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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

New Hampshire Battle; Trump Changes Tone; Bernie Meets Bernie; Interview with Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan; White Supremacist Defends Support for Trump. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired February 5, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:10]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Just four days away, and the gloves are on? Well, they are, at least for Donald Trump.

THE LEAD live from New Hampshire starts right now.

All the candidates pulling out their two-minute offense this Super Bowl weekend, Jeb Bush even calling on his mom to march him into the end zone, as a kinder, gentler Donald Trump looks to turn his perceived lead into a win, unlike what happened in Iowa.

Deadlocked, a brand-new poll showing Bernie Sanders in a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton nationally after the angriest night of the Democratic campaign yet.

Plus, robo-calls from skinheads, the white nationalist group urging Americans to vote for one particular presidential candidate.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper live from beautiful Hanover, New Hampshire, home of Dartmouth College. In addition to political alumni such as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Rob Portman, Paul Tsongas, Nelson Rockefeller, and of course Daniel Webster, the school was, you may know, the inspiration for the film "Animal House" with John Belushi's iconic Bluto, who goes to become U.S. Senator John Blutarsky, of course.

Even with Senator Blutarsky in the presidential race this year, it would be hard to imagine it being any more bizarre or unpredictable. One predictable part, the sheer number of presidential candidates in a mad dash for votes here in the Granite State today.

Take a look at this map, eight different presidential contenders spread across 13 different cities in New Hampshire today. If you're willing to brave the snow, put enough gas in your tank and head up Interstate 93, you're bound to run into at least two people vying to be the president of the United States. But you see that dotted line leading to Donald Trump? Well, it's dotted because Trump had to cancel.

CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash tells us why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It turns out being a billionaire with your own plane can be politically perilous.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm number one in New Hampshire. Will you please keep me there?

BASH: After last night's rally, Trump went home to New York. He said his plane couldn't get back to New Hampshire this morning because of the snow, tweeting: "Big storm in New Hampshire. Moved my event to Monday. Will be there next four days," and posting this on Facebook:

TRUMP: The great slogan of New Hampshire, live free or die, means so much to so many people. All over the world, they use that expression.

BASH: But Granite State voters expect to see candidates in person. Being absent for a day this close to the primary is not ideal, especially since Trump has been stepping it up with more traditional retail campaign events.

Jeb Bush trolled Trump about it on Twitter, saying: "My 90-year-old mother made it out to campaign." As for Bush, he suddenly seems to be embracing the Bush brand, bringing his mother, the popular former first lady.

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: He is decent and honest. He's everything we need in a president.

BASH: Even releasing an ad with a more controversial family member, his brother.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know Jeb. I know his good heart and his strong backbone. Jeb will unite our country.

BASH: But Jeb Bush's former protege, Marco Rubio, could be standing in his way. He's sharpening his criticism to try to slow Rubio's rise with this new ad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeb Bush ran Florida. Marco Rubio -- finish the sentence.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I would just say the this is a guy who's been able to, number one -- the bottom line is, he didn't get accomplishments done, and neither did President Obama.

BASH: Rubio is taking a lot of incoming. The publisher of New Hampshire's conservative "Union Leader," who endorsed Christie, wrote: "Young Rubio must make New Hampshire a bunch of rubes. He hasn't spent much time here, but is trying to sell himself with TV ads as someone who can go to Washington to clean up the Washington mess."

Meanwhile, Ben Carson won't let up on Ted Cruz for what Carson aides call dirty tricks Iowa night, sending this e-mail erroneously suggesting Carson may drop out. Cruz has apologized, but Carson isn't satisfied, telling BuzzFeed: "Not to take corrective action is tacitly saying it's OK or sort of like, as Hillary Clinton said after Benghazi, what difference does it make?"

Carson said it doesn't rise to the level of Benghazi, but -- quote -- "I'm saying it's the same kind of attitude."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And Carson is really trying to capitalize on all of that and he is trying to raise money off of it. He even on his Web site, which is pretty popular, especially among his supporters, put up a voice-mail that apparently came from Cruz headquarters to captain of precincts in Iowa saying that he was suspending campaigning, clever language there.

But, Jake, we expect that he was expected to be back on the campaign trail today right where you are in New Hampshire, where the latest poll shows him at just 2 percent -- Jake.

[16:05:02]

TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash, thanks so much. We will hear more from Barbara Bush later this hour.

But joining me now is Katrina Pierson. She's the national spokesperson for the Trump campaign.

Katrina, thanks so much for joining us.

Two days ago, Donald Trump accused Senator Cruz of stealing the Iowa caucus, even threatening to sue. And now he told Anderson Cooper he doesn't care about that anymore. Does he really not care about it anymore or is he worried that talking about the issue could make him look like a sore loser and hurt him with voters?

KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Well, Jake, I think everyone agrees there was some shenanigans going on in Iowa. And, of course, he cares about it. He's just not going focus on it.

I think bringing attention to it like Mr. Trump and Ben Carson have done, I it really raised the eyebrows at how the Cruz campaign is conducting itself. You can't run a campaign calling yourself the most honest person with all the integrity and then do things like this. I think now that it's out in the open and everyone knows what happened, it's time to move on.

TAPPER: Mr. Trump was forced to cancel a campaign event here in New Hampshire today because of the snow.

He, of course, flew home last night in his private jet so he could sleep in his own bed, and he risked missing a full day of campaigning right before the primary. He could have just stayed in New Hampshire overnight. I stayed at the Hanover Inn last night. It was lovely. Can you explain to the voters why he so seldom spends a night on the road?

Isn't staying in a state one of the great ways to meet actual voters?

PIERSON: Well, he actually had a campaign event. It wasn't the fact that he wanted to go home. And I will also say that it has been rescheduled to Monday, so it's not being skipped.

Mr. Trump has been in the state for quite some time. He's been there this week. He's going to be right back there tomorrow and he's going to stay through Tuesday. So it's not that Mr. Trump is skipping. It's just when there's 10 inches of snow on the ground and you can't get in, I think it's best for everyone's safety to just reschedule it. Don't you think so?

TAPPER: After coming in second in Iowa, it seems Mr. Trump realized his campaign strategy maybe needed to be rejiggered and maybe wasn't working. He's now focusing more on an actual ground game, retail politics, not attacking his rivals as much.

I know he's not a traditional politician.

PIERSON: Right.

TAPPER: But did Mr. Trump misjudge this campaign?

PIERSON: I'm not sure that it was misjudged.

I think Iowa specifically, no one really thought Mr. Trump could do well until we started to see that Mr. Trump rose back in the polls here closing in on the date. And considering what did happen in Iowa with all of the tricks and the antics that took place, the fact that Mr. Trump did so well, you know, we're very proud of our candidate.

Mr. Trump did not spend the time or the money investment that some of the other candidates did. For example, he was outspent 20-1 in some cases.

TAPPER: Donald Trump announced today that he will participate in the next debate from that network he has sparred with so much, FOX News Channel. The debate will be co-moderated by someone he says is biased against him, Megyn Kelly. Why is he participating in it? Is it just because it's widely perceived that skipping that last debate probably hurt him in Iowa?

PIERSON: Well, you know, it may be perceived that way, but I have got to tell you on the ground that's not how we heard it. There were a lot of supporters who felt like when FOX released that statement, that it wasn't just insulting Mr. Trump, it was also insulting the 40 percent of the voters that supported him.

Moving forward, Mr. Trump has every attention on attending the debates and we will just have to see how the networks react accordingly.

TAPPER: Does Mr. Trump think that FOX News and Megyn Kelly can host a debate that will be fair and impartial?

PIERSON: It's not likely at this point, considering how it also has been uncovered that FOX has been -- the executives at FOX, one of them's daughter works on the Rubio campaign, as well as an executive that pushes lobbying efforts that opposes Mr. Trump's policy.

So, Mr. Trump is going to move forward. As long as the network projects itself to be fair, we are going to go right along forward.

TAPPER: Does Donald Trump have to win New Hampshire?

PIERSON: Yes, I mean, Donald Trump definitely wants to win New Hampshire. Does he have to win New Hampshire? Probably not. But we're really excited about New Hampshire. New Hampshire is the live free or die state.

I predict we're going to win New Hampshire. He's ahead by double digits. And the folks there know Donald Trump. And he -- that state is definitely cut out for somebody like him.

TAPPER: Katrina Pierson, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

PIERSON: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: On the other side of the aisle, it might be hard to tell them apart, Bernie Sanders face to face with himself, Larry David, on "Saturday Night Live" -- that story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:13:25]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I look forward to working with him as a partner in the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: A partner in the Senate. So much for a Clinton-Sanders ticket.

Welcome back to THE LEAD. We are live from cozy, wintry New Hampshire. We're here at Dartmouth College. There are all sorts of political supporters here, but as you can see by the signs behind me, a lot of students are feeling the proverbial Bern. The Clinton supporters say they're going to get some signs just any minute now. Just hold on.

Last night, Clinton and Sanders made it uncomfortable at moments with often personal and searing criticisms of each other's record.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is shadowing Senator Sanders. He's on the trail today in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Joe, Sanders is looking for any edge he can get. That includes apparently going back to New York this weekend to be on possible standby for a possible cameo on "Saturday Night Live."

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That is absolutely right, Jake. A snowy day here in Exeter, New Hampshire, and Bernie Sanders essentially was in a position of talking to the crowd about momentum.

He believes the size of the crowd that turned out for him here indicates he's doing pretty well. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton was looking at Sanders almost wistfully and suggesting the day when he will go back to his day job in the Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): The calendar might show four days until the New Hampshire primary, but Hillary Clinton is already looking beyond the fight for the nomination.

CLINTON: I will call Senator Sanders, the first call I will make,

[16:15:00] if I'm so fortunate as to get this nomination. We have a lot of work to do. I look forward to working with him as a partner in the Senate.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bernie Sanders today decrying the role of money in politics.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are obsessed with raising money. It is getting worse because of Citizens United. So I think we need to move toward public funding of elections.

JOHNS: The fight between the two Democrats growing more intense. Hillary Clinton airing an ad in New Hampshire jabbing Sanders for his idealistic proposals.

CLINTON: The American people can't afford to wait for ideas that sound good on paper but will never make it in the real world.

JOHNS: And in their final debate before voters head to the polls Tuesday, Clinton and Sanders engaging in a series of feisty exchanges.

CLINTON: I think it's time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out in recent weeks and let's talk -- let's talk about the issues.

JOHNS: Continuing to trade barbs over which of them is a true progressive.

CLINTON: If we're going to get into label, I don't think it was particularly progressive to vote against the Brady bill five times.

SANDERS: One of the things we should do is not only talk the talk but walk the walk. I am very proud to be the only candidate up here who does not have a super PAC, who's not raising huge sums of money from Wall Street.

JOHNS: Clinton calling out Sanders for repeatedly saying her campaign takes money from big banks and special interests.

CLINTON: Enough is enough. If you've got something to say, say it directly. But you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received.

JOHNS: And Clinton assuring voters there will be no more surprises in the e-mail controversy that continues to hang over her campaign.

CLINTON: Before those e-mails, it was Benghazi. And the Republicans were stirring up so much controversy about that. And so, I think the American people will know it's an absurdity. I have absolutely no concerns about it whatsoever.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: And going into the final weekend before the New Hampshire primary, we are hearing that Bernie Sanders will make an appearance on "Saturday Night Live", alongside of Larry David, who's been doing a pretty good job of impersonating him this campaign season, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: A pretty good job. Pretty, pretty good.

Joe Johns, thank you so much.

Now, I have, even though there are so many students here that are clearly feeling the Bern, oh, my God, a Ted Cruz support are back there as well. There -- I counted seven young women, seven young women, three over there, four behind me who are supporting Hillary Clinton. But despite their best efforts, there are signs the Clinton campaign is struggling to get more young voters to her side this election cycle.

But don't worry, Clinton supporters, reinforcements are coming to New Hampshire to try and change that. A busload of female senators who are Ready for Hillary and caravanning around the state to prove it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Joining me now, Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Thanks so much for joining us.

Senator Klobuchar, this caravan of Democratic women senators going through New Hampshire to advocate for Hillary Clinton, do you guys have a name for yourself? The sisterhood of the traveling pant suits? Something like that?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: I just knew you were going to say that, Jake. But I would like to note for the record that while some male presidential candidates may not have made it through the snow, Hillary Clinton is here strong, along with 20 percent of the women senators.

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: That's right.

KLOBUCHAR: So, we are going through New Hampshire, working hard for her, getting people out canvassing and a little snow never scares the senators from Minnesota and Michigan.

STABENOW: That's right. That's right.

TAPPER: So, Senator Stabenow, why Hillary Clinton? Why not your Senate colleague, Bernie Sanders? STABENOW: Well, first of all, let me say we're calling this women on

the road to the presidency because the real revolution that's going on this year that we should all be excited about is a revolution to not only elect the most qualified and competent person in the race, but the first woman to be president of the United States. And frankly, Jake, I mean, we work with both of our Democratic candidates and they're terrific in their own way, but the truth of the matter is, it's not enough just to be an advocate. We all have a passion for the fact that everybody needs a fair shot to make it, that the system is rigged against folks working hard trying to make it every day, that there's only one person in this race who actually can get things done to make a difference.

And we've worked with her. We've worked with both of them. And the truth of the matter is this is somebody, whether it's national security in keeping us safe, whether it's income security at home to keep our families safe, Hillary Clinton got a track record of getting things done.

TAPPER: Senator Klobuchar, I'm here on the campus of Dartmouth College. There are so many young people, including young women, who are voting for Sanders.

What do you tell young women like your college-age daughter, for example, all these young women, not your daughter, but others who are feeling the Bern?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes. Well, my daughter is strongly in Hillary's camp, so there are young women supporting Hillary.

STABENOW: Yes.

KLOBUCHAR: But let me say this, Hillary said it best today at a rally where she said, you know, for those young people supporting Bernie, you may not be quite on her side yet, but she is on your side and she's going to be there for you. And I think that that is key, is that the issues she's talking about, the college tuition reductions, making sure kids can afford college, making sure there's a strong economy going forward and her ability to get things done means that she has these young people's issues on her side.

I'm not worried about it. I think that the way she's been appealing to people all over the country is important. And I was in Iowa, Jake, and she won those Iowa caucuses, first woman in the history of America to win the Iowa caucuses.

STABENOW: And I have to say my daughter, who is a little bit older than college and has two small children is a strong Hillary supporter because she knows that Hillary as a mom and now as a grandma understands that chill is not a frill, paid family leave is not a frill, that caring about our children and creating opportunities for their health and safety for the future is not a frill.

And I also have to say that when it comes to what I'm fighting for right now in Flint, Michigan, for the children in Flint, Hillary Clinton is the only person that has reached out to me with her team every single day to ask what she can do to help. And so, I'm very grateful for that.

TAPPER: All right, Senators Debbie Stabenow and Amy Klobuchar, thank you so much. Stay warm and have fun out there.

KLOBUCHAR: We will. Thanks, Jake.

STABENOW: Thanks a lot.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Coming up, white supremacists proudly supporting Donald Trump and using robocalls to target New Hampshire. What is the Trump campaign saying about the group? That's next.

Plus, Barbara Bush side by side with her son, giving Donald Trump a taste of her own medicine. Jeb Bush and his mom speak to us, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:26:50] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD, live from Dartmouth College in beautiful Hanover, New Hampshire.

A lot of excitement here for the New Hampshire primary.

OK, OK, we love it. But politics lead now, as if all the TV ads and candidate attacks were not enough, here in the first of the nation primary state in New Hampshire, now a group of white nationalist organizations are flooding voter phone lines and their messages are being called racist, possibly because they are. The robocalls started pouring in last night.

And CNN's Drew Griffin lets you listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(PHONE RINGING)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: They are robocalls, taped messages that flooded Iowa and this week began hitting the phones of New Hampshire voters.

The message in three voices: We are white supremacists. Donald Trump is our man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American National SuperPAC makes this call to support Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't need Muslims, we need smart, well- educated white people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a farmer and white nationalist. Support Donald Trump. This call is not authorized by Donald Trump.

GRIFFIN: The American National SuperPAC is a confederation of white supremacist groups across the U.S. Jared Taylor, online editor of AmRen, the outlet of one of the white nationalist groups called American Renaissance, is one of the voices on the calls.

JARED TAYLOR, AMERICAN RENAISSANCE: Most white people would prefer to live in majority white neighborhoods and send their children to majority white schools. And deep in their bones, they are deeply disturbed by an immigration policy that is making the United States majority nonwhite. And so, when Donald Trump talks about sending out all the illegals, building a wall and a moratorium on Islamic immigration, that's very appealing to ordinary white people.

GRIFFIN: Taylor, who says he is a white advocate, not a supremacist, thinks whites should live with whites, blacks should live with blacks, and just about everyone else, especially Muslims, should get out.

TAYLOR: Why should we want more Muslims? Muslims have been a terrible problem for Europe. And here they want to pray five times a day, stop the assembly line. They want foot baths before they go to prayer. They want women-only swimming pool hours, and some of them want to kill us. Why should anyone want more Muslims in the United States?

GRIFFIN (on camera): Many of the things that you are saying, people would interpret as vile and racist.

TAYLOR: They can call me all the names they like. But what I'm saying is natural, normal and healthy.

GRIFFIN: Do you think that Donald Trump wants your support?

TAYLOR: I don't know whether he wants it or not. I think he wants support from everyone. Whether or not he would agree with me is an entirely other matter. Remember, it is I who am supporting Donald Trump, not Donald Trump who is supporting me.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Contacted by CNN, the Trump campaign did not speak specifically about Taylor, his group or the group's white nationalist ideas, simply stating, "Mr. Trump has disavowed all super PACs offering their support and continues to do so."

To be clear, the American National super PAC says it has nothing to do with the official Trump campaign and has had no communication with Donald Trump. Its white nationalist members just like Trump and are willing to support him, whether the candidate welcomes them or not.