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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Ron DeSantis Drops Out of 2024 Presidential Race and Backs Trump; Donald Trump Appreciates DeSantis for Endorsement; Atlas Air Cargo Plane Catches Fire Mid-Flight and Makes Emergency Landing in Miami. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 22, 2024 - 05:00   ET




GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance.


KASIE HUNT, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Ron DeSantis done with the vote in New Hampshire now just a day away. Plus --


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He was very gracious and he endorsed me. So I appreciate it.



HUNT: Donald Trump grabs the Florida governor's endorsement and takes a double-digit lead here in the Granite State. And --


NIKKI HALEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's now one fella and one lady left.



HUNT: Nikki Haley now the last Trump challenger standing. Will her big bet on New Hampshire pay off? Good day, good morning to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I am Kasie Hunt, it is Monday, January 22nd, it's 5:00 a.m. here in Amherst, New Hampshire, where we are live this morning in the final hours before the start of the first in the nation New Hampshire presidential primary tomorrow. And the final campaign day here starts with another player down,

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dropping out of the race on Sunday afternoon.


DESANTIS: If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome, more campaign stops, more interviews, I would do it. But I can't ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources if we don't have a clear path to victory. Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign.


HUNT: In his announcement, DeSantis endorsed Donald Trump who consigned him to a distant second in Iowa and has been polling far ahead of him in New Hampshire as well. Two sources have told CNN that DeSantis knows that he's going to -- if he's going to have any shot at all at the 2028 Republican nomination, he really had no option, he had to endorse Trump. DeSantis' withdrawal leaves Nikki Haley of course, the last candidate standing.


HALEY: Can you hear that sound?


That's the sound of a two-person race.



HUNT: Well, that two-person race means that Haley has her work cut out for her. A new CNN poll of New Hampshire Republicans shows that Trump's lead over Haley has widened to double digits with DeSantis' supporters re-allocated to their send choice.

Trump holds a majority at 54 percent and Haley trails by 13 points. We have an all-star panel that is up very early on this great political news day for you. Jackie Kucinich; Washington Bureau Chief for the "Boston Globe", Christian Hall is national politics reporter for "Bloomberg", and "Associated Press" national politics reporter, Michelle Price joins us as well.

Thank you guys for being here. There in theory was supposed to be a DeSantis event here yesterday night, we're supposed to have another one to go to later on this morning. He originally was going to appear on two Sunday shows yesterday.

I mean, Michelle, kind of big picture here, this is such a fall from grace for Ron DeSantis, who a year ago at this time was really the person that anyone who didn't want to see Donald Trump get re- nominated in the Republican Party had pinned their hopes on.

And his campaign -- the millions of dollars that were spent both on his campaign and on the Super PAC side, what happened here?

MICHELLE PRICE, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I mean, that's a question that I think a lot of the donors are going to be asking who put in those millions and millions --

HUNT: Yes --

PRICE: Of dollars. Remember there was such excitement and hype when he got in, and he had this Twitter spaces launch that just did not work out technologically. And from that point on --

HUNT: It was still called Twitter back then, I think.

PRICE: I think it was still Twitter, yes, it wasn't X spaces. But it did -- you know, there were technical glitches and glitches have kind of plagued that campaign ever since. And we had reset after reset, layoffs, the message kept changing. He didn't seem to know if he was going to go after Trump. He'd take it back.

And then, you know, even in the final days, there was a lot of confusion about, was he going to stick through to until Super Tuesday or call it after Iowa? And we saw what happened.

HUNT: Yes, I mean, I'll be honest with you, I'm almost a little surprised he made it this far after what happened in Iowa. I mean, Christian, there were cheers when Haley told her supporters here in New Hampshire that DeSantis had dropped out.


But I mean, honestly, my first reaction when I saw this news was that, oh, this is going to put Trump over 50 in New Hampshire, and that's going to be the end of this -- the end of this nominating contest. What's your view of that?

CHRISTIAN HALL, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Well, I think the stakes have definitely risen for Nikki Haley. I think a lot of donors and voters alike are going to look towards her candidacy and see if it's still viable.

I mean, can she make it, leading into South Carolina? Can she make it past Super Tuesday? I think the question now is do Republican voters want a Trump alternative candidate? I look back to when DeSantis entered the race as you said last year, and there was just so much excitement.

I mean, I think there was this narrative that he was really going to, you know, be the person to take on Ron DeSantis, and that, there was the appetite within the GOP to, you know, choose a different candidate. And I don't know if that's really true. I think last -- seeing him drop out of the race yesterday really changed the game. So the stakes have risen for Nikki Haley.

HUNT: Well, Jackie, it does seem that Republicans have made their views known, right? That they are with Donald Trump. I mean, if Nikki Haley manages to pull out a win or get within single digits of Donald Trump here, it's going to be because of the undeclared voters, the independent voters here in New Hampshire as much as anything.

I mean, when you -- when you look back on the year and ahead to tomorrow, I mean, it obviously is kind of this narrative arc of the attempt by -- I mean, is it the last gasp of the never Trump forces? I mean, how do you think about it?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, BOSTON GLOBE: Yes, the never-Trump or we're over Trump, which is who Nikki Haley has really tried to court --

HUNT: That's a good --

KUCINICH: To play, because --

HUNT: Yes --

KUCINICH: She hasn't really gone full anti-Trump. She's tried to walk that line where she's like, thank you very much, but next.


KUCINICH: And so, I think the real question is not if those independent voters, if -- you know, the never-Trump people really want an alternative, as if they will fund her. Because candidates don't run out of ambition, they run out of money.

HUNT: Yes --

KUCINICH: And so, will they fund her if she doesn't get close in New Hampshire? I don't know the answer. If she does get close -- and I was hearing this across New Hampshire in the last couple of days, voters and her supporters were saying listen, if she gets close, that's good enough for me, I hope she keeps going through South Carolina and through Super Tuesday. She doesn't necessarily -- this is what they're saying, have to rack up a win here, but she's got to get close.

HUNT: Yes. Michelle, you've been on the ground here for the last week since -- I think the last time I saw you, we were in the diner --


PRICE: Innocent --

HUNT: Down the road the day after the Iowa caucus after we'd all come here overnight. I mean, what are you picking up in terms of how this race is moving or not? Because we did see Nikki Haley really come up close in the CNN polling in single digits to Trump, our latest poll showed that, that gap had actually widened in Trump's favor here in the final days. I mean, what's your sense just having been on the ground here?

PRICE: I mean, it is consolidating around Trump. You're seeing that with the endorsements, you're seeing that with the crowds. Nikki Haley though is getting bigger crowds herself, what she has to do, though, is pull in more of those independent voters who maybe weren't going to participate or who maybe going to participate in the Democratic primary and convince them to come in and get involved.

But with Ron DeSantis getting out, you know, the Trump campaign has expected that his voters will fall to them, and that's what the numbers seem to be showing us. So, it doesn't seem like there's -- you know, she has a very limited window. It's possible for her to come very close or maybe even eke something out here, but probable is a different question.

HUNT: Yes, you mentioned endorsements. And you know, we can show you Donald Trump's recent endorsements from Vivek Ramaswamy who dropped out, Senator Tim Scott, of course, former candidate Governor Ron DeSantis. Now, Nikki Haley is out there on the trail claiming that this doesn't matter to her. Here's how -- here's how she puts it, watch.


HALEY: You've got Trump saying, oh, but look at all these congressional endorsements I have. I don't want political -- I don't want the political elite, that's not what I'm looking for. And they honestly aren't ready for me. Why? Because I keep saying we need to have term limits in Washington D.C.



HUNT: So Jackie, she says, I don't want the endorsements of the political elite, very popular thing to say with Republican voters, but I've got to say like the way that the Trump campaign is going about this, it's not really about these individual people and the difference that they make, but rather, the message of the collective whole that -- like the party is Trump's party.

KUCINICH: Well, and for all intents and purposes, it is. Which is why we mentioned the undeclared voters. You know, there was this moment in Peterborough, New Hampshire, that Nikki Haley asked, you know, who here is seeing me for the first time, and almost every hand went up.

Now, on the other hand, I was at a J.D. Vance event, and he asked a similar question, is this your first Trump event, and no one's hand was raised. So he is going to get his people out, and she's going to convince people to come out. And there's -- where the campaigns are, it's a very different spot. And that enthusiasm is on Trump's side. I mean, his people will come out.


So, that is the open question as we hurdle towards Tuesday.

HUNT: Yes, Christian, if Trump hits 50 percent here in New Hampshire, does Nikki Haley see the writing on the wall? Does she go to her home state and potentially lose?

HALL: I mean, I think it's definitely going to make it a very difficult decision for her. I just cannot see, you know, significant win by Donald Trump being good news for her at all. I think --


HALL: No, I mean, I think that --

HUNT: Pardon me that one --

HALL: Yes -- no, I think there are going to just be a lot of eyes on how this race turns out and the expectations for her really high as she heads into her home state.

HUNT: Yes, I mean, I think that if she loses here, if Trump hits 50 percent here, that's going to be the question. Does she go, potentially have an embarrassing showing in the place where she originally comes from. That's always hard for any political candidate. All right, our panel is going to rejoin us, thank you all for kicking us off, we'll see you back here a little bit later on in the show.

But up next here, Donald Trump is expected back in New York and could take the stand in his defamation case. Plus --




HUNT: Scare in the air. Sparks and flames shoots from a plane. We'll have that next.




HALEY: He congratulated China's President Xi a dozen times after China gave us COVID. He congratulated the Chinese Communist Party on their 70th anniversary. We don't congratulate the Communist Chinese Party -- I remember at the United Nations, I had to sit him down and tell him to stop this bromance with Putin. I mean, you can't have someone who is trying to buddy-up with dictators that want to kill us.


HUNT: Nikki Haley sharpening her attacks against Donald Trump and questioning his fitness for a return to the White House. A scenario that some leaders around the world are expressing concern over. Let's get live to London and bring in CNN's Max Foster. Max, good morning, always wonderful to see you.

Trump is honestly on a glide path here to the Republican nomination with Ron DeSantis dropping out, you know, our polling shows it's more likely than not to push Trump over 50 percent here in New Hampshire. It's really hard to see how anyone else keeps going and face that. We'll see, obviously, anything can happen. But this has got to have

world leaders -- I know you and I spent a lot of time talking about those even earlier this year, the kind of nervousness especially around his feelings for President Xi, his attitude toward Vladimir Putin, compared to his attitude toward NATO.

I know a lot of these leaders were in Davos last week. How do you see this? I mean, what are -- what is the mood among European leaders around this right now?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think amongst the leaders, there -- particularly amongst the allies, they're staying out of it, frankly. They are -- you know, Macron even suggested this recently, France, where he is -- you know, we will deal with whoever America votes for.

Obviously, behind the scenes, there's nervousness, but still so much chaos around Donald Trump's previous presidency, and also because Nikki Haley is seen as a diplomatic force, she understands the world stage and how to -- you know, how it's done, really out there.

Trump doesn't really do things out there -- done -- does he? But I also think -- you know, it's interesting. DeSantis, such a huge story pulling out, wasn't a big story here in Europe, and I think that's one of two things. It's like they didn't necessarily know he was, because they're not that engaged in the campaign simply because they are assuming that Donald Trump will win at least the Republican nomination.

So, there's not a huge amount of engagement here because the leaders aren't talking about it, because they don't want to, and the public aren't really talking about it because they haven't seen any big surprises yet, I think.

HUNT: So basically, you're saying it's a foregone conclusion for them that Trump is going to win this nomination, and it's just a question of whether or not Biden can beat him in November?

FOSTER: I think that's the truth. I think there's also an element of not being huge amount of momentum for Biden either. If there was a huge amount of support and everyone wanted Biden to win, then perhaps they'd be more engaged in it, but they're just seeing this match-up looming, and it's a rerun of last time, and they're not that engaged in it, and there's so much negativity, isn't there?

And they're expecting a lot of negativity. Obviously, the one thing they do concern themselves with is what happens with Ukraine, particularly here in Europe, if America stops funding it, who is going to fund it because Europe can't afford to and what that means.

And we're seeing fortifications along the NATO frontline with Russia for example in Estonia, they're digging bunkers. There is a real concern beyond Ukraine that the war could spread. We heard the Swedish Defense Minister or Swedish Defense officials, rather, warning they're preparing for war. We saw NATO officials saying they're preparing for war. So what role

will Trump have in that? Will he lead on that. There is a concern that he won't. And that's a big concern across Europe.

HUNT: Yes, well, I would say on that serious note, there's -- they're right to be concerned considering the forces that are. The Trump -- the ones holding it up in Congress in the first place. On a less serious note, I've got to say the European leaders sound a lot like -- you know, Americans I talk to who aren't looking forward to a Trump- Biden rematch anymore. But it sounds like you think people across the pond are. Max Foster, thank you very much my friend, I really appreciate it, we'll see you tomorrow.

FOSTER: Yes, Kasie.

HUNT: And just ahead here, the deal that Israel's prime minister just rejected to bring the Gaza hostages home. Plus, big changes in the weather after a week of frigid temperatures, yes, and deadly storms.



HUNT: All right, quick hits across America now. Donald Trump expected back in a New York courtroom today for the ongoing E. Jean Carroll defamation case. It is not clear whether he will testify. His lawyers renewed a motion for a mistrial on Friday after Carroll acknowledged she deleted some threatening e-mails.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he rejects outright Hama's conditions for a hostage deal. Those demands included an end to the Gaza war and the withdrawal of troops from the Strip in exchange for hostages.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, it's on fire! Oh, my God!


HUNT: That is an Atlas Air cargo plane on fire forced to make an emergency landing in Miami just three minutes after it took off. Very scary. The FAA says it found a softball-sized hole above an engine on the jet's left side. The NTSB is investigating.

All right, let's get now to weather. I am so happy to be able to read this line. A warm-up is on the way after deadly Winter storms and frigid temperatures over the last week. Daily highs could increase by 30 degrees in parts of the east, and New Hampshire could see some snowfall apparently on primary day. Weather man Derek Van Dam tracking all of it for us. Derek --


HUNT: What is the forecast for here in New Hampshire for the voting and through the rest of the week?

VAN DAM: Well, after what you and the voters endured in Iowa last week, this is going to be a walk in the park. I saw some of those social media videos you posted of the water --

HUNT: Bless you --

VAN DAM: Freezing instantaneously on the windows. It will be far from that this time, but it will still be cold, and yes, a little bit of snowfall for voting day, 40 degrees here in Amherst where you're located, Kasie, but really all in all, you could see the temperature starting to go up ever so slowly in the right direction, right.

Here is a look at the forecast across the entire state of New Hampshire. Temperatures generally in the upper 30s this afternoon, at least Tuesday afternoon across the south and right near the freezing mark the farther north you travel.

But there is some serious weather to get to this morning, particularly across an ongoing ice storm throughout the nation's midsection. This is the mid-Mississippi River Valley, and you could see St. Louis, all the way to Oklahoma City and Little Rock, that is ice. We have ice storm warnings and Winter weather advisories.

A quarter of an inch of ice, perhaps locally, even higher amounts where the warnings are located across southern Arkansas. You can see the sheet of mixed precipitation moving throughout the region. Drive with care between St. Louis and into Little Rock. It is going to be treacherous on the roadways.

And then the warmer part of this storm bringing a considerable flash flood threat in and around the city of San Antonio, impacting 1.5 million people. There's already been 2 to 4 inches of rain that fell overnight, this is radar-estimated rainfall you can see right near the metropolitan of San Antonio as well.

Another 1 to 2 inches according to the National Weather Service, hazardous life-threatening flash flooding ongoing with this storm system that's moving northward and going to overspread the precipitation into places like Chicago, Detroit, behind another weather system that will bring more rain with several days of flash flooding at least across the deep south.

So, yes, we need the rain across this region, but too much is too soon, and that could be a problem anywhere you see that shade of yellow, that's where we have a moderate risk of flash flooding going forward through the middle of the week. So Kasie, so much to talk about, not enough time. Happy voting day tomorrow.

HUNT: I've got to be honest with you, you lost me as soon as you left New Hampshire, Derek.


HUNT: Right, I did see there's still --

VAN DAM: That's all you care about --

HUNT: Ice in Iowa, so I think we're all -- we're all -- we're happy to be -- yes, of course, is the story. Our weather man Derek Van Dam, I thank you very much for telling me that --

VAN DAM: You're welcome --

HUNT: The temperature is going to be 40 degrees on Tuesday. I've never heard anything so wonderful as that. All right, thank you, my friend, I'll see you tomorrow --

VAN DAM: You bet that.

HUNT: All right --

VAN DAM: Good bye --

HUNT: Up next, just one Republican Trump challenger remains on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. Just ahead, who Ron DeSantis is now endorsing. I bet you can guess. We're going to show you the reaction to that. Plus Donald Trump widening his lead over Nikki Haley to double digits. The impact for primary day here in the Granite State. We'll be back in just a moment.