Return to Transcripts main page


Pete Buttigieg Maintains Lead in Iowa; Iowa Tests Joe Biden's Electability Argument; Trump-Pelosi Feud Erupts at Partisan State of the Union. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired February 5, 2020 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With more than 24 hours since the crucial Iowa caucuses, we still do not have a clear winner.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We came out of Iowa knowing it is a tight three-way race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in the process of making sure that we got these results out.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It validates for a kid somewhere in the community, wondering if he belongs, that if you believe in yourself and your country, there's a lot backing up that belief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four more years! Four more years!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four more years! Four more years!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four more years! Four more years!

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The State of the Union is deeply divided. That was on display tonight.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our economy is the best it has ever been.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Strong for whom? Strong for the wealthy, who are reaping rewards from tax cuts they don't need?


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, including Iowa. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, February 5. It's 6 a.m. here in New York.

So not only do we have actual votes that have been counted in the Iowa caucuses, we have new votes that have been counted and returned overnight. The state party did release some new figures. With 71 percent -- 71 percent -- of the precincts now reporting, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg still holds a narrow lead over Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Elizabeth Warren, you can see her in third place back there. And former vice president Joe Biden in fourth.

Now, it's still not clear when the full caucus results will be in, when it will all be completed. It's possible that those positions you just saw could change.

But even this much is a dramatic partial outcome to the Iowa caucuses, results that very much might have much been a giant story and shaken up the race, if not for the monumental debacle of caucus night, where the party couldn't manage to release any count.

All the major candidates are in New Hampshire right now, trying to figure out if they can influence what happens next.

CAMEROTA: So on the eve of his all-but-certain impeachment acquittal, President Trump used his State of the Union address to make the case for his re-election. He made no mention of impeachment.

There were two striking visual moments that bookended the speech highlighting the bitter partisan divide in Washington. It started with the president snubbing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, refusing to shake her hand there. And ended with Speaker Pelosi tearing up her copy of his speech.

Much more on the State of the Union and today's final Senate vote on impeachment in a moment.

But first, let's discuss these new Iowa results. Joining us now, we have Jess McIntosh, CNN political commentator and former director of communications outreach for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign; CNN political commentator Terry McAuliffe, former governor of Virginia and former DNC chair; and CNN political analyst David Gregory. Great to see all of you this morning.

Governor McAuliffe, I know that you have been outspoken about your take on the debacle that was Iowa. And so when you see these results come in and that Pete Buttigieg surprised people by coming in first. At this moment he's at 28.6 percent to Sanders's 25.2, to Warren 18.4, Biden 15.4. How much stock do you put in, not that the results aren't accurate, but just in what happened in Iowa?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, it's a huge win for Mayor Pete any way you want to cut it. He won in urban. He won in rural. He won in suburban. You know, he was able to show he could build a good coalition. Very well-organized.

The broader issue, it's unfortunate what happened in Iowa. I have been for a very long time -- I think the Democratic Party when we started our primary process, ought to include states that are more representative of America and the Democratic Party.

When you have 95 percent of the African-American community and 70 percent of the Hispanic voting for your party, year in and year out, and you start with a state that is very white, I just think we need to change it.

I'm also not a huge fan of the caucuses. Only 170,000 people showed up in a state, as you know, that has over 2 million registered voters. So I just want it to be more open, more inclusive.

But it was a huge night for Pete. I think it was a tougher night for some of the others. I think Senator Sanders, who got 50 percent of the delegates when he ran in 2016, is now down to about half of that. So half of his, you know, delegate support went to other candidates.

But now we head to New Hampshire, and it's going to be an important play for a lot of these. But no question: big night for Mayor Pete. He didn't get the bounce he should have, but it's a great night for him. And now he's got to put it together in the upcoming states with large communities of color.

BERMAN: He was robbed. He was robbed of what very well might have been a dramatic election-night victory.

Now, the full results aren't in, and they can change. But if they hold where they are, it is worth noting that Bernie Sanders will have been closer to Hillary Clinton in 2016 in terms of the state delegate equivalent, than he is to Pete Buttigieg. At least, that's what it is right now.

And -- and Jess, Alisyn says I like to play games. The game I want to play this morning is what would the reaction have been, had the Iowa debacle not happened? What would have the reaction been? Where would we be today, 36 hours into New Hampshire? Where would Pete Buttigieg be today in New Hampshire? What would the race look like if not for the debacle?

CAMEROTA: This is one of my favorite games.

BERMAN: It is, right?


JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's fun, but you can't even play it yet, because we don't have all of the results yet. So we can't say, what if we had known what we know this morning on Monday night, because we don't know the answer yet. We still have almost 30 percent out.

So if we froze it where it is right now, I think where we would be is talking about New Hampshire. Talking about, frankly, the biggest story to come out of Iowa, other than Iowa itself, was the collapse of Joe Biden. You know, this is -- this is our Democratic frontrunner, who has staked his candidacy on his electability, coming in a distant fourth. And I think we would be looking to New Hampshire to show us whether that was the beginning of a trend or whether Iowa was a really unfortunate fluke for the former vice president.

I think we would be celebrating Mayor Pete's really tremendous win. I think he would have gotten a major bounce. We would probably be criticizing Bernie a little bit for setting expectations as high as he had.

But with almost 30 percent still out and the race as close as it is, we might yet be talking about a Bernie Sanders win in Iowa. So I love this game, too. I just think we can't play it yet.

CAMEROTA: Well, you make a great point, Jess. But beyond that, let's say -- let's play the game that these results are set. David Gregory, is this predictive of what's to come?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it's just hard to say at this point. I think we have -- we have a data point here, and I think you're right. I think Mayor Pete was robbed. Because first or second, great result for him. And if he had that punch coming out of an election-night victory where he was there in Iowa, which is about momentum more than delegates, he could have carried that into New Hampshire. And he wouldn't have to kind of come out of the ashes of this Iowa debacle and questions about the future of the caucuses and all of that.

Nevertheless, as Terry said, great showing for Mayor Pete. Showed, you know, he had great showing in terms of raising money early on, good debate performances but was overshadowed a bit. And then he comes out of that, shows great organization. Shows his bone fides as a progressive, yes, but also an alternative to the major progressives who are in the race led by Bernie, who has, you know, also the strongest showing among the real progressives in the race. But Mayor Pete showing himself as a real outsider, as well.

And the emotion he showed yesterday as the first major gay candidate in a major political party to do this well. So there are all these milestones.

And he showed the breadth of victory, about organization. And so the question is, can he continue that? Can he grow and extend his support?

These are all big story lines that aren't going to go away, despite the Iowa debacle that we'll be looking at in New Hampshire. And as Jess rightly says, too, then you have this major warning sign here about Joe Biden.

BERMAN: Let's play the sound, because David just mentioned it. This is Pete Buttigieg last night in New Hampshire, where I think, finally, it's sinking in a little bit what might have happened or what has happened with 71 percent of the precincts in, in Iowa.


BUTTIGIEG: And it validates for a kid somewhere in the 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.


BERMAN: You know, Terry, Jess mentioned that Bernie Sanders set expectations very high. And whatever happens, it's not clear he will have met them. Even if he does eke out a lead, it won't be a decisive win in Iowa. Not the kind of decisive win that I think he was looking for.

So I can make the case that three candidates underperformed expectations: Bernie Sanders, who set them so high. The former vice president clearly didn't have the night that any of them were hoping for in the Biden campaign. And then Elizabeth Warren was supposed to have this fantastic organization in Iowa, and she was clearly out- organized by Pete Buttigieg. And as of now hasn't even won a single county there.

MCAULIFFE: Yes. John, I think you hit it right on the head. I think you did the analysis right.

Big night for Mayor Pete, but what's impressive to me is he was able to win, as I say, in suburban and rural and urban. He was able to put a great coalition, get it organized.

But you're right. As I say, Senator Sanders went in, had high expectations. He tied the state, basically, in 2016. He's been running for president in that state for the last four years. So, you know, the numbers are where they are today. It's not where he hoped to be.

And you're right: with Senator Warren, great grassroots operation. Had a lot of folks on the ground in Iowa, and it didn't translate into delegates for her.

And Joe Biden, it's not a great Democratic state for him. He now has to show that he can win in Nevada, he can win in South Carolina.


And the big challenge now is going to be for Mayor Pete. Can he coalesce and bring folks together and win in those states?

I'll remind you that we now have four states that have less than 4 percent of the delegate total. Now we go to March 3, after South Carolina, where you're going to have about 34 percent of the delegates in one day, 14 states, two territories. It's a hundred-million-dollar day, and you now have Michael Bloomberg sitting there with unlimited amounts of money.

This thing has just started. A long way to go. Some of the candidates didn't do well. Mayor Pete did well. But this is just the beginning of a long process that we have.

What came out of -- of what happened on Tuesday with the caucuses, obviously, a lot of problems. That is why, when I was chair of the national party, I moved up South Carolina. I moved up Nevada. We need to have a calendar that is representative of our party, and community of colors need an early say in the nominating process.

GREGORY: And enthusiasm was the story line, as well, in all of this. Or the lack thereof. I mean, I think that's got to be a concern for Democrats. Not only that they couldn't pull off the caucuses correctly, but an enthusiasm gap. At least, this early data point. CAMEROTA: Yes.

GREGORY: Obviously, this can change. But, you know, the contrast on one day of the 2020 race for Democrats was unsettling. Which is a president, which I know we'll get to in this rousing State of the Union speech, which was his re-election speech, compared to a relative diminished enthusiasm among Democrats showing up for caucus.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, it may also just be that it's hard to caucus. It's time-consuming. It takes a lot. If you have a busy life, it's hard to devote that time, maybe. Or maybe, David, what you're alluding to.

So anyway, we have more to talk about with you guys. Stay put, if you would.

Joe Biden made electability, of course, the core of his campaign. So how will his performance in Iowa affect his strategy in New Hampshire and beyond? We're going to tell you what he said last night and talk about Bloomberg, as well.



CAMEROTA: The latest results out of Iowa show former Vice President Joe Biden trailing the pack in fourth place. So he's at 15.4 percent at this hour. More results are coming in, John.

What does this mean, though, for his candidacy as we approach the New Hampshire primary?

Back with us, Jess McIntosh, Terry McAuliffe and David Gregory.

So Jess, let me play for you how former VP Biden framed it himself last night in New Hampshire.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's good to be back in New Hampshire. More than you know. Twenty-four hours later, they're still trying to figure out what the heck happened in Iowa. At this rate, New Hampshire might get the first vote after all.


CAMEROTA: He's, you know, playing to the crowd there. They seem to be enjoying it. But what -- what does it mean today?

MCINTOSH: Well, I think, obviously, he is the one who benefitted -- he's probably the only Democrat who benefitted from the debacle in Iowa, because we got to spend a couple of days talking about the debacle in Iowa and not the debacle in Joe Biden's campaign.

South Carolina is going to be a very, very important moment for both Joe Biden and for Pete Buttigieg. Because we're going to learn whether this heavy African-American support sticks with Joe Biden, despite cracks in this "I'm the safe, electable choice" armor that he's been wearing the whole time. Does it stay with him even if he doesn't seem like the best one to take on Trump? Or does it scatter to one of the other candidates?

Similarly, Pete Buttigieg, for as historic and amazing a night as he had, he's polling at 0 percent with black people. Given that the Democratic base is young people, unmarried women, and voters of color, you cannot win the nomination without significant improvement in that area.

Maybe what happened in Iowa last night is going to help him get there. Maybe that takes some of the African-American support that Joe Biden enjoys and moves it over to Pete Buttigieg. But we can't really see how these four candidates shake out until voters of color have a say.

So it's exciting to see -- to see us get to that place finally. And I'm curious to see where these two campaigns end up.

BERMAN: I can think of one other Democrat who benefitted from the debacle in Iowa. One other Democratic candidate, although maybe "Democratic" should be in quotation marks, if you look at his last 10 years or 20 years in his career. And that's Michael Bloomberg.

Michael Bloomberg announced after Iowa he's going to double his campaign ad spending in Super Tuesday dates. I don't know how he's going to do that. Let's put the figures up on the screen for what he has allocated already: $315 million. We should have the font, like 35 million font so people can actually see it. But that number says $315 million, which is a lot. I'm not sure how you can spend much more.

And one other note, David Gregory. Michael Bloomberg just picked up the endorsement of a sitting Democratic governor, Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island. Now, Rhode Island's not a giant state, but Bloomberg's already picked up some endorsements of sitting mayors, a member of Congress. Now he's got a governor. You know, the campaign, with that money, is picking up some support as he moves forward.

GREGORY: Yes. I think you'll have to measure the time when you're not watching a Bloomberg ad rather than when you are watching an ad when he's spending that much.

You know, I still think there's a lot of questions about Michael Bloomberg and the kind of coalition he puts together. You're right. He gets the obvious nod as someone who can step in if Biden continues to falter. And I think that's where Democrats look.

But I think, you know, this morning we should be looking at, you know, winning can change a lot, because it changes narratives. It can affect money. It can affect voter attitudes. And I think that there's two things -- two things going on among Democrats. Right?

There is a real fight within the party about what the party stands for, who we should be as a country, the future of the Democratic Party. And that's what's playing out between progressives, moderates, those who are establishment versus outsider candidates.


The other thing is who can beat Trump? And that may be the biggest thing of all. And there's lots of arguments to be made about a Bernie Sanders being a lot closer to Trump in terms of his populism that could ultimately beat him. Or Bloomberg. And that's what Buttigieg has to be able to demonstrate: that he can expand that coalition to be able to be a more electable candidate. And so I think it's one of the things we'll be watching so closely.

CAMEROTA: Governor, I'm curious what you think of Mike Bloomberg's well-financed but unconventional path thus far.

MCAULIFFE: Well, it's interesting. I've got to say this for the mayor: he has been very active. When I was governor of Virginia, very active on gun prevention legislation, climate change. He's been active around the country.

His whole theory is that Vice President Biden doesn't come out of the first four contests with strength, and he is sitting there. We have never, Alisyn, seen anything like this with this amount of money. Sitting there, as I say, on March 3 with all of these contests.

But the big thing is going to be who can really reach out to the true coalitions of the Democratic Party? I go back to you've got to show strength in the African-American community, the Hispanic community. You look at that March 3 day with 14 states, six of those states are southern states with large populations in the African-American community.

So this is going to be a real test for all of the candidates. Vice President Biden has to do well in Nevada. You know, it's a state with a large Hispanic population but also very powerful labor. The culinary union out there. So that should help the vice president out there. He's got to do well.

And then South Carolina, who's ever going to come out. But I remind you, South Carolina is only a couple days before March 3. And then, as I say, with nearly 34 percent of the delegates chosen on one day.

But if you're Michael Bloomberg, you know, you've pretty much got unlimited money. He's hired 2,000 staff. He's paid all of his staff through November of 2020. So he is building a massive operation, which if he doesn't do well, he told me personally, I'm going to keep on the ground to make sure I beat Donald Trump. So you know, it's a very positive for us.

BERMAN: Two thousand, it's crazy. It's a giant corporation that he's funding right now.

CAMEROTA: But sand off a beach.

MCINTOSH: He's been hiring staff from all of the Democratic candidates that have dropped out in recent days and weeks. I think people are sleeping on how much of the Democratic coalition he is scooping up for himself. And it means that those people are working for him, and they are also not working against him, which I think is -- is equally a part of his goal in making all those hires.

GREGORY: And making sure they're working against Trump, too --


GREGORY: -- which is what gets under Trump's skin.

CAMEROTA: Great point. Thank you, all.

BERMAN: This month is one giant test for these candidates. And it begins again tonight. CNN is going to host two nights of Democratic presidential town halls, starting tonight ahead of the New Hampshire primary. Be sure to watch at 8 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

All right. Overnight, this happened. What was this? It was this partisan sandwich with the State of the Union address in the middle. Before it was ripped up by Nancy Pelosi.

CAMEROTA: Is that what you call the kind of sandwich it was?

BERMAN: It was a -- yes, partisan sandwich.

CAMEROTA: Partisan sandwich.

BERMAN: I eat it with mayonnaise.


BERMAN: We'll be right back.



CAMEROTA: President Trump making his case for re-election in the annual State of the Union address. But visually speaking, it was the president's feud with Speaker Nancy Pelosi that stole the spotlight.

CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with more. Those were some striking moments, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure. And Alisyn, you know, this speech is a primetime opportunity for the president to highlight his accomplishments. He didn't say that the State of the Union was divided. But those two telling moments between the president and the speaker of the House overshadowed a lot of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Speaker, the president of the United States.

JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump gave his State of the Union address before a bitterly-divided Congress just hours before the Senate is expected to acquit him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four more years! Four more years!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four more years! Four more years!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four more years! Four more years!

JOHNS: In those 78 minutes, not once did the president mention impeachment. But before he even started speaking, a sign of tension between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. President Trump seemingly ignoring Pelosi as she extended her hand to greet him before she turned and shrugged to her caucus.

The House Speaker addressing the apparent snub in a tweet, writing, "Democrats will never stop extending the hand of friendship to get the job done for the people. We will work to find common ground where we can but will stand our grand where we cannot."

Immediately after the president finished his address, Pelosi ripped up her copy of the speech in full view of the cameras.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you tear up the speech?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Because it was a manifesto of mistruths.

JOHNS: President Trump used the address to make the case for his re- election, highlighting the economy and sprinkling in a handful of made-for-TV moments --

TRUMP: Your husband is back from deployment. He is here with us tonight, and we couldn't keep him waiting any longer.

JOHNS: -- including a military family reunion.

TRUMP: I will now ask the first lady of the United States to present you with the honor, please.

JOHNS: And even awarding controversial conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Limbaugh announced this week that he's battling advanced lung cancer.

Trump's Republican allies applauding his talking points while Democrats mostly sat silently through the evening.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered the Democratic response, using the opportunity to remind Americans that President Trump was impeached.

WHITMER: The truth matters. Facts matter. And no one should be above the law.