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Buttigieg Leads in Iowa; Iowa Tests Biden's Electability; Trump Makes Case for Re-Election in Address; Trump-Pelosi Feud at State of the Union; Collins to Vote to Acquit Trump. Aired 7:00-7:30a ET

Aired February 5, 2020 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:00]

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Snow in Oklahoma and Texas. A terrible commute this morning out there. That weather will make its way on up toward Indianapolis, Cleveland, Canton, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and even through the Niagara frontier and upstate New York.

This will be a snow storm, a little bit, four to six inches in some spots. But the problem will be a half of an inch of ice on trees, power lines, and the roads. And, of course, that orange area there in the southeast, absolute flooding rainfall. Could be four inches of rain.

Watch out for this. If you are in any of this, this is an ice storm waiting to happen this afternoon.

Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yikes. Looks bad, Chad. Thank you very much for the warning.

OK, we have new results out of Iowa.

NEW DAY continues right now.

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

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

Less than a week to go before the first 2020 primary in New Hampshire, but we still do not have a clear winner in Iowa.

Overnight, the state Democratic Party released more caucus results. So with almost three quarters of the precincts now reporting, here are the numbers as they stand at this hour. Pete Buttigieg holds a slight lead over the rest. He's even leading Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Elizabeth Warren is in third place, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden in fourth. It is not clear when an official winner will be declared. The candidates are putting Iowa, though, in their rearview mirrors with New Hampshire now fast approaching. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, back in Washington, it was the

State of the Union Address last night. And that was one heck of a spectacle. A bitter partisan sandwich with a speech tucked in the middle. It started with this. The president apparently refusing to shake the hand, or at least looking like he consciously chose not to shake the hand of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And it ended with the speaker doing that, tearing up her copy of the speech.

In between there was more. Republicans at one point chanting four more years as the president talked about the economy and trade. Some of what he said was true. Others, less true or not true.

Now, missing from the president's speech entirely was the word "impeachment," even though he was speaking in the chamber where he was impeached seven weeks ago.

In just a few hours, the Republican-led Senate is expected to vote to acquit him. We'll have much more on that in a moment.

We are going to start, though, with 71 percent of precincts now reporting from Iowa. We are getting some results from the caucuses.

Joining us, CNN political correspondent Arlette Saenz, CNN political commentator Mark McKinnon, he's a former senior adviser to the George W. Bush campaign, and CNN political analyst David Gregory as well.

Mark McKinnon, you are a veteran of campaigns, of Iowa, of New Hampshire. I know only 71 percent of the precincts are reporting, but we at least have some results from the Iowa caucuses. And in a world where the debacle did not happen two weeks ago, what would these even partial numbers have meant for the South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg?

MARK MCKINNON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, great point, John, imagine a year ago if we had projected forward and said that a small town mayor -- a gay small town mayor with a name you can't pronounce would beat the vice president of the United States, who finished fourth. Imagine how big a story that would be.

It's huge for Pete. It's very tough for Biden. But the good news for Biden and the bad news for Pete is that this is being blotted out by the sun by this incredible story in Iowa where the Democrats have managed to claw their way to the bottom and handed the Republicans a huge talking point, which is, if they can't even run a caucus, how in the hell are they going to run the country?

CAMEROTA: Maybe unusual names really help in Iowa. That's what I'm getting from this. I mean between Barack Obama, now Pete Buttigieg, maybe that is the secret sauce of Iowa.

Arlette, what are we to make at this hour of these results and how they all -- all of the campaigns seem to be surprised in one way or another?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly this is good news for Pete Buttigieg at this current standing. You know, his campaign invested a lot in their organization in that state. And it shows now as -- as paying off as he is ahead in these polls.

Now, one question for Pete Buttigieg is, is he going to be able to use this momentum going forward here into New Hampshire and then heading down to states like Nevada and South Carolina? South Carolina, particularly, which has a large African-American population. And Buttigieg has struggled with black voters down there.

Now, the Biden campaign and Joe Biden have argued that no one should win the nomination unless they have support from a diverse coalition. And so that's something that Buttigieg is going to have to battle with as he is going forward in these early nominating states.

Now, Bernie Sanders also placed a lot of emphasis on Iowa. Right now, at the standing, it doesn't look like he is going to pull off a win. There's still some precincts that are going to be coming in, so that could certainly change. But he is also going to be heading here to New Hampshire, his neighboring state, and he's going to try to look for a strong showing to try to boost him into a state like Nevada, where he has a lot of support among Latino voters.

[07:05:03]

BERMAN: Twenty-nine percent of precincts still need to report. Things certainly could change here. And we have heard from people who, like Bernie Sanders, that he is leading in the initial preference category, what might otherwise be called the popular vote, although that is not the traditional measurement for winners and losers out of Iowa.

Let's talk about Joe Biden, though, since there seems to be some consensus, David, that that might be one of the most surprising story lines out of Iowa. This is how the former vice president addressed, I think, the lackluster results last night when he was in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 in the heck happened in Iowa. At this rate, New Hampshire might get the first vote after all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Telling jokes and self-deprecating humor is always helpful, David Gregory, but how else can Joe Biden fix this. If you're running on electability and you finish fourth in the first contest, that's a hard argument on electability.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean Mark said it, it's just a striking result for Biden and strikingly bad. It was never going to be a great state for him. That's what his campaign said. But they expected better than this.

The fact that he couldn't make the viability threshold in so many of those candidates as a sitting vice president is a real problem. Now, yes, the debacle takes the sting out of all of it. I think we're not also mentioning Elizabeth Warren enough. I think it is significant for Bernie Sanders in that progressive lane to have done so much better than Elizabeth Warren. That's why New Hampshire, neighboring state for both of them, is so important to watch for.

But I think that the question on Biden is going to be the longer game here. He looks like he's in trouble. He's going to have a hard time raising money and he needs the money. And everybody will wait to see how, as the coalition of the Democratic Party actually starts to vote in Nevada and in South Carolina with people of color within the party, does Biden make a comeback? That's what we'll be waiting for.

But New Hampshire becomes important for him as well. And so I think all of this -- you know, Iowa and what happened there -- overshadows it. But there's still some real storylines, a kind of winnowing effect that is still the result of at least 70 percent of the votes in that we can take away.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Arlette -- Arlette, very quickly, I know you spoke to one of his advisers, Biden's advisers, about the results. What's their spin?

SAENZ: Well, the Biden adviser that I spoke with said that they certainly had hoped for a better showing. But they're arguing that they weren't necessarily surprised by this, pointing to the demographics of the state of Iowa. It's a heavily white population.

And they are pointing to states like Nevada and South Carolina as a potential comeback for Biden. You know, Biden has called South Carolina his firewall. He believes he has a lot of support among African-American voters. He also could potentially carry that into Super Tuesday, where there's a lot of southern states and a lot of diverse states.

But the other thing that's waiting for Joe Biden right around the corner, South Carolina, is Michael Bloomberg. He is investing a lot of money, television ads, increasing his staff. He is focusing a lot on that Super Tuesday contest. And that could potentially be trouble for Biden if he stumbles going forward in these early nominating contests.

So I think in the coming days, the Biden campaign is certainly going to try to show these signs of strength after a poor showing in Iowa. And they're going to need to try to come out of New Hampshire with a little bit of a boost. He told voters yesterday that he hopes that they will rocket him out of the New Hampshire primary into those other early nominating states.

BERMAN: You talked about what is surprising. I think the performance of Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whether or not you think he can carry it on, is surprising. This is a surprising result with 71 percent of the precincts reporting in Iowa, to see him leading Bernie Sanders, to see him out-organizing Elizabeth Warren, who was said to have the best organization in that state.

Mark McKinnon, again, as a veteran of New Hampshire, one of the New Hampshire campaigns you were working on didn't go as you planned in the year 2000. But as a veteran of the New Hampshire primaries, what do these candidates need to do in the next six days? I know Joe Biden just wants to get to Nevada and South Carolina, but how does he position himself with the debate Friday night? What does Pete Buttigieg do to try to capitalize on this? And Sanders and Warren too.

MCKINNON: Well, the one thing that New Hampshire loves to do, as I experienced in 2000, as you said, we came out of Iowa like ten points up and then lost by 18 in New Hampshire. New Hampshire loves to be contrarian and turn -- and do just the opposite of what Iowa does.

So they love a comeback story. So that's good for Biden. It's good for -- it's good for Elizabeth Warren. So there's a real opportunity here to change the narrative. And that's the good news for people like Biden, which is, we have this huge wet blanket on the results of Iowa and that's problematic for Pete because it normally would have been a big story. So how does he translate what happened into momentum that he ought to have and how does Biden take advantage of it?

[07:10:01]

How does Warren take advantage? And, again, Sanders has -- is a neighboring senator, as is Warren. So the question is, how do people leverage and try and magnify what happened for a good result out of Iowa, change the narrative out of New Hampshire to go into Nevada and South Carolina.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, we can look at the current polling in New Hampshire just as a snapshot. And Bernie Sanders is at 25 percent, Joe Biden there is at 18 percent, Elizabeth Warren, 14, Pete Buttigieg in fourth place at 13 percent, Amy Klobuchar at 8. We'll see what happens. As you just said, Mark, New Hampshire folks like to surprise people.

But, David Gregory, let's talk about the State of the Union last night.

We've been talking about how visually it told one story, that the hatchet has not been buried between President Trump and Speaker Pelosi. And then, rhetorically, it told a different story, and that is that, you know, what President Trump is touting as his re-election.

What did you hear?

GREGORY: Well, first of all, just underline how flamboyant and outlandish it was, the craftsmanship of it, the showmanship of it. And the fact that these Democrats are operating in their nominating process here in this context of a president who has a tremendous platform and is using it, even with impeachment, to try to turn that to his advantage as they'll vote today.

And this moment where you see this split with Pelosi. Look, any Republican loves to demonize Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. And you're going to see and have seen the president doing that and he did it last night and then she got her response so -- you know, by tearing up the speech. So both sides get something out of that in terms of the reality TV piece of it. This relationship has been fascinating to watch with both of them

eager to make sure that they're not one upped by the other.

But I think the big takeaway for me, just on the substance, even where it was misleading, this is an incumbent president running for re- election in a really strong economy. That puts him in a really strong position.

BERMAN: David Gregory, Mark McKinnon, Arlette Saenz, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

Back to New Hampshire. CNN will host two nights of presidential town halls in New Hampshire.

I'm not done with Iowa yet because, of course, Iowa --

CAMEROTA: Yes, you're still scarred.

BERMAN: Iowa is not done with Iowa yet.

But there are town halls starting tonight in New Hampshire. These are key moments in this process. Be sure to watch tonight at 8:00 p.m. only on CNN.

How will the feud between President Trump and Nancy Pelosi end? Who got more out of the theater last night? Why did they feel the need for such theater? Maggie Haberman joins us next.

CAMEROTA: Just keep going, John.

BERMAN: Well, I don't know, you chose not to read.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:16:55]

BERMAN: There is so much to discuss from last night's State of the Union Address. Yes, the president appeared to snub Nancy Pelosi when she reached her hand out for a handshake before the speech. And, yes, Pelosi later ripped up a copy of the speech after the president was done. But there were some words actually spoken by the president in between.

CAMEROTA: So which one was the truth, the visuals or the words spoken?

Joining us now, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman. She's a White House correspondent for "The New York Times."

Maggie, great to see you.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, guys.

CAMEROTA: I remember yesterday we read a little clip from reporting in "The New York Times," not your reporting, but it was going to preview the speech and it basically said that the president's aides were suggesting that he was going to be open to crossing the aisle and working with Democrats on things like infrastructure. But then the visuals told a different story last night in terms of the openness of that. So which one is it?

HABERMAN: Look, I think that you have to separate out what he said in the speech from what you saw in the visuals for two reasons. One is, I'm not clear that he actually saw her hand. It certainly looked like he did. But, you know, I don't know that we're ever going to know, number one.

Number two, her reaction, I think a lot of Democrats have defended it, a lot of Republicans have said they thought it was over the top and disrespectful. I think it is not surprising that the relationship between Pelosi and the president, which really devolved last fall around the time of the Ukraine matter was heating up and it was clearly around the impeachment inquiry have, it's not a surprise that that was dominant.

The speech itself, however, Alisyn, gave, you know, sort of a menu of options for people to hear what they wanted to hear. On the one hand, there were some, you know, (INAUDIBLE) at bipartisanship. He talked about issues where he could say he was reaching across the aisle. One was prescription drug benefits. The other was on school issues.

The other -- there are a bunch of them. But then he had this harder tack rhetoric on immigration, on abortion, on a number of issues. And so it allowed the people who want to see him as a hard-liner to see him that way, and it allowed people who wanted some mental fig leaf to feel like he is not as extreme as Democrats are painting him, it gave them some cover for that too. It was something of a choose your own adventure. And that has been the hallmark, not just of his presidency, but of the 2016 campaign.

BERMAN: You brought up health care, and I think it was interesting on a few different levels about what he said, especially about pre- existing conditions.

HABERMAN: Yes.

BERMAN: So I want to play a little bit of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've also made an ironclad pledge to American families, we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, that's simply not true in terms of the president's record.

HABERMAN: No, it's not.

BERMAN: Not at all, in fact.

HABERMAN: No. BERMAN: The president was supportive of several Republican proposals that would have done away with the guaranteed community rating for people with pre-existing conditions, which could have caused their premiums to skyrocket, make health care unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions. So that's one level.

But the second level, Maggie, and this is interesting, and I think you can weigh in on this, is the level where the president seems to know he has got to engage in the health care arena for his re-election.

[07:20:06]

HABERMAN: That's exactly right. Look, he has talked repeatedly with his advisers about the need to have some kind of a health care plan. Health care was the number one issue for Democrats in the midterms last year, the number one issue for a lot of voters. And we are seeing that again in the exit polling out of Iowa, I mean such as we can trust it given everything that's going on in terms of the results there. But he knows that this is a significant issue.

As you say, he's not telling the truth. He's not only not telling the truth about the bills that he backed, but the administration, in lawsuits, has tried to dismantle aspects of the Affordable Care Act. And so what he says is just not how they have engaged in this matter. And that is an area where you have seen particularly Michael Bloomberg, among the Democratic candidates for president, running ads challenging this president. He knows it is an Achilles heel.

CAMEROTA: He also talked about how good he thinks he's been for black Americans. Poll numbers suggested that they don't necessarily agree. And I know that you have some reporting on how there was a Super Bowl ad where he was trying -- that was an effort at outreach to them.

HABERMAN: Last night was similar, Alisyn, in terms of that Super Bowl ad where he was sort of taking actions. There was a scholarship that was awarded to an African-American girl. He can point to that and say, see, look at what I'm doing.

The same as the Super Bowl ad, which focused on criminal justice reform. And president, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner in particular, remain really mystified as to why he's not going better with black voters. Most Trump advisers are not mystified. They point to his rhetoric. They point to his focus on dismantling social safety net programs and programs that have impacted communities of color and they're not surprised that he is not doing well.

This is not just about outreach to black voters. A block of voters he's not trying to win, he's just trying to siphon off enough votes in key swing states, battleground state, where is he can try to tilt the margins in his favor. This is also in part about trying to make suburban white voters feel comfortable and believe that he is not racist based on the things he says and based on the things the Democrats have said about him. And you saw him aiming for that last night too.

BERMAN: The record is the record, though, as you know. HABERMAN: Right.

BERMAN: There are plenty of Trump advisers who know exactly why he's not doing well with African-American voters.

Maggie, I want your take, and I think you do have an important take, on something that Susan Collins was saying. She now says she will vote to acquit the president. She did say she wanted to hear witnesses in the trial. She didn't win on that. She's going to vote to acquit the president.

But I want you to listen to her predictions for the future with President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you believe the president has learned?

COLLINS: The president has been impeached.

There has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call.

I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I feel like one of the things you've been trying to explain to people as someone who has covered Donald Trump in the years before he was even president is that he doesn't change. There is no change in most things. And I wonder if you think there's any possibility for change when it comes to this.

HABERMAN: The only time that I have seen this president change in that way in terms of behavior, as the senator was saying, during his time as president was after he fired James Comey, the FBI director, and it was literally like he had touched a hot stove because he got Robert Mueller and he was very afraid of doing that kind of thing again and getting that kind of a response from DOJ again. That was the only time I saw him change.

He literally, as this controversy about this phone call was playing out, went out on the White House lawn and said that China should be investigating the Bidens. He said again that Ukraine should be investigating. That was the honest thing to do.

So I don't know what Collins is basing that assessment on. It is true that some Republicans have been critical of the call. But in our experience with this president, he sees how far he can push the limits. And if he can get away with pushing them, he will push them some more. He was clearly emboldened last night. That was my big takeaway. That was the thing about giving the Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh in the House chamber. It was because he could do it, he wanted to do it, and he was going to do it. And that, I think, is far likelier. Maybe Susan Collins will be right, but there's nothing that indicates it in my reporting.

CAMEROTA: And, I mean, frankly, when they're pressed, when Senator Collins and Senator Lamar Alexander are pressed, they basically say, I hope so. You know, fingers crossed. I mean so I think that your reporting is more accurate.

And that leads us to what will happen today. If the president is acquitted, as it looks as if the number suggests that he will be, will he come out and make a victory speech?

HABERMAN: He may or may not. He's had conversations about this with aides. There are some aides who think it's a bad idea, that he shouldn't say anything today, wait until at least tomorrow.

[07:25:00] Sometimes he has heeded that kind of advice. Sometimes he hasn't. So we will see.

What we're not going to see, I think, under any circumstance, is some kind of a Clintonian speech, as we saw with President Clinton after he was impeached, acknowledging that his behavior was problematic. The president has wanted people to say all along that the call with the Ukraine president was, quote/unquote, perfect. And to the extent that he has seen Republicans deviate from that line, he has not been pleased.

BERMAN: And that ties right in to the Susan Collins argument, right?

HABERMAN: Right.

BERMAN: The president doesn't think what he did was wrong.

HABERMAN: Right.

BERMAN: The president said what he did was perfect. So why would he change what he thinks is perfect?

HABERMAN: Well, or -- I don't actually know if he legitimately believes that he thinks what he did was perfect, but he wants to tell people he thinks he did, that it was perfect and he wants them to say the same thing. And he is going to keep pushing that, I think, as long as possible.

BERMAN: Maggie, great to see you.

HABERMAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Thanks for being with us this morning.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Maggie.

BERMAN: The national Democratic Party has to answer a lot of questions after the debacle in Iowa. So what will they do? How do they need to address the nominating process going forward? The former chairman of the party joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:30:01]

BERMAN: The chaos and confusion from Iowa. The caucus there continues this morning. About 30 percent of the votes have yet to be reported.