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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
North Korea Fears; Bill Clinton Attacks; New Hampshire Primary Tomorrow; Christie: Rubio Got "Punched in the Face" at Debate; Candidates Crisscross New Hampshire in Final Push. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired February 8, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Just hours away from the first primary votes of 2016.
THE LEAD, live from New Hampshire, starts right now.
Furious campaigning in every sense of that word, furious, Jeb Bush now dishing it out, calling Trump a loser, a liar and a whiner. And would you guess, Trump is not turning the other tan cheek.
The big dog comes out of hiding. Bill Clinton on the attack, naming names, accusing Bernie Sanders' supporters of sexism, trying to make a dent in Sanders' big lead here in New Hampshire.
Plus, they're at it again, North Korea pulling out its big ballistic ATM card and rattling the world with a long-range rocket. Could that rocket carry a nuke? Could it also be sold to Iran? And what's next?
Hello, everybody. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper live from Manchester, New Hampshire, where time is running out for each presidential hopeful to win voters' support in New Hampshire.
The candidates are making their final pushes before the polls open tomorrow. The race on both sides seems anything but settled. We have CNN reporters fanned out across the Granite State all the way from here in Manchester up to the northern tip of the state, where voters start casting ballots at midnight tonight.
The competition on the Republican side feels more unsettled than ever after a weekend debate that may have had a real impact.
We begin today with CNN correspondent Sunlen Serfaty. She is in Manchester, where Senator Ted Cruz is campaigning this hour.
Sunlen, for these Republican candidates, it really does seem like it's anyone's game here.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Jake, especially with New Hampshire voters who are so notorious for making up their mind last minute.
One-third of voters here have not settled yet on a candidate, so the big question for Donald Trump here is, can he turn his lead here in New Hampshire into an actual win?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to get rid of the Bushes of the world. They're weak. They're ineffective.
SERFATY (voice-over): Donald Trump is on a mission to protect his lead.
TRUMP: He's an example of a real stiff. The last thing we need is another Bush.
SERFATY: Now going for Jeb Bush's jugular.
TRUMP: He's a sad person who has gone absolutely crazy. He's a nervous wreck.
SERFATY: Bush now pointedly laying into the front-runner.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump, you're the loser.
SERFATY: Calling Trump a liar and a whiner on Twitter, this after Bush was one of the only candidates to take on Trump in Saturday night's debate.
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 didn't work very well.
BUSH: How tough it is to take away property from an elderly woman?
TRUMP: A lot of time -- let me talk. Quiet. A lot of times...
SERFATY: But the real battle royal is the fight behind Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and Bush all bunched together in the polls and locked in a fierce tussle for second place. Rubio's rivals seizing on his big stumble in the debate as a potential opening.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And let's dispel once and all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he's doing.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There it is. There it is, the memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.
SERFATY: Kasich and Bush trying to capitalize on Rubio's misstep. Bush's super PAC out with a new Web video targeting Kasich, a sign Bush loyalists see him as the biggest threat among the governors.
RUBIO: What's the worst that could happen? We feel really good.
SERFATY: Marco Rubio looking to rebound from his performance and shed the criticism that he's too scripted. RUBIO: Why do you keep saying the same thing about Obama trying to
change America? I'm going to keep saying that a million times because I believe it's true.
SERFATY: His rivals twisting the knife.
CHRISTIE: When the lights get that bright, you either shine or you melt. We cannot afford to have a president who melts.
SERFATY: And Ted Cruz, who is speaking right now inside this American Legion post, he's been trying all day to really set expectations for himself here in New Hampshire very low. The Cruz campaign does not expect to win here. They would consider a win, Jake, to exceed expectations and then move quickly on to South Carolina -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thanks so much.
Changing to the Democrats now, if you believe the polls, and that's a big if, Senator Sanders could cake-walk his way to a New Hampshire victory, but former President Bill Clinton won't let his wife's campaign go gently into that good night.
CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is in Hudson, New Hampshire, right now. That's where the entire Clinton clan, Hillary, Bill, Chelsea, will rally voters in a few hours.
And, Joe, Bill Clinton is now calling some Sanders supporters sexists.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: There's a lot of that going on right now. I have got to tell you, Jake, there has just been a furious effort over this last day with the Clintons down in the polls trying to close the gap, and Bernie Sanders pushing back just as hard.
Just within the hour, we also got an early indication from Hillary Clinton that she's trying to change the tone on messaging just a bit and make her campaign more forward-looking, in a tweet saying: "This campaign is about building the kind of future we want the next generations to come into."
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people are angry.
JOHNS (voice-over): Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton making a final push on the eve of the New Hampshire primary.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Please, come out and help me tomorrow.
JOHNS: Clinton making the day a family affair, hitting the trail with her husband and daughter. BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The single best
change-maker I have ever known, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
JOHNS: Clinton is trying to close the gap with Sanders, who holds a commanding lead in Granite State polls. Today, she questioned the purity of Sanders' anti-Wall Street message, noting his fund-raising efforts on behalf of the Democratic Party.
H. CLINTON: Senator Sanders took about $200,000 from Wall Street firms, not directly, but through the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.
JOHNS: For his part, Sanders isn't taking anything for granted. Tonight, he's holding a rally with students and bringing in some musical star power, including Matt Nathanson and Jonathan Fishman from the band Phish.
SANDERS: What people will be asking is not just who wins, but whether the people of New Hampshire are prepared to lead this country in a political revolution.
JOHNS: A revolution Bill Clinton is now calling into question.
B. CLINTON: When you're making a revolution, you can't be too careful about the facts.
JOHNS: As the former president also draws attention to online attacks from Sanders backers directed at supporters of his wife.
B. CLINTON: She and other people who have gone online to defend Hillary and explain, just explain, why they have supported her, have been subject to vicious trolling.
JOHNS: Sanders denouncing the actions of the so-called Bernie bros in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper.
SANDERS: It's disgusting. Look, we don't want that crap. Anybody who is supporting me, is doing sexist things is -- we don't want them. I don't want them. That is not what this campaign is about.
JOHNS: Sanders also taking a brief campaign detour over the weekend for a cameo on "Saturday Night Live" for an appearance alongside host and Sanders imitator Larry David.
SANDERS: I am so sick of the 1 percent getting this preferential treatment.
JOHNS: Expecting to see Hillary Clinton here at this high school in Hudson, New Hampshire, around 7:00 Eastern time tonight. And, of course, the question is how much of a factor the weather will be. People in New Hampshire are a hardy bunch. Nonetheless, at this stage, every vote counts for these candidates, Jake.
TAPPER: Joe Johns, thanks so much. Joining me to talk more about tomorrow's primary, CNN chief political
correspondent, my friend and colleague Dana Bash.
Dana, it is hard to remember a time when we had less clarity about the Republican candidates. I really have no idea what's going to happen.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And nor do I.
I know you have been out all day talking to voters at candidates' events. So have I, and it is remarkable how undecided voters are. And even those who say that they're decided, obviously, not all of them, but a lot of them say I think I'm going to vote for X, but I could definitely easily be swayed for Y.
Just for example, there's all this hoopla about Marco Rubio's debate performance. I talked to a voter this morning who said, I was definitely all in for Marco Rubio. Then the debate happened and I said, I'm going to vote for Jeb Bush. And that kind of thing is happening all over as these candidates really do work incredibly hard.
And they have so many fronts on their wars. Right?
BASH: Like Jeb Bush, for example, he's fighting really intensely with Donald Trump today, but he's still trying to figure out how he gets into the whole Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Chris Christie situation.
TAPPER: Yes, I know, it's grueling, it's grueling. Let's turn to the Democrats.
There's a report in Politico saying that Bill and Hillary Clinton are not happy with their campaign and they may shake up the staff. Afterwards, Clinton denied that, but did say they would be taking stock after New Hampshire, which does seem to suggest at least some dissatisfaction with how things have gone so far.
Look, there's no way they can be satisfied and they shouldn't be satisfied, because she wants to win. And they didn't, even though the expectation...
TAPPER: She did win Iowa, but...
BASH: They did. She did, but it was very, very difficult. You know, unless the polls are dramatically different than they are on Election Day, which has happened, happened with her in 2008...
TAPPER: Has happened, yes.
BASH: We should give that caveat.
Regardless, a lot of people who are close to her, people that aren't necessarily inside the campaign, feel they're concerned that they were too cautious for a long time, that they should have seen Bernie Sanders coming. It's deja vu, because just like Barack Obama...
TAPPER: Yes, these are all things we heard about in 2008.
BASH: We heard before.
And, clearly, look, Bill Clinton is the greatest political strategist still of either party, and I think there's no one who would deny that. The fact that he's going out there and being so tough right now tells you everything you need to know.
Joe Johns has some reporting that he has been very frustrated that the campaign has been too timid, they haven't gone out there hard enough. And that's clearly why he's just not letting go on Bernie Sanders. The question again is, and a lot of people are asking, is it too late? Perhaps for New Hampshire, but even in terms of the image that people already have of Bernie Sanders, is it too late to explain to people who he is in a way that is different from the perception they have already?
TAPPER: We will talk a lot more about this in the next block, in the next panel. Dana Bash, thank you so much.
Coming up, he's the newest target of Republican attacks, Senator Marco Rubio brushing off his less-than-stellar debate reviews, telling me what he really thinks of his critics. That's coming up.
[16:15:25] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD, live in New Hampshire. We're going to stay with our politics lead.
Every single vote matters in the battle for the so-called "establishment lane" here in New Hampshire. If John Kasich or Jeb Bush or Chris Christie want a ticket out of the state, they're going to need to cut Senator Marco Rubio down to size. Chris Christie spent the weekend trying to do just that.
Listen to Christie yesterday talking about Rubio's struggles on the debate stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You remember what Mike Tyson said, that great political philosopher, right? You all remember that? Everybody has got a plan until you get punched in the face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Let's bring in former Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, Republican strategist and Jeb Bush supporter Juleanna Glover and CNN national political reporter, Maeve Reston.
Maeve, Christie has been relentless, relentless going after Rubio. Watch him doing it again this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: When the lights get that bright, you either shine or you melt. We cannot afford to have a president who melts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Maeve, you've been talking to voters. Is there any sign that these -- they seem devastating attacks. They're very sharp at the very least.
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes.
TAPPER: That these attacks by Christie on Rubio are having any impact on the voters?
RESTON: Yes, I think definitely they are in the sense that what Christie did was sort of the classic debate technique where you go after what someone's strengths are thought to be, the young fresh face of the party. But the hesitation that voters have when you talk to them about Rubio is whether or not he's ready. He just got demolished on that stage, and a lot of people found that a very painful moment to watch.
I think that Chris Christie has given a huge gift to the other candidates in the race, Kasich, Jeb Bush, who are also getting bigger crowds now. I don't know how much it's helping Chris Christie at this point. It was a little rough and that may not end up working well for him.
TAPPER: That's interesting, because, Juleanna, we remember in 2004 when Gephardt and Howard Dean were going at it in Iowa, they called it a murder-suicide pact and then, John Kerry and John Edwards won the first and second spot. But the problem is for Kasich and Jeb is Chris Christie, if he doesn't have a good night, then their favorite attack dog will be gone.
JULEANNA GLOVER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I'm not sure that's necessarily the case. In fact I don't think anybody is dropping out after this, no matter what the results are. I think the next debate we all know is on Saturday night. That's not that far away. We already saw how badly Rubio was wounded by that, but the other -- the governors that are in the race right now, Christie, Bush and Kasich, all do exceptionally well in these debate formats. So, they're going to try to do well again.
TAPPER: What can Kasich and Jeb do? Is there anything they and their supporters can do to keep Christie in the race?
GLOVER: I wouldn't be surprised if there was a lot of Bush, Kasich and Cruz donors looking to ensure that Christie was well enough funded to stay in.
GLOVER: For a while.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Hey, but can I just say somebody who's done these debates, the best part of what Chris Christie did was to call him out as it was happening. "There it is, there it is", so everybody watching knew exactly. It was just -- it was debate 101. It was classic.
TAPPER: It was -- it was pretty devastating. It was pretty powerful.
Governor, I want to ask you about this report in "Politico" that Bill and Hillary Clinton are not happy with the campaign. They might shake up the staff. Hillary Clinton in an interview with MSNBC denied it but did say they are going to be taking stock.
Now, I do want to read this tweet from a "Politico" story. David Axelrod, a Democrat, writes, "When the exact same problems crop up in separate campaigns with different staff, at what point do the principals say, hey, maybe it's us?"
That's pretty harsh from a fellow Democrat. Is it fair do you think?
GRANHOLM: Yes, I do, because I know this team. It's a phenomenal team. I mean, Robbie Mook, I mean, all -- from top to bottom --
TAPPER: I think that's Axelrod is saying, the problem --
GRANHOLM: Right. Well, but he's suggesting that it's them. They, them, have picked a phenomenal team --
GRANHOLM: -- is what I'm saying. They have excellent nose for talent, and this talented team has been working their hearts out.
I mean, in any campaign you constantly take stock, right, and so you may add new people as you go along to shore up where you're weak. If you don't, it's political malpractice. But they have a really strong team.
TAPPER: You know what I've always been wanting to ask you.
TAPPER: Now, I have you on the show. You were born in Canada.
GRANHOLM: I was. What's up with this?
TAPPER: What do you think of this whole Ted Cruz -- I guess you weren't born to an American mother.
[16:20:02] GRANHOLM: My parents were legit Canadians, both of them.
TAPPER: Is Ted Cruz an American citizen, do you think?
GRANHOLM: Well, you know --
TAPPER: A natural born American?
GRANHOLM: I think he is. I think if it were taken to a court, it would say yes. But there is that question. So, I -- in this sense, this is the only time I'll ever say that I agree with Donald Trump in this sense, that I think he should get a declaratory judgment. I think he should ask.
RESTON: He has been completely off the map this week. In terms of someone who should have been capitalizing on their momentum here, you just have not seen that in New Hampshire. It's not a natural constituency for him, but it's really interesting that he's letting the others having the spot right now.
GLOVER: I think he and his people are focusing on South Carolina. I mean, they'll know he'll do middling well here, he's not necessarily going to pop up and do phenomenally well. But South Carolina is where he's going to play well. But however, for Kasich and for Christie, that is where I think it could be a little bit tougher going.
Let's say both of them do well coming out of New Hampshire. They get to South Carolina. I think it was Christie's folks that said today, we're just starting to focus on South Carolina. He needed to be focused on South Carolina months ago.
RESTON: Right, the way Jeb has been.
RESTON: And Kasich's folks are saying they're now focusing to pivot on Michigan. Michigan isn't until March 8th. So, you know, this whole race has been totally unexpected in so many different ways. I wonder if some people are just beginning to figure out what their next step plans are.
GRANHOLM: You might have a string of one-hit wonders by different as you go along.
RESTON: That's the big question for Kasich. I mean, if he has a strong night, which he very well could here in New Hampshire, where does he go next? They really don't have a lot going on in those future states going out forward.
GRANHOLM: I would say that if he goes to Michigan, he has got to say -- TAPPER: Former governor of Michigan for those who don't know.
GRANHOLM: That's right. He can't be claiming total credit for the rebound in the Ohio economy. I know he will try to. But, really, that has so much to do with President Obama saving the auto industry, so it's a little awkward for him.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about another Clinton surrogate, Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state, and the comments she made that raised a few eyebrows in the state. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Just remember, there's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now that is a famous Albright quote.
GRANHOLM: It is.
TAPPER: It is not particularly Hillary Clinton.
TAPPER: Nonetheless, I did meet today some women at a Sanders rally who were really upset of this concept of shaming them for not supporting Clinton.
GRANHOLM: Unfortunately, I think -- I mean I know that the comment was misinterpreted by those. I mean she has said it. She goes to women's --
GRANHOLM: Yes, she has been -- I have her picture on my wall as a hero along with Gloria Steinem. I mean, this was the generation ahead of my generation who busted through all of this, who really tried.
You know, Hillary Clinton would never say that you should only vote for her because she's a woman. She would not say that. She would say vote for me because I'm experienced. This what I'm saying --
RESTON: In the context of that quote, I was in that rally in Concord, it blew everyone's hair back when she said it because she was talking about how the struggle is not over. That the young women out there need to understand that, need to support Hillary Clinton -- so she put it very squarely in that context. I also have been talking to the Bernie supporters who just are not happy with that.
TAPPER: Let me just, Juleanna, I want to get your thoughts on this. In an interview with "The Financial Times", when asked about running for president, this is hot of the presses, Michael Bloomberg said he's, quote, "looking at all the options." Do you think Bloomberg could be a force in this race if it ends up being, say, Trump or Cruz versus Sanders?
GLOVER: I am not a Trump fan. I think that there are probably a whole lot of other conservative Republicans who are also not Trump fans. I'm not saying that we would support Bloomberg, but I do think there would be an openness to a different third party option should Trump be the nominee.
GRANHOLM: Ain't going to happen.
TAPPER: Ain't going to happen.
GRANHOLM: Ain't going to happen.
GLOVER: I don't know. I mean, if it's Trump and a very weakened Hillary and his pollsters are telling him there's a way to slip through there with 40 percent, 42 percent, it wouldn't be surprising.
TAPPER: All right. Governor Granholm, Maeve Reston, Juleanna Glover -- great job, thank you so much one and all.
With just hours before the first votes are cast in New Hampshire, the candidates are crisscrossing the state shaking hands, kissing babies, asking for votes. I tagged along. That story next.
Plus, North Korea defying warnings from the rest of the world once again launching a long-range rocket. Now, the United States and South Korea may be responding with some missiles of their own.
[16:28:52] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
All ten major presidential candidates are currently crisscrossing New Hampshire, making their closing arguments to voters. They may need a strong case for the nearly 400,000 people here registered as undeclared. They're independents and they're all free to vote for whomever they want in either primary for the major parties. Today from rallies to small town diners, candidates are out and about shaking hands and kissing babies, trying to reach as many voters as possible who have not yet made up their minds. And as we found out firsthand, it is a whirlwind and grueling process.
TAPPER (voice-over): It's political pin ball here in New Hampshire with candidates bouncing between at least 30 events across the state at that, trying to hit the all-important target of undecided voters.
(on camera): Carly Fiorina starting the day at Blake's Creamery in Manchester, New Hampshire. She wasn't on the debate stage Saturday night, but she is here very much in the thick of it trying to get votes from the citizens of New Hampshire. (voice-over): Despite months of campaigning, there's a lot of
convincing to be done on the nose to the grindstone day in the Granite State.
STEVE HOFFMAN, UNDECIDED VOTER: There's probably about four people I'm considering. Carly is one of them.
TAPPER: Who are the other three?
HOFFMAN: Kasich and Bernie Sanders, you know?