Return to Transcripts main page


Hillary Clinton Holds Rally in Raleigh Last Night; Battle for Pennsylvania; Battle for Superstar Endorsements; FBI Decision to Clear Clinton Sends Stocks Soaring. Aired 3:30-4a ET

Aired November 8, 2016 - 03:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. John Berman here alongside Christine Romans. We will watch as Hillary Clinton deplanes there at the West Chester County Airport.

[03:30:00] A long, long day for Hillary Clinton. She just had a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, now returning home.

We're waiting for Jeff Zeleny who is on the press plane to get to a camera to tell us what that has been like.

Joining us right we have CNN's Phil Mattingly who was in Raleigh, North Carolina with the Hillary Clinton campaign here in studio with us. Sunlen Serfaty, campaign reporter extraordinary who has been on a plane like this on the final night as it returns home.

Phil, first to you, tell us what the mood was in Clintonville in North Carolina for this final rally before she headed back to White Plains where she is right now.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. They were definitely coming off a high off the Philadelphia rally. Biggest rally in the campaign by far, 33, 34,000 people there. Obviously huge stars, not just the musician type, Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, but President Obama, the first lady really kind of hammering home the message, and a very emotional message at that.

Clinton advisers felt very good about that. It was as big as it got for their campaign and this wasn't a campaign that was defined by this massive rallies that maybe we saw in 2008 or even that we saw with Donald Trump.

But tonight was that. And by the time they got to Raleigh, they felt great. Raleigh was packed, as well. Six thousand people packed to the gills inside, a couple thousand outside watching on a big screen and even more performers. Lady Gaga was there. I think specifically for you, John Berman and did a living on a prayer duet with Bon Jovi who surprising came to Raleigh, as well.

I think -- I think it was very good. I will vouch for it. It was very good. I would say this, the interesting element of this day obviously was where they went -- or sorry, yesterday now. Where they went and what it meant for the campaign.

In this last stop, this last stop in Raleigh, the midnight Raleigh that turned into a 1 a.m. rally, why were they here? This is the purest of tossups that they had on the map. They don't need North Carolina to win tonight. But if they get North Carolina it more or less closes the door.

When you talk to Clinton advisers, they make clear they don't know what's going to happen here. That's why the rally I was going to say tonight, I guess it was early this morning, was so important and where it was, it was also so important.

Second rally in Raleigh over the course of four days. There is a good reason for that. There is a good reason why it was on the campus of North Carolina State University. They need help with African-American voters and they need help with millennial voters in this state.

That's what they need to push them over the edge. As you guys know very well, President Obama lost this state in 2012. So, they have ground to make up. After the early vote they recognized they had ground to make up that's why they put this last rally on the schedule and they felt good leaving. It will just be really interesting to see how this turns out over the next couple of hours, guys.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And Phil, you know, the president making a point many times, that you know, just a few more votes in every precinct and he would have done a better job in North Carolina. Every vote matters.

We are seeing the plane, the campaign plane for Hillary Clinton. Its i West Chester County Airport right now, it just landed after coming from where Phil is in North Carolina.

BERMAN: Just a little both of the choreography here. What you are seeing is you are seeing the press that travels with the candidate Hillary Clinton. They are descending or deplaning from the rear of the aircraft right now.

And the photons, the still photographers they are rushing around under the wing to get photos of Hillary Clinton coming down. Some of the cameramen, the TV cameras are trying to get there as well.

Our own reporters rushing off the plane to make their live shots in the crowd. They're waiting in the crowd here will be friends, this will be family, this will be staff members, this will be people close to the middle here, close to the center of the ring for Hillary Clinton who want to be there with her when she gets back.

Sunlen Serfaty is with us here in studio. And Sunlen was a campaign reporter, well, she's been a political reporter for a long, long time but back in 2008 she covered President Obama from beginning to end and she was there for this type of return when the candidate and the staff and press all returned.

ROMANS: Seeing that door open.

BERMAN: What's that moment like, Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That moment is exhausting. John and Christine, you know, these campaigns and the candidates have worked for so many days, over 500 days in this campaign. So, certainly there is going to be an exhaustion when she is on the tarmac, but this is also sort of like a victory lap. No doubt both campaigns have fought hard win or lose.

So, for Hillary Clinton arriving back in White Plains, New York tonight, being greeted by family and friends for this last sprint is going to feel good. You know, there is a sense from the press that covers the campaigns that this is the end of a long road, so to speak.

And certainly for the campaign -- candidates and their campaign staff the feeling that hopefully that they left everything on the field win or lose at the end of the day. But certainly a long trek. You can see a lot of campaign staffers wearily making their way down the stairs right now.


ROMANS: If you have been covering over these campaigns or covering one of these campaigns this is going to be really the nerve-racking moment, right? Today is a long day of waiting.

SERFATY: It is and there is really nothing you can do. You have held every last campaign rally you have had. You have made your final pitch. At this point, you hear in the candidates' voices that they are going hoarse.

[03:35:01] They have said everything that they can say and now it is just waiting. We know that Hillary Clinton will at some point cast her ballot today and then it's just hunkering down, presumably with close family and friends and watching returns and waiting.

And as she made the joke last night between now and when the polls closed she will be living on a prayer. Of course, a joke there because she was campaigning with Bon Jovi. But there is not much you can do.

BERMAN: That's the only Bon Jovi joke you can make and it has been made repeatedly over the last 24 hours. So, I credit her there for that. We are going to keep our eye on this show, let's just keep watching this because we don't want to miss when Hillary Clinton comes off os the plane.

So far you've seen that get more staff come out, Secret Service come out. That is the process by which this happens and we will watch for Hillary Clinton. I have to say I was on this plane with George W. Bush -- we just saw Bill Clinton.

ROMANS: That was Bill Clinton.

BERMAN: We just saw Bill Clinton right there. I was with George W. Bush in 2000 when he went back to Austin. And George W. Bush came back on the back of the plane before it landed and actually spoke to each of the reporters that had covered him for a long, long time.

There is the sense...


ROMANS: Is that what choice words for you, John Berman?

BERMAN: He called me a pain in the ass. He called me a pain in the ass, but he meant it in a nice way on that last trip. It's a moment I also will never forget.

There is Jennifer Palmieri, the key aide to Hillary Clinton. I want to bring in CNN's Jeff Zeleny. We're not going to leave this picture right now, but Jeff Zeleny was on that campaign the plane. Jeff, what's this last flight been like?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John, I just stepped off the campaign plane. And you can see the staffers coming down as you said. I can tell you this instance Hillary Clinton did not come to the pack of the campaign. She did not talk to reporters. Job Bon Jovi did actually, though, talk to some reporters, a few of these aides, as well.

But I can tell you who was on the plane, the former President Bill Clinton on the plane, Hillary Clinton of course, the candidate on the plane. And really I would say arriving here on Election Day with a sense of confidence. Certainly, much more so than I would say two or three days ago.

There are, I would say, maybe a couple hundred supporters here. As you said very close friends, family members, supporters here. But what Hillary Clinton is going to do from this point, John and Christine, she is going to go vote in a few hours once those polling places actually open in Chappaqua. She'll be voting early.

Then I'm told she is going home to get some rest and prepare for her speech tonight after the returns come in. And we do know that they are preparing speeches either way here, which is typical, of course. And now you can hear some people in the crowd chanting Hillary, Hillary. John and Christine?

BERMAN: Again, just responding on that plane. We saw Jennifer Palmieri, a key communications aide. We saw Bill Clinton of course. There he is, there is Bill Clinton again. Just a glimpse of Bill Clinton for the crowd there enough to get them to go wild. It's so interesting to see.

ROMANS: Let's talk a little bit about the tone of the -- of the closing arguments of these two candidates. Jeff?

ZELENY: I can also tell you guys, the staff also did something interesting. They filmed what I'm told is a mannequin challenge. That is sort of something that is going online now. It's a popular thing for people to do. That everyone freezes in place and they film something that it makes people look like a wax figure basically and then they all unfreeze.

So, they filmed that as we were still on the ground in Raleigh, North Carolina, the point of this is it's a Bill Clinton, it's a Hillary Clinton and a lot of the advisers and this is going to a video that will be posted sometime on Election Day and it says don't stand still, vote.

So, they did a bit of a filming, not a commercial by a campaign video before Raleigh, North Carolina.


BERMAN: Here we go.

ZELENY: And there she is right now waving from the door of the plane. Let's watch.



ZELENY: And just to give you a sense of what is happening here, this is her campaign anthem "Fight Song" that is played at every one of her rallies. So, that's i playing here as she is going to greet some of these supporters here who are waiting in the early hours of the morning to "Fight Song."

And I can tell you a lot of excitement here. A lot of her New York supporters eager to see Hillary Clinton. And they hope 24 hours from now will be the president elect. We have to wait to see what the voters say about that.

[03:39:57] BERMAN: You know, what a long journey for Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton right there. I was struck watching Bill Clinton come down that jet way walking down the stairs. You know, he did this back in 1992, not to mention 1996 and Hillary Clinton alongside him. But now...


ROMANS: No smartphones then.

BERMAN: No smartphones. No selfies.


ROMANS: Recording every minute.

BERMAN: But now in 2016, you know, she's not following him, he is following her. And these are her people in White Plains. This isn't Little Rock, Arkansas. This is West Chester, New York. And this is part of this new Hillary Clinton political machine.

This new, well, not so new anymore, Hillary Clinton political movement that she hopes carries her past this day. But this is a moment, you know, decades in the making for the Clintons right now.

ZELENY: And John and Christine, I think it's also important to point out this campaign has been so divisive and chaotic but it is also historic. Regardless, when standing there in Philadelphia I was just reminded of the potential history here. Already she will forever be the first woman to become the nominee of a major party. But we are on the brink of potential history tomorrow, as well. With

watching President Obama and watching her next to one another certainly was a sense of a different moment in this country, a changing face of our country. These campaigns are about its changing nature of our country. This certainly will be a test of that tomorrow.

BERMAN: Well, you saw, by the way, a man with the red hair and a ginger beard back there. That's Dan Merica, that is CNN campaign reporter who has been there, you know, 26 hours a day for the last year and a half.

And he's right there in the middle of it all...


BERMAN: ... trying to get the best shot of this. Because that's what you do when you cover a campaign. So, our hats off to Dan and all the work that he's done covering this.

ROMANS: At this point in the campaign, they will -- she, do you think she is going to speak, is she going to say a few words?

BERMAN: Jeff, do we expect to hear from Secretary Clinton? I think she would want to get on the record at least for a little something if not just a thank you here tonight. But do you know?

ZELENY: Right. I was told about 30 minutes before we landed that she was planning on speaking, addressing supporters. And then as we landed they said we're not sure. We are going to ask the secretary how she is feeling.

I do not see a set up here for her to speak and her van is waiting for her and she is moving closer to the van there. So, she now gave a big hug to John Podesta, her campaign chairman an embrace there. It looks like she is not going to speak. She gave a thumbs up...


BERMAN: That was Huma Abedin.

ZELENY: ... also traveling with Huma Abedin. All right, Huma Abedin, her long-time aide who is back on the road. So now she is getting in the van there. So she will not be speaking publicly here. She did addressed people individually as she went down this rope line here on what is really the end of an 18-plus month journey the second time around. But of course her second bid for the presidency. All coming to an end later today on election night in New York City. John and Christine?

ROMANS: So remarkable. This is the day that America goes to vote, right? And this is the day that both of these campaigns and these candidates sort of pause and wait and it must be just nerve-racking.

BERMAN: I can tell you as a resident of West Chester County, New York, this is roughly six hours later than anyone in that county ever stays awake to see this many people gathered in one place at one time in little sleepy West Chester it is remarkable, remarkable vision to see. It really is. That really is interesting.

ZELENY: Secretary Clinton actually made a point of that. Secretary Clinton made a point of that if I can just say in Raleigh. She said, boy, this is sure worth waiting up late for when she came into that arena with Lady Gaga. It was so energetic. She seemed very happy that she decided to stay awake.

I am told that this late midnight rally was Bill Clinton's idea. This is something that he did of course when he was running for president doing midnight rallies. She agreed and signed on to it, and at least in North Carolina that is the tightest battleground state, they believe that there is, that they have a chance of winning. They are not sure if they'll win it. They want to take one more stab at it early today.

BERMAN: Hey, Jeff, while we have you, what are your plans for the next few hours as the guy who was covering this campaign, you know, for CNN, what do you do now? Do you try to sleep? Can you sleep?

ZELENY: Well, it's interesting. On Election Day, a very odd days for campaigns and for political reporters. We spend all of our time sort of figuring out what's happening. But I do plan to get a little bit of sleep because it will be a long night later today and in to the night, of course.

But you know, after the sun comes up in some key states I like to put out some feelers to, you know, political strategies and smart political minds to see, like, hey, I need an early eyes and ears. Let us know what is happening.

[03:44:57] But I think a couple of hours of sleep is probably a good idea here in the next couple of hours at least until the sun comes out.

BERMAN: It might be a good idea, Jeff Zeleny. You put out those feelers and what you hear back from both campaign and offer us on both sides on every state.

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: It's a record turnout in key counties no matter what the turnout actually is, it's always record turnout in key counties.

ZELENY: Well, one of the differences this year, though, John and Christine, so much more early vote. We have never had an election with more than 40 million people already cast ballots. Where this all comes out of the 2000 election which, John, you covered every step of the way. The Florida recount changed election laws, the Help America Vote Act, that's why we have so much early voting across the country.

So, it is different now. And tomorrow there will be, you know, more people have already early voted than ever before here. So, we'll see how that effects lines. But the turnout is also registered. And the Clinton campaign feels very good about their Florida early vote in particular. Not as good in other states like Ohio and Iowa. ROMANS: Jeff Zeleny there where the plane, the Hillary Clinton

campaign plane has just landed. Hillary Clinton has just departed the plane. She got in a van and she will be voting later today. Presumably resting, hunkering down and then everyone come back out tonight to watch results maybe do a little bit of retail politics. That's actually we'll have to wait and see.

Jeff Zeleny hopefully will get a couple of hours of sleep. Election Days are unlike any other normal day. This is what everyone has been waiting for and preparing for. There is really no sleep. This is one big day until tomorrow at some point, isn't it, John?

BERMAN: It really is incredible. And I know a lot of political operatives it gets to what they do, you know, in Philadelphia, some of the biggest and best political operatives in Philadelphia, but on both sides, republicans and democrats they just get together and have lunch on Election Day because there's nothing more they can do. There are no more ads to run.

So, they get together, they have lunch, I think they split the bill and you know, and it's a moment of camaraderie after months and in some cases, a full year of stabbing each other relentlessly in the front and the back. So, it is nice to see.

I want to bring back in Ellis Henican and Brian Stelter. And, you know, Brian, Jeff Zeleny who did a terrific job and we hope he does gets the sleep he so badly deserves. Jeff was telling us this was Bill Clinton's idea. And it doesn't surprise me in the sense that this airport arrival on election morning this is old-fashioned politics.

I mean, this is from the campaign sort of hall of fame. This is old school. And in some ways campaigns don't do follow this, you know, tried and true math anymore.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm thinking about this is a morning TV junkie they are creating a visual for the morning shows, they are creating something some final scene for Clinton surrounded by love and support.

You know, what I see in this image is enthusiasm, confidence in the Clinton campaign. I think it's worth noting the Trump campaign landed at another airport a few minutes earlier.

The press plane as well as Trump's own plane. So, Trump also is making his way back to New York tonight. But they chose not to have this kind of airport photo-op. So, it's notable the Clinton campaign with Bill Clinton given the idea here showing a real sign of confidence, wanting to create this image for everyone to wake up to.

ROMANS: Let's have John Phillips here and Symone Sanders on the set with us. Guys, let's talk a little bit about the closing arguments of these candidates. Because now is the day when people are going to be heading to the polls, we have 40 million who had an early voted and they are going to take this closing arguments and decide who to vote for. John Phillips, what were the closing arguments of your candidate, he

was still talking about a rigged system, he was still talking about Hillary Clinton who doesn't have the stamina or the morality, frankly, to be able to be the president.

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. And if you look at her positives, they really haven't changed since January. So that argument stuck there very low even when she is leading in the polls, those numbers haven't improved. They improved slightly during the convention but then came back down to where they were before.

If he is going to win this election today it is going to be through the rust belt, through those Brexit states, through Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, maybe pick up a Michigan or Pennsylvania. So, he is going to talk about trade, he is going to talk about immigration, he is going to hit those themes that helped him to win the primary and helped him look good in some of those polls in those states.

BERMAN: Communications expert Symone Sanders, Hillary Clinton chose not to speak right there, at least not to a microphone in a way that would, you know, maybe make TV later on. What do you think was behind that decision, I supposed one of it could be she had no voice left? We don't know.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think she does have a voice. But the reason I don't think she spoke is because you want the last image, the last words that folks heard were the words that she said at the midnight rally. So that is what the closing -- that's the closing argument she gave.

So you won't actually hear anymore verbal from Hillary Clinton. You will see her when she goes to vote. You know, she will shake some hands, she will say thank you. But I don't believe she'll take the mic. The next time we will hear from Secretary Clinton will be on the stage whether she wins or loses.


BERMAN: Whether she wins or lose.

ROMANS: Well, what is it like preparing those remarks. So they are clearly preparing remarks one way or the other today and working on speeches, right?

SANDERS: Yes, working on speeches. And I mean, a lot of it is what specifically the candidate wants to say.

[03:49:59] So, I'm sure Secretary Clinton has an idea on how she wants the speech to flow. Probably not too different, from a little bit of what we heard at her midnight speech. Because what you heard is her kind of mending the two together.

You know, we've been to this polarized campaign from all the way back in 2015, and now we are looking forward to hopefully putting these two pieces back together and moving forward together as a country. So that's what you can expect to hear in her speech tonight. BERMAN: Ellis Henican, here is the prediction, I wonder if you agree

with me, and you're welcome not to. I bet we do hear from Donald Trump today. I would be surprised if he can resist calling in to a cable TV show or at least getting his voice out there in some way over the next 12, or 16 hours.

ELLIS HENICAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: He'll be trying to pry the Twitter account out of Kellyanne's hands, I think by the sun comes up. Yes, it's interesting though, how they calculate these messages. I mean, I'm thinking about tonight, Hillary will deliver a healing message if she wins, right, and maybe even if she loses.

What's interesting is what is the message out of Donald Trump this evening, right? In victory will it be victory, gloat, will it be a "I told you so," in defeat, will it be are we rigged, was this a fair election. Boy, that's going to be really fascinating to watch that develop as the day goes on.

ROMANS: It is true. Well, all right, guys. Everyone, stick with us. Thanks so much for that great analysis. We've a lot going on.

BERMAN: And we got a lot going on. We just have a live event at 3.30 a.m. What more could you ask for? Well, swing states hanging in the balance. We'll visit some, coming up.


BERMAN: All right. Both candidates appeared in Pennsylvania on election eve. The night finishing for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia with the rally alongside President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama. But more importantly, Jon Bon Jovi.

Our Sara Sidner is there. Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And let's not forget the boss. You can't forget the boss. He was here to quite a show here at Independence Hall. There were thousands of people that came out for that. But Hillary Clinton of course was not the only candidate that came to Pennsylvania today, or I should say yesterday.

Donald Trump was in Scranton, as well, with a very enthusiastic crowd as he tends to bring in lots of people and candidates showing up over and over and over and over the past 48 hours to give you some idea of how important Pennsylvania has become.

Hillary Clinton, according to polls, up by a bit but it's in the margin of error. And so, both her and Donald Trump are working this state very, very hard. There are 20 electoral votes up for grabs. And this has been a true battle. Almost rocky style, which is why I'm standing in front of those rocky steps there to give people just kind of an idea of what's happening here in Pennsylvania.

Now, Hillary Clinton, Philadelphia usually going democratic. You know, the city -- this is kind of a place where they kind of know pretty much from past votes what's going to happen, but it is the suburbs, like Delaware County, like Bucks County, that really could make a difference and Donald Trump is trying to make a play for those because they were very, very, very close, some of them going for Mitt Romney, for example, in 2012.

Donald Trump hoping to capture those counties and eventually those 20 votes. But it is still a light blue state here in Pennsylvania and Hillary Clinton working the crowd hard with all of the star-studded group of folks that she brought in here in Philadelphia. It was so many people here to see that. John?

ROMANS: Sara Sidner, you know, the Trump surrogates were saying, look, Donald Trump was out with people. Hillary Clinton was out with liberal celebrities.


BERMAN: You know, Lady Gaga and Jon Bon Jovi, they are people, too. All right. From one battleground to another right now. Let's go to Columbus, Ohio. Suzanne Malveaux was there. Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey. Well, we talked to the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted earlier today just to get a sense of how things were going; 1.8 million Ohio voters voted early. That's about 11,000 more than 2012. But just a third of those who are going to be voting.

So, there's still a lot of people who haven't cast their ballots. The polling places will start opening at 6.30 in the morning. We're told to go until 7.30 at night. If you are in line at 7.30 you are going to be able to cast your ballot. That is what we are told.

And also election officials wanted to reassure voters about the security systems in place in light of the fact that Donald Trump had said that the system is rigged. And so, they tell us that these voting machines that they have test ballots that they've tested and gone through all the voting machines to make sure that they're working, that these are voting machines not connected to the internet. So that if you are trying to hack it you literally would have to be a hacker who is standing there at the ballot place trying to jimmy the machine open.

Seventy percent of the vote for Ohio voters are actually by paper ballots. The others have a paper trail. So, these are just some of the things that they've told us are going to take place. And also, voter intimidation. They are going to make sure that those observers are credential that they're not harassing folks. And they say no photos, that is Ohio law even selfies. But they say that's the least of their concerns. John and Christine?

ROMANS: No selfies, all right. Thanks for that, Suzanne Malveaux in Ohio for us.


MALVEAUX: No selfies.

ROMANS: We hope the weather is nice for you there today for everyone to get out there and vote.

Meanwhile, on Wall Street, what a rally. The Dow, the NASDAQ, the S&P 500, did you see that? The biggest one-day gain since March. It was the Comey bounce, the FBI's decision to clear Hillary Clinton again sent the market swiftly higher Monday, climbed throughout the session. The close the Dow is up 371 points. That's 2 percent. The NASDAQ and the S&P 500 up 2 percent each, as well.

Wall Street is not in love with Hillary Clinton. It's just that investors hate uncertainty. As one of our insiders put it that she's quote, "the devil they know."

[04:00:01] Donald Trump is seen as a riskier choice and many economists feel his policies on things like trade and immigration would hurt the U.S. economy in the long run.

But in the final hours until the polls open in the east, investors are cautious right now.