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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Trump Scores Historic 30-Point Win In Iowa Caucuses; Haley, DeSantis Look To Rebound In New Hampshire Primary Next Week; White Evangelicals Key To Trump's Success In Iowa. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired January 16, 2024 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN AVLON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Donald Trump's huge night in Iowa, the ex-President winning the first contest of the GOP primary by a historic
margin. We'll dig into the data to put the caucus victory in context and see what entrance polling tells us about these Republican voters. But now,
scramble the jets, all eyes to New Hampshire. After a third place finish in Iowa, Nikki Haley hopes to topple Trump in the Granite State's open
primary. But, it's Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who might face the most uncertain future in the Republican field. I'll discuss all of this and more
with Atlantic Columnist and former Bush Speechwriter, David Frum.
Good day, everyone. I'm John Avlon, in for Kasie Hunt, to our viewers watching in the United States and around the world. It is 11 a.m. here in
New York, Tuesday, January 16. There are just 17 days until the New Hampshire primaries -- seven days, and only 293 days until Election Day.
This is today's State of the Race.
Politics is history in the present tense. And so, Donald Trump made history last night, winning the Iowa caucuses by a huge 30-point margin. Now, he
did this despite not spending nearly as much time campaigning in the Hawkeye State as his Republican rivals. It didn't matter. He cruised to
victory, solidifying his hold on the party. The former President took a somewhat conciliatory tone following his big win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I really think this is time now for everybody, our country to come together. We want to come together. I want
to congratulate Ron and Nikki for having a good time together. We're all having a good time together. And I think they both actually did very well.
I really do. I think they both did very well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: Now, Trump dominated with 51 percent of the vote, Ron DeSantis narrowly edging out Nikki Haley for second place. But, let's dig into some
of the data and create some context, because perspective is the thing you have least of in our politics. It turns out that a very small percentage of
Iowans actually participated in the caucuses, just 110,000 voters. That's around 3.5 percent of Iowa's 3.2 million population. And that's down
significantly from 2016 when Ted Cruz narrowly beat Trump. And get this, more than $123 million was spent on advertising in Iowa over the last year.
That comes out to an average of $1,100 spent for every single person who caucused in Iowa.
Also, this just in, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is suspending his campaign. He follows Vivek Ramaswamy, who made the same decision last
Now, let's dive into all of this with today's great panel, CNN Political Commentator Paul Begala; Matt Mowers, a former Trump Administration Advisor
and the President of Valcour Global Public Strategy, and Jackie Kucinich, CNN Political Analyst as well as Washington Bureau Chief of The Boston
Globe. It's great to see you all.
Matt, I'm going to start with you. You worked for Donald Trump. Are you surprised to see the hold he has on his party despite not campaigning that
intensely in the run-up to this primary?
MATT MOWERS, FORMER TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ADVISOR: I'm not. No. I'm not, because in a lot of ways, he is a quasi-incumbent. I mean, you've got to
remember, if you look back four years ago, over 90 percent of Republicans had cast a ballot for him as the sitting incumbent President, and muscle
memory is hard to forget. So, you have a lot of Republicans who are conditioned to vote for Donald Trump.
For those who were trying to defeat Donald Trump in this primary process, Iowa always seemed like an odd place to try to make your mark. It's a
caucus, usually just the most intense and hardcore Republicans show up to vote. We saw the weather did actually play a role, among other reasons, why
you went from 186,000 votes in the caucus eight years ago, down to about 110,000 just last night. So, what you had was essentially the core of the
Republican base show up and vote. It's also the reason you saw Ron DeSantis actually squeak into second place despite some recent polling because his
campaign really did target those habitual Republican caucus goers.
I think New Hampshire is going to be a little bit different. You are going to have a closer race. It is a primary, not a caucus. And as we know, New
Hampshire has a tendency to like to surprise a bit. Donald Trump is still the frontrunner and the favorite. He is still anticipated a win likely by
even double digits. But, you will see a closer race there.
AVLON: That's a bold prediction. Double -- you're predicting double digit Trump victory in New Hampshire.
MOWERS: Yeah. I think you'll see 10 plus points if/unless you see some sort of seismic turnout shift where independents show up in such droves to vote
for likely Nikki Haley.
They could prevent him from winning.
MOWERS: But, most would suspect there is not going to be enough for those voters to actually carry her above Trump. It'll get her competitive,
AVLON: Well, we'll see. Jackie, I want to go to you, because, look, a lot of politics at this stage is about momentum, and that's about expectations.
Nikki Haley had seemed to have momentum coming in. But, for whatever reason, may have been the snow, it didn't convert. She won one county by
one vote. I wonder -- going to get your take on this quote from her victory speech last night to see if you think it holds water.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you look at how we're doing in New Hampshire, in South Carolina, and beyond, I can safely
say tonight Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: Jackie, do you think that's credible, or should you have edited her speech? Is it a two-person race?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm not sure where -- I'm at sure South Carolina and beyond really, beyond what, hold waters at this point? I
mean, it's -- in theory, a long primary, though, this time might not be so much. I don't think this is a two-person race at this point, perhaps for
second place. But, former President Trump is so far ahead. I mean, she might be able to close the margin in New Hampshire. I wouldn't look at Iowa
as anything having to do with New Hampshire and Nikki Haley. She didn't have the organization that DeSantis or Trump had in Iowa this entire time.
Now, we were talking about that yesterday.
But, going into New Hampshire, she really has focused a lot of attention there. Whether she is going to get close enough or even surpass Trump to
get some momentum, this is kind of her last shot really to show that she can stand up and defeat Trump before we get into these states. The further
south you go, the more popular the former President is, and the harder, I don't care if it is your home state, it gets for Nikki Haley.
AVLON: Well, Paul, look, I agree it is win, not placed for a show for Nikki Haley in New Hampshire. But, it's an electorate that's more independent.
It's an open primary. What I want to ask you about, as a Democrat, is you get the sense that some Democrats, including the Biden White House, are
looking forward to running against Donald Trump. I think we've seen this movie before, though. Do you think they're underestimating the appeal of
the former President?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. To quote George W. Bush, don't misunderestimate this guy. OK? Democrats don't like him. The Biden
White House doesn't like him. But, they need to respect the 72 million people voted for him last time, about 50 percent of Iowa caucus attendees
in a terrible blizzard who turned out to support him. And I think they do. I think that -- I think -- if I could read Joe Biden's mind, it would be --
he'd be saying, look, I beat him once. I am going to beat him again. And I think they come at this with some confidence having defeated Donald Trump
Iowa was such good news for Trump. But, of course, as a Democrat, I did find a piece of bad news. Really alarming if I worked for Trump. It was in
the Iowa poll, the Des Moines Register/ NBC poll that Ann Selzer does, among Nikki Haley's voters, granted only 20 percent of caucus attendees,
but of Nikki Haley's voters, 47 percent of them say they would vote for Biden over Trump. So, this is, I think, why Mr. Trump last night,
uncharacteristically for him, tried to signal a note of unity, tried to coalesce that party around him, because I think he is seeing the same thing
there. There is a real risk for Trump, and the things that make him unbeatable in the primary may make him unelectable in the general election.
There are still a lot of Americans that don't like it when you sort of, I don't know, quote the Nazis, called people vermin. He is still insulting
John McCain, God rest his soul, who is war hero. So, a lot of that, look, it worked in Iowa, delivered him a crushing victory. But, I think that the
Trump campaign people who are professionals, much better campaign this time than the last time, Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles, I think they're looking
ahead and saying, hey, we got to make sure that we can appeal to those Nikki Haley moderates. And I think that's the thing that's going to worry
the Trump people.
AVLON: All right. Matt, to that point, I want you to take a look at Donald Trump's strongest areas of support, according to these entrance polls,
because I think it's interesting and revealing. 74 percent of folks who never attended college, 61 percent of those who describe themselves as very
conservative, 58 percent of over age 65, these are his strongest demo. This is core Trump's support. That would indicate that he is strongest among
voters who are less likely to be those swing voters in a general election. Do you think that's fair?
MOWERS: It is. I mean, and I think some of the strength you saw on his numbers yesterday were as much about who showed up to vote as it was his
I mean, these were the hardcore Republican activists who showed up to vote. These were the folks who traditionally have been going to every single
Trump event and Trump rally for the last eight years. He is going to have to show that he can broaden that appeal. And that's why it'll be very
telling to see how he performs in New Hampshire, where you do have a true history of independents participating in the primary process, unlike the
Iowa caucuses, where you will have a sizable number of self-identified moderates, not just independent moderates, but Republican moderates, who
are going to be voting as well.
And so, if he cements a double digit win in New Hampshire, I think it's going -- and shows progress and winning some of those voters. It's going to
show that he may be can actually build a new coalition for the general election. But, I do think it's hard to draw too many conclusions about his
ability to appeal outside the party base purely based upon the results of the caucus yesterday, because it was such a emblematic of really just where
the core of the Republican Party is.
AVLON: Yeah. I mean, again, 110,000 voters in the state of 3.2 million, it is a crazy way we decide things in this country.
Jackie, before we go, one of Nikki Haley's core argument was really a general election argument. It's about electability. It's about being pulled
together a broader coalition. And I was struck by the gender split of these caucus goers. I want to throw it up for you. Trump, 153 percent of women in
the Iowa caucus, Nikki Haley only 20 percent. Now, I know women don't only vote for women. But, are you surprised to see an almost 2x delta with Trump
winning women over Nikki Haley, given her historic candidacy?
KUCINICH: I think. But, Trump has never really lost support among Republican women. It's been independents. It's been those that are -- his
strongest supporters have never wavered there. And what you're looking at in Iowa are some of the absolute strongest, most hardline conservatives
that -- and particularly evangelicals. So, I really -- that doesn't surprise me. If we go down the line, we see something like that in New
Hampshire, get back to me. Then there'll be some -- that will be pretty shocking.
AVLON: Well, we'll dig into the New Hampshire data. I got to say, that did surprise me. Iowa is a great state. It defies stereotypes. I think this
caucus is self-selecting. But, I was surprised to see Trump win twice as many women as Nikki Haley.
Paul, I haven't forgotten about you. I love you. We're going to get you on the other side of this break. All right. Stick around, guys.
For many Iowa evangelicals, though, Donald Trump is apparently the chosen one. Coming up, we're going to dig into the data and see how their support
helped prepare -- propelled him to a big win in Iowa.
AVLON: They are a big key to his big night, a powerful voting bloc in Iowa that helped Donald Trump's sweep the state with the exception of one county
sticking with him despite scandal after scandal. A CNN entrance poll showing just how important white evangelical Christians were to Trump's
landslide win. He got 53 percent of their vote, while Ron DeSantis, also heavily courting evangelicals, came in a distant second.
The panel is back with me. Mark, I wonder, obviously, evangelicals are core to the Republican base, particularly in the heartland, particularly as a
percentage of the caucus. I wonder, though, Ted Cruz won them handily in that contest back in 2016. A lot has happened in the last eight years, to
be sure. But, are you surprised that given the nature of his scandals and the fact that Ron DeSantis had the endorsement of really probably the most
influential evangelical leader in the state of Iowa, that this was a two to one victory by Trump with evangelicals?
MOWERS: No. I mean, I wasn't surprised if you -- having worked for President Trump in 2016 during the campaign, I remember talking to a lot of
evangelical leaders out in Western Michigan, for example, an area that Ted Cruz had actually done quite well in. And even after Access Hollywood and a
number of others, when they were asked their opinion, they said, I'm voting for my President, not for my pastor. I do think that a lot of evangelical
leaders are saying, who is going to be the political leader that's willing to suit up, put on the armor, take the arrows for a cause I care about, and
whether that's the Supreme Court justices that he nominated, whether it's a number of other social conservative victories that he had put in place?
And if you look at the results from Iowa, the difference between this campaign and previous campaigns, one, is that a lot of evangelical leaders
were willing to reward Donald Trump politically because they felt like he had that record of accomplishment. The other is, you really didn't have
anyone speaking in the evangelical language the way Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee or other -- or Ted Cruz had spoken before. Ron DeSantis was
running on his accomplishments in Florida. Nikki Haley was running on her national security experience in her electability. There weren't a lot of
candidates dropping Bible verses as they were out campaigning, unlike in past years.
AVLON: Right. Two Corinthians. Paul, I want to go to you on this, though, because going back to the Clinton administration when you served, there was
efforts at that time by Jim Wallis and other folks to create kind of a religious left to have Democrats reconnect with voters of faith, and
particularly in the African American community, which votes very differently than the white evangelical community. I wonder what your take
is on just the way that evangelicals have embraced Donald Trump on such a deep, deep level, despite the fact, as Tim Albert has pointed out in his
most recent book, that it sort of contradicts key tenants of scripture.
BEGALA: It is fascinating. First, thank you for separating out, not lumping all of us Christians together. I'm a faithful, observant, practicing
Catholic and a Democrat. Right? You're right. The African American community is overwhelmingly Christian and much more progressive. So -- and
a lot of analysts don't do this while I'm talking to you, John, because you're so much smarter than I am. Having said that, Mr. Trump on Christmas
day, he blasphemed. He did. He put out a statement telling his opponents to "rot in hell on Christmas Day". Those of us who worship Jesus as a savior
think that's maybe not the Christian attitude he wants us to follow.
But, I think Mowers points out there. Even conservative white evangelical Christians, they don't think Trump is a role model of Christian life. But,
they do think he is a defender of the faith. Right? They think he will protect them, and he has come through for them in banning abortion. This is
for 50 years conservatives have said we're going to outlaw abortion. We are going to overturn Roe. It was Donald Trump who put the justices on the
court who overturned Roe v. Wade. Now, I think that could be mean he is not going to do very well in November.
But, that's 293 days away. Democrats are rallying around that. But, right now, Republicans are as well. The problem Mr. Trump has is a whole lot more
Americans are for woman's right to choose to have an abortion, then want to outlaw them. But, in the primary, especially in a caucus, that's -- he has
come through for them. And I think -- I don't denigrate conservative Christian evangelicals who support Trump. I don't think they pretend that
he is a model Christian, but they do believe that in outlawing abortion and other things, he is doing what they want.
AVLON: Jackie, the point about abortion being a major dividing line in politics, but in a more urgent way since the repeal of Dobbs. I was struck
by the entrance polls that showed the split among ideology. Even in Iowa, caucus goers who identified as moderate went for Nikki Haley by 63 percent.
Donald Trump coming in at 20 percent, DeSantis at an anemic seven percent. If you are identified as conservative, Trump got 55 percent, DeSantis 23
percent. Now, obviously, there are many more conservatives in the Iowa caucus, in the Republican Party in general, than moderates. But, moderates
are essential to winning states like New Hampshire. They are essentially winning a general election.
What does that tell you about the base of support, and I think what Matt indicated, which is Trump team is going to try to rebrand him as being
friendly to moderates about his likelihood of success at that?
KUCINICH: So, he has been trying to walk this line on abortion throughout this campaign. He has said -- he is saying that, yes, on that Fox News town
hall, he said, yes, I'm responsible for this, and pointing to his appointments on the Supreme Court. But, he has also said other things are
too far, which is why you see Ron DeSantis tried to outflank him on abortion and saying that he is not -- he is for abortion rights,
essentially. So, whether -- I mean, he -- whether he can thread that needle, I think it's an open question. It's the same reason that you've
seen Nikki Haley trying to take a more moderate position, though, I think, folks on the other side of the issue would argue that it is also anti-
But, in terms of the Republican Party, she is trying to take a more moderate role here and try to like Trump on that side. Right now, though,
as we saw in Iowa, it seems like his -- it hasn't really mattered that is not taking a hard line.
AVLON: Particularly in Iowa, of course, if history is any gauge, which may or may not be this time around.
Matt, I want to dig into one of the things that was most disturbing about the entrance polls, not surprising, but nonetheless disturbing, I think,
objectively, which is that 66 percent of Republican caucus goers believe the Trump election lie that Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020
election. And just add a little more granularity to it. That's almost 70 percent of Trump supporters said that. Haley supporters were under five
percent. I mean, this has become an article of faith that I don't think we should sugarcoat. It is a lie. It is a foundational lie of Trump's
resurgence. He attempted to overturn the last election based on the lie that the election was stolen, and ultimately incite an attack on the
As a Republican, someone who worked in the administration but has perspective on Trump, does it trouble you to see that become such an
article of faith, given that it's untethered to reality?
MOWERS: Oh, sure. And look, this is one of the challenges we saw in 2022 where you actually had a number of candidates get through their primary and
get into general elections, whether it's Kari Lake in Arizona, or Blake Masters also in Arizona, as well as throughout the country, where you had
these nominees who talked about issues that the average American weren't paying attention to, or fundamentally disagreed with him on, including
whether the election was stolen, and they lost as a result.
And so, he is telling last night, I thought that when Donald Trump was off prompter and was actually speaking with just a few notes, while most of the
speech was about unity, while most of the speech was trying to extend an olive branch to parts of the party, he couldn't help but try to dive in a
little bit about re-litigating the past election. Although you noticed, he kind of caught himself partway through speaking and then went back into
some more conciliatory and also more issue-based remarks after that.
AVLON: Well, that's the difference (ph), I guess, scripted Trump and unscripted Trump. I must say, I do find what is particularly sinister is
when folks parrot the election line, then pivot to kitchen table issues, as if those things are somehow compatible. I think there is an interesting and
perhaps (ph) dangerous to democracy contradiction there.
But, we're going to have a lot more ahead. Talking about New Hampshire, let's go forward. With the Iowa caucuses done, the focus now shifts to New
Hampshire where the polls have Nikki Haley ranking second to Trump. It's an open primary state where more voters identify as independent rather than
Republican or Democrat. We're going to dig into how this next phase of the campaign could make or break Nikki Haley's political career.
AVLON: Welcome back to State of the Race. I'm John Avlon live in New York. The presidential primary focus now shifts to New Hampshire where things are
very different than Iowa. Next Tuesday's voting will have a different electorate and a different format than the Iowa caucuses. Now, if you're a
registered Republican in New Hampshire, you can vote only in the Republican primary. It makes sense. Same for Democrats. But then, for some, it's an
open primary. If you're registered as an independent voter, sometimes called undeclared, you can vote in either race when you show up, and that
could be a key block for former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Haley's support has grown dramatically among those independent voters, up
18 points since November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: When we started, there were 14 people in the race. We had two percent in the polls, and we came out with a strong showing. That's what we
wanted in Iowa. Now, we're in New Hampshire. You can look at the polls in New Hampshire. We're a stone's throw away from Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: All right. It is a very different race. That was Nikki Haley from this morning.
Matt, it is a different electorate, right? You've got more registered independents than Democrats or Republicans. And I want to show you some
interesting breakouts of the likely primary voters that were done, the CNN poll recently conducted by University of New Hampshire, one showing that 48
percent of conservative, OK, 32 percent moderate, 13 percent libertarian, remember, Live Free or Die state, and another seven percent liberal
progressive or socialist. That's quite a display. And then if you look at Trump's approval in New Hampshire, it's very different than what we saw in
Iowa, certainly among caucus goers. He has got a 47 percent favorability rating. This is among likely GOP primary voters. That's underwater, 38
percent unfavorable, 14 percent neutral.
So, you're still going to commit to the double-digit prediction of Donald Trump romping to victory in New Hampshire?
MOWERS: Well, you can remember that despite the fact that the general electorate are very different in both states, right?
Let's not forget that Iowa is a state that Donald Trump won twice. New Hampshire is a state he lost twice. It was a close race in 2020 -- I'm
sorry, 2016. 2020, he lost by about six points, nearly seven points statewide. So, they are very different electorates. Even the Republicans,
as you were just pointing to the demographics, are very different in New Hampshire, one of the least sort of religious states in the country, high
number of Republicans who identify as pro-choice when they are asked, and that's even before the Dobbs decision, the increased number of Republicans
who identify as libertarian or libertarian leaning. And so, it is just a different type of electorate even among the Republican Party.
But, I'll tell you that Republicans in the core confines to the Republican primary in the Republican Party still have overwhelmingly favorable views
of Donald Trump. That's likely going to carry the day unless we see some sort of seismic turnout among independents who vote for Nikki Haley, which
I do believe will make up a large percentage of the electorate, likely even up to 45 percent. But, it might even take more than that to get her over
the hump across Donald Trump's number.
AVLON: Interesting. Look, I think the electorate is going to be very different, and we'll know in seven days' time if you're right. Certainly,
there is that old school union leader, conservative constituency inside the New Hampshire Republican Party, but it is a very different electorate for
all the reasons you laid out.
Jackie, one of the things that struck me about the entrance polls in the caucus last night was that two thirds of Republicans said that they would
support Donald Trump even if he is convicted, but one third, 31 percent in fact, said they wouldn't. That's non-insignificant number, especially among
that cohort of voters who you would think are right or die. But, there has been this sort of this dissonance, right, even Republicans who are not
endorsing Donald Trump, Kim Reynolds in Iowa, New Hampshire Governor, New Hampshire Chris Sununu. They're sort of saying, look, voters are going to
come home, including us, no matter what, even if he is convicted. Listen to Chris Sununu, pretty tough Trump critic, to Kasie just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: You would vote for him even if he is a convicted felon, even if he is convicted of subverting the election?
CHRIS SUNUNU, NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: Well, look -- so, I understand the comment from last night. My point is, in fact, that's a massive
hypothetical. A lot of folks are going to get behind him no matter what. And that just -- that's just the reality of the situation. This is how bad
Joe Biden is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: So, is that just about preserving political viability at the end of the day? It's a binary choice. Or do you think that -- there is a non-
insignificant number of Republicans that if he crosses that threshold into conviction, that will stay home or turnout against him?
KUCINICH: Trump has been building. And one of the -- one of the reasons he has been showing up in the courtroom when he doesn't need to show up in the
courtroom is for fundraising reasons, but it's also to keep up this act that he is a victim here, that this is all just the deep state against him.
And that really has sunk in with the base. I mean, you're talking about someone like Kim Reynolds, 51 percent of Iowa's caucus goers just voted for
Donald Trump. Those are the same people in theory who are voting for Kim Reynolds. So, they know that if Republicans are sending this person as
their nominee, there is nowhere else to go unless you like to be shown the door.
And so, I really do think that they don't have to endorse, but I think they will, because -- and they'll fall in line, because at the end of the day,
he is going to be pushing their issues more than Joe Biden. Now, it will be interesting to see whether you have some folks staying in the race longer
in case Trump is -- does have some legal difficulties if he is convicted, and perhaps will try to graft off -- try to, not grafted, to win some of
those votes. But, these are all really big ifs at this point.
AVLON: There are a lot of ifs. We are just 110,000 people voting into this process unless we try to fast forward too fast.
Paul, I want to ask you about the Biden campaign and their attempts to build a bigger coalition. I think most Democrats would acknowledge that if
Biden is going to go head to head, it's not simply a play to the base operation. He has got to reach out to disinfected Republicans who -- around
25 percent in a New York Times poll said that they would not support Donald Trump, not inconsiderable, as well as independence. And yet, I want to play
you a clip from Adam Kinzinger, just before the holidays, when I asked him about outreach from the Biden campaign. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know how many calls or outreaches I've gotten from the Biden campaign? Guess. It's zero. And I
talked to other members that are like me, people that are former Republicans or have come out and said the Biden has to win, and all of them
say the same thing. They've never heard from the Biden campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: That seems like political malpractice.
Do you think that can and should change ASAP?
BEGALA: Well, it's got to. It's got to. Literally, the word malpractice was what was coming to my mind. I suspect they might tell you. They should have
been reaching out. OK? They just should (ph). And Adam is a good person. He is a good Republican, and yet he is open to and probably will support Mr. -
- President Biden. I think they see it as sequencing. They got to start with their base. And Joe Biden has had terrible erosion with his base. So,
I feel like -- my guess is, they feel like they got to shore up that base first and then reach out. The truth is, you got to do all at once.
This is a really difficult challenge for Joe Biden. Trump is Trump. He ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Nationally, he got 45.9 percent. Four
years later, after all of the turmoil and turmoil to the Trump presidency, he went from 45.9 percent to 46.9 percent against Joe Biden, but he lost to
Joe even though he beat Hillary. Why? Because the second, third and -- I mean, the third, fourth and fifth party candidates were almost seven
percent when Trump won, and less than two percent when Trump lost. Those third, fourth and fifth party candidacies against Hillary were mostly on
the left. This time, they're on the left, but there is a chance that No Labels runs a spoiler candidate to flip the election to Donald Trump as
So, Biden has got to be all in, especially on those independents who could easily flake off from him. It's a difficult chore to do all at once. The
one thing they all have in common, though, they hate Donald Trump. OK? Rather than running up to the left on healthcare, to the right on deficits,
just bash Donald Trump. And Biden began to do that this week, finally, belatedly, but he did this week. And I hope you hear, as a Democrat, and
expect as an analyst, that you hear a whole lot more of bashing Trump from Biden, rather than bragging about his accomplishments.
AVLON: But, you raise a really important point, because there will be more independent candidates this time around even than in 2016. And that's a
major X factor that I think people got to keep their eye on that ball.
Before we go, real quick, Matt, I just want to ask you about the prospect of a Trump conviction, and how that contradicts the Republican Party's
traditional claim to be the party of law and order. Does that bother? You think it's just duck off waters back?
MOWERS: Well, look, it depends on which Republican voters you talk to. I mean, if you look at 2020, and I think Adam Kinzinger's comments actually
play into this, you had a number of leading Republicans go out to endorse Joe Biden, whether it's folks like John Kasich, Christine Todd Whitman,
former Governor of New Jersey, Meg Whitman, well-known Romney fundraiser, former eBay CEO. They went out there and they endorsed Joe Biden. It gave a
permission structure for not a majority of Republicans, but upwards of almost eight percent to 10 percent of Republicans in some key states to go
and either vote for Biden or vote for a different candidate.
If Joe Biden is not going to do that again this time, especially in lieu of potentially -- in light of potential convictions, that is going to be a
challenge for Joe Biden. Those are the types of voters he not only needs to get, he needs to hold. And it's going to be harder because now he has a
record. A lot of Republicans, moderate Republicans, were hopeful he was going to be more middle of the road type of President. Instead, they feel a
lot of his policies have veered hard to the left. And so, it is going to be harder to get them back anyway. So, he is going to have to find voices out
there who are willing to stick up and not just say don't vote for Donald Trump, but actually try to encourage Republicans to vote for Joe Biden.
AVLON: OK. We're going to leave it there for now. Thanks for it. We'll see you guys at the end of the show. Appreciate it.
All right. So, where does Nikki Haley go from here? I am going to speak with an esteemed columnist for The Atlantic, former Speechwriter for
President George W. Bush, ahead.
AVLON: The next stop, New Hampshire. All eyes are now on the Granite State, famous for its slogan "Live Free or Die". Nikki Haley came in a close third
place last night in Iowa, behind Ron DeSantis. But, polls show we're in a much stronger position for next week's New Hampshire primary. Haley's team
has a new ad airing in New Hampshire, arguing that she is the better alternative to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and President Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The two most disliked politicians in America? Trump and Biden. Both are consumed by chaos, negativity and grievances of the past.
The better choice for a better America, Nikki Haley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: David Frum now joins us to talk about Haley's chances in New Hampshire, and what he takes from Trump's romp in Iowa. He is a Staff
Writer for The Atlantic, former Speechwriter for then-President George W. Bush, and one of the smartest people I know. David, it is good to see you.
First, I just got to get your reaction to New Hampshire. That was dominant, 98 out of 99 counties. How do you feel about that this morning?
DAVID FRUM, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: I think it's pretty evident that we are on our way to a Trump re-nomination, whatever Nikki Haley says about
New Hampshire. And here is the thing I would ask Republican-minded people to consider. I made this argument a lot when I was talking more to
Republican audiences than I do now. Supposing Mr. Check Writer, Madame Donor, you stayed home in 2016. Supposing you had withheld your support
from Donald Trump and he had lost Hillary Clinton in 2016, where would you be today?
Well, the Republicans would have had held the House and Senate in 2017. So, President Clinton couldn't have done anything too wacky, couldn't have
appointed anyone he didn't, and the Supreme Court would have to go back through the Republican Senate. Republicans would have made gains in 2018
instead of losing the House, as they did, and everything would be set up for the Republicans in 2020 to win the presidency, honestly, with someone
they trusted (inaudible) in the Senate, and you will be better off. This pursuit of immediate short-term gain, this feeling that if I don't lose --
win this next election, it's all over, that's what brought Donald Trump.
And so, the message I would say to people like Haley in 2024 is, you know what, this is going to be a great election to lose. We are on our way to a
big Republican 2026. We are on a -- you could have a Republican President in 2020. It could be you. Just get this destructive character off the
American stage, not only will the country be better off, but you personally will be better off.
AVLON: All right. To that point, though, about the stickiness of Donald Trump and whether the character of the Republican Party has changed in
meaningful ways, I was struck by this entrance poll. The caucus goers saying that the candidate shares their values. This is a statement of
identification. 43 percent say Donald Trump shared their values. Now, you can say a lot of things about Donald Trump, but it's usually not a values-
based argument. You worked for the President, who was an honest evangelical, born-again Christian, coined the term compassionate
What do you make of 43 percent of Republicans identifying with his values?
FRUM: Look, you take a glass of orange juice and you leave it in the side, and a lot of the orange juice will evaporate away. And what is left? We'll
have a really, really strong taste. So, that's what's happening to the Republican Party or much of it is evaporating away. Anybody young, the
college-educated women, they're evaporating away. So, you're left with this core of evangelicals who used to go to church, but don't anymore. Look, if
someone says they share values with Donald Trump, I'm not going to be the first to throw stones. But, if you share values with Donald Trump, you're
probably not a very nice person. Are you?
AVLON: All right. Let's talk about policy, because, again, going back to the mainstream of the Republican Party, going back to Eisenhower, at least,
Reagan, certainly both Bush's, there was a muscular approach to foreign policy. There was a confident internationalism. Nikki Haley seems like the
last gasp of that kind of Republicanism.
AVLON: And the alternative is Vladimir Putin waiting to see about the outcome of the election before any tactical decisions are made about
Ukraine. I mean, Ukraine, NATO, all seems to hang in the balance in addition to funding in the Republican Party. Do you view Nikki Haley's
prospects in New Hampshire with these independent voters as kind of the last stand for your brand of Republican?
FRUM: It's not the last stand because the last stand is over. It's a question of taking it back. Look, we just marked 100 days of the terrible
situation of the hostages in Israel --
FRUM: -- taken by Hamas. But, we are about to mark 100 days of the House Republicans blocking aid not only to Ukraine, but to Israel too. The House
Republicans, whenever it comes time to make a speech about Israel, they are at the front of the line. Whenever it comes time to beat up on a college
professor or college president, they are right there. But, there is aid to Israel that has been stalled with the aid to Ukraine, this $14 billion for
the border that's been stalled.
So, what you have -- the House Republicans, not the Senate, but the House Republicans have already become an anti-commitment party and anti-America
in the world party. And the Senate is not stopping them. So, what the task now is not just to stop time, it's really to reinvent and reclaim, because
the party as it is now is a party that is not standing up to aggressors, not only against Ukraine, but against Israel, that it's not defending the
southern border. That takes money.
FRUM: It's not just about speeches. It is real monetary cost of hiring the judges and the officers you need to defend the border.
AVLON: I'm so glad you mentioned Israel, because you're right. I mean, keeping an eye on governing, not just the next election, the aid for
Ukraine, aid for Israel and the border, all being held up by House Republicans who are loyal to Donald Trump. It's a stunning contradiction of
things they say they care about.
FRUM: And look -- and restocking America's own inventory supplies. That inventory used to look big. This was full of weapons leftover from the
Reagan era, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s weapon systems. So, those old systems were the systems that the United States gave to Ukraine. When you hear all this
talk about $100 billion, remember, most of that cost is physical objects that the United States was going to have to junk anyway. But, all of those
1980s, 1990s weapons systems needed to be restocked.
That was one of the benefits of supporting Ukraine, is it gave an opportunity to clear out inventory, buy new. You have to buy new and that's
going to take a lot of defense supplementals, and Republicans might -- the Republican Party won't vote for defense bills. Can you imagine? They won't
vote for defense bills unless the tax law is rewritten in such a way as to make it easier to cheat and to make it harder for Americans to file their
own tax returns without help from an online tax professional or some paid for software.
AVLON: It's a total reversal of the traditional character of the Republican Party. And David Frum, you've been chronicling it brilliantly. Thanks for
All right. Republican voters in New Hampshire carefully watched last night's results, but say it won't impact their choices necessarily. Here is
CNN's Gary Tuchman with more.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: This is more and more Trump's party.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We watched CNN coverage of the Iowa caucuses with some of the Americans next up in the
presidential nominating process, Republicans from Rockingham County, New Hampshire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bring on the great state of New Hampshire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say that Iowa and then New Hampshire are kicking off a Republican revolution.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Oh, very enthusiastic Republican voters. Two of these 10 people are prepared to vote for Donald Trump next week. And regarding
his Iowa victory?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I expected it. I'm happy with it.
TUCHMAN: And how do you feel about that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very happy with the results.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): One of the 10 will cast a vote for Ron DeSantis.
TUCHMAN: How do you feel about this second place finish?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm really psyched by it. I think it's a great turnout, a great result.
But, again, it -- for me, whoever wins the primary, I'm supporting. So, let's get to New Hampshire. Let's go.
TUCHMAN: Well, you heard Nikki Haley just say, while we were watching, that it's a two-person race, even though she came in third place. Do you buy
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Not at all. I think what he showed is that he is a viable contender. And you know, it's the first stop. So, let's see what
happens in New Hampshire. But, no, I think he is going to do great.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Three people on our panel were undecided or not disclosing their vote. Nikki Haley will get the most votes among this group
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought she would be a close second to Donald Trump, but I did not envision her losing by that much. So, disappointed with the
TUCHMAN: Nikki Haley's support, how do you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a little bit more optimistic with tonight considering how much time and money that Ron DeSantis spent in Iowa. I
think she fared really well. And then, now, she is coming to New Hampshire where I think she is going to do very, very well.
TUCHMAN: If Donald Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party, are you all prepared to vote for Donald Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
TUCHMAN: Anyone not definitive about voting for Donald Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not definitive on that.
TUCHMAN: OK. Tell me why, Bob?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I expect my President to act and conduct the presidential affairs of our government in presidential manner. And I don't
think he has been a good reflection of the kind of character I would like to see in the White House.
TUCHMAN: Are any of you also troubled with his character?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
TUCHMAN: But, you're still ready to vote for him, because you're not going to vote for Biden. No one here thinking of voting for Biden. Who are you
thinking of voting for if it's Trump versus Biden?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'd -- I look to a independent candidate who came close to my Republican principles.
TUCHMAN: Like who?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe someone like Joe Manchin would be someone I consider.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is a Democrat, who says he is not running for reelection, but hasn't ruled out running for
President as a third-party candidate. All in all, these New Hampshire Republicans tell us this about the Iowa caucuses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good start.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a good start. We will all be voting on Tuesday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely.
TUCHMAN: Obviously, Donald Trump is in the political driver's seat, but all the people in our group who support Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis tell us
they are keeping the faith. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Exeter, New Hampshire.
AVLON: It's time for a quick break. But, stick with us. Our panel will be back with one more thing.
AVLON: Welcome back to State of the ace. Our panel rejoins. Before we go, I want to ask for one more thing. What's one thing on the campaign trail or
in Washington that you're watching for in the coming days? Your thoughts. 30 seconds each. Jackie Kucinich, take it away.
KUCINICH: You're going to call me first, John. So, I mentioned this a little bit earlier. But, the -- Nikki Haley's push in Iowa going into New
Hampshire where the terrain is very positive for her, I don't it lasts. I think when she goes -- once we get past New Hampshire, the best might not
be yet to come. Even though it's her home state, it's very, very pro-Trump (inaudible). So, it's going to be hard skiing after she leaves New
Hampshire, no matter what happens there.
AVLON: Hard skiing in South Carolina. All right. Matt, what you got?
MOWERS: I'm looking at turnout next Tuesday in the primary in the Manchester suburbs and on the sea coasts. These are the vestiges of the
traditional Republican Party infrastructure in New Hampshire. These are where Republicans traditionally have gotten their margins to win statewide.
If you see them showing up big, it means Nikki Haley could have a surprise night. If you see an average turnout from them, then I think the polls are
going to stand where they are, and Donald Trump likely pulls out a win.
AVLON: All right. Paul Begala.
BEGALA: Actually some good news underreported on the Democratic side. Joe Biden has had a terrible couple of months. His polling is anemic. His
legislative agendas stalled the Republican House.
It looks like they're more interested in pitching (ph) in. His son got indicted. Despite all that, yesterday, the Biden-Harris campaign announced
their fundraising, $97 million blowing the doors off the old record set by Joe's boss, Barack Obama. Blows it away. The campaign is sitting on $117
million cash on hand. The average donation is only $41.88. This is huge, huge strategic advantage for Biden-Harris going into this election.
AVLON: Fascinating. All right. I'll add one. A new report out today from a nonprofit, written up by CNN about the rise of disinformation and
misinformation online, YouTube and other places. This is about climate. And it's interesting. It's not climate denial. It's more insidious, focusing on
questions whether any of the solutions put forward actually work. It's a new tack, and I think it's the kind of thing indicative of what we're going
to see more of down to the stretch.
All right. Everyone, thank you very much. CNN is going to be hosting a Republican presidential town hall with Governor Ron DeSantis live from New
England College in Henniker, New Hampshire, tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern. I'm John Avlon. That's the State of the Race today, Thursday, January 16. Stick
with CNN because One Word is up next.