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AT THIS HOUR
Candidates Flock to Polling Stations as N.H. Voters Cast Ballots; Biden Looks Ahead to Nevada, South Carolina; Klobuchar on New Surge: "We Have Defied Expectations; Buttigieg Hoping to Build on Momentum from Iowa; Joe & Jill Biden Head to S.C. Tonight; Sanders Feeling Confident about Today's Primary; Sanders Campaign Co-Chair, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Discusses the Sanders Campaign, Confidence in N.H., Sanders Hitting Buttigieg over Campaign Donations. Aired 11- 11:30a ET
Aired February 11, 2020 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.
New Hampshire, my friends, you are on the clock. It is decision time for voters there. And another critical moment for all of the presidential campaigns.
And 24 delegates up for grabs. Even more than that, after the chaos in Iowa, it is a chance to try and clarify who is in front, who's falling behind, and who has the momentum now in the Democratic primary as we roll on through these early states.
The candidates have been out in force this morning, not surprisingly, shaking hands, raising the roof even, and also handing out doughnuts because, apparently, you have to do everything and you will do almost anything to win votes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Mayor --
PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SOUTH BEND MAYOR: It feels fantastic. Volunteers are fired up. The energy on the ground is wonderful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you feeling this morning?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN); Oh, we're feeling good. We met a lot of people that just voted for me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you're going to win? SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Just exciting to be out here. And it is
great to see how many people show up to show their support and how many people show up to vote. So I'm really excited about this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: I'm just excited to be alive. That's the only answer to have today.
CNN reporters fanned out throughout the states.
Let's start with CNN's Athena Jones, at a polling station in Manchester.
Athena, what are you hearing? What are you seeing there?
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. We're at a polling station at an elementary school in Manchester, the 12th of 12 wards. And the flow of voters has been pretty steady.
I can tell you the moderators told us earlier this morning they were expecting to see more people. Now we're at about at 885 people out of the 5300 or so that are registered to vote at this location. I understand that's about normal.
I'm talking to Vernia Perry. She a moderator at this location. She has worked here at this very school polling location for almost 20 years. So she has a good sense of how this compares to past elections.
Tell me how this compares, the numbers you're seeing?
VERNIA PERRY, MANCHESTER POLLING STATION MODERATOR: I think it is comparable. I think now we're getting the steady flow of people coming in. They may have waited because the roads were a little slippery or something this morning. So I think we're starting to see a steady flow in here now.
And I think it is going to probably keep up like this. And hopefully, at 3:00 we get our 3:00 to 7:00 rush like we always do. It is very unpredictable. You take it one -- little by little. You know?
JONES: Right. You were saying to me earlier that there was a prediction that there would be perhaps up to 500 new voters registering per ward. Have you gotten any sense of whether that's the case here?
PERRY: I think we're doing pretty well over here. I see we have a separate desk for new voters to get their ballots. So he's pretty busy. So I would assume yes.
JONES: Got it.
Well, thanks so much.
That's Vernia Perry. At this particular location, I've talked to 75 voters and, as of right
now, Sanders and Buttigieg remain in the lead with Warren, Biden, Klobuchar grouped together not too far behind -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: The 3:00 to 7:00 rush. I love that. They know that well in New Hampshire.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is at another polling location, in Dover, New Hampshire. Joining me now.
Miguel, what are you hearing from voters there?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we're looking for another 3:00 to 7:00 rush here in Dover. It has been steady but not exactly gangbusters in Dover. There are about at 600 voters this point, Democrats and Republicans, both voting today.
Most of the people I speak to say they're voting for Bernie Sanders, the second is Pete Buttigieg. And then Warren and Klobuchar sort of fill out the rest. I have not heard anyone, so far, say that they are voting for Joe Biden.
I spoke to a couple earlier asking about why they made the choices they did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Pete Buttigieg is really a middle line candidate and I think that he is the most fair and the least radical.
MARQUEZ: If Bernie Sanders ends up with the nomination, could you support him just as heartily?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would. I don't mind him either. But he is a little more extreme for my taste. So but I would still vote for him if he got the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Now, we are watching -- we are watching Dover very closely because in the last several -- last four contested Democratic primaries, Dover has been a bellwether for the state. It has not only picked the first one or two candidates. It has picked the four and five candidates in exact order that the state voted. It is a very good test for Democratic candidates here.
They are expecting a pretty sizable turnout today. We'll see if that comes to fruition, something certainly Democratic officials here and across the country will be watching as well.
Back to you.
BOLDUAN: All right, fantastic.
Thank you, Miguel.
So that's what we're hearing from some of the voters this morning. What are the campaigns saying in their final pitch today?
Let's find out.
First, let's talk about Joe Biden. His campaign is helping for a better result in the disappointing fourth place finish in Iowa. He also seems to be trying to lower expectations in New Hampshire. And already looking past New Hampshire quite frankly. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm anxious to get to South Carolina and Nevada. I view this as, you know, a package of four, out of the gate. And I don't know how you can judge who is going to be likely be able to win the nomination until you have the African-American vote and the Latino vote. And that doesn't come until later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: CNN's Jessica Dean is following Biden in Nashua.
Jessica, Biden called himself an underdog this morning. What are you hearing from the campaign?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm getting breaking news right now, Kate, that I want to announce to you. We're getting word from the campaign that Jill and Joe Biden are planning to travel to South Carolina tonight. That they will leave New Hampshire.
I'm still looking at the information as I'm delivering it to you. It looks like their event start time is for 9:00 p.m. Eastern in South Carolina. That's going to be a South Carolina launch party with one of their top surrogates, Cedric Richmond, of course, with the Congressional Black Caucus.
So, again, reporting new information right now. Joe and Jill Biden headed to South Carolina tonight on the night of the New Hampshire primaries.
Now, to put that into context for you, the disappointing fourth-place finish in Iowa, then coming to New Hampshire, where he's expected to also fall behind Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, maybe even coming in fourth or lower, so they were certainly lowering expectations, here in New Hampshire.
And now we're getting word that Jill and Joe Biden will travel out of the state tonight and head to South Carolina, which has long been considered to be Biden's firewall, with his swell of African-American support there. The campaign really ready to get to that portion of the primary. Let's take a listen to what he told Don Lemon last night. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Bernie's a good guy. You want to run, you say you know Louisiana, you know Georgia, you want to run with the top of the ticket, defining the Democratic Party as a Socialist? Bernie is a great guy. It is his self-definition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: All right, so, again, also, Kate, that's what we have been hearing from the Biden campaign as well and from Joe Biden that he can benefit the bottom of the ticket and bring along the Senate, the House majorities they want with the Democrat in office in 2020.
But, again, the breaking news that the Bidens will travel to South Carolina this evening during -- after the polls close here in New Hampshire -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: And honestly, maybe more important than what the campaign is saying, their travel plans might be more telling exactly what they're thinking --
DEAN: Yes. Yes.
BOLDUAN: -- the result could be this evening and where their focus squarely is, even as voters in New Hampshire are heading to the polls.
Great stuff. Thanks, Jessica. I really appreciate it.
The one candidate looking for another big boost tonight, Amy Klobuchar. Her campaign says they're seeing big crowds, big interest, and big enthusiasm for the midwestern Senator following a big debate performance on Friday. It has high -- the campaign has high expectations for today.
CNN's Kyung Lah is following the Klobuchar campaign. She's in Manchester.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, people are lining up here at this school gymnasium in Manchester, New Hampshire, to vote in the New Hampshire primary. There's a good number of people lining up.
They have to go to the proper place to pick up their ballot by last name. And then they pick up their ballot, and they head over to the voting booth. I know it is a little difficult to see because it is so busy here. But then they vote.
The New Hampshire primary well under way for several hours here in this school gymnasium and across the state.
The candidates really wanted to make an impression on these voters before they came in. Amy Klobuchar was one of those candidates. She pulled up in her bus with her campaign, and she greeted reporters, she greeted supporters as well as people who were coming in here to vote at this polling place.
She was asked what would victory look like for her. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KLOBUCHAR: It just means that we have, as usual, what I'm going to see is that we have based on where we were a week ago that we have defied expectations. That's what we have done every step of the way in this campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: Pete Buttigieg also was at this polling place. He arrived here before dawn at 6:00 a.m., just before the polling place was opening. He was greeted by a good number of his volunteers. Then he hit a couple of other polling places, carrying doughnuts.
He was asked along the way how he feels about today. He said he's feeling great -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Kyung. Thank you.
Pete Buttigieg is looking to sustain the momentum from his big finish in Iowa.
It is clear that at least part of his closing argument now is going after the candidate who won New Hampshire in the last Democratic presidential primary, Bernie Sanders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUTTIGIEG: Senator Sanders, ideals are ideals that I think most Americans share. At the end of the day, we have to explain how we are supposed to get from here to there.
And when there's a hole in his proposals that amounts to $25 trillion, bigger than the entire size of the American economy, I think the American people deserve answers on how we're going to make sure that the math adds up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Joining me now, national political reporter for "Politico," Elena Schneider. She's been following the Buttigieg campaign. And CNN political commentator and former spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, Karen Finney.
Thanks, guys, for being her.
Elena, what are you hearing from the Buttigieg campaign today? What is a win? ELENA SCHNEIDER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": The
Buttigieg campaign wants to extend what they were able to do in Iowa, which was a surprise surge, basically, a tie out of Iowa and winning the state delegates.
And they want to try and repeat that here in New Hampshire. But they're also very aware that they're competing against two Senators who have home-state advantage.
Obviously, chief among them is Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont, who has been leading in these polls and who is likely to -- they see as somebody they're going after in terms of trying to get that first-place finish.
But also Elizabeth Warren, someone who they share a lot of overlapping voters with and from neighboring Massachusetts.
They're aware they had stiffer competition than maybe in different ways than they did in Iowa. But certainly, they still feel like they need to put in a really strong competitive showing against Bernie Sanders if they hope to have momentum moving into more diverse states into the calendar.
BOLDUAN: That seems clear and in the tone and the focus of the final pitch.
Karen, what do you think of some of the campaigns going negative post- Iowa or drawing contrasts, if you will?
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. We like to call the contrasts.
I think it is damaging and I think we saw that in some of the earlier reporting. There's a way to draw a contrast to say, here's where I am on this issue and here's where the other person is.
But I will say, you know, Joe Biden's ad on Pete Buttigieg really hit people hard and didn't quite land the way they intended. Yes, he made some important points about the differentials in their experience. But I think most Democrats don't want to see it get quite that negative.
But that being said, I always want to caution Democrats to remember, whatever we face against each other in a primary is nothing like what we will face in a general election against Donald Trump.
So this is the time to be tested, to see can a candidate land a punch, can they take a punch, and can their campaign handle it and bounce back. And as we saw, Mayor Buttigieg, you know, handled himself quite well and was ready for that attack.
BOLDUAN: Karen, real quick, what Jessica Dean was reporting, the new travel plans basically announced, Joe Biden and Jill Biden on the ground in South Carolina this evening as the reporting is likely going to be coming out from the New Hampshire primary.
Leaning on your past campaign experience, what does that tell you?
FINNEY: Well, two things. One, I can tell you we couldn't wait to get out of New Hampshire in 2016.
FINNEY: We were, like, in the van, ready, waiting to go and Hillary was still speaking.
It makes a lot of sense and here's why. Two, dynamics here. Number one, South Carolina is very important for Joe Biden. We've talked for a long time about his support among African-American voters, so critical to winning the nomination.
But the second thing is, part of what we're seeing in this election cycle, this is a conversation Democrats have been having, really since 2004, 2005, when I was at the DNC, which is it is not just about the first two states.
You've really got to take the first four early states as a composite because it gives you information about how the candidate can do with different communities of voters, different issues, different regions of the country.
It is like dating. Voters are learning more information about the candidates as we go.
BOLDUAN: Depending what dating app, though.
FINNEY: Very true.
BOLDUAN: We won't go there.
BOLDUAN: This is your LinkedIn version or your Tinder version, Karen.
Elena, one person not going the negative route, I will say, is Elizabeth Warren. So in this moment, how important is New Hampshire? How important is this state for her and her path to success, if you will?
SCHNEIDER: Well, it depends on whether you ask them what they say publicly versus what they're saying privately.
SCHNEIDER: Publicly, they acknowledge that they need to do well here.
But there's a lot of projection forward into the Super Tuesday states. And undoubtedly, Elizabeth Warren is one of the most prepared candidates heading into Super Tuesday. She has more than a thousand staff deployed on the ground across this country.
She is somebody who put a huge bet on organization and that they feel like that's something they can lean on as they move forward, past New Hampshire.
Look, like I said, she is from a neighboring state. This is a place where she should have had some homefield advantage. But she's clearly lost out some of that to Bernie Sanders. But also, she's got a lot of overlapping support with Pete Buttigieg.
So I think that she's -- it is important for her to do well here. But I think they're trying to already, in the same way that Joe Biden is, look ahead to what is next, look ahead to the places where they can put points on the board and where they might feel like they have an advantage over some of those other candidates who maybe are not as well organized in those Super Tuesday states.
BOLDUAN: I love the knowing laugh from Karen on -- between the public and private message coming from a campaign.
It's good to see you guys. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Bernie Sanders under attack from his fellow Democrats but still predicting victory today. His campaign co-chair joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Brothers and sisters, this turnout tells me why we're going to win here in New Hampshire --
SANDERS: -- why we're going to win the Democratic nomination --
SANDERS: -- and why we are going to defeat the most-dangerous president in the modern history of America, Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That was Bernie Sanders last night, sounding pretty confident about today.
The Senator from neighboring Vermont is looking for a decisive victory in the first-in-the-nation primary, of course, after the Iowa caucus debacle left him in a near tie with Pete Buttigieg. Joining me now, the co-chair of the Sanders campaign, Democratic
Congressman Ro Khanna, of California.
Congressman, thank you for coming in.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Great to be back on.
BOLDUAN: That does not look like Manchester behind you. I'm just -- I'm kidding.
So Sanders won by 22 points in 2016 in New Hampshire. Is anything short of that a win this time?
KHANNA: Sure, I mean, if he wins by 1 percent that's a win. You have to realize, last time, it was a basically two-candidate race. Now he's started with 25 candidates, and there's still five or six very strong candidates. So him winning would be a big deal.
BOLDUAN: Even a one-point win is a win for Sanders this time around?
KHANNA: I believe so. Look, he's running against two-term vice president, against Elizabeth Warren, against Mayor Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and then you have Andrew Yang.
So for him to get a plurality in that kind of field would send a big signal. I mean, he won the popular vote in Iowa. For him to win in New Hampshire, I think that gives us a lot of momentum heading into Nevada.
BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the final pitch that we're hearing from some candidates.
Pete Buttigieg is critical of the core of Sanders' argument, because what Buttigieg is saying now is, for one, it is going to be a lot harder for Democrats to defeat Donald Trump if they have to defend Socialism at every turn.
And, two, the pitch that you are either for a revolution or for the status quo is not where a majority of Americans are.
How is Pete Buttigieg wrong?
KHANNA: Republicans called President Obama a Socialist. They called Hillary Clinton a Socialist. We have to define our terms, not be anticipating what the Republicans are going to say and --
BOLDUAN: But the difference, you know very well, Congressman is Hillary Clinton did not call herself a Socialist and Barack Obama did not call himself a Socialist. Bernie Sanders has called him a self- described Democratic-Socialist
KHANNA: What Bernie Sanders believes is he's an FDR Democrat. If you look at his platform, he's about completing the FDR New Deal. Here's what he's talking about. He's making sure everyone has health
care, Medicare For All, everyone has basic education, everyone gets childcare. He's actually talking about what is going to improve people's lives.
If we want to win back the Trump voters, we have to have a real vision for how to improve their lives. I believe FDR was the most popular Democratic in modern American politics. And Bernie Sanders is going to help carry his legacy.
BOLDUAN: I have heard from some of your fellow Democrats, if Bernie Sanders is the top of the ticket, it might be harder for them to win down-ballot. Do you think that's a real concern?
KHANNA: I don't. I've heard from some colleagues who think it will be easier because he's going to get a record turnout of people.
And, look, everyone has their right to represent their district. They don't have to agree with every single policy that Bernie Sanders is offering, much like they don't have to agree with every single policy that Joe Biden is offering or Senator Warren is offering.
The point is Bernie Sanders is going to excite our base. He's going to get a record turnout. He's going to get young people, minorities out to the polls. And then it is for every candidate to make a campaign that tailors their district or their state.
BOLDUAN: Sanders is questioning essentially the motives of Pete Buttigieg because the -- because Buttigieg is accepting donations from rich people, exceedingly rich people, is what he's pointing out, billionaires.
If Sanders wins the nomination, do you not want him to accept money from rich people?
KHANNA: Senator Sanders respects Mayor Pete. And Mayor Pete has run an admirable race coming out of nowhere. But there's a philosophical difference.
Senator Sanders believes we shouldn't have deductibles, premiums, co- pays in this country, and everyone should have health care as a right. That's a big philosophical difference with Mayor Pete.
Senator Sanders believes that there should be free public college and we need to relieve young people of their extraordinary student loans. That's an philosophical difference.
BOLDUAN: Right, those are philosophical differences. But what about my question?
KHANNA: I believe that Senator Sanders will have a grassroots army ready to beat Donald Trump. He's raising the most money of any candidate, despite not having big donors. He's going to have a more expanded army when he's the nominee. We're not concerned that Senator Sanders won't have the resources.
BOLDUAN: Not concerned, but you would say you don't want him to accept even if offered money from the wealthy?
KHANNA: He's not going to do that. He's never solicited a contribution in his entire career. So he certainly is not going to start as a nominee.
But I think he's going to inherit a mobilized base of people who are going to contribute. And he had record quarters raising $25 million a month. He'll expand that.
And there will be an infrastructure of the Democratic Party, of a digital infrastructure, and a party infrastructure that is going to help. And, of course, the Senator would welcome the help from the Democratic Party, given that he will be the Democratic nominee.
BOLDUAN: We'll get some more answers this evening. Well, we think. Let's not use Iowa as our example of when we will get the answers.
Thank you, Congressman, for coming in. Appreciate your time.
Still ahead for us --
KHANNA: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Still ahead, Amazon makes an extraordinary move. Why the company says President Trump should answer questions under oath.