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Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) is Interviewed about the New Hampshire Primary; Pete Buttigieg (D) is Interviewed about his Campaign; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is Interviewed about her Campaign; New Hampshire Primary Today. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired February 11, 2020 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Voting is underway here in New Hampshire. You're looking at live pictures of a polling place in Manchester. I'm at one as well. And I can tell you, there's been a steady stream of voters coming since 6:00 a.m. when it opened.
As you know, granite state voters are famously independent. So what do they want? And what can we expect today?
Joining us now is Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.
Good morning, Senator. Great to see you.
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): Good morning.
CAMEROTA: And can you answer that question for all of us -- for all of us this morning, which is, you know, there's been this debate along the Democratic spectrum of, do voters want moderation right now or do they want revolution, for lack of a better -- a better term? What do you think New Hampshire voters want today?
SHAHEEN: I think Democratic voters want someone who can beat Donald Trump. That's what they're looking for and that's what people are going to continue to look for throughout this nominating process. You're right, New Hampshire voters are independent, but they're looking for someone who can win in November.
CAMEROTA: Yes, the problem is, nobody can exactly figure out who that is. And if that means Bernie Sanders, who, obviously, has a lot of excitement here and around the country, or Joe Biden, who has a lot of experience, obviously, as vice president, or Pete Buttigieg, who people seem to be bonding with his ideas, or Amy Klobuchar, who, of course, has momentum right now, or Elizabeth Warren, from a neighboring state.
Which way do you think New Hampshire voters are leaning?
SHAHEEN: Well, I haven't endorsed a candidate, but I think this is a long nominating process. The great thing about New Hampshire is because it's early, because candidates have to engage directly with voters and voters ask tough questions in New Hampshire and they really go and examine all of the candidates, listen to what they have to say, it's an opportunity for those candidates who are less well-financed and with less name recognition to really be heard. I think that's important to the presidential selection process.
But this is a long, long nominating season. And we're just at the beginning of it.
CAMEROTA: Your husband has endorsed Joe Biden. And I know that you've said you were not ready to endorse a candidate yet. But would you consider, or are you considering, endorsing whoever wins New Hampshire today?
SHAHEEN: I am not going to endorse anyone. I have a senate race of my own this year. I need to focus on that. I am going to support whoever the nominee of the Democratic Party is. I think that's where most people are. We need to come together behind the nominee and we need to all unite and work together so we can win in November.
CAMEROTA: As you know, after the debacle of Iowa, there are all sorts of Americans who are rethinking whether this is the right way to launch the primary season for Democrats. And there's questions about whether or not even New Hampshire, which, of course, is a primary, not a caucus, is still relevant given the demographics here, given how white it is. I think that the black population here is 1 percent.
What is -- I mean I know that, obviously, you have a bias towards New Hampshire, but do you think that New Hampshire is still relevant for the rest of the country?
SHAHEEN: Well, the other early contests in Nevada and South Carolina were added to address the concern about diversity. But New Hampshire, not about diversity. We've been doing this primary for 100 years now in New Hampshire as first primary state.
And it's really about making sure that candidates have to engage with voters. You can't come into New Hampshire with a lot of money and name recognition and necessarily win because New Hampshire voters are engaged. We have one of the highest voter turnouts in the country every election cycle. And they want to ask tough questions. They really take their job seriously. They examine the candidates. They make a decision about who they like, who they think is the best candidate who can answer those questions. And then, as I said, there -- and you said, they're independent. So it doesn't necessarily mean that they follow Iowa or follow any other state. And I think that's important to the presidential selection process.
CAMEROTA: Well, your secretary of state here is predicting a big turnout today. We'll see if that lives up to expectations.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, thank you very much. It's great to get your take on this important day. SHAHEEN: So nice to be with you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you.
SHAHEEN: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: So NEW DAY caught up with two of the Democratic candidates just before the first votes were cast here in New Hampshire.
Here's one moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have momentum right now and are in a great position for a good night.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a different kind of candidate. I'm a new generation than some of the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. We have more from Senator Amy Klobuchar and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Hear what they both had to say, next.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, New Hampshire voters at this moment heading to the polls in the first in the nation primary. Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, he is out on the trail this morning. We have seen him meeting and greeting voters as they head to cast their votes.
I had a chance to catch up with him as he crisscrossed the state and I talked to him backstage in Milford, New Hampshire.
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, you know, we have momentum right now and are in a great position for a good night.
But, you know, 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 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 there 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 and 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.
BERMAN: 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 Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, and I asked her outright, I said -- because Joe Biden has been talking about your experience. And I asked Symone Sanders, I said, do you think that Mayor Pete Buttigieg is ready to serve on president on day one. And she told me no. How --
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 chance it -- and, by the way, our best shot to beat Donald Trump is a focus on the future.
CAMEROTA: OK, very interesting to hear from Mayor Buttigieg there.
Senator Amy Klobuchar is also doing some last minute stumping here in Manchester. She made two stops at polling locations just this morning. Here she is getting off of her bus.
I caught up with her on that very bus yesterday between campaign stops.
CAMEROTA: Senator, it seems like you're having a good time.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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's 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 statehouse. 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 the debate, but also my heart. And that's what I think has changed things for us here.
CAMEROTA: Do you know that there is a newfangled -- there are a few newfangled words to describe the surge that you are experiencing right now.
KLOBUCHAR: (INAUDIBLE). Yes.
CAMEROTA: So there's Klobusurge (ph). There's Klobucharge (ph). And there's Klomentum.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. All good.
CAMEROTA: Which one -- what do you go with?
KLOBUCHAR: All fine. I just want people to vote for me, so I don't really care.
CAMEROTA: You 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.
CAMEROTA: Have you thought about what state you could win in?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, we just keep going. And, for me, it's been like this. You know, it's been -- I'm in one of these things. A lot of people have come down. I just gradually go up.
And we're just going to be headed to Nevada. We already have a team there. There's some interesting things for me there. I have worked a lot on immigration reform in both right when I got to the Senate, got attacked for standing up for immigrants in my own state in many attack ads and really have the creds when it comes to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Senator Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, they've both been out greeting voters this morning.
Meanwhile, supporters are waiting for Senator Elizabeth Warren at a polling location in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. These are live pictures. CNN's special live coverage of New Hampshire primary day continues right after this.
BERMAN: Live pictures from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. And there is Massachusetts Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren outside the polling location there. She has delivered doughnuts to supporters, and she is talking to a supporter who is too young to vote. I hope that young woman with the pink ear muffs does not try to cast a ballot.
She will not be allowed. But this is a nice moment, the type of moment you see out here in New Hampshire all the time, the candidates posing for pictures and greeting supporters. We've seen many of the candidates out there this morning. By tonight, maybe as early as 9:00 or 10:00 tonight, we will know who will emerge victorious from the first in the nation primary.
Want to bring in CNN's senior political commentator David Axelrod and David Gregory, CNN political analyst.
And, David Axelrod, I want to begin with you because you have been here on New Hampshire primary day morning.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
BERMAN: Not knowing what's going to happen by the end of the night. And I have to bring up, I know it's a painful memory, you didn't win here in 2008 after winning in Iowa.
AXELROD: That's right. Yes, no, that was a -- that was a --
BERMAN: Uncertainty reigns. What do you think --
AXELROD: That was -- there was uncertainty going into that day in 2008. And, you know, we came in there like a conquering army after winning Iowa expecting to dictate the terms of surrender. And the voters of New Hampshire had a different idea. We were 11 points ahead in the middle of the week before and ended up losing by two or three points there.
And so, you know, there is a lot of uncertainty going into election day, often in New Hampshire, because they are a contrarian state. They like to make up their own mind. And I'm sure there's a lot of uncertainty tonight.
Bernie Sanders seems to be the favorite there. He won the state overwhelmingly last time. But below him there's a lot of doubt as to where people are going to finish at. And where they finish is going to say a lot about where they're going.
BERMAN: David Gregory, go in the Gregory time machine and take me to 10:30 p.m. tonight, and what will be the big story line you think emerging from this state?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, for Sanders, because he's expected to win, you're going to look at his margin to see whether he can really secure frontrunner status at this point in the race given how he performed in Iowa. And there will be those who look at whether if it's a closer margin with say Mayor Pete, that maybe he's underperforming, and that's a challenge that Sanders has.
But I think it's what's happening lower down in the field in terms of who's got a realistic ticket out of here. We've heard Biden say that he's in this until the end. He told Don Lemon that. But he's going to have some real problems if he has a distant finish tonight.
Elizabeth Warren, the same.
And I think for Klobuchar and Buttigieg, they are relying on momentum to propel them further given there's such questions about whether they can attract a wider coalition of Democratic voters. That's what we're going to be looking at.
But the more jumbled this is -- you were on with Jonathan Martin earlier talking about New Hampshire typically winnowing the field and maybe not this year -- you do have Mike Bloomberg out there. And I think he looms as an ever larger figure who's got the money and who is perhaps the moderates' last hope in an increasingly progressive field.
Bakari Sellers was on earlier today, too, though, and he warns us -- and I take your point, and I think you're absolutely right, Michael Bloomberg is out there and certainly looking at that moderate field. But Bakari's suggestion is, we shouldn't talk about first or last hopes until African-Americans actually vote in the Democratic primary process. They make up about 1 percent of voters here in New Hampshire. They'll make up 60 percent in South Carolina.
BERMAN: David Axelrod, to the point that David Gregory is making, though, winnowing the field, will there be pressure? What kind of pressure will there be on any candidate if there's no clear winner out of Iowa and New Hampshire?
AXELROD: Well, first of all, pressure is generally created by lack of resources. If you can't raise the money, it's very hard to go on. If you can, it's easier to go on.
I mean one of the problems that Joe Biden has had, which is unusual for a frontrunner, is raising money. And, you know, he needs to mount a full campaign in Nevada and particularly South Carolina and then turn the corner to Super Tuesday. And a fourth place finish, a fifth place finish here is not going to help him replenish that gas tank. So that alone is a problem.
And, you know, for the others, similarly, Warren's money is going to be dependent on whether people feel that she is viable to some degree. Klobuchar has not been among the top fundraisers (INAUDIBLE) and Mayor Pete has done well. But, you know, momentum is absolutely essential to him. If he finishes eight points behind Bernie Sanders, it's not a great night for him. If he's relatively close, then he may propel himself forward and keep that fundraising going and get a second look in places like South Carolina, where he would have to do well.
But I agree with David, I think Bloomberg is watching this very closely. He wants to emerge as the sole and obvious moderate alternative to Bernie Sanders. And he -- the worst case scenario for him is if Joe Biden makes it through South Carolina, gets to the Super Tuesday in good shape and some of these other moderate candidates.
His preferred outcome tonight would be a blowout win for Bernie Sanders and a fifth place finish for Joe Biden and go from there. So he'll be watching, even though he's not a participant, though I see he got two votes in Dixville Notch, he will be watching with interest because what happens in these first four races will say a lot about whether he actually has a play here, even with all that money.
GREGORY: John, can I just say, too, there's something about this race that's --
BERMAN: David Gregory, go, ten seconds, yes.
GREGORY: Yes -- that strikes me. We've talked in the last two cycles about the inevitable candidate. And we had that early on with Biden, who has not shown up in that way. This is a much more scattered field. A lot more players as we move on out of New Hampshire. And it makes it quite a jumble.
BERMAN: I think that's such an important point here. Nothing is inevitable. Let's wait to count the votes tonight here in the first in the nation primary.
David Axelrod, David Gregory, thank you so much for being here with us.
CNN's special live coverage of the New Hampshire primary continues right after this.