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CNN Live Event/Special

Trump Urges Nikki Haley to Drop Out Before New Hampshire Primary; Voters Express Passionate Views in New Hampshire Primary. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired January 23, 2024 - 14:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: To our special coverage of the New Hampshire primary, I'm Anderson Cooper, New York, with Kaitlin Collins in Washington, voting well underway in the first-in-the-nation primary. But before any votes were cast, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump suggested his opponent, Nikki Haley, should drop out. Haley's response today, quote, I don't do what he tells me to do.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: As New Hampshire officials are prepared for record turnout, we have reporters outside key polling places. First, to Boris Sanchez. Boris, you just heard from a voter. What else are you hearing now that you're on the ground in Belmont?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, a lot of folks here are very passionate about their views. I actually spoke with one woman earlier who told me that she believed that Donald Trump was on a divine mission to save the country. She's actually someone who'd been a lifelong Democrat and even cast her primary ballot in 2016 for Hillary Clinton. So that gives you an idea of how much politics has changed in just the last few years.

I quickly want to show you the Belmont High School gymnasium that, for a day, has been transformed into a key voting location in this New Hampshire primary. It's one that I've been texting with folks close to the Trump campaign who say could be critical to Donald Trump closing the door on this primary and starting the general election tonight. I do want to take you outside to speak with a voter live. Now, keep in mind, parts of the --


COLLINS: Boris Sanchez, we dropped your shot in Belmont. I believe we'll check back in with him. Boris, I think -- Can we hear you? What are you seeing? What were you turning around to show us?

SANCHEZ: You got me? You got me?

COLLINS: We'll check your connection. It's a little spotty. We'll reconnect. We'll connect with that as you were on the ground in Belmont. We know how it can get when you're out on the road. We also have John Berman, who is in Manchester, where you are seeing voters go and cast their ballots. John, what have you been seeing there?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: First of all, we have good cell service here in Manchester, the biggest city in New Hampshire. So hopefully the connection will stay up. I'm in Ward 6 in Manchester. And you can see they've had people pretty steadily coming in here all day long, lining up the process. Very simple, and they're very good at it here in New Hampshire. They know how to do this. People walk up to this table right here behind me. They have to say what ballot they want.

Are they voting in the Democratic primary, the Republican primary? And if they are undeclared, remember, there are Democrats in New Hampshire, Republicans, and undeclared voters, which actually make up the biggest block. If they're undeclared, they have to say what ballot they want. And then they get their ballots right here. They walk over to these voting booths. We're not going to get too close to the voters actually casting ballots. But they walk over to these voting booths. They cast their ballots. Check the name. If it's Joe Biden, they have to. It's actually right in his name. Don't forget that. He is a right- in candidate here in New Hampshire. Then they walk their ballots from here over to that black box over yonder there.

Now, as of about two minutes ago, there were 1,726 ballots cast at this location, 1,726. In 2016, the last time there was a competitive Republican primary, there were 3,700 votes cast total here. So, are they on track for record turnout? It's hard to see. They're not halfway there just yet, but it could get busier later in the day. I would say it's steady but not overwhelming. Once voters cast their ballots, they walk out here, and we are actually allowed to talk to them. What's your name?


BERMAN: Heidi, you just cast your ballot here in the first of the nation primary. If I can pry, can I ask who you voted for?

ROY: I voted for Nikki Haley.

BERMAN: Why did you make that decision?

ROY: Anything to keep Donald Trump out.

BERMAN: Are you a Republican or undeclared?

ROY: I'm not undeclared but I actually just changed today for a Republican just to vote.

BERMAN: Have you ever voted in a Republican primary before?

ROY: No. This is the first one.

BERMAN: And why did you think it was so important to do that this time?

ROY: I am completely against Donald Trump and everything he stands for and anything I can do to keep him out.

BERMAN: Do you think you would vote for Donald Trump under any circumstances if he was the Republican nominee?

ROY: Absolutely not. No. Absolutely not.

BERMAN: Couldn't do it. Would you vote for Joe Biden in the general election?

ROY: You know, I -- In a country this big, we should really have better options. But I guess if it came down to the two of them, I would go with Biden again.

BERMAN: So you were undeclared when you walked in. Were you undecided when you walked in?

ROY: No. No. I knew exactly what I was doing.

BERMAN: So undeclared, grab the Republican ballot, cast the ballot, back to undeclared?

ROY: Yes, back to undeclared.

BERMAN: All right. Heidi, thank you very much. It was nice to meet you.

ROY: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thanks for getting out there on the first of the nation primary.

ROY: My son's in there actually registering as a first-time voter, so --

BERMAN: Who's he voting for?

ROY: He won't tell me.

BERMAN: All right. Well, we may get him when he gets out. Heidi, so nice to meet you. All right. So, Heidi, I mean, so, Kaitlan, there you hear it. I mean, it is New Hampshire where undeclared voters, they can get their ballot, vote how they want. And we have seen people, particularly Nikki Haley supporters, for whom the number one thing is not Donald Trump. That's the way it is out here.

COLLINS: Yeah. It's amazing to hear. And obviously, you know, we'll wait to see what the numbers show later, John. But now, that is three voters who have had a similar story that they're sharing. We'll continue to track that. John Berman on the ground in New Hampshire. Thank you. Anderson.


COOPER: Kayla, thanks. I want to discuss with the conservative New Hampshire radio host Jack Heath. Jack, thanks for being with us. What are you going to be watching for in today's primary? JACK HEATH, CONSERVATIVE NEW HAMSPIRE RADIO HOST: That independent vote, Anderson, great to be with you. I love your show and what you do. That what your reporters in the field, the independent vote here feels very big. Our secretary of state is forecasting 322,000 total Republican votes or votes in this Republican primary. There are a lot of non-Trump voters in that block. Trump's got his block. It hasn't moved much here since 2016, probably, give or take. And you know they're going to vote. The question is, he's going to get a big vote of the Republican primary, a very big vote compared to Nikki Haley. Her only path to make this a tighter race is grabbing those independents and undeclareds.

The problem, Anderson, is she needs to get a bigger, swath of those than a majority. Big task, but with a huge turnout and people I know that have been here for years, and this is my home, the polling places have been packed since early this morning. We're going to get a big turnout. I think it's Trump's, and I think it's in that 12 to 15 percent range, probably low 50s. And I think it's maybe around 40 for Nikki Haley, if I had to guess. But could it be tighter? New Hampshire likes to send surprises just when you think you've got a headline written.

COOPER: Well, you, I mean, you know, Ray Duhas, you talk to people all day long. You've got callers coming in. What are you hearing from them when it comes to what they're looking for in a candidate?

HEATH: There's no gray area. I think that last voter in that interview said it. You love Trump. You like him. You're with him. You're going to line up around a building when he talks and it's cold outside. Or you don't like Trump. There's really not much middle ground here. The DeSantis getting out on Sunday, on Sunday -- well, NFL playoff game surprised even me, the timing of it. I think it cuts both ways. I really think Nikki Haley has done a good job. Chris Sununu the governor here is doing all week, all he can for Governor Haley. But it's a tall order. Donald Trump, you look at the people just a few weeks ago in New Hampshire who were in the field. Christie, Ramaswamy, DeSantis, gone. Nikki Haley wanted a two-person race as she's got it. But I still think the feeling going in is Trump, that's a win here. The question is, is it a big win? A win's a win. A big win I'd define around 15 points. I think it has the potential to be tighter than that.

COOPER: I talked to Governor Sununu last night. He, of course, was all in saying, you know, even no matter what she does in New Hampshire, you know, momentum is going to continue through South Carolina and Nevada. I know you talked to Nikki Haley and Donald Trump on your show this morning. Do you think Nikki Haley, I mean, if she doesn't have a if she doesn't win or have a really, really close, close race in New Hampshire, do you think she goes on?

HEATH: Anderson, I know of you too well and I respect your reputation. You kind of know the answer to that. Nikki Haley said to me this morning she's in it for the long haul. Chris Christie said to me a day or two before he dropped out, he wasn't dropping out. I had Ron DeSantis on my show last week. He was gone on Sunday. These are calculations done with advisers, campaigns and family. And what's the best outcome? I don't think she wants to not do well in her home state. I asked Donald, Trump this morning. He was on with me, Anderson, not for eight minutes, 15 minutes, 15. And I asked him about South Carolina. Would you look at a Tim Scott as a VP choice even before then? He feels he's going to do well in South Carolina. I think Nikki Haley's real moment to shine tonight is tonight in New Hampshire to make it a two-person race. If it's more, if it's mid to upper double digits and the numbers in five weeks from now in South Carolina are a long shot, I wouldn't be surprised if she drops. But she's told me this morning she's in it for the long haul.

COOPER: Yeah, we'll see about that. Is there anything Haley should have done differently, you think, in New Hampshire?

HEATH: I had a good guest on my show this morning, Mike Dennehy. He managed both of John McCain's stunning wins here. And people should remember, speaking of surprises, George W. Bush sat in a Manchester, New Hampshire hotel room when he came in as the governor of Texas with a 25, 20-point lead in the polls, the national polls. He lost by McCain that night by 18. Dennehy said this morning, he said, Jack, the only thing I would have done different in the final week, bigger events. Donald Trump, when he does an event, there's a lot of people there. She's been doing a lot of the meet and greet stuff. Go to the restaurant, go here, try and have some bigger events to hit those independent voters. That's the that's the customer base for Nikki Haley. Make no mistake about it. Independent voters who are not with Donald Trump. She's got a number voting today. She has to get probably about 70 percent of those to make this interesting.

COOPER: Jack Heath, really good to talk to you. Thanks so much.

HEATH: Thanks, Anderson.


COOPER: All right. You take care. Still ahead, independents make up an oversized share of Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, as Jack was just talking about. But will they be enough for Nikki Haley to pull off this massive upset and continue her campaign that she's hoping to? Or will an enthusiastic Republican base seal the deal for Donald Trump? We'll talk about that next.


UNKNOWN: Can I ask why? Why Nikki Haley?

UNKNOWN: You can, because my conscience won't allow me to vote for a criminal. I'm sorry.

UNKNOWN: And what has led you to vote for Haley instead? What do you like about Haley? What are some of the attributes that drew you to her?

UNKNOWN: She's not a Trump.



COOPER: Well, a key factor, obviously, in today's primary is independence. Many are looking at how they could impact tonight's race between Nikki Haley and the former president, Primary voters, don't need to register for a party to vote in New Hampshire. I want to go to CNN's Phil Mattingly at the Wall. So, Nikki Haley's campaign has been obviously investing heavily in New Hampshire. How is she hoping to pull off this upset?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Anderson, she spent more than double what Donald Trump has spent in his campaign. The allied groups around him over the course of the last several months, making it very clear this is the moment for Nikki Haley and her team if they want to really challenge Trump in the primary ahead. I was listening with fascination to your conversation with Jack Heath because his key points I think, are so critical. And I want to explain why.


First off, there were votes after midnight in Dixville Notch, as there always are by tradition. Not a lot of votes, six votes. Nikki Haley won all six. Not usually a harbinger for what's to come over the course of the next couple of hours, but a good sign at least to start. Here's why I think that conversation with Jack was so important. Gives you good insight into what's actually happening on the ground. You talk about independents. They call them undeclareds in the state of New Hampshire. And what they mean by that, I'll pull up the registration. As of December 28th, so the end of the year, this is where things stand, could move a little bit. Those who are just turning 18 can register on the day of the primary. Undeclared voters, 343,000. That means when they walk in, they can decide which ballot they want to take, Democrat or Republican. Republicans, 268,000. Democrat, 262,000.

The vast majority of Republicans that vote today are almost certain to go to Donald Trump. Poll after poll after poll has made that point. Jack made that point as well. It's the undeclareds and how many of them vote in the Republican primary and where those votes go that are so critical. What we know going into this day is that Nikki Haley has a clear advantage with the undeclared voters. In the latest CNN University of New Hampshire poll, Nikki Haley at 58%, Donald Trump at 30%. But here's the reality with that number. While a 28-point spread is certainly a good number for Nikki Haley, it needs to be bigger given Trump's strength within the Republican Party, those who are already registered Republican. So, what is that going to mean? Where does Nikki Haley really need to run up vote going into the night?

Let's flip back to 2016 because this was a critical moment in the Republican primary. After Donald Trump had lost Iowa narrowly, he won New Hampshire and won it by a wide margin, nearly 20 points, really going across demographics, across socioeconomic lines, showing his strength within the Republican Party. But keep in mind, this was a fractured field. You had John Kasich, who essentially took up residence in the state. Who came in second place. Ted Cruz getting 11% of the vote. You can go down the line. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio as well. You see that there are a lot of people here that kept Trump's margins well below 50%. So if you're Nikki Haley, where are you looking tonight to try to have strength?

Suburban voters, upper income voters, voters with college degrees. You're looking in this area right here. Obviously, John Kasich did well in this area. You need to run up huge vote in that area with independent voters if you are Nikki Haley. Where has Nikki Haley been over the course of the last couple of days? Down in this area, Nashua, the second biggest township in, in the state. That's a big population center. She can run well in that as well as the suburbs around it. One of the critical questions, though, is Manchester. This is the largest population center in the state. Donald Trump won this fairly handily back in 2016. Nikki Haley needs to run even in Manchester. You heard Omar Jimenez earlier this afternoon talking to voters there, one of whom made very clear she didn't necessarily love Nikki Haley, but she wanted to vote against Donald Trump.

How many of those voters are out there to at least keep things even in Manchester? And then whether or not Nikki Haley could run even in Manchester. run up big numbers in traditional Democratic strongholds, kind of this area right here, Portsmouth, out into closer to the course, the coast, Massachusetts border. If she can run up big numbers with those independent voters, she has a very real opportunity. That's clearly the goal. That's clearly the play. It's clearly where Haley has been going in her campaigns over the course of the last several days. Tonight, of course, will be the real tell to that story, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly. Phil, thanks. Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Thanks, Anderson. Back here with my panel of experts. And Tia, I wonder when you hear what Phil just said, what do you think? Obviously, we know independents play an outsized role in this GOP primary. That is certainly not something that the former president wants, cutting into his margin. But I think it's a real question of whether or not Nikki Haley has appealed to them enough to cut into that margin in a significant way here tonight.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT; THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: Right. It's all about enthusiasm. We know that Trump's voters tend to be enthusiastic in their support for him. They boast that they, you know, in Iowa, they braved sub-zero temperatures. They braved sub-zero temperatures. They braved sub-zero temperatures. They braved sub-zero temperatures. They braved sub-zero temperatures. To support him in that caucus primary, now we're in New Hampshire. And even as we see the Nikki Haley signs in all these live shots, we see plenty of Trump signs, too. We know that in the polling, when it shows who is not just going to support Trump, but no matter what Trump supporters, so to speak, that polls high for him, whereas for Nikki Haley, it tends to be more tepid.

So, what she needs is that enthusiasm. That voter who's going to say, I'm sticking with her no matter what, whatever's going on in my personal life, I'm going to show up at the polls. This is important. That's been the gap. All the Republicans have faced that enthusiasm gap compared to Trump. She needs to overcome that. And then she needs those independent voters in New Hampshire to be just as enthusiastic. Now, your colleagues have spoken to a lot of enthusiastic, independent New Hampshire voters who do want to support Haley, but she needs a lot of them tonight.

COLLINS: Well, and not only does she need a lot of them, Rob, I mean, obviously, you used to work for Governor Haley when she was in South Carolina. New Hampshire is just differing. So even if she has this upstanding night tonight, and we do see a lot of those independent voters come out, I think the question is, what's next for her?


Because your home state of South Carolina, we saw Senator Tim Scott with Donald Trump last night. Governor McMaster was there with him recently. Obviously, Senator Lindsey Graham is behind him. A lot of the state's elected officials are already backing her opponent here.

ROB GODFREY, FORMER DEP. CHIEF OF STAFF FOR GOV. NIKKI HALEY: Sure. And Governor McMaster and Senator Scott, those are endorsements that anyone would embrace. But Governor Haley has never courted the political class for endorsements, as she said, and as we've seen over the course of her career. What she has to do going into South Carolina is simply remind them of what she did as governor. These are people who took a chance on her twice and elected her governor, and she delivered. Results for them. And so, what she has to do is she comes from a she comes from a position of strength and a posture that she hasn't come from in previous early primary states.

That's one where she is well liked. She's got to turn those people who liked her as governor, but who love Trump as president into people who will give her the same consideration that they give Trump for the presidency and get the and convince them to take a chance on her in this race the way they did in her first race for governor.

COLLINS: One microcosm of just what we've seen that that I've been watching closely is the Republicans who have fallen so quickly in line behind Nikki Haley, Nancy Mace, a congressman from a purple, purple district in South Carolina. She got behind Donald Trump just recently that despite the fact that Trump endorsed Nancy Mace's primary opponent, Nikki Haley back to Nancy Mace, but she's endorsing Donald Trump in this race, which I just think speaks to how Republicans, at least elected ones are seeing this.

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND HISTORIAN: Yeah, and I think, you know, if we do see a moment, a big moment where Nikki Haley drops out or decides to pull out of the race, that it's most likely going to come around South Carolina. I actually can't see her dropping out immediately after New Hampshire, particularly given that she's gotten a bounce in funding and plans to spend that money from funding and still is and is still fundraising right now. At least it's not going to happen tonight. South Carolina has sentimental value. I think it has. And it indicates that she's willing to fight to, you know, to the end, even if she has no choice but to pull out.

And I think the other thing that's going on here is that she is banking on two things. One, this kind of anti-Trump vote and that this anti-Trump vote is enough to propel her at least a certain distance. The second thing that she is banking on is that she is making a case for the vice presidency and that this is a way to still operate within that realm. One of the things that Trump. Respects, he may not like you. One of the things that he respects is taking the fight to him. And so, I think she's making an argument not just for, I think, you know, anti-Trump people, but making an argument to the Trump campaign about how actually a pairing of the two of them would represent everything that you want in Trumpism with the kind of stability and accountability.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, NEW YORK TIMES JOURNALIST & PODCAST HOST: I think Donald Trump Jr.'s head might explode. I don't -- I don't agree with that. But one of the other things that I think. When we're talking about Nikki Haley, that has always struck me is when you see Donald Trump attack her. He uses this very loaded language again about where she's from, where her parents are from, using her name, you know, kind of to make it seem that she's not really American, raising all these very nativist questions. And what does Donald Trump know about his base that we don't know?

Well, he knows that. That those kind of attacks actually do have impact. And so there is something in Nikki Haley herself being a woman and a woman of color that I do sometimes wonder if there is a ceiling for her in the Republican Party right now, as it's -- as it's constructed right now.

GODFREY: What I will tell you about those attacks that you're talking about, which pander to the to the very darkest parts of not just the Republican primary electorate, but to society in general, is that Donald Trump does. What I will tell you about those attacks actually do have impact. Employ them effectively against some opponents. But these are not attacks that she hasn't seen before. And these are not attacks that she hasn't batted down before. And these are not attacks that don't motivate her even more to continue to fight harder.

COLLINS (ph): But what about the voters?

GODFREY: Well, these are voters that she has to try to peel off of him and try to win over. And that kind of fight that she shows when those kinds of attacks motivate her may be the kind of may be the kinds of things that voters are. Looking looking at to peel off.

COLLINS: It's notable how she's sidestepped directly criticizing him for doing that. He's continued to do so. Everyone stay with me, because one other thing we are watching closely today in New Hampshire is a notable name that will not be on the ballot. President Joe Biden. The question is whether a write-in campaign mounted by his allies can still help him claim victory today. More on what's going on with that after a quick break.



COOPER: Welcome back to CNN Special Lab coverage of the first in the nation presidential primary in New Hampshire, where the Secretary of State says he is expecting record turnout. CNN's anchor Kate Baldwin is in Nashua talking to voters. So, Kate, what are you hearing? How confident are Haley supporters?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are hearing a lot from voters saying that they are supporting Nikki Haley. Anderson, welcome to Nashua. This is Ward 3 at the Amherst Street Elementary School. Let me show you the process, and then we're going to talk about the numbers we just got.