HARI SREENIVASAN: The first two presidential contests of the year are in the books, and on both sides, it still looks wide open. Tuesday’s stunning results shook up the field again, and left a couple of names by the wayside. The rest moved on, hoping clarity will come soon.
A day after New Hampshire, the Republican field hit the ground running in South Carolina, battleground for their next primary, February 20.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: Come out and help us. I need your support.
DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: Oh, wow.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Fresh off last night’s big win, Donald Trump planned a rally in the Palmetto State tonight.
And on NBC’s “Today Show,” he announced he will release his tax returns over the next few months.
DONALD TRUMP: They’re going to be surprised at how little I pay. I fight like hell not to pay a lot of tax. And you know what? Every politician probably does. I watched others where they say, oh, I want to pay taxes. I fight like hell not to pay taxes. I hate the way the government spends my money.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, John Kasich sought to build on his surge to second place in New Hampshire. The Ohio governor has mostly avoided attacking his rivals, but said he will answer if they start attacking him.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), Republican Presidential Candidate: I’m not going to be a pincushion or a marshmallow, but I’m also not going to spend my time trying to trash other people. I will tell you why, because if this message works, it’s fantastic.
In New Hampshire, I had millions and millions of dollars spent against me. And you know what I told them last night? The light overcame the darkness of negative campaigning, and I feel great about it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
HARI SREENIVASAN: Texas Senator Ted Cruz stumped in Myrtle Beach today, after officially being awarded third place in New Hampshire. He’d won in Iowa just a week earlier.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: Everyone said a conservative couldn’t compete in a more moderate New England state like New Hampshire. Those predictions proved wrong. This is a national campaign. And one of the most important conclusions coming out of these first two states is that the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump is me.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Jeb Bush finished fourth in New Hampshire, but now hopes to score his first win of the year, in South Carolina. The Bush campaign released a new radio ad today that features his brother former President George W. Bush.
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We need a strong leader with experience, ideas, and resolve. There’s no doubt in my mind that Jeb Bush will be a great commander in chief for our military.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The other Floridian in the race, Senator Marco Rubio, stumbled to fifth in New Hampshire. He said today he still expects to win the Republican nomination.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Every nominee of both parties has a test, or more than one, and it’s a ride that you have got to fight through. I’m the only one that can quickly unite the Republican Party and take our message to new voters. And that’s been consistent in the polling and you have seen it all over the country. I feel strongly about that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The New Hampshire results also winnowed the GOP field today. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina dropped out of the race after poor showings.
As for the Democrats, they’re looking ahead to their next contest, the Nevada caucuses, 10 days away. Fresh off his landslide win last night, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders moved today to broaden his appeal beyond his mostly white base. He met with Reverend Al Sharpton in New York to discuss issues affecting the African-American community.
And, later, he took his message to ABC’s talk show “The View.”
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: We have a lot of support within the African-American community. But I think, most importantly, I think the reason we will do well is our views on criminal justice in this country. And that is, we have a broken criminal justice system. Why should we in America have more people in jail, largely African-American and Latinos, than another other country on Earth?
HARI SREENIVASAN: For her part, Hillary Clinton was mostly out of public view, after acknowledging last night she needs to do better appealing to younger voters in particular.
The two Democrats are now preparing to share the stage tomorrow night, as PBS hosts their next presidential debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Gwen and Judy have already arrived to prepare for the debate. They join us now from the Helen Bader Concert Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Gwen, Judy, I can you see there. You all ready, excited?
GWEN IFILL: We are excited, Hari.
We are excited especially to be doing this on the weekend of the big, iconic New Hampshire primary. The results there were so interesting. And we’re going to be talking to two of the candidates who made the most news, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, of course.
And we have many, many questions for them, but, of course, if we told you that, we would then have to kill you.
GWEN IFILL: So we’re just going to keep them to ourselves until tomorrow night.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You know, Hari, every one of these debates has been different — I guess that goes without saying — but because they have taken place at a different moment in the campaign.
And, you know, you have to say, this is a pretty important turning point, because Bernie Sanders managed to come off with a commanding win from New Hampshire, as Gwen just said. So we expect this to be an enlightening encounter.
GWEN IFILL: Do you have any questions for us to ask, Hari?
HARI SREENIVASAN: Sure. I think there’s a Facebook group that have we been working on. They have sent you a lot. So, hopefully, that give you some ideas. People are very interested and they’re following you closely.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what we have seen, Hari, is that I noticed in the exit polls yesterday in New Hampshire, people were asked how many of them were affected by the debates, and a large percentage of voters say they paid attention to the debates. In one way or another, it affected their vote.
GWEN IFILL: You know, this is going to be the first commercial-free debate we have had this season. And public broadcasting has a special responsibility to bring kind of a deeper view to this.
And that’s what we’re hoping we can do. We’re hoping that people come away learning more about what their choices are. That’s really what these debates are all about. That’s what they have been so successful at so far this year. And we just want to do our part.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, on the eve of the PBS debate, thanks for joining us tonight.
GWEN IFILL: Thanks, Hari.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, Hari.