Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

CNN Poll: Haley Narrows Trump's Lead in New Hampshire; Today: Trump Attends Federal Hearing, Six Days From Iowa; Now: Blinken in Israel to Discuss Next Phase of Gaza War; 40+M Under Severe Storm Threats in East, Southeast. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 09, 2024 - 05:00   ET



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, on EARLY START, the new poll releasing this very minute showing Nikki Haley is closing the gap on Donald Trump in one early primary state.

Plus, the Republican front runner, planning to be in court just hours from now, while his lawyers argue that he's immune from prosecution.

Hi, everyone.


JIMENEZ: Hi, everyone.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Good to see all of you. I'm Omar Jimenez, in for Kasie Hunt. It is Tuesday, January 9th.

We have a lot of news to get into so let's get going. We want to start with, it is 5:00 a.m. in Washington, and we have a brand new CNN poll for you all. That poll shows Donald Trump's lead in New Hampshire narrowing as Nikki Haley surges.

The former president now at 39 percent of likely GOP primary voters with Haley just seven points behind at 32 percent. The rest of the feel hovers at least 20 points further back in the, poll taken just this week. Chris Christie is at 12 percent, followed by Vivek Ramaswamy, and Ron DeSantis in single digits.

Now Trump is roughly where he was in the last CNN University of New Hampshire poll in November. The real change has been for Haley, who's jumped a huge 12 points since the last CNN poll. By the third of that, at the expense of Ron DeSantis.

So, let's bring in "Axios" political reporter Stef Kight to discuss.

We've got a lot to talk about here. But specifically, Haley's biggest pickup seems to be with independent voters who the state calls undeclared and allow us to vote in either primary. So, as we as ideologically moderate voters, that's 43 percent undeclared or independent support her, 55 percent of moderate.

So what has Haley done in New Hampshire to win some of these new voters over?

STEF KIGHT, POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: You know, these poll results really are an indication that the hilly campaign strategy, and really focusing on New Hampshire seems to be panning out the way that they have hoped. You know, of course, Nikki has spent a lot of time in New Hampshire. Their campaigns have focused their ads in the state.

They've specifically been focusing on independent voters there. We've also seen several outside groups that have been supportive of Haley over the past few months, really focused their efforts and their dollars as well on independents in New Hampshire.

Of course, independent voters in New Hampshire have also played a really critical role in these primaries. They make up a large percentage of people who turned up to primaries. And, so they are a key demographic, especially in this state. So it will be interesting to see whether Nikki can actually end up giving Trump a little bit of a context in that state. And, of course, we're also watching whether she can overperform in Iowa and perhaps overtake DeSantis there.

JIMENEZ: Yeah, and it's been interesting seeing sort of where each candidate has invested their time. Ron DeSantis has invested a lot in Iowa. Nikki Haley's done a little bit of both, but Chris Christie has invested a lot of New Hampshire. But his numbers are far lower than hers, specifically, the CNN poll shows that 65 percent of his supporters say that they would vote for Haley if he was not on the ballot.

I can tell you, I've talked to him about some of this dynamic before. And he's pushback and said, look, there's no guarantee. All of his supporters will go to Haley. If Haley dropped out, there is no guarantee all of her supporters will go to him.

That said, could this intensify the pressure that he is no doubt facing to drop out of this particular race? Especially if he doesn't do well New Hampshire?

KIGHT: Absolutely. I mean, we've already seen a lot of pressure on Christie to drop out in order to give that boost to Haley. They both have been running at this kind of anti-Trump, Trump alternative on the more moderate side. You know, we've seen Ron DeSantis take a different approach at various points in the campaign.

And so, they are pulling from the same poll of voters, especially in New Hampshire. So far, Christie has really doubled down, seeming to indicate that he plans to stick around through the primary. But that's where I really am watching Iowa closely. If Haley is able to surpass DeSantis, in particular if she really outperformed in Iowa as well heading into New Hampshire, where we see her have this moment, where we see her really coming close to the former president in the polls.


That is just going to intensify that pressure on Christie to drop out and throw all the support behind Haley in order to try to provide voters a real alternative to Trump, because, of course, where things stand right now, despite the momentum behind Haley, Trump is still overwhelmingly in the lead, and it's still, you know, the most likely candidate to end up with the nomination.

JIMENEZ: Yes. And, look, Chris Christie recently told reporters he would -- he is looking for a strong secondary or a potentially strong third for him to stay in the race. So we'll see what happens there.

I want to turn to the Democratic side because President Biden won't be on the New Hampshire ballad as the DNC is pushing for South Carolina, to be the first contest here. But when you look at this polling, 69 percent of likely Democratic primary voters say they would still write Biden's name in to their ballot.

What is the Biden's campaign outlook there? I mean, does that help ease any anxiety that there might have been for him not appearing on the ballot, and potentially having, you know, an embarrassing defeat or at least a closer election to people would've thought why folks like Marianne Williamson and Dean Phillips?

KIGHT: I mean, certainly, you know, they are hoping that people will still turn up and vote for Biden in New Hampshire despite the fact. But, clearly their decisions have indicated that they're not that worried about New Hampshire. They are not still worried about illegitimate challenge to Biden's run.

But it will be interesting to see how this dynamic place out, here and how Democratic primary voters decide to handle the situation in New Hampshire. One thing that's interesting is that because of the fact Biden won't be on the ballot in New Hampshire there actually has been some efforts to convince some Democratic voters or independents who maybe typically would've voted in the Democratic primary to instead be invested in Republican primary instead, especially behalf on the more moderate candidates like Nikki Haley.

JIMENEZ: Yes, it could end up being a boost to some of them.

I want to turn to the front runner on the GOP side of things, Donald Trump. Now, they're related because throughout this campaign season, Trump is campaigning. He's also appearing in court. He's also going to be in court today, this time where his lawyers will be arguing he has presidential immunity in the federal election subversion case.

Is his campaign, do you get the sense that his campaign is concerned about that dynamic of bouncing between courtrooms and the campaign trail especially as folks like Nikki Haley appeared to be gaining some ground in places like New Hampshire?

KIGHT: Look, I mean there's definitely concerns especially as we get closer and closer to, you know, primary dates and once that are into the general election in particular. I think his team still feels very confident that he will end up with the Republican nomination here, and I think once more in that general election season, I think that there will be more concerns about just simply the logistics of making sure Trump is able to get out on the road during the election season.

But there's also an argument to be, made that his team, and Trump himself has really embraced some of these legal challenges that he's been facing. And we know that for a long time, Trump has always painted himself as the victim of the justice system. And we've seen him continue to kind of play on that theme as part of his campaign.

You know, even the fact that he is deciding to go to court in person seems to indicate that it is something he has invested in, that he's wanting to draw attention to in some ways. And he sees himself as a fighter in the situation.

So, while, of course, logistically, there's concern. There is something to be said that they're able to take this and spin this, and they have been campaigning on this and spending this in their favor.

JIMENEZ: Yeah. We'll see what happens. That dynamic is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Stef Kight, thank you so much.

All right. Coming up for us, America's top diplomat is back in Israel and we're going to tell you what he's trying to achieve.

Plus, Houston, we have a problem, again, as the first U.S. lunar landing in decade misses.

And a major winter storm brings multiple threats, rain, winds and snow across the country today. So much, more coming up.



JIMENEZ: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Israel right now. He's expected to talk with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others about the next phase of the war in Gaza. Now, he's been meeting with top Arab officials in the last several days, focused on preventing the war from expanding.

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us from Abu Dhabi.

Paula, now Israel's defense minister has proposed Palestinians not be allowed to return to their homes in Gaza until all the hostages are freed. Where does the U.S. stand on this?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is an issue that has proved controversial. There has been many, including the U.S. and the U.N. that have criticized the sheer amount of displacement that has happened within Gaza itself.

Remember, early on in the ground invasion, there was some 1.1 million people who were told to go from the north of Gaza, to the south, where they would be safer. And, that in many cases turned out not to be the case.

So, clearly, this is not going to have a widespread support. So, what we're seeing from the U.S. secretary of state, and what we're hearing from the U.S. officials is that what he is focusing on, meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the moment. And also with many other ministers in the war cabinet is to make sure that civilian casualties are kept at a minimum. One in 100 -- every 100 people in Gaza, at the moment, has been killed, according to health ministry figures within the enclave.

So, a staggering amount of civilian casualties. That will be one of the main focuses. Also, to make sure the humanitarian assistance gets to those who need it, and with the number of displaced people that becomes even more challenging.

And, of course, the hostages themselves. That would be one of the key topics when Secretary Blinken speaks to many of the ministers, who will also be meeting with some of those families. Some of the hostages, as well and we really do feel as though we are a long way away from any comprehensive move towards more hostages being released -- Omar.

JIMENEZ: A critical trip, nonetheless. We will see what comes of it.

Paula Hancocks, thank you so much.

Meanwhile, NASA's plan to put a spacecraft on the moon, next month is not going to happen. Less than 24 hours after it launched, the Peregrine spacecraft that was supposed to carry the first U.S. lunar lander in 50 years, and now the private company that developed the lander said, late last night, program suffered a propeller loss from the fuel leak.

It says the thrusters that are now keeping the spacecraft from an uncontrollable tumble can operate for another 40 hours at most. And that's not the only major snag NASA is dealing with. Today, the agency is expected to announce a months-long delay and the first crude mission of its planned Artemis program which was supposed to fly astronauts by the moon in November. The delay is due to a series of technical glitches.

Still ahead, a Texas hotel explosion injures almost two dozen people. What officials are saying caused it.

And dangerous weather on the way for the South, the Plains and the Northwest. We've got more coming up.



JIMENEZ: Quick hits across America now.

Technicians from Alaska and United Air say they found lose hardware, including bolts on a number of planes after that terrifying Alaska air incident on the section of a jet that blew off midflight on Friday. Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft have been temporarily grounded for FAA inspections.

At least 21 people are injured after an explosion that ripped apart sections of the hotel, in Fort Worth, Texas. Fire officials believed the blast of the historic Sandman Signature was caused by some type of gas explosion. They're still working to determine a specific cause.

And Florida's Republican Party has removed Christian Ziegler as chairman amid a sex scandal and sexual assault investigation. They'd already been suspended and stripped of his authority last month.

Now, to weather. We've got a lot of. It blizzard conditions, bringing heavy snow, and winds impacting millions from drivers in New Mexico, to a whiteout that shut down I-80 in Nebraska. And, nonstop traffic headaches in Washington state.

Today, more than 40 million people across the country are under severe storm threats, with rain, snow, high winds and possible tornadoes and flooding. That's a lot to get into. But that's why we've got meteorologist, Elise Raffa, tracking all of it for us.

Okay, so there's a lot going on here. Break it down for us.

ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, this is a multi-threat storm and we've seen all of it play out yesterday and it continues again today. Here's a look at the scope of the system, just massive. There is the center there. You could see the snow on the northern side from Omaha to Chicago. Not only is it snowing, you get some of the gusty winds with it, too.

And then you had this intense lines of severe storms along the Gulf Coast that just kind of pass through New Orleans and is headed into the Florida panhandle. We continue with this tornado watch here, through 7:00 this morning, there's a tornado warning right now near Mobile, Alabama. There's another one over Panama City because we're getting these little twist in the lines, these embedded tornadoes are along with the straight line wind as well.

This is a look at that tornado, watch, again it's until 7:00 a.m. Central Time, the Panama City, as we continue with that line. Now, as we go through the day today, as that line moves through the east, so does the threat for tornadoes. You see the orange, a level, three out of five and then enhanced risk for a couple of tornadoes. Some of which could be strong, damaging wind gust to 70 miles per hour, and some large hail as well.

So, as we continue through the day today, you could see that line progress eastwards, with even gust from the storm, itself, could get up to 50 miles per hour, 60 along the coast, maybe even close to 70 as well.

Here's a look at that storm, it continues to pump snow with a 30-mile- per-hour gusts. That's where you get some of those near blizzard conditions up in the Great Lakes, continues to move east, through the day, later into tonight. And we'll have some of that heavy rain piling through the Northeast as we head into tomorrow morning before this thing finally clears.

The wind alerts with this are so incredible. I mean, look at this, nearly half of the country with some kind of wind alert, wind advisories, high wind warnings, for gust up to 50 miles per hour in that lighter tan where you see the reds looking at gust up to 70, maybe 70 miles per hour possible along the coast. And then, the Appalachian Mountains.

Here's that snow threat, still looking at some blizzard warnings there, and the pink, the winter storm alerts as well, suggests really wherever you live, make sure to stay weather aware today.


JIMENEZ: When you're dealing with wind gusts at that those speeds, it just complicates so much whatever you're dealing with.

Elisa Raffa, thank you so much.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump says that he's going to appear at a federal court near the U.S. Capitol today for a hearing on presidential immunity.

And a new polling surge for Nikki Haley just days before the first state contest.

Stick around.


JIMENEZ: Hi, everyone. Thanks for being with us. I'm Omar Jimenez, in for Kasie Hunt.

We've got some big news right now, a brand-new see it and then pulled out this hour shows Donald Trump's lead in New Hampshire has now slipped it single digits. The GOP front runner is now the first choice of 39 percent of likely GOP voters, just seven points ahead of his nearest rival, Nikki Haley, who has now at 32 percent. The rest of the field is 20 points or more behind.

Now, Trump is about where he was last November. Most of the movement has been Haley surge of 12 points, which came as DeSantis dropped at four points, now at 5 percent.

Meanwhile, former President Trump --