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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Police Respond To Shooting At Iowa High School; Sheriff: Multiple Victims After Iowa School Shooting; Sheriff: No Further Danger After Iowa School Shooting. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired January 04, 2024 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: I'm Kasie Hunt. Welcome into our viewers watching in the United States and around the world. We have
breaking news at this hour. Police are responding to a shooting this morning at a high school in the small town of Perry, Iowa. It's about 40
minutes outside of Des Moines.
Let's take a look. As you can see here, there is a large police presence outside the school. This is the first day back for students and teachers
after the holiday break. Officials now tell CNN the situation is secured. But, it's still not clear whether anyone was injured. And we are expecting
a police news conference in just moments. And we will be waiting for any additional details, and we're going to bring that to you as soon as we can.
In the meantime, I'm joined by CNN Political Analyst Jackie Kucinich; CNN Law Enforcement Contributor Steve Moore, and we also have Charles Ramsey
with us as well.
And Steve Moore, if you are here with us, I'd actually like to start with you. Actually, I'm so sorry. We don't have Steve Charles. I'm told you are
with us. There you are. OK. So, we obviously don't know very much about what has unfolded at this situation. But, we are seeing that video. You can
see law enforcement in that video. They do not appear to be alarmed. What do you see when you look at these pictures, and what are you thinking about
if you are an official responding to the scene?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (VIA TELEPHONE): Well, I mean, you can tell from the posture of the officers that the threat is no
longer an active threat. Now, having said that, we still don't know exactly what took place inside the school building. So, once we get more
information, once this press conference takes place, we'll know a lot more. But, it is apparent that the individual responsible is either in custody or
is in fact deceased on the scene. We don't know whether or not anyone else was seriously injured, killed or what have you. All that information, I'm
sure, we'll start to learn more as the day unfolds.
HUNT: Charles, you're seeing vehicles that are from different police departments with different markings on the side. This is obviously -- it's
a very small town in Iowa. The resources that would be available just for the town to respond to something like this are pretty limited. No? I mean,
what's required of surrounding jurisdictions and agencies?
RAMSEY (VIA TELEPHONE): Well, I mean, in today's world, you have to be prepared for events like this. And so, there are mutual aid agreements that
are entered into between agencies. So, should something like this occur, you get multiple jurisdictions that will respond and provide support, both
law enforcement as well as emergency medical in a similar situation so that they can effectively respond. And you're absolutely right. Small towns do
not have the resources that you have in larger cities to respond to these kinds of things.
And we learned after Columbine in the late 90s that you can't wait for a SWAT team for an example to come on the scene before any action is taken.
Officers are trained now. When you arrive at the scene, you go in, you locate the threat, and you stop the threat. That's the first responsibility
that you have. And so, that's how officers are trained, and that's how they respond.
HUNT: I think Steve Moore is now with us, also one of our law enforcement analyst. Steve, let me bring you into this conversation as we wait for
information from this press conference. I mean, it is -- it's an hour earlier in Iowa than it is here on the East Coast. And it does seem to be
our understanding that what unfolded at this high school may have happened before classes began. What is -- how would that affect the law enforcement
STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR, & RETIRED SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT, FBI (VIA TELEPHONE): It might actually simplify things. Simplify
things is a relative term here. If the shooting occurred as children, high schoolers, were going to class, then it could be that it happened outside
the school or in the lobby area or in an assembly area. The reason for that in the shooter's part would be to have potential of hitting more people, of
get -- having more targets.
It would also simplify it because if the shooter was deep in the building, say in one of the back classrooms on a second or third floor, then you have
the added complication of finding them simply by the sound of the gunfire and reaching them in time.
And so, if it happened earlier before classes started, you have a potentially theoretical better chance of interdicting the shooter quicker.
HUNT: Right, of course. And Steve, at this point, we obviously have very little information, just to bring our viewers up to speed about what we are
seeing and learning here. We do know that there was an incident. There were ambulances that were observed driving away from the scene. But, otherwise,
there do not seem to be medical personnel on site. Steve, what does that say to you about this?
MOORE (VIA TELEPHONE): Well, as Chief Ramsey said earlier, it seems to me the urgency of the situation has passed. There are officers walking around,
obviously not looking for cover as they move. So, what has happened is probably in a static situation. Either the shooter is known to have left or
the shooter has been interdicted, and they feel that the immediate threat to the school is gone. As far as the ambulances, that could mean some good
things and some bad -- or some bad things. Either there is no need for ambulances because there is no need to transport the victims that remained
in the school, or there are no injured victims, or there are very few injured victims. So, this could be very good or very bad news. I'm hoping
for very good news that it wasn't a high casualty event. But, obviously, we don't know.
HUNT: Charles Ramsey, we're obviously, again, waiting for law enforcement to a hold a planned -- the news conference is planned for 11 a.m. We're
going to bring our viewers that as soon as those officers come to the microphones to talk to us. But, I know you have been in situations before
where you've had to address the media, the public in the wake of a tragedy like this. I mean, what are the considerations for law enforcement right
now about how to disseminate information about what happened in here. We've got -- it looks like two gentlemen coming here to the podium. So, we're
just going to listen in here now.
SHERIFF ADAM INFANTE, DALLAS COUNTY, IOWA SHERIFF'S OFFICE: You good? My name is Sheriff Adam Infante, I-N-F-A-N-T-E. I'm the Sheriff here in Dallas
County. I'm joined by our state, local and federal partners here at the Perry High School. This morning, at approximately 7:37 a.m., we had a
serious radio activation at the high school which indicated an active shooter situation.
Our officer first arrived within seven minutes of that activation and located multiple gunshot victims. We're still unclear exactly how many are
injured, or what the extent of those are. But, we're working on that right now. There is no further danger to the public. The community is safe. We're
just now working backwards, trying to figure out everything that happened and make notifications.
There'll be another update later on today. It's still very early. This happened at approximately 7:37 this morning. The school didn't start yet.
Luckily, there was very few students and faculty in the building, which I think contributed to a good outcome in that sense. But, we'll have more
information later on this afternoon.
We will not be releasing any more information in the meantime. So, please be patient with us so that we can talk with these victims and their
families and try and figure out what happened. We won't be answering any questions today, right now. We'll let you know later on this afternoon what
time we'll be meeting back with you again. And we hope to provide more detail then.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, can we -- just to be clear, you don't have a number of people who were injured on this?
INFANTE: We're still working on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you identified the shooter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's their current status?
INFANTE: Oh, we'll get to that later on this afternoon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you confirm the shooter was a student of the school?
INFANTE: I can't confirm that right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you confirm me any death?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there any reunification center for families and students right now?
INFANTE: Great point. The reunification center has already been established. And then, most of those -- I think all the kids have been
reunified already. So, we're are good in that area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were are there any faculty members that were hurt?
INFANTE: I can't answer that question yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you made any apprehensions or arrests?
INFANTE: I can't answer that question yet either.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take no further questions at this time. See you this afternoon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would there be a presser -- sorry. I just want to make sure --
INFANTE: I will let you know. We don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iowa Department of Public Safety will push out a message as far as location and time of the next press conference.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, if you go to the Iowa Department of Public Safety website, it'll be posted there probably --
INFANTE: Shortly after noon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shortly after noon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any surveillance video available?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any surveillance video available?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is nothing more that we're going to --
INFANTE: Yeah. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- be able to answer right now.
INFANTE: We'll be back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
HUNT: All right. We've just been listening to Sheriff Infante of the Dallas County Police Department in Iowa. The sheriff confirmed there were
"multiple gunshot victims". But, he declined to specify how many. He said they were still trying to figure that out. And he also did not say if any
of these victims were killed, just that they were gunshot victims. He also did not answer questions about the status of the person who is responsible
for this shooting, would not confirm whether or not that person is a current student at the school or say whether or not that person is still
He did say that there is no current threat to the public. So, that would explain why the police officers we've been seeing throughout this morning
did not seem to be acting in an urgent manner. Again, he confirmed there is no current threat to the public at this point.
They say that this incident was -- began at 7:37 a.m. this morning. That -- it was presumably Central Time. So, that would have been 8:37 a.m. Eastern
Time. An officer arrived seven minutes later, they said, after this radio activation. They did -- he did note that, luckily, his word, the school had
not yet started when this incident was underway.
We are joined by Steve Moore and Charles Ramsey, our law enforcement analysts. Charles Ramsey, can I just get your reaction to what you heard
there? Because I think that we may have had -- initially had a sense that this was not necessarily, or at least there was a hope that this was
perhaps not as serious as some other incidents. We have, unfortunately, covered in recent months and years. But, given his somber demeanor and the
fact that they are still trying to figure out how many were wounded, there does seem to be additional concern.
RAMSEY (VIA TELEPHONE): Well, I mean, listen, it's not good news. I mean, he said there are multiple gunshot victims. One of the CNN reporters that
actually responded to Perry earlier did see a couple of ambulances leaving from the Perry area. So, they may be carrying a couple of the gunshot
victims as well. This did happen before students arrived. That's good news, because that makes for fewer kids that could be involved. But, you would
have had faculty and staff that would be in the building.
Now, we don't know anything about the shooter yet. We don't know if it's a student, if it's former faculty, if this is a stranger. We don't know any
of that. And if whether or not the timing was planned, so that it was before the students got there. So, there is still a lot of unanswered
questions. It appears that the suspect is down inside the school as well. And again, there is a lot of information that they have. They just simply
aren't in a position to share it right now because it's an act of investigation, and I fully understand that.
HUNT: Yeah. Steve Moore, I mean, what would you add to this as we -- and what we heard? Frankly, didn't hear from the sheriff. There did say there
is going to be an additional news conference later today.
MOORE (VIA TELEPHONE): I didn't think that there was much more to add from what the Chief just said, Chief Ramsey just said. I would be wondering
right now, as an investigator, kind of my mind goes to why the person arrived so long before the school started. It would tend to make me suspect
that maybe there was a specific target that the shooter was going after, and knew that that person would be at the school at that time, which would
indicate probably less casualties than a mass shooting event.
I think the thing that jumps out at me here is the timing of the shooting. Nothing with the shooters is random, believe it or not, except sometimes
their targets. When they go into shoot, they know when they want to shoot, where they want to shoot, and why they want to shoot. And the fact that
they chose the early morning, before school started, it leads me to believe that they had a specific target.
HUNT: Yeah. I want to bring in Jackie Kucinich to this conversation, political -- longtime political reporter here. Jackie, one of the things
that I think says a lot about the state of our -- state of affairs here in the United States is that this is apparently, according to the Gun Violence
Archive, the fourth school gun-related incident in the year 2024. And I would just note that it is January 4.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE, & CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Because they didn't have school January 1.
HUNT: Right. They did not. And I think this is unfortunately a conversation that we find ourselves having far too many times, and one that I think -- I
do get the sense, having covered this for a long time, that there is quite a bit of urgency out in the public to try and fix this. But, there isn't a
lot in this town where we sit.
KUCINICH: The last time anything actually was passed was after a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. And
part of that bill that was signed into law by Joe Biden was to pour funding into mental health and into school safety. We don't know if this particular
school received any of these funds. But, that's the last thing that sparked something to happen. But, it shouldn't take that. And there isn't a -- that
political will isn't there. And listen, a lot of places in this country are not really willing to tighten their gun laws. Iowa in 2021 became a
concealed -- a permitless carry state. So -- and honored residents and non- residents. We don't know what happened here. We don't know if any of this applies. But, that just shows that they're loosening gun regulations in
Iowa and all over the country.
HUNT: Yeah. All right. Jackie Kucinich is going to be back with us in just a moment. But, I do want to say thank you, Steve Moore, Chief Ramsey. I
really appreciate you being here. And we are going to continue our coverage of the story as it develops, and we'll resume our conversation with our law
enforcement analysts, if that is required. But, we will be back here on State of the Race after a short break.
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. For candidates not named Donald Trump, it is basically a make or break moment. The months of campaigning
have come down to this final stretch before the Iowa caucuses. And then, of course, a week later, the New Hampshire primary. CNN is going to hold back-
to-back town halls. In Des Moines tonight, Ron DeSantis will face voters first, followed by Nikki Haley. Donald Trump, the far and away frontrunner
in the Hawkeye State, and he is not in Iowa today. He is relying instead on surrogates headlining his campaign events. Some voters appear to be
frustrated that Haley and DeSantis haven't gone directly after Trump. They have appeared instead hesitant to attack him. Here is what DeSantis said
when a voter said that he was being too soft.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON DESANTIS, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I mean, first of all, he won't debate. I mean, like how am I -- I mean, like, he is not
willing to get on the stage. He is not willing to answer questions. He is in Mar-a-Lago. I mean, like -- so, yes. Show up in debate. We're doing a
debate on January 10 in Iowa. He was invited. He declined. Reality is he is basically making a mockery of this whole process by not showing up and
answering people's questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: All right. We're joined now by CNN's Steve Contorno who is live for us now in Des Moines. Steve, it's good to have you. We were talking earlier
this week about the reality of facing Ron DeSantis that this is in many ways a last stand for him. Were you surprised he was confronted by these
voters about the Trump question, and what do you make of how he answered?
STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: I'm not surprised, because when I've been talking to voters throughout the state over the last few weeks and really
over months now, they are looking for a fight or someone who can directly challenge not just Joe Biden, but Trump as well. And these candidates have
sort of struggled to strike the balance between appeasing those voters and not turning off the Republicans who remain loyal to Trump, or at least
still think that the Trump years were a success.
And you've seen DeSantis and Haley sort of struggle to articulate their position on it. It's challenging in part because they were such big backers
of Donald Trump for four years. You look at what Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis did together in Florida on COVID and such in (ph). And Nikki
Haley, obviously, served in the Trump administration as UN Ambassador. How can they go back now and say the Trump years were terrible when they were
no such big cheerleaders of it? So, that is the challenge they are facing.
But, I will say, there are still a lot of Iowans who are undecided here. I know the polling hasn't moved for months. But, you have conversations at
these events. And there are people who are still taking stock of these candidates and waiting till the last minute to make a decision. You'll hear
from some of those candidates, some of those voters tonight at our town hall where they will be asking Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley questions
directly with their concerns.
HUNT: And of course, if anything, the polls have been moving in Trump's direction, going from under 50 percent to over 50 percent in Iowa. Steve
Contorno for us, thank you very much for that report.
All right. We're going to dive into all this with today's panel. Republican Strategist Kevin Madden was Campaign Advisor to Mitt Romney; Democratic
Strategist Brad Woodhouse, former Communications Director for the DNC, and Jackie Kucinich, CNN Political Analyst remains with us. She is also the
Washington Bureau Chief for The Boston Globe. Thank you all for being here. It's great to have you. We've just -- the countdown is really on here. The
thing that I think that's most interesting that's out today is actually in New Hampshire. And it is a -- an ad from the Trump campaign. It's the first
time they have gone after Nikki Haley on the airwaves in this campaign. I want to play a little bit of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Haley and Biden opposed Trump's border wall, confirmed warnings of terrorists sneaking into our southern border. Yet, Haley joined
Biden in opposing Trump's visitor ban from terrorist nations. Haley's weakness puts us in grave danger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So, I think it's important to underscore that Nikki Haley did in fact work for Donald Trump when he was --
HUNT: -- President of the United States --
BRAD WOODHOUSE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, & FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR THE DNC: When he was building the border wall --
HUNT: -- when -- yes --
WOODHOUSE: -- or not building the border wall.
HUNT: -- when he was saying he was going to do that. I mean, Brad, what do you make of this move here?
WOODHOUSE: Well, look, I think it's smart. I mean, Donald Trump wants to end this primary after New Hampshire, and I think he is doubling down on
trying to do that. There is this belief, and I don't really think the polling has reflected that much that Nikki Haley was on the rise and that
she might be a threat to Trump in New Hampshire. Now, they're begging Christie to get out of the race. It doesn't actually instill a lot of
confidence in Haley being on the rise in New Hampshire. But, I think it is smart strategy for Trump to try to end in the primary earlier.
And look, to this other point about them attacking Trump, I mean, it just hasn't happened. I mean, it's the weirdest race I've ever seen. They're
running against Donald Trump.
But, they're not willing to run against Donald Trump. And so, I don't see the contours of this race changing fundamentally just in these debates and
town halls and then the caucus and primary.
HUNT: It's almost as -- I mean, it's -- we've talked a lot about how Trump is functionally an incumbent. Right? And -- I mean, there is that element
of it too that, like, if he is the incumbent, people typically don't want to see others attack him. But, I mean, Kevin, this seems to acknowledge
that like they think they have a Nikki Haley problem. They didn't used to - -
HUNT: -- think that they needed to do this.
KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, & SENIOR PARTNER, PENTA GROUP: Well, I don't think they haven't Nikki problem -- Haley problem yet. But, one of
the things you have to be -- in campaigns, you have to be vigilant when you start to see these trend lines working against you. And I think Brad is
right. I think the Trump campaign wants to finish this, and really slow any momentum that Nikki Haley has in New Hampshire because they want to spring
-- they want to sort of slingshot into some of the southern states in Super Tuesday with more momentum and not having a Nikki Haley to deal with.
But, your advertising in your message is always reflected of what your internal polling is telling you. And I think that the internal polling is
telling them that she is potentially a threat to finish second in Iowa, right, which is going to be a huge story and a huge level of momentum going
into New Hampshire --
MADDEN: -- and that she continues to rise in New Hampshire. Now, is she rising five, 10, 12 points a day, like we saw with Rick Santorum --
MADDEN: -- in Iowa in 2016? Probably not. But, they do see a trend line that is favorable towards Nikki Haley, and they're taking action.
HUNT: I mean, Jackie, that is the thing that could make Iowa pretty interesting. I mean, if Nikki Haley were to -- maybe it's coming in second.
Maybe it's tied with Ron DeSantis. Maybe it was within a point of Ron DeSantis. I mean, that's kind of those two things. One, it's going to mean
that as we are all flying out of there on our way to Manchester that night, everyone is going to be asking you if Ron DeSantis is going to drop out --
HUNT: -- if something like that happens.
KUCINICH: He is donor two (ph) of that.
HUNT: But two, it's going to be, hey, what does this mean for Nikki Haley in New Hampshire? Is this going to --
KUCINICH: I mean, momentum is -- you can't buy momentum. And if she is able to -- and now, she has said that the -- she had this line about how Iowa
votes, New Hampshire corrects.
KUCINICH: Now, I don't think she is going to say that if she wins in Iowa, and that's what's, I mean, you usually say. You think you're going to win
in Iowa. But, if she does have that surprise, you really can't -- it's -- you can't underestimate what that could mean in New Hampshire. And on the
flip side, my goodness, you're right about Ron DeSantis. I mean, for someone who came in with a full head of steam, that certainly has
dissipated, and if he can't rise in Iowa, considering how much money and how much time he has put into that state, where else he is going to go?
MADDEN: Oh, wait, it's a wait in Iowa if Nikki Haley finish the second.
MADDEN: It is a huge win.
WOODHOUSE: But, what she said to your point about Iowa goes first and then New Hampshire, correct, was a crazy thing to say. If she thinks she has any
momentum at all in Iowa, mean, they're already -- DeSantis and super PAC.
HUNT: It's something that some strategists told her that she repeated, which is a mistake that --
MADDEN: What happens in Iowa finds its way to New Hampshire or we have to say --
MADDEN: -- you say in New Hampshire finds its way to Iowa, like that's what --
WOODHOUSE: Right. I mean, I -- it's just the craziest thing to say if you want to build momentum, and DeSantis is already using it against her in
HUNT: Right. And Kim Reynolds was already out there saying, well, I don't appreciate that. She is --
HUNT: -- of course, the Governor of Iowa. So, DeSantis is kind of in this last ditch moment, trying to attack both Nikki Haley and Donald Trump on
the same thing, or rather, I shouldn't say DeSantis himself. It's the super PAC that is supporting him. Most of the ads, frankly, on the air have come
from super PACs. Take a look at the latest one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tricky Nikki Haley supports the radical trans agenda, allowing gender reassignment surgeries on minors.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's get them the help, that therapy, whatever they need. I think the law should stay out of
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump is no better.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You allowed biological men to compete in this Universe Pageant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can a man become a woman?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So that's eyebrow raising, Kevin.
MADDEN: Yeah. Look, so much of this is timing, and timing is everything, I think, in politics. And I think this is, first of all, it's very late.
MADDEN: This should have been a much more broad and sustained message when DeSantis got into the race.
HUNT: If they were going to use it.
MADDEN: Right, if they were going to use it.
KUCINICH: But, they tried. Remember, there is that crazy ad that was the most online thing I've ever seen in my --
KUCINICH: -- entire life that was run by the DeSantis super PAC. Am I right about that?
MADDEN: One ad -- and look, you guys covered when I worked on races. Like, would I ever say, hey, by the way, we're going to run an ad? I would tell
you that we're running an ad, that we have a surrogate network out there because of this message.
WOODHOUSE: We have a campaign.
MADDEN: We have three stops over the next two weeks where we're going to be hammering this message. That did not happen, broad and sustain versus like
these little episodic jets (ph).
HUNT: Right. Like floating something and seeing.
MADDEN: Right. Right.
HUNT: Well, does this stick to people to respond?
MADDEN: But, it's also reflective of what I think they're seeing, is that DeSantis' support himself. Even for folks that are registering support for
him right now, it's soft, and that there is a potential that they could go over to Nikki Haley. And that's where you're seeing, I think, the trend
lines starting to dictate some of the strategies in Iowa.
HUNT: Yeah. All right. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to continue this conversation afterward. But, be sure to stay with CNN tonight
for back-to-back town halls live from Des Moines, Iowa. First, we're going to have Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And then, it will be former South
Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. I wonder we're going to hear it all about whether or not New Hampshire is going to correct Iowa in that town hall in
Iowa. It all starts tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. And of course, the election may not come down to just campaigns and votes. We're
going to talk a little bit about how the Supreme Court could have a huge impact on this race. That's next.
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. I'm Kasie Hunt live in Washington. So, I just want to continue this political chat, because, oftentimes, our
conversation is off screen. I really wish they would have been on screen. But, they're having one. And I -- we can show you exactly what -- Kevin
Madden, you were just talking about something that Chris Christie put out that's really striking. And we can show everyone, this is a digital ad
where he looks straight at the camera and talks about his decision to endorse Donald Trump for President. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Eight years ago when I decided to endorse Donald Trump for President, I did it because he
was winning. And I did it because I thought I can make him a better candidate and a better President. Well, I was wrong. I made a mistake. The
most important, important characteristic of any candidate for President of the United States is what's in here. The most important thing is character.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Pretty remarkable.
MADDEN: It is. And I will tell you, this is the message that I've been dying for him to deliver since he got into the race, because I thought it
was the biggest missing part of his message, because he seem to be throwing this entire campaign admonishing people like me who sort of criticized him
for endorsing Trump, to begin with.
And to finally sort of admit that he was wrong I think is a much better message. I wish he had done it longer or I had wished he had done it
KUCINICH: But, he'd done it with reporters. I mean, if you asked him this, and with Ed boards, and I sat in on one, and he -- but, you're right. It
wasn't like this. It wasn't kind of a mass, like -- just it was more piecemeal.
HUNT: He came across as sort of like irritated that --
HUNT: -- you are asking him, I would say.
HUNT: Right. But, in that --
WOODHOUSE: She started the campaign that way, probably --
WOODHOUSE: -- rather than --
WOODHOUSE: -- rather than ending it.
WOODHOUSE: If there had been more of that from the other candidates, trump may not be where he is.
MADDEN: Because -- I mean, his audience was the sort of Never Trumpers, right, folks that who -- like me, who are sort of objected to the idea of
Trump being our nominee to begin with in 2020. And he gave so much oxygen to that candidacy, and never really took, I think, ownership over the fact
that he sort of did that.
MADDEN: And this is the first time I feel like he has authentically taken ownership over it. And here we are. We're 15 days before the caucuses.
HUNT: And we're in a situation where people are actually calling on him to drop out to make it more likely that Trump could actually get dented in New
HUNT: Brad, I mean, it did really -- I mean, you've thought about that. I realize you're the Democrat at the table, but you've thought about this
with candidates. Like, that's the thing I used to hear about Christie. It's like, OK, he want to run against Trump now, but he is a hypocrite.
WOODHOUSE: Well, yeah. I mean, he stuck with Trump through Charlottesville. He stuck with Trump through repealing the Affordable -- trying to repeal
the Affordable Care Act, and everything else that Trump did in his first term, and he stuck with Trump all the way up through the 2020 election, and
I think parted company with him when Trump decided to try to overturn the election that he had lost. So, it is hard to break through when you have
that type of record. And I think, as you say, I mean, Christie held himself out as a uniform prosecutor, a truth teller, and all of this, and then to
go with Trump, I think, undermined his credibility at the time. He benefited when he left office from having been in Trump's administration.
And so, I think he should have done this at the beginning, as I said, instead of the end. He would have more credibility for his attacks on Trump
if he had taken responsibility.
HUNT: Yeah. We're not even getting into the whole history of Christie as a prosecutor and the way that that tangles itself with the Trump-Kushner
family, and what it meant that Chris Christie was suddenly with Donald Trump. Kevin, do you think that Christie should drop out before New
MADDEN: I think if he really wants to help keep Trump from winning, that's one of the best options that he has. I mean, the thing that's -- that Nikki
Haley probably needs more than anything if she is the one that has -- she - - with the momentum, and the one that probably presents are the best opportunity as a general election candidate. What she needs is
consolidation. And where Christie could play a role, a huge role is in helping that consolidation with the party behind her. And so, that's
probably his greatest utility right now, and it seems to be the one that he refuses to use.
HUNT: And we think that's why -- ego?
WOODHOUSE: I have no idea. I couldn't criticize him for without really knowing more directly about what's keeping him in it. But, I think
relevancy, yeah, like, just the idea of, you don't really have a platform the second you stop running for President.
MADDEN: He gets a lot here.
WOODHOUSE: Where he gets a smaller platform. Yeah. And he has a lot of hits.
MADDEN: He gets a lot of hits. He has done a lot of televisions. Yeah.
WOODHOUSE: That's been one of the --
WOODHOUSE: -- criticisms of him.
HUNT: Yeah. So, very quickly, before we go, I want to get to something that I'm kind of surprised that it hasn't gotten more attention. Jackie, I'm
just going to give this to you.
There was a post yesterday on Twitter, the platform formerly known as, and it went after -- it's from the Trump war room, and it went after someone I
imagine you know. I've certainly worked with her for many years as a source. Erin Perrine is a former Trump 2020 campaign official. She worked
for Kevin McCarthy on the Hill. But, she joined a pro-Ron DeSantis super PAC. And this is what the Trump war room wrote, and I can't read it all out
loud, but it says, "Look at this grifter @ErinPerrine trying to use her previous Trump association to get on TV. She chose to side with
DeSanctimonious and nothing can ever wash that foul stench of shi* (ph), off of her. MAGA disowns her and anyone else that associates works with
This -- I mean, like, I just have never seen anything like this, and I don't -- like, I mean, I just think as a matter of personal principle, lie,
you don't treat people this way. What do you make of this?
KUCINICH: It's not like the Trump campaign and Trump himself have treated people who've turned, who've gone to another campaign much differently. I
mean, some of them went to jail, for example, like Michael Cohen, as a result of some of the work that he did for Trump, and they cast him to the
curb. I mean, the Washington and the country is littered with people who decided to turn their backs on the Trump campaign and received not the
kindest farewell. So, this --
KUCINICH: -- while this is a -- it is abhorrent you shouldn't treat people like that, obviously, as humans, I'm not terribly surprised given their
WOODHOUSE: Yeah. Those terms like that calling someone a traitor is what inspires political violence, and it's the type of language that we've seen
from Trump, and we've seen from his supporters. So, it is abhorrent, because it does inspire people to -- I'm sure she has probably received
death threats as a result of that post.
MADDEN: Staff on staff crime always sort of demonstrates a lack of poise. But, I think in this place and in this instance, it's -- every organization
is a reflection of its principle.
MADDEN: This is the Trump way.
HUNT: Yeah. That is something -- I think I may have originally learned that from you, and I -- it has been something that has stuck with me for my
entire career from covering the Romney campaign back in 2012.
All right. We do have to go to two breaking stories that we're following. First, we have an update on the school shooting in Perry, Iowa. A law
enforcement official tells CNN the school shooter there is dead. So, we've confirmed that now. And in another story, ISIS is claiming responsibility
for Wednesday's deadly twin blast in Iran, near the gravesite of General Qasem Soleimani. We're going to have much more on both of these stories
after a quick break.
HUNT: Welcome back. We have just 11 days until the Iowa caucuses, and of course Donald Trump is way out in front. But, I am very excited to talk
about the latest in Iowa with Galen Bacharier who covers politics for The Des Moines Register, and has a great sense of what's going on the ground
there. Galen, thanks very much for being here.
GALEN BACHARIER, POLITICS REPORTER, THE DES MOINES REGISTER: Thanks for having me, Kasie.
HUNT: So, let's just -- a big picture, I mean, you've been to these events. You have a real granular feel for what's going on. Donald Trump seems to be
moving farther and farther above 50 percent. There does seem to be some movement underneath him between Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. And to the
point that there are conversations about whether Nikki Haley could come in second in Iowa, what is your view from the ground about the possibility of
something like that happening?
BACHARIER: Yeah, absolutely. I think everyone here on the ground in Iowa is kind of observing those two main dynamics you mentioned, particularly
heading into the caucuses, is Donald Trump able to maintain that remarkable frontrunner lead that he has had for months now, and then, like you said,
Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis sort of vying in these last couple of weeks to sort of emerge out of the caucuses as the leading Trump alternative. We've
seen them attack each other more than anything these last few weeks, although they have started to amp up a little bit of their criticism of
Donald Trump. So, that is sort of the main dynamics that folks are looking for heading into these final 11 days.
HUNT: Galen, what's your sense of the organization of the Trump campaign in Iowa? They obviously got burned in 2016. And he has been there telling
people that they need to get out to caucus. Do you get the sense that it's going to be enough to get him where he feels like he needs to be?
BACHARIER: Yeah, absolutely. I'd reported about this a couple of weeks ago. There is no doubt that, especially when you compare this to their 2016
operation, this is sort of a whole new level, sort of from the jump they were -- their idea was to try and expand the electorate. So, turning out
both of those loyalists and folks who are going to caucus for him anyway, and also tapping into some of that grassroots support to really turn out,
folks who maybe support Donald Trump, who are maybe politically engaged in some way, maybe donated to him in the past, but aren't necessarily tending
to go to caucuses on a normal cycle, they are hoping that they can ramp up turnout and really show out with their supporters in a major way.
I've reported extensively on their ground game. It's certainly several steps up from the operation in 2016, which I think everyone knows by now
was a little bit of a scattershot operation, certainly more professionalized this time around, and really hoping to turn out there
folks in a major way.
HUNT: Yeah. No. Really interesting that you have that perspective. Let's talk about DeSantis for a second. I mean, he obviously has bet the farm,
pun entirely intended, on Iowa. And he has had some critical pieces of the political Republican establishment there, kind of line up for him in Bob
Vander Plaats, who is, of course, the evangelical leader, the family leader, and Kim Reynolds, the Republican Governor. A disappointing
performance isn't necessarily just bad for his own political future. It could potentially impact the two of them. I mean, how much nervousness is
there in the Reynolds and Vander Plaats camps that this is going to turn out to have been a failed bet?
BACHARIER: Yeah, absolutely. I think for a lot of folks here in Iowa when you look back on past cycles and you look at how Ron DeSantis has been able
to arrange support from some of those prominent conservative leaders, on paper, this has been a successful campaign in that front, right, getting
the support of the sitting governor, getting the support of a prominent evangelical leader in Bob Vander Plaats. Those are major names to line up
behind you. The issue has really been for Governor DeSantis that the support of the base hasn't been able to follow those folks in a major way.
And so, I think people are monitoring that, right, and trying to understand what this could mean for this caucus and future caucuses.
And I think it also, in part, speaks to the power and impact that Donald Trump has had on this electorate, the sway that he has had over folks even
while he has publicly feuded with both, majority, Kim Reynolds, but also Bob Vander Plaats, certainly has not been private about having
disagreements with them. So, I think obviously, there is a lot at stake for those folks, and they will be keeping an eye out for how DeSantis performs.
HUNT: So, Galen, let's also talk about Nikki Haley for a second because she obviously has been focused much more on New Hampshire. But, there are kind
of these rumblings that she may be rising in Iowa as she kind of gains momentum nationally. But, she was at an event in New Hampshire yesterday,
and she called on the voters there to "correct what Iowa decides in the caucuses." And Kim Reynolds, the Iowa Governor, tweeted not -- she was not
terribly pleased about that. Is this something that Iowa voters have heard about, and what do you think the reaction is going to be to it?
BACHARIER: Yeah. I think this is a fairly classic case of folks trying to manage expectations ahead of the caucuses. Right? Nikki Haley, she is still
visiting Iowa. Right? She has still been on the ground. But, the polling has indicated that certainly where the sort of center for support is rising
is in New Hampshire. And so, I think setting expectations and ensuring that folks still turn out for her in that second contest if maybe there is a
disappointing result for her in Iowa, whether that be a third place finish behind Ron DeSantis or otherwise, I think there is certainly some managing
expectations going on there.
Iowans do take this role of selecting very seriously. But, there is also an expectation that people are going to support who they're going to support.
There is a lot of stuff being said in the final couple of weeks here. And so, I think the folks who are already supporting her are going to continue
doing that way, and maybe some of the undecided folks will take into account, but it's kind of hard to say.
HUNT: Indeed. All right. Galen Bacharier for us in Iowa, of the Des Moines Register, Galen, thank you very much. I'm very grateful to have you on the
show. Good luck in the next week or two.
BACHARIER: Yeah. Thanks for having me.
HUNT: All right. We're continuing to track breaking news, ISIS claiming responsibility for Wednesday's deadly twin blast in Iran near the gravesite
of General Qasem Soleimani. For the latest, CNN's Nic Robertson joins us live from Israel. Nic, what are we learning?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: ISIS is saying that they're responsible. They say that they killed 300 polytheists. Now, ISIS
is a Sunni group. Iran is a majority Shia country, the leadership very much Shia. And the ISIS has always targeted the Shia community in many places,
in many circumstances. And this seems to be an attack by them going after, particularly at this time, Soleimani's memorial. Why? Because they view
Soleimani as somebody who led Iran's effort to crack down on ISIS. So, for them, this seems to be a target they would potentially pick. It certainly
has their signature of killing large numbers of innocent civilians. Certainly, the attack wasn't the signature of an Israeli-type attack, which
would be very targeted, very precise going after command or leadership individuals.
So, in this case, it appears that ISIS is claiming something that they've done. They haven't, so far that we've seen, presented evidence supporting
it. But, there are a couple of details that they do offer that are not -- that do have some discrepancies with the Iranian narrative of events. To
start off, the Iranians say only 84 people were killed, but it's not unusual for ISIS to overclaim and overstate their killings. But, the other
important point where ISIS's narrative differs from the Iranian account of events. ISIS says that this was perpetrated by two suicide bombers. It was
two suicide bombers, they say, who were behind the attack.
Now, the Iranians yesterday said that the first bomb, at least the one that was left 700 meters from the memorial for Qasem Soleimani, was in a
suitcase, and the Iranian say was remotely detonated. So, that's a point of discrepancy. But, it does seem to fit ISIS's MO that does seem to fit
ISIS's target list. And this is certainly the sort of thing that we have seen them perpetrate on a lesser scale in Iran before.
HUNT: Nic, very briefly, what does this say about U.S., the US and Israel and the wider tensions in the region?
ROBERTSON: The United States today, for example, has said that they killed an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia commander who had U.S. blood on his hands.
The United States taking the decision to do that knowing likely that they had precise intelligence and the time and location where they could get the
target, but knowing that it would come after the rise in tensions of the killings around Soleimani's memorial, the killing of Hamas figure in
Beirut, the killing of the IRCG general in Damascus in the past couple of weeks. The calculation was clearly made to go ahead with it. So, I think
the U.S. is really calculus. They are still operating below the threshold of a massive escalation by Iran at this time.
HUNT: All right. CNN's Nic Robertson for us. Thank you for that report.
It's time for a quick break here. But, don't go anywhere. Our panel is back next with one more thing.
HUNT: Welcome back to the State of the Race. My panel rejoins us. Before we go, we always ask for one more thing on the trail or in Washington that
they're watching for in the coming days. 30 seconds. Kevin.
MADDEN: So, I was struck by Nikki Haley coming out, right out of the gate, and announcing her fourth quarter fundraising at $24 million, and then sort
of crickets from the DeSantis campaign. So, I'm really going to be watching -- DeSantis raised $15 million in the third quarter. People never run out
of reasons for running for President. They only run out of money.
MADDEN: It'll be interesting to see what the trendline is on DeSantis's fundraising.
HUNT: Yeah. Brad.
WOODHOUSE: I'm actually looking tomorrow for the side-by-side of Trump in Iowa for his events, and the President in Valley Forge for his speech on
democracy and how that outlines the contours of that race. We have dictator on day one, revenge, retribution. And then, we have a President wants to
restore the soul of the nation. I think that's going to really start outlining the contours of the general election beginning tomorrow.
HUNT: Our former DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse.
KUCINICH: So, I'm watching the Boston Globe's poll that is going to come out early next week along with Suffolk and USA Today of likely voters to
see what they're prioritizing and what they're thinking going into 2024, because we're going to be in that general election, you guys, before we
HUNT: And my one more thing is, of course, another shameless corporate plug. Watch our town halls tonight on CNN. You're going to hear more from
Ron DeSantis and from Nikki Haley, with less than two weeks ago before voters vote in Iowa.
Thanks to all of you for joining us today. I'm Kasie Hunt. That's the State of the Race for Thursday, January 4. You can always follow me on Instagram
and the platform formerly known as Twitter. Don't go anywhere. One World is up next.