Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
DNC Chair Calls for Recanvass of Iowa Caucuses; Former VP Reflects on Struggle With Stuttering at CNN Town Hall. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired February 6, 2020 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, Senator Elizabeth Warren is likely to finish in a solid third place once all the votes are counted in Iowa, but she is defending her campaign's decision to pull back on ad spending in upcoming states of Nevada and South Carolina.
She said her campaign is grassroots-funded and they are being very careful about how they spend their money from here on out -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Abby Phillip, thank you so much.
Let's start with the announcement from the DNC chairman Tom Perez. He's calling for the Iowa Democratic Party to recanvas, that's recounting all the -- all the votes, all the ballots and such. It doesn't seem to be acknowledging the DNC has been overseeing the counting for the last two days.
It seems like there is a lot of tension right now, Jen Psaki, between the Iowa Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. Well, first, it's -- people probably didn't know until now that no party chair actually reports to the DNC. So the running of the caucus has been done by the Iowa Democratic Party. The DNC came in and helped fix many of the problems, not all of them. No question there's a lot of lessons learned here.
The recanvas, though, seems pretty common sense to me. I mean, at the end of the day, if it has to be delayed for a couple of days, don't we want accurate results. And I think that's the point that Tom Perez is trying to make.
TAPPER: So, Jackie, both Buttigieg and Sanders have claimed victory in Iowa.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Everyone gets a trophy.
TAPPER: Both of them prematurely, rather, I think it's fair to say. Sanders pointing to the popular vote. None of the results are final.
KUCINICH: Right. TAPPER: But actually the way that this is done, state delegates or state delegate equivalence and Buttigieg is slightly ahead there, and this is done -- this is a brace for delegates, not a race for the popular vote. Hillary Clinton won more popular votes in the Democratic primaries in 2008 and she still did not get the nomination.
KUCINICH: So, it's looking like based on what we know right now, that they might end up with similar totals of delegates. But what has been denied to someone like a Bernie Sanders is the momentum. If he's able -- if he was able to win Iowa, have a moment, go into New Hampshire with a full head of steam, win New Hampshire, that creates a feeling of inevitability that you really can't buy.
Pete Buttigieg, on the other hand, has been able to turn it into a massive fund raising and really boost his profile and we're seeing that in New Hampshire already. More people donated to his campaign, going up in the polls, bypassing in at least Joe Biden, I'm not sure when that was taken. But he has -- I don't know that it matters if he wins or loses.
Now, he was denied, you know, that big fanfare, but also as a candidate if he had won that day, but however, he has benefited no question.
PSAKI: I agree with that, although I will say that there was an expectation based on the polls that Bernie Sanders would run away with it, and win by five points, six points, seven points.
TAPPER: Sure, yes.
PSAKI: Maybe that's unfair. It's very hard to poll caucusgoers.
Regardless of how we cut it, that it's not going to look like that and it wasn't going to look like that on the night of. So I'm not sure that he would have gotten a bigger different boost if the results had come out.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But the biggest problem with this Iowa debacle isn't necessarily that we don't know who won, it's the problem that everyone senses a huge lack of leadership in the Democratic Party. Nobody trusts results. Nobody thinks that anybody can run anything.
So this is an opportunity for the candidate to step in and say, you know what, that was a mess, but when I'm president, I'm going to run things much better and explain how. Because that is how you will get trust and get votes, because the amount of delegates in Iowa doesn't matter all that much. But voters being able to trust you to keep the trains running will get you the nomination.
TAPPER: And, Toluse, obviously, the New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Buttigieg says he can absolutely win there. In a new poll from Monmouth University, he's in second place, Sanders leads from neighboring Vermont, he's at 27 percent, Buttigieg is at 20 percent, Biden at 17 percent.
There has been some growth for both Sanders and Buttigieg from last month. Biden has seen support slip.
Is it possible you think that Buttigieg can actually win in New Hampshire?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, we've seen stranger things. We saw President Trump lose in Iowa and sort of build the momentum and win in New Hampshire. That has been a history of candidates who lost in Iowa, who don't win in Iowa, winning in New Hampshire. So there is a sense that all of these candidates are trying to have a rebound in New Hampshire, no one dropped out of the race after Iowa. So, there's a possibility that anything could happen.
I think Bernie Sanders has the home field advantage, being close by. He is the presumptive favorite at this point.
TAPPER: Having won it before.
OLORUNNIPA: He won it last time around pretty handily.
OLORUNNIPA: So he is the favorite at this point. Buttigieg would have to pull off a pretty major upset to win. But this is a state that also demographically would work well for Buttigieg given the fact that he has better support among white voters and not as much support among minorities. And someone like Joe Biden is just try survive New to Hampshire, past New Hampshire, to Nevada and South Carolina where there are more minorities.
TAPPER: Yes. Elizabeth Warren, we should point, Senator Elizabeth Warren, from neighboring Massachusetts. So, she also could do well there but she is polling not so great. She stands at third in Iowa. She's pulled down TV ads from Nevada and South Carolina, in an effort to conserve cash.
TAPPER: She has the potential to make a comeback I suppose, but it doesn't look great right now.
KUCINICH: And that's the thing just looking at this field. Someone like a Buttigieg, he might win New Hampshire, but what's his path after that? And I think Elizabeth Warren has to answer the same question. Well, OK, if she comes in, let's say, third in New Hampshire, where is her state?
Where's her South Carolina that Joe Biden is hoping and praying to be his firewall?
I don't know the answer to that.
KUCINICH: I don't know what her path is. TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around.
You're going to hear much more from the Democratic presidential candidates tonight at round two of the CNN town halls in New Hampshire.
Tonight, you're going to hear from Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Governor Deval Patrick. That all starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.
Coming up, Joe Biden opening up about a personal struggle, even offering his private phone number to some kids who need advice on overcoming the same issue. Could this teaching and touching moment change any minds in New Hampshire?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our 2020 lead, former Vice President Joe Biden had a rare and personal reflection during CNN's town hall last night. He opened up about his life long struggle with stuttering.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I was a kid, I -- talked -- talked -- talked -- talked like that. And some of you smile.
I had a mother who had a backbone like a ramrod and she'd look, and she'd go, Joey, look at me, look at me, Joey. You're handsome, you're smart, you're a good athlete, Joey. Don't let this define you, Joey.
When you -- and I still occasionally when I find myself really tired catch myself saying something like that. It has nothing to do with your intelligence quotient. It has nothing to do with your intellectual make up. It has something to do with going back a long time relating to, I think, part of it is confidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It's a vulnerable and honest side of Biden. You worked with him when he was vice president. You were with Obama White House. This is -- you know, this is touching.
PSAKI: Yes. I mean, this is the Joe Biden that many of us who worked around him for so many years or people who worked directly for him on the campaign saw. I mean, he is somebody who waits behind the stage and shakes hands with every employee there. He was always late because he would take every question from the kids in the photo line. That's who he is. We saw a little bit of that tonight, or last night I should say, and I think that's appealing to people. It reminds them why they liked him.
I don't think that's going to change his trajectory in New Hampshire on its own because his polling numbers have been going down. There are questions about his money and finances. But if we see more of that, and more of his humanity, I think that will be appealing and remind people why they were for him to begin with.
TAPPER: What's the problem, though? I mean, he did really poorly in Iowa. He's probably not going to come in top in New Hampshire. I know that people who support him are -- his base, the base of the Democratic Party, African-American voters and he is counting on them to turnout for him in South Carolina, but shouldn't he be doing a little bit better in these early states?
KUCINICH: You'd think. I was talking to voters this Iowa and a lot of them actually were people who are going for Pete Buttigieg or Warren. They would say and some of these are older voters. They were worried about his age. They were worried about -- they were looking toward -- they wanted to turn the page, they wanted new blood. And that came from voters who were supporting Pete Buttigieg.
It's not that they don't like him. They actually like Joe Biden very much and he was a lot of their second choice. However, it -- his performances in Iowa were kind of uneven. You saw him in the morning, he was one way. You saw him in the evening, he may have been another way.
It's -- the campaign trail is grueling and sometimes it hits people harder than others and that can be tough.
TAPPER: So take a listen to Biden taking a stab at Pete Buttigieg who has a narrow lead right now in Iowa in the delegates, calling into question his age and experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I do believe it is a risk, to be just straight up with you, for this party to nominate someone who has never held office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Buttigieg responded as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If that argument is about electability and the ability to win, we just had the first election of the 2020 process.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
And I think that's my answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you think, Amanda?
CARPENTER: You know, I think a lot of times candidates get caught up in trying to attack other people who are in their lane, you know, Pete Buttigieg is the so-called moderate candidate, so he is trying to go after him to peel those people off.
When I talk to reasonable Democrats, like reasonable Democrats, everybody is scared of Bernie Sanders because they know, Trump knows that he is the easiest to beat. And so, I just really question why Biden isn't just going after Sanders because, you know, attacking Buttigieg's people to get them to flip to you, I don't really understand that when you could just be attacking Bernie in a reasonable way and saying this isn't going to work. He is not electable. There's a reason why Donald Trump wants to run against him.
TAPPER: And speaking of Sanders, Toluse, one of the things that we saw you in Iowa is that Sanders' theory of the case, the idea that he was going to bring all these young people and disaffected voters and blue collar workers and people who normally don't even participate in the process, they knock on 500,000 doors, that didn't happen. I mean, he might still end up winning Iowa, but he did not get the flood of supporters that he thought. He's even acknowledged as much.
OLORUNNIPA: That's a big warning sign for Democrats at large, the fact that turnout overall in Iowa was flat from 2016. It means that there wasn't that groundswell of support that Bernie Sanders said that he would bring out. And that's a big issue in the election that's about electability, about making the case.
And we've seen Sanders rise in the polls. We've seen him increase in his fundraising as he has made this argument that he could bring out new voters and have this resolution of all these people coming out to vote for him. If that becomes a question, it may make it more difficult for him to win in states beyond New Hampshire that are close to his back yard, places like South Carolina and Nevada and Super Tuesday.
TAPPER: Does it current you?
Look, I feel like, in a week where we focused a lot, for good reason, on the incompetence of the Iowa Democratic Party, the biggest concern over the long term for Democrats should be that Donald Trump's approval rating went up.
He was just acquitted. And, by the way, we didn't turn out a huge number of people in the Iowa caucus. It was much closer to 2016 than 2008. The anticipation was otherwise.
TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around.
Why it's so hard to know what's real and what's not real in the age of President Trump, even when you already know the facts.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a great call, not just a good call. It was a perfect call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Just three examples of the alternate reality that the president and his team tried to sell you into believing.
Alternative facts, of course, are lies.
And there is a new age version of this alternate reality that the Trump campaign is mastering, videos from almost a parallel universe presented to the public through alternatives to the news media, as CNN's Tom Foreman reports.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A torrent of unbridled praise for President Trump, raging attacks on his perceived enemies.
TRUMP: I call the fake news the enemy of the people.
FOREMAN: And howls of fake news any time his actions come under fire.
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: People need to understand what the Democrats did was dishonest, and it was corrupt, and it had no other motive than to take him out in 2020.
FOREMAN: That is what "Atlantic" staff writer McKay Coppins jumped into a few months ago, when he created a Facebook pseudonym, liked Donald Trump's reelection page and those of several supporters.
Yet even the seasoned journalist was unprepared for the tidal wave that soon flooded in.
MCKAY COPPINS, "THE ATLANTIC": It really is like you're fully immersed and almost drowning in this sea of misinformation and conspiracy theories and lies.
FOREMAN: Coppins spells out how time and again he would watch news events during the day.
GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: Was there a quid pro quo?
FOREMAN: Say, damning testimony in the president's impeachment trial.
SONDLAND: The answer is yes.
FOREMAN: And, within hours, it was recouched as mere speculation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came to believe.
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I believe that...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I believe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe I...
FOREMAN: Witnesses were cast as misleading. The investigation was called a coup.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We cannot accept a second term for Donald Trump.
FOREMAN: And President Trump was presented as the only possible savior.
TRUMP: And I'm restoring government of, by and for the people.
COPPINS: The overall effect of scrolling through this feed, being bombarded with one piece of kind of misinformation, propaganda, conspiracy theory after another, it starts to take a toll on you.
FOREMAN (on camera): In what way?
COPPINS: Well, you -- I started to question every headline I saw from every news outlet and every Web site.
FOREMAN (voice-over): And it is all expected to grow.
BRAD PARSCALE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: This is not just a one- election or two-election thing. This is a movement that is going to continue well past into the future.
FOREMAN: The architect of Trump's online outreach in 2016, Brad Parscale, is his campaign manager now, operating from an office tower near D.C. called by some the Death Star.
They're planning to spend more than $1 billion. And Coppins worries that pro-Trump forces are poised to wage what could be the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history.
FOREMAN: Yes, absolutely, Democrats have their own partisan echo chambers.
But what he's writing about here is the notion that the Republicans -- and particularly the Trump team -- are so, so good at it, they're no longer promoting an alternate reality. They're saying, this is the only reality, and nothing else is worth considering.
And they have got the social media presence really push that out there very hard over the next nine months.
TAPPER: And it's not just spin or interpretation. This is alternate facts. This is misinformation or disinformation.
FOREMAN: Yes, with a complete disregard for anything else as being simply wrong and out and out.
TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks so much.
More than 7,000 people stuck on a cruise ship because of coronavirus fears, including American honeymooners begging to be rescued.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our health lead today, more Americans quarantined in the scramble to contain the deadly coronavirus, as CNN's Lucy Kafanov reports.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, for thousands of passengers on two cruise ships, it's total lockdown.
The coronavirus outbreak turning these luxury liners off Hong Kong and Japan into floating prisons.
MILENA BASSO, AMERICAN TOURIST: Donald Trump, save us. Get us a government-based airplane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not even like that. Just...
BASSO: Get us off the ship.
KAFANOV: The newlyweds are among the 428 Americans quarantined on the Diamond Princess, the trip of a lifetime now a living nightmare.
At least 20 confirmed cases on board, three Americans among them, the infected taken to hospitals, the rest confined to their rooms for two weeks.
The World Health Organization is struggling to contain the outbreak, 12 confirmed cases in the U.S., more than 28,000 worldwide, the death toll more than 560 and climbing.
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: To put it bluntly, we're shadowboxing.
KAFANOV: In China, state media reporting two newborns infected with the virus, raising the possibility of it spreading from mother to unborn child.
Two planes carrying Americans from Wuhan back to the States arrived at military bases in California on Wednesday, all of the passengers now under quarantine at the bases for the next two weeks.
KEN BURNETT, HUSBAND AND FATHER: Fourteen days is hard, but 14 days is better than 14 weeks.
KAFANOV: In San Diego, Ken Burnett has been desperately waiting for his wife and two children trapped in Wuhan for weeks, now quarantined at the Miramar Air Base.
BURNETT: But for the people of Wuhan, those are people...
KAFANOV (on camera): They don't get flights out.
BURNETT: They don't get flights out.
KAFANOV: Now, the Pentagon has just announced 11 military sites where it can quarantine infected people, including two here in California.
Meanwhile, we're waiting for two more evacuation flights to bring Americans out of Wuhan. They're likely to be the last -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, thanks so much, Lucy.