Return to Transcripts main page


Poll shows Trump approval rating at 49 percent, best of his Presidency; Interview with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) on Iowa Caucuses; Iowa officials to soon release partial caucus results; Interview with Deval Patrick, Democratic Presidential Candidate, On His Campaign in New Hampshire. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired February 4, 2020 - 15:30   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: -- knowing that President's approval has hit a new high despite the impeachment effort, how do you explain that?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): I think it has a -- it must have something to do with the economy. But at the same time I think that once people find out that he actually has his eyes on cutting social security and Medicare, I think that maybe some people will take notice. Because he also is going after their health care through the challenge to the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court.

And so once the people figure out that this is the President who's been saying one thing and he's going to do another to them, and these kinds of cuts and changes will impact middle-class families, and maybe they won't be so eager to support this President.

COOPER: I wanted to get your thoughts also on what's going on in Iowa. Obviously, the chaos there in the voting. President Trump has been looking for any reason to paint Democrats as unorganized and ill prepared which is exactly how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is spinning the debacle in Iowa.

McConnell said, and I quote, the same Democrats who want to take over everyone's healthcare and plan the entire economy couldn't even organize the traditional Iowa caucuses. Liberal experts want to micro- manage the whole country, but they can't even count votes like we've done in this country for 230 years.

What do you say to that?

HIRONO: This from the President whose second name should be chaos, and so that's rich, but at the same time, you know, there are problems with the Iowa caucus. And I would say that the early caucus and primary states should be much more reflective of our country in terms of the diversity and accessibility.

For example, in Hawaii, we're changing our Presidential preference polling to be not just a caucus thing, but also mail out ballots so that more people can participate, and that's kind of where I think we should be going.

COOPER: Do you think that this should be the end of the caucuses as we know them in general? And also should this be the last time Iowa goes first?

HIRONO: Oh, we shall see, but as I say, Iowa is not particularly reflective. No offense to the people of Iowa. I had the pleasure of campaigning in Iowa for Hillary Clinton in 2016. But truly, I think that the whole process should be a lot more reflective and a lot more accessible,

And the Iowa caucuses, once again, point out in my view how important it is to have paper ballots, even as there are so many states that are completely doing away with paper ballots, and even as -- when Mitch McConnell says -- criticizes the Democrats. You know that he represents some of the same constituencies that are engaging in voter suppression in different parts of our country.

COOPER: Senator Mazie Hirono, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.


COOPER: Joe Biden wasting no time getting back into the race, launching a new attack on Senator Bernie Sanders today as the Sanders campaign suggests that Biden may not want the Iowa results released anytime soon. That's next.



COOPER: Well, as we continue to await the results from the Iowa caucuses to come in, Joe Biden has arrived in New Hampshire where it appears, he's eager to move past the drama, chaos and uncertainty of Iowa. He's also sharpening his attacks on Bernie Sanders.


JOE BIDEN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is now Bernie, he was being straight before, talking about his he's going to raise middle class taxes. Now he and the other supporters of "Medicare for All" won't tell you how much it costs, who's going to pay for it?


COOPER: Meanwhile, the Sanders' campaign team is taking a veiled shot at Biden insinuating he's glad to be out of Iowa because he won't like the outcome. Sanders campaign adviser Jeff Weaver quoted during a call the Iowa Democratic Party saying, some Democratic campaigns are just trying to delay the return of this because of their relative position in the results last night.

Joined now by the team here, David Gregory, Nia-Malika Henderson, Jess McIntosh, Bakari Sellers, Alexandra Rojas. Alexandra, do you think this hurts all of the Democrats? I mean, what's going on in Iowa, just taking attention away from them and taking away a potential victory from a Sanders or Buttigieg or whomever?

ALEXANDRA ROJAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: Yes, well, Bakari and I were just talking about this. It definitely does not help some of the folks, I think, like Pete, like Bernie, like Warren who could have some momentum coming out of Iowa going into New Hampshire.

But I think that, you know, Bernie's campaign is right. Joe Biden's camp does not want this to be the story. But the biggest story of last night besides Iowa debacle is that the Democratic front runner came in fourth or fifth place in Iowa. And for someone that has built this aura of electability around their candidacy to not win or to not even come close to winning, obviously, we're still waiting for some of the results, but it's likely to be that, it's pretty astonishing.

COOPER: I mean for any candidate who did badly, this was a benefit. I mean, the fact that these results haven't come forward.

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Obviously. Yes. We haven't spent today talking about a Joe Biden collapse because we don't necessarily know there's been a Joe Biden collapse. You can assume that it didn't go well given that his campaign is questioning the legitimacy of the results. But I do think that this will pass. We will get to New Hampshire.

There will, knock on something, be a clear winner out of New Hampshire, and that will reset the narrative a little bit.

But the only thing that I want to -- I want to really look forward to is the total turnout in New Hampshire.


Because I think what's really hurting Democrats about last night -- this is irritating -- but what I find actually disturbing is that the voter turnout seemed to be lower than we were expecting, more along the '16 lines than the '08 lines which is not what the trend has been since Donald Trump has been elected. And I really want to see as broad and big an electorate as possible going into November.

COOPER: Democrats have talking about this turnout being everything.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I think that -- I mean with all due respect to the narratives about Joe Biden not meeting expectations and the themes that is actually valid and correct. I also think that there's a narrative and a theme that came from the Bernie Sanders campaign that he was going to bring this infusion of people to the party. That there was going to be this wide -- and Elizabeth Warren, too -- that there was going to be this booming growth in the electorate. And we didn't see that either. And so, there are a lot of expectations and themes that candidates were pushing that didn't necessarily meet the reality.

Now, what I don't want Democrats to do and us to do up here today is think that all, of a sudden, we're going to call the field after New Hampshire, because we ain't. What we know about New Hampshire is they haven't chosen a nominee since John Kerry, OK? People go to New Hampshire, win New Hampshire and then at the end of the day do not become the nominee. It happened with Hillary Clinton in '08. It happened with Bernie Sanders in '16. That simply has not proven to be the case.

We won't see this race kind of shrink down until you actually get the person who's running in the shadow primary as we call it in down south, the rough side of the mountain, Bloomberg, as he gets in the race and Super Tuesday. And after South Carolina when you actually have some diversity like this panel starting to choose who the nominee will be.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What's interesting about that, though, is, you know, one of the things that I think Democrats wanted is a clear winner out of Iowa for different reasons. One is to create some momentum to drive enthusiasm so Democrats can start to rally around a smaller field and get that enthusiasm.

The other thing is there might be a counter reaction to whoever the winner is. You know, if all of a sudden Bernie is the big winner, there are people who are scared to death of Bernie Sanders as the nominee who are going to start to wake up and pay attention, and that typically happens today.

But I agree, it's going to -- this war will one day be over. We will have a result, and that will begin to happen. I think Bakari's point is essential, which is we know these two tracks are colliding, the progressives and the moderates. It's going to go on for a while.

Democrats, it's in their interests to start to winnow this down and build that momentum. Right now there's a lot of trying to figure out what is this party about. What's the future of the party? It's not great in a great economy and a President with lots of money waiting to go at you.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes and what we don't know is how long Biden's money problems will last and whether or not he can turn that around. We don't know whether or not a Pete Buttigieg can actually expand his base of support into more demographically representative categories of people, black and brown folks, young folks. He actually doesn't do so well with young folks either.

We also don't know if Biden's firewall in South Carolina is as rock solid as people like to say it is. Right? I was talking to some folks in South Carolina and in southern states, Bloomberg is kind of gaining some traction and attention down there, Bernie Sanders --

COOPER: We should point out actually Bloomberg has doubled his ad spending in targeted markets.

HENDERSON: Yes, I mean, the thing is, Biden, if you're coming in here saying that you're strong and steady, well, so far the results don't look like you're so strong and steady in Iowa certainly coming out with sort of the sour grapes. New Hampshire, he's not likely to do so well there. We'll see what happens in Nevada, it's a caucus state.

So we'll see. You know, we'll see if this firewall down south. But you know, we've had this, I think, trend of candidates saying we'll wait until later to do well, right? You think of Rudy Giuliani, for instance. Florida was going to save him.

So listen, I've talked to some nervous black Democrats in South Carolina who were Biden supporters who are worried about what they saw out of Iowa, the lack of a ground game, putting a lot of money and time in that race and coming up fairly short.

COOPER: The Bloomberg, again, it's such a -- it's almost incalculable the impact of it. Like one doesn't really know because it's never really been done before.

SELLERS: I don't -- I'm not buying the hype at all. I think that of all the candidates who are running, Michael Bloomberg is the most flawed candidate we have who is standing behind a pile of money.

Whether or not it's his refusal to acknowledge the exonerated five. Whether or not it's stop and frisk. Whether or not it's the lack of economic mobility, upward economic mobility for African Americans in New York when he was there.

He was not proven that he can build a coalition necessary, which is why I think this collision course between he and Biden is somewhat fictitious. Because I think when you look at all the polling now -- and we're voting so we always say let's get rid of polling, the only state that Bloomberg actually reaches any viability is Florida. And he touches 15 percent.


So I know that he's dumping all of this money in. But I mean to just say that you're going to parachute out of New York when you don't have these relationships other than giving mayors money around the country for different projects, I'm not certain that that is how you get it done, and the arrogance of the Michael Bloomberg campaign is something that is palpable.

COOPER: One Democratic Presidential candidate calling out some of his rivals for how they're reacting to the Iowa chaos. That candidate, the former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick joins me next.


COOPER: In a little more than an hour, we expect to get some results from last night's the Iowa caucus.


It's not much of an exaggeration to say it's been a train wreck to get to the bottom of who wins Iowa, because of the issues with a new app according to the Iowa Democratic Party. And the problems with reporting the vote tallies. With me now is Democratic Presidential candidate Deval Patrick. You're looking into New Hampshire, but first I just want to get your takeaways, it is almost 4:00 p.m. Eastern, no results. Should this be the end of the Iowa caucuses?

DEVAL PATRICK, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know what, Anderson, I was thinking in your intro, you are the master of understatement.

It is a kind of a mess and it doesn't reflect well on the caucus system. But I'm thinking more about my fellow candidates, if they have done what I have been doing here in New Hampshire. Spending the time with the voters, actually looking into their eyes and listening to them. It seems to me we owe them the respect of waiting for their vote before we start declaring what the outcome is or isn't.

And so we have to vote now, the folks in Iowa are counting it. I guess we're going to hear what the result is in an hour or so. And I'm just so concerned that others in this race, other candidates in this race are out declaring victory or declaring something shady before we even have a vote. For goodness sake, let's respect the folks who turned up and voted and give a chance for that vote to be counted.

COOPER: But, isn't just politically it a wise thing for Pete Buttigieg, for Joe Biden, for all the candidates to have came out last night in the absence of any actual results at least for Joe Biden, if he did not do as well as his campaign had hoped or just didn't do well. It at least sort of changes the narrative for him, and for Pete Buttigieg if he did as well as he thinks that he did, doesn't it -- doesn't he deserve to take something of a victory lap?

PATRICK: You know, Anderson, facts change the narrative. We don't have to spin it. We don't have to interpret it. We don't have to forecast it. Yesterday, Iowans went and caucused, count that result and then talk about it. But the notion that you kind of come in and say, well, you know this is what we heard, this is how we think it is going and so I am going to declare -- we've been doing that for a year and a half now.

Forecasting what the outcome is going to be, implying or suggesting to voters what the outcome should be instead of giving them a chance to hear our case and show up and express their choices.

That's what I have been doing here in New Hampshire. I've been out on the sixth day of a six-day 1,000-mile 20-plus event bus tour on this behemoth of a thing -- I hope we get a shot of it somewhere in here -- of a bus all over New Hampshire, multiple times. I've been in this state as I have in South Carolina more than any other candidate in this race having come in when I did.

And it is about engaging people where they are in every sense of the term. And giving them the respect of showing up and listening as well as making my case. Then I think that we have to give them the respect of waiting for their vote.

COOPER: The Iowa Democratic Party suggests that the turnout was on pace with 2016 which is obviously much lower than 2008, it's a small sample --

PATRICK: I heard that.

COOPER: It's a small sample of voters, it's just small state, it's a small state. Does that concern you though? Because I mean Democrats have been you know very optimistic given the turnout in the midterm elections. If the turnout is matching 2016, what does that tell you?

PATRICK: Well, it's worrisome. I did see that and I certainly am working real hard to make sure that turnout for our campaign and our cause is better than it has been on average. In fact it's one of the reasons why we make a point of talking to everyone everywhere and not just organized or movements Democrats. Not just the folks who already agree with us.

Remember, I spent time at a Rotary Club meeting recently in Portsmouth, I think it was, here in New Hampshire. And I was told afterwards that in fact I was full of a room full of Republican and Republican-leaning folks who were actually, it turns out quite warm and generous and interested and engaged. And we got some contributions and some commitments out of that. That's what I think politics ought to be about. We have to be about trying to get again, offer again a politics that says we can turn to each other, instead of on each other and build coalitions.

COOPER: Right. But that's campaign, I mean that's what everyone is doing. The question is why aren't more people turning out? If this is -- there's this big ground swell among Democrats?

PATRICK: Well, I don't know the answer of what is going on in Iowa, it is concerning and disappointing. I know what we are trying to do here in New Hampshire, Anderson, and my point is simply, we have been bombarding the electorate and the general public with forecasts about what the outcome's going to be.


And there are a whole lot of people who are just trying to focus on getting through the day and the week, and if they are made to feel like it is already decided, then maybe that's discouraging.

I think that the one takeaway that we know already from Iowa is that there is no frontrunner. It is a wide-open race as I have been saying from the outset, and I think you'll see that that's true here in New Hampshire as well.

Which is why I think we have the opportunity to beat expectations.

COOPER: Right. Well, 24 hours after Iowa, we can definitely say that there is no frontrunner, because we have no results yet. Deval Patrick, thank you very much. I appreciate it. We are moments away from what we're told will be some results, some results, not all results in Iowa. Standby, our special coverage continues in a moment.