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EARLY START

Sanders Narrowly Wins New Hampshire, Buttigieg In Close Second, Klobuchar In Third; Biden Bolts New Hampshire Before Final Results; Quarantined Americans From Wuhan Released From California Military Base. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired February 12, 2020 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00]

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A great victory tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Bernie Sanders with the win in New Hampshire, but it was razor thin. Who's right behind him and who's on life support in a crowded field?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. A very early "EARLY START." I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Wednesday, February 12th. It is 3:00 a.m. in the East.

And there is an established frontrunner in the Democratic race. CNN projects Bernie Sanders winning the New Hampshire primary on the heels of a win in the popular vote in Iowa. The win for Sanders surprisingly tight in a state where he cleaned up just four years ago.

ROMANS: Moderates advancing as they try to slow the party's move to the left. Pete Buttigieg coming in a very close second, and Amy Klobuchar surging into third. Elizabeth Warren a distant fourth even though she is from neighboring Massachusetts.

JARRETT: Joe Biden wasn't in New Hampshire for election results. He came in fifth. CNN projects neither Warren nor Biden will even make the threshold to win delegates. Since 1968 every single Democratic presidential nominee took first or second in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump. We are taking on billionaires and we're taking on candidates funded by billionaires. We're going to South Carolina. We're going to win those states as well.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I admired Senator Sanders when I was a high school student. I respect him greatly to this day and I congratulate him on his strong showing tonight. And thanks to you a campaign that some said shouldn't be here at all has shown that we are here to stay.

And a politics of my way or the highway is a road to reelecting Donald Trump. If today's Washington were serving America well, a guy like Donald Trump would never have come within cheating distance of the Oval Office in the first place.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Amy Klobuchar and I will beat Donald Trump. We have beaten the odds every step of the way. We have done it on the merits. We have done it with ideas, and we have done it with hard work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The biggest change for the candidates going forward, the demographic map. The race now moves from mostly white Iowa and New Hampshire to far more diverse Nevada and South Carolina.

CNN's Phil Mattingly at the magic wall with a look at what happened overnight -- Phil.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine. Let's dig in and first off I'll preface with it's nice to actually have data. That's looking at you, Iowa.

But, OK, look, Bernie Sanders once again for the second consecutive cycle winning New Hampshire. I want to isolate to give you a sense of why. This in the light blue is everywhere Bernie Sanders won tonight, or these are the townships that he won. And you see a mix of college towns, of rural areas, not unlike what he did in 2016. And perhaps most importantly big population centers, Manchester, Nashua. That's why Bernie Sanders won.

But, guys, it's worth noting. Take a look, de-isolate him, if you will, what happened in 2016. All that light blue is Bernie Sanders. 2020, that's not the case. And here's why. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. And guys, I think what's most interesting when you go through this map, when you see the light green of Pete Buttigieg really, and some of these areas, the big population centers down here. Perhaps most importantly light green in those areas, that's Bernie Sanders home state.

Pete Buttigieg started to take a crack into that. Amy Klobuchar moving into areas that are traditionally Republican held in New Hampshire. Kind of showing her strength there. Explaining why it was such a tight race up and down. Bernie Sanders at about 26 percent right now. Obviously we projected him a winner but probably a lot tighter than what you thought. At least based on 2016.

But here's perhaps an equally large story. Look who's not even on the top four right now. You have to scroll to get to Joe Biden. Joe Biden who at one point last year said he expected to win New Hampshire. How bad of a night was it for Joe Biden? Well, let's isolate where he came in first in the townships across the state. You see no dark blue. What about where he came in second and first? You see one.

That's not a very large township. That's less than 50 people voting there. What about third place? Again, these are all very, very small underscoring that he did not have anywhere near the kind of night his campaign at least thought he would have a couple of months ago. Clearly he's in South Carolina. He understood where this night was going. But this is not a good result nor is where Elizabeth Warren ended up.

And I think the big question now, guys, going forward is, this race is kind of a muddle. Bernie Sanders, very clearly having two positive nights, Iowa and New Hampshire, winning the popular vote on both. Pete Buttigieg right now if you pull out you can actually see leading in the total delegates after Iowa and New Hampshire. Both feeling good about that. But the big question is what happens now. And this is what's extremely important after Iowa and New Hampshire.

[03:05:03]

Take a look at the demographics of Iowa and New Hampshire. Voting age population from both states. Iowa, 91 percent white. Very few minorities in the state -- statewide. New Hampshire, 93 percent white. Where are we going next? And this is why Joe Biden is in South Carolina right now. When you move onto the next states that are up, Nevada and South Carolina. Now this is citizen voting age population.

The minority vote in these states will be much higher for a Democratic primary. Just take a look at Nevada. 20 percent Hispanic Latino vote. 10 percent black vote. Move over to South Carolina, 26.5 percent black vote. It's going to be significantly larger when you narrow it down to just the Democratic primary.

Guys, it's about to get a lot more diverse and that's why a lot of candidates still feel like they have hope in this race. But no question about it, guys, another big night for Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, very pleased with how they ended up tonight.

ROMANS: Yes. Bernie Sanders did not have that big margin of victory that he had last time around and certainly he faces some -- he faces some tough going in Nevada probably with the culinary -- the powerful culinary union has said it is not for his Medicare for All.

MATTINGLY: Yes, that's exactly right. I think one of the big questions going in is he has a good operation in Nevada. You talk to his team and you recognize that in Nevada what they've been able to do with Hispanic and Latino voters over the course of the last several months puts them in a good position.

But when the most powerful operation in Democratic politics in the state of Nevada is targeting you as soon as the results came out in New Hampshire, that means you've got issues there. Something they're going to need to address and also something other candidates are going to be trying to capitalize on as we head into that caucus state.

ROMANS: All right. Phil Mattingly, bright and early for us this morning. We're going to unpack all of that as the morning goes on. Thanks, Phil. JARRETT: Well, a stinging loss and Joe Biden now has 17 days to stew

before the South Carolina primary. The former vice president led the Democratic polls for the better part of a year, but he left New Hampshire before most people even voted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We just heard from the first two of 50 states. Two of them. Not all the nation, not half the nation, not a quarter of the nation, not 10 percent. Two. Two. Now where I come from that's the opening bell. We need to hear from Nevada and South Carolina and Super Tuesday states and beyond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Jessica Dean covers the Biden campaign. She is live on the ground for us in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Jessica, I can't think of the last time a candidate left before the polls even closed. What kind of message does that send not only to the staff on the ground there but to voters in New Hampshire?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think people were surprised by that. They were disappointed in New Hampshire. We were at his primary night party last night, and it was sparsely attended. Of course, it got a little better as the night went on, but with no candidate it's kind of a hard sell to get people to come in and really celebrate your candidacy.

And Laura, now, as Phil was just alluding to, look, the Biden campaign is all in on Nevada and all in on South Carolina, Super Tuesday. They've always seen this as their path to the nomination. Back in the summer they were saying we don't have to have Iowa. We don't have to have New Hampshire.

Now, it's one thing not a win in those places. It's another thing to come in fourth and fifth in those places, leave New Hampshire without any delegates. That's a much more disappointing situation than they were anticipating. But they certainly as evidenced yesterday with him getting out of town before the polls even closed are very much hinging everything on South Carolina, on Nevada, on Super Tuesday, on these more diverse states as Phil kind of dug into that data right there.

That's important stuff for the Biden campaign. I actually talked to a source close to the campaign yesterday who told me it is put up or shut up time in South Carolina, saying that the vice president really needs to focus on his base. And if you've relied on it this much, it has to show up for you. So that is the Biden campaign's path. They think that that is very viable for them still.

When you take a look at Elizabeth Warren, a neighboring senator of course from Massachusetts, a very well-known name. Last night certainly disappointing for their campaign. She had seen her stock really rise of course over the summer. And again to leave New Hampshire without any delegates for Elizabeth Warren is a really tough break for her and her campaign. We heard her last night really elevating Amy Klobuchar, and also talking about party unity, talking about everybody coming together, that this is not a time to take attacks at one another.

So some of those things a really interesting approach because we did see the sharpening of attacks from a lot of different people coming into Tuesday night.

And then, Laura, of note also we lost two people in the Democratic nomination race. Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet, Senator Michael Bennet dropping out last night, as is typical. We usually see the field narrow a bit after New Hampshire. We typically see it narrow after Iowa, too, of course with the muddled results and no results it took a little while bit for that. But we have started to see the field winnow a bit -- Laura.

JARRETT: Yes. Absolutely. Thinning out.

Jessica Dean, thanks so much. See you soon.

[03:10:02]

ROMANS: All right, more ahead of the primary results plus the president reshaping the enforcement of justice with a tweet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Democrats now have a clear frontrunner in the race to the party's nomination. CNN projects Bernie Sanders eking out a narrow win in New Hampshire overnight. But moderates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar close on Sanders' heels.

What does this mean for the race going forward?

JARRETT: We're joined this morning by Ron Brownstein, senior editor for the Atlantic and a CNN political analyst.

Thanks so much for staying up with us.

ROMANS: Hi, Ron.

JARRETT: Or getting up with us.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, good morning, something. Yes.

JARRETT: Ron, take a step back for us. You've talked about how muddled this race is.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

JARRETT: And it feels like it didn't really crystallize anymore last night. We saw the projections that Bernie Sanders was going to win, so that's not a surprise. Pete Buttigieg is right on his heels, though, and after coming off of a narrow win in Iowa, how surprising was that to you?

[03:15:04]

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I feel like the muddle is the message so far. You know, Buttigieg's share of the delegates last week in Iowa when he won was the smallest ever for an Iowa winner since the caucus began in 1972, and then Bernie Sanders tonight wins the New Hampshire primary with a smaller share of the vote than any winner in the Democratic primary there ever, lower even than Jimmy Carter in 1976.

I mean, right now it feels like all of these candidates are operating within significant limits that can strain their ability to build a coalition that is broad enough to kind of reach across the whole party, pull away from the others and potentially reach a majority of the delegates. This could be going on quite a while because they all still look more like niche candidates appealing to different branches of the party than they do like someone who can kind of unify the many kind of different sections -- segments of the Democratic coalition.

ROMANS: And Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, where do they go from here? Because you have Pete Buttigieg with his story line that he is the newcomer who is, you know, at the top, challenging Bernie Sanders, the veteran. Bernie Sanders says he can win. Amy Klobuchar says, you know, look, look at how much energy she got last night.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

ROMANS: What does this mean for Warren and Biden?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, no one -- you know, the -- the shorts answer is that no one who's ever finished fourth and fifth much less such a weak fourth and fifth.

ROMANS: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: In New Hampshire has ever won the Democratic nomination. What gives them, especially Biden, a little bit of hope is that no one is pulling away, and in particular there is this huge question mark over whether any of the other candidates can make significant inroads into the African-American community.

Bernie Sanders in 2016 won about one fifth of African-American voters. He was very strong among younger black voters up to about 35 and then he just kind of fell off the table. Pete Buttigieg has been nowhere. He's had probably the most diverse support in Iowa and New Hampshire, but those are of course states defined by their lack of racial diversity. Amy Klobuchar faces questions about her record as a prosecutor that's going to come up.

So it may be that African-American vote will in fact kind of diffuse to these other candidates and also Michael Bloomberg who certainly has issues of his own with stop and frisk. But I think the fact that none of the others are particularly well positioned to pick up or grow in that community is why people aren't ready to entirely shut the door on Biden as unlikely as it seems to recover from a pace thing this bad until somebody else shows that they can really cut into that African- American support that he's had in South Carolina and potentially in all those southern states that vote immediately thereafter in early March.

I don't think you'll be ready to completely write him off until we see how that plays out.

JARRETT: It seems like the one thing that unites the Democrats most right now is beating Donald Trump. You know, we see this. When they're asked in entrance polls and exit polls. Time after time. Look at that, 63 percent. That's what they care about. I mean, but how do they capitalize on that?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

JARRETT: How do Democrats take that and use it to their best advantage? You know, the other thing that we saw last night is Democrats are angry, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

JARRETT: And Democrats don't do anger in the same way as Republicans do sometimes, at least that's one of the common tropes there. How do they use this going forward in the race?

BROWNSTEIN: I can tell you and any reporter can tell you that, you know, when you go out and talk to voters both in Iowa and New Hampshire, they are agonizing over precisely this issue. Clearly for most voters beating Trump is the top priority. But they're not sure which one of those candidates offers the best chance of beating Trump. Joe Biden led on that question through all of 2019. Guess what, you lose in Iowa and New Hampshire, suddenly you don't look like such an electoral colossus anymore.

I mean, the fact is there are two completely different theories about how you beat Donald Trump. One is the one that Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Biden that you just put up there are kind of embodying which says, look, there are a lot of center-right voters in the country that might ordinarily vote Republican who may even like some of the economic policies that Trump is pursuing but are now open to voting for a Democrat because they find Trump so personally unacceptable.

And then there's the other theory, the Warren, Sanders theory, which says no, no, no, we don't have the worry about those swing votes. We have to worry about maximizing turnout among our core voters particularly young people and minorities but offering this kind of unapologetic liberal agenda. That theory has taken some hits in Iowa and New Hampshire. Iowa didn't really have a big turnout increase. New Hampshire the turnout was robust, but the share of young people in the electorate went down from 2016 to 2020.

This is the core issue I think that Democrats are fighting out in the primaries in 2020. What is the best path toward beating Donald Trump? And it is possible that they may end up at something of a stalemate, which would prevent anybody from getting a majority of the delegates, and we haven't had a, you know, multi-ballot convention since 1952.

JARRETT: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: But there are a lot of things we haven't had before that we've been living these past few years.

[03:20:00]

ROMANS: Exactly. It's hard to look at as past as any kind of, you know.

JARRETT: Indication. Yes.

ROMANS: Indication of what's going to happen.

Ron Brownstein, senior editor at the Atlantic, nice to see you this morning. Thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

JARRETT: Ron, thanks so much.

All right. Almost 200 people released from a two-week quarantine over coronavirus. But now a ship in Japan reporting more cases. What it means for thousands onboard live from the port up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JARRETT: A truly extraordinary 24 hours at the Justice Department raising serious questions about DOJ's independence from the White House. All four prosecutors in the case against Roger Stone withdrawing after top officials at the DOJ intervened to press for a more lenient sentence for the longtime Trump confidant.

[03:25:07]

The sudden reversal happening just hours after the president criticized the original seven to nine-year sentence recommendation as a, quote, "miscarriage of justice." Prosecutors on the Stone case withdrew one by one over the course of several hours Tuesday. One resigning from the Justice Department altogether as top brass at the DOJ now recommend some unspecified term of incarceration for Stone. What's crystal clear here is how the president sees it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I didn't speak to the -- I'd be able to do it if I wanted. I have the absolute right to do it. I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn't believe, but I didn't speak to them. I thought the recommendation was ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: He says he stays out of things but he's still tweeting about the Stone case, prosecutors and even the judge all night long. A senior Justice official tried to downplay the department's reversal as a breakdown between prosecutors in the field and DOJ leadership, but the presiding judge will have the final say on Stone's sentence.

Meanwhile President Trump has also suddenly withdrawn Jessie Liu's nomination to serve as the Treasury Department's undersecretary for tourism and financial crimes. Liu led the DCUS attorney's office that headed up the Stone prosecution. A source would not dismiss the idea that withdrawing Liu's nomination was connected to the Stone case.

It's all just the latest examples in a series of examples of President Trump and his administration taking extreme measures clearly emboldened by the Senate impeachment acquittal.

ROMANS: All right. The first group of Americans evacuated from Wuhan and quarantined over the coronavirus have been released. A graduation- like moment with some of the people tossing their face masks in celebration. 195 people spent 14 days under mandatory quarantine at a California military base and none tested positive for the virus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JARRED EVANS, QUARANTINED AMERICAN: It's been a long journey 14 days but we're just glad that we are healthy, we're clean, ready to go home to our communities and family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Overnight 40 new cases of coronavirus cases confirmed on a quarantined ship off the coast of Japan including one so-called quarantined officer. It brings the total number of cases on board that ship to 175.

Let's bring in CNN's Matt Rivers. He's live at the port in Japan. And I cannot imagine what kind of anxiety those people are going through stuck on that boat, under quarantine and with so many people testing positive.

MATTI RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We speak to about half a dozen or so passengers on board that ship every day, Christine. And I can tell you that every single one of them is hoping for a moment like the one that you just played, the so-called graduation where they threw their masks in their air. That's what these people are hoping for because, you know, as each and every day, they're waiting for more news, more cases coming, more positive tests, and they're wondering when is it going to end.

Japanese officials continue to stick to the line that any new cases that have been positively diagnosed that those people contracted the virus before this quarantine was put into place. They contend that the quarantine is still working but increasingly you are seeing fractures in the trust that people onboard that ship have in the statements from Japanese health officials. I spoke to one woman earlier today who flat out believes that the quarantine isn't working and she appealed to President Trump to get her, quote, "the hell off this ship."

But, you know, I think for the vast majority of people, they still believe the Japanese health officials, but it's just weighing on them. We spoke to one man a little bit earlier about how he's feeling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KENT FRASURE, DIAMOND PROCESS PASSENGER: Yes, it feels a lot like just another day more passengers. It gets a bit tiring for sure. Kind of feel like a punching bag. You just don't know what's going to be next.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: Now, this comes as the WHO, the World Health Organization, is warning that if this virus manages to spread to places in Latin America and Africa, places with less robust health care systems, then it could be a lot worse. The head of the WHO basically saying that they need to invest in preparedness and take advantage of this window opportunity that they have now to try and make sure that they stop this virus that they contain it as quickly as possible.

ROMANS: All right, Matt Rivers, in the port there in Yokohama, Japan. Thanks, Matt.

JARRETT: Well, a razor thin win but still a win for Bernie Sanders. What the New Hampshire results mean for a muddled 2020 Democratic field.

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