Return to Transcripts main page


Last night Donald Trump congratulated Ted Cruz and then bash today; Martin O'Malley dropped out of the race; Trump Downplays Iowa Loss, Confident in N.H.; Iowa vs. New Hampshire; Sanders Campaign Manager Speaks; Does Sanders Accept Clinton's Iowa Win; Clinton Campaign Manager Speaks Out; Team Clinton On The GOP Race. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 2, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:19] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: (INAUDIBLE). Candidates crisscrossing the granite state today, the Iowa caucus winner, the loser -- the winner who lost by failing to do the same. The ones who by in large -- talking their way toward next Tuesday's first in the nation primary. Two of those candidates, Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton who virtually tied in Iowa. They are getting ready for tomorrow night's CNN town hall in Derry, New Hampshire, two candidates, one forum, your questions, 9:00 p.m. eastern.

We have plenty tonight to deal with first, though, with Sara Murray at a late Trump rally. Sunlen Serfaty covering the Cruz campaign. Dana Bash in a Rubio event. And Jeff Zeleny following the Democratic field which shrunk last night with Martin O'Malley dropped out.

We begin tonight with Sara Murray.

So last night Trump congratulated Cruz. Today he bashed Cruz over twitter. He said Cruz's speech last night was his Howard Dean moment. What's he saying to the crowd there tonight? Anything about Marco Rubio?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Anderson, that's right. He is continuing his tough talk today after what was a more conciliatory night last night. He's already gone after Ted Cruz here at this event in New Hampshire saying he was beholden to oil interesting. Earlier, in a press conference, he suggested Ted Cruz is running a dirty campaign because of some of the mailers he sent out in New Hampshire.

And when it comes to Marco Rubio, Donald Trump just seems a little befuddled today. He is saying I came in second and Marco Rubio came in third and for some reason the story is all about how well Marco Rubio did. We saw a little bit of a more introspective Donald Trump in this press conference today where he was sort of looking at how he did in Iowa and saying, you know, maybe if he knew he had a shot at first place, he would have spent a little more time there, a little more money there, but that he is certainly not humiliated by that second-place finish - Anderson.

COOPER: And just before the rally, former senator Scott Brown endorsed Trump, right?

MURRAY: Sorry, one more time? I couldn't quite hear you on that.

COOPER: Scott Brown endorsed Trump?

MURRAY: Right. Scott brown endorsed Donald Trump here. I think this is part of what Donald Trump has been talking about, sort of establishment Republicans getting on his team, throwing their support behind him. Trump has said he has been seeing this for weeks now. The question, I think, is if you continue to see more endorsements like this, now that we saw Marco Rubio's stronger than expected performance in Iowa, that might give more of these establishment Republicans pause, more of a hope one of their original traditional establishment Republicans might do better than expected. But at least for tonight, Trump says he's very happy to have Scott brown on the campaign trail with him - Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Sara Murray. Sara, thanks.

If Donald Trump, the press coverage in Iowa, neither did last night's winner, Ted Cruz. Listen.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two nights ago I was watching TV, stations, every station every pundit said there's no way Cruz can win. Can't happen. It's impossible. The race is done. But last night the men and women of Iowa sent notice across this country that this election is not going to be decided by the media.



COOPER: Actually didn't hear people say that. But Ted Cruz, this afternoon, that's what he said. He's already in South Carolina, site of the third contest after campaigning all day in New Hampshire. Sunlen Serfaty has the latest on that. She joins us now.

I mean, after his big night in Iowa, he is hoping, obviously, to keep the momentum going in New Hampshire. What else did he talk about?

SUNLEN SERFATY, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's all about n momentum here in New Hampshire, Anderson. You know, I think the Cruz campaign is very aware of the tough slog that they have here. They are well behind in the latest polls from Donald Trump here. And in pointblank, this is not an electorate that favors Ted Cruz. If you look at the voters here, there are less evangelical voters. There are more moderate Republican voters and more independents. That does not favor Ted Cruz. His campaign fully understanding that. Saying really that they do not expect to win here in New Hampshire. But saying that their goal is really to exceed expectations. So we saw Ted Cruz hit the ground here in New Hampshire. He had a big crowd here at a church. I mean, he talked to them in a very specific and tailored way really catering to some specific New Hampshire issues trying to really reach out to New Hampshire voters while also still drawing policy distinctions with Donald Trump and Marco Rubio - Anderson.

COOPER: He's also looking ahead to South Carolina. He's already campaigning there.

SERFATY: Very much so. And this is something that the campaign has been looking ahead to for quite some time. Ted Cruz tonight in Greenville told the audience pointblank that South Carolina will be pivotal. And I think that really speaks volumes to where he sees his campaign going, potentially anticipating not doing well here in New Hampshire, going on to South Carolina. He knows that's a good state for him. They have invested a lot in that state. So really wanting to get a win there in South Carolina. And he spoke to reporters aboard his plane en route there and he had some interesting comments when asked by a reporter, do you view this as a two-man race anymore? That was the core argument the Cruz campaign in the final days leading up to Iowa was arguing. And he said, you know what, I'm going to let the voters decide. I think that is a small shift but a very important shift at the same time because I think it is a realization on Cruz's part that this race really has been reshuffled after last night - Anderson.

[20:04:44] COOPER: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, thanks.

Now, the Republican who came in third last night but treated like the second coming by some in the GOP, we're talking about, of course, Senator Marco Rubio. Chief political correspondent Dana Bash at a Rubio rally in Extor, New Hampshire, she joins us.

So Rubio has strong shown in Iowa, strong third place, could it have an effect on the outcome in New Hampshire so far?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are already seeing it, this is an empty room right now, but it is only because the event ended about an hour ago. This was jam packed, Anderson, and we talked to so in voters here who were streaming out the door. They had to close the door because they had a fire marshal problem. And so many people told us that they came here because of his strong showing in Iowa. That they were just starting to come around to decide who they were going to vote for in eight days. They were deciding many of them between John Kasich and Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. And the one thing that struck me is the thing that I heard so much is that they said that they wanted a winner, and after they saw Rubio finish so well in Iowa and surpass expectations, they said, you know, he could be our winner. You can't put a price on that. That is something that is like gold in politics and right now at this moment, that's what Marco Rubio has.

COOPER: And what are they doing on the ground to try to capitalize on that?

BASH: Well, a lot. I mean, just the fact that they have big rallies, they sign people up during the rallies. Rubio was joking with the crowd that, you know, you're going to get emails from us, like you know, ten times a day, and don't worry it's only going to continue for the next eight days. But that is a big part of getting people. But, again, I can't sort of emphasize the idea of momentum. They call it Marco-memtum, that's their buzzword inside the Rubio campaign. That is something that they're going to try to ride. And the other thing that we certainly found here is that New Hampshire

is much smaller. It's maybe a bigger electorate but smaller geographically obviously than Iowa, and they really do take their voting seriously. Their first in the nation primary status seriously. And so they're going to try to have to get out their voters, but right now, it seems like it's very close. It's not that close when it comes to New Hampshire voters. A lot of them are late breaking, and right now it's making the sale to people that they should vote for him as opposed to somebody else. Once they make that sale, then it's about getting those people out to the polls.

COOPER: All right, Dana, thanks very much.

No shortage of drama on the Democratic side certainly. The party today officially declaring Hillary Clinton the victor in Iowa. Those, you can seal in by the very slimmest margin. Effectively it was a tie but a win is a win in politics which means it can be open to interpretation, though, of course. Both sides, more or less anyone else can read into it what they will and they all already are. Our panel weighs in shortly.

But let's go to CNN's Jeff Zeleny in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Such close numbers in Iowa between these two candidates. How is that going to shape the way the people of New Hampshire vote, do we know?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, so close, three-tenths of one percent is separating these two Democrats here right now. So the people of New Hampshire often had a mind of their own. They often look at what happens in Iowa but they don't necessarily embrace what they do. So that's what I found on the ground here today. Talking to voters, they certainly were paying attention to what was going on, but were necessarily going to embrace it.

But this is a different contest on the Democratic side because Bernie Sanders is somewhat of a favorite son. He's from Vermont, of course. They share media markets. He has been over here so much. So Bernie Sanders has such a strong lead here. The Clinton campaign is calling themselves the underdog here. But when you're Hillary Clinton, it's hard to really be the underdog, Anderson.

COOPER: So are the campaigns doing anything different based on the results in Iowa?

ZELENY: Sure. She is stepping up her -- sharpening her for not attacks as much, but just her differences. I noticed today listening to her talk, she's reminding voters that she is the true democrat. She is fighting for the direction of the Democratic Party. He, of course, is an independent.

But I talked to senator Sanders last night when he was flying here to New Hampshire, and he had a bounce in his step. He was very excited by the Iowa results and he said one thing that he needs to do is show people that he can win. And he will fight all the way until the convention to build a revolution, a movement. So that worries the Clinton campaign somewhat that he intends to go that far with this here. But he says once he shows people he can win, he thinks he will continue to have a very strong knot of March because so many states out there are voting on super Tuesdays in other states. So he will be in this race for the long haul - Anderson.

[20:10:33] COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks very much.

Let's bring in the panel, chief national correspondent John King, host of "CNN INSIDE POLITICS," senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson and chief political analyst Gloria Borger. Also CNN political commentators Paul Begala and Amanda Carpenter. He advises a pro-Clinton super Pac. She is a former Ted Cruz communications director. Conservative writer, Rubio supporter, Mona Charen joins, so do CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord and Bill Press. Jeffrey is a Trump supporter, former Reagan White House political director. Bill Press is our news contributor, a Sanders supporter and author of "Buyers Remorse: how Obama let progressives down."


COOPER: No, I'm good. I'm good. This is nothing compared to nine hours last night.

I mean, you see Ted Cruz -- excuse me Donald Trump try to kind of regrouping going after Ted Cruz today in New Hampshire. Should Trump be more worried about Cruz or about Marco Rubio?

KING: Trump should be worried about himself. In politics, you need to worry about yourself. He underperformed in Iowa. Underperformed his poll numbers. He has never don't this before. So he has never ran a race and lost. He doesn't really know. He's never been in the room the morning after, talking everybody, what went wrong, what do I need to do?

COOPER: Hey, when you say he underperformed, though, what do you mean? I mean, he will say, look, I came in second, people underestimated.

KING: And look. Given -- let's give Iowa voters their due. Number one, the person who deserves the most credit today is Ted Cruz and his organization because they turned out 53,000 votes. They shattered the record in the Iowa caucuses.

Now, you can say that is a small number. But for the Iowa caucuses on the Republican side, they shattered the records. I call this the toothpaste period. They squeezed every last Republican vote. And you go to places where you could not expect the conservative evangelical tea party guy to campaign and they found their voters even there, places where Rubio was running big and Trump was running second. And the Cruz people smartly found a couple hundred more voters here and couple of hundred voters and turned them out.

But Trump underperformed his poll numbers. And so, as an organization you then asked, did we do something wrong, did we not have a good ground game? So he has to be asking himself that question when he goes into New Hampshire now where he has a bigger lead but the private campaign polling shows him a little lower than the public polling. And now you get this reassessment. New Hampshire always takes a break and thinks again after Iowa.

So Trump needs to worry about himself. He needs to decide how is he going to campaign? Yes, I was joking with Amanda about this in the greenroom, how long will it be before he says Ted Cruz should win here because he's from neighboring Canada, you know? But he needs to worry about himself and he needs to decide how is he running?

In the state of New Hampshire, running as the disrupter, running as the independent voice, running as the new fresh voice. You can get a lot of traction about that in New Hampshire. But if he worries about everything else, I think that will be his downfall.

COOPER: It is interesting, though, today, I mean, he was griping about Rubio getting so much attention for coming in third, but he didn't really go after Rubio.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No. He was, I think, in his press conference, he was a little chasten, it seem to me that he wasn't sort of full of the usual provado. He wasn't talking about how the polls show him ahead. I think he learned that politics is not like ratings in television. You can't just flip the channel, it involves a lot more ground game and a lot more work. And I think, you know, he didn't go after Rubio because the enemy of my enemy may be my friend. And so, let Cruz go after Rubio, at least right now. And --.

KING: Christie.

BORGER: And let Christie who called Rubio the bubble boy or the --


BORGER: So let all those guys do it.

COOPER: Nia, is it going to be harder for Rubio - I mean, he was able to close the gap with Trump in Iowa. Is it going to be harder for him to do it in New Hampshire given you have Kasich, Christie, Bush, competing for the same --

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, it's an establishment cage match in New Hampshire. And all of those folks that you just mentioned have been on the ground and on the air going against Marco Rubio with Bush -- with the right to rise super Pac questioning his judgment, questioning his commitment to the Senate. So I think it is going to be much tougher. I think he goes in with a head of steam out of Iowa. He picked up the Tim Scott endorsement from South Carolina.

Also, something interesting happened today, Rush Limbaugh on his radio station sort of rejected this idea that Marco Rubio is the face of the establishment. He called him a full-throated conservative. Gave him a pretty good defense there. So that really underscores Marco Rubio's primary argument which is that he is the one who can build the coalition between all the -- COOPER: Amanda, should we read much into the fact Cruz is already in

South Carolina, he did stop in New Hampshire but he's in South Carolina right now?

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER CRUZ COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: He can certainly be competitive in New Hampshire but New Hampshire is going to be the proving god for the establishment lane. I kind of have a Nintendo theory for what's going on in the Republican side right now. When you played the old school Nintendo games you had to fight through the big bosses to get to the next level.

Ted Cruz fought through Donald Trump. Marco Rubio has to fight through all those people nipping at his heels in order for Cruz and Rubio to face off in the final match, which where I a lot of people hope it goes. But a lot of other people have to be cleared out before we can get there in South Carolina and on to Super Tuesday.

[20:15:28] COOPER: Mona, how tough is it going to be for Marco Rubio?