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CNN Live Event/Special
CNN Covers New Hampshire Republican Primary. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired January 23, 2024 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to CNN's coverage of the New Hampshire republican primary. Donald Trump is now a second critical step closer to his goal of returning to the White House. The former president scoring an overwhelming victory in the republican primary in New Hampshire tonight, defeating his last major Republican opponent, former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley.
Let's take a look at the vote now. We have 60% of the estimated vote is in. Donald Trump still maintaining his healthy lead with 54.4% of the vote, 107,873 votes. He is about 21,500 votes ahead of Nikki Haley, who is in second place with 43.5% of the vote.
Trump addressed supporters after his victory was declared, and he slammed Governor Haley, insisting she has no chance of winning the nomination. He also turned his fire on the man he's expecting to face off against in November, President Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you took the 10 worst presidents in the history of this not great country right now, it's a country in decline, it's a troubled country, it's a failing country, frankly, but if you took the 10 worst presidents and put them together, the 10 worst, absolutely 10 worst, I used to say five, remember I said I'd say five, then I said wait a minute, we can add another five, they would not have done the damage that crooked Joe Biden has done to our wonderful country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Governor Haley is insisting that the fight for the GOP nomination is far from over despite the considerable investment she made in New Hampshire where she came in second. She's vowing to take her fight against Trump back to her home state of South Carolina, although polls show that she is trailing the former president there as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, you've all heard the chatter among the political class. They're falling all over themselves, saying this race is over. (APPLAUSE)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Kristen Holmes is at Trump headquarters in Nashua, New Hampshire. Kristen, what is the latest from the Trump people?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Trump is on his way back home to Florida. As we had mentioned, he was expected to be in court tomorrow in New York, but court was canceled.
Now, I do want to talk about that speech a little bit because it was so different from what we had seen from Donald Trump in Iowa when he called for uniting the Republican Party, uniting the country, saying that all his opponents should get out of the way so that he could do that for America.
This was just angry and just aimed at Nikki Haley. It was clear he had watched her speech, and he spent most of the time attacking her. At one point, he even brought up Vivek Ramaswamy to attack her, then he said to South Carolina senator, Tim Scott, you must really hate her if you endorsed me in kind of an awkward moment. If anyone knows Senator Tim Scott, that is not his brand of politics. He quickly went to the mic and said, no, I just love you.
This is him aiming at Nikki Haley. He is angry that she did not drop out of the race even though he led by double digits. And the thing to point out here is his team was managing his expectations. They had seen those polls two weeks ago that showed a single digit lead.
And there was some concern there. They actually poured millions of dollars into the state to make sure that he won by a hefty margin, and they were very pleased to see the margin that he won by, in fact, but you wouldn't have been able to tell by Donald Trump's speech.
But there was one part of that speech, I think, we kind of glossed over in some of our coverage, and it was when Donald Trump recognized how important his messaging on immigration was. That was a key part of their strategy here in New Hampshire. They believe that is the number one issue for Republicans in the state of New Hampshire and a very important issue across the country. That's why he continues to hammer at home.
If you remember the ads that they ran, they spent millions of dollars, both the Super PAC and campaign on ads, hitting Nikki Haley over and over again on immigration.
[23:05:02] And Trump essentially acknowledged at one point, I guess that messaging on immigration really works, and that's something that we should all expect to see him not just when he runs the remainder of the primary but if he is a nominee in a general election as well. They believe that is a key talking point.
TAPPER: Yeah, a Trump supporting Republican congressman told me that the issues, they think, are going to be crime, economy, and the border, Kristen Holmes.
Let's go over to Nikki Haley headquarters. She's in Concord, New Hampshire. Kylie Atwood is there. Kylie, so what is next for Governor Haley? Is she competing? She's not competing in the Nevada caucus. I know there's a -- I believe there's a caucus in the Virgin Islands. What's next on her plate?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, first and foremost, her campaign has been very clear that they are planning to compete in South Carolina. Now, of course, they're still watching to see what the final margin is here in New Hampshire, but it's South Carolina and beyond, at least, from the official standpoint of the campaign. I was talking to some folks who are already talking about Super Tuesday states
But also, this evening, you had some top campaign officials who were gathered in this building just behind me after Nikki Haley gave that speech this evening. They're talking to younger campaign officials, some volunteers, and really working to boost confidence, to raise spirits.
Betsy Ankeny, who's the campaign manager, she put out that memo earlier today saying we're not going anywhere, that Nikki Haley, you know, isn't backing down. And I'm told that in her casual conversations with lower level staffers and supporters in that room tonight, she echoed that same message.
So, that's what they're saying publicly. That's what they're telling their team internally. Obviously, there will be conversations among the top tier of campaign officials as they look at those margins and what it actually ends up being here in New Hampshire.
One campaign official is telling me that they really do hope that they get within single digits of former President Trump. Right now, they're teetering on the edge. You know, it's like 11 points or maybe nine points, and that'll be quite a differentiating factor for them.
The other conversations that are happening in the year have to do with what the next few events, what the next few weeks look like. We know Nikki Haley has that event in Charleston tomorrow night, but there's also a "Women for Haley" event happening in Texas later this week. There are also fundraisers that are on the calendar. So, they're talking about those events.
As of now, they're not going anywhere. They're doubling down on Haley's leadership, saying that they're, you know, in this for the long haul. And so, what will be interesting to see is if their tone shifts at all overnight once we see what the actual margin is here, if she was able to come, you know, within a close distance of former President Trump.
TAPPER: All right, Kylie Atwood in Concord, New Hampshire, thanks so much.
Let's go to the magic wall. John King, we're still waiting for about 35% of the vote, roughly a third of the vote to come in. Former President Trump has an eleven-point lead as of now. Any chance that that's going to be reduced as Governor Haley is hoping it will happen?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been a steady 12, 11, 10 for quite some time. Is there a chance it can get reduced? Yes, there is. Can you get at the single digits? Yes.
I'm not saying that's going to happen. I'll give you a possibility. Number one, remember a lot of the small ones -- Nikki Haley, if you look at it at the checkerboard, she's filling in, winning some of these smaller rural counties more than -- more than you would have thought at the beginning of the night or certainly more if you look back at a 2016 Trump map of the state.
KING: So, she is competitive in some places and winning in some places that Donald Trump won, which is why she's in a 10 or 11 points race. Now, can she get closer than that? Well, you have four counties right here in the area we went to college. Sorry, my sleeve is getting in the way tonight. Let me take this off. Let me do it with this hand. Do it this way. That's better.
John Kasich won all four of those towns, right? I'm calling them counties, they're towns in New Hampshire. John Kasich won all four of those, conceivable that Nikki Haley wins all four of those. There's not a ton of votes there, but it's a way to get back. So, that's one way to look at it.
Where are the possibilities? I'm going through the possibilities here. Again, Donald Trump is going to fill in. You see a lot of red in there. So, he's going to get his share, too.
Where else is it possible? Well, this is one of the places that was on, when we went through the list earlier, Exeter. We have no votes in from Exeter yet. This is a place the Haley campaign expected to perform well in 260 towns in New Hampshire. This is in the top 20, number 19 in terms of population.
So, it's not a huge pool of votes, but there are some possible votes there, and if you stay in that neighborhood, again, the map shrinks down pretty small, so I'm going to bring it up and stretch it out again, if you stay in that neighborhood, that's where you do see some other possibilities. I'll put the emphasis on possibility. Again -- okay. That's what you call a cranky map. So, if you touch here and pop up --
TAPPER: Here we go. KING: -- this is Derry, which is fourth in terms of population, right?
Again, they're not giant cities or towns in New Hampshire, but it's fourth of 260, 2.5% of the population. We have no votes. And if you look again, Trump is winning there, Trump is winning there. Haley is winning in some areas around there. We don't know how they're going to come in.
But here's a pool of votes. If you're trying to cut into a margin, there's a possibility. And I just tap down here. This is another one, Salem, 2.2% of the population, right down along the Massachusetts border, right in there.
So, yes, are there a few places where we have no votes that are significant by New Hampshire standards, population standards, so pool of votes, that you could get that. If you run -- if you run it up there, if you win most of them, can you get it under 10 points? Yes. Would I run to Vegas on that? This looks like a 10-point race. Could it be an 8-point race? It's possible.
TAPPER: Yeah. That loss in Nashua, though -- let me just see the latest in Nashua because that was one that Nikki Haley was really hoping for, really needed. Ninety-one percent in, and she's down by about five points, almost five points.
KING: So, yeah, so Trump is -- Trump is leading by a decent margin in the largest and the second largest population center. So --
TAPPER: Yeah, that's rough, not to mention the rural ones.
KING: Go where the math is.
TAPPER: David Chalian, tell me more about what the exit polls say about who voted tonight, the Republicans and the undeclared or independent voters.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, Jake, we are looking at that divide on specific issues between Republicans and self- identifying independents. So, if you look here, we asked, is Trump fit for the presidency if convicted of a crime? Among Republican voters in the primary tonight, 73% say yes, Donald Trump is still fit for the presidency even if he's a convicted criminal. Twenty-five percent say no.
Independence, though, it's a different story. Fifty-nine percent, 6 in 10, say no, Donald Trump is not fit for the presidency if he's convicted of a crime. Only 38% say yes.
Same kind of results when we asked, is Joe Biden the legitimate winner of the 2020 election which, of course, he was the legitimate winner. Among Republicans, two-thirds of them, 67% in the primary tonight, said no, 32% say yes. For independents, it is the reverse. Among independents, 60% rightfully acknowledged that Joe Biden won in 2020, 37% of independents say no. And what is important to note here, Anderson, is that these independents are behaving very differently than Republicans, and that is something that the Biden campaign is likely to take note of, even independents in the context of a Republican primary, Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yeah, David Chalian, thank you very much. Back with the team here. I mean, again, David, to go over these numbers, he just said 73% of Republicans said Trump is fit for the presidency if convicted of a crime.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and look, this is a recurring story. He spun a story about the election, which makes the insurrection seem like an act of patriotism in the minds of a lot of his supporters or at least the people whose impulse was to try and change that, and these indictments as politically motivated.
But if I'm looking at this from the standpoint of the Biden campaign, like this is, and I said this last week in Iowa, this universe of people who don't say that, among independents and Republicans, that's the universe you want to explore. That's a place where you might be able to pick up some votes.
I agree with what Abby said earlier, which is that the preponderance of Republican voters is going to fall in line because we're in a tribal moment in our politics, but this is going to be a marginal race and the margin may be those voters who answer the question in the negative.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's a lot to like in this stuff for Trump. That number, just as it did with Iowa, jumps off the page at me.
JENNINGS: You can't lose that many Republicans and still win the presidency.
AXELROD: Or even a fraction of that.
JENNINGS: And so -- and so I know a lot of people focus on the, oh, how could 73% say yes? That bottom number is the real number. And, you know, I'm not sure there's a T.V. ad or a tactic or an event or whatever you could come up with that might change a Republican's mind about Donald Trump. But what happens in that courtroom, if they ever get to court and what that jury decides, may be worth more to him or to Biden than any --
AXELROD: I think there's --
COOPER: Let's move to Kate. I mean, how does the Biden campaign focus on that?
KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, so, I think there's one challenge here, right, which is for the Biden campaign, which is that they don't control the timeline of what's going on in the courts, right? So conceivable, given what we know --
AXELROD: Not according to Trump.
BEDINGFIELD: Right, right, exactly. So conceivable, given what we know about the timeline as it stands and the likely delays that there won't even be a legal reckoning before November. So, for the Biden campaign, they've got to think about how can they use this, how can they pursue that universe of voters even if they don't see a conviction.
BEDINGFIELD: And so, I think there are different ways to do that. One of the ways to do that, because we know that if Biden heavily leans in to in a really sort of, you know, blunt way, some of the legal pieces, you know, we know that that sort of plays into Trump's hands, is this idea that, you know, this is all politically-motivated.
He sorts of risks the Biden team, kind of risks -- overplaying their hand a little bit with Republicans who may, you know, who may feel a little fuzzy about what's going on. But I do think there's an opportunity for the Biden team to draw a line between Trump's legal problems and the way that his behavior has an impact on them.
So, you know, you look at the E. Jean Carroll case, for example. There's a way for the Biden team to talk about, you know, this is representative of how Donald Trump thinks, that women shouldn't have autonomy over their own bodies, that they shouldn't be able to make their own decisions, that they shouldn't have the kind of freedom, that he doesn't respect women's bodies.
I mean, there are ways to argue about the kind of substance of what's going on in the courts in a way that kind of draws the line more tightly to the issues that people are sitting around at their kitchen table and worried about and thinking about. And they can't -- but I think there's a fine line. I don't think they can do that.
COOPER: Is that something you see to Vice President Kamala Harris?
BEDINGFIELD: Sure. Well, I think she'd be part -- I think, you know, certainly, particularly if you're going to reproductive rights, if you're going to, you know, to this argument. She's an incredibly effective messenger on that. I think she's part of this conversation. I don't know that she's leading it any more so than Joe Biden is, but I think she's part of the conversation. No question about it.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You said they don't control the timeline also with the cases themselves. We're seeing that right now in Georgia where D.A. Willis is just completely wrapped up in a scandal around a case that a few weeks ago, people looked at as being quite strong. AXELROD: Yeah.
CORNISH: That undermines some of the argument, right, for people who say, look, this is fundamentally a corrupt system in one way or another, and that's the kind of thing that the Biden White House can't control.
AXELROD: And, of course, Trump is coming through (ph).
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I do think -- I do think one thing we haven't considered as well, the two campaigns aside, is that there is an animated and not tiny, based on what we saw today, group of former Republican voters who will never be with Donald Trump.
There is very likely going to be a move towards some sort of a third party. I just -- that has been the machination that had been in place for some time. There are people who feel politically homeless between the two.
And coming to the fact that we're very likely going to see Donald Trump on trial by late summer after the GOP nomination is clinched, after the convention, you're going to likely see his former vice president testify against him. You're going to see senior officials continue to say he is dangerous to have back in the White House and who don't have confidence that the Biden campaign can drive that message enough. There's going to be another force that has to work here.
COOPER: What about RFK, Jr.?
AXELROD: That's a serious question.
GRIFFIN: Well, that could be -- I mean, you have to take seriously because there's a spoiler effect there.
CORNISH: And really no label says that they're not going to do anything until after March?
AXELROD: Well, I think it went -- they say April. They were assuming that that's when the nomination will be determined. We'll see what they do. Listen, I think this third party issue is a big one for the campaign because Biden had a one-on-one basically with Trump. In 2020, you start introducing third parties.
Trump has a very devoted base in a high floor and a low ceiling. He basically lands between 46 and 47. If you have a bunch of third party candidates that lower the threshold, it makes it easier for Donald Trump. So, this is one of the variables in this race that could be -- that could be determinedly.
CORNISH: And when people are disgruntled, they are interested. We saw that during the year that Hillary Clinton ran. I think it was something like 6, 8% --
AXELROD: It really --
CORNISH: -- of the electorate that actually went for third party candidates. In that case, it was Green Party and the material (ph).
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: COOPER: And I think this feels -- it's starting to feel to me more like 2016 where everybody is just kind of grumpy and people aren't that happy with either candidate. I do think that's when people begin to wander away. I think if you had Trump on trial, I think you drive up the intensity for Trump quite a bit.
And so, you've got to imagine in this 30% that's saying that they don't like this stuff, is there an offsetting effect where some people get even more passionate about the fact that their guy is in the dock and could go to prison and people were more passionate and other people began to back away? Can they back away and not back away into third party cul-de-sacs but back away to Biden? That's going to be the challenge to this campaign.
GRIFFIN: And the lack of cameras in federal courtrooms and having to learn about this in the media will be very helpful to Trump supporters.
COOPER: Still ahead, we're going to check back in with our group of South Carolina Republican voters watching tonight's coverage. What they think about the state of the GOP primary race as more results and exit poll data comes in. Our live coverage continues right after the break.
TAPPER: And it's time for another key race alert. Let's check in on the vote board here with 69% of the estimated vote in. Donald Trump is still way in the lead, about 11 points ahead of Nikki Haley. He has 54.3% of the vote with 123,334 votes. He has roughly 24,000 votes ahead of Nikki Haley who has 43.6% of the vote.
Let's go back to Gary Tuchman in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina with Republican voters who have been following the results in tonight's New Hampshire primary. Gary?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the crucial South Carolina primary is next month. In honor of that fact, we have watched CNN's New Hampshire primary coverage with 15 loyal Republicans. Thirteen are now left. Couple had to leave and go home, but the 13 are with us right now. We've been dining and whining with them. Well, actually, the hardest drink we've had is seltzer, because we want clear, concise answers.
The first question I want to ask you, Donald Trump made it clear in his speech, he thinks this is over. Nikki Haley says she is continuing. Who thinks it's over? You do, tell me why.
UNKNOWN: Because the results that we got tonight, that was the answer for her. It's over.
TUCHMAN: What do you think? UNKNOWN: I agree. I do think that it's over. We'll see when South Carolina, but I think that it's over.
TUCHMAN: Now, if you haven't guessed, these are two Trump voters right here.
There are nine Trump voters of these 13, two people who say they're going to vote for Haley, two undecided or neutral.
This gentleman right here is a Haley voter.
TUCHMAN: What do you think? She says it's not over. She's continuing. She said she wants to come back to the sweet state of South Carolina. Do you all agree it's a sweet state?
UNKNOWN: Yes, it's a sweet state.
TUCHMAN: All right. So, what do you think?
UNKNOWN: What do I think? I don't think it's over. And just to remind my Republican friends, it's part of our republican creed that we will take calculated risk, we will think for ourselves, and we will face the challenges of life.
And so, Haley is taking the calculated risk. I think she should be applauded for sticking in there. It's just two states. We have 48 more to go. And if she feels she doesn't have a chance, let's give her that chance. But let's applaud her. This is democracy. It's not over yet.
TUCHMAN: And you're undecided. Do you think it's over?
UNKNOWN: I don't think it's over. I think it's an opportunity for her to state her case, talk about her policies, and see what she can do to rally the voters here in South Carolina.
TUCHMAN: Do you know what, Yogi Berra, the Yankee great, said once?
UNKNOWN: It ain't over till it's over.
TUCHMAN: It ain't over till it's over. Is that your feeling?
UNKNOWN: Yeah. I think --
TUCHMAN: You think it's not over?
UNKNOWN: I think it's not over yet. I think after the South Carolina primary, we'll see. But I think right now, I think Nikki is looking to come to South Carolina because she does have friends in South Carolina. She was a governor here, and a lot of people know her by name and a lot of people vote just by that.
TUCHMAN: Okay. One thing I want to mention, Nikki Haley has been talking about age a lot. Tonight, she talked about the first party to have their 80-year-old leave the other party, 80-year-old leave the race, the other party is going to win. She has also talked about mandatory requirements for 75-year-old or to have testing. How do you feel about that? How do you feel about that?
UNKNOWN: I think she was half right. I think that in a time of war, we have war in the Middle East and Europe, it's kind of scary when you see the commander-in-chief, that he cringed, when you don't know if he's going to finish the sentence or not. It gives you a sense of insecurity.
TUCHMAN: You're talking about Joe Biden.
TUCHMAN: So, you don't think that's the case with Donald Trump?
UNKNOWN: Whether you love Trump or don't like him, I don't think anybody could accuse him of having a lack of bigger stamina.
TUCHMAN: What do you think?
UNKNOWN: I agree. I think you know where Trump stands. The biggest crisis we have is the border.
TUCHMAN: What do you think about the requirement for a 75-year-old -- 75-year-old? How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?
UNKNOWN: I'm 80.
TUCHMAN: You're 80?
UNKNOWN: I am.
TUCHMAN: You look good.
UNKNOWN: Thank you.
My wife feeds me well.
TUCHMAN: Okay, good. So, what do you think?
UNKNOWN: But I take an affront to all this about the age. It's not the age with Joe Biden. It's competency. Joe doesn't have it. So, it's annoying to hear 80s are cut off. We have friends who are older, some are 100, and they're doing just fine.
TUCHMAN: Final question I want to ask you. This is a survey we've done in Iowa, a survey we did in New Hampshire. Is Donald Trump fit for the presidency if he's convicted of one of these felonies against him? Raise your hand if you think he is fit for the presidency, even if he's a convicted felon. Hi, raise it high so we can see you. Raise your hand if you don't think he's fit for the presidency.
UNKNOWN: All right, I'll qualify that. I think it would need to go through all the appeals right on up the ladder. And if he's still guilty, then I don't think I would find him fit.
TUCHMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for being with us. And like I said, sorry, we didn't have any alcohol. I'm just joking.
I'm trying to make it clear. We're not drinking and partying here. We're eating a lot, though, and we're all full. Thirty-two days away, the South Carolina primary. Back to you, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Gary. I love when you quote Yogi Berra. I can -- I can just have so much more of that. I appreciate it.
That last moment, Chris Wallace, it explains a lot. It explains a lot about where the republican electorate is, the ones that voted yes for Donald Trump here, yes for Donald Trump in Iowa. Explains why Nikki Haley and others, particularly Nikki Haley just today, when I asked a question like that, would he, Donald Trump, still be fit for president even given all of these problems that he has? And she said yes, that's why.
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: It is absolutely fascinating, the idea that a president -- first of all, a president has never been indicted on a criminal offense. We're talking now about a president in this thought (ph) experiment being going to a trial and being convicted. They didn't say that, you know, he should be president or they'd vote for him, but they said he would be fit to be president.
I'll tell you, I was talking to some people in the Trump camp today, and they feel that if he becomes the nominee and, you know, at some point, even before he racks up the requisite number of votes, he may become the nominee, they think that that'll give -- they put him in an even stronger position legally because they say, as the nominee of a major political party, that the argument that this is Joe Biden's Justice Department weaponized, trying to take out his opponent in an election, will have him in more weight as an argument among Republican and independent voters.
So, they actually think -- you know, we all talked about the possibility, well, if he becomes president, he could pardon himself. They think that if he becomes a Republican nominee, it provides him some armor, some defense, against the indictments and the trials.
BASH: Never mind the fact that there are two layers, of course, between Joe Biden and this investigation, as you all know. But that --
WALLACE: Well, no, it just makes the politicization, the weaponization argument stronger in their mind. KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, we've seen that it has worked for them with Republican voters in this republican primary. I mean, I do think it stands to reason that they're right with Republican voters. I do think the key test is going to be, are independents still willing to go along with that?
I mean, I think I see that more as for them as a choice between Biden and Donald Trump, are you willing to overlook all of Donald Trump's flaws because you're that unhappy with Joe Biden?
But I think, you know, this goes back to, and we were talking about this a little bit earlier, we are seeing the writing on the wall for how the Trump campaign is going to run this in terms of trying to discredit the justice system to make that argument, politically speaking, that this is what this is about.
We have seen -- you know, the former president has done more to tear down our institutions in so many ways over the course of his presidency, our norms. I mean, that's what we're in for the next year.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: And it has worked. I mean, that is the key turning point of this republican primary. We were saying just eight days ago at the beginning of Iowa, this would be the first test of voters weighing in three years after Donald Trump was sent from Washington. Well, we've seen voters respond in Iowa and now here in New Hampshire. But that was the turning point less than a year ago when the first Alvin Bragg indictment happened.
Now, we ask voters the question of if he's convicted of something. We kind of lump everything together. When you do talk to voters, some of them sort of draw a distinction. Most do not. Everything sort of has been lumped together. But look, he may not even stand trial before November. So, all of that sort of is just out there.
But you're so right about independence. That's what the Biden campaign is hoping for. Even though the weaponization thing is out there, it's complicated by Hunter Biden, of course, and everything else. But that is --
HUNT: That's another aspect of the strategy.
ZELENY: For sure. But that is one of the things the Biden Committee is holding out hope for, for independent voters, that they will reject Donald Trump because of this. But we'll see.
BASH: I just want to turn back to Nikki Haley and something that we were all noticing. We were getting emails from AFP Americans for Prosperity.
BASH: And seeming to say that they're in it, but it was tepid.
HUNT: Well, they said that they acknowledge she's a steeper climb in South Carolina. And it's kind of the first crack in -- I mean, they have been very deliberate tonight, the Haley campaign, her outside super PAC supporters, to be very aggressive in pushing this message. She is in.
And, you know, her speech stood up to that as well. I mean, she clearly came to play on the stage here to the point she clearly got under the former president's skin.
But I do think there is this kind of background conversation going on, and we're going to have a lot to learn over the next 24, 48 hours about whether or not the money is going to continue to be there. I mean, we've talked a lot about how it very -- you know, the ego of a politician doesn't usually lead them to get out all by itself, but if they run out of money, that's kind of that.
BASH: And we're still waiting for the final margin, which I think all of us are hearing from our sources. That really is going to be determinative of what happens over the next several days.
Donald Trump securing a big election win tonight, as we've been talking about, even as he fights to avoid losses in the courtroom. We're going to look at a mountain of legal problems facing the former president as he goes back and forth between the campaign trail and the courthouse.
TAPPER: We have a key race for you right now. Let's check back in with the voters in New Hampshire's republican primary. Donald Trump is still in the lead with 72% of the estimated vote in. He has 54.4% of the vote, 129,128 votes, more than 25,000 votes ahead of Nikki Haley, who has 43.6% votes. It has been about 10 or 11 percentage points up for quite some time now.
Let's see how Republican primary voters in New Hampshire view Donald Trump's many legal troubles that they were discussing on Anderson's panel just a second ago. David Chalian is back with more exit poll data. David?
CHALIAN: Yeah, Jake, we were looking before at the divide between Republicans and independents on this issue, but this is how the overall electorate tonight in the republican primary in New Hampshire responded to this question: Is Trump fit for the presidency if convicted of a crime?
Fifty-four percent overall. A slim majority of Republican primary voters tonight said yes, even if he is convicted criminal, he is still fit for the presidency. Forty-two percent say no.
We also ask, what is your feeling if Trump wins the nomination? And again, this is the overall electorate, including all those Haley voters. Sixty-one percent of the New Hampshire Republican primary electorate say they would be satisfied with Trump as the nominee. Thirty-eight percent say dissatisfied.
And what about those that say Trump is not fit for the presidency if convicted of a crime? Well, they went for Haley, as you might imagine, 84% to 13%, but they were only 42% of the electorate. And among the candidate preferences with those who would be dissatisfied if Trump wins the nomination, obviously, that group, that 38%, is almost entirely Haley voters, 96% to 1% of Trump voters.
TAPPER: So, 1% of Trump voters voted for him but said they would be dissatisfied if he were the nominee?
CHALIAN: Correct. You got that.
So, you try to figure out who those voters are.
TAPPER: I'll get right on it. I'm going up to New Hampshire tomorrow to figure that out. CNN's Paula Reid is covering Trump's many courtroom appearances across the country.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah.
TAPPER: Paula, lay it out for us.
REID: All right, Jake, I think the easiest way to go through the unprecedented number of legal issues that Trump is facing is to do it chronologically. Let's start with a case that just wrapped up.
This was a civil fraud case here in New York where a judge found that Trump engaged in fraud, lying to banks and insurance companies to try to get better terms on his taxes and his loans, and there was a weeks- long trial to talk about possible penalties. Trump testified in that trial and a few other charges. We're waiting for the judge's decision there.
But, Jake, he is facing potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties. In addition, to his ability to do business in the state of New York, also on the line.
And next up, over the past few days, Trump has been in court here in New York, at least last week, facing a defamation lawsuit from E. Jean Carroll.
Now, last spring, a jury found that he sexually abused E. Jean Carroll and defamed her, awarded her $5 million. Now, this case is back in court for a different statement that he made denying those allegations. Now, court has not been in session so far this week because of an ill juror, but it's unclear if court is going to be back in session. Trump is expected to testify in that case.
Now next up, in a little over a month, in March, he could face his first criminal trial. Now, this is the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's hush money case. It's a little surprising this is the first one to go, Jake, because this is not considered to be the strongest case, and it was expected that the first criminal case he would face would be the federal election subversion case brought by the special counsel, Jack Smith.
Well, right now, there are pending appeals. So, Trump is arguing that he has immunity in that case, and the case is on hold until that is resolved. Now, the Mar-a-Lago documents case, the accusations of mishandling classified information, that is currently scheduled for May. Unclear if that's actually going to go on time.
And then there's also the Georgia state level election subversion case, long considered by Trump's legal team to be one of the most significant threats because that case, if there's a conviction, would be outside any possible presidential pardon power.
But right now, the prosecutors are facing some accusations that could result in disqualification. Jake, that would not make that case go away, but it could change hands and delay it further.
TAPPER: So that's a lot of cases, a lot of potential legal trouble. What's the most pressing one right now at this very moment?
REID: So, the biggest question is this immunity question in the January 6th case. The reason that is the most pressing is because the longer it takes us to get an answer from the appeals court on that and possibly for the Supreme Court to weigh in, that's really going to determine if that case goes before the November 2024 election.
If that case doesn't go, it's unclear if either one of the special counsel's federal cases, arguably considered to be the strongest cases against former President Trump, would go before the election.
And also, the biggest event on his calendar right now coming up is the February 8th arguments before the Supreme Court on whether he can appear on the ballots. We've seen a split across the states. Certain constitutional language about a so-called insurrectionist ban, that's going to be a big day for Trump and a big decision.
TAPPER: All right, interesting. Paula Reid, thanks so much. Erin?
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jake. So, Laura, when you look at this whole calendar and the fact that some of the start dates are uncertain and some of the situation in Georgia where there's a prosecutor, there's all kinds of uncertainty here, but, you know, you heard that voter in Gary's focus group say, if Trump is convicted, I can't do that.
Now, we can go through the polls. Jake is talking about the 1%. It's unclear whether it will matter. But what is the likelihood of any sort of a conviction in any of these cases when you look at the timing? I guess let's go by two dates. One, by convention, and two, by election day.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Well, you know, a lot of it is contingent on what the Supreme Court or the D.C. Circuit Court actually rules on the issue of immunity. For that issue, though, on whether or not you can actually even prosecute a former president for conduct that occurred while in office, normally, immunity questions are resolved after a trial.
This is different because it's now being and fronted beforehand for obvious reasons. It's such a consequential decision not just because it's Donald Trump or an election year, but because it has never been decided before.
This is a really important note, though. When you're thinking about all the timing of this, the prosecution wants to have speedy trials. You've heard that in Georgia. We all kind of mocked the idea that Fani Willis wanted to have a trial. I think it was in six months. Everyone thought, really? With that many defendants, Jack Smith wants a speedy trial. You know who doesn't? The person who actually owns the speedy trial rights, Donald Trump.
Why? Because it's political currency for him not to have this trial happen before trial -- before the actual election, because he knows full well from the plundering we talked about how this has actually benefited him to say that it's a political witch hunt, to suggest this is all about the quote-unquote Biden DOJ that is actually spearheading this.
Now, it's true, Biden has appointed the attorney general and that attorney general has appointed Jack Smith. That's where it really stops there. But the assumption that he's trying to make among the American elector to suggest, hey, they want me out because I'm that much of a threat to the candidacy and their campaign, this is where the tension lies and why he wants it to drag out.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course, the other candidates in the race are aiding him in this --
COATES: They are.
PHILLIP: -- or the ones who were in the race were aiding him in that argument.
PHILLIP: And the one who was left was just asked by Dana Bash this morning, is Trump fit for office? And she said yes. She answered that question yes, in addition to raising her hand on the debate stage that she would vote for Trump.
So, she's making the case for voters to put all of this aside. That doesn't even take into consideration Trump's actual alleged conduct here on the classified documents, on his conduct leading up to and on January 6th. It doesn't really -- the E. Jean Carroll case that he's found liable for sexual abuse and defamation, it doesn't address any of the actual conduct, just the idea that he has cases against him.
Voters are going to have to confront the conduct in short order once this becomes not just a conversation among Republicans but among the rest of the country.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, Nikki Haley said that she wasn't even paying attention to the E. Jean Carroll case. The fact that the leading Republican presidential candidate had been found liable for sexual abuse and had not been paying attention to it, it really shows you how Republicans have steered clear of this. The question will be, to some extent, to what extent will the Biden team begin to talk about any of this? The White House has really tried to stay away from this because they don't want to look like any -- appear that they're trying to paint the proceedings or that they were involved in this, want to make clear the special counsel is separate from the DOJ.
But there are so many elements that would traditionally come out in a campaign. What's been remarkable is that both sides, both Trump's rival on the Republican side and his Democratic rival, aren't even talking about some very serious criminal charges facing the candidate here, which probably is reflective in why voters are split on this issue.
COATES: I pressed the vice president on this very point yesterday in our conversation, about what does she make of the fact that the Trump team is trying to suggest that it is, in fact, election interference on behalf of President Biden.
BURNETT: Let's play it. You had it, right? Let's play it. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Do you believe that when Donald Trump is making these statements to suggest this is all attributed to the Biden administration or to the Department of Justice, what is your response to people who believe that, in fact, it's all orchestrated as one?
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What he is saying is not factual. Period. Period. And that would not be new for him, would it?
COATES: Do you think people believe that it's appropriate for a president to have immunity?
HARRIS: I think we're going to have to leave that to the lawyers who are handling the cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES (on camera): She didn't want to get into it, and further in the interview, talking about why. She wanted to have that clear demarcation, said that the line had not been crossed between the DOJ and the White House because she's aware of that idea that somehow, they are intertwined.
But in reality, can you imagine by the very next time we see January 6th on the calendar, it will be the vice president who will now be the new Mike Pence with a choice of whether to certify an election and people who don't believe it's a free and fair election possibly in the past?
And you think about the context. There is a trial that will happen, they hope to have happened before that date, but if it doesn't, then that would be unresolved by the time January 6th turns around if, in fact, Trump is the nominee ultimately, and as to whether or not somebody who engages in behavior he is alleged to have engaged in should or should not be on the ballot.
These are the looming questions that are really fundamental to what goes next.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and I think part of this is that there's a lot that's unknown. And what we do know and what we saw in those exit polls tonight that I think was the most striking is the number of voters who don't believe that Biden was legitimately elected.
Now, these are Republicans or Republican leaning independents who are going and voting in this republican primary tonight in New Hampshire, but a lot of them do not believe, as the ones who are voting for Trump, that he legitimately won the election.
That's why a trial on the election subversion charges could potentially actually be damaging for Trump. Trump knows this. His legal team knows this. Right now, when you talk to them, they are laser-focused on making sure that it gets delayed past the election and working on that.
I think there's so many unknowns when it comes to, is the Supreme Court going to take up Trump's claims of full presidential immunity? Once they do that, if they do reject it, as some legal experts have predicted that they have, if that trial gets back on track here in Washington, right now there are no filings happening, then where does it go from there?
Because if the Supreme Court takes until the end of its term, at the end of June, to make that decision, and then they have until the election, that's about four months for them to potentially have this trial.
That's less time than what Jack Smith has said it would take. So, these aren't questions that we don't know we'll get the answer to, but it's a big if we do get that before the election.
BURNETT: It's unbelievable, just the lack of clarity. You can look at all that, you can look at a calendar, and yet the reality of it is no one actually knows when they come to trial, if they come to trial, and when it would actually be adjudicated, and then that starts the whole appeals process. Anderson?
COOPER: Erin, thanks very much. Well, New Hampshire was voting. President Biden was rallying support for one of his top campaign talking points, abortion rights. MJ Lee joins us with more on that. How did that go?
MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, as the Biden campaign is making clear that they are making the full pivot to the general election, I did think it was worth just taking a beat to revisit that campaign speech from the president in Northern Virginia. As you said, you know, this was a speech that was meant to be focused on reproductive rights, an issue that the campaign is very much trying to put front and center going into November.
But what was remarkable was that the speech was interrupted more than a dozen times. We saw how voters, people that were in the auditorium -- actually, I think -- I'm so sorry about that Anderson. I think you can hear me better now.
LEE: We saw how -- yeah, you see those images there. A number of people that were getting up throughout the auditorium, yelling out things like "genocide Joe," really showing their anger at the situation, the Israel-Hamas war and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. And this was something that the president initially sorts of took note of.
And then towards the end, again, more than a dozen times that we saw these interruptions, he sorts of tried to speak over them as the supporters of the president started chanting for more years and also tried to help him move forward.
But I did think it was just like an important reminder. You know, the war and the handling of the war, the president's continued support for Israel, this has been a very tough political issue for him.
And advisors have said, they have acknowledged that it has been a distraction, it has been something that has taken away from his ability to travel and focus at times on the domestic issues that he wants to focus on.
This was another reminder of that that we saw today and clearly is going to continue being an issue, that the campaign has to continue balancing and has to continue figuring out, sort of how to deal with those things as there are important domestic issues that he does want to focus on. Anderson?
COOPER: Yeah. MJ, I appreciate it, thanks very much, from the White House. Back with the team here. I mean, Kate, how do you think -- I mean, this is -- I don't know if it's a wild card, but this is sort of the unknown about, obviously, the war continuing between Hamas and Israel. How does the president deal with this?
BEDINGFIELD: Yeah, well, it's clear that he's going to have to be, I think, a little more forceful in talking about what he has been doing to try to get hostages released, his -- the work that he's doing to meet with the Arab-American community here in the United States, including Palestinian Americans.
I think the White House and the campaign have not been as vocal about that work that is ongoing. And so, I think they've got to put that front and center a little bit more so that people can see and get a sense of how his policy and the way he's approaching this is infused with concern for human rights and what's happening in Gaza. The other thing I would say, though is, you know, if you look at polling on the issue and you dig in, there's absolutely a vocal, particularly cohort of young people who are upset. But across the country, broadly speaking, Americans are actually quite supportive of the way that Joe Biden is handling this. They're supportive of his support for Israel.
Again, I'm not discounting what we're seeing. I don't think that the Biden White House is discounting it either. I do think they need to do more to address it proactively. But I also think presidents have hard choices in front of them. I think Joe Biden is making decision that he thinks is best to contain the conflict in the Middle East and not let it spiral out of control.
COOPER: The issue he was trying to talk about today was abortion. That's obviously something that they feel. I mean, we've heard the vice president talk about that a lot. That's certainly something they feel they're going to focus on a lot.
GRIFFIN: I spoke with -- I interviewed the vice president last week. In every question, she brought the answer back to reproductive rights, the border, economy. I don't necessarily agree with that strategy, but it is very clear that it is basically a two-pronged election message, the fight for American democracy and reproductive rights.
Here's my caution to the Biden team on that, is of the states, the battleground states that are going to determine the election, most have pretty universal access to abortion with the exception of Georgia. That has a six-week ban. In many of these places, that is not going to be the most motivating issue. It's going to come back to the border and to the economy, two issues that Donald Trump just traditionally performs extremely well on.
So, I think they're going to have to, yes, those are motivating with their base, but they're going to have to broaden out the issue if they want to get these core people who are saying, we can't be with Donald Trump but we need an alternative.
AXELROD: Yeah. I mean, I agree with that, that they do have to broaden out the message. And it's got to be bigger. It has to subsume these items. And the fundamental question is, what kind of country do you want? And what kind of future are we going to build for our kids? And, you know, I don't want to belabor what I said before, but this whole line of questioning underscores something that is -- that is really material for this election.
It is hard to run for reelection as a president of the United States in this day and age. Everybody talks about the advantages of incumbency. Incumbency can be a real burden because when you're running, you can sort of choose what issues you want to talk about. When you're a president, you can't. When you're a president, a war erupts somewhere, you're expected to react. A disaster happens, you're expected to react. And so, the thing you fear as a strategist for a president running for reelection isn't just the stuff you know but the stuff you can't predict.
JONES: Yeah, look, I think that the abortion thing is the -- it's the wind beneath the wings of this party. When you look at the midterm elections and you look at what's going on, the polling was always terrible. People didn't like Biden. People didn't like him. But women are going to fight and people who love women are going to fight on this issue.
COOPER: Still ahead, the attacks flying between Donald Trump and Nikki Haley tonight, setting the tone for what's to come as the GOP presidential race moves forward. We'll be right back.