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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Live Coverage of Iowa Caucus; Tight Race Between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders; Mike Huckabee to Suspend Campaign. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 1, 2016 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[22:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: People to go either way, we'll watch it very closely with you. On the republican side, more of the caucus sites have reported, 75 percent. Ted Cruz is still maintaining his lead, 28 percent to 25 percent for Donald Trump, 22 percent strong third for Marco Rubio so far. A quarter of the votes still outstanding.

But Jeb Bush is winning by 3,602 votes. Let's go over to John King. John, 25 percent of the votes still outstanding. It still could go either way but Ted Cruz is developing a nice little lead there.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is. And I want to tell you about the big conversation in the republican circles tonight. Well, the CNN poll of polls coming into this. Averaging out most of the credible polls in the last week or so before the Iowa caucuses had Donald Trump at 31 percent.

Ted Cruz is at 24 percent. Marco Rubio was at 16 percent. Insurgent candidates tend to over perform their poll numbers. At the moment, we'll see as they count the rest of the vote, 25 percent of the vote. Donald Trump is well underperforming, which is going to raise questions, number one, about the strength of his organization. Did they have the ground game, is celebrity drawing him big crowds but he can't get them to the polls.

So, this is very interesting this and we'll see if it plays out as we move the campaign moves on to New Hampshire. Yes, still 25 percent for the vote to count. But in republican circles tonight, they're saying this is proof to them that Donald Trump underperforms, does not have the strength of organization. And Ted Cruz is over performing and Rubio is over performing.

Now when you look at how that is playing out in the republican race, it's quite interesting. I said earlier. What a big deal it would be if Ted Cruz wins the poll county. It's your urban and suburban county. It was four years ago, Mitt Romney country.

Why is Ted Cruz winning it now? Because Rubio and Trump are splitting the establishment republican vote, 47 percent if you add that up, Ted Cruz winning still. You know, Marco Rubio could still get that, Donald Trump could still get that, still 23 percent left to count.

But Ted Cruz performing in places where you would not expect him to do, because of the strength of his organization, turning out every last conservative while Trump and Rubio split the vote.

Rubio is beginning to fill in, though, over here Dallas County, this is Romney country, establishment country. Just to the West of Des Moines it's the suburbs. Rubio performing well there, Trump falling down in third place.

But again, as they split the establishment vote, Cruz is sneaking in and keeping his percentages up in places. Making up for the fact that Trump has had some success in the smaller Evangelical counties. So, smart tactical moves by the Cruz campaign.

BLITZER: All right. So, with 75 percent of the caucus sites reporting, 75 percent of the vote is not in. Is it fair to say this is still very much a three-man race?

KING: Yes, without a doubt. And if you go down below this, we go to the other candidates. We haven't got down here all night. Dr. Carson once the big leader in Iowa. Remember, if you go back a couple months, he was leading in Iowa, he's at 10 percent.

Rand Paul, this has to be a huge disappointment. His dad was at third place with 22 percent. They thought they could get into a strong fourth place. Right now he's running a very distant fifth place. Jeb Bush, just 3 percent of the vote in Iowa.

Now if you drop down even further, Kasich and Fiorina. Fiorina did play hard in Iowa for a while, Kasich did not. Mike Huckabee, a past winner, 2008, 2 percent. Rick Santorum at the bottom of the pack, another past Iowa winner just four years ago, at 1 percent. But this is a three-man race without a doubt, a very competitive race.

As you look for the rest of the votes that come in, let's just check. Again, the biggest basket of Polk County, 23 percent of the vote still to come in. Can Rubio make up some gains? Let's look where he is winning. He's doing well over here in Scott County, but all of the votes almost counted. We're just about 10 percent more to go there. A very competitive race, three way race here in Scott County.

Again, that was Mitt Romney country four years ago. The fact that they're splitting the vote right there, is one of the reasons we have such a strong competitive race. As the map fills in for just these three candidates. There were a couple counties early on that Dr. Carson was leading in but that has not gone away as we wait for some small counties and not many results there.

Let's just check the view real quick. This is interesting. There is still decent amount of population here at 3 percent statewide, only 26 percent. So, this could influence the statewide results as we wait for that, we're in the republican side.

But again, the big conversation tonight among the other campaigns is, he's underperforming and does that give you the scent of blood, if you will as we move on to New Hampshire beyond.

BLITZER: But the sense was that Ted Cruz had an excellent ground game, an operation in place that perhaps Donald Trump didn't have. KING: Right. They've done it the old fashioned way, the Cruz

campaign. Not only on the backs of Evangelicals, also Tea Party voters with a very strong organization that use data to find every conservative they could and they turn it out.

BLITZER: Let's look at the democrats right now. Let's watch this. Looking how close it's getting right now, 50 percent for Hillary Clinton, 49 percent for Bernie Sanders, 73 percent of the caucus sites reporting. It's getting closer and closer and closer.

KING: It's espresso time. Now, we'll let see how this one goes out. Again, let's look toward the biggest bulk for the votes are in Pol County. The comfort zone for the Clinton campaign which isn't very big right now as the race gets closer. But if they any comfort is that they're still leading by a quite substantial margin in the largest county in the state. And you still have 41 percent of the vote to be counted.

So, if she can keep that margin in Polk County, it most likely would be enough to offset otherwise. But, there is no guarantee she is going to keep that margin. We don't know the precincts that are out. So, we'll have to keep an eye on Polk County most of all.

Now let's come out to the eastern part of the state where Sanders is running strong, only 67 percent of the vote here, 68 percent now. Again, if sanders can keep or build on that margin, this is one of his ways to make up some votes as they count the votes here in Scott County in the eastern part of the state.

[22:05:05] Let's just check a few others here. Linn County where you find and see the rapids. You see the rapids in the suburbs, Sanders lead there. That's a healthy four-point lead. Again, more votes to be counted. So, if he keeps that lead in that county, that's going to pick up some support there.

Let's just check a few more places. We know here in Johnson County, Iowa City, 7 in 10 votes counted, 70 percent. A huge lead there. This again, the University of Iowa is here. So, there is still some votes for Bernie Sanders. If you're at the Clinton campaign headquarters and you're looking where the outstanding votes are there's a lot of votes here that could go still go Sanders way.

Let me just check Story County here at 60 percent. A big win for Sanders there. So, if you look at Story County here, where Iowa status these counties out in the east, the University of Iowa and where Sanders is doing well and see what happens in Davenport, more potential for Bernie Sanders to pick up.

And if you're Secretary Clinton, you're hoping if you keep this lead here, it's the biggest part of the state, 54 to 46. And let me just check, this is suburban Des Moines over here. A huge lead for her with about 24 percent still to be counted. So, we still have some huge battlegrounds within the democrats.

BLITZER: All right, John. If 74 percent of the caucus sites reporting, Hillary Clinton at 50 percent. Bernie Sanders at 49 percent. Given the outstanding precincts and the caucus sites, who would you rather be right now, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton? Given what we don't know about who's going to show up in the remaining 26 percent of this vote?

KING: Because she's winning so big in the largest part -- the biggest -- the most populated county, the most populous county in the state, if you made me choose, her. But this is -- this is razor thin. There are enough -- there more than enough votes out here, so I'd rather not choose. Let's just count.

BLITZER: It's going to be very, very close, right? I was looking at 26 percent of the close. Outstanding. I want to walk over to David Chalian, our CNN political director. David, it doesn't get much closer in the democratic side, does it?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: No, it doesn't at all. And I think we have some findings here from the interest polls that will explain why it's so close. Again, candidate quality. What voters were looking for as they were heading in, those voters on the democratic side that wanted somebody who cares about people like me, that is Sanders territory.

Seventy four percent for Sanders, 22 percent for Clinton. They made up 26 percent of the electorate. Now take a look at the right experience. People that want the right experience. This was Hillary Clinton's entire argument throughout the entire campaign thus far.

Eighty eight percent of those voters looking for the right experience went for Clinton. Only 9 percent went for Sanders. They made up 28 percent of the electorate. So, about evenly split there of democrats who want somebody who cares about people like me and want someone who has the right experience. Sanders territory, Clinton territory, that's why it's so close.

BLITZER: We thought it was going to be close, it's very, very close on the democratic side.

Cruz has a slight lead on the republican side. But it's close there, it could still go anyway. Let's go back to Anderson right now for more. Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. Well, thanks very much. Again, let's just look at the democratic vote. Seventy five percent of the vote in, 50 percent for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders at 49 percent. Martin O'Malley at 1 percent.

And the CNN reporting is that he is going to suspend his campaign within this hour. We anticipate to hear from him. We'll obviously try to bring that to you. But a very, very close race on the democratic side. And even if Bernie Sanders does not win this, given this, how close it is...

(CROSSTALK)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

COOPER: ... he can claim a form of victory?

BORGER: Well, and I've been e-mailing with the senior adviser to Sanders who is already saying that. He saying, look, we came from nowhere and we're somewhere right now and we're within a margin of error of victory.

I think another number in addition to the numbers that David was talking about, was another number that David Axelrod and I were talking about which is the honest and trustworthy number that you see between Sanders and Clinton, where he is overwhelmingly considered more honest and trustworthy.

I think it was like 82 percent to 11 by these caucus goers. And you can see that as one of her problems going forward, whether or not she wins this evening. He also is -- Sanders was doing very well with independent voters, with younger voters as we know and as David was saying. There's question of cares about people like me goes to this fight over income inequality. And that's another issue that Hillary Clinton has struggled with. And clearly within the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders has more credibility.

COOPER: Right. That scores higher than terrorism. It scores very low in terms of the concerns. That was fourth on...

BORGER: Yes, that's right.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's also doing well with independent voters who can opt into the caucuses, which speaks to the New Hampshire whether they're -- New Hampshire is dominated by independent voters, he's doing very well with those voters.

I want to say a word about expectations. You know, I was joking this morning, and I said, I can't wait for the voting to get over with so we can go back to talking about the polls. And we spend a lot of time covering these polls and these polls have set the expectations for this day. And that really, if it turns out the way it turns out, it will work to the advantage of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

[22:10:01] BORGER: Exactly.

AXELROD: It will really damage Donald Trump who was expected to win this race. Cruz was, it looked like Cruz was on the downslide, Rubio was viewed as a third tier candidate. And the fact that Cruz and Rubio are over performing the polls makes this a good night for them.

So, we're really, we're at the mercy of polls that as John pointed out are not always accurate.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. In a good night, I think for Sanders too. I talked to somebody who's known Sanders for 50 years. Sanders has run 20 times for office, and out of those, he's won 14 of those races.

He predicted that this is just the beginning in terms of what Sanders is going to do, of that he will stay in this race. I talk to some of his senior advisers, they're looking to at Michigan, in Ohio, in California and those big states to see how -- to see how Sanders can play there. Sanders is so good at picking up on the tenor of voters and telling them what they want to hear. In many ways he's been tapping...

(CROSSTALK)

COPPER: And 77 percent, by the way, of the vote now...

HENDERSON:: ... in tapping into their values with his ideas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, and you just run a very raised a really good point. He has run for office, what do you say, 20 times?

HENDERSON: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And yet, and yet, Hillary Clinton is crushing him when it comes to voters who want an experienced candidate. He is experienced, he's 74, he's been in politics for three decades.

HENDERSON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my point, he has ceded this argument.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaking of -- at the outset of the evening we said that the higher the turnout, the better the advantage for both Bernie and Donald Trump. Bernie seems to be closing the gap on where he'd been polling, so that wisdom holds with regard to Bernie Sanders, it doesn't hold with regard to Donald Trump begging the question why.

Here's one possible explanation. Maybe the decision about the debate was the wrong decision. I thought in the aftermath of the debate, that Marco Rubio had a good night. Maybe Donald Trump gave Rubio an opening by not attending that debate.

BORGER: And maybe Cruz' organization and the way they've been able to target voters, he's doing well in rural areas, he's doing well in suburban areas. And so, maybe some of their, you know, technology really helped him in this, whereas, you know, Donald Trump had some super-secret organization we don't know about, right?

JEFFREY LORD, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Speaking of people who run for office a lot. Donald Trump has never run for office.

BORGER: Right.

LORD: And here he sits at number two.

AXELROD: He's tried a few times.

LORD: And what?

AXELROD: He's tried a few times. LORD: Well, he thought about it. He never announced, he never ran, he never had an organization. So, my point is, to speak of polls and surely we don't evil of CNN polls, which the latest of which shows him ahead by double-digits in New Hampshire.

And Cruz, way back at 12 and Marco Rubio at 11. So, this battle now is going to get very intense. The best thing to do if he does lose. Acknowledge the loss, claim victory and move on. The comeback kid philosophy of -- that I remember from 1993.

AXELROD: But on this turnout issue, we should point out we started the evening, by saying if the turnout was high, trouble for Ted Cruz.

COOPER: Yes.

BORGER: Exactly.

AXELROD: Trouble for Hillary Clinton, both of whom may end up winning tonight. And Sanders has run a great race, but, you know, it's sort of interesting that organization candidates are doing so well.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think that's a very good point. First of all, everyone was talking about Ted Cruz's organization. And the question was very simply. Well, the movement candidate win. Trump says, I have a movement. Sanders says I have movement. All with a machinery of a Hillary Clinton or the machinery of a Cruz prevail.

It looks like it may be that machines are stronger than movements, at least tonight. But I want to say something about Martin O'Malley.

HENDERSON: Oh, OK.

JONES: No, no, no. Listen, this guy -- this is a very brutal business. This guy put his name out there, he put his family through hell, he was out there for a year and a half. He tried very, very hard. He made very good arguments.

And frankly, in any other year, he would have been able to catch fire some place and do much better. Because I just think, it's easy for us to sit here and keep these guys around. If you look at a Huckabee. How -- you know, this guy is one of the best human beings. I disagree with him on everything. Huckabee -- these are good people who went out there and tried. Tonight, maybe the end of all their careers. I just think we just acknowledge to our top decision...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Let me ask about Dr. Carson because he's now in the fourth place with a 10 percent. Word from his campaign was that he's not going to go to New Hampshire; he's going to go down to Florida. Then his campaign put out a statement saying, the reason he's going to Florida is because he needs to change clothes. He gets to get some new clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Anderson. COOPER: Which has got to be the weirdest explanation I've heard. I

mean, frankly, I've been wearing this suit for four days. I'm going to have something FedEx to me when I go to New Hampshire on Wednesday and that's better of course.

[22:14:56] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, welcome to the Carson campaign. And maybe Carson should take a page from Martin O'Malley's books and call it quits for the good of the party and the good of the country. You know, whether it was the Egyptian pyramid grain silo debate that we all ended up having to have, or any number of...

AXELROD: The war against (Inaudible)?

COOPER: He's got 10 percent of the vote but where did his voters go.

PAUL BEGALA, DEOMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think they go with Cruz.

AXELROD: I suspect they're for him because of his powerful appeal to run with faith.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

BEGALA: That's where he first made his name. He said he's going to go to the national prayer breakfast. That's the first political...

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And he's good. That's where he slipped.

BEGALA: ... when he scolded President Obama at a prayer breakfast. And so, I think that's kind of weird. So, I want to come back to something, though. Having worked in Iowa for a guy years ago, who actually won Iowa. And we met 99 counties...

COOPER: Is it Giffords?

BEGALA: Yes. It is not a machine. It's not. It's not for Ted Cruz. Its pastors, its congregations, its people who is taking time out of their lives. And the same for Secretary Clinton and for Bernie Sanders.

I mean, it is -- this is -- I know we all sort of like to mock it, I love it. This is grassroots politics at its best. And the fact that Cruz was trending down. He lost nine points in the last six weeks in the Iowa poll, and yet, he seems to have been able to survive because of the -- and Hillary Clinton, by the way, was trailing in our poll, 51 to 43 a week ago in Iowa in a CNN poll.

She was down 8 points. Should those two win, it will be a testament to thousands and thousands of people. Who are not paid. That they just come out because they believe in these candidates. And that, I do love all the way across, all 10, 12 or 38 candidates. That's really -- I love it.

BORGER: It also means that the 'birther' issue, by the way, did not take hold as much of the other issues that people care about... (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I have to go -- I got to go to with Wolf with key race alert. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. We have a major key race alert right now. Take a look at this, on the republican side, let's go there first. Ninety seven percent of the caucus sites are in. And Ted Cruz maintaining his lead of about 5,000 votes over Donald Trump, 28 percent to 24 percent, for Trump and Marco Rubio a close third 23 percent. Ben Carson at 9 percent.

But remember, almost all of the votes are now in, 97 percent of the caucus sites have reported, 97 percent have report -- 97 percent. And look at how Ted Cruz is doing, 5,000 votes ahead of Donald Trump.

On the democratic side, 80 percent of the caucus sites have now reported. Hillary Clinton still maintaining a slight, very slight advantage, 50 to 49 percent.

Rubio -- Rubio doing very, very well. Look at Rubio right now with 23 percent on the republican side, 24 percent with Donald Trump. But Cruz is ahead with almost all of the precincts reporting right now, 97 percent.

All right. Let's go back to Jake and Dana. Jake and Dana, look at this, very, very impressive for Ted Cruz right now. A close battle for second place.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's right. Well, and Dana, I think it's fair to say that the person having the best night in Iowa tonight on the republican side is Ted Cruz. And the person having the second best night is Marco Rubio. Even though right now he's coming in third, he is only one point behind Donald Trump, who was leading in so many polls. But not the one that mattered on Election Day.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, coming into tonight, I was talking to a senior Rubio source who said that they didn't plan on having him here for as long as he's been here. He's been here for like the past eight days or more. But they saw the surge. They saw what everybody was seeing in the public polling, even more so in their own data.

And so, they kept him here because they thought, well, we can -- we can really do well. I don't even know that they expected to do as well as they are so far. And again, I just -- it bears repeating. Donald Trump's worst nightmare tonight appears to be Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz's best gift appears to be Marco Rubio.

TAPPPER: It looks like a lot of people did switch their vote. People who were supporting Donald Trump now supporting Marco Rubio. You look at those numbers. If you look at your screen, the top right of your screen. That is Trump headquarters in the bottom right of your screen.

That is Rubio headquarters, and I suspect, Dana, we're going to hear a lot about Marco Rubio from Mr. Trump in the coming days. These performances when you come in third. When nobody expected you were going to do that well. And you come in second when people thought you're going to do better.

It's an expectations game, and it has an effect on the rest of the race. People forget in 1992, Bill Clinton didn't win New Hampshire when he called himself the comeback kid. He just came in second when everybody thought he was going to do much, much worse.

BASH: That's right.

TAPPER: And here we have almost the reverse going on. Marco Rubio and 23 percent. But Donald Trump who people thought, who many, many people predicted was going to win the Iowa caucuses, and look at that, with 99 percent of the vote in. Ted Cruz at 28 percent. Donald Trump 24, Marco Rubio just nipping at his heels at 23 percent. A very, very strong showing for Rubio. And a very extremely strong showing for Ted Cruz.

BASH: Absolutely. And you know, you talked about the expectations game which is so true, but especially for somebody like Donald Trump, who's all about winning. And he even said he put his heart on his sleeve, you know, in the past couple of days saying, you know, I really need to win here, I want to win here.

[22:20:09] He was kind of joking about the fact that he was upset, he was only five points up in the latest poll. This is a new phenomenon for somebody like Donald Trump. The character that is Donald Trump to not be able to say I'm a winner. And so, I wonder how much of a psychological effect that's going to have on him.

TAPPER: I want to correct something I said before. On the bottom right hand corner, that's Ted Cruz headquarters and above him on the top right that's Donald Trump headquarters.

But Dana, you raise an excellent point. One of the stars of the election so far has been not only Donald Trump but his skills at branding. He's so good at branding himself as a winner, who will make America great again.

Jeb Bush, low energy, and on and on. Most of the branding has been negative. What is going to happen to his brand when he's no longer the winner, that's something that will -- we haven't seen him experience yet, and it will be an interesting thing to watch.

Wolf Blitzer, back to you. You have a key race alert in

BLITZER: All right. Let's do another key race alert right now. Looking up close to this on the democratic side, 50.1 percent for Hillary Clinton, 49.2 percent for Bernie Sanders. This is 81 percent of the expected vote, 81 percent of the caucus sites so far reporting.

On the republican side, Ted Cruz maintaining his lead, 28 percent to 24 percent for Donald Trump, 23 percent -- 23 percent for Marco Rubio. Ninety nine percent of the expected vote now in. But Ted Cruz, Ted Cruz is ahead 28 to 24 percent. Once again, on the democratic side, look how close it is. Fifty --

50.1 percent, 49. 2 percent for Bernie Sanders, 81 percent of the expected vote in right now on the democratic side. A very, very close between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

We don't know the outcome of that. Right now it's looking pretty good for Ted Cruz. Donald Trump and Marco Rubio battling it out right now for second and third place.

Let's go over to John King right now. John, Ted Cruz, you got to give him some credit, he's doing well.

KING: Yes. And let's clarify something for our viewers. When you see this 99 percent you might think the vote is almost all counted. That's 99 percent of the expected vote. We never know how many people are going to turn out. Return turnout was 121,000 four years ago, we're over 155,000 right now and we still have a lot of votes to count. Even though we're what we expected for people to vote.

Let's take a peak here at Polk County, the largest county in the state. We're up to 93 percent. That's a big game just in the last few minutes. I look just moments ago, Marco Rubio winning right in Polk County. That's a big deal.

If you come to statewide numbers, Wolf, the big story at the moment, Ted Cruz is holding his lead. Marco Rubio is making a run at second place right now. If you watch this play out. Can he get there? Let's see. You come out here, 91 percent of the vote counted at Woodbury County. That is still city in the western part of the state.

Trump is winning, you see how those margins play out. Now you're looking around to see what's left out there. In Dubuque, very close race. A three-way race here, less than half of the vote counted out here. This is main line establishment republicans. Mitt Romney territory four years ago.

So, let's watch as the votes come in here. One of the population centers we're still waiting for. Let's drop down here and just see how we're doing in Scott County at 95 percent of the vote in there. Rubio sends a three way tie, and this again, suburbs, main line republicans right here, a three-way race.

So, where else are their votes up? A 91 percent here. So, we're getting there. The vote has jumped in the last couple minutes. I was looking at here a few minutes earlier. Some of these smaller counties, we're at 100 percent here, 88 percent there, 85 percent in Black Hawk, this is bigger county at 4.3 percent, where Cruz, Rubio, Trump.

We're seeing a lot of this within a point of each other when you go through these counties. Very close three-way race. So, what's left? A little bit of the vote left in Story County, where Iowa State is.

Decent chunk of the vote of 7 percent. It's the largest population in the state. As you watch this play out right now, Ted Cruz at the moment winning his lead because out there. Remember, I said earlier how much of a surprise it would be if he won in Polk County or in Dallas County.

He's now trailing in those counties but not by much. And that is the story of the night, with the split between Trump and Rubio among establishment republicans. Ted Cruz doing very well in some of these suburban counties to offset some of Trump's support out in the Evangelical counties.

but when you look at this right now, here's my big question. Can Rubio catch Trump for second place, and can Cruz hold on to that? If you look at the map right now, as it fills in, more Rubio and less Trump in the populations centers. Rubio's beginning to look a lot like Mitt Romney if you just take a quick look at here. The places where Rubio is winning.

Go back four years, these are Romney. So, establishment republicans. But the main -- so, I can tell you the big conversation among republicans is, number one, Cruz proved the strength of his organization. They turned -- they over performed their polls, they turned out people in the suburbs, where you wouldn't think he would be strong. But they used big data, they used the smart organization, they used a lot of people on the ground to identify their votes the conservative they could get and they clearly turned them out.

[22:25:00] Trump is way underperforming his late, late polls. That is the big conversation as the race moves on. And Rubio over performing the last polls in Iowa. They hope to get a boost heading into New Hampshire. The third place here would give him bragging rights among the establishment candidates if he close that gap and catch up with Trump. I think he would brag with a bigger voice.

BLITZER: And take a look at this. These are actual votes that have already been counted, 43,550 for Ted Cruz, 38,358 for Donald Trump, 36,065 for Marco Rubio. On the republican side, they actually released the numbers.

Now on the democratic side, they got different rules. They don't release the hard numbers. That's why we can't tell you. These are the delegates, the state delegate equivalents as they're technically calling.

KING: The state delegate equivalent which are very close. If you look, it still tells you have the close race, 50 to 49, though, as our reporters have been saying. Martin O'Malley to suspend his campaign.

So, you look at the democratic map, and what are you looking for? Eighty two percent of the vote counted so far on the democratic side. If you're team Clinton, you're happy with this. Still 25 percent of the vote to come in in Polk County, that's Des Moines. It's the largest area of the state. with traditional democrats.

She's running very well here, so they're happy, there's more votes to come here. And here is as long as they can hold on that margin. If you're Bernie Sanders, where you're looking for more votes. You want to come out here. Linn County, still 21 percent of the votes to be counted. A pretty good Sanders lead here. And also we'll keep counting -- we'll keep counting in the east and the middle of the state as we go forward.

BLITZER: All right. We've got a major projection that we're about to make. A major projection on the republican side.

And CNN predicts Ted Cruz, the republican Senator from Texas will win the Iowa caucuses based on the numbers that have come in right now, based of the outstanding numbers we project. Ted Cruz will win the Iowa republican caucuses tonight.

A major win for Ted Cruz. He has done remarkably well beating Donald Trump. Marco Rubio has been doing extremely well himself. All three of them close. But CNN projects that Ted Cruz is the winner of the republican caucuses in Iowa.

Let's go to (Inaudible). She is out there. They're watching CNN right now. (Inaudible), I assume all those people at Cruz headquarters are very happy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right, Wolf. This has quickly turned into a party atmosphere here at Cruz campaign headquarters. As you said, they're watching CNN. They saw you just now call this race for Ted Cruz. A lot of people cheering and chanting behind me.

We know that Ted Cruz right now is on an airplane. He's flying from Cedar Rapids to Des Moines. He will land in a little under an hour where he will address this crowd at some point. Campaign advisers say his message tonight will be very clear.

It will be a message of gratitude for Iowa voters and going forward, he will argue that he is the candidate that can make this a national race. He's the candidate he wants conservative Evangelicals and other conservative republicans to rally around. Wolf?

BLITZER: He's going to speak where you are, is that right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. Campaign officials say his speech is finished, he's written his speech, all he needs to do is come out here and deliver it. We're also told that after his speech, he will go out into the crowd and mingle with all these hundreds of people here, who have been waiting for hours.

And I have to say, Wolf, the tone in this room just shifted in the last 30 minutes, we really could sense confidence from the Cruz campaign. We spotted a lot of his advisers mingling in the crowd, coming over to talk to reporters. They were saying that were cautiously optimistic, but very clear, they knew they were having a good night, very clear by the smiles on their face. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. All CNN projects Ted Cruz the winner of the Iowa caucuses. I want to go to Trump headquarters right now. Sara Murray is there. Sara, what's the reaction over there, what are you seeing, what do you hearing, what do we know about Trump's appearance at some point?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, of course, it's a much more subdued atmosphere. People were booing as that projection came in here. What we are hearing right now, tough, is campaign staffers are telling us, now the story is the Marco Rubio surge, he is now a player in New Hampshire, and South Carolina and could present a challenge for Donald Trump in those states.

Now the other thing we're hearing, I spoke with State Senator Brad Zaun a top endorser for Donald Trump here in this state. He tells me that privately he doesn't think that Donald Trump ever expected to win Iowa, he was hoping to. But he didn't expect to, and that he's comfortable with second place.

Now this race moves on to the next state. You can hear chants who is breaking out behind me. Everyone wants to hear from Donald Trump even if he's not victorious tonight.

BLITZER: At some point he is going to show up, I'm sure he will speak. Ted Cruz will speak. Marco Rubio will speak. We'll get ready to hear all of them.

I want to go back to Jake and Dana right now. Jake, this is a win,, a big win for Ted Cruz.

[22:29:59] TAPPER: A big win for Ted Cruz. And a bad night for some other people. Dana Bash has some breaking news. Dana.

BASH: That's right. Mike Huckabee who was the caucus winner back in 2008, a very big win back then, is now suspending his campaign. He announced that just moments ago to his supporters here in Iowa.

He -- well, we're talking about the three contenders, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio. Mike Huckabee has just about 7 percent right now. Seven percent so that is why he decided to suspend his campaign.

He really has tried to return here to Iowa tried to make a go of it but it's just as people who are close to Huckabee have told me, it's just about timing and other things, but mostly about timing. It's just wasn't his year to return. And he just couldn't capture the magic and the momentum that he did eight years ago when he won here, Jake.

TAPPER: He did so well in 2008 appealing to those Evangelical voters. But those Evangelical voters very strongly turned out this evening and many of them went for Ted Cruz.

BASH: They just -- bottom line is that they just had many more options.

TAPPER: They had many more options and early I suppose. Early entrance polls is that they were just splitting their vote among Rubio, and Trump, and Cruz. We'll see how those shake out.

Anderson, back to you in Washington.

COOPER: Yes. We'll see more people drop out in the next few hours. We've been joined now by Amanda Carpenter who used to work with Ted Cruz. What do you think about how he ...

(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you smiling?

AMANDA CARPENTER, TED CRUZ FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, it's not just because I work for Ted Cruz. But as a conservative I feel like we finally found a conservative who can win. I mean, look at what Ted Cruz faced in this election. Not only was he is being by Donald Trump but extremely unconventional ways. On his 'birther' race, on his loans, on his Evangelical faith.

But he's being attacked fiercely by the republican establishment. You had the Governor of Iowa come out and anti-endorse him on ethanol standard. You have all of these GOP king makers of the past saying he could never win. And tonight, he did it.

So, I don't think this is just a win for Ted Cruz, I think this is a product of the conservative movement that's been a long coming, that he's sought a leader who can stand for conservative principal, that also had the fundraising, the infrastructure to win. And this may be the beginning of something much, much bigger. We shall see that this is a great night for conservatives.

COOPER: How concerned were you when you heard there was record turnout on the GOP side. Because all night long, so many people have been saying record turnout, you know, is going to break in Donald Trump's favor.

And look, and by the way, look right now at the race on the democratic side, Hillary Clinton 49.9 percent. Bernie Sanders 49.4 percent, with 84 percent of the vote now in. So, that race is tightening, it is still anybody's race. An extraordinary turn of events.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I was just going to say my biggest fear for this entire election is that we would face an extremely weak democratic forerunner in Hillary Clinton. And republicans who make the mistake from nominating Donald Trump. Where I don't think people could trust to be a strong republican.

Iowans did not make that mistake tonight. We're going to go into a general election face either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders with a conservative who can win potentially.

COOPER: Paul Begala, I got to ask you about this democratic numbers.

BEGALA: How great is this? This is fantastic. This is what you want. This is why you play the game, right? This is...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You worked for a super PAC for Hillary Clinton?

BEGALA: I do. But we're not attacking Bernie or any of that stuff. We've ran some ads about him about guns and Hillary and Ted Cruz. Maybe that wasn't such a great move. I think this is why you -- what you want.

JONES: Well, let me just say, and again, I'm neutral on this thing, but I just think for too long this -- that the Sanders insurgency was being ignored, it was being blacked out. It was being disregarded, it was being disrespected, it was being laughed at.

This is not a joke. This is a real serious movement inside the Democratic Party, people love Obama. They love Obama, but they don't necessary love the Obama years. There's been a sense of frustration, and pain and disappointment and wanting to go further now.

And you did have a moment where it seemed like young people were saying we want to believe in more. And maybe the establishment said, lower your aims. This is a bunch of people saying we refuse to lower our aims. People want to shoot high.

And so, you're proud of conservatives, I'm proud of progressives tonight. This is important for both the establishment and for the progressive wing to realize that more is possible anybody thought.

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: I'm also neutral.

BEGALA: This is interesting. You watch with the two parties couldn't be more different. The divide in the Democratic Party is on age. It's on age. The younger you are, the more liberal you are, the more you're going to likely beat for Bernie. Certainly in Iowa.

And I think we'll see this pattern repeated across the country. In the Republican Party is income and education. There's not really an age so much. It's frankly; it's the winners and losers in globalization. The people who prosper in their globalization, that their establishment and they're happy with a set of economic policies.

It's interesting that now Senator Cruz who's been a great critic of a lot of those policies has according to our projections notched his first win.

[22:35:05] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. He's in a good kind of speaking populous terms before Donald Trump did it to such a large extent. That talking about how Washington hurts the little guy has been a constant thing from his Senate campaign. And so, this is something he'll continue to extend upon.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We should also point out, we are still watching closely the Donald Trump-Marco Rubio battle on the republican side. That is not yet, that frankly still could go in either direction.

But we'll check in with John King shortly to kind of look at where the votes still are to be counted on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, Jeffrey. The Republican Party is in open revolt here at the basic end of the establishment. And one of the things I think is going to come out of this, we talked frequently about the establishment candidates sort of winnowing the field and getting behind one person. I think de facto that establishment person tonight has become Marco Rubio.

COOPER: The other question, though, I mean, first of all, it will be fascinating to see this, how does Donald Trump give a speech in which he has not run. Here's Marco Rubio on the stage. His entire family, let's listen in to him, as he's come in right now with a very strong tone.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you.

So, this is the moment they said would never happen.

(APPLAUSE)

For months, for months they told us we had no chance. For months they told us because we offer too much optimism in a time of anger, we had no chance. For months they told us because we didn't have the right endorsements or the right political connections, we had no chance.

They told me that we have no chance because my hair wasn't gray enough and my boots were too high.

(APPLAUSE)

They told me I needed to wait my turn, that I need to wait in line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is your turn

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: But tonight, tonight here in Iowa, the people of this great state have sent a very clear message. After seven years of Barack Obama, we are not waiting any longer to take our country back.

(APPLAUSE)

This is not a time for waiting. For everything that makes this nation great now hangs in the balance. This is a time where we need a president that will truly preserve, and protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Not one that undermines, attacks and ignores the Constitution of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

This is a time for a president who will defend our Second Amendment rights. Not a president who undermines them. This is a time for a president that will rebuild the U.S. military, because the world is a safer and a better place...

(APPLAUSE)

... when the United States has the most powerful military in the world. This is no ordinary election. Twenty sixteen is not just a choice between two political parties, 2016 is a referendum. It is a referendum on our identity as a nation and as a people. In America, there are only two ways forward for us now. We can either

be greater than we've ever been or we can be a great nation in decline. If Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton get elected...

(CROWD BOOING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

RUBIO: .. if they were to win, we will be a great nation in decline. If they win, Obamacare becomes permanent.

(CROWD BOOING)

If they win, these unconstitutional executive orders from this president become permanent. If they win, our military continues to decline. And if they win, the balance of our Supreme Court will be controlled by liberal justices for over a decade or longer. They cannot win.

Hillary Clinton is disqualified from being the President of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

Because she stored classified and sensitive information on her e-mail server, because she thinks she's above the law. And Hillary Clinton can never be Commander-in-Chief. Because anyone who lies to the families of people who lost their lives in service of this country can never be Commander-in-Chief of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

And so, tonight, I thank you here in Iowa. I thank you because we have taken the first step. But an important step toward winning this election.

[22:40:03] If I am our nominee, and I will be our nominee, thanks to what you have done here in this great state.

(APPLAUSE)

When I am our nominee, we are going to unify this party, and we are going to unify the conservative movement.

(APPLAUSE)

When I'm our nominee, we are going to grow the conservative movement, we are going to take our message to the people who are struggling paycheck to paycheck. To the students living under the burden of student loans. To the families struggling to raise their children with the right values, we will take our message to them and bring them to our side.

When I am our nominee, we will unite our party, we will grow our party and we will defeat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or whoever they nominate. (APPLAUSE)

I want to thank an all-powerful and Mighty God...

(APPLAUSE)

... for the chance that he has given us to be a part of this endeavor here in Iowa. It's been a phenomenal experience. I want to thank my wife and my family.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to congratulate my friend Senator Ted Cruz. He worked really hard here in Iowa. And he earned his victory tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank another good friend of mine Governor Mike Huckabee, for his service to our country to the State of Arkansas. He has announced tonight that he is suspending his campaign. We have tremendous admiration for Governor Huckabee and we thank him for all he's done.

(APPLAUSE)

Two centuries ago, an extraordinary generation living in one place at one time here in America, the colonies, of an English colony, declared their independence from the most powerful empire in the world. They did it with the powerful words and principle that our rights come from our creator, they do not come from our government.

And over the rest is a two century history of the most extraordinary nation in the history of mankind. I know America is special because I was raised by people that knew what life was like outside of America.

I was raised by people who came to this country with nothing, they barely spoke English at the time. They had no money. My father stopped going to school when he was nine years old, he had to go work. He would never go back to school. He would work for the next 70 years of his life.

When my parents arrived here in this country they struggled. They were discouraged but they persevered. Less than a decade after they arrived here with nothing, my father a bartender on Miami Beach, they owned a home. Not a mansion, but a safe and stable home in a safe and stable neighborhood.

Decades later, they would retire with dignity and security. And the most important thing all for them, they left all four of their children with a life better than their own. This was the purpose of my parent's life, to give their kids, us, the chance to do all the things they never could.

That's not just my story. That's our story. That's America's story. That's the story of your parents -- you know the stories. Of your parents who sacrificed and gave up so much so you could be what they could not. It's the stories of those parents today who are doing the same for their children.

It is this that makes America special. And is this what we fight now to preserve. This is the kind of country that I want to leave for my children. This is the kind of country your children deserve to inherit as well. And this is what we must now decide. Whether we will remain that kind of country. Or whether we will be the first generation to lose it.

It's an important choice. And one that each generation before us has had to make. For America is not a special country by accident. America is a great nation. Because each generation before us did their part. Each generation before us sacrificed, they confronted their challenges, they embraced their opportunities.

And for over two centuries, each generation has left the next better off than themselves. Now the time has come for us to do the same. Now the moment has arrived for this generation of Americans to rise up to the calling of our heritage. Now the time has come for us to take our place and do what we must. And when I'm elected president of these great United States, we will do our part much.

(APPLAUSE)

[22:45:12] When I...

(APPLAUSE)

When I am elected president when we together achieve this victory, we will embrace all the principles that made America great and we will apply them to the unique challenges of this new century. And when our work is done, here is what history will say of this generation. It will say that we lived in the early years of this new century, in an uncertain and difficult time but we remember who we were.

We rose up to the challenge of our time. We confronted our problems and we solved them. And because we did, the American dream didn't just survived; it reached more people, and changed more lives than ever before. Because we did our children and grandchildren grew up to be the freest and the most prosperous Americans that ever lived.

Because we did what needed -- because we did what needed to be done. The 21st century wasn't just as good as the 20th century. It was better, it was a nil American century.

(APPLAUSE)

This is the task before us. And I thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ; I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to come this far with each of you. I am grateful to you, Iowa, you believed in me when others didn't think this night would be possible. When perhaps you were lost in the daily narrative, when some suggest that perhaps it was time to step aside, you believed in me.

You walked with us, you made the calls and knocked on doors. You made a huge difference tonight. We are going to be back, I will be back here in October of this year and next year of September of this year. (APPLAUSE)

Because -- I said next year, I said next year. I'll be back next year too, but I'm going to be back in October and September of this year because when I'm our nominee, we are going to win Iowa, and we are going to win this election for this country.

(APPLAUSE)

And so, Iowa, thank you so much. We will never forget you, we will see you soon again. And New Hampshire, we will see you in the morning. Thank you, god bless you.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you very much.

COOPER: A triumphant Marco Rubio who is the third place finisher this evening, but the winner of the expectation game here in Iowa. Coming in a very strong third place after lingering far, far behind Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in the polls. Almost surpassing Donald Trump.

But while we're looking at these numbers and paying attention to the republican race, Dana. Let's take a quick look at what's going on on the democratic side. Because it couldn't be closer. Right now with 88 percent of the vote reporting, and the democratic race, Hillary Clinton has 49.9 percent of the delegates.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Wow, look at that.

TAPPER: And Bernie Sanders has 49.4 percent. Nobody on either side is feeling very good right now. They are very nervous.

BASH: That's right. And that's we're talking about how close this is, we're waiting Donald Trump because he is going to come out and we're told momentarily. And I think everybody in our audience is probably at the edge of their seats as we are to see how Donald Trump is going to react to not being the winner tonight.

TAPPER: It's going to be interesting to see because as we've talked about since he came out and declared his candidacy last summer, I believe it was June, he is really only one and he's surpassed everybody in polls. He's gotten the best of almost every single candidate as he squared off against them.

He's always been the one that seemed to do the best. We're waiting for Donald Trump. There he is right now. Let's go to Trump headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa right now and take a listen to what he has to say. It's not a great night. He came in second but everyone thought he was going to come in first, especially and including one Mr. Donald J. Trump. Let's take a listen.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you very much. I love you people. I love you people. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)

[22:50:05] Unbelievable. I have to start by saying, I absolutely love the people of Iowa. Unbelievable. Unbelievable

(APPLAUSE)

So, on June 16th, when we started this journey, there were 17 candidates. I was told by everybody do not go to Iowa. You could never finish even in the top 10. And I said, but I have friends in Iowa, I know a lot of people in Iowa, I think they'll really like me. Let's give it a shot. They said, don't do it. I said, I have to do it.

And we finished second and I want to tell you something. I'm just honored, I'm really honored, and I want to congratulate Ted and I want to congratulate all of the incredible candidates including Mike Huckabee who's become a really good friend of mine.

So, congratulations to everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

Congratulations. I want to thank all of the folks that worked with us. We had a great team and we will continue to have a great team. And we're just so happy with the way everything worked out. And most importantly, I have to thank my wife and Laura, and Erica, and Vanessa, and Don. They went out and they were doing speeches and in fact, Don and Erica, you did about six speeches today.

So, I just want to thank my family. They have been so amazing and so supportive.

(APPLAUSE)

And we've had every indication, we're going now -- we have a poll, we're at 28 points ahead, New Hampshire, we love New Hampshire, we love South Carolina and we're leaving tonight and tomorrow afternoon we'll be in New Hampshire and that will be something special.

It's going to be a great week, and we're going to be up here next week. And I think we're going to be proclaiming victory, I hope.

(APPLAUSE)

I will say this, I don't know who's going to win between Bernie and Hillary. I don't know what's going to happen with Hillary, she has other problems, maybe bigger than the problems she's got, in terms of nominations.

(APPLAUSE)

But we've had so many different indications and polls that we beat her and we beat her recently. And we will go on to get the republican nomination, and we will go on to easily beat Hillary Clinton or Bernie or whoever the hell they throw up there.

(APPLAUSE)

Iowa, we love you, we thank you. You're special. We will be back many, many times, in fact, I think I might come here and buy a farm, I love it. OK?

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much.

COOPER: Donald frump, talking about his second place finish in Iowa. Focusing now on New Hampshire and moving forward sounding confident nevertheless.

(CROWD CHANTING)

But a huge night for Ted Cruz, no doubt about it. Even with huge turnout with everybody...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: On to New Hampshire. So long, everybody.

COOPER: .. even with the huge voter turnout in the GOP side breaking records for the GOP. A lot of people thought it was going to benefit Donald Trump with all those new voters he was going to bring in but it's Ted Cruz's night.

BORGER: It is Ted Cruz's night. He organized -- out organized everybody. He delivered the Evangelical voters that he needed to deliver even given the fact that Ben Carson was still in this race with what, 10 percent? And took a lot of those Evangelical voters, I think you really have to

hand it to Ted Cruz here.

I think the other person -- look, you have to hand it to Donald Trump as well.

COOPER: Right. Never done this before.

BORGER: And Marco Rubio now will compete in New Hampshire. And Marco Rubio will be attacked Donald Trump, let me predict that right here for being a part of the gang of 8. And the establishment money will now pour in to Marco Rubio.

BEGALA: So, one of the questions I speak at someone who was involved with the candidate who won the Iowa caucuses in the brilliant victory, we went to Iowa, I mean, we went to New Hampshire triumphantly that night to dictate the terms of surrender.

And we got beaten having 11 points ahead five days before that primary. New Hampshire is a famously changeable state. And the question is, does this showing by Donald Trump, I know we're handing out trophies to everybody here.

I wouldn't give him one. I think he had a bad night. I think this is one of those nights where the first and third place finishers won by defying expectations and Donald Trump lost because the expectation were too high, which makes you wonder why. He is quoting polls.

COOPER: Nia.

HENDERSON: Yes. If you flashback to 2013, the RNC had the famous autopsy. And one of the things they said was they wanted a party that looked more like America.

Tonight, 61 percent of Iowans basically voted for two Cuban Americans and African-America with Carson getting 10 percent of the vote. So, I think that's an interesting...

(CROSSTALK)

[22:55:08] COOPER: Michael.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cruz, Trump, and Carson in total more than 60 percent, which doesn't bode well for whomever the establishment candidate might be. And to come back to where Amanda was a couple of moments ago, about a real conservative now in the lead. maybe this is the year, as David we've said, we run the experiment. What happens when a, quote, "pure conservative" instead of John McCain, instead of Mitt Romney is put forth?

COOPER: Yes. Let's go back to Wolf with the key race alert.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Let's get another key race alert. On the democratic side, Oh, MG, as they say. Take a look at this, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, 49.8 percent, for Hillary Clinton, 49.6 percent for Bernie Sanders, that's with 90 percent of the vote in.

It doesn't get a whole lot closer than that. Let's go over to John King for some analysis. John, about 10 percent of the vote still out, but it's as close as possible right now, between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

KING: Oh, MG?

BLITZER: Yes. That's what they say.

KING: You take my expression.

BLITZER: Yes.

KING: Look, this is, just take the numbers don't lie, 50-50, we're rounding up. You're at 49.8, 49.6, so, where is the vote outstanding, that's the big question. Again, if you're in Clinton headquarters, you still have 18 percent of the vote out in Polk County. This is the largest population center of the state and she's running up a big margin, that's been pretty consistent all night.

So, if that margin sticks, as more votes come in here, that's more good news for Secretary Clinton. You move over to Dallas County, the Des Moines suburbs in this part of this county. Oops, they just sent it the other way. Bring it back. Again, a big lead there in this part, 91 percent, though. So, not a lot of votes to be counted here. But, again, if you can keep this big lead as the rest of that comes in, it's some comfort to her. But let's come east. Well, let's just stop up here, in Story County, 86 percent of the vote in. This is a place for Sanders is winning big.

So, when you look at the rest of the vote out, if he can keep this count, that narrows the gap a little bit. I would just make the point, Story County, not as big as Polk County to the south, so she gets more of a bounce. But if you come over here to the east, Dubuque is one place Secretary Clinton is winning in the east. She needs to keep that lead. We still got a lot of votes to count there.

So, this one, well, it's wide open, we got some math to do and let's look at the Sanders strong hold in the east. Linn County right here. She needs to wrap in the suburbs around it. Sanders with a pretty healthy lead there, 86 percent of the vote count if you look down. There are still some votes to come in.

Let's just pop down to Johnson County, Iowa City where the University of Iowa is. But most of the vote is in here. This is one where Sanders i winning big, almost by 20 points. But there votes are just about all counted.

So, let's just talk a little bit over here, Muscatine County, it's a tiny county, most of it is in. Let's pop over one more Scott County is a big county, 87 percent in. Very narrow the race here though. Sanders could gain some votes here, but it's close, that he's not going to gain a lot.

So, we got some, look, you know, Clinton has gone up just a little bit since we started. So, she has a slight edge right now. But it's 49.8 to 49.5. So, we are rounding her up and him, it doesn't get right up, but we got some counting to do, Wolf.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: It's 49.8 to 49.5...

KING: Yes.

BLITZER: ... to be precise, we rounded it up to 50.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: The computer does it for us.

BLITZER: It's a lot closer, I just want to point out. These are delegates to the democratic convention in Iowa, these are not actual votes. The democrats don't release the actual votes like the republicans do.

KING: Well, I'm just looking around some of these small rural counties that you don't normally think they could make the difference. When a race is this close, and every vote counts. But 100 percent end up here, 95 percent here, a 100 percent here. So, most of the votes are in, except for in what I call the larger population centers. Iowa has a huge cities, but we're waiting for Des Moines in the suburbs, we're waiting for Cedar Rapids in the suburbs. We're waiting for Dubuque in the suburbs, and we're waiting for Davenport. Those are the places in. Hillary Clinton is winning in two of those spots I just mention. Bernie Sanders winning in two of those spots. So, let's keep counting.

BLITZER: All right. I want to walk over to Brianna Keilar right now. She's over and -- Jeff Zeleny -- and Brianna is over Clinton headquarters, and Jeff Zeleny is over Bernie Sanders headquarters.

Brianna, what's the mood over there at Hillary Clinton's headquarters in Iowa.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Very excited and very expectant crowd here, Wolf. And we should really emphasize that these result results are not final yet. Certainly, even though Hillary Clinton has a slight edge.

You can hear the crowd, they're actually watching CNN behind me. But what we're hearing from -- what we are hearing from the Clinton campaign, is that they are declaring victory. One aide is telling me turnout is high as Sanders said it would be expected for him to win. But we believe based on what we are seeing, that we have won.

And we are hearing this from aide after aide, Wolf. Also we understand right now that Hillary Clinton is still in her hotel, with her family members and they are actually -- they've been there longer than they expected to be.

(CROWD CHANTING)

But we're expecting them at some point to come and address this crowd. Chelsea Clinton will speak, Bill Clinton will speak, introducing his wife. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Stand by. I want to go to Jeff Zeleny, he's over at Bernie Sanders headquarters as well. What's the mood over there, Jeff?

[22:59:59] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I can tell you the mood is very joyous here every time the lead the numbers has come up this crowd cheers. And actually, you can see the crowd behind me here, it's one of the actual smaller size rallies that Bernie Sanders has had.