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Interview With Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI); President Trump Set to Deliver State of the Union Address; Chaos in Iowa. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired February 4, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:01]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good afternoon. I'm Anderson Cooper here in Washington.

The chaos in Iowa continues. Results from the first nominating contest of the 2016 presidential election are still two hours away, we're told.

We're also in New Hampshire, where the candidates are pressing on without knowing exactly how they fared on the first night.

And, here, we're putting the pieces together, as we wait for the first results. To put it bluntly, the Iowa caucuses are a debacle. A technical glitch with the app they were using to report the votes meant no results last night or this morning.

The glitch and the delay causing some to question the validity the results even before they start trickling out. Democrats are now focused on that failure, while President Trump prepares to address the nation in what could be his final State of the Union address.

CNN is covering all angles.

Our Jeff Zeleny has been camped out in Des Moines as this debacle has dragged on.

So, Jeff, how did we get here and how close is -- are the Democrats to getting out?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, that is a great question that no one here has an answer to.

As you said, there are going to be the first wave of results from last night's Iowa caucuses released around 5:00 Eastern time today, 4:00 here in Iowa. We're told it's going to be a majority. But is that 50 plus-one? Or is that 75 percent? We simply don't know.

And we also don't know exactly where they're coming from. You can probably assume that they're coming from more urban areas, or areas that are in Central Iowa or closer here, because they physically, in many cases, are driving out to get some of the paper documents here. But it's not going to necessarily give us a whole picture. And the question here is when the actual results are going to come, like, when the outcome is going to be actually determined or projected. We will have to see what the results are that are -- or at least this afternoon.

But there's no question this has done undue damage certainly to the Iowa caucuses, but also potentially to the winner or winners of the Iowa caucus.

At this point, the Democrats had hoped to be focusing on the president. Of course, we're just hours away from his State of the Union address. In fact, they are talking about or the spotlight is shining on the dysfunction here.

So, even though all the candidates are in New Hampshire, the controversy is here, and it is going to be the outcome of the Iowa caucuses, whenever that is, that is still going to shape this race. So we're looking at Bernie Sanders. We're looking at a Amy Klobuchar potential surge. We're looking at Joe Biden, in fact, how he did last evening, Elizabeth Warren as well.

So, certainly, we will get a sense of that in a couple hours. But my guess is, Anderson, it's only going to be half of the picture.

COOPER: What I don't quite understand is, the announcement that they made that partial results are coming out at 5:00, and yet we don't really even know the details on that.

Why is nobody communicating properly? This is like when you're stuck on an airplane on the runway, and no one is willing to tell you exactly just what is going on. It just seems like a basic communication issue as well.

ZELENY: It certainly felt like that last evening. There was virtually zero communication from the Iowa Democratic Party that, of course, has been planning for this day really for four years. This is something, a rite of passage in American politics.

Well, the party blew it last night. And the reality here is, we don't know exactly -- we will be dissecting this for months to come. But the practical effect on it is, someone was a denied a big victory or several people were denied a big bounce out of this.

So I think the question we get once we see these ballots, if they're coming from a widespread area or not, then we will begin to see. But, again, we do not know when the actual final, all of the results will come in. It could be the end of the week. It could be tomorrow or the next day. We just simply don't know, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, thanks very much.

With the Iowa results still pending and unknown, the presidential candidates are putting their own spin on the situation. They're all showing confidence they did. Some are critical of the process, including Senator Elizabeth Warren. She's wondering why just the majority and not all the results from the caucuses will be released a short time from now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think they ought to get it together and release all of the data.

(CROSSTALK)

WARREN: Well, they should get all the data. I'm not disappointed.

We came out of Iowa knowing it is a tight three-way race at the top and that the three of us, Buttigieg, and Bernie and I, will divide up most of the delegates.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am disappointed. I suspect I could speak for all the candidates, all of their supporters and the people of Iowa, that the Iowa Democratic Party has not been able to come up with timely election results.

I can't understand why that happens. But it has happened.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had a good night last night in Iowa. And I know you think that's silly, but everything we can feel is good. Here's the deal. We think we're going to come out of there really doing well.

But we're -- be careful what you say, because it's not done yet.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, the hope that propelled me into this campaign is vindicated every day. It was vindicated in a big way last night, when we had a chance to quiet those questions of whether we belong in this effort in the first place.

[15:05:03]

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm someone that thrives in chaos. You want a steady hand in chaos, right? We are still awaiting the results from Iowa.

But I can tell you that we feel very good about where we are. And we won so many precincts and delegates that I don't think people gave us a chance to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: CNN's Jessica Dean is in Manchester, New Hampshire, for us with more of the candidates' reactions -- Jessica.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, you heard it right there.

In the absence of actual numbers from last night, what do you get? A whole lot of spin. And that's what we have heard from all of the different campaigns today.

You heard from the candidates themselves there.

Let's start with Bernie Sanders. He's landing here in New Hampshire in just a short time. He expressed his disappointment that they weren't able to get the numbers last night, but feeling very good. He has -- that message from that campaign has been incredibly positive today in terms of their positioning coming out of Iowa.

Same goes Pete Buttigieg and his campaign. He was making the rounds on morning TV all day. He's been on the ground in New Hampshire since this morning, claiming victory, saying that they really did -- that it was an extraordinary night.

So that's all been very positive coming from those two candidates. And you have Elizabeth Warren, who -- also saying that she was disappointed that they aren't able to get all of the results at one time, which is what we're hearing from a lot of people, is, why just this 50 percent?

But she also -- interesting, she said it was a top three race, that they were bunched up there in the top three, her, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. What we have been hearing from the Biden campaign is that it's all bunched up in the top four, and that the delegates will, of course, be split among them and that they feel really good about their positioning.

You heard Joe Biden there. He was on the ground here this morning, had an event already, will have a second one this evening. Their campaign, though, the Biden campaign, is the one campaign that's put out a letter requesting to see the results and to respond to them before they're made public. So it remains to be seen how that goes.

But they said that there were acute failures in what happened last night. And then, of course, Amy Klobuchar, who's really, from last night into this morning, trying to seize this moment, Anderson, she was the first candidate to go on stage. That meant that she got to give her speech on television with a lot of eyeballs on it.

And then she landed here early this morning, came out, did interviews, again, what you heard from her, things going very well, and that they're very pleased with where they are.

So, Anderson, we await to get that data to actually see what the numbers have to say.

COOPER: Yes, Jessica, thanks.

Amy Klobuchar smart to get out in front last night.

I'm joined now by CNN political analyst David Gregory.

David, did you -- certainly didn't -- I think none of us expected to be here at this stage.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. COOPER: What do you make of how they have handled this thus far?

GREGORY: What a mess. I mean, I'd be really angry if I were the candidates. And they are.

COOPER: The amount of time and money that they have invested, that the people in Iowa have invested, I mean, is --

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: Right.

And to have this -- to still not have a result is terrible. It's bad for the Democratic Party. It allows the president, who's going to command the attention of tens of millions of people tonight, to fire a shot at Democrats, saying that they can't manage their own caucus or even their election contest.

But this will be forgotten. We will have results. But I'm with you. I really do think it's like the communication on an airplane. And I agree with Senator Warren. Why only release partial results?

What you want out of Iowa as a candidate is a story to tell. It's not about the delegates. It's a small percentage. It's about the story to tell about your campaign. People have actually started to cast a vote. And then it's a winnowing process as you go into New Hampshire.

If they don't have that by the end of today, then you start to run the risk of what candidates have run into in the past. Bernie Sanders ran into this four years ago, where he thought he might have actually been closer than he was when they got out of Iowa, and Rick Santorum dealt with that as well back in 2012.

COOPER: It allows candidates who -- Vice President Biden is painting this as, you know, he's in the top four, that they did -- they believe they did well.

GREGORY: Right.

COOPER: It allows candidates who didn't do so well to paint themselves as having done better than they thought.

And by the time results are out, people will have kind of moved on. it kind of lessens the blow on that. And it hurts -- I mean, this was supposed to be a major fund -- a lot of candidates can fund-raise off winning in Iowa or getting the top two in Iowa.

It prevents them from doing that.

GREGORY: That's -- there's two big things. It's what we say. It's the media coverage, writ large, for these candidates. And it's the ability to fund-raise.

So you don't have that narrative to tell that morning after going into New Hampshire. It's not a lot of time. You have a few days on the ground. You have some debates. But all of what the candidates are saying today doesn't matter. They might as well just be on a debate stage. It's all speculation.

They don't know what the results are. Elizabeth Warren's basically trying to say that Joe Biden was the big loser here because it's the top three, as we always knew it would be.

What I suspect will be the case, unless we're surprised, is that you're still going to have this split between progressives in the Democratic Party and the more moderate wing. And they're going to continue to fight going into New Hampshire.

[15:10:08]

And there's a big piece of distraction today that we're talking about, which is the Democratic Party and that Iowa Democrats didn't handle this well, but there will be a result. But I think it may be until the New Hampshire primary when we really start in earnest.

COOPER: Last night, when we were on the air late, Rick Santorum, who won Iowa, although it was a delayed win, the delay that it was announced -- originally, it was said Romney had won.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: He actually spoke up for Iowa, saying, Iowa allows a candidate who doesn't have much money, who doesn't get a lot of attention to potentially be propelled into the top ranks.

President Obama is an example of somebody who did well in Iowa. And that elevated him.

Do you think the Iowa caucuses survive as the first in the nation?

GREGORY: It's hard to see after today, in this social media era, to see that -- there's a thin line between watching democracy in action and then seeing something that seems like amateur hour.

And, today, it seems like amateur hour. But I think there's no question that the benefit of Iowa, New Hampshire, for all of the complaints, to be able to see candidates up close and personal.

I went to pizza barns in Iowa with Senator Santorum, and I saw the effect that it had on then Senator Obama. I flew with him from Iowa after he won to New Hampshire and did an interview with him. The momentum and what it meant to him as a candidate and his campaign understood, as the first African American candidate to win in a largely white state, was so important to him.

So, Iowa still has its place, but I think it's under tremendous strain today. But I think we should emphasize, for all of the criticism, for all of the scrutiny, which is deserved, there will be a winner. And there will still be probably three tickets punched out of Iowa, as messy as this is.

I just don't know what the ultimate effect is going to be, when you have another debate and then a contest in New Hampshire.

COOPER: So sad at this -- at 3:11 in the afternoon the day after the Iowa caucuses, the best we can say is, there will be a winner.

(LAUGHTER)

GREGORY: One day.

COOPER: It's like Colonel Kilgore in "Apocalypse Now" saying, someday, this war is going to end.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: And that's it.

The results, or at least some of them, should be arriving shortly. And that does not appear to be bringing any comfort to the campaigns. We will discuss with Senator Amy Klobuchar's campaign manager.

Plus, President Trump and his reelection campaign apparently basking in the fiasco -- what the president is saying about this ahead of tonight's State of the Union address.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:16:49]

COOPER: Someone that thrives in chaos -- that is Senator Amy Klobuchar's pitch to voters, describing herself as a steady hand amid the confusion and uncertainty sparked by the Iowa caucuses.

Klobuchar is now on the ground in New Hampshire, ahead of that state's primary, which is later this month.

Justin Buoen is the campaign manager for Senator Klobuchar.

Justin, welcome. Thanks so much for being with us.

In less than two hours, the Iowa Democratic Party is planning to release what they say is a majority of the results. No one really knows exactly what that means, or at least we don't.

I want to ask you, is a majority of the results good enough at this point?

JUSTIN BUOEN, KLOBUCHAR CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, thanks for having me, Anderson.

Yes, I guess it remains to be seen what that means, whether that means 51 percent, or that means 99 percent of the vote. What I think is important, though, as the only campaign that went to all 99 counties, campaigned across the state of Iowa, is that the results are representative of what actually happened out there and representative of every corner of the state.

I mean, Amy had a great night last night in the biggest precincts in Des Moines, as well as college towns and Ames, and particularly well in the suburbs and the rural areas. And so what I think is important is, they're going to release some

results here, like they have said, at 4:00 Central, that it's representative of the whole state. And I think it's important that it's a true snapshot of actually what happened on caucus night.

COOPER: Would you rather they wait to release all of the results?

BUOEN: I mean, at this point, I think it's important to get results out, yes, of course, and make sure that they're verified.

But we're 24 hours almost past when the caucuses started. I would rather have them get all the results tabulated and put out in one grouping, so that we could actually see truly who won the caucus, instead of relying on precincts that are closest to the IDP here in Des Moines, which I fear may be the people that get the results back first.

COOPER: Can you describe what the call that you and the other campaigns had with Iowa officials today was like?

BUOEN: Well, we have had -- I think we have had two last night after midnight, one this morning.

And Troy, the party chair, Troy Price, said that they're doing the best they can. They told us that they had a problem with the app inputting the data. They have made a commitment to verifying all of it with the paper ballots that they have, which is incredibly important, is something that Amy's -- legislation that Amy's carried across the country to have mandatory paper ballots.

And so I think that that's good. But, at this point, focus for us is, after a great night anecdotally, from what the media has reported, to what our precinct captains have told us, we had a tremendous night. In places that I wasn't sure we were going to be viable, we ended up winning.

COOPER: Do you have any faith in the Iowa Democratic Party about the results that they will put forward? I mean, why should people who are watching believe in the integrity of the results?

BUOEN: I have got faith that, eventually, they're going to get this right and that they are doing their due diligence, there are our paper ballots.

I mean, it was disappointing we didn't have numbers last night, but I do have faith that they're going to get it right.

[15:20:00]

COOPER: One of your rivals -- Senator Klobuchar very wisely was able to be the first person out last night, giving a talk which was carried on -- carried everywhere.

One of, obviously, her rivals, Mayor Buttigieg, essentially declared victory last night, despite actually knowing the results.

How does your campaign feel about that?

BUOEN: Well, I mean, I will let -- they can declare whatever they want.

I don't know how they quite figured that out without knowing the actual results. I do know that it was a great night for us. We look forward to seeing the final -- the final tallies when they come in from the IDP.

But, also, I'm excited to have Amy in New Hampshire. She's already there campaigning. We had a great poll overnight, Emerson, that has us basically in second place now, surging, in New Hampshire.

And, look, we did all of this, had this great night in Iowa last night with Amy mostly in Washington, D.C., at the impeachment trials and with a much smaller campaign staff and tens of millions of dollars less on TV compared to some of the other campaigns.

And so I feel great about what we were able to accomplish and really look forward to the results in New Hampshire.

COOPER: Does it hurt fund-raising for you?

I mean, obviously, last night is a big opportunity. If she had done well, and it was announced, that would be a fund-raising opportunity.

BUOEN: I think, for everybody, it wasn't ideal as far as online fund- raising, of course. And so I would have loved to have had the results and shown it last night, but we're going to get them eventually.

And we will be able to talk about them then. And we have got a CNN town hall coming up and the debate. And Amy does well -- will do well on both of those. And we always see a spike in fund-raising around those appearances.

And then we're going to have New Hampshire, the primary there. And I think we're going to have a strong showing as well there.

COOPER: Justin Buoen, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

We're just hours away from President Trump's State of the Union address.

Republicans urging the president to stay away from mentioning his impeachment. The question is, will he actually do that? What we're learning about his speech next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:27:02]

COOPER: After blasting the impeachment process for months, and ahead of tomorrow's expected acquittal in the Senate, we are told Republicans are urging President Trump to keep talk of the impeachment out of tonight's State of the Union address. Instead, the White House says Trump speech will be forward-looking and

optimistic, this as a new Gallup poll shows Trump's highest approval rating since being in office; 49 percent of Americans approve of the job the president is doing, while 50 percent disapprove.

Our Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.

So, in the past, the president has used the State of the Union to target political enemies. What do we expect tonight?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they say, right now, the word impeachment is not in the text of the president's speech, though whether or not that changes or whether or not he just alludes to the impeachment trial is still a big question.

And aides won't go as far as to say he's definitely not going to bring it up, because, of course, Anderson, they don't want to be undermined by a president who often ad-libs.

Now, instead, Republicans and even White House aides have been urging him, don't bring it up, don't focus on it. It's essentially better for you if you don't, and you focus on the economy, immigration, national security.

But, of course, Anderson, even if the president doesn't mention it, it is still going to be the backdrop of that State of the Union address tonight, because the president is going to be walking into the House chamber for the first time since he's been impeached, and, of course, before that acquittal, a vote that the White House wanted to have in by today at the latest, so he could essentially take what amounts to a victory lap tonight.

But, also, it's the first time he's crossed paths with House Speaker Pelosi in months. They have not spoken since October. So, everyone is going to be watching to see how the two of them interact.

And, of course, even if they don't, she will be seated over his left shoulder as he gives that address tonight.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, it's going to be interesting. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Joining us is Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.

Senator, thanks for being with us.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): Good to be here.

COOPER: Do you anticipate the president bringing up impeachment?

HIRONO: Do I anticipate that?

I am sure his aides are telling him not to, but you never know, with the president, what he's going to say.

It's almost as though he can hardly not go there. So, we shall see. COOPER: Obviously, the -- all the signs point to the president being

acquitted tomorrow.

We still don't know whether some Democrats will join Republicans in clearing him.

Your colleague Senator Joe Manchin, for instance, says he's undecided. He's suggested censuring the president instead. Would you support Manchin's resolution to censure the president?

HIRONO: I say any censure motion should come from the Republicans, because they're the ones that are going to basically let the president get away with it.

So, a censure motion will have to be put on the floor by Mitch McConnell, and I kind of doubt that the person who wants to totally exonerate the president wants to have a censure motion on the floor of the Senate anytime soon.

But, if it does come to the Senate -- and I wish -- I hope that it would come from the Republicans, who are saying, some of them, that the House managers have proved their case, that it will come from the Republicans.

If it does come to the floor, I'm prepared to vote for it. But, first and foremost, we have to vote on whether or not to convict the president of impeachable acts.

COOPER: We mentioned the new poll showing that the president's approval has hit a new high, despite the impeachment effort.

How do you explain that?

HIRONO: I think it has -- it must have something