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Today: GOP Candidates Rally In NH After Trump Dominates In Iowa; DeSantis Slams Haley's Record In Her Home State; Ramaswamy Endorses Trump After Suspending Campaign; Trump Trounces DeSantis, Haley In Iowa Caucuses; Haley Wins Moderate, Liberal Voters In Iowa; GOP Battle Moves To NH After Trump's Dominant Iowa Win; Iowa Entrance Poll: Haley Wins Just 15 Percent Of Republicans; Haley: DeSantis Is Not My Concern, I'm Going After Trump. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired January 16, 2024 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Oh, hi. Today on Inside Politics, hello New Hampshire. We are live from (Inaudible) restaurant in Manchester, the new center of the political universe. I was just saying hi to Nikki Haley. By the way, she'll be here in a minute. At least for the next seven days, this is the political center of the universe. Today. Donald Trump, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis will be here just hours after Trump's landslide win in Iowa.
Plus, the last best hope to stop the Trump, Biden nightmare. That's Nikki Haley's pitch as she tries to frame this as a two-person race. Even though she did finish third in Iowa last night. As I said, I'm going to speak with her here in Manchester along with the New Hampshire governor and one of her biggest supporters Chris Sununu in a live joint interview.
And the former president is celebrating his Iowa win. Right now at a familiar campaign stop, a New York City courthouse. He is not required to attend his defamation trial in New York today. He wants to be there.
I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.
First up, Trump dominates the frigid temperatures and dozens of criminal charges did not turn Republican voters in Iowa away from Donald Trump. They showed up for him Bigley, but as you can see, quite literally over my shoulder, the other candidates are still in the race, particularly Nikki Haley.
She is here in Manchester at this restaurant, shaking hands, trying to continue her campaign and get every vote she can. Even though Donald Trump made history of the Iowa caucuses. He carried 98 of the 99 counties, winning nearly every demographic according to CNN entrance polls. In his victory speech, Trump acted like the race is over. While DeSantis and Haley who lost by more than 30 points, tried to spin their second and third place finishes as wins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: We're going to come together. It's going to happen soon to.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL) 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In spite of all of that that they threw at us, everyone against us. We've got our ticket punched out of Iowa.
NIKKI HALEY (R) 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight, Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Right now, Donald Trump is inside the building that you see there on the screen that Manhattan federal courthouse. He chose to be there. We're going to put it up on the screen. I believe there you go. Chose to be their mere hours after his emphatic Iowa when it tells you everything you need to know about how for him, the courtroom and the campaign trail are one in the same. This is the trial that will determine how much he'll pay for defaming E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a department store dressing room.
CNN'is Kristen Holmes is in Atkinson, New Hampshire where Trump will be speaking later today. Kristen, we had a very short overnight flight from Iowa to New Hampshire. We're here and you're back out in the snow.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. In a balmy 25 degrees, I couldn't be more comfortable here. Now I do want to make one thing clear. You know, you talk about how these candidates Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley are saying that this is a two-man race. Well, in some ways to the Trump campaign, it is with both of them.
In Iowa, it was Trump versus Ron DeSantis. They were looking at those numbers. They believed they had to essentially bury Ron DeSantis. That's why you saw all of those attacks. They continually saw these polls that had large margins. But when I was talking to senior advisors, they just weren't sure that they were as large as the polls were indicating.
Now in New Hampshire, it is somewhat of a two-man race, according to senior advisors between Trump and Nikki Haley. Now for the former president's part, he is not going to change anything about his strategy. He is not going to participate in any debates. He is not going to stop going to court in between going to various campaign stops.
But I did speak to campaign advisors who told me exactly what they were looking at here in New Hampshire. And that's essentially how to stop Nikki Haley from rising in the polls. And they say it's twofold. They believe that people who support Nikki Haley here in New Hampshire are independents or moderate independents or left leaning independents.
So essentially what we have seen is that they launched a series of ads, one hitting Haley on immigration. I am told that that was to solidify the Republican base around Donald Trump. They believe that is the number one issue here in New Hampshire for Republican voters.
The second part of that. We are now seeing advertisements hitting Nikki Haley on social security. That is meant to target independence to stop her from growing, gaining any momentum with independents. So interesting to see how that works.
Now, despite the fact that Trump's team says that he is leading in the polls here in New Hampshire, according to their internals. I will note he did up the number of events he had as we started to see Nikki Haley creep up in the polls.
BASH: Really interesting. Thanks so much for all that reporting. I hope you get to go inside, although it really is pretty out there. Kristen, thank you. Now to South Carolina, where I don't think it's snowing. Governor DeSantis flew directly there from Iowa this morning.
CNN's Dianne Gallagher is joining us. You were at that event. What was Governor DeSantis' message today, Dianne?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Dana. Just the fact that Ron DeSantis is here in South Carolina and not in New Hampshire could be seen as a dig at Nikki Haley, going to her stomping grounds deviating from that traditional primary path heading straight to New Hampshire after Iowa. The stump speech in Greenville was light on discussion of the Hawkeye State.
A couple jokes about the weather. But there was plenty of mention of his second-place victory when it comes to comparing himself with Haley, which his speech was heavy on. He took direct aim at her tenure as governor here in the Palmetto State.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DeSantis': Like Haley, look she was governor here for six years. Can you name major achievements under her tenure? I mean, tell me if there are because she hasn't been able to do it. She goes around and says that she's a champion for school choice. Did they do school choice when she was governor here? No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: So, his presence here in South Carolina may also be a reflection of his polling in New Hampshire, though, even campaign surrogates like a state Senator Josh Kimbrell telling our Kit Maher that he didn't believe that New Hampshire was quote, DeSantis country. He called it a moderate state, saying that he felt that the voters here in South Carolina were more comparable to those in Iowa.
Now, DeSantis didn't go that far when talking to the media. But he said he does expect to see the campaign spending more money in South Carolina in the days to come. Remember, they don't vote here for another five weeks or so until late February. But he did note that he felt that South Carolina was a friendly state toward him that he said that it was also the bigger of the two states.
DeSantis diminished Haley support in her own home state, saying he wouldn't outright tell us though, that he thought he could beat her here in South Carolina, Dana. We asked him twice. He would not directly attack Donald Trump though he did seem to be finding a way to spin how he's going to play that that distant second place victory in Iowa. Telling us that he notes that there were roughly half of those voters who wanted someone other than Donald Trump. He also took aim at Nikki Haley. He said refusing to debate him in New Hampshire.
BASH: Dianne, thank you so much for that one Republican candidate last night was willing to acknowledge he does not have a path to the nomination. Vivek Ramaswamy ended his campaign after finishing fourth. And quickly back to the winner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R) 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Earlier tonight, I called Donald Trump to tell him that I congratulated him on his victory. And now going forward, he will have my full endorsement for the presidency, and I think we're going to do the right thing for this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: And this morning, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson ended his campaign, which was focused around opposition to Trump. No word yet on if he will be endorsing someone else. I want to bring in two great political reporters to talk about all of this CNN's Jeff Zeleny and CNN's Omar Jimenez.
OK. I have a lot of things that I can sort of check off my box, somethings that I've done in covering politics, starting a program called Inside Politics and having a candidate. Say hello to me while I'm introducing. Oh. And she's just got right there by the way.
BASH: That was a new one. Let's talk about the big picture about what happened in Iowa before we move on to where we are now in New Hampshire. We just wanted to show our viewers what the map looked like after he was done.
The famous 99 counties that all the candidates and the sitting -- and elected officials they're trying to reach. I mean, look at that. Look at that, all read. Only one that Nikki Haley won, and you know what it was one vote. 1271 For Nikki Haley, 1270 I should say the votes are not yet certified.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It was also in Johnson County where Iowa City is the University of Iowa, the most liberal County in Iowa. So, the reality here is before we go forward and talk about New Hampshire. Let's go back for one second. Donald Trump won Iowa because he was afraid of losing. I'm told that his advisors came to him during his state fair visit in August.
Senator Brandon and said, sir, you could lose this state if you don't focus more, if you don't come here more. So, beginning after Labor Day, we saw him travel there were certainly not as much as DeSantis or Nikki Haley. But he campaigned for a former president and places that former presidents do not go.
He took his motorcade through smaller towns. He called individuals. So, it looked like from the outside he was parachuting in, but this was by design and his ground game was key. But look, it was a landslide victory, no doubt. So, the headline out of yesterday into New Hampshire is that Donald Trump is on the cusp of really continuing his grip on the party. But not just yet. I've seen history show that New Hampshire likes its own service.
BASH: Yes. That is true. What great reporting about what happened -- that made him really focus there. And it certainly paid off. Omar, I mean, just look at the demographics that he won. The almost all of them Republicans, Independents, conservatives, men, women, urban, suburban, rural, 30 to 44 year olds, 45 to 64 year old 65, white evangelicals, it goes on and on and on and on.
But I just do want to underscore college graduates and non-college graduates. The college graduates' part like some of the other demographics in here that he won is historically not his strongest suit, but he won them last night.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it'll be interesting here to piggyback off of what Jeff said a little bit to see if that dynamic continues here, where if Trump feels that they could lose New Hampshire, we already know that they've added a number of events over the past few weeks. In this particular state. We've seen Nikki Haley a surge in the polls, of course.
An interesting thing about New Hampshire and opportunity that she has here that she didn't get in Iowa. You have undeclared as they're called. Independents that are able to vote here. Democrats can switch and become undeclared for the primary process. You also have Republicans that can go which -- by the way, includes moderates.
And when you look at some of those entrance poll numbers, while Trump dominated across so many demographics, including those that identified themselves as conservatives, those that identified themselves as liberal as moderates, Nikki Haley swept there. So, trying to -- if she can bring together the coalition of those in this state, if there's enough of them out there. That's a major question to get over Trump and she can make some real noise.
BASH: You know, I'm so glad you brought that up. Let's show our viewers exactly what you're talking about, Omar. Moderate and liberal people who describe themselves that way. In the entrance poll last night, Nikki Haley did get 63 percent, far more than Donald Trump and certainly everybody else.
I should also add the Ron DeSantis did win one specific demographic group 17 to 29 year olds. It wasn't as much of a decisive win for him as Nikki Haley and the other, but it was still a win in that demographic. I mean, these are very granular demographics. But going back to Nikki Haley and the moderates and liberals, her
argument. And we're probably going to hear it when I talk to her soon is -- that's why I should be the nominee because I can appeal beyond the Republican base. The challenge that she has is getting beyond the Republican primary, especially with somebody as dominant as Donald Trump.
ZELENY: But her strongest argument is that she believes she's the most electable against President Joe Biden. But to get there, you have to win this primary, and New Hampshire is not the laboratory for the Republican primary. It just isn't.
But Dana, I was struck by the last time we were together. Aside from playing her overnight was when she said last night at her rally, she said that I'm the last best chance of stopping the Trump Biden nightmare. So, she's trying to conflate the two here. So that's her argument going in. We woke up here this morning. She's running that ad on television. So that clearly is the point.
But despite her movement here, the math still is challenging for her in terms of how Republicans pick their presidents. There's only one month to go before basically becomes a winner take all in terms of delegates, but let's not get ahead of ourselves, New Hampshire voters have, you know, demand respect and they are going to make their own choices here.
BASH: OK. Standby. We're going to come back to you a little bit later because as you've seen, she's been walking around. Nikki Haley is here along with the governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu. They're going to be here. We're going to talk to them live after a short break.
BASH: Welcome back. Let's get right to my next guests. Joining me now is Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley and her top backer here in New Hampshire, the governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu. Nice to see you all. That was pretty funny when you came up and you didn't realize we were starting the show.
HALEY: But we're always thrilled to be in a diner and talk to some people. It's a great day in New Hampshire. We're super excited.
BASH: Thank you. Good to see you, Governor. I do want to start with what happened in Iowa last night. Donald Trump won 98 of the 99 counties. He won registered independents, college educated men and women, non-college educated men and women, the cities, the suburbs, the rural areas. Can there be any doubt that right now the Republican Party is Donald Trump's party?
HALEY: Look, I mean, I was always been a pro-Trump state. And we knew that going in. I was thrilled at the fact that we just wanted to come out strong. And the idea that we were able to come out of there strong enough to come into this state was all we needed, because we knew if we could do that, then it's a two-person race coming into New Hampshire and it's a two-person race going into South Carolina.
So, it's exactly where we want to be. And it's exactly what we expected. We always knew that Trump is going to get a high number there.
BASH: That big and that's historic.
HALEY: No. I mean, I think it's Iowa.
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): It's definitely three people in the race, right? It's not one of these races with seven people in the race. He's effectively the incumbent, if you think of it that way. So, the incumbent president rarely could get 50 percent of his own base voters. I don't know. I don't think that's -- I think that's a huge opportunity for America saying let's move forward with something new.
HALEY: But you know, we're putting Iowan in the rearview mirror. I mean, now it's New Hampshire, and it's go time. We've got a week to go and do that. But I've been campaigning here for 11 months now. And so, we're ready to kind of just finish this off and get it in. We're a stone's throw away from him.
BASH: Governor, is New Hampshire going to correct what Iowa did last night?
SUNUNU: Look, I was -- I wouldn't have New Hampshire, we're always forward looking. Let's say that. New Hampshire always is always forward looking into the next generation of leadership for this country. On the Republican side, on the Democrat side, this is always what we do. And this year, everyone's galvanizing because you've never needed it more, right?
We're so tired of the same old thing, the chaos, the drama on both sides. Everyone wants this to be the Nikki Haley race. And this is our opportunity. America is waiting to say, oh, wait, it's a one-on-one race. Oh, wait, it's not a fait accompli for Donald Trump. Why is he attacking her so much? Why is he so scared? Why won't he get on a debate stage?
I mean, Nikki Haley would debate Donald Trump right here right now today if he had the guts to do it. So, he's scared. He knows that it's a one-on-one race. And he knows that if you have that mentality going into Super Tuesday, anything's possible.
BASH: Can I just push back because if I'm Donald Trump, I look at those results and say, it's not a one-on-one race. It's me and then everybody else is so far in my rearview mirror, I can't even see him.
HALEY: Dana, what are the polls showing here in New Hampshire? What are the polls showing here -- each showing in South Carolina? And look at the big poll that matters. 75 percent of Americans don't want a Trump, Biden rematch. The majority of Americans don't want either one of them.
I mean, are we really at the point that we're going to put 280-year- olds as our options. I mean, with all due respect, that's fine. But we need to move forward. And the fact that both of these guys put us trillions of dollars in debt, ran up our inflation, and our kids are never going to forgive them for that.
And then you go a step further and look at what they're doing. While we're trying to move forward with issues, that matter on inflation and education and border and, and law and order and these wars around the world. What are they talking about? They're having to deal with investigations, they're talking about the past, they're not moving forward, and they're not showing a vision.
BASH: So that argument certainly has resonance when you look at the broader electorate. But the process is what it is, and you have to win the Republican primary first. And just last night, as an example, when you look at the demographics, the only area that you won is with moderates and independents, sort of the more liberal side of the spectrum, and even some who aren't Republicans. How do you win a Republican contest when that is the area in which you're winning?
HALEY: I mean, first of all, I think it's interesting that there were 14 candidates in the race. We were at 2 percent. You all didn't give us the time of day. And we come out of there with 20 percent and come into New Hampshire, where there's like a six-point difference between me and Trump. And we're going to talk about how to do it. We're going to do it here in New Hampshire. We're going to do it in South Carolina.
BASH: Governor DeSantis is coming here tonight for a CNN town hall. But he just did an event in Governor Haley's state. What does that tell you as governor of New Hampshire?
SUNUNU: He knows -- again, he's going to come into the New Hampshire and try to placate but he knows he's in single digits. It's embarrassing. He's pulled all his money. He's pulled all his people. He hasn't been here in a month. So, he's given up on New Hampshire. He made that very clear, which is why -- again, it's a two-person race between Nikki and Trump.
So, he doesn't want to be completely embarrassed, I suppose. And so, he's going to come up and do a town hall here and there. But at the end of the day, he doesn't have the ground game. He doesn't have the connection.
He's not doing the retail stops engaging with voters, taking any question at any time over the next six or seven days. That's exactly what Nikki is going to do. Because it's not about Donald Trump, it's about what we're doing to bring opportunity for the rest of the country. And that starts with the voters.
BASH: Your calm state, South Carolina doesn't vote for a month. Did he just go to troll you?
HALEY: I mean, look, it really doesn't matter to me why he went there. I'm sure he had a great time. South Carolina is a great state. But he's in single digits in South Carolina and single digits in New Hampshire. He's been invisible in both states. He is not my concern. I'm going after Trump. That's what I'm saying. And I'm doing that not for personal reasons.
But the fact that I don't want my kids to live like this, at some point, something's got to give. People are tired of the division and the chaos. We can't go through four more years of chaos. We won't survive it.
BASH: When you say you're going after Trump. Is your message going to change? Is it going to sharpen here more than you have in the past, given the fact that you are much closer, as you said in the polls, all of the polls here in New Hampshire than you were?
HALEY: Well, I think you have to look at -- you know, when there were a lot of candidates, your focus is kind of getting ---
HALEY: But now, when we know it's a head-to-head, you heard me last night say, look, we have a choice. Are we going to do more of the same? Are we going to go forward and more of this same is not just Donald Trump, it's Joe Biden.
Both of them are exactly the same. They're both in their 80s. They both put us trillions of dollars in debt. They both are dealing with investigations that are distractions. They both constantly are showing us they have no vision going forward. This is not about personalities. This is about the fact that America deserves better. Let's make that happen.
SUNUNU: Look, I think, you know, when I'm out -- there are two issues that people are driving. Number one is social security, right? It's going bankrupt in 10 years. There's an automatic cut in your benefits coming about 22 percent in 10 years, Trump says he'll do nothing to save it.
We have a lot of elderly in the state. We're one of the oldest states in the country. Nikki is the only one talking about how to shore that up. Make sure you don't lose benefits and make sure that we're going to fix social security. That's a huge issue with folks.
The other one is economic discipline, right? We're very frugal state. We don't have taxes here. We don't want you taking our money. And we're sure as heck don't trust Washington spending our money. Nikki is the only one saying, states have to have more control. Voters have to have more say in the Live Free or Die state that goes a long way.
BASH: Governor Sununu mentioned social security -- my colleague Kristen Holmes was just reporting that Donald Trump is already going up with new ads hitting you on social security, because you are saying that something needs to be done. And on immigration, which is obviously a very potent issue. HALEY: I mean, both of those, they're false ads. And he started spending millions even before Iowa happened because he saw what we see. I mean, first of all, there's a border ad that says I'm against the wall. No, actually I said you can't just do a wall, you've got to go and defund sanctuary cities. You've got to put troops on the ground. You've got to go back to remain in Mexico. I gave all that.
When it comes to social security, he's saying I want to kill social security, it's quite the opposite. What I've said is, I want to make sure that there's something there for kids, and I want to make sure everybody gets what they're promised.
And so, you do that by acknowledging that there is an issue. You don't put your head in the sand, like the other candidates have said they're going to do. You go as the accountant meet, saying, get in front of it. Let's go to the kids in their 20s, like mine, and tell them, we're going to change the rules for you.
We're going to change the retirement age to reflect life expectancy for you. Change the costs of living increases to be increases on inflation. Let's expand Medicare advantage plans. Let's limit benefits on the MEGA wealthy. That's how we'll get social security back on track.
BASH: You said this morning, there have been five debates in the Republican primary so far. And the next one you do will either be against Donald Trump or Joe Biden. Just to put a finer point on it. You're not going to do a debate here in New Hampshire, unless Donald Trump is on the stage.
HALEY: I mean, that's who I'm running to get. That's who I want. That's at the end of the day, he's the frontrunner. He's the one that I'm seven points away from. He's the one that we're fighting for. There is nobody else I need to debate. I have had five strong debates. And I've done plenty of them. He can't hide forever. At some point, he's got to get on a debate.
BASH: Have you told ABC put out a statement saying that they want you to tell them officially by five o'clock today. Have you already done that?
HALEY: They are very aware that I've said is Donald Trump going to be on that stage. They don't need to be asking me, they need to be asking him. If he's on that stage on there.
BASH: Is that the right move?
SUNUNU: Absolutely. Look, absolutely. This is a one-on-one race. Donald Trump is chicken. He won't get on the stage. He's afraid to be called and asked questions. He doesn't want to engage with voters. He's assuming that it will all turn out fine.
Now when he realizes it's not turning out fine. That's why the attacks come. They'll throw anything they can at Nikki. But with her background and experience, she's tough as nails. I'm sure if Donald Trump wanted debate, Nikki would be there literally right now. And if he weren't so chicken, he'd get on the stage.
BASH: Where he is now is in a courthouse in New York. And I want to ask you about that he actually chose to be there. He's already been found liable for defaming E. Jean Carroll who accused him of raping her 30 years ago, a jury found him liable for sexual abuse. And this trial that he's attending today is about damages, that he must pay her. You're the only woman in this race. How do you feel about your party's frontrunner being held liable for sexual abuse?
HALEY: I mean, first of all, I haven't paid attention to his cases. And I'm not a lawyer. All I know is that he's innocent until proven guilty. And when he's proven guilty, and he's sitting in a courtroom, that's exactly what I'm talking about. You've got investigations on Trump and Biden.
BASH: Forgive me. But a lot of people in the Republican Party, blow it all off and say that it's all a witch hunt in which----
HALEY: Because I think some of the cases have been political.
BASH: But case in particular?
HALEY: This one I haven't looked at. But look, if he's found guilty, then he needs to pay the price. He needs to do what he's supposed to. Every one of these cases, they need to be heard out. He needs to defend himself. If he is found guilty, he's going to pay the price. If he's not found guilty, then we move forward.
What I will tell you, I'm focused on the economy, the border and education and getting our country back on track. If he's sitting in a courtroom, that goes back to what I'm saying. We can't continue to be distracted. We can't continue to be in chaos. We have a country to save.
BASH: And Governor, what you've seen -- you're both governor? Governor Sununu, what you've seen is that these court cases have in the short term at least benefited him with Republican caucus goers with Republican primary voters at least in polls.