tv Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield CNN February 18, 2016 9:00am-10:01am PST
because they had all become lactose intolerant. call geico and see how much you could save on homeowners insurance. this is cnn breaking news. >> hello, everyone. i'm jim sciutto in again today for ashleigh banfield and welcome to "legal view." we begin this hour with breaking news from the presidential campaign battlefield. a brand-new war of words with donald trump, but this time with an unlikely sparring partner, no less than the leader of the world's 1.2 billion roman catholics, pope francis on his way back to rome from a six-day visit to mexico. the pope responded to a reporter's question about trump's attack on immigration views, specifically trump called the pope political and said his ardent defense of migrants' rights shows he doesn't understand america and might even be a, quote, pawn of the
mexican government. here's what francis had to say. i'm quoting here. a person who thinks only about building walls wherever they may be and not of building bridges is not christian. this is not in the gospel. as far as what you said about whether i would advise to vote or not to vote, i am not getting involved in that, said the pope. i am only saying this man is not christian if he has said things like that. we must see if he said things in that way, and i will give him the benefit of the doubt. my cnn colleague, rosa flores, was on that plane, was in that gaggle of reporters. joining me now live with really this stunning papal report. we have been reading an english transcript of the comments here. was he speaking english or spanish on the plane? and was his language clear that not once but two times the leader of the catholic church really said donald trump is not a christian? >> reporter: well, just to give
you the background here. so this is a press conference that happens on the papal plane after he finishes every single trip whenever he goes abroad. and so reporters get together, we craft questions, trying to figure out exactly, you know, what the news of the day is. and quite frankly, crafting stories -- crafting questions so we can get answers about topics that are relevant today. and so this was one of those questions. now it's important to know that pope francis had been in mexico for five to six days already. he had been listening to the stories of immigrants in mexico. he had been listening to the stories of youth. and one of their messages -- one of his messages, rather, jim, was that he wanted mexico to be back in the game when it comes to allowing people to dream so that mexicans didn't have to go to the u.s. to dream. so now let's get back on the
papal plane here with this question posed to pope francis. and the question was something along the lines of this. so jim, he asked -- he was asked if immigration, you know -- he said you spoke very well about immigration. but what about this character in the united states, donald trump, who vows to build a wall, who vows to deport 11 million people out of the united states. would someone in america or would a catholic in america vote for this man? and then the question -- the answer to that question was what you responded. >> very direct answer. and it appears he uttered those words. he's not a christian, not once but twice. rosa flores, thanks very much. just moments ago, donald trump was actually asked about these comments from pope francis. he responded. here's what he had to say. >> so the mexican government fed the pope a tremendous amount of stuff about trump is not a good person. and the pope just -- can you imagine?
i just got a call, as i'm walking up here. they said, mr. trump, the pope made a statement about you. i said, the pope? what did the pope say? i like the pope. i mean, was it good or bad? because if it's good, i like the pope. if it's bad, i don't like the pope. no, it's true. well, you know, look. mexico -- i'm wise to mexico. and i like mexico. i have no problem. i have thousands and thousands of people over the years who have worked for me from mexico. hispanics worked for me. in nevada, i'm leading with hispanics. i'm leading the polls. i'm going to bring jobs back to the country. they like me. i have thousands of people who have worked for me. hispanics over the years. and i have great relationships with hispanics. and i've been telling people i'm going to win. and people are saying, you must be kidding. like, for instance, right here. came out two minutes ago, veterans right here in your incredible state, right? the veterans have just -- i've gone up eight points because of
what i said. two days ago, about what i said about iraq. about the world trade center. i only tell the truth. somebody said, did you poll it? one of the politicians. did you poll it? i don't poll what i say. i say what's right. i say what's on my mind. and if it doesn't work, it's fine. i mean, you know, that's okay. but it's not a question of working. i have to be honest. but in south carolina, they just did a poll. i went up 8% with the vets. now it's supposed to be, boom. the vets get it. in fact, one of the great vets here, ever. right here. al. al, they're liking me. what happened? what happened? i went up? is i was supposed to go down. i love the vets. i do more for the vets than any of these politicians don't do anything for the vets. they talk. so what happened? i went up in the poll. [ inaudible ] >> oh, that's very nice. wow. see? who knew that was going to happen. they say trump will say things
and they think he's going to go down and he goes up. you know why? people like honesty, when you think about it. that was great. so i guess this is a little bit for the press. so i wrote this out very quickly with about the pope. do you want to hear it? should i read it to you? okay. he actually said that maybe i'm not a good christian or something. it's unbelievable. which is really not a nice thing to say. so it's a response from donald trump. it says, "if and when the vatican is attacked by isis --". you know, isis, their primary trophy -- very few people know this. i read this two months ago. nobody even believed it. you have seen what they have done all over the middle east. their primary goal is to get to the vatican. that would be their ultimate trophy. they want to do what they did to all of these magnificent artifacts and all of the beautiful museums that they have totally destroyed all over the middle east, right? and i didn't know this. i read this like four or five months ago. i made mention of it two months ago. and everyone said, what are you talking about? they thought, like, i'm kidding.
it's true. and now there are stories about it. not big stories. but there are stories about it. and i was checked by one of the reporters that said, they don't want to talk about -- and he called up and apologized. the big thing, they want to get to the vatican. so if and when the vatican is attacked by isis, which as everyone knows is isis' ultimate trophy, i can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that donald trump would have been president. because -- it's true. it's true. because this would not have happened. isis would have been eradicated, unlike what is happening now with our all-talk, no-action politicians. that's what's happening now. we had a general macarthur, if we had a general george patton, they would be gone before they even got time to go over and check it out, okay?
it's a ridiculous situation. the mexican government and its leadership has made many disparaging remarks about me. see, the pope was in mexico. the leadership -- donald trump is a bad guy. he wants to build a wall! he wants to keep illegal immigration. it's terrible. they don't say it that way. they say, he wants people to stop having this and that. look, i'm wise to them. i respect mexico. i respect their leadership. their leadership is much smarter, much sharper than our leadership. and that's the problem. that's the problem. you know, we have a trade deficit with mexico. listen to this one. $58 billion. so when i say we're going to build a wall and mexico is going to pay for it, these politicians come up and say, you can't get mexico to pay -- yes, i can. they have no idea what i'm talking about. you people do, because you have business people here, good business people. some of them i know. but mexico is going to pay, because the wall is $12 billion. 10 to $12 billion. >> you've been listening here to
donald trump. these are just comments just a few moments ago responding to comments from pope francis who on his flight back to rome from mexico twice -- we had our own rosa flores on the plane, said these comments from trump about the wall, et cetera, means in his view -- the pope's view that he is not a christian. explosive comments. we're going to continue to follow those live. you'll remember, it was just a month ago today that donald trump stood in a packed arena at liberty university after a glowing introduction which later became a personal endorsement from university president jerry falwell jr. president falwell joins me live from lynchburg, virginia. thank you for joining us. frankly, couldn't think of better timing here. you heard the comments from pope francis about donald trump in response to his positions, including building a wall along the mexico border. saying he's not christian. i wonder what your response is. >> well, i've gotten to know donald trump very well over the last four years. and i've seen his generosity to
strangers, to his employees, his warm relationship with his children. and i'm convinced -- i spent a lot of time with him on his plane recently. and personal conversations. i'm convinced he's a christian. i believe he has faith in jesus christ. but i don't think that's the issue. and i think the pope is mistaken. i think john f. kennedy would be rolling over in his grave right now if he could hear what the pope was saying. because that's a man who fought to be president against lots of prejudice, because many protestants in this country did not want to elect a catholic president. and he broke down those barriers and now here's the pope trying to say, we have to elect leaders. jesus said render unto caesar the things that are caesar's. that means choose the best president. here's the pope saying we have to choose the leaders -- sounds like he's saying this -- that share his faith. or share the christian faith. >> well, that's not to be -- mr.
fall casino well, the pope did not say you have to elect christian leaders. in fact, when he was asked about whether he would recommend people to vote one way or another, he says he's not going to get involved in politics. what the pope said here, specifically, we want to be careful about how we describe his comments. the pope said that the positions that donald trump is taking building the wall on the border he cited as an example, the pope, he says that in his words, paraphrasing here, that building walls, not bridges, contradicts the gospel. on that particular issue, how do you reconcile that with the gospel? >> but in the middle of a presidential election, to question somebody's christianity, the pope is bringing up christianity as a criteria for being president, in my view. i believe that's what he said. i think it was wrong that many christians refused to vote for mitt romney because he was a mormon four years ago. i don't think that's our job. it's not our job to choose the best sunday school teacher, like
jimmy carter was. it's our job to choose who would -- who would defend and protect our nation, who would be the best president. who would lead us away from $20 trillion in debt and restore our country's economic viability. and that's what i made my decision on. i do believe trump is a christian. but that's not why i endorsed him. i endorsed him because i believe he'll be the best president of the united states. >> let me ask you, just in terms of the political effects of this. of course, south carolina has a heavy percentage of evangelical voters. not catholic voters. but christian voters. who may consider the words of the pope, if not gospel, so to speak. but something that's influential. i just want to read another comment from donald trump reacting to the pope's comments. he said, "i am a very good christian. the pope said something about donald trump not being a christian. for a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful." it's very strong words from donald trump to the leader of
1. billion catholics. i wonder if you agree that's a disgraceful comment from the pope regarding donald trump. >> well, i can only -- i can only quote jesus christ, who says judge not lest you be judged. and jesus called the religious elite of his day. i mean, donald trump does not wear his religion on his sleeve. but i believe he's a man of faith. but jesus said -- called the religious elite of his day hypocrites, a generation of vipirs, and he called them wolves in sheep's clothing. so if -- what donald trump said is bad, then also what jesus said is bad. because jesus questioned religious leaders who judged others, and that's exactly what donald trump said in his comments today. that you just mentioned. >> let me get to jesus' view if i can. i don't mean to channel so much my own religious education. but jesus was someone who is forced away from his home, right? fleeing for his life, in effect, by political leaders.
i just wonder, are mass deportations, in your view, something that jesus would do? >> it was religious leaders who persecuteded jesus because they said things that didn't agree with the religious dogma of his time. and so i dispute what you said about political leaders. it was religious leaders who pushed the political leaders to crucify jesus for what he said. but -- could you repeat your question about the refugees? i'm sorry. >> well, just asking, if donald trump's stated position of deporting illegal immigrants from the u.s., numbering by some estimates more than 11 million, do you consider that something that jesus would do? >> i think that jesus said render under caesar the things that are sues arrest's, and he left it to the roman emperor to make decisions like that. when he said, turn the other cheek, he wasn't -- he didn't
mean that instruction for roman soldiers who happened to be christians. you step into a different role when you become a citizen, when you become a president of a country, a roman emperor, and so jesus said, leave those things to the political elite. let them make those decisions. and jesus taught personal charity, he taught us how we treat each other, to love our neighbor as ourselves and our personal relationships. i think you're mixing two things that jesus never intended -- jesus never intended to give instructions to political leaders on how to run a country. and that's clear through all his teachings, and he made that more clear than almost anything else. so i think that's the -- you know, jesus told us to help the poor, but he never said vote for somebody who is going to take money from your neighbor and give it to the poor. that's -- jesus never told us whether to vote for a socialist or a capitalist. he told us to render under caesar, use our own brains to decide who would be the best political leader. >> okay. final question here, just back
to the politics. we know about, and i asked this a bit earlier. the power and the voice of evangelical voters, christian voters in south carolina. does the statement from the pope charging donald trump with not being christian, just in his view, is that something that has a political effect in south carolina? are you concerned about that? >> i don't think so. i think it will hurt the pope more than it will hurt donald trump. i just don't think people in this country take statements like that seriously. i don't think they look to religious leaders to tell them who is the best christian, and i don't -- if they're -- if they understand politics, then they're not choosing a political leader based on who is the best christian, who says all the right things, who uses evangelical lingo. that is not who will make the best president. i'm sorry, but i think our people are very intelligent and i think they understand that. and i don't think statements like this will have any impact at all. >> jerry falwell jr., thank you
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welcome back. we have been following the breaking news, really remarkable words from pope francis on his return to rome from a trip to mexico about the front-running republican candidate here in the u.s., donald trump. here's what pope francis had to say to reporters on the plane. he said, quote, a person who thinks only about building walls wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not christian. this is not the gospel. as far as what you said about whether i would advise to vote or not to vote, i am not going to get involved in that. i say only that this man is not christian if he has said things like that. you must see if he said things in that way, and i will give him the benefit of the doubt. very strong words from the leader of the world's 1.2 billion catholics. just a few minutes ago, donald trump responded with some strong words of his own for pope francis himself. let's have a listen. >> i'm a very good christian, because the pope said something to the effect that maybe donald
trump isn't christian. okay? and he's questioning my faith. i was very surprised to see it. but i am a christian. and i'm proud of it. okay. for a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. i'm proud to be a christian, and as president, i will not allow christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now. >> you've been listening to donald trump there. so now you have it. pope francis raising the idea that donald trump is not a christian for his position. donald trump firing back, disgraceful to have those comments. i want to talk more about the politics, the religion with dana bash, in columbia, south carolina. and cnn political commentator, republican consultant and sirius xm radio host, margaret hoover. dan, if i could begin with you. these are remarkably strong words. donald trump, we shouldn't expect it, not backing down. is this a dangerous fight for donald trump to be -- well, he didn't pick it.
he's responding. but to be maintaining with the leader of the world's 1.2 billion catholics? >> honestly, this is something that i don't even have words for. because it's remarkable to think that the pope would engage like this in a u.s. presidential election, number one. but number two, say that somebody is effectively not a christian. now i just want to say that i have my voice down, because i'm at a jeb bush event and it's a pretty intimate event and i don't want to be disrupt i have. he has not said anything about this yet, unclear if he knows about it. jeb bush is a devout catholic. so i'm sure he will have some things to say about the pope's message. but you played some of what donald trump said publicly. but also in a written statement, it was even more intense, jim. he said, you know, at some point if isis attacked the vatican, the pope will have wished that
there were a president trump to defend the world against isis. and kind of went on from there. so it is -- something that again, i'm at a loss for words, because this is something that is so remarkable and unprecedented to have this kind of back and forth. the one other thing i will mention, in terms of the political implications, we are here in south carolina. the voters here from the republican electorate are largely evangelical. that's not catholic, as you know. evangelical. and they are going -- according to our latest poll, 20% more for donald trump than ted cruz, who is just behind him. you know, again, evangelicals, but still, as you mentioned, to have a religious leader like the pope to say that trump is not christian, it is going to be fascinating to see if and how that has implications with those voters here in south carolina. >> dana -- before i let you go, and i know you were at the bush
event. to be clear, do you say that donald trump just raised the prospect of an isis attack on the vatican? did i hear that right? >> he said hypothetically. the effect of what he said in his statement, and i don't have it in front of me and you can pull it up, so i'm paraphrasing right now. what he said was, that if isis had its way, the ultimate place that they would like to attack is a symbol of religious freedom, the vatican. and that if that happened, then the pope and the people -- who follow the pope would have wished for and hoped for a president trump to help defend against isis. so that's the gist of what he said. that's right. in his written statement. >> well, still a remarkable connection to make. dana, i know you have to go back to covering jeb bush. thanks very much. i also want to turn now to margaret hoover. margaret, listening to these words go back and forth, pope saying -- or saying if he has said these things, these positions on the wall, et cetera, he's not a christian.
donald trump, coming back with disgraceful for the pope to make those comments. is this a dangerous game for donald trump to be involved in? with south carolina approaching? >> i don't think it's so much of a problem for donald trump with south carolina, it is sort of a question about whether this is beneath the stature of the pontiff. you see the pope weighing in on a american political primary on the american side with is utt utterly unprecedented. and you have a really complicated question, policy question, about immigration. and you have a country grappling with the rule of law and migratory patterns and how to best handle this. you have a democratic president now who has had record numbers of deportations. would he call that unchristian? i mean, it just seems as though the pope is wading into waters that he's maybe not fully informed on. and we have seen him, frankly, do this before with american politics. he did address a joint chamber of congress, where he did talk
about a better way of life. he talked about political polarization and gave advice to america's political leaders. and then he went and met with kim davis, an incredibly controversial kentucky clerk who was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. and then after bad media backlash on that, tried to walk back through a statement. >> to be fair, margaret, and i did some reporting on that. that was -- he was not aware -- his team says they were not aware -- >> precisely my point, jim. >> introduced by someone here in the u.s. but on a larger issue -- >> but why wade into american politics, is what i'm saying. he's gotten into the nitty-gritty and it seems below the stature of the leader of 1.2 billion catholics. >> let me just play devil's advocate. let's be clear about what the pope said. the pope did not say i recommend people to vote one way or another. in fact, he said that clearly. he also said, if donald trump holds these positions, and i will give him the benefit of the doubt. so to be clear, the pope was at
least making an effort to keep out of politics. in fact, he said he wanted to stay out of politics. but why -- and shall again, i'm playing devil's advocate here. the pope, who is a religious leader, who at least in the view of catholics, is jesus' representative on earth, why can he not make a claim that in his view, from a moral standpoint, that a position -- about, say, deportation, building a wall, that he said -- he believes is not consistent with what jesus would teach. why is that beyond -- beyond what a religious leader can do? he's commenting on what he views as a moral choice. >> which is fine. i mean, that -- he is a religious leader. he can comment on a moral choice. but he was actually directly wading into politics by commenting on donald trump's position. i mean, that's where i think the line is drawn, jim. you can sort of speak broadly about what you think is godly and what you think is christian. or you can then say that in the context of a very specific candidate at a time of a very politically heated time. and that's the line he crossed
over, jim. and i think -- i think that's where the difference is. >> okay. >> he did wade into the american political process here. >> fair point. and listen, we're talking about it, right? and the candidate responded to it. so it's become part of the political debate. i want to ask about the political effects of this, if i can. south carolina is just a couple of days away. there is a large percentage of evangelicals, white evangelicals, who take part in that race. who vote in these -- in this primary this weekend. now, of course, they're not -- they're christian, they're not catholic. and the pope is catholic. will a statement like this, though, from an influential religious leader like the pope move them? will it affect them to hear from him, he's not -- donald trump is not christian. maybe they think twice. do you think that has a political effect? >> i think any time the pope speaks so blatantly about anybody's christianity, it does give anybody pause. i think everybody will sort of think about this and think, huh, what, does this make somebody more christian or less christian? he leads 1.2 billion catholics
around the world. so, yeah, i think it's -- every engaged gop primary voter ought to think about it and then make their own assessment. i don't think this tips the scale in any direction for south carolina. it's another thing we're talking about now for the next 24 hours or however long it is, unless it continues to go back and forth. but for 65% of the gop primary electorate in south carolina, that are evangelical, the majority of them aren't voting on values voters issues. there are a variety of other issues that are driving people to the polls. most especially economic issues. immigration, trade, that donald trump is speaking directly to. and frankly, answering in a way that nobody else in the gop primary fielded, which is why he's winning. so, you know, values voters, religious issues. even though you have a large percentage that are evangelical voters, aren't voting specifically on values voters' issues. >> margaret hoover, thank you. dana bash, earlier. really a fascinating conversation and we'll keep talking about this one for sure. and we're going to be back to
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a suicide crisis hotline set up expressly for military veterans sent some callers to voicemail. sometimes never even followed up. it didn't happen just a few times, either. the v.a. investigated itself after complaints, and found that nearly two dozen times, callers to the official veterans' affairs suicide hot line got a
recording instead of a live person. drew griffin, our senior investigations correspondent, he's covering this. drew, really boggles the mind. a military veteran contemplating suicide, perhaps, takes the desperate step, courageous step to call a v.a. hotline, pushed to voicemail. this is really a significant failure, considering how many suicides we're seeing among veterans. >> spot-on, jim. the numbers are hard to pin down. but the v.a. thinks five veterans a day actually kill themselves. and it is -- it's really the job of these -- the reason this hotline was created in the first place. trying to combat, if you will, the growing number of veterans that are committing suicide. what this report found was a significant number of the calls made to the center it actually went or were routeded to backup centers. and some of those calls were sent to voicemail. what's worse, in the inspector general report, it determined that at one of the backup centers, 20 voicemails, jim, were never returned, because the
backup center, they didn't even know there was a voicemail system. the report also found callers were not always offered immediate assistance, and social workers connected to the hotline were working without adequate training. as you said, jim, it just boggles the mind. >> drew, has the v.a. responded to the criticisms yet? >> yeah, the v.a. responded to this report, agreeing with all of the findings. what's more, the v.a. was on top of this before the report came out. they have hired many more workers at this v.a. call center. they are trying to tackle this problem. but, again, it's just another fire that the v.a. is trying to put out in its medical system. investigative report out of cincinnati this week, to sees of whistleblowers coming forward to complain about quality of care. the v.a. says now it's all over that, sending people there to find out what's going on. and address the concerns there. and just today, just this morning, jim, an inspector general report out of tucson finds that the v.a., at least $1.8 million in urology equipment.
then they didn't use it for five months. that resulted in $217,000 of taxpayer money that was wasted. but worse, for all those five months, the veterans who needed that equipment to be working for their urology exams, they didn't get that quality of care. it's -- it boggles the mind. and jim, one more point if i may. if you're a veteran and contemplating suicide, call that hotline number. the number does work. it has helped 50,000 or so vets avoid a crisis. you need to call that number if you're in trouble. we should mention that, straight out. >> no question. it's it's a good reminder we know these hotlines save lives. drew, i'm glad you're covering this story. back to another story we have been covering, campaign crunch time with the nevada democratic caucuses. just two days away. hillary clinton and bernie sanders are hitting up las vegas. the polls showing the two neck and neck. and now hillary is upping her
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that just tastes better. with more vitamins. and less saturated fat. only eggland's best. better taste. better nutrition. better eggs. welcome back. we have been covering a really remarkable war of words between donald trump. you're seeing him there. and pope francis. pope francis on his flight back to rome from a visit to mexico, including the border with the u.s. saying that -- asked about donald trump's support for a wall, deportation, saying that those positions are not christian. donald trump, very quickly firing back, saying it's disgraceful for a religious leader to question someone else's religion. time in the race running out for republican candidates not named
trump to make up ground in south carolina. the first southern primary two days away. and cnn's latest poll of polls shows trump with almost double the support of ted cruz, who is speaking now to gop women's club in greenville, south carolina. trump still strong on keoa island, as well. backed by 35% of likely south carolina voters, cruz with 19%. followed by marco rubio at 15. jeb bush at 10. ben carson, john kasich in single digits. marco rubio campaigned today with his newest high-profile endorser, south carolina governor, nikki haley. he said it is past time for republicans to stop fighting and unite around one nominee. that person, of course, being rubio. >> i'm as conservative as anyone in this race. but we can win, because we can unite this party. we have to come together at some point here. we cannot continue to fight with each other into october, because we lose if we do that.
and we don't just have to unite the party. we have to grow it. we have to grow it. that's why i'm so proud of the support of people like tim scott and nikki haley. because they are people that aren't just krchts. they're growing the conservative movement. they're taking our message to people who don't usually vote for us. >> you're seeing live pictures now from inside the cnn town hall in columbia, south carolina. that is where donald trump, jeb bush and john kasich will take questions directly from the voters of south carolina later tonight. the time, 8:00 p.m. eastern. the place, only here on cnn. in the meantime, i'm going to call on cnn senior washington correspondent, joe johns. he's in chicago. and joining us from new york is cnn political analyst, the editor in chief of the daily beast, john after la. joe, next contest for them is nevada on saturday. those are caucuses, our latest polls there showing it's really neck and neck. how is hillary trying to put
some space between her now and bernie sanders? >> i think you can say that they have really picked up the tempo. and just about every other hour or so, we're hearing something else out of the hillary clinton campaign, telling us about what's going on in the ground to try to sway voters. not just in nevada, but also in south carolina, which is very important. a good example of that, just a few minutes ago, we got a dispatch from the hillary clinton campaign, pointing out that they have the endorsement the now of billy murphy, a very prominent civil rights attorney, who is representing individuals in the flint water crisis, as well as the family of the individual in baltimore, who was killed in police custody, sparking riots there. so billy murphy now on board with hillary clinton. mean will, bernie sanders is also i think trying very much to get in the game, as well. he met just a little while ago, earlier today, in washington,
d.c. with african-american civil rights leaders to talk about endorsement. not clear who is going to endorse, but the naacp, the urban league, reverend al sharpton and many others. they're pushing hard now. as to hillary clinton's latest ad, i think is something we also have to point out. an ad running in nevada right now. and it pulls on the heart strings, reaching out to latino voters in a very sort of sentimental way. this is a 10-year-old girl, telling hillary clinton on camera that her parents got a deportation letter, and hillary clinton's response. listen. >> feel really, really strongly that you're being very brave. and you have to be brave for
them too. because they want you to be happy. they want you to be successful. they don't want you to worry too much. let me do the worrying. i'll do all the worrying. is that a deal? >> so neck and neck in nevada.
and you can tell it by the tv ads and everything else that's going on, jim. >> joe johns, thank you. john, if i could go back to the republicans for a moment. in last night's cnn town hall, we saw rubio and cruz really in the same back and forth spat that rubio today called self destructing. listen to how he described it today. >> this is a strange election season. in many ways. both donald trump and marco rubio are following this pattern that whenever anyone points to their actual record, to what they have said, to what they have voted on, to what they have done, they start screaming, liar, liar, liar. it is the oddest thing. i can't think
of any precedent in any previous republican presidential election. now, from my end, i have not and will not respond in kind. if they want to engage in personal insults, if they want to go to the mud, i'm not going to say the same thing about them.
>> i've said he's been lying, because if you say something that isn't true and you say it over and over again and you know it's not true, there is no other word for it. when it's about your record, you have to clear it up, because if you don't, people say it must be true. he didn't dispute it. and did that a number of times. we saw what he did to dr. carson, and trey gowdy, saying he's no longer endorsing me, a popular congressman here in south carolina. so these things are disturbing and need to be addressed. that's not the car of my campaign. >> rubio is not the only one who talks about the potential damage that this is doing to republican candidates. this very bitter verbal back and forth. i asked donald trump the same question on monday and he said it will likely, in his words, hurt the republican nominee, whoever that is, in the fall. is that true? do you believe that this is damaging republicans? does it matter? it certainly hasn't -- that kind of back and forth hasn't affected their polling numbers, at least in the primaries. >> no, i mean, look.
this is a perennial complaint. but, you know, this is a south carolina primary. the ghost of lee atwater hangs over all these situations and it's going to be rough and tumble and tough and there is no crying in baseball. the idea that now is the time for the republican party to have a knockdown, dragout fight to see how the field can win to a couple of core competitors who represent different constituencies. and so while i am all in favor of uniting a party and trying to unite a nation, and frankly, most republican nominees haven't seen too preoccupied with trying to reunite the nation. they have been trying to kneecap the other cat. that's where we are in the cycle right now. so let's own it, and let's see how the people of south carolina vote. it's a much deeper and more diverse state than it gets credit for. but, you know it's a surreal season when ted cruz is trying to take the high road. >> john avalon of the daily beast, in chicago. we're covering more breaking news now. the u.s. military asking russia to avoid specific areas in syria.
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we're following breaking news, a pentagon official has revealed that the u.s. military has asked russia to avoid specific areas in syria to ensure the safety of u.s. special operators on the ground. cnn's barbara starr joining us now with more. barbara, is this unprecedented for the u.s. in effect to give russia intelligence here, the location of u.s. special operations on the ground? >> well, let's start it out, jim. this actually came up back several weeks ago when the u.s. and russians had a ground of conversations about an agreement that was already in place about how to make sure they didn't have inadvertent confrontation in the skies with both countries flying war planes and then special forces went into northern syria on the ground. that has been publicly acknowledged and they told the russians some information about it, because they wanted to make sure the russians who may not always have the same standard of navigation that the u.s. feels
they should have, they may not be as precise, they wanted the russians to have an idea where the troops were located. what we know from pentagon officials, they did not give the russians specific high-grade intelligence. they gave them the broad area of where the u.s. troops are in northern syria on the ground. and asked them to stay away from that area. jim? >> u.s.-russian forces in close quarters in the air and on the ground there now. barbara starr, in the pentagon. thanks to all of you for watching today. coming up, much more on this growing war of words between donald trump and the pope. plus we are waiting to see if jeb bush weighs in. all that and more coming up on wolf. that starts right after this quick break. [woodworker] i live in the fine details.
hello, i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. here in washington. 7:00 p.m. in rome. 8:00 p.m. in annikaa, turkey. sometimes volatile issues, politics and religion. pope francis wading into u.s. presidential politics, suggesting that donald trump's immigration plans are not those of a christian. the pope was taking questions from reporters on a flight to rome after his visit