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Buttigieg & Sanders on Top in Iowa; DNC Chair Tom Perez is Interviewed about Iowa Results. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired February 7, 2020 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the caucus count that just won't end.

[05:59:29]

TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIR: What we did in asking to make sure that, if people need a recanvass, that it's done.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN analysis shows errors in the counts that were reported by the Iowa Democratic Party.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got enough of Iowa. I think we should move on.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never thought a word would sound so good. It's called total acquittal.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): He's impeached forever, no matter what he says.

TRUMP: It was evil. It was corrupt. There was leakers and liars.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): There is a vindictive, angry president, as his hour-and-a-half speech showed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, February 7. It's 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow, the alarm is on, which means you know to show up at NEW DAY.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I actually woke up, like, four hours ago, just to be with you.

BERMAN: I'm glad you set it for 6.

HARLOW: This is what happens.

BERMAN: If it would have been at 7, I would have been here all alone. Well, I'm glad the alarm was on. I'm glad you're here. Breaking overnight, 100 percent of precincts in Iowa are now

reporting. One hundred percent. So surely, you would think that means there would be some clarity as to who won the Democratic caucuses there. You might think that, but you'd be wrong. And don't call me Shirley.

The results, as they all, show former Mayor Pete Buttigieg with a fraction of a percent lead over Bernie Sanders. But CNN's own analysis reveals there are errors in the count in all kinds of different ways.

The head of the Democratic National Committee is now calling for a recanvas of some of the votes. We will speak with him momentarily. The Democratic candidates have until 1 p.m. today to file a request for recanvassing. But Sanders and Buttigieg are already indicating they're ready to move on. Their focus seems to be on next week's New Hampshire primary and a huge debate there tonight.

HARLOW: Well, President Trump is now vowing revenge, lashing out at his political opponents in an expletive-filled victory lap at the White House where he even questioned Nancy Pelosi and Mitt Romney's faith.

We also have brand-new reporting this morning about a possible post- impeachment shakeup within the White House involving one of the president's closest advisers. We'll get to that in a moment.

But let's begin with Leyla Santiago. She joins us live in Manchester, New Hampshire, on of course, the 2020 race. Good morning, Leyla.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy.

Seven Democratic candidates will face off in a high-stakes debate right here in New Hampshire. Of course, this as we continue to await who really won.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANTIAGO (voice-over): The chaos in Iowa continues with still no definitive winner from Monday night's caucuses. With only four days to go before the New Hampshire primary, Pete Buttigieg maintains a razor- thin lead over Bernie Sanders.

CUOMO: The Iowa Democratic Party just released the final batch of results from the caucuses, 100 percent of precincts reporting. You are holding a narrow lead of a tenth of a percentage point over Senator Sanders.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, that's fantastic news, to hear that we won. I first of all want to say, Senator Sanders clearly had a great night, too, and I congratulate him and his supporters.

SANTIAGO: Sanders, hours earlier, claiming victory after results show he won the popular vote in the state, a new statistic he lobbied the DNC to make public at this year's Iowa caucuses. SANDERS: Well, from where I come from, Ryan, when you get 6,000 more

votes than your opponents on the first ballot, you win. When you get 2,500 more votes than your next closest competitor on the second ballot, you win. So yes, I think it's fair to say we won.

SANTIAGO: DNC Chairman Tom Perez tweeting out his frustration, writing, "Enough is enough" --

PEREZ: What happened in Iowa was unacceptable.

SANTIAGO: -- initially calling for a statewide recanvas but amending his demand to instead focus solely on precincts with reported problems.

PEREZ: I want to make sure that every Iowa voter knows that their vote was counted, and I want to make sure every voter across this country knows that their vote was counted and that we take our commitment to accuracy very seriously.

SANTIAGO: A CNN analysis revealed some errors in the official count reported by the Iowa Democratic Party. Multiple counties reported a different number of state delegate equivalents than they were supposed to have. And some counties even awarding more state delegate equivalents than they were allotted.

Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party has said the party is willing to recount if it is formally requested by a candidate by 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

Sanders insisting he is ready to move on and forge ahead to New Hampshire, where he holds a four-point lead over Buttigieg in a new Monmouth poll.

SANDERS: We've got enough of Iowa. I think we should move onto New Hampshire.

It is really sad that the Democratic Party of Iowa, if I may say so, screwed up the counting process quite so badly.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANTIAGO: And after a poor showing in Iowa, "The Washington Post" reporting that the vice president, Joe Biden, actually left New Hampshire, spending Thursday with his top advisers in Delaware, prepping for debate and rethinking -- re-evaluating his strategy. The latest poll out of New Hampshire puts him in third place just ahead of Elizabeth Warren -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Leyla Santiago in Manchester. Terrific work up there.

Joining us now is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez.

Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

PEREZ: It's good to be with you and your viewers.

[06:05:05]

BERMAN: What exactly are you calling for in Iowa?

PEREZ: Listen, we're now at 100 percent, and I care about making sure that, if there are any problems, that people feel like they have an avenue to be heard, you know. That we had an issue the other day in Black Hawk County where there were something like 83 state delegate equivalents that were attributed to, I think it was Deval Patrick. We corrected that.

And so what I'm simply saying is, if people see that there's something like that, we want to make sure we get it right. Because accuracy is what it's all about.

But here's the thing, John. At the end of the day, this is about delegates to the national convention. And I have confidence in the soundness of these results. We simply have to -- and so there's 41 delegates to the national convention.

BERMAN: Can I ask why you have confidence in the soundness of the results given -- given what a mess it's been?

PEREZ: Well, again, and that's why I have called for what I would describe as a surgical recanvas. So if there's a problem here or a problem there, I want to make sure that there's an opportunity to take a look.

Because again, accuracy counts. I used to enforce the Voting Rights Act when I was at the Justice Department. It matters to me to make sure that we do that.

But again, delegates to the national convention is what the Iowa caucus is about. Forty-one delegates. And the -- the problems that have been identified -- and make no mistake about it, there were problems. What happened was unacceptable. The Iowa party acknowledged that they fell short. The chair apologized.

At the same time, the delegate math is such that these issues, in all likelihood, are not going to affect the range of national delegates to the national convention.

BERMAN: I think what you're basically saying, so people know, is that Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders will almost definitely end up with the same number of delegates to the national convention.

PEREZ: It's going to be very close between the two of them. I don't know what the precise answer will be, but it will be very close. Either a tie or one delegate, something like that.

BERMAN: You can see on the screen right now that our math has Mayor Pete Buttigieg up by 0.1 of 1 percent with 100 percent of the precincts in. To you, does that mean that he's the winner of the Iowa caucuses? PEREZ: Well, I'll leave that to the voters to call winners, et cetera.

Again, this is about delegates to the national convention. And we're still figuring out, what does the state delegate equivalent translated.

And what this illustrates more broadly, John, is we have to have a broader conversation about caucuses. Because there's no doubt about it that what happened here was unacceptable.

In 2016, after the election cycle there, at the DNC, we had a conversation about primaries and caucuses. We incentivized states to move from caucuses to primaries. Seven states did. Seven states still have caucuses. Iowa is one of them. We're going to continue that conversation.

BERMAN: How much -- how much of this is on you, Chairman?

PEREZ: Well, again, the Iowa Democratic Party runs the caucus. OK? And they -- what happened was unacceptable.

At the same time, we came in there. We want to make sure that everything is right, and we at the Democrat National Committee. You know, this was unacceptable. And that's why we had people -- we still have people on the ground there. We completed the counting last night.

And we're going to continue not only to work in Iowa, but also to learn the lessons of Iowa. So moving forward, we are -- we have caucuses in the remaining states that are -- that run smoothly.

BERMAN: What do you say to the Bernie Sanders supporters -- and we're going to have one on in just a moment -- who say you only called for a recanvassing, or a surgical recanvassing, after Bernie Sanders started closing the gap in state delegate equivalents with Pete Buttigieg?

PEREZ: That's just not accurate. I mean, we're moving -- we're helping -- we're all about accuracy. I'm not about how it affects one candidate or another.

And I've spoken to Senator Sanders. I've spoken to Mayor Buttigieg. I've spoken to other candidates. And I've told them our north star is accuracy. We want to make sure that, if there's another issue in another county, that there's a process. And that's why we've asked the state party if there are other issues that emerge, let's take a look at them.

BERMAN: The Sanders campaign and Bernie Sanders himself not too happy with you either on another subject, and that's the debates going forward. Not the New Hampshire debate, that's tonight. That's set. But Nevada.

You have changed the debate qualifications parameters, and it would allow Michael Bloomberg to be on that debate stage. And Senator Sanders is criticizing you for changing the rules midstream, suggesting it allows Michael Bloomberg to buy his way onto the debate stage.

[06:10:03]

PEREZ: We were very clear four or five months ago that, once people started voting, we would have a different set of rules.

We -- we adjusted the rules every month as we got closer to the election. The threshold in July was 1 percent. The threshold in December was 4 percent. The threshold in January was 5 percent.

Now that people have started voting, we use proxies that are reflective of the fact that people voted. So if you get one delegate out of New Hampshire or Iowa, you're on the debate stage. Or if you get to 10 percent.

I don't think Mayor Bloomberg has made the stage. And if people have an issue -- and I understand. I'm for campaign financial reform. I'm for the elimination of dark money. If people think it's unfair that a person can self-fund, they have a remedy. They can vote.

My job is to make sure that whoever are the most viable candidates in the eyes of voters are on the debate stage. We have a Super Tuesday in less than a month. And voters want to kick the tires. They want to see who the most viable candidates are. I don't know who will be on the debate stage in Nevada, because you've got to get to 10 percent in the polling or one delegate in Iowa or New Hampshire.

BERMAN: But what message does it send that a guy who is not competing in any of the first four states really may end up on that debate stage?

PEREZ: Well, again, if people -- and I've had this conversation with many voters who are concerned that a person can self-fund and get on the debate stage.

And what I would say to them is you do have a remedy. And that is go to the polls, vote, make your voice heard. And that's what the Democratic primary process is about.

Our job at the DNC is to make sure that the candidates who are viable in the eyes of the voter -- and one measure of that and it's not a new measure, John, is polling. If you hit 10 percent -- no candidate who has been under 10 percent has ever been viable in the primary process. Doesn't mean they've won, but Reverend Sharpton was over 10 percent in February of '04, and he got on the debate stage.

BERMAN: Tom Steyer is up with a new ad up in the northeast, which is critical of some of his opponents. It's sort of the first time that one of the candidates has named names in paid advertising. And there's a lot -- I think there's a lot of frustration after Iowa, and there are sharp elbows now in ways we haven't seen before.

Are you concerned now, or how concerned are you that Democrats are too focused on each other and not the ultimate prize, which is winning the White House?

PEREZ: Everyone who's running for president has taken a very enthusiastic pledge to support the winner. And they've done that, because they know it's not about them. It's about defeating Donald Trump. It's about talking about health care. It's about talking about the issues that matter most.

I mean, go back to 2008. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, that was a -- that was a heavyweight prize fight. And we came together after that very, very, you know, spirited primary season, because we understood back then, and we understand now, that this is the most dangerous president in American history.

I don't have an iota of doubt that our party will come together around whoever our standard-bearer is and that we will be talking relentlessly about health care; about people with pre-existing conditions; about bringing down the cost of prescription drugs; about the broken promises of this president and his assaults on our democracy.

BERMAN: Mr. Chairman, Secretary Tom Perez, I know you have to catch a flight up to New Hampshire. Big debate there tonight. Thank you for joining us on NEW DAY.

PEREZ: Always good to be with you.

BERMAN: Take care.

HARLOW: High-stakes Democratic debate tonight. Can Joe Biden gain momentum ahead of the critical New Hampshire primary for him? We'll discuss next.

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[06:17:52]

HARLOW: All right. Seven of the top Democratic candidates will face off tonight in the next debate ahead of -- the only debate ahead of next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. What do all of them -- especially, I think, what does Joe Biden need to do to gain momentum ahead of what happened in Iowa?

Joining us now Krystal Ball, co-host of "Rising" on "The Hill" and author of "The Populist Guide to 2020"; and CNN political commentator Jess McIntosh. She's former communications director for Hillary Clinton.

Hello, ladies.

KRYSTAL BALL, CO-HOSTS, HILL TV'S "RISING": Good morning.

HARLOW: Let me begin with you, Krystal. You think this is a do-or-die moment, your words, for Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. What do they have to do tonight on the stage?

BALL: I do absolutely. I think it's two different tasks. You know, for Elizabeth Warren, she and Pete Buttigieg really share a lot of the same sort of, you know, more affluent, white, higher-educated base.

And so what we've seen throughout this primary is when one of them goes up, the other one goes down. That's exactly what we saw happen in Iowa. So she really has to come after Pete Buttigieg in a way that she hasn't necessarily been able to effectively do before.

I think she's got a perfect opportunity with this week, the way that he claimed victory, the way that he ran around, you know, acting like he was clearly victorious in Iowa. It sort of exposes this overly- ambitious careerist way that he conducts himself that I think is a core vulnerability for him. So I think she has to come hard after him.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, I think he's got to show more of himself like he did in the CNN town hall. People really like Joe Biden. They trust him as a person, as a human being. And so he needs to be a little more vulnerable, a little more open. Debates have been a tough forum for him. So I think he's got a hard job ahead of him.

But you know, I think that's what they've got to do tonight. And frankly, it's also a challenge, because I don't know how many people are really going to tune in tonight after a wild week of politics where they're probably, frankly, exhausted.

BERMAN: You know, I think in New Hampshire they tune in. Having been in New Hampshire for these final debates before the primary day, it ends up being a very big deal up there, because it's broadcast on the one affiliate up there. And it seeps into the ether, as it were, before election day.

Yes, it is interesting. Joe Biden was off the campaign trail.

HARLOW: Yes.

[06:20:02]

BERMAN: I think it actually indicates how big they think this debate is tonight. They wanted to gather their forces and really think through what he's going to do when he gets on that stage.

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Krystal's right. I think the people who need the biggest breakout moments tonight are probably Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.

Elizabeth Warren has either, hands down, won every debate that she's been in, or she has excelled in her presentation, in making her case, in her clear and coherent messaging.

Joe Biden has really struggled in this forum. He has not had a very solid debate. And usually, when we say that he's done a good job, it's because he has cleared a pretty low bar that he set the time before.

So this is the time that he really needs to step up. So if that's why he's off the trail, because he's prepping and he's going to come out and be the Joe Biden that we all want to love tonight, then I completely understand.

But in order to turn in a good performance in New Hampshire on Tuesday, he needs to be out. The best thing about Joe Biden's candidacy is Joe Biden. So the fact that he's difficult to find or he doesn't take the interviews or you don't see him doing the, you know, marathon selfie lines that you see Elizabeth Warren is doing. You don't see him drawing the crowds that you see Bernie Sanders drawing. You don't see him on every podcast imaginable, like you do Pete Buttigieg. I think that really hurts him.

So the more he can be out there, the more he can be selling the best part of his campaign, which is himself, I think the better for him. And he needs to make some serious moves before -- before New Hampshire.

HARLOW: You know, Krystal, talking about Senator Sanders, I mean, we saw him in the town hall do something he doesn't like to do or do a lot, and that is talk about himself and personal things and his Judaism, et cetera. Do we need to see more of that from him tonight on the debate stage?

BALL: I mean, as you know, it's not something he likes to do at all. I was actually surprised to hear him talk about his family, about his upbringing, about his Jewish faith. The way that that impacted him being -- you know, watching Holocaust survivors with the tattoos on their arms when he was growing up in the neighborhood that he was in.

Look, honestly, I think Bernie Sanders is in a fantastic position right now. He just won Iowa. He's projected by 538 to literally win right now, by their model, every single remaining primary state. So I think he just needs to keep doing what he's doing.

The No. 1 issue for Democratic primary voters is health care. He is the most trusted candidate on that issue. That's why he's continued to have a lead in New Hampshire and consolidated that progressive lane. So I think he just needs to keep it up.

BERMAN: Just one point. Bernie Sanders says he won Iowa based on the popular vote. Right now, the state delegate equivalents have Pete Buttigieg up by, you know, the smallest of small margins.

BALL: Right. But John --

BERMAN: There could be a recanvassing. We're not going -- all I'm saying -- all I'm saying is --

BALL: Can I just say --

BERMAN: -- you said declaratively that Bernie Sanders won.

BALL: Yes.

BERMAN: I'm just making sure our viewers know that I don't think everyone agrees with the declaration you just made.

BALL: Sure. But can I just say one thing? Sure. But can I just say one thing about that? I mean, I think for any news outlet -- and I know a decision was made here to essentially go with these results and even to characterize it as Pete Buttigieg has a lead when your own reporting says that it's riddled with errors. I just think that that's, you know, I think it's irresponsible.

BERMAN: We haven't declared a winner. We haven't declared a winner. The A.P. hasn't declared a winner as of now. I think we're waiting till 1 p.m. at the earliest to figure out --

BALL: Right.

BERMAN: -- what's going on. We're just putting the numbers up. We're putting the numbers up on the screen as reported by the Iowa Democratic Party. And making clear --

BALL: Yes, but we know that they're wrong.

BERMAN: They are a mess.

BALL: They're wrong.

BERMAN: They're a mess. They are a mess. And I think we made that crystal-clear.

I do want to play Tom Steyer, who had basically zero in Iowa and isn't polling well in New Hampshire. I want to play a new ad from him. Not because I think it's indicative of a giant Steyer boom; because it raises some other questions about where the Democrats are right now. So listen to a little bit of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We simply can't afford to nominate another insider or an untested newcomer who doesn't have the experience to beat Trump on the economy.

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's running on the economy. He's running on the idea that Democrats can't grow an economy, are a bunch of socialists. You can't afford to vote for him. My job is to take on --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So we just did Tom Steyer's job for him by playing, you know, more of the ad than we probably should have, in full.

But the point there, Jess, is that's a negative ad. This is the first negative ad where you're putting a picture of another candidate up there, and actually, for me, this isn't about Tom Steyer. To me what does this say after the Iowa caucuses, where the turnout was not high?

MCINTOSH: I think it is about Tom Steyer.

BERMAN: OK.

MCINTOSH: I think if you're a billionaire running in this race, then you have an obligation to -- you know, the camp site rule. Right? Leave it in better condition than you found it.

Tom Steyer is not going to be our nominee. So he needs to leave this race in better condition than he found it. And that ad certainly does not do that. So I think at this point, whatever little support he has is going to bleed pretty quickly. Who knows where it goes? But it will be interesting to see it leave.

BERMAN: You're saying he's peeing on the campfire.

MCINTOSH: I'm saying he's not leaving it in better condition.

BERMAN: All right.

HARLOW: Isn't it too early for that analogy?

BERMAN: It's actually before the kids start tuning in.

All right, Jess. Great to have you on.

[06:25:02]

Krystal Ball, it's been great having you on all this week. Thanks so much for being here this morning.

BALL: Thank you for having me. Appreciate you guys.

BERMAN: All right. The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus on this cruise ship off Japan tripled overnight. Up next, we have an interview with an American passenger on board who just learned that she tested positive for the virus. We have a live report next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Breaking overnight, 61 people have tested positive for coronavirus on the quarantined cruise ship docked off the coast of Japan, including now 11 Americans. This number is alarming, because this is 40 more cases than we reported just yesterday.

CNN's Will Ripley spoke with passengers on the ship, including an American woman who now has the virus. He joins us live from Japan.

Will, I have to say, the huge jump in these numbers in one night is a cause of enormous concern.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, John. And we've been speaking for a couple of days now with passengers on board the Diamond Princess.

END