GWEN IFILL: Somebody unleashed the tigers, and they’re all in New Hampshire. We’ll bring you the lay of the land four nights out from the first-in-the-nation primary, tonight on Washington Week.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): (From video.) Secretary Clinton does represent the establishment. I represent, I hope, ordinary Americans.
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From video.) Enough is enough. If you’ve got something to say, say it.
MS. IFILL: Sanders, Clinton fireworks.
SEN. SANDERS: (From video.) In my view, the business model of Wall Street is fraud.
MRS. CLINTON: (From video.) I’ve heard Senator Sanders’ comments. And it’s really caused me to wonder, who’s left in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
MS. IFILL: On the Republican side, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz launched into hand-to-hand combat.
DONALD TRUMP: (From video.) By the way, this guy Ted Cruz – Ted Cruz goes out – you talk about liars!
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): (From video.) I mean, we’re liable to wake up one morning and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark.
MS. IFILL: As the rest of the field, led by a resurgent Marco Rubio, attempted to seize a post-Iowa moment.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): (From video.) When I am our nominee we are going to unify this party and we are going to unify the conservative movement.
FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR JEB BUSH (R): (From video.) New Hampshire voters reset elections. That’s what you all do. And you do it in an extraordinary fashion, because you make us walk on the hot coals.
MS. IFILL: And the reset is well underway, as voters finally get their chance to weigh in.
Covering the week, Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post; Lisa Lerer, national politics reporter for the Associated Press; Doyle McManus, columnist for The Los Angeles Times; and Reid Wilson, chief political correspondent for Morning Consult.
ANNOUNCER: Award-wining reporting and analysis. Covering history as it happens. Live from our nation’s capital, this is Washington Week with Gwen Ifill. Once again, live from Washington, moderator Gwen Ifill.
MS. IFILL: Well, there’s nothing like actual voters voting to jumpstart what had already become a pretty raucous campaign. We learned a couple of things this week. Donald Trump doesn’t handle losing well. Ted Cruz had a plan all along. And at least three candidates in what is now a nine-member Republican field have only a few days to do or die. But we turn first to the Democratic field. This was Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the stump today.
MRS. CLINTON: (From video.) I want the people here in this state to know what I think you saw in the debate again last night. There’s only one candidate who is prepared to do all aspects of the job on day one.
MS. IFILL: Sanders, however, at the debate last night, argued that there’s more to the choice than that.
SEN. SANDERS: (From video.) I fully, fully concede that Secretary Clinton, who was secretary of state for four years, has more experience. That is not arguable, in foreign affairs. But experience is not the only point. Judgement is.
MS. IFILL: It was a different kind of debate. With only two contenders on stage and days after a whisker-thin Iowa victory for Hillary, the gloves came off. So what did the face-off, however, tell us about the threats and the opportunities that the Clinton and the Sanders folks are facing, Reid?
REID WILSON: Right now we’re seeing a Democratic Party that is as divided and as evolving as the Republican Party has been so explosively over the last couple years. The reason the Democratic evolution has been sort of masked, I think, in recent years is because they have one singular head of the party, in President Obama. But now that he’s a lame duck, we’re seeing a fight over the definition of progressivism.
Bernie Sanders is trying to cast himself as the only true progressive in the race. Hillary Clinton is trying to cast herself as more of a pragmatic progressive. And a lot of what this is, is a debate over whether or not President Obama has done enough for liberals. Underneath the surface, there is sort of a growing feeling, I think, among liberal groups especially, that President Obama hasn’t enough – a lot for their causes, whether it’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership, whether it’s immigration reform and these new sweeps.
MS. IFILL: And this – and this fight is kind of a proxy for that argument that’s happening within the Democratic Party.
MR. WILSON: Very much so. I think it would have been even more explosive if someone like, say, Elizabeth Warren might have gotten in the race.
MS. IFILL: Yeah. Lisa Lerer and Robert Costa are in New Hampshire for us tonight in Manchester, Hampshire – chilly Manchester, New Hampshire. And we thank them for that. But Lisa, I want to ask you about these Democratic fireworks we saw last night at the debate. Were they calculated, or were they really as off-the-cuff as they may have seemed to an innocent viewer?
LISA LERER: Well, I think that some of it certainly was calculated. Hillary Clinton brought up Senator Sanders’ voting for a bill – a swaps and derivatives bill that she said contributed to the recession – the 2008 recession. So clearly she came armed with some oppo. But I think they – it did expose some real weaknesses that she faces, particularly on – she still doesn’t really have a good answer on why she did all those paid speeches, particularly the ones to Wall Street banks. So that’s an area of weakness that the Sanders campaign sees.
And it was also striking to me how much this race has shifted. I mean, Hillary Clinton entered this race as the far and away frontrunner. And now you have a debate where the vast majority that debate was being fought on Senator Sanders’ turf. They were fighting about who would be tougher on Wall Street, who would tackle economic issues. That’s the core of his campaign message. And it just shows how much that’s resonating with the Democratic base.
MS. IFILL: Robert Costa, I want to ask you a little bit about another perceived vulnerability for Hillary Clinton, and that’s this email controversy that no matter what happens never quite seems to go away. She was very assertive last night in saying she was 100 percent certain this would not be a liability. That was a tougher, more adamant tone than she’s taken before.
ROBERT COSTA: There is a growing concern in Democratic circles that perhaps it could be an issue in a general election. But because Senator Sanders has not made a central part of his campaign, you don’t see it animating the Sanders crowd in the same way it’s animating Republicans.
MS. IFILL: You know, it’s interesting, Doyle, one of the things about the Sanders crowd is – speaking of absolutes – we heard Bernie Sanders say last night Wall Street itself is a fraud. He was not biting his tongue; he was not cutting – he was not cutting curves. What was that about?
DOYLE MCMANUS: Well, that really is, in a sense, the animating passion of the Sanders campaign. It’s really two issues: One is the power of what he calls the billionaire class, and then the other is the way that power is expressed through campaign finance. So this was far and away, I think, the most combative debate we’ve seen. And Sanders went straight after Hillary Clinton on her history of raising money from Wall Street. He defined a progressive – or he defined someone who’s not a progressive in this case as anybody who’s taken $15 million from Wall Street and has a super PAC.
That was a little artful in that there’s actually only one candidate in the history of the Democratic Party – (laughter) – who’s ever been in the super PAC era who’s raised that money from Wall Street. But that’s Sanders’ point. And so I think it plays well because it’s organic. He’s not just going after Hillary Clinton because she’s the opponent. He’s going after her because she really has raised money from the people he thinks are responsible for everything that’s wrong in America.
MS. IFILL: Kind of going after the entire system, and she happens to be the representative of the system.
MR. MCMANUS: Yeah.
MS. IFILL: Lisa, one of the interesting things about the fundraising right now is that Sanders seems to be, at least for now, outraising Hillary Clinton. Is that also sending kind a shiver down the backs of the Clinton campaign?
MS. LERER: Well, I think it certainly indicates that this is a race that’s going to go on for a long time, and they’re preparing for that. You see them already trying to spin what’s likely to be a loss here in New Hampshire into some kind of win by saying, well, if we’re only a couple points behind rather than the 15 to 20 that some of the polls show, we’re doing great here.
But they’re definitely looking out and building a longer-term strategy. She’s going to be going to Flint, Michigan on Sunday. She already has on her schedule that she’s meeting with civil rights leaders next Monday. That’s all designed to boost her now among minority voters who play a bigger role in the contests that follow, particularly South Carolina and Nevada, the next two. So you definitely see them, and both campaigns, looking at the long game. Sanders is looking at some of those western caucuses as places where he could pick up some delegates.
MS. IFILL: And if you want to know where the long game is with the Clintons, it’s always good to see where Bill Clinton is. And he was in South Carolina this week.
Robert, let’s talk about the groups that these Democrats – these two Democrats who on a lot of things really seem to agree on so much. Who are they trying to appeal to? We see Hillary Clinton sliding references to women all the time, and acknowledging that Bernie Sanders, as we saw in Iowa, really has huge, strong appeal among young voters.
MR. COSTA: Senator Sanders certainly has strong appeal among young voters, and a lot of older progressives. You see that kind of coalition everywhere he travels. And that’s especially strong here in New Hampshire. And his campaign expects to have a victory here. When you talk to them behind the scenes they think it may be closer than the polls indicate at the moment. Hillary Clinton, Gwen, she’s going for traditional Democratic constituencies, labor, women, middle-of-the-road Democrats. She’s not trying to rewrite the party playbook. She says she is a progressive as much as anyone if you look at her history, but she is not having – she doesn’t have the same tone, the same approach that Sanders does when he has his revolutionary air.
MS. IFILL: You guys have questions for them?
MR. MCMANUS: What are you seeing among independents? Because independents are always the wild card in New Hampshire, and as everybody knows, or everybody ought to know by now, they can choose either to vote in the Democratic race or the Republican race.
MS. IFILL: Lisa, why don’t you take that?
MS. LERER: Well, so, that’s – right, that’s a big factor here in New Hampshire. And you know, I think a lot of times people think of independents as more moderates. And here in New Hampshire, that’s a group that’s breaking for Sanders. So that’s part of what is fueling his lead in the polls here. And certainly the Clinton campaign expects independents to go his way here.
MR. WILSON: And, Bob, what do you –
MR. COSTA: I see the same thing.
MR. WILSON: What are you hearing on the ground? What’s the enthusiasm?
MR. COSTA: I will just say real quickly, because Senator Sanders has such a lead in New Hampshire, many independents may – they tell me they may migrate to the Republican race. And that – a lot of Republican campaigns in the closing days are making appeals to them.
MS. IFILL: You know, Robert, I always think this interesting thing about the lead is that you want someone to lead you by 30 points two weeks out in New Hampshire, so that if you lose by 10 you can still be a comeback kid. But let’s talk about that narrow win in Iowa for a moment. Robert, I know you spent a lot of time on the ground there. And I wonder if it was as surprising to you as it was to everybody else that the fight in the end was on the Democratic side – the tight fight – rather than Republican side?
MR. COSTA: It was surprising, because you saw enthusiasm for Senator Sanders on the ground, but you really saw Secretary Clinton had a ground operation that was impressive at every turn. She had hundreds of staffers and volunteers working the state. But I think what you saw in the college cities in Iowa is something you’re going to likely see in Democratic contests on the horizon. This is a different kind of coalition for Sanders that’s been perhaps latent during the Obama era, disappointed with some of the aspects of his presidency, and looking for someone to revive them from the left, and not just extend the Obama legacy.
MS. IFILL: What do you saw to that, Lisa, about the narrowness of that win, and also what that says about what happens in the next four days in New Hampshire?
MS. LERER: Well, I mean, I think it was surprising, even to some Clinton staffers. I can tell you, the night before that caucus many of them were up very late at a bar with a lot of reporters, which is not, you know, normally the behavior you’re going to engage in, unless you’re drowning your sorrows, I suppose, when you think you have it in the bag. The internals that we were hearing out of that campaign, they thought she’d have a four-point lead or so. That obviously wasn’t the case.
Turnout was higher than they expected. He did really well, as Robert points out, with young voters. So I mean, I think it’s certainly – it certainly scared some folks in the Democratic Party. Had she lost, I suspect there would have been a full-scale panic, given her standing in New Hampshire. And we would have been hearing all of a sudden about people like Vice President Joe Biden again. So she staved that off, but it definitely was a little too close for comfort for a lot of Clinton – a lot of Democrats and even some Clinton allies.
MS. IFILL: I’m assuming, Lisa, that you were having sparkling water while you were taking notes during this barroom discussion that right. But you don’t have to say.
MS. LERER: (Laughs.) Always, always, always.
MS. IFILL: (Laughs.) Let’s turn to the Republican side, because things kind of turned a little ugly on that side as well. Gone are the days where everybody played nice, which – those days were, I think, a week ago – a sure sign that a lot is at stake. By every polling measure, Donald Trump, who came in a weak second in Iowa, remains way ahead in New Hampshire. This week, he was mostly angry at Ted Cruz, who he accused of dirty tricks.
MR. TRUMP: (From video.) He insulted Ben Carson by doing what he did to Ben Carson. That was a disgrace. And he insulted the people of Iowa by doing a voter violation form that nobody’s even seen before, which was disgraceful. So, no, no, he’s a man of insult.
MS. IFILL: For his part, Cruz shrugged.
SEN. CRUZ: (From video.) I wake up every day and laugh at the latest thing Donald has tweeted, because he’s losing it.
MS. IFILL: But in the midst of that fray, other candidates have begun to see daylight.
NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R): (From video.) We’ve got some big decisions to make on Tuesday, really big decisions, because this is not just about the future of our country, which is, of course, the long-term most important thing. But this is also about the future of our party.
MS. IFILL: So, Chris Christie, like Jeb Bush, appears to be setting his sights on Marco Rubio. Robert, why is that?
MR. COSTA: Oh, I think in the coming days there are two major events. You, of course, have primary day on Tuesday, but this debate on Saturday, an ABC debate, the knives are out for Senator Rubio. You saw Governor Bush, Governor Christie forecasting their attacks on the campaign trail. There’s a sense in the establishment wing of the Republican Party that Rubio is ascending, he’s ascending rapidly. And if he’s going to be stopped, it’s going to be in New Hampshire. So look for him to be attacked.
And this is also a big test for Trump. New Hampshire is fertile ground for him. He has strong appeal to independents. Immigration has been an issue here for decades. Pat Buchanan won here years ago. And so if Trump can’t win here, it’s hard to see where he would win.
MS. IFILL: Reid, how rattled was Donald Trump by this loss this week?
MR. WILSON: Well, Donald Trump’s entire sort of image is based around winning and success. And the aura of inevitability that has fueled, I think, his stay atop the Republican polls took a big hit. He’s no longer inevitable because he lost the very first time that voters actually got a chance to vote. Not only did he lose, he came in well below where most of his poll numbers showed him. The polls generally showed him in the high 20s, low 30s in Iowa. He came in with about 23 percent of the vote. That suggests that his support is either really soft, or the people who say they’re going to vote for him, and by the way they’re going to show up to vote for the very first time, actually aren’t going to show up to vote for the very first time.
MS. IFILL: In just a few days, Doyle, it’s become cliche that his ground game was weak in Iowa, that it may not be so strong in New Hampshire. He couldn’t get in the state today because he actually was sleeping at home in New York and was snowed out. But is there a different formula awaiting him in New Hampshire than there could have been in Iowa?
MR. MCMANUS: Oh, sure there is. I mean, those are two very different states. First, on the ground game, yeah, at one incautious point in Iowa, Donald Trump even said: I never knew what a ground game was before I came to Iowa. So it makes you kind of wonder why is he in this game?
MS. IFILL: Who’s he been talking to? Yeah.
MR. MCMANUS: OK. New Hampshire is easier for Trump in two ways. Number one, it’s not a caucus state. So people can vote all day long, like they do in normal places. You don’t need the intense level of commitment to go spend two hours at a caucus in the evening. So your soft Trump voters will have more chances to get there. But much more importantly, Iowa is, if not the most Evangelical and religiously conservative electorate in the country in a Republican – in a Republican contest, it’s right up there. New Hampshire is at the opposite end of the scale. And so Ted Cruz has a problem there. It’s an opportunity for Donald Trump.
MS. IFILL: Lisa, let’s talk about Ted Cruz, because he did win in Iowa. And he’s decided to be engaged in the sparring with Donald Trump this week. But does he have a ground game in New Hampshire?
MS. LERER: You know, he does. He has a pretty big data operation that’s going to help him. His ground game was very strong in Iowa. I think one of the big questions surrounding this New Hampshire race is whether they are three lanes out of New Hampshire or two. Is there a separate Trump lane? And that’s why – if he wins here, that may be the case, that then it becomes Trump, Cruz, and whoever gets that establishment ticket, maybe if anyone else comes close, there could be two people in the establishment lane coming out of here. If Trump doesn’t do well here, I think we’re down to an establishment lane and a non-establishment lane. And so that’s what Cruz is really trying to achieve.
MS. IFILL: So, Robert, Marco Rubio, who managed to spin a third place finish in Iowa into a victory, practically, what is his plan in New Hampshire? Does he have a way to kind of stroll through the middle while the two leaders are fighting with each other?
MR. COSTA: There’s ample opportunity here for Senator Rubio. I was with him during several campaign stops. He’s very disciplined in his message. He’s speaking about party unity, bringing the party together. And he’s casting himself as someone ready for a general election. And he’s – and he’s sending a signal to the party: as the governors battle each other – Christie, Kasich and Bush – he’s the youthful face of the party who’s ready to battle Secretary Clinton.
And when it comes to Senator Cruz, this is an away game for him here in New Hampshire. He’s looking more toward South Carolina, the Deep South to come.
MR. WILSON: Robert, I think there’s a sense that if there are, in fact, three tickets out of New Hampshire, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz – I’m sorry, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have already claimed two. Is there any way that Jeb Bush is able to stay in this race without at least a third-place finish?
MR. COSTA: Certainly. You have Bush’s operation in South Carolina is known as one of the best. And I don’t buy the theory, just based on my reporting, that there are only three tickets out of New Hampshire. I think if Governor Kasich or Governor Bush has a better-than-expected showing in New Hampshire, they could go into South Carolina and survive. There’s a huge part of the party that doesn’t want Trump, that doesn’t want Cruz. And so I think it’s going to remain somewhat crowded for weeks to come.
MS. IFILL: Lisa, we heard John Kasich’s name mentioned. He basically has admitted this week you go big or you go home, and he’s been on the ground there while everybody was still in New Hampshire – I mean, in Iowa.
MS. LERER: Right, and polls show him, like, doing reasonably competitively with Rubio. But he’s going to have to get awfully close, I think, to Rubio, or if he can beat him that’s great, or get awfully close to move past this state, given how much he’s invested here.
MR. MCMANUS: And let me ask the same question about Chris Christie. You know, only three weeks ago people were saying, well, Christie is coming on strong in New Hampshire. You know, now he can’t get his phone calls returned. Can he keep in this race if he finishes back there with Jeb Bush?
MS. LERER: I mean, look, I think it’s the same kind of dynamic for him. For those governors, Rubio is the guy to beat or to at least come near if they want to stay viable.
MS. IFILL: Robert, you were going to say?
MR. COSTA: It’s very unlikely to see a path for Governor Christie if he doesn’t surpass expectations in New Hampshire. When you talk to his donors privately, they say this is it for him. He’s already been burdened by his bridge scandal in New Jersey. It hurt his national profile. He’s soldiered on. He’s done the John McCain-style New Hampshire campaign, a lot of town halls, voter interaction. But he’s always been troubled by the competition from other governors – from Bush, from Kasich – who don’t have his same problems.
MS. IFILL: Let me ask you both to – since you’ve been on the ground and you’ve been talking to the candidates, you’ve been talking to voters, New Hampshire is different. We love it for that reason, all you New Hampshirites, by the way – New Hampshire Public Television, woo hoo – but I also want to ask you guys whether you’re hearing anything different as you talk to voters this time. Are they really as tough? Have they really not made up their minds in this final weekend going into the voting? Starting with you, Lisa.
MS. LERER: What’s been remarkable to me has been how much strength there is for Senator Sanders here. When I you know, grab people on the street or I’m talking to people who aren’t necessarily at campaign events, they really do seem to – it does seem, if they are Democrats, that that message is resonating with them.
It’s also been striking to me how little the idea of the first woman president has caught hold. Particularly here, where you have a congressional delegation, a governor, that’s heavily female. I mean, there are some Hillary supporters who feel strongly about that issue, but there’s a lot of women I talk to, a lot of men I talk to say, yeah, it would be great to have a woman president, I’m just not sure she’s it. So that was something – an argument that her campaign thought would be really helpful to her, really mobilizing for the Democratic base, and I’m just not sure that it is, particularly here in New Hampshire.
MS. IFILL: Robert?
MR. COSTA: New Hampshire is a special place. There’s no other place like it in American politics. Talking to voters who are likely Republican voters, it’s amazing to speak to them because many of them have not made up their minds even at this point. The latest Boston Globe poll, done with Suffolk University, shows 33 percent of New Hampshire Republicans think they can make their mind up or change their mind in the coming days. And so we’re looking at a fickle electorate, a white – excuse me, a blue-collar electorate, a lot of working class, heavily white, post-industrial towns. This is a place that has rallied around John McCain in the past, Pat Buchanan as I said. It has a – it has an edge. And if Trump doesn’t win here, this is natural territory for him. But it also has an establishment wing, the Sununu wing, that could be helpful to Senator Rubio.
MS. IFILL: Reid and Doyle, quickly, after we get out of New Hampshire and it becomes a truly national primary race, which state are you watching?
MR. MCMANUS: Oh, boy. Well, South Carolina in large part because of what Robert said about Bush, because the pressure on Bush to get out is going to be huge. He’s got to do well in South Carolina.
MS. IFILL: Reid?
MR. WILSON: I’m watching Nevada, especially, on the Democratic side. It’s a caucus state. That should be good for Hillary Clinton.
MS. IFILL: OK. Well, I’ll watch all those, too. Thank you, everyone.
We have a couple big things for you to watch out for next week. Tuesday night, Judy Woodruff and I will have PBS NewsHour special coverage of the New Hampshire primary beginning at 11 p.m. Eastern. Then Thursday, Judy and I will serve as moderators of the first post-New Hampshire Democratic primary debate, live on your PBS station from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Then next Friday night, join Washington Week on the road in the heartland before an audience at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A huge week that you can also follow online at PBS.org/Washington Week. Then we’ll see you next week on Washington Week. Good night.