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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Voting Underway In New Hampshire, Many Still Undecided; What To Watch For In New Hampshire Tonight. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired February 9, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're live this afternoon in New Hampshire, Manchester, New Hampshire, where voting is under way.
Hillary Clinton, who is facing a near certain loss to Bernie Sanders if you believe the polls is already setting her sights on the next contest, the Nevada caucuses. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has been holding a number of rallies in Nevada as the presumptive front-runner now finds herself in the midst of an extremely tight race.
Here now is Brianna Keilar.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, Hillary Clinton hitting the slick pavement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary for president!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How are you all doing?
KEILAR: Stopping by several New Hampshire polling sites, shaking hands and taking photos.
CLINTON: We look fabulous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fabulous.
KEILAR: Greeting voters face to face, a final push to convince any voters still undecided before they cast their ballots.
CLINTON: I hope I can earn your vote today in this weather.
KEILAR: Despite Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders holding a commanding lead in the New Hampshire polls, Clinton says she's not willing to leave the Granite State without a fight. CLINTON: This is a great process, and as I have said over the last
couple days, we're going to keep working literally until the last vote is cast and counted.
KEILAR: Sanders making his own unannounced polling visit, taking reporters for a walk around town.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Usually, I like to take nice, quiet walks, apparently not today. But I thank you all for the company.
KEILAR: And releasing a video message encouraging his supporters to get out and vote.
SANDERS: I urge you all, come out and vote. Let's transform America.
KEILAR: While driving home his campaign's message in the closing hours of the primary fight.
SANDERS: To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, this is a campaign of the people, by the people and for the people.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KEILAR: Hosting a concert to help keep his passionate supporters motivated, hoping to turn his big lead in the polls into an actual win when it counts.
SANDERS: The eyes of America will be on New Hampshire. I hope very much that you come out to vote.
KEILAR: Hillary Clinton and her campaign, Jake, admittedly have quite an uphill challenge for them. They are managing expectations with that line right now.
She is trailing significantly in the polls by more than 25 points in the latest CNN/WMUR poll. One of the big tests here tonight may be if Clinton can close that gap or if Bernie Sanders can hang on to that significant lead.
TAPPER: All right, Brianna Keilar. Of course, as we know, polls are not always accurate.
Let's bring in David Brock, founder of Correct the Record, which is a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC.
I want to first, David , give you an opportunity to respond to something that Bernie Sanders himself said about you after I told him some critical things you had said. Here's Senator Sanders about you and the attacks on him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: David Brock, people will remember, used to be a real right- wing guy who was attacking people like Anita Hill. This is an African-American law professor who tried to do the right thing, and he admitted. He said, "I lied about her."
This is the guy that Hillary Clinton is making the head of her super PAC? I just don't understand. There are -- I just understand where the Clinton people are coming from, hiring somebody like that. Every day, they're attacking us in one way or the other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Your response, sir?
DAVID BROCK, PRESIDENT, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: Well, I mean, what Senator Sanders said is right. This happened 25 years ago.
And the reality is, I was sold a bill of goods by Clarence Thomas supporters about Anita Hill. I wrote some things that were wrong and false. Twelve, 14 years ago, I wrote a painful reckoning in a book called "Blinded by the Right" where I confessed what I did, I apologized for it, I apologized to Anita Hill, I apologized to the Clintons, in fact.
And in the last 12, 14 years, I have spent my life building up very -- some of the best progressive organizations, I think, in the country and I have earned -- tried to earn people's trust every day since.
TAPPER: OK. Fair enough.
Hillary Clinton, according to polls, if you believe them, David, is expected to not fare well. Now, when I brought up to Bernie Sanders the idea that Hillary Clinton was saying, oh, he comes from a neighboring state and New Hampshire residents often vote for neighbors, he said, look, when we started this race, she was better known in this state and she was 30 points ahead in the polls.
TAPPER: Why do you think Hillary Clinton is not going to do as well here, if you do -- obviously, you hope that she wins, but we don't know what's going to happen -- but why might she not win here?
BROCK: Well, I think we think she's going to do well. We don't know what is going to happen tonight.
BROCK: But I think that, one, most experts say that you give a neighboring state official who's running for office almost a 15-point advantage.
And Senator Sanders started leading in the polls last July. It wasn't suddenly overnight that this big gap opened up. And so I think we're going to have a good night. I mean, the people of New Hampshire do love the Clintons. And I think that we're going to focus on Nevada, we're going to focus
on South Carolina. Only 4 percent of delegates are won in February. March is the big month; 56 percent of delegates are won there. I think the campaign is very well-organized in those states.
And those electorates, let's be honest, have electorates that are more diverse and more reflective of the party and of the country.
Let's bring in Jonathan Tasini. He's a Bernie Sanders supporter.
Jonathan, David raises a good point, in that you can't exactly say that Iowa and New Hampshire are the most diverse states in the nation, and Hillary Clinton is leading in polls in South Carolina, where, among Democrats, African-Americans make up a sizable population, and Nevada, where Latinos do.
Why has Bernie Sanders not really been able to appeal to those voters of color as much as he would want to?
JONATHAN TASINI, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: Well, I think the reality is that, with Bernie, one of the things he's always had to do is make himself known to people, both on the substance and who he is and his record.
And you look back in Iowa when he was essentially I think 30 or 40 points behind a year ago, and he essentially tied Hillary Clinton in that race. And I think we're going to do very well. We were way behind here in New Hampshire. I think, as Bernie becomes well known, his policies well known, what he's done for African-Americans, senior citizens, I think we are going to do very well in Nevada.
Nevada, I think, now is a very competitive state. And I think we're going to do very well in South Carolina. And particularly with -- we have the money, which is a key thing for any candidate, particularly an insurgent candidate. We have enough money to compete all across the country in the March 1 Super Tuesday states.
TAPPER: Any thoughts on that? You were critical of Bernie's commercial, which I guess you thought didn't have enough -- a diverse enough cast.
BROCK: Right. I wasn't the only one who thought that. A lot of African-American commentators...
TAPPER: OK. Fair enough. But you said, considering -- based on this ad, black lives don't matter to Bernie Sanders.
BROCK: Right. Well, look...
TAPPER: You don't really mean that black lives don't matter to Bernie Sanders, though?
BROCK: I meant the ad reflected a lack of diversity.
BROCK: And a lot of people agreed with that.
So, look, I'm not contesting Senator Sanders' commitment to these issues and civil rights. But the truth is Secretary Clinton has a long and deep -- it's not by magic that she has all this support in the black community and the Hispanic community. Going back to the 1970s and her work at the Children's Defense Fund, all the way forward, she has very deep ties to these communities.
And I expect that she's going to get, garner that support in the coming weeks.
TAPPER: Jonathan, I mean, he raises a good point. It's not as though Bernie Sanders just became elected last week. He's been in public life longer than Hillary Clinton has in terms of elective office. How come the African-American community and Latino communities don't know him as well?
TASINI: Well, actually, I think partly because he's represented a state that has been -- is not as diverse as the rest of the country. That's true.
But he has actually had a very long record in civil rights on supporting job bills, all the kinds of expansion of urban renewal that has been benefiting both African-American voters and also senior voters.
And , again, I think it's really about people just don't know him. I was with Cornel West several months ago in October and we had a small meeting with African-American leaders, community leaders and union leaders. And, basically, Cornel said, look, we have to wake up. People just don't know Bernie. And when they know what his positions are, on trying to end corruption in government, inequality, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, those are the things that those communities are going to really respond to.
It is about -- a little bit about the calender. It's a lot in a short amount of time. But I do think that once we come out of New Hampshire with I think a strong win, we're going to do very well in Nevada and very well in South Carolina and very well on Super Tuesday.
TAPPER: Last word?
BROCK: Well, I think that African-Americans, the Hispanic electorate, when they scrutinize Senator Sanders' record, just like everybody else, they're going to find it wanting. It's not going to attract support.
The more scrutiny his record gets, and we're seeing it in press reports -- we saw over the weekend he accuses Secretary Clinton of taking money from banks, the same thing he did. So, we're going to see as the scrutiny -- and he's going to do well tonight. There's going to be more scrutiny of his record, and he is going to come -- be brought down to earth, and I think he will do less well.
TAPPER: All right, this is not the last segment we're going to do like this.
Jonathan, David, thank you so much. We really appreciate your coming on.
BROCK: Thank you.
TASINI: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Next, how Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are actually in some cases trying to appeal to some of the same undeclared or independent voters here in New Hampshire.
And the New Hampshire secretary of state is predicting record turnout today. Brian Todd will be live at a polling station. That's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back.
We're in New Hampshire with America's choice, our special coverage of the first primary of 2016.
As voters head to the polls, many are making up their minds as they walk into the voting booth. The latest CNN/WMUR polls show that, as of yesterday, about 15 percent of likely Democratic voters are still undecided and nearly a third of Republican voters.
Brian Todd is right now live at a polling location in Hudson, New Hampshire.
Brian, this is really going to come down to those undeclared or independent voters, as well as the undecided ones. What have voters been telling you?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of undeclared voters here, Jake.
They have broken mostly for the Republicans, from what they have told us. But here's how passionate the voters here in
[16:30:00] -- New Hampshire are. They expected records here. I think they're going to get records. Here in Hudson, this is the Hudson Community Center. Look at this, lines out the door. It's been like this all day long.
There have been lines of cars stretching up to a mile down the street. They're bringing their kids. This is 7-year-old Javeon coming with his grandfather to witness some of the voting, very, very passionate voters here.
You mention the undeclareds. They have been a dominant force at least here in this precinct, Jake. What they do is come over to this table, they'll say whether they are Republican or Democrat, but if they are undeclared, which many of them have been, they'll say that and be asked which way you want to vote.
They'll be handed a pink ballot for the Republicans, a blue ballot for the Democrats. Then they'll go vote. My team and I timed it out. The average voter takes about 35 seconds to vote. Then they come back and put their tabulation into a machine there.
That gets tabulated later and then they'll read it out to us. As of 4:00, Jake, 5,726 voters have come through here, of those 3,438 have gone Republican, 2,288 Democrat and they expect this to break the record of 9,000 primary voters that they had the last couple of times -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, thank you so much. Here with me now, Dana bash, CNN's chief political correspondent, Ron Brownstein, a CNN senior political analyst and editorial director at the "National Journal," and Mark Preston, CNN Politics executive Editor.
Dana, let me start with you. Independent voters here can vote with either party, undeclared voters. Our latest CNN/WMUR poll asked the voters which primary they think that they would vote in.
It was pretty evenly split. This really could be anyone's game, 46 percent Republican primary, 47 percent Democratic primary, 7 percent undecided.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And that is really significant because the campaigns, especially those that tend to draw more independent voters, John Kasich for example, on the Republican side, Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, they are trying to play the game of chess with those voters, making calls.
I was with John Kasich's campaign earlier today in Nashua and they were specifically calling people who they had identified as leaning Sanders saying he's going to win, forget that, come over to our side. Don't you want to beat Trump? That is such a big dynamic in this race.
TAPPER: Ron, let me ask you, explain to the viewers at home who might not understand, how can there be a voter torn between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump? There are people torn between those two.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And they're as far apart as can be on the issues, but they share this ideological and position versus the establishment in the way the system is running.
One of the reasons you have to keep a close eye on what happens here because independents are a bigger force here than anywhere else. How do the partisans vote?
Bernie Sanders will do well among independents. Donald Trump will do well among independents. John McCain in 2000 won the state with independents. Didn't really win among Republicans and that foreshadowed the problems he faced as the race went on. TAPPER: Mark, if there is record turnout or near record turnout and according to the deputy secretary of state it is approaching, heading towards record turnout, who might that help theoretically or maybe you're reluctant to say because everyone was so wrong last time?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Let's move on to the next question. Look, the bottom line is when we looked at Iowa we thought that record turnout would help Donald Trump and it didn't. Ted Cruz had an unbelievable ground game that none of us ever paid attention to and, guess what, it worked.
I do think that we are seeing feel the "Bern." There are people who are just very excited about Bernie Sanders. And John Kasich, you know, as Dana was saying, I think that he really is like drawing people into his camp.
You know, he has spent his whole time here in New Hampshire. His kind of politics lend itself here to New Hampshire. So I think if you're going to look at Trump, Sanders, Kasich, record turnout will be across those three.
TAPPER: And Kasich very, very keenly tailoring his message towards the independents talking about bringing Democrats and Republicans together. Not a message that will necessarily work in South Carolina.
Stay with me. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, some key things that you should watch for tonight that could have a huge impact on the race for the White House. Back after this quick break.
TAPPER: Welcome back to the special edition of THE LEAD. We're live at the Foundry Restaurant in beautiful Manchester, New Hampshire, where voters have just a few more hours to cast their ballots. My panel is back with me. Each of you tell me what you're watching for tonight, Ron.
BROWNSTEIN: On the Democratic side is that question of how Democrats vote, not just independents. On the Republican side, whether those white collar mainstream conservatives who we've seen are the most resistant to Trump can make any progress toward coalescing around one candidate out of the four around which they're now fragmenting.
TAPPER: Very interesting, Dana.
BASH: What we were looking at on caucus night, Donald Trump, whether or not the numbers that he gets in the polls really translates to the numbers that he gets of real voters. It didn't work out so well for him in Iowa. New Hampshire is a very different place for lots of reasons.
First of all, it is a primary. Second of all, he does have a campaign manager who knows the state. They have been putting in more time on the ground, maybe not what other campaigns ha, but just whether the motivation, enthusiasm for him is going to mean a real big win or a win at all.
TAPPER: Interesting. And Mr. Preston.
PRESTON: I'll tell you what I'm not looking for tonight is for someone to drop out of the race. There's no reason for them to drop out tonight. There's still a couple of days for them to collect themselves, talk to donors and perhaps get behind somebody, although I don't think something like that will happen.
But if someone like Chris Christie comes in sixth place, seventh place, eighth place, it's a very hard path for him to continue. We also have a Republican debate coming up. Look to see what happens to Carly Fiorina in the next couple of days as well as Ben Carson, but it won't happen tonight.
TAPPER: Yes, there's some talk that Christie and Carly Fiorina, based on polls now, might not make the debate stage. Although, who knows what happens after the voters have their say.
PRESTON: Right. Christie could have a good night and then it's a whole new game.
TAPPER: All right, Mark Preston, Dana, Ron Brownstein, thank you so much. More of our special coverage from New Hampshire coming up next.
TAPPER: Welcome back. We have a few more seconds before we have to hand it over. Dana Bash, I'm really looking forward. It's going to be a very exciting night.
BASH: OK, so you've been asking everybody else questions for the last hour. What are you looking for tonight?
TAPPER: I am looking for -- to see if the Republican establishment can get its act together because Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are anti- establishment candidates, truly to their core. They came in first and second in Iowa, might come in first and second flipped here in New Hampshire.
Is the establishment whom we cover in Washington, D.C., and had wielded power for many, many years under President George W. Bush and they control the House, they control the Senate, are they going to be able to take back the presidential nomination?
BASH: So does that mean? Does it mean a real coalescing around one of the four establishment candidates?
TAPPER: Yes. Is there push for Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush? Is that going to work at all or not? We'll see. Thanks so much, Dana Bash stay here. That's it for this special edition of THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Dana and I will be back with CNN's special coverage of the New Hampshire primary at 7 p.m. Eastern. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in a place we like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM."