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Nevada Caucuses Early Results: Sanders Leading In Nevada; Precinct Chair: Two Caucuses Used Cards To Break Tie; Biden Speaking To Supporters. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 22, 2020 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our special coverage. We have a key race alert right now. The popular vote Nevada right now, Bernie Sanders maintains his lead 6,048 to Joe Biden's in second place 2,707; Buttigieg 2,449; Elizabeth Warren 1,575; Amy Klobuchar 1,068; Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard, they follow up. Dana, this --it's shaping up to be potentially a very good night for Bernie Sanders.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure is, and we're getting results, which is a great thing. I want to go to some of our reporters who are out in the field starting with Ryan Nobles, who is with the Bernie Sanders campaign in San Antonio, Texas, Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Dana. We aren't in Nevada tonight, but this has the makings of a victory party for the Nevada caucuses all the way here in San Antonio, Texas. This is a massive crowd. They started lining up to take part in this Sanders rally here tonight.

Five hours ago it is packed to the gills. There's already a huge crowd people outside as well that can't get in. And listen to their response, every time they see any kind of reporting about Bernie Sanders and his campaign on CNN on the screens behind me, they react in a very big way.

There is a ton of energy and enthusiasm here tonight. And you get the feeling that they're planning for a big victory party here tonight. Of course, we're a long way away from declaring any results yet, but there is a huge level of excitement.

As for Sanders himself, he was in El Paso earlier tonight. He's in route to San Antonio right now. Our Annie Grayer, who's on the plane with him, reporting that he's been checking with his aides, wanting to get an update on the results in Nevada. They're hoping for a good night Dana and so is this crowd.

And keep in mind, of course, they haven't yet to vote. Their vote doesn't come up until March 3rd, so this is the kind of energy and enthusiasm that the Sanders campaign is looking for. Dana, back to you.

BASH: Ryan, thank you. That is very hard to do props to you for that with that crowd there. Let's now check with the Biden campaign, Arlette Signs is there in Nevada, where Joe Biden is staying put in hopes of having a good day at the caucuses. Arlette?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Dana. Joe Biden decided to stay here in Nevada. Y'all remember after the New Hampshire primary, he actually went straight down to South Carolina. But he will be speaking here to his supporters at this Nevada event.

His supporters are now cheering, fired up, ready for Joe as they are watching these results come in. They've been cheering as every time that Joe Biden has been mentioned as the results have come in here.

And for Biden, judging by his metrics, he told me that a first or second place finish here would be a win for him in the state. And if this trajectory continues, this could be a night - a good night for Joe Biden based on those metrics.

He spent a lot of the week courting black voters here and he's doing quite well with black voters in the state. Now, pretty soon after this, the campaign will be turning to South Carolina, which is going to be all firewall for Joe Biden. But for the moment, they are focused right here on Nevada where he is hoping for a top two finish tonight, and you could potentially get that, Dana.

BASH: I want to go now to Ken Law (ph). Ken, the Senator who you're with - Amy Klobuchar is speaking. Let's listen to what she's saying, and we'll come back to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I want to first of all, thank our great speakers today, Peggy Flanagan, Our Lieutenant Governor, who we adore. She's been campaigning for me all over the country. As you know, the highest ranking American-Indian elected to statewide office in the country, and we're really proud of her. There - thank you - where are you - so much for the beautiful words.

Our Mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

[19:05:00]

KLOBUCHAR: And what an honor to have David Wellstone here with us. And David has been carrying on his dad's work on mental health. I see him in Congress all the time. And I think you all know there's one reason I picked the color green for our signs and our shirts, and that is Paul Whitestone.

Because, as you all know, Senator Wellstone was not expected to win. He was not expected, because he was running against someone who had a bigger bank account, right? Who was more well known, and he literally floored the country and that is exactly what we're going to do in this campaign.

So, we left Nevada - although it's raining right now there, but it was beautiful all week, and we had such a great time, such hospitality. We have a great team down there, still working hard. They're counting the votes. But as usual, I think we have exceeded expectations.

I always know that a lot of people didn't even think that I would still be standing at this point. They didn't think I'd make it through that speech in the snow. They didn't think I'd make it to the debate floor. But time and time again, because of all of you, and because of the people around this country that wants something different than the guy in the White House, we have won.

So I want you to know, first of all, our itinerary. We are headed, of course, to South Carolina--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. We're going to continue to monitor Amy Klobuchar, she's speaking to her supporters back at her home state of Minnesota, not necessarily doing all that great, right now, based on these early numbers, Dana.

BASH: And that was kind of a classic Amy Klobuchar moment in that she came out early. She's done that in several of other contests on election nights when she knows that networks like ours are doing coverage, and she can get her message out to a national audience. And boy, does she need that, now all the candidates do, because we're about to be in a very national situation with Super Tuesday.

She said that that they did better than expected. She's probably still talking about New Hampshire, because that's not the case. It looks like - the way that the numbers and the entrance polls are looking now, that's certainly not the case in Nevada.

The fact that she is home in Minnesota, which doesn't vote until Super Tuesday until March 3rd is very telling. Having said that, the delegate count complete up until today, she does have one more than Joe Biden, and that is saying something.

BLITZER: She's not doing well, but senator Bernie Sanders, John, he's doing well so far, very impressive,

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Sanders, looks like he's having a very strong showing, the question is, what is the percentage, what are the delegates? You know, we're going to have a big debate out of this about, you know, how long will the democratic race go on, which is why what Senator Klobuchar says is actually interesting.

In the sense that - I don't mean to be critical or harsh on anybody. Running for president is hard. It drains you. It takes you away from your family, it beats you up. A lot of people work for you and volunteer for you. However, how many weeks in a row can you say I got a participation trophy, therefore, I'm doing great. It just doesn't work that way. You have to perform you have to continue to get delegates.

So if Amy Klobuchar comes out of Nevada tonight without delegates, she's qualified for the debate in South Carolina. She will be in the race through South Carolina. She did raise a decent amount of money - a modest amount of money, but for a candidate without a big infrastructure enough to get on TV in some Super Tuesday states, the question is how long?

The question is if you're continuing to be fourth, fifth or sixth, how long can you sustain yourself? Now, this is a conversation - it's not just Senator Klobuchar is going to have to have, several of the candidates going to have to have this conversation of, am I going to try to stay in this race, cherry pick states?

Get some delegates, because I think this is going to go on for a long time. I think no one's going to get a majority before Milwaukee. And I want to show up in Milwaukee with 50, 60, 20 - what's the number of delegates, but I'll have some power - might be little. But I'll have some power.

Or do you say, wait a minute, I'm Amy Klobuchar, there's Pete Buttigieg, there's Joe Biden, there's Michael Bloomberg, maybe you put Tom Steyer in that group, are we all going to stay in the race and allow Bernie Sanders to win with 35, 35, 28, 35, 32, 27 and let him have a March? There's going to have to be such a conversation. They're tough, and they're painful. Now, again, she did surprise in New Hampshire, but she came in third.

[19:10:00]

BASH: I'm not so sure that that conversation is going to happen. But to your point earlier, that would have happened in times where there is a real establishment, where there is a party apparatus where people listen. I don't know - I don't know the people will listen.

KING: And the age we live in.

BASH: And the age we live in.

KING: It used to be - when I started doing this, if you ran in lost, you lost. People run and lose now and actually gain from it politically. They have higher stature in the Senate. They create a fundraising network. If you care about an issue, you elevate your issue. So it's not it's not quite clear.

And look, let's be fair to Senator Klobuchar, this race is very muddled right now and confusing. So you don't know is there a slingshot moment? Maybe? And is there another calculation? Are you raising your profile in the Senate or you're thinking maybe, you know, you want to - you might be in position to be a vice presidential contender. That's hard for her, because who the candidate be, how would it work?

But this is hard. This is where the campaign gets hard. It's only contest number three. But again, if you raise about $2 million, $3 million after New Hampshire, that's good for a bit, but look at the map of Super Tuesday. Again, just California alone, you can spend $3 million on TV ads in about a half an hour.

BLITZER: Yes. And then there's Texas, some other really big states as well. BASH: Let me--

BLITZER: Just hold on for a moment?

BASH: OK.

BLITZER: You want to make a point.

BASH: No, I just want to show you something, because we were talking about where we are on the calendar just really quickly. This is February so we're in the third context of February, right? And all told at the end of the month, only 3.9 percent of the delegates are going to be awarded.

But look at Super Tuesday, which is a week from Tuesday. Just on that day alone, a third of the delegates that a candidate needs to be the nominee is going to be awarded. And then just there's - because there's kind of a second Super Tuesday like day, 65 percent - over 65 percent of the delegates.

So that is just the context in which we are looking at what's going forward. But also, today - the importance of today, it's much more about - less about delegates and much more about momentum, fundraising and so forth.

BLITZER: And to compete in those Super Tuesday states, you need a lot, a lot of money and some of these candidates are beginning to run out of money. All right, much more ahead. We're waiting for more numbers to come in from Nevada. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:15:00]

BLITZER: All right. Let's get to another key race alert right now. Take a look at this 10 percent of the precincts now reporting, Bernie Sanders remains on top with 6,048; Biden in second place, 2,707; Buttigieg, third place, 2,449; Warren 1,575; Klobuchar 1,068 and Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard.

Let's check in with Dianne Gallagher, she's in Las Vegas, watching all of this unfold. And Dianne update us right now on what you're hearing about possible delays in getting the information from the Nevada State Democratic Party.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and look, Wolf, we were talking about those hotlines that the precinct captains needed to call in to report those results to the party. Several of them were getting these busy signals they were asked to call another phone number, that was also busy with at least a half hour wait.

One of those Precinct Chairs I spoke with, Chris Erbe, I talked about him in the last hour, he was able to call back. He got in, he got through and reported his results. And this could be in part, why these results we are getting, are coming in at such a delay from those caucuses ending. They have to go through. They've got to get the results reported in in those two separate ways - the texting of the math worksheet, as well as the hotline. And that's the point when the Nevada Democratic Party says, they go through these quality control and these checks to make sure that everything matches before they begin releasing these results.

Now, we were cautioned by the party on the days leading up that this was going to take a little longer to report than it did in 2016. In part, due to those three sets of data, the first round, the second round of those raw vote totals, as well as those county delegates, that those Precinct Chairs are doing the math, both on the calculator on that iPad, they were at their precinct, as well as on that math worksheet.

And so, when we're talking about the slowness that this is coming in, in fact, here at the headquarters, you might be able to see the screen behind me here. It only came on within the past half hour with just the results trickling in from the party, and so we are hoping that they start coming in a little bit sooner.

But the party did warn us that it is going to take a little bit of a longer time, because they have to go through these quality control checks. They can't take the data straight from the calculator. Instead, they are relying on the phone calls, the pictures and then the actual delivering of those materials to party officials, so they can then check and make sure that the results are official.

So we could be in for a long night here, Wolf. But at this point, we're not hearing too much about major issues across the state. Most of those have been remedied it sounds like.

BLITZER: I will watch it very closely, obviously. They've got to be very, very precise. Dianne, standby. I want to go over to David Chalian right now who is also taking a very - a much closer look at these numbers that are coming in. Let's talk a little bit about what you're hearing.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. So right now the Nevada Democratic Party is reporting a total of 28 precincts of more than 2,000 precincts that are out there. So as Dianne was saying, the question is, well, is there cause for alarm here?

I'm told from somebody who is familiar with what the party is seeing come in and the quality control checks that they're doing, that there is no inside the party right now - there is no sense of alarm.

[19:20:00]

They - as Dianne was saying, they knew this was going to take much longer than we had seen historically, and it is. This is much later than we would normally see. We know they have to report out those three different data sets. But I am told that we should expect a new batch of vote very soon to be reported out by the state party.

But that - this is sort of going along as the party anticipated it would, taking a long time with those quality control checks on the first vote, final vote and those all-important county delegates, getting all three streams of those information out. And of course, wanting to make sure they get it right.

Remember, one of the Iowa lessons, it isn't just about how do we avoid the app and get the results out? Remember, I was under a recount right now for there were some discrepancies in what was being reported. So Nevada, the Democratic Party there has really tried to learn the lessons from the Iowa Democratic Party, what went wrong there. It's not just the reporting structure, it's also the quality control, making sure what they report is 100 percent accurate.

BLITZER: Is the delay that we're seeing right now, the result of some of the new rules that are in place right now in Nevada?

CHALIAN: Well, the fact that we are now getting new information that we've never gotten before on the popular vote, as you've been reporting throughout the night, showing people. We didn't have popular vote numbers before for that first round of voting and that final round voting, that was not part of the scenario.

So that's part of a rule change and that's new information that the party wants to make sure they get right. But, again, I'm being told there's real - inside the party right now there is no panic at the moment there. They're not alarmed. This is going right now according to what they expected is what they're telling us.

BLITZER: We'll watch it together with you. Hopefully, they'll get everything in order. We want those numbers to be precise, that's most important, even if it takes a little bit longer.

Coming up, some caucuses actually ended in ties and the winners were decided Vegas style with a draw cards. We're going to show that to you when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:25:00]

BLITZER: Looking at live pictures coming in from the Biden campaign headquarters in Las Vegas. We anticipate that the former vice president will be speaking there shortly. We'll have coverage of that, of course. Dana, it's interesting. They're in Nevada, Las Vegas. There have been some ties, and they break those ties Vegas style.

BASH: They sure do. Look, there's so many quirks in any caucus. But in - the question has been, how do you break a tie. In Iowa they flipped a coin, and there were lots of viral pictures about that.

This is so fascinating how they do it. They do it Vegas style, but it's not just that. They leave nothing to chance - forgive me. But they have very specific instructions. Each - if there was a tie, each precinct has to shuffle the deck. They each get a deck of cards seven times. And then after that is done, they pull the cards.

So look at this. This actually happened in Reno. First of all, the headline here is the jack of hearts, that's Elizabeth Warren. She won. So this is Elizabeth Warren right there. And then the four of clubs, that was Bernie Sanders. He came in second. Excuse me, I'm having trouble with the stylus here. And then Pete Buttigieg, he came in at third.

I'm going to go back to you, Wolf, because I think Joe Biden is coming up.

BLITZER: Yes. He's speaking now in Las Vegas. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, hello, hello, hello!

(AUDIENCE CHANTING)

BIDEN: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Well, y'all - y'all did it for me.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Now we're going on to South Carolina and win and then we're going to take this back.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: I'll thank everyone that caucused for us, but I particularly want to thank the precinct captains, all of our volunteers that are here, all the people who made all of those phone calls. By the way, I plan on coming back to win this state outright.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Look, you know, I couldn't have done it without - I want to start off, I've got to recognize a few of the congresspersons here. You know, Dina Titus has been incredible, incredible.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: There's a guy named Horsford. You ever hear of him? That man can campaign, man. He can campaign. I know, I see him right there. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? And also, you know, there are fellow named Cardenas from that little state called California's young -

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Where is he? And Phil Velve (ph). Phil, thank you. Thank you for coming from Texas. Right there.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: And Hilda DeLace. Where's Hilda? She was just there. Maybe she's coming back here. Okay. And so, so, so many of you, you know, I tell you what, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The comeback kid.

BIDEN: Well, you're sending me back. And I want to tell you something. And we're in labor's house.

The IBEW stepped up in a big, big, big, big, big, big way as did a bunch of you.

Look, we've got some of the best union support, I think better than anybody in the whole --

[APPLAUSE]

BIDEN: But look, I heard there are some guys called firefighters around here, you know. To you, iron workers.

[APPLAUSE]

BIDEN: And by the way, I heard that we probably did awful well with (inaudible) workers.

[APPLAUSE]

BIDEN: Look, you know, I know we don't have the final results yet, but I feel really good. You put me in a position. You know the press is ready to declare people dead quickly. But we're alive and we're coming back and we're going to win.

[APPLAUSE]

BIDEN: By the way, I want to thank -- I want to thank all the folks at 226. You know, they've been incredible to me. They've been incredible the way they've treated me and I want to tell you that, you know, the choices that they had to make were ones that made a big difference.

Look, I want to get right to the point here. I think we're in a position now to move on in a way that we haven't been until this moment. I think we're going to go --

[APPLAUSE]

BIDEN: We're going to win. We're going to win in South Carolina.

[APPLAUSE]

BIDEN: And then Super Tuesday and we are on our way. Look, we're here in an IBEW Hall and I want to tell you, they stepped up in a moment like -- at the just incredible right moment.

And when that the ironworkers, firefighters, teachers, culinary, the ATU, and so many others, I've said a hundred times. You're the reason why I'm in this. You're the ones who built the middle class. You're the ones who brought us back.

By the way, this time when we rebuild the middle class, we've got to bring everybody along -- everybody along -- black, brown, women, men, straight across the board.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, we're going to continue to listen to the former Vice President Joe Biden.

Dana, he sounds pretty upbeat right now. The numbers that are coming in, 10 percent of the popular vote shows him in second place behind Bernie Sanders, but he is clearly upbeat about what's going on.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's all relative, Wolf. He is doing much better here than he did in the first two contest states. To be fair that's not saying much, but you know what? The fact that he is -- just looking back at the board -- there's only four percent reporting at almost 20 percent very, very far behind.

BLITZER: Those are the county delegates.

BASH: The county delegates which is what matters when it comes to the numbers, very, very far behind Bernie Sanders, but still, he is in the game and in the hunt to at least get, you know, potentially a couple of delegates. I mean, we'll see how that goes.

But just in terms of narrative setting, like what Amy Klobuchar, his campaign learned, get out, get out early, you know, sound positive, sound upbeat, because that only helps with fundraising and everything else that comes along with what they need to be able to compete in the future.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire, so second in Nevada does taste good.

BLITZER: If he winds up --

KING: If those numbers hold up. If those numbers hold up, people will look at the margins. People will debate it. People will say you're the former Vice President, through the first three contests you don't have a win, but, the emphasis on the but here to Dana's point about being relative.

The former vice president said himself, twice in the first minute or two, he said, now, we're going to go into South Carolina and win. He has to win in South Carolina.

You cannot be a former vice president. You cannot be Barack Obama's Vice President, the most popular Democrat in the country, Barack Obama for eight years and continue to underperform.

But he gets a shot here, again, this race, Bernie Sanders has the early momentum in this race. Below that -- it's who knows. We don't know about Bloomberg yet, who is not on the ballot next week.

Joe Biden has one more week before Michael Bloomberg is on the ballot with all of that money. And so Joe Biden needs a win to springboard him into Super Tuesday to get moderates who might be watching all those Bloomberg ads and saying he's got the checkbook. Joe Biden has been stumbling. Do I want to switch? We've seen a number of Members of Congress move over to Bloomberg.

We've seen a bunch of other people in the States, former mayors and current mayors that like moved over to Bloomberg.

Joe Biden has to stop that. The way to stop that is to perform. Second is not great, but second beats fifth. Now, he has to go to South Carolina and win.

BLITZER: What about Pete Buttigieg?

BASH: Well, this is going to be really interesting because one of the big raps on Pete Buttigieg is that yes, he does really well in really white states.

Well, Nevada is not a really white state. It is a more diverse state and he is keeping up. I mean, he's a distant third from Bernie Sanders, but he's not that far away from Joe Biden whose calling card has been the ability to get black support, to get Latino support.

[19:35:26]

BASH: It's very early, again, when you look at the county delegates only four percent in, but at that early number, Buttigieg is, you know, in and around and among those who haven't had that reputation not doing well in diverse states.

BLITZER: Pretty soon, John, you and I will be at the magic wall seeing where these numbers are coming in from. There's a lot to assess. Much more of our special coverage coming up. We're waiting for some more numbers from Nevada. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:40:01]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And there you see some numbers. Senator Sanders, a very good night for him, 44.6 percent; Joe Biden 19.5. Buttigieg 15.6. Biden campaign, you just saw the Biden campaign comments from them. They are portraying this certainly as a good night for them. Talking about a Biden comeback that is beginning -- this being the start of a Biden comeback.

Obviously it's a much better night for Bernie Sanders. There's the tweet from Greg Schultz saying, "Based on our internal data, Biden will come in a strong second tonight in Nevada. In the entrance polls, Biden won the African-American vote, voters over 65, voters who oppose Medicare-for-All. Make no mistake, the Biden comeback starts tonight in Nevada."

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Is that good? Is that good? Like, if you're over 65 that's your -- I mean, let's look at a party that is as young as this and diverse as this party. I'd love to see his African-American numbers staying there.

But Bernie has been very, very impressive with those numbers as well. And look, I think that you would have expected, given how much noise Biden was making about I've got to get you to a diverse state. Diversity, diversity, diversity, you'd expect him to be number one or to be a lot stronger than he is.

So look, I think, it's great that he is at number two, but I think for them to try to make that into this huge -- if you told us six months ago, he got beaten by Bernie Sanders in his first diverse state -- I don't think that people will be happy about that.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, I don't even think we know if he is number two. I don't think we should jump to that at this point, even though that's what the numbers seem to show.

COOPER: They clearly want to get that message out as soon as possible.

BORGER: They do.

COOPER: Before anything else might change.

BORGER: Exactly what I was going to say. This is the narrative, which is we've won the African-American voters. That's going to help catapult us into South Carolina. This is our base and we're moving on and we've saved our campaign because we didn't do anything in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Now, he captured the stage he came out early. He pulled an Amy Klobuchar. He came out early and that's a smart thing to do. But if it turns out they're not second tonight, that's kind of a problem.

I think the question is who's going to be viable as we call it at the end of the night, which means getting 15 percent. So you get actual delegates and their campaign, I know, you know, this Bakari, their campaign believes that they will be and Bernie Sanders will be and that will be it.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I think that part of this and part of what the Biden campaign is attempting to do is change the narrative because there have been many in the media that have killed this campaign, and said that the campaign was over all because the two whitest states in the primary cycle voted first.

So you get here and now you do have momentum. And the thing that benefits Joe Biden the most is that you get to go to South Carolina and possibly get a victory, but then there's only three days until Super Tuesday. So you at least have an opportunity to build momentum.

And while we're talking about candidates, we were just talking about Elizabeth Warren having a superb debate, having the best ground game out there and yet she is polling, we don't know where she is polling, but she's not polling in the top two, three, four right now.

You talk about Amy Klobuchar, who we just celebrated for coming in third in New Hampshire, like we gave her a parade for coming in third in New Hampshire and she is she's trailing near the back of the pack as well. So I think Joe Biden is actually moving in the right direction,

because now you actually get to the diverse base of our party and the south will actually vote.

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Joe Biden started at a considerably higher place than Amy Klobuchar or Elizabeth Warren, by virtue of being the Vice President, and staking his entire candidacy on how he was the most electable.

So the idea -- like he was the one who came in, he should have been polling first and second in every one of these contests and he wasn't. The two women that you mentioned, no one --

SELLERS: I don't disagree with that. But all I'm saying is for the past, since February 3rd, since the first -- I believe that was the first caucus, we have been pronouncing Joe Biden dead the entire month of February.

And all I'm saying is for now, his campaign is actually beeping you know, it's showing some life.

MCINTOSH: I am not saying he is dead.

SELLERS: We are not ruling it out and putting it in the cooler, okay.

COOPER: Do you have a sense that -- do you think -- do you have a sense, though, that he rose to 19.5 percent? Or do you think he fell to 19.5? Like, is this -- you are saying that this is momentum upward.

SELLERS: No, I am saying this is momentum upward. I think that everyone would say that up until -- in the month of January, polling showed that he was either winning or coming in second, but he was most likely winning Nevada.

But all I'm saying is that for the past three weeks, everybody has been saying something is wrong with this campaign. And now they do have a glimmer.

MCINTOSH: I think that speaks -- oh, go ahead.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But I also think, origins matter here. We're talking about probably a really distant second place if it is second place. So not just for Joe Biden, but for everybody on that list of candidates who are maybe 20 points behind Bernie Sanders, that is a cause for real concern, because it means that none of them are really doing what it takes to consolidate --

BORGER: But the moderates are splitting, right?

PHILLIP: Yes. They are not consolidating support.

COOPER: But even if you add up, you know, something that people were doing a couple weeks ago, which is adding up support for all the moderates and then comparing it to Sanders, you still can't catch Bernie Sanders.

ANDREW YANG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm the math guy and you beat him by a smidge.

[19:45:10]

COOPER: All together.

PHILLIP: Let's leave the math to him. I still do think that Elizabeth Warren -- just to be clear here, Elizabeth Warren's moment came really at a bad time. I mean, it was just an awful time.

I mean, 75,000 people voted in early voting. So about 70,000 by the time she had her debate moment, it was just too late. But the thing is, and this is the thing for all of these candidates at this point, it's both good and bad.

If you have enough money, you can keep going. She has now a lot of money. She's going to keep going in South Carolina, and we'll see how she does there and in Super Tuesday. But, you know, I think her moment from the debate is going to persist a little bit beyond that.

COOPER: But she had what people thought were good debate moments often.

BORGER: Yes.

COOPER: And it still didn't translate.

MCINTOSH: Before her debate moments were usually it was about the case she was making. It was about a policy. It was about a platform or an agenda. It's not the kind of clip that gets played over and over and over again after the debate.

This last one was the first time where she had one of those debate moments that we were going to talk about for the next four days.

SELLERS: But like the question about Elizabeth Warren is a very simple question. It's like the basic political question people have to ask, which is, where does she win? Now, she had the best organization in Iowa, she had the best organization in New Hampshire, the best organization in Nevada.

And now we're going to get to places which are much more diverse. You have five states, you know, throughout the south on Super Tuesday, so my question to Elizabeth Warren is, where actually do you win a primary?

YANG: She has got a very expensive team, and it hasn't paid off at the ballot box yet.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break as this is shaping up to be a very good night for Bernie Sanders. We're standing by to hear from the Senator live. That's coming up as our special coverage of the Nevada Caucuses continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:50:53] COOPER: And you see two campaigns on either side of the screen. San

Antonio, Texas, that is where Bernie Sanders is. We expect to hear from him shortly. He's already in Texas moving on. It shows the confidence there.

Pete Buttigieg is expected to speak in Las Vegas, Nevada any moment. We obviously will bring you that, as well. We've already heard from former Vice President Joe Biden as well as Amy Klobuchar. They came out early to get their point of view across.

Back now with the panel. What do you expect to hear from Buttigieg tonight? I mean, if you're Pete Buttigieg, how do you -- again, it's still so early, only a small number of the votes are in but third place?

JONES: Well, look, Pete, if I had the wrap on him, only people like him were white. No brown people like him. No black people like him. He's just for the white people.

And he can now begin to get that monkey off his back a little bit. He's done reasonably well in Nevada. We'll see what the numbers are. So he gets a chance to maybe make a better case for himself going forward.

Look, I think for the top three, Bernie can be happy because he is number one. Biden can be happy because he's not at the bottom anymore. And Pete can be happy because he performed reasonably well in a diverse state.

The rest of them, though, I think have a very, very hard, hard night.

PHILLIP: And based on what sources I've been talking to this afternoon have been saying is that they -- their narrative out of this is going to be that if you looked at the polling going into Nevada, they were not expected to perform in the top three necessarily.

And so they're viewing this as a sort of pattern, I guess, over performing -- over performing in Iowa, over performing with a close to finish in Nevada, or I'm sorry, in New Hampshire, and now over performing in Nevada.

But I guess we'll have to really wait and see how that actually ends up turning out, and I think the other piece of it is what Van pointed to, which is if you look at the entrance polls and just the early data that we have, it's a better performance among people of color, but he is going from a place of well, zero or single digits.

BORGER: It's still single digits.

PHILLIP: To double digits which is which is better. But you know, baby steps going into South Carolina because that's where there's like real work for them to do.

ALEXANDRA ROJAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was going to say it's like moving the goalpost a little bit, I mean what he needed to -- he did considerably well in two of the whitest states in the country. What he needed to do tonight was to win relatively big amongst people of color and he didn't do that. He didn't perform as well.

And even with someone like Joe Biden whatever the fact that we are so excited about him getting second place, I think speaks to where the this campaign is at and I think it's also let's look at the rest of the Democratic field and heading into South Carolina. I don't see a path to victory for Pete Buttigieg tonight that comes in third place even if it was marginally better than or marginally better.

BORGER: Let's see if he is second. You know, let's see if he is second place, but you're absolutely right. His numbers are not good with black and Hispanic voters, although they've inched up because they've been shot from zero which was what expectations were.

YANG: From two hundred percent.

BORGER: And you know, narratives coming out of these events are always unless you win, and we'll hear what Bernie Sanders has to say if he is the winner. They're all -- you don't believe them.

I mean, they're all like, we exceeded expectations, says Amy Klobuchar. We had a great night says Pete Buttigieg.

PHILLIP: That's been the sort of legacy of the caucuses.

BORGER: I mean, you've lost, you had great nights when you lost.

YANG: I have had great nights.

BORGER: I mean, what do you expect a candidate to say?

COOPER: I mean, what else can you --

MCINTOSH: Personally, I expected Amy Klobuchar to come in before Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard, so she did not exceed my expectations.

But I thought she was very smart to come out early the way she did.

I think Buttigieg has a single thing he has to prove and that is can he win over black and brown voters? There were more brown voters tonight than there have before and a few of them seem to have gone for him which is good, but it's not enough to relay the concerns of Democrats that he can't mobilize the base.

COOPER: Yes, we are going to hear -- I believe we're going to hear very soon from Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg as they address supporters tonight. We will be back after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:59:37]

BLITZER: Welcome back to our special coverage. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center. We're waiting to hear from Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders there at their respective campaign headquarters.

Right now Vanessa Yurkevich is over at Buttigieg headquarters. Vanessa, set the scene for us

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS REPORTER: Hey, there Wolf. Well, Pete Buttigieg is expected you to take the stage in just moments. He is making his way here.

This event actually was supposed to be held outside, but it got completely --

[20:00:09]