Return to Transcripts main page
State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Trump And Haley Face Off In Critical New Hampshire Primary; Haley Looks To Derail Trump Train In Granite State; Primary Voting Underway In New Hampshire. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired January 23, 2024 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNNI HOST: Today is the day. Right now in New Hampshire, voters are casting their ballots in the nation's first presidential
primary. Ahead, we'll hear from voters on who they're supporting and why. And it's make or break for Nikki Haley in the Granite State. Donald Trump
has led polling there, but if Haley can pull off an upset, it would dramatically change the Republican primary. Plus, just hours from now, Joe
Biden and Kamala Harris will make their first joint campaign appearance. This will be at a rally in Virginia. The President and Vice President are
expected to make reproductive rights a defining issue for their reelection effort.
Good day, everyone. I'm Audie Cornish, in for Kasie Hunt, and to our viewers watching in the U.S. and around the world. It's 11 a.m. here in New
York, Tuesday, January 23. Today is the New Hampshire primary, and there are only 286 days until Election Day. This is today's State of the Race.
It's here, New Hampshire is first-in-the-nation primary whereas history has shown us anything can happen. Voting going on right now across the state,
including there at a high school in Nashua. On the Republican side, a show down between Donald Trump and Nikki Haley. The former President has
maintained a lead in the polls, but Haley is within striking distance in New Hampshire. It might be make or break contest for her. In fact, a win or
at least a strong showing could give her campaign a boost, and with that a likely influx of cash from donors. Now, billionaire Ken Langone, a major
Haley told -- a major Haley donor told the Financial Times he is ready to give Haley a "nice sum of money", but he cautioned if she doesn't get
traction in New Hampshire, you don't throw money down a rat hole.
Now, a week showing today could put Haley's campaign on shaky ground. Her home state of South Carolina is up next. But, polls there were taken before
the field consolidated, and they showed Trump with more than 50 percent of the vote.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in the thick of things in Manchester, New Hampshire, and he joins us now. And Jeff, first, just start with what we mean by
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Audie, it's always a relative question. But, there is no doubt the polling numbers now
for Donald Trump over Nikki Haley certainly have grown, at least many of them. So, striking distance would be somewhere less than that upper margin.
Look, I mean, largely a single digit defeat or certainly a victory would likely propel Nikki Haley forward. Anything less than that may be a
challenge for her. But, again, we will know when we see it.
Voters are voting here at Northwest Elementary School in Manchester, Ward 12, it's called. State election officials are hoping for a record turnout
here in New Hampshire. There has been a brisk sense of activity here and in the polling locations that we are at across the state. But, there is no
question that this is Nikki Haley's perhaps last best opportunity, certainly her best opportunity to try and overtake Donald Trump, largely
because of the makeup of the electorate here. Those independent undeclared voters that we talk so much about make up some 40 percent of the electorate
So, essentially, what happens is, if you're an undeclared voter, you walk into the polling place and you ask for a Republican or a Democratic ballot.
And that is what she is hoping for, that there are more requests for Republican ballots to support her. Of course, interestingly, there is not
really a democratic contest here because Joe Biden is not on the ballot because of a series of changes in the Democratic primary calendar that the
White House instituted.
But, look, for Nikki Haley, she knows this is a big opportunity for her. She has finally gotten a one-on-one contest. The question is, if that
benefits her or simply adds more support for Donald Trump? Voting until 7 p.m. in most parts of the state, Eastern Time, a little bit later in
others. But, this is a critical day in this primary. There is no doubt about it.
CORNISH: And Jeff, it looks like you might be actually catching a break weather-wise compared to Iowa.
ZELENY: It's a nice day. I do not have gloves on today. It's just unseasonably nice winter day. There may be a little bit of snow showers or
perhaps rain showers this afternoon, but a very, very different weather picture than a week ago in Iowa. This is New Hampshire winter. Pretty
CORNISH: All right. Jeff, thanks so much.
So, I want to dive all this into this with today's panel. We have CNN Political Commentator Kate Bedingfield. She is the former Biden White House
Communications Director. Also, Scott Jennings, CNN Senior Political Commentator and Conservative Columnist. He was a Special Assistant to then-
President George W. Bush, and Tia Mitchell, Washington Correspondent for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
So, I wasn't just being coy about the weather. It kind of made a difference in Iowa. This is a primary where, as we just heard, unaffiliated voters
could play a role. And I want to start with you, Scott, just having that affiliation with a Bush administration, how meaningful is that when it
comes to New Hampshire?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, & FMR. SPECIAL ASST. TO GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it's quite meaningful, because, obviously, these
folks, you don't know exactly how they're going to behave. If a bunch of Democrat-leaning independents come in, it probably helps Haley. If a bunch
of people come in that model out as Trump supporters or more conservative behavior, maybe good for Trump. I think the conventional wisdom has been
that if most -- if a high unaffiliated shows up today, it'll be good for Haley. I'm not certain that's necessarily totally true. But, that's what
we're watching for tonight.
I mean, if it's a high turnout because of unaffiliated, that's kind of where the ingredients of this pudding are going to be sorted out. Was it
more moderate or liberal voters? Was it more conservative sort of people who just want to blow up the whole political system type voters? And that's
kind of what I'm looking for on the margin. I think Trump is going to win. But, what I just said is going to determine whether he gets to 50 or
whether he gets to 60.
CORNISH: Tia, I want to come to you because we had the CNN poll that last week that asked Republican primary voters in New Hampshire kind of what
their most important issues are. And immigration and the border came in first with 29 percent. A close second was protecting democracy and the
Constitution. The first one is an issue Trump talks a lot about. The second one is an issue Biden talks a lot about. What do you make of immigration
being an issue at this stage in this state?
TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA-JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: Yeah. It's so interesting that the more and more our primary elections are
becoming so nationalized, when you see a state so far from the southern border where its voters are talking about immigration as a top issue, I
think it shows that conservative media, what Donald Trump is pushing in this election, is resonating among voters, particularly in this Republican
primary. And then, again, threats to democracy is something that not just Biden is talking about, but Nikki Haley is talking about, maybe not as
pointedly as Joe Biden, but in ways that they hope will possibly turn voters away from former President Trump.
CORNISH: Now, I want to talk a little bit about the final message that these candidates are making. So, Nikki Haley, everyone is talking about her
having a tough path, because typically, you might think a three-to-one strategy, right, like maybe you come in third in Iowa, second in New
Hampshire, and then like on to South Carolina, maybe that's something that can propel you. And of course, she has got this trouble because people are
talking about her home state as being a problem for her.
But, she is trying to essentially -- I want to talk a little bit about voters and what they're saying to this end, because she wants to know,
look, you're not going to get a real choice, right, if you don't give someone like me a chance, and we actually heard from some voters in Nashua,
and I want you to hear a little bit of what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHRYN WOOD, VOTED FOR NIKKI HALEY: I voted for Nikki Haley. I think if President Trump ends up as our nominee in the Republican Party, he is going
to lose again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you vote for him in the general election?
WOOD: No. I'm not going to vote for him in the general election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who would you vote for? Joe Biden?
WOOD: I would.
JACK WOLBER, VOTED FOR NIKKI HALEY: And I had voted for Nikki Haley. My conscious won't allow me to vote for a criminal. I would consider voting
for Joe Biden, for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
WOLBER: No question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORNISH: So, Scott, there is a difference between Never Trumpers and then like the end -- like alternative to Trump curious. What do you hear in the
-- those voices?
JENNINGS: Well, there is a softness in the Trump candidacy, and that is that there is a cohort of Republicans who don't want to do this again, but
probably could be reeled in. But then, there is another cohort of Republicans who, if he becomes a convicted felon, are clearly saying, I
don't want to vote for a convicted person for President. We saw it in the Iowa entrance polls. I think in the CNN entrance polls there, 31 percent of
people who showed up said if he were convicted, it would make him unfit for the presidency. You're hearing some of that here.
And so, if you're Trump and you've gotten 46 percent of the vote twice, and now there is a cohort of voters that probably voted for you twice, maybe
once, some twice, that don't want to do it again, I mean, that -- it shows you the ceiling. And that's the message Nikki Haley has been saying, is he
has got a ceiling and I don't really have a ceiling against Biden. It's just that Republican voters, not necessarily independents, but Republican
voters aren't listening to that. They can almost taste this euphoric dopamine hit, vindication, whatever that would come on election night if
Donald Trump somehow managed to beat Joe Biden. That's really all they're thinking about right now. Some of the national polls are leading him down
CORNISH: Kate, you've obviously like done some time in New Hampshire. You know what it's like to appeal to this particular electorate.
In what ways is this a kind of, I don't know, a little bit of a glimmer of what a general could be like? Meaning this isn't Iowa where you only have
to appeal to 50,000 Republican diehards.
KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, & FMR. BIDEN WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Right. Right. This is much more a taste of what I
think the general election will be like, if anything. Scott is absolutely right. I mean, this -- what you hear from those voters saying, you know, I
could never -- I can never vote for Trump. I would vote for Biden over Trump. I mean, that portends the challenges that Donald Trump is going to
have in a general election.
I think he sort of has this sugar high coming out of Iowa, this sense that he is going to ramp to the nomination, but he is going to run into the
reality of moderate swing voters across the country who reject his brand of chaos, who reject his kind of personal -- his politics of hatred, and who
also are grappling with the legal challenges, the reality that the Republican Party is putting forward a nominee, who is multiply federally
indicted and potentially could be convicted of felonies before the election rolls around.
So, I think for Nikki Haley, I think, as folks have said that, this is her kind of her status as the ultimate test. This is probably the -- be a place
where her message is the most durable within the Republican primary. But, as you move out to a general election, I think there are significant limits
on Donald Trump for the reasons we've just talked about, and you kind of see that on display here. So, what independent leaning voters do in the
primary tonight will be a very interesting indicator of what the general election is going to look like.
CORNISH: Finally, we have just the final message from Nikki Haley. She was talking this morning, sending a message to voters, you don't want to over
promise or under deliver. But, here is kind of how she couched things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This has always been a marathon. It's never been a sprint. We wanted to be strong in Iowa. We want
to be stronger than that in New Hampshire. We're going to be even stronger than that in South Carolina. We're running the tape. We'll know who is
strong when the numbers come in. It's not like a certain number. I don't go there and say, Oh, I have to have this number. I have to have that number.
What I've always had in my mind is, I want to be stronger than Iowa. And then in South Carolina, I want to be stronger. Let's see what that looks
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORNISH: Raise your hands if you actually think this is a marathon. OK. I mean, this is an anecdata at its best. I'm not going to pretend. This is a
real vote. But, Tia, I want to give the last word to you. What are you going to be looking for in the next couple of hours, either from the Biden
folks, from Haley, from Trump? Like what kind of messaging would pique your interest?
MITCHELL: Well, I think from Biden camp, I'm looking for them to kind of make it seem like the primary is already over, because, again, they want
the rematch, I think from Nikki Haley, we're going to see her really trying to get out the vote, particularly with those independent voters, and I
think she is going to try to manage expectations for tonight.
CORNISH: All right. Well, we're going to talk more in a bit. As we know, voting is currently underway in the Granite State, as we speak. And we're
going to go next actually to a polling site in Manchester, New Hampshire, so you can get a sense of how voters are feeling.
CORNISH: Right now, voters are at the polls in New Hampshire, and both Democrats and Republicans are casting ballots today in key early primaries.
Now, today's results could either solidify a Biden-Trump rematch or open the door to their challengers.
Omar Jimenez is in Manchester now. So, you've been hanging out, watching people come in. What are you seeing? Study activity? How busy is it?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Study activity. We've been talking to voters throughout the morning here in Manchester. I mean, really, since the
polls opened at 6 a.m. Eastern Time, and it's been a pretty steady flood. Among them, a man, Kyle Montgomery here, just turned -- or is 18, first-
time voter ever. So, I have to ask you, how did it feel?
KYLE MONTGOMERY, FIRST-TIME VOTER: It feels pretty weird. But, it feels good to be able to vote finally, and yeah, put my ballot in.
JIMENEZ: Yeah. Why did you feel like voting was important to you?
MONTGOMERY: I feel like it's important for like people my age that are young, they feel like their vote doesn't matter sometimes, or they don't
know who to vote for. But, it's really important. Just go out there and like whoever you think fits best, it's more than just go out and vote for
who you think.
JIMENEZ: Yeah. And this time around, if you don't mind me asking, who did you vote for this time and why?
MONTGOMERY: I voted for Nikki Haley. I just feel like she can run this country in the right direction, and I feel like she fit for who I think
could be President.
JIMENEZ: Yeah. And one of the things I've been here, I feel like for different points over the past year, and one of the cool things about New
Hampshire is you'll actually get to see a lot of these candidates that come in and out over the course of their campaigning. At what point did you
decide, alright, you know what, she is the one that I'm going to go with?
MONTGOMERY: I mean, it's really, I was just kind of like off and on, like kind of thinking, like over the last couple of weeks, but I guess over like
the last few days I kind of decided who I was going to vote for.
JIMENEZ: Yeah. Have you -- one thing that we've been asking a lot of the people too, are you impressed with the options of candidates you were
offered, or do you wish there were a higher quality?
MONTGOMERY: I definitely wish there was higher quality candidates to vote for. But, it is what it is. And you just got to vote for who you think is
JIMENEZ: And the last thing I want to ask you is, I think you're right, a lot of people your age, whether they're first time voters or not, might
think my vote doesn't count. Why am I doing this? What have conversations been like among friends of yours? You don't have to name names, but among
friends about the voting process and about who they might be voting for.
MONTGOMERY: Really, this -- now, they kind of like -- they feel like there is not enough candidates to vote for, and they feel like their vote just
like isn't going to matter in the election. So, that's kind of what they've been talking about.
JIMENEZ: That was part of the motivation for you coming out.
MONTGOMERY: Yeah. That was part of the motivation for me. I was like -- I feel like since all these people aren't going to come out, I feel like I
should be definitely be going out there to cast my vote.
JIMENEZ: And one more question for you for the second time. Obviously, this is just the first step in everything. If it ends up a Trump-Biden rematch,
you're on the opposite end of the spectrum of both of them as far as age goes, do you think our candidates are too old, our elected leaders are too
MONTGOMERY: My opinion, yes.
I feel like our candidates definitely should be younger. I mean, as honestly as how they can work. If they can work at that older age, and this
is fine, but, yeah, I feel like there should definitely be a younger -- yeah.
JIMENEZ: Awesome. Kyle, thanks for taking the time.
MONTGOMERY: Thank you.
JIMENEZ: No. I have to give a shot. They're standing here. These are his parents. They brought him here to vote. So, this is the whole family here,
again, first-time voters among the many that have come through here in Manchester, first-in-the-nation primary, first-time voter.
CORNISH: Omar, thanks so much. It is great hearing from someone, especially Gen Z. Gen Z's entered the chat. So, appreciate you. Good luck today.
All right. So, our panel is back with me now. You just heard a young voter entering the electorate with the time honored slogan, it is what it is,
which tells you how excited he is about his choices. So, I want to talk about both Joe Biden and Donald Trump speaking as though the race is over.
So, Kate, asking you to analyze the other side for a second, what incentive is there for Joe Biden to say, yeah, this is done? It's probably Trump.
It's time to start panicking.
BEDINGFIELD: Well, significant incentive, because we know that Trump is the most damaged of all of the potential. Well, now we're just down to him and
Haley. But, we know he is the most damaged. He carries the most baggage of all potential Republican nominees. So, it is better for him, better for his
campaign, the sooner they can get people dialed in on the fact that their choice is going to be a choice between Biden and Trump. And it is. You
heard that young man say, you know, well, it is what it is, and you have to vote for the best. OK. So, maybe that's not the most inspiring moment from
a young man who is now participating in the process. But, he is not wrong. I mean, at the end of the day, it is going to be a choice. And so, people
have to weigh either side and go out and vote for the vision of the country they want.
So, for the Biden campaign and for Joe Biden, the sooner this is a race between the extreme positions of Donald Trump, his position on abortion,
his position on using the tools of the federal government for his own political retribution, the sooner the Biden campaign can make this election
about those stakes rather than about a hypothetical choice between Joe Biden and a generic Republican, the better for the Biden campaign. No
CORNISH: And of course, Nikki Haley is still trying to say, no, no, you do have a choice. Just now, her campaign manager released a memo, basically
saying this is not a country of coronations, that there is still a vote to go. And something I appreciated where she basically said that there were
110,000 people who have voted in Iowa, and that's not enough people for the rest of us to throw up our hands and say, well, this is a done deal.
Tia, can you talk about what message it would send if Nikki Haley isn't able to capitalize on this very consistent message?
MITCHELL: Yeah. So, that's the concern about where she stands in New Hampshire. As we've said before in the program, this is the state that has
the best-case scenario for Nikki Haley to pull out a win. So, yes, you can say that Iowa, that primary is mostly evangelical voters, is not
representative of the circumstances that could bode well in a general election. Well, New Hampshire is a much different electorate. It's a much
different primary system. And if Nikki Haley can't win in either scenario, then what is her pathway, because we know that future primaries are going
to look less like New Hampshire. They might not look like Iowa either with the caucus system and things like that. But, they definitely won't look
like New Hampshire.
So, what is her path forward if New Hampshire doesn't give her the right scenario to win? I think that's the question she is going to face.
CORNISH: And it's interesting because what we did learn from Iowa is that Trump has strengthened his position with rural voters, with older voters,
But, Scott, when he talks about how New Hampshire voters will send a signal straight to crooked Joe Biden, is there a signal they could send to Trump
JENNINGS: Sure. If he gets beat tonight, I mean, it means a bunch of independent voters showed up and said, hey, we're not doing this again.
That would be a message. I still don't think it means Nikki Haley would be the Republican nominee or have much of a pathway. But, that would show you
that there are lots of voters in this country who simply don't want Donald Trump to be the President again.
On the other hand, if he meets his polling number tonight, which has been creeping steadily upward towards 60 percent in the same way he did Iowa,
he'll say the message is this. Republicans are with me, and increasingly so were independents who were dissatisfied with Biden, and they're ready to go
back to the peace and prosperity of the Trump years.
So, I do think it's not that many people. But, depending on how the percentages lay out tonight, you could hear some very different messages
coming out of out of Trump -- Trump land, depending on how this goes. I mean, if he meets his polling, understand. It means he crushed among
Republicans, and these independents did show up and they voted for him. And the message that would send, I wouldn't minimize that, it would be a
CORNISH: OK. So, we are in a state of wait and see because people are actively voting now.
And coming up, President Joe Biden is going to hit the campaign trail, and he is going to be with his Vice President Kamala Harris, and they're going
to have a dire warning about the future for reproductive rights, especially if Donald Trump retakes the White House.
CORNISH: Welcome back to State of the Race. I'm Audie Cornish. Now, while two remaining Republican presidential candidates face off in New
Hampshire's primary, Democratic incumbent Joe Biden is also hitting the trail, and he is sharing the stage today with Vice President Kamala Harris.
And it's a big deal because it's their first joint campaign appearance of the year. Now, they're going to speak at a rally in Virginia. They're also
going to put abortion rights front and center. And Harris gave us a preview of their message in a CNN exclusive interview, attacking Donald Trump's
record on the issue as President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: -- fast forward to just recently, says he is proud of what he did. And let's be clear. So, by
inference, he is proud that women have been deprived of fundamental freedoms to make decisions about their own body. By inference, proud that
doctors are being penalized and criminalized for providing healthcare. Proud that women are silently suffering because they don't have access to
the healthcare they need.
So, let's understand that the stakes are so very high.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORNISH: Now, we're going to go live from the White House where we have Kevin Liptak to talk more. Kevin, give us a sense of what the messaging is
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah. And there is probably no other issue that Democrats feel more confident on than this issue of
abortion. And you really do see that reflected in the decision to schedule this first joint campaign rally, not just President Biden and Kamala
Harris, but also their two spouses, and center it on this issue of abortion, and Democrats have been galvanized by this issue. Every time it
has appeared on the ballot since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, it has gone in the direction of abortion rights advocates.
And what you do see the campaign trying to do is put real faces and real people behind some of these issues these issues. So, for example, we saw
the Biden campaign release a television ad earlier this week featuring a woman from Texas who was forced to go out of state to receive an abortion,
and she will be at the rally tonight. They do plan on airing that ad on this week's season premiere of The Bachelor. So, it really does give you a
sense of the types of voters they're trying to target with this issue. And today, at this rally, President Biden will be introduced by a second woman
from Texas who says her life was put at risk because she wasn't able to obtain an abortion in her own state.
Now, Kamala Harris has emerged as sort of a key messenger on this for the campaign and for the White House. And yesterday, she did launch a
nationwide reproductive rights tour there in Wisconsin. And you saw her talking to Laura Coates. And one of her key messages has been that no one
is more responsible for the overturning of Roe v. Wade than former President Trump through his three Supreme Court nominations. And in fact,
that's something that Trump has said himself. And you can imagine that they will be repeating that on the campaign trail in the year ahead.
In some ways, I think Harris is seen as a more comfortable and more natural messenger on this than President Biden himself, who has in the past
appeared somewhat reticent to talk about abortion. You'd have heard from Democrats who want him to be more forceful on this issue. We did hear from
the Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer over the weekend who said it would be helpful for President Biden to speak in more blunt terms on this topic,
and certainly he will have the chance to do just that at the rally later today, Audie.
CORNISH: All right. We're looking forward to your reporting on that. Kevin Liptak, thank you.
OK. So, as I said, this is a big moment, at least I think it is, because having Kamala Harris stand next to him on stage campaigning is also sending
the message of like I'm not going anywhere. I definitely want to be the nominee. And she is going to be standing next to me.
So, Kate Bedingfield, here is where we sort of understand whether she is a help or a hindrance. And how do you think they're going to deploy her?
BEDINGFIELD: Oh, she is a help. No question. I mean, she is incredibly passionate on this issue, which we know is one of the biggest electoral
motivators for Democrats. We've seen it over the course of the last two elections now since Roe fell. I think you will certainly see Biden and
Harris linked arm in arm, both, as a show of unity. But, also she is somebody who can go out into different communities, who can connect in ways
that sometimes to -- with voters in ways that sometimes Biden can't. I mean, I think they employ her in a really smart way to kind of bolster and
strengthen their ability to get out there.
But, I think there are two things that the Biden campaign is doing with this event. One, as Kevin kind of referenced there, obviously, they are
putting faces to these policies. They are taking this beyond just the kind of traditional way in which people thought about abortion into recognizing
that what Republicans do will potentially jeopardize access to birth control. It will -- for women who wanted to carry their children to term
but had medical conditions, will prevent them from being able to make medical choices. So, they're putting those faces to those names.
But, the other thing they're doing is they're defining Donald Trump on this, right, because we've seen, he has sort of tried to begin to back off
a little bit from his kind of staunchly, I put the justices on the Supreme Court who overturned Roe position. And so, the other thing that the
campaign and the President and the Vice President are trying to do is start to nail him down now as this campaign gets underway and not let him back
away from this position.
CORNISH: Scott, I want to come to you, because Nikki Haley had sort of differentiated herself on the campaign trail by saying, can't we all agree
that women shouldn't be penalized and to jail? Can't we all agree, etcetera." She was trying to say, look, there is a reasonable way to talk
about this. I've noticed that Democrats, and you hear it in Kate there, they are talking about reproductive rights, right, instead of pro-choice.
They are talking about how this affects individual women and their liberties. They've shifted language. How are Republicans still struggling,
and does Trump help or hurt given how he has talked about these things?
JENNINGS: Well, one of the things that I think has plagued the Republican Party, which has always been a pro-life party, is that, now, there isn't a
coherent view or a consistent view across the party about what the party's position actually is. You see some states doing this. You see some states
doing that. You've got federal officials saying we shouldn't be engaged. You've got federal people saying, well, we need a national bill. I mean,
you've got people all over the place. And so, the lack of cohesion in the party on a unified policy position necessarily makes it difficult to get
unification on language about how to talk about it.
I do think Trump has started to realize that it's going to be difficult to win on the hardest line of position. And so, he said, look, I'm the Reagan
position. I want a reasonable limit. And I want the three exceptions. And I think that's about as far as you're going to see him go. Of course,
Democrats, as you heard Kate say, are going to counter message that by saying, you can't run away from your feelings now. You put these justices
on the Supreme Court, and we'll never forget it. And you were so proud of it. And we'll see if the American people decide that issue is more
important than, say, the economy and immigration, and which side's base gets more energized by those two issues sets. And that's really --
JENNINGS: -- I'm not sure, honestly. I think it's very motivating for Democrats, and a lot of independents, just the same. I think immigration is
a lot -- motivating for a lot of Republicans. I'm not sure --
CORNISH: It is. Scott --
JENNINGS: -- which man is more powerful right now.
CORNISH: That's true. I want to jump in here just too to tie your points together, right? Kate was saying that they are getting out to try to define
Trump before he can define himself because he has been a little bit wishy- washy on this sort of relying on the Row ruling. But, I also want to bring in Tia, because you work for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. This is also
where like Marjorie Taylor Greene in that part of the party is from as well. How much damage has the kind of I would say maybe right-wing
blogosphere, etcetera, done to Kamala, right, in terms of talking about her as a problem, as being a heartbeat away from the presidency, and making
that into a fear base thing for candidates -- for voters?
MITCHELL: I think especially on the right, there is a lot of fearmongering about Kamala Harris. You see Republicans deliberately mispronouncing her
name, for example, questioning her background. And I think that is messaging for the right, for those staunch conservatives. I don't
necessarily think that's messaging someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene. It doesn't appeal to the middle, to independents. But, I do think in a swing
state, in the south particularly, that's what you see a lot about candidates of color, about women, different ways to pick apart their
resume, different ways to question their legitimacy. Quite frankly, even Nikki Haley has faced that in the Republican primary.
So, to me, that's something that I think on the far right in the conservative media, that kind of gins up enthusiasm against these types of
candidates that are Democrats. But, I don't necessarily think that's the messaging that you'll see in the mainstream, because they know that when
you get to the mainstream, when you get to independence, that messaging is a turn off.
CORNISH: Right. And this is a tricky issue, obviously, when we saw states, Ohio. I think Kansas. Scott helped me out Kentucky. There are plenty of
states where voters have -- are now being asked, do you want certain reproductive rights liberties taken away? And they answer, no, even if
they're a predominantly Republican electorate.
JENNINGS: Yeah. And some of it revolved around, where I'm from, in Kentucky in the last governor's race. We have a pretty restrictive law. It's a
heartbeat bill of six weeks. But also, we only have one exception, and that's for the life and health of the mother. We don't have the exceptions
for rape and incest. And so, the Beshear campaign, Andy Beshear is our Democratic governor, he was able to take these pretty powerful personal
story of a young woman and put it on television and explained that we don't have exceptions for what happened to me. She was abused and then had a
And so, when you see the Biden campaign using that same strategy of taking personal stories and putting them on television, it really does, I think,
leave a powerful impression on people on that issue. So, I think it's smart for them to learn from what just worked in even a red state like Kentucky
where abortion, I think, did become a limiting issue for the Republican Party in the last election. And it was all because we don't have the
exceptions. We don't have rape and incest in life of the mother. We just have life of the mother.
CORNISH: Yeah. And there is a lot of nuance here. It's a debate that is ongoing at the local and if some people get their way, the federal level. I
want to thank you guys for talking to me about this issue in particular. We'll be back in a moment.
And of course, right now, voters in New Hampshire, they're finally getting to cast their ballot. They're finally getting to say who they want to be
their party's candidate for President. Coming up, I'm going to speak with Josh Rogers of New Hampshire Public Radio.
CORNISH: All right. We made it, the first presidential primary of 2024. We're going to go live to Manchester, New Hampshire, and there we're going
to speak with the Senior Political Reporter and Editor for New Hampshire Public Radio, Josh Rogers. And Josh, I'd love to get your point of view
here, instead of people outside of New Hampshire, to help us understand this whole unaffiliated voter versus Republican voter. So, right now, when
CNN did a poll along with UNH, a voter registration, likely voters, 53 percent said they were Republican, but 47 percent were undeclared. So, you
know New Hampshire. Are these people -- are these Democrats messing around? Are these people who are basically partisans but like to go unaffiliated
when they register, what are we actually looking at in that 47 percent?
JOSH ROGERS, SR. POLITICAL REPORTER & EDITOR, NEW HAMPSHIRE PUBLIC RADIO: I think it's a little bit of both. I mean, independents are undeclared, as
they are called here, are certainly not a monolith. A lot of them have real sort of partisan predispositions but are (inaudible) in name only in the
absence of a competitive or dramatic Democratic primary given that President Biden isn't running, and Marianne Williamson and Dean Phillips
haven't picked up much traction. The action is on the Republican side. And Nikki Haley has looked to leverage the support of as many unaffiliated
voters as possible, because Donald Trump's grip on the base of the Republican Party is substantial, or at least it appears to be.
CORNISH: And they have spent so much money trying to capture the attention of the electorate there. Just to give people a sense, Republican campaigns
and groups have spent more than $77 million in New Hampshire. That's just since the start of 2023. And also in particular, Nikki Haley, just to prove
our point about her spending her time there, she -- her campaign as well as outside groups has spent more than $30 million.
Can you talk about what kind of issues are blanketing the airwaves? Like what are New Hampshire voters being bombarded with?
ROGERS: Well, the bombardment is perhaps most dramatic in anybody's mailbox who is an unaffiliated voter. In my house, we received, I think, 11 pieces
of mail on Monday, eight of which were, on one side or the other, Nikki Haley. And there are a variety of messages. Some are anti-Trump. Some are
it will feel good to vote against Trump. Won't it? There are lots of Trump mailers attacking Nikki Haley as being insufficiently Republican
conservative, fit to put forth a sort of Trumpist agenda. But, the mail pieces have been dominated by Nikki Haley, both pro and con.
And for her to do well, here the thinking is, is that she is really going to need a high turnout among unaffiliated voters. The Secretary of State is
projecting a record turnout. We'll see. I've been out at the polls this morning. It felt a little slow. But, the night is young as far as voting
goes. But, for Haley to do well, it really is going to be independent voters. Regardless of their ideological predisposition, they're going to
turn out. And there are plenty of Democrat-leaning independents who may vote Haley now, who may not vote for Haley or definitely not for Trump in
CORNISH: One quick thing, do you get the sense that Democrats are actually upset with the Biden folks?
ROGERS: It depends on the Democrat. I mean, certainly, there is some consternation over what happened with the primary. I mean, the primary is
really only meaningful based on which candidates choose to participate. We'll see what kind of write-in numbers he gets. I mean, Democrats are
worried down the line about it being organized for November, and they're hoping the write-in effort on Biden perhaps helps. Biden has no love for
New Hampshire. He -- the three times he ran for President, he only made it to primary day once. That was the last election. He came in fifth place.
And as you may recall, he actually bolted for South Carolina where he is obviously much more warmly received before the votes were counted here.
So, we'll see. In general, there is a lot of I'd say fatigue among voters here across the spectrum about the specter of a Biden-Trump rematch.
CORNISH: Well, Josh Rogers, thanks so much for joining us. Looking forward to tonight.
ROGERS: You're welcome.
CORNISH: Now, as residents in New Hampshire actually cast their vote today, the choice isn't always a simple one. I mean, the issues range from
personal preference to who has a real chance to win at all.
And CNN's John King has been talking with voters and has some of their stories.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Late morning off the dock gone maybe one day, maybe two or more.
ANDREW KONCHEK, NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN VOTER: That's where your fish comes from.
KING (voice-over): Andrew Konchek's job depends on the water and the weather.
KONCHEK: Yes, it's a little colder. Definitely, a little colder, but you get used to it.
KING (voice-over): The Alana Renee (ph) drops these gill nets overnight, pulls them out in the morning. Konchek was likely Trump but looking at Ron
KONCHEK: I'd have to like look into it more.
KING (voice-over): Now, time to choose.
KONCHEK: I'm with Trump because he supports fishermen. You know, and this obviously is my livelihood.
KING (voice-over): Loyal to Trump despite stuff that offends him.
KONCHEK: I don't like the way that he speaks sometimes. It could be a little ignorant and rude.
KING (voice-over): Loyal to Trump despite a wife who backs Nikki Haley.
KING: When you hang your Trump flag, what did she say?
KONCHEK: She said I was ruining Christmas and wanted me to take it down, and she took it down and then I put it back up.
KING (voice-over): Pete Burdett's Haley sign is surrounded by snow now, same spot is when we visited in September. Haley was a long shot then,
perhaps the only shot to stop Trump now.
KING: She has Trump's attention.
PETE BURDETT, NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN VOTER: Well, she certainly does. I think there is a very real opportunity for Nikki to squeak out a percentage
point on top of Trump. And wouldn't that shake the rafters?
KING (voice-over): To Burdett, a no brainer.
BURDETT: Who really can beat Biden? Who lost to Biden last time? Trump did.
KING (voice-over): The possibility is obvious. But so are the challengers, trouble winning over Chris Christie voters because she says she would
pardon Trump, trouble winning over Independents like Stanley Tremblay. Tremblay told us in September his disgust with both parties makes him a
likely third party voter in November. He could still help Haley Tuesday, but took a break from trivia night at his national brewery to make clear he
KING: I know you're not a Trump fan. Fair?
STANLEY TREMBLAY, OWNER, LIQUID THERAPY BREWERY: Yes, fair.
KING: If you came off the sidelines, you could help Nikki Haley.
TREMBLAY: I could. I could.
KING: But you don't see it as worth it. Why?
TREMBLAY: Because I don't really -- I don't feel like I trust her enough yet to be able to give her my vote.
KING (voice-over): Trump's resilience infuriates his critics. Yes, many supporters imitate his crude tactics and repeat his lies, but it's not that
KING: Who won the 2020 election?
DEBBIE KATSANOS, NEW HAMPSHIRE RESIDENT: Well, it was Biden.
KING (voice-over): Debbie Katsanos is an accountant who voted for Bill Clinton twice, but is a Trump Republican now.
KING: What are the one or two things you want the federal government to do ASAP?
KATSANOS: Close the border and get this economy going.
KING (voice-over): Not a Joe Biden fan.
KATSANOS: He is being caught in a lot of lies. I didn't like him as a politician.
KING: Getting caught in a lot of lies.
KING: Trump is not known as the world's greatest truth teller.
KATSANOS: No, no.
KING: So, why is it disqualifying for Biden, but it is OK for Trump?
KATSANOS: I don't like politicians. And I don't think Trump's -- I don't think one term made him a politician because I still -- I don't think he
plays the game.
KING (voice-over): That is the code Trump critics have yet to crack. His support among those who don't deny election results, those who don't like
the drama, but do like the policy.
DEVEN MCIVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN VOTER: I know he'll fix the border and work on the economy. With Trump, I was doing pretty good. I was able to
KING (voice-over): The more north you go, the more New Hampshire voters on the Trump Train. Deven McIver works construction, turning giant slabs of
rock into gravel.
MCIVER: This is all the prep work before the busy season.
KING (voice-over): In 2008, an Obama voter, a Trump supporter since the 2016 primary here.
KING: If he gets convicted of mishandling classified documents, he can go to jail for that.
MCIVER: Then he goes to jail. I guess, he won't be President.
KING (voice-over): Yes, a Trump voter, but with eyes wide open.
MCIVER: He is definitely different. Sometimes he is not his own best friend. He is different.
KING: But that's what I was getting at when I was asking about the price of admission. I mean, yes, there is a lot of extra that comes with it.
MCIVER: It's a show.
KING: That doesn't bother you?
MCIVER: No, no, because we have other branches of government to deal with it. You can keep them in line. You can't have everything you want.
KING (voice-over): McIver makes $40,000.00 a year, just enough, he says to take care of his family and save a little. Now, with Trump tax cuts for his
boss, he says would be worth all the Trump chaos.
MCIVER: If the business climate is better towards people like him, I'd do better because if you hit him harder with taxes, it takes away from me.
KING (voice-over): Andrew Konchek shares that same blue collar bottom line.
KING: You think it's over if he wins here?
KONCHEK: Yes. Oh, yes.
KING (voice-over): Trump, he believes, will win the primary, win in November and save his job.
KONCHEK: He is kind of a bully. I'll give you that.
KING: But you think he fights for you?
KONCHEK: I know.
KING: You do?
KING (voice-over): So it's worth all the drama if it keeps him on the water.
John King, CNN, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
CORNISH: John using his New England credentials there. I'd love to hear directly from voters. I want you guys to stay with us, because when we get
back, my panel is going to talk about the one more thing they can't stop thinking about.
CORNISH: Welcome back to State of the Race and my panel. And before I let you all go, I want to ask for one more thing. What's one thing on the
campaign trail that you're watching for in the coming days, in 30 seconds or less? Tia.
MITCHELL: Well, I'm going to say, who would have thought that a divorce case would be possibly the key to dismantling the Fulton County RICO case
against former President Trump and his indicted co-conspirators. But, that's what we're looking at right now. In Georgia, the divorce case
involving that special prosecutor who has been accused of an inappropriate relationship with District Attorney Fani Willis. Again, Trump supporters
think that could be the key to dismantling the case. But, we'll see what's in the file when it's unsealed.
CORNISH: Oh nice. Very good one to watch. Scott, how about you?
JENNINGS: I can't stop thinking about the 31 percent of Republican voters who showed up at the Iowa caucus and told pollsters that if Trump becomes a
convicted felon, he will be unfit for the presidency. And so, more than any TV ad, more than any campaign tactic, more than anything that campaigns can
think to say or events to do, that January 6 trial, that may or may not take place in March, could make the difference in whether Trump can win
reelection to another four years.
CORNISH: Kate, last word to you.
BEDINGFIELD: I cannot stop worrying about the impact of deep fakes in AI on the election. We saw this week in New Hampshire a manufactured robocall
that mimicked Joe Biden's voice, calling Democrats, telling them not to vote on Tuesday, that they'd be wasting their vote for November. And so, as
this technology gets better and better and these fakes get more and more real, it's scary to think about the impact this is going to have on the
CORNISH: Very important. I appreciate all of you. Thanks so much.
I'm Audie Cornish, and that is the State of the Race today, Tuesday, January 23. We want you to stay with CNN. One World is up next.