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CNN Live Event/Special

2024 U.S. Primary Election; New Hampshire Republican Primary: Trump And Haley Will Square Off; Voting In New Hampshire Primary Currently Underway; Biden Team Keenly Following Haley's Performance In New Hampshire; Border Battle Over Razor Wire Fences. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 23, 2024 - 14:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Welcome to Nashua. This is ward three 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 from the poll moderator here. This is where everyone registers, right here, and you can also register to vote on the table far over there. We're kind of held in this little bay here. So, we're going to move about as we can.

These -- this is where if you are an undeclared, you can then ask for Republican or Democratic ballot. And then you go into these privacy screens and you vote. As we all know, they do here in New Hampshire on this -- for the primary.

After that, here's where the more of the action happens. That black box over there, that is where you will put your ballot in. That's where everything gets tabulated and the vote count comes. And then we've been seeing one of the longer lines here at this precinct. It's right here. This table here. This is where after voters have cast their ballot, they go back over here to become undeclared once again, which is important, as we've learned here in New Hampshire.

The latest numbers that we've just gotten from the moderator is that so far today, and the polls have been open since 6:00 this morning, they close at 8:00 tonight. There have been 1,362 votes have been cast. For some context, in 2016, when this primary -- you know, when -- that's kind of the comparable primary that we've been talking about for Republicans. 3,100 about votes were cast.

So, hard to say if they're heading towards any kind of a record as we've -- the Secretary of State has said he's looking -- he's predicting record turnout for Republicans across the state, but so far things have very clearly been moving very smoothly.

We've been talking to voters that have been coming out after they have cast their ballot and what we've heard, they are generally speaking, if they are voting for Donald Trump and they voted for him in the past. They like what they saw for -- in the Trump administration, and they are voting for him again. They want to see it again. But also, we have heard quite a few, Anderson, people who say that they are voting for Nikki Haley because they are not -- she's not Donald Trump and they are looking for something new. Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Kate, let me ask you. You said 3,100 votes back in 2016. Was that by the end of the day?

BOLDUAN: Yes, that was totaled by the end of the day. So -- and you know this, Anderson, this --

COOPER: So, right now they are already up in 1,600?

BOLDUAN: -- these polling -- 1,362. They are at 13 --


BOLDUAN: -- a little over 1,300 versus 3,100. It's hard to say because after work, after people start getting off work --

COOPER: Right.

BOLDUAN: -- they could that -- then you could see another rush.

COOPER: Right, yes.

BOLDUAN: We have a -- a line was here just a few moments ago and then it kind of peters in and out. Hard to say until the very end, but we're going to get that right at 8:00. We will -- they tabulate that and we will have the numbers right away. But then comes the write-in ballots, which they say are the big unknown at all precincts, including here because with Joe -- with the Democratic primary, they just don't know how long that's going to take to count all of that.

COOPER: OK. All right. Kate Bolduan, thanks so much. We'll check in with you again.



And speaking of those write-in ballots, President Biden's name is not going to be on these ballots that Democrats are getting in the state. That's because of a dispute between state Democrats and the National Party over which state is going first in the primary process. But in light of that, a write-in campaign for President Biden in New Hampshire is underway. The White House, we are told, is going to be closely watching those results.

I want to talk more about this unusual circumstance that we are seeing with Ray Buckley, who is the chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and it's great to have you here. I wonder, given, you know, kind of the nature of this situation, how do you expect President Biden to do as a write-in candidate?

RAY BUCKLEY, CHAIRMAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, it's a new experience for all of us. No one's been through this before, but it certainly looks like it's going to be a great night for Joe Biden.

COLLINS: OK. So, you think it's going to be a great night? No numbers that you're predicting there. But when it comes to the fact that it is a write-in campaign and therefore those ballots do have to be counted by hand, does that put any kind of a strain on poll workers when we're told there's already been a shortage of them in New Hampshire?

BUCKLEY: Well, the Secretary of State has been working very closely with the local moderators for months now, and, really beefed up the folks that are going to come in and help do the counting. The counting should go very smoothly, and I think that we'll know pretty close to the final numbers by the 11:00 news. So, we're looking forward. to a great turnout. There's going to be significantly more people voting in this primary than did in 2012 when President Obama was running for reelection. So, this is going to be a great night to be a New Hampshire Democrat.

COLLINS: Well, speaking of that, I mean, New Hampshire Democrats have not been happy with National Democrats after this move led by President Biden to make South Carolina go first. I know that you have disagreed with that, but I wonder what you make of what Governor Sununu told Jonathan Martin, saying that the New Hampshire primary is alive and well. And he said -- and I'm quoting him now that, "Democrats will never dare try to skip this state again because they have been absolutely embarrassed with the way that they have handled it."


And he said that they don't want to go through this again. Is that true of Democrats?

BUCKLEY: Well, who am I to argue with Chris Sununu?

COLLINS: You're actually the perfect person --


COLLINS: that's why I'm asking you.

BUCKLEY: I think that we're going to have a very robust 2028. We're already hearing from a number of individuals that more than likely will be top contenders in 2028. So, which -- you know, the 2028 starts tomorrow morning. So, we're looking forward to that. New Hampshire's certainly alive and well. I think the DNC now understands --

COLLINS: Wait, Mr. Buckley --

BUCKLEY: Mm-hmm.

COLLINS: I just want to make sure I heard you right. You said you've heard from people who may be contenders in 2028 that they do want New Hampshire to be the first --


COLLINS: -- primary.

BUCKLEY: Absolutely. You know, I think there was a certain level of respect that the president was given in his decision to reward South Carolina because of their vote in in 2020 and a lot of people understood that. But we wanted to make sure that the people in Washington actually understood that the party doesn't really play a role in conducting the primary here. This is a state government function along with local government. And so, neither the DNC nor the New Hampshire Democratic Party have any role other than to allocate delegates.

COLLINS: Any names of those potential future presidential contenders that you would like to share with us?

BUCKLEY: Well, I'm sure you know many of them, but we're going to have a robust primary. There's a lot of phenomenal governors out there, members of Congress, U.S. Senators that are all eager to begin, start talking to voters and really talking about where the future of this country needs to be. And I'm looking forward to it. A whole robust new generation on both, not just the Democratic side, but the Republican side as well. 2028 will be the first election a number of times without either Donald Trump or Joe Biden.

COLLINS: Yes, it will be fascinating to watch. Ray Buckley, thank you for joining me and for making some news there.

BUCKLEY: Thank you.

COLLINS: And stay with CNN. Of course, we will have continuing special coverage of the New Hampshire Republican primary and that write-in campaign being melted by the president's allies. Stay with us.




MARY ANNE SULLIVAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I've lived in a constitutional democracy all my life. I want to remain that way, and I want my grandchildren to grow up in one.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What impressed you most about Nikki Haley?

SULLIVAN: Well, actually I was a pro Chris Christie.

JIMENEZ: Mm-hmm,

SULLIVAN: I lived in New Jersey for years. He was a wonderful governor. But she's what's left.


COOPER: That was CNN's Omar Jimenez speaking with a voter in Manchester just last hour. She's what left -- she's what's left is probably not the slogan Nikki Haley wants to have, but for many voters that is their perspective.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That is her voter. That is her voter, a Republican voter who wants someone other than Trump and is very disappointed in Trump. And I spoke to their campaign earlier today, they're seeing some really good turnout in Bedford, which is a very Tony New Hampshire town, and in the Seacoast, which is full of Republican suburban moms.

And that -- again, that's her voter. I was speaking to a friend of mine that I hunt with in New Hampshire, he lives in New Hampshire, and I said, who's going to win? And he said, I think Nikki's got a shot because of soccer moms. And we haven't heard that term in a really long time. Remember that exploded in 1996 and, sort of, morphed into security moms, and now we've got mega moms, and all kinds of moms. He thinks the soccer moms in the Seacoast, those towns right above the mass border, are full of these soccer moms that are all going to come out for Nikki.

Now, putting whether he's accurate or not aside, we'll learn tonight, but those are her voters. That, you know, Mary Anne Sullivan is her voter. You didn't like Trump, you're real disappointed, but you're not going to vote for a Democrat. That's the voter Nikki's happy to take the so-called scraps of, right? If she's got leftovers, she's happy to take them.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and it's interesting because starting in about 2018, we started to hear that from moms, in particular suburban women, who said, well, I like his policies but he's just too mean, or he's just too -- I don't like the meanness. We heard that across the country, frankly. So that would follow suit.

The other thing that's interesting though is we're looking at this electorate. How many times, just this morning, it's come up, you know, it's an anti-Trump vote? And that tells us -- you know, it makes you wonder if Nikki Haley had put more resources in to really galvanizing that anti-Trump vote, not the way that Governor Christie did it but the way she's been doing it, maybe she would be having a bigger night.

COOPER: You mean if she had been tougher, not just resource it, but if she had been actually verbally tougher on the former president earlier?

FINNEY: Well, and just -- and cultivating and courting those voters. Done a little more to court -- cultivate those voters. You know, we'll see. Maybe they will turn out for her, but it also surely tells us that the -- that's a -- that's good news for President Biden because that's his electorate in the general.

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Something that's really interesting to me too is most of these voters that CNN has talked to today who voted for Nikki Haley, while they haven't been necessarily enthusiastic about maybe her as a candidate, they are turning out to vote because it's a vote against Trump and they are saying they're doing it for -- things like democracy, that's what we just heard from that voter.

And if I'm the Trump campaign, then I'm going to be concerned because even if it looks like they might win tonight in New Hampshire, these are all the voters that they were -- they would need in a general election. And how do you bring those people back into the fold because it sounds like they are adamantly saying, I will not support Donald Trump.


LEE CARTER, VOTER ANALYST AND POLLSTER: That's the -- and that's the world he lives in. There is -- I mean, it is all one way or the other. Like we're talking about you either love him or hate him. There is no in between, and I think he counts on that. But I also think the interesting thing about the democracy argument is it -- it's sort of shifting because it works so well in the midterms in 2022.

Everybody was like, what is Joe Biden doing in that speech where it was red and it was dark and they're like, this is not a good idea, and it actually really galvanized the vote. But today you start talking about democracy and just as many Republicans are concerned about the threat to democracy as Democrats. And so, that argument is getting more nuanced. 52 percent of Bidens that were saying that GOP and Donald Trump, in particular, is a threat to democracy, but 47 percent of Trump supporters say that Democrats are a threat to democracy.

COOPER: Well, but that's the -- I mean, that's sort of the -- one of the geniuses of Donald Trump, which is looking at, you know, what he is being attacked for and then just parroting that argument against it and, kind of, nullifying it for everybody.

FINNEY: Right.

COOPER: I'm like, I'm not --

CARTER: He leans --

COOPER: -- threatening democracy, you are.

FINNEY: Right.

CUPP: Exactly.

CARTER: He leans way into it, yes.

CUPP: Completely.

FINNEY: And it's the same thing -- he -- again, I go back to 2016, right, where, well her e-mails, right, to maybe the -- I may be a terrible businessman and have lawsuits but her e-mails, right? I mean, he muddies the waters and then takes on that argument. I mean, he's -- he -- we've heard him say it recently in speeches that Joe Biden is a threat to democracy. That Joe Biden is weaponizing --


FINNEY: -- the Department of Justice.

CARTER: And it's working

FINNEY: I mean, that -- and that's why he does it. And we saw also in Iowa in our own research, right? That people -- the majority of the people who are going to vote for Trump said it's because they believe the 2020 election was stolen. That's why he repeats those lies. That's why we'll keep hearing them.

CUPP: Well, and now he knows, especially from exit polling in Iowa and other polling we have. We know that immigration is just a top issue for Republicans and it is their best talking point. And Joe Biden doesn't really have an answer for this because it's not a bad message, it's a bad policy. And he's not really fixing the policy, and Trump knows that. And so, he's going hard on immigration because he knows that is what is going to turn out his base.

On the left, they have got the democracy argument and they have got Roe. And those are huge motivators, too. This will be a battle between immigration on the right and democracy and Roe on the left. And we'll have to see which is the bigger motivator.

MATTHEWS: And I've talked to plenty of Republicans on the ground in my home state of Ohio, and they really do believe that Trump message that Joe Biden is the real threat to democracy. And it's things like the border that they point to or the economy, even though we know that there are metrics showing that the economy is improving, I think people still just maybe -- it hasn't trickled down to them --

CUPP: They don't feel it.

MATTHEWS: -- and they're still not feeling the effects.

CARTER: Yes, they're not feeling it.

MATTHEWS: But I think that in time, they will start to feel those effects as we get closer to the election, which would be a good thing for Joe Biden then, but they view these things as the real threat to democracy and they're buying into that message. And it is really powerful one from Donald Trump.

CUPP: Yes, yes.

COOPER: We'll have much more of our special coverage of the first-in- the-nation New Hampshire primary.

Another story we're following closely as well, the standoff at the border one day after the Supreme Court sided with the White House and against Texas in its fight over razor wire deployed on the border. We're live from Eagle Pass, Texas, next.



COLLINS: One day after the Biden administration got clear to remove razor wire along the southern border with Texas and Mexico, none of it has been taken down. And right now, there is still no indication of when that might begin. The Supreme Court, yesterday, sided with the White House on this issue, including Justices Amy Coney Barrett and John Roberts, dealing a major blow to the state of Texas and the Governor Greg Abbott there and his efforts to stop illegal border crossings. But Governor Abbott is digging in, saying, "This is not over." Let's go to Eagle Pass, Texas now, where we'll find CNN Correspondent Rosa Flores. Rosa, I mean, what are state officials saying about just openly flouting this ruling from the Supreme Court?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, some officials are frustrated. One of the official that I spoke to said that all of this is just a waste of taxpayer money. But walk with me, Kaitlan, because I want to show you around. This razor wire does not appear to be going anywhere. As you mentioned, the state of Texas doubling down, saying that it is keeping the posture that it has maintained. Well, this is the posture. Multiple layers of razor wire. You can see Shelby Park back there, that has been taken over by the state of Texas.

This legal battle actually started last year, but it only gained more attention after the state of Texas took over that public park, kicked out border patrol, including some of the surveillance equipment. Three migrants drowned on the Rio Grande. That's when the Justice Department went to the U.S. Supreme Court and now, we have this order.

But here is the bigger picture of all of this. And at the core of this legal battle is who has the power? Is it the federal government or the state government? When it comes to this jurisdiction, who has access to apprehend migrants in this area along the Rio Grande?

And so, that is the big question. I talked to a legal expert who put it like this. He said, look, the -- this is not the only legal battle. There's the legal battle over the border buoys. There's the legal battle over the state immigration law. Together, all of these legal battles, he said, creates a kind of referendum on immigration that could determine the line on the constitution as to who has the power to do what? Take a listen.



PROF. STEVE VLADEK, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS SCHOOL OF LAW: I think part of what Texas is counting on is that this is a very different Supreme Court. And I think Texas is assuming that if this issue were to be resolved by the Supreme Court again, it might come out differently. That's a pretty big gamble to take. And I think yesterday's order is at least the first sign that it may ultimately fail.


FLORES: Now, Kaitlan, here's the other important point. Until these legal battles are hashed out in the courts, we're going to continue to see this conflict on the ground. So, until that's determined, we're going to be in this quagmire situation here where both the federal government and the state government are trying to figure out who has the power to do what. Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Just amazing given what the Supreme Court decided yesterday. Rosa Flores will continue to watch that incredibly important situation there on the border. Also, we are tracking the latest on the ground in New Hampshire. A big question hanging over the primary is whether Nikki Haley, who right now is facing potentially a make-or-break moment in New Hampshire. What's next for her? We're going to speak to a state rep who is backing her over Donald Trump after a quick break.