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Dems Take on Trump Ahead of Today's New Hampshire Primary; Trump Budget Calls for Cuts to Health and Loan Programs; Deadliest Day in China Amid Coronavirus; Reports: Baseball to Shake Up Postseason. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired February 11, 2020 - 05:00   ET


LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The first in the nation primary today in New Hampshire, candidates redirecting their fire at the 11th hour. The first votes already cast. Who has the most to gain and the most to lose?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The deadliest day in mainland China from the coronavirus. Another case confirmed in the U.S. wait until you hear about the mix-up that sent the patient home from the hospital.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Tuesday, February 11th, it's 5:00 a.m. in the East.


It's primary day in New Hampshire.

A pivotal vote in a wide open contest that could reshape the 2020 race. Democratic candidates made their final appeals across the state Monday, largely pivoting from attacking each other and turning their fire on President Trump.

ROMANS: Keeping tradition the first votes were cast overnight in three small towns. Taking an early lead in this very small sampling, Senator Amy Klobuchar. Big endorsements and strong debate performances that so far have vaulted her to the top nationally.

Here was her closing argument last night.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know we are searching at kind of an interesting time. Time and time again, New Hampshire has surprised the nation by giving us incredible precedence. New Hampshire has surprised the nation by not always going with the most famous person or the person with the biggest bank account.

What New Hampshire has done is given us leaders. So I'm asking you to do that for me today.


JARRETT: Also noteworthy in the early voting, Michael Bloomberg, he wasn't even on the ballot but got two write-ins from Democrats and Republican write in as well. A twist likely to get President Trump's attention this morning.

CNN has full coverage of New Hampshire primary day. We're starting with Brian Todd this morning, live in one of those three early voting villages, Dixville Notch.

Brian, it opened at midnight. What can you tell us?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Laura, very exciting opening to the primary. The first votes in the first of the nation primary cast just about five hours ago, and as you mentioned Michael Bloomberg was the surprise winner.

You know, it may not be so much of a surprise when you think about the all undeclared voters in New Hampshire. The undeclared voters here actually outnumber Democrats about 2-1 and outnumber Republicans about 2-1. So, the undeclared vote very, very strong here, that could explain why Amy Klobuchar won in the other two precincts and has the cumulative lead at this hour in New Hampshire. She's coming out ahead in Millsfield and Hart's Location. She didn't get any votes here in Dixville Notch.

But as you mentioned, it was Michael Bloomberg the surprise winner, the write-in candidate that got the votes here, three of the five votes went to Michael Bloomberg and he was on the so-called whiteboard that might get votes. They had to write him in. So that was a surprise at midnight last night.

Another surprise here this year was this vote almost didn't happen here in Dixville Notch because under state rules in New Mexico you have to have at least five voters in a precinct to hold a vote. As of late last year, they did. They only had four.

One of them, a gentleman named Les Otten who's a developer had lived on and off in Dixville Notch. He moved away for a time because he had projects elsewhere he was following. And as of late last year, they had to talk to him and say if you don't come back here we're not going to be able to hold a vote. So, he decided to comeback in late 2019. He established his residence here.

And he's become a very passionate voter and a very passionate member of the Dixville Notch community. He talked to me just after the vote occurred at midnight and talked about what's really important to him is not so much they were first in the state, first in the nation, with votes at midnight, but the fact they really signified the importance of voter turn out.

Here's Les Otten.


LES OTTEN, DIXVILLE NOTCH VOTER: I made my vote count and I did it with my fellow citizens, and 100 percent of us voted tonight and we are a democracy in action. I think as a country, we need to come to grips with the fact that in major elections, 50 percent or so of our population doesn't get involved and we can't expect to solve the country's problems without the involvement of our citizenry.


TODD: And Les Otten is actually here in Dixville Notch because he's got an important project. He's restoring this resort, The Balsams. This place has been around since 1865. It's had celebrities like Babe Ruth and Frank Sinatra come here for vacation, but it fell into disrepair. It closed nine years ago.

Les Otten is restoring it. He hopes to have it back up and running in about two years -- Laura.

JARRETT: Les Otten saving the day there in Dixville Notch.

Brian, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Bernie Sanders working late into the night to get out the vote today. He won the popular vote in Iowa but trails the delegate race.

CNN's Ryan Nobles on the campaign trail with Sanders in Durham, New Hampshire.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, it's a little ironic that we are with the 78-year-old candidate for president, Bernie Sanders, and we're on a college campus with a very popular band playing behind us and a very young crowd. But that has consistently shown to be the strongest base of support for Bernie Sanders.


A new Quinnipiac poll that shows Bernie Sanders now in the lead nationally, shows that he overwhelmingly has the most support of people under the age of 35. And when you think about the issues that Sanders cares the most about -- Medicare for All, fighting climate change, eliminating college debt, making college tuition-free -- these are all issues that appeal to younger voters much more than they might appeal to older voters, and that's Sanders' strength.

But the issue for Sanders is that often, younger voters are very unreliable, so he is hoping that they come out for him on Tuesday here in New Hampshire.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This turnout tells me why we're going to win here in New Hampshire, why we're going to win the Democratic nomination, and why we are going to defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of America, Donald Trump.

NOBLES: His campaign is a very robust get out the vote effort, specifically targeted at those young voters, part of the reason that he ended his campaign here on a college campus with a very big concert. All part of that momentum that he hopes pushes him to the finish line and provides for him his first full win of the Democratic primary season -- Laura and Christine.


JARRETT: All right, Ryan nobles.

Well, Bernie Sanders closest competitor in New Hampshire is Pete Buttigieg. The former South Bend mayor making multiple stops across the Granite State yesterday. He says Sanders is not being clear about the cost of his plans which includes Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, universal child care and eliminating public college tuition.

Buttigieg says Sanders all or nothing approach is not what most Americans want.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's proposed income over $29,000 being taxed to pay for health care plans. But on that, at least let's credit where credit is due because he's being honest about it. But here's the problem. There's $50 trillion worth of spending, so about half of it is unaccounted for and there's no explanation for where the other $25 trillion is supposed to come for.

I'm concerned that the idea that you've got to either be for a revolution or you must be for the status quo paints a picture where most of us can't see ourselves -- where most of us don't know where we fit in.


JARRETT: Even if Buttigieg does well in New Hampshire tonight, his future in the race is still murky. He may have a hard time drawing minority support in upcoming states, and there's billionaire Michael Bloomberg lurking with big ad buys ahead of Super Tuesday.

ROMANS: Joe Biden has been trying to lower expectations in New Hampshire for the last several days now. Between campaign stops he spoke to supporters in South Carolina. That's a primary that can't come soon enough for the former vice president.

Jessica Dean is on the trail with Mr. Biden in Manchester.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Former Vice President Joe Biden closed out the last day before the New Hampshire primary talking about Donald Trump and why he is the person to defeat him in November 2020. Incidentally, Donald Trump just down the road from where Biden held his last big event for the night, just less than two miles apart from the two men.

Here's what Vice President Biden had to say. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Guess who else is in

Manchester tonight? Donald Trump. What a coincidence. What a coincidence.

I have to tell you sometimes it feels like he's following me around. You already get rid of a president who calls generals to their faces losers, dopes and babies. I know I am. Are you ready to get rid of a president who calls traumatic brain injury a headache? I know I am.

Are you ready to get rid of a president who pins a presidential medal of freedom on Rush Limbaugh? Are you ready to get rid of a president who has marched a decorated war hero out of the White House for telling and truth and who has a real hero and has real courage and escorted him out?

DEAN: Over the weekend, we saw former Vice President Joe Biden really sharpen his attacks against his closest rivals Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders. He really hopes for a strong finish here in New Hampshire but that's looking less and less likely as Pete Buttigieg continues to surge as a moderate there. His campaign, very ready to move on to Nevada, to South Carolina, where there's a more diverse electorate that will be participating in the Democratic nominating process.

They're going to rely on African-American support there in South Carolina, on Hispanic support in Nevada. We'll see how that all plays out for them -- Christine and Laura.


ROMANS: Jessica, thank you for that.

Some hidden but critical footnotes in the president's election year budget. What it could mean for student loans, vaping and pay for federal employees.



ROMANS: President Trump's $4.8 trillion budget blueprint is a wish list of his priorities ahead of the election. It calls for major cuts to safety net programs like Medicaid while sparing Medicare.

Now we're learning about some of the other cuts in this budget. There are steep cuts for global health programs even as the world deals with the spread of the coronavirus.


While Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning on sweeping student loan forgiveness programs, Trump wants to eliminate one that already exists for public workers for the fourth year in a row.

Now, the budget could also pushover sight tobacco out of the FDA. Its tobacco division has been under intense scrutiny for how it regulates e-cigarettes as vaping among teens grows.

Now, the president also justified a smaller than anticipated pay raise for civilian federal workers. He cited national emergency or serious economic conditions, which would seem to counter his frequent claims the economy is booming. Trump proposes pay raises to be limited to just 1 percent next year, 2-1/2 percent increase across the board is scheduled to take effect in January 2021.

JARRETT: A new U.S. case of coronavirus has been confirmed in California, bringing the number of U.S. cases to 13. That new patient was one of the first U.S. evacuees from China, and in a bizarre twist, the patient was mistakenly released from the hospital in San Diego. An initial test showed no reaction but further testing confirmed the diagnosis.

The person has now returned to the hospital and is in isolation. The death toll in mainland China alone now surpassing at least 1,000. At least a hundred and eight of those deaths reported yesterday, the deadliest day so far.

Let's go to Steven Jiang who's live for us in Beijing with the latest -- Steven.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Laura, the picture continue Tuesday look grimmer as you said and heads begin to roll as we start to see the political fall out of this outbreak. Now, two senior provincial officials in charge of the health department in Hubei, that's the epicenter, were sacked after the reemergence of Xi Jinping who had been largely absent in the past two weeks, raising questions and peculations about his role in the government's response to contain this virus.

But now, of course, Mr. Xi has reappeared wearing a surgical mask, talking to local residents in Beijing, touring a hospital and even videoconferencing with medical workers from the front line. Very much trying to put to rest these speculations about his role and also reassuring the nation of his determination and confidence in overcoming this outbreak. Very much to reinforce the notion he is in firm control of the situation is also cares about people.

But, Laura, the thing is until he goes to Wuhan, the epicenter 600 miles away from Beijing, I think there's still going to be a lot of skeptics when it comes to the government's strategy at the epicenter -- Laura.

JARRETT: President Trump keeps making this claim about how the virus could actually slow down in the coming months. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The virus, they're working hard, it looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. I hope that's true.


JARRETT: He says he hopes it's true, but is there any truth to that, Steven?

JIANG: Well, experts here in China did say this virus thrives in cold weather much more than warm weather. They also pointed to the SARS outbreak back in 2003 saying that epidemic peaked and waned when the weather became warm.

But there's no guarantee this is going to help this time around. And also, when you look at the map, the two countries outside mainland China with the most cases right now are Singapore and China, both tropical weather countries in Southeast Asia.

JARRETT: Yes, that's really helpful to point out there.

Steven, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Eighteen minutes past the hour.

Just as pitchers and catchers start reporting to spring training, there's word Major League Baseball is considering big changes to the post-season.

Andy Scholes with details in the "Bleacher Report", next.



ROMANS: Twenty-three minutes past the hour.

Vanessa Bryant expressing grief and anger in an Instagram post as she copes with the death of her husband Kobe and her 13-year-old daughter Gigi.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report" -- Andy.


You know, in the post, Vanessa Bryant says she's mad over the deaths of her husband Kobe and daughter Gigi, but she knows it's just part of the grieving process. And she wanted to share for others who might be going through something similar.

Vanessa posting this video of Kobe and Gigi at the Mamba Sports Academy, writing in the post: It's like I'm trying to process being gone, by my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong. She adds: Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn't being able to have that opportunity?

Celebration of life for Kobe and Gigi will be held February 24th at the Staples Center.

In the meantime, a memorial service was held yesterday at Angels Stadium for John Altobelli, along with his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa who were among the nine people killed in the crash. Hundreds of family members and friends gathered to say goodbye to the Orange Coast college baseball coach. Altobelli had been getting ready for his 28th season with the Orange Coast Pirates.

All right. A Major League Baseball post-season may look very different come 2022. According to "New York Post", MLB is considering bumping up the amount of playoff teams from to 14, and the teams with the best records would get to pick their opponents.

This is how it would record. Top record in each league gets a buy in into the divisional round and other two divisional winners and top wild card team get to pick who they want to play in a best of three series. Those teams would get to host all three of the potential games.


Winners would then move onto the best of five divisional round.

All right, in NBA last night, Toronto Raptors continued to roll. They beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 137-126 to extend their franchise best winning streak to 15 games. They look to keep it going as they take on the Nets tomorrow night.

Finally, after 16 seasons, Philip Rivers' run with the Chargers is now over. The team officially announcing that River is going to be a free agent, and they posted a video thanking him for all his years with the team. Rivers just 38 years old. He joins Tom Brady as a free agent.

Christine, this seems like it's the year of the old free agent quarterback. It's going to be an interesting NFL off-season. Many people think Phil Rivers is going to sign with one of the Florida teams, maybe the Bucks or Dolphins because he did recently buy a home there in Florida.

ROMANS: Look, I'm telling you, I love these guys, 38, 40, that they can still have a future in this sport. They're healthy, they eat right. I mean, age is not what it used to be at all, Andy.

SCHOLES: Forty is the new 30.

ROMANS: That's right, that's right.

All right. Thanks so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Laura, what's coming up?

JARRETT: All right, Christine.

Well, it is primary day in New Hampshire, the first votes already cast. CNN is live across the state.