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Hours Away From First Votes In Pivotal New Hampshire GOP Primary; V.P. Harris Speaks With CNN About Threats To Democracy; Judge Issues Key Ruling In Divorce Case Featuring Rumors Of Affair Between Georgia D.A. And Prosecutor; Write-In Campaign A Key Test Of Biden's Strength In New Hampshire; Blood Test That Screens For Alzheimer's May Be Nearing Reality. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 22, 2024 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Live coverage will start well before the polls closed, tomorrow at 4:00 P.M. Eastern, here on CNN and streaming on CNN Max.

And a quick mention before we go, a big congratulations to former lead supervising producer, former State of the Union executive producer, and now big shot at CNN, Katie Hinman, who helped launch this show, she also just launched this little guy, Henry Reed Hinman. Katie says Henry made his arrival into the world first thing Sunday morning in honor of State of the Union, no doubt. Mom and Henry are doing great and both are gorgeous.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Donald Trump and Nikki Haley are making final appeals in New Hampshire tonight with the Republican presidential race now a two-person showdown and the first primary votes just hours away. We're following the candidates and a contest that could effectively decide the GOP nomination.

Plus, a CNN exclusive interview with Vice President Kamala Harris, she's speaking out about the Biden campaign, threats to democracy, and whether she's personally worried about a repeat of the violence on January 6th.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the Situation Room.

First tonight, the countdown to the high stakes New Hampshire primary, the Granite State now holding extraordinary power to speed or slow Donald Trump's march to the Republican presidential nomination.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more from Salem, New Hampshire, where Trump's only remaining GOP opponent, Nikki Haley, has an event this hour.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We have to win on Tuesday. JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a two-person race in New Hampshire. Tonight, the question is for how long.

NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America doesn't do coronations. We believe in choices.

ZELENY: On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Nikki Haley stands as the last remaining challenger to Donald Trump in a one-on-one contest that could show he's vulnerable or unstoppable and on a march to the Republican nomination.

HALEY: Can you hear that sound? That's the sound of a two-person race.

ZELENY: The former president heading back to New Hampshire tonight for one final rally before the voting begins embraced by former rivals rallying around his candidacy after Ron DeSantis threw in a towel on Sunday.

TRUMP: A really good campaign, I will tell you. It's not easy.

ZELENY: In rally after rally, Trump's closing arguments revolved as much around defending his pending legal cases, suggesting the president can act outside the law, then articulating a vision for the party's future.

TRUMP: If you have a president that doesn't have immunity, he's never going to be free to do anything.

ZELENY: To keep the primary race alive, Haley is trying to build a coalition of independents and Republicans, like Carol Booth, who met Haley today at a Manchester brewery.

CAROL BOOTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I just feel she has a shot. Especially now that DeSantis is gone, I think that between her and Trump, I think Nikki has got a -- she's got a good chance.


HALEY: Get everybody else to vote. Get all your friends out and get it done.

ZELENY: Eric Meyer left the Republican Party when Trump was elected. He believes Haley could unify the country and win the White House.

MEYER: It seems like she wants to sustain her campaign, at least with South Carolina. So, that gives me hope.

ZELENY: Some Haley supporters fear it's an uphill battle, but the New Hampshire primary has a storied history of delivering surprises.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: New Hampshire tonight has made Bill Clinton the comeback kid.

ZELENY: And different verdicts than the Iowa caucuses. In 2000, John McCain's resounding victory over George W. Bush. FMR. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): On to South Carolina. Thank you, man.

ZELENY: And in 2008, Hillary Clinton's defeat of Barack Obama opened an epic fight for delegates.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We are in it for the long ride.

ZELENY: Yet history may offer limited lessons for this race, considering Trump is a quasi-incumbent, who is swiftly coalescing the Republican Party around him, and eyeing a rematch with Joe Biden.

TRUMP: This is the greatest movement in the history of politics in this country.


ZELENY (on camera): And as Nikki Haley was making last minute appeals to voters today, Wolf, I overheard a conversation with her. One man walked up to her and said, stay in the race. Please stay in the race. She said, don't worry, we will continue our fight on to South Carolina.

But, Wolf, a central question hanging over this campaign is whether she leaves New Hampshire as a winner or she'll be reassessing her candidacy in the month ahead. That South Carolina primary, not until February 24th.

Donald Trump, for his side, is holding a rally tonight in Laconia, in New Hampshire, also traveling with someone from South Carolina, that is Senator Tim Scott, of course, a former rival who's now supporting Donald Trump.



BLITZER: All right. Jeff Zeleny on the scene in New Hampshire for us, thank you very much.

I want to bring in CNN Political Director David Chalian and CNN Anchor and Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash. She's on the ground for us in New Hampshire as well.

Dana, Nikki Haley now has the two-person contest she said she always wanted. Can a coalition of independents and more moderate Republicans in New Hampshire overcome Trump in the primary tomorrow?

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: That's what it's going to have to be if she has any shot of doing just that of overcoming Donald Trump here. She knows that, her team knows that, and that is part of what is driving her message, part of what is driving the geography of where she goes here in the state.

And Jeff just laid out examples of when candidates here, with the help of voters here in New Hampshire, surprised the country with either wins or, in the case of Bill Clinton being a comeback hit. He didn't win, but he came back from very big problems with his campaign.

And that is because of the kind of sentiment and the sensibility of New Hampshire voters, but it is also because of what you alluded to there. They're called undeclared voters here, independents who are not affiliated.

They can vote in either primary and in the Republican primary, particularly this year, given this dynamic, they are expected to play a big, big role. It's one of the many reasons why New Hampshire is quite different from the contest that we're going to see in the future.

BLITZER: Yes, excellent point indeed. David Chalian, does Trump or Nikki Haley benefit more from Ron DeSantis' decision to leave the race?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, you know, in our CNN/UNH poll, University of New Hampshire poll that we released yesterday, DeSantis was at 6 percent. So, there's not that much vote there to spread around. But Trump did benefit a bit more. We reallocated second choice for DeSantis voters and it ended up with having Donald Trump at 54 percent to Nikki Haley's 41 percent. They both gained here. Trump gained a little bit more.

But, again, Ron DeSantis' support at this late stage of the race in New Hampshire, Wolf, was so small that this is a rather negligible kind of movement or benefit for either candidate, but it would make sense. Ron DeSantis had been running a campaign largely targeted to Trump-aligned voters. Part of the reason he's no longer in this race is because they remained very aligned with Trump because they had Trump as an option in this race.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Dana, because Nikki Haley insists she will continue her campaign in South Carolina after New Hampshire, no matter what the result is in New Hampshire. Does she need -- what does she need in New Hampshire to make this a competitive race?

BASH: I think it's one of those questions and the answer will be, we will know it when we see it and we feel it. And when she feels it, and the it, I think at this point, is her donors, and what she sees down the pike in South Carolina.

You cannot overstate how important it is that the next big contest is her home state of South Carolina. Our colleague, Jeff Zeleny, made this point on inside politics today and I just want to borrow it from him, and that is if there was another crucial primary state other than South Carolina coming up and she could afford to not win but stay in the race and just try to collect delegates, even though South Carolina wouldn't allow her that because it is winter take all, but to continue to Super Tuesday which has a lot of delegates at stake, it would be a lot easier for her to have the money to stay in the -- to use the money that she's already collected, perhaps collect some more money to stay in the race.

But the sort of idea of her going to South Carolina, if she looks at the numbers and her team sees that she will lose badly, it's hard to imagine despite her promises that she would want to face that.

BLITZER: Yes, that's important, indeed.

David, the primary map appears to get even friendlier to Trump after New Hampshire. So, how much would a potential Nikki Haley win actually reshape the overall race?

CHALIAN: Well, if she were to outright win, she would be overperforming expectations, she'd have an infusion of cash, and she'd have a rationale for staying in this race a lot longer. You're right to note the calendar.

You know, upcoming throughout the month of March, Wolf, I would say about half the contests are closed primaries to Republicans only. So, a Haley candidacy, largely appealing right now to independents, to moderates, they don't dominate the electorate going forward.

Now, in the contest where independents can play, not all independents are equal. Independents in New Hampshire are precisely the kind of independents that Nikki Haley is appealing to. As you get into some of the more conservative states, even those so-called independents can behave more like conservative Republicans, and that's been more of a Trump base of support in this race.


BLITZER: Important, indeed. All right, guys, thank you very much, Dana Bash and David Chalian. And Dana, of course, will be back tomorrow for her program, Inside Politics, noon Eastern from New Hampshire. We will be watching that as well.

Just ahead, more on the final sprint in New Hampshire. We'll have a much closer look at a new attack Nikki Haley is launching against Donald Trump.

Plus, the breaking news we're following, Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with CNN about the Biden campaign's renewed focus on abortion rights. That exclusive conversation, that's coming up next.


BLITZER: We're back with more on the final hours of campaigning before voters in New Hampshire head to the polls.

Our Political Commentators S.E. Cupp and Ashley Allison are here to discuss. S.E., Nikki Haley has stepped up her attacks against Trump clearly, and she's seizing on a moment from a Trump rally where he simply confused her with Nancy Pelosi. Listen to this, watch.


TRUMP: Nikki Haley is in charge of security.


We offered her 10,000 people, soldiers, National Guards, whatever they want. They turned it down.

HALEY: Trump goes on and on multiple times saying that I prevented the security on January 6 at the Capitol. I wasn't even anywhere near the Capitol. He was confused the same way that he said he ran against President Obama. It was Hillary Clinton.


BLITZER: S.E., is Nikki Haley doing enough, though, right now to actually defeat Trump in New Hampshire?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, it's down to the wire, and this isn't a bad line of attack for independent and moderate voters. Republicans who are with Trump don't care about his age. They don't care about his gaffes. They don't care know his blurting and ranting. They love that, in fact.

So, this is a tailor-made message for independents and moderates in New Hampshire to be worried about his age and his lack of mental capacity. So, I think this is not the whole package that Nikki's offering, but I think it's a good one in these late last hours before New Hampshire votes.

BLITZER: Strong words, indeed.

Ashley. President Biden commented on Nikki Haley's attack on Trump, writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, this. I don't agree with Nikki Haley on everything, but we agree on this much. She is not Nancy Pelosi. Is the GOP infighting actually good for Democrats? Should they want the primary to keep going? Will it?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not sure that Democrats need the primary to keep going. We know who our likely nominee is going to be. It's going to be President Joe Biden, and we want to see who he's going to be up against.

I think that tweet was clever. It was kind of saying, Nikki Haley is no Nancy Pelosi in terms of her leadership and her steadfastness on protecting our democracy and protecting a woman's right to choose, but I don't think it actually benefits for the Democrats, for the Republican primary to continue. We want to see who our opponent is and we want to get to work, proving our case is why we should get four more years in the White House.

BLITZER: Let me follow up with you, Ashley. President Biden and Vice President Harris will headline their first joint campaign appearance tomorrow as the campaign is launching a new effort to try to put abortion rights for women front and center in the 2024 race.

Our Laura Coates just sat down with the vice president just ahead of that joint campaign stop where they hit on a range of issues, including protecting the integrity of our elections. Watch and listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: When you look ahead and you see what is coming down the road, particularly the next time of the calendar date is January 6th, Madam Vice President, the last time we saw an election year, presidential election year, of a vice president overseeing certification of the election, we saw what transpired with our eyes.

There is concern that many actually believe that we do not have free and fair elections in this country. Do you have concerns about how to approach the certification process again on January 6th?

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I think everyone is right to be vigilant in demanding that we maintain our democracy and we uphold its pillars, which includes the integrity of a free and fair election system. And that means addressing, for example, the intimidation that has happened with poll workers. I was recently in Georgia speaking with poll workers who have been the subject of attack or are fearful about volunteering their time in our elections because they feel a sense of civic duty.

It's important for all of us to stand and say we support people who do that work and they should not be attacked. It is important that we all remember that a hallmark of a democracy is civic participation, which means let's all vote. I'm not telling you who to vote for, but, please, in the midst of all that you've got going on, take the time to fill out a ballot. If you can vote by mail, then send it in. Sometimes you might have to stand for quite some time in line, but please do, in spite of, again, in states like Georgia, who pass laws that make it illegal to even give you food and water if you're standing in line. But it matters. It matters. And elections matter, the voice of the American people matter, and one of the ways that we all express our voice is through our vote.

COATES: Let me ask you one more question. I'm struck just in your presence. I was watching you on stage, watching the reactions from the crowd, looking you in the eye with your passion that you were displaying and talking about so many issues, and yet you hear candidates suggesting that a vote for President Biden, because of his age, is somehow a vote for you, and that is hurled as an insult. It's intended to demonstrate some negative viewpoint towards you.


What is your reaction to this thought that with your background, in particular with your career, that there is some thought that you are incapable?

HARRIS: Well, I think that most women who have risen in their profession, who are leaders in their profession, have had similar experiences. I was the first woman to be elected district attorney. I was the first woman to be elected attorney general of the state of California, and I'm the first woman to be vice president. And I love my job.


BLITZER: So, Ashley, what do you make of the vice president's message there?

ALLISON: Well, two points. First, I thought her answer about democracy was extremely important. First, she put it to the people, to call folks in and say, whoever you vote for, engage in the franchise, be sure to let your voice be heard, but also point out that there are intimidation factors. And one of the leading voices around election sabotage and voter intimidation is Donald Trump, whether it be around voter suppression or on January 6th.

The final thing I will say is that she also called people into community saying women are often questioned, particularly women of color. And that is something that is not new to me or something that is not new to someone who is in a place of leadership.

And so with the attacks that we are seeing on her, we are not surprised but she is capable. She has proven that over and over. And she's going to hit the campaign trail and speak to the issues that matter, not just to women, but to all Americans.

BLITZER: S.E., how do you see it?

CUPP: Well, I think Kamala Harris is very smart, accomplished and competent. She is not, however, a very effective communicator. I thought what Ashley just said was a way better answer, in fact, mentioning Donald Trump and saying, this is a real danger. Don't talk about having to wait in line in Georgia, even if you don't want to. I mean, there were so many opportunities in those questions to really, I think, drive home the stakes of this know, and I'm a conservative who's going to vote for Joe Biden if Trump is the nominee. Because of those stakes, I would lay them out very starkly and clearly with passion and emotion. And I frankly thought that that was a missed opportunity for her.

BLITZER: Interesting. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

And to our viewers, an important note, be sure to tune in later tonight, Laura Coates Live, 11:00 P.M. Eastern, for her full exclusive interview with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Coming up here in The Situation Room, a live report from Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court sides with the Biden administration in a key immigration case.

Plus, a judge unsealing records today in the divorce case of the Georgia prosecutor leading the case against Donald Trump. What we're learning and whether district Attorney Bonnie Willis will be forced to testify.



BLITZER: In Texas tonight, the Biden administration just scored a major victory from the United States Supreme Court. The justices narrowly ruling that U.S. Border Patrol agents may begin removing razor wire deployed by the state's Republican governor, Greg Abbott. CNN's Rosa Flores says details for us. Rosa, what does this mean for the situation at the border?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I talked to a law enforcement source who says that U.S. Border Patrol is reviewing this order, trying to figure out exactly what it means, the U.S. DOJ is not commenting.

But, really, to understand what's happening, you've got to look at the first filing of this case. The state of Texas sued the Biden administration last year, claiming that Border Patrol was cutting razor wire, and so that Border Patrol was destroying state property when Border Patrol was cutting this razor wire to apprehend migrants, sometimes during medical emergencies.

Well, the appeals court ruled in favor of the state of Texas. That's why the Justice Department went to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that these razor wires, that these were obstructions for Border Patrol, that it didn't allow Border Patrol to do its job on the border, to do its job to enforce federal immigration law.

Now, this case rose to prominence in the last 13 days or so when the state of Texas took over a public park and 2.5 miles of river and blocked Border Patrol from accessing that area, including forcing Border Patrol to remove surveillance equipment that was there, and then three migrants died.

Well, the Justice Department went back to the Supreme Court saying, you see Texas is doubling down, you need to wipe this order. And that's exactly what the U.S. Supreme Court has done. And, again, it applies to the area of Eagle Pass, the state of Texas, responding in a statement to CNN.

This is from Governor Greg Abbott's office saying, quote, the absence of razor wire encourages migrants to make unsafe and illegal crossings between ports of entry while making the job of the Texas National Guard soldiers and Texas DPS troopers more dangerous and difficult.

This case is ongoing, and Governor Abbott will continue fighting to defend Texas' property and its constitutional authority to secure the border.

Now, Wolf, the irony of all of this is that Governor Abbott and the Republicans are saying that the Biden administration, that Border Patrol is not enforcing federal law, but as you heard, Texas has taken control of this area in Eagle Pass, Texas.


It doesn't allow Border Patrol to go in there and apply federal law. So, the big question is, so which one is it?

BLITZER: Good question, indeed. Rosa Flores and Katy Texas for us, thanks for that report.

There's other developments we're also following right now, including key rulings in a divorce case that could shed light on allegations of an affair between the Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis, and the top prosecutor overseeing Donald Trump's trial in Georgia.

I want to bring in CNN's Nick Valencia. He's covering the story for us. What can you tell us, Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the district attorney here, Fani Willis, has been given a pass, but she's not entirely in the clear just yet. She's fighting these allegations that she had an alleged affair with the man she assigned as special prosecutor in Trump's criminal probe here in Georgia.

Now, the judge overseeing Nathan Wade, that special prosecutor's divorce proceedings, has said that he wants to hear from Nathan Wade first in a deposition before he decides whether or not Fani Willis needs to be deposed herself.

Listen to what happened in court earlier today.


JUDGE HENRY THOMPSON, COBB COUNTY, GEORGIA, SUPERIOR COURT: It seems to me that Mr. Wade would be the first and best source of information on what his income has been and how he's been spending it and that he would have firsthand knowledge of whether he's engaged in an extramarital affair.

Only after I hear what Mr. Wade has to say, do I think I can make a determination of whether the proposed opponent has any unique knowledge about these issues.


VALENCIA: Another headline that emerged from today's divorce proceedings is that documents related to Nathan Wade's divorce are going to be unsealed. That's important because the attorney who initially made the claim of an improper relationship between Wade and Willis said that she could further prove that claim once those documents for Wade's divorce were unsealed.

Wolf, we're still waiting for those documents to be released. Meanwhile, though, time will tell whether or not this is going to derail Fani Willis' case against the former president and his allies at the very least. This is a distraction from the facts of this case. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Nick, thank you very much, Nick Valencia in Atlanta for us.

Our Legal Analysts Carrie Cordero and Norm Eisen are joining us right now. Carrie, will the unsealing of this divorce case invite more scrutiny for the district attorney, Fani Willis, and the lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, depending on what's in those documents, once they're released and what's in the court filings, I mean, potentially could bring more scrutiny towards them if it reveals more information, lending one way or another about the allegations that have been made about a personal relationship between them.

I think it also, depending on what's in them, might encourage Mr. Wade to further his efforts to resolve his divorce issues in a way that doesn't continue to drag the D.A. or any other individuals into his personal divorce matter. So, I think it might potentially incentivize him to find a way through this where he can resolve it between him and his former to be spouse.

BLITZER: You know, Norm, I know you've said that Fani Willis should continue to prosecute the Georgia election subversion case, but that the lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade, should voluntarily step down. Why do you think Willis should stay in her role, but Wade shouldn't?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Wolf, I've reviewed all the Georgia cases on disqualification, and there's not a single one where a consensual relationship between two prosecutors has led to disqualification to removal of those prosecutors from a case.

We make those decisions based upon the evidence in the case, and in this case there's very powerful evidence of alleged wrongdoing by Donald Trump and his co-conspirators, and no prejudice, no harm to the defendants from this relationship.

But we have to acknowledge the reality that this has become a substantial distraction from the power of the evidence and from the case moving forward.

Mr. Wade has done a good job. He's led a team that has defeated some of the most prominent litigators in America, secured for guilty pleas. I think a capstone on his service would be to say, I'm stepping away to return the focus to where it should be.

Wolf, we all heard that tape of Donald Trump on January 2nd, just find 11,780 votes. That's what the justice system should be focusing on.

BLITZER: Carrie, does all this potentially threaten to delay or at least distract from the Georgia election case that's already a sprawling case where more than a dozen defendants?

CORDERO: Well, I think it already is a distraction. Whether it delays it, I think, depends in some degree on whether or not Mr. Wade and certainly Ms. Willis end up not being on the case. And it may not be such a matter as disqualification, as it may be an issue of professional ethics, that one or both of them at some point determines that they need to step down or recuse from the case.


And I think the bigger allegation as it relates professionally tends to be the allegation that's made, and, again, it's just an allegation that's been made about the improper use of state and local funds in terms of Ms. Willis' payments to Mr. Wade and how that may have benefited her. That's the allegation, sort of the money part of it, I think, is more significant than purely an alleged personal relationship.

If one or both of them is removed, I think it could potentially impact the case because they have been leading it. And, certainly, Ms. Willis has been out front in terms of her management and leadership of this case. So, it's hard not to see as a practical matter that it wouldn't delay the case.

BLITZER: Certainly, she has been. Carrie Cordero, Norm Eisen, and to both of you, thank you very much for that update.

Just ahead, families of Hamas hostages are resorting to new tactics to express their grievances against the embattled Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as a major military offensive is underway in Gaza.



BLITZER: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under increasing political fire over his handling of the war in Gaza from domestic Israeli critics and foreign allies alike.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is joining us live from Tel Aviv right now. Jeremy, how much pressure is Prime Minister Netanyahu facing right now?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's no question that the Israeli prime minister is under tremendous pressure, whether that is from within his government, where we have seen that there have been divisions within his own war cabinet or from these protests that we saw breaking out today, the families of hostages, about 12 people going into the finance committee room in the Knesset, disrupting that session.

There was jostling with security officials who were trying to get those members out and those family members emotional and shouting at these government officials, telling them that they need to do more to get their loved ones out.

Now, the Israeli prime minister, for his part, he has made clear that a proposal from Hamas to try and end the war that would see the release of all the hostages, but also leave Hamas intact in many ways and allow the release of Palestinian prisoners, including those who committed the terrorist attacks on October 7th, he's making clear that that is completely untenable, telling the families of hostages instead today that Israel has its own proposal.

And now we are learning from Axios, our own analyst, Barak Ravid, saying that there is an Israeli proposal on the table that is offering the longest ceasefire that Israel has ever put on the table, up to two months of a pause in the fighting to allow for the release of all the hostages. This would be a phased release that would see women, older men and those in need of medical care exit first before eventually getting to female soldiers, men and male soldiers as well.

Netanyahu -- the question is, of course, whether Hamas would accept that. We do know that there are a number of negotiations ongoing at the moment. In fact, President Biden has dispatched one of his top advisers to the region to try and move these negotiations forward. He is traveling to Egypt as well as Qatar this week to handle these negotiations.

But as these negotiations are ongoing, there is still intense fighting in Southern Gaza. A source familiar with the matter telling me that the Israeli military is currently undergoing a major offensive in the western part of Khan Younis, the largest city in Southern Gaza, trying to take down one of the major Hamas battalions that exist there. And Palestine Red Crescent society officials telling us that that offensive, that the fighting between Hamas and the Israeli military is making the humanitarian situation there very difficult, very difficult to reach the wounded and get them to hospitals. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jeremy diamond in Tel Aviv for us, thanks for that report.

Coming up, tomorrow is also primary day for Democrats in New Hampshire. So, why isn't President Biden even on the ballot? Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan is standing by. She's here. We'll discuss when we come back.



BLITZER: Let's get some more right on our top story, voting in New Hampshire now just hours away. The Granite State's unsanctioned Democratic primary won't award any delegates and President Biden will not even appear on the ballot. It all stems from a dispute over the Democratic Party's decision to make South Carolina the first official primary instead of New Hampshire. But a write-in campaign for the president could offer some key insights into his strength in New Hampshire.

Joining us now, the Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN (D-NH): Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: I know you've said publicly that this decision by the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, not to have New Hampshire be the first primary state was a terrible -- terrible decision in your words.

Are New Hampshire voters though going to hold this against President Biden?

HASSAN: Look, New Hampshire has the first-in-the-nation primary because we take citizen-led, citizen-driven democracy so seriously. Our whole system of government with a 400-person volunteer state legislature is really emblematic of that.

And so we also understand what is at stake in this election. So while Granite Staters think the DNC made a terrible decision, and we have a state law that says we will have the first primaries, so that's what's happening tomorrow. We also know what the stakes are in this election. We care about democracy.

And our democracy cannot afford another Donald Trump term. We know that Donald Trump advocates violence over voting. He's an election denier. He will continue to work to undermine individual freedoms like a woman's reproductive rights.

And he will continue to say that he is above the law. That's antithetical to our democracy.

Meanwhile, too, Biden has a terrific bipartisan record of achievement and delivering results for all Americans. And we have a lot of work still to do on that front. But he has been able to put politics aside, and really focus this on getting things done like the infrastructure bill, like veterans health care, like investing in American manufacturing.

So, Granite Staters, knowing what is at stake here, are very energized by a write-in campaign and we are encouraging all Democrats and independents to go to the polls tomorrow. Go all the way down on the ballot, fill in the bubble next to write in and write into Biden's name.

BLITZER: Because his name, Biden's name is not going to be on the ballot. In order to vote for him, you have to do a write-in.

HASSAN: Yeah. You do. Yeah.

BLITZER: Which is a little bit more awkward.

HASSAN: Yeah. It's a little bit more work, but again, Granite Staters know how to do this. We've had a really good write-in campaign and we're seeing a lot of energy.

You know, even with the DNC saying that the delegates won't be seated, we had a really crowded room of people competing to be Biden delegates, including a lot of young people, a couple of weeks ago.


So people are very focused on the great job that Joe Biden has done and also the stakes in this election for our democracy.

BLITZER: As you know, the polls show that Trump is poised to win the Republican primary tomorrow in New Hampshire, setting up a potentially a rematch of 2020 between Trump and Biden. Something voters have consistently said, including in New Hampshire, they don't necessarily want.

Are voters in New Hampshire, Democratic voters especially, unenthusiastic about Biden?

HASSAN: Look, I think what they are enthusiastic about is his record of results. They are very concerned about Donald Trump.

So what you -- when you talk with Granite Staters and you say, hey, were finally getting high-speed Internet up in Ski Country in places like Sugar Hill, that helps our kids, our families, our health care entities, our schools, our businesses, we're getting finally projects that we've been trying to get done on our interstate highway to grow some of our local economies.

We've been working on those since the '80s. The infrastructure deals finally finishing that, too. A veteran told me told -- my team recently that for the first time he's getting health care from the V.A. for his exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. And he finally feels like it's not his fault, his problem, the V.A. is helping him now. That's again part due to Joe Biden's leadership.

So Granite Staters are really enthused about this, as I said. They also know the stakes in this election.

I'm the daughter of a World War II veteran. And when I hear Donald Trump echoing fascist, calling his opponents vermin, calling and encouraging violence, my dad always used to say to me in the run-up to World War II, we thought that was just talk and it wasn't.

So it's really important that all Granite Staters, all Americans understand the stakes here and take this election really seriously.

BLITZER: Clearly, the stakes are enormous.

Senator Maggie Hassan, thanks so much for coming in.

HASSAN: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Appreciate it very, very much.

Coming up, a promising new blood test could change how patients are diagnosed for a disease that affects millions, many millions of Americans. We'll have the details on this new medical advancement, that's next.



BLITZER: A new study suggests a blood test could diagnose Alzheimer's disease with high accuracy, which could one day be more accessible than existing testing methods and become as routine as checking for high cholesterol.

CNN's Brian Todd is looking into this important story for us.

Why is this blood test so promising?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDNET: It's promising, Wolf, because it could help people detect the disease earlier than ever. And because when it gets on the market, it'll give more people access to an accurate test.


TODD (voice-over): Jack Driscoll began to notice memory problems and soon learned he has Alzheimer's

JACK DRISCOLL, DIAGNOSED WITH ALZHEIMER'S: They gave me some tests and said, well, you -- you're going to have it.

TODD: Based on the test, Driscoll was able to prepare his family for what they could expect.

DRISCOLL: I talked to my wife and I talked to my kids and let them know that maybe down the road, I wasn't so going to be the same as I was then.

TODD: Testing for Alzheimer's may soon become much easier. A new study shows that a simple blood test called Al's path (ph) could identify Alzheimer's in people before symptoms start to show.

DR. SAURABH SHARNA, NEUROLOGIST AND DEMENTIA SPECIALIST, MEDSTAR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: This may revolutionize a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. This blood test, it's going to make it easy and quick to diagnose this condition.

TODD: The typical indicator of Alzheimer's in the brain is the buildup of proteins called beta-amyloid and tau. Until now, the way doctors look for those proteins was to use brain scans or spinal taps, but not everyone can get those tests.

DR. RICHARD ISAACSON, PREVENTIVE NEUROLOGIST, INSTITUTE FOR NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES: Pet scans are expensive. They have radiation thousands of dollars. Spinal taps are intrusive and they also cost a lot of money. A simple blood test can democratize care for people and really identify if a person as at risk for dementia before symptoms begin.

TODD: The new study shows this blood test Al's path (ph) compares well for accuracy with brain scans and spinal taps to be able to detect and possibly predict who has Alzheimer's even when a person appears to be normal.

SHARMA: Individuals who develop Alzheimer's disease, they develop the pathological changes in the brain up to 20 years before they may show symptoms. So, with this test, we can actually see those pathological changes in the blood. So, yes you may be able to capture this well before they develop this themselves.

TODD: According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 6 million people in the U.S. are living with dementia caused by Alzheimer's. And the number of people affected is projected to double in the U.S. in the next two decades. While there is still no cure for Alzheimer's --

ISAACSON: When a person is still at the earliest phase, its called a mild cognitive impairment phase, we now several FDA approved drugs that have been shown to have some disease modifying or disease slowing effects.

TODD: Which makes early detection with this blood test even more critical.

Jack Driscoll has this advice to anyone who tests positive.

DRISCOLL: I would encourage them to keep their life happy as best they can.


TODD (on camera): The Alzheimer's Association tells CNN it believes this work is very encouraging, but a spokesperson from the association stress to us that this blood test is right now only for use in research and has not yet been approved by the FDA.

And the smoke has been cautioned, the product still needs further testing in diverse and representative populations. But, Wolf, it is a ray of hope.

BLITZER: Certainly is very important story indeed.

Brian Todd, thank you very, very much.

Finally, tonight, Dexter Scott King, the youngest son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has died after a battle with prostate cancer. He was 62 years old. He worked as chairman of the king center created by his Mother, Coretta Scott King, to continue her husbands legacy.

King is survived by his wife, Leah Weber King, as well as his brother, Martin Luther King III and sister Bernice. His sister Yolanda died in 2007.

Our deepest condolences to his family. May he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tomorrow, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, tomorrow morning, I'll be back for CNN special live coverage of the New Hampshire primary. Until then, once again, thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.