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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump & FOX Trade Insults Over GOP Debate Boycott; Cruz Challenges Trump to One-on-One Debate; Illegal Occupation Turns Deadly; U.S. Concerned by Activity at North Korea Launch Site; U.S. to Step Up Pressure on North Korea; Sanders Meets Obama, Says President Has Been 'Fair'; Police: Militia to Blame for Fatal Confrontation. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired January 27, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:15] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, outfoxed. Donald Trump says he won't attend tomorrow's Republican presidential debate on FOX and says he intends to hold his own event. Tonight, the war of words between the billionaire and the conservative news network is growing hotter than ever. Will it be a game-changer, though, in Iowa?
Debatable? Just as Donald Trump those Republican debate plans for a loop, there's potentially chaos on the Democratic side. Will Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders defy their party's leaders and show up for a newly-announced, unsanctioned debate in New Hampshire? The party doesn't want them there. Will the candidates listen?
Shootout. After weeks of watching and waiting, the FBI goes after the group that took over an Oregon wildlife refuge. The shocking result. An overnight shootout. One protester dead, eight leaders arrested. Now as checkpoints surround them, will the remaining protesters give up without a fight?
And un-dercover. CNN learns North Korea's Kim Jong-un is secretly moving people and equipment in what looks like preparations to launch a long-range missile, multi-stage missile, we should point out. Secretary of State John Kerry is in China, seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Can anyone manage North Korea's reckless leader and his suspected ambition to test an intercontinental ballistic missile?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Tonight we're awaiting a Donald Trump rally in South Carolina, where he may have more to say about his plans for tomorrow.
Trump insists he'll skip a Republican debate on FOX News, and he and the network, they are trading insults. Trump's rivals, especially Senator Ted Cruz, they're fanning the flames. Can the senator or anyone else, for that matter, make Trump debate again?
We're also following a shocking story developing right now in Oregon. FBI agents say they're taking necessary actions to end the occupation of a wildlife refuge by armed protesters after an overnight shootout and at least one death. The group's leaders are in jail tonight. Checkpoints are set up, and the remaining occupiers have been told to come out peacefully. We'll have a live update on this tense situation.
And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all the day's top stories.
Let's begin with today's political chaos.
CNN's Jim Acosta is in South Carolina for us, waiting for the start of that Donald Trump rally.
Jim, are you getting any hints that Trump could change his mind about skipping tomorrow's FOX debate?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they haven't completely ruled it out at this point, Wolf, and the campaign has not put out an announcement for some kind of event tomorrow evening, but the plan is still for that to take place tomorrow night.
Instead of fighting with his Republican rivals, Donald Trump is at war with FOX News. Just as the network is preparing to host a GOP debate tomorrow night, we understand the Trump campaign is still planning to put on its own rival event to that debate to drive down viewership for FOX News and drive up Trump's poll numbers.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They can't toy with me like they toy with everybody else.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Of all the high-stakes campaign gambles, this one is huge. Donald Trump is showing no signs of backing down from his threat to skip the network's Republican debate tomorrow, just days before the Iowa caucuses.
TRUMP: Let them have their debate, and let's see how they do with the ratings.
ACOSTA: Asked earlier today whether the GOP front-runner was keeping the door open just a crack, Trump's campaign manager all but slammed it shut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The short answer is I just don't think so.
ACOSTA: Trump is furious at FOX News for putting out a sarcastic statement, suggesting the real-estate tycoon was afraid of moderator Megyn Kelly.
TRUMP: When they sent out the wise guy press releases a little while ago, done by some P.R. person along with Roger Ailes, I said bye-bye, OK?
ACOSTA: Trump lashed out on Twitter: "I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct."
FOX accused the Trump campaign of trying to threaten Kelly, saying in a statement, "We can't give into terrorizations toward any of our employees." SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Apparently, Megyn Kelly
is really, really scary. And, you know, Donald is a fragile soul.
ACOSTA: Trump's main rival in Iowa, Ted Cruz, pounced, launching a ducking Donald page on his campaign web. If Trump is afraid of Megyn Kelly, Cruz crowed, let's debate one on one. Cruz is also selling a new hat that reads "Make Trump Debate Again."
CRUZ: If she asks him mean questions, I mean, his hair might stand on end.
ACOSTA: Trump fired back on Twitter: "Can we do it in Canada?" It's a risky move for Trump to give up his time on the debate stage as a new poll shows he's widening his lead over Cruz in Iowa.
TRUMP: Hillary has always surrounded herself with very good people. I think Hillary would do a good job.
ACOSTA: And as a new anti-Trump PAC is airing ads attacking him, critics are recalling the time he slammed Republicans for skipping a debate during the 2012 cycle when he complimented Kelly on her moderating skills.
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Do you really think that you're a better moderator than I am?
TRUMP: No, I could never beat you. That wouldn't even be close. That would be no contest. You have done a great job, by the way, and I mean it.
ACOSTA: Now Donald Trump is finding an ally in Rush Limbaugh, who said FOX News is acting like it's been jilted at the altar. We're told the Trump campaign is planning on skipping the debate and even cancelling the watch parties among their supporters. Trump will have his first chance to tackle this controversy before voters here in South Carolina, Wolf.
We've talked to a few of these voters here. They are definitely siding with Trump against FOX News, and this is certainly, at least in past election cycles, the kind of folks who would be very much a FOX News viewing audience, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much. We'll stand by for that rally and Trump's remarks.
And we just saw in Jim's report Senator Ted Cruz is leading the charge to take advantage of Donald Trump's announcement that he will skip the debate tomorrow night.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is following the senator's campaign, joining us now live from Des Moines. Sunlen, how is this impacting Ted Cruz's preparations for that debate?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Cruz campaign is quickly tonight trying to recalibrate their debate strategy. A campaign official telling me that they're now practicing for this very different and completely new scenario that they had not first prepared for.
And I do think that this speaks to the awareness on the part of the Cruz campaign that their candidate has the most to potentially gain and to lose, depending on how things play out at tomorrow night's debate.
If Donald Trump does not show up, that gives Cruz the big opportunity to take some command up there here on the debate stage, but they're very realistic that this is a very real opportunity for him to also be hit from many angles, many more sides than he was originally if Donald Trump was there, and that he could emerge from tomorrow night's debate more bruised than he would have actually with Donald Trump there -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sunlen, does the Cruz campaign really believe Trump won't show up, or do they think all of this as some sort of ruse?
SERFATY: Well, I think it's fair to say that no one really knows, and that's including the Cruz campaign at this point, Wolf. They are admitting that they feel that they're in a state of limbo right now and that right now what they're doing is preparing for either contingency.
Donald Trump not showing up or Donald Trump showing up and coming to terms today in the 24 hours before the debate that they really might not know until the final moments before all the candidates, with or without Donald Trump, take the debate stage.
BLITZER: See what happens. Sunlen, thanks very much.
Joining us now, Donald Trump supporter, Tea Party activist Scottie Hughes. She's also chief political correspondent for USA Radio Network. Scottie, thanks very much for joining us.
What do you think it would take for FOX to have Trump actually show up at the debate? What would it take for Donald Trump to change his mind?
SCOTTIE HUGHES, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, USA RADIO NETWORK: Well, first of all, from FOX's perspective, I think they would actually have to issue an apology, and they'd have to replace Megyn Kelly as a moderator.
Now, I'm not holding my breath for that to happen, Wolf. That would mean a big concession. But just to sit here and listen to your last report, it already shows that Donald Trump has won. If you have the second place person basing their preparations for a debate on whether or not your candidate is there, Mr. Trump has already won.
I can guarantee Mr. Trump would not be basing his debate prep based on any other candidate being on that stage or not, so already he's dominating the headlines. You have a poll held right now by a FOX -- one of the FOX hosts where Donald Trump is actually winning. Eighty- three percent of people in this poll are saying they will not watch if Donald Trump is not on that stage.
BLITZER: As you know, Donald Trump says he'll hold a separate event tomorrow night while the other Republican candidates are debating. Do you know specifics of what he will do, what time he will do it, where he will do it? Has all that been arranged?
HUGHES: Well, I know they're working very hard. I know I'm here in national. I'm hearing feelers here at national. I'm hearing rumors on the streets here, but you know whatever they're going to do, they're going to make sure that it's competitive.
Because when you're looking at this, this just exemplifies why Donald Trump is so popular. He's not going to get into anything, including a debate including himself, if he knows he's going in where everybody is going to attack him; and it's a bigger chance of actually making him look bad. He's going to do the same type leadership style with America.
So when you look at tomorrow night, you know he's competing against this debate. And I guarantee he's going to make sure it's worth people tuning into him and showing the other crowd that it's not worth it for them not to do this again in the future.
BLITZER: Scottie, as you know, Trump tweeted this today. I'll put it up on the screen. I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would be politically -- that would not be politically correct. Instead, I will only call her a lightweight reporter. Are you OK with that?
HUGHES: You know, they're going to have -- they're going to trade jabs back and forth against each other. And you have to realize, this -- both of them have benefited from this fight, whether they want to admit it or not. You know, both of them did very well post that first debate, and this continues the traction.
[17:10:15] Now, I don't think we would have predicted Donald Trump sitting out at this debate, because she was hosting. But both of them right now are having really good spikes within their own base, because they're battling against each other. So to me both of them are kind of winning from this debate.
BLITZER: Here's the question that Megyn Kelly asked Trump at that first Republican debate back in August. I'm going to play it for you, Scottie. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account...
TRUMP: Only Rosie O'Donnell.
KELLY: No, it wasn't. Your Twitter account...
TRUMP: Thank you. KELLY: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O'Donnell.
TRUMP: Yes, I'm sure it was.
KELLY: Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women's looks. You once told a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice" it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Scottie, that was clearly a tough question. It directly quoted what he had said in years past. What was wrong with that question? You're a journalist.
HUGHES: Well, it showed both of their skills. It showed her hard skill of actually gathering her facts and her stories and asking the tough question.
But you also have got to say that Mr. Trump gave it right back to her and had funny, witty lines. And it actually -- he shows that actions don't speak -- the idea that Mr. Trump is sexist, I'm sorry, is ludicrous where you're actually looking at the actions, where he has more female executives within the Trump -- within the -- his Trump dynasty than most Fortune 500 companies.
You know, like I said, both of them have handled this debate very well within their own base. They're demonized. Both of them have created more, probably, enemies on the other side. But who's to say that they were ever going to be friends anyways.
Here's the other thing, Wolf. Look at these past interviews these two have had. They've actually had a friendship. They've actually had a relationship. So what changed between the two of them? And will we possibly, in the future, if Mr. Trump is president, actually see that friendship come back together? I think -- I think we will. They're both the best in their field, and I think at one point, they might become friends again.
BLITZER: But you give an optimistic picture of that -- this relationship, but since August he's been really savaging her. And you know, she's tried to take the high road. She really hasn't gone after him that much on her show. She did a bit last night.
But why is he so angry at her for that one simple, very tough, tough question?
HUGHES: Listen, you know, Megyn is very smart, and she's not in the place that she is for just sitting there. I mean, she does a very good show. Now, to say that there's been no other bias in the show, that's a little bit light. There's been bias. In fact, when the 22 -- gang of 22 came out, they came out on her show. So I mean, you can definitely tell there, you know, why he's got such anti-sentiment.
The good news is there's other shows that are actually kinder to him. I do think that, you know, we would not have had this immature memo that came out. And Mr. Trump was a part of tomorrow night's interview, I guarantee it would have benefited them both very, very well. They would have been prepared for each other.
In fact, of anybody on that stage that Mr. Trump would have prepared for, it would have been her questioning besides any of the other contenders.
BLITZER: Bottom line, will he show up in the debate, do you believe, tomorrow night?
HUGHES: I don't believe so. I think he's going to throw one shindig of a party in Iowa, and people are going to pay more attention to that than what they're going to see on the other stage.
BLITZER: Scottie Hughes, thanks very much for joining us.
Once again, Donald Trump rewriting the rules for presidential campaigns. Up next, will the voters of Iowa reward or punish him?
Plus Democratic debate chaos. Party leaders are trying to put a stop to a just-announced plan for a pre-New Hampshire debate. Will Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton defy their party's leaders and will they debate anyway?
[17:18:36] BLITZER: Once again we're awaiting a Donald Trump rally, where he may have more to say about what he's planning to do instead of attending tomorrow night's FOX News Republican presidential debate. Trump and the -- and FOX, they've been trading insults via Twitter and news releases, and the rest of the Republican candidates, they are weighing in, as well. Let's bring in our political experts.
Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is standing by. Our CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist, Hilary Rosen, is with us, Republican strategist, former Mitt Romney senior advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, is with us; and CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, the editorial director of "The National Journal," is with us, as well.
Gloria, you had a chance to speak with Jeb Bush today. He shared some thoughts on Trump's plans to boycott the Republican debate tomorrow night. I want to play for our viewers what he told you. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He's at the top of the polls and his supporters -- I was at a rally last night. They say they'll be with him, no matter whether he's there or not.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it -- I think it will hurt him that he's not showing up in the Iowa debate four days before the Iowa caucuses. I just think it can't help him. But look, he's a master at all this, manipulating the press and manipulating everybody, so he may have a secret plan. Who knows? BORGER: What does that tell you about leadership?
BUSH: What I know about leadership is that you've got to have a steady hand. You've got to have a backbone. You've got to do what's right. Unpredictability is not -- is not a style of leadership that works in a public setting. You have to draw people towards your cause.
And when it's always about you, that's not the leadership we need right now. We need someone with a servant's heart, not someone who's a narcissist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: "Narcissist," strong word. You also, Gloria, had a chance to check in with the Trump campaign earlier in the day. What are they saying about whether in the end Trump will debate or not debate tomorrow night?
BORGER: Well, I spoke with Corey Lewandowski with the Trump campaign. And he made it very clear that they're planning their Wounded Warriors event. It doesn't seem at this point like they intend to back out, although I never make any predictions in this political race.
But it seems to me that they're going ahead with their alternate event, and that's what they're going to do. I think the Trump campaign believes that they were insulted and provoked by FOX News, while they were on an airplane heading to Iowa, and that Donald Trump just threw up his hands and said, "I'm not going to play their game."
BLITZER: Eric, we just heard Scottie Hughes, a Trump supporter, say in order to get Trump on that debate stage tomorrow night the FOX News network has to apologize to him, and they have to dump Megyn Kelly as one of the moderators. Do you think that's realistic?
ERIC FEHRNSTROM, FORMER MITT ROMNEY SENIOR ADVISOR: Well, I don't know what it's going to take, but I do know we're at a stage of the campaign, just a few days away from the Iowa caucus. This is when candidates are starved for media attention, and Trump is once again dominating the discussion.
By the way, I'm sure it escaped people's notice that the day yesterday started with anti-abortion leaders coming out and telling Iowa to vote for anybody but Trump. Usually, that's a silver bullet right to the heart in Republican politics, but it's been just washed away by this onslaught of pre-debate coverage.
I don't think this hurts Trump, by the way. I think there are some positive outcomes here for him. No. 1, he's going to avoid a pile-on. I think the moderators and the other candidates, of course, maybe even the audience were ready to jump down Trump's throat.
Two, I think Cruz now is going to become the punching bag. And of course, No. 1 is he denies his opponents a large election eve audience, because he takes a lot of those viewers with him when he refuses to participate. BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, does this help or hurt Ted Cruz, the
possibility, almost certainty right now that Donald Trump won't be on that stage?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's a complex equation. As Eric said, I mean, it denies Cruz and the others an opportunity to take a final shot at Donald Trump before the voting. And in that sense this really could just be an elaborate kind of smoke screen for a front-runner who doesn't want to take the chance of a debate right before the vote.
On the other hand, the Iowa caucus is a process that has a lot of pride, voters here in being first in the nation. They demand and expect a lot of attention, and denying them the opportunity to look at you one last time is, in effect, not only disrespecting FOX, but to some extent, the Iowa caucus itself. And there is some risk in that, given the way they guard their first-in-the-nation status.
BLITZER: Hilary, Cruz keeps saying that a vote for any of the other candidates, in effect, is a vote for Donald Trump. Do you agree with that?
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No. Because some -- there needs to be somebody breaking out of the pack of the rest of the Republican candidates, the so-called sort of establishment wing.
Whether that's Marco Rubio, whether that's John Kasich, whether that's Chris Christie, I don't think, you know, Jeb Bush still has hopes there. A vote for one of those guys, one of those guys comes in third in Iowa and all of a sudden, they're the -- they're the mainstream candidate of choice going into New Hampshire. That would be very big. And, you know, they would be crazy to throw that vote away on Ted Cruz.
BLITZER: What do you think, Gloria? You're there in Iowa?
BORGER: Well, at this Trump rally last night, his supporters remain steadfast. But then I found a bunch of undecided voters who are kind of going to all of these pre-caucus events. And this couple, one couple said to me, "Look, we want to hear him at this debate. We want to hear him go up against all these other candidates." And they think he's making a mistake, because he's got to turn out people.
And this is all going to be about turnout. And what we don't know right now is whether his supporters, who have not been participants in the past, will participate this time. And if he were on that stage, he could potentially push them to participate.
And if he were on that stage, undecided voters might potentially, who have gone to caucuses, might potentially support him. So it's very difficult to predict, but just talking to these people last night, they're like, "We want to hear from him."
BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by, because we have a lot more to assess, including what's going on in the Democratic race for the White House. Once again we're standing by to hear from Donald Trump. He's getting ready to address a rally. We'll check in with him. Much more coming up right after the quick break.
[17:29:52] BLITZER: Senator Bernie Sanders met with President Obama at the White House today, just days before the crucial Iowa caucuses. He says the president has been fair during the campaign for the Democratic nomination and that he doesn't believe President Obama favors his rival, Hillary Clinton.
Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is following the Democratic campaign. She's in Mason City, Iowa, right now. What's the latest?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.
We're here at Music Man Square where there's actually a wind ensemble playing that you may hear behind me, where we're awaiting Bernie Sanders' rally this evening.
He did have the opportunity to say, yes, President Obama has been putting his finger on the scale for Hillary Clinton, but he didn't take it, being very careful not to turn off Democrats who support him and also the president.
KEILAR (voice-over): Bernie Sanders off the campaign trail this morning for an Oval Office meeting with President Obama.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have got to do a lot better to protect the middle class and working families. But it's also important to remember how far we have come in the last seven years under the leadership of President Obama and Vice President Biden.
KEILAR: Sanders aligning himself with Obama just days after the president talked up Hillary Clinton to politico.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She can govern and she can start here day one. More experience than any non-vice president has ever been who aspires to this office.
KEILAR: Sanders insists he doesn't think the president is playing favorites.
SANDERS: I think he and the vice president have tried to be fair and even-handed in the process, and I expect they will continue to be that way.
KEILAR: Just days away from the first in the nation nominating contest in Iowa, Sanders took a detour to Minnesota with an eye on the Super Tuesday contests in early March.
SANDERS: My God, what a turnout! KEILAR: Fifteen thousand people at his rally in St. Paul, several
thousand coming out to see him in Duluth.
SANDERS: Our campaign has the energy. You see it here tonight.
KEILAR: In Iowa, he's neck in neck with Clinton. In New Hampshire, next door to his home state of Vermont, he's beating her handily in the polls. Now Clinton, looking for a game-changer in the Granite State, is hoping the Democratic Party will sign off on an unsanctioned debate now in the works.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would like the chairman of the party and the campaigns to agree that we can debate in New Hampshire next week. That is what I'm hoping will happen.
KEILAR: The Sanders campaign has yet to agree to participate in the extra debate. Clinton took aim at Sanders, saying he can't deliver on his promises, like his call for Medicare for all Americans.
CLINTON: He has a different idea. And I fear it would lead to gridlock, not action. It would throw us into a contentious national debate that would not move us forward. And I don't think the people I've met in Iowa can wait.
KEILAR: Now, Bernie Sanders managing expectations once again today that he will have a repeat of Barack Obama's 2008 upset in Iowa. He said he doesn't think basically that he'll pull off a win that big, but he did say that if turnout is high, Wolf, meaning if caucus goers who don't normally come out and caucus are out on Monday night, he said he'll win.
BLITZER: All right, Brianna, thanks very much. I want to get back to our experts for more analysis on today's political news.
Gloria, you are with Hillary Clinton earlier today. What's the sense within her campaign with only a few days left to go before the Iowa caucuses?
BORGER: Wolf, they're keeping their fingers crossed. They understand that this is really close. The Hillary Clinton I saw this morning at a bowling alley was somebody who was making her closing argument.
She wasn't attacking Bernie Sanders. She was outlining where she stands on the issues. She did say she would be the only one not to raise taxes in order to pay for her plans, but she will -- would make Wall Street pay their fair share.
It's clear she's been affected very deeply by Bernie Sanders in this race, moving to the left, but nobody in that campaign is making any predictions about what's going to happen in the Iowa caucuses right now.
BLITZER: Hilary Rosen, at an event in Iowa -- Iowa today, Hillary Clinton said this. She said, "A lot of folks have tried to take me out before and I'm still standing." That -- she should be dominating, given her experience, the fact she did it eight years ago. Still standing doesn't sound very confident.
ROSEN: Well, I think she thinks of herself as on the ropes, and that's, you know, when candidates get, you know, the true grit comes out. She's -- has been behind before in Iowa, where we're seeing her a little behind now, very neck in neck. And, you know, she is going to make her supporters believe that every single one of them has to come out and caucus. That's what both of these candidates have to do this week.
BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, today was only the second time that Senator Bernie Sanders met privately with President Obama over the past seven years he's been president. What do you think the president likely told him?
[17:35:11] BROWNSTEIN: You know, obviously, we don't know, Wolf, but I'm betting he said something along the lines of "as long as you're positive and inspiring the Democratic coalition, it will be a positive for the party. If you turn negative on Hillary Clinton, it will be something that will divide the party and be an issue going into November."
Look, I think in both races in Iowa, we really have the same fundamental issue at this point. The polls don't so much offer answers as point toward the question. Who votes?
In the Quinnipiac poll today, Hillary Clinton was up by double digits among people who voted before, and Bernie Sanders was up almost three to one among people who had not voted in a caucus before.
In the Republican race, the Monmouth poll you cited assumes a turnout 50 percent higher than Republicans have ever seen to give Donald Trump that lead. On a turnout like last year, the race is tied. So we have a core question: Can Sanders and Trump expand the electorate? If they can, they'll have a good night.
BLITZER: Eric, who do the Republicans fear most -- fear more in a general election: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, I'd take either one of them. I think Hillary Clinton is a very weak front-runner. And I think Bernie Sanders is, as a socialist, is just outside the mainstream of American political thought.
But he's not outside the mainstream of Democratic thought. And I thought one of the most interesting numbers to come out of the most recent "Des Moines Register" poll is that 43 percent, Wolf, 43 percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus goers think of themselves as socialists. That number, more than anything else, explains how a fringe political movement has become mainstream inside the Democratic Party and why Bernie Sanders just might win the Iowa caucuses.
BLITZER: Let me rephrase the question, Eric. Who would the Republicans fear the most? would it be Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton or former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg? FEHRNSTROM: You keep adding names to this list. Look, you know, I
can't predict what Mike Bloomberg might decide. He's toyed with this idea of running as an independent before. And when it came down to the wire, he didn't pull the plug.
Look, I know for Hillary Clinton, she can't just win Iowa by a squeaker. There are too many character and trust issues swirling around her head. She needs to win by a convincing majority. And the fact that you still have this unresolved FBI investigation hanging over her head is not doing her any favors, because voters can't be sure that she's above criminal suspicion.
BLITZER: Hilary Rosen, very quickly respond, because you disagree.
ROSEN: Well, I'm saying the fact that Eric just spent the last two minutes putting down Hillary Clinton means that the Republicans don't want to run against Hillary Clinton. That's the one that they fear the most. They're the one -- he's the one they're going at.
BLITZER: If Bloomberg ran -- if Bloomberg ran, Hillary, would he take more votes away from the Democrats or the Republicans?
ROSEN: Well, I think he would take votes away from -- he would take Republican and independent votes in particular away from Republicans. I don't think he would take votes away from Clinton. It remains to be seen if that -- if Bernie Sanders were our nominee.
BLITZER: Let's see if Michael Bloomberg runs.
All right, guys, thanks very much. Coming up, much more coming up on the race for the White House. Once again we're standing by to hear whether Donald Trump is going to be at that debate or not.
Meanwhile, a militia member is shot to death just outside a standoff between armed protesters and the FBI. And are the protesters on the verge of giving up, or will they dig in?
And concern is growing among U.S. security officials that North Korea is preparing for a missile launch. We have new information.
[17:43:36] BLITZER: Breaking news. Law enforcement officials in Oregon are blaming armed protesters at a wildlife refuge for the death of a man shot by authorities during a traffic stop.
Authorities have not identified the man, but sources indicate he was a member of the militia group that has been occupying the refuge for more than three weeks. Our correspondent, Dan Simon, is joining us now, live from Burns, Oregon, where the standoff still taking place.
Dan, what is the very latest?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Wolf.
This still remains a very tense situation. You still have a number of armed occupiers at that refuge, and it's anyone's guess how this is going to come to an end.
Now, in terms of what happened yesterday, it's clear this had been in the works for some time. Obviously, authorities wanted to do it in a way where you wouldn't have community bystanders who could potentially be injured. That they accomplished.
But of course, you had one of the occupiers who was killed. And authorities say none of this had to happen.
SIMON (voice-over): Tonight a deadly shootout between armed militia and the police has failed to end the group's takeover of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. An unknown number of militia remain at the refuge as the FBI sets up checkpoints on area roads.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI, with our partners, took the first steps to bring this occupation to a conclusion.
SIMON: Group leader Ammon Bundy and seven others were arrested Tuesday night after the FBI and Oregon State Police pulled them over on their way to a meeting with community residents. Bundy's brother, Ryan, was shot and suffered minor wounds.
LAVOY FINICUM, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR OCCUPATION: Let's just be neighborly.
SIMON: But a spokesman for the armed occupiers, LaVoy Finicum, was killed.
[17:45:07] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time for everybody in this illegal occupation to move on. There doesn't have to be bloodshed in our community.
SIMON: Bundy's father says his son called him from the back of a police cruiser moments after the shootout.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My son, Ryan, has been shot in the arm. Lavoy Finicum, they cold-blooded killed him. He said he was out, had his hands in the air. He said he wasn't armed, he wasn't any threat.
SIMON: Authorities say Ryan Bundy and Finicum did not obey orders to surrender and shots were fired.
The armed group took over the refuge on January 2nd in part to protest the sentencing of two ranchers and to make a stand against what they call government overreach when it comes to federal lands.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They continued to ignore us and pushed us to the point where we felt we had to make a stand to defend our rights.
SIMON: Finicum previously told reporters he was willing to give his life for the cause.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are things more important than your life. And freedom is one of them. SIMON: The sheriff says he'd been trying to work with the group to
find a peaceful solution. But in the end, he just couldn't meet their ultimatums.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't arm up and rebel. We work through the appropriate channels. This can't happen anymore. This can't happen in America and it can't happen in Harney County.
SIMON: And again, this situation remains quite fragile. And we just got some new video in showing some of the armed occupiers. It's not clear how many are still left, but obviously there's still a presence at the refuge.
Just a little while ago we saw a number of law enforcement vehicles, they appeared to be FBI personnel, speeding down this road where I am. It's clear that they may have something up their sleeve, but it does not appear at this point that anything is imminent. But obviously they want to bring this situation to a close but how that's going to be accomplished, Wolf, still unknown.
Back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Dan, thank you.
Coming up, we're getting new information right now. North Korea may be preparing to launch a missile.
[17:51:30] BLITZER: We're following a developing story out of North Korea right now. U.S. officials are deeply concerned about recent movement of personnel and equipment and a satellite launching facility that could indicate the North Koreans are preparing to launch a missile.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has been digging into this story. What are you learning, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight U.S. spy satellites are keeping a sharp eye on this facility in North Korea. They have been observing for days now people, equipment, even fuel moving to this site.
The concern is this. The North Koreans may be planning to launch a satellite on top of a giant rocket booster. But when you put a satellite on it it's a peaceful activity. Put a warhead on top of it and it becomes an intercontinental ballistic missile. If they launch and they call it a satellite, and it may well be a satellite, what will they learn about launching an ICBM and possibly making themselves more able to attack on an intercontinental basis. That's the big worry.
This site is a particular concern. It was built with concealment in mind. Something the North Koreans are expert at. There is a rail head. It moves into an underground building. All the equipment goes in underground. That building then moves along a rail to the launch pad and it is only at the last moment that the U.S. satellites will be able to see that the North Koreans are preparing for a launch.
So a lot of concern about what they are up to and the ultimate concern, whatever it may be and no one is sure, it will give them more capability for intercontinental ballistic missiles -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very worrisome development. Barbara, thank you.
CNN is also on the ground right now in Beijing where Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to persuade Chinese officials to ratchet up pressure on North Korea.
Let's go to our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott for details -- Elise.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Wolf, after five hours of sparring, two things were clear. The U.S. and China agree that something must be done about the North Korean nuclear threat, but they do not agree on what that something is.
LABOTT (voice-over): Calling Kim Jong-Un's latest nuclear test reckless and dangerous, John Kerry told Chinese leaders it can't be business as usual and it's time to step up.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States believes very strongly that China has a particular ability because of its special role in its connections to North Korea.
LABOTT: Kerry wants North Korea's largest benefactor to finally put the squeeze on the unpredictable and erratic leader and support tough U.N. sanctions. After close to five hours of talks, the tension was evident.
KERRY: With all due respect, more significant and impactful sanctions were put in place against Iran which did not have a nuclear weapon than against North Korea which does.
LABOTT: China said it was willing to play ball at the U.N. but a visibly frustrated Chinese Foreign minister made clear the North Korea's neighbor and closest ally is still reluctant to push too hard.
WANG YI, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER (Through Translator): The new resolution should not provoke new tension that would destabilize the peninsula.
LABOTT: China arguing sanctions have failed to curb the nuclear ambitions of three generations of North Korean leaders. And that what Kim Jong-Un really wants is to sit down with the U.S.
[17:55:02] WANG YI (Through Translator): Sanctions are not an end in themselves. The key is to really resolve the issue. LABOTT: Kerry agreed but said the U.S. would not stand by in the face
of North Korea's nuclear threat and warned with Kim Jong-Un developing long-range missiles that can hit the U.S., North Korea must be stopped.
LABOTT: Secretary Kerry agreed that along with the stick, there should be a carrot. And that if North Korea were willing to change course, the U.S. would be willing to sit down and talk about sanctions relief and even economic aid.
Then he reiterated again tonight, Wolf, that the U.S. could never accept a North Korean nuclear state.
BLITZER: Elise Labott in Beijing, thank you.
Coming up, breaking news. We're learning, just now, exactly what Donald Trump intends to do tomorrow night when the Republican presidential debate is scheduled.