New Hampshire looming, 2016 hopefuls make their case

Story highlights

  • Five presidential candidates spoke to CNN's Jake Tapper for Sunday's "State of the Union"
  • New Hampshire voters go to the polls on Tuesday
  • Donald Trump defended his answer from Saturday's night's debate saying he would bring back waterboarding

(CNN)With just days to go before New Hampshire voters head to the polls for the first-in-the-nation primary, top presidential candidates from both parties sat down with CNN's Jake Tapper for Sunday's CNN "State of the Union."

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie each made their case for why they deserved voters' support, as well as taking a few shots at their competitors.
    Here are the highlights:

    Sanders won't call for release of Clinton's bank speech transcripts

    Sanders declined to join calls for Clinton to release transcripts from her speeches to Goldman Sachs and other big banks, despite mounting pressure from progressives -- including his own spokeswoman -- for the Democratic front-runner to do so.
    Sen. Bernie Sanders on State of the Union: Part 2
    SOTU Tapper: Sanders is 'astounded' by Clinton hires_00001220

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    In a wide-ranging interview, the Vermont senator also ripped a key Clinton surrogate, predicted a close race in New Hampshire's upcoming primary and even exuded confidence that he will do well in South Carolina.
    "Do you think she should (release the transcripts), and what do you think would be revealed in those transcripts?" Tapper asked Sanders.
    "No idea," Sanders said. "I have no idea what she said and I think the decision as to whether or not to release it is her decision."
    Sanders, however, did not hold back when Tapper asked him about David Brock, the man who runs the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA.
    "I happen to like Hillary Clinton, but I am astounded by some of the people that she has hired, including David Brock," Sanders said, questioning his opponent's judgment.

    Trump defends waterboarding answer

    The Republican front-runner said Sunday he would "go through a process" to end waterboarding's status as a war crime in order to use it against ISIS if he is elected president.
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    Donald Trump on State of the Union: Full Interview 12:34
    "I'd go through a process and get it declassified frankly ... certainly waterboarding at a minimum," Trump told Tapper.
    "They're chopping off heads of Christians and many other people in the Middle East. They're chopping heads off, they laugh at us when they hear we're not going to approve waterboarding and then they'll have a James Foley and others where they cut off their heads."
    Trump said during Saturday night's ABC Republican debate in New Hampshire that he would reinstate waterboarding if elected and "bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding." But he did not say what he would do that was "worse."
    "You can say what you want I have no doubt that it does work in term of information and other things," Trump told Tapper.

    Clinton explains how to deal with a double standard

    Clinton said Sunday the only way for women to deal with the "double standard" in the way female candidates are treated by pundits is to "keep forging through it."
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    "We are still living with a double standard," Clinton told CNN. "I know it. Every woman I know knows it, whether you're in the media as a woman, or you're in the professions or business or politics, and I don't know anything other to do than just keep forging through it, and just keep taking the slings and arrows that comes with being a woman in the arena."
    Clinton said she finds the discussion about her volume on the campaign trail interesting, adding, "Sometimes I talk soft, sometimes I get passionate and I get a little bit excited. I don't know any man who doesn't do the same thing."
    "I'm so used to this," Clinton told Tapper, telling voters to judge her by her record.
    Clinton also called attention to issue of tainted drinking water in Flint, Michigan, a place where she and Sanders will debate at an event hosted by CNN. Clinton is also traveling to Flint on Sunday.
    "I know something about lead poisoning because of the work I've done in the past (with Children's Defense Fund) and as a senator from New York, we had a lot of old housing with lead paint in it. A lot of kids suffered from lead poisoning," Clinton said. "And part of the challenge is you've got to intervene early. We need comprehensive health screenings, then we need to figure out how do we get the right nutrition and vitamins. You've got to begin to work to counteract the lead."

    Christie celebrates debate moment

    Fresh of Saturday night's debate performance, Christie highlighted his high-profile shutdown of Marco Rubio, saying it effectively ended the "chattering class" anointment of the Florida senator.
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    Gov. Chris Christie on State of the Union: Full Interview 04:55
    "I think the whole race changed last night. Because you know there was a march among the chattering class to anoint Sen. Rubio," the New Jersey governor told CNN. "I think after last night, that's over. So I think there could be four or five tickets out of New Hampshire because the race is so unsettled now."
    Christie scored big with pundits and debate-watchers Saturday when he repeatedly interrupted Rubio, as the Florida senator tried to score a hit on him.
    As Rubio criticized Christie's fiscal management skills, the New Jersey governor cut in, "That's what Washington D.C. does: the drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information. And then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him."

    Kasich defends role in the race

    Kasich argued Sunday that he's not running in the "establishment lane" in New Hampshire, while downplaying a joke he made that he would be better off running in the Democratic primary.
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    Gov. John Kasich on State of the Union: Full Interview 07:39
    "I'm not an establishment guy, I'm sort of in a lane of my own," Kasich told CNN.
    Kasich is running close with Christie, Rubio and Jeb Bush in New Hampshire for support among moderate and more traditional Republican voters. And all four men are running well behind Donald Trump, who appears poised for his first win of the race.
    Kasich played up his conservative bona fides Sunday, after joking that he might have been better off running as a Democrat.
    "When you balance as many budgets as I have, have cut as much taxes, been for as much school choice, reformed welfare, ended the entitlements -- go through all this, grow government at a very small amount. I don't understand it other than maybe sometimes I say we need to work together with the Democrats," Kasich said of Republicans who have questioned his standing on the right.

    Hopefuls set modest expectations for New Hampshire

    With just two days left until New Hampshire voters make their picks, the candidates sought to downplay expectations.
    Trump, who has been a clear leader in the polls in New Hampshire since last summer, sounded more tepid Sunday, almost a week after his second-place finish in Iowa.
    "I want to win New Hampshire. But I don't think I have to win it. No," Trump told Tapper.
    The latest CNN/WMUR tracking poll, released Sunday, showed Trump's lead on the Republican side growing to a full third of likely voters Tuesday. Trump garnered 33% support, followed by Rubio at 16%, Ted Cruz at 14%, Kasich at 11% and Bush at 7%.
    But while Trump appears to be pulling away in New Hampshire, the Democratic race appears to be tightening. Sanders led Clinton, 58%-35% in the poll -- a sizable lead, but not as big as a week ago, when he led her by a 2-1 margin.
    Sanders, who just narrowly lost Iowa to Clinton on Monday night, joked that he didn't want Tapper to "jinx" him with questions of how he would do in New Hampshire.
    "Don't make me nervous and don't jinx me," Sanders said. "We think it's going to be a close election. We're working really hard."
    Sanders tried to overplay Clinton's expectations, noting that New Hampshire is where she held of then-Sen. Barack Obama with a win in 2008.
    But Clinton has pressed the case that Sanders has a homefield advantage, because he comes from neighboring Vermont.
    She also played down her expectations Sunday.
    "I don't know. I don't know. I'm just going to work as hard as I can," Clinton said. "I love the New Hampshire primary. I love it because the interactions you have with voters in every setting is so rewarding, and voters in this state take a first, second, third, fourth look at you. They're constantly evaluating."