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GOP Candidates Meet for Critical Debate Tonight in N.H.; Sanders Attacks Clinton on Paid Speeches; Stakes High for Republican Debate; North Korea Launch Long Range Missile. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 06, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:12] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Top of the hour, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Thank you so much for being with us.
Scenic New Hampshire, politically very important New Hampshire, that is where all eyes are tonight as we tick off the days to the first presidential primary of 2016. Where the seven top polling Republican candidates are getting ready to take the stage in the final debate tonight before Tuesday's primary.
Here's a look at who will debate tonight. Front runner Donald Trump in the center, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio flanking him, and trying to cut into his considerable lead not only in New Hampshire but nationwide.
My friend Brooke Baldwin is live for us in Manchester tonight -- Brooke.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, Poppy Harlow.
Last time we chatted last weekend it was Iowa, this weekend all eyes on New Hampshire, a couple days away, right, from the first in the nation primary.
Listen, I love being out and about and covering politics and talking to smart political minds. Looking at someone you're about to see in a minute looking at me very funny.
New Hampshire, by the way, could technically belong to any one of the seven top Republican candidates and that is because about a third of the state's Republican voters tell us here at CNN that they have not made a firm decision on who they'll actually go out and support come primary night on Tuesday.
Let me begin this hour with our political reporter Sara Murray who is at the debate venue at Saint Anselm College here in Manchester.
I don't even know where to begin. Do we talk Trump, Rubio, or the governors? You pick.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Brooke, the stakes are really high for a lot of people on the stage. That's why it's so hard to decide who to start with. There are some people who are not going to make it out of New Hampshire alive and this debate is their closing argument. They have just a couple days to get up there in the polls.
We're looking at Chris Christie. We're looking at Jeb Bush. We're looking at John Kasich, to have a breakout moment and try to seal the deal.
But, look, Marco Rubio is going to be at center stage. He's going to be caught in the middle of this cross fire. He's the guy who has a lot of unexpected momentum coming out of Iowa and plenty of people are going to have their knives out for him.
And then, you have Donald Trump, the unpredictable candidate in this race, the guy who was not even on stage last time. He will be here tonight and I think the question is, does he take the highroad, try to stay out of the fray or does he mix it up with these other candidates and say, look, I don't want to take any chances in New Hampshire, I want to take someone else down to make sure that I've got a wide lead.
BALDWIN: Let me ask you about that. Let's stay on Donald Trump because the last time we were talking about Republican debate, he wasn't there. Instead he chose to, you know, hold that fund-raising event for veterans, and that was only Santorum and Huckabee with him. This is the first time we'll be seeing him take center stage. You know, you open up the paper today, "The Union Leader", and one of the headlines is about how he didn't come to that event last night because of the weather.
So, how does he play it tonight saying New Hampshire, I'm here for you, I want your vote?
MURRAY: You know, Brooke, some things have changed since Iowa and some things really haven't with the Donald Trump campaign. One thing that changed is we're seeing Trump do more retail politics, try and mix it up with more regular folks out and about in town and his campaign has been open about the fact they didn't have as good of a ground game they wanted in Iowa and they're looking to step that up in New Hampshire.
The thing that has not changed, though, are the unforced errors, the whole skipping a debate pause you're in a fight with FOX News in Iowa. Now, we move to New Hampshire and he decided to fly home for the night and ended up canceling a political event because the weather was so bad.
That was a mistake that he did not have to make. He could have spent the night in Iowa. He could hunker down here like other candidates. But, hey, he does -- or spent the night in New Hampshire and hunker down here, but he does have a wide lead in the state, so it may not matter come primary night.
But most candidates would not want to take that risk, Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK, it does make news when Donald Trump actually does stay in the state in which he's campaigning. Sara Murray, thank you very much. Let's broaden this out. Let me bring in my panel here. I have with
me, Mark Preston, executive editor for CNN Politics, Kayleigh McEnany, Republican strategist, and Bakari Sellers, CNN political commentator and former South Carolina state representative.
Here we are, Manchester, New Hampshire. Are we excited? Have we had a day off in a while, Mark Preston?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Am I the only one that didn't get the invitation to the prom? But you are dressed up to the nines.
BALDWIN: We like to show up well here. Thanks for wearing the jeans.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I have to look good for my mom.
PRESTON: This is what you call working attire in a New Hampshire primary.
BALDWIN: This is what we call somebody who hasn't had a day off in a month, so we'll give you that.
Let's begin looking ahead at the debate. I just kind of want to go to all of you all, starting with you.
What is the number one thing you'll be watch for on that stage?
PRESTON: Jeb Bush -- can Jeb Bush come out and go after Donald Trump and look effective in attacking him at the same point comparing and contrasting himself with Marco Rubio in a way that makes him look like the CEO and Marco Rubio's a junior executive?
[19:05:08] BALDWIN: Why would tonight be any different? Because thus far, Jeb Bush hasn't always been successful with Donald Trump on stage.
PRESTON: Correct, has failed up to this point. Jeb Bush has failed as a candidate in many ways, certainly on the debate stage, has incredible amount of experience. He needs to show it tonight. But if he doesn't, then he's in trouble.
BALDWIN: OK. Jeb Bush for you.
Kayleigh, what about you?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think Bush, Kasich, Cruz, and Rubio, the four of them are basically in a fight for second place. Which one can have that breakout moment, that moment that gets hem to control the narrative? Right now, if you look at 2012 exit polls, 84 percent of New Hampshire voters said the debate was important to their decision in 2012. It's huge tonight.
BALDWIN: Because so many are undecided. That's the piece of this whole storyline.
MCENANY: Absolutely. BALDWIN: To you.
MCENANY: For me, it's the governors. You have to look at Kasich. You have to look at Christie, and you have to look at Bush. And that's the most important thing tonight because two of those three governors will actually make it to South Carolina. One will not get a ticket out of New Hampshire.
BALDWIN: So, you do say two continue on.
SELLERS: I think to continue on. In fact, if I had to pick two today, I would actually say Kasich and Bush make it.
I think Bush bringing in Barbara Bush has been a great step. People in New Hampshire are adoring that. They adore her. She's one of the most we loved figures in GOP politics.
And Kasich has been steady. He's playing in the snow like Richard Nixon. He has a new energy to him. And both of them have been plotting a ground game in South Carolina. I think both make it out.
BALDWIN: But, Chris Christie -- let me follow up on that. I want to look to you. Chris Christie has set up shop here for a while. If he does not fare well, do you really think he's out?
PRESTON: I do. You know, if you talk to the Christie folks, a couple things about Chris Christie, he has a bit of operation in South Carolina. And, Bakari, you can probably speak to that a little bit more, because he's from South Carolina. Not huge but it's a little bit of an operation down there.
The thing about Chris Christie is that in previous debates, he had been so gentle in his attacks on his colleagues on the stage and he only attacked on Hillary Clinton. However, he's been calling Marco Rubio the boy in the bubble. He's been very critical of him. If he goes out tonight and doesn't do that to Marco Rubio, then he's finished.
SELLERS: Well, let me just chime in about the Barbara Bush thing. One of the things that we can't see tonight from Jeb Bush is his mother being tougher against Donald Trump than he is. So, he has to make it concise, a concise attack on Donald Trump and Marco Rubio but he can't be petty.
BALDWIN: Didn't Barbara Bush also say I think it was with our special correspondent Jamie Gangel, he's a little too nice, he needs to interrupt a little more?
SELLERS: I don't know if you can ask him to be something he's not. I think he has to -- he's been evolving. That new Jeb Bush ad where he uses Rick Santorum's words against Marco Rubio is one of the best political ads we've seen this cycle. If he keeps that momentum we'll have a good night.
BALDWIN: Go ahead, Kayleigh. MCENANY: I disagree that Jeb Bush has been this, you know, peaceful guy on the stage. Jeb Bush has repeatedly attacked Donald Trump in each debate and every time he does, in fact the CNN debate, he went after Donald Trump more vociferously than he ever.
BALDWIN: Talking about his wife Columba, but he didn't finish it.
MCENANY: It doesn't stick, and only one person people thought won that debate. I'm not sure it's a winning tactic.
BALDWIN: Hang on. What about Marco Rubio specifically? We have been talking so much about him since he fared so well in the wake of Iowa. You know, critics said, what was that, a victory speech? You know, when he came out Monday night. As he goes into the debate tonight, I feel like last week huge bulls eye on Cruz. This time, it feels like Rubio. How does he rise above?
PRESTON: He's got to be careful because he is taking incoming from all sides. Ted Cruz wins the Iowa caucus, Donald Trump comes in second and we're talking about the third place winner. Donald Trump spent no money, came in second. Everybody said it was a loss. It wasn't a loss for Donald Trump. Ted Cruz is in first place but they're all focusing on Rubio.
MCENANY: Every arrow is on Rubio. I predict you'll hear this tonight. You sided with Hillary Clinton on the Libya invasion, you sided with Chuck Schumer on immigration. Those are bad words among the Republican constituency.
SELLERS: He also has the most pressure on him. What we saw in the last debate was when Ted Cruz had the most pressure on him he didn't fare as well. Marco Rubio has the pressure because he has to leave New Hampshire with a second-place finish. He can't finish third or fourth. If he finishes third or fourth, then this so-called establishment lane has been opened up.
The person we haven't talked about in this whole segment has been Ted Cruz.
BALDWIN: Ted Cruz.
SELLERS: I mean, Ted Cruz literally just came off of Iowa, he's been riding steady about 12, he's fighting for second place. As long as he doesn't finish behind Ben Carson I think he'd be Ok.
MCENANY: You know what Ted Cruz should do? There are a lot of libertarians in that state --
BALDWIN: I know we're going with that.
MCENANY: He needs to hammer home I'm anti- --
BALDWIN: But Ron Paul this past week said hang on, this won't work, he's a fake libertarian, you cannot vote for Ted Cruz. SELLERS: New Hampshire also is -- I think mark may have said it
earlier this week, it's a very clean state.
BALDWIN: What do you mean by clean?
SELLERS: The tricks and gimmicks that Ted Cruz played in Iowa and Ben Carson is the nicest man alive.
BALDWIN: Doesn't fly here.
SELLERS: It doesn't fly here.
I mean, now, when he gets to South Carolina, I mean, any tricks, anything goes. But New Hampshire is a clean state and I think people are holding that against him.
[19:10:00] BALDWIN: I have so much more. Don't go too far, the three of you. I'm not quite finished.
Mark Preston, Kayleigh McEnany and Bakari Sellers, thank you so much for now.
Meantime, do not miss the post-debate coverage here in CNN with my colleague Erin Burnett and the best political team in television. That all starts at 10:00 Eastern hour, only here on CNN.
So, Poppy, sort of teeing up what we're looking for. It's incredible to think of all the different dynamics in play and that the dirty tricks don't fly in New Hampshire whatsoever. So, it will be curious to see how they do, especially as people keep talking about the three governors because, you know, coming out of New Hampshire, there will at least be minus one.
HARLOW: And as they say, not three tickets for three governors out of New Hampshire. I like how Bakari put it, clean state. We'll watch. I don't think if anything clean necessarily in politics and debates these days. We'll be watching.
Brooke, thank you so much.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
HARLOW: We just heard about the Republicans. Let's talk about the Democrats. It's Hillary Clinton tries to shrug off attacks over those speaking fees from Wall Street.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I made speeches to lots of groups. I told them what I thought. I answered questions.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: But did you have to be paid $675,000?
CLINTON: Well, I don't know. That's what they offered. So --
(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Will those paid speeches from Wall Street's biggest banks affect her campaign going forward? Legendary reporter Carl Bernstein, author of a major book on Clinton, is with me next.
HARLOW: All right. You are looking at live pictures of a Hillary Clinton organizing event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, one of a number of stops she's made today. He's trying to close the gap with Bernie Sanders, who has a wide lead with polling in that state. Sanders for his part is trying to downplay expectations that he may pull off a blowout victory in New Hampshire.
Here's what he just told our Jake Tapper today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I mean, obviously, Vermont, New Hampshire are separated by a river. We are close states. But you know what? Secretary Clinton won this state in 2008. Her husband ran several campaigns in this state.
When we began this campaign here in New Hampshire, we were 30 points down in the polls and she was much better known in this state than I was. So, simply to say, you know, if we win this thing it's because Bernie lives in Vermont, yes, just not accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: With me now, Carl Bernstein, the renowned former "Washington Post" reporter who helped crack Watergate, brought down a presidency, also the author of this book, "A Woman in Charge."
Thank you for being with me, sir.
CARL BERNSTEIN, AUTHOR, "A WOMAN IN CHARGE": Good to be with you.
HARLOW: If Sanders ends up winning New Hampshire, but it's not by a wide margin, not talking about the near tie in Iowa, but if it's not wide like the polls are showing now, how do you think people will read that? I mean, will they read it as more of a loss for him since the expectations are so high?
BERNSTEIN: I think we ought to just look at what's going on on the ground and not try to predict how others are going to read it. He's got to do reasonably well, but there is a huge story going on. I spent part of this weekend talking to people in the White House. They are horrified at how Hillary Clinton is blowing up her own campaign.
HARLOW: What are they saying to you?
BERNSTEIN: And they're worried that the Democrats could blow -- they are horrified that the whole business of the transcripts, accepting the money, that she could blow the Democrats' chance for White House. They want her to win. Obama wants her to win. But Sanders has shown how vulnerable she is. These ethical lapses
have tied the White House up in knots. They don't know what to do. They're beside themselves. Now, you've got a situation with these transcripts a little like Richard Nixon and his tapes that he stonewalled and didn't release.
HARLOW: Whoa, whoa, so, Carl Bernstein, let's dissect that for a moment, right? I mean, your investigate brown down a presidency. You know scandal. Show our viewers what you're talking about with the transcripts.
BERNSTEIN: A lot more involved than our investigation, but Nixon brought himself down.
HARLOW: Let's led there. Let's pull up the numbers so voters can see what we're talking about in terms of how much Hillary Clinton was paid for these speeches for the big banks from 2013 to 2014. We're talking about $1.8 million, $675,000 of that from Goldman Sachs. You're talking about the question that Chuck Todd asked her in the last debate this week, will you release the transcripts?
Joel Burstein from her camp said, I don't think people are really interested in what these speeches say. They were on foreign policy, et cetera.
You're saying this is akin to the tapes?
BERNSTEIN: No, what I'm saying that if she stone-walls on them and does not release them and enables the Republicans to paint her again into a corner. This is not just a vast right-wing conspiracy that is causing her problems. She has caused herself these problems.
The server is not the vast right-wing conspiracy. It's Hillary Clinton deciding that she could put a server in her closet, the same with these transcripts, the same with accepting this money in a presidential year when she knew that she was going to probably be running for president. To the people in the White House I talked to, it is unfathomable that she did this and has endangered President Obama's legacy.
As I say, they are terrified and they want Bernie Sanders to not do well on Tuesday and Hillary Clinton to do well because if this keeps going like that, they see real problems ahead.
HARLOW: So, let's play that. We have a short sound bite of Anderson Cooper asking Clinton about that in the town hall this week about those bank payments for speeches. Let's roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Look, I made speeches to lots of groups. I told them what I thought. I answered questions.
COOPER: But did you have to be paid $675,000?
CLINTON: Well, I don't know. That's what they offered. So -- (END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: I want your response to that answer. What should she have said?
BERNSTEIN: I can't advise her.
Maureen Dowd in her column tomorrow calls that answer obscene. I'll let Maureen speak for herself on that.
Some of this is unanswerable because it represents such terrible judgment, which is what people in the White House are saying. They're just dumbfounded by this and want her to get back on track. How can they help her get back on track? A big night on Tuesday for Hillary Clinton would go a long way, but I don't think they're expecting it.
HARLOW: Let me just paraphrase what she said. Hillary Clinton said to Anderson, if you lengthen that out, she said, basically, I didn't know at the time if I was going to run for president. I've been secretary of state. I thought maybe I'm not going to run. Carl Bernstein, you wrote the book on her. What do you say?
BERNSTEIN: It's disingenuous. She knew she might. And this has been a problem I say in the last pages of "A Woman in Charge," my book on Hillary written before she ran the last time, she has had a difficult problem with the truth going back to the Arkansas years. It's not about outright lying. It's about obfuscation. It's about not being transparent.
She is so qualified to be president of the United States. She is so much in the right lane on Democratic issues. She has the experience. And yet, she keeps tripping herself up. And that is what she did in the last campaign and that's what she's been doing in this campaign.
[19:20:03] And she has get herself righted, meaning up straight and moving forward and she might have to show some humility and start explaining she has exercised some terrible judgment here. I don't know what the answer is for her to do except to keep going forward. But she's got a big problem here.
HARLOW: You've got the reporter instincts and this is in your blood, Carl. Where does this go?
BERNSTEIN: I don't know where it goes. I think the good news for Hillary Clinton in some ways that Bernie Sanders, self-described socialist, is maybe out of touch with mainstream America. But what we're seeing --
HARLOW: That wasn't reflected in Iowa.
BERNSTEIN: Exactly, and particularly with young people he is tuning in and touching a nerve in mainstream America and with young women, which is Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare. In fact, I think you have to go back to the candidacy of Bobby Kennedy in 1968 -- and I don't want to care Sanders and Kennedy in some regards, but this is a movement. He's right, Sanders. He has started a movement. And that, too, has
got the White House very upset.
HARLOW: Finally, before I let you go, one of the themes of this race is pragmatism versus -- pragmatism versus passion, if you will. Let's put it that way. And you've got to think back to 2008 and you talk about sort of humility. Let's talk about humanity for a moment and play this very distinct moment from Hillary Clinton in 2008.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: And some people think elections are a game. They think it's like who's up or who's down. It's about our country. It's about our kids' futures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: The moment when she teared up. That was a moment where I think a lot of people felt like they actually saw Hillary Clinton. Will we see something like that from her this time?
BERNSTEIN: The last pages of my book are about her passion. Her passion for America, her passion for doing good things on behalf of people of this country, her passion for politics, her passion for issues.
And she has that fire. She has that passion. But so does Bernie Sanders. And that's what we're seeing now.
We're also seeing a different time in America. It is possible she is not in tune with the time of her country and her party. And somehow she has to get herself aligned with whatever this new strain of economic populism -- you know, she's got a problem. She is cozying up to Goldman Sachs and she's got transcripts that she can't release that shows her cozying up to Goldman Sachs, it's a problem.
It would help her if she could get those transcripts out there. She talks about her record, judge me by her record. Part of her record is what she has said to these investment bankers in these meetings and we ought to be able to know what she said.
HARLOW: Carl Bernstein, such an important conversation. Thank you so much.
As we go to break, live pictures of Hillary Clinton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, holding the microphone now. Senator Al Franken by her side. It looks like he'll introduce.
We'll monitor this. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back in a moment.
Just want to remind you, though, tomorrow morning, get up early because a very special commercial-free edition of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" is set with Jake Tapper live in New Hampshire. He will interview five -- name them, five -- Donald Trump, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, only on CNN.
Coming up, a hot issue on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. We are talking about the heroin epidemic there. Deborah Feyerick goes on a police raid to see the extent of the crisis.
[19:27:11] HARLOW: Welcome back.
For many in New Hampshire, it is the number-one issue right now. Not the economy. It is not terrorism. It is heroin and drug addiction. A crisis that is threatening families and their way of life in cities and towns large and small. And a crisis that the 2016 candidates are speaking out on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We can't be here in New Hampshire and not talk about the addiction problem in New Hampshire, not talk about the fact that there have been more deaths by overdoses than car crashes in this state.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a terrible problem. What do we do? For a start, we understand that substance abuse and addiction is a health issue, not a criminal issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Our CNN national correspondent Deborah Feyerick went out with police on drug raids in New Hampshire to see firsthand how they are combating this epidemic.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a cold New Hampshire morning as the Manchester SWAT team quietly moves into position.
Within minutes, two suspected drug dealers are arrested and taken into custody.
BRIAN O'KEEFE, MANCHESTER POLICE DEPARTMENT: We're at war with the drug cartels and the drug deals not only in this city, but in the nation.
FEYERICK: The raid is part of a federal, state, and local operation called granite hammer. It's goal: stemming the heroin epidemic ravaging New Hampshire where every five days somebody dies of an overdose, usually heroin.
O'KEEFE: Five years ago in 2010 in this city, we seized less than 200 grams of heroin in one year. Now fast toward to 2015, we took over 27,000 grams of heroin off the street.
FEYERICK: The heroin crisis has become a key issue for the presidential candidates.
CLINTON: We can't be here in New Hampshire and not talk about the addiction problem.
SANDERS: It is a crisis.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a horrible disease.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That wall is going to stop so much of it.
FEYERICK: And it's weighing on voters minds here in New Hampshire.
Another home, another raid.
(on camera): The SWAT team is executing a search warrant on the second floor, an apartment, where a man is suspected of dealing drugs. The sun is barely even up. And surveillance suggests people, possibly buyers, have been going in and out of that apartment for the last couple of hours.
(voice-over): To understand the reach of the heroin epidemic, all you have to do is look at this map.
(on camera): This really shows what amounts to the poisoning of America.
MICHAEL FERGUSON, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINSTRATION: It does. What's represented here is wherever you see orange is the Sinaloa cartel's influence in the United States.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Michael Ferguson is the special agent in charge of New England for the Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, for short.
FERGUSON: Every city and town is a heroin epidemic going on today.
[19:30:00] FEYERICK (on camera): I'm looking at this -- it's like a virus that's just spreading.
FERGUSON: It is a public safety, public health - it's a national security situation.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Ferguson says drug dealers are setting up shop in small towns across America where rent is cheap and the profit margin high.
At New Hampshire's state police forensic laboratory, technicians take in 750 new drug cases every month. That's 200 more than they can physically process.
UNIDENTIFED MALE: We have a backlog of about 3,500 cases. It is literally like shoveling sand against the tide.
FEYERICK: Still, back on the streets of Manchester, undercover and uniformed cops keep making arrests, keep trying to hold the tide at bay.
FEYERICK: Poppy, the quantities of heroin we saw are staggering. A ten gram finger of heroin, which is about the size of an average person's thumb or finger, supplies enough individual doses for 330 hits. The DEA chief in New England telling us some seizures could easily supply heroin to every single one of New Hampshire's 1.3 million residents. Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That is unbelievable. Deborah Feyerick with that eye opening report for us tonight. Deb, thank you so much.
Coming up next, back live to New Hampshire. Donald Trump skipped the last debate but he will be front and center in tonight's debate in the granite state. What should we expect from the front-runner when he takes the stage? Will he unload on his rivals or will we see a kinder, gentler Donald Trump? Next.
BALDWIN: All right. Bottom of the hour, you're watching CNN's special coverage here, the beautiful Manchester, New Hampshire. Look at these shots. This is where we get to be on our Saturday night talking politics here. All eyes here on the granite state, where it is debate night for the Republican presidential contenders, at least for the top seven in the field.
Notably absent tonight will be Carly Fiorina, who did not make the cut to appear on the main stage. The candidates already have already weathered one test here in New Hampshire - snow.
Supporters of Chris Christie broke out the shovels to help voters make it to campaign events yesterday. John Kasich had a little fun dodging snowballs with aides after a town halls in Phyllis. Watch him go. Nice.
Front-runner Donald Trump meantime took a little heat for canceling his event last night here in New Hampshire. He said, you know, weather was too bad. He stayed in New York. He is back in the state. I love that, though. I think maybe we should do that later, especially you.
What are the expectations for Trump and his challengers going into the debate here tonight in New Hampshire. Here with me, I have Mark Preston, Republican strategist Kailee McEneney and CNN commentator Bakari Sellers. Good to have you all back. Snowball fight later.
UNIDENTIFED MALE: I'm down.
BALDWIN: Let's begin with, we all know we'll be watching this debate tonight with these Republicans. Who has the most to lose?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: That's a really good question. Several people probably have the most to lose. Jeb Bush has the most to lose, Chris Christie has the most to lose, John Kasich has the most to lose, Ted Cruz will be fine, he'll move on. Marco Rubio will be fine. Donald Trump will be fine. He'll move on. You know who really has already lost is Carly Fiorina.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I was going to say.
PRESTON: Not on the debate stage. If anybody wants to know she's having a date night tonight.
BALDWIN: With her husband.
PRESTON: She sent an e-mail complaining about not being in there. She's going to be in room 302, which is kind of a bizarre e-mail.
PRESTON: They' had a lot of trouble. The Republicans have had a lot of trouble whittling this field down. They've had two debates, which has never happened in the history. We've done several of them. Now they're down to one debate. Carly Fiorina didn't make it. She's very upset. So be it.
BALDWIN: Do you agree, Carly Fiorina?
SELLERS: I think the GOP just, you know, gave Carly Fiorina her final death knell. This is going to be the end of her campaign. I don't see her making it out of here. I think she deserved to be on the debate stage. After all, she did beat Chris Christie in Iowa. I mean it doesn't bode well the aesthetics aren't good. It doesn't bode well for the GOP.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Not at all. I wish the RNC would have intervene intervened. I was pretty disappointed that they didn't. I think Carly on the stage, she's the only excluded. But I think Chris Christie has the most to lose. Because unlike Kasich, unlike Bush, unlike Cruz, we're all kind of vying in double digits for second place, Christie, despite putting in an immense effort here, is in single digits. So tonight if he doesn't have that breakout moment I don't think he stays.
SELLERS: Also Trump has something to lose because Trump's mystique is that I'm a winner and losing New Hampshire -
BALDWIN: I don't think there's much mystique to that when you say it over and over again. Just saying.
SELLERS: I don't know. It's been working. He believes he's a winner.
BALDWIN: Actually, if I may cut you off, I want to play some sound. Because this is when Donald Trump got really real and really personal with Anderson Cooper while they were here in New Hampshire earlier this week and he was talking about his brother, he was talking about addiction. We all know heroin is a big issue here in New Hampshire. I think a lot of people appreciated a much different look at Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He got hooked on alcohol, just hooked. Ultimately it just was devastating. That's why I don't drink. I don't drink. I don't drink. I don't drink. I don't smoke cigarettes. I don't take drugs. Those are the three good things.
I won't tell you the bad things. I probably wouldn't be here talking to you today if we didn't - if I didn't have my brother, Fred. Because he kept me off alcohol. Maybe with my kind of a personality I'd be a serious alcoholic. I just don't know. But I never had a glass of alcohol in my life only because my brother said, "don't you dare." He was a tough guy in his own way. Don't you dare ever drink. Because he knew he had a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: My point being, looping back, Bakari, we've really seen sort of in this post-Iowa era a more humble, maybe more personal Donald Trump.
SELLERS: I've actually run a race before that you've lost and that is - there is nothing more humbling than being rejected by the people you hoped to represent. So even if Donald Trump has lost a deal before or anything else, it's not like being rejected at the polls. He felt that even with his ego. You know what it is - it's making him a better candidate because what everybody wants to see is, is Donald Trump a human being, is he like a real person? He's connecting with voters. If I was on Donald Trump's team, if I was his consultant, I would say we want more of that.
BALDWIN: Better in the polls when he wasn't acting so humble and presidential, am I wrong?
PRESTON: Well, right but here's the thing about Donald Trump - and again, I was here a few weeks ago before we went and decamped in Iowa for a few weeks. Everybody here was telling me if Donald Trump loses or comes in second in Iowa he needs to come out humble. Guess what? He did that. He's done that for a few days.
Then this morning he sends out a tweet that says, "look at poor Jeb Bush getting his mommy to come attack me," you know, that's not nice. He can't stop himself. Right? Donald Trump can't stop himself. When you see that Donald Trump talking about addiction, which has touched everybody, we all know somebody, that's the moments that you see.
MCENANY: Let's make clear, Donald Trump didn't lose in Iowa. He came in second and just lost by 6,000 votes. I still consider a win in a state like Iowa that he's not really amenable too. But what we saw on that tape was excellent. That plays so well in the SEC states. The fact that all his kids are all upstate. Outstanding individuals who he taught not to drink and smoke as well. That is excellent. That is exactly what the SEC states want to see on super Tuesday.
BALDWIN: OK. For now, Mark and Bakari and Kayleigh, thank you so much. The debate obviously coming up a little later tonight. We'll have a whole postgame with Erin and that whole team, at 10:00 Eastern. Don't miss it. So much more politics to discuss here from New Hampshire. We will be right back.
HARLOW: The months-long feud between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush continues with Bush's mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, giving her take on a Republican front-runner in an interview with CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA BUSH, FMR. FIRST LADY: He doesn't give many answers to how he would solve problems. He sort of makes faces and says insulting things. I mean, he's said terrible things about women. Terrible things about military. I don't understand why people are for him for that reason. I'm a woman. I'm not crazy about what he says about women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: This morning Trump fired back on twitter, "Wow, Jeb Bush, whose campaign is a total disaster, had to bring in mommy to take a slap at me. Not nice!"
Let's talk about it with Michael Steel, policy communications adviser to Jeb Bush. Thanks for being with me.
MICHAEL STEEL, POLICY ADVISER TO JEB BUSH: It's good to be with you.
HARLOW: I'm wondering why this tat for tat with Trump on twitter. Because here's what Jeb responded on Twitter. He said "my 90-year-old mother made it out to campaign. Talking about Donald Trump delaying his town hall yesterday until Monday because of the snowstorm." What's the strategy there? Why go tat for tat with Trump on twitter?
STEEL: Well, I think for months now you've seen Jeb will be willing to take on the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, when other Republicans are in the witness protection program. And he's proud to have his family support him. But he's also running on his own record of accomplishment because we can't beat Hillary Clinton without a candidate who has a real record of accomplishment and Jeb does.
HARLOW: All right. I'm not sure that answered what I was asking, but let's move on. When you look at how he has finished, I mean, look, he said in that interview, (INAUDIBLE) he said this is my second home, talking about New Hampshire. And he talked about how important it is.
Here's how Matt Bye, the national political reporter for Yahoo! put it, that stood out to me. "Bush fundamentally misread the seismic signs of the moment. Having been out of elective office for eight years, Bush took too long to grasp that anger fuelling the conservative revolt with as much as about the Republican establishment, which the Bush name has become synonymous as it was about Obama." What is your response to that? Has he misread the electorate?
STEEL: Not at all. I think there's a lot of frustration and anger out there, but a lot of that frustration and anger comes from President Obama's failures over the past seven years. We need a real reform-minded conservative with a record of proven results to get things done in Washington, to do things, to fix the broken system. The balanced budget amendment, line item detail, tax reform that will get our economy moving again, regulatory reform.
That's why Jeb Bush not only has a record of accomplishment but the most detailed plans for the future. No other candidate in this field can match that.
HARLOW: So his mother said in that interview, which I'm sure you saw, may have been standing there with Jamie Gangel (ph), she said he's too nice. Trump said there's nothing about this - you know, you can't be too nice. You're still firm on x, y, and z. Do you think that's part of it? Did Barbara Bush have a point there?
STEEL: No. I think that there's a difference between insults and respect and civility and that Donald Trump isn't going to be able to insult his way to the presidency. His insults against women, against Hispanics, against P.O.W.s like John McCain, who is an American hero, aren't going to get him the White House.
Jeb Bush is a proven leader and he speaks respectful of other people. That's part of his appeal.
HARLOW: Walk me through the New Hampshire game plan, we're three days out. How do you guys have to do?
STEEL: Well, I think we have to finish in a competitive spot here where the only governor in the race that has the resources and the organization to go past New Hampshire. To have a team in South Carolina, Nevada, the March one states, Governor Kasich, Governor Christie don't have that.
We think we're going to be competitive here. Jeb had 700 people at his town hall today. He is fighting hard for every vote. The chair of the New Hampshire State Republican Party who is nonpartisan or not affiliated with anyone in this race says we have the best ground game so we think we're going to finish strong.
HARLOW: What does strong mean? Quickly, one, two, three, four?
STEEL: I think we're going to be very competitive here. At this point, these polls have Donald Trump and a jump ball for second, so we're really helping to finish well, finish competitively here, and then it's on to South Carolina.
HARLOW: You're going after that jump ball, sounds like. I appreciate your time. Thank you so much, Michael.
STEEL: Thank you.
HARLOW: All right. I do want to give you some breaking news that we have, in CNN, the breaking news is that North Korea has launched a long-range missile, that is according to the South Korean defense ministry. We're going to take a quick break. Much more on that on the other side.
ANNOUNCER: CNN breaking news.
HARLOW: All right, breaking news just in to us here at CNN, the South Korean defense ministry telling us that North Korea has launched a long-range rocket. This comes after U.S. and South Korea warned Pyongyang against the move.
I want to bring in our Elise Labott, she joins me on the phone. Elise, let's walk through what we know and what U.S. officials are saying right now.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, we're also hearing the same from senior U.S. officials that they believe that North Korea just has launched a satellite which also you know, we have been talking about for you know the last few days. It is also considered an intercontinental ballistic missile, long-range missile. This is why the concerns that eventually with all the components of a long- range nuclear warhead that ballistic missile and war head, that eventually North Korea could be able to launch a long-range missile against the United States.
Right now the U.S., along with South Korea and along with Japan is going to be tracking this satellite, this missile, to see how far it went. What the trajectory is and whether it was successful. I mean, at the end of the day, of course, they don't want North Korea to have a successful satellite launch.
But in some ways, the launch itself is really what is concerning, Poppy. Because every time North Korea launches a missile of this range it's perfecting that capability and the concern is some day it could have the capability to reach the United States.
HARLOW: Right, and also Elise, this week, U.S. officials saying this type of rocket when you look at the type, they could be used to carry a satellite, for example. It could also be used to deliver a nuclear war head. I want you to also talk about this in just the global picture because you know the geopolitics of this so well. I mean, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came out this week and said forcing the launch is a clear violation against the U.N. security council's resolution and a serious provocation against security to our country.
Talk to me about global response.
LABOTT: Well, just on the idea that it could - a satellite is really a cover for a long-range missile. So the idea that North Korea would launch a satellite into space is really not so much of a concern. It's the range of the missile. And that is why everyone is so concerned. You know, everybody is going to say, Poppy, and of course it's true that North Korea violated the U.N. security council resolutions.
Let's face it, this is on the heels of the test the nuclear test North Korea did last month. So usually what North Korea does is it waits for international reaction. Wants to see what happens at the U.N., some kind of punishment, and then it will then act out with a launch of this sort. It did not wait.
Right now the deliberations at the security council and response to that nuclear tests are still ongoing. But North Korea just said consequences (INAUDIBLE) they went for that launch. Talking to U.S. officials leading up to tonight's launch, that is what they said is concerning, that Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea is becoming increasingly erratic, increasingly unpredictable and doesn't care about the consequences.
So certainly, in response to the nuclear test, in response to this launch tonight, there will be a robust international reaction. How tough it will be, what type of sanctions the U.S. will be able to get through the security council with the Chinese, who are very protective of North Korea as their neighbor and largest benefactor. And what good will those sanctions do, it's really unclear, we're really dealing with a very erratic and unpredictable leader in North Korean, Poppy.
HARLOW: No question. Elise Labott, on it, for us, our global affairs correspondent. Elise, thank you very much. Again, the breaking news - South Korean defense ministry telling us at CNN that North Korea had launched a long range rocket.
Quick break. Much more on the breaking news, after this.
HARLOW: All right, updating our breaking news tonight, North Korea has launched a long-range missile, that is according to the South Korean defense ministry.
Also a senior U.S. official, defense official telling CNN he can "confirm that we have detected a missile launch from North Korea. Based upon its trajectory as we are tracking it, it does not pose a threat to the United States or its allies. This launch was viewed by some analyst as a front for ballistic missile test.
We'll have much more on this throughout the evening. I also do want to point you to CNN.com. Go there for the latest breaking news in to us.
Again, North Korea has launched a long range missile. At 10:00 p.m. Eastern, tonight, CNN special Republican debate post-show hosted by our very own Erin Burnett. We will see her and the best political team on television hash through everything that is said on stage in the debate tonight in New Hampshire.
Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. I will see you back here tomorrow night. Good night.