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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

ISIS Fears; Trump, Sanders Win New Hampshire; Chaos as Candidates Head on to South Carolina; Trapped in Syria's Civil War. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired February 10, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:02]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm back from New Hampshire. As Donald Trump might say, there was so much winning going on.

THE LEAD starts right now.

There will be blood. Donald Trump moves on to South Carolina with Ted Cruz in his crosshairs. And if you thought the race was chaotic and ugly before, wait until you see the TV ads running today.

Going national. Bernie Sanders getting a huge fund-raising bump after his blowout win in New Hampshire, but can he break through in friendly territory for Hillary Clinton?

Determined to attack, the top U.S. security official warning ISIS could strike inside the U.S. this year. And we may not see the terrorists coming.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Our politics lead today, New Hampshire narrowing the Republican field, Carly Fiorina announcing she is suspending her campaign today. Governor Chris Christie expected to do the same. But while Tuesday spelled the end for some, it was a momentous night for Senator Bernie Sanders. His parents never would have thunk it. A year ago, very few in Washington would have thunk it.

But the 74-year-old independent from Vermont won the New Hampshire Democratic primary with the biggest margin in a contested Democratic New Hampshire primary since Senator John F. Kennedy in 1960.

And since the victory, Sanders has banked $5.2 million in the last 18 hours, according to his campaign. Of course, there are questions. Does Sanders have enough momentum to cut into Hillary Clinton's so- called firewall in South Carolina and other larger states? Can he withstand the increased scrutiny of his record that his status will bring?

CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is in New York City trailing Sanders today.

Joe, something big on the agenda today for Sanders.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure, Jake. It's safe to say also the heat is just beginning.

Groups that are considering supporting Sanders in South Carolina are already taking a closer look at his voting record on issues affecting African-Americans. And he's already been scrutinized for everything from the guest-worker programs to fixing the problems at VA hospitals.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because of a huge voter turnout, and I say huge, we won.

JOHNS (voice-over): Bernie Sanders is taking a victory lap today after his big New Hampshire primary win, as he also turns his attention to the battles ahead.

SANDERS: And now it's on to Nevada, South Carolina and beyond.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOHNS: Part of Sanders' challenge going forward, making inroads with African-American voters, a key piece of the Democratic electorate in the South Carolina primary later this month. That's why one of his first stops today was in Harlem for a meeting with civil rights leader Al Sharpton.

Sharpton said he would not make an endorsement until after he meets with Hillary Clinton next week.

AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: No endorsements this morning.

JOHNS: After tasting victory last night, Sanders got to sample the Ben and Jerry's flavor he inspired, Bernie's Yearning, during an appearance on "The View."

SANDERS: This is the first time I have tasted it.

WOMAN: It is? Did you like it?

SANDERS: Excellent.

JOHNS: Sanders using the setting to highlight his populist economic message.

SANDERS: The message that we are bringing forth, that this country is supposed to be a nation of fairness, and we're not seeing that fairness right now.

JOHNS: And making the case that his success in New Hampshire will be seen in other contests down the road.

SANDERS: What happened here in New Hampshire in terms of an enthusiastic and aroused electorate, people who came out in large numbers, that is what will happen all over this country.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOHNS: To help Sanders on his way, a huge fund-raising haul of $5.2 million since the polls closed Tuesday night.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I still love New Hampshire and I always will.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOHNS: Following her disappointing finish in New Hampshire, Clinton today taking a break from the trail, readying herself and her supporters for a long campaign.

CLINTON: Now we take this campaign to the entire country. We are going to fight for every vote in every state.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOHNS: And taking stock of where her campaign needs to improve, including expanding her appeal to younger voters.

CLINTON: I know I have some work to do, particularly with young people, but I will repeat again what I have said this week. Even -- even if they are not supporting me now, I support them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: That Sanders-Sharpton meeting was another clear sign that the candidate, despite his strong showing in New Hampshire, has a lot of work to do with the minority part of the Democratic base.

[16:05:01]

A source familiar with Reverend Sharpton's thinking told CNN today one big concern is whether Sanders can implement the proposals he talks about on the campaign trail -- Jake, back to you.

TAPPER: All right, Joe Johns, thanks so much.

A tectonic shift in the Republican race last night as well and one big question out of New Hampshire, is the Republican establishment dead? The Granite State was supposed to be a key moment for one of the so- called establishment candidates, the guys not named Trump or Cruz, the ones acceptable to big money donors, Republican power brokers, lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

Republican establishment figures thought, hoped they would have some clarity this morning on which one of these candidates to coalesce around. Well, much like everything else that was supposed to happen this election cycle, virtually none of that came to pass. Ohio Governor John Kasich placed second, but he has maybe the most difficult path to the nomination of anyone left in the race not named Ben Carson.

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio did not have the night that either one needed, but neither one is going anywhere. Everything is still very much up in the air.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is in Spartanburg, South Carolina, today. Sunlen, the Cruz campaign must be doing kick flips after last night's

finish, but what are they saying today about their prospects in the Palmetto State?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Cruz campaign, Jake, feels very strong about their path forward here in South Carolina.

They feel that they have already invested a significant amount of time and money and groundwork here in this state, and Ted Cruz himself really raising the stakes here a bit in an e-mail to supporters overnight saying that South Carolina will be the tipping point in this race, but it will likely be a fierce and tough battle with Donald Trump ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY (voice-over): After a decisive New Hampshire win...

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are going to make America great again.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SERFATY: ... Donald Trump is zeroing in on South Carolina.

TRUMP: We have already had dirty tricks in this campaign, so, you know, I'm ready for whatever they want to throw at me, and that's fine.

SERFATY: And he's setting his sights on rival Ted Cruz, already running this TV ad.

NARRATOR: What kind of man talks from both sides of his mouth on amnesty for illegals on national television and still denies it?

SERFATY: Just a small preview of the absolute collision course in South Carolina, the two insurgent candidates now both with a win under their belt gunning for the other.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Iowa and New Hampshire have performed their historic role. They're narrowing the field, they're narrowing the choices. And now it's up to South Carolina to pick a president.

SERFATY: In a Web video, Cruz painting Trump as a fake Republican.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Hey, Hillary, I will give you money to be my friend.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Check out my house, Mr. Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That's a lousy house. I'm going to take your house with eminent domain and park my limos there.

SERFATY: As they brace for impact, the dust settling from New Hampshire has left little clarity on who might emerge as the clear establishment candidate to take on the mantle as the alternative to Trump.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They pushed the pause button, so everybody is going to have to make their case.

SERFATY: After getting help from his mother in New Hampshire...

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: Vote for Jeb.

SERFATY: ... the Florida governor is leaning on his older brother, President George W. Bush, with this radio ad.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no doubt in my mind that Jeb Bush will be a great commander in chief for our military.

SERFATY: And anticipated visit to the state too. Others will have to resort to other means to build on New Hampshire momentum. Ohio Governor John Kasich hoping to capitalize on his solid second-place finish, but he faces an uphill climb, money, support, infrastructure, all huge hurdles as he looks to survive until the campaign moves to the Midwest.

Marco Rubio arriving today in South Carolina bruised and looking to reboot.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, in my mind, you learn from it.

SERFATY: The senator taking the blame, admitting he screwed up. His overly scripted debate performance cost him votes.

RUBIO: Just didn't finish strong. We wanted to do a lot better in New Hampshire. And clearly my performance on Saturday had an impact down the stretch.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And the GOP field did get a little smaller today, Carly Fiorina dropping out of the race after her poor showing in New Hampshire.

And CNN has also learned, according to sources close to the Chris Christie campaign, that tonight Chris Christie will also likely suspend his bid -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, no formal announcements yet from Christie, but that's anticipated. Sunlen Serfaty in South Carolina, thanks so much.

Joining me now, communications director, senior strategist for the Republican National Committee, Sean Spicer.

Sir, thanks for joining me.

SEAN SPICER, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Thank you for having me, Jake.

TAPPER: Sean, Trump won New Hampshire, Cruz won Iowa. You couldn't have two candidates who hate the Republican establishment more and the feeling seems to be somewhat mutual.

And when you look at the exit polls, your voters are mad and they're mad at the Republican establishment. What's it like to watch this rejection of the establishment from the RNC?

[16:10:05]

SPICER: Well, I think there's a big difference between the RNC and the establishment.

Voters are mad, and rightfully so. I think the American people out there are tired of a government that's not performing. And so all of our candidates on our side are talking about solutions that will get this country back on track and stop taking no for an answer, so that we can actually have a government that we hold accountable.

So I don't think that that is that unique. And I don't view it as a repudiation of anything but what we're seeing right now in Washington, which is people getting fed up with where it's at.

TAPPER: But the Republicans control the House and the Senate.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Right, but we do have a small problem constitutionally because the man in the White House is a Democrat that doesn't work well with Republicans.

So I think our answer is, look, if you give us the opportunity to govern again, put a Republican in the White House, we will get results for you in America, we will start having accountability, we will start reforming the programs that need reforming. We will start ensuring that job creation is the top priority.

But, yes, I think there's a key problem. The president has used the executive order to go around the Congress and get his way. Congress doesn't have that ability, and I think the solution that we have proposed to the American people is trust us again with the White House, we will put this country back on track.

TAPPER: OK. I'm not sure that that's what the voters are saying. I don't think they're only mad at Obama, but let's move on.

Is there an effort by Republicans in Washington to encourage two of the three establishment candidates remaining, either Rubio or Bush or Kasich, to drop out, to stop Cruz and/or Trump from getting the nomination to get the party behind one person?

SPICER: Absolutely not, no.

This is and always has been about the voters. If you look at what Chairman Priebus did at the beginning of the cycle, where he sort of changed the calendar, if you will, we have more states that will and more voters therefore that will be involved in this process than ever before.

We're going to go through this process of the carve-out states with Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and then immediately go into 11 states on March 1. That's going to put more voters into this process, helping some candidates to stay in longer, giving the boost they need, maybe making a decision for others that they don't have the support.

But it will be the voters that ultimately decide what delegates get elected and go to the convention, but it is not going to be anybody in Washington.

TAPPER: Right.

SPICER: Jake, one more point that's really interesting is that when you look at both Iowa and New Hampshire, there were record turnouts on the Republican side. We were up 60,000 in Iowa, 25,000 in New Hampshire. That's a record for our party.

It's not true on the Democratic side. And so what the takeaway for me is, is that there is energy, enthusiasm, intensity on the Republican side. New people are coming into this party. They want to be part of the effort. They like a lot of the candidates that they're seeing on our side. I'm really heartened about coming out in New Hampshire.

I think if you're a Democrat, and let's face it, any Democrat realizes the only horse that you have is Hillary Clinton. And when you look at the fact that 60 percent of young people rejected Hillary Clinton and chose a 75-year-old -- 74-year-old gadfly socialist from Vermont, that's not good.

When you look at the majority of women rejected Hillary Clinton and chose a 74-year-old man, that's not a good sign. So as much as there's concern about our party, I think that the real concern is about what's really going on in the Democratic right now.

TAPPER: All right, well, I take your point, although I don't think it's fair to call Senator Sanders a gadfly, but you are the communications director for the RNC, so I understand.

Sean Spicer, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

SPICER: Thank you.

TAPPER: Last night definitely was not ladies' night for Hillary Clinton. Her campaign never said she would beat Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, but the lack of female support, as Sean was just referencing, that might be the most troubling sign for the former secretary of state.

That story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:17:41] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Frankly, it was a terrible night for the establishment in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton's campaign stunned, again, an opponent they had initially written off is showing huge strength, and the Republican Party still waiting for a consensus candidate to emerge for the establishment, as Donald Trump wins New Hampshire by the biggest margin in 16 years.

Joining me now to talk about yesterday's results and the path forward, CNN's political commentators Patti Solis Doyle and Kevin Madden.

First off, guys, I want to play a little sound from Jamie Gangel. She just interviewed the surprise second place finisher in last night's contest, John Kasich, governor of Ohio.

Here's what he said finding a target on his back after his big night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: South Carolina, some of these other states, the attack ads are already on the air. Are you going to hit back?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm not going to sit there and be a, you know, a marshmallow or some kind of a pin cushion, people just pound me. I mean, where I come from, the blue collar town that I come from, you know, if you came in and beat our football team, we just broke all the windows on your bus. I mean, you know, that's just a joke, by the way.

But, I mean, the fact is, I'm not going to just sit there and let somebody pound on me. But, you know, and I can't predict exactly what the future is, but I believe that this message of -- we can, we're Americans before we're Republicans and Democrats, these problems that we have can be solved, that we can get the shine back in America, you know, leave no one behind -- I just think these are very important messages, more than me spending my time being negative about somebody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Kevin, South Carolina politics is a rough, rough thing. They don't play pretty down there. Is what Kasich is selling going -- is anyone going to buy it down there? Can you be sunny and optimistic and talk about bringing people together?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He can, but he's going to have to really draw -- continue to be ready to draw contrasts at a moment's notice with his opponents. The big risk for John Kasich is that on Monday night, a lot of people went to bed not knowing who John Kasich was and they woke up on Tuesday morning knowing a little bit more about him because of his win here in New Hampshire.

And the risk is that so many of his opponents are going to try and define John Kasich in the eyes of South Carolina voters or any of these other states before he will. [16:20:03] And the race is now on. And any time they try to introduce

that negative information, he's going to have to fight back with reckless abandon.

And so, when he told the story about his McKees Rocks roots and there's a lot of glass on the ground, ideally, if he comes out with a much better position in South Carolina, there will still be a lot of glass on the ground because they have fought back.

TAPPER: Patti, as Hillary Clinton's campaign manager in 2008, this must be a familiar feeling for you, what's going on right now, although she -- this time she won Iowa and lost New Hampshire.

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.

TAPPER: We're hearing talk from the Clinton campaign about the need to take stock, reassess, figure out what's going on next. Former Obama advisor David Axelrod tweeted after these stories started coming out, "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?"

A tough commentary from David Axelrod basically saying, hey, the problem isn't the staff, the problem might be the Clintons. Is that fair?

DOYLE: You know, look, I think they definitely had a very hard night last night. It was a rough night. She lost across the board. She lost women. She lost blue collar workers. She lost young people.

TAPPER: Just a second, she lost women. Think about that, she lost women.

DOYLE: Yes. So, of course, there's going to be taking stock. Of course, there's going to be reassessing. If I were the Clinton campaign, I'd be worried about two things right now -- Bernie Sanders' appeal to young voters, because if he can appeal to young women voters, he can appeal to young Hispanic voters and young African- American voters.

And I'd be most concerned about his ability to raise money. Apparently, he raised $5 million yesterday.

TAPPER: Yes.

DOYLE: Or today, and that's a concern.

TAPPER: Kevin, Marco Rubio gave a very unusual speech last night, basically blaming himself for the fifth place finish, talking about his panned performance at the debate. I guess the big question is, should he have done that Sunday morning instead of -- instead of Tuesday night? Could it have made a difference?

MADDEN: Yes, I think the most important thing he could have done last night, ideally it's the period at the end of the sentence, that now he'll put that in his past and start to move on. I think the problem that they had in that intervening 48 hours after the debate was that they offered a new version of the same mistake that they made during the debate, that he made during the debate and that caused a sort of negative information flow with voters and it just caused the media to obsess over it.

And this has to be his exclamation point now, right? He has to end this -- put this in his rearview mirror and really move forward and start to talk more about this race as a contest for the future.

Marco Rubio does his best as a candidate when he is putting himself forward to voters as the best way to draw a contrast with the past, whether it's eight years of the Obama administration, or having somebody like Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush who has been associated with the last 25 years in American politics.

So, I think let's hope that -- I think if you're a Marco Rubio supporter right now, you're hoping that that was the last we've heard of him talking about the debate on Saturday night and start fresh.

TAPPER: Kevin Madden, Patti Solis Doyle, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Tune in to "THE SITUATION ROOM" for more of Jamie Gangel's interview with Ohio Governor John Kasich, surprise second-place finisher in New Hampshire.

Coming up, ISIS terrorists blending in and hiding in plain sight. That's the new concern as top intelligence officials pretty much guarantee an attempted ISIS strike inside the U.S. this year.

Plus, you wouldn't think Barbie dolls and eminent domain necessarily have anything in common. But when it comes to presidential politics, they do. A look at the latest attack ads being rolled out in South Carolina.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:28:06] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

The world lead now: a cry for help from those giving in Aleppo, the city once known for business and trade, it's now the center of that bloody civil war. The Red Cross said today that it estimates some 50,000 people are trying to escape the daily gunfire and fighting. This month, Syria's government cut off a main road between Aleppo into Turkey and, sure, that does keep the rebels back but stops a flow of food and supplies from humanitarian groups into Syria.

Today, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss the situation and CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen traveled to Aleppo to get a sense of just what is going on.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are right in the heart of Aleppo. This is the Dimaliya (ph) area, and it's actually fairly close to the front line, but it's also one of the main places held by the Syrian government.

Now, as you can see in this area, there are a lot of products that are actually available, food, also a lot of other products as well. However, the people here, it is very, very difficult for them. There's almost no electricity. Most of it comes from generators. And, of course, because we're so close to the front line, there is also shelling here and it's quite dangerous for the folks who live here.

"I believe we have already endured about 80 percent of the hardship," this man says, "and I hope the remaining 20 percent will end soon.'

"The situation is very tough right now," he adds, "but we are steadfast and we believe the power will be on the correct side."

And this man says, "We have had very tough times, but thanks to the victory of the army, we have survived these hard times."

(on camera): Aleppo is also currently the key battleground in Syria's civil war. The Syrian government under President Bashar al Assad has started a brutal offensive in this part of the country, also, of course, backed by Russian air power and pro-Iranian militias as well. And they believe that if they are able to deal a crushing blow to the rebels in this part of Syria, that they could decide the Syrian civil war.