Return to Transcripts main page


Pete Buttigieg Maintains Lead in Iowa, More Results to be Released; Race Moves to New Hampshire as Iowa Results in Flux; Trump- Pelosi Feud Center Stage at State of the Union; Biden Goes After Sanders and Buttigieg by Name in New Hampshire. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 5, 2020 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The 2020 presidential race has moved on to New Hampshire, but, the but is, we still don't have the final results from the Democratic Iowa caucuses. We do expect more results later today. We're at 71 percent reporting right now from the Iowa Democratic Party and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg remains in the lead. These are percentage of delegates in Iowa.

What's impressive about the Buttigieg lead, it's not a win yet because we're still counting votes, when you look at the scope of these here, 99 counties in Iowa, in 64 of them, Mayor Buttigieg either leading or tied. That is an impressive organizational showing by Mayor Pete Buttigieg across the state of Iowa.

Bernie Sanders ran close with Hillary Clinton in essentially a two- person race four years ago, he is in second place with 25.2 percent of the delegates. His campaign still holding out hope they think that he can come back in the delegate chase.

One point of a moral victory of sorts for Senator Sanders is he's claiming that this is a victory because he is ahead by 1,300 votes at the moment in the popular vote. This is not how they tally the Iowa results, it's new this year, Sanders insisted on it. The delegate chases what matters most but that is a point of bragging rights for Sanders.

The race now onto New Hampshire, Buttigieg hoping for a bounce out of Iowa in the state of New Hampshire hoping he can do better. Vice President Biden disappointing in Iowa, Mayor Buttigieg today reaching out to moderate voters on the issue climate change.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- because everybody is vulnerable to climate (INAUDIBLE). Everybody can participate in the solution. And that's the corner I think we have to turn in order to actually get anything done. This is too big, too important, too existential to be another partisan political tug-of-war. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Climate change, a huge issue especially with the Democratic base. It's interesting the tone there, stressing an issue that's critical to the base but trying to talk in a way, let's not make it a partisan tug-of-war but. Of course, it is at the moment, we have a president who denies climate change at the moment. But in the state of New Hampshire, you have more moderates, uncommitted or independents can cross over and vote in a Democratic primary.

This is an interesting week for Buttigieg to try to take -- not traditional Iowa bounce because he didn't get credit on election night, but probably some bounce, now can he build?

LISA LERER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, that's obviously what he hopes to do. I think he has -- and he may do that in New Hampshire. Biden has shown himself to be fairly weak in Iowa. So there's certainly room in that moderate space. The question is what happens when the campaign moves out of New Hampshire and moves into more diverse states.

And he -- you know, Pete Buttigieg has shown the real inability to attract voters of color. And we even saw that in Iowa, if you look at the places he won, he won -- his organization is great, he won across the state, he won in rural areas, he won in Obama, Trump counties.

But in the urban areas and the areas with more Latino voters, there's a sizable Latino population in Iowa, in the areas with more black voters, with younger voters, who are really the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, the most reliable Democratic voters, that was Bernie Sanders and Warren. Though she didn't -- she came in third, she had a pretty widespread.

Meaning, she didn't necessarily win but she picked up people everywhere. So I do think there is some real questions. This is great for Mayor Buttigieg but there is some real questions facing him that he will have to figure out how to deal with.

KING: And can he, first, make strong showing in New Hampshire and then when he gets to even more -- South Carolina and Nevada, the more diverse climates. I think that's an excellent point. He's trying to hope -- he's hoping more momentum, wins people over.

It's been interesting, it's disappointing if you look at Joe Biden's performance in Iowa. The Biden campaign can say Iowa is not our place, this and that. But he's the former vice president, a mayor of a small town just bested him in Iowa along with two senators right there.

Yesterday, the Biden campaign was -- and the candidate himself are kind of like shrugged it like it's OK, we've got South Carolina, we'll do OK in New Hampshire. Listen to the different tone from the vice president today.


JOE BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Twenty-four hours later, they're still trying to figure out what happened in Iowa. At this rate, New Hampshire will be the first in the country to get the vote.

I am not going sugarcoat it. We took a gut punch in Iowa. The whole process took a gut punch. But look, this isn't the first time in my life I've been knocked down.



KING: That's a very different tone, and sort of the idea being that I need your help. You know, you want me to stay viable in this race, you got to come to my defense here.

PAUL KANE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: That's -- New Hampshire likes that, you know. If you go back to Obama v. Clinton in 2008, Obama coming off a huge Iowa win had a little bit too much confidence, kind of mocked Hillary Clinton, and she really asked for their vote. And they liked that. They like that sense of comeback.

John McCain always did well in New Hampshire for that same reason. So he's hoping that that's what will happen.

LERER: I mean, this caucus situation was kind of a -- it was a disaster, an unmitigated disaster, but it was real lucky break for Joe Biden because now you can -- he can sort of say he lost. He lost fairly badly based on what we're seeing from these partial results but he can sort of say, well, the process was crazy, what even happened there, I don't know, let's move forward. And sort of dismiss those.

And you saw his campaign moving to do that fairly early on. They sent a very aggressive letter to the Iowa Democratic Party. So I think that was -- certainly, you want to win but if you're not going to win, at least, you know, it's better for you if the whole process is pretty --

KING: Right. But the question is -- now he has to perform. He has to perform. You can't keep losing and saying you're the most electable candidate. When you keep losing to other Democrats, it's hard to say you're the most -- you're the strongest person to go against Trump.

Another challenge is the other -- you know, Bernie Sanders is from Vermont, Elizabeth Warren is from Massachusetts. She had a great summer when she was doing this. She has a problem right now, she's pulled money from the airwaves in other states like South Carolina and Nevada. She's put a little bit more money into New Hampshire.

Let's hear one of the ads.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: After Wall Street crashed our economy in 2008, I confronted the broken system head on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Elizabeth Warren is heading into the lion's den. WARREN: And I created America's first consumer watchdog to hold the big banks accountable. When Republican senators try to sabotage the reforms we make, I ran against one of them and beat him. I'm in this fight for democracy that works for everyone.


KING: This is a, not just for former Vice President Biden, for Elizabeth Warren, this is a big week. She came in third, she had a decent organization, a pretty strong organization in Iowa. But third, you can't keep coming in third, can you?

VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No. I mean -- you can't. And obviously, you know, there's going to be one or two races that basically make or break a lot of these candidates. And one of the things that's interesting is that it shows -- that, you know, someone like Joe Biden said who -- his campaign said in January was the best fundraising month that they had and then he places fourth in Iowa.

A lot of these candidates where they were had really good money making campaigns but they also -- some of them had stronger ground games as well. And I think that that's the interesting discrepancy. It's something we saw with President Obama in his campaign in 2008. The ground game is just as important as money and so Elizabeth Warren obviously trying to ramp that up and promote her ground game. But, it's going to -- we'll wait and see if it helps her.

KING: Come back to the 2020 race a little bit later in the program. It's a fascinating few days ahead for us.

This quick programming note, CNN is hosting the last Democratic presidential town halls before the first in the nation New Hampshire primary. It's a special two-night live event, all starts tonight, 8 p.m. Eastern. You see the candidate line-up there.

Coming up, the FBI director gives yet another warning about the 2020 elections.



KING: Topping our political radar today, the House of Representatives focused on public health this hour. House members are receiving a briefing on the coronavirus right now. That's according to a House Democratic aid. Nearly 500 people, of course, worldwide have died from the virus. More than 24,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide. Just 11 of those confirmed cases here in the United States.

Elijah Cummings widow will not be taking over his congressional seat. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the former chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party lost a crowded Democratic primary. The winner, the former congressman and NAACP Chairman Kweisi Mfume.

Mfume will now face Republican Kimberly Klacik in an April special election for Maryland's 7th district. It's heavily Democratic district that includes Baltimore.

Tough questions today for the FBI Director Christopher Wray. That at a House Oversight Committee hearing. Some of them, on the agency's botched handling of the Trump Russia investigation and irregularities in the warrants used to obtain a judge's go ahead to put surveillance on a Trump campaign advisor.

The FBI director also reminding Congress of this, the Russians, he says, still trying to meddle in the elections.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Director, are the Russians interfering in our elections right now?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Well, I don't think we've seen any ongoing efforts to target election infrastructure like we did in 2016. We certainly are seeing and have never stopped seeing really since 2016 efforts to engage in malign foreign influence.


KING: And live pictures here, a super celebration in Missouri this hour. That's Missouri. The Chiefs parading down the Kansas City streets after that come from behind win in Sunday's Super Bowl. Congratulations!



KING: It was the president's speech in the speaker's House, and from the get-go it was impossible to listen to him without keeping a very watchful eye on her.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I keep my promises. We did our job. Freedom unifies the soul.

To safe guard an over 130 legislators in this chamber, have endorsed legislation that would bankrupt our nation by providing free taxpayer funded healthcare to millions of illegal aliens, forcing taxpayers -- California passed an outrageous law declaring their whole state to be a sanctuary for criminal illegal immigrants, a very terrible sanctuary with catastrophic results.



KING: I've been here a long time. I've seen a lot of the state of the unions including in election years. Bill Clinton didn't like Newt Gingrich. We could on and on. I've never seen anything like that.

LERER: I can tell you I've definitely gotten that look from my grandmothers. It never means anything good is coming. It is not a look of approval or praise.

KANE: Well, off camera -- everybody saw her tear the script up, off camera, after almost everybody had left, she walked off the podium and down toward -- looking up above at the gallery which was her VIP box and where her husband and other dignitaries were, she took the shredded speech and waved it to them like a form of bounty.

And by late last night when Manu and I caught her walking out, there was no cooling down, she said it was a manifesto of the mistruth.

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUSXM: The reality of the state of the union is that it's not a television event, right? It is an online even, a social media event. You are chasing maybe 10 different audiences. The president's speech was structured for viral moments.

One of the most popular genres online on YouTube is the return home of the deployed soldier, (INAUDIBLE) to their family or to their dog, the president gave us that. The announcement of the scholarship being freed up for that young student. That was a viral moment. This was, I think, Nancy Pelosi chasing a viral moment.

KING: And the interesting thing is you have the two most powerful politicians in America who lead very different constituencies in the same country, or even more polarized than the 2016 election. I just want to go back and look at this. Do you think about why can Nancy Pelosi act that way? Why is the president act that way? Do they have any reason to reach out to each other?

In 2016, those who voted Democratic candidate for House, 90 percent voted for president, only five percent voted for Trump. The people who are voting for Nancy Pelosi's members do not vote for the president of the United States. Flip that over, the people who voter Republican in House elections voted overwhelmingly for President Trump. There's just no overlap in the constituencies.

So she can rip up a speech, he can refuse to shake her hand. You would think that at sometime, these two most powerful people would think we need to have a relationship. They don't.

SALAMA: Well, so much of it is theatrics. But at the same time, they also want to show the fact that they're holding the ground. And so this hand shake where Speaker Pelosi reached her hand out and the president sort of whipped around right at the beginning when he arrived, minutes later, the speaker's Twitter page had that picture up and with a caption saying, I will never stop reaching out across the aisle to work for the American people.

And so they're trying to use that very similar to an episode that happened at the White House between them several months ago where she was standing up in a room full of officials including the president was sitting down and she was standing up and had her hand out. They want -- she wants to show either that she is in power or that she is trying to reach across the aisle and work together. And so that's something that plays to her constituents.

KING: It was wild TV theater. And you're right, lot of (INAUDIBLE).

Up next, we mentioned earlier Joe Biden says Iowa gave him a punch in the gut. In New Hampshire today, an aggressive response.



KING: Back to the 2020 campaign now, Joe Biden is running fourth in Iowa, he is in New Hampshire now fighting for survival taking aim today at two of the men who ran ahead of him or are running ahead of him in Iowa, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.


BIDEN: But if Senator Sanders is a nominee for the party, every Democrat in America up and down the ballot, blue states, red states, purple states, it's easy, in easy districts and competitive ones, every Democrat will have to carry the label Senator Sanders has chose for himself -- chosen for himself. He calls him -- and I don't criticize him but he calls himself a Democratic socialist.

Is he really saying the Obama-Biden administration was a failure. Pete, just say it out loud. I have great respect for Mayor Pete and the service of this nation. But I do believe it's a risk to be just straight up with you, for this party to nominate someone who's never held an office higher than mayor of a town of a hundred thousand people in Indiana. I do believe it's a risk.


KING: He says he doesn't mean to criticize. There's some criticize right there, Senator Sanders and Mayor Buttigieg. That's a candidate who understands he's got a problem.

LERER: Yes. And it was something he was reluctant to do in Iowa. At one point he took a shot at Sanders saying he wasn't a Democrat. And the next day he was on television and said, oh, no, no, he's a Democrat, he's a Democrat.

So, I think he's been reluctant to criticize, he's been running on this sort of message of unity and decency and even working across the aisles with Republicans. So, we'll have to see how this is all lands but clearly he knows that this is what he has to do. And I think it's also pretty clear that Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets under his skin quite a bit.

KING: Go ahead.

KANE: And he needs a little bit of their voter base because Bernie has a lot of white working class men that will support him. Buttigieg is in that sort of moderate centrist lane. So Biden needs to chip away at both of them to try and grow his own vote.

KING: It's an interesting moment as we go through this. We got a primary campaign at this time. We're going to watch these candidates fight it out. Joe Biden getting, should we say, more aggressive. When you placed fourth in Iowa and you're a sitting vice president, you got to get a little tougher.

Thanks for joining us on the INSIDED POLITICS today. Come back tomorrow, it's a great week in politics.

Don't go anywhere. A busy news day including the Senate impeachment votes. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great afternoon.