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Sanders Wins New Hampshire, Buttigieg a Close Second; Democrats Turn Focus to Nevada, South Carolina; Trump Attacks Prosecutors Who Quit Roger Stone Case. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired February 12, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our campaign is not just about beating Trump. It is not just about transforming this country.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to hear from Nevada and South Carolina and Super Tuesday states and beyond.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Vulnerable Americans do not have the luxury of pursuing ideological purity over an inclusive victory.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Four federal prosecutors withdraw from Roger Stone's case after top Justice Department officials overruled their sentence recommendation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an attorney general, Mr. Barr, that is working to clean this up and rightfully so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This seems to be a full-scale reversal. I've never seen anything like it.
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 Wednesday, February 12. It is 6 a.m. here in New York.
And breaking overnight, they held a contest. They counted the votes. And there is a winner.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders managed to eke out a win in the New Hampshire primary. He finished just ahead of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. With 97 percent of the votes in, Sanders has 25.9 percent. Buttigieg right behind. And Senator Amy Klobuchar, who shot up after Friday night's debate, she finished third. And then way back -- I mean, way, way back, Senator Elizabeth Warren from neighboring Massachusetts. And then we have to flip the screen to show you Vice President -- the former vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, who finished fifth.
CAMEROTA: Even though Sanders won New Hampshire, he and Buttigieg picked up the same number of delegates. Neither Warren nor Biden met the 15 percent threshold for any delegates.
Buttigieg holds a slight edge now over Sanders in the all-important delegate count, 23 to 21.
Our coverage begins with Phil Mattingly. He is live at the magic wall to explain what happened last night in New Hampshire.
Good morning, Phil.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mostly, Alisyn, we got results. And that was a positive compared to the last time we tried to do this about a week ago. But here's what the results actually said.
Look, Bernie Sanders did win the night, and he won the night by about 4,000 votes. Why Bernie Sanders won the night, if you look through the townships that he won, well, the most populated townships in the entire state. He did very well in the university towns, mostly public university towns. He did very well at a lot of the rural areas, particularly in the northern -- the northwest part of the state he did very well in.
However, he did not do as well as he did back in 2016. Take a look at that map. When you look at this map, and you see light blue, that's Bernie Sanders, and that's Bernie Sanders dominating.
Here's what's different last night. There's a lot of light green. That's Pete Buttigieg. There's some dark green. That's Amy Klobuchar. And what that underscores is that, throughout the course of this night, from about the 5 percent return Mark on, it was a three- candidate race. And it was a rather static three-candidate race.
If you go through each of these towns, you recognize that it wasn't necessarily broken up by ideological lines or by youth vote lines or by demographic lines. Almost every single one of these towns, the top three, in whichever order they came in, were Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar.
That meant, of course, that Elizabeth Warren, who's a neighboring state senator, did not do very well. That means you have to scroll to be able to see Joe Biden, who barely came in the top three in any town throughout the course of the state.
What's most interesting about this, at least at this point in time, is that it underscores the reality of this race. Bernie Sanders at 25.9 percent is the lowest vote share of a New Hampshire primary winner in modern history. It underscores that there are multiple candidates. It's a very different race from 2016, and it's going to be a race that looks a lot different going forward.
Guys, I want to pull up some demographics, because I think this underscores this point. Look at the first two contests of this primary campaign.
Well, all right. We're not going to. Iowa and New Hampshire are almost predominantly white. Very limited minority vote throughout the course of either of those states, and that, in at least the first opening stages, played very well to Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders. The two winners of those states, Bernie Sanders winning the popular vote in both of those state contests.
Now if you look at the demographics of Nevada and South Carolina, which also aren't coming up here, you underscore the fact that where they're going is going to be more reflective of where the Democratic Party actually is. The Latino vote in Nevada -- broader across the entire state, not just the Democratic Party -- at about 20 percent. The African-American vote in South Carolina at about 25 percent.
Now, if you narrow that down into just the Democratic caucus in Nevada and the Democratic primary in South Carolina, those numbers go up significantly higher. And that's why Joe Biden wasn't even in New Hampshire last night. His campaign had a pretty good idea of how the night was going to go. They were already down in South Carolina.
I think what this underscores going forward for every candidate, including the two who've had the best first week of this -- these contests, Amy Klobuchar, who obviously had a major momentum swing from that Friday debate into last night, is that the race is going to look different. There are going to be more opportunities for other candidates to do well.
And I think the big question right now, guys, is can Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg or even Amy Klobuchar at this point bring together a broader coalition to be able to succeed as you move onto those states? That's an outstanding question.
What is not? Bernie Sanders. Once again winning New Hampshire. Pete Buttigieg once again having a big night. And Amy Klobuchar, without any doubt about it, having the most surprising and biggest nights of any of the candidates in what is still a rather large field, guys.
CAMEROTA: Phil Mattingly, even when the magic wall doesn't cooperate, you bring the magic.
MATTINGLY: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for all of that. You heard me.
So what does this morning mean for Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden? Former V.P. Biden is counting on Nevada and South Carolina to reshuffle the deck in his favor. As you can see on the calendar, they are coming up.
CNN's Abby Phillip is live in Manchester with how the candidates are spinning the New Hampshire results and looking ahead -- Abby.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Alisyn. It is a big morning today for three of the candidates: Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. But the question is also now what happens to the candidates who didn't
do well last night? Elizabeth Warren finishing a distant fourth place and Joe Biden even further behind her. There's now some new questions about whether or not they can compete and whether the states that come later, Nevada and South Carolina, could be pivotal for their future.
SANDERS: This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump.
PHILLIP (voice-over): With a win in New Hampshire, Senator Bernie Sanders taking control as the Democratic frontrunner.
SANDERS: No matter who wins -- and we certainly hope it's going to be us -- we are going to unite together and defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country.
PHILLIP: But not too far behind him, Pete Buttigieg.
BUTTIGIEG: Here in a state that goes by the motto, "Live free or die," you made up your own minds.
PHILLIP: The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor earning a strong second-place finish, once again saying he's a great alternative to voters who may see Sanders as too progressive.
BUTTIGIEG: Vulnerable American dos not have the luxury of pursuing ideological purity over an inclusive victory.
PHILLIP: Despite winning the popular vote in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders is behind in the overall delegate race by two.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, America. I'm Amy Klobuchar, and I will beat Donald Trump.
PHILLIP: Amy Klobuchar seemingly appealing to the state's moderate and independent voters.
KLOBUCHAR: Donald Trump's worst nightmare is that the people in the middle, the people who have had enough of the name calling and the mudslinging, have someone to vote for in November.
PHILLIP: The Minnesota senator ending Tuesday's contest with a surprisingly strong third-place finish and a new attitude.
KLOBUCHAR: We've been strong, and we've never quit.
PHILLIP: Senator Elizabeth Warren, who placed fourth, praised Klobuchar for her performance.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I also want to congratulate my friend and colleague Amy Klobuchar for showing just how wrong the pundits can be when they count a woman out. PHILLIP: With a fifth-place finish, Joe Biden left the state even
before the votes were counted for South Carolina.
BIDEN: It ain't over, man. We're just getting started.
PHILLIP: Eager to quickly put his dismal showings in the first contests behind him.
BIDEN: We just heard from the first 2 of 50 states. Now, where I come from, that's the opening bell, not the closing bell. And the fight to end Donald Trump's presidency is just beginning. Just beginning.
PHILLIP: But Biden isn't the only candidate looking ahead. Sanders is setting his sights on the next states and Super Tuesday.
SANDERS: We're going to Nevada. We're going to South Carolina. We're going to win those states, as well.
PHILLIP: And unlike Iowa, New Hampshire does seem to have had a culling effect on the field. Two candidates dropped out last night: businessman Andrew Yang and Senator Michael Bennet. We're also expecting to hear from former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who has said that he will make an announcement about the future of his campaign this morning -- John.
BERMAN: I think Deval Patrick heard from New Hampshire, is what happened.
Abby Phillip in New Hampshire, thank you so much for being with us this morning.
So what are the three major takeaways from the New Hampshire primary, and what do you need to know as the race moves to Nevada and South Carolina? That's next.
CAMEROTA: And we're back.
BERMAN: It really does have the big finish.
CAMEROTA: But it has two big finishes. That's what we're confused about.
BERMAN: We're contractually obligated to wait for the full three and a half minutes of that music before we start talking.
This morning, three big story lines emerging from New Hampshire. No. 1, Bernie Sanders, Democratic frontrunner. No. 2, the ascendant yet muddled moderates. And No. 3, the decisively descending Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. So bad it has an alliteration. Joining us now, three big guests who can help us understand these three big trends. CNN political analyst David Gregory; Krystal Ball, co-host of "Rising" on Hill-TV; and CNN political commentator Mark McKinnon, a former senior advisor to the George W. Bush campaign.
Krystal, I'm going to say something, then I'm going to duck. Bernie Sanders -- Bernie Sanders, half the vote he got in 2016. OK?
BERMAN: I'm just throwing that out there. But winning is way better than losing, and he did win decisively in New Hampshire. What do you take away?
KRYSTAL BALL, CO-HOST, HILL-TV'S "RISING": Indeed, he did. Well, there's a slight difference between this time and last time. I don't know if you've noticed, but there's like 85 candidates in the race. So that makes the dynamics a little bit different here.
I mean, I've been listening to the coverage here and other places that are like, Oh, the race is a muddle, and we don't know what's going on.
The race is not a muddle. Bernie Sanders got the most votes in the first two states. Historically, the candidate that wins those two states has always gone on to win the nomination.
And the truth of the matter is that his strength increases as you move out west to more diverse, younger states. He leads the national polls. He leads in Super Tuesday.
Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg stand at 0 percent and 4 percent with black voters right now. So the fact that there's a muddle in that centrist lane, dividing up that establishment vote, is nothing but good for Bernie. The race dynamics are pretty clear at this point, honestly.
CAMEROTA: David Gregory, how do you read the results?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I -- look, I think it's an important point. We've been through this before: 2016. Donald Trump kept winning and everybody said, Yes, but he can't actually win.
So I think you've got to give Bernie Sanders his due.
I'm a little bit more sensitive to the idea, not so much of a muddle, but that there is still a moderate wing of the party. I think Bernie Sanders has done something really important, which is consolidated the liberal wing of the Democratic Party with great organization, a strong outsider message, and these principled stands that people can rely on.
The question is does he have a ceiling? He's a winner so far. He's benefitting from a big field that's still big, that's still unsettled on the moderate side, in the moderate lane of the Democratic Party. And there's a lot more geography yet to tackle. But -- so I agree with Krystal, and I think this other story line is
valid, which is who is going to occupy that moderate wing? There's likely to be two or three for a while to figure out who's going to get the nomination. And whether it's Buttigieg or Klobuchar, maybe Bloomberg, or does Biden have a last stand? That's why we're waiting, and why we cover these votes. They're important, and there is a philosophical divide in the party.
BERMAN: Yes. He has, in the baseball prospect business, what we call a high floor, Bernie Sanders, but a low ceiling. Right? He has those voters who seem to stick with him no matter what. But 25 --
BALL: But John, what's your basis for that?
BERMAN: I'm just saying, hang on for a second: 25.9 percent is the lowest victory total for a Democrat that we have seen. Certainly, since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
And Bernie Sanders absolutely won this primary. And he will benefit going forward. I take your point very, very well. He will benefit going forward by the fact that the moderates or the establishment candidates, as you put them, are splitting the vote and do not do as well with minority voters going forward.
But -- but there is still much we have to learn, Mark McKinnon, and this race now goes to Nevada and South Carolina. How do you see it, Mark?
MARK MCKINNON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Let me echo your point, John, which is that, no question, Bernie Sanders got the most votes tonight, got the most votes in Iowa, and is a clear frontrunner in the race, although Pete Buttigieg has more delegates. At the end of the day, you need more delegates when you get to the convention.
And when you look at New Hampshire last night, it really reflects where the Democratic Party is today, which is that Bernie Sanders, even when you add up Elizabeth Warren's vote, gets about a third of the votes here in New Hampshire, which are progressive. The other two thirds are moderate votes, split up among the other candidates.
So ultimately, you need 2,000 delegates when you get to the convention. And yes, the moderate lane is muddled. But at some point, that's going to settle out. And at some point, when they get to the convention, if the moderate wing of the Democratic Party consolidates, they're going to have, if it reflects what New Hampshire did, two- thirds of the delegates when they get there.
CAMEROTA: What about that, Krystal?
BALL: Can I just say, though -- can I just say, though, that it's such a bizarre way of looking at this? Let's add up all these candidates, and that's the moderate -- and this is the progressive lane.
The reality is voters are not ideological in that particular way. I mean, Bernie Sanders did relatively well with moderate and conservative voters in New Hampshire, as well. So I think that's a strange way to look at this.
The bottom line is, yes, you're right. If there was one alternative. Just like in 2016. If there had been one alternative to Trump; if it was Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or whoever, they might have beat it. But at this point, who is the alternative who is credible?
I would argue probably the biggest threat to Sanders is Bloomberg, who also benefits from this sort of muddle and seems to have some traction, at least, in the African-American community.
But look, the reality is as you move out West, Bernie Sanders has been doing very well with diverse populations. Ran up the score in Iowa. Ran up the score in New Hampshire. Yes, they're small populations, but he's the only one that has demonstrated diverse support.
So I don't know why we always talk about Bernie Sanders's ceiling when there's no evidence for that. But we never talk about the fact that Amy Klobuchar, who's at 0 percent with black voters, or Pete Buttigieg at 4 percent with black voters, who yes, do very well with college- educated white people, of whom there are a lot in Iowa and New Hampshire.
BALL: What about their ceiling? How come we never talk about that?
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, I did ask Amy Klobuchar about that, and she has all sorts of her own metrics where she thinks that she'll do well in Nevada. But I take your point, Krystal. And I'm really glad that you're making it on the show, because I think that that's an important perspective for everybody waking up this morning.
But I do want to talk about former Vice President Joe Biden. So David, we've talked a lot about these obviously disappointing results for him last night, as well as Iowa. But wasn't his plan always to win big in South Carolina? And if that can happen, doesn't that still reshuffle the deck?
GREGORY: Maybe. But first of all, I think the plan was to project this air of inevitability and of invincibility. And that didn't work. Any Democrat needed to show up big on the debate stage. That didn't work for Biden. He does appear older. He appears more out of step. He appears more establishment.
You know, Bernie Sanders' message, which is not new, is certainly still an outsider message that is resonating with a big part of the party.
And if you look at Klobuchar and Buttigieg, you know, fresher faces from the Midwest. Klobuchar a senator, of course, but you know, a small-town mayor. These are outsider voices that are resonating a lot more.
So, yes. Biden now says, No, it's all about, you know, the voice of minority voters in the South that are going to carry the day. You know, I think it's fair to be deeply skeptical about that at this point, but we have to watch. I do think there's a last stand there. There's a lot more diversity in the party that has to actually speak up and vote and be counted. We're going to see that in Nevada. We're going to see it in South Carolina. And then we'll get greater clarity.
Everything will be tested here. You know, ceilings and floors, all these things will be tested. And right now, we see where we are. We are seeing more clarity with still a lot more questions, which seems to me appropriate in a big field after only two contests.
BERMAN: I do think the plan was always to do well in South Carolina. But I never think part of the plan was to do incredibly poorly --
BERMAN: -- in Iowa and New Hampshire. No one goes into New Hampshire, hoping to finish a distant fifth.
Mark -- can we put the calendar up here, P-110? Because this is something that I know would make a political consultant working on the Biden or Warren campaign just shudder right now. We are what? It's February 12 today. Look how much real estate happens before the next voting day. That is February 22. It's a week and a half. And two and a half weeks until South Carolina.
If you're Elizabeth Warren -- we haven't talked about her much -- how do you fill those days between now and Nevada when everyone is asking you, Why are you still in this race?
MCKINNON: Yes. It's tough. This is that point of the campaign where good gets better and bad gets worse. And it's getting a lot worse for Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.
The thing I'd say about -- America loves a comeback, and there's great affection for Joe Biden, but he's really going to have a pull a rabbit out of the hat in South Carolina. Because minority voters are just like every other voters; they want to see momentum. They want to see that you can win elsewhere. So he's going to have a tough time keeping that souffle up in South Carolina.
And Elizabeth Warren has already signaled last night that -- that she likes what is Amy Klobuchar is doing. And it's hard to see where she grows her campaign without some kind of big reset. And she hasn't shown any evidence over the course of the last week or two.
I mean, she's kind of got one -- one reflex and muscle and drill that she does. And she doesn't show any signs that she's going to change that. So it's hard to see how her trajectory changes or really much, again for Joe Biden, as well.
BERMAN: Mark McKinnon, Krystal Ball, David Gregory, you guys have no ceiling. Limitless possibilities in sight. And we do appreciate you.
CAMEROTA: Raise the roof. BERMAN: And that's why Pete Buttigieg did not beat Bernie Sanders
yesterday, David Gregory, because he did that in primary day before the voting. Thank you all.
GREGORY: And I don't even have McKinnon's scarf.
MCKINNON: I'm about to hit the floor, is what I'm about to hit.
BERMAN: Thanks, guys. Thanks for being with us.
Coming up on NEW DAY, we will speak to the former South Bend mayor, Pete Buttigieg, about his showing in New Hampshire. We're also going to speak to Andrew Yang, who dropped out of the race but did, I think, inspire a lot of voters.
CAMEROTA: And now to this huge story. All four federal prosecutors on the Roger Stone case have quit after being undercut by their bosses. We'll tell you what's going on here.
CAMEROTA: Here's a developing story overnight. President Trump attacking all four prosecutors who quit their jobs after the Justice Department officials overruled their sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone.
Of course, Roger Stone is the long-time Trump confidant and friend who was convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing the House investigation in the wake of the Mueller probe.
CNN's Laura Jarrett joins us now to explain what happened here -- Laura.
JARRETT: Alisyn, the Justice Department is facing its biggest test yet, with a president who says he can do anything he wants. And it's a case that, if it were any other defendant at any other time, it would be straightforward. But it's not.
And instead, we see a tweet, a stunning about face coming from on high at the Justice Department, and a Tuesday-night revolt among career prosecutors.
JARRETT (voice-over): A stunning development as four federal prosecutors withdraw from Roger Stone's case after top Justice Department officials overruled their sentence recommendation, calling it too harsh.
Stone, a long-time confidant of President Trump, was convicted last year of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia, a case that stemmed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Prosecutors originally told a federal judge that Stone should serve seven to nine years in prison. But then the president expressed his outrage on Twitter, calling it an very unfair situation, adding, "Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice."
Hours later, Justice Department leaders intervened. One senior Justice Department official tells CNN that the sentencing recommendation the prosecutors made was not communicated to leadership at the department before it was submitted.
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This seems to be a full scale reversal in a politically charged case by the Department of Justice. I've never seen anything like it.
JARRETT: The official went on to say, quote, "The department was shocked to see the sentencing recommendation. The department believes the recommendation is extreme and excessive and is grossly disproportionate to Stone's offenses."
Ultimately, the presiding judge in the case will have the final say on Stone's sentence.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The idea that this was just adjustments on the sentence that are somehow routine, nonsense. This is nothing routine about this. Now, the one thing I would add is that I do think that the seven to nine years recommendation was very high. I was surprised by it.
JARRETT: A Justice Department spokesperson insists that the White House was not involved in overruling the prosecutors.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it was ridiculous. No, I didn't speak to the justice. I'd be able to do it if I want to. I have the absolute right to do it.
JARRETT: Still in a series of tweets overnight, the president continued to rail against the prosecutors, the judge, and the case. Saying, "It's all starting unravel with the ridiculous nine-year sentence recommendation."
Democratic leadership in Congress outraged by the president's rhetoric.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I have called for an investigation by the Office of Inspector General.