tv CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello CNN December 14, 2015 6:00am-8:01am PST
good morning. i'm carol costello. thank you for joining me. the subject of national security on stage in vegas at the venetian hotel. let's go there live now, shall we? gorgeous stage and a debate that will set the tone for the iowa caucuses 50 days from now. center stage, donald trump. perhaps not for long. as the "des moines register" puts it, ted cruz is crushing it in iowa. that's not all. in a new nbc news/wall street journal poll, cruz is up 12 points and carson traded to fourth place. donald trump called cruz a bit of a maniac. cruz tweeted a link to the 1980
classic from flash dance. ♪ >> mm-hmm. athena jones is in las vegas. i'm dancing. are you? >> good morning, carol. we're all going to have that song in our heads all day. the countdown has begun here at the venetian theater. tomorrow night, 1,400 guests will be filling the theater. the stage, of course, is set. as you mentioned, national front runner donald trump will be smack dab in the middle again. he's not going to be the only target tomorrow night, as the candidates battle it out to stand out tomorrow night on the stage. >> reporter: only one day away from the last gop debate of the year in las vegas. for these 13 candidates, one last chance to make an impression heading into the holiday season. the main debate lineup seeing
most of the same players as last time. and no surprise here, front runner donald trump again taking center stage. chris christie moving up to the main stage. trump will be flanked by dr. ben carson and texas senator ted cruz, who is surging in iowa according to this fox news poll released sunday. on saturday, the "des moines register" and bloomberg politics releasing their own poll, showishow ing cruz ahead by ten points. >> it's a bromance. i like him. >> reporter: their bromance waning after crews questioned trump's judgment. >> i built a multi-billion dollar company. some of the greatest assets in the world. i have great judgment. i would say i have better judge it than ted. >> reporter: trump tweeting, i was disappointed cruz would
speak behind my back, get caught and deny it. >> when you look at the way he's dealt with the senate where he goes in there like a, frankly, a maniac, you're never going to get things done that way. >> reporter: cruz tweeting, in honor of my friend, donald trump, with a link to flash dance's popular song, "maniac." ♪ she's a maniac, maniac >> reporter: carson, once trump's nearest rival, now dropping in the polls. >> poll numbers go up and down. i wasn't excited when they were up. i'm not excited when they're down. people will make the correct choice. >> reporter: heightened fears of terrorism around the world and right here at home could make for fireworks on stage tomorrow night. >> this is a new environment inside the campaign right now. so that -- this will be the first time the candidates take the stage in that new landscape. >> several candidates are hoping to have a breakout performance here to give their campaigns a boost. for anyone wondering whether
trump is ready to attack his now new top rival ted cruz on this stage tomorrow night, he all but assured us the hits would be coming. telling jake tapper on account sta "state of the union," i expect to get it on. >> athena jones from las vegas. ted cruz's surge to the top of the polls mean gloves are off for rivals like donald trump. in the hearts and minds of voters, cruz is turning to a usual weapon in the world of politics. humor. cruz responding to trump's jab that he is a maniac with a tweet linking to the video of the song by the same name from the movie flash dance. this isn't the first time cruz tried to score a few votes and laughs. here's how he reacted upon learning a voice actor from one of his favorite shows, the simps simpsons, is leaving the program. >> hi, i'm ted. with harry shear retiring, i'm auditioning for any part i can get in the "simpsons."
release the hounds. excellent. okay, neighbor. one of the great exchanges between homer and lisa. but dad, i'm a vegtarietarian. i don't eat animals. but, lisa, animals are so delicious. >> pretty funny, right? joining me now to talk about this and more substantive issues, cnn senior political analyst and editorial director for the national journal. and douglas brinkley, presidential historian. welcome to both of you. >> thank you, carol. >> good morning. >> ron, senator cruz is funny and smart, but likability is not his strong suit. will we see a friendly cruz on stage, or will he finally go after trump? >> first of all, all the names i expected to hear in the lead up
to the debate, jennifer beawas one of them. cruz has gone after his agenda. he's a righteous warrior for other senators. they believe even republican senators, that he had led them in a dangerous direction, like the government shutdown. he is going to be front and center but it's not going to be temperament. it'll be his views, i think, on foreign policy. in his own words, he's trying to carve out a middle space between the george w. bush approach, now championed more by jeb bush and marco rubio, and the libertarian pull back approach by rand paul. i think it'll be a critical moment for him in the campaign. how he handles that, since it'll get more attention than ever before. >> david, in a private meeting with donors, ted cruz called into question donald trump's
judgment when it came to national security. will we hear that on stage? >> absolutely. i think, you know, obviously, donald trump's comments about banning muslims from the united states is going to be a major, at least a five, ten-minute back and forth during the debate. ted cruz has modified. he put up his own piece of legislation and said that trump was a little off on the mark by saying that. all the other candidates, with the exception of rand paul, has disagreed with trump on that. i think it'll be an important part of this. the big story is cruz is ser surgie ining in iowa because of evangelical voters. carson is sinking and the voters are coming to cruz, not trump. >> douglas, i'm sorry i called you david. i was in the moment of ted cruz's homer simpson impression. it was pretty good. a question for you, is this a
pivotal debate for donald trump in light of cruz's uptick in the polls? >> i think, look, trump has gone after every candidate who has shown any life. in a sense, cruz is winning voters, i think, many people thought were unlikely to end up with trump in the end. as doug said, we're seeing cruz surge in iowa on support of evangelical christians. it's enough to get you in the game in the republican primary. by itself, it's not enough to win. mike huckabee in 2008. rick santorum in 2012. both won iowa with big numbers among evangelical christians and didn't perform well among other voters there. it foreshadowed their difficulty in expanding and becoming significant threats for the nomination. cruz could have a broader coalition. he appeals more broadly on the right than santorum or huckabee. he has more money. he has to show he can go beyond the beach head, which is enough
to win iowa, but is not much to win the nomination. >> i was going to bring up the point about money. ted cruz raised $65 million. who knew? he is, of course, viewed as the most conservative candidate, but he's leading in iowa. he's going into south carolina where he'll probably do well, too. doesn't that mean he has a pretty good shot at becoming the nominee? >> yes, he has an excellent shot at it. i'm here in texas. it's austin, state capital of texas behind me. cruz is known as the operator. somebody who knows exactly what he's doing. in many ways, aprbrilliant. other people see him as diabolical. depends where you see him on the political spectrum. he is to be taken seriously. trump and cruz are two of the main candidates throughout the caucus season coming up. the other question on why the cnn debate, this one is important, is who is the third person? i think the so-called
establishment has to decide, is it jeb bush, is it marco rubio, is it chris christie? i feel momentum coming with christie. he's going to be on the so-called big stage. he seems to have found -- hit his stride in new hampshire in some ways. it'll be curious to see that part of the drama within the drama during the las vegas debate. >> we'll see what happens tomorrow night. go ahead, ron. button it up for us. >> real quick. i think doug's point is right. you can see cruz as the candidate of the evangelical right and other conservatives. trump is dominant among blue collar republicans. who is the center right establishment white control lar ka -- collar candidate? rubio leading but not definite. another milestone in the process tomorrow. >> i have to leave it there. ron and douglas, thanks to you both. you can watch the final gop debate of 2015 only on cnn.
it will be live from las vegas at 6:00 p.m. eastern. president obama makes a rare visit to the pentagon in the next hour. he'll meet with top military officials behind closed doors. the message is very public. calm terror fears this holiday season and reassure americans that the strategy, the president's strategy against isis, is actually working. joe johns is our senior washington correspondent. he joins us from the white house to tell us more. good morning, joe. >> good morning, carol. the president has done this before. he went over to the pentagon back in july. he's also going to the national counter terrorism center. one of the reasons for this is to try to calm the nerves of jittery americans after the attacks in san bernardino, as well as paris. another reason is to talk over the military strategy against isis. the president discussed that a little bit in his weekly radio address over the weekend. listen. >> our air strikes are hitting isil harder than ever, in iraq and syria. we're taking out more of their
fighters and leaders, their weapons, their oil tankers. our special operations forces are on the ground because we're going to hunt down these terrorists wherever they try to hide. >> he's going to see an alphabet soup of advisers from dod, the state department, the intelligence community, the law enforcement community, and others. the white house likes to say that the president is always looking for new tweaks to the strategy against isis, but in this case, they do not expect any new big announcements. carol? >> joe johns reporting live for us this morning. thank you. still to come in the newsroom, we know the paris attacks were carefully orchestrated. now, we're learning more about just how the ringleader made sure the massacre was carried out.
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all right. breaking news out of jerusalem this morning. where a man has rammed his car into a crowded bus stop. le we have more. what can you tell us? >> well, you can see the chaos of the scene behind me. this is the car that police say carried out the attack, and you can see the impact to the front of this car. not only to the front, but to the windshield, as well. police say the driver here drove very close, this is the main entrance to jerusalem, and drove into, first, a fire hydrant, then into a crowded bus stop,
sending five people to the hospital according to emergency services. four of those injuries lightly. one injured moderately. the fire hydrant torn off created a tower of water as that simple pressure of the water fountain, in fact, the entire area here is wet. you can see the chaos of the scene. police say the driver was 21 years old, a palestinian from east jerusalem. the entrance to jerusalem here, an uncommon place over the last two and a half months for what we've seen in this wave of attacks. that's why it's chaotic here. many people, in fact, surprised this has happened. we'll take one more look into the vehicle. you can see as we step around these people, many people surrounding this car, the impact to the front of this car. police say the driver, alleged attacker in this case, was shot and killed by forces at the scene. carol? >> reporting live, we'll get back to you. thanks so much. a new report suggests terrorists used a striking level
of coordination in the attack in paris. abdelhamid abaaoud reportedly huddled in a doorway at the bataclan concert hall and stayed on the phone with the killers inside until the very moment they blew themselves up. this is also where he could orchestrate every moment of this massacre. paul cruickshank is a political analyst, and editor at the ctc sentinel, where they broke the story. he was outside of this concert hall? >> carol, this is stunning new information, that the ringleader in the attacks, abdelhamid abaaoud, standing outside the concert hall, the bataclan, during the attack, according to a witness. he was speaking agitatedly on the cell phone, on a hands free cell phone, for about an hour during those attacks. as if he was giving orders to the people inside.
the idea here is of him stage managing the attacks by phone while they're happening. earlier in the evening, and we know this from the paris prosecutor, he'd be in phone touch, as well, with the stadium attackers. one of the stadium attackers right until the point where the stadium attackers started blowing themselves up. it would appear that on the ground that night, he was really orchestrating this entire operation. these new details just being published in the journal ctc sentinel. article by a french terrorism expert, carol. >> silly question, of course he can't, unless he could see with his cell phone inside the concert hall because somebody inside was using a phone with -- so how exactly did that work? i mean, does that, i don't know, suggest a level of planning beforehand, that he knew every -- where everything was inside the concert hall and when to do what? >> absolutely.
it suggests that the plan beforehand agreed amongst all these nine attackers was that they were going to coordinate and he was going to be on the phone to them, telling them to do what in what order. he appears to have come all the way back from syria to orchestrate this on the night of the attacks, but he wasn't meant to die that night. he was killed in a raid a few days later, with plans to attack a shopping district in paris. also, it's been recently revealed, he was speaking about plans to attack jewish targets and schools in paris. what did we see play out this morning in paris, carol? an attack by an apparent isis-inspired terrorist on a kindergarten teacher at a school in paris. a knife attack. fortunately, she was not killed. she's recovering in the hospital. the attacker this morning saying, this is for isis. this is just the beginning. was there a link to the plans
that abdelhamid abaaoud was talking about before he was killed? >> paul, thank you. 20 minutes past. egyptian investigators find no evidence of terrorism in the crash of a russian passenger jet. that puts them at odds with russian investigators who believe there was a bomb on board the plane. 224 people were killed when the plane went down. isis has claimed responsibility. planned parenthood is now suing the attorney general of ohio, saying he and other state leaders are trying to ban abortion. the organization wants an injunction to stop the state from interfering with their operations. ohio governor john kasich, also a republican presidential candidate, saying planted parenthood needs to be, quote, reigned in. the deadline for a government shutdown moved again, this time until wednesday. congress has until then to come up with a deal on a massive spending bill. it's the first major negotiation
new revelations this morning about how san bernardino's female killer got into the united states without raising any red flags. the fbi now revealing the terrorist couple actually chatted about jihad online well before tashfeen malik gained access into the united states. only problem, there was no policy in place to check an applicant's social media at that particular time. paul is in san bernardino with more on this. good morning. >> good morning, carol. actually, malik passed three background checks. as you pointed out, at that time, there were no protocols in place that allowed the government officials to scour social media. it has been suggested that perhaps had they been in place, they certainly would have turned
up plenty of red flags. the "new york times" reporting that malik had posted on social media that not only did she support violent jihad, but she wanted to join it. they characterized her post as zealotry. how did she get into the united states? on the k-1 or fiance or marriage via program. now, top government officials suggesting we may need to overhaul this program in the united states. let's take a listen. >> we have plenty of ways to vet people. we already do it. we have a huge process of examining people for visas. we know who is coming into our country, for the most part. clearly, the social media has placed a whole new burden and a whole new set of questions, but not impossible ones to resolve. i think we need to look at this very, very carefully, which is what we're doing. >> now back here live. the memorial behind me.
they will remember yet another one of the victims today. they will remember the woman who fled islamic streamiextremism. she was a christian and leaves behind her husband and children. >> thank you. good morning. i'm carol dcostello, thank you very joining me. he's back. comedian will ferrell reviving his w. impersonation this weekend on "saturday night live." he didn't disappoint. taking digs at w.'s brother and donald trump. >> then you got this knuckle head. [ applause ]
with the hair. and the hundred foot wall. bring that picture back. i'll tell you something, whenever i get in a bad mood, i picture his big, fat, orange m face. oh, jeb. it's a plot twist that i turned out to be the smart one. [ applause ] of course, i wish you would have asked me about the exclamation point on the end of his name. look, i don't like the taste of broccoli, but it doesn't get any tastier if you call it broccoli! >> okay. so that was will ferrell, who was mocking donald trump for his touted mexico wall, while jabbing at his fake brother jeb bush for his low energy.
sounds familiar, right? in the real world, the gops war of words found a new target, after ted cruz surged in iowa. marco rubio hitting cruz for his isolationist views, while donald trump called him a maniac. is it boosting democrats? joining me now is conservative talk radio show host ben ferguson and patty, 2008 campaign manager for hillary clinton. >> good morning. >> thanks for being here patty and ben. ben, do you think democrats are sitting back and laughing, or are they not? >> i mean, no. i think they're enjoying the show, but i think they're also focused on their own primary and the general election obviously. if you're hillary clinton's campaign. i don't think this is going to have any big, negative impact on the gop debate. a lot of people are focused on it. a lot of people are paying attention to it. the more, i guess, you can say social media you have around one
side, the more people understand the issues and feel like they know the candidates better. i don't think this is a negative for the gop primary or the guys trying to win it or carly fiorina for that matter. >> still, patty, a new nbc-wall street journal shows in a general election matchup, hillary clinton would beat trump and cruz, while barely losing to carson and rubio. >> listen, i think as hillary clinton's campaign manager in '08, what i find interesting is the national media is basically focused on the republican field and pretty much leaving the democratic field to its own devices, which is great. normally, when your name is clinton, you are followed intensely by the media. now, she's able to talk directly to iowa voters. directly to new hampshire voters. that's what it's all about. getting these democratic voters
to listen to what she has to say on policy and substance. it's been fantastic for the whole democratic field, i think. >> but hillary clinton will likely be a topic on stage in tomorrow night's debate, right, ben? >> sure, of course she will. look, we're a long way away from the election day, when you have the gop nominee going against hillary clinton. if she wins this, which i think she will. that's when the fire storm really happens and starts and the media pays more attention to the democratic side. the media is going to cover what is exciting. let's be honest, the democratic side right now is incredibly dull and boring. bernie sanders is the nicest second place candidate we've ever seen in the democratic primary. hillary clinton is running away with this. the republicans are going to focus on her more the closer you get to election day. you'll see them. right now, you have a big fight in the gop. that's a good thing. it's a healthy debate, healthy fight, and you'll see these candidates trying to get to the number one spot.
you see ted cruz doing it now. what did we see this weekend? donald trump calling ted cruz a maniac, which might be the funniest thing i've seen donald trump say in a long time. him calling someone else a maniac, saying they're off their rocker and crazy. coming from donald trump, i mean, it's quite fun to watch. it'll be interesting to see how they deal with that. >> let's talk about ted cruz for a second, patti. he has a problem with his likability factor, right, but he's really smart, has a lot of money. he's a great debater. could he still win? i mean, çdespite the likabilit factor. >> look, i think he has a strong shot. i think tomorrow night's debate is going to be extremely interesting. donald trump is not such a great debater. when it comes to policy and substance, he sort of blends into the woodwork. he's great on the attack, so i foresee tonight night, he's going to be attacking ted cruz. he'll be attacking ben carson. because he doesn't like to lose.
when she's on the attac when he's on the attack, he wins. that's what the polls show us. ted cruz has been great being mr. nice guy. he shot up in the iowa "des moines register" poll. he has a shot at winning new hampshire. so far, donald trump and maybe chris christie will come in first. >> a lot of people are talking about chris christie, ben ferguson. i was talking to ron and douglas, and both said chris christie may surprise us all is and shoot to the top. >> i totally agree. i think he has the biggest upside of any candidate that's polling lower right now in the gop side. i think he also understands how to win the state by state races and maybe not go national all the time. one of the things we're seeing with cruz and his surge in iowa is the fact he understood you need a real big and good ground game in early states. chris christie has that moving forward, as well. i think he understands, you know what? i'll let the other guys duke it out and maybe i'll peak at the right moment.
there is this other issue that is big. donald trump has set himself up for failure. he has walked out there every day on every campaign stop and said, i'm the best candidate. i'm leading in every poll. i'm a winner. i'm going to win this and great america great again. everybody loves me and can't bring me down, referring to the media and the other candidates. if he comes out and loses the first one, that turns his campaign upside down in literally 12 months. i'll be interested to see how he responds to it. he's set the bar so high, i don't think it's even attainable for him. >> wow. we'll see what happens. ben ferguson, patti, thanks so both of you. new york governor andrew cuomo says his message is simple, terrorists shouldn't be able to buy guns. he's pushing to ban anyone on the u.s. terror watch list from buying guns in new york state. cuomo calls it sheer madness a suspected terrorist could buy a firearm. >> we have people in the country who are suspected of terrorism
and who, right now, can't step on a plane but can buy a gun. i mean, that is ludicrous. i'm the new york governor. this is the state of 9/11. these people must be living in the state of denial. how many san bernardinos, how many sandy hooks do you need before you have basic sanity that says, safety still matters? >> cuomo says, quote, too many senators are in the vice grip of the nra, and in a usa today op-ed, gabby giffords challenges a congress she says refuses to act three years after sandy hook. this is the ananniversary. she says congress is in the gun lobby's grip. the u.s. plan to destroy isis. president obama meeting with top generals this morning to talk strategy.
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two mosques in southern california were vandalized over the weekend. someone spray painted "jesus is the way" across the front of one mosque. a fake grenade was left in the driveway of the over mosque. the fbi and officials are inv t investiga investigating. both incidents classified as hate crimes. the two mosques are an hour west of where the san bernardino terror attack took place earlier this month. in an hour, president obama goes to the pentagon to talk isis. he'll meet with defense secretary ashton carter and his top generals. word is they'll talk strategy. while the meeting sounds important, the white house says not to expect any major changes. the current strategy is sure to be dissected in tomorrow's republican debate. as you probably know, donald trump is suggesting the united states bomb the hell out of isis and ban musliming from coming into the united states. he defended that position on jake tapper's show over the
weekend. >> jake, we have to stop the problem. we can talk about it. we can talk about it forever. there's a real problem. it's called radical islamic terrorism. >> are you making it worse? >> wait a minute. look, what's worse? is it worse when they kill 14 people and many others laying in the hospital? what about in paris, where they have hundreds of people dead in paris? same thing, it's paris, but same thing. many more people going to die. they're laying in the hospital practically dead. we have to stop the problem. pl there's a real problem. >> cnn military analyst and retired air force colonel cedric joins me now. welcome, colonel. >> good to be with you, carol. >> nice to have you here. let's talk about president obama's meeting at the pentagon. do you think it's just for show because even the white house says not much will come of this. >> maybe they're trying to
dampen expectations. clearly, when the president goes to the pentagon, that is a big deal for the pentagon. because it shows that the president is not only interested in what's going on, but he probably wants to send a message to the pentagon work force, all the military services, the civilian employees of the dod. what he's trying to do is basically say, this is my plan. this is my strategy. in essence, he's lobbying them for support. hopefully, he's also trying to get information from them, as well. but it is certainly part theater and part substance, i would say. >> all right. on to what the republican candidates might say on the debate stage tomorrow. donald trump has said in the past, we should carpet bomb isis. bomb the oil fields and let russia take care of syria. is he right? >> well, not really, because isis is an odd target. it is not a nation state, so it doesn't have the standard infrastructure targets that we would go after if we went after a standard country.
like let's say a russia or china or something like that. there's a difficulty in the kind of targets you get from a military perspective. there's also the fact that isis can slip into the background. the fact that we bomb them doesn't necessarily mean you've decapitated them or rendered them harmless. the whole idea of going after the oil fields, that becomes a bit of a problem because a lot of the oil fields are going to be used by whatever comes after isis. you have to be a little bit careful in how you handle that. >> okay. senator ted cruz, he also believes we should carpet bomb isis into oblivion. carpet bombing means indiscriminate bombing. from a military perspective, what might carpet bombing isis look like? >> well, theoretically, it would basically mean that the city of raqqah, which is the isis' defactdefa facto capital, would be leveled to the ground.
mosul, the second largest city in iraq in isis' hands, would be leveled to the ground. anything in between, possibly the city of ramadi, if the remaining part doesn't fall into iraqi government hands, could be completely devastated. the problem with that strategy is that it would really result in a major anger being lifted in the middle east. not only because we're going after them in a very incoherent fashion, in essence, we're also going after them in a way that would affect tons of civilians. tens of thousands of civilians would adversely affected by this, and that could be a significant game changer, but not in our favor. so from a strategic standpoint -- >> but colonel, senator cruz says as sad as it is, civilian casualties are a fact of war, and civilians have died in wars that america took part in. why would this be so different? >> well, it's different because the times have changed. back in world war ii when we
went after targets like nazi germany or imperial japan, we did carpet bombing. we did do those things, or the ekw equivalent of that. what you saw in that particular point in time, because the targeting process was not as precise as it is now, you saw that kind of indiscriminate bombing occurring because that was the only bombing we knew how to do. now, we have precision-guided munitions. we have a precision targeting process. we go after high value targets. what senator cruz is advocating would be a violation of the laws of war. that would be a real problem and could really not only hamper diplomatic efforts but political and military efforts the united states would want to engage in with isis or after the conflict with isis. >> final question. when you talk about a more muscular plan to fight isis, what does that really mean from a military perspective?
>> well, for a target like isis, an enemy like isis, what you're trying to do is engage them on multiple fronts. that would involve special operations forces, potentially other ground forces from allied nations or allied groups like the various kurdish groups that are fighting. it would also involve bombing, but it wouldn't involve the kind of carpet bombing that senator cruz would advocate. that would take us into a dimension of cwarfare we wouldnt want to go into. you have different instruments of national power, but you'd have a problem if you went to them with just bombing and the manner senator cruz and others described. >> colonel, thanks for joining me. a reminder for you, the president is going to be speaking after his meeting with advisers at the pentagon and cnn will carry that live. 12:25 eastern is the time we're expecting. still to come in the newsroom, tensions ramping between russia and turkey. yet another clash. this time, on the water.
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turkish fishing boat got too close and ignored repeated calls to change course. last month turkey shot down a russian fighter jet near syria's border. jill dougherty joins me. jill, what does this latest incident mean? >> well, it means more tension, military tension, which is a little more worrying, even though -- as you described, this fishing boat with turkish flag comes closer, russians say, to their destroyer. they radioed, try to communicate. no response. so they say they were forced to fire those warning shots. and then eventually that turkish fishing vessel went away, moved away. i think, carol, it's an indication of what we're
dealing. these things can start small and then they can escalate. they're in open waters and it can become very dangerous. it's a very good indication of how high the tensions are and don't forget president putin last week when he was speaking to his top brass really ordered them to be very tough to answer any type of challenge to the russian military that are carrying out operations in syria. this ship was actually involved in that operation. as he put it, to liquidate any threat to them. now, they did not liquidate the boat, but they did fire as a warning. then russia called in defense aattache in moscow and read the riot act. turks are are not giving too much information. they say they're looking into it. there have been comments coming from officials saying they believe russia overreacted to
baltimore for the first of six officers charged in the death of freddie gray. officer william porter, seen here entering the courtroom moments ago, could soon be in the jury's hands. the police force taking no chances and keeping the city safe. jean casarez is outside the courtroom for us. jean? >> reporter: closing arguments have just begun in the courtroom behind me. and the baltimore police department, they are not allowing any leigh this week. any officer that was going to take time off this week before the holidays has been told, you've got to be ready for duty. the mayor of baltimore, stephanie rawlins-blake, has made a plea. >> we need everyone in our community to respect the judicial process. we need everyone visiting our city to respect baltimore. the goal was to have a jury of 12 baltimorians to make a
decision. that's our american system. that's what's happening now over in the courthouse. whether you agree or disagree with the jury's ultimate verdict, our reaction needs to be one of respect in baltimore's neighborhoods. >> and she went on to say baltimore will not be judged by the unrest that happened in may. people that have been walking by our live shot, they know what's happening. they say, oh, it's the trial of the police officer. they know exactly what's going on today. and before the closing arguments began, the judge gave jury instructions, a lot of language, did the defendant commit gross, criminal negligence. did he cause the death of freddie gray? would a reasonable police officer in the same position act differently? so, the question is, is this negligence to not have freddie gray put in a seat belt and to not call a medic when he requested one, or is it gross and criminal negligence, carol, that a reasonable police officer in the same situation would have realized that freddie gray needed help.
that there was something very wrong and that his life could have been saved. >> jean casarez, reporting live from baltimore this morning. checking some other top stories for you at 58 minutes past. swedish investigators will finally get to question wikileaks founder julian assange on rape allegations from five years ago. they reached a deal with ecuador. he's been living in the ecuadorian embassy for five years. an ole miss football player recovering in the hospital after breaking through a window and falling 15 feet at an atlanta hotel. he was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. cnn affiliate csb says robert was expected to be a top five draft pick. police found a small amount of marijuana in the hotel room. taylor swift announcing an exclusive streaming deal with apple. they'll release the 1989 world tour live with latest footage
from her last tour. the next hour of "cnn newsroom" starts now. good morning. i'm carol costello. thank you for joining me. republicans are bracing for their final presidential debate of 2015. here's a glimpse inside the venetian inside las vegas. looks like ted cruz is the candidate holding the hot hand, surging in iowa 15 days before its all-important caucuses. nationally cruz is also gaining steve. cruz is up 12 points since october. ben carson is fading, in fourth place. cruz's surge means he's wearing a big bull's eye on tomorrow's stage. athena jones live in las vegas to tell us more. good morning. >> reporter: good morning, you're absolutely right. cruz is going to be a big target
here tomorrow night. we've already gotten something of a sampling of what we might hear from some of his rivals. take a listen. >> why should voters go for you over ted cruz? >> because i'm more capable. because i have a much better temperament. because i actually get along with people much better than he does. >> he talks tough on some of these issues. for example, he's going to carpet bomb isis. the only budget he's ever voted for in his time in the senate is a budget that cut defense spending by more than barack obama proposes we cut it. >> you know, we've all had different types of experiences. there's no question that i haven't spent a lot of time schmoozing and asking for big money and going to cocktail parties. >> reporter: now, of course, trump is going to be at center stage tomorrow night because he's still the leader nationally. right next to him will be ted cruz. so, it will be interesting to see how trump goes after ted cruz, how cruz responds. we've been talking about how they've had something of a
bromance the last several months, holding their fire. that's changed on trump's side with cruz surging in iowa. we'll see how cruz responds because it looks like so far at least he wants to hold onto the strategy he's been using of ignoring trump's digs and giving him a bear hug. that's cruz's word. in fact, in response to one of trump's sunday interviews in which he called cruz a maniac in the senate, cruz tweeted out this. he said, in honor of my friend @realdonaldtrump and maniacs he tweeted the clip from the hit dance "maniac" from "flash dance." cruz is having a bit of fun. we'll see if it continues tomorrow. >> that song is in my head forever now. athena jones, reporting live from las vegas. thank you. national security will be the topic in cnn's debate. while cruz and trump might --
while cruz and trump are trading jabs using "flashdance" clips, this all started when cruz questioned donald trump's ability on national security. listen to what cruz told supporters during a private fund-raiser. >> people are looking to who is prepared to be a commander in chief. that's a question of strength and a question of judgment and that's a challenging question for both of them. >> trump not amused by cruz's comments. trump tweeted he should not make statements behind closed doors to his bosses. he should bring them out in the open. more fun that way. let's talk to jeffrey lord and esi cupp. good morning. >> good morning. >> so is the bromance over between cruz and trump? >> i don't know that it's over
but when you're running for president, you're not supposed to stand up there and say, i'm the best guy to be president, but, wait, the other guy is better than me. you're supposed to defend yourself. you're supposed to defend your record and you're supposed to attack the other guy. i really think that's all that's going on. at base i think they're pretty much in sync. i will say there are rumbling out there with donald trump about discussions on justice scalia and that sort of thing that i think -- i think he needs to be careful with with conservatives. >> what do you mean by that, jeffrey? >> well, i think justice scalia is pretty much an icon in the conservative movement. to be critical of jult scalia is a difficult sell. so in that sense he needs to be careful. he and senator cruz will go at it as best they do. somebody will win iowa and we
move on to the next set of primaries. remember, ronald reagan lost the caucuses to george h.w. bush and lost a few more after that, but he still came out on top. >> it sounds like jeffrey is preparing himself for maybe donald trump losing iowa. >> i think you just heard a lowering of expectations -- >> oh, no, no, no. >> -- as ted cruz surges in iowa. i think you're seeing trump get fairly nervous and go after ted cruz. he's called him a maniac. i recently saw at a rally he was talking about ted cruz, he said, i like him but, you know, he's an evangelical and i don't see a lot of evangelicals coming out of cuba, what is sort after a weird nonsequitur, and i think to dog whistle to his crowd that ted cruz is some kind of foreigner, which he's not, and there are lots of evangelicals in cuba. i think you're seeing trump get ruffled, both by ted cruz coming up in iowa and chris christie
coming up in new hampshire. where does donald trump go if he doesn't perform well in iowa and new hampshire? the map starts to get very tricky. i think you'll start hearing a lot more of this out of donald trump surrogates, that he doesn't have to win iowa, he doesn't have to win new hampshire. actually, i think he's somewhat right. trump has relied on national polling to suggest his and assert his dominance. i don't even know if he needs to win primaries to keep his level of support coalesced. eventually he does. >> we mentioned santorum and huckabee after they won the iowa caucuses, so let's be careful here. >> jeffrey, this new fox news poll came out yesterday that ly likely to keep rising. you've got to figure -- go ahead, jeffrey. >> you have to get -- you have
to get beyond iowa. i mean, trump is ahead in new hampshire, i believe he's ahead in south carolina. then have you to get right back here to nevada and then go on to the southern states, et cetera, where they'll start to slug it out. all i'm saying is even if donald trump won the iowa caucuses, which is, i still think very much a possibility, that's not going to mean very much either. you have to start winning a collection of these things or you're not going to make the grade. >> but, s.e., so what's going to happen on stage tomorrow? will ted cruz go after donald trump or will it be marco rubio or chris christie? because now's the time, isn't it, to go on the attack? >> yeah, i'm not sure that ted cruz will do too much of it because i think the tactic has just -- as a rule of thumb at this point, has been proven not to be very successful. i'm not sure ted cruz is inclined that way. i think marco rubio will
definitely take a whack at it. and god bless, poor jeb bush will try again. but i think that ted cruz has a little different approach and perhaps heats what's happening him. >> what do you think, s.e.? >> well, i think chris christie will be the more vocal opponent of donald trump tomorrow night. i think he's going to differentiate himself on a number of different issues and probably be the more aggressive swinger. maybe rand paul as well. but, yeah i mean, ted cruz has said his strategy is to bear hug donald trump, bear hug ben carson, and then maybe when their voters go away, he collects them all. i would be very surprised if you saw a very aggressive ted cruz going after donald trump. his strategy thus far has been working, to do sort of a donald trump emotion but with slightly more practical and polite rhetoric. >> carol, one other thing. we're talking here about donald trump and ted cruz.
pulling back, of course, both of them are outsiders. ted cruz may be a senator, but he is -- if there's anything that would give the republican party a second heart attack if not donald trump, it would be ted cruz. i think the outsider vote, just in general, is still very much in play here. >> i think you're right about that. i've got to leave it there. thanks to both of you. you can watch the final gop debate of 2015 only on cnn. it starts tomorrow night, 6:00 p.m. eastern, live from las vegas. also later this hour, president obama makes a rare visit to the pentagon. while he'll meet with top military officials behind closed doors, the message is very public -- calm terror fears this holiday season and reassure americans that the strategy against isis is working. joe johns is our senior washington correspondent. he joins us from the white house with more. good morning. >> reporter: good morning, carol. this is not the first time the president has been over to the pentagon, right across the river. he went there just back in july. he's also going later this week to the counterterrorism center.
a lot of reasons for this. among them, the president does want to calm the fears of jittery americans, especially after paris as well as san bernardino. he's also going on vacation soon. needs to be seen as having his finger on the pulse of national security issues. and there is, quite frankly, a need to review the strategy and the campaign against isis. he talked a little bit that in his weekly radio address on the weekend. >> the recent weeks our strikes have taken out isil chance, leader in somalia and libya. our message to these killers is simple. we will find you and justice will be done. >> reporter: whole alphabet soup of advisors need to meet with him from d.o.d., the state department, homeland security department, law enforcement officials. just a lot of people who can sit down and talk to the president and give him some information,
at least, about the strategy. the white house loves to say that the truth is the president wants to tweak the strategy against isis any time he can, but they're not expecting to make any big announcements. carol. >> joe johns reporting live from the white house. chilling revelations this morning on how closely the paris ringleader directed the attacks. redid you say 97?97! yes. you know, that reminds me of geico's 97% customer satisfaction rating. 97%? helped by geico's fast and friendly claims service. huh... oh yeah, baby.
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a new report suggests terrorists used a striking lef of coordination last month in paris. the ringleader abdelhamid abaaoud reportedly huddled in a doorway blocks away from the bataclan concert hall. he stayed on the phone with the killers moments before they blew themselves up so he could orchestrate every minute of the massacre. paul cruickshank, cnn analyst, and editor of the cctv sentinel, which just broke the story. >> the idea was abdelhamid abaaoud was standing outside that bataclan concert hall while the attack was taking place, in touch by cell phone, by hands-free cell phone kit, with the attackers in real time as they murdered people inside the building suggests a really tremendous amount of command and
control over this attack on the night of the attacks. he had also been in contact by phone with bilal had hafdi, one of the stadium attackers. in fact, he stayed on the phone for a minute or two after the first of the stadium attackers blew themselves up, so he might have heard it happening over the phone. so, this was a guy pulling all the strings the night of the attack. but he wasn't going to be killed himself. he was saving himself for a second-wave operation. a few days later he was going to target a shopping district in paris, dressed in expensive suit so he could blend in with another co-conspirator. of course, on november 18th he was killed on that raid in the safe house in paris. but all of this recalling what we saw play out in the mumbai attacks in 2008.
but in that case the handlers were all the way back in pakistan. they were in touch by cell phone with the plotters. this time around the ringleader was on the ground himself. >> earlier this morning a paris teacher was stabbed by a masked man who allegedly yelled about isis. he warned, this is only the beginning. could that be associated with those other attackers? >> well, french police are going to be looking at that possibility very, very closely. one of the things one witness revealed about abdelhamid abaaoud, this ringleader, before he was killed in that safe house, he was discussing the possibility of attack plans against schools in france. of course, this attack this morning taking place on a kindergarten teacher in a school, stabbed in the neck by this assay atlanta saying, i am the islamic state. this is just the beginning. it may just be the case of an
isis-inspired attack, someone with no direct connections. given the current climate, they'll be running down every possible lead. >> paul cruickshank, thanks so much. in other news this morning, egyptian investigators say they can find no evidence of terrorism so far in the crash of a russian passenger jet. that puts them although odds with russian investigators who say they believe there was a bomb on board that plane. 224 people died when the plane went down. isis has claimed responsibility. jerusalem, where a man rammed his car into a crowded bus stop. that car that you see there hitting some type of hydrant. multiple injuries. the man behind the wheel was a palestinian from eat jerusalst . today marks three years since the shooting at sandy hook elementary. this is the first time students will be in the class for the anniversary. 20 first graders were killed in
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♪ sleep train [train horn] ♪ your ticket to a better night's sleep ♪ new new insight into that flawed visa process that allowed tashfeen malik into the united states. malik chatted on social media about jihad before getting that fiancee visa. the only problem, there was no policy in place to check her social media at that time. paul is in san bernardino with more on this. good morning. >> reporter: good morning, carol. malik passed three background checks in all. as you stated, no protocol allowed for them to go back into her background and check social media. more has emerged recently as they say they found older posts. had those checks, of course,
been in place, many think they would have raised alarm bells, they would have been able to stop malik. "the new york times" is reporting not only did she show support for violent jihad on social media, but she said she wanted to join such jihad. they characterized her posts as zealotry. right at the top of the obama administration, they're questioning the k-1 or fiancee or marriage visas. let's listen. >> we have plenty of ways to vet people. we already do it. we have a huge process of anding people for visas. we know who's coming into our country for the most part. clearly, the social media has placed a whole new burden and a whole new set of questions, but not impossible ones to resolve. and i think we need to look at this very, very carefully, which is what we're doing.
>> reporter: of course, malik got through, and carried out with her husband that slaughter that left 14 people dead. behind me, a memorial to those people, many county workers. the woman who came from iran to avoid islamic extremism, a christian. she leaves behind her three daughters and husband. on her gofund me site they hope will raise money for the children's future, they are 10, 12, 15, thinking about their college costs, they say this has been a bad dream for all of them, carol. >> reporting live from san bernardino, california this morning. mosques around the country are beefing up security after two centers in california are vandalized. local police classifying the incidents which took place in a city just an hour from the san bernardino terror attacks as hate crimes. the fbi is now investigating. cnn's nick valencia is in atlanta with more.
good morning. >> reporter: good morning. one night, two mosques vandalized both in hawthorne, california, outside san bernardino. both mosques had the word "jesus" spray painted on the outside of it. one had a fake grenade on the steps, leading to tense moments with police, as well as members inside. the attacks come shortly after another mosque an hour away from san bernardino was fire bombed while people were still inside. the suspect in that incident has been taken into custody in hawthorne. those members of the mosque that were attacked hope the people or persons responsible for the attacks are also taken into custody. >> it's disheartening, you know, because as americans we all believe that, you know, this is the land of the free, the freedom of speech and religion. >> the fbi has released a statement related to these attacks saying, quote, the fbi is committed to assure
law-abiding citizens are protected and to deter those who would threaten them. we continuously work with our state and local partners to secure communities and bring to justice to who commit violent attacks or acts or make violent threats against others based on the victims constitutionally protected characteristics, beliefs real or perceived. carol? >> nick valencia reporting live from atlanta. thanks so much. new york governor andrew cuomo says his message is simple, terrorists should not be able to buy guns. cuomo calls it sheer madness that a suspected terrorist can buy a firearm. >> we have people in the country who are suspected of terrorism and who right now can't step on a plane but can buy a gun. i mean, that is ludicrous. i'm the new york governor. this is the state of 9/11. these people must be living in the state of denial.
how many san bernardino, how many sandy hooks do you need before you have basic sanity that says, safety still matters? >> cuomo says, quote, too many senators are in the vice grip of the nra and in a "usa today" op-ed former congresswoman gabby giffords challenges congress she says refuses to act three years after sandy hook. she says congress has embraced a shameful status quo and is, quote, in the gun lobby's grip. still to come -- a baltimore police officer on the trial of the death of freddie gray.
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venetian hotel tomorrow night. there it is. it will set up the iowa caucuses, which are only 48 days away. donald trump will take center stage but senator ted cruz is surging. cruz now leads in iowa and he is neck and neck with trump in national polls. former arizona governor jan brewer is on the phone to talk about this. good morning. >> good morning, carol. >> are you rooting for anyone in particular? >> well, i am so excited about this election. it's been a phenomenal primary -- election as far as i'm concerned. i haven't seen anything like it in my lifetime. i have a few questions to ask all the candidates. >> what is the question that will -- >> what got me involved in politics is education. i think donald trump and
candidates are confusing common core with federal decisions. i don't want washington, let me be perfectly clear, i do not want washington involved in local education decisions any more than i want them involved in common core. you know, common core was a state-created and state-implemented voluntary set of standards in math and english that are comparable across state lines. with the president just signing the every child succeed act with unanimous -- not unanimous but almost bipartisan support, it was a good thing because it was getting rid of no child left behind. getting the federal government out of it. so, you know, common core was state-implemented and should be ran by the states. i want to find out from these candidates, do they support that? >> i don't know if you will tomorrow night because the subject will be national security. they'll be talking about how to
fight isis and their strategy on the war on isis. they'll be talking about how to protect our country. as you know, donald trump's plan is to ban all muslims from coming into the united states. i know you agree with him mostly on his immigration plan, but do you agree with that part of it, to ban muslims from coming into the country? >> i think most of us in america want our security. there's so many people out there that are fearful and now with immigration, the terrorists, we need to have better checks and balances in regards to who's emigrating into our country. we, unfortunately, have reaped some terrible actions here in the united states, recently in san bernardino. and whatever they need to do to keep us safe, i'm all for. >> including -- including, governor, banning muslims from coming into the united states?
>> i don't agree with that but i think the standards should be extremely vigilant and we have to be very cautious and careful who we interview and how we interview and what information that we get to assure that we're not getting terrorists into our country. >> so, governor, i just to want go back to the ban for a second. why do you not support that? is it a constitutional issue in your mind? >> i believe it very well could be unconstitutional to ban people. we're a country of immigrants but we have to know who's coming in. they need to come in legally. and we need to be sure we have been able to have them satisfy the criteria we set for them to come into our country. >> i also want to -- >> open up our doors. we can't open up our doors and let everybody in. they're not going to tell us they're terrorists. they're just going to come.
>> right. >> i also want to bring up this winthrop university poll because it's very interesting. it illustrates why trump south carolina supporters love him so much. for example, according to this poll, 68% of trump supporters say whites face the same amount or more discrimination as african-americans. many americans would disagree with that. can you help us understand that? >> i'm sorry, i didn't hear you real clear when you read that. it shows, this winthrop university poll shows 68% of trump supporters in south carolina say whites face the same amount or same discrimination as african-americans. help us make sense of that. >> that doesn't make sense to me. i can't. i don't understand that. i don't understand that. i don't. whites face the same or more
discrimination than blacks? >> 68% of trump supporters in south carolina believe that. >> well, i don't know how the question was framed. i don't -- you know, i don't believe that. i don't think that's true. >> the poll also shows -- >> i'm sorry. >> no, i'm with you. i didn't understand it either. so, the poll also shows 73% of trump supporters say immigrants take away jobs. some people say immigrants perform jobs americans don't want. what do you say. ? >> well, i do believe that people hire immigrants, legal and illegal immigrants to do certain jobs is that could go to american citizens. that's unfortunate. if they're here legally, that's okay. if they're here illegally, they ought not be taking jobs from
american citizens. >> the last question about ted cruz. ted cruz is now surging, also quite quoefshtive. according to a fox news poll, cruz along with rubio cannot beat hillary clinton as well as trump. how do both candidates appeal to more moderate voters, in your mind. >> i think as we go through this process and get through iowa and new hampshire and south carolina, that we will see better where these people want to lead our country and what they can do best to make us safe and to protect state rights, and that eventually it will be whittled down and some people will rise to the top and that will be the candidate. that's what's going to happen. right now, of course, we know cruz is strong in iowa and christie is moving up in and trump is strong in south carolina. we've never, ever seen anything
like this. . it's going to play out day by day. i think that's what makes it so exciting. in fact, we used to have 4, 5 million people that would watch. now $25 million people watching these debates because it has been varied in opinions and direction in which they're going and what people understand and the circumstances with terrorism. and the other issues, the local issues that are facing our country are being discussed. i hope that we have a full discussion tomorrow night in regard to the issues that are on the front lines and we'll learn more. i'll tell you who i'm going to support some time after the first of the year. >> we'll be calling you, jan brewer. thank you for joining me. still to come in the "newsroom," rand paul on the attack. first, first look at the senator's new ad.
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tand that's what we're doings to chat xfinity.rself, we are challenging ourselves to improve every aspect of your experience. and this includes our commitment to being on time. every time. that's why if we're ever late for an appointment, we'll credit your account $20. it's our promise to you. we're doing everything we can to give you the best experience possible. because we should fit into your life. not the other way around. senator rand paul will, indeed, be on the debate stage tomorrow night. at the very last minute paul qualified for the main stage after fox news showed his support up in iowa. now the kentucky senator is out
with a new ad attacking rubio. this is the first time this ad has been played on television. take a look. >> some refuse to learn from
mistakes. >> we have welcomed refugees shlgs the tired, huddled masses for centuries. that's been the history of the united states. we should continue to do so. >> well, we've always been a country that's been willing to accept people who have been displaced. and i would be open to that. >> but rand paul sounded the alarm. >> it is almost a certainty isis will infiltrate. why should we take one of these people? >> this is one of the reasons i opposed rubio's bill on immigration. i didn't think there was enough scrutiny for those who might come and attack me. >> doug stafford joins me now. he's the senior strategist for rand paul's campaign. welcome, sir. >> good morning, carol. how are you? >> i'm good. >> first of all, what's it like, you're waiting for these polls to see if you qualify for the
main stage. this fox news poll comes out sunday, at the last minute. what's that like for you and the candidate? >> well, we're very pleased senator paul will be on the main stage where he belongs. he was in fifth place in multiple national and iowa polls and we're pleased he'll get to present his vision tomorrow night. we're looking forward to it. >> what would have happened had he not made it, had that fox news poll not come out? >> we believe there were many people why senator paul should be on that stage. again, we're pleased he is. >> so, you would have fought it? >> with
mp continuing to discuss it and we would have continued to discuss it, yes. >> so this new ad has no mention of the front-runner donald trump. why is that? >> we wanted to highlight a couple things in this ad. one is senator paul's position on national security and border security, the vision that he's had to put these things out
there years ago. and also some positions other candidates that had that have either been against senator paul, voting against his border security, visa amendments, or things people have said over the last couple of years. there's a longer for some other folks. senator paul wanted to put that out there to show people he's a candidate focused on national security and an important part of that is border security. >> explain to my viewers what senator paul means when he says that ted cruz and marco rubio are too soft on immigration. what exactly are senator paul's plans for refugees or immigrants coming into this country? >> senator paul is caused for a pause from refugee and visas from 34 countries. he says, we need to figure out how to make this system work. it doesn't right now.
senator paul uses an example from his hometown. there were two terrorists that had come from iraq as refugees into bowling green, kentucky. and they were caught by the fbi and prosecuted for plottig terrorist -- to help terrorists overseas and even plotting to attack an army captain in the united states. these folks were let in in the very same program that people were asking for syrian refugees. senator paul wants us to learn from the mistakes we made and make sure that program is fixed. the government isn't doing this very well. there needs to be a pause to make sure our country is clear. >> so senator paul is calling it a pause. is that terribly different from what donald trump is suggesting when he says we have to put a stop to muslims coming into the united states? >> it is in a number of ways. senator paul is not targeting any particular religion. he's targeting countries where there's been a history of problems, number one.
number two is -- >> well, are they majority muslim countries? >> are they what? >> majority muslim countries? >> i'm sure they are. not all are. and it's not targeting everybody that's a muslim but it's targeting people that come from areas where we need to be extra careful about who comes here. >> got ya. doug stafford, thank you for joining me this morning. i appreciate it. >> thank you, carol. >> you're welcome. with seven weeks until the iowa caucuses, ted cruz's surprising surge in the state can be attributed to partly one core group, evangelicals. a "des moines register" poll shows 45% of those backing cruz, coming after cruz secured the endorsement of an influential iowa conservative. joining me now, maeve reston with more on this. good morning. >> good morning, carol. it's been a great big month for ted cruz. he's obviously rising in the polls in iowa. that has surprised some people.
he's been putting in the spade work there for months and months. obviously, he got this endorsement from bob vanderplat, and so it's fascinating to see the dynamic between trump and cruz, which we will see play out on the debate stage tomorrow night. cruz has got almost double the amount of support from evangelicals of anyone else in the field and that poll is famously accurate. it may give us a good karindica of where the race stands right now. they are so important in turning people out on caucus night. ted cruz is deeply rooted in that community and he really has a great shot here to surge into the lead and get a big bounce out of iowa if he can hold on for these seven weeks we have before the caucuses. >> what happened to ben carson? i thought he had all the
evangelical support. >> it's so fascinating the way the framework of the race has really changed since the paris terrorist attacks and now san bernardino. there are obviously a lot of voters who questioned ben carson's readiness on the national stage to be commander in chief. if you look at the poll numbers you see their confidence in ben carson dropping in terms of whether he can handle issues like terrorism. trump is still very strong in that area. cruz is as well. obviously other contenders like marco rubio, jeb bush, will be on the stage tomorrow night trying to move they're the ones with the national security credentials to pull the nation through at this time. carson has really fallen. it's been cruz's gain as carson has fallen. >> thank you. still to come in the "newsroom" -- ♪
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six officer trials in the death of freddie gray nears a verdict. the fate of officer william porter seen here entering court last hour could be in the jury's hands as early as today. a decision many fear could spark unrest. jean casarez in baltimore this morning. hi, jean. >> reporter: hi, carol. closing arguments have begun. the prosecution is well into them at this point. assistant state attorney janet bledsoe is giving a passionate closing argument. at some point she's screaming in the courtroom as she fays the jury, saying the defendant, william porter, just didn't care she is also saying his state of mind, that he knew freddie gray was in medical distress. she points out so, with at one point when he told the wagon driver, oscar goodwin, asked if he needed a medic, he said yes. also central booking wouldn't accept freddie gray. that shows he knew he had a
medical condition. the prosecution is alleging at stop number four, such an important stop, where the defendant speaks to freddie gray. that freddie gray said, i can't breathe. the defendant is saying, i never said that at all. and, carol, i've never seen the defendant animated before, but as they are attacking his credibility in the closing arguments, he is talking to his attorneys, his attorneys are taking notes and the courtroom is packed to capacity. carol? >> jean ka star rez reporting live. u.s. secretary of state john kerry in paris today for high-level talks aimed at ending the syrian civil war. tonight he travels to moscow where he'll sit down with vladimir putin in an attempt to level support for cease-fire. here in united states, adele will tour north america beginning in st. paul on july 5th. it will hit 50 u.s. cities. her last u.s. tour was in 2011.
what we've all been waiting for. it could be the biggest movie opening of all time. tonight the world premiere for "star wars: the force awakens" and then opens this weekend everywhere. cnn money reporter frank is here. i'm excited. >> you're excited? >> we're pathetic but excited. >> the force is awakening. it's groggy, it's been 30 years but it's awakened. >> at least i remember it. you probably don't in its first run. >> but i grew up on it. that's the thing. people of my age, i'm 28, i grew up on these films. in a large way they kind of molded me -- >> you don't think they're cheesy? >> no, they're not. carol! >> they're not cheesy to me. >> it's american mythology at its best. good versus evil. in the world we live in, it's good to see good guys back on the screen. >> there are people in california waiting for days for the movie's opening to get in. >> since last saturday.
12 days before the opening. these are my people, carol, waiting out the theater for the big event this weekend. don't listen to her. it's good. it's wonderful. it's family. >> there have already been millions of tickets sold all over the world, right? >> there are reports the film has already sold $50 million worth of presale tickets, sight unseen. it's projected to bring in around $200 to $220 million this weekend. that would make it the biggest opening in box office history in the united states. >> it's unbelievable. i watched "60 minutes" last night and they interviewed j.j. abrams, who -- he's so excited because he's a fan and the director. in my mind that could be good and bad. >> it could go either way. the good thing is a lot of the fans feel safe with j.j. at the helm because he's loved these
films as much as we have. he can bring it into the next generation for all these new fans, these empire of fans. no pun intended. >> i like how he described when daisht casting of the movie because he wanted the cast to reflect what the world really looks like and i found that refreshing. >> daisy ridley, a woman leading the way. an african-american which is much different than how it was back in the '70s and '80s where lan dough, billy dee williams, was really the only african-american in the film. and leah, princess leah, played by carrie fisher, was the only female character. >> can't wait. do you know what role -- she'll play princess leia agaie leha. >> she's general now. if you call her princess, she gets upset. that's the reports. no one has seen it outside the cast and crew. >> harrison ford, i can't wait -- >> i love harrison ford, too. >> i've loved him for years.
>> looks better than me and he's like 75 years old. >> you're very nice to say that, frank. >> i can't compare with hans solo. >> no one can. >> frank, thanks so much. thank you for joining me today. i'm carol costello. "at this hour with berman and ba. hello, everyone, i'm kate bolduan. >> i'm john berman in las vegas, nevada. behind me is the venetian hotel. inside that building, the theater, the battleground for the final republican presidential debate of 2015. it's only right here on cnn. i have to say, the stakes could not be higher. a brandt new poll from "wall street journal" shows d