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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump, Carson: Cruz Committed Fraud in Iowa; Rand Paul Drops Out of Race; Gabrielle Giffords Stumps for Clinton; Democrat Rivals Head to Derry, N.H.; Clinton, Sanders Face Off in N.H. Tonight. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired February 3, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Baldwin starts now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman.

New, this morning, if you can't beat them, tweet them. Donald Trump doesn't like finishing second in Iowa. So this morning he's refusing to accept that he finished second in Iowa. A short time ago, Trump tweeted, "Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa caucus, either a new election should take place or the Cruz results nullified.

BOLDUAN: Dropping the "F" bomb, as in the fraud bomb. Cruz apologized to Ben Carson, for the record, after Cruz's staff falsely told Iowa caucus goers or suggested to them that Carson was planning to quit the race. But that doesn't seem to be the end of it and an acceptance of an apology.

Let's go to chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, who is following the Cruz campaign in New Hampshire today.

Dana, what is the Cruz campaign saying now to what Donald Trump is throwing their way?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, let me tell you why I'm standing in a random hallway. We are at a Ted Cruz event going on right now. It's quite intimate so we decided to step outside so we're not disruptive.

But he has not personally addressed these tweets or really any of his opponents so far. However, his campaign -- his communications director, Rick Tyler, did say the following to me earlier today about Donald Trump's tweets saying, reality hit the reality TV star in Iowa. So nobody is talking about him now. So he's trying to regain some attention on Twitter, "There are Twitter addiction support groups so he should seek out his local chapter." You can see there, they are trying to kind of poke fun at the billionaire, trying to sort of have a tongue in cheek reaction. But here's the reality. The reality is that this has been an issue

and this is all about Ben Carson. And the fact that CNN reported on caucus night that Ben Carson was going back to Florida and he wasn't going to go from Iowa to either here New Hampshire or South Carolina the next big primary states. So what happened after that was the Cruz campaign, they admit, they sent notice of this to their caucus precinct captains and so forth.

But the problem goes even further. And I'm going to read you what I'm talking about from a tweet at 8:00 p.m. central time on the caucuses. Steve King, the national co-chair of the Cruz campaign said the following, "Carson looks like he is out. Iowans need to know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope."

This is something that the Carson campaign has said is an example of dirty tricks because Carson was not going to drop out. CNN never reported he was going to drop out. So that is the heart of what Donald Trump is saying in his series of tweets today saying that it is fraud. Now, I should say emphatically that the Cruz campaign didn't mean to imply this. I was told that Cruz called Carson personally to apologize. But that's kind of the underpinning of what Donald Trump is trying to say today.

BOLDUAN: Dana Bash in some random hallway and never a random event.

Dana, thank you so much. Great to see you.

Let's talk more about this with Doug Heye, a former communication communications director for the Republican National Committee; and chief political correspondent for U.S. Radio Networks and a Trump supporter, Scottie Nell Hughes.

Great to see both of you.

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Scottie, right to you on this.

Donald Trump saying that Ted Cruz stole Iowa based on fraud committed by one Ted Cruz. Where is the evidence of fraud? What is he getting at? Is this just about winning over Ben Carson supporters? Scottie?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This could have ended yesterday. All Ben Carson asked Ted Cruz to do is come out and publicly apologize and admit it and hold your people accountable for those people who spread these rumors. We heard Ben Carson say that his wife was standing at the polling place and Ted Cruz spokesperson got up in front of her and said that Ben Carson was going to be stepping out of the race and welcomed his support. She said, no, he isn't. My husband is still in. It all happened 30 minutes before the Iowa caucus began and you cannot sit there and say that there wasn't some sort of collaboration between the different groups. And yet, all we hear is this private phone call happen from Ted Cruz to Dr. Carson. There's been no accountability and it's not just about this issue. This is exactly what is wrong with politics today. This is a reflection of a bigger issue. The president does not say the buck stops with me, I'm going to hold people accountable and that's the reason this is continuing into the next day.

[11:05:09] BERMAN: Doug, I'm told there's a saying, which is no one like as sore loser. In New Hampshire, does Donald Trump risk looking like a whiner?

HEYE: Absolutely. There's another saying. I'd quote Rick Flair, to beat the man, you have to be the man. Donald Trump didn't beat anybody. He lost fair and square in Iowa. If there's any place that there needs to be a revote, it's the Iowa Democratic race, because there were no flipped coins or anything like that. Donald Trump lost by a wide margin because Ted Cruz had a fantastic turnout operation. He organized in every precinct and county, massive organization with pastors and that's why Ted Cruz ultimately won.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Should one Donald Trump be focusing on the past, Scottie, when he might want to be looking towards the future in one week?

HUGHES: I agree completely. Let's get this right. One delegate. That's all that separates him right now, 8-7. It's just one delegate. And, no, he did not lose.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: And he's also tied with delegates with Marco Rubio.

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: Three candidates out of a field now that Rand Paul showed up. Guess what, there were a lot more losers that didn't appear in Iowa. To sit there and say that he lost, there was one man that I agree, Ted Cruz had a phenomenal ground game, who outspent Donald Trump probably 3-1 per voters. So, you know, in the end, nobody expected Donald Trump to even be able to be on the top three candidates in Iowa. He still did very well. Now he's always been polling very well in. Remember, two weeks ago, he was not number one.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Let me jump in.

I want to ask you about some other big news today, if you're a Rand Paul supporters, which is Rand Paul is dropping out of the race. So let me ask you, Doug, what do you think the impact of his absence is and who do you think is most likely to pick up his support?

HEYE: I would say two people, probably, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, because they both have the real conservative lanes that are going. Donald Trump gets more and more supporters from moderates, from what we see. One thing we need to remember with Rand Paul is this also has a big impact on the Senate. A lot of people like myself believe if Donald Trump became our nominee, he would be a disaster for our Senate candidates. Rand Paul would focus on the presidential race taking more of a small-handed approach on his Senate campaign. This is good news for Senate Republicans and also good news for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Coming out of the Iowa caucus is such good news for Rubio, you look at the political -- obviously we've seen polling all over the place. When you look at the predicting model and things I've predicted, Marco Rubio is more likely to be the nominee than Ted Cruz. Who does that leave behind and out of the conversation? Donald Trump. It's why he's tweeting up all of these outrageous things as he's done for months and months and this is where Scottie and I will disagree. I think there's a lot of things that Barack Obama has done wrong for America. I'm not going to blame Barack Obama for Ted Cruz's victory or Donald Trump's defeat.

BOLDUAN: And, Scottie, on this point, if Marco Rubio has become the favorite target of a lot of other candidates in New Hampshire especially. The Bush campaign, they put out a big ad in New Hampshire, a print ad saying that those who know Jeb Bush, those who know Marco Rubio, they choose Jeb over Marco Rubio. I haven't seen -- we haven't really seen Donald Trump take on Marco Rubio, attack Marco Rubio yet. Is he going to jump on that? Is he missing a moment?

HUGHES: He's not missing a moment. He's going to continue what he's always done. He's not going to go and attack Marco Rubio until Marco Rubio attacks first. That is how this whole game plan has been from day one. The reason why he's going after Senator Cruz, it all started with him bashing Donald Trump in a private fund-raiser in New York. Up until then, they were very good friends working together. As long as Marco Rubio keeps his campaign talking about policies and not how he can be a better president, not necessarily because he's not Donald Trump, I think it will be a very, very adult-type conversations that go forward.

BERMAN: Interesting to see if it lasts a week without any confrontation. I'm betting no. But we'll check back in with you if that happens.

Scottie Nell Hughes, Doug Heye, thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right. Let's take a turn now -- thanks, guys.

Let's take a turn now to the Democrats. Hillary Clinton about to address a crowd in Derry, New Hampshire. You can see that Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona, and her husband, they are joining her there on the stump, introducing her. This is all fresh off of her razor-thin lead in Iowa.

And it's a big day in New Hampshire with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They will be facing the voters and no doubt taking the questions during tonight's big CNN town hall.

[11:10:03] BOLDUAN: Clinton is making three campaign stops today. You know what, is Gabrielle Giffords speaking? When she spoke over the weekend, it's very interesting to see. If she's speaking, I think we should go back. Let's listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, (D), FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN: New Hampshire! New Hampshire, I'm great to be here today and I'm here to talk about Hillary Clinton. Hillary is tough. Hillary is courageous. She will fight to make our safer. In the White House, she will stand up to the gun lobby, why I'm voting for Hillary.

(APPLAUSE)

GIFFORDS: Speaking is difficult for me. But January, I want to say these two words, "Madam President."

(APPLAUSE)

GIFFORDS: Let's work together to make Hillary our president.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Gabrielle Giffords right there saying the two words she wants to hear next January is "Madam President." Of course, she was shot five years ago. We've heard in on the stump the last few days. It's wonderful to see her out there speaking as well.

BOLDUAN: We say it every time and I think it's OK to say it, her remarkable recovery from near death.

BERMAN: I want to go to senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, in Derry, New Hampshire, following the Hillary campaign.

Jeff, what is in store for today?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no question that the Democratic rivals are looking towards the town hall in Derry. Hillary is trying to come back a little bit in New Hampshire, trying to persuade these voters to look at her record. And that moment with Gabby Giffords is just like it was in Iowa.

I'm talking soft here because you can see that on stage behind me she's on stage behind me. As we go forward, there's a back and forth going on between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. She's trying to say that she has a progressive record for years. Bernie Sanders questioned that last night. He said some days she's a progressive. So right now this exchange is going on back and forth on Twitter and that will definitely be a central part of their conversation tonight at the town hall meeting in Derry.

BERMAN: All right. Jeff Zeleny, we appreciate that. Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Jeff.

Coming up for us, the polls in New Hampshire show that Bernie Sanders right now has a pretty big lead over Hillary Clinton in that state. But what is the reality on the ground this morning? We're going to go back there. We'll take you there and discus discuss.

BERMAN: Plus, Chris Christie knows political fighting and he's taking big swings right now at Marco Rubio.

Plus, Christie's got a big news conference coming up in a couple of minutes. He's going to reveal an endorsement. Curious if he goes on t attack against the person he calls the bubble boy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:17:33] BERMAN: All right. Take a look at that clock in the bottom corner of your screen. 9 hour, 42 minutes, 26 seconds until the CNN town hall in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on stage facing questions from New Hampshire voters. This is the first big event since the Iowa caucuses.

BOLDUAN: It truly shows you that the stakes could not be higher for both candidates. Sanders needs a win after his loss in Iowa, especially in the state right next door to his home state of Vermont. Clinton is also facing a brutal 23-point deficit in polls in New Hampshire and an uphill climb that she and her husband have faced before. They get to make their closing arguments, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton tonight.

Senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is live at the site of the town hall event tonight.

Brianna, what are you hearing on the ground today?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm here at the Derry Opera House where we are holding the town hall tonight. Our crews are still working on the stage making sure that everything is in shape as it needs to be but this is the first time that we will have these two candidates in the same place together since Iowans made their voices heard. And this is going to be -- for me, this is really probably the best forum that I've seen because I love how you have the voters asking questions of the candidates. We saw from our town hall that we did in Iowa with these candidates that it's really unpredictable. You never know really where the voters are going to go. And they have some very tough questions for these candidates. We'll be seeing Bernie Sanders first and then we'll be seeing Hillary Clinton take the stage and there's so much at stake here. You talked about that deficit in the polls that Hillary Clinton is facing but she remembers back to 2008 when she had a moment right before New Hampshire residents went to the polls and she was able to pull out a win here in New Hampshire. No doubt she's hoping that is something that she can do tonight as she goes to -- she and Bernie Sanders are making their closing arguments going into the primary early next week. So this is really a key moment for New Hampshirites to air their concerns. I think they will be playing to their local interests.

This is taking place at the historic Derry Opera House built originally back in 1904 with money that was willed by a distant cousin of John Quincy Adams. A lot of history here in this place that has survived two fires. Perhaps, guys, a metaphor for his crucible Democratic primary crisis has become. [11:20:26] BOLDUAN: Brianna Keilar, thank you for the information on

the opera house.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Brianna.

Let's talk more about what is happening in New Hampshire and everything at stake with Raymond Buckley, the chairman of the Democratic Party.

Thanks for joining us.

RAYMOND BUCKLEY, CHAIRMAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Of course. You heard Brianna Keilar talking about it, this deficit that Hillary is facing in the most recent polls in New Hampshire. I'm not asking you to weigh in necessarily on the candidates themselves but do you think the reality on the ground is that far apart?

BUCKLEY: I think that anything can happen. One has to remember that 43 percent of the electorate are un-enrolled voters or independents. They can choose to pick a Democratic or Republican ballot Tuesday morning. We have same day registration. Tens and thousands of individuals here in New Hampshire can wake up that morning and decide to register to vote. If you look at 2008, more than 20 percent of the electorate decided in the next 24 hours who they are going to support. I think this is an exciting, - exciting time and we're very proud to host this town hall tonight on CNN.

BOLDUAN: You are in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton yesterday said we are in Bernie Sanders' backyard. Do you believe in the next-door effect in New Hampshire voting?

BUCKLEY: Well, absolutely. If you look over the last couple decades, only Senator Kennedy lost to President Carter in 1980. But every other time there's been a border state politician over the last 50 years, they have been successful here in New Hampshire. So certainly gave him a leg up. We're very familiar with Bernie Sanders.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Mitt Romney. Didn't he lose to John McCain?

BUCKLEY: On the other side.

BERMAN: OK. Mitt Romney lost to John McCain.

BUCKLEY: On the Democratic side. I could never explain the voting patterns of Republicans in New Hampshire.

BOLDUAN: When you say it gives them a leg up, how much of a leg up? How much of an effect do you think it has?

BUCKLEY: Well, I think it's certainly worth a couple of percentage points. You saw that as soon as they got into the race. Bernie Sanders was campaigning for Senator Shaheen in 2014 and has come up years before that. He's very familiar. A large portion of New Hampshire receives Vermont television. So we have certainly known Bernie. He's part of the New England family. It's certainly very helpful to him.

BERMAN: One of the things that has come up in this campaign repeatedly is who is the establishment and who is fighting the establishment and one thing that Bernie Sanders has said on the campaign trail, he called Planned Parenthood the human rights campaign and said they are part of the establishment. You've been close to the human rights campaign. You received an award from them. Do you consider the human rights campaign, which fights for gays around the country, do you feel that's part of the establishment?

BUCKLEY: Well, I think that's part of what happens in campaigns, where people say such things. But, you know, I think that people that are out there on the ground and that are in the communities like the human rights campaign, Planned Parenthood and the like, are really making a difference in communities across the country. So maybe he has a different definition of the establishment than I have but I think certainly the hoc and the other groups like that that are invested in winning elections and winning issues right on the ground in all 50 states, I think that's an important role that they play in moving the progressive agenda forward.

BOLDUAN: And by saying that they are an establishment, it's a way that in this election you're seeing it on both sides of dismissing or downplaying their role or how important an endorsement should be from them. Do you think Bernie Sanders should be dismissing or downplaying the role of the human rights campaign?

BUCKLEY: Well, you know, I've always believed that the candidates should run their own campaigns and certainly respect his decision, his choice. I think of all of the issues that the people of New Hampshire are concerned about, I don't think it's the endorsement of HRC or any organization. People really care about the future of New Hampshire and the future of the country. The positive message that both Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton are saying is vastly different from what they are hearing from the Republicans. Not only are they attacking each other in vicious attack ads, but there's whole message is a doom and bloom message for the people of New Hampshire. We're going to break records. We had a record 280,000 Democrats voting in 2008 in the Democratic primary. I think we're going to match that or break it.

[11:25:18] BERMAN: Interesting to see.

Raymond Buckley, great to have you with us. Thanks so much. Thank you for letting us use this town hall in your great state tonight.

BUCKLEY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: On that programming night, tonight is the night that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will be on stage at the Derry Opera House. A CNN town hall event moderated by Anderson Cooper beginning at 9:00 p.m. eastern time, only on CNN.

BOLDUAN: Ahead for us still, Donald Trump now calling for a recount and a do-over in Iowa after he accuses Ted Cruz of election fraud. A key influential conservative voice, head of the Heritage Foundation, the former Senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint, will be joining us.

BERMAN: Plus, Chris Christie, he better do something in New Hampshire if he's going to stay in this race. You're looking at live pictures right now. Governor Christie holding a live event in the state of New Hampshire. He's got a news conference in a bit. He's got a big endorsement. How much of a difference will it make? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)