Return to Transcripts main page


Sarah Palin No-Show at Trump Rally; Huge Storm Threatens Millions on East Coast; Freed Iranian Prisoners Still in U.S.; Dow Plunging as Oil Prices Plummet; New Poll: Sanders Ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 20, 2016 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:21] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I am Kate Bolduan. Hello, everybody.

We have breaking news in the race for the White House. A brand-new Monmouth University poll just out shows Donald Trump dominating the GOP field, still with 36 percent support nationally. The gap narrowing slightly but still putting him 19 points ahead of second place, Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio rounding out the top three with 11 percent.

And one question that has become a thorn in the side of Ted Cruz, the question of his citizenship and his eligibility. Is the Canadian-born Senator a natural-born citizen? In this new poll, 36 percent say either no or they're not sure.


BOLDUAN: That's, of course, a question repeatedly being raised by Donald Trump as he did yet again today in Iowa. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Being a Canadian citizen, he said, oh, I didn't know that. How did he not know that? Then he said with the loans, oh, I didn't know that. Smart guy. He doesn't know that? Yeah. That's worse than Hillary when you think about it.


BERMAN: All right. And while Iowa is just over one week away, one primary is already over, the Sarah Palin primary. And Trump won that big. But with this endorsement comes intrigue. We were all told she was going to be at Trump's event today in Iowa that just finished up, by his side, but it was over, and it was completely Palin-free. A no- show. So what is going on here?

CNN's Sara Murray was there. She was in Norwalk, Iowa, where Trump just wrapped up.

Sara Murray, so Sarah Palin. What's going on here?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. I was the only Sara here.


Sarah Palin was a no-show today. And as of now, the campaign is not giving us a straight answer as to why that is.

We do know that they e-mailed supporters last night and were trying to get them to show up in Norwalk, Iowa, for a very special get. The ticket supporters had advertised a very special guest, and the press release they put out with the Palin endorsement said that Sarah Palin would be traveling to Donald Trump to today. She will appear at his later event today in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But today she was a no-show.

Now, one of the things that she is grappling with is that earlier this week her son, Track Palin, was arrested and charged with domestic violence assault. No word on whether that may have impacted her decision not to campaign on the stump with Donald Trump today.

But look, a key factor in this Palin endorsement and how effective it will be is how aggressive she is as a surrogate for Trump. Will she be out there doing interviews on his behalf? Will she be out there on the campaign trail sort of pushing back against some of the attacks Trump has faced about whether he is a true conservative? We saw that last night, but we did not see that in Iowa this morning.

BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray for us in Iowa. Thanks so much.

Want to talk more about this with CNN political commentator and former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz, Amanda Carpenter; chief political correspondent for USA Radio Networks and a Trump surrogate, Scottie Nell Hughes; and the former communications director for the Democratic National Committee, Brad Woodhouse.

Thank you all for being with us.

Not with us so far today, Scottie, Sarah Palin. Not at that event in Iowa, despite the fact that the Trump campaign had billed a special guest. What do you think is going on here?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It could be she woke up with a headache. Who knows what the little details are. The key is that Sarah Palin is behind Mr. Trump, and Mr. Trump is behind Sarah Palin. But you have to remember, one thing about the Trump campaign is the spotlight is always on Donald. He doesn't distract with other people or other things going on. It's always on Mr. Trump. And I think that's something you have to remember. When people go to these events, they're not going to see the surrogates. They're not going to see the celebrities. They're going to see who hopefully will be the next president. So whether she's there or not, they've put it out that she's involved with the campaign. And if we're going to see her this afternoon, that's great. But the truth is people aren't there to see Palin. They might like her, but they're there to see the number one person, which is Mr. Trump. BOLDUAN: And maybe if Ted Cruz is being really, really honest, one

person he would have maybe liked to have seen at some of his campaign events would have been Sarah Palin, Amanda. How much does this hurt him? How much do they regret that they didn't get Sarah Palin on board because she was so essential, and he acknowledged as much in getting him elected to Senate?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, endorsements are good. People want to get endorsements. He didn't get this one, but if things don't work out with Donald Trump, I'm sure he'd be happy to have her endorsement later. You know what I thought was really interesting, Donald Trump gave an interview earlier today, and he talked about why Sarah Palin came his way. And he mentioned the issue of trade. You know, I've heard Donald Trump talk a lot about trade this week. I've heard him talk about how he thinks he can tell American companies where and how they can do business, saying that Ford Motor should build their cars here, that apple should build their iPhones here. That is not allied with conservative principles in any way. I would love to hear Palin to talk about why she likes Donald Trump's position on trade because I think this is something new, but she wasn't there today. She's unpredictable. Without a doubt, if people came out to see Palin today, it's awfully cold out right now. They're sure to be disappointed she wasn't there.

[11:05:37] BERMAN: Brad, obviously you're a Democrat, and Democrats have had it both ways with Sarah Palin. Look, a lot of Democrats think she was a drag on John McCabe on the ticket in 2008. But you guys also lost pretty badly in a lot of races where she played big in 2010, again in 2012, in 2014. So as you've seen both sides, what does it look like from your perspective?

BRAD WOODHOUSE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, John, I'll take issue with that. I don't think there's been but one side for the most part to Sarah Palin. For us, she's been the gift that keeps on giving. When I heard yesterday that Sarah Palin was going to endorse Donald Trump, I felt like I was reliving every Christmas I had as a child. I mean, this is, you know, great news. Look, there are two big winners in this. Donald Trump, I mean, this is huge. It does -- I think it does have the effect of blunting Cruz's momentum. I think it hurts Cruz because I think most people would have expected, after what she did for him, that he would have gotten that endorsement. But this is, you know, the type of party -- I mean, look, there's a poll that just came out that has Donald Trump at 48 percent in Florida. I mean, he is dominating the competition. The national poll you referenced, Palin is with him. This is -- you know, this is a Trump/Palin party, and I don't think that will bode well for them in the general election. So I think it was a win for Democrats.

BOLDUAN: Amanda, I do want to ask you about elements of this new Monmouth national poll that was just out. Again, Trump at 36 percent, now Cruz at 17 percent. When you look at the numbers, the attacks that Trump has been leveling on Cruz, on his citizenship. The fact that now -- the fact that when you add it up, there's a big number saying that they are not sure or they do not believe that Ted Cruz is a natural-born citizen. Trump called Cruz today worse than Hillary when it comes to his citizenship and his personal finances. Does this number that you see on your screen now show that these attacks are sticking?

CARPENTER: Yeah, listen. I think these attacks are pure nonsense. But when you look at these numbers, the Cruz campaign does have to address it. They need to arm their surrogates with the facts, have one-on-one conversations with people to make sure they understand that yes, indeed, Ted Cruz is a U.S. Citizen. And you know, I don't know that Sarah Palin has ever answered this question. I'd be curious to see whether she wants to align herself with the Donald Trump birther argument. I think somebody should ask her. But Cruz has to have these conversations with voters so they understand and put this issue to rest without a doubt.

BERMAN: I was shocked at the number, it was so high.


BOLDUAN: 36 percent.

BERMAN: All right. Scottie, I want to ask you about the body language because people are talking -- you say people who were there to see Donald Trump, others say that people were there to see Sarah Palin. They didn't necessarily seem like they knew how to deal with each other when they were both standing on that stage.

BOLDUAN: Not enough stage for those two?

BERMAN: Right? So Scottie, explain this to me. Was this a comfortable thing for you to watch?

HUGHES: It was uncomfortable from the perspective that I knew that it was causing a lot of people -- other conservatives were torn. And I knew on social media, as you read it people were shocked, and they were going, well, wait a minute. I thought she was going to align herself with Ted Cruz. Here's what people have to realize with the Palin endorsement of the Monmouth poll. That Donald Trump across the board, whether they're talking about very conservatives, regular conservatives or moderates. Across the board, 35 percent to 36 percent. He hits all spectrums. Sarah Palin hits that very conservative spectrum. Now you look at the middle road, all of his other endorsements like Wayne Newton, Loretta Lynn, Sheriff Arpaio, then the moderate conservatives. So maybe one of the reasons why it was uncomfortable is because Donald Trump wants to show, yes, I agree I'm very happy about this endorsement, but I'm also happy with all of my other endorsements because his beliefs challenge a whole spectrum, not just one ideology of the Republican Party.

BOLDUAN: Brad, when you take a look, again, at this from the outside looking in, is this just a two-person race on the Republican side?

WOODHOUSE: I mean, look. I think there is some possibility that one of the establishment candidates that's - not -- obviously not Cruz or Trump, they're not establishment candidates, may emerge. But the polling sure doesn't indicate that that is a high probability. We have a big bunch of, you know, Rubio, Kasich, Bush, you know, all bunched together in New Hampshire. As you get to the later states, Trump's lead is much higher than it is in a lot of those states than it is in Iowa and New Hampshire. Cruz is at the top of almost all of these national polls and these early state polls. So I think it is a two-person race, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility that it wouldn't be three tickets both out of Iowa and New Hampshire.

[11:10:17] BERMAN: Amanda, one last question. Is today a good day to be Ted Cruz after the Sarah Palin endorsement that he didn't get after Terry Branstad, the governor of Iowa, essentially said vote for anyone but Ted Cruz because he doesn't support ethanol? So is today a good day to be Ted Cruz?

CARPENTER: Yeah, if you made an ideal day, these things wouldn't be happening in it, come on.


But what this shows, I mean, is that there's a big, fat target on Ted Cruz's back. You don't have Donald Trump rolling out this endorsement, and the governor of Iowa blasting Ted Cruz at the same time less than two weeks away from the Iowa primary if you don't have momentum. And so, yeah, it's not a great day for Ted Cruz, but if you want to win Iowa, this is a good position to be in because everyone is focused on you.

BERMAN: Not getting the Sarah Palin endorsement wasn't on his bucket list is what Amanda is saying right there.


BERMAN: Amanda Carpenter, Scottie Nell Hughes, Brad Woodhouse, thanks so much for being with us.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

WOODHOUSE: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. A big section of the United States right now bracing for a huge storm.


BERMAN: Moments from now, a brand-new prediction on where it's heading. We're getting word that a major American city could get its biggest storm ever.

BOLDUAN: Also, we're following some breaking news. A terror attack on a college campus. Gunmen storming the walls of a university, killing students and a professor. New details coming in on this horrific attack.

And more breaking news, this from Wall Street. The Dow plunging as oil prices plummet. We're going to have details on that ahead. Look at the big board. Ouch.


[11:15:54] BERMAN: All right. Some big weather news for a big swath of the country. A huge winter storm is coming for you.

BOLDUAN: The storm is threatening millions of people from east Tennessee all the way to northern Maine. Experts say it could bring historic amounts of snow to some places.

So let's get the very latest from CNN's Chad Myers who's in the CNN Extreme Weather Center.

So, Chad, where are you keeping an eye right now, who could get hit the most?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, I think the bull's-eye is still D.C., Baltimore, and on up toward Philadelphia. I mean, that's where the bull's-eye has been.

BOLDUAN: A whole lot of people.

MYERS: A whole lot of people that really don't want to drive in any snow. And if you're talking 20 or more inches with winds at 50, I mean, it could literally shut the entire city or cities down. Blizzard watch now just issued for D.C. and Baltimore. That's a brand-new forecast. It means just watch out because we expect to move on to a blizzard warning, but right now we're just not that close. The storm is still too far out there. In fact, the storm is just going into Colorado. Blizzard warnings here, I think, will be posted for a lot of big cities up and down I-95. There is the storm. It's just that little purple cloud cover right there, fairly innocent looking right now. But it gets much worse as we work our way into the weekend. Here's Wednesday into Thursday. Spreading some ice across parts of Tennessee, probably North Carolina, South Carolina with an ice storm, even in parts of Virginia into Roanoke could be snow and ice. And then finally getting into the all snow for Washington, D.C., and New York. So let's drill down to the other problem. Yes, there will be snow. There will be a foot or more of snow in big, big places. Millions of people. But we're also going to see wind speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour. So just because I'm telling you you're going to have 14 inches of snow, you may never see 14. It's going to be zero scoured, and then all of a sudden it's going to be an eight-foot drift. That's how bad this storm looks like it could wrap up. New York City, you're right on the edge. I'm still not sure what you're going to get because to the north of New York City by 20 miles, there could be nothing. South of New York City by 40 miles, there could be 15 inches. That's how close you are still right on the cusp.

Here's the American model. We talk about this all the time. Will they match? Do they agree? Do they not agree? American model saying heavy snow all the way through D.C. and Philadelphia. Here's the European model, almost identical. We're still 48 hours away before really this thing gets going. But for the fact that they are agreeing tells us that there will be a large swath of snow in the very big cities.

So let's now get to the globe. Let's get to the map. And I'm going to show you that this thing is going to cover up almost all of the 13 colonies. We are going to see snow from Maine to Vermont down to New York City. And it depends on how the storm goes. Here I have the storm moving a little bit farther to the north. If it moves farther out into the ocean before it turns north, there will be less snow right on the border, right on the water, right smashing snow back into these big cities. D.C., I could see 15 to 20. New York City, probably somewhere around 8 to 10, maybe 14. Boston, much less. We'll have to see.

Don't hold me to those numbers. I need more time because the storm is still in Colorado.

BOLDUAN: I'll hold you to the numbers, but I will give you more time because flip-flopping on weather is an OK thing. You evolve. You evolve. Just like politicians do.

It's great to see you, Chad.

MYERS: Just like all men. All men evolve.


BOLDUAN: Chad, thank you so much. A lot to watch out for as the week progresses. That's for darn sure. Thanks, Chad.

Also, new for us this morning, 19 people are dead after terrorists stormed a university in northwest Pakistan. We have new pictures from inside the university just after the attacks. Windows shattered by bullets and blood-stained corridors.

BERMAN: The four attackers were killed after a long battle with Pakistani forces. Still unclear which group is responsible for the attack on Bacha Khan University (ph). One spokesman claimed responsibility. Another faction of the group has denied any role in the massacre.

All right. Just moments ago, "Washington Post" reporter, Jason Rezaian, walked out of a German hospital and waved and said just a few words. Listen.


[11:20:08] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How you feeling, Jason? Good to be out?




REZAIAN: Thank you very much. I can't wait to get home.


BERMAN: I can't wait to get home.

BOLDUAN: Can't wait to be home. Rezaian also said in a statement that he was "looking forward to catching up on a lot of what's been going on in the world since he was cut off behind bars and prison walls -- behind prison walls, including watching the latest "Star Wars" movie."

Rezaian is one of four Americans freed by Iran as part of a prisoner swap.

Let's bring in CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, for much more on this.

Jim, while Jason is very much recovering and very much looking forward to coming back to the United States as soon as possible, the other side of the story is very interesting and important as well. The story of Iranians freed from U.S. custody as part of this deal. Why are they still in the United States? What are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, they chose to stay. I just learned from a U.S. official familiar with the negotiations that the U.S. government had a plane ready to take those Iranians, if they chose to, back to Iran. Keep in mind, six of the seven are dual nationals. So here Iranian and American, but they have Iranian nationality. They had a plane ready to go to take them out, as you were taking the Americans out of Iran, and none of the Iranians who were freed. Some of them were freed from prisons. Some of them were not in prison yet but they were in the legal process and were, in effect, pardoned. They didn't want to go back. They're legal residents here. They wanted to stay in the U.S. Of course, very different from the situation with a Rezaian or Hekmati or Abedini, they wanted to go home. Two sides of the coin. U.S. officials describe this more as a humanitarian exchange than a prisoner swap because some of those Iranians weren't in prison. Whatever you call it, they made their choice, and they wanted to stay here.

BOLDUAN: We'll see what happens, says that's for sure.

Jim, great to see you. Thank you so much. Interesting story coming out on that.

Let's get to some breaking news out of Wall Street. The Dow plunging. You're seeing right there, it had been hovering down 400 points in the red.

BERMAN: Let's get right to Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange.

Alison, is this about oil prices, which continue just to nosedive?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: They really do. Now we're seeing oil prices below $27 a barrel. That's a low we haven't seen since 2003. And you're right, John. You know, the focus really remains on oil. You know, and the kind of impact that low oil prices have on economies, not just here in the U.S., but around the world as well. And analysts are saying when we see these low oil prices, once again, levels that we haven't seen in more than a decade, they're an indicator of how economies around the world are doing. They're slowing down. So then you have a lot of investors asking the question and having the worry, well, how long can the U.S. stay strong in this kind of environment? So you're seeing that fear really play out here on Wall Street.

We are seeing the Dow, however, off its lows of the session, but only a little bit because we did see the Dow down a little over 400 points earlier. But we are seeing stocks move in lockstep with oil, meaning as oil plunges, so do stocks -- John and Kate?

BERMAN: All right. Ugly day. Let's see how bad it gets.

Thanks, Alison.

KOSIK: Sure.

BERMAN: Hillary Clinton, stunning poll numbers show her trailing big in New Hampshire. And now more news that she could find troubling. E-mails on her server beyond top secret, more secret than top secret. What does that mean? Is she at legal risk? Stay with us.


[11:28:07] BOLDUAN: Less than three weeks to the crucial New Hampshire primary. And on the Democratic side, the state is looking more and more like it is feeling the Bern currently. A new CNN poll with WMUR shows that Bernie Sanders is ahead of Hillary Clinton by 27 points in the Granite State. He gained 10 points in just the last month.

BERMAN: The Clinton campaign just released a new ad that has been put out in New Hampshire and Iowa, basically, her closing argument to voters. And Bill Clinton will be campaigning for his wife -- there he is right now. Not in a few minutes, literally, at this moment in Concord, New Hampshire. Selling, selling, selling.

Let's bring in CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He's not there with the president. He's in Des Moines, Iowa, where Hillary Clinton has a lot of work to do also -- Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John and Kate. You're right. What Bernie Sanders is hoping to do is some of that -- he's hoping some of that support in New Hampshire spills over here into Iowa. We spent all day on the road with Bernie Sanders yesterday, campaigning across the state. And one argument he was making again and again to his supporters is that he can win. He almost sounded like Donald Trump. He was reading his poll numbers saying that, you know, he's doing better than Hillary Clinton and that he would do fine in a general election. Now, some Democrats aren't so sure about that. They worry that he is actually too liberal to win a national contest.

So we caught up with Bernie Sanders, and we asked him why he's talking so much about how he can win.


ZELENY: And you feel you have to spell that out sort of clearly for voters, that you can win?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. I think one of the major be o obstacles that we face is people say, well, Bernie, I like your ideas. I like you personally, but you can't win. You can't win the general election. So what we have to explain is that poll after poll has me further ahead of Donald Trump and other Republicans than Secretary Clinton. That, in fact, for us to win and retain the White House and regain the Senate, we need a large voter turnout. And to get a large voter turnout, there has to be excitement, enthusiasm at the grass-roots level. I think that is our campaign.