tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow CNN February 14, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
of the u.s. supreme court, where the sudden passing of antonin scalia has pushed it to the for front of this year's presidential race. i'm jim sciutto for poppy harlow. the supreme court legend died, inside the belt way quickly changed from shock and condolences to cold, hard politics. on one side, the republicans, they do not want president obama to nominate a replacement for the justice they believe a new justice hand picked by the president will swing the court and future opinions to the left. that scenario would be fine with democrats, fully aware scalia's absence four appointed by republican and four appointed by democrats. the new addition to the court will tip that balance. republicans believe if they win the presidency this year, they will name a supreme court justice next year. president obama is in no hurry
according to the white house. a spokesman saying don't expect any decision this week. he'll consider when his options -- when the sen -- what his options are when the senate comes back from recess. manu r manu raju, four different american presidents. manu, if i could begin with you, saying the president will not rush, to nominate someone, but the recess is really just a little more than a week away. the president has said that he will nominate someone this year. i just wonder, looking at this politics from where you sit, president nominating someone, is there any chance that he could get that nominee past the senate, picking someone fairly middle of the road, sheree voisin, got by partisan in the house. >> there is always a chance,
jim. i'm just not sure how much of a chance at this point. when you look at the senate republican conference, it's really divided into several camps. folks who are dead set against any nominee whatsoever. those folks will not support anyone. but then you have some moderate whose are uncertain whether they'll get behind anyone. then you have real endangered blue state republicans in tough races. those folks, if they put -- they feel a lot of heat back home, and they put pressure on senator mcconnell to have a vote, particularly a nominee who is considered within the mainstream, perhaps that could change the calculus. jim, even if the handful of republicans clam more for a vote, democrats will need at least 14 republican senators to break ranks and overcome a filibuster in order to move forward on a final up or down vote. that's only if senator mcconnell
agrees to have a vote on the senate floor and judiciary committee agrees to confirmation hearings. that's no sure bet. a lot of hoops to jump through and you add to the presidential campaign season. it will be very difficult. >> high bar. 14 votes, mitch mcconnell's approval in effect. senate judiciary committee, key panel deciding the high court justice. describe how their lives change this week in the wake of the death. how much of the center of this political divide will be at. >> right in the heart of it. it was going to be a sleepy year, but now they're at the heart of the fight. this is broken down between 11 republicans and finally democrats. that means if there were, this committee were actually to vote on a nominee, they would, the democrats would need to get at least two republicans to break ranks in order to get the nominee advanced to the senate floor. now, if they do move forward,
two republicans to look at on the committee, jeff flake, arizona republican, he is someone who has broken ranks with a number of issues. lindsey graham, someone who has backed sonia sotomayor, and saying the president should get his choice on nominees, he is not so far been forward going forward with a nominee to replace scalia, but someone to watch going forward. clearly, this is the key committee people to watch there, but again, jim, that's if chuck grassley, the chairman of the committee decides it's okay to move forward with confirmation hearings. >> another key member of that committee, certainly, presidential candidate, ted cruz. does this play to his strengths in the primaries that are coming up to his base? >> absolutely. >> strong stand on this. >> absolutely. that's why he was the first out of the box really to say this should not be a confirmation vote on the senate floor. you heard him talk about it in last night's debate.
he said earlier today, he said look, if there is a vote on the floor, i will filibuster it. 60 votes even if mcconnell decided to schedule a vote on the floor. but i would also note it was interesting last night's debate, ted cruz tried to turn the tables on, sorry, donald trump tried to turn the tables on ted cruz saying look, if it weren't for you and your desire to push john roberts, then john roberts would not be on the court. a little overstate by donald trump, but clearly, john roberts holding the individual mandate in obama care, something that donald trump sees as a vulnerability for ted cruz. certainly playing out pretty intensely in the proorepublican debate, jim. >> the vacancy now loomed large in the republican presidential debate saturday, as soon as it happened, really. discord, one point of accord
among the candidates. opposition, to president obama who they don't want nominating the next high court justice. listen to the front-runner, donald trump. >> well, i can say this. if the president, if i were president now, i would certainly want to try and nominate a justice, and i'm sure that frankly, i'm absolutely sure that president obama will try and do it. i hope that our senate is going to be able, mitch and the entire group, is going to be able to do something about it in times of delay. we could have a diane sykes or a bill pryor, we have some tremendous employee to conservativism, and to our country. >> to be clear on this, mr. trump, you are okay with the president nominating somebody. >> i think ae he is going to whether i'm okay or not. it's called delay, delay, delay. >> delay, delay, delay.
clearly the republican strategy there, david gurgen joining me now. say you're in the obama white house right now, you just heard manu talking about the various hurdles he'll have to get over, particularly getting 14 votes just to get this past the filibuster. what is the president's strategy now? what can he do to possibly get through a nominee through all those hurdles? >> well, he has to set up a process of dl process deliberation first. growing list of people who can look very, very attractive. he has to give this the weight deserchs and which one would be the best nominee and put that in motion. the whole thing will take, you no know, between now and the time he puts forward a nomination. probably going to take two or three months. but i think the objective here is to build up a case on the
were he's part of why the court shouldn't have a vacancy for that long a time. the president does not support it. there has been some extensions in the last year for presidency, the president goes ahead and nominates and the senate acts. there have been rare exceptions to that. so the critical thing, jim, is for him, the president to find someone who will appeal to the country. not going to win over the republican base at this point. but if he can come up with a candidate that 60 or 70% of the country says that's a good and fair choice, i'm attracted to that person, that would really help and trying to turn public opinion against the republicans. his strategy has to be if i can't get my nominee, can i get the issue for the campaign, put the pressure on, maybe i'll bara break away some of the 14. >> you're saying the strategy can be, listen, i know i'm not
going to get it through this sen plate, but let me put someone up here if the republicans say no, it will be a voting issue in the general for democrats in the fall? are you saying the president would almost have to grant he's not going to get the nominee through. >> no, i'm sorry if i conveyed that. no, he ought to take the view that it's the responsibility of both branches of government to move quickly to fill a vacancy in the supreme court. that's what has been done in the past. it should be done again. there is no reason for delay. he's going to find the best qualified person to do it. put it up there and fight for that person. and he's going to try to win. he ought to go for the victory. if he doesn't get the victory, though, he wants the issue in the campaign. in other words, you either get the victory or issue. one or the other. that has to be his are strategy to use it to -- let's say hillary clinton has got an enthusiasm gap and she's the nominee. what the president wants is something that's going to draw
out a lot of voters to the polls because they think it's important to vote for the democratics to make sure the supreme court doesn't become more heavily conservative. that could bring out voters when you're trying to close the enthusiasm vote. go for the victory, but if you can't get it, go for the issue. >> elizabeth warren, she posted this on facebook today, have a listen, i'm quoting here. senate republicans took an oath just like senate democrats did, they swore to uphold threaten the constitution and our democracy itself. it would prove all the republican about loving the constitution is just that, empty talk. as you have that, do you think that -- it sounds like to your point. it sets up a campaign issue here, if the president puts fort a reasonable relatively middle of the road nominee and can't get it through, that's a.m.
ammunition for the democrats. >> i think the constitution is rather silent on it, although i understand people will try to use the conservative arguments, scalia argument what's called originalism, and that's to go back to the intention of the founders to figure out what the law ought to be today. the republicans are going to come up with the alternative argument, and you heard it in the debate last night. that's, wait a minute, this is a pivotal moment, most important years in which the presidency, the senate of the united states, and the supreme court are all in play. all three branches are going to be deeply affected by this. isn't it right for the people to make this decision about what direction the court should take. we can wait a few more months, cohort is not going to get -- we're not going to lose anything being have i a few more delays. let the people decide. that's going to be the republican argument. what we don't know tonight, which way this is going to break
with the public. which side is the public going to come on these arguments. i'm not sure we know. it's, you know, if the past is any guide, the country will be very polarized on this. it could well energize both democrats and republicans looking toward november, and have, if this could be a really epic battle over the course of the year over the nomination and leading into november. >> listen, you make a point. three branches of government in play. >> remarkable year. >> i can't remember, you may be remember, i don't, an election which all three seemed so directly in play. >> you know, it's a good challenge, david. we're going look into it. as always, great to have you, and your wisdom. >> thanks, jim. good to see you. >> happy valentine's day. coming up this hour, the day after, the death of supreme court justice antoni scalia has assume preem court showdown brewing. what about the cases you were
currently on the docket. we'll break it down. later on the trail, the republicans clashed last night in south carolina. what do their performances mean for key races in the weeks to come. plus, the catholics and the cartel. pope francis on the road in mexico with a message of tough love. how the holy father plans to push his message of nonviolence. stay with us. ♪ you need a team... ...working together... ♪ ...doing all kinds of jobs. and the best place to find the job that's right for you is on the world's number-one job site. indeed. how the world works.
i have a resident named joyce, and i said "come to class,bout let's start walking together" and i said "and i bet you money you'll be able to do that senior walk". that day i said "ok it's me and you girl, me and you!" i said "if you need to stop, there's a bench we'll just hang out in the shade." she said "absolutely not! we are going to finish this race!" and we were the last ones in, but you know what? we finished the race. and she goes "desiree, i'll never quit walking. ever"
the sudden vacancy on the supreme court is facing up to be a major election issue. it loomed large at the presidential debate last night. >> the frequennext president ne appoint, similar to justice scalia. >> we are one justice away that will strike down every restriction on borings a domted by the states. >> it's not even two minutes
after the death of justice scalia. he didn't wake up. sad, but you know, i just wish we hadn't run so fast into politics. >> i can say this. if the president, if i were president now, i would certainly want to try and nominate a justice. >> i do not believe the president should appoint someone. it's not unprecedented. it's been over 80 years since a lame duck president has ee lektded a supreme court justice. >> let's discuss this and other moments of the debate with our next two guests. buck sexton here with me in new york and republican kevin paul scott. buck, if i could start with you. if we were talking 24 hours ago and say well, what could really make this debate even more divided, i mean it, would be replacing repla replace antoni scalia on the see prum court. >> they were falling over each other, i'll point somebody conservative. how does it play?
>> i think it highlights the issue of conservatism and who is the real conservative in the race, as well as raising the stakes all around. not just the white house, but raises in people's minds that we have yet another, there will probably be a couple more in the next term any way. >> it was about ruth bader beginnings i ginsberg. >> others in play, but it could rest on the next presidential election t gives that added sense of urgency, the election. but a also, when you have donald trump as a front-runner, somebody who has conservatism, it's not a first language for him to be putting it mildly, and somebody whose record on the issues is dubious at best, and then someone like ted cruz, who is very conservative in his record but has an understanding of the judiciary and how the process would work, i think it was an opportunity for ted cruz, he did well with it, and some of the other candidates also. donald trump on this is not particularly strong. so for that, it changes the dynamic in that you do want somebody who is not just going
to be a big slap in the face to the establishment, but somebody who understands what needs to happen within the system for example, the system of the supreme court so we have a conservative on the court. >> to this point, republican voters have forgiven in effect donald trump's past positions, which were outside of the conservative mainstream and some even, some his opponents have called liberal. now that you have supreme vacancy in the supreme court, does it weaken him to take away some of that conservative support for him? >> well, i think buck is right. it certainly is going to be interesting. up to you this point, what has been important is being an outsider. it's not having experience. in fact, in this race so far, experience is frowned upon. now, when people look at the supreme court, they could really be saying, how important is it? maybe we want somebody who has been there, a greater grasp of this, who understands it. so this does have the potential
to shift the dynamics and creates an opportunity for the other candidates to make noise and make a dent on donald trump, what seems like -- poll numbers. >> the talk about the supreme court vacancy was this was a fiery debate, not the first one, but particularly last night. and you saw jeb bush in particular coming out swinging. he has to strike some blows. do you think his performance last night helped him resurrect his campaign. >> i don't think jeb had much of a choice last night. hitting out against trump, he establishes himself as an alpha dog, i don't think it's -- i think it's sort of a pivot. not a low energy candidate, but it shows him as the guy, if the establishment is going to coalesce which is the hope of jeb, he'll the one. whereas you when you saw cruz and trump going after each other, that's going to win south carolina and win some states
after that. jeb, it's trying to get into the third place spot. i think the answer is probably no, i think the campaign is not long for the cycle, but they have the money, donors and backing. the audience was suspiciously and strangely pro jeb at various points. >> based on the boos and cheers, yes. >> winners, losers in last night's debate in your view. >> no question that rubio had an incredible night. cruz didn't have a bad night, but he just didn't really help himself. trump kate out the loser. if it affects his pole numbers, that has yet to be seen. jeb had a good night, but buck is right, i'm not sure it really helps jeb get into the top tier. jeb at this point is taking votes away from rubio and kasich. right now you have to have the field narrow if somebody is going to take on donald trump and ted cruz at the top.
>> it's personal, too between jeb and -- >> between trump and rubio. >> exactly. the politics and the personal intersecting here, but also just, i think some of these candidates have started to not like each other. >> yeah, i think we saw some of that yesterday. so cnn hosting back-to-back town halls in south carolina before the voters go to the polls. what are voters going to be looking for in the town halls after last night's debate. >> the conventional wisdom and the cycle has been wrong of the gop race, because of how well donald trump is doing, you would think evangelicals and conservatives will play a role in south carolina, asking questions that would be sort of core to the base, right, the sorts of things you would expect. i think that's what the discussions will be around. will it be enough to overcome the trump lead. will it be like iowa, where the trumps were wrong, i think a lot of people that aren't pro trump hoping south carolina is going
to be a case where the polls fall flat on their face. it's an opportunity to make the case. >> thanks for breaking it down with us. as i mentioned later this week, cnn will host two presidential town hall events in south carolina, all six republican candidates will be participating, both events hosted by anderson cooper, taking place 8:00 p.m. east eastern, and then on february 25th at 8:30 p.m., last debate before super tuesday. join wolf blitz zer, only here on cnn. thurmond rule is not really a rule, but it could play a huge role in the upcoming battle for the late supreme court justice
sanctio antoni scalia, my next guest will explain the thurmond rule next. text mom. boys have been really good today. send. let's get mark his own cell phone. nice. brad could use a new bike. send. [google] message. you decide. they're your kids. why are you guys texting grandma? it was him. it was him. app-connect. from the newly redesigned volkswagen passat. right now you can get $1000 presidents' day bonus on new 2015 or 2016 passat, jetta or tiguan models.
they're already bickering over the timing of nominating a supreme court justice. many republicans say since it's an election year, they say they should. president obama will be in office for almost another year, and it's his constitutional right to nominate someone to fill a vacancy on the supreme court and also the constitution to consider it. u.s. court expert russell wheeler, with the booking institution. so russell, help us understand what the thurmond rule is, and how it originated, of course, named after the late senator. >> that's right. you're also right, it's hardly a rule. senate rule 22 or something like that. i think it's best described as a recognition that not confirmations, jew di judicial
confirmations, just isn't in session as much, but more than that the party in the white house they think their person may be in the white house doing the nominating. it slows down. it's hard to say, though, it has much application to the supreme court, because there is no precedent for it. for two reasons. one is, justice scalia's death is a rarity. from the 1950s, is the fourth justice to die in office, and the only one to die during a presidential election year, the way i count it. even judges, most judges leave on their own voluition. i can't find any who left during a presidential election year. precedent for the current situation it's hard to find it. >> let's see, obviously it's beauty is in the eye of beholder on this, but the thurmond rule to be clear was the summer before the election, here we are in february, so here we are nine
months until. so even by the letter of this, quote-unquote law, it doesn't really apply, does it? >> well it, doesn't apply right now. but people who have looked at the thurmond rule, scours at the congressional research service and others, have not been able to pinpoint a date at which it kicks in. reagan got two judges confirmed in october of 1988. district judges for clinton and for bush were confirmed in october and september. circuit judges, that stopped a little earlier for those two presidents. so it's not as if there is a date certain in which it kicks in. you know, when confirmations stop, i think it factors some rule somewhere called the thurmond rule. >> presumably if you had a republican president, you wouldn't have folks reminding folks of this rule. >> that's true. it gets invoked when it's
convenient to invoke it. >> of course. both parties are guilty of this, because we shaw chuck schumer under president bush. let's look at precedent. we went through some of the history here. ronald reagan, he nominated justice kennedy november 30, 1987, confirmed 1988. confirmed within a year of the next election. ford nominated stevens in november '75, confirmed december of '75, even after the -- actually not, but within a year. nixon renquist, how well, look at that, reagan, ford, nixon, nixon, within the year of election. >> no, no, that's exactly right. i think the most recent example is a bit unusual, you know. justice powell retired in june of 1987, and they had the failed
attempt to put bork in his place and ginsburg and when kennedy was nominated, it was seen as more moderate. a lot of factors that led the senate to say let's just ahead and confirm and get the seat filled. >> there you go. i suppose you're the expert here, but i suppose the idea is there is no hard and fast rule. this is about politics playing out. >> that's right. yeah, you're exactly right. it's accurate to say that confirmation slowed down in election year. it's not accurate to say a precise time when they slowed down, when they'll slow down in the current year. whether or not president obama sees any more circuit confirmations this year is up in the year. you're not going to see many, that's for sure. even district nominations, confirmations, they're going to be relatively rare. >> this is a big one because it could swing the court.
thank you. we appreciate it. president obama says he'll replace chief justice scalia. many republicans are pushing back. would an extended vacancy cause problems for the court. let's talk about that prospect right after this break. this mom didn't have time to worry about a cracked windshield. so she scheduled at safelite.com and with safelite's exclusive "on my way text" she knew exactly when i'd be there. hi, steve with safelite. thanks for your text! i replaced her windshield... and she didn't miss a single shot giving you more time for what matters most. how'd ya do? we won! nice! that' another safelite advantage. thank you so much! (team sing) ♪safelite repair, safelite replace.♪
try align for a non-stop,ive sweet-treat-goodness hold-onto-your-tiara, kind-of-day. live 24/7 with 24/7 digestive support. try align, the undisputed #1 ge recommended probiotic. and this just in to cnn. we're learning former new york governor spitzer assaulted her at a hotel. 25-year-old woman claims she and spitzer were at the hotel bar and they went up to his room where he choked her. she says she has known him for some time. we're told the new york police department is investigating the case as a possible assault. cnn has reached out to him for
comment. when we have that, if we have it, we'll share it with you. president obama says that he will nominate a new supreme court justice to replace antonin scalia. republican leaders are indicating they will not get their vote this year. the white house responding by saying, quote, given that the senate is currently in recess, we do not expect the president to rush this through this week, but instead, will do so in due time once the senate returns from recess. at that point we expect the sen plate to consider that nominee consistent with their responsibilities laid out in the united states constitution. cnn supreme court ariana joins me. staking their claim at this point, republicans saying they don't want to vote, president saying he'll nominate. the republicans should vote. any names swirling of potential replacements, particularly ones that would be cyntrust.
>> the rest of the country was stunned by the death, and so was the white house. it's ready. it's been ready for months. it has files of all sorts of nominees that they've been watching and they've been keeping track of. and so it's really just depends upon how big a fight they want. like you said, one of the nominees who would be maybe easier to get through is sheree voisin. he was you nas mousily confirmed. he is an indian american, he was confirmed by ted cruz. garland, he is about 63 years old. he is considered a moderate. he might be in play. as well as another judge. jane kelly. she is out of iowa and that might have -- senator grassley. it's too early to know the names they're considering.
in the next few days, we'll hear a lot more names being floated and leaked. >> no question. so let's imagine a situation where the vacancy is extended, because right now you have 4 and 4, really a divide in effect between the conservative and more liberal wing of the court. you have some big decisions coming up. what happens to those potential decisions, those case as soons. >> when you have justices, you're going to have equally divided. what happens is the supreme court doesn't really low. the lower court is upheld. that's going to cause a lot of confusion for these cases, and keep in mind, this term, which is about halfway through, has blockbuster cases, abortion, immigration, that's what the justices are going to be hearing. now, they could look at it one way and say we're not going to deal with this now. we might push it off. but the problem with that is if this is going to take months and
maybe even a year, when is there going to be a nine member court, and that could cause them consternation. >> incredible, incredible events. ariane de vogue, thanks for breaking it down. pope francis says mexico is the land of opportunity. you're going to hear about people who want to emigrate from mexico. live pictures of pope francis beginning his trip there to mexico, an historic one. rd to s, and stay awake during the day. learn about non-24 by calling 844-844-2424. or visit my24info.com. aren't moving in the right direction,bers it can be a burden. but what if you could wake up to lower blood sugar? imagine loving your numbers. discover once-daily invokana®.
with over 6 million prescriptions and counting, it's the #1 prescribed sglt2 inhibitor that works to lower a1c. invokana® is used along with diet and exercise to significantly lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. it's a once-daily pill that works around the clock. here's how: invokana® reduces the amount of sugar allowed back in to the body through the kidneys and sends some sugar out through the process of urination. and while it's not for weight loss, it may help you lose weight. invokana® can cause important side effects, including dehydration, which may cause you to feel dizzy, faint, lightheaded, or weak, especially when you stand up. other side effects may include kidney problems, genital yeast infections, urinary tract infections, changes in urination, high potassium in the blood, increases in cholesterol, or risk of bone fracture. do not take invokana® if you have severe kidney problems or are on dialysis.
stop taking and call your doctor right away if you experience symptoms such as rash, swelling, or difficulty breathing or swallowing. tell your doctor about any medical conditions, medications you are taking, and if you have kidney or liver problems. using invokana® with a sulfonylurea or insulin may increase risk of low blood sugar. imagine life with a lower a1c. are you loving your numbers? there's only one invokana®. ask your doctor about it by name.
it is day two of the pope's visit to mexico. so far, he has tackled the issues of corruption, violence and human trafficking. he reached out to clergy members, urging them to take a stand to combat the drug trade. he's visiting the cancer ward of a children's hospital. he wraps it up with a mass on monday, undocumented immigrants who have died trying to cross the border into the united states from mexico. let's go to mexico city, where cnn international correspondent shasta darling ton is standing by. a big welcome for the pope. certainly staying busy whachlt can we expect for him in the next several days in mexico? >> reporter: well, jim, you know, pope francis is doing exactly what he said he would do. he said he would not sweep
mexico's problem under the rug. that's everything from immigration, poverty, drug violence, and what we're going to see tomorrow is him heading tote state of chivaz along the southern border. central american immigrants heading to the united states. he will be visiting other cities. he wants to give them faith a encourage them to fight the drug way. it will end on the northern border across from el paso, texas. we really expect that to be one of the emotional high points, jim. >> central to the drug trade, as you say, in effect getting into the american political debate, getting into the immigration issues. what is the pope saying about his hopes for the mexican people? >> reporter: well, today we had a very good example of exactly
what pope francis is doing. he visited one of the most dangerous places in mexico, a sprawling suburb, just outside of mexico city, notorious for his violence, poverty. he took a pretty hard line. he was -- he riled authorities when he decided to visit that location, and during his mass, he lashed out at what he called the temptations of wealth and fame and power, and urged mexicans to create opportunity, instead of one that destroys its young people, referring to immigration and the drug trade. listen to this. >> i want to invite you today again to be on the frontline, to be the first in all the initiatives which help make this blessed land of mexico a land of opportunities. whether it will be no need to
emigrate in order to dream, no need to be exploited in order to work. >> those words, of course, played well to the crowds and hundreds of thousands turned out, just hoping to get a glimpse of him. mexico is the most visited countries. right now, he is wrapping up the day with a very tender and sweet visit to this children's hospital, mostly cancer patients. he gave a rosary to one boy, another boy he helped administer the medicine. we're just seeing so many of the facets of pope francis, jim. >> covering his visit here, such a reaction where ever he goes. this cross border mass he is going to hold on the u.s. mexico border, it has met criticism here in the u.s. what type of reaction is he getting south of the border?
>> reporter: you know, jim, that's probably in some ways one of the least controversial stops along the way. mexican and supplemeu.s. can ta what they got past. at that point, they may be sieg a little sigh of relief there, jim. >> sasha, a pleasure to cover this one. thanks for joining us from mexico city. coming up here, bombs and inside a war torn city in syria. frederick pipekin the only journa journal listi journalist and he takes us to the frontline.
(flourish spray noise) (flourish spray noise) (flourish spray noise) (flourish spray noise) the joy of real cream in 15 calories per serving. enough said. reddi-wip. (flourish spray noise) share the joy. it takes all kinds of jobs. and the best place to find the job that's right for you ♪ is on the world's number-one job site. indeed. how the world works.
don't settle for u-verse. x1 from xfinity will change the way you experience tv. today marks day three of the munich security conference, world leaders meet to discuss solutions to the war in syria. president obama also called russian president vladimir putin, urging him to stop air strikes against moderate syrian opposition forces. russia says they are only targeting extremist groups. as the air strikes continue, syrian government forces are gaining ground in aleppo. and cnn is the first international network taking you to the front lines of the fight for aleppo. frederick pligeitgen brings us
this report. >> we're right on the front line in the syrian government's offensive against the opposition and the soldiers tell us they still frequently see rebels on the other side. they say they pick them off from the sniper's nest. >> this soldier tells me morale has never been higher. thanks to god, everything here is under control. our fingers are on the triggers ready to destroy the rebels. bashar al assad's forces have made major gains in the aleppo area in recent weeks. while the opposition rebels say they're simply being slaughtered. for years, this battlefield was in a stalemate. the front line right around aleppo's ancient citadel. as syrian and russian war planes hover overhead, the commander knows who to thank for the new-found momentum. >> it's only a matter of months
until we win, he says, thanks to the russian support with their plane flown from the syrian air field, we will defeat the rebels once and for all. aleppo was syria's largest, one of its most historic towns, tourists from all over the world used to flock to the old town before it was engulfed by syria's civil war. the old town aleppo is a unesco world heritage site. as you can see, most of the buildings have been completely destroyed and burned out. >> now assad's troops believe they are on the verge of a decisive victory. the commander warns the u.s. not to interfere. we are steadfast he says, you cannot defeat the syrian army because we are determined to win and we're loyal to president assad. amid this divided and destroyed city, syrian government forces believe they're dealing a crushing blow to the opposition, one that could end this five-year civil war that's destroyed so much more than just
the landscape. fred pleitgen, cnn, aleppo. >> fredrik pleitgen with that exclusive report, thank you. still ahead, he has been out of the public spotlight for seven years now, now number 43 is coming off the sidelines to make a big play in south carolina. details, right after the break. then, woosh, it's gone. i swear i saw it swallow seven people. seven. i just wish one of those people could have been mrs. johnson. [dog bark] trust me, we're dealing with a higher intelligence here. ♪ the all-new audi q7 is here. ♪
checking now our top stories, president obama promising to name a replacement for the late supreme court justice antonin scalia. but that he's in no hurry to put a name forward that word from the white house today, just one day after justice scalia's death from natural causes. in texas. republican party leaders don't want the president to nominate anyone at all. insisting there is no chance of a nominee getting through committee before the election in november. george w. bush will make his first campaign appearance with his brother, republican presidential candidate jeb bush in south carolina tomorrow. 43rd president is popular among republican voters in the state. jeb bush is trying to gain momentum after finishing fourth in the new hampshire primary. saying his brother will help his campaign a lot. one final note tonight, i get to do a lot of special things in this job. this is one of the most special we got to celebrate my father's 85th birthday earlier today.
it was an honor and i just wanted to wish him happy birthday on the air. dad, we love you very much. there's no better father or grandfather. we could ask for. happy birthday, dad. welcome, thank you for joining us today, i'm jim sciutto in today for poppy harlow. this weekend with one tragic event, the landscape of washington politics has changed. the balance of influence in the american judicial branch changed. and the men and women elbowing to be the next u.s. president got a huge issue. the death of supreme court justice antonin scalia. condolences to his family turned to ice-cold politics when arguments began flying from all directions about who will replace him and whether president obama stands a chance of getting a