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CNN Live Event/Special

Trump Wins Iowa Caucuses; CNN Projects DeSantis Beats Haley for Second; Liz Cheney Invokes MLK to Warn U.S. About Trump. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 16, 2024 - 04:30   ET



LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN's continuing special coverage of the Iowa caucuses. Republican caucusgoers overwhelmingly threw their support behind Donald Trump.

And Harry Enten is back here with me at the Magic Wall to look at not just how it happened, but when that support happened. So, it didn't come down to just tonight, did it?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: No. So, take a look here. This is our entrance poll. Who decided before the last month? And we've been talking this entire caucus and primary season, Laura, about the fact that the Donald Trump supporters are locked in. Look at these folks who decided before the last month.

Look at the share of the vote that Donald Trump got. He got 66 percent of that vote. Ron DeSantis at 17. Nikki Haley at 12. So, keep in mind, this 66 percent is considerably greater than the 51 percent he received overall. So, the fact is, we've been talking about these Trump voters. There's not going to be anything that's going to move them off of Donald Trump. This very much agrees with this statistic, this idea that the Donald Trump voters have been with him since the very beginning. And those who decided over a month ago, 66 percent, that's the percentage of the vote that Donald Trump's got amongst them. Two thirds of that vote. My goodness gracious.

COATES: You know what this tells me? Number one, the whole campaign strategy of say, a Nikki Haley, a Ramaswamy, Hutchinson, DeSantis, is totally different here.

If you think that everything is going to count, he didn't even really actually campaign Trump in Iowa compared to them. And now, I mean, look at this month. And just think of how they already knew what they were going to do before they even came.


ENTEN: Right, right. So, you know, the massive difference, if those who decided more than a month ago went two thirds for Donald Trump, those who decided in the last month were basically waiting. 75 percent of them went with someone other than Donald Trump.

Nikki Haley, of course, has, quote unquote, had this surge momentum. She led with 32 percent. But Ron DeSantis right here with 29 percent. Trump picked up that 25 percent.

But the fact is, this, I think, is going to be the big question going into New Hampshire, going into South Carolina, going into Super Tuesday. Can Nikki Haley do better amongst those voters who decided at the very end? Maybe they're looking for that Trump alternative. And they're trying to decide who the strongest Trump alternative will be.

Here was the issue. In this poll, this group of voters who decided in the last month only made up about a third of caucus goers. The vast majority of caucus goers were those who decided a month or longer ago. And those voters went two thirds for Donald Trump. Just winning amongst this group? Unless you're going to win overwhelmingly. That is not going to work.

And this is a big reason why Donald Trump was able to win such a large win this evening is because overwhelmingly, number one, those voters who voted in these caucuses, cast a ballot in these caucuses, decided more than a month ago. And overwhelmingly, they went for Donald Trump.

Those who went this month, this is not going to work for Nikki Haley in New Hampshire. It's not going to work for Ron DeSantis in South Carolina and beyond. Simply put, these other Republicans are going to have to do better because this Trump base that we've been saying forever is so locked in, Laura. It really does seem locked in based upon what we saw in Iowa.

COATES: This doesn't mean there's a surge. This doesn't mean that she's doing better in the last month. This says that people just finally said, OK, fine, her.

ENTEN: That's, I think, exactly right, which is we've seen all this enthusiasm throughout the campaign. If you're deciding to vote for somebody, you know, a month or more in advance of the caucuses, you really like that person. If you're deciding in the last month, you're trying to figure out, OK, we don't really like Donald Trump. Who's that person we're going to go for? They decided to go for Nikki Haley. But the fact is, Laura, this is really a split field. And that's really what we've seen throughout.

The Donald Trump base is strong. The opposition is very much divided.

COATES: Take note. Thank you so much, Harry.

Up next, Liz Cheney with a new warning about another Trump presidency, if that happens. And this time, she's invoking Martin Luther King Jr.



COATES: Well, this year's Iowa caucuses overlap with Martin Luther King Day. And Liz Cheney found meaning in the calendar and used this occasion to repeat a warning to the country. Saying that voting for Trump is a vote to dismantle Dr. King's legacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LIZ CHENEY, FORMER U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: A great lie is doing its work poisoning the bloodstream of our democracy. A former president refuses to acknowledge that he lost. And he has convinced millions that our elections and our democracy no longer work. He threatens the foundations of our nation. And everything Dr. King persevered to save.


COATES: Incredibly strong words. Is it compelling and to who is she speaking in particular? Bakari, what do you make of this?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Andre Dickens was in the background. The mayor of Atlanta. So, she gave this speech in Atlanta, Georgia. Which I didn't know about. That context matters. It goes to show that I think Liz Cheney may be up to something.

I think there's probably a little bit more than meets the eye in terms of what her future endeavors and plans may be.

COATES: What are you suggesting? Running for office?

SELLERS: Maybe. But I think she may be the third-party type of candidate that whets the appetite of conservatives.

But regardless it takes a lot of courage to speak out on things like that. A lot of people remember Dr. King as some docile individual. I don't really even like to talk about him too much because his legacy has been so whitewashed.

But he would appreciate somebody speaking truth to power from a pulpit on a day like today about an issue that's that important. Such as a threat to democracy. And so, she did Dr. King's legacy well today.

COATES: When you think about that. We talked earlier in the program about who could potentially be a running mate. And then we talked about, well, who could possibly be that carrot for voters like independents in particular who might want somebody else. Is she staking her claim?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not to be Trump's VP but maybe run on a third-party ticket potentially. And you know there's talks of no labels and understanding they may potentially be looking for a female. And she certainly fits the bill and would be more than happy to do what she could to take out Donald Trump.

The problem with a third-party ticket especially no labels that's going to help Donald Trump. I mean that's going to hurt Donald Trump -- Joe Biden more than anything.

And to the question of this event, she was invited by the King Center speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Another thing she also went back on is pushing back on the faith leaders and the evangelical community that supports Donald Trump. And I took exception with some of the things that she said in that regard. And she talked about how some faith leaders have forgotten the first commandment to choose to use the pulpit to openly embrace an immoral, unstable, and depraved man who threatens violence and death.

I understand where she's getting at but to attack faith leaders, I think was not appropriate. But her overall message was really going against those that support Donald Trump because she does certainly and repeatedly has said she views him as a threat to democracy.

COATES: Well, hold I want to unpack one earlier statement you made though because I think it's oftentimes people talk of it as a given that any independent or third-party candidate takes from the Democrats. Do you think that's the case?


COATES: How about this case?

ALLISON: With Liz Cheney I don't think you're going to get Democrats voting for a Liz Cheney. But the independents is what we're talking about. The folks who might have voted for Donald Trump in 2016 but not in 2020. Where do they go in 2024? And in that case, it does hurt Donald Trump. I mean, I -- can we just unpack what we just saw?


That is Liz Cheney. One of the most conservative people in the Republican Party. Daughter to Dick Cheney. The vice president, one of the most conservative vice presidents we've ever seen, at a black church on MLK Day. Because Donald Trump is that much of a threat.

I don't think Liz Cheney agree -- with the exception of Donald Trump should not be president. I don't think Liz Cheney really agrees with any of other of Martin Luther King's policies. And so, I get her being there and I think it's important.

But one thing Dr. King and Dr. King's family is don't just talk about certain things. Talk about the comprehensive portfolio that Dr. King stood for. And so, when that means eliminating poverty, standing for peace. And that's not really Liz Cheney's voting record.

SELLERS: That's not all the way Dr. King's philosophy though. Dr. King many times in the movement found people who may agree with him on a specific issue. You're not going to get people with you all the time. And so, one of the things that Dr. King was so good at was finding people like Liz Cheney. Who is that stalwart Republican who otherwise you would not be seeing. And invite them to meet your people where they are for this particular moment on an issue of this import.

Now she's not going to be with them on, you know, the earned income tax credit. Right. She's not going to be with them on expanding --

ALLISON: On most things. Almost everything.

SELLERS: On 90 percent of the things.


SELLERS: But I think there's something to be said there. It still has a great value. You don't -- you don't know.

ALLISON: I'm just saying it's wrong. I'm just saying like let's just actually unpack why. Like that is how much of a threat Donald Trump is, is that you can get a Liz Cheney to come in the pulpit of Dr. Martin Luther King. That's how --

GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's a healthy working divide that happens. Right. I mean, when you when as a lieutenant governor, I ran the state Senate and you realize that everybody's only about 20 percent away. Right. On even the most polarizing issues.

I mean, you can go down the list one after another. Applaud Liz Cheney. She's got it right out of the gates. I remember meeting her on the Hill with Adam Kinzinger and Anthony Gonzalez and others trying to just figure out what our strategy was. And our worst fears have come true. Donald Trump has kind of been able to figure out a way to get through the smoke.

But the reality is there is a pent-up demand for Republicans to have an excuse to vote for somebody else at some point. When they feel like somebody has a legitimate chance to win. If Joe Biden wasn't so miserably supported in all these polls, there would be a different outcome tonight. It might not be that Donald Trump didn't win, but it'd be a lot closer than it is.

But the but the folks that are on the fringe supporting Donald Trump voting for Donald Trump in that poll tonight, a lot of those folks just feel like he's inevitably going to win. So, they're going to go that way. If they felt like there was a better chance or they felt like Joe Biden was going to beat the brakes off them. They probably would switch those votes and be more serious about vetting a candidate that talks about policies.

I mean, all this four hours of coverage tonight, we have yet to talk about really any policy positions that Donald Trump's taken or the Republican Party as a whole has taken. There's so many things that we should be picking on the Biden administration for that we just avoid because we're trying to, you know, feed to Donald Trump's ego.

COATES: Well, you know, we've been doing over 12 hours of coverage on where you have to watch the entire thing.

Number one --

DUNCAN: I was taking a nap.

COATES: OK, there you go. But the larger issue that one reason that there has not been this focus on the policies of what Trump is running on is because he has been focusing on non policy related issues to that much the chagrin of the Republican base.

I do wonder what you think of, of course, Liz Cheney, she's called a rhino now. She's called a rhino now after all you know about her and all that is before her and the nation. Really interesting and compelling food for thought. I want to thank everyone here.

And next, a breakdown of the other big event besides the Iowa caucuses. Stand by.



COATES: While the Iowa Caucuses were not the only major event viewers were watching last night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers crushed the Philadelphia Eagles. Sorry, Jake Tapper. Picking up the last NFL playoff slot.

Now, avid Bills fan Harry Enten has more about the playoff. Oh, my God. We've got shoe cam. Or is this sock cam, Harry? What's going on?

ENTEN: I think it's sock cam though.

COATES: It's sock cam? All right. We've got sock cam.

ENTEN: With maybe an assist from shoe cam. So, you know, the Buffalo Bills are, as you know, I live and die with them. I can't root for a political team, so I have to root for an NFL team. And I watch the NFL more than anything else. So, I had split coverage earlier of our coverage at 4:30 and the Bills who won this afternoon. Thank goodness gracious.

So, I thought that maybe we should just go through some of the odds of the divisional rounds. We had the wild card round. All the teams are set.

So, let's look at some of these divisional round matchups. And we'll start with perhaps the easiest, one of the easiest games to pick. This is the Texans at the Ravens. The Ravens, in my opinion, Laura, are the best team in the NFL. Even better than my Bills, but we'll see what happens. The Ravens here are favored 9.5 points. That's a touchdown plus a 2.5 extra points. So, this means that the Ravens are the heavy favorite going into their Saturday matchup.

COATES: Is that why you have this funny accent all of a sudden? Because they're heavily favored? What's going on right now?

ENTEN: You know, it's what is it? It's 4:53 in the morning. I figure I might have a little -- maybe it's like a mock Baltimore accent. I don't necessarily know.

COATES: It was very cool whip to me, but it's fine. That's fine. How about Packers versus, of course, I'm from Minnesota. So, I don't like this at all.

ENTEN: Well, you don't like the fact that the Packers are involved here. The San Francisco 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFC. And I should note that Anderson Cooper, of course, is a big fan of the Green Bay Packers. If you missed our segment on Friday night, he actually wore a Packer hat into Chicago. Not something I would necessarily.

The Packers came out and crushed the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. One of the greatest events ever in American history. But the 49ers are favored in this game by 10 points. So, that's a touchdown plus a field goal. So, the 49ers are heavily favored to defeat the Green Bay Packers. But hey, you never know.

COATES: If Anderson Cooper had on a Green Bay cheese head, it would have really made the entire week a whole different thing.


How about the Buccaneers and Lions? You saw Eminem at the game.

ENTEN: Yes, you know, the Buccaneers and Lions. Eminem, a huge fan of the Dallas -- of the Detroit Lions. I said the Dallas Lions at nearly 5:00 a.m. in the morning.

The Detroit Lions. He, in fact, did the voiceover for the intro for that game on Sunday night. The Lions are favored here. Keep in mind, the Lions have not been to an NFC championship game since 1991. That was back when Barry Sanders was running wild for them. But they are favored over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Though I should note, the Bucs are a great story. Baker Mayfield coming over. His career has been resuscitated in Tampa Bay. They were easily able to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles last night. Poor Jake Tapper, but Jake Tapper has a lot going for him. So, the fact that the Eagles didn't necessarily win, that's perfectly fine by me.

So, the Detroit Lions favored by 6 points over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And, again, they'll be played next Sunday.

COATES: Does that mean, though, if Jake has a lot going for him, does he have to build socks like you do? Oh, man, I missed the cue.

ENTEN: You missed it. You missed it.

COATES: It was like just a millisecond off. Man.

ENTEN: This is the team that Wolf and I are all over. The Buffalo Bills. We just need one Super Bowl win. One Super Bowl win. That's all I'm asking for. They are favored by 2.5 points. If they win the Super Bowl, Laura, I will treat you to any dinner you ever want. I know the entire city of Buffalo will just be ecstatic.

COATES: How about a Buffalo burger?

ENTEN: A Buffalo burger works fine.

COATES: Buffalo wings.

ENTEN: Buffalo wings.

COATES: I'm a cheap date. Well, my husband doesn't agree. Harry Enten, thank you so much. So nice to see you.

And thank you all for watching our special coverage of the Iowa caucuses. CNN's coverage will continue with a special edition of CNN "THIS MORNING." It's coming up next. [05:00:00]