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CNN Live Event/Special

Donald Trump Wins New Hampshire, Closer to the Nomination; The Issues That Will Define the General Election; GOP Focus Group in South Carolain Reacts to New Hampshire Results. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired January 24, 2024 - 02:00   ET



LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the long and winding road to the Republican nomination, well, it's still long and it's still winding for Nikki Haley. Donald Trump, he might as well be playing a little bit of chutes and ladders.

It is 2:00 a.m. here in Washington, D.C., and I'm Laura Coates, and you're watching CNN's special live coverage of the New Hampshire primary.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Erica Hill in New York.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden both want to say that the general election starts now. Click over "The Drudge Report," they say he's back. Nikki Haley, though, not exactly on board with that script, Laura.

COATES: Tonight both speeches from Haley and of course from Trump, they sound a whole lot, Erica, like victory speeches, (INAUDIBLE) as well as maybe Draymond Green takes a little shot from Rudy Gobert. Oops, too soon? Well, he didn't.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can go up and I can say to everybody oh, thank you for the victory, it's wonderful, or I can go up and say, who the hell was the impostor that went up in the states before and like claimed a victory? She did very poorly actually. She had to win. The governor said she's going to win, she's going to win, she's going to win. Then she failed badly.


HILL: She didn't actually claim victory. She actually congratulated Trump. Both candidates also play a little bit of this game. Who can scare the other one?


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A Trump nomination is a Biden win and a Kamala Harris presidency.

TRUMP: And just a little note to Nikki. She's not going to win. But if she did, she would be under investigation by those people in 15 minutes. And I could tell you five reasons why already. Not big reasons. A little stuff that she doesn't want to talk about. But she will be under investigation within minutes.


HILL: All right. Let's kick things off here with CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten.

So, Harry, when you take a look at tonight's results, what do they signal to you, the king of data?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, thank you very much for that title. I'll take it at 2:00 a.m. in the morning. Look, we know Nikki Haley did very well with moderates. We know she did very well with those who self-identified as independents or Democrats. Donald Trump won the Republican primary because he won among Republican voters.

But if we take a look towards the general election, where moderates and independents play a very big role, take a look at the state of New Hampshire. This is a recent poll from Marist College. What do we see? Biden versus Haley. Look at this. Nikki Haley up by three points. Look at Biden versus Trump, though. Biden's up by seven points. So if we look at New Hampshire, what we see is in fact in the general electorate, although Trump won the night, Haley fairs much better in a general election match-up against Joe Biden than Donald Trump does.

But here is the interesting thing. If in fact you ask Republican primary voters, OK, in the state of New Hampshire, among those who said that beating Biden was the most important candidate quality, what did we see? We saw Donald Trump actually won those voters 59 percent to Nikki Haley's 39 percent. And that of course is very different than what we saw in slide one, where in fact Donald Trump was running much worse against Joe Biden than Nikki Haley does.

Whatever Donald Trump is telling Republican voters about Nikki Haley's electability and his own, they seem to be buying it. But the fact is the polls in New Hampshire look very different on the electability question when you actually ask all voters, not just Republicans.

HILL: So that's New Hampshire. Broaden this out a little bit for us.

ENTEN: Yes. So there was another poll, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is perhaps the most important state in the general election, right? It was a very tight race last time around. Joe Biden won it by a little bit more than a percentage point. You go back to 2016, what you saw was Donald Trump won it by a little less than a percentage point. Compare that to New Hampshire that Donald Trump lost twice, although by a much smaller margin, 2016.


What do we see here? We see that Joe Biden again ahead of Donald Trump, who gets just 46 percent of the vote. Joe Biden at 49 percent of the vote. This is a state that Donald Trump most likely needs to win or be much closer than this three-point margin if in fact he wants to beat Joe Biden this time around versus 2020. But if we look nationally, we see something a little bit differently. All right?

So we were looking at states. Let's look nationally, although we know that elections are decided by the electoral college, but this gives us a broad look. We see here that Joe Biden actually loses to Donald Trump, Trump wins by two percentage points. But if we look here, the Nikki Haley match-up, what do we see? Haley again runs stronger -- I don't know why that pen isn't working. Some things don't work at 2:00 a.m. in the morning.

We see -- try it again. Oh, there we go. It seems to be working now. What we see here is that Nikki Haley is ahead by eight percentage points. You compare that to Donald Trump, who's up by two percentage points. So Donald Trump runs better nationally than he does in either Pennsylvania or New Hampshire. But Nikki Haley, again, has a stronger case to make on electability even if Republican voters don't see it that way.

HILL: Well, we'll see how that plays out, especially in the next four weeks as we lead into South Carolina. Harry, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

HILL: Laura?

COATES: Thank you so much. Look, the GOP race is over, at least according to the Biden campaign that is. Totally over. They say it's clear that Trump will be the nominee and, quote, "the stakes could not be higher." They are even selling a brand-new T-shirt that says, "Together We Will Defeat Trump," dot, dot, dot "again."

Back now with me Mike Leon, Saleha Mohsin, Jane Coaston and Mark Preston.

So they're already planning on looking ahead and saying this is going to be the rematch. Of course there's a lot of different primaries and a lot of things that happen between now and then. But why would Biden's team want this to be the match-up? What do you think?

MIKE LEON, HOST, "CAN WE PLEASE TALK?" PODCAST: $32 for the T-shirt, I don't know. It's pretty expensive.

COATES: $32? Is that what you said?

LEON: That's the first thing I saw. But anyway --

COATES: Is it preshrunk? Because that's where really the (INAUDIBLE).


COATES: OK. All right. Well, there you go.

LEON: I was going to say, I mean, they want the rematch because of the things that we've been talking about this whole night. Because of the reminder of the goldfish syndrome that we were talking about earlier with voters, who want to remind people where they were in 2020, remind them of the way the former president handled the pandemic.

You know, it's very tough for me because, you know, I come from Miami. I come from the folks where they're wearing the "Let's Go Brandon" T- shirts, the rallies are down there, the flags are down there as I'm going on my bike rides. And those folks truly think that Donald Trump can handle the economy better. They think that their pocketbooks were better in 2019 than they are now.

And they love to conflate the ism terms, communism, socialism, Marxism. They don't know what any of them mean. But they conflate them all together and they say Donald Trump is against all of that and that's why I'm going to vote for him. No matter what happens.

Joe Biden and the campaign right now have to start messaging to the independents. We've been talking about it in New Hampshire but specifically at large. Message to those folks that, look, do you want a repeat of what we just endured in 2020, that whole cycle? Do you want to endure that again? Or do you want four more years of me?

COATES: What is Wall Street thinking?

SALEHA MOHSIN, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG: Wall Street wants anyone but Trump. But they are leaning toward wanting a Republican administration because then they get tax cuts, they get deregulation. They've been looking toward Haley a lot. You've seen a lot of GOP financiers coming through talking about Haley but not quite giving her coin quite yet.

You even had Jamie Dimon, a card-carrying Democrat, the CEO of JPMorgan, very vocal about what's going on in Washington, last week he was talking about how well maybe Trump did some things well, the economy was fine during his era, but if you're looking for a Republican president who will bring the stability that businesses and investors count on to make is their one, two, five, ten-year plans then you also want someone who is going to be stable in the White House, and that's not Trump.

COATES: Stability also, I think, for many people is the complete ticket. Who is going to be with Trump? We talk about the, quote- unquote, adult in the room. Who might be his VP? Who'd be a part of his cabinet? This of course assuming and if he does in fact get the nomination. We know that the ticket for Biden-Harris is complete and intact. When you look ahead to who that person might be, there was a kind of audition happening today with Tim Scott behind him.

Others, Vivek Ramaswamy was there as well, I'm sure champing at the bit wondering why they didn't turn to him at one point on these issues. But there's a lot of people who might be contenders.

Looking at the that list, Mark, of who might be on that list and that stability factor, who does Trump name?

PRESTON: Well, one thing that kind of caught my attention is that when Trump was saying lots of things up there other than thank you for voting for me, he was going after everybody, he said something about Nikki Haley. [02:10:10]

He said, look, she's not going to win and in the back Vivek and Tim Scott are sitting there laughing. And I'm thinking to myself, OK, but she outlasted you two. You two ran and she has outlasted you. She has more delegates right now in her back pocket than you'll ever have moving forward.

Having said that, though, you know, I do think Tim Scott is an interesting character. Yesterday I would say not a chance that he would pick Tim Scott because Tim Scott smart, you know, his own person, speaks his mind. I think we saw today that he's not his own person, he's definitely smart, he's going to be loyal. But one other person I do think --

COATES: Wait, the fact that all those things were disqualifying factors to you just now for a Trump running mate is interesting to me.

PRESTON: Yes, but they're all good qualities now for Tim Scott. I think one person we really should be looking at is Elise Stefanik. And that's because she has shown extreme fealty to Donald Trump. She's a member of congress. You can make the argument, you know, look, she's a woman, she understands how Congress works, although I'm not necessarily sure that she's necessarily that good at it.

She was in leadership. And she could help perhaps -- you know, help Donald Trump get his agenda through Congress. You know, after that I do agree with what everybody is saying here, you know, the fact is Donald Trump doesn't want somebody strong behind him. He doesn't want somebody strong who's going to go out and is going to make news that's going to usurp him. He wants the attention.

He wants the bright spotlight. And I think that when we see all these auditions, it's going to be embarrassing because a lot of these folks are going to do things like you normally wouldn't do if you had any kind of sense of worth. And I hate to say that but a lot of these folks up there are going to be auditioning and it's just going to be cringey.

JANE COASTON, NEW YORK TIMES CONTRIBUTING OPINION WRITER: Yes. It's going to be an obsequiousness contest. I think that what we saw --

COATES: Obsequious.

PRESTON: Good word.

COATES: It's 2:00 in the morning, Jane. Obsequiousness contest?

COASTON: I've got that Scott Van Pelt "Sportscenter" energy. I --


COASTON: But I think -- do you remember, if you'll recall, Trump's previous vice president Mike Pence had a bunch of people screaming on January 6th that they wanted him hung. And Trump's response was, eh, he should have done the right thing. What he is looking for in a vice president is not someone to be strong or to -- even to shore up any sort of base because I think that, you know, in 2016 Mike Pence was, ah, he'll help get evangelicals. Well, he doesn't need that anymore.

And so I think that what you're going to see is someone who is as obsequious as much of a follower as possible. But I want to go back to a point that you made. I find so interesting that if you go back eight years, I remember, do you remember that Donald Trump was supposed to be -- you know, he was a populist. He was going to bring in a new agenda for conservatism, of national conservatism, one of building and protectionism, and doing something for the working class.

Now, whether he meant any of that is a non-starter. But it's interesting now that now economically he's just a Republican. He's just a Republican who is going to deregulate. He's just a Republican who's going to cut taxes. That entire national populace, the battle that conservatives have been having among themselves for what feels like an entire decade about the future of populism, well, it's clear to me that Wall Street doesn't believe in any of that and I don't think Donald Trump does either.

MOHSIN: I don't know. I think Wall Street does. Jamie Dimon did say Trump got a lot of things right. The economy was fine, the trade stuff was good, NATO was right -- he was right about NATO. But also Joe Biden has adopted a lot of Trump's populist rhetoric. It's just dressed up a little differently. His very first State of the Union speech, I think it was called the joint sessions because it was the first one, the first I would say quarter of it if you say it a little bit in the Trump style, it's his agenda.

Buy America is America first. It's very similar. Friend shoring is also America first. You know, going to your allies, not your enemies. But you're looking inward, it is just dressed up differently. So I think that's the other thing that Wall Street and people are seeing, that we have more options for the populist agenda.

COATES: Well, there's a lot more to talk about and all of our obsequiousness.

LEON: Can you conjugate that?

COATES: No, I cannot conjugate it actually. As a matter of fact I was going to even try to spell it. But everyone, stick around.

Erica, do you want to go into your Merriam-Webster real quick for us because we're learning over here?

HILL: My word of the day calendar is in my office. But I will rip off today's and I will send it to you, my friend. How about that?

COATES: My son said the word of the day will always be Rizz, ma. There you go.

HILL: These days it is. Yes. Thank you, my friend.

Well, if Nikki Haley does stay in this race the attacks against her you can pretty much count on them intensifying. Here she is tonight. [02:15:03]


HALEY: We still have a ways to go, but we keep moving up.


HALEY: 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.


HILL: So is she right about politics not being personal? Let's ask our panel.

Paul, I'm going to let you kick this one off. Has politics in 2020, now we're 2024, become too personal?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It has. And the way to counter that -- Governor Haley was close, but she wasn't quite on. It's not that -- Democrats always get this wrong. I wrote a whole book about this. All they say is oh, Trump's a pig and he's awful and he's been indicted and he's -- has bad manners. Shut up.

The way to go after Trump is two things. Betrayal first. He betrayed you. The people who voted for Trump are good people. They're the backbone of this country. He stabbed them in the back. Opioid deaths went up. Rural hospitals went down. Every -- life expectancy went down in Trump country while he was president. So he betrayed those folks. And I think if you go at them that way that's very different.

And then you make it about their life, not yours. This was Bill Clinton's secret. Right? He always said I'm going to make this about your life, not mine. And I think what Haley should have done -- it's too late, this thing is over. But what all Republicans should have done is said Trump -- you can't pronounce him guilty because the base will hate you. Can't pronounce him innocent because he might be guilty.

So you say, what he is -- is distracting. And he's focused on himself. And I think Biden should do this. I think instead of saying Trump is a criminal he should say he's self-centered, he's all about himself. His sweetheart deals with the Chinese. His tax cuts for his fellow billionaires. His health care, he got the best health care in the world at Walter Reed. When he got COVID he told the rest of us to inject bleach where the sun don't shine.

Right, I think that's the way to get at Trump, is that he betrayed the people who believed in him. And now he's going to betray the rest of the country. And he's going to take away from you what we've worked so hard to gain.

HILL: So you're saying make it personal, but make it personal about them.

BEGALA: About their lives.

HILL: This shouldn't be about the candidate.

BEGALA: Shouldn't somebody care about the citizens of the country instead of the great --

HILL: Right, to your point, shouldn't any candidate in theory be running because you want to make the country, the town, the county, wherever it is that you're putting your energy, better for those around you? Has that ship sailed in 2024?

SMERMICHAEL SINGLETON, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, HUD UNDER TRUMP: I think so. And I'm not certain that that's a message, Paul, that would resonate with base voters. They believe that Donald Trump is the embodiment of their grievance. I mean, I think many of those working- class, blue-collar individuals despite all of Donald Trump's wealth, the idea of make America great again for many of them is the actualization of returning America to a place where they felt their place in society was secure.

This idea where they felt if you work, you know, for 30 years you can retire and be OK, you can buy a home and afford it, you can put your kids through college if that was your choice. And I'm not saying that Donald Trump's policy positions have enacted that. We can debate those things. But it's the idea that he speaks about it.

BEGALA: But he doesn't anymore, Shermichael.


BEGALA: He doesn't talk about his stupid wall anymore. He just talks about his own grievances and apparently he doesn't like any prosecutor.

SINGLETON: I disagree with that because from their perspective the attacks against him in many ways is an attack against them. Attack against Trump, that is. Because they believe you are attempting to attack our knight, if you will. Our knight in shining armor. The individual that's been the only person where the Democratic elite, the Republican establishment elite have completely forgotten about us.

They've discarded us. These elitists, or as the philosopher and professor Michael Sandel from Harvard calls it, the meritocratic hubris that exists among this political class. They don't care about our reality. And here goes Donald Trump, a wealthy guy but who also maintains his own grievance with the wealthy individuals of New York, saying, you know what, I recognize what you're going through. I understand what it means to be ostracized by these individuals.

There's that connection there. So I think speaking against that, speaking against him is not going to give you any favor in this Republican Party.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And we sit here and talk so much about what the president -- former president talks about, his own personal grievances, I'm a victim of the DOJ, I'm a victim of overzealous prosecutors, and it is a lot about him and his grievances and vengeance and as he says retribution. But you look at the exit polls from tonight and what New Hampshire voters supported him for, they look at him as someone who fights for them and who represents their values.


And they said to further that they're not concerned with the temperament and they're actually not concerned about whether or not he can beat Biden but they view him as someone who is fighting for them. So we can sit there and say that Donald Trump makes this so personal and it's all about him. His voters don't see it that way. And they say he is fighting for them.

I took away from what Nikki Haley was talking about, the fight between she and Trump, I don't take it personal, whatever he's saying I don't take it personal, this is about policy. Well, she's getting ready to go back in her home state of South Carolina and as you know it's going to get very personal. They are going to throw everything at her under the sun. South Carolinians, it's blood sport in politics.

If she thinks the attacks on her are not personal yet because she's trying to have a strong face, it's going to get very personal.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and I think one of the things that Nikki Haley has is kind of she's cut her teeth in that very personal arena that is South Carolina politics. It's one of the reasons why we believe that no South Carolina politician has been able to make it to the national stage because you just get bludgeoned at home. I mean, when Nikki Haley was running for governor, they threw everything at her.

They accused her of having multiple affairs. They accused -- they had pictures of her parents with turbans on. They talked about her religion. They called her everything but a child of God. And she beat them all. Right? They threw everything they had at her and she -- it wasn't Democrats throwing anything at her. I mean, it was Republicans. That's how much of a mess it was. And going in is going to be very brutal and very personal.

To steal a trend from our other panel down in D.C., I can say that one of the things Donald Trump has taught us, though, is you can't be adiaphorous. Right?


SELLERS: Like that? You see that? That's --

SINGLETON: There we go. That's a good one.

HILL: I hope Laura was listening.


SELLERS: And so what I'm saying is --

BEGALA: Very sesquipedalian of you, Bakari.

SELLERS: You can't be a fence sitter. You cannot be indifferent. In fact you have to choose a side, you have to choose a battle. And if you're going to attack Donald Trump I don't think you can be a windsock, which Ana Navarro uses to describe Nikki Haley all the time. You actually have to take a stand. And if you're going to be opposed to Donald Trump you have to call it for what it is.

To your point, Shermichael, I think that Donald Trump has pulled one of the biggest cons in American history. I think it's going to be written about. The fact is he's convinced poor people in this country that he is going to fight for them, he is one of them, and he uses the bathroom on golden toilets. Right? This is a fascinating con. But it worked. Right? And so the question is, is he going to be able to play around the margins?

For me it's disappointing. It's a disappointing -- it's a disappointing diagnosis of where we are as a country when 74 million people voted for Donald Trump. It also means that Democrats are missing something about the pain that undergirds many people in the backbone of this country. Like I fully agree that I am just now becoming in tuned with a lot of the pain that individuals were feeling in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

But there's also a lot of people who Republicans missed the boat on. Immigrants, women, gay people in this country, black folk in this country. My grandmother used to say, and I'll wrap up on this, my grandmother used to say that you can't fall off the floor, which made no sense when you were 8. But it's absolutely true now that there are a lot of people who feel like they're on the floor in this country and I think Democrats and Republicans have just missed the boat on feeling that pain.

STEWART: Yes. You can't just call those who support Donald Trump a basket of deplorables because there's a large number of them and they need to understand what they're missing out.

SINGLETON: The divide between the winners and losers it continues to --

SELLERS: She's trying to go to commercial.

HILL: I have to go to commercial.

BEGALA: Oh. Yes, I know.


SELLERS: He's being poetic, you're going to commercial.

HILL: That and I got to find a few words so that I can -- that's yours, Bakari.

All right, everybody, stick around. Just ahead here, how does Trump's complicated legal calendar play into the next few months here? Plus the next stop on the trail, South Carolina. CNN spoke to voters there. You're going to hear what they think.

Stay with us. You're watching CNN's special live coverage.



COATES: Well, former President Trump notching another primary win tonight. And as his path to the nomination clears he's facing still a storm of legal trouble between now and November. With civil and criminal cases sure to hang over the campaign for a lot longer.

Joining me now to discuss, former U.S. attorney Harry Litman who's also the host of the "Talking Feds" podcast. I'm a frequent guest. I'm so glad to see you on here with me right now.

Harry, you know, this is not something to, you know, thumb one's nose at when you have one indictment, let alone 91 counts, four jurisdictions, state and federal, and you are trying to be the president of the United States. Looking ahead, is it going to be something that we're going to see resolved even before the election at all?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Look, that's what we're looking for. And all indications are if there's anything that's going to be a game changer it's going to be one of these big criminal trials.

On the one hand, Laura, a week's not going to pass without important legal landmarks for Trump. Next week we get the opinion in the fraud trial in New York. The week after that we get the Supreme Court oral argument in Colorado. The week after that a big hearing in Fulton County. But it strikes me that each of the trials in different ways is getting a little more precarious. And I think the odds in the last week have gotten slightly longer that we're going to see the real game-changing criminal trial. Fulton County, January 6th or Mar-a- Lago.

Mar-a-Lago, Judge Cannon really seems to be stewarding for as much time as possible. The big mess that's engulfing Fani Willis threatens the schedule. And we're waiting on this immunity opinion. But depending on how it goes, that could extend the delay there.


So for the real event we're waiting for that could potentially change people's opinions, that's getting slightly dicey in my view.

COATES: And in the meantime you've got some gag orders that are involved. We know that a court of appeals decided that has to really stay, with respect to witnesses and the courtroom staff. But not applying to someone like Jack Smith. This has been an issue for Donald Trump on the campaign trail because you know he has been using these different court dates as campaign stops, these different trials and tribulations as political currency. And so the idea of him being able to comment about these cases remains

very important to him. But it also means there's a potential for it to lead him to even hotter water.

LITMAN: Oh, you bet. And one thing we saw, you mentioned the gag order. Yes, the gag order says he can try to trash Jack Smith but there are things he can't do. Every single member of the D.C. Circuit, three of them he appointed, said there's nothing to review here, this is a pretty easy case. I think the courts of appeals really understand the terrible difficult position that trial judges are in when you have Trump trying to make his own kind of political stump speeches in court, hoping for mistrials, normally the bane for a defendant.

And I think they're going to cut trial judges a lot of slack for -- look, he's losing right and left. And I think he'll lose in the D.C. Circuit. I think he'll lose these criminal trials if and when they happen. It's all the question now of, can he delay things. And there is going to be this New York trial perhaps, the Stormy Daniels, you know, that ain't nothing, but all in all the things -- especially the January 6th trial, which seems to me to go to the heart of what is really, you know, at issue with a new presidency from him.

It's getting a little bit -- I would really like to see it shoring up and that immunity issue set to the side so they can start with jury selection.

COATES: Well, I'll be really curious about whether a court finds a president has absolute immunity for conduct that occurred during and while in office. That would be quite a statement in an American judicial system. We'll have to see what happens.

Thank you so much. Thank you for staying up, although it's much earlier for you but, you know, thank you for that late-night --

LITMAN: Yes, this is nothing. California. Plus it's warm out.

COATES: Oh, you're going to rub it in? It's warm there and early? Wonderful. I'm so glad you stopped by.

LITMAN All right. I'm sorry, I'll be obsequious.


LITMAN: I'll be obsequious.

COATES: Bye. Thank you --

LITMAN: I'm so tired and it's so cold. All right. Bye-bye.


COATES: It's warm where he is, and early. Have some hot cocoa on us.

Look, as election day draws closer, what issues are on voters' minds and who do voters trust on those issues? Harry Enten will bring us the numbers. Maybe some hot cocoa. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COATES: Well, after tonight's results we were preparing possibly for a Biden-Trump rematch in November, maybe. So how do the two stand with voters on the very big issues? Well, Harry Enten is back at the magic wall for us.

Harry, how do they stand?

ENTEN: How do they stand, Laura? And this time I'll make sure to flip it back to you, not Erica.

All right. The number one issue in the polls, who's better at handling the economy? Donald Trump. Look at this. 52 percent. Joe Biden 33 percent. I'm going to be very interested to see if these numbers shift as a lot of voters are saying that the economic news that's been coming out recently has been better than they were previously saying. But so far on the most important issue Trump has a sizable lead over Joe Biden.

What's another area where Donald Trump would love to play ball? How about better handling, immigration or border security? Again, look at this. Donald Trump at 51 percent. Joe Biden at just 29 percent. This number, I looked back during the 2020 election cycle, was much closer to even. So the fact that Trump has broadened his lead significantly on this issue gives you an understanding of how different this race is shaping up to be potentially than the one back in 2020.

Now you might think something like foreign relations, this is something that Joe Biden really would love to play on. But on this, look at this, better handling foreign relations, look at this, Donald Trump 44 percent, Joe Biden at just 41 percent. This is a shocking number if you were to look back at the polls in 2020. You never would have seen something like this.

Here is the issue, though, that I think Joe Biden would really like to play on. Democrats really hit hard on it during the midterm elections. It's worked for them in special elections. Better handling of abortion policy. This is the one issue where Joe Biden holds an advantage. 45 percent to just 36 percent for Donald Trump. I think this will give you an idea of previewing the full message. Expect Joe Biden really to use the issue of abortion to go after Donald Trump and potentially grab some of those suburban voters -- Laura.

COATES: I know that you're emphasizing my name because I gave you a little bit of grievance before, for anyone who's not been watching our illustrious programming.

Harry, thank you so much for those numbers. Erica Hill, you.

HILL: Thank you, Laura Coates. He may or may not have been practicing tossing to you in the break. Just so you know.

So when we look at all of that, which issue could define this election in 2024, who will it help, my panel is back with me. So we're going to go down the line as we get tight on time here, wrapping up the fun. What do you think the issue is that will define the election in '24?

SELLERS: Vitality.

STEWART: Abortion.

SINGLETON: The economy.

BEGALA: Threat.

HILL: Threat.

BEGALA: Threat.

HILL: So when we look at all of those, economy, right, I was fascinated looking at the exit polls from New Hampshire and Iowa, the top two issues, and they're pretty close here, right. We look at New Hampshire, the economy is number one, immigration is number two. In Iowa you see the same thing. Slightly different numbers but close. Economy is number one, 38 percent, immigration 34 percent. Looking at all of that, where does threat fit in?

BEGALA: I think Joe Biden needs to say Donald Trump is a threat. He's a threat to your job. He's a threat to your health care. He's a threat to your Social Security. He's a threat to -- God knows, to your abortion rights. He's a threat to our democracy itself. Put it all in there. It's very scary. Be afraid, America, be very afraid. This ain't morning in America for Joe Biden. His path at success is a blowtorch at Donald Trump.


HILL: You said vitality.

SELLERS: Yes, I think when you have two individuals who are 82 and 78, I believe, it's the person who has the vigor to handle the job. Everybody is watching this. You know, you can't deceive people with their own eyes. And so it's who's going to have the vitality to get the job done. And what that means for Joe Biden is getting out of Washington, D.C., as he's been doing, delivering these speeches around the country, traveling and hitting these spots.

If he can do that, then I think that alleviates a lot of the issues that people have with age, which is just -- you know, it's like college football or basketball. The eye test. And people want Joe Biden to pass the eye test. You and I think he can do it. The question is they have to show it to the rest of the country.

HILL: And Alice, when you say abortion, we know Democrats want to make this a major issue because it has worked for them. Right? As we've seen over the last couple of years. Is it enough, though? Why is it enough, I should say, in your mind to define this?

STEWART: Because we've seen it as a winning issue in the states, every time it's been on the ballot since Roe v. Wade it has been a winning issue. Joe Biden does not want to talk about the economy. And it is an important issue. He does not want to talk about that because the people's perception of the economy is poor. He's not going to want to talk about that. That is why this week when he had his event he talked about returning Roe because he knows that turns out voters and generates interest for the voters.

As Donald Trump says I was the one that got Roe overturned, he's going to use that as a badge of honor with the base, but in the general election that's not a winning formula. He needs to have a more nuanced message on that in order to resonate with the general election voter. So I think it's going to be a huge topic of discussion and turnout for voters.

HILL: We know economy -- I mean, to your point, Alice, you made this point, we see this in terms of that's how you feel, right. The numbers are actually pretty good on the economy. Biden wanted to really sell Bidenomics. That didn't work out so well. But consumer confidence numbers are very strong. We're seeing a major uptick. So if it is the economy, right? Make you play the other side here. Can Democrats turn that around and actually talk about it in a way that can change the way people feel?

SINGLETON: I don't know how. I mean, December we saw record spending but we also saw an increase in reliance on credit cards. We saw 14 percent increase in buy now-pay later loans. That's an indicator that most Americans don't have the cash available. You look at the SPM, the supplemental poverty measure. It's increased 2.7 percent. It's the highest it's been since 2010. That has to be very concerning.

Pew Research released some studies last year that showcased most Americans feel that the past was better than the present and there's a significant level of skepticism about what the future may be, particularly economically. I haven't heard a solid message from the president in that regard. Sure, people who have investments are doing very well. But the average hard-working American, they're not doing very well.

A lot of people feel that there is a lack of recognition for toiling in that hard work that we once upon a time that we were talking about, Paul, actually used to respect in this country. That's not the case. And I'm not saying that Republicans, to be quite frank here, have done a great job on this issue as well. But if you're Joe Biden and you're trying to convince the American people to vote for you again and you're saying Bidenomics is working, the economy is great, and yet most people are saying, well, I don't really feel it, you say, well, most people are spending more.

Yes, I'm spending more but I'm borrowing so much just to spend more. There's a complete disconnect. And I think that's where the president's going to struggle. And I would even argue for President Trump he's made a lot of promises to many of his voters that they would have a restitution of their economic values. We have not seen this in the country necessarily. There still is a significant decrease in wealth acquirement from individuals who work hard.

There's a significant decrease in people's ability to build wealth. Particularly African-Americans, Bakari. We still aren't there. And this is the president that our community has voted for 90-plus percent. And we're still struggling financially.

HILL: Everyone, thank you. This is a fine way to kick off our Wednesday.

SELLERS: It's Wednesday?

HILL: It is. It's Wednesday. And you need to be back here at 5:00 so don't forget that. Set that alarm, my friends.

SELLERS: Good night, guys.

HILL: Just ahead here, Donald Trump's warning about getting even.




TRUMP: But I don't get too angry. I get even.


COATES: May have been referring to Nikki Haley there. But we may be hearing the slogan a lot more when it comes to what he's going to do with another term.

Jane and Mark are back. What did you make of that moment?

COASTON: It's been about vengeance for this entire campaign, which is -- I think it's so striking that he has talked about some policy issues. Many of them about -- you know, he wants some Iron Dome for America. But a lot of it is vengeance. He wants trials. And everyone around him has talked repeatedly about how everyone should go to jail, from Joe Biden down to every Democratic voter. And so this isn't surprising. It just seems to be a continuation of that extremely harmful rhetoric.

PRESTON: And I think that's -- we should be concerned about that because if he is saying this so plainly, remember, this is the same gentleman who went out and said if I went out in the middle of Sixth Street and shot somebody, you know, I would be set free, whatever. That's true. And that in itself is scary. And he goes around and he talks about how much faith he has in autocrats, in strongmen around the world. That's not necessarily what we need here in the United States. But that's something that he's selling.

COATES: Not looking forward, looking back at what it means to him how that will play with voters. If it's more about him than them.

COASTON: I think that there are some voters who believe that he will take vengeance on the people they don't like. I think that was something we heard during his first term, was you heard from people saying but he's not putting pain on the people I need him to put pain on. And I think one, that's not the majority of Republican voters and, two, that is sociopathic thinking. But I think that you will see people saying like those things that annoy me, the people who annoy me, he'll make them go away somehow. Somehow forgetting that that's not what happened in 2016. Weird.

COATES: Well, Ted Lasso, was that line we talk about all night, be a goldfish, apparently, losing your memory every couple seconds or minutes around that little bowl if you have one.


Thank you both so much.

Hey, next stop for these candidates is South Carolina. And CNN spoke with a panel of Republican voters there. That's next.


HILL: The next stop on the campaign trail, South Carolina. CNN's Gary Tuchman is there and watched the returns with a panel of Republican voters.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura and Erica, with the crucial South Carolina primary a little over a month away, we spent the evening in Charleston County, South Carolina, with 15 loyal Republican voters watching CNN's coverage of the New Hampshire primary, trying to get an idea of what they felt about Donald Trump's victory.

One of the questions we asked them during our coverage was what they felt about Nikki Haley talking about, quote-unquote, "age."


TUCHMAN: Nikki Haley's 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's going to win. She's also talked about mandatory requirements for 75 or older to have testing. How do you feel about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 you cringe when you don't know if he's going to finish his sentence or not. It makes -- it gives you a sense of insecurity.


TUCHMAN: You're talking about Joe Biden.


TUCHMAN: You don't think that's the case with Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whether you love Trump or don't like him, I don't think anybody could accuse him of having a lack of vigor or stamina. TUCHMAN: What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree. I think that you know where Trump stands. The biggest crisis we have --

TUCHMAN: But what do you think about the requirement for 75-year-old? How old are you if you don't mind me asking?


TUCHMAN: You're 80.


TUCHMAN: You look good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. My wife feeds me well.

TUCHMAN: Good. So what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I take an affront to all this about the age. It's not age with Joe Biden. It's competency. Joe doesn't have it. So it's annoying to hear 80s a cutoff. We have friends who are older. Some are 100. And they're doing just fine.


TUCHMAN: Twelve of the 13 people on our panel felt Nikki Haley was a good governor of South Carolina. But notably nine of those 13 think she wouldn't make as good of a president as Donald Trump -- Laura, Erica.

COATES: Thanks so much, Gary. And hey, thank you all for watching. What a pleasure to be on with you in particular tonight, Erica Hill.

HILL: The treat was all mine, my friend. I loved it. Stay tuned, though. CNN's continuing coverage of the New Hampshire primary continues next.