Return to Transcripts main page

Laura Coates Live

Laura Coates Interviews Vice President Kamala Harris; CNN Covers New Hampshire Primary. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 22, 2024 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: In just one hour, votes will be cast in New Hampshire's first in the nation primary, and we will take you right there tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

At midnight tonight, Dixville Notch's six registered voters -- yes, I said six registered voters -- will kick off the crucial New Hampshire republican primary.

And by this time tomorrow, we should have a pretty good idea whether Nikki Haley can put the brakes on what, so far, seems like a Trump juggernaut heading straight for the republican nomination. It's democracy in action. You'll see it all live right here.

But first, my exclusive interview with Vice President Kamala Harris. We talked about the reversal of Roe v. Wade and what that means for voters. Plus, Donald Trump's legal woes and her candid reaction to how people view her. It's a wide-ranging conversation, one you won't hear anywhere else but here, and it starts right now.


COATES: I'm so glad that you're here. And, of course, you have decided to kick off the campaign in many respects with respect to abortion.


COATES: We're wondering, though, what could you accomplish in a second term that you have not already done now?

HARRIS: Well, to get there, we're going to require everyone to vote, to understand what's at stake right now. And that is no small matter --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

HARRIS: -- to make sure that we are present. And I intend to travel around our country to remind people of what's at stake and that their voice will matter and will be expressed through their vote in many other ways. But we have to first get there. So, I want to emphasize that point. In terms of a second term, there's a lot of work to continue to do to build on our successes. We have, for example, capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month for our seniors. For years, our seniors have been talking about the fact that they had to make the awful decision about whether they could either fill their prescription or fill their refrigerator.

COATES: But with respect --

HARRIS: We finally capped --

COATES: Excuse me, with respect to abortion in particular, I know this is a very big important issue right now and voters have been looking at it in previous elections at the time to turn out, it's when you're very passionate about in terms of freedom and choice --

HARRIS: Okay --


Sure, we can talk about choice.

COATES: Yeah, let's back to that issue in particular --


COATES: -- what could not have been done during the first term that you require a second to accomplish?

HARRIS: So, the first thing that has to happen on the issue of abortion and choice and freedom for reproductive care is that we need to, in the next 10 months, do everything we can to remind people that the court, the Supreme Court, took a constitutional right from the people of America, from the women of America, and the United States Congress has the power and ability to put that right back in place, to put back in place the protections of Roe v. Wade into law.

COATES: Can Congress do it without having necessary votes on either side?

HARRIS: Well, again, we are here in January. I'm going to tell you, in these intervening months between now and the election, I am going to do exactly what I'm doing here in Wisconsin, which is traveling the country to remind people of not only what is at stake in the harm that is occurring every day, so many women silently suffering, but also remind them of the connection between their vote and an outcome that puts back in place the protections of Roe.

So, these months are going to matter. And as I have said on this issue, one does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree that government should not be telling women what to do with their bodies. And realistically, in the over a year that has passed since the Dobbs decision came down, women are silently suffering.

[23:05:02] I mentioned Megan (ph), who was in the auditorium when I was speaking, who wanted to have a child, wanted to follow through with her pregnancy, but was diagnosed with a fetal condition such that she had to have an abortion, but her doctor could not provide what he knew she needed for the best interest of her health care. She had to travel to Minnesota.

COATES: He couldn't even secure, I think, you said two signatures --

HARRIS: Correct.

COATES: -- for condition, try to get others to say he could provide it in her home state.

HARRIS: Because under the law in Wisconsin at that time, he could not ask her physician make the decision without having two other physicians sign on. In states like Texas, they've passed laws that include providing for up to life in prison for health care providers, for doing their job of providing health care as they deem appropriate and necessary.

There are states that have passed or proposed laws, both passed and proposed laws, that make no exception even for rape and incest, which means after someone has survived a crime of a violation to their body, a crime of violence to their body, these extremists are saying to that survivor, and you don't have the authority to make decision about what happens to your body next. It's immoral.

COATES: I mean, you -- when you were a prosecutor, this was an extraordinary focus.


COATES: Crimes against women --

HARRIS: And children.

COATES: -- and children --


COATES: I know you've been very passionate about this for a very long time --


COATES: -- in a variety of different fields.


COATES: But I do wonder, when you talk about the states in particular --

HARRIS: Uh-hmm.

COATES: -- you hold Trump responsible for the nomination of three Supreme Court justices who you believe intended at all times to then overturn this important precedent, as you say. Fifty-one years later, here we are with it now being in past tense. If it's a state-related issue, is the election or candidacy and campaign of Trump as important?

HARRIS: Well, let's first be clear that the previous president expressed his intentions quite clearly and fast forward to just recently --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

HARRIS: -- says he's proud of what he did. And let's be clear, so by inference, he is proud that women have been deprived of fundamental freedoms to make decisions about their own body. By inference, proud that doctors are being penalized and criminalized for providing health care. Proud that women are silently suffering because they don't have access to the health care they need.

So, let's understand that the stakes are so very high. And listen, Joe Biden, President Joe Biden has been very clear, when Congress puts the protections of Roe back into the law, he will sign it.

Similarly, President Joe Biden has been very clear, if these extremists achieve their other goal, which is to have a national ban, which means state by state by state, Joe Biden will veto that. The stakes are high.

COATES: Speaking of the stakes being quite high, let's go to the border because this is something that is in your direct wheelhouse. It has been something that you have been looked to, to try to accomplish what has been, frankly, a decades-long endeavor by successive presidential administrations.

But there is anger on both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, about an unsustainable border, what they're calling a crisis. Why can't this be accomplished during this administration?

HARRIS: Well, so, there is no question that our immigration system is broken. And so much so that we, as the first bill that we offered after our inauguration, was to fix the immigration system, which included what we must do to create a pathway for citizenship --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

HARRIS: -- and to put the resources that are needed into the border. But sadly, people on the other side of the aisle have been playing politics with this issue. The solutions are at hand. And, you know, gone are the days sadly where a President Bush or John McCain understood that we should have a bipartisan approach to fixing this problem, which is a longstanding problem.

COATES: But what are those solutions?

HARRIS: The solutions include putting resources at the border, to do what we can to process people effectively, and putting in place laws that actually allow for a meaningful pathway to citizenship. COATES: And yet there are progressives who are very angry about DREAMers, about a pathway to citizenship not being included in the latest negotiations on these issues.

HARRIS: Well, I won't speak to the current negotiations and the status of the current negotiations.

But I will tell you that DREAMers under -- sadly, some of the draconian approaches to them have been treated very badly -


COATES: Uh-hmm.

HARRIS: -- and that we have to understand who our DREAMers are. First of all, in the height of the pandemic, it was so many DREAMers who were frontline workers --

COATES: That's true.

HARRIS: -- and working on saving lives. DREAMers who, many of them, before they could walk or talk, were brought into the country and have lived very productive lives serving in our military, serving in Fortune 500 companies. And they should be honored for the contribution they are making, and they should be protected.

COATES: You've cared about this issue even before you were the vice president.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

COATES: It's very dear to your heart.


COATES: And yet you look at it, if this is not something that can be accomplished now in this administration, I don't know how many bites the apple you think you'll be able to get. Have you given that some thought?

HARRIS: I will tell you that the negotiations that are happening right now, I hope, are going to be directed at solutions that are genuinely focused on fixing the problem, including all the equities that you mentioned.

COATES: I do wonder about something that, obviously, you are really well known for. I mean, you are somebody who, aside from being the vice president, you have run a Department of Justice that's second only to the United States Department of Justice in size --


COATES: -- and frankly stature.

HARRIS: Uh-hmm.

COATES: We remember you very well from your Senate and all the work you're doing on the different committees --

HARRIS: Uh-hmm.

COATES: -- and making your voice heard. And yet there is someone right now, if the polling is correct, has 91 counts, four different jurisdictions with different indictments and different cases against him, who could very well be the Republican nominee.

And yet he is attacking you and President Biden for election interference. He believes that what the Justice Department is doing is only attributed to you, but also is election interference.

What is your reaction to those who believe his statements?

HARRIS: Okay, well, let's start with the facts. You just outlined them. So, actually, I don't need to repeat them in terms of what has -- have been the allegations about the former president.

And I do believe that the American people care about rule of law and care about speaking truth and acknowledging truth. I do believe in my travels around our country that, for example, a statement that suggests that insurrectionists who attacked our Capitol and committed acts of violence should not be called patriots, as the former president has done.

COATES: Should they be called candidates?

HARRIS: Well, the people who attacked on January 6th should not be called patriots. That what they did is they attacked our Capitol, they committed acts of violence, and they need to be taken in to account and held accountable for those acts. So, these are just facts, and we are going to see what happens in terms of any cases that are being litigated in the court of law.

COATES: But what about the accusation that it is Biden's DOJ that is overseeing any of the charges against him?

HARRIS: Well, listen, everyone who is paying close attention understands that there is a clear and non-negotiable division in terms of the separation between our administration and what the Department of Justice does in terms of its investigations, in terms of its prosecutions, and that line has never been crossed.

COATES: Did that also intend and include what's going on in Georgia? Obviously, you were a state prosecutor. This is the federal government we're talking about. But there are those who try to conflate what D.A. Fani Willis is doing in Georgia with the acts of the Department of Justice.

HARRIS: What's the question?

COATES: The question is, do you believe that when Donald Trump is making these statements to suggest this is all attributed to the Biden administration or to the Department of Justice, what is your response to people who believe that, in fact, it's all orchestrated as one?

HARRIS: Well, what he is saying is not factual. Period. Period. And that would not be new for him, would it?

COATES: I wonder, when you look at the rule of law, as you've mentioned, and I do think the American public is very well in tune with discussions surrounding who is above the law and who is not, these phrases come out very easily now, it's almost like that of the Miranda warnings. People are able to recite.

When you hear that, juxtapose that to the issue of immunity, possibly, whether a president should have absolute immunity, do you think people believe that it's appropriate for a president to have immunity?

HARRIS: I think we're going to have to leave that to the lawyers who are handling the cases.

COATES: Some would say it's up to the voters to look at issues of who can be on the ballots as well. In places like Colorado or Maine, are you kind of believing that's up to the courts or to the voters?

HARRIS: Those cases are all being litigated, and I'll watch as they go through their process.


COATES: When you look ahead and you see what is coming down the road, particularly, you know, the next time of the calendar date is January 6th, Madam Vice President, the last time we saw an election year, presidential election year of a vice president overseeing certification of the election, we saw what transpired with our eyes. There is concern that many actually believe that we do not have free and fair elections in this country.

Do you have concerns about how to approach the certification process again on January 6th?

HARRIS: I think everyone is right to be vigilant in demanding that we maintain our democracy and we uphold its pillars, which includes the integrity of a free and fair election system.

And that means addressing, for example, the intimidation that has happened with poll workers. I was recently in Georgia speaking with poll workers who have been the subject of attack or are fearful of volunteering their time in our elections because they feel a sense of civic duty.

It's important for all of us to stand and say we support people who do that work and they should not be attacked. It is important that we all remember that a hallmark of a democracy is civic participation, which means let's all vote. I'm not telling you who to vote for --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

HARRIS: -- but please, in the midst of all that you've got going on, take the time to fill out a ballot. If you can vote by mail, then send it in. Sometimes, you might have to stand for quite some time in line, but please do in spite of, again, in states like Georgia who pass laws that make it illegal to even give you food and water if you're standing in line.

But it matters. It matters. And elections matter. The voice of the American people matters. And one of the ways that we all express our voice is through our vote.

COATES: Let me ask you one more question. I'm struck just in your presence. I was watching you on stage, watching the reactions from the crowd --

HARRIS: Uh-hmm.

COATES: -- looking you in the eye with your passion that you were displaying and talking about so many issues. And yet, you hear candidates suggesting that a vote for President Biden, because of his age, is somehow a vote for you. And that is hurled as an insult. It's intended to demonstrate some negative viewpoint towards you.

What is your reaction to this thought that with your background in particular, with your career, that there is some thought that you are incapable?

HARRIS: Well, I think that most women who have risen in their profession, who are leaders in their profession have had similar experiences.


HARRIS: I was the first woman to be elected district attorney, I was the first woman to be elected attorney general in the state of California, and I'm the first woman to be vice president. And I love my job.


COATES: And that's it. Thank you so much for the time.

HARRIS: Thank you.

COATES: I really do appreciate it. Thank you.

HARRIS: Thank you.


COATES: I thank the vice president so much for taking the time out of a very busy schedule to meet with me. And there is a lot to dig into there, including the Roe reversal, the border, the vice president's response to the attack that a vote for Biden is actually a vote for her. My panel is raring to go and they are next.



COATES: Well, you just saw my exclusive interview with Vice President Kamala Harris, and there is a lot to talk about out of it. Joining me now is CNN political commentators, Kate Bedingfield and Jamal Simmons, also contributor for CNN and presidential historian Leah Wright Rigueur and Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton. I'm glad that you're all here with me today.

Look, they were kicking off this huge event about freedom and choice and abortion. Obviously, it is something that is post-Dobbs decision, but they are very clear this is a reason to get people to turn out. Are they right to put their eggs in this basket?


COATES: Next question (ph).


SIMMONS: How do we know that? Because we saw this in 2022 when people were talking about the economy and this was going to be the question on the ballot in 2022 during the midterms. And the administration talked about two things. We talked about abortion and we talked about democracy. It turned out a lot of the voters who were interested in voting for Democrats were very animated when it came time to talk about abortion and democracy.

And let me just say this, you talked about freedom and rights, that's language that Vice President Harris started using very early. I mean, from the week that we heard the decision, maybe even the leak of the decision, she started talking about the impact it was going to have on women and their freedom, and talking about how her -- the young women that she knew in her life would have fewer rights than her mother had in her life, and how that was wrong. And she used phrases like, how dare they?

COATES: Uh-hmm.

SIMMONS: And I think today in Wisconsin, she actually changed that because she talked about Donald Trump supporting the three Supreme Court judges that took the decision away, and she said, how dare he, because this is actually Donald Trump's decision that he created on purpose, and the women of America are the ones who are suffering for it.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Uh-hmm. And the threat persists, right? I mean, the other reason that makes sense for her to focus in on this, for the administration to focus in on this, the threat persists.

We've seen from -- you know, states since the fall of Roe, we've seen states across the country move at the state level to try to further restrict women's access to reproductive rights. We've seen Republican- led legislatures move to try to close down women's access to reproductive health care.


And so, you have the looming threat of Trump, who, you know, as Jamal rightly points out, the vice president was very clear about the fact that it is there as a through line between Donald Trump being president of the United States and the fall of Roe, and then people are also feeling in their day-to-day lives in their states, they're feeling Republicans trying to take these rights from them.

So, this is an all-encompassing issue that is -- you know, there's a direct shot at Donald Trump, but it's also -- it feels across the board like rights are being taken away and sort of the walls are closing in on women. And so, it's smart for the administration to dial in on that.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yeah, I agree with that somewhat. I wonder, Laura, will we see this transference of energy enthusiasm transfer to President Biden? Now, I'll give my Democratic friends some credit here. In my state of Virginia, they saw successes. You saw successes in Ohio, Kansas, a plethora of other states where ballot initiatives clearly proved that most of the American people were on your side.

But without those ballot measures, will that same intrigue be there? You asked the vice president, well, what is the argument for an additional four years as it pertains to this specific issue? She struggled to answer that question.

And so, I'm wondering if you're making your case to the American people with the litany of other things that American voters are concerned about, how does this register if in most of the states, most of the states, Republicans are losing on this issue? The extremes only represent a very small minutia of states.

I'm not saying that it's right here, Laura, but my argument here is I'm not necessarily certain that the successes we've seen over the past two and a half years, 2022, Republicans barely won the House, but it was a victory, does that transfer to November of this year? I'm not certain.

COATES: Well, absolutely on this point, because it's the 51st day since Roe V. Wade. There was a historical connection to why she was doing it on this occasion. It's more than a year since the Dobbs decision. And it has gone back to the states as a matter, of course, after they decided from the Supreme Court. When you look at this contextually, the approach that she's making, what do you see?

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, I think this is her moment. This is absolutely the moment that she is stepping up to the plate. She is saying, finally, I have something that is not just about, I think, part of the larger Biden agenda or the Biden administration.

But this is something that she can singularly come out in front of, that people can rally behind, and that can be intimately connected not only to the concept of democracy and choice and freedom, but also to this larger idea of Donald Trump being a threat to various forms of democracy, you know, and making an argument, this is not just about reproductive rights, this is about something much larger than that. Right? It's not just about what do we have for, what happened over the last four years or what happened because of Donald Trump in the courts, but also this is something that could affect other things like birth control.

And I have to say, you know, maybe this is a little bit to push back at Shermichael's point, several states have already shown that they are willing to put reproductive rights on the ballot, that they want to protect it. Sixty-one percent of Americans say that abortion should be legal in all cases or most cases.

That is something that is a rallying call. It is a deeply popular issue. It is one that people feel passionately about, and it is something that will get people to come out because the fear of losing even more rights will keep them from staying at home.

COATES: So, abortion has become a proxy argument as well for freedom more broadly and what that looks like. It is interesting to think about how that will play in the larger electorate, which she said, this is not a partisan issue when it comes to abortion. And you know what's no longer maybe a partisan issue, immigration. More and more, Jamal, I'm turning to you and I'm leaning in.


I want to talk to you about this next.




So, obviously, we see a lot of issues right now at the border. She has said it's basically undeniable. She says there is no question that our immigration system is broken. That's a far cry from what was previously said. But what about the DREAMers? What about these concessions being made? How will this bode?

SIMMONS: You know, the Democrats have always been in favor of the DREAMers having more rights and making sure the Dreamers are being taken care of. It's the Republicans who are on the other side who have been trying to shut down this access -- this access for immigrants to come into the United States.

This is a very important issue for the country because, as we all know -- I mean, some of us were immigrants not by choice --


-- but we were brought here by force. But for everybody else who came to the country except for the Native Americans, they came here as part of an immigrant class. It is amazing that the United States and the Trump movement, the MAGA movement, is saying no, thank you, we don't want to continue the process that has kept America being more competitive. And as I think about this, I think about the America that we're becoming, and the America we're becoming that has to go around the world and compete with countries around the world needs every single bit of talent that we can get in the country, and the Republicans are saying, no, thank you to that. I think that's a problem.


COATES: Well, I want to push back for a second though, because Republicans will say, and Democrats now, including in Chicago and places like New York as well, traditionally very blue areas, would say, no, no, it's not that we are anti-immigrants and having the fabric of our democracy enriched by those who contribute, it's that this is an unsustainable pace and that the backlog is too much to be able to ensure that there is a fair process for those entering.

When that is the name of the game, is it bipar -- is it partisan?

SIMMONS: I think for the Democrats who are facing this question, they want to make sure people have a place to live, they want to make sure people can work, they want to make sure this is an orderly process. I think the Republicans are playing fast and loose. They're not actually really being very -- they're not actually being very successful.

COATES: I'm only turning to Jamal now because --


-- I'm only turning this way because I have a new haircut.


So, the angle plays really well on this side. That's why I'm looking -- you see it, America, right?



COATES: I'll go to you and look at the same side.


BETINGFIELD: Well, I would just say one thing I thought Vice President Harris did in that interview, which was really smart, is she went to it's the Republicans who are standing in the way of getting to a deal. It's the Republicans who are standing in the way of more money to put more agents at the border, who are standing in the way of a deal that, frankly, the Biden administration put forward back in October that would have cracked down on some of the influx into the country.

So, I actually -- I agree with Jamal's larger point about the fabric of the country, and I think Democrats have to continue to kind of thread that needle.

But, you know, when you look at Democratic mayors who are concerned about influx into their city, the administration should be -- should be aggressive about putting the ball in the Republicans court and saying, we have put these tougher measures on the table. The Republicans are saying no. Why are they saying no? Because it's an election year and they don't want to give the Biden team a bipartisan win, frankly, on immigration.

And Vice President Harris sort of alluded to that there. But I think they should go guns blazing at the idea that it's the Republicans who are standing in the way of putting some of these tougher measures in place.

COATES: Don't worry, we have a lot more to talk about. I know -- I mean, I know you're chomping at the bit. I hear it, I feel it, I see it. We've got more time. That's the beauty of the 11:00 hour. Everything can breathe, and we will for a quick break and come back.

The GOP primary is now maybe a two-person race. Well, it is between Trump and Nikki Haley. But does Haley stand a chance in New Hampshire? We've got Harry Enten to break it down at the magic wall and more about that issue that president -- Vice President Harris mentioned, next.



COATES: And then there were two. Nikki Haley gets a one-on-one matchup with Donald Trump on the eve of the New Hampshire primary although new polls do show Trump holding a wide lead over Haley.

Let's go now to the one and only Harry Enten, who's at the magic wall. My friend, good to see you. We are here again at the eve of another actual moment in our election history.

So, as voters are getting ready to head to the polls in New Hampshire, Harry, who has the momentum?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: You know, Laura, I wish you were here with me, but we'll have to work through the magic of television.

COATES: We will.

ENTEN: We will. Look, this is the choice for nominee. Look, our CNN poll at the University of New Hampshire has Trump with an 11-point advantage. That is up from where it was last month when it was, in fact, just a 7-point advantage for Donald Trump.

Monmouth University, look at this, an 18-point edge. Donald Trump at 50% in the CNN poll, clearing 50% here, Haley way back, and you'll notice DeSantis who, of course, has dropped out of the race, he is at 6% in that poll, 8% in the Monmouth poll, which might give you a reason why he left. He really had no shot in the state of New Hampshire.

COATES: You do wonder who those could be added to, though. Which one -- which candidate? Will it go to Haley? Will it go to Trump? Who knows? We'll wait to see it till tomorrow. But also, the same is surprising many people when he decided to exit the race, by the way, less than 48 hours before the primary. And so, you wonder, will his actual numbers, although they are lower compared to the others, will it go likely to Trump or Haley?

ENTEN: Yes. So, we asked this in our poll. DeSantis's supporters, their second choice for the GOP nominee, look at this, they don't go to Haley, they go to Donald Trump, 62%, 30% for Hailey. So, DeSantis's exit doesn't, in fact, helped Haley. It probably helps Donald Trump, which is not necessarily something he needs because he already had -- he is probably a little bit more ahead now that DeSantis has left the race.

COATES: I feel like Haley has campaigned, it seems, more than Trump, even in that area. She invested quite a bit in New Hampshire. So, the question now is, how does the 2024 race look after New Hampshire?

ENTEN: Yeah. So, if these polls are right and Nikki Haley loses in New Hampshire, Donald Trump wins, he has already won in the state of Iowa, what do we see? Won the GOP nomination after losing Iowa-New Hampshire. Zero, it has never happened in the modern era, Laura. So, the fact that Haley has lost Iowa, looks like she's going to lose New Hampshire, not good.

Another bit of bad news for Nikki Haley. Look at this, choice for GOP nominee nationally among likely GOP voters. Look at this, Donald Trump at 69%, Nikki Haley at 12%. That is tied for the largest advantage nationally at this point, basically ever for a GOP nominee. So, the fact is Donald Trump looks like he's on his way to a victory in New Hampshire after Iowa, and nationally, he's well ahead at this point, Laura.

COATES: Well, the wind that is back, it looks like right now, we'll see what ultimately happens. Harry Enten, thank you so much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COATES: So, is the Trump tide inevitable, or despite the stats, could Nikki Haley still eke out a win? My panel is going to weigh in next. Plus, we're just minutes away from the first votes in New Hampshire.


We will go live to Dixville Notch where a tiny community kicks off a very big primary season.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, we're down to two people. And I think one person will be gone probably tomorrow.

(APPLAUSE) And the other one will be gone in November.


COATES: Donald Trump making a pretty bold prediction hours away from the first in the nation primary. A final get-out to vote push with the help of, wait for it, former opponents.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now, we need a commander in chief who will lead us to victory in this war.


GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not just America. It's every foreign dictator, it's every terrorist group is going to be rethinking their plans when they know we've got a strong and experienced president.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want four more years of Donald Trump, let me hear you scream!



COATES: My panel is back with me now. He's not going to scream right now, but he does want to give his take. Shermichael, what do you make of that? I mean, this is the final push.

SINGLETON: I mean, look, I think it's over for Governor Haley. She does not have a mathematical path going forward. And the last thing she wants, if I were advising the former governor, is to go to your home state and lose by 40, 50 points.

Now, for the viewers, they may be wondering, well, shouldn't Donald Trump be challenged considering everything he's going through? And I would say sensibly, I would for the most part agree with that, but the reality is that the delegate allocation process has drastically changed for Republicans.

So, last year, 2022, Donald Trump's team worked really, really hard to change multiple states. So, California is now a winner take all. Thanks in part to Kevin McCarthy. You have other states where they've changed the rules to winner take most. So, for example, if Donald Trump were to win 40, 50%, he would be allocated 40, 50% of the delegates.

So, Nikki Haley effectively would always be playing catch up if she attempted to stay in. And I can't imagine making the argument to donors, wealthy and small, that there's a legitimate reason to stay in when they know you aren't a viable candidate.

COATES: How do you see it?

WRIGHT RIGUEUR: So, I think there -- I'm of two minds here. The first is that there's always the Hail Mary.


I know it's over, I know it's over, but you never say it's over until it's actually over. Stranger things have happened, including Donald Trump winning the presidency in 2016. So, never say never.

But of the second mind, I think right now, what we're seeing is an audition for the vice presidency. This is like a giant version of the apprentice.

COATES: These are for Nikki Haley, too?

WRIGHT RIGUEUR: For Nikki Haley, too. So, it's for Tim Scott, right? It's for Ron DeSantis. It's certainly for Nikki Haley. And I think part of the appeal that she is trying to make that certainly Donald Trump and his team would be wise to consider is that she is the stability in the midst of chaos. She is the moderating force and the mitigating force in the midst of anarchy.

That she will actually bring some semblance of normalcy and also brings with her these kinds of people who are on the fence, including Republicans who are deeply uncomfortable with the xenophobia, the bigotry, the erraticness, the anti-democratic sentiment of Donald Trump. She would kind of, I think, temper that for Republican voters and for Republican base. But overall --

COATES: You mean with all the insults? I mean, I always wonder about that. You have this idea of essentially this tension, the insults. She has been, you know, negative towards him, certainly vice versa. That doesn't matter?

WRIGHT RIGUEUR: I don't necessarily think that that matters. Donald Trump has insulted everyone. There is no one who has been free from his wrath. And if anything, he knows her because she was in his cabinet, right? So, I don't necessarily think that Donald Trump trashing you and calling you a bunch of -- that's the way that he -- that's the way that he operates. One thing he does respond to is strength. Right? So, standing up to him.

So, this is finally about the time that Nikki Haley has actually said something to him has shown a little backbone. Unlike many of the other candidates, with the exception of Chris Christie, she's actually sticking it to him. And I think part of that is not to hold him accountable but instead to audition to be his second in command.

SINGLETON: Quickly, quickly, I would just say, we need to see what the moderate-leaning Republicans do tomorrow, and let's compare those numbers to 2016. If there is an increase in turnoff for Trump, that's worry Democrats. If there's a decrease, then Trump should be worried.

COATES: Well, we will see what happens. Stand by, everyone. The next -- next, the first primary voting in New Hampshire happening in a matter of minutes. Yes, at the top of the hour, we'll go live to the small community of Dixville Notch where the midnight tradition is about to get underway. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COATES: We're just minutes away from the first New Hampshire primary votes being cast. The tiny community of Dixville Notch votes at midnight. And apparently, they also played that the accordion in a decades-old tradition.

CNN's Eva McKend is there. Eva, tell us what we're about to see besides this fabulous rendition.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, indeed, Laura. You know, there's so much anticipation for midnight. It kind of feels like New Year's Eve. But what we're going to see is six residents from this community file in here. Four Republicans, two independents will make their way down here, and then they will vote behind these flags, and then they'll come out and they will cast their ballots in the ballot box.

And actually, some of the town officials that are going to be up here at this table, they also actually vote. So, they will go in and then come back out. And then when it's all said and done, the votes will be written on this white board, and then we will know how the first community in New Hampshire feels about these candidates.

It's a remarkable tradition that has lasted over 60 years. The resort owner of the Balsams where I am now, he started this because he wanted the community here in Dixville Notch to be able to participate in this process and not have to travel an hour away in the winter, in the snow, and so that they could all be a part of this tradition. One of the voters telling me here that this is really democracy in action. Laura?


COATES: Wow, this is really going to be very interesting. I'm so glad we're being able to watch democracy in action yet again. Eva, please stick around. We're going to watch the voting and the counting in Dixville Notch play out live in just a moment. So much more ahead.


COATES: Breaking news, we are moments away from a primary, a primary day in New Hampshire, tonight on our special bonus hour of "Laura Coates live."

This is democracy in action. Six, count them, six voters about to cast their ballots in a tiny New England town, kicking off the first in the nation New Hampshire republican primary.