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First Results Coming In From New Hampshire Polling Sites; Trump Takes Early Lead In New Hampshire GOP Primary; Haley Congratulates Trump For New Hampshire GOP Primary Win; CNN Projects Trump Wins New Hampshire GOP Primary. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 23, 2024 - 20:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You look, you also get late votes in Manchester. They get -- you get early reports, but then they tend to fill in late as we get through it.

If you're looking elsewhere in the map, we're just -- it's one of those hard to know, right? I just want to look at Dover to see what the margin is. Again, you know, 71% of the vote in there. You come down along the Seacoast. This is an area where I think Dan and her friends were calling them country club Republicans.

But there are also a lot of blue-collar people as well. That's what makes the mix so interesting. As you see it come out, Portsmouth, she's up by a huge margin with about half of the vote in. So it's early, Jake, but here we go.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Here we go indeed. The last polling places are closing in New Hampshire, and we now have a key race alert on where the Republican presidential race stands right now.

As of now, it is too early to call the Republican presidential primary New Hampshire. Donald Trump is taking an early lead in the vote over Nikki Haley with 12% of the vote in. Donald Trump has 52.4% of the vote. Nikki Haley is about 2,300 votes behind that, with 46.6% of the vote. But there's still 88% of the vote outstanding. It's too early to make a projection in the Republican primary race as of now.

But we do have a projection we can make right now. And CNN is projecting the President Biden will win as a right-in candidate in the Democratic Primary New Hampshire over multiple challenges -- or challengers who were on the actual ballot. Remember, this primary is not sanctioned by the Democratic Party here in Washington, DC, and it does not count for delegates. Still, the DNC did not want Biden to lose and he did pull off a right-in candidate victory in a primary that is not official.

Now that the voting has ended, we can reveal more specific exit poll information about the Trump-Haley face off for you. David Chalian has those numbers. David?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Jake, now that the polls have closed, we can look more at how voters are splitting between Haley and Trump.

So take a look here. Among registered Republicans, which make up 50% of the electorate, Donald Trump is winning 74% of them to Nikki Haley's 24%, a 50-point lead with half the electorate, the Republicans.

Now, those registered undeclared, they make up a slightly smaller share, 47% of the electorate. Haley's winning them 66% to 32%, so she's winning them by a narrow or slightly narrower margin than Trump is winning Republicans and they're a slightly smaller group.

As for the education divide, it's not just in American politics broadly, it is also within this Republican nomination race in New Hampshire. College graduates make up 48% of the electorate. Haley wins them by 20 points, 58% to Donald Trump's 39%. Voters without a college degree make up a slightly larger share, 52% of the electorate today in New Hampshire, and Trump wins them by a big margin, 66% to Haley's 32%. So again, we're seeing Donald Trump win these slightly larger groups by bigger margins than Haley's winning the groups where she has strength -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, interesting stuff. David Chalian, thanks so much.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, Jake. So as we just go through these latest numbers that we have, which we were able to share because the polls have now closed, Kate Bolduan was talking about 32 polling sites or so that closed at eight, now closed.

So Jamie, what are you hearing from the Haley campaign?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So for the last hour, we have to start by saying there is an expectations game here, and they want to set that up. But they have been telling me for the last hour that they think she is doing better than expected. What does that mean?

The latest polls showed her behind Trump by double-digits. So if these numbers hold, and it is still very early, and we're just talking about a small number, but if it is within single digits, what they're saying to me is that's a win for them. But coming in first is the win. Coming in second, even under 10%, still means you're coming in second.

That said, I think what they're looking for here is a reason to keep her in the race, which no matter what Donald Trump says, we know it will make him crazy if she stays in the race.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And to your exact point, I mean, the expectations game is really going haywire at this point. This is the state that is incredibly favorable to a candidate like Nikki Haley, undeclared voters, a lot of independent voters. She should be performing really well here. She should be giving Trump really the most run for his money that he's gotten so far or may ever get in this race.

There were some polls leading up to this moment that had her potentially within single digits of him, a very close race. So I think, to me, that is really where the expectations are for Haley, regardless of what her campaign says.

BURNETT: It doesn't get better than this. It's a setup.

PHILLIP: It really does not get better than this for her. And so, how she performs tonight will impact how they look at the race going forward.

It's going to be hard to convince these Republican voters, almost 60% of whom are fine with Donald Trump, to say, well, let's just do this again for a few more months.



PHILLIP: Many Republicans are pretty much ready to see this thing settled.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Can I tell you what the Trump team is worried about? And that's underperforming. They don't think he's going to lose New Hampshire tonight and, obviously, we're waiting to see what the numbers show, but they are worried about underperforming.

This was the state that delivered Trump his grasp of the Republican Party in 2016. He went in there. He got 100,000 votes, I believe. Obviously, there were many more candidates still in the race. It was much more competitive at that point. But they are hoping to see him have a real big margin here. And if they don't, that's what his concern is.

That's why he's been talking about and pushing a false claim that Democrats can vote in today's election. As we know, they can't. The cutoff is every official in New Hampshire has reminded us, including Republicans, was back in October. But Trump has been pushing that.

He's also been addressing this argument that has been made by Nikki Haley in the closing days, which is that she is more electable than Donald Trump is in a race against Joe Biden. He's just posting about it in all caps on his website moments ago, because it is a real concern of his, of what his electability is going to be.

It's also a concern that Ron DeSantis is sharing. People like Bob Good, the congressman who's the head of the House Freedom Caucus, they have also -- despite the fact that they've endorsed Trump, have also raised concerns about what the longevity for his success is, despite how well he is.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think two things can be true at the same time. One, he could be having a night that he's going to win the New Hampshire that he could be on his way to winning the nomination, but also could raise real warning signs about his viability as a general election candidate.

That number about undeclared voters, 66% of undeclared voters supporting Haley, just 32% for Donald Trump. That is something that the Trump campaign needs to pay attention to if he is indeed the nominee. Just in 2016, he won undeclared voters in New Hampshire, in the primary, over a much more crowded field.

In that crowded field, he took about 36% of the crowded field. He only got 32% in a two-person race. It shows you the challenges that he is facing here. But not only that, 88% of Haley supporters say they'd be disappointed if you were the nominee. 47% don't believe you'd be fit to be president if you were convicted of a crime.

All of these things, they need to be clearly worried about, regardless of how he does, regardless of who wins the nomination and things they need to work on if you have the broadness of that.

BURNETT: But Jeff Zeleny raised a point a moment ago, though, Abby, and I think it goes at what you were talking about. You talk about the general election issue, this issue with independence. But then look at the Republicans, 74% of them went for Trump. That is resounding, and it is loud and clear. When you look ahead, South Carolina and other states that are not going to have this independent play ...

PHILLIP: Yes, these are ...

BURNETT: That is perhaps a more accurate snapshot.

PHILLIP: We are headed into territory where people are dyed in the wool Republican voters. And they are loyal, and maybe they are open- minded. We're hearing from a lot of voters who are Republicans who are open-minded. They want to see some kind of primary process. But many of them are willing to come right on home to Donald Trump.

I spoke to a New Hampshire voter just last night on my show. She was a Haley supporter, but she said that she's taking her cues from Chris Sununu in how to act toward Trump. She's ready to back Trump if Haley does not prevail tonight.

So a lot of Republicans in New Hampshire and elsewhere in this electorate, are they looking at people like Chris Sununu, who is a staunch Nikki Haley supporter, who says, even if Trump is convicted, even if he is a felon, he will vote for Donald Trump ...


PHILLIP: ... many Republican voters feel exactly the same.

COLLINS: Also, what a permission structure for people to vote for Trump. Chris Wallace was saying, if Nikki Haley does well, she owes a lot of it to Chris Wallace. All right, I'm sorry, not to Chris Wallace, to Governor Sununu.

I also think if it the opposite is true, it raises a lot of questions about, you know, the power of a Chris Sununu, a family name, a very popular governor in New Hampshire, that he is even willing to vote for Donald Trump if he's a convicted felon, also allowing that permission structure for other Republicans to say, OK, well, I'm just going to vote for Donald Trump. BURNETT: They're doing it. All right. All stay with us, because we're counting the votes. They are coming in. We'll see how close this is, who the winner is -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Erin, thanks so much. We've got 15% of the vote in as of right now. These are actual votes.

Donald Trump still in the lead, 53% of the vote. He is roughly 3,400 votes ahead of Nikki Haley, who is pulling up the rear with 46% of the vote about.

KING: And if you listen to the last exit poll presentation after the final polls close from David Chalian, that's an electorate that leans in Trump's favor, in that Nikki Haley's winning big, you know, among the moderate voters, maybe. But the education line, where Donald Trump is winning by such a big margin among high school educated voters, just go back to the 2016 map. That's a lot of blue-collar voters that you see up in here, right?

I spent some time up here last week going through these areas up here. Small towns, construction workers, people who work at the seasonal resorts, you know, people work with their hands. So we're waiting for these votes to come in.

The exit polls tell you that as that fills in, not only red, but how red, right, when you look at the margins. People work with their hands. So we're waiting for these votes to come in.


The exit polls tell you that as that fills in, it's not only red, but how red, right, when you look at the margin. So if you're in the Haley campaign and you know that, and you're seeing that, what are you looking at? Number one, you are encouraged. Let's go through the areas where you're encouraged.

Portsmouth, Donald Trump won Portsmouth. It's a Democratic town, but there are still Republican voters there.

TAPPER: Lovely, lovely town.

KING: Right, Donald Trump won. It's a beautiful town. Donald Trump won it, and she took it. She's taking it away. We're not done yet, but about half the vote right there. That's your goal.

He won it last time. You want to take it from him. You got to take things away.

The key, Jake, is we just don't have yet, right along here. Forgive me for turning my back at home. I just want to stretch this out.

Let's come along the southern border, right? So what are we going to get out of Nashua? Right? Do we get -- Haley needs to win or to get really close. She needs to do very well here. It's the second largest city inside New Hampshire.

TAPPER: No votes yet.

KING: No votes yet.

TAPPER: They just closed.

KING: Then you come over to Hollis next to another place, essentially the Nashua suburbs along here, a place that Donald Trump carried last time where the Haley campaign thinks, okay, if we're doing as well as we think we can do, it's a place like here.

So when you pull it out, we just need to wait and get more votes as you come through it that she's winning Concord is great. Just you come up here, these are the small little towns, right? So you're at 95 percent, you know, 56 to 42.

I just want to go back in time. So you're looking at Donald Trump's math comes from these small places, you know, a couple hundred people, but he wins by big margins. That's not a huge margin.

TAPPER: That's how he won Pennsylvania in 2016.

KING: Exactly right. Small town America. So last time it was a 10- point gap, right?


KING: There were a whole bunch of candidates. There was 10 points over the last candidate. So now in a smaller race, it's a much bigger gap. Does that matter in the end, right? You stay -- people at home are saying, well, that's just a couple of hundred votes between them.

The challenge is when you got 260 townships, a couple hundred votes here, a couple hundred votes here, a couple dozen votes there, you know, that's what Trump needs to offset. Plus, he has this.

At the moment, Donald Trump is winning by just 14 points, 13 points, if you round Hailey up there in the largest vote pool in the state of New Hampshire. That's Manchester. It's eight percent of the statewide population. About two-thirds of the vote in there, too. And you're seeing this is blue-collar Trump country.

Again, she's running a strong race against the guy who was the incumbent president of the United States. But in the place where you get the most votes, you pad your lead there with the biggest pool of voters, and then you run it up in the small towns.

And so, as we watch this go out, we're 15% still. As we get to 20, 25, 30, you need a lot of yellow down here ...


KING: ... for Hailey to stay in play.

TAPPER: And the wild cards, obviously, are the number of undeclared or independent voters who Hailey seems to have won hands down, right? And so the question is, how many of them turned out and where did they turn out?

KING: Right. The composition of the electorate, which slightly benefits Trump by the exit polls, but again, the higher underplay.

But I just want to make one key point. That's true on paper when you look at it. But New Hampshire is a quirky state in the sense that a lot of Trump's voters don't like the establishment. They don't -- they're Trump Republicans ...

TAPPER: Right.

KING: ... but they don't want to be registered Republicans. So you will find Trump voters who are -- say they're undeclared. Now they are as loyal to Trump as you can get. They just don't think they want to register with a party because they don't think -- they don't like anything big, anything with a name. They don't like the media. They don't like the Republican Party. They don't like (inaudible).

TAPPER: Right, they don't like Mitch McConnell.

KING: Right, yes.

TAPPER: They don't like Governor Sununu.

KING: Yes, yes. It - I don't want to not make clear that that is her opportunity.

TAPPER: Right.

KING: Undeclared, more moderate voters who want to come in and help her, who have -- a lot of them have not only don't want to vote for Donald Trump, some of them have animus towards Donald Trump, so they want to help somebody. They want to help the anti-Trump force. Some of it's personal to her, some of it is personal about him.

TAPPER: Well, and if you looked at the exit polls, more people voting for Haley were actually voting against Trump ...

KING: Right.

TAPPER: ... a plurality at least. Then we're voting for Haley. What are the big population centers that we're still waiting for?

Obviously -- oh, we're going to go to Kate Bolduan right now? All right, Kate Bolduan is in Nashville where they just shut down. They just closed the polls at 8 o'clock. Kate Bolduan, tell us what's going on there and how Trump and Haley did in your ward.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Polls are closed.

JED HOLLAND (PH), WARD MODERATOR: The polls are closed. I'm Jed Holland (ph), (inaudible).

BOLDUAN: Jed Holland, the ward moderator, is now going to read the totals after a long day's work. HOLLAND (PH): Yes, these are machine generated totals. These do not include any write-in votes. The machine does not recognize handwriting. Our human team will be going over all of the ballots looking for those write-in votes. So this is a preliminary score only. The number will increase ...

TAPPER: (Inaudible).

HOLLAND (PH): ... as we read the write-in votes and as we count the necessarily hand counted ballots. This is not a final result.

In the Republican Party for President of the United States, we have zero undervotes. Sorry, forgive me. We have zero overvotes. This is mechanically enforced by the machine. We have three undervotes. Those are ballots that made it through without any vote cast.


And then the numbers for the candidates. Doug Burgum, two votes. Robert S. Carney Jr., two votes. John Anthony Castro, zero votes. Chris Christie, 11 votes. Ron DeSantis, 12 votes. Nikki Haley, 691 votes. Asa Hutchinson, one vote. Peter Jeddick, zero votes. Perry Johnson, zero votes. Donald Kjornes, zero votes. Mary Maxwell, one vote. Glenn J. McPeters, zero votes. S. Peterson Merrell, zero votes. Darius L. Mitchell, zero votes. Mike Pence, four votes. Vivek Ramaswamy, four votes. Tim Scott, two votes. Hirsh V. Singh, zero votes. Samuel Howard Sloan, zero votes. David Stuckenberg, zero votes. Rachel Swift, one vote. Donald J. Trump, 771 votes. Scott Allen Ayers, zero votes.

TAPPER: All right. So there it is, the numbers we -- we're waiting for. No, I'm not referring to Samuel Howard Sloan or Rachel Swift. I'm talking about Nikki Haley and Donald Trump.

And, John King, Nashua is an area where Haley needs to do really well. And at least in this one ward, she came in second.

KING: One ward. So be careful. We'll get the rest of the votes and we'll see Nashua start to fill in as that first -- you know, you just saw the local official there. He reports into Secretary of State. They get put into the system and you'll see them pop up in the map. And as we have with Sara Sidner earlier, the first thing to pop up in Nashua may not be that ward. So we have to walk through as this goes.

But to the big picture we were talking about, let me slide this out of the way just a little bit. Move it -- here, let me move it over here for a second. I'm going to obscure votes. I'll probably take it back in a minute.

If you're looking at the state itself, come back here. Nikki Haley needs to do well along the southern part of the state, number one, particularly in Nashua because it's the second largest population center. Manchester is your largest city. It is a Trump country. She's competitive there right now, but well behind him.

So if you want to match that, he's leading at the moment. Looks like he's on a path to win in the biggest pool of votes. You need to match that here in the second largest pool of votes. Again, this is one ward. But this is Donald Trump making a statement that, no, I'm competitive down here.

Again, right along the Massachusetts border, tends to be -- if you get to the southern most part, it tends to be a little more blue-collar. You move up to Nashua. It looks much more suburban. You move up here and you go through it.

But it's one ward, so we need to count the rest of them. But if you're in the campaigns and you're watching, this is what they do. They have people in the wards. They're calling it -- just like we're watching it live, they're calling it as it comes.

If you're Donald Trump, you're thinking, you know, of course, you want to win everywhere. You want to win by big margins. But in a place that Nikki Haley wants to take away from you, at least in this one ward, Trump is holding his own. That's very close, that's very close, very competitive for her there, but not the victory if she's trying to go to a path to win.

Let's come back out to the statewide numbers now. If she's trying to come back to a path to win, and right now with 16% of the vote, you know, Donald Trump has an eight-point lead on you right there, you can't have too many wards like this. You need to start winning wards and then winning towns to build up from there. Just one will count more.

But again, Jake, that's the great value of having people right on the ground like that. Nashua was still blank on our map, but those votes will kick in soon enough.

TAPPER: All right, we can now make a major projection. CNN projects that Donald J. Trump will win the Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire, the former president scoring his second decisive victory of 2024, delivering a powerful blow to his only remaining major opponent -- primary opponent, Nikki Haley. Trump taking a critical step toward winning his third Republican presidential nomination.

Again, CNN projecting Donald Trump will win the Republican primary in New Hampshire. And we should note that it has never happened that somebody won Iowa and New Hampshire and then did not go on to win their party's nomination.

Kristen Holmes is at Trump HQ. Kristen, big victory for Donald Trump.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this absolutely is a big victory. Of course, the big question for the Trump team is going to be, what are the margins? They never thought that he was going to lose. Well, I wouldn't say never. I would say about two weeks ago they were touch and go on what the polling looked like and whether or not Haley could pull this out.

But recently they thought that Trump was going to win. The question was whether or not it was going to be double digits or a slimmer margin.

I was told by one senior adviser, they were hoping for at least 7%. Obviously, it's still too early to look at those margins, but there is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement here.

TAPPER: Kristen, we're going to go to Nikki Haley who's speaking right now. Let's listen to Governor Haley.



What a great night. God is so good.


Thank you, New Hampshire, for the love, the kindness, the support and a great night here tonight. Thank you so much.


I want to first say thank you to my husband who I know is watching right now. I love you. We're excited to have you.


Thank you. I want to thank my kids who are here, Rena, Nailin, and Josh who have really kind of stepped up and just given me the support I need. You know, you really pull on your family when something like this happens. And I am incredibly blessed by their support.


I have my parents at home. And I will always say that the way they raised me to know that we lived in the best country in the world, but to also know that the best way you appreciate your blessings is to give back. Thank you, Mom and Dad. I love you so much.


To my siblings, to my in-laws, to everybody back at home, to Vicki (ph) for helping me take care of Mom and Dad. Thank you for that.

You know, I will tell you, it has been -- it feels like it's been a lifetime, but it has been almost a year that we've been campaigning in New Hampshire, touching every hand, answering every question, being the last person to leave. And we had the most amazing thing happen is the second that we got the endorsement from Governor Chris Sununu.

I mean, a true governor that doesn't stand behind a podium. He shows up at a diner. He shows up at the brewery. He loves the people of New Hampshire. He has been with me every single day at every single event. Chris, I couldn't have done it without you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And I want to thank someone who was with me on day one. He's a patriot. He's a hardcore conservative. And he is my friend General Don Bolduc and Sharon. Thank you so, so much.


I want to congratulate Donald Trump on his victory tonight. He earned it. And I want to acknowledge that.

Now, you've all heard the chatter among the political class. They're falling all over themselves saying this race is over.


Well, I have news for all of them. New Hampshire is first in the nation. It is not the last in the nation.


This race is far from over. There are dozens of states left to go.


And the next one is my sweet state of South Carolina.


At one point in this campaign, there were 14 of us running. And we were at 2% in the polls. Well, I'm a fighter.


And I'm scrappy.


And now we're the last one standing next to Donald Trump.


And today we got close to half of the votes.


We still have a way to go, but we keep moving up.


For a lot of people, politics is way too personal. It's not personal for me. I voted for Trump twice. I was proud to serve America in his cabinet. I agree with many of his policies. I decided to run because I'm worried about the future of our country, and because it's time to put the negativity and chaos behind us.



We have an economy that's crushing middle-class Americans. We have a border that is totally open and dangerous creating a disaster in our country.


HALEY: We have schools that are failing too many of our children. And we have a world on fire with a war in Europe and the Middle East and a huge and growing threat from China. And then you look at Washington, DC.


HALEY: We have a Congress that fights about everything and accomplishes nothing.


HALEY: And we have Joe Biden in the White House making one bad decision after another, when he's making any decisions at all. Our country is in a real mess.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need a captain.



HALEY: And the question is who's going to fix it?


With Donald Trump, Republicans have lost almost every competitive election. We lost the Senate. We lost the House. We lost the White House. We lost in 2018, we lost in 2020, and we lost in 2022.

The worst kept secret in politics is how badly the Democrats want to run against Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump's a loser.


HALEY: They know Trump is the only Republican in the country who Joe Biden can defeat. You can't fix the mess if you don't win an election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to win.

HALEY: A Trump nomination is a Biden win and a Kamala Harris presidency.


HALEY: I defeat Biden handily.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can do it, Nikki.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want you, Nikki.

HALEY: With Donald Trump, you have one bout of chaos after another. This court case, that controversy, this tweet, that senior moment. You can't fix Joe Biden chaos with Republican chaos.


The other day, Donald Trump accused me of not providing security at the Capitol on January 6th.


No, I've long called for mental competency tests for politicians over the age of 75.


Trump claims he'd do better than me in one of those tests. Maybe he would, maybe he wouldn't. But if he thinks that, then he should have no problem standing on a debate stage with me.



Most Americans do not want a rematch between Biden and Trump.


The first party to retire, it's 80-year-old candidate, is going to be the party that wins this election.


And I think it should be the Republicans that win this election.


So our fight is not over. Because we have a country to save. In the next two months, millions of voters in over 20 states will have their say. We should honor them and allow them to vote.

And guess what? In the next two months, Joe Biden isn't going to get any younger or any better. We'll have all the time we need to defeat Joe Biden.



When we get to South Carolina, Donald Trump's going to have a harder time faultfully attacking me. The great people of South Carolina, no, I cut their taxes. They know I signed the toughest illegal immigration bill in the country. They know we passed voter ID and tort reform and ethics reform. And they know we moved 35,000 people from welfare to work.


Every time I've run for office in South Carolina, I've beaten the political establishment.



HALEY: They're lined up against me again. That's no surprise. But South Carolina voters don't want a coronation. They want an election.


And we're going to give them one.


Because we are just getting started. Thank you for the energy.


ALL: Nikki, Nikki, Nikki, Nikki, Nikki, Nikki, Nikki, Nikki, Nikki.

HALEY: Thank you.

ALL: Nikki, Nikki.

HALEY: Thank you for the love, New Hampshire. We're going home to South Carolina.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Nikki Haley saying, we are just getting started. Here with the team in New York. David Axelrod?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I feel for her because I've been in this -- because I've seen campaigns in this kind of situation before. I've been in this kind of situation before. The fact is, you know, when you set out to win a primary and you don't win it, it's hard to spin it into a victory and you can't keep doing it in Iowa.

She was going to finish second, she finished third, in New Hampshire, she was going to win. And tonight, you know, we'll see how the final numbers come in. They -- it seems to be widening a little bit. I really question -- I mean, I question whether she really ultimately wants to go forward to South Carolina and put her popularity to a test in her home state.

And I'm wondering whether her supporters and her finance -- her financers, her donors are going to want to do that too. I mean, I think the handwriting's on the wall.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with David. I mean, she started off wobbly. Man, I thought she was going to quit tonight. She just got wobbly and then she kind of found herself. And if you're kind of listening to her, you can find some hope. And you can get excited.

You can say, listen, you're proud to see that she's still got the fight in her. I loved her line, the first party to retire their 80- year-old candidate will win. I think that's a new line for her. And then you -- she got -- she walks off stage and you're like, you got four weeks.

Of every Republican in the world walking across the street, endorsing Donald Trump, and throwing spitballs at you for four weeks. And then you go to South Carolina to get humiliated in your home state. I don't think this is going to be a great month for you. It's a great speech, but it may be your last one.



JENNINGS: That was the big payoff tonight. We got close to half the vote.

JONES: In a two person race.

JENNINGS: In a two person race.


JENNINGS: By the way, in a two person race in which a huge chunk of the voters are not actual registered Republicans.

CORNISH: Also in a two person race where one of the folks did something like 77, 75 events across the state, and one did one a day and spent the rest of the time in a courtroom that he didn't even have to be at. And I think you can tell that the former president believes, that's a better use of his time to be standing outside of courtrooms going in and out --


CORNISH: -- of courtrooms. And because people in their sort of media ecosystems are being told that the current White House is a kind of like a Dr. Dolittle situation or something, they see Biden in a way that he is very vulnerable. So they don't look at all the minuses that might be sort of described here and say, oh, that could be a problem for us.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, and what's remarkable here is her best line is to say that she defeats Joe Biden handily. She performs better in a general election by far than Trump does. All the polling bears that out. And you're going to see a lot of endorsements over the next couple of days from prominent Republicans. We saw John Cornyn tonight for Donald Trump, Barrasso. Many of whom I know would actually prefer to support Nikki Haley, but the momentum, the pressure and the GOP party infrastructure is built to support Donald Trump.


He's already set up the Nevada primary. So it's basically rigged in his favor. All the Super Tuesday states are winner take all. So this isn't something --

CORNISH: So (INAUDIBLE), you have had this very kind of singular focus on what it means for the general election. From your position as someone who has like kind of worked in that world, can you conduct an entire Republican primary talking about the general? You still got to get through the next couple of weeks.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, and to the point that Van made, if the primary voters actually think that Joe Biden is so weak that even the fact that Trump doesn't beat him that much in the polls, they think is so weak that they're fine going with Trump, even though Nikki is a much safer bet for actually winning a general.


AXELROD: Presidential politics isn't horseshoes, OK? You don't --


AXELROD: -- get close and win. You got to score.

CORNISH: You can't go from the expectation is I'm going to win to I got close to half the vote.

COOPER: Let me bring in Jamie Gangel. Jamie?

GANGEL: So, Anderson, we've been hearing earlier this evening that there was a debate in the Haley campaign about whether to stay in or get out. We now know that she's staying in. And I'm told it's not just sort of tonight's speech in the spur of the moment.

A senior person on the campaign said to me, of course, she's staying in. And the way they see it is that there are now two states where Trump barely got half the vote. They think that's weak for an incumbent. But as we've said over and over, a win is a win. She has not been doing well in South Carolina.

But here's something that I think was key from her speech. She said that he should have no trouble standing on a debate stage with her. I think you are going to hear this over and over again. Nikki Haley is going to be saying to Donald Trump, why are you scared to debate me? Anderson?

COOPER: Jamie, thanks very much.

Back with the team here in New York. Will that -- does that work? JENNINGS: In what position is she to make demands of the person who just defeated her in two straight states? I mean, Trump's strategy of staying out of these debates has proven to be smart, obviously. Is he really going to change course on that? He's not scrambling for attention. I mean --

COOPER: There's not a groundswell of people --


COOPER: -- saying we want to hear a debate between those two. I mean --

AXELROD: Well, yes, there is. They're called Democrats.

FARAH GRIFFIN: No, the reality, again, is that GOP is Trump's party. He has actually put in place, since 2016, he has been working to have the systems in place to most favor him in the election ahead. So even with her, I think she has maybe more confidence than she should in South Carolina because she was a popular two-term governor.

But that was many years ago. It's a very different state now. I think she's hoping to outperform there, but she is going to feel the weight of the world of pressure from her elected Republicans saying, get out of the way. It needs to be Donald Trump.

What she's going to be weighing right now is, there's a very real chance he's convicted in the middle of this general election cycle. If she bows out and supports him, she could be the person that the party then comes around and turns to to replace him.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well the calendar here is also going to kill her, right? Because the South Carolina primary is not until February 24th. So, you know, tonight is probably the night where she has the most momentum behind her. And that is only, you know, to the point that Van was making, that you're making, Alyssa.

I mean, that is only going to wane over the course of the next month as additional Republicans come out and endorse Trump. As, you know, her donor, as her donors dry up. I mean, this is -- there's essentially nothing between now and the 24th, which is part of why you hear her saying he should stand on the debate stage with me.

AXELROD: Yes. It feels like the death spiral that we --

BEDINGFIELD: There's nothing to --

AXELROD: -- we've seen --

COOPER: Is she going to be able to raise more money of the course, I mean, a month --

FARAH GRIFFIN: I'm not convinced the money runs out, but I don't think it's going to be traditional Republican donors. It's what's --

JENNINGS: The money may not run out, but let me just, again, stress to you all. The Republican voters have run out. They've run out of patience for this. They're -- they -- she says things that are objectively true about Trump's, you know, electoral history and so on and so forth. They don't care.

He won electability voters. He's won immigration voters, which is the top issue in the party. And they believe Biden's going to lose to any of it. And they want to lose with the person that gives them the most dopamine when it happens.

AXELROD: So, you know, the idea that Trump -- well, go ahead, Van, make your point. I want to --

JONES: II do see it somewhat differently just with regard to the debate. I do think that he looks weak. Basically, there's a woman that says, I want to get you, I want to debate with you, and he looks weak running from one person. Saying, look, I don't want to be involved in the big circus with a bunch of nobodies.

I don't know that that doesn't wind up giving her a little bit more to say. And to your point, she does not have a landing field out there anywhere past where she is right now, and it could create. So I just -- I don't want -- I think you're going to hear that, and I think it may work better than we think. But go ahead, David.

AXELROD: Yes, no, I'm not -- you know, the reason the debate strategy worked, and I agree, I think it was very, very smart of him, was because there were a bunch of people on the stage who attacked each other. So, you know, they were doing his work for them, and they diminished each other. It doesn't work the same way if she steps in --


JONES: She's saying, hey, why are you scared of me, whatever.

AXELROD: -- on a stage.

JENNINGS: I'll just remind you guys, the last one on one debate she got involved in was against DeSantis in Des Moines. We were there and it hurt her. I mean, I think he hurt her that night and caused her to come in third.

AXELROD: Yes, I agree with that.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Not for nothing though, I mean, she is, as we speak, causing Donald Trump to spiral. He's been rage truthing out against her, saying she's, you know, turned out Democratic voters. She gets under his skin. She is the most credible challenger that he's had since 2016.

The problem that she's going to face is elected Republicans who are not Donald Trump saying, listen, you're helping Biden at this point. I don't agree with that but that's --


AXELROD: It's not just Trump's skin she's getting under, her numbers among Republicans like her favorability among Republicans. When you say, well, she could be there, and she could be the candidate, she is making herself unacceptable to Republicans because they worship at the altar of Donald Trump.

CORNISH: Well, the more you disrespected Trump, the less kind of --


CORNISH: -- enamored people are with you. And I -- Kate, I really liked your point though about how much time there is between now and the next one because that is when the donors sit down and say, you know, it's been a couple of weeks. The other thing is who's going to campaign with her?

You know, other than Chris Sununu, like the best hype man outside of hip hop. Like who is the person who's going to stand next to her over the next couple of weeks? That number is getting smaller and smaller.

BEDINGFIELD: The other dynamic I would expect is the Biden campaign is also going to engage Trump. The Biden campaign is going to start moving into their general election mode and is going to try to make the narrative about Trump versus Biden, and that has a psychological impact too.

COOPER: Should point out former president is 10 points ahead of Nikki Haley right now in New Hampshire as we continue to count all the votes.

Let's go to Dana Bash.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Anderson. And I want to bring in Kristen Holmes, who has been covering the Trump campaign to give us information about what you're hearing, Kristen, from Trump advisers. You just heard Anderson talk about the lead now at this point widening to 10 points.

HOLMES: Yes, Dana. I mean, what they had been hoping for was a double- digit lead. They want this margin to be definitive enough that, one, they can pivot to a general election. They want to focus on battleground states that are crucial in general election, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, and to definitive enough that it makes it so that he appears to be the presumptive nominee, essentially trying to force Nikki Haley out of the race.

Now, of course, what we saw there was a very defiant Nikki Haley urging Donald Trump to debate with her, saying she was going to stay in the race, particularly through South Carolina. And I will note, when I talked to his senior advisers, they don't feel concerned, necessarily, that Haley would beat Trump out for the nomination.

They just believe this is going to prolong the process. They particularly feel strongly about South Carolina. I do want to remind you, one of the strategies that Trump's team used here in New Hampshire was essentially getting Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina to endorse him before the New Hampshire primary and then come out and stump for Donald Trump endorsing him, essentially trying to send a message that the people of South Carolina, including Tim Scott, are backing Donald Trump.

Again, part of a larger message he's been trying to send that it's time for the Republican Party to coalesce behind him. The other part of this is that we are expecting him to come out at some point sooner rather than later. We know that they are still watching to see exactly what those margins land at.

As I said earlier, they're hoping for double digits. They said anything above 7 percent would be considered a victory for them. The one thing we should really listen to. Earlier today, Donald Trump said he would never ask an opponent to drop out of the race. So we'll be listening to see what he says tonight.

We've already gotten a note out from his Super PAC calling for her to drop out of the race. He's already fundraising, saying that he won the state of New Hampshire and it's time to move forward, it's time to go on and take on Biden. But that will be interesting to see if he actually calls for her directly, which he has not done to drop out of the race.

BASH: Really interesting. That's one of the many things we're going to be listening for when the former president begins to speak. Thanks so much for that reporting, Kristen.

And Kasie, she mentioned the former president's Super PAC. I spoke with the executive director of Nikki Haley's Super PAC, SFA, who says they're on to South Carolina. They've got millions, they're going to spend it on ads, on direct mail. And also made the point that -- and this seems to be the very obvious talking point from Team Haley, one of them tonight -- that -- and we don't have the final numbers, but if it is the case at the end of the night, that Donald Trump doesn't get above 50 percent, that that shows that he is weak as a former president, who did that here and also In Iowa.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. I mean, and speaking with -- they're clearly trying to send a message, the Super PAC. Hey, we're going to be there for you. You want to come down here. We'll be there. We've got your back, right?

BASH: Yes.


HUNT: And they have to do that with us. They can't do it with the campaign directly. They say they've been sorting out resources. But, you know, I think as we get out of this, first of all, that 10 percent, like the margin, it's going to be a psychological threshold, right?

If she can keep it within single digits, I think there's probably going to be more money for people like Mark Harris and the Nikki Haley Super PAC to spend than if it's a 10 point. Even if it's just 10 points, there's something about it that potentially makes a difference here.

And then she's going to have to see how the polls move as she goes back to her home state because there is going to be something for her about it, you know, going into staying on a ballot where she's potentially facing a loss that's embarrassing. If it's even worse, it could be, Chris, I think you and I were having a conversation, I mean, it could be humiliating for her, right, if she goes to South Carolina and really doesn't do well.

So there is going to be a decision point for her, but I have --

BASH: And they have time. It's in a month.

HUNT: Right.

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: You know what the latest poll is in South Carolina, Trump 61, Haley 25. I mean, we're not talking about something close. We're talking about 36-point difference. The governor of the state is for Trump. One senator, a Republican senator, is for Trump. The other Republican senator is for Trump.

And, you know, look, it was really good, really smart, really effective speech. But I remember eight days ago in Iowa where Ron DeSantis said, and I got my ticket punched and I'm on my way out of Iowa. And last time I checked, he's dropped out of the race. This is four plus weeks that she has to stay in the state.

And one of the things the Trump people point out is they say, it's not like she's some new candidate who could go down there and say, hey, I'm Nikki Haley. Listen to me. Everybody in the state knows her. Everybody has an opinion about her. They're not going to be introducing her to the voters of South Carolina. And just, at least right now, they don't want her.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think a couple things. One, talking to Haley advisers as we've been sitting here watching her speech. They are looking at a couple things come morning. How much did that speech tonight generate in terms of fundraising? What are the dollars out there?

So, the money and the margin. That is going to determine her path forward. She's scheduled a rally in North Charleston tomorrow, by design, so she has a place to go. She's going home to fight, not to retreat. But of course, we've heard every candidate in years past --

HUNT: Right.

ZELENY: -- they're always going forward until they're not.

ZELENY: I would say one caution about the polls. Those polls you mentioned were all taken before the voting began. There's no current South Carolina polling. It's likely perhaps even gotten more extreme. I mean, so we don't know, but let's just hold off on the polling.

But I do think that there is a sense, she's not a current office holder like Ron DeSantis. She has held office. This is likely her shot. So whatever she has coming next --

HUNT: Yes. ZELENY: -- that she -- as long as this doesn't damage her, they're going to keep forward here. But I think margin and money is what's going to determine this.

HUNT: The other thing to watch too, I think, Dana, we saw John Cornyn who's waiting in the wings to potentially be the next Senate Minority or Majority Leader, endorsed Donald Trump, which was clearly not necessarily the easiest thing for him, he had held out this long.

I think one of the other forces at play is going to be, does this parade of endorsements that Trump is rolling out continue? Is there really not any place or anyone for Nikki Haley to call and say, come stand next to me? There are going to be fewer and fewer of them.

BASH: And --

WALLACE: One of the other, excuse me --

BASH: Go ahead.

WALLACE: -- I just want to say, one of the other points is, and that Trump people make, running one on one against Donald Trump is not the easiest thing in the world, as we've seen from Little Marco and Lying Ted and all of that. So, you know, yes, she's gotten the one on one race she says she wanted.

Running one on one against Donald Trump and all that he's willing, you know, she took some shots at him today about mental fitness and chaos and all, 80-year-old. I suspect you'll be returning fire maybe tonight and certainly in the weeks ahead.

BASH: You know, it is only January in a season that sometimes, I mean, in 2008 on the democratic side, it took until May. So in that sense, in that context, it is early. However, what I'm hearing from the Trump folks is some impatience about not necessarily the votes going on, because they feel comfortable and confident that at the end of the day, at this point, he will be the nominee.

The impatience is with -- getting the spigot turned on at the Republican National Committee, at the RNC, and starting to get all of the money, all of the movement, everything the data that they have to help because the Biden campaign is very much already in general election mode.

His campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez called while our colleagues were talking and said that we are ready to go. From our vantage point, it's clear, whoever the nominee is that they hope that they -- the Democrats or the voters will reject. Anderson?

BURNETT: All right, Dana, I'll take it. And I want to go to MJ Lee now because obviously Biden is declared on the Democratic side, the winner of a primary in which he was not even competing, MJ.


Nonetheless, the winner delegates not at stake, but symbolically significant, perhaps in some sense, especially given that today was the first day he actually appeared on the campaign trail with the vice president for his reelection bid.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin. Honestly, the Biden campaign isn't even responding to the Democratic side of things in New Hampshire. All they have responded to is the Republican primary in New Hampshire. We've just gotten the statement from the campaign, and it is pretty black and white.

It says, tonight's results confirm Donald Trump has all but locked up the GOP nomination and the election denying anti-freedom MAGA movement has completed its takeover of the Republican Party. In other words, Erin, for the Biden campaign, it doesn't matter whether Nikki Haley is insisting that she is going to be staying in the Republican race.

In their eyes, this is all but done. They are making the hard pivot to the general election. And we have some new reporting that further shows this in the form of big changes that are coming to the campaign. We are learning that two top West Wing aides will be moving over full- time to the campaign. That includes Jen O'Malley Dillon.

She, of course, ran the president's 2020 campaign and is currently the deputy chief of staff. She's going to be moving over as the campaign chair. And Mike Donilon, who you might know as just one of the most senior advisers to the president in his innermost circle, he is going to be moving over to the campaign as chief strategist.

Now, we are told that these moves have been under discussion for weeks. But particularly for DOD Jen O'Malley Dillon, that departure could actually come sooner than was previously expected because the campaign is seeing Trump consolidate the Republican race so quickly.

One adviser tells me that this is the moment that they see as an all- hands-on-deck moment. And in their eyes, Erin, this is already a race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

BURNETT: All right, MJ, thanks so much.

And here with our panel, I mean, Jake, it is pretty amazing when you think about it, and how Biden is even treating it, right? Two races in, two for two, as close as it is, that they're already moving forward as if this is the general Trump-Biden. I mean --

TAPPER: Yes. Look, the statement that the Biden campaign gave was basically like, this race is over and we want -- we're ready for the general, and we're going after Donald Trump. I mean, that's their reaction. That's, you know, there's lots of questions about whether or not they actually think that he would be easier to beat than Nikki Haley.


TAPPER: I think a lot of that discussion is kind of silly, because at the end of the day, if Nikki Haley got the nomination, who knows what Donald Trump's reaction would be, and who knows whether he would run independent, or his voters would stay home, or who knows. BURNETT: Total chaos.


PHILLIP: It does dovetail with the Biden campaign's, you know, best message, in their view, which is that this is Trump's Republican Party. That this is a wholly owned subsidiary of Donald Trump. And that no one can get out from under that. That's what they are saying in their statement tonight.

So they're ready to go with that message. I mean, the --


PHILLIP: -- consistent thing between 2022, 2020, 2022 and today is that Biden is running on Trump, basically being a danger to democracy and doubling down on that. And also painting with a pretty broad brush, saying that all of his enablers in the Republican Party are allowing this to happen.

They are just going to start on that tomorrow. That is, I mean, maybe it's not day one because they've been doing that for a while, but it's day one as far as the general election is concerned for the Biden campaign.

COLLINS: Well, I will say, I mean, yes, they're turning to this and the thing though with Nikki Haley saying I'm not getting out yet means the Trump campaign cannot turn to the general election. They have got to spend however long she is going to be in this race.

I'm not sure people are really confident that it will be until South Carolina, her home state, which is in several weeks from now. It's a very long stretch of period. It is a real question on what donors are going to do. But it would cause the Trump campaign to still have to keep their attention and their resources on this primary race.

For Nikki Haley, though, I think it's a real question of what the next few weeks are going to look like. Ralph Norman is one of her loan holdouts still supporting her. It's going to be a tough few weeks for him if he's the only surrogate out there pushing for her.

Obviously, Chris Sununu won't be as an effective surrogate.


COLLINS: That was New Hampshire. And I was just looking at a comment that something that people have been paying close attention to is what the donors say, because they do have a lot of influence on these candidates. And when they stop calling or they're calling and saying it's time for you to get out of the race, it often sends a pretty strong message.

And Ken Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot, was saying that he was ready to give Haley a nice sum of money, as he put it to the Financial Times. But he said if she didn't get traction in New Hampshire tonight, which Trump is a pretty comfortable lead, that that was not going to happen because he's equated it to throwing money down a rat hole, was the word that he used.


RAJU: I also don't think we should discount the significance of this moment, the turnaround for Donald Trump within the Republican Party. I mean, right after January 6th, I was in the Capitol in January 6th, right after the attack, talking to senators, talking to House members. They were done with that.

Republicans were absolutely done with it. They thought he was a pariah within the party. They did not think that he was going to come back.


And then his impeachment trial, many of them didn't vote to convict him because they thought there's no way he could turn things around. Well, if you look at the last two states, of course he did. Republican voters overwhelmingly voting for him.

And I was -- I spent today, today just talking to a lot of Republican senators about why that is, including Senator John Cornyn, who did endorse him tonight, Trump tonight. He said that the Republican base just views Trump as a disruptor, that was the words of John Cornyn, which is why, even though he was an incumbent, essentially an incumbent candidate, that they believe that he could come up and, you know, fight Washington the way that other candidates cannot.

So all the things that happened in the past, people viewing him as toast, not able to come back, clearly turning it around today, it's a story that we shouldn't.

TAPPER: And we are standing by to hear from Donald Trump himself after his projected win in the New Hampshire Republican primary. Nikki Haley just challenged him to debate. Will he respond? We'll find out ahead.


TAPPER: Let's have a key race alert now. Donald Trump, the projected winner of the Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire.