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Chaos and Confusion in Iowa; Iowa Entrance Polls; Pete Buttigieg is Interviewed About Iowa and the Campaign. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 4, 2020 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00]

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bad to have caucuses, but they really have to have polling throughout the day and it has to be a real primary. That is un democratic. Even the Iowans will tell you that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: As a former party chair, I'm dying to know what your feelings were as you were watching this unfold last night. Remember, the Iowa Democratic Party, as Nia-Malika Henderson said last night on CNN, you have one job -- you have one job, it's to count these votes.

DEAN: Well, look, I've been campaigning in Iowa. I like Iowa. I like the people. They take this really seriously. They work hard at it. But it's just not a good system. It's fun. And you really do want to start with small states. The last thing I'm in favor of is putting in a big state first where television can buy you votes. That's just not right. I like the person-to-person campaigning in New Hampshire and Iowa. I don't want to get rid of them entirely, but they have got to be matched on the same day with states that are much more diverse, which is one of the reasons I put South Carolina and Nevada up front when I was chairman.

BERMAN: The flipside of this argument is something you also hear overnight, which is, look, take California for instance. It often takes weeks to tabulate all the votes from California congressional districts. So maybe it's not that unusual that Iowa just wanted to get this right.

DEAN: No, it's -- they did the right thing. If you have a lousy count, you certainly don't want to go out with that.

Rick Santorum can tell you all about that when Mitt Romney eventually -- essentially erased Santorum's bid for president by winning the Iowa caucus, only to find out a week later that Santorum actually won the caucuses. So, you know, this is a major, major problem. And the truth is that primaries are easy to count up. And the reason California has problems because of absentee ballots, principally, and overseas ballots. And it's an enormous state. And that's one reason you do not want to start with a big state.

BERMAN: I want to get your take on how the campaigns have been handling this, this morning, each in their own way.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, he actually declared victory last night with no official results. So that's one way to handle it, declare victory before any results are actually reported.

Another way is to handle it like the Biden campaign has been doing. Kate Bedingfield (ph), the deputy campaign manager, was here on set with me on NEW DAY and she basically questioned the fairness of the Iowa count, the legitimacy of the count.

What are you hearing and why do you think from these campaigns?

DEAN: I think that's wrong. Listen, let me just be -- I'm not in favor any particular candidate because I'm running a big project that all -- whoever wins is going to benefit from. But that's what you say when you don't think you've done well. All these campaigns have some idea how they've done. I don't think any of them can legitimately say they won. But they all know how they've done because they all have trackers at all of these places. So it sounds to me like the vice president didn't do as well as he'd hoped and that -- I think to question the legitimacy of the count is wrong. I know Iowa well. Those people do not cheat.

BERMAN: Who has the most to prove? Given that we don't know who did what in Iowa as we sit here today in New Hampshire, and this is somewhere you've been after the Iowa caucuses, who has what to prove going into the New Hampshire primary one week today?

DEAN: Who can win in New England? It's in a mostly all-white state. And without as much help from young people as they would have liked because of the New Hampshire voter suppression. That's all this is really worth.

I mean the fact is, New Hampshire wouldn't matter if it wasn't first, and they know that, which is why they resist it. But I do think, unless we win, unless the Democrats win, you're going to see pretty much re-architecture of the nominating process.

BERMAN: Do you think there will be more focus -- there's a big debate here Friday night. Do you think there will be more focus on your co- Vermonter, Senator Bernie Sanders, than there has been in the campaign to date?

DEAN: Well, it couldn't be much more than there has been already. I mean he's one of the frontrunners for sure. And I think he and Elizabeth will do very well because New Hampshire, as they were to me, is extremely kind to next door neighbors, although they wouldn't be to me today after what I just said about the New Hampshire primary.

But, no, I expect them to -- you know, New Englanders like New Englanders and they're comfortable with New Englanders. So I expect this is a place that are -- you know, the Massachusetts and the Vermont senators will do well.

But, you know, this is a proving ground for other people. The one thing that's interesting about this is, there are probably four or five tickets out of Iowa. They used to say, there's only three tickets out if Iowa, the top three. I think this is such a complicated primary that you may have five people coming out of Iowa as legitimate candidates and then New Hampshire will help sort that out.

BERMAN: Yes, if there's are no results out of Iowa, why would there be any limits to the tickets out of Iowa?

Governor Howard Dean, it's always an education to speak to you. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

DEAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: We still don't know who -- we still don't know who won in Iowa, but there is a lot we do know about who showed up to vote last night at the caucuses.

[08:35:05]

And that tells us something about these contests going forward. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So, this morning, what we don't know out of Iowa is any official results, like at all. The Iowa Democratic Party has yet to report anything.

But, thankfully, we do know something about who showed up and what they cared about. And that's important. Not just for last night, but going forward. It all comes from the entrance polls.

Joining me now is CNN's senior politics writer and analyst Harry Enten.

Harry, I'm glad you're here. And I'm glad we have the much often- maligned entrance and exit polls here.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICS WRITER AND ANALYST: Saved your butt, right?

BERMAN: Right.

Tell us who showed up.

ENTEN: Yes, I think this is so important. There was a real question going into these caucuses, whether or not those under the age of 45, who really support Bernie Sanders in large numbers, would make up a large portion of the electorate than they did in 2016.

And what do the entrance poll show? They show that, in fact, there was that jump in that under the age of 45 vote.

[08:40:02]

And that's very, very important for Bernie Sanders, especially going forward, if that's something we continue seeing on. However, if you also look at the ideological breakdown, liberals

versus moderates or conservatives, what we see is, that looks the same exact as it did in 2016. That's a bad sign for Bernie Sanders.

So when you took -- take those two things into account, right, that there were more younger people but there are just as many liberals that came out to caucus last night, that's good news for Bernie Sanders and bad news for Bernie Sanders. It's particularly bad news, though, for Joe Biden, who really needed those older voters to make a larger portion of the electorate.

BERMAN: And in terms of news for the Democratic Party rite large, the turnout was not particularly high.

ENTEN: No, it wasn't particularly high. So if you go back to four years ago, what the Iowa Democratic Party has said is it's about the same exact turnout. That is not particularly good. It's not as strong as it was in 2008. There's supposed to be all this excitement around the Democratic Party wanting to beat Donald Trump. And this isn't the only data point that shows that. If we look at the special elections that we've seen so far in 2019 and 2020, and compare it to the 2016 base line, what we see is that Democrats are over performing at a lower level than they did between 2017 and 2018. So when you take those two data points and put them together, maybe there's a little bit of an enthusiasm problem for Democrats going forward.

BERMAN: Yes, Democrats point to the governors races in Kentucky and Louisiana and they certainly were good for Democrats, but maybe not representative in the same way that those special elections, congressional races were.

Let's talk about New Hampshire now. It's a lot easier to talk about what happens out of Iowa when you have results out of Iowa.

ENTEN: Yes.

BERMAN: But what do we know about who is doing what here?

ENTEN: Yes. So this is -- if you look at -- I took a Harry's average of the polls going into this, and what do we see? We saw that Bernie Sanders was at top at 25 percent, Joe Biden at 17, Elizabeth Warren, 14, Pete Buttigieg, 13, Amy Klobuchar, all the way back at 7.

So if Bernie Sanders does comes out of Iowa and win, you know, this is very good news for him, but that's not clear all at this particular point, but this is a state that Bernie Sanders won overwhelmingly last time and the polls right now show that he's at least out ahead.

BERMAN: What kind of bounce does one tend to get out of Iowa?

ENTEN: Yes, so, you know, I went back and I looked since 1980 and compared the New Hampshire polls, just before the Iowa caucuses, and then just after. And what do we see. If you win in Iowa, the medium bounce the winners get out of Iowa is three points. But also expectations are so key, John. When for every point that you outperform the polling in Iowa, in New Hampshire you get a half a percentage point bounce. For every half -- for ever point you underperform, you lose half a percentage point.

So someone like a John Kerry in 20014, right, got the biggest bounce of all because not only did he win in Iowa, but he greatly outperformed the polling. And that's something we really have to see of Pete Buttigieg.

BERMAN: Pete Buttigieg, and Bernie Sanders --

ENTEN: And Bernie Sanders.

BERMAN: Because the Sanders team set its expectations very high, the bar very high, and we don't know if they met it. It may very well be he ended up with the most votes, but many not the most delegates. Who knows.

ENTEN: Right.

BERMAN: What are your odds at this point.

ENTEN: Right. So my odds -- and this is the thing, if you look at this graphic on the screen, what do you see? You see that Bernie Sanders has a little bit more than a 50 percent chance of winning, 11 in 20. But look at that little bottom line there, right, it says no Iowa bounce taken into account. So this graphic doesn't take into account the bounce and these odds could change dramatically overnight. But, right now, Bernie Sanders is the favorite, at least in New Hampshire without the bounce being taken into account.

BERMAN: All right, Harry Enten, thank you very much for being with us. I really appreciate it.

Again, we don't know who won the Iowa caucuses, but the former mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg, declared victory anyway. He joins me live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:47:47]

BERMAN: So, we're still waiting for any results from last night's Iowa Democratic caucuses, but that hasn't stopped candidates from spinning the nonexistent results. Former mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg, declared victory overnight.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So we don't know all the results, but we know by the time it's all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation.

By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Joining me now is presidential candidate, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.

I feel like I was just speaking to you yesterday. That's because I was.

Listen, you said by all indications we're going on to New Hampshire victorious. By all indications except the actual official count. So how can you declare victory without actual, official numbers?

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, like everybody else, probably more than anybody else, I'm impatient to get the official count, but we've also seen the reporting from our own precinct organization. In fact, we made it public from over 1,200 precinct locations. And what we saw is extraordinary. The support that we got in rural areas, suburban areas and urban areas, in Democratic counties and counties that voted for Trump, it -- for a campaign that a year ago I think a lot of people were questioning what right we even had to do this and to make the attempt. And so it's clearly a victory for us, even as we, along with the -- I think the whole country impatiently wait for some official results from the party.

BERMAN: I understand declaring a moral victory or beating expectations or being surprised you ever got this far, but it did sound as if you were trying to make the claim that you were the official winner last night. And what are your concerns -- given the environment, the electoral environment we're in, where we just need to trust results, why not wait to hear for sure?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, we're going to hear the official results and, again, that can't come soon enough. But what we saw and what our precinct information revealed, our data throughout the campaign, is that we have the momentum and stepped on that plane victorious on our way to New Hampshire.

BERMAN: Do you feel as if you won the most first preference votes or the most state delegate equivalent?

[087:50:04]

BUTTIGIEG: So, again, we've shared the data that we have. And it looks good on all fronts. We're waiting for the official information to come in. But by any reckoning, we had an extraordinary night that is propelling us toward a win in New Hampshire.

And we can also tell by the profile of where our support was that we've been able to make good on this idea that the way to build a winning organization now is also what we need to do in order to beat Donald Trump, to bring as many people as possible into the process, to reach out to diehard Democrats, to reach out to independents, and to draw some disaffected Republicans over. And that will serve us very well I think here in New Hampshire and down the line.

BERMAN: The flipside of the questions I've been asking, if, in fact, you are the winner or a winner by some count, how frustrating is it or was it for you last night not to have that official (INAUDIBLE), that official stamp that says you won? BUTTIGIEG: Well, we wanted to be able to go out and speak to

supporters with everything fully released and counted. And it is frustrating to put it mildly that even as we speak now we don't have those counts.

Now, the good news is, there is a paper trail, a caucus unlike a secret ballot vote happens in the open. So when that official count comes out, it will be very clear that it's been verified.

But, how is it that we are here now in New Hampshire, the next day, still waiting for those numbers to come through.

BERMAN: You'll say it's very clear, it's been verified. It's interesting because I had Kate Bedingfield (ph), who's the deputy chair of the Biden campaign, on a little while ago and it did sound as if the Biden campaign was questioning the legitimacy of the count in Iowa now.

Do you have concerns about Iowa getting it right at this point?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, a caucus happens out in the open. Everybody can see it. Reporters are there. Neighbors are there. People know the exact count in every precinct of how many people stood for each candidate. Obviously, they seem to be having some problems that have not been explained to us in gathering and processing that data, but it's subject to outside in verification and, you know, each campaign will -- may have its account of what happened last night, but there is no question that, for us, it was an extraordinary evening.

BERMAN: What do you make of the fact that the Biden campaign is leaning into the idea of the legitimacy of the count?

BUTTIGIEG: I'll let the pundits speak to that.

BERMAN: How do you think you stand now in the so-called moderate lane of those running? And I know you say it's the pundits who create these lanes, but you've also made clear that you think there are some people running, and by that I mean Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who are running to the left of the party or where you think the party should be. So in terms of the people running where you think you should be, where are you standing?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think we have established ourselves as the campaign for those who seek to defeat Donald Trump and unite the country by inviting as many people as possible into this new American majority that we're building. Not just around what we're against and the need to have a better president than Donald Trump, but what we're for, a fair economy, a better life, dealing with climate change, but doing it in a way that doesn't reject anybody who doesn't agree with us 100 percent of the time. I think for anybody who is looking for that inclusive kind of campaigning, that is reaching out to independents and even disaffected Republicans, but not budging from our progressive values that motivate us, I think it's very clear from yesterday that we are that campaign.

BERMAN: Based on what happened last night with the process, why should or should not Iowa get to go first in the future?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think it does raise a lot of questions. But let me also say this, having finally come through that entire process where something like 25 candidates from the most famous names in American politics, to people like me who hadn't been heard of by most a year ago, had to compete. I'll tell you what I learned is that campaigning is at its best when you have to look people in the eye, when they are kicking the tires on your ideas and your claims in person, when you're in the backyards, you're in the diners, you're in the living rooms, because it takes it off of the air waves and it's not something that can be bought, it's not something, just based on the image you can create, everything about you, good, bad or indifferent. Voters have a way of finding. And, in particular, in Iowa, here in New Hampshire, as well as Nevada and South Carolina, I've come more than ever to admire what happens in these early states as the process gets broken down as -- and as we candidates are forced to answer for what we have to say.

BERMAN: Shrewd to praise the early states when you were, in fact, campaigning in the early states.

BUTTIGIEG: Well, we're looking forward to campaigning here in New Hampshire, which is also a state that doesn't like to be told what to do, think for themselves. There's a strong independent streak here. We think that will serve us well too.

BERMAN: What changes for you in the campaign as of today?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think that even as we wait for the party's results, we have settled the question of whether this campaign can organize and mobilize voters of every background on the biggest scale ever (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: We haven't seen many -- we haven't seen many minority voters certainly, not in Iowa or New Hampshire yet, correct?

[08:55:04]

BUTTIGIEG: Well, of course, as we go into different states, there will be different demographics. But what we have demonstrated is that this is the campaign capable of pulling together people across the ideological spectrum, different kinds of regions, again, urban, rural and suburban and drawing people into the campaign that is going to go on to defeat Donald Trump. So many of the questions of whether we should even be here were answered permanently last night.

BERMAN: All right, the former mayor of South Bend, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, thanks for being with us. We know everything except anything. Any official results from Iowa. I appreciate you being with us again this morning.

BUTTIGIEG: Good to be with you.

BERMAN: So, we are waiting to hear from Iowa. The Democratic Party told us they would be out with a statement shortly. Whether it's going to be complete or conclusive, Alisyn, I have to say, we just don't know. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That seems to be a theme this morning. So

we will stand by for that breaking news.

BERMAN: CNN's coverage continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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