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Iowa Democratic Party Chair Apologizes For Chaos; Buttigieg Has Narrow Iowa Lead with 62 Percent Reporting. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 4, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When was the app submitted for review (INAUDIBLE) would have been into your party. Why was the app never tested statewide? And why did the Iowa Democratic Party denied Department Homeland Security's offer to test them out?

TROY PRICE, IOWA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR: We have one, I have no knowledge of the Department of Homeland Security making that offer to us. I will say that we have worked with cybersecurity experts, nationally renowned cybersecurity experts to test this app and to do testing and security checks on this app. So we have -- we took the steps we felt was necessary, but we found a coding error last night once we discovered some irregularities as the results started to come in.

Yes?

(CROSSTALK)

PRICE: What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are the coding discrepancies during the third party testing?

PRICE: No, there weren't. And that's why -- and that is why what happened last night is simply unacceptable. And so again, we're going to have a thorough and independent review of exactly what happened last night. We still -- right now, we're in the process of making sure that we get these results out. And that's what we're going to stay focused on.

Yes?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump has suggested that this whole process is rigged. How do you combat that? How do you assure Americans that this is trustworthy, this data?

PRICE: We have said all along, that we are going to make these caucuses the most transparent possible. This year we're reporting out more data than we have ever reported before. And in addition to that, we have paper trails that we have never had before. And so we're going to take the time we need to verify these results, but these results are being based off of what happened in the precincts last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you feeling the pressure to step aside?

PRICE: When I ran for chair I made a commitment to see the caucus process through. That is what I am working on. That is what I will continue to work on, and whatever happens that, it is to be determined.

Anyway, thank you all, folks, the results are coming in, we will see you later.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. So that's it. That's Troy Price.

Let's see if they make the announcement right now, he says 62 percent of the precincts have reported. And they believe that these are accurate and responsible. Thirty-eight percent that are still missing right now. And he did not answer repeated questions from our own Jeff Zeleny of when, when, the remaining 38 percent of the precincts will have the results in order. This is obviously a huge problem, 2/3 of the precincts reporting, but 1/3 still at large, still unknown. It's a serious problem right now.

We're getting new information even as we hear. You see what's going on over there at the media center in Des Moines. Reporters, photographers, they're getting ready.

All right, I think that we have a key race alert right now.

All right, first of all it says 95 percent, it's not 95 percent. It's 62 percent, that's a mistake right there. But take a look with 62 percent of the precincts reporting, you can see that you are going to the left part of the screen, Buttigieg is 26.9 percent, Sanders with 25.1 percent, Warren 18.3 percent, Biden is 15.1 percent, Klobuchar at 12.6 percent, Yang 1.1 percent, Steyer 0.3 percent.

Now it's corrected. You can see 62 percent of the precincts reporting there. By the way, you can see Bloomberg is zero percent and Tulsi Gabbard at zero percent as well.

Let me repeat right now, these are the results with 62 percent of the precincts reporting. These are the state delegates, the all important state delegates which will determine the winner of the Iowa caucuses. Once again, Pete Buttigieg with 26.9 percent of the state delegates, Bernie Sanders 25.1 percent, Elizabeth Warren 18.3 percent, Joe Biden right now over there in fourth place, 15.6 percent, Klobuchar is 12.6 percent, Yang 1.1 percent, Steyer is 0.3 percent, and Bloomberg and Gabbard zero percent. Bloomberg was never campaigning in Iowa to begin.

All right, so let's take a look for the top seven, the popular vote that we have these numbers just released right now. Once again 62 percent of the precincts reporting. In the popular vote, Bernie Sanders is ahead by 1,190. He's got 28,220 over Pete Buttigieg 27,030 who's in second place in the popular vote. Elizabeth Warren in third place 22,254, Joe Biden in fourth place, 14, 176, Amy Klobuchar at fifth place 13,357, Andrew Yang, you can see him over there, 1,124, Tom Steyer 222. That's the popular vote that we're getting right now. Officially released -- these are the official results from the Iowa Democratic Party.

[17:05:09]

But remember the popular vote is interesting, but it's the state delegates who are will determine the winner of the Iowa caucuses. And you can see with 62 percent of the precincts reporting, among the state delegates, Pete Buttigieg is in the lead right now with 26.9 percent. And Bernie Sanders is in second place with 25.1 percent. Eighteen point three percent for Elizabeth Warren. And Joe Biden in fourth with 15.6 percent.

But, remember, 38 percent of the precincts remain at large. We don't have those results yet. And the party chairman Troy Price did not tell us when we would get the remaining precincts.

Let's walk over to David Chalian. Let me go over this way to David Chalian. He was over there but now he's over here.

All right, let's do a little analysis right now. We have a difference of the state delegates, who's number one? And the popular vote, who is number one? So your mission, explain.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I'm going to do my best.

Let's start with just the state delegates that you see right here, Wolf. As you noted, Pete Buttigieg is on top with 26.9 percent of those state delegate equivalents. He is followed by Bernie Sanders at 25.1. They're kind of in the tier by themselves.

This is the metric that matters. This is what we will end up projecting a winner of the Iowa caucuses. This determines who wins the Iowa caucuses. Think about it like the electoral college, if you will, in the general election, but there is also the popular vote total today.

We've never had this information before. The Iowa Democratic Party is now putting out the popular vote total. And look at the different order here. Bernie Sanders is atop at 28,220 votes. He's 1,990 votes ahead of Pete Buttigieg. So you see a different order in the popular vote.

This is precisely what Bernie Sanders and his allies were envisioning when they wooed the Democratic Party to change their rules in the way that the Iowa Democratic caucuses are conducted. They wanted this popular vote total reported, because they understood they could run up the score, let's say with the young people in college towns. But the way that the caucuses work, Wolf, is that if you have support everywhere across the state, you can collect more delegates, and that's the important metric for who wins.

Now, it's only 62 percent reporting. It's not Bernie Sanders can't win the delegate count too tonight, he can. There were other could come up as more vote comes in. But right now, because of the way the caucuses are run, you could turn out a lot of people in some areas but you get capped on how many delegates are available there.

So Pete Buttigieg, the all important metric, just take a look again, over here, 26.9 percent of the delegates. He is in the lead, Wolf.

BLITZER: But as you point out with 38 percent of the precincts still not reporting this could change. There's still plenty of opportunity for these candidates to reorder one, two, three and four.

John King, you are looking at these numbers as closely as anyone.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Right. And critically important the point you just made, this is 62 percent. These colors could change. But if you look at the colors right now, this is what we hope to tell you last night, just take you through it, this lighter green, it's Pete Buttigieg.

Let's take a look at the counties right now currently led by Pete Buttigieg. The gray is not there, the white is tie. The white is tie. And all this green, look at the depth and breadth of the organization of the former mayor Buttigieg. He said he was going to run everywhere in Iowa, we're not done yet, it's only 62 percent, but this is proof that the Buttigieg campaign did what it said. Organize and turn out the voters everywhere. We'll see how it goes. Those are the counties where he is leading.

Let's take a look at Bernie Sanders, strength here in the east where he was so success in 2016, but I want to show you some of the margins in a minute when we get closer to it. Just want to go through the colors.

This dark green is Amy Klobuchar who is down here about 12.6 percent right now challenging former vice president Joe Biden. This 15.6 is a disappointment for Biden at 15.6 currently running fourth. Again, we're at 62 percent. We will see what happens.

As you go through and just look, he is the former vice president of the United States at the moment, it's the half dozen counties where Joe Biden is getting the bulk of the delegates, see where he's leading in the delegate chase.

Elizabeth Warren, not a county. An organization that's wide, she's getting 18 percent of the delegates. So she's coming in second and third in a lot of these places here, but not winning it out.

Let's just take a close --

BLITZER: Klobuchar?

KING: Yes. The Klobuchar is interesting. We told you last night, look along the Minnesota border, she did well there. But look down here, look down here, she also did well in other pockets of the state. Over here in the eastern part of the state, bring it out a little bit, 25 percent in Delaware county as it counts (ph). So, if we had been reporting this last night, we would be having a different conversation. Let's just come back to the statewide map as this comes in. It's just -- the depth of this number one, the Buttigieg organization, the strength of the Buttigieg turnout organization, precinct by precinct throughout this counties obviously impressive. The votes are going to keep coming, so I move this down in case it changes while we're here. We're not sure how quickly they're going to give us more. We don't expect it right away. But if the colors start changing, that's what it is, more data coming in.

[17:10:02]

Just another thing to look at, this was the strength. If you go back to two person race, so it's different. But Bernie Sanders' strength was here in 2016. So one of the things we wanted to look at in 2020 where do you round (ph) it up in the east where the progressives are, he did pretty well.

But look at some of the margins here, Sanders, Buttigieg, Warren, so a split there. Sanders is not getting the big margin like he did against Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: In Linn County.

KING: In Linn County we see the rampages four years ago. You come over here, even here in Johnson County, one of the most progressive counties in the state, almost in even split between the two progressives, Mayor Buttigieg and Senator Klobuchar coming in behind there. So, where he stretched it out against Hillary Clinton four years ago in a more crowded race with the competition from Senator Warren one of the factors there.

And if you come over here, let's see if this holds up, Scott County, this was Bernie Sanders' territory four years ago, and Mayor Buttigieg getting 26 percent -- 26.2 of the delegates there at the moment as we continue to count the vote.

So, what do we have here? Obviously, a competitive race, Mayor Buttigieg on top, he waited, he was last last night to come out and declare a victory. We'll see if this holds, we still have almost 38 percent of the vote to come in, 38 percent of the vote to come in.

But if this spread, and again, one of the reasons that the Biden campaign wants you the move on, this about New Hampshire, is that it's a bad number for the former vice president as we wait to see this come in.

BLITZER: I want you to explain the colors once again if we look at the state of Iowa. The white is still undecided, right?

KING: White is a tie.

BLITZER: This counties, yes.

KING: If you are going into the counties here, the Keokuk County here, you see it's a dead heat, 26.7, and 26.7.

BLITZER: Those are ties.

KING: So anything you see in white, thank you for asking me that question. Anything you see in white, might look a little gray to you at home, is a tie. The lighter green is Mayor Buttigieg, the dark green is Senator Klobuchar, and you see the different shades of blue, the lighter blue, Bernie Sanders, is the one you see the most of on the map here. Again, Senator Warren at the moment not leading in any of the counties, but she's still getting 18.3 percent of the delegates and we'll see if that changes as we go through. And this has to be viewed as a disappointment in the Biden campaign.

None of the big areas, where you have more people, more delegates at stake obviously, some leads out there. And again, we're going to watch the rest of this fill in. That was my fault for touching that county. I'm sorry. I bring you the map back out here as you watch it fill in 62 percent of the vote, 41 delegates at stake. Right now Mayor Buttigieg with the bragging rights. We'll see what comes out --

BLITZER: He was declaring victory for all practical purposes in his speech last night, around midnight, Eastern Time. I wonder if -- regard this -- once again, 62 percent of the precincts reporting, 38 percent of the precincts still not reporting, but is this much of a surprise, John, that Pete Buttigieg with 62 percent of the precincts reporting is on top? These are the -- all important state delegates.

KING: I mean he would say no. Obviously that was the message he was trying to make last night. Everyone said that a small town mayor couldn't do this, I'm proving you wrong. Pete Buttigieg got much bigger bounce last night to be honest. If this holds up, we'll see how it plays out. Is the result still the results?

Is it a surprise? Sure. Bernie Sanders ran before, Elizabeth Warren had a realy strong summer, that's the former two-term vice president of the United States, so Mayor Buttigieg has pretty good bragging rights if this holds up that this is an impressive cast of candidates. Even if you move down further, Senator Klobuchar who's from a neighboring Minnesota, so, yes, this is impressive as you look through it.

I highlighted these counties, because these 31 counties you see highlighted on the map, and Buttigieg did very well, that's Klobuchar, but you see all the Buttigieg, these are the 31 pivot counties. Counties in Iowa of the 99 total, 31 counties voted twice for Barack Obama then flipped to Donald Trump.

It's a huge source of anger among the Iowa Democrats. They say we have to get these counties back if we're going to make Iowa competitive. Buttigieg said that where he was going to compete the hardest, because he wanted to prove to people he could bring places where Trump won back to Democratic Party.

BLITZER: So when he makes the point he is capable of beating President Trump in a general election, that would seem to suggest at least in this particular contests with 62 percent of the precincts reporting, he has a point. KING: It will help him. He's winning Democrats in these counties, there's no proof there that he can win Independents or Republicans. So we don't know. We have to look closely, more close with the turnout. David is going through the exit polls, but certainly he can say in these 31 counties, we just show you the ones that he won, you know, in the 31 counties where twice for Obama once for Trump, he said that's where he was going to focus. He wanted to prove a guy from the Midwest could compete and flip these pivot counties.

He certainly, you know, because he is winning them now, we'll see if it holds up. But if he wins them in the end, doesn't mean he would win them in November as the nominee, but it does mean certainly that he would end there to make -- to try to prove a point and he did.

BLITZER: There are 41 delegates at stake for the Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 41 at stake. If you get above 15 percent, you potentially could get a statewide. You get a delegate or congressional district, you could potentially could get them. It looks like there are least four or maybe five maybe candidates potentially could windup with some delegates?

KING: Right. We need to keep an eye on this, 12.6 percent.

So Amy Klobuchar not at the moment, she'll get -- she gets delegates to now to the state convention from here, but that's not enough right now to have her get the delegates. We'll have to see what happens as the process plays out. There's a second and the third step in the process here. But we have to see, a, when we get the rest of the vote in, can she come up some there. And certainly, you know, these candidates are going to get delegates.

[17:15:04]

The question is, Iowa is normally about momentum, it's a tiny percentage of the delegates you need when you get to Milwaukee to win the nomination. If you have a long protracted run out race in every delegate counts, we'll go back to the first night, we'll go back to the second night. Right now this was supposed to be about momentum, that's the big question.

BLITZER: Yes.

KING: We're reporting the results a day later. Does -- do you get a bounce? Do you get hurt? Or do people say we've already moved on the New Hampshire?

BLITZER: Show us where some of the counties that are still outstanding, remember, 38 percent of the precincts have not yet reported. And I'm curious, and you can show this to our viewers, where some of those counties are?

KING: Well, obviously, have the states. I'm going to turn this off. I will just want to say something as I do this.

We're getting this information in from the state. So I'll go through some of this for you. I'm going to be perfectly hones with you. I wouldn't bet the ranch on it.

BLITZER: Yes.

KING: So I'm actually reluctant to do this in some degree. I just want to show you what we get for a number here. This just says it's a hundred percent reporting in Webster County. I'm going to say this right now, I actually don't want to keep going through these counties, I don't know that I trust this information because we've such -- we don't know what they gave us from the state party, so until I know more about that I'm actually very reluctant to go through counties and say, you know, we have 60 percent from this county or 80 percent from that county only to find out later that that's not the case. You had that original glitch --

BLITZER: Right, I remember.

KING: -- where we saw 92 and went to 62. I think given what we've been through in the last 24 hours, let's get a little bit more information before we go through some of that.

BLITZER: Let's wait right now. This is going to be a disappointment for the former vice president of the United States?

KING: Yes, there's two ways to look at this. Iowa was never Joe Biden country, right? But he's also still a two-term former vice president of the United States, right?

So, a mayor of a town, former mayor now of a town of 125,000 people is beating the former two-term vice president of the United States. Vice president to Barack Obama who launched his campaign for the presidency with a win in Iowa. This is not Joe Biden country. He says he'll be stronger in caucuses. He says he'll be much stronger when get to South Carolina and another electorates where it's diverse.

The question is, you know, if his big call, his calling card is electability. I am the guy who can beat Donald Trump. The national poll certainly show heading into this week. He was the most competitive Democrat against Donald Trump in the national polls.

BLITZER: But look at this, you know John, only six counties are in the dark blue.

KING: Right. Only six in the dark blue. You could say it's OK. Any time you want to touch, come on in. And Senator Klobuchar winning just as many counties if not one or two more there. And so certainly you can make the case. This is the challenge, especially because we're not exactly sure how people are going to process it, the results coming in late.

But if Joe Biden's calling card is that I'm the Democrat who can beat Donald Trump, what you have is Mayor Buttigieg and Senator Sanders, Elizabeth Warren saying, if you can't beat us, how can you beat Donald Trump?

Again, it's one contest. It's a caucus, it's quirky. But, Democratic voters, we do know, they priority number one is beat Donald Trump. Well, if priority number one would beat Donald Trump, Mayor Buttigieg, Senator Sanders and Elizabeth Warren convinced more Iowans yesterday that they were stronger.

The question is, can Joe Biden put this behind him as we move on to primaries, higher turn out in places like New Hampshire and then into South Carolina and beyond. This is the big test for Biden. Does that hurt his fund-raising? He was struggling when it came to fund-raising. Or can he say, it's a caucus state, it's one state. I can move on and get to New Hampshire and do better.

But, if you are look at the straight, and again we're not finished, we're still waiting, we have 62 percent, but if you look at the depth and the breadth of what Buttigieg did, a centrist candidate who says I am the better moderate, younger fresh face from the Midwest as supposed to what Joe Biden did who says, no, I'm the moderate, the former vice president who can go back and win. If you're looking at this map, or this map, for bragging rights at the moment, this guy wins, Wolf.

BLITZER: He certainly does. All right, remember 62 percent of the precincts reporting, 38 percent of the precincts still not reporting in Iowa.

David Chalian, we've been talking about the state delegates. But let's talk about the popular vote. And there were two popular votes, the first round and the final round.

CHALIAN: So you remember that's how they caucus. They go into that room, we saw this all last night. They go into a corner, they express their initial preference. That's the first round. That's this round here.

That's the first round of voting popular vote. OK? Then some candidates are deemed not viable, they didn't hit the 15 percent threshold in most of these caucus. There is a next final round of --

BLITZER: They can go to another second choice?

CHALIAN: Yes, so they have a chance to go to their second choice. Other campaigns that are viable have a chance to woo some supporters of candidates who were not viable into their corner. That's the second round of voting.

Just know, if you look at the first round in the popular vote, Bernie Sanders is on top. Remember, only 62 percent reporting this is still coming in, so this will change, but he is on top, 27,088 votes there. Let me just isolate that Bernie Sanders' vote for you in the first round. In the final round, he increase, he's got to 28, 28,220.

This last column, Wolf, is the difference there. He gained 1,132 votes between that first and the final round of voting. That's a pretty good gain, but guess what, it's not the biggest gain that you see on that chart.

[17:20:07] Take a look at Pete Buttigieg. He got 23,666 votes in the first initial preference round, OK? In the second round he got 27,030 votes. Look at his differential, 3,364. At the moment, Pete Buttigieg is the biggest gainer, because of the process of the realignment process, whether that is a strong organization he knew and his team knew in all of these caucus sites had to go and pull, let's say, Amy Klobuchar's supporters or Joe Biden's supporters or what have you.

BLITZER: Let's go to Warren and Biden.

CHALIAN: Sure. So, he is the biggest one to benefit from the two-round voting. Take a look at Elizabeth Warren. In the first round, 20,848 votes, in the final round of voting after the realignment, she had 22,254. Again, this is 62 percent reporting, these numbers will change as we get more vote. It won't always stay in this order. She gained 1,406 votes between that first round and that final round. Again, a sign of organization.

She actually gained more than Bernie Sanders did between the first round and the second round. Remember up here he gained 1,132. So, Elizabeth Warren did quite well in terms of being able to win over as a second choice, not as well as Pete Buttigieg. This is fascinating.

Former vice president Joe Biden, he actually lost votes between the two rounds. He started in his first round, let me try to reset that there, 16,179 votes. In the second final round he went down to 14,176. That means he lost 2,003 votes thus far with 62 percent reporting from first round to final round.

I wanted to remind you, Wolf, the new rules of this cycle is that if you are with a candidate who is viable, who hits that 15 percent threshold when you do that initial preference, you are locked in. You can't move. So the reason Joe Biden is losing some vote share is because he was not viable in a lot of the places. He didn't hit the 15 percent threshold in a lot of places apparently, because statewide with 62 percent in, he is at a net loss between those two rounds.

That, that is a real warning sign about what this night was for Joe Biden. And what perhaps they weren't as organized as they thought that they needed to be.

BLITZER: Show us Amy Klobuchar and the other candidates.

CHALIAN: So let me show you the other folks who also lost some vote share mainly because they weren't viable. We'll go this side of the board. But look at Amy Klobuchar here. OK? First round, 14,032, final round, 13,357. She only lost 675.

Again, compare that to the Joe Biden number down there. Joe Bide, the former vice president at this point with 62 percent in, lost 2,000 votes between that first round and final round, Amy Klobuchar, the senator from Minnesota, only lost, at this point, 675. We'll check in on these as the rest of the vote comes in to see.

The biggest -- the person who lost the most between the first two rounds is Andrew Yang, 5,760 with the initial preference round, the first round down to 1,124 he lost 4,636 vote. That again suggests to me there were lots of places across the state that Andrew Yang didn't hit that 15 percent viability threshold.

And guess what, his voters were up for grabs with Sanders, with Buttigieg, with Warren. All those folks with the green numbers over there, they gained from Andrew Yang's loss and Amy Klobuchar's loss and Joe Biden's loss in this process.

Let's take a look at Tom Steyer as well. He had 1,879 in the first round. In the final round he went down to 222. So he lost 1,657 votes between the first and the final round in the way that these caucuses work.

So, if you look at that red side of the ledger, the -- let's see here. Let me see if I can highlight just that side -- just that column. Six hundred seventy-five, 4,636 for Yang, 1,657, and then down here with Joe Biden, 2,003, these were the available votes for the second round. And who did the gaining, your three leaders right now at this moment in the evening, that would be Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Elizabeth Warren.

And just a reminder, Wolf, this is the popular vote I'm talking about, not the all important determinative metric the state delegate percentages.

BLITZER: Very important indeed. Let's get thoughts from Jake and Dana. What do you think?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Well, first of all, it's very interesting, because it is squares with a lot of what Dana and I saw when we were --

[17:25:02]

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

TAPPER: -- at Des Moines in 47 last night. This one precinct, and I don't want to give into the minutia too much, but the idea that Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren were more people's second choice in addition to being in the top three than Bernie Sanders squares what we are seeing on the 62 percent vote that we are seeing.

The idea that if you're with Elizabeth Klobuchar and she does not make the cut, you might go to Warren or you might go to Buttigieg, but you're not going to necessarily go to Bernie Sanders the same with Yang and same Biden. So that's one.

Two, again, these are not the final numbers, so we can't draw any grand conclusions yet, but the fact that Pete Buttigieg is performing so strongly, and we still don't know if he's going to win Iowa or not. It looks like it's close between him and Bernie Sanders at least right now. But the fact that he is having such a strong night is really a huge boost to his campaign.

And while, we don't know, but it seemed like he was a little premature when he seem to declare a victory last night, he is right in the fact that he had a great night. He had a great night. And he is going to be one of the three tickets out of Iowa and maybe even the first or second position.

And the other thing that I want to say and John King has been talking about this, too, which is we all knew that Iowa was not Biden country. It's too white and it's just not a lot of voters who are buying his message. But the fact that somebody who, this is his third presidential campaign, he was a popular vice president for a super popular among Democrats president, the fact that he is so experience, has been in politics longer than many of the voters have been alive, the fact that he had such a poor showing in Iowa is a bad sin for his campaign.

I understand that he has a firewall, that he thinks he can do well in South Carolina, that maybe ultimately he'll go to South Carolina and do well, and rack up on Super Tuesday and still be the nominee, still, the fact that his campaign is so weak in Iowa and potentially in New Hampshire is going to be difficult for him when it comes to fund- raising. It's going to be difficult for him when it comes to momentum which is a very important part of this presidential process.

BASH: And the Biden campaign has been preparing the public whether it's the chattering class or the voters down the road for this very moment for months and months and months. You know, we talked about last the expectations game is a game for a reason in politics, because they knew that the vice president was likely to do poorly specially in relation to these other candidates, many of whom Pete Buttigieg obviously first among them, never mind where he actually finishes at the end of the day is -- was a no-name guy from a very, very small city.

I mean, if you are taking a step back and think about the wow factor of that up against not just Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders who have name brand, but most importantly Joe Biden, it's even more abundantly clear why the vice president -- former vice president's campaign was doing that.

And I think we should also talk about Amy Klobuchar. I mean, look, she is, you know, right now again 62 percent reporting, just about three percentage points behind the former vice president. I mean, she was in single digits, you know, barely not that long ago, but she has worked hard.

It is a neighboring state. It is, you know, she talks about Minnesota nice, Iowa nice. She worked that -- this sort similarity between the two of the states really, really hard. And the fact that she is there means that she can go on to, you know, live another day in New Hampshire and perhaps beyond.

BLITZER: It looks, Jake, five tickets at least based on the 62 percent of the precincts reporting so far, assuming it stays similar to that, there might be five tickets out of Iowa?

TAPPER: That's a nice way of putting it. I mean, the way I would put it is that Amy Klobuchar can probably try another state or two but it's not. It's not great news for her campaign, it's better than she thought.

BLITZER: Right.

BASH: But it's their money, she's going to keep the money flowing a little bit longer with this.

TAPPER: Yes. It's OK. But -- and Biden's ticket is entirely just based on the fact that he has such strong support in South Carolina. That's to be honest.

Like if he didn't have that firewall there we would be talking about what he thinks is a firewall. We would be talking about when he is going to drop out of the race. I'm not saying that he should, because he has such strong support among the key demographic in the Democratic Party, African-American voters. The last Quinnipiac poll I saw on the national level, Pete Buttigieg was at zero percent with black voters and Joe Biden was at 49 percent with black voters.

Now, that could change. We saw that change with Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008. Obama, initially a lot of African-American voters were skeptical he could win the nomination and win the presidency and Hillary Clinton was out polling him long before it came down to South Carolina and wasn't until after he won Iowa that black voters actually started thinking, well, maybe Obama can do it.

[17:30:00]

So maybe there's room for growth with Pete Buttigieg and maybe there's room for subtraction with Joe Biden. I don't know, we'll see what happens. But Joe Biden's taken out of Iowa is entirely because he has South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states there, it has nothing do with Iowa. This is a very, very bad performance for him.

BLITZER: Yes, that's absolutely true. John King, you're continuing to look at what's going on, and once again, I want to stress 62 percent of the precincts in Iowa now reporting about 24 hours late, but 62 percent, and 38 percent of the precincts still at large.

KING: We all agree, better late than never. Right. So this is subject to change. But to follow-up on what David was talking about in terms of horse trading, first vote, final vote and what Jake and Dana was just going through from their experience in that one caucus side, and what we saw from our reporters around the country. So what are you looking at here?

I just want to go through some presentation that shows you the depth and the breadth of the organizations. Starting with Mayor Buttigieg who, right now, is winning and winning big. So let's take -- and let's just take this out and look and let's just go and look forth at the places where Pete Buttigieg is placing first. Sixty-three of the 99 counties in Iowa, Mayor Buttigieg at the moment is running ahead. So he's in first place. That means he has a broad organization across the state.

BLITZER: That's almost two-thirds. KING: Almost two-thirds. So then you got to go from there, right? So we just showed you where he is running first. These are the counties where he is running second. You see the candidate who's leadings color come up, but that means Buttigieg is running second. Now let's add in -- and sorry, I let that get away from me. Let me come back to this and coming in here. And we'll show you the counties where he is running third.

We bring that out here and just add in. We have first and second, now we're going to add third. Watch when this goes away, almost everywhere. Almost everywhere. Pete Buttigieg almost-- you see the white, those are ties. The gray is where it's not the case. But in anything else that's colored in, he's running either first, second or third, which is why in the places that he is not winning, he is still picking up delegates because he's getting second or third place in picking up some delegates.

Let's point this out. I just want to show you by contrast, let's use Vice President Biden. In this first, let's start with the counties where he's running first. A half dozen of those, right? You see those? So then you figure out, OK, well what about second? So we bring that in here.

He's running second in some, and he's running third in others, but look at the gray. Look at all the gray. He's the former Vice President of the United States to Jake's point and David's point about in places where Biden was not viable, had people show up but they didn't make 15 percent.

So they went off and supported some other candidate. They stay on committed. That's a lot of the state of Iowa if you go through that gray where a former two-term Vice President of the United States, a third-time presidential candidate was simply not competitive. And that's why the numbers are what the numbers are.

Just something else to show you as we come back out here, let me just do one more of those issue. Look, because if you look at Elizabeth Warren, you see where she is right now, at the moment, 62 percent not one, and not one of the 99 counties is Elizabeth Warren leading. So how is she getting 18 percent of the delegates? And again, it's the strength of the organization across that.

If you bring this out and you add in where she is running second and where she is running third, you see other candidates' colors. They're leading in those counties, but Elizabeth Warren fills in the map much more broadly when you asked where is she running second and where is she running third, that's why she's picking up the delegates unlike Vice President Biden.

BLITZER: What about Klobuchar?

KING: Klobuchar is interesting as well. When we come down and take a look at here, so let's blank this out first and then bring it back out here, and you say where is she running first? About a half dozen counties there. Again, we're still counting as it goes in. So how did she get more? We kind of bring this back out and see it. So I -- you wanted to get it out of the way and you come down here for Klobuchar at second and third.

Again, a lot of holes, but also impressive for candidate who didn't have as much resources stuck in Washington for a lot of the impeachment trial filled it up there. So that's impressive in places where candidates are leading at the moment. She's running competitively. Some of that is because maybe she had people show up, Biden had people show up. In the end, they merged together and they're viable. That's the math David was through. The Vice President losing votes.

There's one more thing I wanted to show you, Wolf. As we look at this, one of the questions is number one, again, that's 63 counties that Mayor Buttigieg, the lighter green, is leading at right now. That's impressive. One of the things that's impressive about it, if you go back to four years ago, I just want to circle a few places and have you look. One of the arguments he wants to make is that he can reach out to the liberal base of the party but also reach out to the middle of the party.

All right, so let's take this off and go back in time. Oops, we want to go to 2016. So Bernie Sanders, one down here in Scott County in 2016. Narrowly, but he won. Bernie Sanders then, Pete Buttigieg now. Again narrowly anyone in a more progressive liberal area. You're back to -- right now, Buttigieg winning with a decently there, percentage of delegates right there in Dubuque County. And then you come back to 2016. That was Hillary Clinton country.

Then you go out here is where circle is out here. It's more rural. Smaller counties out there rules. You see all the blue for Clinton four years ago, Mayor Buttigieg now. So part of his case is going to be -- this has been Elizabeth Warren's case, Mayor Buttigieg will try to make it now. I'm the candidate who has broad appeal across the party.

Just one more thing I want to show you. That's the congressional districts. We'll bring that in a bit later. I just want to go back in time and look here. This is the 2016 map, right? So now we're going to cut to this, all this light blue. That's Bernie Sanders. Now we come to 2020.

[17:35:03]

I just want to bring you one more thing to show you. How did Senator Sanders do in his top 10 counties from four years ago? They're not the biggest counties. These are the counties where he ran the strongest where his margin of victory was the largest. And you can see in one, two, three, four, five, six of Bernie Sanders top 10 counties four years ago, somebody else is in the lead right now. It's not over yet.

So just an interesting perspective of how the race is different. And again, when you come back to the main map --

BLITZER: I want you to explain once again, for our viewers, these are the state delegate equivalents as they're called, which is all important because whoever gets the most state delegates will win the Iowa caucuses. Pete Buttigieg is number one right now with 62 percent of the precincts reporting. Bernie Sanders is number two. But when you take a look at the popular vote, take a look -- you know, we're showing our viewers from the bottom of the screen, Bernie Sanders is slightly ahead of Pete Buttigieg.

KING: Right. And so you had the first vote and then you had the final vote and yes. So if you look at the final vote after the realign first vote, if you're not 50 percent viable, they move around. So candidates pick up, some candidates lose. So yes, if you're looking at this from a popular vote, if you live in a state that holds a primary, people go in, they vote in the machine.

The candidate with the most votes wins in a primary. This is the caucus, caucuses. And it's different in the sense that yes, you can win a ton of votes in any one. Look, you're looking at Bernie Sanders colors is just take here, you know, in Ames, for example, in Storey County, look, he's got a pretty good margin, right? The issue is delegate numbers are capped by precinct and by region.

So even if you win a certain precinct by 50 votes or 100 votes, there's still only so many delegates you can win in that precinct. And so you add them all up. This will be bragging rights. Senator Sanders will say I got -- if this holds up, we're getting -- we're still at 62 percent. If this holds up, he'll say I got the most votes. I have the most grassroots support. I have more people willing to come out.

If we get into a long protracted race, and we're heading toward Milwaukee, and we want to know who has the most delegates, this is what matters. That's pretty close. That's pretty close. But this is the official barometer of victory. But because of the new rules, and because of the new reporting, there's no question. If you're the candidate with the most votes, even if you're second in the delegates, you're going to say, hey, look at that.

BLITZER: Normally, when you and I do a look at this, let's say it's a presidential contest, 62 percent of the states or 62 percent in the state of the precincts reporting, and 38 percent still at large, you would be able to show us where the 38 percent is. And we would get a sense of maybe it's in a liberal part of the state, a conservative part of the state, we never -- we don't have that kind of information, at least not yet from Iowa.

KING: We do not, and let's remember the past 24 hours, so just mark me down. I'm going to be reluctant to go places I shouldn't go. We don't have it. We don't know exactly what's missing it. We know we have data from all 99 counties. We don't know if --

BLITZER: All right. Hold on for a moment. Pete Buttigieg is speaking in New Hampshire right now. Let's listen in.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're not complete, but results are in from a majority of precincts and they show our campaign in first place.

So we don't know all of the numbers, but we know this much a campaign that started a year ago with four staff members, no name recognition, no money, just a big idea. A campaign that some said should have no business even making this attempt has taken its place at the front of this race to replace the current President with a better vision for the future.

And no matter what happens next, this much is undeniable. That fact represents an astonishing victory for this campaign, this candidacy and this vision that you all have been a part of. This validates the idea that we can have a message, the same message connect in urban and rural and suburban communities that we can reach out to Democrats and to independence and even to some future former Republicans ready to bring change to this country.

It validates the idea that we can expand a coalition not only unified around who it is we're against, but around what it is that we're for. And it validates for a kid somewhere in a community, wondering if he belongs or she belongs where they belong in their own family.

[17:40:03]

That if you believe in yourself and your country, there's a lot backing up that belief.

This is what we have been working more than a year to convince our fellow Americans that a new and better vision can bring about a new and better day. And now, we come to New Hampshire, a state that famously thinks for itself. And as we enter this new phase this week ahead, to convince New Hampshire to support this vision and then go on, I have never been more confident in our campaign in our team and in the vision that brought us to this point.

It's also never been more important to gather and muster all of the support that we can to get the word out. So if you were here, as a believer in the message of this campaign, we need your help more than ever, we need you knocking on doors, we need you calling your friends. And if you're watching at home, we need you going to peteforamerica.com to chip in so that we can keep building this organization that's going to carry us into the future.

But I also know there are some folks here who are still making up your minds. And I'm here to look you in the eye one more time and ask you for your support and explain why. I am here --

BLITZER: All right, we're going to continue to monitor Pete Buttigieg. He is obviously a very, very happy guy right now.

Let's walk over to Jake and Dana. He's got a little emotional there. He's very pleased with 62 percent of the precincts reporting among the state delegates. He's in first place.

TAPPER: Yes. I mean, he's -- we don't know what's going to happen. Ultimately, it's still possible that Bernie Sanders will win the Iowa caucuses and Buttigieg will come in second, we have no idea. So he's taking opportunity right now to kind of declare victory because even second place for him is huge. And right now with 62 percent of the vote in, he's in first place.

But I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the emotion that he was showing there when he was talking, basically without saying the words, that he, as the first openly gay major presidential candidate, especially to do so well, really is a trailblazer of sorts for all the kids out there. And adults who, because of their sexual orientation, have not necessarily felt at home, even in their own families, as he said, and he relatively recently came out of the closet, as they say, it's not -- he hasn't been openly open about his identity for his whole life. It's been in the last few years.

So I do think that we -- because perhaps because society has evolved so much in the last decade or so, I mean, George W. Bush when he ran for reelection in 2004 was demonizing same sex marriage and now it's legal across the country. I think we kind of take for granted the fact that Pete Buttigieg is such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ community. But we really should take a moment just to acknowledge it right now because there are millions of Americans for whom this is a moment of real triumph, and hopefully, a moment of real acceptance.

BASH: No, that's exactly right. I'm glad that you said that. Because, you know, I mean, maybe, you know, people argue it's a good thing that it's just, oh OK, he's gay and he's running for president, because that's what people who've been fighting for LGBTQ rights have wandered for so long that it's not a big deal. But it is a big deal.

TAPPER: Yes.

BASH: It is a big deal. And that was the point that he was trying to make. And we don't know if he's going to win, as Jake said. But even if he doesn't win, even if he continues to stay, you know, close to the top, it's a milestone. It's a moment in American history.

And then separately from that, we were watching it going, you know, wow, he got emotional. It was also not worthy for him as a human and as a candidate because he excites crowds. He has such a following. But if there is a knock on him, it's that he doesn't emote as much as other candidates. And he did there in a big way.

TAPPER: Yes.

BLITZER: With his husband as well, which is so, so important.

All right, 62 percent of the precincts have now reported and now Pete Buttigieg is in first place right now. Could change 38 percent of the vote still outstanding. Much more of our special coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:48:54]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And we have 62 percent of the votes, the caucus results in Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, very close there with Pete Buttigieg with 26.9 percent, Sanders is 25.1 percent, Warren 18.3 percent.

We're going to the panel for their quick first takes on all these, Gloria? GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Pete Buttigieg is obviously somebody that everyone has to pay a lot more attention to right now. I think he -- his strength, which we saw in these entrance polls last night, was broad demographically. And it was broad in all parts of the state as John King showed you on his map, young and old and moderate and conservative.

And so I think he's got a lot of staying power, he's going to raise a lot of money. And I think Joe Biden has got a real problem.

COOPER: Yes.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, that's the open question. What kind of bounce will Buttigieg get. If this were last night, you would expect he would raise a lot of money off of that night. We've never had quite this situation before.

[17:50:02]

He needs that money and he needs a bounce in New Hampshire to try and overcome his challenges in South Carolina where he hasn't broken through yet, particularly the African-American community. With that momentum, he might. Biden has a big problem. He has a big problem -- his campaign manager some time ago said they would be viable in 59 percent of the state.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

AXELROD: They expected to do much better and the big problem he has is not only the deficiencies that showed in his appeal, but he is dead broke and he needs to raise money.

COOPER: Yes.

AXELROD: It's hard to raise money off of an anemic fourth place finish. So he needs to revive himself in New Hampshire or this fire wall that everybody talks about in South Carolina may not just be there for him.

HENDERSON: Yes. I think that's right. What kind of changes does he make on his campaign staff? They sunk a lot of money into Iowa. They were telling people two or three weeks ago that they felt they would come in the top one or two or so and that obviously didn't happen. He likes to crow about polls, polls that show him beating Donald Trump, polls that show him viable in South Carolina, winning in South Carolina, doing well among black voters.

But I've been talking and texting with some nervous black Democrats --

COOPER: Yes.

HENDERSON: -- in the south. I mean, do you want to have a candidate whose whole rationale is can do well in these states that are down the line and not do well in states like Iowa?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The crazy thing about it, intellectually, conceptually you say, well, you know, he's not going to do well in Iowa, blah, blah, blah. When you see these numbers --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

JONES: -- and you see Joe Biden, 100 percent household name recognition probably on five continents at 15, it does change your view of him. Well it's just the idea -- well, he might not do well in Iowa. He'll make it up later on. Now we're living in the reality that he fell down these stairs and I don't know how he gets up.

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think also -- We saw him bleed numbers while we saw the top three picking up. I think that's a clear demarcation as to which candidates had good nights and which ones didn't, which one is actually lost support. I thought it was very interesting to see how many people seem to view Buttigieg as a second choice.

I think him and Elizabeth Warren have a lot in common there and we might be seeing more of that play out as we move forward. Bernie didn't get as much second choices as I would have guessed given all of the new people that were supposed to come in, but we'll see what happens when we get to New Hampshire.

ALEXANDRA ROJAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: But I think it's important to keep in mind, right, we have 62 percent of the results in. It is not definitive yet who necessarily won. It's certainly true that Pete Buttigieg had an incredibly strong performance but at least as of right now, Bernie Sanders won the popular vote. According to these entrance polls, he won the Latino vote, even though it's small and the Muslim vote here, but it's significant for the first time that folks ever, you know, that a lot of this --

MCINTOSH: Which better, which caucus.

ROJAS: Exactly, all that kind of thing. And I think that's huge in terms of the center of gravity in the Democratic Party right now being on bold, progressive policies and, you know, in the sense of Buttigieg sort of rejecting the establishment, the old ways of politics and really trying to figure out how do we defeat Donald Trump but also govern provision to the future.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Just pivoting forward into New Hampshire, I mean Bernie Sanders, if you just look at the existing polls, has such a huge lead right into that. So just assume -- let's just pretend that things stay the way they are right now at 62 percent, that that projects forward. Buttigieg has got, you know, this will be interesting to see what kind of bounce he gets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure.

GRANHOLM: Because right now we're in a position where you see Buttigieg winning potentially Iowa, Sanders winning potentially New Hampshire, you know, if things were the way they are, if Biden doesn't, you know, go down further, Biden winning South Carolina and who knows winning Nevada. So have -- you really still have that mix in the first. And so the question is does Iowa really cause an anchor and a bounce. An anchor for Joe Biden and a bounce for Buttigieg.

JONES: Right now you have the two progressives above him and the fresh face above him. And so that does indicate that there's something happening here where either, as we were saying earlier, either the fresh face, the outsider or the actual progressive candidates have a lot more purchase in this party than people who've been backing Biden, chilling for Biden of --

COOPER: We're going to hear from Mayor Buttigieg in just a moment, a live interview with Kate Bolduan within in New Hampshire, who is going to speak. We'll bring that you and a lot more ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:59:37]

BLITZER: All right, let's start with a key race alert right now. The 62 percent of the precincts reporting the all-important state delegates right now. In first place with 62 percent of the precincts reporting in the top five, Buttigieg, 26.9 percent, Sanders, 25.1 percent, Warren 18.3 percent, Biden 15.6 percent, Klobuchar 12.6 percent.

Let's take a look at the popular vote right now.