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Voters Head to the Polls in First-in-the-Nation Primary; Democratic Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg is Interviewed about Election Chances; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Presidential Candidate, is Interviewed about New Hampshire Primary. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired February 11, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 2020 New Hampshire primary is under way.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we win here, I think we've got a path to the Democratic nomination.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You want to run with the top with the ticket, defining the Democratic Party, as a socialist?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: If Sanders does win here, he will be the front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Sanders's ideals are certainly ideals that, I think, most Americans share. At the end of the day, we have to explain how we're supposed to get from here to there.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Democrats cannot do a repeat of 2016. We can't go into a general election divided.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have always told people that if you are tired of the noise and the nonsense, you have a home with me.
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 Tuesday, February 11. It's 6 a.m. here in New Hampshire, where it is primary day. First in the nation primary day.
I'm coming to you live from St. Anselm College in Manchester. Alisyn is at a local polling location, out of doors, where the doors are just opening so people can go in, vote as of this second.
Twenty-four delegates up for grabs here in New Hampshire. We've been chasing the candidates across the state as they make their case to voters one last time. And this morning, we have interviews with Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Joe Biden. The campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, he will join us, as well.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: John, is it too late for me to rethink our decision that you're inside a cozy area while I'm outside at this polling place? Because maybe for the next hour, so we'll switch that up.
But I am here at Northwest Elementary School in Manchester. This is a very popular polling place. People are already trickling in. You might be able to see them lining up behind me.
Now, as for the candidates, they have been going after each other in this final stretch. They're also taking jabs at President Trump.
The president was also here in New Hampshire last night. He's continuing his impeachment retaliation tour. And while early-bird voters are just arriving here to cast their ballots, the first votes have already been cast in three tiny townships just after midnight. You know this is the tradition, where a little more than two dozen people voted up in Dixville Notch and places like that.
There, Amy Klobuchar is ahead, but the first vote cast went to a candidate who is not even on the ballot, and that is Michael Bloomberg.
So let's begin our coverage with CNN's Leyla Santiago. She is also live at a polling precinct in Portsmouth, where Elizabeth Warren will visit this morning.
Leyla, how does it look?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Alisyn.
You know, ass you mention, voting now under way, the primary in New Hampshire very much already running for the day. And so the heat is on for these Democratic presidential candidates that are looking to seal the first clear victory in this election season.
SANDERS: I think we've got a path to victory for the Democratic nomination.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Tension growing between Senator Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, making their last appeals to primary voters. Buttigieg looking for support from those who may feel alienated by Sanders's progressive agenda.
BUTTIGIEG: 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.
SANTIAGO: Sanders once again attacking Buttigieg and Joe Biden for their rich backers. SANDERS: My friend Mr. Buttigieg and my friend Joe Biden, they have
dozens and dozens of billionaires contributing to their campaign. We don't have any billionaires.
BIDEN: Is this Mickey Mouse on your hat?
SANTIAGO: After a poor showing in Iowa, Biden looking ahead to contests in more diverse states.
BIDEN: I'm anxious to get to South Carolina, Nevada. I view this as, you know, a package of four, just out of the gate. And I don't know how you can judge who's 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 a little later.
SANTIAGO: Biden isn't alone in needing a strong finish in New Hampshire.
KLOBUCHAR: So as you probably heard, we're on a bit of a surge.
SANTIAGO: Amy Klobuchar making a plea to voters still on the fence.
KLOBUCHAR: And I have always told people that, if you are tired of the extremes in our politics and the noise and the nonsense, you have a home with me.
SANTIAGO: Elizabeth Warren stressing Democrats should reflect on how they failed in 2016.
WARREN: We can't have Democrats firing at Democrats or Democrats mad at other Democrats. We have got to pull together as a party, because we've got to beat Donald Trump.
SANTIAGO: President Trump was also here for a rally last night.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I hear a lot of Republicans tomorrow will vote for the weakest candidate possible of the Democrats. My only problem is I'm trying to figure out who is their weakest candidate. I think they're all weak.
SANTIAGO: And, you know, one of the things that struck me last night as I was talking to voters: how many of them were still undecided last night. I talked to seven voters. Four of them were undecided, one woman telling me that she would likely make her decision after she stepped in that voting booth -- John.
BERMAN: Yes. No question, a lot of last-second voters here in New Hampshire. That's the way they do it here.
Leyla Santiago. Leyla, thank you very much.
Now, I caught up with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on the trail. He told me his campaign, it's in a different place this morning than it was just a week ago, because of his strong showing in Iowa. He just visited -- there he is right there -- a polling place nearby where I am in Manchester, New Hampshire.
CNN's Kyung Lah is inside. She joins me now -- Kyung.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mayor could not -- the former mayor could not come inside here, because all the voters are here. Pete Buttigieg just stopping by, getting out of his car, pausing, talking to a lot of the people as they headed into this polling place.
I'm at Webster School auditorium. And, as you can see, there -- there's already a sizable crowd here, people lining up to get their ballots to vote on this primary day.
There's only been -- This place has only been open for just a few minutes. And you can see by the number of people here, a lot of them were actually able to see Pete Buttigieg before he came in here and take a couple of pictures with him.
Shortly after he left, we are anticipating in the 7 a.m. Eastern Time hour that Amy Klobuchar will also stop by here to, you know, talk to some of these people before they come in, just to make one more stop, one more picture, try to convince people who may be on the fence that they will earn their vote in this first-in-the-nation primary.
These minutes and hours leading up to when these ballots are cast, the candidates throughout the day yesterday blanketing these states, all of them, holding rallies from early in the morning until late at night.
I was at a couple of Amy Klobuchar's events. The fire marshal had to close off these venues, because so many people were showing up. So interest high this morning here, at least at this polling place. So this school auditorium, it is already busy just minutes into voting starting -- John, Alisyn.
BERMAN: It really is a remarkable image behind you, Kyung, to see people lined up at 6:06 a.m. Eastern Time. The doors open. They go right in to cast their votes before they go to work.
It's also interesting to see the candidates outside. You know, I've talked to campaigns for years, and they all say there's really no way to persuade any voter, you know, before they go in to vote on election day. But part of the reason why they do is to keep the candidates busy; else the candidates drive the campaign staff crazy. So they travel them around the state to meet as many people as possible before they go in and vote.
All right. Kyung Lah here in Manchester at a polling location I think is going to be busy all morning long.
Coming up on NEW DAY, we have brand-new interviews with Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Senator Amy Klobuchar. I caught up with Pete Buttigieg yesterday on the trail, and he talked, again, about what's different now for him, that he emerged from Iowa as one of the frontrunners. He can feel the heat from the others. We'll be right back.
BERMAN: All right. It's on. New Hampshire voters at the polls right now. They are voting in the first-in-the-nation primary. We saw moments ago Pete Buttigieg already out on the trial. There's pictures from him moments ago here in Manchester, New Hampshire, meeting voters before they go in to cast their votes.
He had a series of events that went late into the night. I caught up with him backstage at one of his campaign events.
BERMAN: So when I last saw you, it was before the Iowa caucuses. Obviously, a lot has changed since then. You emerged from there with a lot of momentum. How does it feel tonight? How different does it feel?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, it feels really good. The energy we're seeing among our volunteers, organizers and the voters showing up at our events tells me that we have momentum right now and are in a great position for a good night.
But New Hampshire is a state that thinks for itself. Voters don't like to be told what to do by other states or, really, anybody, and so we know that we need to earn every single vote. That's why we've been working so hard doing events across the state, making sure we speak to those voters who even now are still going through their options and making up their mind.
BERMAN: How does it feel different than it did before?
BUTTIGIEG: You know, it's -- every state has a kind of different kind of different feel to it. Here, I think the fact that folks will go in and cast a ballot is just a different system from the caucus, of course.
But the other thing is I think there's a greater than ever sense of urgency. You know, as we speak Donald Trump is in this state, too, rallying his supporters and reminding us all why we need a new president.
He's just rolled out a budget that will make savage cuts to education, environmental protection. He said that Social Security even is on the table and Medicaid is up for cuts. We know what would happen if this presidency continues, and you can feel even more than before, I think, that voters are focused on the campaign that can go out there and beat Donald Trump.
I think the candidates and the campaigns, perhaps, feel a little more urgent, also. And one of the ways you can tell that is the way that you all talk about each other. I spoke with Simone Sanders, a senior advisor to the Biden campaign, and I asked her outright. I said, because Joe Biden has been talking about your experience. And I asked Simone Sanders, I said, do you think that Mayor Pete Buttigieg is ready to serve as president on day one? And she told me no.
BUTTIGIEG: I respectfully disagree, and so do a lot of voters.
Look, at the end of the day, this is about making sure that we bring the perspective that will be needed into the Oval Office. I'm no stranger to holding office. I'm no stranger to government. and I'm no stranger to service, both in uniform and in civilian roles. I know my way around Washington, and it's not that I don't accept or don't understand the way that Washington works, but we can't accept the division and the dysfunction that is going on. And I think our best shot to change it and, by the way, our best shot to beat Donald Trump is a focus on the future.
BERMAN: All right. That was Pete Buttigieg overnight. Moments ago, he was visiting a polling location, actually outdoors where you're looking at right now.
You can see people in New Hampshire take this seriously. The doors opened at 6 a.m. in polling locations across the state. People were lined up, ready for it. They are in there now to cast their ballots. And we will point out, again, you can vote if you're a Democrat, a Republican or, in New Hampshire, undeclared, which means that if you don't register with a party, you can walk in and vote in either primary; and often those are the decisive voters in this state.
Joining me now, CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip; and CNN political analyst Alex Burns. He's a national political correspondent for "The New York Times."
[06:15:02] And I should note, Alisyn Camerota is standing outside with us at a polling location, wearing a very warm jacket.
CAMEROTA: And it's snowing.
BERMAN: More comfortable than she's letting on.
Alex -- It's snowing. I didn't get that part yet. OK. In the snow. We're going to leave Alisyn in the snow for a second, Alex, and I'm going to ask you a question while she gets cold.
What are the stakes? I think anytime you head into a polling day on election day, it's important to think about what the stakes are of this day.
ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think on the one hand, it's a big test of Bernie Sanders and whether he is going to be able to not just win the state but win it with the kind of vote share that would suggest to Democrats across the country that he is emerging as a frontrunner in this race, right? That this is a state he dominated in 2016. He has something of a home field advantage here. And I do think for Bernie Sanders there's obviously a big difference between first and second place, also very big difference between winning the state with 30 percent and winning the state with something closer to 40 percent.
On the other side of the race, on the moderate side of the race, this is all about whether the moderates can get rid of Joe Biden, right? This has been the quest all along for every candidate in the race who's not a liberal populist, just can you get around this guy who is so well thrown and well-liked in the party? And as we've heard from Mayor Buttigieg and I think Senator Klobuchar, as well, there is this real sense there's an opportunity here to sort of sideline him going into some of the other states.
CAMEROTA: Abby, it does feel as though the deck just keeps being reshuffled, here and elsewhere. And so what are you watching for today?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's exactly that, Alisyn. I mean, I do think that there is a chance here that -- that, like Alex said, one of the moderates could push Joe Biden lower and lower and lower in this race, which is really a danger zone for him. I mean, fourth place in Iowa, I don't know that he can sustain another fourth- place finish here in New Hampshire without it causing some serious problems for him going down the road.
But I also think, you know, as we're watching the top three slots, you have Pete Buttigieg right up there with Bernie Sanders. Is -- is tonight going to be the time when he sees a late-in-the-game surge? There's been a lot of energy for him here in the state. But Bernie Sanders did extremely well four years ago and has a lot of support in this state, as well.
And then beyond that, what happens to Elizabeth Warren? She came in third in Iowa, and I think her supporters believe she hasn't gotten enough attention for that. But part of the problem here is that there are only so many tickets out of these first two states, and I do think that Warren is in a position where she has to beat expectations. She cannot simply meet them in order to -- in order to have the momentum that she's going to need going further along in this race.
So it's going to be important to see, you know, particularly whether the race between Sanders and Buttigieg gets closer tonight than it has seemed in the polls that we've been looking at over the last few days and whether, you know, one of the other candidates is able to edge out Joe Biden pushing him further down in -- in his standing, which I think could cause some serious problems for the race going forward for Joe Biden.
BERMAN: You're looking at live pictures, again, outside one of the polling locations here in Manchester, New Hampshire. Supporters can stand outside there at a safe distance with signs, but you can't do much more than that. It's really a show of force there.
Abby talked about the number of tickets out of New Hampshire. I read an article in "The New York Times" this morning which suggested there may not be a limit to the tickets out of New Hampshire. Whereas normally, in New Hampshire, the field gets winnowed, it may not happen here. That article was written by Alex Burns. Explain.
BURNS: Big reveal. Look, the -- the -- there are five candidates in this race who are seen as having a real shot at this thing, right? I don't mean winning New Hampshire but having a real path to the nomination. And I don't know that any of them -- Abby and I have just mentioned all of them -- I don't know that any of them is going to, short of total humiliation here, say, I'm out, right?
There's a debate coming up next week. Nevada, the next contest on February 22, is a really unpredictable state. And if you have come this far, unless you are dead broke as a candidate and have to do mass layoffs, which is possible for some of them. We don't really know what the current financial standing is for most people in this field.
BERMAN: Warren and Biden especially.
BURNS: Warren and Biden especially. What's the cost, really, in sort of sticking this out for another 11 days if you can? Right? And the race seems unsettled.
We're not in a place as of right now -- and it seems relatively unlikely that tonight we'll be in a place -- where somebody is running away with this primary, right? Where there's such an overwhelming front runner that it makes sense for a Joe Biden coming in fourth to say, You know what? Enough is enough.
PHILLIP: You know, I do not think anybody is going to drop out tomorrow morning, but I do wonder, realistically, whether that many people have actual shots at the nomination.
I mean, there are a lot of people who will stay in this race as long as they have the money to, but there's some serious challenges for candidates who do not have robust campaign operations. Once they get past South Carolina, Super Tuesday is three days away. It is not the kind of thing that you just show up at and hope for the best. You have to have something there to sustain it.
And I do think that there are a couple of people for whom doing really well in Iowa and New Hampshire can really give them the best shot that they will have at actually making a play for some of these latter states, but there are a lot of people with structural problems in this race. Not enough support from broad enough base, not enough name recognition, not enough money, not a big enough donor base.
And those people might stay in this race for a couple more -- a couple of more contests, but it's going to get really challenging once these first four contests are up, even if you can say, Yes, I did -- I had 10 percent in New Hampshire. I just don't -- in this race with Bloomberg coming down the pike very shortly, I just don't think it's going to be enough.
BERMAN: Alisyn. CAMEROTA: Hey, Alex. Last night Joe Biden sat down with Don Lemon, and he talked about his take on where everything is, including Bernie Sanders. So listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Bernie's a good guy, but 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? He's not a bad -- Bernie is a great guy, but it's his self- -- his self-definition. So the question is who can help us win back the Senate most?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Alex, what do you think?
BURNS: Look, I think for a lot of Democratic voters, that is and, for a long time, has been really the whole ball game, right? It's just the question of who can win and who can win convincingly.
Vice President Biden is talking about it there in terms of down-ballot elections, which I think the most engaged Democratic voters are really focused on. But for the most part, when you talk to Democratic voters, they're focused on beating Trump, and they want somebody who feels like a sure thing.
There's no such thing as a sure thing in national politics, but what you heard there from the former vice president, I think, is a big part of the reason why you haven't seen Bernie Sanders record higher support in the polls here and in other states where he did very well in 2016. Because even people who like him a lot and like him [SIC] ideas -- his ideas and think he's a good guy, still have reservations about his electability.
CAMEROTA: Guys, thank you very much for your take. We really appreciate it.
Meanwhile, we just talked about Senator Klobuchar. She has been drawing big crowds here in New Hampshire after her strong debate performance on Friday, but will that translate to votes? I got a chance to see her doing her thing in Exeter yesterday, and then I got on her campaign bus, and we had a chat. That's after the break.
CAMEROTA: The polls are open in New Hampshire, like the location behind me. I'm here at Northwest Elementary School in Manchester, and we've seen people trickling in already, lots of hardy New Englanders not wearing hats.
Senator Amy Klobuchar is expected to appear at two different locations in the next hour, so we'll bring you that. Now, yesterday, we caught up with her at a town hall in Exeter, New Hampshire. She drew big crowds, as I think we have some video to show you there. The capacity of the town hall was 500 people. The fire marshal at one point closed the doors, because it was over capacity.
After that event, I hopped on her campaign bus and caught up with her. Take a listen.
CAMEROTA: Senator, it seems like you're having a good time.
KLOBUCHAR: Yes. Well, I love campaigning, and I love getting out there. And we've done a lot of hard work to get to this point. We've been here 23 times. I don't think we've -- you know, not everyone has known when we come, but the people in New Hampshire knew.
And I have every major newspaper endorsement here. Three of the four top House leaders in the state House. And then I think we got to this certain point, and then we had the debate. And that really allowed people to not just see my ability to win and do well in a debate, but also my heart. And that's what I think has changed things for us here.
CAMEROTA: You're in Exeter. You're heading to Rochester. At some point, you'll be in Manchester.
CAMEROTA: When do you sleep?
KLOBUCHAR: I sleep for a limited period of time right now, because we want to use every second we have. Leading into Iowa, I was bolted to my desk. That was my job, and it was really important I was there, but this is a little different. At least I can get out there and meet people.
And we are just so happy. We've seen -- raised over $3 million since the debate. We have seen major changes in the polls, and we've seen huge turnouts at our events with people telling me, I just decided. There were so many undecided voters.
CAMEROTA: But seriously, do you sleep like four hours? How much are you sleeping at night?
KLOBUCHAR: It varies: four to six hours, somewhere in there.
CAMEROTA: Do you think that there is a newfangled -- there are a few newfangled words to describe the surge that you are experiencing right now.
CAMEROTA: So there's Klobusurge. There's Klobucharge, and there's Klomentum.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. All good.
CAMEROTA: Which one?
KLOBUCHAR: All fun. CAMEROTA: What do you go with?
KLOBUCHAR: I just want people to vote for me, so I don't really care.
CAMEROTA: Don't care what they call it?
KLOBUCHAR: No. And I think just so much of this is being able to explain to people that I'm a different kind of candidate. I'm a new generation than some of the people.
I also have been able to bring people with me in every race that I've ever run, and that's fired up Democratic base, plus moderate and independents, and moderate Republicans. And I've been able to do it in a big, big way. And I think that's what we need to build this coalition. And that's why you see people showing up at my events.