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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  February 18, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PST

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away from part two of cnn's republican town hall. tonight south carolina voters will get to ask john kasich, jeb bush and donald trump their questions. it all starts right here at 8:00 p.m. eastern. i turn you over now to one mr. wolf blitzer next door in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now, holy war of words. the leader of a billion roman catholics slams the billionaire leader of the gop. pope francis suggesting that donald trump is not christian because of his plan to build an anti-immigration wall. trump calls the pope's comments disgraceful. will he escalate the conflict? we're standing by for a trump rally and tonight's cnn republican town hall. hand fake. marco rubio's campaign slams ted cruz tying him to a photo shopped image of rubio seemingly shaking hands with president obama. has their rivalry reached a new low? dirty bomb threat.
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radioactive material used in the oil industry goes missing in iraq. small enough to fit in a briefcase, would the dangerous material fall into the hands of terrorists? and middle east collapse, as the war in syria takes a horrific toll among civilians, the violence is spreading again. isis is building a new stronghold more than a thousand miles away. is the region headed for a much bigger conflict? i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." let's get to the breaking news. a stunning new twist as republicans rip one another apart out there on the campaign trail. donald trump is now in a very nasty feud with the pope. after visiting mexico, pope francis suggested trump is not christian because of his plan to build a wall to stop immigration. trump fires back calling the pope's comments disgraceful and accusing the mexico an government of turning the
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pontiff against him. trump says if isis attacks the vatican, the pope would pray for him to be president. as the republican race heats up just two days before the south carolina primary, get ready for more angry words. we are standing by for a trump rally and tonight's cnn republican presidential town hall. our correspondents, analysts and guests will have full coverage of all the day's top stories. let's begin with donald trump, who's about to hold a rally just ahead of tonight's cnn town hall. our political reporter sara murray is covering trump. so what else is he saying about the pope, sara? >> reporter: wolf, south carolina is known for its wild politics but even this one seemed to stun donald trump. the pope coming out slamming him. even trump called it unbelievable. it was a comment so surreal even the rarely speechless donald trump at first seemed at a loss for how to respond. >> what did the pope say? i like the pope. was it good or bad?
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if it's good, i like the pope. if it's bad, i don't like the pope. >> reporter: pope francis talking to reporters on his flight back to the vatican from visiting the u.s.-mexico border, today offering a sharp rebuttal against trump's plan to build a wall and even a sharper rebuke of his faith. >> translator: a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be located, and not building bridges is not a christian. this is not in the gospel. as far as what you said about whether i would advise to vote or not vote, i am not going to get involved in that. i say only that this man is not a christian. >> reporter: the pope's no-holds barred media briefing was eventually met with trump's own unvarnished response delivered as this signed letter to the media and from a microphone at a campaign event. >> if and when the vatican is attacked by isis, which as everyone knows is isis' ultimate trophy, i can promise you that the pope would have only wished
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and prayed that donald trump would have been president. >> reporter: tonight the holy war of words is quickly drawing in other gop contenders. >> the swiss army guard is probably taking pretty good care of the pope, so i'm not worried about it. >> reporter: including jeb bush and marco rubio. both of whom are catholic and both of whom have proposed their own immigration overhauls. >> i think his christianity is between him and his creator. i don't think we need to discuss that. >> there's no nation on earth that's more compassionate on immigration than we are. vatican city controls who comes in, how they come in and when they come in. as a result, the united states has a right to do that as well. >> reporter: meantime, tonight trump isn't backing down in what now appears to be a full-on battle with the bishop of rome. >> the pope only heard one side of the story and he didn't see the crime, the drug trafficking and the negative economic impact. people can come into our country, folks, but they have to
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come in legally. >> that report from our own sara murray. we'll get back to her. just a few hours from now, donald trump, jeb bush and john kasich will take voters' questions at a cnn republican town hall in columbia, south carolina. our chief political correspondent dana bash is on the scene for us. dana, what impact could all of this, this feud shall we say, this rift between the pope and donald trump, what impact could it have on this race? >> reporter: well, wolf, i've been talking to republican veterans here in south carolina who tell me pretty much that they don't think this could hurt donald trump. that's at the very least. at the most, it could actually help him for several reasons. one is certainly there are a lot of people here in south carolina who are spiritual, who are religious, but when it comes to the raw politics that the pope is pushing out there on a number of issues, a lot of people who vote in the republican primary here in south carolina don't
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agree with him, from climate change to immigration. but let's just drill down on immigration for a second. i talked to one republican here who said this is donald trump's sweet spot. this allows him to go back to the issue that really helped put him on the map and that is immigration. and to have a back and forth of this level, of this -- this intensity with someone like the pope really could only help him. one more thing that i want to show you that is now floying around social media to that point, what the pope was saying it's not christian to build a wall. look at this tweet from one of donald trump's senior advisers. amazing comments from the pope, considering that vat kican citys 100% surrounded by massive walls. and there's a picture there that is all over social media of the vatican completely surrounded by walls. >> we'll hear from john kasich, jeb bush and donald trump
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tonight at cnn's presidential town hall at 8:00 p.m. eastern. how do you think the candidates are going to grap well this very bizarre all of a sudden showdown between donald trump and the pope? >> reporter: you know, i wasn't sure what to make with jeb bush. i was with him when the story broke. you saw in sara's piece that he just stayed out of it and said -- spoke more as a catholic than as a politician because he's really been in the trenches with donald trump recently. but on this he said this is between donald trump and his creator. he doesn't want to talk about his faith. i would imagine john kasich will say something similar. this is probably one of the few areas in this down and dirty really intense mud-slinging campaign where we are right now that his opponents to a perpendicular person -- you know what, this is probably not something they want to touch. >> we're standing by to hear directly from donald trump. he's getting ready to speak at a
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rally. this will be an ton fopportunit him to respond to the pope. we're monitoring that event in south carolina. in the meantime let's talk to one of donald trump's key supporters joining us here in the situation room, scottie hughes. good to have you here in the situation room. thanks very much. if someone would have said to you donald trump, the man you want to be the next president of the united states, and the pope are going to get into a little bit of a fight, would you have believed that? >> i don't think anybody woke up this morning or any producer planning that was going to be the topic of every show going into tonight's headlines. and here it is, it's because of the pope himself. it's interesting as we dissect. there are many catholics say that the pope was not insulting mr. trump but you've got all these evangelicals who are saying yes. they don't want to hear a foreigner tell us how to handle things, especially when the united states has been dealing with immigration for 30 years. here you have this pope coming
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in and basically lashing out at one of our presidential candidates for a religious reason. not necessarily a political reason but from a religious stand point. >> he is spiritual leader of more than a billion catholics worldwide and a lot of catholics here in the united states as well. >> some people are saying his trip to mexico was disappointing. he did not address issues like violent crime and did not focus on the drug cartels in mexico in much of his speeches so they were disappointed about it. it was kind of a lackluster trip. there really wasn't headlines until this happened. it will be interesting to see if the vatican continues this conversation. the vatican is surrounded by a 40-foot wall and has been. when you look at the united states, we've taken in 24 times more than argentina in immigrants into our country and six times more than all latin american countries combined. so who is this pope to sit there and try to lash out at us for saying that we don't have an open and generous heart? >> pope francis is from
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argentina. how is this going to play in south carolina right now before saturday's republican primary? >> oh, this is fantastic. as dana pointed out, this brings immigration to the forefront. this allows mr. trump to sit there and brick out illegals are costing our country $113 billion. did we see this pope when he came into the united states? did he go into all of these urban areas where the schools need people and people need jobs? did he see where that $113 billion that we're spending on illegals in this country could have been invested? did he go and talk to some of these families that have had crimes committed against them from some of these illegals that have been here and been deported because of they have been convicted of violent crimes on american soil. >> so you think this little rift that donald trump has with the pope will help him in south carolina and other republican primaries down the road in other states as well? >> absolutely. i think this will help him with evangelicals, who according to the last poll was up ten points. this is going to continue to help him. >> what about in a general election assuming he gets the republican nomination? >> immigration is something that
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does span both parties and all faiths. yes, we have open hearts, but our hearts have to take care of our own first. when we're $19 trillion in debt, this is the type of message is why mr. donald trutrump is on t >> this was him earlier responding to what the pope said. >> if and when the vatican is attacked by isis, which as everyone knows is isis' ultimate trophy, i can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that donald trump would have been president because -- it's true. it's true. because this would not have happened. isis would have been eradicated, unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action politician. >> i suspect most american politicians, if they were criticized indirectly, even directly by the pope, would not
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necessarily have responded as forcefully as donald trump just responded to the pope. it's pretty unusual. but you believe that's his character? >> that is his character. if you learned anything in this election cycle with bernie on top of the democrats and trump on top of the republicans, people wanting to see actions backing up words. when they sit here and look at this pope surrounded by a 40-foot wall that has $8 billion in the bank themselves and he's sitting here talking to us, people see that and don't like hypocrisy right now and speaks to why real people are not able to relate to politicians and are able to with bernie and donald trump. >> we'll see if he addresses this issue. we're also standing by for the cnn presidential town hall. donald trump will be among those republicans at that town hall. stand by with us. there you see tonight 8:00 p.m. eastern live from south carolina. john kasich, jeb bush and donald trump will all be with our own anderson cooper. we'll be right back.
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scottie hughes who's here with me in the situation room. scottie, this whole notion of religion now coming into politics is highly unusual. but trump himself has raised this issue with cruz. he's in a bitter battle with cruz. at one point he said he's not an evangelist because he's a liar. he also said he didn't know a lot of evangelicals coming to the united states from cuba. so this issue has been raised by donald trump himself at one point as far as cruz is concerned. >> it has. and i think this also addresses the issue that's going on also within the christian faith. there is very much a rejection of the organized church right now. they're seeing the organized church as being bullies. a lot of the independents and evangelicals belong to nondenominational churches. so despite this happening between donald trump and the organized catholic church or donald trump and ted cruz who's part of an organized church, it actually speaks to why his numbers are so high with evangelicals because these folks are seeing that, once again, mr. trump is sticking up for a growing disconcertment not only with d.c. but also with the
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organized church. >> as you know, yesterday donald trump threatened to sue ted cruz because of an ad that they were running. he sent him a cease and desist letter. ted cruz came back and said bring it on, go ahead and sue me. where does that stand right now? >> last night ted cruz did a great job of explaining his point of view without very much objection, just laying it all out there. tonight mr. trump gets to respond as well. south carolina is known for brutal politics and that's what we're seeing right now with these folks. but i think what this also shows is once you get it out there, hopefully we've not done too much damage to each other and maybe this is one good thing about the pope. if you have jeb bush basically supporting donald trump out there on the campaign trail, maybe this might be talk about a bridge being built between all the gop candidates to say, you know what, we're reminded we're all part of the same family. >> when you have candidates, leading republican candidates saying another one isn't fit to be commander in chief that's pretty brutal. >> it's still very, very brutal. maybe i'm a hopeful optimist
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that it takes a little ray of sunshine and maybe we might be able to unite our party again. >> do you think if donald trump gets the republican presidential nomination, all these other republicans with whom he's had some bitter, bitter words, like jeb bush and especially cruz right now, that he could bring them around to work on his campaign and support him? >> wolf, we don't have a choice. as conservatives, as gopers, we don't have a choice. this is the end of the conservative movement if we lose this election again to the democrats. >> how important is south carolina to trump? >> what south carolina is is a combination of what we saw in iowa and new hampshire brought in together. you have the evangelicals, you have the independents, you have a broad range of people, the pro-military. south carolina is a great reflection of what the rest of the south is going to be and what the rest of the country is like. >> scottie, thanks so much for coming in. scotty hugh scottie hughes, we'll have her back. we're waiting to hear directly from donald trump addressing a rally. there's a lot more coming up as well. stay with us.
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♪ yeah, you'll just have to miss it! ♪ ♪ we can't let you download... uh, no thanks. i have x1 from xfinity so... don't fall for directv. xfinity lets you download your shows from anywhere. i used to like that song. we're still awaiting donald trump's arrival at the south carolina rally in gaffney, south carolina. you're looking at live pictures. we'll see what he says about the pope. that's coming up. also we're standing by for tonight's cnn republican presidential town hall that begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern. you see anderson cooper will be moderating that town hall with john kasich, jeb bush and donald trump. that's coming up later tonight here on cnn. in the meantime, let's get some insight from our political experts. joining us, our senior political
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commentator, david axelrod. also our chief plolitical analyt gloria borger and ron brownstein, a senior editor at "the atlantic. " trump weighed in on the what the pope said. listen to how trump responded earlier today. >> if and when the vatican is attacked by isis, which as everyone knows is isis' ultimate trophy, i can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that donald trump would have been president because -- it's true. it's true. because this would not have happened. isis would have been eradicated, unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action
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politician. >> david, what's your reaction to this exchange between the pope and trump? >> well, my first reaction was, man, can this get any stranger? every time you think you've seen it all, something else happens here. but my second reaction was that trump actually reacted consistent with his brand. his brand is i'm not going to take any stuff from anybody and, frankly, i don't think there's much risk for him in taking on the pope, particularly in south carolina, where you have a bunch of evangelical voters who don't have great affection necessarily for the catholic church and you've got very conservative voters who view the pope as kind of a liberal icon. >> you've spoken, gloria, with a former south carolina official. you're there on the ground in south carolina. what did this official tell you? what's been the reaction down there? >> well, you know, he's a former republican party official here and he said this actually could turn out to help donald trump here in south carolina.
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not only is the catholic population not large, but also any time he's talking about immigration, he's on his message. he's saying what he needs to say. and by the way, the other presidential candidates can't argue with him on that, so he's on terra firma here. and this republican says that he's spoken with a lot of catholics in the state who actually believe that the pope may have overstepped here in saying that someone who says what donald trump says is not a christian. so i don't think it's going to hurt him here in south carolina. >> ron, trump also said that a religious leader, this is after the pope's comments aboard the flight going from mexico back to rome, that a religious leader questioning a person's faith is disgraceful. he used the word "disgraceful." but he himself has questioned the religious beliefs of ted cruz. he said he isn't an evangelist
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because according to trump he's a liar. so what's going on over here? >> well, you know, it wouldn't be the first time that trump has had two different standards for himself and for others. but i actually don't think the other candidates are going to go anywhere near this, both because it's not -- it's not a winning position for a candidate to question another's religion. more importantly, they have more important messages they're trying to stress down the stretch here. you have ted cruz, i was with him last night at events in spartanburg. this really is a do-or-die situation for him. he's really pounding the ideological contrast with donald trump particularly around social issues, aiming at those evangelicals that that he won in iowa and broke away from him in new hampshire. and marco rubio with the endorsement of nikki haley and tim scott, he's assembled a rainbow coalition and you have a really stark generational contrast with donald trump. also a contrast in terms of who you're aiming your agenda at.
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i think both of them are more content to ride those lanes to the finish than to get sucked into this rather remarkable, as david said, confrontation. >> david, do you think trump tonight at the town hall will continue his criticism of the pope or will he stay more focused and try to criticize, let's say, ted cruz, marco rubio, jeb bush? >> well, i'm sure he'll take advantage and do all of those things, but i don't think he can avoid this issue. it's such a -- it's front and center now. it's going to lead the news tonight. one thing i will say. donald trump, and maybe it was handed to him, but he's found a way as he always does to dominate the news in the last 36 hours before a big contest. so i think he's going to make full use of that tonight. >> gloria, the feud between -- >> and wolf -- >> -- between cruz and rubio escalated today over a photo shopped picture of rubio supposedly shaking hands with president obama. it was totally fake. you see it right there. it turned out to be a photo shopped image. it's part of this exchange.
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i know that south carolina's history of some negative campaigning out there, but this is an ugly shot. you see the original, they just photo shopped the faces and they're trying to make it look as if -- as if marco rubio and president obama are best friends over there. >> yeah, obama's best friend. look, i was at this rally this morning, this marco rubio rally where his aides pointed to this picture and said to journalists there that this shows how desperate the cruz campaign is that they would photo shop this image. and they're trying to tie it to this question, this pattern they talk about of ted cruz's ethical lapses and lying about marco rubio's record. and you know, this is a fight to the finish, to the death here honestly. these two men are going at it because they are competing for that second place finish, or at least a close third.
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and so they would rather be talking about each other right now, disqualifying the other one, than talking about donald trump and the pope. i might also add that jeb bush was given a clear opportunity to take a swipe today at donald trump and the pope and he did not. he said he wasn't going to question anyone's christianity. >> ron, these aides, whoever did this from the cruz campaign, photo shopped this picture, are they that stupid to think that wouldn't come out almost immediately, that people wouldn't realize that this was photo shopped? here's the more fundamental question, should these aides, whoever was responsible for this, be fired? >> well, i don't think ted cruz is going to be firing anybody at this point. but yeah, wolf, this is the modern era. this is the way politics has been fought in south carolina republican primaries for many years. the reason is because this is where your dreams turn to dust. south carolina is and has been the decider in almost every
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republican race since it moved into the third slot on the calendar in 1980 and the stakes are enormous for those who falter. really itself often the end of the line. but cruz has played into a narrative that he will do whatever it takes to win. and that hurts him. on the other hand, you can't really overstate the stakes for him here. if he does finish third, it's very hard to see a pathway for him to reconsolidate those conservative evangelical voters he'll need in the s.e.c. primary march 1st. so he really i think above all, even more than rubio, is facing a do-or-die moment in south carolina where he needs a strong showing or else it gets much, much more difficult to see a path forward. >> all right, guys, stand by. we have more to discuss. we're also going to take a look at what's going on on the democratic side, bernie sanders and hillary clinton. we're standing by to hear from trump. we'll be right back. we were born 100 years ago into a new american century. born with a hunger to fly and a passion to build something better.
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changes in urination, and runny nose. farxiga. we are everyday people. ♪i am everyday people. yeah. yeah.♪ ask your doctor if farxiga is right for you and visit farxiga.com to learn how you can get it for free. the republican presidential front-runner, donald trump, has just started speaking at a rally in gaffney, south carolina. you know what, i want to listen in a little bit. >> but i don't want to tell you that, i don't want to tell you that pause if i tell you that, maybe you'll say, oh, i don't have to vote. you have to get out, it's so important. it's so important. you know, the more we win by, the better it all is. mandate, you know what it's called, the mandate. the more you can win by, the better it's going to be and the more important it is. then we go to nevada where we have a tremendous lead but it's caucus. you never know what happens with caucus.
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always problems, always problems. this caucus stuff is a little bit nobody knows. you can have a 58% lead and then you find out you're not winning because what happens, who knows what happens as a room. people swirl around in these rooms. i'm not sure i like the whole caucus situation. i like to walk into a room, vote and leave, right? don't you think? but the caucus states, in nevada we're doing really great. then we have the s.e.c. and i think we're going to do fantastic. a couple of states like georgia just came in, some numbers there phenomenal. then florida, and florida is going to be fantastic. what do you think, when i'm leading florida where i have 48 and a sitting senator is at 11 and a governor, past governor is -- it's bush. he's not doing too well. he's not doing too well in florida, right? no. but, you know it's interesting in florida. the establishment, of which i used to be a member, by the way, of good standing, before i ran. once i ran i was no longer
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establishment. they said what's he doing? he's not supposed to be doing this. this isn't supposed to be happening. we like people where we can take care of them, where we can give them campaign contributions. i'm self-funding, i'm not taking anybody's money, so it's nice. but they all went what's going on with trump? what's he doing? he's running. he doesn't need our money, this is bad. we want to take care of these people. we want to take care of our senators and our congress people. we want to take care of them. this is terrible news. what's going on with trump? he was a great, great guy. he'd contribute lots of money. i was a real member of the establishment. i gave $350,000 before i went this way. you know i went over the curb when i decided to run. and i decided to run because how stumd are our politicians what they're doing? how stupid? we'll talk about it. like the iran deal and the trade deals. we lose money with everybody. we lose money with everybody.
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so what happened is they went a little crazy because every one of these guys running gets taken care of by the special interests, right? they get taken care of boy their donors. they get taken care of by the lobbyists. there are certain lobbyists assigned to different senators. you have a problem, you call up a lobbyist and they go see the senator, it's amazing. it's amazing. it's horrible. look, it's a system. and it's fine, but it's not going to work that way anymore. we owe $19 trillion, folks, and we're going to get it down and we're going to have budgets and we're going to do things properly and we're going to have better health care. we're going to have health care. we're going to get rid of obamacare, which is a total disaster. we're going to get rid of it. we're getting rid of it. and we're going to do a lot of good things. common core is going to be out. common core is dead. we bring education back. and i talk about it all the time.
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look, we're number 30. from 1 to 30, we're number 30 in education, we're number one in cost, okay? think of it. so we spend more money per pupil than any other country in the world and we're number 30, we're at the bottom of the list, right? so it's obviously something's wrong and we're bringing local education back. i see it and i've seen it over the years. the parents, they get involved, the family gets involved, the brothers, the sisters, everybody gets involved. >> we're going to continue to monitor donald trump at this rally. he's going through some of his stump speech. we'll see what, if anything, he ends up saying about the pope, the little feud he's in with the pope right now. i want to quickly look at some of the other news that we're following right now in this race for the white house, specifically on the democratic side. bernie sanders and hillary clinton are neck in neck in nevada right now, less than 48 hours before the start of the caucuses there. our senior political correspondent, brianna keilar is joining us from las vegas. both of these candidates are targeting minorities right now. nevada is a state with a lot of
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minorities. >> reporter: yeah, that's right. here in nevada, wolf, it's really a battle for the hispanic vote. hillary clinton trying to shore up her backing with this key voting block here to combat bernie sanders' strength with white voters in the silver state. just two days away from the suddenly tied-up nevada caucuses, hillary clinton is out with an emotional new ad focused on deportations, an issue that's top of mind to the considerable latino population of nevada. >> i'm going to do everything i can so you don't have to be scared. >> reporter: bernie sanders looking to cut into clinton's support also addressed the issue during interviews with local new outlets. >> i am not into more deportations, i am into a path toward citizenship for 11 million undocumented people in this country. >> reporter: boasting of how much his support has grown in recent months. >> there's no question that nevada is a far more diverse
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state, large latino population, large african-american population, and for us, we're feeling great. you know, we started in the polls, i don't know, 30, 40 points down. >> reporter: in the latest cnn/orc poll sanders has narrowed the previous low large gap to just a single point. today sanders met with african-american leaders in washington before flying to las vegas looking to broaden his support among black and latino voters, crucial in his primary battle with clinton. >> i understand that the african-american community has been harder hit than any other community in america. >> i came to help. i came to help. i know you're doing a hard job. >> reporter: clinton late last night making a stop to visit las vegas hotel workers in this state where labor support is also key. >> i wanted to come and ask you to please come caucus for me saturday morning at 11:00. >> reporter: and polls are just
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not as accurate an indicator of where the race really stands here in nevada because of the caucus format, so you see, wolf, bernie sanders and hillary clinton neck in neck. this is truly a nail-biter of a race. the clinton campaign really concerned that this could slip away for bernie sanders. >> the democratic caucuses in nevada saturday afternoon. we'll of course have live coverage throughout the day on saturday. thanks very much. coming up, dangerous radioactive material small enough to fit in a briefcase goes missing in iraq. could it give terrorists the ability to build a dirty bomb? and as the war in syria takes an appalling toll, isis is building a new stronghold more than a thousand miles away. is this region headed for a much bigger conflict? staying in rhythm...
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very dangerous radioactive material use inside the oil industry has now gone missing in iraq and it's raising fears that terrorists could use it for a dirty bomb or poison a water supply. our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto has been looking into this story for us. what are you learning? this is worrisome. >> this day peered from southern iraq. it's an industrial tool used to inspect pipes in oil and gas facilities but has radiological material inside. it's categorized by the iaea as such. iraqi officials have launched an investigation. they are looking into it as a criminal investigation. both iraqi officials and u.s. officials say they have no information that it's ended up in the hands of a group such as isis. here's what's the state department spokesman had to say. >> we're aware of the reports there may be a lost -- maybe
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lost or miss roing radioactive source in iraq. we've not seen any indication the material in question has been acquired by daesh or any other terrorist groups in the region, but, obviously, we continue to take these reports very seriously. >> because it is radiological it was kept in a special bunker. that's where presumably it was taken from. we've spoken to nuclear experts. we asked them, could this be used in a dirty bomb. they said possibly, but not easily. one, the half life of this is only 74 days. it loses half of its potency in a couple ever months time. it's in metal form, not powder form. it couldn't be easily distributed. it could be distributed but not so easily distributed. it's not ideal to build a dirty bomb. that said it is radiological and not something you want in the wrong hands. >> i'm worried about it and
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experts i've spoken to are worried. the war in syria takes a horrific toll among civilians. the violence is spreading raising new fears of a broader regional conflict. meantime, isis is building a stronghold more than 1,000 miles away. this time in libya. let's go to our pentagon correspondent barbara starr. where is all this headed? >> growing concern about a wider war, but right now all eyes on what russia may do next. >> chaos in turkey after a suicide car bomb targeted its military. the government retaliated, bombing kurdish targets in northern iraq. in northwestern syria, there is now massive uncertainty about what russia will do in the next 24 hours when a temporary cessation of hostilities goes into effect. >> russia's military activities have not been focused on isil but concentrated on propping up
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the assad regime. that has resulted in more widespread bloodshed and suffering. >> reporter: u.s. officials tell cnn they doubt russia will stop bombing in civilian areas. about 100 bombs a day are falling. >> this week we all saw the reports of continued indiscriminate bombing by russian and regime forces. >> reporter: tens of thousands of desperate civilians need the bombing to stop so urgently needed food and medicine can be brought in. the first wave of aid has begun for 80,000 people. hungry children crouching under trucks to reach for food spilled from the convoy. >> it's appalling to see how their living conditions are. >> reporter: the pentagon, however, is counting on the russians for one thing. to stay away from 50 u.s. special operations forces in northern syria. moscow has been given the
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general location of where the troops are on the ground. >> there was an effort made to protect the safety of our people from the risk of russian air strikes. >> reporter: with syria in chaos, the worry is top isis leaders could now flee to libya. the white house has told the pentagon air strikes over libya would only be approved in the event a top leader is located there or there is intelligence about an attack. >> we are working with our other coalition partners to make sure that as we see opportunities to prevent isis from digging in in libya, we take them. >> reporter: another isis strategy some say could lead to new security perils. >> now that we have left libya to its own devices, to come back in becomes a far more risky enterprise. >> reporter: and what about protecting those u.s. special
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forces on the ground in northern syria from russian air strikes? we have learned tonight that in recent weeks one of those russian air strikes came closer to those u.s. special forces than the pentagon was happy about. they warned the russians, please, they said, back off. they don't think the russians are trying to strike the special forces but the russians in the u.s. view may not be as careful with their navigation as the pentagon is. >> it's a tinderbox. thanks, barbara, for that report. coming up, the leader of a billion roman catholics slams the billionaire leader of the gop field. pope francis suggesting that donald trump is not christian because of his plan to build an anti-immigration wall. trump calls the pope's comment disgraceful. is he just getting started? that's not true. we agree on a lot. like paul rudd. everybody loves paul rudd. i didn't know this was going to happen! you know what else everyone loves? emojis. no. beer!
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happening now -- breaking news. the donald versus the pope. a sudden and surreal war of words between donald trump and pope francis after the pontiff suggests trump's plans for a border wall are not christian. trump firing back calling it disgraceful. what will he say about it in the cnn republican presidential town hall. fbi raid. new video of agents executing a search warrant at the home of the brother of one of the san bernardino terrorists. the fed also battling apple demanding they unlock a phone that belonged to one of the killers. does it contain clues about more terror plots. bernie sanders and hillary clinton running neck and neck in
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nevada. each counting on voter turnout to put them over the top. with just two days before the critical caucuses, whose get out the vote operation is working? kim jong-un has ordered the security services to prepare a terror attack on south korea. residents of seoul on edge. why is kim threatening an attack now. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following breaking news. an unprecedented twist in a presidential campaign that's already in unchartered waters. gop front-runner donald trump calling remarks by pope francis disgraceful after the pontiff waded into american politics and suggested trump is not christian because of his plan to build a wall along the u.s./mexico
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border. the shocking exchange almost certain to come up tonight when trump takes questions from south carolina voters along with jeb bush and john kasich in the cnn republican presidential town hall. and there's breaking news in the san bernardino terror attack investigation. fbi agents searching the home of the brother of one of the killers. it comes as the feds are trying to force aple to help investigators unlock an iphone that belonged to saeed farook and could contain important clues. we're covering all of that. much more with our correspondents and guests, expert analysts. they are all standing by. let's begin with the remarkable comments by pope francis and donald trump. our chief political correspondent dana bash is in columbia, south carolina, where trump soon will be taking part in tonight's cnn republican town hall. dana, i don't think anyone saw this coming. >> that's right. there are a lot of firsts for
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donald trump since he's never run for office before. but there is absolutely no political playbook for a presidential candidate getting into a war of words with the pope. just when you thought 2016 couldn't get weirder, tonight donald trump is in a war of words with the pope. and pope francis started it. pontificating about trump. >> translator: a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be located, and not building bridges, is not a christian. this man is not a christian if he has said things like that. >> he actually said that maybe i'm not a good christian or something. it's unbelievable, which is really not a nice thing to say. for a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. i'm proud to be a christian. >> reporter: as unusual as it is for the pope to question a presidential candidate's christianity, almost as unusual that candidate's response. >> if and when the vatican is
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attacked by isis, which as everyone knows is isis' ultimate trophy, i can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that donald trump would have been president. >> reporter: as for the pope's core criticism about trump's call to build a wall between the u.s. and mexico -- >> the mexican government and its leadership has made many disparaging remarks about me. the pope was in mexico. he doesn't see how mexican leadership is outsmarting our president and obama and our leadership has no clue as to the negotiation or anything else. >> reporter: in an instant, this mano-e-mano overshadied everything on the campaign trail. jeb bush, a devout catholic and the candidate most critical of trump in this case came to the billionaire's defense. >> i think his christianity is between him and his creator. >> you think the pope was wrong to question his christianity? >> i don't question anybody's christianity because i believe that's a relationship that's you have with your creator, and it
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only enables bad behavior when you -- when someone from outside of our country talks about donald trump. >> reporter: this is not the first time catholic republicans have distanced themselves from the outspoken pope francis on political issues. >> i will be a president for all americans. >> reporter: marco rubio also a catholic was cautious about commenting on the pope's statement about trump but two days before south carolina republicans vote was eager to defend america on immigration. >> we're a sovereign country and have a right to control who comes in, when they come and how they come in. vatican city controls who comes in, when they come in and how they come in as a nation state -- or as a city state. the united states has a right to do that as well. >> ted cruz was also asked about this, wolf. he said he's going to leave it to the two of them, meaning the pope and donald trump, to work out. and we expect that that's probably going to be the way we're going to hear from a lot of the republican candidates,
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especially tonight in the town hall. we know how jeb bush is going to react. john kasich likes to stay out of anything, we would imagine, when it comes to the pope. briefly, our understanding in talking to a lot of republicans here in south carolina and beyond is that this is probably not going to hurt donald trump. may even help him. for a lot of reasons. one of them politically is that's we are talking not just about the pope but about immigration, which is as one strategist said to me, his sweet spot with republican voters. >> dana bash, thanks very much. i want to bring in our cnn political reporter sara murray. she's also in south carolina for us tonight. trump has been speaking ahead of tonight's cnn republican presidential town hall. has he again addressed the specific issue of what the pope had to say? >> well, wolf, he has not been talking about the pope here at his event tonight but he'll undoubtedly be asked about it in our town hall. the tone that he is striking here is one of defiance.
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he has said repeatedly, we are going to build a wall. that wall along the southern border. and dana was just saying, hie gets a good reaction when he says that. and trump was talking about undocumented immigrants again saying what's going on is a crime wave. so if you think a scolding from the pope is going to convince donald trump to tone down his rhetoric, you better think again. maybe we'll hear more on that tonight at cnn's town hall. i want to get more on this surprising twist in the presidential campaign. joining us is father james martin, editor at large of "america" magazine. father martin, thanks for joining us. put this into some sort of context for us. first of all, how rare is it for a pope to wade into american presidential politics? >> well, the first thing to understand is that he wasn't doing it on his own. i do disagree where it said the pope started the fight. he was asked a question by a reporter and tried to answer it in the most nuanced way. i give the person the benefit of
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the doubt. i'm not sure if he said these things but he's answering the simple question, what's does it mean to be a question. if you aren't taking care of the poor and are thinking about building walls and creating more disunity. i didn't see it as an attack on donald trump. he's laying out what is christian and what is not. as pope he has a pretty good idea of that. >> if, in fact, donald trump has said these things about the wall and immigration, then that's not christian. that's what he said in response. you are absolutely right. he was responding to a question from a reporter aboard the flight from mexico back to rome. >> right. he wasn't going out of his way to attack donald trump or saying you need to vote a certain way. he said i'm not saying how people should vote but there are certain things that are part of christian belief. one of them is care for the poor. care for the stranger. and in the christian world view there's not us and them. it's just a we.
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and that's what he tried to show in his visit to mexico and what's he was saying in this response which was very nuanced and very gentle in contrast to donald trump's response later on. >> but he is very, very savvy, very intelligent. he is experienced. he was very impressive when here in the united states last year. he must have known that by saying these things this would explode the way it has. >> he must have but he's also answering a question. the alternative is to say i'm not going to answer that question or evade the question. without mentioning donald trump, he also reminded people that this is part of christian belief. he is nobody's pawn as donald trump accused them of being. the church has dealt with diplomats and governments. this is a person who lived under the argentine junta. he knows what it is like to be under the thumb of a government. he's expressing his beliefs. >> the trip to mexico by the pope was long planned but the visit to the mexican border, and we had live coverage of it in
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"the situation room" yesterday, 24 hours ago, that's was apparently added later on. here's the question. did the visit to the mexico border between mexico and the united states, did that arise because of what donald trump has been saying? >> no, i don't think so. the u.s. bishops have been interested in migration and migratory policies for years. remember, this has been an issue in the catholic church which is becoming more and more hispanic recently. more to the point, he always goes out to people on the peripheries othe margins. whether they are in slums or they are in old age homes or orphanages or if they are migrants on the borders. this is in keeping with his idea of going to people on the margins. in this case, literally. >> you tweeted today, father, you tweeted this. the pope is correct. you cannot show hate red for others and contempt for the poor and still consider yourself christian. love is essential. so what are you saying in that tweet about donald trump?
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>> i'm trying not to say anything about the person in general, but anyone who spews hatred and anyone who foments division and turns people against one another and portrays other people as evil or the enemy or the demon is not really being christian. there are certain things we believe. jesus christ is risen and also what jesus christ taught about the poor is important. there are nonnegotiables when it comes to being christian. >> does the church believe there should be no wall separating the united states and mexico? >> i'm not an expert on migration policy but i think there certainly needs to be more of a tolerant welcome of people who are striving to better their lives. and i think it goes to the idea of trying to help the poor. you can't say to somebody, we think you should be warm and well fed. i think the letter of james says. and then close off access to these people. so it has to be a much more tolerant and respectful and open policy. and also we have to stop
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demonizing migrants. i myself work with refugees in east africa. these are people struggling hard. and so it's trying to be a compassionate viewpoint which is in contrast to some of the things i hear from some of our politicians. >> what's your response, father, to the trump campaign's suggestion that the pope's criticism of donald trump is hypocritical because the vatican itself is surrounded by huge walls? >> it's insane, actually. i would say that comment is insane. i was in the vatican recently. you can walk into st. peter's square. there were lots of people there. there are sometimes too many tourists there. the vatican is open. st. peter's is open. there are medieval walls that were up since like the 15th century. the point is the pope is not building walls. the pope is trying to take down walls, literally and figuratively and trying to remind us there should not be walls between us. there is no us and them. there's just a we in the catholic mind view. >> father martin, thanks for
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joining us. >> my pleasure. >> father james martin, editor in large at "america" magazine. coming up, we're following other breaking political developments, including what's going on on the democratic side. this very fierce battle in nevada between hillary clinton and bernie sanders. we'll be right back. ltiple medi, does your mouth often feel dry? a dry mouth can be a side effect of many medications. but it can also lead to tooth decay and bad breath. that's why there's biotene, available as an oral rinse, toothpaste, spray or gel. biotene can provide soothing relief and it helps keep your mouth healthy too. remember, while your medication is doing you good, a dry mouth isn't. biotene, for people who suffer from a dry mouth. this just got interesting. why pause to take a pill? or stop to find a bathroom? cialis for daily use is approved to treat both erectile dysfunction and the urinary symptoms of bph,
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that's virgin islands nice. ♪so nice, so nice we're counting down to tonight's cnn republican presidential town hall featuring jeb bush, john kasich and donald trump who is now in a war of words with pope francis. the pontiff suggesting trump and has plan for a wall along the border with mexico, they are not christian. trump calls that remark disgraceful. let's dig deeper now.
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joining us our politics senior editor mark preston. also kevin maden, a republican strategist and "washington post" assistant editor david swerdlik. trump now feuding with the pope. have you ever seen anything like this before? >> no. i've never seen a pope weigh in on the u.s. presidential race as we are seeing right now. nor have i seen a presidential candidate such as donald trump go after the leader of the catholic church which makes this really interesting is that donald trump seems to say inflammatory things time and time again but continues to get stronger when he does so. it's almost that this battle right now with the pope is going to embolden him even more. perhaps like a state we're in in south carolina where evangelicals are really important, you know, catholics and evangelicals don't necessarily meld together there. >> you don't think it's
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necessarily going to hurt him in the primary in south carolina this saturday? >> no, i don't think so at all. time and time again we've thought that trump's candidacy would have been hurt. guess what happened? he seems to get stronger and his 30% to 35% seems to coalesce around him more. i don't think this is going to hurt him. >> kevin, the other republican rivals don't seem to be piling up on this issue. >> it doesn't seem to be clear what the up side of doing what would be. most of these campaigns are going to take the position if they get asked about it, answer it. but to quickly move on and try and get the conversation back to where they can reinforce some of their most important messages. if you are marco rubio and ted cruz, you don't want to be refereeing a fight between donald trump and the pope when you have 48, 72 hours here where you have a closing message to voters about where you stand on immigration and conservative
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values, what your position is on national security. so i suspect they'll stay out of this. get out of the way and try and send that reinforcement message to voters. >> probably won't hurt them in south carolina or some of the early states. if he were to get the republican presidential nomination, could it hurt him if there's still a little feud going on with the pope? >> i don't think this is going to hurt donald trump or help him. there's a little admonition for everybody. with trump, he's been going thr the jugular across the board. the pope went for the jugular on him. good for the goose, good for the gander. on the other hand, the pope could have found a way to criticize trump strongly, criticize his policies without saying, or imply -- >> mark alluded to this. how many trump supporters find a way to compartmentalize things they don't like about donald trump. you saw this during the south carolina debate where he went full truther on -- about the
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9/11 stuff. when you were talking to voters the next day, they say, i didn't like that he says that about george w. bush but i'm still supporting him because of his stance on immigration or other issues. >> mark, what's been the reaction since this whole feud developed? >> you know, listen, in south carolina, they are used to this nasty political brawling, bare knuckle fighting. in previous campaigns and what south carolina is so well known for is this dirty tactics behind the scene that you don't necessarily know who is behind it. it's all out in the open right now. donald trump fighting with the pope. ted cruz's campaign superimposing pictures on marco rubio on a website paid for by ted cruz. these battles are happening out in the open and we don't have to go looking to find out who is paying for it. >> you are a veteran. you worked on the romney campaign four years ago. this photoshopping by the cruz
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campaign of an image supposedly showing a very happy president obama. there it is. you can see it over there with marco rubio. they are shaking hands. the original photo was seen over there, basically photoshopped. that's just a stock photo they just used. why would they do this knowing in this day and age that within a minute or two it's going to be spotted as being phony? >> this happens all the time. you were with mailers or ads. these aren't white papers. there's a great deal of creative license campaigns always take when trying to reinforce a message through advertising or direct mail. that's the reason they do it. the question -- >> it feels dirty. >> the question you have to ask yourself when you make that decision is, is it worth the fight we'll end up getting into? are all of the controversies brought up, the attacks by other campaigns, the media scrutiny, is it going to be something we can hold water against?
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>> you think they knew this was going to be exposed as phony, as photoshopping all along but decided to do it anyway? >> they thought this was a message they were wanting to send and were willing to fight on it. >> what do you think, mark? >> i think, you know, kevin is right. there's no way they thought they could pult put this out there and get away with it. their name is on it. the thing about ted cruz is that he's fighting this narrative that his campaign is playing in the gutter right now. he put an e-mail out today to conservatives saying that, look, he is the true conservative fighter. he is running an honorable campaign and will fight for them. at the same time his campaign is playing hard ball he's trying to have it the other way as well. and saying that he's running a very clean campaign and those two don't necessarily fit together. >> you think this is going to hurt the cruz campaign? >> i don't think this instance will, but eventually like mark said there's a narrative building and it's going to backfire. if trump weren't in this race this could be a short, small
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story. rubio would complain about it. trump has such a loud megaphone and he will bring this up and and over. >> would it make any sense for someone to be fired who put this photo together? >> i don't think they think this is something that is controversial enough where somebody should lose their job in the campaign. in this time frame right now where we're having a closing message in south carolina, the cruz campaign is perfectly willing to have this fight. >> you don't think the candidate himself who may not have even known anything about this that he would say -- >> if anything -- >> i'm not going to tolerate these shenanigans. we're going to do it in the right way. we're not going to photoshop pictures of marco rubio shaking hands with president obama. >> if anything we've seen ted cruz try to use this to send a message about where he disagrees with marco rubio on the issues that matter to south carolina voters. i don't think that would change right now. >> it does reinforce this notion that politics, especially in these days leading up to south
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carolina, politics can be pretty dirty. >> they are pretty dirty. up to this point they haven't been that bad. we've seen some sniping. some arguing on the debate stage. we only have to go back, what is it, three or four weeks ago where donald trump and ted cruz were talking about how they liked each other and were friends and how everything was kosher between them. look where we are now. it goes to show you what is at stake right now. they are running to be the commander in chief, the leader of the free world. when you get in the thick of the battle, anything to do but win. that's what kev sin saying. you have to pull out all stops to win. and ted cruz is clearly walking up to the line. >> stand by. a lot more to dissect including what's going on in nevada right now getting ready for the democratic caucuses. we'll be right back. unless you have allergies. then your eyes may see it differently. only flonase is approved to relieve both itchy, watery eyes and congestion.
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the nevada caucus is now just two days away. a critical contest for hillary clinton and bernie sanders after her narrow win in iowa and his commanding victory in new hampshire. right now the democratic race in nevada is a virtual tie, according to all the polls. our senior washington correspondent jeff zeleny is joining us from las vegas. jeff, clinton and sanders are pulling out all the stops. they are trying their best. >> they certainly are, wolf. this is only the third stop in
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this long democratic primary. it's the first time a western state is having a chance to weigh in here. you can see the difference in campaigning. hillary clinton is not going door to door. she's going casino to casino. she started when she arrived this morning about 1:00 a.m. and continued it all day long. it's a high stakes showdown on the las vegas strip. hillary clinton and bernie sanders locked in a tight race heading into saturday's democratic caucuses. both betting on their get out the vote operations to push them over the edge. >> hi, everybody. >> reporter: clinton wasted no time hitting an essential stop on the campaign trail. behind the scenes of a casino in search of hotel workers who vote. >> i hope you'll come out and caucus 11:00 saturday morning. i'll work hard for you as your president. >> reporter: the outcome could hoinge the pivotal hispanic vote which is why the clinton campaign released this minute-long ad featuring the
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daughter of undocumented immigrants. >> my parents they have a letter of deportation. >> i'm going to do everything i can so you don't have to be scared. i'll do all the worrying. >> reporter: the clinton campaign trying to show she's empathetic to families. sanders met in washington with african-american leaders. he hopes it expands his appeal to voters. key to his success in the fight with clinton. >> i understand that the african-american community has been harder hit than any other community in america. i understand that it is unacceptable that 35% of black children in america are living in poverty. >> reporter: tonight what the clinton campaign once viewed as an easy win is now an even money bet. instead of cashing in their chips, both candidates are now all in in nevada.
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so, of course, nevada is considered a tie breaker after clinton narrowly won in iowa and sanders won in new hampshire. it's all centered on latino voters who make up nearly 20% of the electorate. bernie sanders is trying to reach out to latino voters as well. he has a radio ad saying how his father came to the u.s. he was penniless and could not speak english. >> the clinton campaign had a big lead in nevada polling over the past few months. now it's neck and neck. why did that change? >> it certainly has changed over the last several months. not a lot of polling here. late last year she was up some 30%. the reality is this race has changed. people suddenly are looking for an alternative and they are seeing there is a potential, viable alternative to her. so quite simply, people discovered who he was here and
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they are just now finding out more about bernie sanders. >> we saw record-setting turnouts in iowa. very close to what it was back in 2008 in new hampshire. will this continue in nevada at the caucuses this saturday, saturday afternoon? >> wolf, that's the key question here. nevada has been not as focused as iowa and new hampshire. this is only the second election cycle where the presidential contest has happened here. they are not expecting turnout nearly as big as new hampshire or even iowa. eight years ago it was only slightly over 100,000 on the democratic side here. that's why it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack, trying to find people who know and are able to come out at 11:00 in the morning on saturday to register their vote. >> of course, we'll have extensive live coverage all day on saturday of both of the contests in nevada and south carolina. thank you very much. our analysts are still with us. david, you think bernie sanders
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could pull this off? nevada? >> yeah, i'm not going to make a prediction but he can. the polls are very close. what i'm looking for coming out of nevada is how he does among latino and organized labor. if he makes big gains on clinton among those two big chunks of the democratic base, that spells trouble for clinton down the road. >> this was supposed to be a firewall for clinton. if he were to win, bernie sanders in nevada, what's would that mean for the clinton campaign heading into the south carolina contest? >> well, they are pretty well positioned here in south carolina to win. they are up by a lot right now. in the polls. and that's due to hillary clinton's advantage with african-american voters, much like bernie sanders was with white voters up in new hampshire. but to the point of nevada, if bernie sanders is able to win nevada and able to win by more than one, two, three points, that's going to be more fuel for his campaign to say that he has, you know, enough oxygen or
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enough gasoline to continue moving forward. but clinton would need to stop him cold here in south carolina very hard heading into march 1st. there's a lot of talk about super tuesday and the s.e.c. primary and how clinton is going to do in those states. but there's several other states that are going to hold contests that's day. that's what bernie sanders is focusing all of his attention on. bernie sanders right now as we stand here in south carolina is not necessarily playing to south carolina voters over the next week or so. he's trying to play the long game into march 1st and beyond. >> kevin, for all these months, the republicans have been under the assumption that hillary clinton is going to get the democratic nomination. they've been going after her. they haven't really been going after bernie sanders that much until recently. all of a sudden, there's talking about hillary clinton and bernie sanders. you've noticed that shift. >> hillary clinton is a very good foil for the republican candidates. the fact that she's associated with the last eight years of this administration.
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but in many ways, bernie sanders is the perfect foil. you have small government conservatives trying to run against a big government socialist who is a career politician for the last 40 years. and has, you know, policies or policy prescriptions that are so far outside the main stream. that's the perfect contrast for so many of these republicans. they're going to engage and use it to their advantage whenever they can. >> that new ad we showed our viewers of hillary clinton being empathetic to this young girl whose parents are undocumented immigrants. she's afraid they'll be deported. clearly the effort to win 20% of the vote in the democratic caucuses in nevada could be hispanic. a clear effort to go after that community. >> right. they are -- both candidates are going after the latino vote and both candidates -- latino voters understand are with them on the immigration issue. but latino voters, african-american voters are like every other voter.
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they care about these other economic issues that's go across the board and on that sense, sanders is gaining ground on secretary clinton. >> mark, interestingly, those of white house have covered politics for a long time. the afl-cio holding off on its endorsement of a democratic candidate. what does that tell us about the race right now? >> you are absolutely right. endorsements are symbolic in many ways if they come from a politician. when you are talking about a very large organized labor union with a lot of money that can get behind you that says something. if the afl-cio has decided not to get into the primary, it shows you that bernie sanders' message to working men and women is starting to resinate with the rank and file enough that the leadership of the afl-cio has decided they can't try to force through a backing or supporting, endorsing of hillary clinton now. they have said that they eventually could do so, but it's not going to happen right away. and if you are running bernie sanders campaign or you are bernie sanders or support bernie
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sanders, this is good news for you. >> kevin, in terms of endorsements on the republican and democratic side, how important are they? >> in this cycle, i think that they are less important. i think there are very few figures out there who have these massive political machines that's they can pult on the street that make a huge difference in the last two weeks before a contest is decided. we just haven't seen those in many of these. i think it will help with the margins. it gives you a great earned media play for 48 hours where you can crowd out the sun from some of your opponents. but that's about as much as it's going to matter. these candidates still have to rely on their own message to the candidates. >> stand by. we have a lot more coming up. important note to our viewers. a unique two-night event continues starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern. all six presidential candidates for the very first time in this entire campaign will answer questions from the voters in south carolina. three last night. three tonight. a live televised town hall
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moderated by our anderson cooper. see it only here on cnn. tonight, john kasich, jeb bush n donald trump. they'll field voters' questions. starts just a little more than an hour from now right here on cnn. last night we heard from ben carson, marco rubio and ted cruz. again, starting 8:00 p.m. eastern only here on cnn. still ahead, south korea on edge tonight fearing a terror attack by north korea. why do officials believe kim jong-un has ordered it? plus, a horrifying sight at pearl harbor. a helicopter crash caught on camera. my staff could use your help staying in touch with customers. at&t can help you stay connected. am i seeing double? no ma'am. our at&t 'buy one get one free' makes it easier for your staff to send appointment reminders to your customers... ...and share promotions on social media? you know it! now i'm seeing dollar signs. you should probably get your eyes checked. good one babe. optometry humor. right now get up to $650 in
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we're following breaking news in the san bernardino terror attack investigation, including an fbi search of the home of the gunman's brother. our justice correspondent pamela brown is working this story for us. what are you hearing, first of all, about this raid? >> in a sign of just how active the san bernardino investigation continues to be, the fbi searched a home believed to be associated with the brother of gunman saeed farouk. they were there for several hours seen coming in and out of the house carrying out several items. as you see in this video, they were also searching through a couple of vehicles parked in the driveway of the home. we know he's maerd to a russian woman whose sister was part of a fake marriage with enrique
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marquez. and it's unknown why his home was searched today but investigators are trying to learn as much as they can about the attackers. farook and his wife tashfeen malik including their family and friends. an fbi spokesman said federal agents executed a search warrant to seek evidence in an ongoing investigation. no arrests were made. of course, the search today comes on the heels of california magistrate demanding apple help the fbi unlock saeed farook's home. apple's ceo issued a scathing statement really against the fbi to its customers after the judge's order saying doing that would have implications far beyond the legal case at hand. so right now apple is mounting its defense and vowed to appeal the judge's order. and basically this is a fight that's going to be going on for a long time, wolf.
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both sides are digging in their heels and this could make it up to the supreme court. >> we heard several republican presidential candidates weighing in, suggesting apple should cooperate and do this back door entry into that terrorist iphone. thanks very much for that, pamela. president obama, meanwhile, marking black history month. meeting with civil rights activists. a leader from the black lives matter movement was a no-show. michelle kosinski is joining us. what are you finding out about this meeting? >> the white house was snubbed in a very public way by black lives matter. this meeting was billed as a first of its kind. intergenerational with the president, the attorney general. among those attending were representatives of the ncaa and national urban league. black lives matter was supposed to be there. a co-founder of the group in chicago. she instead wrote this scathing op-ed. what was arranged was a photo
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opportunity and a 90-second sound bite for the president. i could not with any integrity participate in such a sham that would only serve to legitimize the false narrative that the government is working to end police brutality and institutional racism. he also wanted to add something about republicans potentially blocking president obama's supreme court nominee. he said that would be seen as a civil rights violation. that civil rights leaders would resist it and that if that happens, ultimately, it would be the public that's disrespected, wolf. >> strong words indeed. what about, michelle, the president's decision for this historic visit next month to cuba. what are you finding out about the trip? >> this will be the first time a sitting president visits the island since calvin coolidge in 1928. it will be next month, the 21st and 22nd. the president, first lady, some
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members of congress. and the president will meet with dissidents. cuba has a long history of jailing dissidents. that's continues today. president obama will also meet with raul castro. he's not expected to sit down with fidel, although the white house says they are still working out his schedule. the white house has taken plenty of heat on the policy towards cuba, on making this trip. the white house's take on this is not going on a trip like this wouldn't advance those issues of human rights. cuba's record on that has been dismal but they feel going there would give the white house another opportunity to bring up those issues directly. they say cuba has made some progress. still has a way to go, obviously. but the white house feels that making this trip and continuing to open up the relationship is going to be the best way forward to actually improving the lives of people on the island. wolf? >> >> certainly will be an historic visit. michelle, thanks very much. just ahead, why south korea
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is north korea's dictator getting ready to unleash a terror assault on the south? there have been some ominous hints that something may be in the works. >> hollywood could not script
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this any more bizarrely. kim's security services could be planning to target south korea official, defectors. they could hit subways, shopping malls. kim's family has done this before in at least three attempts to assassinate three south korean presidents. a direct and sinister order from kim jong-un. the intelligence warning says defectors, activists could be targeted. other possibilities -- >> you have everyone from the president of south korea being on the target list through the military leadership of the south korean and american leadership to infrastructure. >> reporter: that includes subways, power plants, shopping malls, and according to south korean intelligence possible cyber attacks like the one the
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u.s. says north korea successfully launched against sony pictures entertainment in the united states in 2014. the family has a long history of attacks. north korea's inserted frog men into south korea, launched commandos from submarines. they have tried three times and failed to assassinate three south korean presidents. >> in that particular case, unfortunately his wife got in the way and his killed. >> reporter: tonight tensions along the border are elevated. north korea's recent long range missile test and its nuclear test in january prompted south korea to shut down the lucrative complex the two nations share. stealth fighter jets have been
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sent to fly over south korea. >> you continue to see high level purges inside the north korean system with the army chief of staff and prior to that the defense minister, which gives one a sense that there is internal churn inside the system. >> reporter: and still kim and his cronies are strutting, celebrating their provocations with a performance from kim's hand picked band of young women in tight dresses that sing tributes to their boss. >> it reflects this almost warped sense of celebration of the nuclear tests as something as being part of a new horizon for the north korean state and associating that with elements of modernity. >> reporter: u.s. officials not commenting. many are watching how china
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might respond to another north korean provocation. the chinese said to be furious with kim jong-un over the military test. >> could this show of force, as it is now being described, be related to that? >> he's got a congress of the ruling workers party coming up in may. they haven't had one of those in 35 years. this event is supposed to solidify kim's rule. a lot of these menacing moves could be designed to show his strength to north korean people and send some signals to others in his inner circle, many of whom have been purged recently. >> you're hearing from all your sources there's a heighten eed degree of tension on the korean border right now. >> no question. it has been ratcheted it up for months now.
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tension has rarely been higher. if you're a security official in south korea, you're not sleeping much right now. >> there are nearly 30,000 u.s. troops along the demilitarized zone separating north and south korea. we have some dramatic new video. this is a private helicopter with five people on board crashing into hawaii's pearl harbor as horrified visitors and military personnel watch. they were on the scene within minutes rescuing everyone on board. local media reporting a 16-year-old passenger is in critical condition. the crash shut down operations at the pearl harbor visitors' center. we have a unique two-night event starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern tonight. all republican candidates answering questions from the voters of south carolina. a live televised town hall
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moderated by anderson cooper. it all starts just a little bit more than an hour from now. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. good evening, i'm erin burnett. in less than one hour, republican candidates will take the stage behind me for the second night of cnn's exclusive presidential town hall. right now, donald trump, jeb bush, and john kasich are preparing to come face to face with voters in these final hours before votes are cast saturday. the pope taking on donald trump. the comments overshadowing the campaign trail today. the pope suggesting donald trump is not christian because of h

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