tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN January 4, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PST
happening now, militia takeover. armed protesters seize a federal building in a remote wildlife refuge in oregon and vow to hold out until their grievances over land use are settled. can bloodshed be avoided? jihadi jr., a new isis video shows the murder of hostages as a masked killer with a british accent and english speaking child both deliver chilling threats aimed at the west. trump stumps. we're standing by for a rally by the gop front-runner and his first iowa campaign ad as donald trump steps up attacks on bill and hillary clinton.
bill clinton back on the campaign trail with first campaign event. will he be an asset or anchor that weighs down his wife's white house hopes? i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." the armed protesters who've seized a federal building in oregon have given themselves a name. citizens for constitutional freedom. they say they're prepared to hold out at the remote wildlife refuge and defend themselves until a dispute over land rights is settled. but the local ranchers at the core of that dispute they are set to begin prison sentences for arson. and they say they doept want any help from these out of state gunmen. law enforcement authorities for now they're keeping their distance. and there's a chilling new propaganda video from isis. it shows the murder of five hostages and features a mass killer with a british accent dubbed the new jihadi john, he directs threats at the british
prime minister david cameron. i'll speak live with republican congressman daryl isis, he's a member of the judiciary and foreign affairs committee. and our correspondents, analysts and guests will have full coverage of all the day's top stories. let's begin with the armed occupation of federal property on a remote wildlife refuge in oregon. cnn's paul vercammen is there for us. paul, what do these people want? >> reporter: wolf, here in remote part of oregon we now have a situation where there are no law enforcement officers here of any stripe. not a sheriff's deputy or a state employee or a federal government official. and they are now inside this compound, that is these demonstrators, basically spending the night in what was an unoccupied cluster of buildings. let's take a listen to what they're up to. the media allowed to go where law enforcement has not, inside
the refuge cluster of one-story buildings occupied by an armed group that now has a name, citizens for constitutional reform. >> how long do you plan to be here? have you in a sense already made a statement? >> we have definitely made a statement, but statements are not good enough. we intend ongoing to work and assisting the people of the county -- >> reporter: ammon bundy, once involved with his father cliven and their own standoff with federal officers in nevada says he came here in support of oregon ranchers dwight and steven hammond. the father and son were sentenced to five years in prison for arson after a supposed controlled burn on their property spread to u.s. government land. but bundy calls the hammond's case the result of a failed land grab by the government. >> because of that refusal to sell their ranch, these federal agencies began an attack on this family. >> reporter: on a tour we saw no
weapons, just a dozen or so people who took over unoccupied buildings. the group charges the federal government as aggressively swallowed a branch land, harassed farmers, hurt the economy in places just like this, wide open harnie county. >> we've come here to work. we have not come here to sit as children and stamp our feet and demand certain things are met. we're going to go to work. we're going to try to help restore these ranchers that have lost their ranches. >> reporter: while many in town echo the support for the hammonds and other ranchers, some are upset that the occupation led to schools being shut down for the week. and one man called this takeover just plain weird. now, so far all has been peaceful and the organizers point out that they did so, they picked this place because it is so rural. the largest county in oregon, it is larger than six states. and the population, wolf, is only 7,000.
>> paul vercammen on the scene for us. thank you. the fbi is investigating the seizure of that federal building and says it's looking for a peaceful resolution of the oregon situation. let's bring in our justice reporter evan perez. what's the latest you're hearing? what is law enforcement about to do based on all the information you're getting? >> well, wolf, one of the things they're trying to do is to ensure that there is not a confrontation because it looks from the looks of this this group that has taken control of that federal wildlife wants to have a confrontation. these are federal buildings that have been taken over by groups that say that they're armed and that they want to have the federal government come in and try to force them out. so the fbi's standing back, what you're not going to see for now at least is anything like what happened with the bundy family when they had the fbi, the atf, the marshal service, all surrounded their property doing a standoff.
in the end the federal government backed down. what the fbi doesn't want is to create the same picture again. right now we're dealing with an unoccupied building, very few people there, nobody in danger, no federal employees were harmed in taking over this building. so they're going to see if they can just wait these people out. >> these people supposedly do have weapons, right? what's the worst case scenario that fbi officials fear? >> well, they fear an armed standoff or some kind of confrontation in which people get hurt, wolf. and we know that people here in washington at fbi headquarters are monitoring the situation. they know that the last such standoff really just emboldened these groups. and so what they don't want is the same images of federal law enforcement standing down again. they'll see these people maybe just get tired of waiting there and go away. and eventually they do believe that that will happen. >> but they're breaking federal law. i assume they're going to be charged with a crime once this thing is resolved. >> they are breaking federal law. and we'll see whether or not they can bring any charges.
if you remember in the bundy standoff, really you only had a couple people who got charged with having weapons, people who were prohibited from having weapons and who showed up at that property. so we'll see. that's what's encouraged these groups. you've got dozens of these groups that have spun up during the obama presidency, wolf, and they really want a confrontation with the federal government. >> evan perez reporting for us, thanks very much. joining us now is republican congressman darrell issa, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> should these members of the armed militia some are calling them, should they be arrested and charged? >> look, these tactics can't be tolerated. ultimately there's trespassing, there's an appropriate charge for it. there's a question and a question of is this administration using its ability to expand private land into public use? and is it wrong? that's an area in which congress has a responsibility and we need to live up to it. but that should be done legally through the judicial process, the legislative process.
it shouldn't be done by armed gunmen going into a federal building and taking control. >> armed or disarmed, when you commit civil disobedience, you absolutely have to be willing to pay the price. if they want to be considered civil disobedience even if they're not armed, they're going to have to recognize they broke laws and they have to take the punishment. are they bringing awareness to the misconduct perhaps of the administration? maybe. and if they are, then congress needs to step up to the plate and do its job, something that i think we haven't done enough of. >> it seems to be a consensus emerging not just democrats but republicans what these individuals are doing. listen to senator ted cruz, he's a republican presidential candidate. >> well, listen, our prayers right now are with everyone involved in what's happening with oregon. and especially those in law enforcement that are risking their livings. every one of us has a constitutional right to protest, to speak our minds. but we don't have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence on others. >> i assume you agree with
senator cruz. >> absolutely. senator cruz said it extremely well. there is a right to protest. and there's some protesting going on behind the scenes, but breaking the law is crossing a line. and i think senator cruz is a good example of why on the campaign trail we're talking about a change the american people can believe in. getting back to constitutional law, intent of laws, as we speak today the president meets with attorney general lynch for the specific purpose of figuring out a way to do that which was not intended in the law when it comes to his view of the second amendment. >> we'll see what the president announces tomorrow when he maybe makes this big announcement on executive orders effecting gun policy here in the united states. put on your hat as a member of the foreign affairs committee. saudi arabia and iran now, they've got a huge escalating amount of tension going on. the ramifications for the u.s. are enormous right now, especially involving the war against isis. how do you see it?
>> well, first of all, i think that this is sort of a precursor to a war between iran and sunni states. i think they've lost faith in america to be a fair arbitrator. they've certainly lost faith -- >> who's lost faith? >> certainly saudi arabia, as it was said earlier, ever since the fall of mubarak has had a question of whether the united states be there for them. they're making massive weapons purchases. they're fighting in yemen. yemen is simply a war between iran and iraq that's a proxy war right now, but it's a real war. so are these two nations in the process of a war? they really are. the only question is, will it come directly to their soil or will it be primarily fought in syria and in yemen and other proxy states within the arab world? >> because i know there's also concern the saudis as you well know, sunni state, the kingdom of saudi arabia, they didn't like this iran nuclear deal as you well know. and there's been concern that if the saudis see what's going on in iran, if they suspect iran is
going to be working towards some sort of nuclear weapon, the saudis might try to do the same thing. that would really escalate nuclear proliferation in the region. how concerned are you about that ugly scenario? >> well, i think it's annin evidentability that if iran gets a bomb, saudi arabia will buy bombs. they have will have an ability to retaliate. if it's not our weapons protecting them, then it will be their own weapons purchase from pakistan or some other friendly nation. the fact is though that iran is going to get a bomb. they oppose the program. the administration not only pushed it through over the objection of republicans and democrats, but as it turns out spied on members of congress and prime minister netanyahu in the process. so there's a war here too between an administration that didn't listen to the american people on the iran deal. >> last march i spoke to the then-saudi ambassador to the united states. >> now the foreign minister. >> right now, this was as negotiations were continuing for
that iran nuclear deal. listen to this exchange i had with now-foreign minister. under what circumstances would the kingdom, saudi arabia, build a nuclear bomb to try to counterbalance an iranian nuclear bomb? >> well, this is not something we would discuss publicly, wolf. this is not something that i can comment on take whatever measures necessary. there are two things which we do not negotiate, our faith and our security. >> now, when you say the saudis could buy a bomb, i assume you're saying buying a bomb from pakistan or some other nuclear power, is that what you're talking about? >> that's most people's assumptions buy all the technology with precursors in other words they would fast track their ability to do it. iran has been going the other way. they've been slowly building up the capability to be a nuclear developer and producer in a similar way to north korea. i doubt that saudi arabia would
use the same technique. saudi arabia though historically has relied on the united states to be its backup. and it's allowed it to buy weapons but not necessarily use it. today they are using massive amounts of weapons in yemen. they are in a real war. and they see that mecca, medina and their own capitals are actually threatened by this expansion from iran. >> i want to move on, but very quickly, adel al jubeir, you know this is personal because what the u.s. government says an iranian backed assassination attempt against him when he was ambassador to the united states at a prominent restaurant here in georgetown, it gets personal for these individuals as well, you agree? >> it gets personal. and it's an example of a long history. from '79 when they pretended the taking of our embassy was just students to the latest one, the taking down of the saudi embassy in the same way.
not respecting the most fundamental requirement between two nations, that you protect each other's sovereign soil you've allowed to be within your country. iran has not learned from the past because iran has not been forced to learn from the past. and that's why more than 30 years on we're in a situation in which iran is continuing to be emboldened in its activities and to a great extent it's spawned some of what isis views as its legitimacy. if we want to confront isis, we have to do it by attacking them. but we also have to stop iranian expansion or we're never going to defeat either one of them. >> we're going to talk about isis right now. there's a new video coming out of a man dubbed the new jihadi john. congressman, stay with us. we have much more to assess. we'll take a quick break and be right back. ♪ (cell phone rings) where are you? well the squirrels are back in the attic.
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we're talking with congressman darrell issa. a chilling isis video just surfaced shows the murders of hostages and features a masked english speaking killer now dubbed the new jihadi john. brian todd has been working the story for us. >> tonight this story has caught the attention of u.s. and british intelligence officials.
u.s. official tells us isis is continuing its use of murderers as spokesmen. and we're told british counterterror agencies are combing through the video for clues. now, in this video a masked militant speaking perfect english in a british accent threatens to invad britain. he calls david cameron an imbo sill and has other taunts for the british prime minister. >> how strange it is that a leader of a small island threatens us with a handful of planes. one would have thought you'd have learned the lessons of your pathetic master in washington. >> now, seconds later this militant and others appear to shoot five hostages in the back of the head. the men had been accused of spying for the british. now, clearly this video resembles several others made by the masked isis militant known as jihadi john. he was the british man identified by intelligence agencies as mohamed emwazi who presided over the beheadings of american james foley and other western hostages.
jihadi john was killed in a drone strike in november in raqqah, syria. analysts say with this new video isis is clearly trying to recapture the gravitas of jihadi john but this militant doesn't appear to have the same charisma. officials are not commenting to us who this man might be, but experts tell us he is likely on the kill lists of u.s. and british intelligence tonight, wolf. >> i'm sure he is. there's another person in that video whose appearance is very disturbing as well. tell us about that. >> that's right, wolf. near the very end of the video a very young boy looks to be about 4 or 5 years old appears unmasked, he's wearing fatigues. the boy says in a british accent, quote, we will kill the kufar over there, that refers to nonbelievers. a british man identifying himself as henry dari spoke to britain's channel 4 and said that is his grandson. he says his daughter, the mother was a nigerian christian, moved
to syria and the grandfather says isis is using the boy as propaganda and adds, quote, he's my grandson, i can't disown him. >> we've blurred the image, the picture of that little boy. brian, thanks very much. we're back with republican congressman darrell issa of california. your analysis of this latest video the so-called junior jihadi john. >> well, it's bad news because a spokesperson like this and these assassinations were part of the recruiting tools successful for isis. it's good news in a way because i think there's a desperation. there have been real advances, taking of towns, taking of -- killing of key leaders. so i think isis to a certain extent is trying to rebound. and in fact this is part of their strategy. if it's allowed to work, if they get more westerners, if they really expand again and we don't take mosul, it could be a very different analysis from where we are today where they're losing ground in syria for the first
time and they're clearly losing ground in iraq. >> mosul is the second largest city in iraq. for more than a year, almost two years the isis forces there they've been able to control the iraqi army simply ran away. >> exactly. getting the sunnis rallied up along with the kurds to do this, the american support that's going to be essential, the british support, it's going to be a big milestone. >> but i suspect this rift that has developed, the confrontation between saudi arabia, the sunni leader in the arab world and iran, a shiite leader in the muslim world, that's going to undermine the u.s. efforts to destroy isis. >> you know, it might. it might be a place in which two countries who hate either other, iran now in saudi arabia, find that they have to work together in iraq, in mosul. that doesn't mean they're going to work together in syria. and that's one of the complex things about really defeating isis is that the russia and iran will not help in syria well in fact to protect their own shia organization in iraq they have
to help. so this is a war that has friends in one neighborhood that are enemies in another. and it's what makes it so tough, wolf. >> i hope you're right about them cooperating in iraq. i'm not very confident myself, but let's hope that they do. the stakes are enormous. congressman darrell issa, thanks very much. >> thanks, wolf. coming up, targeting trump. the gop front-runner fires his first shot in the political ad wars. plus, the return of the comeback kid, bill clinton makes his long-awaited debut on the campaign trail. will it help or hurt his wife's chances to become the president of the united states? you both have a
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presidential candidates they're going all out. today donald trump is attacking the clintons on the same day bill clinton is out on the campaign trail for the first time in support of his wife during this cycle. it's just 28 days to go until the iowa caucuses, four weeks exactly from today. cnn is using its vast political resources to cover the 2016 election like no other network traveling with the campaigns. we'll talk to our teams in the field in just a moment, but let's begin with our chief political correspondent dana bash. dana, tell us about donald trump's long-awaited first campaign commercial which was unveiled today. >> well, you know, donald trump went six months into his campaign and became the front-runner without spending a dime on paid advertising. this week he purchased about $2 million worth ov tv and radio time in the first contest states of iowa and new hampshire. >> he's calling for a temporary shutdown of muslims entering the united states. >> reporter: donald trump's
first paid television ad is vintage trump, blunt and provocative. >> he'll quickly cut the head office is and take their oil. and he'll stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that mexico will pay for. >> reporter: and not without controversy. it turns out that footage of people flooding the border is not mexico and the u.s. but morocco and spain. after the website politifact uncovered the discrepancy, the trump campaign insisted it was intentional to show the, quote, severe impact of an open border. and on the forum, the reality star used to become the front-runner, free media, trump started 2016 as he ended 2015, going after both clintons on cnn's "new day". >> she used the word sexist, i'm sexist. and she was using very sort of derogatory terms. i said how the hell can she do that when she's got one of the great women abusers of all time sitting at her house.
>> reporter: with the current president preparing executive measures aimed at curbing gun violence, trump criticized him with the kind of simple yet pointed overstatement that it's been working well for him in politics. >> pretty soon you won't be able to get guns. i mean, it's another step in the way of not getting guns. >> reporter: trump rallied a huge crowd this weekend in mississippi. >> outside we have thousands of people trying to get -- >> reporter: but it is iowa just four weeks away where trump's fiercest competitor in the caucuses is spending his week. >> this is now the time that the men and women of iowa step up. >> reporter: ted cruz on a 28-stop, six-day bus tour is trying to turn his iowa lead in the polls into an actual win next month. appealing to evangelicals by quoting scripture. >> pray and lift up this country. we stand on the promise of people which are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and turn the wicked ways and see my face -- >> reporter: and throwing down his best clint eastwood
imitati imitation. >> when you hang a man, make sure to hang him high. >> reporter: the iowa caucuses are february first, new hampshire's primary is the ninth. that's where marco rubio and chris christie started their days making alternatives to trump and cruz. >> not entertainer in chief, commentator in chief, it is described as commander in chief. if you can't be bothered to offer specifics on how you will perform that job, then quite frankly you don't deserve that job. >> but anger is not a strategy. and it won't make our government better. and it won't make our country better. unless anger is used to motivate us towards electing someone who actually can do the job. >> reporter: you could really hear the outlines there of closing arguments from candidates like christie and rubio running to be the establishment favorite especially in new hampshire. the gist is, okay, you've had fun with the entertainer, mr. trump, with mr. filibuster ted
cruz, but now they're saying, wolf, it's time to get serious. >> dana, i want you to standby. we have more to assess. but i also want to check in with our correspondents in the field who are covering all of these candidates. our senior political reporter manu raju is on the trail with marco rubio. manu, how much of his focus is on bolstering his own national security and foreign policy credentials? >> wolf, that is really the centerpiece of marco rubio's campaign. he's trying to show himself as the person in line with the conservative base, espouses a more hawkish view on national security he's trying to showcase his knowledge of the issues with the intelligence and foreign relations committee to try to rebut some of the skepticism that a freshman senator can run the nation's sprawling national defense system. and while he is attacking donald trump, he really has his sights more on ted cruz. here's what he had to say earlier today. >> while some claim that they would destroy isis, that they
would make the sands of the middle east glow in the dark, my question is, with what? because they certainly can't do it with the oldest and smallest air force we have ever had. or with the smallest army we've had since world war ii. or with the smallest and oldest navy that we've had in 100 years. >> and that was a veiled shot at ted cruz. largely for supporting legislation earlier this year that would overhaul the nation's intelligence system called the usa freedom act. he has increasingly criticized cruz for taking that position and views ted cruz as one of his biggest threats to the nominatio nomination. increasingly you'll hear marco rubio going after ted cruz and ted cruz's super pac responding in kind today, wolf, going after rubio on national defense. clearly both camps see some gain to be had headed into next month's caucuses. >> good point, manu, thanks very much. iowa certainly isn't the only
state getting the candidates' attention right now. the new hampshire primary's only five weeks from tomorrow. let's welcome cnn's newest correspondent here to "the situation room," phil madingly, on the campaign trail with the new jersey governor chris christie. phil, tell us more about the governor's pitch today that he's actually an outsider who can get things done. >> well, it's a delicate dance, wolf, right? try to harness the anger that's really coarursing through the republican electorate but course it through somebody who knows how it works. his point is i'm the governor from new jersey, i'm not from washington, i'm not the person you hate. the anger, it's okay. but now it's time for a serious candidate. take a listen to what he said this morning. >> show time is over, everybody. we are not electing an entertainer in chief. showmanship is fun, but it's not the kind of leadership that will truly change america. >> now, wolf, like so many in this race, new hampshire obviously a crucial state for
chris christie over the last three or four weeks the polling has shown him move firmly into that top tier of candidates not named donald trump. but i asked chris christie earlier in a press moment with reporters whether or not how he would kind of rank his candidacy. what would be success in new hampshire? he said it's too early, ask me in a couple weeks. but very clear his campaign has stated that they need to do well here, wolf, or there's not likely going to be much campaign left afterwards. >> all right. phil, once again welcome to cnn, you're going to be busy this year. thanks very much. joining us now in "the situation room" our cnn political commentator ryan lizza, the new yorker magazine washington correspondent, dana bash still with us and senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin is with us now. jeffrey, trump has booked $2 billion in ad buys this week, does this show he's serious about trying to win iowa and new hampshire? >> i don't think there's any doubt at this point that donald trump is serious about being
president of the united states. i thought what's interesting about the ad is it is almost word for word taken from his speeches. he is saying if it ain't broke, don't fix it. he's gone to the clear lead in the polls with this message about immigration and about stoching muslims from coming to this country. and he's just doubling down on what's been working for him so far. >> dana, what does this mean for his chances in iowa and new hampshire? he's always said if he wins iowa, it's all about over. he's going to go on and win new hampshire, south carolina, nevada, all those march 1st states in the south. he says the key right now is iowa. >> he's going to win so much we're going to get sick of winning, right? i mean, look, obviously the first thing is iowa, as we've been reporting. ted cruz is ahead in many polls there. he is there for six days on a 28-stop bus tour. so donald trump has to get past him and prove he has some kind of super secret organization that is going to bring the new voters to the caucuses that, you
know, he says he's going to bring. but i think jeff is absolutely right. what donald trump is trying to do is put a button on where he is right now, trying to cement where he is right now and do it with the very simple, very blunt sometimes exaggerated language that he uses on the campaign trail, which has worked for him so far just in free media. >> and isn't this a little -- i mean, obviously everything trump does is -- but he lost his lead to ted cruz in iowa, isn't that why he's spending $2 million in ads there, right? he's doing the conventional thing that politicians do. you lose your lead, the free media's not working as much in iowa so now he's got to put some money in the game, put some money on air. i think it's one of the first times we've seen trump do something that just any other politician would do responding to the dynamics of the race. >> you heard -- go ahead. >> well, i was just saying at least so far one of the lessons of this campaign has been the paid media television
commercials has done almost nothing. i mean, just ask jeb bush who has thrown millions and millions of dollars into telephone -- into television advertising that has gotten him, you know, to his position at 3% to 5% in the polls. i mean, trump is trying to do something that hasn't worked so far. we'll see whether it works for him. >> dana, why all the tens of millions of dollars jeb bush has spent in commercials, why hasn't that worked? >> because donald trump has sucked all the oxygen out of the room. it's as simple as that. because donald trump is a master marketer. he early on labeled jeb bush low energy. and he took all the attention away while being very clever on how he pushed jeb bush to the side. and combine that with the fact that jeb bush isn't, you know, catching the world on fire -- setting the world on fire i should say, when he's out and about on the campaign trail how it's perceived on television that's the reason why. >> he also does something, trump, that a lot of the other candidates don't do. he tries to go on television
interviews almost every day, maybe two or three times a day. and the politicians call that free media. >> he's flooded the zone, right? i mean, he's on all the time. and he's been on all the time since june 16th when he announced. and that's worth millions and millions of dollars in free advertising. look, this ad that he put out today, i mean, you have to wonder if he even needs to run it because it's being played so much. >> we checked he is definitely spending $2 million. originally, jeffrey, you know this well, sometimes they just put an ad out on youtube, we play it on television but it never really gets spent. they never buy commercial time, which in iowa and new hampshire right now is relatively expen expensi expensive. >> it's the political equivalent of vapor wear. you say you're going to do something, talk about doing something, get attention for doing something and then you don't do anything at all. it doesn't appear that's what's happening here at least. >> with trump it's always good to check. >> guys, standby. there's a lot more happening including on the democratic front, the former president of the united states, bill clinton, is out there right now. stay with us.
this was supposed to be a huge day for hillary clinton's campaign. thanks to donald trump former president bill clinton's return to the campaign trail today is filled with controversy. before we go back to our correspondents and analysts. let's go to new hampshire where our senior political correspondent brianna keilar has been covering the former president of the united states. i know he's speaking right now, brianna. what's gone on so far? >> reporter: you'll have to pardon me, wolf, because it's a very quiet room where president clinton is speaking, but earlier today he was asked about that controversy with donald trump by a reporter. and he basically dodged, he punted and said republicans will have to decide if that is fair game. he is just here in new hampshire to tell voters, to tell the country that his wife will make the best president. but it was pretty interesting because there was still some thinly veiled jabs at donald trump in his remarks.
>> bill clinton finally on the campaign trail making the case for his wife. >> i do not believe in my lifetime anybody has run for this job at a moment of great importance who was better qualified by knowledge, experience and temperament to do what needs to be done now -- >> reporter: the former president in new hampshire as donald trump puts his past sex scandals front and center. >> she used the word sexist, i'm sexist. and she was using very sort of derogatory terms. i said how the hell can she do that when she's got one of the great women abusers of all time sitting at her house? >> reporter: clinton didn't directly respond but made veiled references to trump. >> every presidential election people run, and believe it or not it's kind of scary this year but believe it or not most everybody actually tries to do
what they say they're going to do when they're running. >> reporter: bad blood between old friends. trump explained his formerly friendly ties with the clintons. >> as a businessman i got along with everybody. i did well. nobody did it better than me. i got along with everybody. and it was my obligation to my company and my family and myself to get along with clinton and to get along with every person that i needed to get along with. >> reporter: as trump tries to make the former president a liability, hillary clinton was even heckled by a republican legislator about her husband's past while campaigning this weekend. >> you are very rude. and i'm not going to ever call on you. thank you. >> reporter: but the clinton campaign considers him a huge asset with high approval ratings and a long history in the granite state. >> new hampshire tonight has made bill clinton the comeback kid. >> reporter: his second place finish here in 1992 was key as news of an affair with jennifer flowers and draft dodging allegations threatened to torpedo his candidacy. though in 2008 he hurt his
wife's campaign with stinging comments about then-senator barack obama. >> this whole thing is the biggest fairytale i've ever seen. >> reporter: with bernie sanders making his strongest challenge to hillary clinton in new hampshire, she's banking on the controlled messenger who delivered for president obama in 2012. >> is the president satisfied? of course not. but are we better off than we were when he took office? >> reporter: and as i use my golf commentators voice in this rather quiet room where president bill clinton is speaking, wolf, it's of note that most republicans are not approaching bill clinton's past infidelities as in all of them, all of the candidates are not approaching his past infidelities the way donald trump is. that doesn't mean they aren't taking him on. for instance, chris christe today pretty much lumping hillary clinton in with bill clinton saying we've seen this act before. we lived this act for eight years. so really trying to make him and
her seem like something from the past, wolf. >> brianna, thank you very much. brianna keilar traveling with the former president. let's bring back our political correspondents and analysts. jeffrey, talk a little about bill clinton on the campaign trail right now stumping for hillary clinton. is he a big risk for her, or a big reward? >> i don't see any risk at all. he's very popular. i think those of us in the news media are very interested in his sex scandal, but i don't think voters care about it now that it's 20 years in the past. i think, you know, that every time that stuff gets mentioned, it only helps hillary clinton. that's how she got elected in part to the united states senate from new york. i just don't think voters care about it at this point, but we do. >> ryan, are you expecting more of these kinds of attacks on bill clinton from donald trump? >> without a doubt, right? i mean, i was in biloxi, mississippi at the trump rally and he was just relishing discussing this. i mean, i do this -- i don't know if i agree with jeff on
this whether how much it can affect voters. it's never been tried on hillary clinton to be honest, right? i think his indiscretions are sort of baked into the cake. i think people who won't vote for hillary clinton because of bill and some of his past, you know, they're already not going to vote. >> this wasn't an issue in 2008 when she was challenged by barack obama. >> obama wouldn't do it because i think obama knew in a democratic primary that's not going to get you any points. i don't know in a general election -- because his argument -- trump's argument if we take him seriously and give him some credit is that she does not have an advantage on womens issues because of bill's infidelities and how she responded. i don't think that argument pressed with millions of dollars in advertisements every day has ever been tested against her. lazio didn't do that when she ran for the senate. so, i don't know, i wouldn't predict one way or another if they were in a general election. >> dana, only a few moments ago at a town hall in cedar rapids in iowa just a little while ago hillary clinton had this to say
about donald trump. >> i have adopted a new year's resolution. i'm going to let him live in his alternative reality and i'm not going to respond. >> so that's a new strategy. because she was responding earlier. >> right. and good luck with that, hillary clinton. >> yeah, really. >> but the specific question was actually, you know, a substantive issue, which was whether or not she and president obama contributed or actually created isis. which actually is an argument that a lot of people are making not necessarily that they created it. that was kind of donald trump's argument all on his own, but obviously the republican field at large they argue that the whole idea of bringing u.s. troops out of iraq helped create a vacuum and then allowed isis to rise. so just the way donald trump said it might make it easy for hillary clinton to say what she said and be a little bit kind of off the cuff like she did. but, you know, these are issues
that no matter if it's donald trump or anyone else she's probably going -- she is going to have to talk about if she becomes a democratic nominee. >> jeffrey, you heard earlier when the former president bill clinton was directly asked by a reporter to react to donald trump's comments, he wasn't biting. he wasn't going to get into there at all as well. i assume you believe that's a smart strategy. >> absolutely. i just think there's no percentage in bill clinton in particular revisiting these issues. and, you know, i just don't think voters are going to make up their mind about, you know, his personal indiscretions in the mid and late 1990s here in 2016. i just don't think it matters. >> hold on, ryan, go ahead. >> no, it just strikes me that bill clinton has now been talking about his indiscretions in the state of new hampshire -- not his indiscretions in the state, but he's been in new hampshire talking about these issues for 25 years, right? this started in 1991. and maybe people don't care about it, but the issue for hillary has always been do they want to move on, is there
another chapter in american politics? do they want to turn the page? i think that's what this feeds into. >> the other thing is remember the minute bill clinton says any word at all about this in any way, shape or form, that's going to be the entire news cycle for days and days and days. he knows that. >> good point. >> he's seen this movie before. >> he's got to be disciplined. >> remember that finger wag? >> having covered bill clinton when he was president of the united states for several years -- >> he was the guy who they said who bill clinton said i do not have, you know what with that woman, that was wolf. >> i was the pool reporter. >> i remember. >> when he uttered those words. guys, thanks very much. coming up, president obama, ready to go around congress and order new gun control measures. what restrictions is he planning? will they make a difference? and after saudi arabia executes a shiite cleric, an iranian mob torches the saudi embassy in tehran. now the saudis have cut relations with iran. could these two rivals be heading for war?
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president obama is ready to go around congress and order new measures for gun control. during a meeting today with the attorney general loretta lynch, he said they are well within his legal authority. >> what i asked my team to do is see what more we can do to stre strengthen our enforcement and prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands to make sure that criminals, people who are mentally unstable, those who could pose a danger to themselves or others are less
likely to get a gun. >> let's go live to our white house correspondent michelle kaczyns kaczynski. what do we know? >> at this point the white house is not wanting to give away any detail but we know this will involve at least some expansion of background checks and that is one area where there is actually broad support among americans including republicans, including gun owners. the president has long wanted to tackle, let's call this gun show loophole where certain smaller time sellers private sellers are able to do these transactions and there is no background check required. without congress, the president isn't going to be able to do anything that broad. if he listens to certain recommendations from groups, he might put a number on it. say, if you sell more than 50 or some number of guns per year, then there has to be a background check and overall that could involve a large number of people.
the president did say, though, that he's going to unveil this plan over the coming days, plural. it's going to be more than one initiative. so this could involve other areas, as well, as we expect. possibly more funding for agencies to enforce existing laws. possibly more tracking of lost and stolen guns and maybe some more areas, as well, wolf. >> michelle, this is coming after congress failed several attempts at passing stricter gun legislation, so what's been the republican reaction so far? >> well, as you can imagine thanks reaction came fast and furious from 2016 candidates. jeb bush saying that this won't really affect security. chris christie calling it craziness saying that president obama is acting like a king. donald trump this morning on cnn said soon you won't be able to get guns. and the new speaker of the house paul ryan referred to the president's dismissiveness in his opinion toward the second amendment and said at the very least, the president is subverting congress, wolf. >> we just reading the white
house announcement, michelle, on event tomorrow the president will make his statement in the east room of the white house and will take steps to reduce gun violence and make our communities, he says, safer. we'll of course have live coverage of that. michelle kaczynski reporting for us. tomorrow morning 11:40 a.m. eastern, special live coverage coming up on cnn. so what should the nation do about gun violence? >> president obama joins anderson cooper for a live audience to talk about guns in america. that will be taking place thursday night 8:00 p.m. eastern only here on cnn. coming up, an iranian mob torches the embassy. now the saudis cut ties with iran. is there a danger of war between the two? an isis video shows the murder of hostages with a mass killer with a british accent and an english-speaking child both
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happening now, mideast melt down, execution of a shiite collar ri collar i can. and the most entrenched foes throw off the war against isis. new isis hit man making his debut in a chilling new video. a killer with a british accent hurls insults and threats at a western leader. is he now the new jihad john? trump releasing an ad four weeks before the next phase of the race begins with the iowa caucuses. how much of his personal fortune with the gop front runner spend on advertising and gun plan. president obama huddles with the attorney general as he prepares to bypass congras congress. his announcement coming tomorrow. will his unilateral action stand up in court? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer.
you're "the situation room." >> we're following the escalating sectarian tensions spreading across the middle east tonight. sod d sod did arabia and allies severing diplomatic ties with iran. violent protests erupted after the saudi executed a claric. the killing igniting a bitter new feud between the two of the biggest powers in the middle east. we're also following political feuds unfolding on the campaign trail. tonight, the republican front runner donald trump wrapping up criticism of president obama and former president bill clinton made his solo debut campaigning for his wife today. we're covering that and much more this hour with our guests including the chairman of the senate homeland security committee ron johnson of wisconsin. and our political reporters, they are fanned out across the country with the candidates.
tonight, with in depth coverage of all the latest twists and twins in the race for the white house. we have our correspondents and expert analysts standing by. let's begin with a sudden and growing crisis in the middle east hitting iran, saudi arabia and allies against each other. right now, the ramifications are enormous. our global affairs correspondent is working this for us. elyce, this potentially significantly damaging impact for the united states. >> that's right, wolf. tonight saudi arabia cancelled fights to and from iran after cutting diplomatic ties on the attack in the embassy. fears in washington the fallout could set the entire region on a collision course. in baghdad today they chanted no. a similar scene in tehran where
protesters there returned to the saudi embassy after rand sacking and torching the over the weekend. what is quick he becoming a crisis that pull america into a century old's conflict. tonight, one of america's most entrenched foes is in a showdown. iran is promising vengeance after the sadui beheaded this cleric. he was a shiite muslim and his killing inflame that country leading to protest the and brutal attack on the saudi embassy. >> we will not allow iran to destabilize the region. >> reporter: tonight the backlash against iran is growing. saudi arabia cut diplomatic relations and today three sunni countries, bahrain, sudan and
saudi arabia joined them. >> that's in reaction to iran's aggressive policies over the years and in particular over the past few months. >> reporter: since the deal with iran this spring, tensions between the countries boiled over. each backing opposite factions region from yemen to the bloody civil war in syria where iran support for syrian president assad has fueled saudi anger. 3 >> if they grow further apart and not talking and fighting through proxies in places like syria and yemen, it means unfortunately the next several months we should expect to see more violence, more dead, more rou refugees coming out of syria. >> reporter: they are trying to get the countries to talk in an attempt to stave off war between two of the most heavily armed countries in the middle east. >> we want to see tensions reduced anded and dialogue
restored and get a resolution peacefully. >> reporter: u.s. officials tell me they did voice concern with the saudis before the execution. such a move would intense relations. the white house not cite sizing the move, only saying it was unhelpful to security and stability in the region. they are making it clear to saudi arabia and iran it is up to them to resolve their differences, wolf. >> i wouldn't expect that to happen any time soon. a worrisome situation. thank you for that, elyce. we're following a disturbing new video that's just emerged from isis marking the debut of a new executioner hurling insults and threats at the british prime minister david cameron before a mass hostage murder. brian todd is digging deeper. we've been talking to experts. what have you learned? >> we've been talking to analysts, experts and officials about this video and man.
tonight, we're told british counter terror a officials are coming through the execution video. analysts say this is clearly an attempt by isis to threaten the west with a new version of jihadi john. in a familiar blast k mask and men nicing tone, he sands behind five hostages on their knees and aims his wrath at david cameron saying cameron is arrogant and foolish like his predecessors. >> in fact, david, you are more of an imbecile. only a imbecile would dare to wage war against the supreme. >> reporter: the men are accused of spying on the british. if this man bear as chilling resemblance to jihadi john, there is a reason. >> this person, whoever he is is
trying to replicate that scary behavior of his predecessor. >> reporter: jihadi john, the british isis militant identified by western intelligence terrified western audiences as he presided over the americans james folly and other hostages. >> it's only right we continue to strike the next of your people. >> reporter: jihad john was killed in november in a drone strike in the isis stronghold of syria. analysts say isis is trying to recapture his group but the group tends to post these videos when it's on the ropes. >> i think the timing of the video clearly has to do with recent battle field losses. they lost ramadi and their territory is pushed back and their ability to make money from oil in particular is being constrained like it hadn't been before. >> reporter: a u.s. intelligence official tells cnn, isis' use of murders as spokesperson reflects the group's true nature from david cameron a defiant
response. >> it's aggressive stuff from an organization that does the most utterly, despicable acts and people can see that again today. >> reporter: cnn is told british counter terror officials are combing through the video. british officials won't comment on who this militant might be, but experts say he's likely on their kill list. >> they are absolutely looking for this person right now. if you're willing to make a high resolution video, executing hostages, the united states, britain and other folks are looking for you. >> but this masked jihadist isn't the only person. at the end of the video, a young boy who looks to be four or five years old appears unmasked and speaks in a british accent threatening to kill non-believers in the west. a british man identifying himself as the boy's grandfather spoke to channel 4. he says his daughter, the boy's mother converted to islam, moved
to syria and married a jihadist who is believed to have been killed. he says isis is using the boy as propaganda and as a shield he adds quote, i can't disown him, he's my grandson. >> what does this man say about his daughter, the boy's mother? >> he told channel 4, wolf, his daughter brought shame to the family. he wants his daughter to come back to britain to face the music and he warned the police several times before his daughter left for syria. >> and as our viewers can see, we blurred the picture of that little boy, thank you. let's dig deeper into this. the homeland security committee and former relations committee. senator, thank you for joining us. brian todd's report about this isis video in a moment but let's talk about this very worrisome situation developing between iran and saudi arabia. how returned are you that could escalate into some real war
between those two powers? >> well, hello, wolf. happy new year. not a real promising start. i'm highly concerned. what i think i'm witnessing now is a strategic realignment in the middle east and really talks about the folly of the agreement that is actually emboldened iran is not modified -- he modified behavior for the worst. we need to be concerned for iran and russia to stabilize saudi arabia would be a good thing. it could spike or increase oil prices, which is harming both economies now. this is something we really need to be concerned about. >> because russians are working closely with iranians as you pointed out. the state department spokesman says the u.s. at least for now doesn't plan on being a mediator in all of this but given the stakes involved, is that wise? >> wolf, the reason things spun
so out of control is his blunder not leaving the stabilizing force behind in iraq. now the situation is spinning out of control. the region is destabilized. i don't think america can be the world's policeman but when it's in our national interest, we need to stabilize. we need to be a stabilizing force. so whether we like it or not, the events in the middle east will be spilling over. we see the refugee flow into europe and destabilization with shiite going after soon knee and again, you've always had tensions there but gotten far, you know, way out of control and a lot of that is the fact that saudi arabia no longer looks at the united states as a reliable ally. >> they didn't like the iranian nuclear deal. of course, the israelis didn't like it, as well. i want to play a bit of a conversation i had last march with the saudi minister of
foreign affairs. i want to get your reaction. listen to this exchange i had with the foreign minister. under what circumstances would the kingdom, saudi arabia build a nuclear bomb to try to counter balance an iranian nuclear bomb? >> this is not something we would discuss publicly, wolf. this is not something that i can comment on and nor would i comment on but the kingdom will take whatever measures are necessary to protect it's security. there are two things over which we don't negotiate, our faith and security. >> given the tensions right now, senator, between iran and saudi ay arab arabia, there is concern, i know from sources i spoke to. the saudis don't develop or build a bomb but buy one. from pakistan they have the cash to do so. >> concerned of many and this
aud audi. more on the escalating sec tarretary relations. it's now cut ties with the shiite led iran after they burned the saudi embassy. we're back with ron johnson, republican of wisconsin and member of the foreign relations committee. senator, what's your fear now, the worst that could happen especially the impact of this escalating tensions between iran and saudi arabia on the broader fight against isis? >> well, i really do fear a really big push to destabilize the saudi regime.
now, let's face it, wolf. the judicial system of iran and saudi arabia, neither of these are my cup of tea. we're really noticing sharia law is not compatible. at least the saudis are -- want to be our friends and allies. iran is a self-proclaimed enemy. i'm highly concerned about the lifting of the sanctions and be thumping tens, hundreds of billions of the dollars into the economy and military of ourself proclaimed enemy in iran and we know iran and russia would like to see the house of assad fall and destabilize, would be horrible for the region and not good for the united states. >> could this escalating tension between these two countries dramatically impact, weaken the effort to destroy isis? >> absolutely. if events spin out of control there. saudi and arabia are fighting a proxy war in yemen and so this is just going to fuel those
flames and further destabilize the region and again, if you don't have a stabilized middle east, no telling what happens to oil prices and higher oil prices is good for putin, good for iran. >> as you know, this are these reports out there that the saudi government knew this mass execution of the top shiite leader, the beheadings of some of those individuals would spark this kind of backlash so why do you think they did this? >> i can't analyze the saudis but if you really want to talk about a brutal regime that executes a lot of people, look at iran. that's the pot calling the kettle black. you don't need a lot of justification for these two nations to hate each other and without america's stabilizing presence there, things are spinning out of control there and it's concerns. >> you saw the brian todd report on the video that isis just released, the so-called junior jihadi john, what do you make of
it? >> it's chilling. i've reports of the training by isis of young childrn that privately captured, obviously forced to join the military but now brainwashed. these are young people growing up within the system and get desensitized to the bar bar bar and shows the continuation of this caliphate continues. >> the concern i've been told by u.s. officials, this kind of propaganda video actually as sick as it sounds actually does work in terms of recruiting new isis terrorists. you buy that? >> well, just take a look at your earlier report where a british father is concerned about his daughter who is drawn and actually immigrated to the caliphate and now it's his 4-year-old grandson that's in the video. yeah, this unfortunately does inspire people, that's why isis has to be defeated. it's not just going to inspire people in england and europe but obviously inspired people here in the united states.
it's a real and growing threat, wolf. >> it certainly is. thanks for joining us. >> have a good night. >> thank you. just ahead, donald trump's first tv campaign ad hits the air with a glaring mistake but was it intentional as the campaign is insisting? >> the former president bill clinton goes so low on the campaign stump but will trump's attacks on him way down hurt her campaign? does the smell of a freshly fill you with optimism? do you love your wireless keyboard more than certain family members? is your success due to a filing system only you understand? does printing from your tablet to your wireless printer give you a jolt of confidence? if so, you may be gearcentric. someone who knows that the right office gear helps you do great things. and there's one place that has it all. office depot officemax. gear up for great.
he's already the undisputed leader of the republican presidential pack and donald trump is out with the tv campaign ad and rivals are taking shots at each other tonight, all of this exactly four weeks to the day before the first contest of 2016, the iowa caucuses. our political reporter sara murray has details for us. sarah, donald trump touches on the most controversial stances in his new ad, tell us about it. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. these are the kind of comments that would sink any other normal
politician, but donald trump is not a normal politician, instead, he's wrapping up some of his most outlandish controversial statements and putting millions of dollars behind it on the airwaves. >> i'm donald trump and i approve this message. >> reporter: just four weeks out from iowa, gop candidates hitting the trail as donald trump lights up the air waves. >> he's calling for a temporary shut down of muslims entering the united states. >> reporter: trump releasing the first ad aimed at iowa and new hampshire and doubling down with dollars on his most controversial statements and this scene from the ad not actually footage of the u.s. boarder but rather an ocean away at the moroccan border. the trump campaign said the use was intentional to show the impact of an open border. >> keep signing executive orders because he doesn't meet with people. he doesn't like people, i guess. >> reporter: today trump showing no sign of slowing.
ramping up his criticism of president obama's upcoming executive action on guns. but perhaps over stating their impact. >> pretty soon you won't be able to get guns. >> reporter: and claiming again free zones keep it harder to keep america safe. >> when i see gun free zone, that's a flag for whackos to come in and start shooting people. >> reporter: his closest competitor takes a different tack. >> if every one of you gets nine other people to show up and caucus, you just voted ten times. that's how he win iowa. that's how we win the primary. >> reporter: ted cruz kicking off a six-day 36 county tour of iowa. the target on cruz' back growing as iowa nears. 2012 iowa caucus winner rick santorum mocking the filibustering in a new tv ad. >> i do not like green eggs and ham, i do not like them sam i am.
>> you want someone to read one hell of a bedtime story, ted cruz is your guy. if you want to protect america and defeat isis, rick santorum is your person. >> words and political stunts cannot ensure our security. isis cannot be filibusters. >> reporter: the battle growing more pinched as both rubio and chris christie sharpen their tone to cast themselves as the serious alternatives to trump. >> these times and these challenges demand a grown up. show time is over, everybody. we are not electing an entertainer in chief. >> reporter: now, while most republicans are hunkering down in new hampshire or iowa trying to lock in a lead before these voters head out in the early nominating states. donald trump is here in massachusetts tonight. you can see his campaign making a big play not just in the early states but also for these states that are going to vote on march 1st. wolf? >> sara murray on the campaign
trail, thank you. let's get more on ted cruz keeping the gloves on when it comes to donald trump but not for his next closest rival senator marco rubio while cruz focused again on iowa, super pact supporting him is focussing in on the junior senator from florida. part of the campaign coverage on that part of the story tonight. the battle between these two clearly heating up. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. it is and senator ted cruz today suggesting that he's being targeted so much by his rivals because panic in his words is setting in but today it was a group of ted cruz super pacts that were really targeting marco rubio using a video clip originally put out by the rubio campaign originally intended to be a humorous video clip. they used it to portray marco rubio, someone unprepared to be president and someone easily distracted by things like fantasy football.
♪ >> i know i have a debate but i got to get this fantasy football thing right. okay? >> and the rubio campaign wasting in time to respond to that ad today in putting out a series of snarky tweets. this one todd harris saying quote fantasy football equals unpresidential but quoting entire scenes from "princess bride" is what rage regananesque. here in iowa and especially between these two campaigns and
candidates, everything is fair ga game. wolf? >> thank you very much. let's get to the breaking news. we're just getting new details of the new gun restrictions president obama will announce tomorrow morning to be enacted by executive order by passing congress. let's go live to our white house correspondent michelle kaczynski, you have new information on what the president will announce. tell us what you learned. >> these are executive actions. this is not the action of congress. so you see administration trying in a number of areas to make significant changes but they are in the form of guidance and recommendations and propels. so you really see the limits within. i think the biggest issue on the background checks, they are now going to put out guidance from the atf it doesn't matter if you sell one gun or 500,000 guns, if you are in the business of selling guns and they are going to clarify what that means, you have to get a license and you have to have the buyer go
through a background check. the question in that, though, is how do you enforce this? is this going to be somewhat voluntarily in the seller's coming forward and saying according to the guidancguidanc in the business of selling guns although we do know now there will be penalties including possible prison terms and big fines. other areas they will work on, the white house sent a letter to every state encouraging them to give more information to the background check system. people who would be disqualified because of mental illness or domestic violence. again, that's an encouragement. how it's going to be enforceable is another question. i think one way that we will see changes is that the white house wants to really beef up and rebuild the background check system itself. they plan to do a lot more hiring and a lot for funding, wolf. >> very quickly, michelle, if there are individuals whose businesses to go to gun shows and sell guns at gun shows, the president's executive order will force them to require background
checks for individuals who go to those gun shows, is that right? >> reporter: yeah, not just gun shows but wherever you're selling guns. online they included the dark web. if you're in a store or your home, they qualify what constitutes being a seller. they said the number doesn't matter. again, if you're selling two guns, if it's for profit repetitive process, they could determine you're a seller but how is the federal government going to fine everybody out there doing this? that's a question that remains to be answered, wolf? >> we'll see what the president says about that. thanks. cnn will carry president obama's remarks live tomorrow morning around 11:30 a.m. eastern. we'll have the president's statement in the east room of the white house tomorrow morning and the president will also join cnn's anderson cooper and a live audience for a cnn prime time
event, guns in i mamerica thurs night 8:00 p.m. eastern on cnn. let's talk with chris moody, our washington post assistant editor david swirlick and david. david, talk about the $2 million ad buy that the trump campaign has now done. this is the first time campaigning for six months, a month ago, four weeks ago and purchased $2 million in commercials. they didn't have to do this until now. why did they do it now? >> well, because donald trump, i think, wanted to accomplish two things. one, show he's very serious about wanting this job. i think that he wants to dispel any notion in any voter's mind this is a lark for him or he sees it as a reality show. no, he's putting his money where his mouth is. he's gotten a free ride in terms of campaign finances all year long and gotten so much free media pick up. he said he's $35 million under
budget from what he anticipated spending for 2015. he said hey, i'm going to show you how much i'm worth and file the appropriate paperwork and everyone was skeptical and he did so and he checked the boxes. people were skeptical if he was going to actually start dipping into his wallet and spending his money on this campaign and he's starting $2 million this week. he says $2 million per week going forward. >> does it mean, does it suggest to you, david, he's a little nervous about iowa and maybe even new hampshire? >> i don't know if he's nervous. they are trying to sound non-sha lant. he starts every speech by talking about the fact he's winning. if he doesn't win in iowa or new hampshire or come in a strong second in the states, that will change his narrative and for that reason, i don't think they are taking chances. >> he wants to be a winner.
if he and south carolina and over that's his theory. >> the purpose of the iowa caucus and is because it's about momentum and for donald trump, so much from being on media he's accepted networks all over the country but if you look at those polls in iowa, ted cruz is doing incredibly well and he said when he announced he would do this ad buy, donald trump said he does not want to take any chances and i see that as a fulfillment of that, you can call it maybe anxiety. >> does donald trump's decision to go after bill clinton and his record, sexual scandals during his administration, does that help him in iowa and new hampshire? >> without a date. that's red meat for the base. the clintons had been enemy number one for decades now and remember, there's been a lot of
information out there about the clintons at donald trump's wedding and how close he was, he himself this morning said hey, when i was in business, i was getting along with everybody. i did that better than anyone. he needs to start showing conservativeness and speak to the base and say hey, guys, i can take this directly to the clintons and do it in an effective way. that is what he's hoping to show and i think it absolutely works for him. >> david, you agree, a smart strategy on trump's part. >> i agree with david. it shows trump as the leader of the republican party taking on the presumed leader of the democratic party. i think the clinton team made a mistake with the pension for sexism comment by letting trump into the general election discussion with her rather than keeping him bound in with his republican rivals. >> you noticed today hillary clinton and bill clinton, chris, they don't even want to respond to donald trump on this issue anymore. they are not taking the bait, if you will. >> no, i think that's a smart strategy right now but donald
trump does not play politics like everyone else does. you can't treat him like you would any other challenger and he's proven that to his republic republican challengers who faltered time and time again. i just can't handle this campaign or i don't want to run in this campaign enveironment ad the clinton folks have to adapt. it's not something anyone is used to. >> stand by, we have more to discuss. i want to take a closer look at what bill clinton is saying and doing on the campaign trail. much more when we come back. gegiving up all the thingsan she loves to do. it should just mean, well, finding new ways to do them. right at home's professional team thoughtfully selects caregivers to provide help with personal care, housekeeping, and of course, meal preparation. oh, that smells so good. aw, and it tastes good, too. we can provide the right care, right at home.
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the former president bill clinton campaigning solo for his wife for the first time in this election season, telling a new hampshire audience about the softer side of hillary clinton and calling republican field of presidential candidates and i'm quoting bill clinton right now kind of scary. our senior washington correspondent jeff zelleny is covering hillary clinton tonight. >> reporter: talk about a one-two punch as bill clinton was in new hampshire talking about the softer side of hillary
clinton, how he met her some 45 years ago. she was here in iowa traveling across the state going after republicans directly and hard. no mention of her democratic primary opponents, no mention of bernie sanders. she was focussing specifically on republicans, and she told voters that she is the last line of defense among keeping republicans out of the white house. so she is trying to make the argument to democrats who may not be quite supportive of her or enthusiastic she's the strongest candidate. an interesting moment happened in the audience when one voter asked her about donald trump. >> i have an interest in your response to the donald's comment, you and president obama created isis. [ laughter ] >> i've adopted a new year's resolutio resolution. [ cheers ] [ applause ] >> i'm going to let him live in
his alternative reality and i'm not going to respond. [ cheers ] >> reporter: so of course, that moment came, the voter was referring to something donald trump said in mississippi that president obama and hillary clinton were responsible for creating isis. now, i'm not sure she lived up entirely to that new years resolution. she talked a lot about republican and extreme policies here but wolf, you can tell the sense of urgency is creeping into her campaign. she knows full well how tricky the iowa caucuses can be. it was eight when she was third place finish in iowa that changed her first presidential campaign. so she is trying to focus on republicans here as a way to show democrats that she is the toughest candidate in the primary and then again, of course, in the general election. >> you're absolutely right. barack obama came in first in iowa eight years ago. jon edwards actually came in
second, hillary clinton came in third. jeff zelleny, thanks very much. let's bring back our panel. what did you think of hillary clinton's response when that person asked her to comment on she and president obama actually created isis? >> first of all, funny the gentleman that asked him referred to him as the donald. i wonder how many people will refer to him like that when they ask questions. the question is how long can she not respond to donald trump if he goes on to be the nominee, they will do nothing responding to donald trump. she'll respond gleefully when it benefits her and not respond when it doesn't benefit her. they are ready to not focus on him. >> i assume, david, you remember this eight years ago, she has learned the lessons of her failure in iowa from them and she's got a new game plan to actually make sure her supporters show up at those caucuses. >> there is no doubt that she took those lessons from 2008 and applied it to building a very
big robust organization in iowa. the style of which barack obama had rather organically they invested hard early and they are building this organization. we'll see on caucus night if indeed all those lessons of organizing were learned but clearly, she is not looking beyond iowa and new hampshire very much. she knows better than anybody getting tripped up in one of the two early states could be quite damaging to a presidential campaign and so she is supremely focused on making sure they are the focus of her operation. >> in the new hampshire polls, bernie sanders does really well, less so in iowa but four weeks to go. >> hillary clinton of all knows how well one slipup can affect the campaign. she came first in new hampshire in 2008, she had let president obama in the door then senator obama in the door and we know what happened after that. i think senator sanders because he's from a neighboring state
will do well in new hampshire but it's not clear to me after new hampshire where he goes to generate support. >> david, let's get back to the breaking news we reported. michelle kaczynski from the white house, the president's executive actions he'll announce in the east room to tighten gun control in the united states. politically speaking on the campaign trail, how does this play? >> barack obama the president in his last year solidifying a legacy in putting an issue front and center but on the campaign trail, this is a gift for both parties because this is an issue that rallies the base of each party and so republican presidential candidates out there responding saying barack obama is going to try to take your guns and start violating the second amendment, which isn't necessarily true in what he's proprosing but going to engender a lot of enthusiasm. on the democratic side, hillary clinton will tout this as this
is wonderful and the liberal base will be excited. it's an issue that means a lot to them. >> donald trump on new day told chris cuomo this is just the beginning of president obama wanting to take away everybody's guns, if you will. >> donald trump says things that aren't policy or prescriptions. what president obama can put on paper any future president can take off paper because it's only an executive action so i think you're going to see the candidates, once this is fleshed out and obama announces everything trip over themselves to see how they will be the quickest to repeal it depending on what it. >> most of the republican candidates say the same thing. on day one they will change this, this and be busy on day one if they are elected president of the united states. all right, guys, thanks very much. just ahead. the growing crisis involving one of washington's staunchest allies. what's at stake for the united states between the feud with
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saudi arabia's execution of a shiite cleric, it's igniting an explosion in the middle east. they have cut ties with shiite iran after the monitor. ed an embassy in tehran. joining us peter bergen and senior editor at "the daily beast" and valle. how big of a deal is this escalating crisis now between saudi arabia and iran? >> well, it is a big deal. these are the two biggest power brokers in the region. they have an escalation of conflict between them. this is happening at a time where europe and the united states and international community is trying to create regional solutions to isis and syria and really cannot do that if these two are at each other's throats and more likely will actually fuel the conflicts in syria and yemen through the proxy war. >> the wars have been going on.
the question is will the proxies lead to an actual fighting war between saudi arabia and iran? >> i don't think so. i don't think the military makeup really leads there. any time they have wanted to fight against one another, they have done it indirectly. iran doesn't want saudi arabia territory and they don't want their territory. what they want is control over iraq, lebanon, and that's where they get along or fight to the knife. >> that's a very dangerous situation. michael, does the saudi kingdom really care if they've angered the united states with the execution of the shiite cleric? >> quite frankly, i don't think they've cared for some time. the syria crisis has been a real thorn in their life. for the saudis they have one priority and that is the expansion of iranian hegemony
which is the shia crescent all the way up to palestine. it's no coincidence, wolf. look at what's playing out in sear yachlt every day you have some ricg core officer who's sent back in a box. he's being killed by a proxy group, a rebel group in northern syria probably getting weapons and money and some training from the saudis some of this proxy war has been roiling already, so in a sense the execution of sheikh al nimr was just an escalation of what was a growing and dying animosity toward each other. >> peter, why did they execute this cleric? they knew it was going to cause an uproar. >> you have to put into context
you have a new crown prince, a young son. i think they've made some mistakes. look at yemen. it's been an unqualifying disaster. >> for saudi arabia. >> and for yemen. >> the houthi rebels in yemen, they're backed by iran and the saudis are fighting them. >> indeed. they seem not to care as michael indicated. they seem to want to amp up the crisis and they're doing a form of brinkmanship in the region they're in. >> i've been told, and i want to get your analysis, there's real concern now that the iran nuclear deal is going forward, the saudis didn't like it. the united arab emirates didn't like it, but they went along reluctantly with it, that the saudis if they have a tense relationship with iran, they can go to pakistan and buy a nuclear bomb. they've got the cash if they wanted it. nuclear proliferation could
skploeb. >> i don't think they're ready to sell them a bomb. >> if they give them sa lot of money. >> it has to be a lot, lot more and they're not doing economically well right now. they had to say certain things in public, but in reality their key agenda was that even though there's a deal, iran should not be allowed back in the region and should not be part of discussions about syria, yemen, and the like. and i think the escalation of sectarian sanctions actually serves that saudi purpose. what they're saying to us is it's not isis that's the priority in this region, it is iran. you shouldn't talk to them, we don't want you to talk to them, and they shouldn't be part of this serious solution. this breakup is what served saudi arabia's agenda after the nuclear deal. >> michael, i'm actually interested in getting your analysis. it's so intriguing. the new foreign minister used to be an ambassador in washington. some were arrested in washington
for allegedly going out there wanting to execute and assassinate him out in georgetown. he knew about this. he was the one severing diplomatic relations. does this animosity serve an impact? >> absolutely. and i'll go one step further. the crown prince, when his father passed away, sheikh al nimr who was just put to death, he said his corpse should be rotting in hell. in the mid-20 200s, they wantedo blow them up. the vast majority were them
including cleric. so it can't be discounted in all of this either. sheikh al nimr had been sentenced to death many years ago but it was just care e carr. >> peter, can the u.s. do anything to calm anything down. >> i don't really think so. >> what do you think, valle? >> i think we have to respect our allies and iran and the russians to basically get around these goals. these are fighting isis and ending the war in syria. >> it looks like the whole situation in the region is going from bad to worse to even worse right now. do you remember a time when it was this explosive? >> no, but also i don't remember a time in which saudi arabia would basically throw a hand grenade and then inform us afterward and we have the play catchup. we don't have relations but this is our closest ally there and we shouldn't be this surprised
every time they make a decision. >> the saudis are very angry that iran is about to get $150 billion in cash from the frozen assets that are about to disappear. all right, guys, it's a bad situation. we'll continue to watch it. that's it for me. i'm wolf blitzer "the situation room." erin burnette with "outfront" starts right now. coming up next, with weeks left until the iowa kay wass, donald trump turns up the heat spending millions of new ads so is he getting nervous. plus, the president about to make a new announcement. detail this hour. and they say they're not leaving until their demands are met. i'm going to talk to the man leading the standoff. leading the standoff. let's go "outfront." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com