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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  February 15, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PST

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name george when he visited the woman in the hospital after waries. the law enforcement official also the woman's cell phone appears to have some information that was wiped from it remotely. police are now examining that phone. spitzer's spokesperson denies the claims. that's it for "the lead" today. i'm jim sciutto in today for jake tapper. i turn you over right now to wolf blitzer over in "the brea news. supreme battle. the battle over replacing supreme court justice taunin scalia. moving forward on nomination and accusing republicans of bluster as they insist let president obama's successor do it. how long will they let the seat stay vacant. trump versus cruz. cruz responding to donald trump's blistering attacks. the gop front-runner calling cruz unstable, a liar and
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questioning cruz's faith. trump is even threatening to sue the texas senator. bush brothers rally. george w. bush campaigning publicly tonight for the first time since leaving office. the former president taking the stage in a state that helped propel him to the oval office with just five days to go before a critical primary. can he lock up south carolina for his brother, jeb? isis attack inevitable. a chilling new warning from the head of the cia saying he believes that terrorists will try to strike inside the united states. officials now on heightened alert. with isis and its sympathizers now known to be communicating using encrypted messages, is a terror plot against the u.s. in the works right now. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." we're following the breaking news. president obama moving ahead
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with a nomination to replace the late supreme court justice antonin scalia who died in his sleep over the weekend. we've just heard from a white house spokesman who says the president is talking with his senior team and his aides have been in touch with members of congress from both sides of the aisle. the white house insisting there are, quote, no exceptions for a supreme court nomination in an election year as a growing number of gop lawmakers now say they'll block any effort to fill scalia's seat this year. we're also following the fierce fighting between republican presidential rivals donald trump and ted cruz. the front-runner, donald trump, now calling cruz unstable, unhinged and the most dishonest politician trump says he's ever met. and first on cnn. we've just learned the cruz campaign will have a new ad debuting any time now. sources tell us it's a direct response to trump's allegations. and we're also standing by for george w. bush to speak at a rally for his brother, jeb. this marks the first time the
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former president has campaigned publicly for anyone since he left office eight years ago. the jeb bush campaign hoping south carolina voters can be swayed to support their candidate as they did -- as they did george w. bush who won the state's primary in his first campaign. we're covering all of that and much more this hour with our correspondents, our expert analysts and our guests. they're all standing by. let's begin with the escalating partisan fight left by the death of antonin scalia. michelle k kosinski is with us. >> reporter: we know the president has been in touch with his team on this and there's been some preliminary white house reach-out to congressional offices, both democrats and republicans. at the same time, though, the white house just minutes ago here blasted republicans for stonewalling, saying the constitution tells us what to do in this situation and it's iron
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clad. this is clearly shaping up to be the president's last big battle with congress and the outcome will shape both politics and the legal landscape in this country for decades. the white house today now leveling its own blows at republicans in the deep political stand-off that started only hours after justice antonin scalia's death. >> this is a republican congress that has a lot of practice saying no. this is not the first time republicans have come out with a lot of bluster only to have reality sink in. >> reporter: president obama vows to fill that supreme court seat by constitutional duty. >> there will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. these are responsibilities that i take seriously, as should everyone. they are bigger than any one party. they are about our democracy. >> reporter: but a defiant
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senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell, seems unwilling to budge. the american people should have a voice. this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president. >> tonight we honor his extraordinary service to our nation. >> reporter: white house officials are now discussing the process for vetting the president's potential picks. names circulating include federal judges. some senators, even attorney general loretta lynch, who was approved by the senate last year, but only after a record months-long delay. senator claire mccaskill calling it then -- >> base politics at its ugliest. >> reporter: but this fight could be worse, with so much at stake. >> we're one justice away from a radical five-justice liberal majority. >> reporter: ted cruz bringing it to the campaign trail. >> life, marriage, religious liberty, the second amendment. we're just one supreme court justice away from losing them all. >> reporter: on past supreme court choices, the president has often mentioned an element of compassion. >> the judge who is sympathetic
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enough to those who are on the outside, those who are vulnerable. >> reporter: now, though, politics will be pivotal. does the president choose someone very moderate whom republicans will feel great pressure to at least bring to a vote, criticism if they don't, or liberal to rally democrats, potentially sending more voters to the polls in november. >> i believe that many of the mainstream republicans, when the president nominates a mainstream nominee, will not want to follow mitch mcconnell over the cliff. >> if the republican leadership refuses to even hold a hearing, i think that is going to guarantee they lose control of the senate because i don't think the american people will stand for that. >> reporter: so the timeline, there's going to have to be vetting, interviews, the president will want to speak to the finalists. the white house is indicating it could take up to a month to name a nominee as it has in the past. wolf. while the battle unfolds, the high court's business
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continues with the remaining eight justices, four conservatives, four liberals. pamela brown, how will the u.s. supreme court move forward with only eight members. >> wolf, the supreme court will continue to hear oral arguments and vote on cases, but scalia's death causes a monumental shift on the court. without scalia on the bench the eight remaining justices could find themselves in a 4-4 split in their decision. if that happens, either they could decide to delay the decision until a new justice is named and the case would have to be reargued or the 4-4 tie would mean a lower court's ruling is upheld which could mean big losses for the obama administration on some big cases. >> certainly could. what cases might this particularly impact? >> it could have a big impact on dozens of cases, particularly the immigration case and the texas abortion case that limits access to abortion clinics in the state. the lower courts ruled against the government in both of these cases so if there's a 4-4 tie,
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no supreme court precedent is set and the lower court's ruling stands, which is big losses for baurjs especially on his signature immigration policy. in the affirmative action case, justice kagan recused herself so a tie would not be an issue for that one, wolf. >> thanks very much, pamela. let's get more on all of this. joining us, jamie gangel, our senior political reporter manu raju and jeffrey toobin. jamie, the gop has a risk if they get too tough and simply avoid any hearings and simply avoid doing anything, just delay, delay, delay. >> first of all, there's just the point of seeming to be completely lying in the sand, not willing to compromise. but here's something. what if the next president is hillary clinton or bernie sanders? will they be any happier with that appointment than now? they had an opportunity here, maybe i am being a cock-eyed
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optimist to pressure the white house into perhaps coming up with a candidate that would be more palatable to them. they're not even giving that the chance with this kind of rhetoric. >> most people are working, manu, and you know the hill well, on the assumption that the rips would use the filibuster to prevent even a final vote, if you will, an up or down simple majority. that means you need 60 votes. the democrats have 46. so they would need 14 more which right now seems highly, highly unlikely. >> it's a pretty heavy lift if you look at the moderates. the few moderates in the republican conference. the democrats don't have many choices to go to. you have the members who are up for re-election in some of these key blue and purple states who are uncertain about what they will do, although several of them are siding with mitch mcconnell saying we should wait until the next congress before moving forward on a potential nominee. but, wolf, i was speaking to senate democrats who are
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actually urging president obama to name a supreme court justice nominee who would actually put republicans in a difficult political spot. if there's a consensus nominee or mainstream nominee in their view, it will be much harder for rips to stand in their way. that may be wishful thinking. i also spoke with lindsey graham who voted for two of the president's nominees in his term and he said it would be very difficult to support any nominee, no matter what, given the stakes, given the election year circumstances and given the fact that he believes obama and the democrats poisoned the well by changing filibuster rules just a couple of years ago. >> jeffrey, you're an expert on the supreme court. what are you expecting the president to do? when will he presumably nominate someone and what are some of the names you're hearing? >> i think he will definitely nominate someone in the next month or so and put me down as believing jamie is a cock-eyed optimist. i don't think there is any chance that the senate will act
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on this seat. it's too big a gift to the obama administration. to change this court from a majority republican to majority democrat nominees, it's something this senate and republican party isn't going to do, even if it's a nominee like sri srinivasan confirmed unanimously, jane kelly confirmed unanimously, paul watford confirmed with bipartisan support, i think of them will be rejected because the republicans will reject everybody. >> even though they're highly respected and almost unanimously approved in their earlier confirmation process? >> absolutely. this is too important to the base of the republican party to give this seat to barack obama, no matter who he appoints. >> do you agree with that? >> i always agree with what jeffrey toobin says.
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but i do think there are some risks here. who is going to be the next president? you know, one of the ironies here is in january. and i think, wolf, you asked hillary clinton would she ever consider appointing barack obama to the supreme court. >> and she said yes. >> and she said yes, what a great idea. >> some republicans don't believe there's actually a political advantage in this too because they could rally the base by making this an issue going into an election year, particularly if the top of the ticket starts tanking in these senate races, they could say the senate is the firewall, reelect a senate majority and week prevent a liberal justice from getting to the supreme court. >> but the question is are there enough moderate republicans like susan collin, who might at least be open to the idea of approving someone who is considered reasonable, moderate, if you will. >> there may be some but i'm not sure if there's enough. susan collins issued a statement that saying this is hypothetical, let's wait and see who the nominee is. so this debate will change once
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there actually is a nominee. >> stand by guys, we have a lot more coming up. we're also awaiting the former president of the united states, george w. bush. he's going to be attending a rally for his brother, jeb bush. the first time the former president is actually going on the campaign trail since leaving office. we'll have live coverage of that. you'll want to hear it and see it right here in "the situation room." yo, some people think it don't make sense that i'm a horse whisperer. fancy prance, yo!! but you know what else don't make sense? bai. i mean it's good for you, but still somehow tastes amazing. sideways fancy prance, ya heard!! yeahhhh. clippity clop. clippity clop. yo, i just whispererd all of ya'll! too easy. vo: bai. 5 calories, antioxidants and taste amazing? none of this makes sense.
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digestive core.r so choose ultimate flora by renewlife. it has 30 billion probiotic cultures. feel lighter and more energized. ultimate flora. more power to your gut. we're standing by to hear from former president george w. bush who's courting south carolina voters for his brother, jeb bush. it's the first time the former president is public lly
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campaigning for anyone since leaving office. also the republican front-runner donald trump is dramatically upping his attacks on both of the bushes as well as his republican rivals. jim acosta is in south carolina for us tonight. jim, this all comes just, what, five days before the south carolina primary. jeb bush has a lot at stake right now. >> reporter: absolutely. and a lot for donald trump as well, wolf. donald trump is not backing down from his comments on the bush family. he is doubling down, confident there won't be any damage to his campaign down here in south carolina. but trump is also fighting a battle with ted cruz that is just as explosive. trump calling cruz today a liar and unstable. the first shots were fired in south carolina in the civil war that will shape the future of the republican party. in his battle against jeb bush, donald trump is blasting away. >> his brother is coming into
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town, which is, of course, lovely. ever wonder why his brother will silent all these years? no bad blood. >> at a news conference trump insisted there's no bad blood between him and the bush family and offered a new reason for the iraq war. >> saddam hussein was a bad guy. you want to become a terrorist? you go iraq. >> but trump got defensive when asked exactly when he was quoted as being against the war. >> i said many things for a long time but i wasn't a politician, so i'm not getting pub lisllici. i said for a long time don't go into the war, don't go into the war. >> reporter: trump's all-out assault against bush drew loud boos. >> they lied. there were no weapons of mass destruction. >> reporter: the fiery exchange then took a jaw-dropping turn when trump suggested the former president is responsible for the attacks on 9/11.
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>> i am sick and tired of him going after my family. >> the world trade center came down during his brother's reign. >> reporter: marco rubio, who's clashed with jeb bush, came to george w. bush's defense. >> the world trade center came down because bill clinton didn't kill osama bin laden when he had the chance to kill him. >> reporter: jeb bush, who's campaigning today with his brother, the former president, told "state of the union" he's had enough. >> i do think that he would not be the proper nominee for our party. >> reporter: as the pro-bush super pac is piling on with negative ads. >> look past the boasting and you'll see right through him. >> reporter: ted cruz is seizing on a different moment from saturday's debate on abortion. >> said planned parenthood does wonderful things. >> it does do wonderful things but not as it relates to abortion. >> reporter: after the death of supreme court justice scalia --
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>> i'm very pro-choice. >> donald trump, if he were president, would appoint liberals to the court. we know this for a fact. why? because donald has been a liberal his entire adult life. >> reporter: trump once again called cruz a liar and threatened to sue. >> i think he's an unstable person. i watch him and see him. he's a good debater but can't talk. >> we're not in grade school where you get to say liar, liar, pants on fire and not respond to the substance. >> reporter: now, trump is also firing off on all of those boos he received at the gop debate, arguing they are proof the republican party was stacking the audience saturday night with supporters of the other candidates. trump suggested that would be a violation of his agreement with the republican party that they reached last year. the last thing that the gop wants is for trump to lose this nomination fight, wolf, and then go rogue as a third party candidate. the rnc is saying in terms of last saturday night that all
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candidates were fairly represented in terms of who was in that audience. >> jim acosta, thanks very much. let's go to that jeb bush rally now where former president george w. bush will be campaigning for his brother very, very soon. athena jones is on the scene for us. athena, george w. bush certainly has a lot of loyal supporters in south carolina. tell us what we should expect at this rally that's coming up. >> reporter: hi, wolf, he certainly does. we're seeing the crowd growing by the minute. people are still coming in and it's a little under an hour until this event is it to start. it's a much bigger crowd than we're used to seeing at jeb bush events. the reason is that george w. bush will be here. he's very popular in this state. this is the state that handed primary victories to both george w. bush and george h.w. bush. i talked to a couple of folks who said they're big fans of w. and they're here to give jeb a look and listen to what both of them have to say. we expect this to get under way at 6:00. we'll see george w. bush on
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stage with the former first lady, laura bush. we'll hear from senator lindsey graham who will introduce the president. president bush will speak and then jeb will take the stage. we expect -- jeb bush has said he expects his brother to make the point that jeb bush has the skills to be commander in chief and that he as former president knows what that takes so that's what we'll be listening for here tonight. >> we'll have live coverage of all of that. athena, thank you very much. let's bring back our panel. manu, the trump comments about ted cruz were amazing. he said ted cruz is totally unstable. not just unstable, totally unstable. and he went on to say, quote, he is the single biggest liar i have ever come across in politics or otherwise, and i have seen some of the best of them. his statements are totally untrue and completely outrageous. it is hard to believe a person who proclaims to be a christian could be so dishonest and lie so much. what a dramatic escalation in the rhetoric. >> it's really just a few weeks ago these two pretended to be
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friends. >> there was a bromance. >> and it's all gone and pretty remarkable. it will be interesting to see the extent to which this has an impact on donald trump. we thought the things that he said would bring him down in the polls for months and months and months and they have not. but the way that this type of rhetoric over the last several days, particularly if south carolina voters don't look too kindly on that, where does that support go? will it fall to ted cruz? will it fall to marco rubio who's waiting in the wings? will it help jeb bush? at the end of the day it may end up helping donald trump. >> you're getting some word on what we might expect to hear from the former president of the united states and jeb bush at this event that's coming up, it's an important event. >> right. guess what, former president bush wants you to vote for his brother. that's the headline. he's going to talk about what characteristics he thinks makes a good president and then he's going to say my brother has
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those characteristics. something we just found out. there was a little lobbying of a very important governor, south carolina governor nikki haley we've been told met with former president bush and former first lady laura bush today at that veterans event. and i am told that former president bush will talk about nikki haley during his comments. everybody wants nikki haley's endorsement. her phone has been ringing off the hook. her staff told me today she's undecided as of this morning, but maybe this will make the difference. >> a lot of us remember her reply on the state of the union to the president's state of the union address. she had some implicit criticism of donald trump. >> yeah, i don't think that endorsement is going to donald trump. but certainly marco rubio's campaign, the rumors last week that potentially she could come up for him, they batted those down. she's still undecided as you say. but this is really -- there's a
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big endorsement hunt going on among those establishment candidates, jeb bush, marco rubio, really pushing hard for members of congress to hope to coalesce support. i think south carolina will go a long way in determining whether or not a lot of big-name endorsements will come their way to show that they are the party establishment favorite and they could take on donald trump. >> why has it taken jeb bush so long to get his brother out on the campaign trail? >> we all saw at the beginning he said i have to be my own man. if he had had his family, his mother, his brother come out early, we would all be saying, oh, he needs them to do this. i think this was always going to be tricky, but the reality is he's not doing well in the polls. he has nothing to lose now. i think everybody agreed it's now or never. >> and w. is still popular among republican voters in south carolina. >> we're going to have live coverage of that coming up, so stand by, guys. i want all of you to stand by. meanwhile a unique two-night event. this week wednesday and thursday
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night, 8:00 p.m. eastern, both nights. all six republican presidential candidates for the very first time in this entire many today pain will answer questions from the voters of south carolina in a live televised town hall moderated by anderson cooper and seen only here on cnn. ben carson, marco rubio and ted cruz, they kick it off wednesday night. john kasich, jeb bush, donald trump, they will field the voters' questions live thursday night. all, again, that live coverage begins 8:00 p.m. eastern wednesday and thursday nights right here only on cnn. the breaking news ahead, we're standing by to hear george w. bush stump for his brother, jeb, in south carolina as the former president's first time out there campaigning publicly for anyone since leaving office. we'll go there live. look at the crowd that has now gathered. want to get their hands on. if they could ever catch you.
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the x1 voice remote is here. we're only five days away from the nevada democratic caucus, the next big contest for hillary clinton and bernie sanders. clinton is trying to reignite her campaign after a blowout loss in new hampshire and the senator's campaign seize nevada as a crucial test of his efforts to attract minority voters in a state with a large latino population. brianna keilar is following this democratic contest, the entire democratic race for us. this is a major development. give us the latest. >> wolf, that's right. hillary clinton was actually planning to be campaigning in florida today. she stayed in nevada and sent her husband instead, a sign that that was once a big clinton lead over bernie sanders in nevada has become a much more competitive race. >> i am not a single issue candidate because this is not a
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single issue country. >> hillary clinton sharpening her message for voters that bernie sanders is a one-trick pony, focused only on the economy. >> not everything is about an economic theory. right? if we broke up the big banks tomorrow, and i will if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk, i will, would that end racism? >> it's her latest attack line since sanders won big in new hampshire. >> thank you, new hampshire! >> his populist message resonating with voters. >> we're going to get an economy that works for working people. >> he calls clinton's offensive stunning and a sign her campaign is coming unravelled, but her barbs may be working. at a forum on race and the economy, attendees challenged his proposals for jobs and free public college. >> that money will go into those communities that need it the most to rebuild their own communities.
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>> asking how he's going to accomplish his lofty goals. but enthusiasm is still in sanders' corner. "saturday night live" making fun of clinton's struggle to match him. >> i mean i like hillary's foreign policy experience, but i love bernie's whole vibe. >> i'm obsessed with his vibe. ♪ i can't make you love me >> with nevada democrats set to caucus on saturday, clinton is keeping her focus on the state, skipping a planned event in florida today and sending her husband instead. sanders is trying to cut into clinton's support from african-americans ahead of next week's south carolina primary. >> i have just met with seven or eight residents of flint, michigan. >> reporter: he met with families in flint, michigan, where the majority african-american population in the city faces lead contamination of the water supply. >> it is beyond my comprehension that in the year 2016 in the
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united states of america we are poisoning our children. >> clinton visited last week and is raising money for flint's children with this web ad. >> they need to fix flint. >> we need action now. >> and those efforts paying off for clinton today. she secured the endorsements of african-american faith leaders in flint. her advantage in the polls in south carolina still considerable, wolf. tad devine is joining us, a senior media advisor for the bernie sanders campaign. tad, thanks very much for coming in. what do you expect to see as a result of the democratic caucuses in nevada on saturday? >> wolf, i think we've come a long way in nevada. we started off almost 40 points behind. we've closed that gap. we've got 200 paid staff on the ground. >> can you win? >> i think we can win. she has a huge advantage but we're going to try to win. >> what about the latino vote? >> i think we'll do very well. he's the son of an immigrant who came to this country, barely speaking english. i think it's resonating powerly.
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>> what about south carolina? >> we're going to try to win in south carolina. we have a great campaign on the ground, a lot of people on the ground working very hard, making voter contact. obviously hillary clinton i think started off with a much bigger lead there. still has an advantage. but, you know, three days after that we've got a bunch of states, 11 states all across the country and then big battle grounds, like michigan where bernie was today. >> in south carolina unlike iowa or new hampshire, the democratic primary voters, the majority are african-american and that's seen as sort of a firewall for hillary clinton. >> well, i don't know -- yes, it is seen as a firewall, but i don't know if it is. bernie has a very powerful story to tell about his own personal experience. he was a leader as a student in the civil rights movement and university of chicago, hoefz arrested protesting housing policy there. it's been the cause really of his life, the fight against inequality, racial inequality, economic inequality so i think that's resonating power fully. we'll make that case in south carolina and elsewhere. >> where do you go from there after south carolina, after nevada. >> well, we're on television
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advertising in colorado, minnesota, oklahoma, massachusetts, in the markets we haven't been in before. we're going to look at tennessee, texas. we can win delegates we think everywhere. >> the biggest criticism he gets is, yeah, he wants free tuition at state schools, the big criticism is where's the money go to come from, who's going to pay for it, these may be idealistic goals but not realistic given the real world of washington. >> this is who's going to pay for it, wealthy individuals and corporations in america. >> you've got to get that through congress and get republicans on board, especially if there's a republican majority in the house and maybe a republican majority in the senate. how does a president bernie sanders do that? >> a president bernie sanders will do that because the electorate that will turn out to elect him as president is going to be so diverse, so powerful, so many young people, so many independents voting democratic, so many new people to the process, we believe we can elect democrats to the house and
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senate as well. >> do you really believe that's possible. >> i do. >> given the current environment right here? you see what's going on. you've been around town for a long time. >> i think bernie has the potential to change politics as president obama did in 2008. he won two states only winning 18 to 29-year-olds. bernie can do that. the incredible number of young people coming out and that's how he wants to change politics. >> senator elizabeth warren is obviously very important. is senator bernie sanders trying to get their endorsement? >> they're colleagues. we obviously welcome her endorsement but we haven't been pushing a lot on endorsements. we want to try to prove it with voters first and convince super delegates to support him on the basis of his support with voters. >> did you see the latest e-mail, we're being outspend by the sanders campaign and likely can't match their impressive level of grassroots support. >> i think that's an accurate e-mail from them. we've seen a lot of inaccurate but i think they're right.
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we have tremendous grassroots support. people are coming out in unprecedented numbers. $27 average contribution has given us the resources to run a full national campaign. >> i don't think anybody is more surprised than bernie sanders himself. >> it's been incredible. coming up, is an isis attack in the united states now inevitable? that's the warning from the cia director, john brennan. we'll have a report. plus former new york governor eliot spitzer is denying claims that he assaulted a woman in a manhattan hotel room. we have details on the investigation.
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the director of the central intelligence agency now says it's inevitable that isis will attempt an attack in the united states. that stark warning from the cia director, john brennan, comes after months of growing anxiety amid attacks in paris and san bernardino. brian todd is here in the situation room with details on this latest terror threat. what have you learned, brian? >> we've learned that intelligence officials in the u.s. and europe are increasingly worried about isis plotting more paris-style attacks. the cia director says he expects isis to put operatives, resources in place inside the u.s. to attempt an assault like the one we saw in paris. tonight isis' ambitions to attack the united states are as robust as ever, while its enemies are laboring to figure out a strategy on the battlefield.
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barrel bombing in syria, as the major powers struggle to put a delicate cease-fire together. while the carnage continues, isis fights on, undeterred. and a fresh warning from america's top spy. cia director john brennan telling cbs' "60 minutes" isis will try to attack inside the u.s. >> i'm expecting them to try to put in place the operatives, the material and whatever else that they need to do or to incite people to carry out these attacks. so i believe their attempts are inevitable. i don't think their successes necessarily are. >> u.s. officials tell cnn there's no specific credible threat of a significant isis plot inside the u.s. right now, but they say they have been on heightened alert for the past two months since the san bernardino attack and the brutal isis assault in paris woke up the intelligence and law enforcement communities to what isis is capable of.
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why hasn't isis launched a paris-style attack so far inside america? >> geography, the distance between here and iraq. the fact that you have a very small number of americans who are part of isis. in europe you have thousands of individuals. here you have just a few hundred. you have a heightened attention from the fbi and the intelligence community. >> analysts say a more realistic scenario is for isis to instigate a lone-wolf attack similar to what happened in texas last may. two men attempted but were killed by law enforcement outside the event. one of the attackers was believed to have been inspired over social media, possibly even directed by a notorious isis operative in syria, later killed in a u.s. drone strike. while the garland attack failed it served as an instrument for isis to instill fear inside america. >> the texas shootings were very
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good for isis in terms of its international portrayal of itself. it demonstrated isis had tentacles that stretched all the way into the heart of the crusader enemy. >> the texas attack also reflected an isis capability that cia director brennan expected real concern over. the ability of isis and its sympathizers to communicate with each other using encrypted messages which western intelligence cannot break. the fbi said that one of the texas gunmen exchanged more than 100 messages the morning of the attack with an overseas terrorist. and the fbi still doesn't know what he said. cia director brennan said just days before the paris attacks, they knew isis was trying to do something, but western intelligence was walled off from those communications. wolf, it's a big problem. the intelligence directors complain about it every chance they get. >> when they say walled off, do they not have the capability to do it? >> they complain they do not have the capability, wolf.
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the tech companies say they no longer hold the encryption keys to anyone's device and they couldn't unlock the data even if they wanted to. now, fbi director james comey says he wants the tech companies to figure out a way into the encryption. comey wants the tech companies to design what they call like doors into their products with a second set of keys, encryption keys for law enforcement. so it's kind of a battle between law enforcement and intelligence on one side, the tech companies on the other. it's kind of a cat-and-mouse game between them. >> it's a big, big issue. comey and i spoke about it about a year ago and it seems to be escalating. thanks very much, brian todd reporting. coming up, a 25-year-old woman claiming to be eliot spitzer's girlfriend is accusing the former governor of new york of assault. investigators, they are gathering evidence right now. are they planning to level any charges? we'll update you. and we're also standing by for a jeb bush rally where the republican candidate is about to take the stage with his brother, the former president of the
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and there's a range of plans to choose from, depending on you needs and your budget. so if you're turning 65 soon, call now and get started. because the time to think about today. go long. former new york governor eliot spitzer is denying allegations of assault tonight. police are investigating claims by a 25-year-old woman that spitzer choked her at a manhattan hotel room. jean, what are you learning? >> they've executed a search warrant at the plaza hotel at the hotel room where this alleged assaulted occurred. and we also know with senior law enforcement official who has been briefed on the investigation tells cnn the iphone, the cell phone of this
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accuser is actually in the hands of law enforcement. they are trying to see if there are any text messages between she and eliot spitzer. they believe some of them may have been wiped off, wiped remotely which raises an issue because potentially that's a crime also. how did this get in the hands of law enforcement? on saturday there was a call placed from the plaza hotel saying there was an emotionally disturbed person in a room. law enforcement went there. they found the alleged victim with what they are saying were self-inflicted cuts on her wrist. she was transported to the hospital. once at the hospital, she said eliot spitzer, her boyfriend, had tried to choke her. now law enforcement sources are telling us that spitzer went to the hospital with a skull cap on to try to hide his identity, referring to himself as george. and the investigation continues at this point. spitzer's camp is denying that anything remotely happened like this, but he does admit that he
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knew her. >> any other comments from the former governor? >> a brand-new release from his spokesperson saying the woman who initially made the allegations was not my girlfriend. so we also do know this accuser has now flown back to her home in russia. so she's not even in the jurisdiction anymore. the jurisdiction is investigating. >> jean casarez, thanks for that story. some breaking news coming up. we're moments away from hearing the former president of the united states, george w. bush, out there campaigning for his brother jeb bush in south carolina. you are looking at live pictures. we'll have coverage when we come back. enz metris. to get 60 sheets of drywall into my van, i invented the fold-o-matic 5000. my metris also holds over 2,500 pounds of payload. hauling 2,500 pounds in my small van is no problem. i just divide and conquer.
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happening now, bush brothers. we're standing by to hear directly from the former president of the united states. after staying out of politics for more than seven years, george w. bush is about to make his first appearance at a campaign rally trying to boost his brother jeb. we're going there live, unhinged. that's one of the names donald trump is calling ted cruz. trump is preparing to launch a lawsuit, and now cruz is firing back. partisan fight. in the wake of the u.s. supreme court justice antonin scalia's shocking death, president obama and senate republicans are preparing for an epic battle over a replacement. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news.
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>> there is breaking news in the presidential race. we're standing by to watch the former president george w. bush step back into the political spotlight. they'll be speaking any moment at a south carolina rally for his brother jeb. donald trump is in south carolina and turning up the heat on senator ted cruz. trump has hired a lawyer and will sue if senator cruz, quoting trump, doesn't take down his false ads and retract his lies. all this comes as president obama and the senate republicans dig in for a long bitter fight oi over replacing the late justice antonin scalia. republicans say they'll block anyone the president nominates. one of the president's spokesmen is accusing the republicans of plenty of bluster. our correspondents, analysts and guests have full coverage of all the day's top stories. as we stand by for the former president and his brother, let's go to our chief political correspondent dana bash to set the scene for us.
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dana? >> senior bush campaign source told me they are banking on tonight's south carolina rally featuring the 43rd president to bring them the best news coverage since jeb bush's announcement on june 15th. especially where it matters, south carolina, where team bush knows it has to turn his campaign around. >> jeb bush is a leader who will keep our country safe. >> reporter: dynasty be damned. jeb bush thinks his brother george w. can help. >> you've been a productial candidate for eight months. why now? >> because we're nearing the beginning of this process. he knows what it takes to be president of the united states, commander in chief, to keep the country safe and he believes i have those skills. >> reporter: the 43rd president has a whopping 77% favorability rating among republicans nationwide. and bush campaign sources believe he's even more popular in military rich south carolina. >> honored and humbled by the huge victory we had here in
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south carolina. >> reporter: 16 years ago, george w. bush turned his campaign around with a south carolina win. jeb bush's opponents now are trying to stop him from doing the same. >> they lie. they said there were weapons of mass destruction. there were none, and they knew there were none. there were no weapons of mass destruction. >> so here's the deal. i'm sick and tired of barack obama blaming my brother for all of the problems that he's had. >> reporter: trump doubled down on his attack on george w. bush's handling of 9/11. >> for years he kept the country safe after d/11. what about during 9/11. i lost a lot of friend that were killed in that building. >> reporter: and trump keeps taunting bush. >> the name bush would have been better than an exclamation point. now the exclamation point didn't work. now he's using bush. i think he should have used his name. it showed that he wasn't proud of the family.
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>> reporter: but that's nothing compared to what trump is now saying about ted cruz. >> jeb is just jeb. but this guy, ted cruz is the most dishonest guy i think i've ever met in politics. i think he's an unstable person. i really do. >> reporter: trump threatened a lawsuit against cruz on his claim the canadian born texas senator is not eligible to be president. >> he doesn't have the right to serve as president or even run as president. he was born in canada. i'll bring that lawsuit if he doesn't apologize. >> reporter: trump and cruz's battle for similar voters in south carolina is getting bloodier by the day like with cruz's new anti-trump tv ad. >> i am pro choice in every respect. >> we cannot trust donald trump with these serious decisions. >> he's printed lies. he said i'm pro-choice. i'm pro-life. >> reporter: cruz is fighting a multifront south carolina war, too. trying to pull trump down from high atop the polls and keep marco rubio from climbing. >> two of the candidates in this
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race, donald trump and marco rubio, both have the very same pattern. whenever anyone points out their record, they simply start screaming liar, liar, liar. it's a very odd dynamic. >> reporter: but name calling is happening nonstop on south carolina air waves right now. negative tv ads from ted cruz's campaign, marco rubio's and superpacs. south carolina vote eshs have seen ugly politics before. but candidates calling each other liars, that's mud slinging at another level. >> trump calls cruz a totally unstable individual. the single biggest liar i've ever come across. obviously that stuff. stand by. everyone stand by. i want to go to athena jones at the site of the jeb bush rally. i assume a very big crowd there in north charleston. >> reporter: wolf, it is a very big crowd. the program getting way at any minute. this is a much bigger crowd than
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we're used to seeing at a jeb bush event. that's because george w. bush is a huge draw. i've talked to a couple of folks who are here because they are huge george w. bush fans and want to give jeb a listen. one woman was using between jeb bush, marco rubio and ted cruz. another ted she was choosing between jeb bush and marco rubio. and someone shouted, who wants to see jeb bush become the next president, only about half or a third of the crowd cheered. maybe not everyone was listening but a lot of folks are out here because they want to see the former president. he'll be coming on stage any minute. we expect to see him on stage with former first lady laura bush. they'll be introduced by senator lindsey graham, then president bush. and then president bush will introduce his brother jeb bush. of course, the bush campaign is hoping that having his brother here is going to help him a lot
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in south carolina. he really needs to finish strong after finishing in sixth place in iowa and fourth place in new hampshire. >> athena, thank you. we'll have live coverage coming up as as soon as the former president shows up there. but we're also following some other breaking news in the fight to fill the u.s. supreme court vacancy created by this weekend's shocking, unexpected death of associate justice antonin scalia. senate republicans insist they won't confirm anyone president obama chooses. this afternoon, one of the president's spokesmen called the republicans' threat, a lot of bluster. let's go to our justice correspondent pamela brown. she's got more on the latest developments. >> justice scalia's death puts president obama and senate republicans on a collision course and causes a monumental shift on the high court at a time when it's taking up several consequential cases. the body of supreme court justice antonin scalia transported home to virginia. aboard a private plane.
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the 79-year-old conservative icon was found dead of natural causes saturday morning at this bed in this texas hunting resort. president obama mourning his loss in an address before the nation. >> justice scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy. >> reporter: scalia's sudden death comes as they are considering major cases on contraception, abortion, immigration and voting rights and is expected to have a huge impact on the court. >> it's a long-term impact to justice scalia and a short-term impact. the short-term impact will be immediately felt. all these cases are narrowly divided. one vote here and there could tip the balance. >> reporter: the eight remaining justices could find themselves in a 4-4 split in their decisions. if that happens the lower court's ruling is upheld and there is no national precedent set by the high court or a decision is delayed until a new justice is named. >> where the government lost it,
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a 4-4 tie means the government still loses. on president obama's immigration plan, that would not be a win for the white house. >> reporter: the battle for a new justice has already begun. some early possibilities include sri srinivasan, a d.c. circuit court judge. merritt garland considered a moderate nominated by president clinton. paul watford. and jane kelly, another obama appointment in iowa who like srinivasan was confirmed by a unanimous vote by the senate. no matter what happens in the coming months, democrats and republicans agree justice scalia's legacy as a legal giant will long survive him, even if the court's conservative majority doesn't. and the next round of oral arguments is scheduled to begin february 22nd. chief justice roberts is expected to pay tribute to scalia from the bench. but, wolf, already tributes have
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been pouring in from people on both sides of the ideological spectrum. >> pamela brown, we'll stay on top of that story as well. i want to go back to south carolina right now. there's lindsey graham, the senator from south carolina introducing the former president of the united states, laura bush. let's listen in. ♪ ♪ ♪ am ♪
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♪ [ cheers ] >> don't worry, jeb. even i can't screw this up. thank you for coming to show your support for the next president of the united states, jeb bush. speaking of presidents, welcome back, mr. president, and laura. [ cheers ]
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south carolina has missed you, mr. president. the country has missed you, mr. president. this is bush country, mr. president. somebody told me i had eight years to live, i'd want it to be under the obama presidency because it seems to last forever. one more year and this guy is going. mr. president, thank you for coming back to south carolina where you are truly loved and appreciated. thank you for keeping us safe while you were president of the united states. thank you for your leadership after 9/11. [ cheers ]
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thank you for taking the fight to the enemies of this nation. thank you for having the back of those who are doing the fighting, mr. president. thank you for being a decent and honorable man, mr. president. now all of us are going to get to vote saturday, right? if you show up tuesday, you'll be by yourself. february 20th, saturday. the whole world is watching what we do here in south carolina for a reason. because we pick presidents here in south carolina. everybody who goes to vote saturday needs to understand one thing. the military is going to be stuck with a choice of the american voter. the only way you become commander in chief is to be elected by your fellow citizens. please think about those who are doing this fighting when you vote. we're a nation at war. and we're going to elect a president who will be a wartime
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president. we need to elect somebody who has a steady hand, that can be trusted, that's got the right temperament, that will have the back of those who are doing the fighting. and we'ill be a commander in chf worthy of those who have sacrificed so much. and in my opinion, that is jeb bush, without any doubt. some people ask me -- i was honored to run for president. if you wanted to take money out of politics, you should have joined my campaign because we ran out of money. but when my time was up, i decided to stay in the fight because it means so much. the chief reason i ran was to start a discussion about how to defend this nation and turn around a foreign policy that's in a free for all. to get the republican party back to its roots as being a party of
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a strong national defense. i have been to iraq and afghanistan 36 times. it is a long way over there. and i can -- well, thanks to those who go over and do the fighting. i've been in the air force for 33 years. i retired this june. 140 days on the ground as an air force reservist. i've learned a lot about this war. when it came time for me to choose when i got out, jeb was the easiest choice i've ever made. 40 generals and admirals supporting his campaign. 12 medal of honor recipients supporting his campaign. the commander of the south carolina national guard bob livingston, major general
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livingston, who commanded troops in combat, are supporting jeb's campaign. there's a theme here. those of white houus who have t to understand this war know that jeb can win this war. he has a plan that i trust will lead us to victory. but tonight you'll hear from somebody who knows what it's like to be a wartime president who has been commander in chief in tough times. tonight you're going to hear from a man that i admire greatly because when the going really got tough, he hunkered down. he never followed the polls. he followed sound military advice. ladies and gentlemen, tonight you're going to hear not only from a president of the united states who understands what it's like for a nation to be at war. you're going to hear from the brother of the next president of the united states.
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i don't know about you, but i like bushes. bush values are south carolina values. ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states, george w. bush. [ cheers and applause ] >> thank you all. thank you. sit down unless you don't have a seat. i'm -- laura and i are thrilled to be here. i want to thank senator graham for his friendship, for his leadership. lindsey loves south carolina, and he loves our country, and we're fortunate that you sent him up to the united states
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senate. i want to thank the singing ag commissioner. he's got a heck of a voice. if you ever have a contest about who can sing the best among the ag commissioners across the united states of america, you win. mark sanford is here. i appreciate mark coming. i appreciate you being here, mark. there's a lot of famous people here. i've got to bring up my friend david wilkins from greenville. david was our ambassador to canada. former speaker of the house and a dear friend of laura and mine. thank you for coming down and being with us. thank you very much. there are people from the house and the senate and state government here. thank you all for coming and appreciate you helping a brother. i want to thank all the grassroots activists who have
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come. thank you for taking time out of your day. thank you for your interest in the political process. thank you for your hard work for jeb. thank you for what you're going to do, which is to vote for him on saturday here in the great state of south carolina. i'm really happy to be back in this great state. i've got a lot of fond memories. i work -- i walked in the ocra struck in irmo. i was pleased they didn't make me dress as an okra stalk. i remember going to the air wings here in charleston. perhaps my most interesting memory came in greenville before the 2000 primary. david and susie and i and laura went to tommy's country ham
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house. and we were eating breakfast. i was eating some bacon. when i looked out the window and a peta protester dressed as a pig pulled up in a dump truck. he unloaded a huge load of manure in the parking lot to try to prevent me from leaving. it was kind of a sign of things to come. but let me tell you something about the ham house. even a steaming pile of manure can't ruin their good bacon. i love the spirit of the people of south carolina. i am particularly touched by the way the community banded together to comfort the victims of last year's shooting at mother emmanuel church.
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and then protest against racism and hate. it's a strong signal to the united states of america. and i applaud your governor's response to that tragedy. and i applaud you for putting her in office. laura and i spent time with governor haley and her family at the american legion post in columbia this afternoon. thank goodness our country welcomed her parents when they emigrated here in 1969. since we left the white house i've been kind of quiet in the public square. eight years in the limelight was plenty. and laura and i are really happy in what she has described as the
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afterlife. we're spending a lot of time on our ranch where we've become tree farmers. gives me a chance to practice my stump speech. i've written two books, which has surprised a lot of people, particularly up east who didn't think i could read, much less write. i've been one to defy expectations. i've been misunderestimated most of my life. and as a real shock to people, i have become an oil painter. but let me assure you, i know that the signature is worth more than the painting. i want to thanks to brother for giving us something to do today. something important. i'm proud of his candidacy, and i'm really proud to have been
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invited. i came here for two reasons. one because i care deeply about jeb, and two because i care deeply about our country. [ cheers and applause ] i thought it was appropriate to discuss a subject i know a lot about. what it's like to be president. being your president was a high privilege, and the honor of a lifetime. by the way, if serving as president of the united states makes me a part of the so-called establishment, i proudly carry that label. there seems to be a lot of name calling going on, but i want to remind you what our good dad told me one time. labels are for soup cans. the presidency is a serious job
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that requires sound judgment and good ideas. and there's no doubt in my mind that jeb bush has the experience and the character to be a great president. here's are some things i think people ought to look for in the next president. for starters, you ought to look to someone who has had executive experience. someone who knows how to run a large complex organization. to lead people and to make sound, crisp decisions. for example, someone who served two terms in a large southern state as its governor. i think you ought to look for someone who can handle intense pressure and won't wither during crises. i believe that strength can come
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from faith. it can come from the comfort of a higher power and the humility that comes in realizing the almighty's gift of grace. that humility is important for politicians to remember when they talk about their faith. one of my favorite bible verses for those in the political arena is from the book of matthew. to paraphrase, how can you say let me get that speck out of your eye when i've got a log in my own. jeb is a man of humble, deep and genuine faith. faith that reveals itself through good works, not loud words. i think you should look for someone whose humility helps him
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understand what he doesn't know and surrounds himself with people who do know what he doesn't know. jeb is plenty smart. phi beta kapa from the great university of texas. i know, it's not south carolina. okay, clemson. let me tell you something, he's going to assemble a great team of people to whom he'll listen. he'll create a culture in which they can deliver not just the good news but the bad. he'll listen carefully to their advice, and then he's got the backbone necessary to make the tough decisions on behalf of the american people.
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the presidency is often defined by the unexpected. there's going to be crises and it's important to have a president who can handle them with calm resolve. when americans woke up on september 11th, we did not know the world would forever change that day. i was sitting in a classroom in florida listening to a child read. my chief of staff, south carolina graduate andy card, whispered in my ear, a second plane has hit the second tower. america is under attack. my first reaction is how was i going to deal with these people? my second reaction when staring at this young child is that my job became crystal clear, and that is to protect her, her community and her country. [ cheers ]
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on the way to air force one from that school, condy called me and said a plane has hit the pentagon. i felt the first was an accident, the second was an attack and the third one was a declaration of war. i became something that no president should ever want to be, a wartime president. and i made a lot of tough calls. every one of them with that child's image in my mind to protect her and the country she's fortunate enough to call home. [ cheers and applause ] i've seen jeb in action. he'll be a strong and steady hand when confronted with the unexpected. multiple hurricanes hit florida when i was president and he was
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governor. he led a robust, well-organized response that showed the compassion -- his compassion for those who hurt. he did this as governor of florida, and he'll do this as president of the united states. it is vital that you select a candidate who is thoughtful and trustworthy. someone who says what he means and does what he says. when the american president speaks, the world listens. you can trust jeb bush to be measured and thoughtful on the world stage. our enemies and allies will know when president jeb bush speaks, he will follow through on his words. i think you ought to look for a leader who is optimistic. with a vision for a brighter
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future. a person who can see beyond the horizon. when jeb looks beyond the horizon, he sees a better tomorrow. he believes, and i believe, that america's best days are ahead of us. and that we're on the verge of the greatest time to be alive in human history. and with the right policies and with a strong leader like jeb bush, we can get there. an optimistic future starts with making sure our economy grows so people can find good work. we need a president who will make the private sector, not public sector, a priority. jeb has laid out an attainable goal, a clear and easy to understand goal which is what a leader must do. and that is to have 4% economic growth a year. the cornerstone of his policy is to empower entrepreneurs and
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small business owners, the dreamers and doers who drive the american economy. he's laid out a specific plan, a well thought out plan, a measured plan that he will put into action when you send him to the white house. jeb understands that the most solemn job of the president is to protect us. so your most solemn job as voters is to elect a president who understands the reality of the threats we face. and who knows how to deal with them. i've studied jeb's plan to defeat isis. he relies upon the military and our intelligence community. he will take their sound advice and he'll implement that plan. the types of isis have been defeated in the past, and they can be defeated in the future, but we need a leader who knows
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how to do so. [ cheers and applause ] jeb understands this. and it's important for the people of south carolina to understand this. that america must lead, and that when america does not lead, chaos will reign. laura and i loved our eight years in washington. but we really don't miss it too much. oh, we miss our friends, but we don't miss power and fame. but here's really what i do miss. [ cheers ] thank you, but let me tell you what i miss. you know, it's an amazing country. i made it pretty clear we're going to defend ourselves after 9/11, and millions volunteered.
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and to be able to salute the brave men and women who wear our uniform was an honor of a lifetime. the highest honor of being president is to be the commander in chief of the greatest force for freedom ever. so i would look for a candidate who has genuine respect for the united states military, who will support them on the battlefield -- [ applause ] who will support them on the battlefield and when they return home. jeb has pledged to rebuild our armed forces and overhaul the v.a. and i believe him when he says it, and i know he'll do it when he's the commander in chief of the united states. one of the most comforting
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aspects of the presidency was my family. starting with my loving wife laura. [ cheers ] living in the white house can be like living in a museum. i remember the time i went to visit mother and dad when they were there, and mother said, get your feet off the jeffersonian table. but laura made the white house a home. she was the greatest first lady ever. [ cheers and applause ] my little sister is here, and she talks to mom nearly every day, so don't tell her i said that. jeb adores the love of his life, columba. i'll never forget when we were both younger living in houston, texas, and we'd go to the astro
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games. and we'd sit out in the bleachers. i'd watch the game, and jeb would write love letters to his future wife and our next first lady, columba bush. they've raised wonderful children. texas land commissioner george p. noel and jeb jr. and like me, laura -- like laura and me, jeb and columba are grandparents. tho i'm known as hefe. for those not bilingual it means the boss. speaking of family, i think the voters should vote for the candidate who has got the most opinionated mother. [ applause ] i've always wondered whether our mother learned to be opinionated
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at ashley hall right here in charleston. finally, we need to nominate somebody who can win in november. all the sloganeering and all the talk doesn't matter if we don't win. we need someone who can take a positive message across the entire country. someone who can inspire and appeal to people from all walks of life. not just one party or one class of people. jeb will listen to the voices of the disenfranchised. he will rise above the petty name calling and once elected, he will not need a poll or focus group to tell him how to think or what to do. he will stand on principle. he will not waver in the wind, and he will always do what's
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right for american people. i know campaigns are stressful and taxing. but they should be. because the job of the president is much harder than the campaign. these are tough times. and i understand that americans are angry and frustrated. but we do not need someone in the oval office who mirrors and inflames our anger and frustration. we need someone who can fix the problems that cause their anger and frustration, and that's jeb bush. [ applause ] seems like americans are yearning for a strong leader. i'd like to remind you and the
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voters what true strength means. strength means facing challenges and prevailing. it means sacrificing and enduring. and emerging a better and bigger person. it means having a set of core principles, beliefs that are true on the campaign trail and will be still true in office. strength is not empty rhetoric. it is not bluster. it is not theatrics. real strength, strength of purpose, comes from integrity and character. and in my experience, the strongest person usually isn't the loudest one in the room. [ applause ] i've seen in my brother a quiet conviction and a core of conscience that cannot be
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shaken. and my hope is that the people of south carolina will see this as well. this is a serious election for a serious job. so please welcome a serious and thoughtful candidate, a good man. a man i am proud to call my big little brother, jeb bush. [ cheers and applause ] >> thank you. thank you all very much. thank you. thank you, mr. president. laura, such a joy to have you here. thank you all for coming. such a joy to have you all here. to my friend lindsey graham.
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thank you for your friendship, your advice and support. i'm going to be here for six days. we're trying to spend as much money as we can. saturday is going to be a surprise because you all are going to go out and get ten other people to do the same thing to vote for jeb bush for president. i am so honored that my brother is here because this is a dangerous time. the world has been turned asunder. the day barack obama was inaugurated, we were safer. we were stronger. we were freer. today, for all sorts of reasons, that's not the case. this election is, who is going to be the steady hand to keep us safe? who is going to deal with the national security challenges that we face? who is going to focus on the economic security challenges that a majority of americans now feel? we're living in difficult times. and this election is really
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important. i look back during my brother's time. he didn't know 9/11 was going to happen, but he rolled up his sleeves and inspired us and kept us safe, and i'm proud that he did it. [ cheers and applause ] i don't know if you all watched the debate on saturday. did you get a chance to see it? wow. kind of weird, parts of it. i never thought in a republican debate we would be talking about impeaching a republican two-term president who was extraordinarily popular for good reason amongst republicans. i thought that was a little weird. i thought it was a little strange that a front-running candidate would attack the president of the united states who did keep us safe while he was building a reality tv show. i'm sure it was a fantastic one. i've never seen it. i'm sure it was great. george bush brought together a
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team to build the security apparatus that to this day is one of the reasons why we haven't been attacked more often than we have. i'm proud of him, and i know you are as well. some of the dialogue back and forth made me wonder. i closed my eyes and thought it was michael moore on the stage. any case, this is not about the front-running candidate. this is about how we can restore our country's greatness to restore economic and national security. that's why i'm a candidate for president. here's the reality. here's the reality. we need a president that will respect the armed forces. a month and a half ago, two months ago, i had a chance to speak at the citadel. what an extraordinary university that is. [ applause ] i thought you guys would be out there. and before i did it, i had a little pt work with the guards
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at 6:00 a.m. sorry. 25 push-ups, 25 sit-ups, i think they were taking the old guy to see how long he would last. then we ran three miles. they circled around and started asking me questions. will you have our back? will you be a commander in chief that respects the military? are you going to impose conditions on the military, making it harder for them to do their jobs? are you going to eliminate the sequester? these were all really good questions. and here's the answer. i will have the back of the military. i will be a commander in chief that respects the armed forces. we will eliminate the sequester, rebuild our military and make sure -- [ applause ] and build again a bipartisan consensus that peace through strength is the proper foreign policy for this country. when we're weak, it creates
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voids, and those voids are filled by elements of terror and nation states on the run. for us to be strong and safe, we have to rebuild the military. it is the first priority. there are candidates on our side that don't believe it's important. i do. and we need a plan to deal with the threat of our time. in august, i went to the reagan library to talk about how we needed to engage with isis, how we needed to destroy this threat. you know who i called? i called a lot of people because, to george's point, i know what i don't know. i don't have it all figured out. that's the sign of a good leader, by the way. the best time is when you learn. you don't learn when you are just talking. you learn when you listen. we need a president that will listen a lot more, learn and then lead. that's what we need. and in august, i called one of the candidates running for president, the leading national
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security expert in the united states senate. i called your senator lindsey graham and sought out his advice. and he gave it to me to show you what kind of patriot was. i don't know if i called any other candidate if they would have done it, but he did. he agreed. we must destroy isis. and the way to do it is to create a strategy where you engage with the sunni arab countries. engage with europe. have boots on the ground with special operators in syria. you re-establish the ties with the sunni tribal leaders. you arm the kurds directly and get the lawyers off the backs of the war fighters to win this war. [ applause ] leadership is not about talking about it. it's not. leadership is when you are tested you have the skills to build consensus, to make tough
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decisions, to move forward, to make sure that you solve problems. governors have that opportunity. george was a governor, a successful governor in texas for six years. ronald reagan was a pretty successful governor and president, eight years in both spots. one of the candidates says i don't have foreign policy experience. i'll tell you what i do have. i have experience to make tough decisions. i have experience to lead a state, the largest swing state in this country, to a better place. when i was governor, we had eight hurricanes and four tropical storms in 16 months. $150 billion of property losses. and at one point we did not have a commercial property insurance market. it was gone. if you don't have insurance, you can't get a loan to expand your business. people were struggling. if you lost power for three weeks, you didn't have food. people were moving out of the state for fear of being able to keep a job. we led. did you ever hear anybody
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complain when i was governor about fema? i accepted personal responsibility and we need a president today that runs to the challenge rather than cuts and run. and that's what governors learn how to do. i got to be governor at a time where i disrupted the old order of things on behalf of my state. in florida, a vetoed 2,500 separate line items in the budget for a $2 billion cuts in the budget. they called me veto corleone. it was supposed to be an insult. i took it as a term of endearment. we need veto corleone to go to washington, d.c., to bring budget discipline. in florida, we had eight balanced budgets. when i ended, we had $9 billion of reserves. roughly 35% to 40% of general
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revenue. that is cutting and making sure that governor lives within our means. we need that kind of approach, a balanced budget amendment and making sure we move toward a balanced budget in washington, d.c., for our children and grandchildren. i know how to do it. in florida, we eliminated lifetime career civil service protections. the great workers that work in government don't need it. they don't need tat all. the ones that's need it are the ones that shouldn't be there. in florida, we reduce the government workforce by 11%. but we led the nation 7 out of 8 years in job growth. 1.3 million jobs were created during my time. don't you want that for washington, d.c., as well? [ applause ] and the first place that i would take that skill is the department of veterans affairs. you all have seen the atrocious
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waiting lists that veterans coming home don't get care. last year the department came up with a brilliant idea. we'll give out bonuses. $142 million of bonuses last year went out for all sorts of things, including reducing the waiting list which sounds like a worthy objective. the fact is the waiting lists were reduced. veterans didn't get care, and vets died. they died. and the simple fact is only three people have been fired. heads will roll in the department of veterans affairs when i'm president of the united states. [ cheers and applause ] we will give veterans expanded choices where they can go to their private provider or a private clinic or a local hospital. the best way to ensure the department does a better job is to make sure veterans have other choices. it works in schools. it works across the board. giving people choices makes
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everybody better and we need this to honor the men and women in service in uniform who deserve to be at the front of the line. not the back of the line. [ applause ] >> here's the challenge. everybody's got a lot of ideas, but on that stage on saturday who's done it? who's done it? a lot of big talkers. a lot of turns of the phrase for sure, but who has actually rolled up their sleeves and taken the hits? this is the one where we created the first voucher in the country. these aren't easy things to do. i didn't cut and run. i did what i thought was right and florida now has the greatest gains in learning because we disrupted our public education system in the right way, empowering people to make choices for themselves. who's done it? who has created the environment to make sure we can grow our economy at a faster rate?
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i believe i have those skills because past is prologue. we cannot entrust for the next president of the united states someone who has not been tested. it will be a challenge. it could be a pandemic. it could be a huge natural disaster. it could be an attack on this country. who do you want to have to sit behind the big desk? who do you want to have to lead us through difficult times? the next president will be challenged, and i believe i have those skills to work on behalf of everybody to make sure that we have a better future for ourselves. let me conclude with this. i believe that life is a gift from god, that it is divinely inspired, that -- [ cheering and applause ] >> -- that we're here for a purpose. we're all here for a purpose. and if we all reach our god-given abilities, nothing will stop the united states of america. we will lead the world for the next two generations of time not
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because of our government, but because the american people are really extraordinary and exceptional. we still are. i'm sick and tired of politics that divide us up in parts, that believe somehow the end is near, when all we have to do is fix a few big complex things, which requires leadership, and we'll take office in nation. we'll be safe and secure, and we'll have rising income. [ cheering and applause ] >> a year ago, i met a woman, a young woman, african-american 25-year-old from jacksonville, florida, named meriweather. she had a difficult life starting out in life. she lived in poverty. she had a challenged family. she was held back two years in a row in third grade, one of which was my doing because we eliminated social promotion in third grade. if you can't read by the end of third grade, you don't go to
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fourth grade. we're not so worried about the self-esteem of johnny. we're worried about whether johnny can read. [ cheering and applause ] >> so this little girl had to have been angry. she had to have been quite angry, i'm sure. she was held back. her god mother thankfully found out about the florida corporate tax scholarship program. today 80,000 low-income kids go to private schools because i took on really, really powerful interests and we won. meriweather got to go to a christian school. i know for a fact what happened. that first week it to have been. a teacher put her arm around that child and said i love you. you're capable. you can do this. jesus loves you. we can do this together. and guess what. she overcame those two years that she was held back. she graduated from high school. she was the first in her family to graduate from college.
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now meriweather is getting a master's degree at the university of central florida. [ cheering and applause ] >> if you believe like i do that everybody has an ability to make a contribution, that if everybody reaches their god-given abilities, this country will take off, we won't be as gloomy, millennials will believe the american dream is alive, people will take risks again, we'll lessen the demands on government, we'll get back to the business of sustaining high economic growth, that's the mission. we cannot allow politicians to divide us up in our parts anymore. we need a president with a steady hand that believes in the greatness of this country. everybody should have the chance to rise up. nothing will stop the united states of america. i believe that in my heart and
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if you believe it -- [ cheering and applause ] >> if you're tired of the politics of division, if you want someone with a proven record, a solid conservative who acted on his conservative beliefs each and every as governor, then you're looking at the nominee for the republican nomination. i can beat hillary clinton. i can promise you that. [ cheering and applause ] >> the only way a republican and a conservative wins is by campaigning with their arms wide open with a hopeful optimistic message, campaigning in every nook and cranny of this country, making sure everybody knows that we want them on our team. the only way we win is to do what republicans do what they always do. campaign like george washington did. campaign like ronald reagan did. we'll restore america's greatness in a way that will
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sustain it the next two generations. i ask for your support next saturday. i ask for your prayers for our family. thank you very much. god bless you for coming. >> jeb bush giving a very strong speech, a one-two punch introduced by his big brother making his debut out there on the political campaign trail. george w. bush is out there campaigning this time for his brother. dana bash, what did you think? >> i thought george w. bush did in his very not so subtle way really hit donald trump. he has been so far off the campaign trail in every way, physically and also symbol symbolically, but this was him going all in for his brother and showing the contrast of what he
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thinks his brother will be and the what kind of president donald trump would be. >> best speech i've heard jeb bush give. what dana said about george w. bush hitting donald trump, the three of us immediately started writing that jeb would be measured and thoughtful that he would rise above petty name calling. he will be serious and thoughtful, that the strongest person isn't the loudest one. this was taking on donald trump right and left. >> i wrote down when george w. bush said jeb has the experience and character to be a great president, the strong words from the former president about his brother. what did you think? >> jeb bush got kicked right in the behind. we saw it tonight. he put on a show tonight that we haven't seen.
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he showed energy that we haven't seen. it's been building up to this point. maybe having his brother in his corner is going to help him push him along. >> is it too laittle too late? >> i don't know. i was struck by president bush's invocation of that family school in florida when he heard about the 9/11 attacks. here we are debating about a republican presidential candidate disparaging george w. bush about that moment, something that was completely off-limits in american politics, even for democrats for years and years. now we're going to learn whether that's an effective argument in a republican primary. >> he's talking about donald trump saying the worst terror attack in the united states happened on george w. bush's watch and he should be held responsible for that. >> as we were listening to
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george w. bush deliver that anecdote from his perspective about what happened on the morning of 9/11, we were all saying we wondered if that was part of the speech by saturday night's debate when donald trump really went after the bushes and george w. bush in particular for 9/11. >> donald trump also going after jeb bush because he brother launched the war against saddam hussein. >> these are vintage trump attacks, but the reality is when you go after someone's mother or their brother, it's very personal. so it takes it up a notch. >> it seems to have inspired jeb bush, the attacks and now the introduction by his brother. >> we saw that in the debate just a couple of days ago. in the previous debate, we saw jeb bush with a little fire in his belly. >> very quickly, are we going to see more of this one-two combination? >> we'll see if george w.
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bush -- if jeb bush, sorry, is still in the race of south carolina. another fourth or fifth place finish, how long can jeb bush say in that race? we've got to see the results first. >> we'll see the results on saturday. thank you very much. that's it for me. thanks for watching. "erin burnett outfront" picks up our analysis of the bushes. this is cnn breaking news. >> good evening. i'm erin burnett. outfront tonight, the breaking news. george w. bush on the attack speaking out for the first time at a campaign rally tonight trying to turn the tide for his brother jeb. he praised jeb's leadership and taking a not so subtle swipe at his chief rival, donald trump. >> strength is not empty rhetoric. it is not bluster. it is not theatrics. real strength,


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