Clinton, Sanders Neck-And-Neck In Iowa, N.H.; Borger/Biden Interview; American Murdered In Italy; Biden Doesn't Go After Sanders

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:02:22] ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 ANCHOR: Just past 9:00 Eastern time coming up on crunch time for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and perhaps, second guessing time for Vice President Joe Biden who decided not to run this year.

So, any regrets? He sat down with our Gloria Borger for an exclusive interview. We'll bring back to you momentarily. But first, the ones who are running and running now very close in new polling.

A pair of new surveys showing tight races in Iowa, as well as New Hampshire and some big differences in where each candidate gets the strongest support. Breaking it all down for us by the numbers, our Chief National Correspondent John King, John?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, in both early states Iowa and New Hampshire, the Democratic race is about as close as it can get.

Let's start in Iowa, brand new polling out from the NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll. Hillary Clinton at 48 percent, Bernie Sanders at 45 percent, Martin O'Malley at distant third, at just 5 percent.

Let's break this race down. It's really close if you ask Democrats, they favor Clinton 54 to 39. But among independents, Bernie Sanders has a big edge, 62 to 29. Not that much of an ideological difference. Liberal split about evenly. Moderate split about evenly. But here is something interesting in Iowa. Men favor Sanders by quite a big margin, 56 to 39. Women, Hillary Clinton with a 20-point lead, 56 to 35. Remember this number when we move on to New Hampshire.

This is the key for Bernie Sanders, just like Donald Trump, he needs new voters to turn out. If you've never voted in an Iowa caucus before but you are likely democratic voter, 51 percent for Sanders, 41 percent to Hillary Clinton. If you've done this before and you're a Democrat, 51 percent for Clinton, 42 percent for Sanders. So Sanders needs to turn out new voters on caucus night.

Now, let's move on to the race in New Hampshire. Sanders with a slight edge here of 50 to 46 percent, but again, that's statistically a tie within the margin of error. Very close race there, so let's break it down.

Just like in Iowa, Hillary Clinton wins among those who say I'm a Democrat. Bernie Sanders wins by a sizable number by those who say I'm an independent but I'll vote in the democratic primary.

Here is the difference. Remember, Iowa, they split the liberals. Sanders has a slight edge, pretty good edge actually here in New Hampshire. And Sanders with a slight edge among those who say they're moderate.

So ideologically, you have more of to split in Sanders' favor in the state of New Hampshire. And again, significant Sanders wins just like he did in Iowa significantly among men but the gender gap not as much in Clinton's favor among women in New Hampshire. That's why this race is so close in New Hampshire and why Sanders has the slightest of edge. Hillary Clinton, not as far ahead among women as she would like to be.

And lastly, look at this, here under 45 and you're likely democratic voter in New Hampshire, 66 percent for Sanders, 33 percent for Hillary Clinton. But, flip it over. If you're 45 or older, Hillary Clinton has a 51 percent to 42 percent edge.

So, Anderson, it all come down to who turns out especially for Bernie Sanders both in Iowa and New Hampshire.

[21:05:00] Younger voters, new voters to the process, but as we countdown to the days to Iowa and then New Hampshire at the moment, boom, rock them, sock them, robot, and very close race for the Democrats in both states.

COOPER: Yeah, amazing numbers, John. Thanks very much. Given the numbers, given the way the race is unfolding, you really have to wonder what the other big name the Democratic Party must be thinking.

Right about now, Vice President Joe Biden has allegedly kept his own counsel since deciding not to run for president. Tonight, his thoughts on that and a whole lot more. CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger got the exclusive interview, here is part one starting with an issue that's always been deeply important to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Last week, the president was talking about gun control. He wrote a piece in which he introduced a litmus test for his political support of democratic candidates. And he said, "Either you're with us, all the way on gun reform, or I'm not going to support you."

JOE BIDEN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't think he said that. But what he said was, "Unless you have a reasonable position on guns."

BORGER: Well, doesn't that mean you're either with us?

BIDEN: No, not exactly.

BORGER: Well, so let me ask you this, then. Bernie Sanders -- Senator Sanders has a history on this. He has in the past voted to protect gun manufacturers from liability. Is this a shot across the bow at Bernie Sanders?

BIDEN: Well, Bernie Sanders has said that he thought the president's approach is a correct approach. Bernie Sanders said that he thinks there should be liability now. And so...

BORGER: Well, he said he is -- he might reconsider his position.

BIDEN: Yeah, OK. But he -- look, one of the purposes the president has and I have, we want to affect the attitude of the nominees. We've worked too hard the last seven years to take the party to a place in the country, a place we think it should be. And so what little influence I may have and he may have on who the nominee is and what the nominee says, we're not going to be ashamed with that one.

BORGER: So does Bernie Sanders have to change his position on gun manufacturers in order...

BIDEN: No.

BORGER: ... to have your support and you out there campaigning for him, should he be the nominee for the president?

BIDEN: No, no, Bernie Sanders has to do is say the Second Amendment says which he has of late, the Second Amendment says, you can limit who can own a gun. That people who are criminals shouldn't have guns. People who are schizophrenic and have mental illnesses should not own guns and he said that.

BORGER: So he's OK with you?

BIDEN: Yes, he's OK. Look, Bernie is doing a heck of a job. I think we have three great candidates out there. I really mean this. They're actually debating issues.

BORGER: Donald Trump right now is the Republican front runner, no doubt about it. Let me ask you, is he qualified to be president of the United States and a leader on the world stage?

BIDEN: Anyone in the American public says they want to be president is qualified to be president. I know that sounds like I'm avoiding the question and that's not my style.

BORGER: You are. You are.

BIDEN: No, no.

BORGER: OK. BIDEN: I want to make that clear at the front end. I think though he's an incredibly divisive figure. The country has never done well on a leader of a country appeals to people's fears as opposed to their hopes. That's what worries me about Donald Trump. If Donald Trump gets a nomination and wins the election, if he's as smart as I think he is, he's going to regret having said the things he said and done.

The whole idea is we're talking before about how to pull the country together for God sake, pull the politics together down here. How does Donald Trump do that? How does Donald Trump on the tension he's on now trying to separate people based on their ethnicity, based on their origin, based on, I mean, it's just -- it's divisive. It's not healthy.

BORGER: Well, you know, he -- Putin has called Trump an outstanding and talented personality and Trump has said about Putin, at least he's a leader. You deal an awful lot with foreign leaders. How would you see Trump on the world stage?

BIDEN: I would hope he's have an extremely qualified staff with him. I would hope he'd have people from the last administration and other Republican administrations who were substantively grounded. And...

BORGER: You're saying he's not substantive?

BIDEN: No, he's not, so far. Not that, I mean, he can be but he has no background in foreign policy. It's one thing to have an assessment of Putin's personality and Putin of him, that's OK. But, tell me what he knows about strategic doctrine. Tell me what he knows about the nuclear equation with the United States and tell me what he knows about China-Soviet -- China-Russian relations.

I mean, I don't know, maybe he's keeping it all a secret but he hadn't spoken to any of the substances so far, none of the substance. So I think he would be -- most world leaders would hope that he had a couple crash graduate courses before he start to try to exercise the role of president.

[21:10:05] BORGER: As we all know, you were thinking long and hard yourself about running for the presidency. And you decided it was a no go. And you've said you regret it every day.

BIDEN: Yeah.

BORGER: Tell me why.

BIDEN: Well in response to a question I did say -- look, I made the absolute right decision for a family and I made...

BORGER: But do you regrettably...

BIDEN: ... what I regret is and I'm still going to be able to do it is, I care deeply about these issues. I've spent my whole adult life and I was 29 years old working on foreign policy and domestic policy and I cared deeply about it. And so, I regret this and I regret not having a louder voice, sound of that, but where I'm the Vice President of the United States for another year in office and we have an opportunity to get a lot more done. We've done a great deal and not with standing the fiction on the other side.

We've done a great deal. We've taken this country from chaos to recovery, we were in the verge of resurgence, we generally we are better positioned than any nation in the world economically and politically. And so there's so much we can do and the opportunities we have in life sciences and the opportunities we have in the breakthroughs that are going to occur in the next four to six years there are astounding.

BORGER: Let me ask you about the race.

BIDEN: Yeah.

BORGER: That you're not in.

BIDEN: Yup

BORGER: And now we see that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are actually running neck and neck in Iowa and in New Hampshire. Why do you think Hillary Clinton is struggling?

BIDEN: Well, first of all, I have been interviewed and I don't know that you and I talked about it. I don't want to say that for certain but we may have. I thought for the last six months they were neck and neck in both places. I never bought the idea that there were somehow that remember when he was up by 15 points in New Hampshire and he was down by 15 point that's not the way this process works as you and I both know, OK.

I'm much older than you but you covered a lot of this and, so I'm not surprised that it is viewed as neck and neck, but I'm also will be surprised if the pundits turn out to be right. They hardly ever are in Iowa and New Hampshire. So, I'm not.

BORGER: But why is she struggling? I mean yeah -- you say, I mean we consider she was an overwhelming favorite and...

BIDEN: Well, I think that's part of the reason.

BORGER: She's a democratic socialist.

BIDEN: Yeah, but it will and we, you know, if Bernie Sanders never said he was a democratic socialist, based on what he's saying people wouldn't be calling him a democratic socialist. That's how he characterizes himself and sort of European terms that democratic socialist parties in Europe but...

BORGER: But why is she having trouble?

BIDEN: Well, I think that Bernie is speaking to a yearning that is deep and real and he has credibility on it and that is the absolute enormous concentration of wealth in a small group of people with a middle class now being able to be shown being left out. There used to be a basic bargain. If you contributed to the profitability of enterprise, you got to share in the profit. That's been broken, productivity is up, wages are stagnant.

BORGER: But Hillary is talking about that as well.

BIDEN: Well it's -- but it's relatively new for Hillary to talk about that. Hillary's focus has been other things up to now and that's been Bernie's -- no one questions, Bernie's authenticity on those issues.

BORGER: And they question hers as you said?

BIDEN: Well, I think they question everybody's who hasn't been talking about it all along. But I think she's come forward with some really thoughtful approaches to deal with the issue, but I just think -- and look, you know, everybody, you know, it's the old thing, no one, everybody wants to be the favorite. No one wants to be the prohibited favorite.

And so it's an awful high bar for her to meet that she was the absolute prohibit favorite. I never thought she was the prohibited favorite. I don't think she even thought she was a prohibited favorite. So I think it's, I think it's, you know, everything is sort of coming down to earth, just settling in but it's not over.

BORGER: So, if Hillary Clinton should lose Iowa and New Hampshire, is there any way that you would possibly take another look at this race?

BIDEN: No, look, I...

BORGER: The door is shut.

BIDEN: But first of all, even if Hillary loses both, I haven't thought this through, it's a long way to go in the nomination. And, you know, so it's one thing theoretically to win both of those, if she go into South Carolina, it's going to be a pretty rough sledding down there for Bernie and for and another guy is in, O'Malley he's a qualified guy, this kind of a serious governor. But...

BORGER: So you're closing the door?

BIDEN: No, I don't think. I don't, I know there is any door to open.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21: 15:02] COOPER: More of Gloria's exclusive interview with the vice president after the break, including how he's been doing in the months since losing his son Beau to cancer. Later tonight an American woman murdered in Italy and the echoes of the Amanda Knox case could not be louder. Need to tell then how the Italian authority says it's going to be different this time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In the last segment, Vice President Biden turned a very sharp eye at the 2016 race and part two of his exclusive conversation with our Gloria Borger, the political becomes personal, as he talks about he and his family have been doing since the passing of his son Beau of cancer nearly eight months ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORGER: I just want to ask on how you're doing.

BIDEN: We're doing well. And look, anybody whose been through this kind of thing and millions of people have know the -- and I know from losing my wife and daughter years ago that you got to get through the season.

Thanksgiving was hard. For the same, for four years were all together, went the same place in we talked in and did the same thing. We were kind of a traditional family, you know there's the high bound.

Christmas where everybody moves into my house for the last 20 years four days ahead of Christmas, all must they laterally move in and leave their homes and move in. And you know, the idea of an empty chair, you know, it was something no one looked forward to but everybody, you know, they are tough.

[21:20:00] And, you know, we're focussing on the inspiration of Beau, rather than the loss of Beau. But, you know, it's always we're as a family, we're stick in together, were getting through it and you know...

BORGER: How are you?

BIDEN: I'm good. Look, I miss him everyday for God sake. I mean this was he was my soul. Hunter is my heart. He was my soul and my daughter is my comfort. I mean it's interesting, you know, you have more than one child. They all -- you love them all equally but they all have a slightly different relationship and Beau was, Beau was my soul. Beau is my conscience. Beau was my -- Beau is like, he was like the little boy who when he was six years old he was 30 years old. You know? I mean, and Hunter is my heart where there's passion and my daughter -- but, so, its, you know, I think about him all the time but I try to focus on what we have.

And by the way, his -- my two grandchildren, his two children are beautiful and smart and you would expect a grand pop to say that but, you know, I see them all the time and so everybody is -- everybody's life is incredible. Halle is like my daughter. I mean so, you know, we're just focusing on, you know, but Beau's anyway. We're, I'm talking to much about Beau, I apologize.

BORGER: No, no, that's all right.

BIDEN: Anyway but thank God, you know, and, you know, you said you- all mourn with me. The truth of the matter is, a lot of you did. I knew it was sincere and it mattered. It really matters.

BORGER: Let me ask you about your next big thing.

BIDEN: Yeah.

BORGER: Which is the moon shot for cancer as you call it. What did you learn as the parent of a cancer patient about how realistic and achievable this moon shot really is?

BIDEN: I learned two things. First of all, when you have a son or daughter, husband, wife, someone you adore, you become as educated as you can as quickly as you can particularly when you know it's a serious form, et cetera. So I learned a lot about if -- for lack of the better phrase, the mechanics of cancer and the delivery system and there is so many, so many changes that just on the cause.

But then it was I got into it more deeply after Beau passed, I realized a lot of this is siloed. I have now met with over 200 oncologists and cancer research centers and philanthropies involved and what everyone acknowledges privately and what I hope I can do, they think I may be convener I maybe able to bring them all together and...

BORGER: What do you want to do?

BIDEN: What I want to do is I want break down the silos, have a meeting to access to information all the researchers have one another's research, as well, being able to have a conduit to get out to places not just the great cancer hospitals and, you know, the centers of study, to get oncologists out in the field, the information they already have that they don't have access to.

BORGER: Let me ask you as we head into the state of the union. Is there a moment you're going to remember with the president?

BIDEN: Well, yeah, there is one. He may be embarrassed. My -- we were having lunch and it was pretty clear Beau was having trouble with his speech and he still had three months to go, four months to go to attorney general and my son, Beau Biden was the most studios honorable, straight guy and I knew if my son thought he was losing his cognitive capability, he wouldn't stand as attorney general. He would resign. Thank God he took all these tests and there was no cognitive impact but his speech, made it, it was affecting his speech center.

And, so I was having lunch with the president and he was the only guy in my family I confided all along in everything that was going on with Beau because I felt a responsibility to do that so that he knew where I was and my thinking, and I said, you know, my concern is, I said if Beau resigns, he has no -- there's no -- nothing to fall back on, his salary. And that I said I worked it out I said but Jill and I will sell the house to be in good shape.

But he get up and said don't sell the house. Promise me you won't sell the house. And he's going to be mad at me for saying this. He said "I'll give you the money. Whatever you need, I'll give you the money. Don't, Joe, promise me, promise me." I said I don't think we'll have to anyway. He said promise me. And then I'll never forget the eulogy he delivered for Beau. And when Beau had his stroke, when he had a stroke and they thought it turned out the beginning of the glioblastoma and he came running down the hallway.

[21:25:07] And in short he said, "Joe, Joe, is he OK?" His love of family, and my family, and my love of his family, you know, his two grand daughter his two children and my granddaughters are best friends. His number two daughter, my number three granddaughter, they vacation together and play in teams together and they sleep at each other's homes all the time. It's really its personal. It's family.

BORGER: Do you have any idea what you're going to be doing your first day out of public office? Let say January 21st, 2017.

BIDEN: I know I will be -- I mean the process of trying to work that out right now, look, here is the thing. You've known me a long time. I mean since I've been 27 years old, every morning I get up, I focused on an issue. I focused on a public policy. This will be the first time and then I decided wait, I don't have to stop focusing on that.

The question is what for when to use to continue that focus. My dad used to have an expression, no man or woman should retire unless they know exactly what they are going to do the next morning they get up. I'm working on that right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It's good piece of advice right there. Quite a conversation, still plenty to talk about. Next, my conversation with Gloria and Former Obama White House insider David Axelrod about what Vice President Biden said their about President Obama and his remarks about Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton that have raised a lot of eyebrows.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:30:32] COOPER: Vice President Biden certainly made news in his conversation with our Gloria Borger who joins us along with CNN Senior Political Commentator, David Axelrod a Former Top Political Advisor to President Obama.

Gloria, your interview with the Vice President was interesting given how the emphasis the White House is putting on the President Executive actions on guns right now that he really didn't go after Sanders that all when the subject came up.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, he really didn't. I mean, I asked him specifically whether Bernie Sanders needed to change his position on limiting the liability of gun manufacturers and he said no, no, no. He said what Bernie Sanders has to do is say that the Second Amendment says that you can keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

And as, you know, the president has kind of established a litmus test on this which seems to be a little bit more stringent than what the vice president was saying.

COOPER: And David, in the vice president was praising Bernie Sanders authenticity but basically punted a bit when it came to talking about Hillary Clinton. How big of a challenge does authenticity continue to be for her?

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: Well, I think authenticity is a leading indicator for presidential candidates and obviously this has been something that has challenged her in the past and so she's going to have to continue to work at this.

I just want to make a point on the gun issue. I don't think the White House meant when the president issued his statement to jackpot Bernie Sanders. The Clinton campaign I think probably wisely jumped on it and I think the White House is now trying to course correct so as not to look like they're putting their thumb on the scale.

And so I think that was part of what Biden was doing. Now whether this is a little ouchiness leftover from the whole presidential part they do that they did during the fall, I would say that's probably true as well, but really here I think they didn't mean to put Sanders in the position of being on the wrong side of them.

BORGER: But, you know, on the economy.

COOPER: David though -- go ahead, Gloria.

BORGER: That on the economic issues, what was interesting to me about Biden was he sort of came out and said, Bernie Sanders has credibility on this issue because he was out there early on and that Hillary Clinton is a little bit newer to these issues.

AXELROD: Yes.

BORGER: And I'm sure that something the Clinton campaign isn't really going to want to hear very much.

COOPER: David, you look at the latest numbers, and Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton really neck-and-neck in both Iowa and New Hampshire. How likely do you think it is Hillary Clinton's campaign could end up following the exact path of her husband took losing both Iowa and New Hampshire before going on to get the nomination?

AXELROD: I don't know if I would say it was likely but it certainly very possible. The fact is that Bernie Sanders has been trailing in Iowa for sometime now. She's had a small but, you know, but discernible lead in that state. It seems to be tightening up. New Hampshire always been a crab shoot for Hillary because of Bernie's nearness to that state he has a home court advantage.

If she were to lose both, I still think she wins the nomination. If she will to win Iowa, I think the nomination is fairly well secured. So I think this would lengthen the race if she were to lose the first two races.

COOPER: Gloria, when you go back to the fall when the vice president announced that he wouldn't run, I mean, he seem someone less than enthusiast he has to go out excessively praising Clinton.

BORGER: Sure.

COOPER: Do you see that changing all? Do you think he would actually end up going on the campaign trail stumping for her if she gets the nomination?

BORGER: Of course I think he would. He will support the democratic nominee and he made it very clear to me that he wants to go out and continue to be a factor in politics. Look, obviously, when he was considering the race, there seemed to be no love lost because he was going to challenge Hillary Clinton potentially.

And I think if you read between the lines in this interview, Bernie Sanders populism really appeals to Joe Biden and that's why he kind of couldn't, you know, he came out and said, you know, Bernie Sanders has an awful lot of credibility on this issues here, so went out of his way I should say to say look, Hillary Clinton has come up with some great proposals during this campaign, but I do think there sort of a sense that he thinks she's a Johnny come lately to this sort of issue of income inequality.

COOPER: And David, I just want to quickly ask you on the Mike Bloomberg thing, you know, the story there's out there...

[21:35:03] AXELROD: Yes.

COOPER: ... that he is looking at the possibility. I mean do you think there is a viable lane for him?

AXELROD: Well, it would have to be a very specific set of circumstances. You know, if he -- if the Republican Party nominated, say, a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz and he discerned weakness in the democratic nominee either because he viewed Sanders as too far to the left or Hillary as too vulnerable because of her own issues.

You know, I would think he would look at it. But, let's also remember that Mike Bloomberg is looked at this before.

COOPER: Right.

AXELROD: It is a very, very taxing difficult enterprise to try and run for president as an independent. The system isn't set up for it. So, you know, my guess is that this doesn't happen but I've been -- I also, my guess was that Donald Trump wouldn't be the front runner in January, so what do I know?

BORGER: What do you know?

COOPER: You and everybody else. Yeah, David Axelrod, thank you Gloria Borger as well, thanks.

BORGER: Sure.

COOPER: In one click now, President Obama's final State of the Union Address obviously is tomorrow night our coverage begins at 7:00 P.M. Eastern with the speech and expert analysis for hours after that. I hope you join us.

Just ahead, there's breaking news; we have new video of the deadly raid that led to the capture of "El Chapo". The incredible of this video shows the chaos that interrupting when it military stormed the drug lords hideout.

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