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Fidel Castro Dies: What's Next For U.S.-Cuba Relations?; Miami's Little Havana Reacts To Fidel Castro's Death; Unprecedented Security At Trump's Florida Estate; ISIS Losing Ground, Targeting Civilians. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired November 26, 2016 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:01] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Former Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, is dead at the age of 90. His brother and Cuba's president, Raul Castro, made that announcement on Cuban TV. This video is from his 90th birthday celebration which was back in August.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Now in Havana, the streets are quiet as the news is slowly reaching out to people this morning. The Cuban revolutionary who installed a communist government in that country has died.
PAUL: Obviously a very different scene in Miami there. Cuban exiles who escaped his regime on the streets, they're cheering. They're smiling. They're waiving Cuban flags. They are chanting freedom and they're banging on pots and pans, making their feelings known this morning.
SAVIDGE: CNN Patrick Oppmann is live from Havana. He is the only U.S. television correspondent in Cuba.
PAUL: So Patrick, talk to us about people's reactions because what's extraordinary here is the fact that overnight you were the one who inform some people when you wanted to ask for what their reaction was, they were hearing from you for the first time that Fidel Castro had actually died.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. As I raced to the office, I tried to stop along the way on the Havana's (inaudible) sea front wall and ask people if they heard the news and nobody that I've encountered was watching television, the state television channel last night when the news was announced.
People were listening to radio hadn't heard it and everyone was just shocked. We of course had so many rumors over the years, but this was not a rumor, it was really the real thing. And when I told the Cubans that I encountered that Raul Castro has just made this announcement, people just became very downcast, didn't know what to say.
Some sort of repeated the usual revolutionary slogans you hear, but there really wasn't much fervor behind it. Their hearts weren't in it and people seemed very concerned about what comes next, what this means for their future, and of course, if relations with the United States will improve.
But the Cuban government now has announced this morning that it will be nine days of mourning across the island. Fidel Castro will be cremated. There will be massive rallies in his honor here in Havana and Santiago, Cuba.
His ashes will be transported across the island making the same journey that brought him to Havana after the victory of the revolution and we expect to see thousands of people lining the roads. This is a man who changed Cuba and Cubans forever.
SAVIDGE: I'm wondering, Patrick, as we try to find and remember what Fidel's place is in history, it's very different for the Cuban people than it is for Cuban-Americans, night and day.
OPPMANN: Absolutely. Of course, we saw images of Cuban-Americans celebrating last night and I'm sure there are people who celebrated quietly in their homes here in Cuba, but there are a lot of tears as well that we've seen so far today and perhaps some are put on but some do feel genuine.
So it's very complicated. This is a revolution that divided families. My wife has Cuban ancestry and in her family there are pro and against the revolution. It's one of those things that no one is ever really in the middle.
When the revolution happened it really did divide families, some of whom never reconciled and of course, this probably opens the wound yet again. But for those people that we saw in Miami feel they suffered so much, lost homes, lost their country essentially, this was cause for celebration.
How much Fidel Castro's death will really change Cuba, it's too early to say. But, of course, Raul Castro is firmly in control here. The transition essentially at this point has been completed. Now with Fidel Castro's death, he has another year in power. Raul Castro says he will step down in February of 2018.
And we'll see if he rules any differently now without his brother looking over his shoulder. But this is so important to point out, Raul and Fidel Castro may have differences in how they govern, some of the reforms.
Raul Castro says that his number one priority is to conserve, to protect the revolution that his father -- that his older brother Fidel Castro started, and everything that he does is to try to continue this revolution. We'll see if it will -- how long it will outlast Fidel Castro.
SAVIDGE: Right. Patrick Oppmann, thanks very much. Raises a good point if you're expecting big change, don't hold your breath it's not likely to happen right away.
PAUL: Yes. It will take time, they say, but that's what a lot of people in Miami are hoping for. They want to see the change. I think a lot of them believe that it might happen more expediently now that Fidel Castro has passed on.
But you can see there some live pictures. This is after -- at one point over night, that entire road was filled with people. You saw the video just a short while ago. Hundreds of them who were out celebrating for lack of a better term.
[08:05:11]CNN's Chris Moody is live for us from Little Havana there in Miami. Chris, talk to us about what people were telling you because for some even I know that the representative from that area, U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had tweeted, "After so many decades of oppression, the tyrant Castro is dead and a new beginning can finally dawn on Cuba and its people."
She basically said this isn't a celebration of death, but it's an opportunity to begin a new chapter of freedom. You, however, say you did indeed see people celebrating this man's death.
CHRIS MOODY, CNN POLITICS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Make no mistake about it, the celebrations happening here in Little Havana over the nighttime and passing along all through the day was a celebration of Fidel Castro's death.
It is something that a lot of these people, particularly those that fled his regime, have waited a long time for. There's been so many news stories in the past and rumors that he had passed away.
People would come into the streets only to find that he had not and now that it's true the people here are overjoyed. They are -- even though it may seem dark, they are celebrating the death of Fidel Castro. They are happy that he's gone.
Now, they tell me that they are realistic about change in Cuba and they know that things will not just change overnight because of what has happened this week, but they are hopeful for the future.
Now, with President Obama, we've sewn seen a lot of change between the United States and Cuba other the past year or so diplomatic relations opened, and so it's yet to be seen what will happen under a Trump administration. But for now, the exiled community here in Little Havana in Miami, Florida are celebrating.
SAVIDGE: Chris, I don't know if you can still hear me, but if you can, there are many younger people there. This is a different generation celebrating.
MOODY: Over the course of the night, we saw multiple generations of people, people that were born in Cuba and fled and their children that were born here, their grandchildren that were born here. This was people of all ages coming out dancing in the streets, banging pots and pans, banging drums.
The police even closed this road for them to celebrate for several hours. They just a few moments ago opened the road back up and now people are here. As you're seeing there are many generations out here to see this.
SAVIDGE: All right, Chris Moody, measuring the reaction there in Miami in Little Havana. Thank you very much.
We want to talk now with more on this situation and that's with our CNN chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour in London. Let's begin by getting Christiane's reaction to the news of Fidel Castro's death.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there a lot of reaction coming in from around the world. Listen, Fidel Castro as you just very amply explained there, Fidel Castro was revered and reviled around the world, depending on what part of the world you came from.
In the communist spheres specifically during the cold war, he was a revolutionary hero that many, many sort of liberation movements took as their hero to cast the shackles of imperialism off and colonialism. That's for this part of the world.
And of course, in Latin America many right wing oligarchies and dictatorships were then turned over. They became left wing, some of them quasi democracies, some of them dictatorships, which took Fidel Castro as their godfather.
And still exist today for instance in Venezuela and elsewhere, but a lot of those are now beginning to go out of power. So the whole sort of balance of power that Fidel Castro represented is sort of been crumbling over the last several decades, that's for sure.
The Vatican has expressed condolences, you know, Pope Francis himself was one of the mediators, one of the go-betweens between Havana and the United States for the (inaudible) that President Obama instituted two years ago now.
And even Havana was the place where the Colombia rebels, the FARC rebels and the government of (inaudible) came together to negotiate the end of that 52-year war. So, you know, they've played some quite important roles, Havana in recent times.
But of course, you know, if you go back to the Cuban missile crisis, go back to the Bay of Pigs, all these exceptionally difficult and dangerous confrontations between this communist island and the United States just 90 miles away.
And Cuba obviously wants to see a lifting of the embargo, even despite diplomatic relations, that won't happen without an act of the U.S. Congress. But many people have been reporting on Cuba say that with the death of Fidel, of the old ideologue of this movement, the sort owner of the revolutionary era, with his death it may make it much quicker and much faster to institute reforms.
[08:10:09]Even in March when President Obama went for a visit there, even then Castro, Fidel Castro, even though he wasn't president he insisted on being hauled out to preside over their party congress and he was very hard lined, no to reform, no to what the empire has to tell us, talking about the United States.
Whereas his brother, Raul, is much more apparently willing to establish reform. So this will be really interesting to see if now release from his older brother's shadow, Raul can enact more freedoms and more democratic and economic reforms in a faster pace.
So we're all going to be watching because obviously this week is going to be all revolutionary. We've already heard all the media is going to be about patriotism and history and the whole revolutionary reality being shown again. But afterwards, after the mourning, where is Cuba going to go next.
SAVIDGE: Christiane Amanpour, thank you very much, very interesting.
PAUL: Well, President-elect Donald Trump speaking of where it's going to go from here, he's threatened, of course, to undo the efforts by President Obama to bring the U.S. and Cuba closer together, so what does Castro's death mean now for U.S. and Cuban relations? We'll talk about that. Stay close.
SAVIDGE: We have new reaction this morning to the death of former Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. We were wondering when we might here from President-elect Donald Trump, now we have. He has tweeted out -- it was pretty straight forward tweet, which was, "Fidel Castro is dead! exclamation point." No other statement beyond that. As you can see, it was shared quite a few times now. Again, President-Elect Donald Trump on the death of Fidel Castro simply tweets Fidel Castro is dead.
PAUL: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American elected to Congress tweeted as well this morning saying, "Tyrant and thug Fidel Castro is dead. We must work for a Cuba that is free, democratic and prosperous."
[08:15:09]Now Castro lived long enough to see a historic thaw in relations between Cuba and the United States, including the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana last year. Remember this moment? Here is our Rafael Romo.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): Fidel Castro knew his days were dwindling telling Cuban communists before his 90th birthday this year, "Soon I will be like everyone else." After a near fatal illness in 2008, Castro turned the reins of power to his younger brother, Raul.
As Cuba's new president began taking tentative steps towards reform, the U.S. began to ease its restrictions. But Fidel Castro was suspicious writing in January 2015 that although he does not trust U.S. policies and have not exchanged a word with them, this does not mean however that I will would oppose a peaceful solution to conflicts or threats of war."
In September of last year, Fidel met with Pope Francis and they talked about common problems of humanity that the pope had once condemned what he called Cuba's authoritarian and corrupt regime. In March this year, American President Barack Obama visited Cuba seven months after the two countries reestablished diplomatic relations. He met with Raul Castro but not Fidel.
At his 90th birthday party in August this year, a frail Fidel Castro appeared a theater named for Carl Marx and was shown in occasional photos with foreign leaders.
Fidel Castro came to power as a revolutionary inspired by Marx, but as he died, Castro was watching his revolution change in a way that was beyond his control. Rafael Romo, CNN.
PAUL: Juan Carlos Lopez, senior political correspondent with CNN Espanol with us now. So Juan Carlos, we saw President-Elect's Donald Trump's reaction there on Twitter, he posted just minutes ago. But the president-elect has threatened to undo the efforts that President Obama set forth, bringing the U.S. and Cuba closer together.
I want to play for you here some sound regarding what Donald Trump said about this back in September.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: All of the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them and that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands, not my demands, our demands. You know what the demands are. Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Juan Carlos, we all know that the embargo can only be lifted by Congress, but we heard there what President-elect Trump is hoping to accomplish. Do you think that he would be able to negotiate anything differently than what has been discussed thus far with Cuba?
JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN ESPANOL SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It would be very complicated and we see that his tweet is in the same direction as what he said in September. Now, we have to keep in mind that this current White House did what we heard was they wanted to do as much as they could before the government -- the administration of Barack Obama was over in order to make it hard for the incoming administration, in this case, Donald Trump to make any changes if he wanted to.
We have major airlines now flying directly to Cuba. We have it's easier to travel even though it's still banned by the embargo, it's easier for Americans and Cuban-Americans to travel. It's easier to send money to invest in the island to help the people to people initiative.
So those were the thing that the government did. There was a lot of tension because many in Washington felt that Havana wasn't advancing as fast as it should and that an opportunity could be lost and that could be the scenario now.
Now we'll see what happens with President-elect Donald Trump, but one thing that I've heard from Cubans in Havana that is very clear, they don't see this process of reestablishing relations with the U.S. as they surrender.
They don't see it as a capitalization. They see it as a negotiation between two countries and they believe that they have to be treated as equals and as partners and in these terms and under these conditions the Cubans will probably not advance much more than they have until now.
SAVIDGE: Juan Carlos, I think it was pretty clear that Fidel was not a fan of the warming relations between the U.S. and Cuba. So with his death, does he give his brother, Raul, any greater freedom?
LOPEZ: Raul has always been seen as a more pragmatic of the two, but rail was the head of the revolution. Raul had been in charge and has been in charge since Fidel Castro resigned in 2008 due to health reasons. So now with Fidel gone, it's more something that was expected. He was in poor health. He was 90 years old, and he wasn't the figure that he has been in the past, although he was still speaking his mind and saying what he thought and agreeing or disagreeing with things that were happening.
[08:20:09]But Raul has already -- Raul Castro has a process that's in motion. It's happening and there are people behind him that are getting ready to take over in 2018. So things will probably not change very much in Cuba. We have to see how Cubans react today, what happens on the street.
But if you look at the political process and the bay they established this political process in Cuba, they have it all planned out for the upcoming future.
SAVIDGE: Juan Carlos Lopez, thank you very much. We'll take a break and be back in a moment.
PAUL: Thank you so much for sharing part of your Saturday morning with us. We want to welcome your viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Christi Paul.
SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell. Breaking news this morning, former Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, has died at 90 years of age.
PAUL: His brother, President Raul Castro, announced his death at 10:30 last night saying his brother's body will be cremated early this morning. Now, his death has prompted a real mixture of reaction, what you're seeing here are people smiling in Miami there as they celebrated. There's also, of course, grief. Celebrations erupted in Miami there where many Cuban exiles view him as an enemy of human rights. They were popping champagne. They were cheering. They were waiving the Cuban flag.
But Cubans declared nine days of mourning that started about two and a half hours ago. So we're two and a half hours into these nine days.
[08:25:06]SAVIDGE: Donald Trump is in Mar-a-Lago right now. He just tweeted about the death of Cuba's Fidel Castro saying "Fidel Castro is dead!", exclamation point," not saying anymore. During the campaign, Trump threatened to undo efforts by President Obama to bring the U.S. and Cuba closer together. Here is what Trump said in September on that --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The president's one-sided deal for Cuba and with Cuba benefits only the Castro regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Joining us live now from Palm Beach is CNN national correspondent, Ryan Nobles -- Ryan.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Martin. You mentioned Donald Trump using his favorite form of communication to react for the first time to the death of Fidel Castro. And he didn't really say much, just that one line, Fidel Castro is dead, but he did us an exclamation point.
We'll wait and see throughout the day whether or not the transition releases a more lengthy statement from the president-elect on Fidel Castro's death.
Of course, many people are wondering exactly how the Trump administration will handle this new relationship that the United States has with Cuba in the wake of the executive orders that were put in place by the Obama administration.
And even though Trump has largely been critical of the deal itself, his stance on the issue has varied depending on who he is talking to. When speaking to large rallies here in Florida during the campaign, he was largely critical of the deal and hammered it in many different ways.
But he's also said in different interviews that he is open to the idea of the United States and Cuba have a more normal relationship, including working as trade partners. But he has said, time and time again that he wants to do what is best for the Cuban people and for those Cuban exiles that live here in the United States.
Of course, there's an important point to talk about every single time you talk about how the Trump administration will handle that relationship with Cuba and that is that Trump largely holds the keys to this deal. Because all the President Obama's executive orders were put in place without congressional approval, it wouldn't take much for Donald Trump to undo many of those deals.
Of course, it might be difficult because some of the activity that's already taken place, it's easier now to travel back and forth between Cuba and the United States. Companies are now starting to sell their goods in Cuba.
Americans can bring Cuban goods back over the border, so it won't be easy, but it is something Trump will do. At the very least, Martin, Trump has said time and time again he will at least attempt to renegotiate this deal and make it stronger -- Martin.
PAUL: All right, Ryan, we know that Donald Trump is going back to New York tomorrow. Any indication of what he has planned, what we can expect from him in the next week?
NOBLES: Yes, Christi. He has a very busy week planned. It starts on Monday. Vice President-Elect Pence will be in New York with Trump. Eight different people will be coming to Trump Tower to meet with the president and the president-elect.
Probably the most notable name is Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clark. Now, Clark is a controversial figure. He is a Trump supporter. He spoke at the Republican National Convention. He is African-American and he's also a Democrat, but he is unique in the fact that he is very critical of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
And Trump is rumored to be considering Clark for the role of secretary of homeland security, so that will be an important meeting among the eight different meetings that Trump and Pence will have in New York next week.
We're also going to keep a look out to see if any of our high level cabinet posts are announced next week, including secretary of state, which is, of course, about discussion within the Trump transition.
PAUL: No doubt about it. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.
SAVIDGE: Well, there's the famous house in D.C. that may be Trump's future home, but will his estate there in Mar-a-Lago Florida be his winter White House?
PAUL: CNN's Ed Lavandera has the challenges of security Trump's Mar- a-Lago estate.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Protecting President- elect Donald Trump is a challenge unlike any other from Trump Tower in New York to his private club in Florida.
(on camera): So we're approaching Mar-a-Lago right here.
(voice-over): It's a 20-acre waterfront estate in Palm Beach, secluded from the public, but he also shares it with as many as 500 members, who are willing to pay $100,000 to join.
RONNIE RODRIGUEZ, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Basically it's a compound and we have to treat it as such.
LAVANDERA: Former Secret Service and ATF special agent, Ronnie Rodriguez, says in many ways it's ready made for presidential security.
(on camera): Behind this natural barrier here, which I assume there's a fence --
RODRIGUEZ: It appears there's a wall back there.
LAVANDERA: There is a wall, a tall wall.
RODRIGUEZ: Yes. It's more than 13 feet, I believe, which is great for deterring anyone trying to come on the premises.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Behind the wall, Trump keeps a residence that could become the winter White House.
TRUMP: I love Florida. This is my second home.
[08:30:00] LAVANDERA: Where presidents spend their vacation is a window into their personalities. George W. Bush like to spend the hottest month of the year on his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER US PRESIDENT: It is a wonderful spot to come up in here and just kind of think about the budget. I mean...
LAVANDERA: George Bush, Sr. famously enjoyed the peaceful serenity of Kennebunkport, Maine.
Mar-a-Lago stretches across a barrier island, cut down the middle by a two-lane road nestled between a stunning stream of multimillion dollar homes. The best view comes from across the bay. Rodriguez says Secret Service teams are assessing threats that could come by land, sea, and air. And standing outside the club, it doesn't take long to see the skies above will be a major concern.
RENNIE RODRIGUEZ, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: I mean, that plane is what, maybe a couple thousand feet over us.
LAVANDERA: The Palm Beach International Airport is just a few miles west of Mar-a-Lago.
RODRIGUEZ: You can see the path for commercial aircraft.
LAVANDERA: For years, Trump has waged a legal battle to keep commercial and private planes from flying over this estate. And now that he's president-elect, he might have just gotten his way. When he's on the property, Rodriguez says the airspace over Mar-a-Lago will be closed.
RODGRIGUEZ: This would be a type of aircraft that an individual would use to drive his plane into -- on the property. LAVANDERA: And in the waters around Mar-a-Lago, the U.S. Coast Guard is already setting up security zones, some parts completely off limits, other areas that require permission before entering.
Rodriguez says Secret Service agents will also conduct renewed background checks on every club member. And inside the club, they can also expect to see new levels of visible and invisible layers of security.
LAVANDERA: Are they in for a bit of rude awakening?
RODRIGUEZ: I think it depends, you know. Some of the neighbors may like it, others, you know, may complain because they don't like the intrusion.
LAVANDERA: But life's going to change around here for the next four years.
RODGRIGUEZ: Yes, it will. Most definitely.
PAUL: Hi. Stay with us because Donald Trump obviously has a lot on his plate if he's trying to establish his cabinet right now.
But the question now is, could the death of Fidel Castro prompt president-elect Trump to reveal more about his foreign policy. How is he going to handle that? We have a political panel next who's going to weigh in. Stay close.
PAUL: Well, Fidel Castro's death could prompt president elect Donald Trump to reveal more about his plans for his Cuba policy. He's already, of course, threatened to retract President Obama's efforts to normalize relations between the two.
SAVIDGE: American businesses now have already started moving into Cuba. So his words today and going forward could have a huge impact not just on the Cuban people but on American expectations.
So we want to bring in now, Hillary Rosen, CNN Political Commentator and also Hillary Clinton supporter and then we have Brian Robinson, he's a Republican Strategist and the former Assistant Chief of Staff for Communications to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.
Brian, you first, how do you expect that Trump is going to respond to the news of Castro's death beyond the tweet that we've had?
BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well the exclamation points seem to suggest he's pretty excited about it.
And I know that there are a lot of business interests here in the south where Trump did very well in the electoral college that are already lining up to sell agricultural goods to Cuba, and there are many people here who are posting photos of their Cuban cigars on their social media page, really excited that they're getting those legally these days.
Donald Trump has proven over and over again he's willing to take a non-traditional approach to foreign policy. He has been willing in certain cases to embrace certain leaders that have been anathema to Americans in Washington for a long time. So you never know with Donald Trump what sort of pragmatic approach he's going to take.
He's not an ideologue, he's shown that over and over again. So this may be an opening to continue the normalization of relations with Cuba because he's also proven he's willing to change his mind.
PAUL: Hillary, you know, Donald Trump had said that he's vowing to reverse the executive orders that President Obama established and he wants Cuba to reestablish religious and political freedoms and free political prisoners who are there.
At the end of the day, Donald Trump is a businessman, a lot of people believe that he has the power of negotiation. Do you believe that he might actually be able to do some of what he's talking about doing without any serious consequences, that might actually be able to uphold what President Obama has started?
HILLARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it is sort of ironic that, you know, Fidel Castro has vexed American presidents for decades and all of a sudden, Donald Trump's potentially first foreign policy test is around Cuba and the death of Fidel Castro.
I do think that this is somewhat of a test. He has used that campaign rhetoric to go after President Obama who sees the opening of diplomatic ties and some commercial ties to Cuba as one of his premier legacy achievements, foreign policy achievements. So I do think that what Donald Trump does now, is he measured? Is he taking a wait and see, does he give Raul Castro some time to divert away from the hardcore policies like he's been doing with -- away from his brother or does he jump right out now and aggressively attack the Castros?
So I do think this is a bit of a test. I don't know which way he's going to go because as we've seen, you know, Donald Trump is sort of schizophrenic when it comes to sort of rhetoric versus policy. So, it's an open question but it's an important one and an important first test.
PAUL: It's not easy to prognosticate essentially, you know, what he's going to do because this is a position that he has never held before, no doubt about it.
Brian, let me ask you, as we pivot a little bit here to what is on Donald Trump's plate this week. Everybody is watching to see what decision he is going to make regarding the Secretary of State, we know Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani have been the two names out there all week, but then, of course, yesterday, we also get word that General John Kelly, David Petraeus, Senator Bob Corker also possibly in the running for that position. How quickly do you think we're going to hear what that decision is, and we know that Romney has a lot of people think divided Republicans. You know, Trump's camp doesn't want him, many other Republicans do. What do you prognosticate in this regard? ROBINSON: Well, much like with Cuba policy, Trump is impossible to predict, but he has been willing to kind of go outside the balance of what was expected. You know, he's not filling the cabinet with traditional Washington politicos and US senators and former governors.
He's been going to the private sector. You know, one thing about Mitt Romney is he has that private sector experience and he has that look, he looks like the Secretary of State from central casting and Donald Trump has proven that the look is very important to him they say as part of why he wanted Mike Pence, he looked like a vice president.
So sometimes, it's stuff like that that drives his decision making. But if it stays in line with what he's done thus far, it wouldn't be Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney, would be someone that perhaps has much lower profile, who hasn't been in politics or in elected office at all. That's been the pattern so far. I know many establishment...
SAVIDGE: Hillary, what -- yes, Hillary, I just wanted to bring you into the conversation, what are your thoughts on that?
ROSEN: There's been a lot of comparisons to Mitt Romney and Donald Trump and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, when Barack Obama brought in obviously his primary rival as Secretary of State. Here's the interesting difference though, Mitt Romney actually went out on the campaign trail and called Donald Trump unfit for office. Said that he couldn't be trusted with our foreign policy of the United States, with our -- you know, the commander-in-chief duties.
So, you know, Hillary Clinton had never actually said that about Barack Obama, so I think that's why you see all these uprisings in Trump camp because they don't believe Mitt Romney will be loyal and, you know, that he will use it as his own platform. But look, Donald Trump, you know, will go out there and do what he thinks, the New York Times and other people will laud him as a great commander in chief for it as we've seen over the course of the last two weeks. He is looking for adulation as much as he's looking for anything else. And so I kind of have no faith that this kind of be sort of a principled decision based on policy positions that these people have historically taken.
PAUL: In all fairness, it wouldn't be the first time that we see two rivals who have said some really horrible things about each other, suddenly coming together on the same team, because Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, they have some pretty caustic incendiary things to say about each other as well in their primary and yet she ended up as his Secretary of State.
ROSEN: No -- well they did. But as I said, she never actually said he was unfit for office and we saw that coming out of Mitt Romney.
But look, will it say something about Donald Trump if he's able to rise above what Romney has said about him and choose him?, I think it does. I think there are a lot of people in moderate land who think that Mitt Romney as Secretary of State is probably as balanced and thoughtful as we could possibly hope for from a Trump Administration. Although David Petraeus I think would fit that bill as well. But I think, you know, Americans are looking for a little stability in this foreign policy world of Donald Trump's, you know, appointing General Flynn as his National Security Adviser is completely unsettling in terms of how radical he is, and so having somebody like Romney or Petraeus as Secretary of State would be a little bit comforting.
SAVIDGE: We have to leave it there. Hillary Rosen, Brian Robinson, thank you both for joining us.
PAUL: Thank you both. Coming up, we have a closer look for you at the man Donald Trump has chosen to shape his strategy. Steve Bannon pushing back against accusations that he's embraced a white nationalism.
SAVIDGE: Now to Steve Bannon, the man who will guide President-Elect Trump's vision for running the country as his chief strategist and senior counselor.
PAUL: Yes. Bannon is accused of embracing a movement tied to white nationalists and anti-Semites.
Now, Bannon has -- his agenda has been misinterpreted, that's what he says. Here's CNN's Brian Todd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He says darkness is good. He says Dick Cheney, Darth Vader, Satan, that's power.
STEVE BANNON, CHIEF STRATEGIST AND SENIOR COUNSELOR, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: It's because we are very focused.
TODD: Steve Bannon, the rumpled 62-year-old who once headed Breitbart News now has the ear of the president-elect and many worry he will push the platform of the so-called alt-right.
KURT BARDELLA, FORMER MEDIA CONSULTANT FOR BREITBART: We have in our history have never had someone like Steve with the platform that he has had at Breitbart come into basically be the co-chief of staff, you know, running the White House and running the agenda of the president.
TODD: Civil Rights Groups like the Anti-Defamation League say the alt-right movement is just code for white supremacists and anti- Semites. The Southern Poverty Law Center says Bannon has to go.
Bannon pushes back, telling the Wall Street Journal, quote, "Breitbart is the most pro-Israel site in the Unites States of America. We're a leader in the reporting of young Jewish students being harassed on American campuses." On the accusation that he's at least loosely embraced white nationalism, Bannon told the Hollywood Reporter, quote, "I'm not a white nationalist, I'm a nationalist. I'm an economic nationalist." A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: What Bannon says is that he is anti-globalist, anti-elite, anti- establishment, and that he's an economic populist because he believes that the system has hurt and hindered the little guy, has nothing to do with race, religion, or anything else.
TODD: Bannon jumped on the Trump train early on, telling Trump last year he was a big admirer.
BANNON: I said, look, people are leaning forward in these audiences when was talking. Of course, we were mocked and ridiculed.
TODD: Now, it's Bannon who's mocking and ridiculing the mainstream media who he blames for failing to recognize the frustration of Americans left behind in the global economy. Quote, "It's just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no effing idea what's going on. If the New York Times didn't exist, CNN and MSNBC would be a test pattern."
Kurt Bardella who quit Breitbart feeling it had become a mouthpiece for Trump is now critical of Bannon. He sees that darkness is good remark as chilling.
BARDELLA: I think that's very much how Steve views the world. The worst emotions amongst us can be weaponized and used to advance an agenda, and I think a lot of what you saw in the Trump campaign and what you'll see going forward is tapping into anger and fear and hate to try to move their agenda forward, and I think that's exactly who Steve Bannon is.
TODD: The Trump transition team did not respond to our numerous requests for response to that criticism. And Steve Bannon did not comment for this story. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
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SAVIDGE: Still to come, ISIS losing ground in Mosul. Now, they're fighting back by targeting innocent civilians.
PAUL: Hearing reports this morning that ISIS fighters are killing civilians as Iraqi lead forces around the City Mosul.
SAVIDGE: CNN's Phil Black has a first-hand look at the tragedy ongoing.
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PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These people have just lived through the horror of urban warfare. They've cowered in their homes for days, prayers and white flags their only protection as Iraqi forces fought their way through the neighborhoods of eastern Mosul against fierce ISIS resistance.
Now, there is little food, water, or medicine, no electricity, but there's much relief.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ISIS is like a dark -- a dark thing on the chest.
BLACK: ISIS is like a dark thing on your chest?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BLACK: And it's gone now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. Dark -- the dark is gone.
BLACK: You can hear the fighting in the near distance. It's still dangerously close. ISIS has gone from these streets, but its ability to harm these people hasn't passed.
Just 24 hours ago, we're told, a family was sitting here outside their home when a mortar struck just a short distance away and an 18-month- old girl was killed. Her name as Amira Ali, her father, Omar, is overwhelmed by grief. He cries, "What did she do wrong? She was just playing. She's gone from me and she's my only one."
Every day, this makeshift clinic inside Mosul sees the terrible consequences of mortars fired into civilian areas. It's a bloody production line. The wounded are delivered, patched up quickly and loaded into ambulances for transport to hospital. At times, it seems endless. As one ambulance pulls away, another military vehicle speeds in, carrying more wounded civilians.
They're unloaded with great care as the medics work to help the victims of yet another ISIS mortar attack. But they can't save everyone. This man's 21-year-old son was killed. He says, "A mortar just fell in front of the door, we came and he was just a piece of meat. Four or five of my neighbors were standing with him and they're all dead."
Here, another parent falls to the dusty ground before the body of her son. These people endured two years of living under ISIS only to be killed by the group's desperate military tactics and its total indifference to the lives of the innocent. Phil Black, CNN, Mosul, Northern Iraq.
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