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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Dubai Passenger Plan Crashes in Russia, 62 Killed; Paris Terror Suspect Captured in Belgium; Protesters Try to Disrupt Trump Rally; Paris Terror Suspect Captured in Belgium; GOP Candidates Head West Before Tuesday Vote; North Korea Launches Missiles Off Korean Peninsula. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 19, 2016 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: -- NCAA said their last perfect bracket was busted when Stephen F. Austin beat West Virginia last night.

[07:00:06] And the last two perfect brackets in the NCAA tournament challenge busted after fifth seed Maryland's win over 12th seeded South Dakota State.

So, don't feel bad. All right. Probably completely --

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm in last place in the CNN ranking.

PAUL: There is so much news to tell you about this morning.

BLACKWELL: The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAUL: We want to wish you good morning and tell you how grateful we are to have your company as always here. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

PAUL: We got some breaking news we want to get to you this morning.

Sixty-two people are dead after a Dubai-based passenger plane crashed in southern Russian. This was a FlyDubai plane. It crashed after several attempts to land, with new video here that we want to show you of the aftermath of that crash.

Look at the debris that's littered across the runway. A lot of very small pieces reportedly being seen there, but not a lot of very large pieces. Investigators say both flight data recorders, though, have been recovered. And the UAE is sending four investigators to Moscow to participate with the Russians in this investigation.

CNN covering the story from all angles. CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance in Moscow, CNN producer John Jensen in Abu Dhabi.

Matthew, we want to start with you. What are you learning about happened and what is then consequently happening thereafter? MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all,

the authorities that are investigating down at the scene, they've recovered the two black boxes, the two flight data recorders, the flight data recorder, and the cockpit voice recorder. That's crucial, of course, in an incident like this, as with any plane crash, because it's going to give us definitive answers as to why this FlyDubai Boeing 737-800, a very modern aircraft from an airline with a very good safety record should have fallen out of the skies in this fashion, killing all 62 people on board.

Already, there are deep suspicions about the weather playing a role. There were storms in the area, snowstorms, visibility was very low, sharp gusting winds as well. In fact, the plane already tried to land once at the airport in Rostov-on-Don, which is a city in the southwest of Russia, but aborted that attempt to land because of the high winds.

The plane then circled, this is interesting, for two hours around Rostov. You can imagine what that feels like, circling around the airports in storm conditions, waiting for the weather to break, waiting for an opportunity to land.

They then took that opportunity two hours later only to end in that fatal fashion. They say all 62 people on board dying as the plane crashed into the runway or just short of the runway. In fact, a couple of hundreds of meters or feet from the runway, resulting in that wreckage, if you've seen any of that new video, little bits of aircraft lying all over that area in southern Russia.

PAUL: OK. Hey, Matthew Chance, thank you.

Again, it's what Matthew was talking about, there is the video.

John Jensen joining us now.

John, how soon before authorities might be able to analyze the black boxes, the flight recorders, both of which they say they'd have in their possession already?

JOHN JENSEN, CNN PRODUCER: Well, it could take a long time as you know. Plane crash investigations tend to go on for days if not weeks, sometimes longer than that. As far as the UAE is concerned, they aren't even confirming that both black boxes have recovered it. If they have, UAE officials haven't heard that.

We just had a press conference here in Dubai. Fairly wide-ranging series of questions asked by reporters there and the CEO Ghaith al- Ghaith had this to say, there was no distress call as far as he could tell from this plane. He also said that the aircraft, which was purchased in just 2011, fairly new, 737-800, that's a Boeing, fairly new plane.

He said it had passed what's called a C-check. Now, that's sort of an extensive check they give to plains every couple of months. Every plane goes through a number of test before flight and in-between flights. But this was a very comprehensive test and it passed just in January 21st. So, as far as the FlyDubai concerned, the aircraft was perfectly

healthy. His pilots, two pilots, one from Cyprus, one from Spain, both had a number of hours, around 6,000 hours in flights. So, very experienced pilots who had been to this city many times before.

PAUL: And, John, real quickly, is there any indication whether if the weather was bad and they had this holding pattern for two hours above the airport, why did that not reroute this plane?

JENSEN: That, Christi, is the question. We did not get any sort of answer from the CEO of FlyDubai on that. That will be a question they look to.

[07:05:00] We're told a number of other aircrafts did divert. Why the FlyDubai flight circled for a number of hours, we still do not know. However, the CEO said at a press conference, and this is a quote, "as far as we know, the airport was open and we were good to operate."

PAUL: All right. John Jensen, Matthew Chance, gentlemen, thank you both for the updates.

BLACKWELL: We're following another breaking story. French officials say the arrest of the sole surviving suspect from the Paris attack has, quote, "dealt a major blow to ISIS in Europe." Salah Abdeslam is out of the hospital this morning. He was wounded when he and four others were captured in a dramatic raid in Belgium.

Let's get now to CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen. He's in Brussels.

Fred, where is Abdeslam now?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At this point, we know he's been discharged from the hospital. We know in the next coming minutes really, he's going to be brought in front of the judge and that judge is the going to have to decide whether or not Abdeslam will remain in detention.

Now, it seems all but certain, of course, he will remain in detention. Afterwards he's going to be brought to a detention facility in the city of Brussels which isn't very far away from Brussel as this investigation, of course, goes on.

You're absolutely right. The authorities have said they believe that this is a major blow to ISIS, but they also said that they believe their battle against terrorism is something that's still ongoing and is still something they really need to focus on.

One of the things they hope to get from Abdeslam is they hope to find out more about the Paris attacks. They hope to find out more about how the Paris attacks were planned, how sophisticated the planning was, where the weapons, where the explosives came from. But they also want to find out and this is probably equally as important, who else was involved, how big is the web.

One of the things that the French have said it was a surprise to them how many more people had been involved. If you take a look at the raid that took place on Friday night, victor, they went to the apartment and there were five people. There were apparently also three members of a family that were sheltering him and that might be one of the reasons that could explain why there have been so many raids in Belgium over the past four months looking for this man and now they have finally found him, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, to see how much information he will willingly offer or if investigators will be effective in getting the information from him. Fred Pleitgen for us there in Brussels -- Fred, thanks so much.

PAUL: Terror experts Sajjan Gohel and CNN senior law enforcement and former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes, let's jump off that point that Fed was just making.

Everything that they want to find out, Sajjan, from this man, from Abdeslam, how likely is it that he will talk, considering the fact that he's lone survivor of the Paris attacks?

SAJJAN GOHEL, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY DIRECTOR, ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION: Well, it may take some time but once he is extradited to France, the French interrogators will eventually extract some information. They've done it in the past with other terrorism cases. I don't see why it can't happen in the case of Abdeslam.

And keep in mind, Christi, this is a man who was supposed to be involved in the Paris attacks. Unlike all the other co-conspirators who died in the battle against the police, he survived. He's very much interested in self-preservation. Even when he went back to Belgium, he could have carried out other attacks. He didn't. He chose to lie low.

So, he's going to want to save himself and equally there's going to be other people amongst ISIS fighters and leaders very nervous about potentially what he could reveal.

PAUL: And with that said, Tom, how will the U.S. assist if at all in this interrogation process or even the preparation of it?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The U.S. will supply information that they may not have about him, you know, from worldwide investigation, by the bureau in particular. They'll provide that information to the interrogators in Brussels and later when he's transported back to Paris. And that will be very instrumental in demonstrating to him that the authorities know a lot about him and have a pretty good idea of his history.

So, that's the type of background support that will go into this.

PAUL: Tom, do you believe that there were cell phones and computers in the apartment that could help them decipher the plans of the terror attack, and will they be easy to break into when we see some of the difficulties in encryption of items like that?

FUENTES: Exactly, right. They may not be easy to break in to. We don't know what the value is going to be. We don't know if they've been using encrypted apps either to make phone calls or to send e- mails that can't be broken down and analyzed.

So, we don't know that yet. We don't know how sophisticated it was and that will be a huge problem.

[07:10:00] Yet again, we can see where they use technology to a great extent that keeps them from giving up information to the authorities.

PAUL: Sajjan, I want to talk about some new video that we're learning about today, British hostage, John Cantlie. This is a 3 1/2 minute long video that's been released by ISIS. This is a man that's been held since 2012, for 3 1/2 years now.

And he's appeared in several videos, we understand. This one, he's standing in front of a media kiosk and saying the Americans are so bankrupt of intelligence that this is all they have left to target, some of the busiest residential and shopping areas -- talking about these kiosks where ISIS propaganda is distributed. Why would they use him at this point?

GOHEL: Well, that's a good question. John Cantlie is one of the few remaining Western hostages that ISIS has. The others, they have brutally killed on camera, part of that intimate kill strategy.

John Cantlie is, unfortunately, used for propaganda, in order to get the message out, illicit psychological reactions to not only intimidate the west but spur on supporters. They're very good at trying to capture the strategic narrative.

For once, they've had a setback with the capture of Abdeslam. It will be interesting to see how they respond to that. They won't be able to use John Cantlie for it. The question would be, would they try to discredit Abdeslam? Will they even pay attention to it, will they ignore?

But we will expect more propaganda in the future. I'm afraid this is how they live. It's their oxygen of publicity.

PAUL: We should point out with the first video with Cantlie in 2014, he clarified that he was being forced to share a message from ISIS and you can only assume this is maybe under duress as well.

Sajjan Gohel and Tom Fuentes, thank you, gentlemen, very much for your insight.

FUENTES: You're welcome, Christi.

BLACKWELL: Still more breaking news this morning, this coming to us from Istanbul, Turkey. At least four people confirmed dead from a suicide attack popular with tourists. The rescue and response still happening right now. Turkish media report another 20 have been wounded.

Now, the area has been cordoned off as the police work to clear the scene. No group has claimed responsibility. But today's attack follows a car bomb a few days ago in Ankara that killed 37 people. In that case, a Kurdish rebel group took responsibility. PAUL: Well, the welcome signs are up for President Obama's visit to

Cuba. A historic trip that could mark a new beginning for both nations.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the political nation moves West and the Democratic candidates are now shifting their focus to the GOP front-runner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am conservative. I'm very conservative. But I'm not conservative when it comes to stupidity. We have --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:16:02] BLACKWELL: You see there protesters outside of a Donald Trump rally in Salt Lake City. They tried to rush the entrance. They tried to get into the hall where Trump was speaking, they were stopped by officers. Trump, though, inside wasn't bothered by it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There's a lot of love. There's even some love for the protester. Do we have love for the protesters? You know what? Honestly, they're doing their thing. They're doing their thing. I don't quite get the thing, but they're doing their thing.

Let me just tell you, I do have love for the protesters and I have love for the people standing outside, the thousands of people that wanted to get in here. I love you people out there. I love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Well, let's talk about the Democrats. They're not necessarily feeling love. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders trying to knock out the GOP front-runner, at the same time, with trying to take out each other to secure that Democratic nomination.

Well, CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny has more for us here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, the eyes of the Democratic primary fight are now out west this weekend as the Arizona primary and Idaho and Utah caucuses now just three days away.

Now, Bernie Sanders hopes to jump-start his candidacy. He campaigned aggressively on all three of them on Friday and he's heading back to Arizona for a rally tonight. Now, he has the campaign trail to himself all weekend long. Hillary Clinton is taking a few days off, secure in her delegate lead over Sanders. But increasingly, Donald Trump is the center of conversation on the Democratic side of the race, too.

The Democratic machine is turning all of its attention to him. And Sanders is being talked about on the Democratic side and Sanders is taking a shot at Hillary Clinton for her connection to Donald Trump.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me say a few words about my good friend, Donald Trump. Just kidding. He's not my good friend.

(CHEERS)

In fact, I never even went to one of his weddings.

ZELENY: Of course, that's a reference to Trump's third marriage which President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton attended in Florida several years ago.

Now, the Democratic race is quickly becoming That there's a question which would be strongest to take on Trump during the election campaign. Both of them continue to make that argument and that's what they'll continue to do. The election campaign is on Tuesday out west -- Victor and Christi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: All right. Jeff, thank you so much.

Now, as the math stands now, barring any major shakeup, that is possible, but barring any major change, we're looking at a Clinton/Trump general election fight.

Joining us now to talk about that Philip Levine, Hillary Clinton supporter and mayor of Miami Beach, and Scottie Nell Hughes, Donald Trump supporter and a columnist.

Good to have both of you with us this morning.

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, USA RADIO NETWORKS: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: So, this week, Donald Trump released an Instagram video showing Hillary Clinton barking like a dog at a rally. Some consider that to be sexist. There's a FOX News release overnight of saying that Trump made sexist verbal assaults on Megyn Kelly. This all comes after the super PAC ad that shows women reading some of Trump's comments over the years about women, Scottie.

How does Trump win in a general election fight against the first woman who could likely become the next president, a crucial group -- single white women who are important to getting to the White House -- how does he win that group considering what we've seen in the primary?

HUGHES: Well, I think this year -- you're accurate for pointing out, this year, unlike any other election year, single white females are actually a dominating group where they've not necessarily had any play in the past. That doesn't mean they don't have families themselves. So what he's talking about, when he talks to them, you know, that's --

I give them more credit than just talking about gender. It's actually talking about pay. It's talking about getting the opportunity for jobs and health care and actually to keep work here instead of going across and trade being equal -- balanced on trade.

[07:20:03] So, when you talk about those issues and don't necessarily focused on what are considered to be gender issues, I think he has better play than what most give him credit for.

BLACKWELL: Philip, let me ask you about excitement for the Democrats, something we discussed last hour. But I want to turn it a bit.

We saw from "The New York Times" reporting that President Obama reportedly speaking with Democratic donors to get behind Hillary Clinton. He acknowledges there's a problem of excitement, questions of authenticity.

How does she get over that excitement hurdle considering the record in some cases turnout that we've seen on the Republican side?

MAYOR PHILIP LEVINE (D), MIAMI BEACH: Well, I think first of all, Victor, what we saw on Tuesday, the fact that she won five out five states, was very two out of five states was very impressive.

In the state of Florida, which as we're seeing more and more is going to be very crucial in the general presidential election, Secretary Clinton did phenomenal. And even in Miami Dade County where I live, I think it's one of her greater urban wins in this entire primary. One thing I think we all have to remember, of course, is that the primary is very different than the general election, with these issues become very apparent, and the difference between, for example, Donald Trump, if he is the GOP nominee, and the difference between the Democratic issues, of course, is going to be so much more empowering, so much more exciting I think for people to come out for.

And the one thing, of course, we haven't talked about is Secretary Clinton is looking like she'll be the first feel may nominee from any major U.S. party to be the president of the United States and that will be historic to a lot of women, a lot of girls, and a lot of Americans.

BLACKWELL: Well, aside from strategy, let me come to you both with this. What is the single strongest issue, you believe, for your candidates?

Scottie, I want to start with you.

HUGHES: It's absolutely jobs. Currently, Mr. Trump can be credited with having 32,000 jobs right now, this exact moment, created at his creation and ongoing. That involves education, that involves health care. That encompasses every issue right now that is affecting Main Street families today.

That is an issue that Secretary of State Clinton or even Senator Clinton has not helped in creating one single job. And I think beyond sitting there and taking issues just because they're female versus male, it comes down to the economy and being able to provide for your family, whether you're a single female or you're actually in a married relationship.

I guarantee that right there is an issue that Mr. Trump will be able to speak to longer than necessarily Hillary Clinton.

One quick point about Hillary Clinton in Florida, you know, you can sit and talk about the great numbers. What you have to worry about is the disenfranchisement. When all of these Bernie Sanders people who are obviously very active, very passionate get the reality check that it's almost virtually and it's been virtually impossible since day one for their guy to be elected.

Those are folks that are not going to want to vote for Hillary Clinton, because they're going to realize their vote was dismantled from the very beginning.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let me get to Philip on that question. Single, strongest issue for Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump specifically.

LEVINE: Well, I think specifically, it's going to be the middle class. Hillary Clinton has spent her entire life helping people -- young people, old people, Hispanic people, African-American people. She has a track record for doing that.

Now, of course, Donald Trump, the one issue that's going to be very important for him, he does not want to raise the inheritance tax, because we know that most of his fortune, we don't know what the fortune is, was inherited by his dad. So, of course, I think what it comes down to is Donald Trump, the 1 percent, inheriting the money from his father, and then, of course, trying to pretend he's a self- made success, and Secretary Clinton who say is want everybody to have the opportunity to live the American dream.

And, of course, with Donald Trump, as he said, he's under federal IRS investigation. That's going to be very concerned to people going forward.

BLACKWELL: All right. Philip Levine --

HUGHES: Do you really want to bring up investigations?

BLACKWELL: You're going to say investigation. Scottie, I knew it before --

LEVINE: It's a big issue for Donald Trump.

HUGHES: Really?

LEVINE: We know these IRS investigations --

HUGHES: Orange jump suit. It's awesome.

BLACKWELL: We've got to wrap it there. Thank you both. All right. And, of course, Monday night, a big night here on CNN.

Three-hour prime event with five presidential candidates this Monday. Republicans Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, will all be interviewed. Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer hosting that, again, Monday night, 8:00 Eastern, here on CNN.

PAUL: It's being called a new beginning between nations. We're bringing you details on President Obama's historic visit to Cuba.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:27:43] PAUL: Well, the signs are up there as the president arrives in Havana tomorrow afternoon for an historic visit. He's going to be the first sitting president to set foot in Cuba since Calvin Coolidge back in 1928. The two-day visit underscores a warming of relations between the two countries, which were essentially frozen during the Cold War.

Besides meeting with Cuban leader Raul Castro, President Obama is also expected to meet with some political dissidents. After Cuba, he's traveling to Argentina. And CNN, by the way, will bring you live coverage of all of this tomorrow as it's happening.

BLACKWELL: A young American captured by Kurdish forces in Iraq says that he wasn't -- thinking straight -- those are his words, when he followed a woman into ISIS-controlled Syria. Before that he was trained by a group of ISIS fighters. Muhammad Jamal Khweis of Virginia could face criminal charges back here in the U.S.

He says he surrendered to Kurdish forces because he didn't want to be part of ISIS. U.S. authorities are now trying to verify that story.

PAUL: And here in the U.S., a Florida jury has sided with Hulk Hogan in his lawsuit against "Gawker" awarding him $115 million. That's him wearing the black bandana there. He sued the tabloid website for invasion of privacy when they posted a two-minute sex video of Hogan with another man's wife. The jury is meeting next week to consider punitive damages that could further increase "Gawker's" financial liability.

BLACKWELL: We're following two breaking stories. Investigators trying to piece together what happened before a plane crashed while landing in southern Russia, killing all 62 people on board. We've got the latest on that investigation and what information they have found so far.

PAUL: Also, the sole surviving suspect of the Paris attack is out of a Belgian hospital this morning and in police custody. What the French president wants to have happen to him now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:31:34] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Mortgage rates remaining steady this week. Here's your look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Thirty-three minutes after the hour, and we have details on the two breaking stories we've been following this morning. First, let's take you to southern Russia where 62 people are dead after a passenger plane crashed after attempting to land. Now, we got a look at surveillance video this morning. Russia State News says, and watch closely, shows the exact moment of the crash. You saw the flash there. However, CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the video.

PAUL: We've got some new details for you on that deadly raid in Belgium and the arrest of the last remaining Paris suspect, Salah Abdeslam. French President Francois Hollande says he is looking for a quick extradition.

CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is live for us from Paris.

And I understand that the mood in Paris, Nic, is that of subdued jubilation, I think is how you characterize it. But when we talk about this extradition that we know is all but certain, how might they be able to expedite it?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (via telephone): Well, partly what the situation is that the French authorities obviously, you know, have said that they need to try him and bring him to justice in France because of the attacks here. But they also recognize and they're working very closely, the Belgian authorities, and the Belgians, of course, have a very, very immediate problem and that is that terror network cells where he was arrested.

So, there's a respect here, that Belgium authorities also need do their investigation. We've been hearing for a couple of weeks, it may even potentially stretch out to be a couple of months. It's an important thing for the French is that he will be brought to justice, he will come to France. That's not of any doubt at the moment.

You know, the sense of people here, I say a sense of jubilation, but it's celebrating this inasmuch as it was a sense of relief.

[07:35:03] That a man who can shed light into all the background details, all the people involved in the attack is in custody and people are beginning to wonder, you know, if that was ever going to happen, if it's possible. There's a sense of relief there. But the authorities are saying it's a major blow against ISIS in Europe, but this is not the end of the fight against terrorism.

So extradition, it's going to happen legally for sure and perhaps with deference to the fact that Belgian authorities maybe have more of a pressing need to get details of these terror network cells that were hiding under Salah in Belgium, in Brussels, in the capital over the past four months.

PAUL: Nic, we know that he was shot in the leg and he's been released from the hospital. I understand what you're saying is he'll be interrogated in Belgium and also interrogated in France once that extradition process goes through, but what about the other man who was hospitalized? What do we know about him and these three people who were helping to hide him? .

ROBERTSON: Yes. We have very few details about him. Belgian authorities have been very cautious and careful over the recent months not to release a lot of information because they felt it was counterproductive to their searches for Abdeslam. All the indications are that he was a close associate of Salah Abdeslam, therefore a huge amount of suspicion that's going to fall on him and his recent activities.

Certainly, authorities are aware that there were other people involved in the upper echelons of the planning and execution of this. Not least, another cell member who was believed to be on the phone during the attacks actively during the attacks that they were carried out. Another man involved in a similar way helped direct the attacks during that night of November 13th, he was shot and killed by Belgian and French police by a special forces sniper on Tuesday earlier this week, the raid that really seemed to precipitate the capture of Salah Abdeslam.

So, at the moment, we have few details other than, you know, he was injured and we can fully expect him to be going through a similar interrogation. Again, the authorities here continue to say that this is not the end, that the network is big, this is potentially there will be more arrests.

So, I think we can expect them not to give out too many details of what they learned during the early stages of the investigation. You know, it may well be the trial before we get the full details of the extent of what prosecutors and interrogators discover during all of this.

PAUL: And who knows how long it will before a trial can get under way.

Nic Robertson, so appreciate the update there from Paris, thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. The pressure on now as the GOP contest moves out west. Some are voting for the person they want to be president. Some are voting strategically.

John Kasich, you know, he won his home state in Ohio, but does he have enough delegates left on the table to clinch the nomination before the convention?

Also, officials condemning the latest round of missile tests North Korea has launched -- how this time was different.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[07:42:10] STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: It looks like the GOP is headed to a brokered convention where the parties pick somebody other than Trump or Cruz, but who could it be? (APPLAUSE)

Yes, yes, I know, but who could it be? I mean Jeb Bush's name has been mentioned followed by loud sobbing and "leave me alone" coming from the vicinity of Florida.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Stephen Colbert having a laugh there, but there's a lot of Republican hand wringing over a brokered or contested convention.

And it's a prospect that Speaker Paul Ryan says is looking more likely than ever. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There's more likely to become an open convention than we thought before, so we're getting our minds around the idea that this very well could become a reality, and therefore, those of us who are involved in the convention need to respect that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Before it gets that far, let's talk about the math and take a look at this. Take a lot look at CNN's delegate count. Donald Trump needs to get about 55 percent. Ted Cruz needs more than 80 percent. Kasich would need 108 percent of the delegates left on the table. Obviously that's a bad math probability.

Let's talk about it now with CNN political commentator and host of "The Ben Ferguson Show", appropriately named show I would say, by the way -- Ben Ferguson.

Ben, good morning to you.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We did a lot of research on that name. I just want to let you know.

BLACKWELL: A lot of focus grouping.

FERGUSON: That's right.

BLACKWELL: Let me get to John Kasich first. How does he with this mathematical impossibility of getting delegates before the convention win over the "never Trump" voter?

FERGUSON: I have absolutely no idea how. He reminds me of Newt Gingrich when he stayed in the presidential election, won Georgia. And then it was like, well now what, and at least Gingrich figured it out sooner than later that, you know what, I won my home state, I'm going to drop out of this thing.

There's no mathematical possibility for Kasich. Why would you stay in? To put it in perspective, he at this point had fewer electoral votes

than even a guy who just dropped out by the name of Marco Rubio. So the idea that the people want him, they want you even at this point less than they wanted Marco Rubio.

It's time for him to drop out. I don't know why on earth except for personal vanity you'd stay in this thing. It is obvious by looking at the math, the only two options are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. It's a two-man race.

BLACKWELL: So, speaking of the two men you just mentioned, Kasich- Cruz, there is talk of this last 24 hours of a unity ticket. Putting together a Kasich-Cruz, or a Cruz-Kasich or one campaigning east of the Mississippi, one campaigning west of the Mississippi, what do you make of that plan?

[07:45:03] FERGUSON: Look, anything's possible at this point. I mean, there are so many people throwing out so many different things.

But, ultimately, I think they both understand that they have to make sure that Donald Trump does not continue to get these, a, winner-take- all states and get a lot of these delegates.

For example, you look at Missouri, Donald Trump was able to pick up some delegates there that if John Kasich and Marco Rubio had been out of this thing, it would have changed the outcome and you would have seen Ted Cruz win that state. So, they can't have any more of those screw-ups. It hurts both of them.

So, if there is any possibility of this unity ticket, which I don't think there is, at this point, I think there's a whole lot of speculation. John Kasich has to do a gut check and say, do I have a chance? And he doesn't have a chance. I mean, that's not being mean and people are going to get mad at me for saying that.

The math is the math. You know, it's kind of what I said about Marco Rubio a week ago. Third place never equals first place and he figured that out after Florida and losing in Florida. So, this unity idea, these are a bunch of things we're going to hear about.

The reality is, I don't think, Victor, it's going to happen. I think at this point it's a two-man race and they've got to look at it that way.

BLACKWELL: Quickly, Donald Trump withdrew from the FOX News debate on Monday and Kasich said, well, if Trump's not going to be there, I won't be there. That was the last scheduled debate. I would imagine no more debates for the primary season, that helps Donald Trump the front runner.

FERGUSON: Yes, it does. It's a strategic move by Donald Trump. I think he realizes the fewer people on stage and the more there is a back and forth with him and just another candidate or two, the more vulnerable he is. It's a risk he's obviously not willing to take.

It's very odd, though, that people are accepting this. You want to see a grand debate. Donald Trump says he's the only person who can beat Hillary Clinton. He's been saying that for nine, 10, 11 months.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

FERGUSON: Well, if you can't go on stage and go toe to toe with Ted Cruz, how do I know you can go toe to toe with Hillary Clinton? That may be one of his biggest vulnerabilities here is people want to see this debate.

Look, there has been times in this debate where Donald Trump in the past, when there was a lot candidates was silent for more than 30 minutes on foreign policy. He didn't say a word. You can't do that if there's just two people on stage.

BLACKWELL: His response to that is he's won all these polls and debates and how many times can you ask the same question. We'll be speaking with supporters of Ted Cruz and John Kasich about potentially the push for more debates this season.

Ben Ferguson, thanks for being with us.

FERGUSON: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: Well, stay with us. We have an act of defiance we're watching. North Korea launching more missiles. Why officials believe this threat is more grave than others we've seen.

Also, here in the U.S., March madness. It was a bracket buster. We'll talk about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:51:29] PAUL: Heading toward the 8:00 here, and officials from South Korea and the U.S. say North Korea has fired two ballistic missiles off the west coast of the Korean peninsula.

Now, Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, condemned North Korea's actions, called on the country to exercise self-restraint. He said Japan would take precautionary measures, including using surveillance.

This launch, though, comes while South Korea and United States are conducting joint military exercises.

And CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson explains why officials are considering this launch a bigger threat than others.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The U.S., Japan and South Korea, they are all condemning a series of predawn missile launches carried out by North Korea.

The U.S. Defense Department says that these appear to have been medium range Nodong ballistic missiles fired from somewhere not too far north of the North Korean capital. One of them traveled to an altitude of about 17 kilometers before it disappeared off South Korea, off of its radar. We don't have an explanation for why that happened.

The other traveled quite a distance, around 800 kilometers. And to give a sense why countries are so alarmed, the distance between Pyongyang and the Japanese port city of Hiroshima is just under 800 kilometers.

So, these countries, these governments are really interpreting this as quite a threat. If this is part of a broader trend, North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un just this week ordering his scientists and his military to carry out more nuclear tests and to further work on testing the country's arsenal of ballistic missiles with the ultimate end goal of fitting a miniaturized nuclear weapon in the tip, in the warhead of one of these ballistic missiles.

This is in defiance of many United Nations Security Council resolutions. It's also in defiance of North Korea's neighbor and trading partner and traditional ally, China, which is consistently called for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Now, North Korea has its own complaints here. It's very angry at joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that are carried annually and that are taking place now for a period of about eight weeks here in South Korea.

North Korea filed a former letter of complaint to the U.N. Security Council warning that it feels that these exercises could be a precursor for a possible invasion. So, you've got relations between north and south that have deteriorated to the worst point they have been in years. The South Korean government saying this latest missile launch is a frontal attack on the most recent round of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Seoul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Ivan, thank you so much.

If your bracket is trash now, so is mine. In my own defense, I didn't pick from spates of expertise. So --

PAUL: Neither did I.

BLACKWELL: That's true. But you're better condition than I am.

PAUL: Not much.

BLACKWELL: Next up, the latest on March Madness after the first round.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:58:25] PAUL: Middle Tennessee State puts on the big glass slipper after one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history. I don't want to do this story.

BLACKWELL: I know.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's bleacher report.

Let's hand it over to you.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I was looking at my bracket yesterday after that game, like a lot of people I'm sure and had --

BLACKWELL: Nothing.

SCHOLES: It's over already.

BLACKWELL: Already.

SCHOLES: I had Michigan State winning it all like a lot of people did but Michigan State didn't even win one game, thanks to Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders won from opening tip to the final buzzer. They were locked out from beyond the three-point line shooting 58 percent from downtown. Every time it looks like the Spartans would take the game back, they end up shocking Michigan State and the world winning this one 90-18. The eighth time a 15-seed defeated a number two seed since the field expanded to 64 teams back in 1985.

All right. Our hearts go out to Texas Longhorn fans this morning. They played a nail biter with Northern Iowa. Time was winding down, Isaiah Taylor hits this shot to go to tie the game at 72 with two seconds left. Now, watch what happens next.

The Panthers, they don't call a timeout, they inbound the ball and Paul going to shoot a prayer from half-court, and it is answered. Eleventh seed northern Iowa pulled off the upset 75-72.

Guys, we look at the good old CNN bracket challenge, you're going to have to scroll down the page to find any of our names. We're down there at the bottom, and Victor, Christi, luckily for you, Nick Valencia filled out a worst bracket.

He saved you guys. But I'm already considered out. Look at me. Michigan State winning it all. Not happening. So, I'm done.

Actually, you guys are still in the hunt, actually, because you did have Michigan State winning it all.

BLACKWELL: I didn't.