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Post-GOP Debate Analysis. Aired 10:35-11p ET

Aired February 6, 2016 - 22:35   ET




ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Welcome to a very special edition of OutFront. We are following breaking news tonight. The final Republican debate before Tuesday's crucial New Hampshire primary. The stakes, simply, couldn't be higher. The race has tightened significantly among the leading candidates, and for those in the second tier, New Hampshire could be do or die.

Joining me tonight, our entire team of CNN analysts and contributors. And I want to quickly get a sense from our analysts who were the winners and losers tonight. With me now, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. Our senior political analyst, David Gergen. Senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson. And, David Axelrod, our senior political analyst. You're close to me. Let's go right down the line. Winner, loser?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Jeb Bush had a good night. John Kasich had a good night. Chris Christie had an efficient night because he came to be the designated hitter and take Marco Rubio out, and I think he really hurt him. I think Marco Rubio had a very bad night.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. I think winners, Trump and Cruz, because they largely avoided a lot of the fighting there, and I think they were, kind of, status quo. Trump didn't -- he wasn't at his most Trumpiest tonight in terms of brawling with folks. And Cruz, I think, had a lot of time on stage. Didn't make any major mistakes, and I think he still looks good going forward for those southern primaries.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The loser's easiest to choose. Rubio, tightly wound, easily rattled. Bush, the most improved debater. The most memorable was Chris Christie. He wenttoe- to-toe with Rubio and clobbered him.

BURNETT: Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think I'm going to agree. Rubio did not have a good night. I think the three governors had good nights. I think Kasich was speaking directly to the people of New Hampshire. I think Christie did a lot of whacking of Marco Rubio, but I don't think he helped himself. I think he helped others, actually.


BURNETT: All right. Well, those are your winners and losers for now. And for those of you who missed tonight's debate, it was heated, it was personal, and at times, as you just got an indication from our analysts, it was nasty. Here's a look at the highlights.


BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, I'm not going to use this opportunity to savage the reputation of Senator Cruz. But, I will say -- I will say -- I will say that I was very disappointed.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country. To make America more like the rest of the world.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- can solve one problem for one person. They expect you to plow the snow. They expect you to get the schools open. And when the worst natural disaster in your state's history hits you, they expect you to rebuild their state, which is what I've done. None of that stuff happens on the floor of the United States Senate. It's a fine job. I'm glad you ran for it. But, it does not prepare you for president of the United States.

RUBIO: Chris, your state got hit by a massive snowstorm two weeks ago. You didn't even want to go back. They had to shame you into going back.


RUBIO: And then you stayed there for 36 hours, and then he left and came back to campaign.


RUBIO: Those are the facts. Here's the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is just not true.

CHRISTIE: There it is.

RUBIO: He knows exactly what he's doing.

CHRISTIE: There it is. The memorized 25-second speech.

RUBIO: He's -- no. That's the --

CHRISTIE: There it is everybody.

RUBIO: That's the reason why this campaign --


GOV. JEB BUSH (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But, this is the -- relates -- this relates to strategic patience.

RADDATZ: Thank you. Thank you, Governor Bush. I'll get to you in a moment.

BUSH: This relates to the strategic patience of the Obama administration. They come up with these great marketing terms, and what they do is, they pull back and voids are filled. And they're now filled by asymmetric threats of terror, as well as nation states on the run. The next president of the United States is going to have to get the United States back in the game, and if a preemptive strife is necessary to keep us safe, then we should do it.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I disagree, respectfully, with Marco. I think we have a president who, as a president, is totally incompetent and he doesn't know what he's doing. I think he has no idea what he's doing and our country is going to hell. So, I just want to say we disagree on that.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we're going to build a wall. We're going to triple the border patrol. We're going to increase -- and actually, since Donald enjoyed that, I will simply say I've got somebody in mind to build it.


TRUMP: What I do say is there will be certain number of people that will be on the street dying, and as a Republican, I don't want that to happen.

CRUZ: If I'm elected president, we will repeal every word of Obamacare.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In other words, in America, conservatism should mean not only that some rise with conservative principles, but everybody has a chance to rise regardless of who they are, so they can live their God-given purpose. That's what conservatism should be.

TRUMP: I would bring back waterboarding, and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.

RUBIO: Guantanamo's being emptied by this President. We should be putting people into Guantanamo, not emptying it out. And, we shouldn't be releasing these killers who are rejoining the battlefield against the United States.

KASICH: If I get elected president, head out tomorrow and buy a seatbelt, because there's going to be so much happening in the first 100 days.

CARSON: I would simply make it a referendum on honesty and integrity versus deceit and the Washington way.


BURNETT: So much to talk about tonight because there were so many fireworks. Also with me, our political commentators Jeffrey Lord, a Donald Trump supporter.Amanda Carpenter, the former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz. Matt Lewis, the author of "Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections". And, Kevin Madden, the former senior advisor for Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign.

All right. So we just heard here, Marco Rubio, everyone agreeing, the big loser tonight. And that seems to be the case. Part of the reason was something that happened that I think all of us, sort of, took a gasp at, which is -- he said something and then he kept saying it again, and again, and again, because he seemed to lose his train of thought. Let me just play, for everybody, what it was that he said.


RUBIO: If politics becomes, and the presidency becomes about electing the people who have been in Congress or in the Senate the longest, we should all rally around Joe Biden. He's been around 1,000 years. He's passed hundreds of bills. And, I don't think any of us believe Joe Biden should be president of the United States. And, let's dispel, once and for all, with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing.

CHRISTIE: I like Marco Rubio, and he's a smart person and a good guy, but he simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States and make these decisions. We've watched it happen, everybody, for the last seven years. The people of New Hampshire are smart. Do not make the same mistake again.

RUBIO: This country already has a debt problem. We don't need to add to it by electing someone who has experience at running up and destroying the credit rating of his state. But, I would add this. Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. Chris, your state got hit by a massive snowstorm two weeks ago. You didn't even want to go back. They had to shame you into going back.


RUBIO: And then you stayed there for 36 hours, and then he left and came back to campaign.


RUBIO: Those are the facts. Here's the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is just not true.

CHRISTIE: There it is.

RUBIO: He knows exactly what he's doing.

CHRISTIE: There it is. The memorized 25-second speech.

RUBIO: No. That's the --

CHRISTIE: There it is everybody. RUBIO: That's the reason why this camps are -- let me respond to that question.

DAVID MUIR, ABC ANCHOR: To the Gang of Eight bill, first.

RUBIO: Well, here's the response. If -- I think anyone who believes that Barack Obama isn't doing what he's doing on purpose doesn't understand what we're dealing with here.


BURNETT: It's -- that was pretty hard to watch, I think, for anybody to see -- that it was clear that he had memorized that line and when he got rattled he went to it. How damaging was this for him? I guess I'll start with you, Amanda.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was damaging because he proved the point that Chris Christie and others have been making about Rubio, is that he's too scripted, untested, and he hasn't been challenged. And so, then, Christie challenged him again and again. He kept going back to the scripted, and somewhat bizarre, answer.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And Christie's, there it is, reminded me of Reagan's there you go again. It's all he had to say. We all laughed when he said that because we all knew.

CARPENTER: Because everybody else was hearing. Especially, I mean, it was very -- let's dispel with this fiction, right? I mean, Kevin, it was clearly -- it was -- this was a memorized line.

MADDEN: Yes, look, and I think Christie clearly, on technical points, got the better of Marco Rubio on this. But, I think on the substance of it -- and, that's a lot how the voters look at these debates, is whether or not they are aligned with them on the particular issue. Do they agree with them on the economic point that they made, or the national security point? I think Rubio started to gain his strength back during the rest of that debate. So, it was a very bad moment for him right there, but I think he recovered later on.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Rubio finished stronger, but man, a disastrous start.


MATT LEWIS, AUTHOR: You know, let me be the descending voice here. What -- the substance of what he is saying on that business that Barack Obama wants to change the country, and he kept saying it over and over. This is gospel if you listen to conservative talk radio. This is gospel when you talk to a lot of conservative grassroots activists. So, there is a tie-in here between, well, yes, he doesn't know what he's doing. But, there are plenty of people out there in the base who really do think he wants to change the country in a direction that they don't want to see it go.

BURNETT: Yes. So, is there any way that he can turn this into a positive? I mean, this is - what he was saying was -- CARPENTER: He didn't -- look, he --

CNN: -- was right for some of the viewers?

CARPENTER: Look, he got -- he got better at the end. I totally agree with you, Matt.

MATT: Yes.


BORGER: But, on this notion of experience, I don't think he has the best answer at this point. He mentioned Barack Obama more than Hillary Clinton mentions Barack Obama these days at her debate, saying, you know, OK, it's not that he was inexperienced. He knows exactly what he wanted do, and he did it. And it's not an argument that has - I don't think it has much appeal if you're trying to say, yes, I have experience.

CARPENTER: But, also --

BORGER: I -- he needed to defend himself on, I'm more experienced than Obama was, or this is why I have the best judgment, or this is who I am, rather than comparing himself to Obama constantly.I just don't think that's the best answer.

AXELROD: Well, I would say this. Presidential campaigns - I, sort of, disagree with Kevin a little bit. I don't think it's all about your positions, and I don't think people are sitting at home saying, who best reflects my point of view? They're measuring people to see what kind of president they would be. And part of it is you get tested when you're under pressure in moments like this. Marco Rubio has been surging, and now he's being talked about as a potential nominee. Tonight, the spotlight was on him.


AXELROD: Chris Christie brought the Jersey heat down on him --


AXELROD: -- and he didn't handle it very well.

BURNETT: And that's the question, right? I mean, the whole point is he had momentum.


BURNETT: Right? I mean, the whole -- the headline coming out of the Iowa caucus was more about Marco Rubio, almost, than anybody else.


BURNETT: And then you start to see him -- so does that stop? Does his momentum just get halted in his tracks or not?


HENDERSON: I think the problem is now this is part of his narrative and part of his baggage, and how does he move past it. Because going forward when he is eloquent it's going to, sort of, sound canned. He's been, sort of - I think, initially, people praised his debate strengths and his speeches. And so now, it's like this thing is hanging over his head.

GERGEN: It's very much what Iowa did to Trump. It stole that aura of invincibility for Trump. He looks like he's now -- he's beatable. And for Marco Rubio, he -- we can't tell what kind of effect this is going to have on New Hampshire voting. But all people like us are going to be evaluating with the notion that maybe he doesn't quite have this. Maybe he's not ready for this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The danger is, it's not when you attack somebody's weakness, but if you can attack their strength.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So now, whenever Rubio goes on a roll, whenever he's eloquent and he's, you know how he gets -- that, all of a sudden in the back of your head, wow, this is just, you know --


BURNETT: Well, and this is one of -- one of his lines. This is one of the Marco Rubio lines --


BURNETT: -- that he has prepared to be the inspirational, motivational listener.

BORGER: This is all great for Cruz, can I just say, because Cruz has a target on his back. Now, the target was on Rubio's back tonight. Cruz didn't have to attack Rubio. He let everybody else attack Rubio. And, you know, New Hampshire is not natural terrain for Ted Cruz, who is upset that everybody in the media, as he put it, was paying more attention to Marco Rubio. Well, he was happy about that tonight because Rubio was getting the wrong kind of attention tonight. And Cruz, by the way, when you look at experience, he's a first term senator also, but Rubio was taking the heat on experience.

CARPENTER: I will say one thing for Rubio. In past performances he's always debated really well, and it didn't help him in the polls. And so, I'm kind of wondering tonight, even if he has a bad performance he may hold steady. It's going to be hard to tell.

AXELROD: You might already do that. He really did well in Iowa, and that was one of the reasons why he ended up closing so strong there. Look, the reason this is important is because when you look at this New Hampshire primary, the question is who's going to finish in front of that group of so-called establishment Republicans? The three governors and Marco Rubio. And, it looked like Rubio might be getting lift-off speed there, and Chris Christie came -- I'm not sure that Chris Christie didn't sacrifice himself for the group.


AXELROD: But, it certainly slowed him down.

HENDERSON: And, Jeb was -- was is the, you know, tag team over Christie on this? At some point, when he was going back and forth -- Christie going at Rubio -- Jeb, sort of, tries to break in there.


BURNETT: So, the one thing that none of you, so far, have really been bringing up here is, actually, Donald Trump --


BURNETT -- which is very interesting because he is the frontrunner in the polls in New Hampshire, very clearly so. Although one thing that's been fascinating is you've got more people undecided than are actually supporting Donald Trump, so that creates a vulnerability there.


BURNETT: He had an interesting night. One of his most passionate moments was about healthcare, and let me play that.


TRUMP: What I do say is there will be a certain number of people that will be on the street dying. And as a Republican, I don't want that to happen. We're going to take care of people that are dying on the street.


BURNETT: All right. He was very passionate about that. Then there was a moment where he was defending eminent domain -- a real mix it up with Jeb Bush. And in this, Donald Trump got booed. Let me play that so you can understand exactly what happened.


TRUMP: So, eminent domain. It's not that I love it, but eminent domain is absolutely -- it's a necessity for a country, and certainly it's a necessity for our country.

BUSH: Josh?

JOSH MCELVEEN, WMUR POLITICAL DIRECTOR: So, is that a yes on the Northern Pass question?

BUSH: Josh, the difference -- the difference -- the difference between eminent domain for public purpose, as Donald said, roads and infrastructure, pipelines and all that, that's for public purpose. But, what Donald Trump did was use eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City. That is not public purpose. That is downright wrong. And, here's the problem with that.


TRUMP: All right. OK.

BUSH: The problem was, it was to tear down --

TRUMP: Jeb --

BUSH: It was to tear down --

TRUMP: Jeb --

BUSH: It was to tear down --

TRUMP: Jeb wants to be a tough guy. He wants to be a tough guy.

BUSH: It was to tear down the house.

TRUMP: I didn't take the property.

BUSH: And the net result was --

TRUMP: I -- I didn't --

BUSH: You tried.

TRUMP: I didn't take the property.

BUSH: And you lost in the courts.

TRUMP: The woman, ultimately, didn't want to do that. I walked away and it was great that I didn't.

BUSH: That is not true, and the simple fact is to turn this into a limousine parking lot for his casinos is not a public use. And in Florida, based on what we did, we made that impossible. It is part of our constitution. That's the better approach. That is the conservative approach.

MCELVEEN: Mr. Trump, take 30 seconds.

TRUMP: Well, let me just, you know -- he wants to be a tough guy. A lot of times you'll have -- you'll have -- and it doesn't work very well with him -- a lot of times --

BUSH: How tough is to take away the property from an elderly woman?

TRUMP: Let me talk. Let me talk. Quiet. A lot of times -- a lot of times -- that's all of his donors and special interests out there. So -- that's what it is. That's what it -- and by the way, let me just tell you. We needed tickets. You can't them. You know who has the tickets for the -- I'm talking about to the television audience -- donors, special interest, the people that are putting up the money. Well, it is. The RNC told us we have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're not loving me -- the reason they're not -- excuse me -- the reason they're not loving me is I don't want their money. I'm going to do the right thing for the American public. I don't want their money, I don't need their money, and I'm the only one up here that can say that. Eminent domain -- the Keystone Pipeline. Do you consider that a private job? You consider that --

BUSH: I consider it a public use.

TRUMP: No, no. Let me ask you, Jeb. Do you consider the --

BUSH: It's a public use.

TRUMP: -- Keystone Pipeline private?

BUSH: It's a public use.

TRUMP: Is it public or private?

BUSH: It's a public use.

TRUMP: Oh, really? A public use?

BUSH: Yes.

TRUMP: No. It's a private job.

BUSH: It's a public use.

TRUMP: It's a private job.

BUSH: That was by the courts -- federal, state courts.

TRUMP: You wouldn't have the Keystone Pipeline that you want so badly without eminent domain.

MCELVEEN: All right, gentlemen.

TRUMP: You wouldn't have massive -- excuse me, Josh. You wouldn't have massive factories without eminent domain.


BURNETT: All right. There's a lot to talk about in that -- in that particular exchange.

LORD: Yes.

BURNETT: But, I mean, it was a pretty stunning -- I mean, the booing from the audience.

LORD: Right.

BURNETT: Which then escalated, Jeff, when he said --

LORD: Right. BURNETT: -- you know, it's the donors --

LORD: Let me -- let me say something.

BURNETT: -- and we'll be getting to the bottom of that. But, that did not, from an audience perspective, play well for Donald Trump.

LORD: Well, let me -- let me something about that. There is out -- a -- some sort of manifesto from Phyllis Schlafly, the grand dame of conservatism, attacking Marco Rubio for doing his donors' bidding on the Gang of Eight. So, when you hear Donald Trump attacking the donors, what you're -- what you're doing is hitting home toward a conservative that, yes, you're in here, but they're in here. And these are the people that funded Marco Rubio and the Gang of Eight. I mean, there's a -- there's a larger context to it, there, that I think --

BURNETT: All right. So you're trying to discount the booing. You're a Donald Trump supporter, but you -- we discount --

LEWIS: Or, a very inside the baseball way to look at it. I think, if you remember, the people of New Hampshire who have yet to make up their mind saw that. And they saw somebody who was not really in sync with them on the tone and tenor of how they want the debates conducted. So, I think he really is losing with a lot New Hampshire voters.

MADDEN: I just wonder if Jeb Bush had -- if that had been Jeb Bush from day one, where he would be?


MADDEN: Jeff makes a good point. That if, for once, Jeb Bush finally cut off Donald Trump from the supply lines of man of the people populous rhetoric, for once he showed that Donald Trump is actually --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A limousine parking lot.

MADDEN: Yes, like the big, rich casino magnet is actually out of touch -- out of touch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That one line he -- that one line is, how tough is it to take a house from an elderly woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the limousine parking lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was tough. You know, I joked about this eminent domain issue. It shows me how in touch I am with the grassroots of the Republican party. But, I said I thought most people thought it was a good bottle of champagne. But, it turns out -- it turns out that -- it turns out that it is a big issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eminent domain is not something that people talk about at water coolers. But, taking property from property owners?

LORD: Well, in Iowa -- in Iowa, the polling that I saw it was a big, big issue, and I'm sure --


BURNETT: Oftentimes, Donald Trump, you know -- historically in these debates when he's gone after Jeb Bush. Oh, he's weak. Oh, he's -- it has -- it has not hurt him. Did it tonight? What's so different?


BORGER: You're trying to be tough. You know, at the beginning of this debate I thought that Trump was trying to play it safe because he was trying to hang on to his lead in New Hampshire. And so, I thought he was a little subdued. But then, I was wrong. And then, you know, then came the exchanges on taking, you know -- the government taking your property and this exchange with Jeb, and waterboarding and, you know, torture -- everything else. And I think Trump just became Trump. In this particular exchange with Jeb Bush, I think Jeb got the better of Donald Trump because --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did. I think -- I think Clark Kent had a Superman moment.

BORGER: But I don't think Trump -- the extent to which this issue has power in the Republican party --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump doesn't understand that.

BORGER: -- the big government taking away your property is a huge issue and, you know, particularly in the west, et cetera. And I think that maybe Trump underestimated it.


GERGEN: I don't agree. I -- listen, I thought he did not handle the -- I thought David was right. On the question of taking away the woman's property, he didn't get back in there. He did not diffuse that, and let it hang out there and I think he got hurt by that. But, I think his big fear tonight -- it ought to have been -- is Marco Rubio going to come sailing past me and possibly catch up with me in New Hampshire, or close the lead way down? And I think Trump succeeded in making sure that Rubio didn't get past him tonight, and that was very, very important for him, I think.

BURNETT: You don't think he --

GERGEN: Yes, I think he would --

BURNETT: So, does Trump come out of this? As a bottom line, does Trump still come out of this as number one in New Hampshire?


CARPENTER: -- in this debate. The first one was eminent domain. That's the first time on a debate stage where he's actually been held to account by Jeb Bush, no less --


CARPENTER: -- for his terrible position which speaks to his Supreme Court justices that he would appoint. This is something that conservatives follow very closely. But, we haven't even talked about the healthcare answer yet, which, you know -- he stood up there and said people are dying in the streets. The first thing I thought of was I wouldn't shoot people in the middle of Fifth Avenue. I mean, he is so abrasive when he speaks, and he keeps talking about how we're going to take care of everybody, but still has no answer for how you would do that.

BURNETT: Now, he was trying to sell that, though, as a compassionate conservative, right? But, I'm going to be there to help people. Did that ploy fail, then?

HENDERSON: But, there's no policy planning. No one really cares about those policy plans, right? I mean, just ask Martin O'Malley, who had details on our policy plans. Rubio, as well. It's more, kind of, about strength and on that I thought he was, kind of, compassionate-conservative in that. But, I do think on the eminent domain thing, this is kind of laying the groundwork for an argument about he's got to have a better answer to. If you look at Iowa, 60 percent of Iowa caucus goers cared about eminent domain, much more so than they cared about his, sort of, faith and religious background.

BORGER: Which is amazing, even though, of course, he's right in the accuracy of you can't build these interstate highways without it.

GERGEN: He is not going to lose the nomination. He is not going to -- the nomination is not going to be determined by -- on that.


AXELROD: But in the now -- on the narrow of -- on the narrow issue of the impact of this debate --

BURNETT: Right. Would it change the standings?

AXELROD: You know, he is in a battle. A big movable piece of this electorate in New Hampshire are these independent voters. These undeclared voters. He's doing fairly well with them. He and Kasich are about even in the public polling among them. It seems to me tonight that Kasich may have made some progress with those voters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think so, you know.

AXELROD: And I think Trump may have lost some ground.

CARPENTER: Can I say something - a point more broadly about Trump's lead in New Hampshire? Why does everyone expect him to win? He's been exposed in Iowa as having no ground game. He has no real policy answers in this debate. It wasn't a good performance for him, so why isn't anyone planning to win this state. In theory, I would say Marco Rubio would have a good chance before this debate, but if this debate has impact, probably not. We'll see about that. But, it just really troubles me, as a Republican, that no one thinks they can beat Donald Trump in New Hampshire. He should be beatable.

BURNETT: Not -- is anybody? Is anybody?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I mean, he's up -- he's up by a lot of points. Unlike Iowa, you just show up and vote. It's not a caucus, so the ground game doesn't matter quite as much. And I think New Hampshire, or granite staters, are more secular and more liberal than Iowans. And so, it does seem to be a state that Trump ought to win. And if Trump doesn't win New Hampshire, then I think --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The show gets cancelled.


BORGER: That's why it's not naturally hospitable to Ted Cruz.


BORGER: And that is why Kasich was very smart tonight, I think, in talking about his 100 town halls that he's given in the state of New Hampshire. Talking about the voters of New Hampshire, you know. He was the one candidate out there -- whether it works or not, I don't know, but -- who was actually talking to the voters whom he's listened to over the -- over the last six months. And I think he made, you know -- he made a point of doing that tonight.

GERGEN: Did you think the governor showed a lot of strength tonight?

BORGER: I think the governors did for this state. I'm not sure Christie help himself. I think Christie did everyone else's work, as David -- as David was saying. I think this is a strong performance for Jeb. I think Kasich knew exactly what he was doing. And, I think Rubio has some trouble.

BURNETT: Do you think it's, Gloria, the bottom line for Donald Trump, and he's got a David thing? Perhaps he lost a little ground. Kevin's saying he doesn't think so. It didn't really change things. What do you say?

BORGER: He has a lot of ground he can lose because he was pretty far ahead. I think -- did it hurt him that he didn't show up in New Hampshire a day last week because he flew back to New York to sleep for one night? Maybe. You know, these things are cumulative.

GERGEN: The not showing up thing hasn't worked out for him so far.

BORGER: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The big question -- the big question there is do Trump supporters take a debate performance like this and become energized to turn out.

BORGER: Right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And to -- not only do they go to the polls, do they find five of their friends who are also Trump people to show support? That was one of the big differences in him going from leading in all the polls in Iowa to finishing second was. About a quarter of them probably didn't even show up. So, the question is, do these people actually show up on Tuesday to vote for Trump?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still think -- I still think it's a big story that he's got a campaign manager who's from New Hampshire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, right now the stakes are higher. He has to win.


GERGEN: There's a question going on tonight whether Marco Rubio is really going to catch power and catch --


BURNETT: Just hold on one moment.