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Inside Politics

Haley: "It's Now One Fella And One Lady Left"; Haley Ramps Up Attacks On Trump In Final NH Push; Trump Leads Haley By Double Digits In Latest CNN Poll; Trump: DeSantis Ran A "Good Campaign...Was Very Gracious"; Haley Attacks Trump's Age, Mental Fitness; Trump Makes Pres. Immunity Part Of Closing Message In NH; Some Onetime Trump Supporters In NH Want To Move On; NH Voters: Border Security Is Most Important Issue. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired January 22, 2024 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on Inside Politics, it's now just a lady and a fella. That's how Nikki Haley describes being the only candidate left standing between Donald Trump and the Republican nomination. With just one day left to reach voters here in New Hampshire before the primary that could jumpstart her campaign or effectively end it.

Plus, abortion on the ballot. Kamala Harris is hitting the trail today saying just that, using the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade to remind voters of what Trump helped take away and how voters' choices in November could impact the future of abortion rights in America.

And Judge Judy's 2024 verdict. She's putting her support behind Nikki Haley and weighing in on the former president's multiple legal battles. I sat down with her here in New Hampshire, you're going to see that coming up.

I'm Dana Bash, live from New Hampshire. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics. And we start right here of the political universe where we are just hours away from the first voters heading to the polls. Ron DeSantis ended his much-ballyhooed campaign that went from juggernaut to afterthought in a stunning leech along with that announcement yesterday. He also became the latest former rival to endorse Donald Trump.

Nikki Haley is down by double digits in the latest CNN poll. She'll need to do better than that to prove she still has a place in this race. Meanwhile, the former president is hoping for a commanding win here in the Granite State could wrap things up for him.

We have a team of reporters on the ground here in New Hampshire. And I want to start with CNN's Kristen Holmes, who is live in Amherst following the Trump campaign. We'll get to Kylie Atwood with the Haley campaign in Concord in a moment. Actually, I'm going to start with you, Kylie. Go ahead.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, we're here. It's Nikki Haley's second campaign event of the day. This is her first full day on the campaign trail in New Hampshire as it's turned into that one-on -one race between her and former President Trump. New Hampshire is obviously fertile ground for Nikki Haley, particularly because independence can partake in that primary tomorrow.

So, the question is to be competitive with the former president. Now with Ron DeSantis like she could get some of the supporters from folks who are planning to vote for DeSantis. Of course, there are questions about how assured that would actually be given that DeSantis has already endorsed Trump, and Haley for her part is already making her pitch to voters here in the Granite State.

She is of course, reminding them that she is the next generational leader. We've seen her in recent days also ramped up her attacks on former President Trump, going after his mental fitness specifically. And just earlier this morning, she has done this time and time again, she's defending herself against the attack ads that Trump is putting on TV here in New Hampshire.

Listen to what she said?


NIKKI HALEY (R) 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every single thing that Donald Trump has said or put on TV has been a lie. He says I want to cut Social Security and raise the retirement age. I never once said that, not once. If anything, we're going to make it solvent so that no one lives in fear. He said that I don't want to have a border wall. I never said that. I said you can't just do a border wall. You got to do all these other things that are going to stop what's happening at the border.


ATWOOD: Now she was also asked earlier today in an interview with Fox if she's going after the former president too late, she defended her strategy saying from the beginning there were multiple candidates in the race. She had to get all of them out of the race. Her job wasn't to go after former President Trump right out of the gates, she call this a marathon, not a sprint.

Her campaign is saying that they are looking ahead South Carolina after New Hampshire but of course, the stakes are incredibly high for her here in the Granite State because even her supporters say that she really needs to do well to show that she is competitive with former President Trump. Dana?

BASH: Kylie, thank you so much for that great reporting. Let's now go to Kristen. She hid his most familiar campaign stop today a courthouse, but his plans changed. Kristen, tell us what's going on.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, he was supposed to be in court. There was a lot of speculation as to whether or not he would testify. A judge actually -- adjourned court because a juror was sick and then it seemed to be a back and forth between Donald from layer and the judge. Essentially judge saying they could still go through with this. But instead, the Trump's lawyer saying no, we would like for it to be adjourned.

Now, of course, as you said, that's his favorite campaign stop, but he has another campaign stop tonight at 9 pm in Laconia. He'll be giving a speech and I have just learned from a senior advisor. He's going to be joined by Senator Tim Scott, Vivek Ramaswamy, as well as Governor Doug Burgum.

As we talk about Ron DeSantis dropping out of the race. There's this question of Trump in terms of votes? Well, they don't really think it's going to move the needle that much because Ron DeSantis didn't have a ground game here in New Hampshire. They always view this race as a one-on-one race with Nikki Haley.

Now, with this endorsement, it's given Donald Trump and his team the opportunity to essentially say that Nikki Haley should drop out because the Republican Party is coming together around Donald Trump. And this is an example of that bringing together people who are formally his opponents now are people who have endorsed him and saying, look, all of these people who I attacked, who we went -- up against, now they're backing me.

It is time for the Republican Party to come together, put all this nonsense away and make me the nominee. Obviously, as you heard Kylie say they're, you know, Haley's team saying this is a marathon, not a race. But when I talked to Trump's advisors, they really do believe that this right now is a race. If they can do well, if they can win those double digits, then they believe they've got this wrapped up. But if not, they don't know what I bought, and of course, South Carolina, but they do want him.

BASH: Yes, they do. And the mad person (Ph) as you were speaking, I got a text from somebody with Tim Scott's office, his campaign -- former campaign, I should say saying that not only is he going to be -- as you first reported with Donald Trump tonight, along with some others, he's going to stay here in New Hampshire, and campaign for Trump through Election Day, meet with voters and they hope celebrate a victory here with him tomorrow night.

So, there you go. Kristen, thank you so much for that. And I spoke with Nikki Haley just moments after Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race. I asked her about her strategy to love Joe Biden and Donald Trump together. Do you believe that they are equally bad for America?


HALEY: It's not even what I believe it's what Americans believe.

BASH: What do you believe? Because you're the one who's saying that.

HALEY: I worry about the fact that they are so focused on investigations and things that they don't like and never hear either one of them. Talk about the solutions of the future. I'm doing -- we have got to start looking forward. You've got a country in disarray. You've got a world on fire and you're going to focus on people who hurt your feelings.

You're going to focus on investigations that are involved with their families. You're going to focus on vengeance. With me, it's no drama, it's no vendettas. It's just hard work. And it's making sure we're not thinking four and eight-years, we're thinking 20 and 30 years out.

BASH: You don't want to go there on whether or not they're equally bad.

HALEY: I mean, if they were -- if either one of them was good, I wouldn't be running. Yes, they are equally bad. That's why I'm running.


BASH: Discuss that and much, much more here in New Hampshire. My panel of great reporters Astead Herndon of The New York Times, The Boston Globe's Jackie Kucinich, and CNN's Jeff Zeleny. Can you all see what he has here? He has a yellow pad, which is like my favorite thing when you do this, because you actually have your reporter's notebook says, spill it, what should we know?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I mean, for all of Haley's claim that this is a marathon, not a sprint. It's kind of a sprint now. I mean, the reality is -- this is just hours away from decide how long this campaign goes. This has happened very quickly, in some respects. You know, we've all been watching this race get smaller and smaller. But I cannot recall a time from Iowa and New Hampshire, where things have changed so much.

And it is a one-on-one race. There's no doubt about that. But it seems like about five on one, as Kristen was reporting, and you were saying that there are so many of the rivals coming to Donald Trump's rally tonight. So, the bottom line to all this is, are there enough undeclared voters with a slice of Republicans to deliver a victory or a narrow second place for Nikki Haley?

If so, the race is likely to go on. If not, New Hampshire may -- very well put an exclamation point on this. But you know, we've all seen New Hampshire surprises over the years. So, let's enjoy the final 24, 36 hours of voting and see.


BASH: And let the voters decide. I want you to weigh in on that. But I also want to note who is not in the list of former rivals that Kristen was reporting on who's coming. Ron DeSantis, you know, he probably needs a minute. He just came -- got out of the race yesterday.

But on that note, it is to watch the way Donald Trump no matter how can get -- and things got very, very ugly between him and DeSantis. As soon as that person endorses him, he changes his tune. Let's listen to what the former president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'd like to take time to congratulate Ron DeSantis. He ran a really good campaign. I will tell you it's not easy. They think it's easy doing this stuff, right is not easy. But as you know, he left the campaign trail today at 3 pm. And in so doing, he was very gracious, and he endorsed me.


BASH: So, this is where the race stands right now. If you take DeSantis out of the poll that we released yesterday morning. Donald Trump is at 54 percent. Nikki Haley is at 41 percent. And when you look at the GOP primary voters, specifically, Trump -- excuse me beforehand, so you can see -- she actually according to this would get some of his vote. But when Donald Trump has such a big lead, will it matter?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: So, I think it's you mentioned voters obviously having a say here, I think the other folks that have a say are the donors. Nikki Haley will stay in this race. And candidates usually don't, you know, just quit, they usually run out of money. And so, if her donors decide to split. They want her to stay in the fight and try to push her to stay in the fight. I guess we probably will have a fight through South Carolina, at least. But I think the margins here do matter very much in terms of, you know, how close can she get?

And in terms of DeSantis, I mean, the reason that he endorsed Trump is because he wants a future in the party, right? I mean, if he didn't, that's kind of a dead end, particularly somewhere like Florida where the president is -- the former president is quite popular.

BASH: Yeah, it's true. I mean, she has believes. She's got a good amount of money in her coffers. That was not the case for Ron DeSantis. We'll talk more about that later in the show. I asked her yesterday when I caught up with her in Seabrook, whether or not she's pledging to her fellow South Carolinians, that she will stay in this race, no matter what happens here on the ground in New Hampshire until they get to vote. She said, yes.

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, I think that's going to be the big question. I think it speaks to the margin point. And I think the donor wants an important point too, because unlike DeSantis, she's not more reliant on those small dollar donors. She has a backing up of Americans for prosperity to kind of get her there. But there's also the looming complication that South Carolina could be an embarrassing place for her too.

There's the recognition of that as a home state, but that's a state that's conservative base has really shifted to become more Trump like over the last 10 years. I mean, I think the Trump campaign will take a one-on-one matchup with Nikki Haley and when we get to South Carolina, but I think if she comes in single digits or close to 10 percent here. There will be an incentive to keep going because remember, the challengers here are also thinking about Donald Trump's legal complications. Also, there is a somewhat of a feeling that maybe if he is convicted or in federal court for most of the time, then that -- there should be a person kind of waiting in the wings and alternative. The problem is the voters haven't one of that part of the reason he has been able to ascend is because they've rallied around him and particularly because of those legal cases.

So, it gives them a candidate like Haley and incentive to stay in longer closer to the convention. But I do think the pressure from the party, think of someone like South Carolina's Nancy Mesa endorsing Trump today, the pressure of the party rallying around him will become more and more intense and really isolate her if that margin is big in New Hampshire.

BASH: Let's listen to some of what is happening right now in these closing hours on the campaign trail between the two remaining candidates. Let's first listen to what Donald Trump is saying about Nikki Haley.


TRUMP: Nikki Haley has made an unholy alliance with rhinos, never Trump errs. The people behind Nikki are pro-amnesty. You like that? Pro-China, pro-open borders, pro-war, pro-deep state, and they're pro- Biden.


BASH: And now let's listen to what Nikki Haley has saying -- has been saying about Donald Trump, particularly after he on Friday night, many, many times confused her with Nancy Pelosi and his riff.


HALEY: Do we really want to have two presidential candidates in their 80s. Trump goes on and on multiple times, saying that I prevented the January 6 at the Capitol. I wasn't even anywhere near the Capitol. He was confused the same way that he said he ran against President Obama. It was Hillary Clinton. These things happen because the more you age, it just does -- you have declined.



BASH: I've been hearing that from a lot of voters here. Now, the question is whether -- I'm hearing it from voters because that's what they're hearing from voters and then Haley campaign, which is why she's saying it more, or they're hearing it from her, which is why it's shrinking in, you know, you never really know when these closing days.

ZELENY: For sure. I mean, there is a bit of an echo chamber, but she's right in one respect. I mean, I've been at several Donald Trump rallies now compare them to 2016. It is an entirely different thing. We talk a lot about to Joe Biden's age. President Biden's age and fitness. Well, the same obviously can be said for Donald Trump. He's only now mentioning it.

The Nancy Pelosi thing was the latest example. But it's been half does not seem to have the same fastball he had. Does it matter his voters? Probably not. But to other voters going ahead. It might. So, I'm not sure in the final days now, it's the -- she's making the argument. Not sure she'll change many minds.

But I think one thing is striking to what Astead was saying earlier. She's long talked about South Carolina being a feather in our cap, that is one of the, you know, sort of pluses she has. It may actually be a minus. If she didn't have a home state embarrassment factor to worry about, would she stay in longer? Is this something that's actually going to make her get out first? We will see what the margin is.

And here is what Jackie was saying -- the donors are saying, but she is the last best person standing. It's a delicate race. She'll get some delegates and going into super Tuesday is actually a decent date for her because a lot of the primaries almost a dozen are open. Independents can vote. So, they're hoping for a tight margin. A win here would obviously change the conversation, but not necessarily expecting that. They're just hoping for a tight margin.

BASH: We're going to squeeze in a quick break. It must be nice for like three reporters to say, wow, that is such a good point because it was. We're going to talk a lot more up next Donald Trump. Really, is he really going to testify an E. Jean Carroll defamation case. His lawyer says, he wants to take the stand on Wednesday.




BASH: Donald Trump and the E. Jean Carroll defamation case quickly adjourn because of the sick juror. Trump has already found liable for sexual abuse in that case. Now it's all about how much in damages he owes Carol. And today, his lawyer told the judge that Trump intends to testify ideally on Wednesday, just hours after the primary here in New Hampshire.

It's the most recent example of Donald Trump's legal and political calendar coming to ahead. My panel is back with me. So that's happening or not happening are almost happening in New York. Meanwhile, here, we're hearing. I just played a little bit of what Trump is saying about Nikki Haley. His other main argument oddly, as he closes out here in New Hampshire is about the fact that he should have immunity in court as should all presidents Take a listen.


TRUMP: You have to have guaranteed immunity for a president otherwise the president is not going to move. Harry Truman would not have done. Harry Truman would not have done Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You know, you have to allow a president to do his job, they'll make decisions. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Astead, but in hearing from voters about how much that selling or whether it matters if they just tend to say oh, that's just Trump?

HERNDON: Yeah. I think that's more of the latter. They just play it off as Trump being trumped. I think it's another example of the blend between the political and legal that we have seen over the last six months. Trump doesn't care if the voters care about it. It's on his mind. And that's the reason he is kind of saying it at these types of rallies.

But I also think it meshes with the overall picture of presidential power. He's trying to paint for 2025. This is someone who has been working with kind of lawyers and conservative thinkers to think about how they will get around Congress in a second term to think about how he would kind of make his policy positions come to fruition without going through traditional legislative measures.

How to weaponize the DOJ. How to weaponize the courts. This is part of the explicit promise of what Trump is telling voters. Going ahead to next year, so maybe it's not the presidential immunity argument that we hear from voters. But I do hear Trump supporters saying they want him to finish the job and they don't really care how that job is finished.

BASH: Now, I will say that you just look at our polls. This isn't certainly everybody who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Otherwise, he wouldn't be ahead in the polls now. But I have met Justin (PH) back here over the last 24 hours. Several New Hampshire voters who did vote for Trump in 2016 and are now not because of chaos like this. I want you to listen to one Daniel Caspersen.


DANIEL CASPERSEN, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I voted for Donald Trump the very first election, yes, I did.

BASH: In 2016?


BASH: And why not now

CASPERSEN: And why not now because I feel that -- I'm not going to tell you what I really feel. But I think that he's not very honest person. And I think that he did a real disservice to our country on January 6.

BASH: And was that when you lost faith in him?

CASPERSEN: No, I've lost faith him a long time before that.


BASH: Jackie? KUCINICH: That's exactly who Nikki Haley used to come out for her. That voter -- voters who maybe voted for Trump and then voted for Biden. Those voters who, you know, really want to vote for a Republican again, but they're not going to vote for Trump, but those persuadable voters are exactly who -- you know, she needs, whether they're -- you know, undecided voters, or whether they're Republicans who are just -- as she says, like over the drama.

It's the same voters that DeSantis targeted frankly, and Chris Christie in a lot of ways. He was much more aggressive about criticizing Trump's than Haley and DeSantis. But that's the same pool of convincing voters that any challenger to the former president is going to need to pull to defeat him in a state like New Hampshire.


BASH: And Jeff, the issues that are driving the voters here. We saw in our poll that was released yesterday morning, not a surprise given what we've seen this entire election season on the GOP side, immigration is number one. I wanted to listen to Jamie Lowell. I met him at a Haley event. He was there to try to figure out if he was going to support her. Listen to what he said about this issue.


BASH: Border is your number one issue.

JAMIE LOWELL, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: Probably, yeah. I can control the rest of the things myself, hard work and savings. But one thing I can't control is the border and who is coming across. So, she says she's going to claim the -- close the border and then that's the one thing I can't control so. Let's do it.


BASH: Some interesting. That's the one thing I can't control.

ZELENY: Absolutely. And you talk to voters, certainly the Republican registered Republican voters believe that it's why Donald Trump has been running so many ads against Nikki Haley, trying to portray her as soft on illegal immigration. She has pushed back on that.

But the undeclared voters aren't speaking about immigration as much, at least in my experience here over the last week. The economy is still a central concern and just concerns about the abilities of the Biden administration. But there's no doubt. Immigration is a real issue. It is a crisis. There's no question, but it is more so if you get your news only from sort of one area and that is what is be a drumbeat here.

I'm surprised that Trump doesn't talk about it more actually. He probably doesn't have to. He talks about it a couple of times. He spends more time talking about his own immunity and things. I hear zero voters talking about that. I think it just kind of glosses over in their mind, but it just speaks to the victimhood that he talks about a lot. BASH: A lot of entertainment value add from his perspective and the perspective of his supporters who come to that rally -- those rallies I've noticed in the recent ones I've visited. Thank you, guys. Don't go anywhere. Today marks 51 years since the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision. How the Biden administration is now putting that now defunct law of the land. And reproductive rights front and center in their reelection campaign. Stay with us.