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Ted Cruz Wins Iowa, Clinton and Sanders in Dead Heat. Aired 1- 2a ET

Aired February 2, 2016 - 01:00   ET

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


[01:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The bragging rights are important for Hillary Clinton, if she wins. Bernie Sanders, if he were to win in Iowa, that would be significant. Clearly an embarrassment for the Democratic Party right now.

Let's take a closer look at what has happened so far tonight in the Iowa caucuses. First on the Republican side, CNN projected a while ago Ted Cruz, the Texas senator, he is the winner in the Iowa Republican caucuses with 28 percent, ahead of Donald Trump with 24 percent. Marco Rubio comes in with a very impressive third place with 23 percent. Ben Carson with 9 percent.

But Cruz did win. He beat Trump by 6,230 votes, a big win for Ted Cruz. He now goes on to the next contest, all of them go on to the next contest. Clearly a disappointment for Donald Trump. He was hoping to win. The most recent polls in Iowa showed he would win but did he win tonight. Impressive night, though, for Marco Rubio.

On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders about as close as you possibly can see with 98 percent of the vote now in, 49.8 percent for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders 49.6 percent, Martin O'Malley he's down, he's now suspended his campaign for all practical purposes. He is now out. Technically you suspend a campaign because he wants to continue perhaps some fundraising opportunities. But that's not what has happened so far. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton in a virtual tie right now.

We're watching all of this unfold. We hope to get some final numbers soon. Let's hope the Democratic Party can reset and get those final numbers for all of us.

On the GOP side, by the way, Senator Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses. Let me repeat, the man who led the polls coming in to tonight, Donald Trump, despite record turnout came in in second place with Marco Rubio, a very close, very impressive showing in third place.

Let's listen to what the GOP frontrunners had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: God bless the great state of Iowa.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) CRUZ: Let me first of all say: to God be the glory.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: Tonight is a victory for the grassroots.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa and all across this great nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: On the Democratic side, a dead heat for all practical purposes. Almost from the start to the finish with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders separated by less than a point. Here is what both candidates told their supporters just a little while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I congratulate my esteemed friends and opponents. I wish Governor O'Malley the very best, he's a great public servant who has served Maryland and our country.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And I am excited about really getting into the debate with Senator Sanders about the best way forward to fight for us and America.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nine months ago, we came to this beautiful state, we had no political organization. We had no money. We had no name recognition. And we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And tonight, while the results are still not known, it looks like we are in a virtual tie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Very happy Bernie Sanders, happy Hillary Clinton, too, a virtual tie right now but about 90 Democratic caucus sites we're still waiting for those numbers.

Let's go over to David Chalian, our political director. Right. It's awkward for the Democratic Party that they didn't adequately staff 90 of those caucus sites. I got to say, with all the hype, all the build-up, you'd think they would have had their work done in advance.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Awkward to say the least especially after seeing what the Republican Party in Iowa went through in 2012. You would think they would have made sure this was all buttoned down.

BLITZER: I want you to share some of the insight into how we got to where we are right now.

CHALIAN: Here is the thing. We took a look at how Democratic voters voted tonight by age. And what is keeping this race so close, what kept Hillary Clinton in this game is that the electorate was older than it was back in 2008.

Take a look at this. If you look at voters who are 65 and older, Hillary Clinton won 69 percent of them to Bernie Sanders 26 percent.

[01:05:08] She won huge over those older voters. They made up 28 percent of the electorate. If you take a look at younger voters, those under the age of 30, this is of course is Sanders territory. He won 84 percent to Clinton's 14 percent. But they only made up 18 percent of the percent.

So, Wolf, back in 2008, younger voters and older voters voted in the same size, 22 percent younger, 22 percent older. This time around the overall electorate was older, 28 percent of the electorate was older. 18 percent was younger. That's helping Hillary Clinton have this tie with Bernie Sanders.

BLITZER: She had more support with the older voters. And ironically a 74-year-old, he does much better with the younger people.

CHALIAN: That's right. You could tell at these rallies, they are full of younger people and obviously they're not turned off by his age.

BLITZER: It's amazing. What else did we learn in the course of tonight?

CHALIAN: Well, we learned on the Republican side if you want to take a look at some of the candidate qualities that we learned on the Republican side, this is really what drove Ted Cruz to victory. Among voters who say my -- I'm looking for a candidate who shares my values, Cruz won 38 percent of them, Marco Rubio won 21 percent, Carson won 15 percent. So this is really what drove Cruz's victory.

If you look at the quality, I want a candidate who can win in November, Rubio won that category. This is the electability category. 44 percent to 24 percent for Trump to 22 percent for Cruz. And if you look at the group of voters who say, I want somebody who tells it like it is. Look at this. Donald Trump, this is his brand. 66 percent to Ted Cruz's 11 percent to Ben Carson 6 percent.

But, Wolf, they're only 14 percent of the Republican voters who wanted someone to tell it like it is. The plurality of Republican voters really want somebody that shared their values, that was Ted Cruz.

BLITZER: Helps explain why Ted Cruz won the Iowa Republican caucuses.

Let's go back to Anderson for more analysis -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Wolf. Thanks.

I mean, you worked for Ted Cruz. Do you think the whole New York values tag on Donald Trump actually works? Because when you look at that, when people wanted somebody who shared their values, Ted Cruz won.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And if you also looked at that, candidates that share the values, Donald Trump was not on that list. You know, a lot of people ridiculed Ted Cruz for pushing the storyline, it's something that Iowans bought into because you have a billionaire like Donald Trump flying his luxury plane and to come campaign in Iowa, they can see and feel and that Donald Trump is not one of them.

COOPER: Which is interesting, Chairman Rogers, because at that debate where Trump actually did show up, when Ted Cruz tried to bid the New York values against him, Donald Trump turned it into -- talking about 9/11. And a lot of commentators said, you know what, I think that's the last time we're going to hear about New York values but Ted Cruz kept at it.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: You know, but I think this is bigger than that. So he had -- Trump had a very difficult time connecting the voters on in-depth issues. I don't care if it was national security or personal values, he had a hard time connecting with voters.

COOPER: He doesn't go very in-depth.

ROGERS: No, he doesn't. And I think -- and Iowa voters I think are a breed apart. They do take this very personal and they're very responsible. There's an old saying, when you get to Iowa, if you haven't met a presidential candidate in your lifetime you haven't tried very hard.

COOPER: Right.

ROGERS: They take it personal. So they're going to look at those issues and if you saw some of the independent group that -- in New Hampshire, the first thing they talked about was, he didn't -- I don't know what he's doing, I don't know what he's standing for. They're really reluctant to go for someone that doesn't have any policy depth when it comes to president. You can only get so far.

And what it told me is, back to the ground game, if I have a good ground game I'm talking about real issues that affect real people, you're going to have a better chance of winning in this primary election cycle than you are if you are a Donald Trump who's doing an air game. Yes, he's some outrageous things, but you have to be more than that if you're going to be a contender in the Republican race.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think Cruz had a great deal of success in taking on Donald Trump as not a conservative. And Jeb Bush failed, Lindsey Graham failed, Rick Perry failed, everybody else failed, except for Ted Cruz in Iowa. And that's because in Iowa, Ted Cruz's credibility on being an unassailable conservative was there. And so he was the one who could take on Donald Trump and then I think it was also that flip-flop ad that was very effective where you had these old tapes of Donald Trump talking about being pro-choice and Hillary Clinton and supporting Obamacare and all the rest. And I think all of that had resonance with the voters of Iowa.

CARPENTER: I think we would be remiss to point out that there were other people beginning to say those things when Ted Cruz was. You had "National Review" come out and do the anti-Trump cover, you had people like Liz Mayor, Katy Packer, Republican strategists, coming out making their own ad pointing out Cruz's inconsistencies on the record and the Club for Growth. The first one to go negative on the ground against Donald Trump in October on the issue of eminent domain.

[01:10:08] COOPER: We'll continue in one moment. I do want to go quickly back to Wolf because I think we're getting some new numbers in.

BLITZER: Well, we just gone up, Anderson, to 99 percent of the caucus sites of the Democratic side, are now in 49.8 percent for Hillary Clinton, 49.6 percent for Bernie Sanders. Still extremely tight, almost all of the vote now in. They're getting closer and closer. And closer. Let's see if they can wrap this up in the next hour or so to see definitively who the Democratic Party says is the winner. But it is getting very, very close, 2/10 of 1 percent -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Let's continue the discussion here. I mean, does -- on the Democratic side does this race change now significantly tomorrow in New Hampshire?

DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's certainly -- I think if Hillary Clinton had won a decisive victory tonight, she would have been on her way to the nomination. She might have lost New Hampshire, but I think she would have gotten there pretty easily. I still think she is absolutely the favorite to be the nominee. It's going to be harder and take longer now I think. And so it's like if you wanted a quick race, you wanted Hillary Clinton to win Iowa.

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let's go back to some of the analysis earlier. First of all, I don't think we've mentioned the fact that 45-plus percent of Iowa Democrats identify themselves as socialist. And so you start with that kind of base in Iowa, and what does Senator Sanders talk about? Let's break up the banks.

COOPER: Right.

NUTTER: We have a corrupt campaign finance system and we're against millionaires and billionaires. All -- I mean, you know, wherever you are, OK, let's tap into anger and Senator Clinton talks about taking action. Now one might be a little more exciting and you've got folks who want to be against all of those things but ultimately, you really have to talk about solutions. How are you going to make change? And so you see this age differences where older constituency

supporting Senator Clinton because they want to get stuff done then the younger folks hearing all these exciting dynamic things, we're going to take on all of these great challengers, we're going to fight the establishment. Very, very exciting. What's the solution to any of these issues and you rarely hear a solution from Senator Sanders on these particular issues.

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Mayor Nutter is making an important point. You know, Bernie Sanders' base is white liberals. Iowa and New Hampshire are states with an extraordinarily high percentage of white liberals. In fact, there's only one state in the country that has a higher percentage of white liberals than Iowa and New Hampshire, it's Vermont.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: And so although this -- it looks kind of remarkable that Hillary Clinton couldn't beat him more decisively and she's behind in New Hampshire, when you look further out at states who has higher percentage of African-Americans and Latinos, and with a white population is a little more conservative, you see in fact, the train looks pretty good for Hillary Clinton. But Iowa has always been a bad state for the Clintons. where the white population is a little more conservative you see of course the terrain looks pretty good for Hillary Clinton. Iowa was always the poorer state for the Clintons. Remember she finished third there in 2008. Bill Clinton didn't even compete in 1992. So this is not as bad a night for her as it might appear.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Will do if you bring a lot of more money in.

BEINART: Right. Right.

GERGEN: We've all agreed on that. To Sanders. And now I think he look toward, can he take California? That may not be out of the question for him. He will have a hard time in the southern states. She'll lose New Hampshire, she'll win Nevada, she'll win South Carolina. Nevada has got of Latinos voting, South Carolina has got a lot of African-Americans, she'll win those two states. Then they head to Super Tuesday.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: She should do very well in Super Tuesday, but there are these other states in play where Sanders conceivably --

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS: She has an enthusiasm gap.

GERGEN: Yes. Exactly. Exactly.

ROGERS: Very, very much. And I'll tell you what, we ran into this as Republicans in the last go-round. GERGEN: Yes .

ROGERS: And it is real and it is concrete, and it will drag this campaign. That's why I think the big loss for Hillary tonight was exactly that. It showed that this enthusiasm gap was there and that will follow her even into the south. I think she wins the south --

(CROSSTALK)

NUTTER: That's an interesting concept. You re-ran some of Senator Clinton's -- Secretary Clinton's speech tonight. You've been in big crowds. You have a tendency to talk a little louder. No one shouts louder than Senator Sanders. All night long, he is shouting, he is literally almost a Howard Neil of this campaign.

GERGEN: Yes, but the man -- the man has the right point. She -- but Hillary was so angry compared to Sanders. I think that was poignant.

NUTTER: I don't know if she was angry. But again, let's not slip into some gender bias here. A man raises his voice, he's enthusiastic, a woman raises her voice she's angry. Let's be very careful about how we characterize some of these things.

COOPER: With the Iowa caucuses over, the race, of course, moves to New Hampshire. We're going to have a very special event this Wednesday night. Two nights from now, the two Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are going to take part in a presidential town hall in Derry, New Hampshire, live on CNN. It is a critical moment for each of the candidates to face the voters in New Hampshire. First time they're going to be on a stage on the same night, in the same place of -- since what's happened here tonight in Iowa.

[01:15:01] Audience members are going to be able to ask questions directly to the candidates. I'll be able to ask questions as well. They're going to make their closing arguments in New Hampshire, Wednesday night at 8:00 live only here on CNN. I hope you join us for that.

There's a lot ahead, we're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. Take a look at this. Look at how close it is in the Iowa Democratic caucuses. Right now 99 percent of the caucus sites they have officially reported to Democratic state headquarters. Hillary Clinton with 49.8 percent, Bernie Sanders 49.6 percent, 2/10 of 1 percent difference in terms of state delegates that will go to the Iowa state convention, 693 for Hillary Clinton, 691 for Bernie Sanders. Unlike the Republicans they don't release the delegates in Iowa, the hard numbers of how many people actually voted for these two candidates.

These are the counties in Iowa, there are 99 counties in Iowa, the dark blue are counties that went for Hillary Clinton, the light blue for Bernie Sanders. You can see about evenly made up.

I want to go over to John King over here at the magic wall.

[01:20:03] What, we got 1 percent of the vote outstanding, 1 percent potentially could make a difference whether Hillary Clinton wins or Bernie Sanders wins as close as it is, 2/10 of 1 percent.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As we look for the outstanding votes, let's give props to the people of Calhoun County, Iowa. They called it. Could have saved a lot of money. Could have just said -- 50-50 in this one county. That's why it's gray. A lot of people have been asking why is one county gray on the Iowa map. Gray on the map means a tie. So now as you look, you say we're up to 99 percent, now remember last time we look, we were looking over here, Woodbury County, now up to 100 percent, Bernie Sanders carried that county. 100 percent of the vote in.

Polk County, we were still waiting, it's now up to 99 percent. We've gone from 97 to 98 to --

BLITZER: This is the largest county.

KING: Largest county in the state, 14 percent of the population, big Democratic area. Secretary Clinton's lead has been consistent throughout, seven-point lead, as it's gone into 80s to the 90s now up to 99 percent in Polk County.

Over hear we talked to the chairman in Lynn County a while go, they're now up to 100 percent. He said they a problem getting some results into the state party. That one is done. So in the big population centers, Wolf, Dubuque, 100 percent. Let's just check out here in Davenport, 100 percent. So -- I'm not trying to make people dizzy pulling the map. In the big population centers, we're all done. So now you're looking for the final precincts, I found a couple up here earlier, 80 percent Hancock County, very tiny, 0.4 percent of the state population. Whatever the results are, there's not a lot of map there but it could be a delegate as the results come in, 80 percent of the precincts here.

We know that's missing, and if you click around it more 95 percent of the precincts here, this is right along the Minnesota border, this county here. So small rural counties missing the vote, but most of them now, most of the places you go are at 100. So we're just really waiting for a few precincts. Best I can tell in these rural counties because everything in the major urban areas and the suburban areas, as well, is Dallas County which is to the west of Des Moines are in. So we're waiting for a few small rural precincts now to come in. But essentially we've got most of the vote and again this is going to fluctuate and we may have an argument tomorrow over somebody gets one or two more delegates but we've got a tie.

BLITZER: 49.8 to 49.6 between Hillary Clinton and Bernie -- she is slightly, slightly ahead. I assume they're not sleeping in those outstanding counties where the votes are still out there. They're trying to figure out who won. KING: Well, that could be one of the issues. Remember, Jeff Zeleny

was saying, they are trying to recreate the results in places where they didn't get properly reported back to state party headquarters. So what do you do? You call whoever the caucus precinct chairman was, you call the Clinton chairman -- the Clinton leader and the Sanders leader and the O'Malley leaders and you ask them to compare their notes. Some of those people could be sleeping.

Remember we went through this four years ago.

BLITZER: Yes.

KING: Where Edith and Carol were gracious enough to call in and we went through the map and it ended up in that race, I think, what Rick Santorum won by 34 votes? Now we don't get a vote count on the Democratic side, we get delegate equivalents. So in some ways the map is a little bit more complicated because we don't have a raw vote. If we have a raw vote, we could say, well, with this tiny bit of percentage out, you know, whoever is a little bit behind, is there enough room to catch up?

This is not what we're doing tonight. We're trying to figure out delegate equivalents to a state Democratic convention so if you're still awake, and you're from one of those counties, you know, E.T. phone home.

BLITZER: Give us a call. Let's figure it out and let's figure it out quickly. All right. Thanks very much, John.

Anderson, back to you. Hard to believe these kinds of problems still exist given the technology we supposedly have these days.

COOPER: Yes. And yet we see it time and time again.

I mean, if you are -- let's about it on the Democratic side, moving forward to New Hampshire and South Carolina, I mean, does Hillary Clinton start to retool her message? I mean, she's talked about being a progressive tonight, a progressive who actually wants to get things done. Does she try to change in some way?

BORGER: Well, I think -- now I think she's just got to keep on with her theme that she's pragmatic, she can get things -- you know, she's the one who can get things done and that while she agrees with what a lot of what Bernie Sanders says there's no way he could get it through the Congress and she has the experience to understand how to work with the other side of the aisle.

I don't think she starts attacking Bernie Sanders frontally, you know, I don't think she does any of that. He's popular in New Hampshire. It's kind of his home turf. So I think she just understands, she's the underdog in New Hampshire and sort of lives another day.

PFEIFFER: Right. She shouldn't change a lot. She should not panic here. She should stick with what she is doing, survive New Hampshire, see if she can get it close, win Nevada, win South Carolina, then get to March 15th where a bunch of very big states vote. Just survive to get to more favorable territory, and she'll be fine. If she panics and swerves that's going to be a big mistake.

GERGEN: I think her husband would not sit still and keep doing what she's doing. He would advise her, you've got to find some more innovative ways that are consistent with who you are but ways -- you know, one of the big arguments against her tonight was she was stale, she feels stale, and she has to find ways to freshen up and she has to find ways to connect with young people.

BORGER: How?

COOPER: But hasn't that been a knock against her for a long time?

GERGEN: I agree with that.

[01:25:02] COOPER: I mean, this talk about retooling --

GERGEN: No, I don't think --

COOPER: -- is something we've heard a million times before.

GERGEN: She doesn't need to be a new Hillary but she last to tap into the conversations that are occurring among the young. You know, there are a lot of important issues right now that are going on in college campuses, for example, around diversity and Black Lives Matter and all those kind of other things. She hasn't connected with any of that to my knowledge, at least the general public knows about. I think that she can find innovative ways to communicate.

NUTTER: Well, but, David, I would say specifically with regard to Black Lives Matter, when there was a campaign event Secretary Clinton actually talked with the folks from Black Lives Matter and engaged in dialogue and talked about what are the specifics, what are you trying accomplish?

There is great anger in communities of color, especially the African- American community about police relations. She actually wants to try to address those issues with specificity.

GERGEN: I agree with that but you didn't hear any of that in the speech tonight. If you want to -- if you really want to send a message, more people have to know what it is. You can't do a one-off event and expect that to change how people perceive you.

(CROSSTALK)

NUTTER: I don't know what the size of the Black Lives Matter movement is in New Hampshire. But, I mean, you know, you're going to see loot of activity all across the United States of America. I don't think that there's some big change that needs to take place. Of course she talks about cities and crime and education and poverty and reentry, and a whole slew of issues that people walking down the streets of this city and many others across the United States of America actually care about.

BEINART: I think she thinks that -- I think they feel that Bernie Sanders is vulnerable on foreign policy. He just doesn't show a great deal of comfort level on that subject.

COOPER: Although yet when you look at the polls.

BEINART: Right.

COOPER: You know, terrorism was fourth down on the list.

BEINART: Right.

COOPER: It was income inequality, there was jobs.

BEINART: Right. The problem is that Democrats don't care about that nearly as much. I think I counted in the CNN last town hall, the Democrats, they mentioned ISIS four times. In the Republican debate, they mentioned it 44 times, right? But by talking about it more she elevates it in the media discussion and she puts Sanders on the defensive. You can see, Sanders' core weakness is when -- you know, he's like a great athlete who has one great pitch or one great stroke, but when you knock him off his stride, away from these core economic clap issues, he's not the same kind of candidate. That's what she needs to do.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break.

While many candidates are moving on to New Hampshire with recharged campaigns, other candidates are heading home already on the Democratic side. Former Maryland governor, Martin O'Malley, and Republican Mike Huckabee announced tonight they are suspending their presidential campaigns. Let's listen to what they had to say tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), SUSPENDING CAMPAIGN: I wish we had more resources and more time and all of those things, but elections are about choices and the main thing I need to say to you tonight is that as we come here tonight, it's time to officially suspend the campaign. But not because of the votes. It's because of illness. Obviously the voters are sick of me. And I need to acknowledge that.

MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), SUSPENDING CAMPAIGN: We fought very, very hard in order to give the people a choice. And the people have made their choice tonight. And it was hard to get over that threshold here, and I know that those numbers don't reflect all of the hard work that you did. But we have driven this debate. And so tonight, I have to tell you that I am suspending this presidential bid, but I am not ending this fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Martin O'Malley there and Mike Huckabee.

Still ahead, Donald Trump's performance in the Iowa caucuses have some wondering did his FOX News debate boycott end up hurting him in the biggest race of his career? We'll take you through the data coming up. And we're watching the Democratic race closely as we're trying to get final numbers. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[01:32:22] CRUZ: God bless the great state of Iowa.

(CHEERING)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the moment they said would never happen.

(CHEERING)

BLITZER: This contest in Iowa may be more important than ever.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Iowa we love you. We thank you. In fact, I think I might come here and buy a farm. I love it, OK?

(CHEERING)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. Incredibly, tight Democratic race and still anybody's game.

CLINTON: As I stand here tonight breathing a big sigh of relief, thank you Iowa!

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: I think people of Iowa have sent a very profound message. It looks like we are in a virtual tie!

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Welcome back to CNN special coverage of the Iowa caucuses. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

It doesn't get much closer than this. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in a dead heat right now. Take a look at the numbers. And the breaking news this hour, the Senator Sanders campaign is asking for some precincts to recreate their caucuses, saying 90 of them were not properly staffed by the Democrats. We're following that race closely. We are going to bring you upstairs throughout the night here on CNN as they come in.

On the Republican side, we have projected Ted Cruz the winner. And while Donald Trump came in second, Marco Rubio likely had one of the best nights in the evening, coming in a very, very close third.

Let's walk over to David Chalian. He has more on the breaking news.

David you're looking closer at these numbers of the voters of the Democrat Democratic side what they were thinking about when they were voting and why the results are, it's a dead heat right now.

CHALIAN: I want to update you on something, you were talking about those 90 precincts. I have just communicated with an official from the Iowa Democratic Party and they are saying they are still currently getting results from the small number of outstanding precincts. These precincts have chairs and they are in the process of contacting those chairs and getting the results. And they say the Iowa Democratic Party is not taking the results from the campaigns, they are taking the results from the chairs who chaired these precincts. They are still collecting information from those precinct chairs at those caucuses.

BLITZER: Do they think we are going to get a definitive answer tonight who actually won?

[01:34:54] CHALIAN: I don't know the answer to that. They are still in the connection of that information.

But I will now let me tell you about those candidate qualities you were saying. One of the things here Wolf, you have this complete tie obviously between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. So we looked at what were Democratic Party goers looking for, what qualities? They break amazingly. Take a look at this. Those seek honesty and trustworthiness in their candidates. Overwhelmingly on Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton dragged the weight of the e-mail controversy around her, hurt her honesty and trustworthiness. A full quarter of the electorate wanted someone honest and trustworthy. Want someone that cares about them. Sanders beat Clinton 74 to 22 among those voters who wanted somebody like them. She's got some good qualities as well. Can win in November, the electability quality. Hillary Clinton beats Bernie Sanders 77 percent to 17 percent among the 20 percent of people looking for a candidate who can win in November. And how about right experience. This is what Hillary Clinton has been selling all campaign season long and it is working for her hugely so. 88 percent to 9 percent, she beat Sanders among those voters looking for somebody with the right experience. And that is 28 percent of Iowa Democrats. So a lot of Iowa Democrats are looking for right experience. That is the split, though. You've got right experience versus honest and trustworthiness. You've got cares for people like me and can win in November. It's the battle of the heart and mind and we see it's totally tied up.

BLITZER: That explains, Anderson, why it's a virtual dead heat.

COOPER: Yeah. Still is. Let's look at the Republican side.

Kevin, do you think for Donald Trump it was a mistake to pass on the late GOP debate?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it was. Iowa voters are very fickle, that they want to make sure you genuflect towards the caucus process. Also 99 percent of the politics is the showing up. When you don't show up, genuflect towards the process, voters have a harsher judgment. So it probably cost. And in a race like this, this close where between second and third was only 2,000 votes, it might have been enough to cost him that -- (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: It's interesting. There was a lot of talk that maybe it was kind of a brilliant strategic move or, you know, whether he was -- he had the foresight or just gut instinct because all the guns were trained on Ted Cruz but obviously it didn't eliminate Ted Cruz.

CARPENTER: Donald Trump certainly eliminated taking fire by skipping that debate but now there's another probably debate on Saturday, going into that damage, and he will certainly have to answer the critiques people made against him, he has avoided thus far.

BEINART: I think you know it's interesting to see the way the media perceives Donald Trump. There was a period when everyone not he was going to crash and burn. Once his support continued into Philosophy, December, January, people lost confidence in anything he would do would ultimately hurt him. It was an overreaction. Remember, it's very hard to poll Iowa. It was very difficult to know how much support he had. It turned out the Cruz campaign had a better understanding of the Iowa electorate than a lot of the rest of us and they were able to see the snide insides track.

ROGERS: I think this was bigger than just the inside track. They would tell you I like what you said, would you like him to be president, no not really. But I like him out there saying it. This is where the rubber meets the road. This was the first time to make the decision what name to write on that piece of paper. I think he lost some votes and that's when I think Rubio was able to collect votes from other folks trying to stop either a Trump or Cruz going through that process and that's why you saw such a close second place.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Is that why it bodes bad for Donald Trump moving forward or is Iowa such a particular place?

ROGERS: I think he is going to have problems in the south but everybody thought he was going to have approximate in the south. He's not invincible, focused anti-Trump campaigns and the super PACs and that's going to change the flavor of the campaign going --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Cruz is the first engaged in this head to head battle with Donald Trump in war of words and actually have survived it.

BORGER: Because he has credibility. He is a conservative. And a lot of people, Jeb Bush attacked Donald Trump, they say, oh, you're just a rhino, not really a conservative. But Cruz a conservative an evangelical so he had all the credibility to do it. Particularly after Donald Trump went to Liberty University and messed up. And so -- you know.

COOPER: Still was embraced by Jerry Falwell.

BORGER: Exactly. But it didn't necessarily translate. Sarah Palin didn't necessarily translate. I think that Iowa voters had a lot of time to size --

[01:40:14] MADDEN: It also didn't matter that he launched husband attack on Donald Trump, if you remember Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, all did it while at single digits trying to get noticed. He spent a lot of time in the campaign, Ted Cruz that is, drafting behind Donald Trump, and right when the electorate was at its zenith paying attention is right when he took advantage of it.

(CROSSTALK)

PFEIFFER: I think Donald Trump performed in Iowa exactly like we thought he would perform until seven days ago. He was second in Iowa the entire time until there was a series of polls in the last week or two showing him winning. The question will be can he win in New Hampshire, and if he can win in New Hampshire, we're right back to where we were just a couple of hours ago.

GERGEN: I agree with everything you said.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

ROGERS: It was ground game, though. I think the big question is Trump I leading likely to win if it correlates with voters actually showing up. That was the difference. If the ground game doesn't perform at all for Trump and does for Cruz this is the turn around.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: That's what I'm going to jump on. Donald Trump is not in a strange place because Ted Cruz defeated him. Marco Rubio is nipping at his heels. Marco Rubio finished within 1 percent of Donald Trump. That's amazing. Donald Trump never saw that coming. He's going to be attacked from both ends and that's a completely new position for Donald Trump.

COOPER: The Democrats are not over yet. Who is going to win in Iowa? We're watching the numbers closely. Still 12 precincts yet to report. We'll tell you how both sides are trying to spin it when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[01:45:45] CLINTON: I will keep doing what I have done my entire life. I will keep standing up for you. I will keep fighting for you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A virtual tie in Iowa, the Democratic caucuses. Take a look at this Hillary Clinton 49.8 percent Bernie Sanders 49.6 percent, 99 percent of the caucus sites have reported. In terms of state delegates allocated, 696 for Hillary Clinton, 692 for Bernie Sanders. It doesn't get much closer than that. We're waiting for final precincts to report. Maybe we'll get some final numbers in the course of tonight.

John King is with us as we watch.

John, the dark blue are Hillary Clinton, the light blue Bernie Sanders. A couple of ties over there.

KING: Three counties now. One a little while ago, but that's proof progress is being made, final results being called in. Three counties have ties. What are we missing? We have 99 percent, essentially a dead heat. The Clinton campaign says they will come out one or two delegates ahead what they're saying. Some around Polk County in and around Des Moines. Obviously we are missing a few precincts around here.

Wolf, I was trying to tap around, just about everywhere else you get 100 percent. I'll show you two more counties. Let me strike it down a little bit. 95 percent here, I believe the other one was right over here, 80 percent in Hancock County, two counties, the only two I could find, I'm not saying there was one I missed among the 9599, very small rural kinds in both counties you see 61 percent for secretary Clinton here, 62 percent for secretary Clinton here. She is winning those two counties by quite a large margin and also winning Polk County, healthy margin of 7 percent throughout the night. That doesn't mean the missing precincts will go her way, they are just in place she's winning throughout the night. I was clicking around trying to find others. Just about everywhere, I clicked was 10 percent. But in a race so close you can be certain not only does the state party want to get those numbers in a double and triple collect them, I suspect even if we get the numbers tonight I bet the conversation about the numbers continues for a day or three.

BLITZER: It's taking so long.

We're going to stay on top of this. It doesn't get much closer.

I want to go to CNN's Dan Merica. He is traveling with Hillary Clinton.

You're on the tarmac in Des Moines, Dan, you are ready to take off with the former secretary, right?

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER (voice-over): We are on the tarmac. I can hear the engines as we speak. You probably hear the back chatter on the overhead messaging. But the Clinton campaign had a press conference on the plane before taking off. And they did what their candidate didn't do tonight and they declared a victory. Brian Fallon, the national press secretary, said, we believe very strongly we won tonight. They are citing that Secretary Clinton has 22 delegates compared to Senator Sanders 21. They said we believe with the outstanding precincts, we will win, and that will leave us with 23. They are looking at Polk County precincts that have yet to turn in numbers and they have said they are happy with the results because, in the words of Fallon, this is hospitable terrain for Senator Sanders. They think with the turnout the way it was, they are saying they see the turnout in the neighborhood of 180,000 Democratic caucus goers, which would put it behind 2008 but far beyond the 2004 results. That Senator Sanders should have over performed as he has been saying for last few weeks. They say it is tailor made for him to be successful and they say their strategy in Iowa where they took their feet off the gas of attacking Senator Sanders directly for the last 10 days, they are going to continue that in New Hampshire, when we land in a few hours and her first event tomorrow morning in Nashua.

[01:50:04] BLITZER: Clinton People are talking about delegates to the Democratic convention that is going to be coming up in July. They say they have emerged from Iowa with a couple more than Sanders.

Dan Merica, have a safe flight. We'll check back with you once you land.

You just heard the Hillary Clinton campaign, they are declaring victory. We'll see what's official.

Much more of our special coverage coming up right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: What Iowa has begun night is a political revolution.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, the Hillary Clinton campaign may be ready to declare victory in the Iowa caucuses. We're not yet ready. Take a look at how close it is with 99 percent of the vote in, 49.8 for Hillary Clinton, 49.6 for Bernie Sanders. Let's see what the Democratic Party announces officially before we declare any winner in Iowa.

Let's go to Randi Kaye right now. Randi Kaye is standing by in New Hampshire where they're getting ready a week from today for the New Hampshire primary.

Randi, you're with a focus group of Democrats and Republicans, getting reaction.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. Our group was watching in Iowa to help them decide a candidate. We watched it with about 60 undecided Democrats and Republicans watching all the action in Iowa. They had in their hand something like this, Microsoft Pulse app. On this, they could agree strongly or disagree strongly and anything in between as they watch the candidates speak and the votes come in.

Our group had a very strong reaction on the Republican side to this comment and this statement from Ted Cruz. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [01:55:28] CRUZ: Weeping may endure for the night but joy cometh in the morning.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: As a whole, the group started to get neutral, meaning that started to dip, they didn't really like what he was saying about scripture.

So let me ask you, you didn't really like that very much, why not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought he was pandering to the crowd. He seemed to say the same thing over and over and made the same statement to get the crowd to think that's what he really thought. You can't understand where he was genuine or not because the Iowans wanted to hear him say.

KAYE: So you were undecided, still undecided, and I take it Ted Cruz is off your list?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty much off my list. I'm more leaning towards Rubio, but I'm undecided.

KAYE: Let's see what the Democrats have to say. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton also spoke. And Bernie Sanders made a very strong remark about super PACs. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: We're the only can't on the Democratic side without a super PAC.

(CHEERING)

KAYE: Super PACs clearly a big issue for this crowd, a very strong reaction.

I know you were watching closely and had strong feelings about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. I thought it was very refreshing hearing a very serious political candidate speak going super PACs and what motivates our politicians to do what they do. I thereto it was interesting to see Bernie Sanders able to cultivate a grass roots movement and get the support of the people on his own.

KAYE: Was that something that would make you support Bernie Sanders?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As of tonight, yes.

KAYE: So as I mentioned, Wolf, we had about 60 undecided voters come in here tonight and about ten of them left their side with a mix of Rubio supporters Cruz supporters and even one woman who came in on the Democratic side and switched. She said after tonight she's voting for Donald Trump. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: It moves to New Hampshire now.

Thanks so much, Randi Kaye, for that.

Anderson, you're getting ready for a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on Wednesday night.

COOPER: That's right. I'm ready to get out of here.

(LAUGHTER)

Wednesday night, it will be Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the same stage, the first time they're on the same stage after the Iowa caucuses. They're going to be taking questions from myself and mostly from voters in a town hall. Hope you tune in for that 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday night.

Let's get some quick final thoughts from our panel as this race moves forward -- David?

GERGEN: Iowa instead of resolving things has thrown things up in the air. This is going to be a much longer campaign and many more Americans will have a chance to have a voice. That's a good thing.

COOPER: What an exciting night. What an exciting campaign it's been thus far and it's going to be continuing.

GERGEN: Definitely.

BORGER: I would, going into New Hampshire, watch the Republican establishment to get some folks out of the race so they can coalesce against Cruz and Donald Trump and start backing Marco Rubio as their horse. So there will be pressure on those governors, like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich to go away.

PFEIFFER: I think the big question on the Republican side is who does Donald Trump think is the bigger threat to him, Cruz or Rubio? Where will he direct his fire? I think that will determine the course of the race going forward.

MADDEN: I think that's right. We know the pattern after a big event like this. Donald Trump decides to throw a hay maker, it will probably be against Marco Rubio, try to suck up all the oxygen in the race.

The other thing, this is a resource contest. That will get intense now. Rubio and Cruz are probably going to be raising some very big dollars in the next 48 hours.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: Jeb Bush's day of reckoning has come. He poured a tremendous amount of mine promoting himself and try to tear apart Rubio in Iowa to little effect. He will have to answer for it immediately.

COOPER: Chairman?

ROGERS: I think Trump has to go after Rubio, I think it's going to get a little bit ugly. But I also think Sanders and that race will have to change and bring up the trustworthiness. If you saw those numbers, no sane campaign person in the room is not going to say you need to make that an issue.

COOPER: Michael?

NUTTER: Quintessential Democratic debate contest. It's not a coronation. It will be an active campaign. We'll see how things play out.

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: We got more evidence tonight the Democratic Party is moving left in pretty dramatic ways, and this is going to be an issue for party for years to come especially with young voters who are ideologically challenging even what has been considered liberal policies. That will be a challenge for Hillary Clinton and the next Democratic president.