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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Clinton, Sanders Trade Jabs; Sanders Picks Up Former NAACP President Endorsement; Trump Blitzes N.H. Airwaves, Adds Campaign Event While Blasting Cruz. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired February 4, 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] COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: If you're looking for a nice place to stay to watch Super Bowl 50, you can rent out Roman Harper's house for $5,000 --
WIRE: -- and all the money is going to charity. Air BNB is matching it, too -- Carol?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: That's so awesome.
Coy Wire, thank you so much.
Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.
AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman.
What a busy and brutal morning in New Hampshire. We're only a few hours into it. Here is just a sampling of Chris Christie lighting in to Marco Rubio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Marco Rubio hasn't accomplished one thing in his entire career. He's been in the United States Senate for five years and doesn't have one major accomplishments. And Marco Rubio has been the most protected, coddled candidate in this entire race where he gives the same 60-second canned answers. Let the boy come out of the bubble. Let's see what he can take, if he can take the heat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That's some of the nicer stuff he had to say.
BOLDUAN: My goodness. More on the Republicans in just a moment.
But first, with five days to go until the primary, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are facing voters for the first time since Clinton's win in Iowa, and nothing was off limits, it seems. Clinton defended her wall street speaking fees and her vote for the Iraq war. Sanders defended his role as the head of the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee. And both candidates traded jabs on who is the true progressive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Secretary Clinton said, some people call me -- I'm paraphrasing -- some people call me a moderate, and I proudly say that I am a moderate. That's what she said. All I said, you can't say you're a moderate one day and be a progressive the other day.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was somewhat amused he set himself up to be the gatekeeper of who is a progressive because under the definition on Twitter and statements by the campaign, Barack Obama would not be a progressive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: CNN's Jeff Zeleny is live for us in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Jeff, we're getting word this morning that Bernie Sanders is picking up an interesting endorsement this morning.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He is, John. Good morning. The Sanders campaign is going to collect the endorsement, we're told, from Ben Jealous, the former leader of the NAACP. This is something that the Sanders campaign has been looking for, a bit of help, if you will, as they head out of New Hampshire into South Carolina and southern states where there are more African-American voters. This is significant. It shows that the -- there's enough support here to go around, that all black leaders, all civil rights leaders are not going to support the Clinton campaign. Endorsements always are not necessarily worth more than the original announcement date, but this is significant to show that Sanders will actually be able to collect at least some black support going into South Carolina.
In the debate last night, we saw the exchange back and forth. And I'm struck being here in New Hampshire, where Independent voters are perhaps the most important, 40 percent of the electorate here, there's all this debate over what is a progressive. We used to be called "liberals," but now the word "progressive" is more in favor. And if you think back to the trajectory of Hillary Clinton's campaign and her public life, she was a proud liberal in the early days, the '70s or so, but when her husband was running here in the New Hampshire, the new way, the third way, the moderate centrist way sort of came to pass. Now she's suddenly trying to prove she's a progressive and liberal. Bernie Sanders is having a field day with this. Not necessarily fair though because if you look at her record over her life, there's no question she would fit that label. But this is one of the things that is being discussed here, and it will be discussed in the final days of this campaign.
But another thing the Clinton campaign may have to do some cleanup work on how she defended her speaking fees she received from Goldman Sachs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Look, I made speeches to lots of groups. I told them what I thought. I answered questions.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR & DEMOCRATIC TOWN HALL HOST: Did you have to be paid $675,000?
CLINTON: Well, I don't know. That's what they offered, so.
You know, every secretary of state that I know has done that.
COOPER: But that's usually once not running for an office again. You must have known.
CLINTON: Well, I didn't know -- to be honest, I wasn't committed to running.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So that exchange, she wasn't committed to running, perhaps she hadn't announced, of course, but that these speaking fees were in 2013. The problem for this is that it falls right into the trap that Senator Sanders has been laying for her, if you will, that she's too close to Wall Street. That is something the Clinton campaign is likely to clean up in the coming days. But they're pressing Senator Sanders to say, how have the contributions compromised her. She has a tough plan on Wall Street.
So that's where this race is heading as we have five more days until the New Hampshire primary -- John and Kate?
[11:05:12] BERMAN: Exactly. But who is counting?
Jeff Zeleny, for us in Manchester. Thank you so much.
Let's talk more about this with CNN commentator, former advisor to President Obama, Van Jones; and Democratic strategist, CNN political commentator, Bob Beckel.
We're all about positive good feelings and positive vibrations here.
BERMAN: We want to start with what you thought the best moments were for each candidate.
Van, there were a lot of good questions from the voters. There was a good discussion over the course of two hours. The highlights for you, in terms of best moments for the candidates? VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought Bernie Sanders
talking about his own spiritual life. I thought that was extraordinary. Ordinarily, you think about him as a very secular guy. You don't think about -- you can't imagine Bernie Sanders doing alleluia in church, but it turns out he has his own spiritual path and he spoke about it beautifully.
BERMAN: And Clinton, too. You saw Clinton also --
JONES: I thought Clinton did a beautiful job as well. It's so interesting. Something about that format, maybe a little bit of Anderson Cooper magic dust, but something about that format brought out a more human side for both of the candidates I thought.
BERMAN: I think we have that sound. Let's play that sound on faith from both of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: My spirituality is that we are all in this together, and that when children go hungry and veterans sleep OUT on the street, it impacts me.
CLINTON: Regardless of how hard the days are, how difficult the decisions are, be grateful. Be grateful for being a human being, being part of the universe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: A different side you don't see of them. That's for sure.
Bob, your best moment of the night did not have to do with faith. Maybe just faith in money. Your best moment you saw of the night was when Bernie Sanders hit Hillary Clinton on taking money from Wall Street and Wall Street contributions and the super PAC and all of that. Why? Why was that so good?
BOB BECKEL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, let me say it would only take a Socialist to make Clinton a moderate or conservative. I've known Hillary Clinton a long time. Her liberal record is very good. They call themselves "progressives." I call myself a "liberal." Proud of it. But I think what he has done here is he has put her on the defensive. And, yes, she's taken a lot of money, but she has a long track record of not being very good to Wall Street.
There other thing, I thought was a good moment for her, was when she said Bernie Sanders is now the gatekeeper of what a progressive is, and President Obama wouldn't be a progressive, Paul Wellstone, who is an icon in the liberal community, wouldn't be one, that was a big, big, big moment for her.
In terms of the spirituality, they both turned it spirituality into campaign and politics. We serve a greater power than that that doesn't much care about politics. But I give them credit for doing it. I do think it humanized them some, and they both need to be humanized.
JONES: Well, I see it somewhat differently. First of all, they did not seem to be pandering. It was really -- it seemed like an honest explanation on both their parts. You can tell they're going to play their religion card. It didn't seem that way.
But I think that Hillary Clinton would be less defensive. It is very much the case that during the 1990s, Hillary Clinton wasn't a part of the Rainbow Coalition. She wasn't running around with Jesse Jackson. She wasn't hanging out with Dukakis. They came in this third way door. They came in saying we're not all that liberal stuff. We're this new kind of more moderate. So you have to eat the whole hamburger. If you want to claim stuff you did when you were 20, you have to claim things you did when you were 30 and 40, too. She was not a flaming liberal in the 90s.
BERMAN: Bob, I'm curious on the subject. Everyone talks about the risks and vulnerabilities for Hillary Clinton. We've heard a lot about that, particularly going into New Hampshire. But I want to know the risk for Bernie Sanders, where the poison is in the hamburger, to use Van's analogy here, in Bernie Sanders. What are the risks for him over the next five days? Is it all --
BERMAN: You mentioned the gatekeeper for progressives, the idea that maybe upsetting the Obama constituency is where he could run into trouble.
BECKEL: I'm still trying to process Van's poison in the hamburger, but I think I get the point. The problem for Bernie Sanders, they tried out somebody who is a former head of NAACP has an example of why this is important for him for the minority vote. It's not going to be that much of a difference. The fact is that Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton have had a long and strong standing with the black community. And so I think for Bernie to try to break into that at this stage of the game is going to be very difficult, and very difficult, therefore, for him to win in southern states that are heavily dominated in the Democratic primary by the African-American, Hispanic voters.
[11:10:03] JONES: You're going to be shocked. Well, first of all, to say that he trotted him out, there's a generational split here. If you are an African-American under the age of 40 and, frankly, Ben Jealous is probably one of the most esteemed African-American leaders in the country right now. For him to come out is a big deal. It doesn't mean it's going to change the turnout in any state, but Ben Jealous is one of the most respected -- he turned THE NAACP around. It was about to go out of business. He turned it round. He put -- the NAACP put an extra one million people in the voter booths in 2012, over 2008, under his leadership. This is a major, major deal. And it has to --
BOLDUAN: Would you call it a major deal, Van, if he backed Hillary Clinton?
JONES: Well, that is exactly my point. There is this assumption from the establishment and for people who think they know the black community very well that all the black community is going to march lock step behind the Clintons. You're going to find is that for younger African-Americans, just like for other voters, there is not a big well of affection for the Clintons. What they know about the Clintons is Bill Clinton doubled the prison population from one million to two million under his watch. If the Clintons want to claim the '90s, they can claim the economy, but they also have to claim the massive criminal justice explosion that occurred under Bill Clinton's watch, and that's what's motivating a lot of people --
JONES: -- in the black community to look at Bernie Sanders.
BECKEL: Van, you and I both know the biggest issue in the black community, particularly with old blacks, is crowding (ph). And I think they give Clinton a lot of credit. The other problem is, young black voters -- and I take nothing away from this guy -- but young black voters are going to turn out at a much lower percentage than middle age or older black voters.
JONES: That's true, but you were trying to make it seem like he was just trotting out some nobody. And what I --
BECKEL: No, I didn't say nobody.
JONES: He trotted out this guy, he trotted out this guy. Ben Jealous is one of the most important black leaders in America. For him to take the position he's taken sends a signal that they have more work to do, the Clintons, more work to do with the younger African- Americans than they may know.
BERMAN: Be interesting to see how it plays out after New Hampshire. Not a lot of young black voters in New Hampshire, to be sure, but South Carolina --
BERMAN: -- certainly, there are.
Van Jones, Bob Beckel, thanks so much, guys.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.
BECKEL: Thank you.
BERMAN: Moments from now, Donald Trump launches the start of an unusually busy day for Donald Trump in New Hampshire. Iowa still very much on his mind. He says Ted Cruz committed a crime stealing the caucuses there.
BOLDUAN: Plus, as four other GOP candidates are racing to win the establishment lane in this primary, Chris Christie is unleashing on Marco Rubio. But will his attacks stick with just days to go to New Hampshire?
And Rick Santorum dropped out. He endorsed Marco Rubio. But when asked to name one of Rubio's accomplishment, he could not. That somewhat awkward moment that played out on TV. That's coming up.
[11:16:43] BOLDUAN: Live pictures from the Exeter town hall in Exeter, New Hampshire. In just a few minutes, Donald Trump will appear behind that lectern -- assuming his plane is working. There was some engine trouble over night -- but the smoke coming from the engine of his plane pales in comparison to the smoke coming from his ears over Iowa and Ted Cruz.
BOLDUAN: Donald Trump is definitely not backing down on his attacks that Cruz stole the Iowa caucuses, and that what happened there is, in Trump's words, a misdemeanor, at minimum. Cruz is laughing it off, though, calling this, yet, another Trumper-tantrum. Yes, I said that.
Let's bring in chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, for more on this. She's following the Trump campaign and is in Exeter right now.
Dana, what are you expecting to here from Donald Trump? He has a busy day today.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He does. First of all, what we're expecting, if it's anything like what we gave last night in Arkansas when he left here to go down there and came right back, it was a doozy, even by Donald Trump standards, really going after Ted Cruz on a host of issues, even blaming him for Obamacare because, at one point, early on, Ted Cruz supported Chief Justice John Roberts for the Supreme Court, and Trump noted that Roberts voted twice to uphold Obamacare. I'm sure that was perplexing to the Cruz campaign, because they're putting out there, and they're boasting about the fact that he tried to stand up to repeal Obamacare. We remember the filibusters. But it's a different day for Donald Trump today. This is going to be more of a typical rally. He's doing something I don't remember him doing since he announced. He's doing actual real retail stops, stops you see regular politicians doing that he hasn't done. He's going to meet with business leaders and going to a shift change at a police station. Again, those of us who cover campaigns and have for a long time, that is standard operating procedure, but it hasn't been for Trump so far. BERMAN: Dana, that looks like a crowded room. I've been to the
Exeter town hall. I don't remember it that boisterous. How does this compare to other events? You went to a Rubio event in that same hall, I think.
BASH: That's right. We were in this very hall just two days ago. It was Marco Rubio's first big event after his surprise finish in Iowa. And at that point, you know, we sort of thought, wow, this is a packed house, and it was. They were closing the doors because there were too many people. It was a fire marshal situation. But this is different. The bottom line is, Trump is a celebrity, and he draws crowds. The line was out the door, snaking around to come in here. It's pretty big because there are two levels. This is a historic place. I know you've been here. The kind of place that those of us on the campaign trail come back and say, oh, I remember this place. Abraham Lincoln spoke here. It's one of those New England historic buildings. And the feel here is that there is a lot of excitement for somebody who is not your typical politician who comes through these parts.
[11:19:57] BOLDUAN: Dana Bash there for us. We'll be keeping an eye on that.
Dana, thank you so much.
Joining us now, Barry Bennett, the former campaign manager for Ben Carson's campaign, and now advising Donald Trump's campaign; and Katie Packer, the former deputy campaign manager for Mitt Romney's presidential run; and Josh Holmes, Republican strategist and former chief of staff for Senator Mitch McConnell.
Everybody, it's great to see you.
Barry, I want to start with you.
Something unusual, as Dana was saying, we're seeing with Donald Trump today. He has a big day, five events. Folks are saying his ground game hasn't changed, however, he's now doing retail politics. Why now? Why change?
BARRY BENNETT, FORMER BEN CARSON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I think it's the nature of New Hampshire. You know, the old joke is voters have to meet you three times before they decide to vote for you. There was a big poll out yesterday. He's going to win New Hampshire and is doing well there. It's good seeing him doing the retail stops.
BERMAN: Josh, we were listening to the attacks from Donald Trump on Ted Cruz. By the way, it's interesting that he's not letting up on Ted Cruz. He can make a case that he'd be well advised to focus on different targets but he's going after Obamacare, saying Cruz is responsible for Obamacare because Cruz supported John Roberts, not in the Senate, but did like the nomination at the time. Interesting, no?
JOSH HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: Yeah. It is interesting. Cruz is getting a little taste of his own medicine. He's a Senator and showed up three years after the Obamacare fight was over, and telling everybody they were sellouts. Now Trump is putting it on him as though he's put it on everybody else. It's an interesting attack. I think both the candidates understand that there is not going to be a Ted Cruz versus Donald Trump finale here, and one of them is going to survive the semi finals, so they're unloading on each other. And it will be interesting to see what comes. It seems like there's no limit.
BOLDUAN: We haven't reached it yet. That's for sure.
Katie, you know New Hampshire very well. Romney did well in New Hampshire. What is the high mark for conservative like Cruz? How well do you think he can do to claim victory?
KATIE PACKER, FORMER DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, MITT ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I think if Ted Cruz can finish in first or second, that that would be a win for him. You know, he's not just a conservative. He's somebody that's been a front runner for some time now, and won in Iowa and should be able to catapult, use that to catapult himself into a good position.
I DO think it's ironic that Donald Trump is attacking Cruz on Obamacare, when in recent weeks, he said he supports government health care like they have up in Canada. I think all Trump wants to do is change the name to Trumpcare. But the policy would be the same, so it's ironic that that's something they would be fighting over.
But I agree with Josh. There is really only one sort of person that's going to take that lane, and so Trump and Cruz have to take each other down. But there's a lot of movement happening in New Hampshire in the wake of Iowa, so it will be an interesting few days there.
BERMAN: Should they be fighting with each other, Katie? Do you think these two guys should be fighting with each other, or start looking at Rubio?
PACKER: Well, to some extent, it's kind of like the frog and the scorpion, it's in both of their nature. They're cranky, cantankerous fellows, and they can't help themselves. Donald Trump has proven to have a soft underbelly. That was exposed in Iowa. Ted Cruz would like to be seen as something that he's not, which is somebody that can bring people together. They're trying to disguise real weaknesses they have. I don't think it's smart for either of them. I think Marco, who I think is the strongest candidate, is in a good position to take advantage of all the bickering.
BOLDUAN: The question of strategically is it smart is a good one.
Barry, we're seeing the Ted Cruz response to Donald Trump is to laugh it off. And now he's coined this phrase that will live on, Trumper- tantrums -- I can't say it.
BOLDUAN: You know what I'm trying to say. That if Donald Trump doesn't get his way, he just throws a fit and calls everybody a liar. Would you, do you, are you advising him to tone that down?
BENNETT: You know, no, of course, not. Ted Cruz is fortunate the primary is in New Hampshire and not the United States Senate. If it was in the Senate, he'd lose 99 to one. In New Hampshire, at least he's about 12 percent in the polls.
I think the story about what Cruz did in Iowa to Ben Carson and that mailer, all that kind of stuff, is really going to come back to bite him. It speaks to his integrity. You can be a principled conservative, apparently, and not have any integrity. That's the reason why Ted Cruz has few friends, especially in Washington. He's finding fewer and fewer on the trail as well.
BERMAN: Not in Iowa, Barry. He road his few friends all the way to victory in the Iowa caucuses.
Guys, stand by. We have a lot more to talk about.
BOLDUAN: Including fireworks, not the pretty kind thought, but the super-scary kind that can erupt in your face, like is happening to Marco Rubio. You'll hear from Chris Christie is saying and what happened when a big name Rubio supporter was asked to name the Senator's accomplishments.
BERMAN: A super-scary kind of fireworks --
BOLDUAN: Yeah, the big booming ones that comes at you.
[11:25:13] BERMAN: Plus, Bernie Sanders needs to make inroads with the minority voters. He just picked up a key endorsement from the former head of the NAACP. We'll ask the Clinton team to respond, coming up.
BOLDUAN: This morning, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is picking up his attacks against Florida Senator Marco Rubio, if that's even possible. He's hoping to slam the brakes on any Marco-mentum as they race to Tuesday's critical primary in New Hampshire. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:30:12] CHRISTIE: He's given the same speech he's been giving for six years.