And she did something very smart. She was the first candidate to come out and she was seizing victory, whether she has a victory or not.

John, it reminded me of the -- of the Florida scenario, you know, 20 years ago in 2000. You know, never mind what the results are. You just seize victory.

[05:10:00]

But we do know anecdotally from precincts around the state that Senator Klobuchar was having a strong night. We do know some results. We just don't know the scope of them.

But in many places where CNN was and others, she was having a strong evening in the suburbs around Des Moines. But the question here is what it means for the process overall. She was, you know, not attacking the Iowa process. But that is exactly what is going on here today. I mean, the reality is after spending multimillions of dollars in advertising, in campaign spending, other things, to have this type of result is going to throw a shadow over the whole process regardless here.

So the Joe Biden campaign sent a letter to the Iowa Democratic party, the leadership last evening, really questioning the results overall. Where there is a lot of evidence that Joe Biden didn't have a strong night here so that is going to be something sorted out in the coming days here, unclear how this actually works out. John.

BERMAN: Right. Biden campaign clearly upset.

And, Ryan, the Sanders campaign not particularly happy either. We hold Jeff Weaver, Ryan Nobles, last night, really lash out at the Iowa process. The Bernie Sanders people think he did well, they want to be able to declare a victory if, in fact, that's what happened.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There's no question about that, John. The Sanders campaign finds him in somewhat of a tight spot. I do believe they are very frustrated with the way the Iowa Democratic Party presented this caucus.

But they're publicly not being very critical of them because they do not want there to be any dispersions cast upon the results when they actually are revealed because they do believe, based on their own evidence and what their precinct captains were telling them across the state, that Bernie Sanders did very well.

And, you know, you could tell that from what Sanders had to say in his speech last night when he came out and he told the crowd that based on what he and his volunteers had said across the state, that they were going to do very, very well in Iowa. He stopped short of declaring victory. But, you know, the subtle implication was as loud as could possibly be.

So there's no doubt that behind the scenes, they're being very critical of Iowa Democratic Party leaders. We know on that call, the second phone call that took place between the Iowa Democratic Party and campaign officials that you're right senior advisor Jeff Weaver made it known how frustrated the Sanders campaign was with the way this whole thing was playing out.

But on the other side of this, John, I certainly think that they're hoping that they are able to declare victory here in Iowa later today. But they also are prepared to go on and move to New Hampshire. In fact, I talked to one senior aide as this drama was playing out last night.

And I said to him, you know, what happens if these results in Iowa are put into question? And you're in a position where you can't claim victory in kind of a fulsome way, and he just looked at me and smile, and said, well, we just need to go with New Hampshire. So, they're the type of campaign that's built for that. And so, they're prepared this next stage.

BERMAN: Ryan, Jeff, stand by, if you will. As we said, no winner yet from the Iowa caucuses. But one clear loser, giant loser. And that's the caucuses themselves. There are serious questions this morning if this might be the last

time we will ever see Iowa go first in this type of way. We'll discuss next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:17:26]

BERMAN: We are live at college in Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. This is the site of the first primary of the 2020 contest one week from today. The question is, will we know the results in New Hampshire before we know the results in Iowa?

What a debacle. We may or may not find out who won Iowa sometime today.

Joining us now again, Jeff Zeleny. He's back with us from Des Moines.

Also joining us, CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago who is at the airport in Manchester, where I just was. It's hectic over there. We'll get to Leyla in a second.

CNN political reporter Rebecca Buck is here. And CNN senior political writer and analyst, Harry Enten, is here as well.

Harry, I just want to start very quickly with what Iowa was trying to do differently this time that may have contributed to the chaos.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Right. So essentially, in the previous years, you had state delegate equivalence, right? Which is the Iowa caucus is very odd, right? You go and you have an initial preference. If an individual caucus, you meet 15 percent threshold. That candidate's viable. If they're not, those candidate supporters can go to others in each individual caucus.

And you basically run that through the gambit and then assign each of these individual caucuses a certain amount of delegates based upon past general election turnout, and you get these state delegate equivalents.

This year, you have that initial vote. You then have the post- realignment vote. And then you have the state delegate equivalents.

So you had three different counts going on this year and it seems in that process of trying to get three different counts, it just wasn't so easy.

BERMAN: Something went wrong. It was new that contributed but they knew it was new and you would have thought they would have worked out the kinks there.

Rebecca, I just got back from Iowa, or I just came from Iowa, I should say to New Hampshire, here. And you have a sense it is a state on tenterhooks in terms of the caucuses about whether or not they should be first anymore and it has nothing to do with the process. It has to do the fact that Iowa and the Democratic caucus is very white, 90 percent white.

But last night when this went down, you had more people say than ever before maybe Iowa shouldn't be doing this.

Listen to Chairman McAuliffe last night on our air.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I would get rid of the caucuses first of all. People don't have time to go spend the time like you heard here today. Go vote. Pull the curtain. Close it. Vote. And then leave. That is the democratic way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Should this be it? Curtains for Iowa?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, this is the worst-case scenario for Iowa Democrats and Republicans who want to keep the caucuses first and a central part of the nominating process.

[05:20:01]

It was, as you said, already under fire from people who said it's not democratic enough. It's not inclusive enough. It's not diverse enough. The voters in Iowa, what claim should they have to deciding who the nominee is on the Democratic side when the party itself looks nothing like Iowa?

And so this was the last thing that advocates of the Iowa caucus needed of -- not a scandal -- but chaos like this, chaos of this type and this inconclusive result. It's going to, I think, raise the volume on some of the concerns that we've heard about the Iowa caucuses.

And, look, it is still a tradition of the nominating process. It is hard to erase all of the history that we have with the Iowa caucuses. And there are going to be people in both parties who defend the Iowa caucuses and their role in this process. But it's going to get a lot louder. This criticism that we've been hearing.

BERMAN: It is contributing to a very strange morning here in New Hampshire.

BUCK: To say the least.

BERMAN: I want to go to Leyla Santiago who is at the airport in Manchester here.

And we had some quality time together, Leyla.

It's so interesting these candidates are arriving and they don't really know what to say. They don't really know how to behave because they don't know where they stood in Iowa.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, quality time indeed. It was very good to see you, my friend. But you're right. You know, we -- we saw Joe Biden arrive here first.

When he arrived, I asked him a few things. He didn't respond when I asked him what would the impact of a delay in the results in Iowa be? Didn't respond to that.

When I asked him about other candidates, specifically Buttigieg claiming victory, he didn't say anything to that. And then I said, well, how you feeling? He said great. That was the one thing Biden was able to say to me or decided to say to me when he arrived here.

And these candidates have come in and -- and had a mood of somewhat disappointment from Iowa. But I also get the feeling that they are saying move forward. Now, it's on to New Hampshire. Focus here.

The problem is just a few weeks ago, the latest CNN poll showed here in New Hampshire, 49 percent of voters were still very much undecided. A lot of these candidates were hoping to get a bump off of that. To have Iowa sort of really help them in gaining momentum and moving forward in the early states.

They're coming here, Elizabeth Warren, the first thing she said when she spoke to the media was, look, I didn't know in Iowa who the winner was. I still don't know today. So we're going to work hard in New Hampshire until we know what the results of that are.

When speaking to voters here, I spoke to one Amy Klobuchar supporter who was waiting for her with -- with a sign. He said, no, no, now the real race begins because it's on to New Hampshire. But he did admit he would have said that regardless of what happened in Iowa.

So for a lot of these campaigns, yes, disappointment over Iowa and all the resources that they have used. But it seems like a very narrow focus for right now in -- in being forced to just go and move forward in New Hampshire with their messaging. Many of them focusing on electability.

BERMAN: I think many of them have to consider where they will be on stage today, if and when the results do come in because if they're good for you, you want to be on stage and look happy. If they're not so good, you want to be prepared for it.

Jeff Zeleny, I can see this. And you can see this already becoming a campaign issue for some of the organizations. How will it play? How will the campaigns use this uncertainty do you think?

ZELENY: Well, look. I think the question here is, are the Democratic campaigns going to continue talking about this? Or are they going to try to get back to the matter at hand? Because the reality here is discussing the inner workings of the Iowa process is not going to necessarily help find a nominee. And not going to necessarily move the ball toward picking the strongest candidate to take on the president.

It helps Mike Bloomberg, without question. He weighed in last night, as well, again saying the Iowa process is not a good one here. So we'll see how this sorts itself out in the coming hours. But the -- the Iowa process, I think, will be discussed for a while.

But Democrats also will want to set that on the back burner, if you will, and go forward.

So this is going to make New Hampshire much more important, without question. We know that Bernie Sanders has been strong there.

He won by 21 points, if I recall, from four years ago. So, he certainly enters New Hampshire very strong. But I think that, you know, the Iowa situation is going to be discussed for some time to come. There are some delegates here but certainly many more to come. Only 41 here out of about 1,900 you actually need to win, John.

BERMAN: You wonder with the Sanders campaign, which is already running against the establishment, though, if the idea that the Democratic establishment in Iowa messed this up. It could be something we hear from them a lot over the next few days.

All right, friends. Thank you very much.

We have a lot more to talk about the next few hours. And coming up on NEW DAY, we will speak with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who declared victory last night.

[05:25:05]

We will get a sense of where he thinks things are going today.

The chaos in Iowa, you know, the president of the United States is trying to exploit it politically. But he's got a lot else going on today. The State of the Union Address will be tonight. A preview of his expected message, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: We are still standing by at this hour for the results of the Iowa caucuses. As Democrats deal with the vote count chaos there, President Trump is preparing to deliver his State of the Union Address tonight.

What do we know about his message?

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live on Capitol Hill.

Well, this is not what anybody was expecting at this hour, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDNT: Good morning, Alisyn. It really feels a little like a ghost town here.

END