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EARLY START

Buttigieg Leads In First Iowa Results; Hostilities Boil Over Between Trump and Pelosi; Senate Poised to Acquit Trump Today; Two China Evacuation Flights En Route to U.S. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired February 5, 2020 - 04:00   ET

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


LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: A big test for a divided nation.

[04:00:01]

Votes from Iowa still coming in, hostilities boiling over at a divisive State of the Union, and the Senate poised to acquit the president of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday, February 5th. It is 4:00 a.m. exactly in New York.

Breaking overnight, new results trickling in from the Iowa caucuses. And former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is still in front. With 71 percent of precincts now reporting, Buttigieg has 26.8 percent of state delegates, followed by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden.

Amy Klobuchar is not far behind the former vice president. Remember, nearly 30 percent of results not reported. The Sanders campaign no doubt looking at popular vote totals, where Sanders remains in front.

JARRETT: Buttigieg started his campaign in obscurity. He now has to be regarded as a serious contender. That reality appeared to be sinking in after the first set of Iowa results was released.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And it validates, for a kid somewhere in a community wondering if he belongs or she belongs or they belong in their own family, that if you believe in yourself and your country, there's a lot backing up that belief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden is looking to leave Iowa behind and pick up some momentum. Nevada and South Carolina are ahead. With large blocs of Hispanic and black voters who support him.

But, first, New Hampshire, an overwhelmingly white state. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's good to be back in New Hampshire. More than you know.

Look, I said from the beginning. I want to do well. I want to do well in Iowa. The four is -- I count the four. The first four are the key, two caucuses and two primaries. And so we'll see what -- have they finished counting?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Mike Bloomberg's campaign looking to capitalize on the chaos in Iowa. The former New York City mayor doubling his spending on television ads and has already topped $300 million.

As for the app at the center of Iowa's reporting issues, Department of Homeland Security says Democrats did not take up their offer to test it for security flaws. But Iowa officials say the data entered was accurate and the paper trail backed that up.

JARRETT: Trouble with the app had been reported during testing last week. The same software was supposed to be used for the Nevada caucus on February 22nd. That will not be happening now. Nevada Democrats say the party is re-evaluating its options and has a series of back-up plans in place.

And a can't-miss, two-night event on CNN starts tonight. The last Democratic presidential town halls before the New Hampshire primary. Join us tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

ROMANS: While Democrats struggle to count votes in Iowa, President Trump was turning his State of the Union Address into a rowdy partisan campaign rally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHANTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Republican chants of "four more years" while Senate Republicans are on the verge of acquitting the president and keeping him in office.

Last night, the president leaned on voters to do the same in November.

JARRETT: Two defining moments bookending the State of the Union Address. The president snubbing Nancy Pelosi's handshake, and the House speaker tearing up the president the speech at the end there.

It was a speech filled with re-election themes for the president's base, the economy, immigration, the border wall, guns, abortion, judges, and healthcare. That's a topic of great interest for voters on both sides of the aisle.

The president highlighting a key fracture within the Democratic Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know we will never let socialism destroy American healthcare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The president also claimed he will protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions, even though his administration is in court to abolish those protections without a plan to replace them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: With unyielding commitment, we are currently --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Democrats women wearing white as a tribute to the suffragettes countered the president's healthcare talk with chants of their own of "HR3". That, of course, is the Democratic bill to lower prescription drug costs.

JARRETT: The president's guests re reflecting the demographics he is trying to appeal to, with a little bit of entertainment mixed in there. He honored 100-year-old Tuskegee airman and awarded a scholarship to a young African-American girl to the school of her choice, a shot at public schools. He also engineered a reunion between service member Townsend Williams and his family, and had First Lady Melania Trump award the Medal of Freedom to conservative icon Rush Limbaugh, who announced earlier this week he is battling lung cancer.

[04:05:14]

But not one mention of the I-word during the president's State of the Union Address. Impeachment was certainly not off limits in the Democratic response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): As we witness the impeachment process in Washington, there are some things each of us, no matter our party, should demand. The truth matters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: That's Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan, focusing on healthcare and American workers. She offered up a challenge to the president's take on the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITMER: The president says the economy is strong. My question is, strong for whom? Strong for the wealthy? Who are reaping rewards from tax cuts they don't need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: It's noteworthy here how Democrats chose to elevate Michigan in that rebuttal. A critical state won by the president in 2016.

ROMANS: In that speech, the president rebranding an almost 11-year- old expansion in the economy as his alone. He tried to make a contrast with what he called failed policies of the Obama administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Jobs are booming. Incomes are soaring. Poverty is plummeting. The years of economic decay are over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A strong economy and thriving job markets key to the president's re-election argument. The unemployment rate is the lowest in 49 years.

But fact check here. The president's job market trails the performance of the Obama years. Nearly 6.7 million jobs added in the first 35 months of the Trump administration compared to nearly 8 million in the final 35 months of Obama's tenure.

Joe Biden, the former vice president running for office, he took note of the president's claims there. He points out accomplishments of the Obama White House and reminds everyone President Trump gave a big tax break to the rich.

The economy grew 2.3 percent last year. That's not the 3, 4, even 5 percent president Trump promised from his tax cuts in deregulation. And now, the election-year economy has some new challenges. The coronavirus and Boeing MAX crisis could dent economic growth in the first quarter, with many economists predicting growth as low as 1.5 percent.

JARRETT: The Senate is set to acquit President Trump today in the impeachment trial. He was charged with abuse of power for demanding Ukraine announce investigation into the Bidens in exchange for much- needed military aid.

There are some senators who could have crossed party lines. Senator Susan Collins will not be one of them. The moderate from Maine voted to hear from witnesses in the trial. But says she will not vote to convict.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I believe that the president has learned from this case.

NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: What do you believe the president has learned?

COLLINS: The president has been impeached. That's a pretty big lesson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: You can watch CNN's live coverage of the Senate vote today at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

She must believe that voters in Maine want to hear that message. But no indication that the president feels any sort of contrition or regret for how this went.

ROMANS: Right. Yes.

All right. That optimistic tone we were told we would hear at the State of the Union, a faint whisper at best. A divided nation with deeper wounds. This morning, what it all means for the electorate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:12:31]

JARRETT: New results trickling in overnight from the Iowa caucuses. They show former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg holding his lead, with time running out for the other candidates to catch him.

ROMANS: Let's go to Washington and bring in CNN political analyst Nathan Gonzales.

Nathan, you know, I'm just -- you are the election guy. Let's talk a little bit here about this. The integrity of the election is so important here. And that was a big discussion coming out of the Mueller report and coming out of all these -- the concerns about election interference.

And then on the very first vote, we have all of this uncertainty about the process. Talk to me a little bit about -- about where we've started this campaign this year.

NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I agree. I mean, that's the hallmark of America, right, is that we have these elections. It's bitter and divisive. But the losers lick their wounds and live to fight another day.

But if we can't agree on -- on who wins and who loses, then that's a fundamental problem. And we saw, particularly on Monday night, that there were different people or entities that were sowing discord.

ROMANS: Yes.

GONZALES: And, you know, whether it was some of the Democratic campaigns that were questioning what was going on. Or the president's -- the president's campaign manager and team talking about there are things being rigged. It's just -- that's not helpful and I really hope that this isn't a preview of what we are going to see in November, depending on who wins and who loses.

JARRETT: How much trouble is Joe Biden in right now? It's obviously only one race. And he wasn't expected to win the caucuses. But I mean, he has now lost, if these results hold, to not only three Democrats. But he's lost to the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a two-term vice president of the United States.

What does he need to do to rebound here?

GONZALES: Yes. Well, I'm glad you brought that up because I feel like this -- the idea of electability or him winning is kind of getting confused in that I don't think Joe Biden is guaranteeing that he's going to win every Democratic primary state or caucus.

JARRETT: Right.

GONZALES: His argument is that he's going -- he is the best person to defeat President Trump. You know, but, first, you have to win the nomination. I think he sufficiently set the expectations pretty low for Iowa. I think it's pretty low for New Hampshire.

But, you know, each step of the way, taking on these losses, he is taking on a little water and it's going to be tough. I think the two reasons -- the two reasons why he might get out of the race is if he is running out of money and he can't support the campaign. Or he thinks he's just going to be -- it's going to be an embarrassing loss.

[04:15:01]

But we have to remember this is his last opportunity to get there. It's also Bernie Sanders' last opportunity to get to the White House. And so I think they're going to stay in until the end because you just never know with this crazy election what's going to happen.

ROMANS: Yes. Thirty percent of the vote in Iowa still out, even as they're moved on to New Hampshire. So there will be more news hopefully today about what it looked like in Iowa.

Meanwhile, last night, the president with his State of the Union Address. Really a blueprint for a campaign, wasn't it? I mean, this was the president with hyperbole and sometimes exaggeration, taking credit for an 11-year economic expansion, talking about how his presidency is essentially a light switch that has turned on the light from the dark ages of the Obama administration.

Do you think this was the kind of divisive tone we will hear the rest of the year?

GONZALES: I agree that this is a blueprint for what we're going to see. I think that the president laid out -- this is the president -- when I was watching it, this is the president that Republicans -- that they want to see.

This is why -- he reminded them why they support him and also this is the president they want to see on the campaign trail. He largely focused on the economy. He brought up some red-meat issues about socialism versus capitalism.

And this hit on all the things Republicans wanted to see. But what's going to be interesting is this isn't always the president that you get. This wasn't the Twitter president. This wasn't the president who is going to be at these campaign rallies with thousands of adoring fans and he starts being on message talking about economy, and then he veers into other things, name calling or settling a score with somebody who he thinks did him wrong.

And so, he always veers off message. But if the -- if the president can stay on message about the economy, that's a pretty potent -- potent message for the general election.

ROMANS: Even with exaggeration. I mean, the polls show his highest ratings are for the economy. And he told Fox News this week, I think he said that he blamed the media. He said we never talk about the economy, which, of course, we do every day.

JARRETT: All the time.

GONZALES: It's always -- it's always the media always fault.

ROMANS: And he said if it hadn't -- if it weren't for us, he'd be up 25 points, 25 points higher in his overall approval ratings, which, of course, is also impossible to know. But, you know, so you can see I think you are going to be hearing that story line again.

JARRETT: Nathan, thanks so much for getting up with us. See you soon. Appreciate it.

GONZALES: No problem. See you.

JARRETT: This hour, on two flights out of the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. CNN is live in Beijing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:22:06]

ROMANS: Two evacuation flights carrying Americans from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak are en route to the United States right now. They left China with about 350 passengers on board.

CNN's David Culver, live in Beijing -- David.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, I have been in touch with a few of those passengers. And they know that despite this being a long flight, there is still a long journey ahead. Meaning 14 days of mandatory quarantine. CDC managed. And that's going to be in California.

We know they're going to, essentially, split between two bases. One's going to be Travis Air Force Base. The other Marine Corps air station, Miramar, near San Diego area. So they will be there for two weeks of time.

Meantime, imagine quarantine on a ship, a cruise ship. That's the reality just outside the coast of Japan right now. We know some 3,700 combined crew and passengers are being examined and going through health screenings. This, after one passenger was found to have positive test of coronavirus in Hong Kong. That was 12 days ago.

So he was on that ship. They've now gone through that ship to test several others. Ten more people have tested positive, including one American. We know they have been taken by the Japanese coast guard into Japan where they're currently being treated in hospitals.

But it's no telling how long the other passengers and crew will be on that ship. Potentially, up to 14 days is what some passengers are telling CNN.

And here in China, the containment effort is stepping up. More and more cities are expanding lockdown zones. This, as they are building more and more capacity, essentially, for healthcare and treatment.

We know two new hospitals are slated to be opened this week, including one that opened on Monday. Another that's going to be opening up tomorrow, according to state media. And then, Christine, they've got these field hospitals in stadiums and exhibition halls to hold another 4,300 people. It's a pretty desperate situation looking at how they are setting up those beds.

ROMANS: It's just remarkable. Just think what they're going through to try to contain this virus.

All right. Thanks so much, David Culver, in Beijing for us.

CULVER: Yes.

JARRETT: Well, Macy's says it will close 225 stores over the next three years. That's nearly one-fifth of all its locations. The department store chain also plans to lay off about 2,000 workers and cut 10 percent of its corporate and support staff by shutting offices in Cincinnati and San Francisco.

Macy's expects to save $1.5 billion from these cost-cutting measures.

ROMANS: A blockbuster trade involving one of the best players in major league baseball. The Red Sox sending former outfielder Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, along with pitcher David Price in a three-team trade. The Boston gets outfielder Verdugo from L.A. and a top pitching prospect from the Minnesota Twins. The Dodgers sent pitcher Kenta Maeda to the Twins.

JARRETT: And while you were sleeping, late night hosts had a little bit of fun with the Democratic debacle in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:25:02]

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Last night, Iowa's supposed to kick off the 2020 election. Instead, they kicked democracy right in the old hanging chad.

JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: It was a very long day for Democrats today. The Democrats somehow found a way to lose the Democratic caucus in Iowa.

The president, of course, was delighted by this. He weighed in today, tweeting: It is not the fault of Iowa. It is the do-nothing Democrats' fault. As long as I am president, Iowa will stay where it is.

Is there -- was there talk of moving Iowa? Did Iowa decide to retire and move to Florida? Because I didn't know about that.

TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN: The Democrats commissioned to make vote counting easier ended up malfunctioning and screwing up the entire night. And I guess what do you expect? I mean, the average age of the party leadership is like 85 years old. What do they know about apps? The only thing they know about apps is that you get one for free with the early bird special. That's it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: As far as we know, there were no plans for Iowa to succeed from the Union but we still don't have all the votes.

ROMANS: No, we don't, and new results overnight from Iowa. We are going to tell you where the results stand and what they mean for Democrats, and Democrats are trying to unseat the president. And more on that hugely divisive State of the Union.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END