Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Clinton Campaign Slams 'New Low' from Sanders; Bill Clinton Clashes with Protestors; Trump Slams Cruz Over 'New York Values' Remark; Hillary Clinton Calls Bernie Sanders' Attacks as Silly; New Video Shows Airport Suspect After Attack. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 7, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, burn notice. The Democrats go negative as Bernie Sanders puts Hillary Clinton on notice, saying she's not qualified to be president of the United States. Clinton shrugs that off as silly, but is there now bad blood just a week before they clash in a CNN presidential debate?
[17:00:47] Homecoming. Donald Trump has a big lead as he returns to campaign in his home state of New York, but he's also gearing up for a possible delegate fight. Is he expecting a contested convention?
Booed in the Bronx. Ted Cruz gets a rough reception after repeating his remarks about New York values. Can he do any better in Brooklyn?
And terror surveillance. A dangerous suspect is still on the loose. New images show him walking away from the Brussels airport bombing. How did the trail go so cold?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
As the GOP candidates turn delegate-rich New York into a battleground, there's a growing possibility that they'll still be counting delegates at a contested convention. Gearing up for such a fight, Donald Trump has now named a battle-hardened Republican operative to handle the convention for him, wrangling delegates and securing a victory.
While Trump is now on his home turf, Ted Cruz may be feeling like a stranger in a strange land, taking heat from New Yorkers for his remarks about, quote, "New York values." He trails both Trump and John Kasich in the latest polling in the state.
And the Democratic race is getting nasty and negative. Bernie Sanders now sticking to his new attack line that Hillary Clinton isn't qualified to be president. He says he's only responding to a similar claim by his opponent.
But while Clinton has been critical, she has not called Sanders unqualified. The candidates will go head to head in our CNN debate. That's a week from tonight. I'll speak with Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. He's a Clinton supporter. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all the day's top stories.
Let's begin with our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, who's following this increasingly nasty Democratic race for president.
Jeff, the Clinton campaign accusing Sanders of a new low. What's the latest?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: They did today, Wolf, and the Sanders campaign responded by accusing the Clinton campaign of trying to smear his record.
Now, this is all in an increasingly tight race and an all-out fight for New York. Suddenly the Democratic race is starting to look more like the Republican one.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would take Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump or Ted Cruz any time.
ZELENY: Hillary Clinton taking the high road today, for a moment at least, as the Democratic race devolves into a war of words.
CLINTON: Let's keep our eye on what's really at stake in this election.
ZELENY: At stake is the New York primary, which Bernie Sanders is fighting hard to win, firing off some of the most personal attacks yet of the campaign over who's qualified to be president.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people might wonder about your qualifications, Madam Secretary, when you voted for the war in Iraq, the most disastrous foreign policy blunder in the modern history of America.
ZELENY: In Philadelphia today, Sanders unleashed a laundry list of grievances.
SANDERS: Are you qualified to be president of the United States when you're raising millions of dollars from Wall Street, an entity whose greed, recklessness and illegal behavior helped destroy our economy?
ZELENY: Sanders said Clinton started it by diminishing his qualifications. She said he did. One thing is certain, suddenly Democrats have their own free-for-all on their hands.
SANDERS: But if Secretary Clinton thinks that just because I'm from a small state in Vermont and we're going to come here to New York and Pennsylvania, and they're going to beat us up. And they're going to go after us in some kind of really uncalled-for way, that we're not going to fight back, well, they've got another -- you know, they can guess again.
ZELENY: It's a rough-and-tumble New York primary. Clinton turned a subway ride today into a photo op with a purpose.
CLINTON: I think we changed when I was senator. I think it was my first term when we changed from tokens to MetroCards. ZELENY: A clear shot at Sanders. Born and raised in Brooklyn but
moved away a half century ago. He was mocked by New York tabloids for not being up to speed on how to ride the subway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you get on the subway today?
SANDERS: You get a token, and you get in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wrong.
ZELENY: Subway politics underscored how petty the Democratic feud is becoming, raising questions about unifying the party.
CLINTON: I ran a very contested campaign against then-Senator Obama, and it went all the way to the end. We worked really hard. He got more delegates. And so I endorsed him. We are going to have to unify Democrats.
ZELENY: At Clinton campaign headquarters in Brooklyn today, aides told CNN they registered the website Unity 2016 in what could be seen as a proactive or premature step.
This map on the wall is a daily reminder for Clinton aides of their lead in delegates. Sanders is vowing to take the fight to the convention, a move that doesn't sit well with Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, who says Democrats must come together after the primaries end in June.
(on camera): Would it be a mistake for the party to keep litigating this into July into Philadelphia?
ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I think at the point that it's obvious that a candidate has a majority of delegates and will win the nomination at the convention, I do think it will be time to come together, but we're not there yet.
ZELENY: Not yet there indeed, Wolf. And how this race plays out over the next 12 days between now and the New York primary on April 19 is going to go a long way in determining how difficult it is to unify the party beyond whoever wins here.
But, Wolf, a growing sense of alarm from a lot of Democrats that the -- that the temperature of this race is way too high -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jeff Zeleny in New York for us, thank you.
Bill Clinton got into a heated argument with protesters during a campaign rally today in Pennsylvania. When they started shouting and criticizing his record on crime and welfare reform and wouldn't stop, the former president accused them of being, quote, "afraid of the truth."
CNN's Joe Johns is joining us from Philadelphia right now.
Tell us more, Joe. What happened today?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Bill Clinton here in Philadelphia campaigning on behalf of his wife, delivering perhaps his strongest defense in recent years of his signing of the 1994 crime bill, which has been harshly criticized by a whole swath of African-American activists, including Al Sharpton, the Black Lives Matter movement, because it led to the incarceration of huge numbers of African- American men.
And the crowd during that speech today with Bill Clinton were a number of signs, including, one that said, quote, "Hillary is a murderer." When the former president saw that sign, he apparently really took off after it. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I heard it. Can I answer? No, you see, here's the thing. I like protesters. But the ones that won't let you answer are afraid of the truth. That's a simple rule. Afraid. Very, very afraid.
I talked to a lot of African-American groups. They thought Black Lives Mattered. They said, "Take this bill, because our kids are being shot in the street by gangs." Because of that bill, we had a 25-year low in crime, a 33-year low in the murder rate.
And listen to this: because of that and the background check law, we had a 46-year low in the deaths of people by gun violence. And who do you think those lives were that mattered? Whose lives were saved that mattered?
Hillary didn't vote for that bill, because she wasn't in the Senate. She was spending her time trying to get health care for poor kids. Who were they? And their lives mattered.
Oh, now wait a minute, wait a minute. Now you're screaming. So let's do another one. I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out onto the street to murder other African-American children. Maybe you thought they were good citizens. She didn't. She didn't.
You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter. Tell the truth. You are defending the people who caused young people to go out and take guns. There was a 13-year-old girl in Washington, D.C., who was planning her own funeral (ph). How would you do it?
Now look at this other one. Look at this. That's not true. And the reason is they know it's true is, because they won't hush. When somebody won't hush and listen to you, that ain't democracy. They're afraid of the truth. Don't you be afraid of the truth. Don't you be afraid of the truth.
JOHNS: Now Bill Clinton has said in the past that the crime bill actually went farther than it needed to go, and it made the problem of mass incarceration worse. But in this case, he was clearly defending the reasons why people said it needed to be put in place -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I haven't seen him like that in a while, I've got to tell you. All right. Joe Johns, thanks very much.
Let's discuss what's going on. Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York is joining us. He's endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Congressman, what do you think? Did you think that the former president went too far? Was he right in arguing so forcefully with those Black Lives Matter activists at that event in Philadelphia?
[17:10:11] REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Well, Wolf, I think it was important for him to articulate the reasons why at the time President Clinton thought that the bill was the appropriate thing to move forward with, and I would note that there were many African- American members of the clergy and a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus that supported that 1994 crime bill.
Now, obviously, hindsight is 20/20, and in retrospect, even as President Clinton has acknowledged, it perhaps went too far in exacerbating the mass incarceration that exists in America.
At the time there were about 900,000 people who were incarcerated. In this country today, there are more than 2.2 million. We're working together, Democrats and Republicans, to try to reverse that.
But let's be clear. Hillary Clinton was not in the Congress at the time. Bernie Sanders was a member of the House of Representatives, and he voted in favor of that 1994 crime bill. And in fact, what I would point out is that Vermont has one of the highest rates of incarceration for African-Americans in the nation. And Bernie Sanders, as mayor, as a member of the House, as a senator, apparently hasn't been able to do anything about that.
BLITZER: Interesting. All right, let's move on.
David Axelrod, as you know, he's a CNN commentator, former chief strategist for President Obama's 2008 victory. He says it was a mistake for Clinton to attack Bernie Sanders, for the Clinton campaign to go after him. She currently has, by our estimate, about a 681 delegate lead, if you include super delegates, over Bernie Sanders. She only needs to win 36 percent of the remaining delegates.
Do you think it was a mistake for her to go after him, her campaign to go after him in recent days?
JEFFRIES: Well, I'm not clear that Secretary Clinton or the campaign has really gone after Bernie Sanders. What her supporters have done, myself included, is to point out a compare and contrast of her record versus his record.
And certainly, if you think about the issue of gun violence in America, where we're suffering from an epidemic, we've got 5 percent of the world's population, 50 percent of the world's guns, more than 300 million guns estimated to be in circulation in this country; and no law enforcement entity can actually tell you where those guns are, I think it's important for New York City, for the state and for the nation to have a discussion about whose record on gun control is better.
And as between the two, it's not even close. Bernie Sanders voted five times against background checks. He voted twice to shield gun manufacturers from liability. He voted to allow guns on Amtrak. And so I think those types of discussions are very important.
The personal attack, Wolf, was actually launched by Bernie Sanders last night when he went after Secretary Clinton's qualifications to be president.
BLITZER: Well, his campaign says he was only responding to the messaging that the Clinton campaign put out when they told CNN's Jeff Zeleny they wanted, in their words, to disqualify him, defeat him and unify the party later. That was an aggressive new Clinton strategy. And when he went after her, saying she's not qualified to be president of the United States, they say he was responding to that report. Your response?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think what the Clinton campaign was suggesting in terms of the use of disqualification is that, at the end of the day, this is a delegate fight.
Secretary Clinton has already received 9 million votes. That's 2.5 million more votes than Bernie Sanders. She's got more than 200 pledged delegates. It's almost mathematically impossible for him to achieve the number that he needs to reach in order to secure the nomination.
But we need to win New York, which we're going to do. And then it's on to Pennsylvania and Connecticut and Maryland and the other states along the northeastern corridor that will be in play at the end of April.
And at that point, it may be clear that he's been disqualified from being able to hit the number necessary in order to achieve the nomination. But we've never qualified his qualifications to be president. In fact Secretary Clinton has refused to take the bait when asked repeatedly.
Now, I'm not clear why you would challenge her qualifications. As first lady, she was a partner with President Clinton. She helped to lead the charge for the Children's Health Insurance Program. She was a dynamic senator. She helped to stop George Bush's effort to privatize Social Security in 2005. She was the secretary of state, one of the most important positions in the cabinet, working hand in hand with President Obama, including being in the situation room, Wolf, when the effort to kill Osama bin Laden was executed flawlessly.
She's one of the most qualified individuals ever to run for the presidency; and she's ready, willing and able to assume the commander in chief post on day one.
BLITZER: All right, Congressman, we're going to pick that thought up. We're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more to discuss. Much more with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries right after this.
BLITZER: We're following an angry new burst of name calling in the Democratic presidential race in what Hillary Clinton's campaign is calling a new low. Senator Bernie Sanders is accusing Hillary Clinton of not being qualified to be president.
Sanders and Clinton are scheduled to debate here on CNN exactly one week from tonight.
We're back with New York Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. He has endorsed Hillary Clinton.
One of the reasons that Bernie Sanders says she's not qualified to be president, in his words, she's not qualified because she voted in favor of the Iraq war, because she supports international trade agreements that he says has eliminated lots of jobs and that she takes money from Wall Street. He also goes further and says he wants her to apologize to the American people. I want you to respond.
[17:20:03] JEFFRIES: Wolf, first of all, let's take that one by one. In terms of the trade agreements, she opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership, which is the only agreement that is before the American people and the Congress at this present time. She did so after studying it, waiting to see what the particulars were, laying out a standard and then making a note of the fact that it did not reach that standard on behalf of the American worker, and therefore, she decided to oppose it.
Now, when she was in the Senate, the only major trade agreement that was before her was the Central American Free Trade Agreement, otherwise known as CAFTA. She voted against it.
Now, in terms of Wall Street, Senator Sanders has made much about the money that Secretary Clinton allegedly has been associated with through her super PAC, which as you know, Wolf, by law they're not able to coordinate, so she actually is not raising that money.
But the reality is that when Senator Sanders was in the United States House of Representatives, he voted to deregulate credit default swaps, which is the instrument that led to the collapse of the economy and the very Wall Street speculation that he talks about each and every day on the campaign trail, he helped to facilitate with his vote.
Hillary Clinton does not owe anyone an apology. She has been an incredible public servant throughout the duration of her career, starting as a young lawyer with the Children's Defense Fund all the way through her time as secretary of state, and she would be phenomenal to serve as our nation's 45th president.
BLITZER: She's obviously very fortunate to have you as a strong supporter of her campaign. Hakeem Jeffries, thanks very much for joining us.
JEFFRIES: Thank you, Wolf. BLITZER: Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
There's a lot more happening right now, including lots of developments on the Republican side, as well. We'll update you on the late- breaking developments right after this.
[17:26:14] BLITZER: The Republican presidential candidates, they're all hunting for votes today in New York. And Donald Trump is heavily favored in his home state, but he's playing it safe, even though Ted Cruz is getting a rough reception.
Let's turn to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, Trump has a big lead, according to the polls in New York, so why is he putting off a trip to California?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
Donald Trump took the unusual step of cancelling a news conference that he had scheduled here in Los Angeles for tomorrow, but the Trump campaign tells me it's all a part of their strategy to run up the score on Ted Cruz in New York.
ACOSTA (voice-over): No California delegate dreaming for Donald Trump. After scrapping a planned trip to the West Coast, the GOP front-runner is in a New York state of mind.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you remember during the debate when he started lecturing me on New York values like we're no good?
ACOSTA: The real-estate tycoon is not only slamming Ted Cruz for once hitting Trump's New York values.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Most people know exactly what New York values are.
ACOSTA: A comment Trump says forgets what happened after the 9/11 attacks.
TRUMP: We all lived through it. We all know people that died. And I've got this guy standing over there looking at me, talking about New York values with scorn in his face, with hatred, with hatred of New York.
ACOSTA: Trump is aiming for a blowout in the New York primary. Instead of stumping in California, a top Trump advisor tells CNN the campaign is focused on capturing all 95 delegates up for grabs in New York, as that would shrink the percentage of delegates needed to clinch the nomination to a more manageable number.
And Trump is expanding his delegate operation, announcing he's named newly-hired strategist Paul Manafort as his convention manager to work alongside campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
CRUZ: You guys are doing a great job.
ACOSTA: Helping New York children make matzah in Brooklyn, Cruz is standing by his values jab, saying he just wants to highlight past support for his state's liberal Democrats.
CRUZ: Our friends in the media are very comfortable with a New York liberal who has supported Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer for decades. And they really want to see a general election between two New York liberals.
ACOSTA: But that could be a tough sell, with the "New York Daily News" telling Cruz to take the "F-U train."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Yorkers aren't stupid, Ted. After we were hit, we rallied, rebuilt.
ACOSTA: And a new pro-John Kasich super PAC ad is piling on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you come here and conveniently come here and say you love New York. Forget about it, Ted.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We love New York values.
ACOSTA: Taking a big bite in the Big Apple, Kasich stopped at a Bronx deli...
KASICH: Mamma mia.
ACOSTA: ... and said he's poised to start eating away at Trump's delegate lead.
KASICH: We're now getting to the place where we feel we have the best chance of being able to accumulate delegates.
ACOSTA: The delegate battle is also heating up in California, where a well-organized Republican "stop Trump" movement is gearing up.
ROB STUTZMAN, STOP TRUMP CALIFORNIA: Here in California, where Republicans are shrinking due to demographics, and we're trying desperately to turn that around and expand, Trump is an unmitigated disaster for us.
ACOSTA: Now, there is some risk for Donald Trump in skipping California for now. A new poll shows his lead in this state is not as big as the one he has in New York. There's also high profile opposition to Donald Trump in California in that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor here, is backing John Kasich.
But the Trump campaign says don't worry, Wolf. They have plenty of rallies scheduled in the coming weeks.
BLITZER: I'm sure they'll do that. All right, thanks very much, Jim Acosta.
Let's bring in our experts. David Swerdlick is joining us. He's the assistant editor of "The Washington Post." Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is with us, along with Democratic strategist, CNN political commentator Hilary Rosen. Guys, thanks very much.
[17:30:01] Jeffrey, Donald Trump is hitting Ted Cruz very hard over the New York values comments. Listen to what he had to say last night in Long Island.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: Everyone understands that the values in New York City focus around money and the media.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That was actually an Instagram video that Donald Trump posted. He also had some strong words in his rally last night going after Ted Cruz on the whole New York values issue. You think -- you're a New Yorker. Do you think Trump stands a chance of winning 50 percent of the vote a week from Tuesday?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, I certainly do. And I think the New York values thing is a big problem. Let's be honest, remember what Ted Cruz said. He said, you know, New York values are about money and they're about the media. That's an anti-Semitic trope from a hundred years. It's been around for a very long time. Everyone in New York -- everyone in the whole country understands what he was saying, and that's a big problem once you get to New York, not just among Jewish voters, but among people who don't appreciate those kinds of stereotypes.
Trump is going to hammer away on it. And Cruz can try to explain it away, but, you know, you can't explain what you said when its meaning is obvious.
BLITZER: Well, he was -- he says he was referring to liberal politicians in New York state.
TOOBIN: Oh, really?
BLITZER: And he mentioned -- he mentioned Cuomo, he mentioned Charlie Rangel, Anthony Weiner. You heard the list of the people he mentioned today.
TOOBIN: But they have nothing to do with money and media. Money and media is Jews. I mean, this is just an old-fashioned anti-Semitic stereotype derogatory term and everybody understands it. BLITZER: Well, you know, I'm sure he'll dispute that. But let me
David Swerdlick, the Trump campaign hired veteran GOP strategist, we just heard it in the report, Paul Manafort. He was involved in the last contested Republican convention, that was back in 1976. Do you think he can pull off the job of actually going out there and securing the delegates Trump will need to get the nomination?
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, Wolf, the hiring of Manafort clearly signals that the Trump campaign has recognized that Senator Cruz is not going away, that they're going to have to really strategize and plan for a convention fight. And that the strategy that's gotten them this far kind of going by the seat of their pants, going a lot on Trump's personality, going on momentum, going on voter enthusiasm, is not going to cut it when they get to the convention.
I think Manafort, because of his experience, can help them hold off a Cruz challenge, but if -- but I think it's really still going to be decided by how well Trump does in these next northeastern primaries because if Trump runs the table in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, et cetera, then you'll have a situation where even though he may not get to the 1237 magic number, he will have enough delegates that it will put a lot of pressure on Cruz and Kasich and their supporters that look, you know, on those first couple of ballots, it will be hard for supporters to break from Trump.
BLITZER: Hilary, as you know Donald Trump had his daughter and his wife with him out on the campaign trail in recent days. Last night Ivanka, his daughter was with him, she gave a very, very strong introductory speech in his favor, obviously. This only, what, 10 days after she gave birth to a little baby boy. Melania was with him the other day in Wisconsin. Is he trying to boost his favorability among women? Because the polls show he's got a problem there.
HILLARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He does have a problem. And in fact he's got like over 70 percent disapproval from women across the board of every party. You know, Ivanka is a classy and intelligent person, and if I were Donald Trump, I would want her campaigning out there all the time for me, too. But I don't think it's going to work. There are policy areas where he really hasn't been articulate or thoughtful or frankly compassionate for women and they can feel that.
And so I think he's got a rough time. Having said that, Ted Cruz is, you know, no picnic either for women. So take -- pick your poison.
BLITZER: Well, let me get Jeffrey to weigh in.
Jeffrey, he's got some strong assets, if you will, in his kids when they go out there and speak for him. They are powerful voices. Very, very likeable too, right?
TOOBIN: He -- yes, he does. And his -- you know, his son-in-law runs a weekly newspaper here in New York, the "New York Observer." And, you know, New Yorkers have been following Donald Trump and his adventures for decades. That's a mixed bag, given how -- given how controversial he's been. But, you know, he doesn't have to introduce himself to New Yorkers. And the fact that he has a very attractive family, especially Ivanka who was a businesswoman and a mother and really an extremely appealing person, the more she can get out there and campaign, certainly the better it is for him.
BLITZER: yes. A lot of people agree with you on that.
David, Senate Republicans, his colleagues in the Senate, they certainly haven't rallied to Ted Cruz, although yesterday in THE SITUATION ROOM I asked Senator Jim Risch if he endorsed Ted Cruz and he said, I guess.
[17:35:12] With the possibility of a contested convention becoming more likely, do you think more of those Republican senators eventually going to endorse Ted Cruz? I think only three right now have done so.
SWERDLICK: Yes, I mean we may get to the point where Senate Republicans and the GOP establishment, if you will, decide that it's simply just in their best interests to hold their nose and back Senator Cruz, but he is not well liked among his colleagues. He has the endorsement of Senator Mike Lee. On your air yesterday, right, Senator Risch kind of lukewarmly backed into an endorsement of Senator Cruz.
But Senator Cruz had much more support and much more enthusiasm during his first term among House members, who he kind of joined with to try and grind the gears of Senate business to a halt to try and thwart some of the agenda of President Obama. He was much more popular among House rank and file than his own Senate colleagues. And his Senate colleagues haven't forgotten that.
BLITZER: And he got a sort of lukewarm endorsement from Lindsey Graham as well. No great love there but Lindsey Graham obviously does not like Donald Trump at all.
All right, guys, stand by. Much more coming in. More information coming in on the Democratic race, which is becoming increasingly more vitriolic. Stay with us.
[17:41:00] BLITZER: We're back with our political experts. Let's turn to the suddenly very nasty Democratic presidential campaign.
Hilary, Senator Sanders has doubled down on his attacks against Hillary Clinton saying she is not qualified to be president of the United States. Do you think that was a mistake on his part?
ROSEN: Oh, my god, yes, it was a mistake. These -- everybody just needs to calm down and breathe before we turn into the Republicans. You know, I'm sensing around New York today there's a lot of rallying around Hillary from those Sanders attacks. And it just doesn't help anybody and it's a silly thing to say that she's not qualified. And she didn't say that about him. What we're finding is now, I think, with the Sanders campaign that
defending Hillary against the Sanders attacks are now turning into what they call attacks on Sanders. And it's the circular firing squad that's not going to help anyone.
BLITZER: David, Hillary Clinton, she was in the Bronx today, was asked to respond to Senator Sanders' comments about her not being qualified to be president. Listen to what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's a silly thing to say, but I'm going to trust the voters of New York who know me and have voted for me three times, twice for Senate, once in the presidential primary. Look, I didn't -- I don't know why he's saying that, but I will take Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump or Ted Cruz any time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So what's your analysis, David? Was it a miscalculation on Senator Sanders' part to go after her as tough as he did?
SWERDLICK: Well, Wolf, you see in that clip that Clinton sort of grabbed the first opportunity to try and appear to be the bigger person in this spat. And I think maybe for that reason alone the Sanders camp might have overshot just a little bit in many terms of their pushback. But within the last hour or two, Wolf, I actually talked to a senior Sanders campaign aide and what I was told was, look, the Sanders campaign really wants this to be about the issues, but that if they feel that something comes from Clinton or from the Clinton camp that is less about the issues and more about Senator Sanders himself and his leadership style or capabilities, then they do intend to respond to that directly.
BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, Sanders is behind Hillary Clinton in New York state. Remember, this is a closed primary in New York, only registered Democrats can vote. Independents can't vote. They got to register ad Democrats. Republicans can't vote in the Democratic primary. The latest Quinnipiac University poll has her at 54 percent, Bernie Sanders at 42 percent.
What do you think? How's this battle over whether she's qualified to be president going to impact that outcome a week from Tuesday?
TOOBIN: You know, I think it's just not the kind of attack that has worked for him. I mean, he has had successful attacks. Trade deals. They are unpopular in the Democratic Party and she supported them and he at least now says he's very much opposed to them. The Iraq war vote remains a tremendous albatross for her even though it's now a long time ago. Those are the attacks that have worked.
Claiming that a woman who has been secretary of state, a senator, a -- the first lady of the United States, claiming that she is unqualified, first of all, it's just silly. No one in the Democratic Party is going to believe it. And second, it's just not -- it's just not an effective attack. He should stick with what's worked because it really has worked in certain states.
BLITZER: Hilary, I want to get your reaction to former president Bill Clinton we saw earlier clashing with some Black Lives Matter protesters earlier this afternoon in Philadelphia. Is this going to come back to hurt the Clinton campaign? What do you think?
ROSEN: Well, you know what happens with Bill Clinton is when he sees these attacks, such as the fact that people criticized a crime bill that he signed when he was president, he takes it too personally. He can't -- he can't get past it and let's talk about what we're going to do now. Let's talk about what Hillary Clinton's program is going to be, to create racial equality and to kind of adjust where we are now in these statutes.
[17:45:11] So I think it is a problem that the former president just can't seem to let that go. On the other hand, you know, it's frustrating to get protested. He has been a seminal figure for Democrats, he's been a lifelong progressive and I think it's a -- I understand it's a human reaction, but it has gotten him in trouble before and he needs to have discipline.
TOOBIN: I've got to say if you actually listen to what Bill Clinton said in response to those protesters, it was dense with facts about the declines in murder rates, about who else voted for that bill.
ROSEN: That's true.
TOOBIN: I mean, I actually think if you listen to what he said, it was a very convincing response. And I don't know why he has to become a docile insignificant figure when he is an enormously respected figure who actually knows what he's talking about.
ROSEN: Well, I think that's right. The problem, though, is that it's as much about attitude as it is about facts. Usually his delivery is the thing that makes him be a great politician, but when he comes across as defensive, the facts get masked. So I agree with you, Jeffrey, though, he does have the good defense. This isn't about substance, I think it's about strategy.
BLITZER: Let me get quickly -- let me get David's quick reaction. Go ahead, David.
SWERDLICK: Yes, I think it's both about substance and style. And at this point, right, as Hilary is saying, the issue for President Clinton is that he has come across as defensive in instances where, look, the Black Lives Matter movement is not new at this point. Secretary Clinton has met with Black Lives Matter protesters. These issues have really been at the forefront of our politics for the last year, maybe even two years. So for him to not be prepared to have a more nuanced response is really showing that he's not helping his wife's campaign.
He's in a way -- whether he has some points on the merits, he's not helping in terms of getting a message across to voters.
BLITZER: He did show a lot of passion in that response that we just saw. Haven't seen that from him in a long time.
All right, guys, stand by. Coming up we're just getting in some newly released surveillance video showing the mysterious man in that light jacket who was at -- with the Brussels terrorists. But this is after he left the scene of the Brussels airport bombings. Where he is now? Stick around.
[17:51:57] BLITZER: On the loose, a very dangerous suspect spotted on remarkable new surveillance video. You first saw him walking into the Brussels airport right before the bloody terror bombings. Now he's caught on camera leaving after the massacre and moving through the city.
CNN's Brian Todd has been digging into this story for us and getting new information.
Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are about to take you step by step almost through this man's getaway. Belgian authorities have issued a wanted notice for the man. He's on the run tonight more than two weeks after the Brussels attacks. He is considered very dangerous and now Belgian officials are asking for the public's help with video that provides startling new details of this man's escape route.
TODD (voice-over): The most hunted man in Europe still on the run. But tonight authorities have raised the stakes. Belgian police just released surveillance footage of the man in white, the third attacker at the Brussels airport. His identity still unknown.
He's believed to have left a bomb at the airport and then slipped away. Just minutes after the bombs explode, police say the man in white leaves the Brussels airport, walks past this Sheraton Hotel, then turns right, goes through this Avis parking lot. For a moment he starts running. He's on foot the whole time taking this long path toward the center of Zaventem. Then about an hour later, he's seen again. His sleeves are rolled up. Police also note this. He has ditched his white jacket.
(On camera): Ditched my coat. Toss it. I've changed my appearance. How hard does that make me to track as a suspect?
MICHAEL BRAUN, FORMER DEA CHIEF OF OPERATIONS: Makes it extremely difficult. You've got a team of law enforcement officers or security agents that are following a target or a suspect. You know, with that one simple move by, you know, taking that light colored jacket off and, you know, and let's just say that you duck into a building to do it in, or into an alley and come back out, you know, you are no longer looking at the light colored jacket. TODD (voice-over): For nearly an hour he continues walking the same
route. Then cameras pick him up again walking through the Schaerbeek neighborhood. That's the area where investigators say the terrorists built their bombs. The man continues walking through Schaerbeek. Five minutes later, he's spotted. Clearly visible, elbow patches on his shirt, seemingly talking on a cell phone.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Tells us he's got other people involved in this that he may be calling for a ride. He may be, you know, asking for assistance or he could be just checking on the progress of what happened during all the attacks.
TODD: After that, the trail goes cold. Police have released close- ups of the man's shoes with thick white soles and are asking again if anyone recognizes his face or saw him walking along that seven-mile route from the airport to Schaerbeek. But Belgian authorities have admitted they've had little penetration in those predominantly immigrant neighborhoods.
FUENTES: In those neighborhoods, people can come, go to their safe homes, hide in plain sight for months without being detected. No one calling the police.
TODD: And Tom Fuentes says since the Brussels attacks, Belgian counter terror forces have been very aggressively staging raids in the Schaerbeek and Molenbeek neighborhoods so it's not clear tonight if local residents are any more inclined to help them find that suspect now than they were before or not -- Wolf.
[17:55:10] BLITZER: All right. They're looking -- they're looking very, very ferociously for this suspect. Also shows those closed circuit TV cameras, they're all over the place in Brussels like they are over so many European cities.
Coming up, the Democrats get negative and nasty as Bernie Sanders says Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be president of the United States. Is there bad blood ahead of their CNN debate and a crucial primary? Stay with us.
BLITZER: Happening now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want to question my qualifications, maybe the American people might wonder about your qualifications, Madam Secretary.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's kind of a silly thing to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)