tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN February 29, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
me here in new york. i am brooke baldwin. we will be here tomorrow, same place, same time. meantime, send you to washington. the lead with jake tapper starts now. thanks, brooke. our long national nightmare is over. leo finally has his oscar. the lead starts now. donald trump blaming his earpiece for refusal to condemn the klan, david duke, and white supremacist groups. they interrupt a trump rally. the biggest day in the campaign, republican officials in washington in desperation mode trying to save the party as they know it. what will it mean to be a republican if super tuesday becomes trump tuesday? plus. >> i made the worst mistake of my life. >> first on cnn, an american
college student detained in north korea sobbing as he pleas for mercy. does he look like a spy working for the cia? pyongyang thinks so. welcome to the lead. i am jake tapper. everything is on the line for republicans tomorrow, super tuesday. if the polls are to be believed, this time wednesday we will be talking about donald trump, the presumptive republican presidential nominee. instead of party leaders getting comfortable with the idea, they're in full panic mode because of an interview trump did on cnn yesterday. he wouldn't offer an unequivocal condemnation of david duke, klu klux klan or white sue premises, trump said he knew nothing about duke or white supremacist groups. mitt romney called refusal to condemn the groups disqualifying and disgusting. marco rubio said it made him
unelectable. john kasich says horrific. but few observers think the comments will have any impact whatsoever on voters tomorrow. a new cnn national poll shows trump with nearly a majority of republicans in his corner. in alabama and oklahoma, two of eleven states where republicans vote in under 24 hours, donald trump is poised to win by wide margins, according to new polls from monmouth university. start with sarah murray in valdosta, georgia. sarah, does the campaign seem at all worried about the impact of the controversy in the primaries or more pointedly in the general election? >> jake, they sort of feel like they answered this question today, that donald trump has come out, disavowed the kkk and david duke. maybe more importantly now they feel strong going into super tuesday. but there's no doubt between his comments on the kkk as well as
an awkward run-in with protesters, donald trump is off his message headed to super tuesday. donald trump's latest fire storm. >> i know nothing about david duke, nothing about white supremacists. >> reporter: adding fuel to the panic broilg the gop. establishment republicans look for one last hope to stop trump. >> he is unelectable now. >> reporter: the celebrity candidate in the midst of another day on the trail, all of this as some republicans launch an open revolt. refusing to support trump even if he wins the nomination. there's real chance the party splinters if donald trump is nominated. the republican rift on full display, chris christie and jeff sessions line up behind trump, argue it is time for others to do the same.
>> we need to make america great again. >> reporter: even before trump's boisterous rally, he was already doing damage control today. >> we looked at it, looked at the question. i disavowed david duke. i disavowed david duke all weekend, on facebook and twitter. obviously it's never enough. >> reporter: that's after failing three times to denounce support from white supremacist and former kkk leader david duke on cnn's state of the union. >> would you say unequivocally you condemn them, don't want their support? >> well, i have to look at the group. i don't know what group you're talking about. you wouldn't want me to condemn a group i know nothing about. i have to look. if you would sends me a list of groups, i will do research on them. >> opponents were quick to pounce. >> you say david duke to me, i say racist, immediately. why would he not denounce the klu klux klan.
there's no move for members of the klu klux klan or racists like david duke. >> reporter: candidates like john kasich push for a campaign beyond insults and outlandish behavior. >> i am sort of tired of what i see, the name calling, what i consider to be childishness when we are running for president of the united states. this is like every day, like a circus. >> reporter: ted cruz is hoping to head off trump in delegate rich contests on super tuesday. >> at the end of tomorrow, donald trump is in all likelihood going to have a chunk of delegates, and we are i believe going to have a chunk of delegat delegates. everyone else will be way, way behind. >> reporter: jake, the reality is even though we might be seeing this panic, uprising among the republican establishment, actually voters are getting more used to the idea of donald trump as the gop nominee. 70% in the cnn poll of republican voters think trump is likely to be the republican
nominee. jake? >> thank you. if you paid close attention to the presidential race, it is far from the first time he was questioned about white supremacist support for his candidacy. he retweeted folks with horrific views. white national super pacs robe oh called voters telling them to support trump. phil mattingly is in oklahoma digging into this. mitt romney, the 2012 republican nominee called donald trump's response cod he willing of repugnant bigotry. why doesn't trump come out and say all these groups are vile, i don't want their support. >> reporter: it is a question confounding and rattling republican officials leading up to super tuesday. the reality, as you said, it isn't a new thing with donald trump or his campaign, and his lack of response leads some to wonder if this is an explicit strategy. some white supremacists like grand wizard david duke may
suggest support for donald trump. >> running against donald trump at this point is really tree son to your heritage. >> i disavow, okay? i don't know anything about david duke. >> reporter: we don't know if the republican frontrunner rejects that support. it is a question trump is struggling to answer clearly for months. >> what i heard was various groups and i don't mind disavowing anybody, i disavowed david duke. >> reporter: he has disavowed duke, but the republican frontrunner has yet to plainly condemn his ideology or that of the kkk and other white supremacist groups. anti-defamation league called for trump to do that, to no avail. >> not answering this directly has some risks, but has more rewards, which he is hoping to go into tuesday evening and win a lot of states and a lot of delegates, and that will be what people are discussing. >> reporter: this rally supporter recently made the controversial issue hard to
ignore. after taking a hard look at the message, trump focused on security response time instead. >> you see, in the good old days law enforcement acted a lot quicker than this. >> reporter: when asked directly about white supremacist support this summer, his response was confusing. >> you're telling me that, i don't know about that. somebody else mentioned it, i don't know about that. >> reporter: on the divisive issue, is he playing a game of ignore and conquer? >> there's a chance what's happening is he is creating another news dust storm, not talking about other negative news flow items that ted cruz and marco rubio are injecting into the conversation. >> reporter: whether trump welcomes them or not, pro-white support continues. >> it is i am supporting donald trump, not donald trump supporting me. >> reporter: white national leaders introduced robo calls, backing trump in new hampshire. >> we don't need muslims, we
need smart, well educated white people. >> reporter: trump doesn't shy away from twitter followers, including a jeb bush joke from at white genocide tm. other candidates attack, the question becomes this. will the strategy, whatever it is, ever actually hurt him? up to this point the answer has clearly been. >> we're going to make our country great again. >> reporter: no. >> i love you, thank you very much, everybody. >> reporter: jake, whether strategic, oblivious, won't surprise you to know i reached out to a number of campaigns asking if they thought it had impact on super tuesday. across the board, the answer was no. >> thanks. either way, seems likely in november they'll be choosing between hillary clinton and donald trump. that's what it looks like now. after trump's comments sunday, a republican senator made it clear he will not vote for trump or
clinton. joining me, freshman senator from nebraska, ben sanders. for people that don't know you're a freshman, you're a conservative. >> one of two people that's never run for anything before being elected to senate. >> what was your reaction to the interview yesterday? >> obviously no place in american life for the kkk, david duke, or passivity of racism. it is absurd. >> you're not privy to his thoughts, but what do you think is going on? do you think he is ignoring it on purpose? why would he not just come out and say those are vile views, i want nothing to do with any of them. >> he is the most extraordinary running for office, but i don't think we know what his core beliefs are. >> do you think he is playing a game or -- >> this country is in crisis.
he thinks almost all of it is a game. it is a reality tv show. our country deserves better than this. >> if the election ended up between hillary clinton and donald trump, what would you do? >> i reject the premise of the question on february 29th. we are nine months from election. 4% of delegates have been cast. the nation that put a man on the moon can't do better than nominating two fundamentally dishonest new york liberals. i think the american people deserve a better choice and i think they'll get a better choice. >> those are the two frontrunners, looks like they're likely to be the nominees. i understand you reject the premise. given most people know those two are the frontrunners, what would you do. >> i am not voting for hillary clinton. given what we know about donald trump, i can't vote for him either. i took an oath to protect, defend the constitution. if those are the two major party nominees, and i hope they're not, i have to look for a third party option. >> is there somebody in mind? >> no, but i believe there will
be more candidates that enter the race if the only choices are two dishonest new york liberals. >> you haven't endorsed anybody, but appeared with rubio and ted cruz. >> correct. i think they're two great choices who believe in the american constitution. >> have you spoken with any of your other senate colleagues? is there anyone else that feels like you do? in other words, quote, unquote, i will not vote for donald trump nor hillary clinton? >> i live in nebraska. we have three little kids, commute every week. senate is voting again tonight. this weekend's issues have not -- i have not been with senators since this happened, i have been talking to nebraskans, they want to make america great, and isn't by one guy saying i will play reality tv with your kids' future. >> to defeat donald trump, which is what you want to do, you don't want him to be the nominee, do other candidates need to drop out? >> i have never been in politics, not playing political prognostication and speculation. i believe in american greatness
and that's about limited government, where washington exists for public servants to preserve a framework for order liberty, so american families and small business people can build a future. right now, we are not talking about what makes america great again, we should be doing better. i am not doing political prognostication, but there's so much in this country needs to be celebrated, right now we are distracted by the side show that is this guy. >> senator sasse, thanks for being on. is it time for republican party establishment to hit the panic button? they never thought donald trump would be the nominee. after tomorrow, the nightmare may be on the way to becoming reality. so what do they do besides tweeting, #never trump. that's next. if you have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis... isn't it time to let the real you shine through?
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i think it is fair to call it. bill crystal, senior editor of national review. before i start, we did reach out to trump campaign to ask mr. trump or for somebody from the campaign to comment. they were not able to help us out there. let's start with you. to anybody watching, you are the republican establishment. why should voters out there or viewers listen to you? >> we are the republican establishment in the sense we haven't usually gotten our way with the republican party. it isn't as conservative as we would like it to be. the republican party has been too eager to cut a deal on immigration in particular and we have been urging republicans to be more responsive. >> you reject me calling you the establishment. >> editors of two leading conservative magazines, i am proud of that from buckley, my
father, ronald reagan, rudy giuliani, making new york liveable again in the '90s. donald trump isn't a conservative. we oppose donald trump, not because he is making republicans uncomfortable, because we have no assurance he would be a conservative president and tempermentally in terms of character shouldn't be president. >> do you think if he wins the nomination, he can win? >> he has been underestimated so far. i think it is a risky proposition for republicans. a lot of conservatives and republicans would not vote for donald trump. we have already heard senator sasse make his point that he is not voting for him. >> what do you say, too, when you hear republicans say like mitch mcconnell said according to "the new york times" he would drop trump like a hot rock. there are signals sent to republican senators up for re-election, feel free to run against donald trump, don't even go to the convention in ohio if
he is the nominee. seems like republican officials are worried. >> they're worried but response is pathetic. mitch mcconnell thinks trump would be disaster for the republican party. he could urge them to give money to groups that go against trump. he doesn't have to commit to rubio, cruz, kasich. this kind of passivity, it was understandable for awhile, a lot of us thought the bubble would burst. it was clear awhile ago that wasn't going to happen. it is now clear. the idea that people should give up, pretend we can survive, republican senators distance themselves after the convention, that's ridiculous. people that care need to step up now, plenty of time, even if trump does well tomorrow. he has a quarter of delegates needed to be nominated. 15 states will have voted, 35 plus more get to vote. people can step up an act instead of sitting around
whining. >> republican establishment thought it was too early to do anything to too late, without going through the step of doing anything. if he is the nominee, hillary clinton will run an ad campaign against him that republicans haven't done, puts the race away early. republican senators can distance from him all they want, they're likely to lose the senate. >> trump campaign wouldn't provide a campaign surrogate or mr. trump. let me play devil's advocate. i asked about republican officials opposing him yesterday. here's what he said. >> we have a lot of people. i am representing people, i am not representing myself, i am representing a lot of anger out there. we are not angry people but angry at the way the country is being run. a lot of them angry at the way the republican party is being run, jake. >> what do you say to people who say you sound like you think party officials should rest control of the process away from republican voters. >> no, they should persuade republican voters that donald trump isn't the one for the poll soos they want, there are other
candidates none of whom have been part of the governing of the country. president obama has been president, ted cruz has been fighting them, marco rubio upset to win his senate seat in 2010. they need to persuade voters. >> don't give up on republican voters is the message here. they're the ones who have the opportunity to choose an actual conservative who can win the election in november. >> voters are not only not giving up, they're voting in record amounts, but they're not buying what you're selling or rubio or cruz or kasich and carson, they're flocking to donald trump. >> either inform more about trump, informed about alternative to trump, they'll change their minds. so far he has gotten 24% of the vote, 35% of the vote. won three out of four. but there are more to come. let's see and make a case. occasionally voters get it wrong. i couldn't support donald trump for president. i don't disparage those that
vote for him. i think they're making a bad mistake though. >> let me tell you something, i think my interview with donald trump yesterday will actually help him win the nomination. what do you think? >> i don't think so. i think there are people that might try to excuse the fact that he is unwilling to disavow the kkk and david duke, then comes up with ridiculous excuses for not doing that, which are yet more lies from him, he pretends he didn't hear the question he clearly heard. i don't think that republicans, even those that look for one someone who take on political practice are looking for someone cozy with the kkk or david duke. >> find better earpieces. poor donald trump in florida, give him a defective earpiece, didn't understand the words kkk or david duke. you're just liberal media out to get him. >> let the record reflect and the transcript that your voice is instilled with sarcasm. thanks so much. a college student saying he
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with him. in a conversation with cnn, she told anderson cooper about some disagreements. >> we are both independent, let him be who he is, he let's me be who i am. >> you don't try to change him? >> i don't try to change him. he's an adult. he knows the consequences. so he let him be who he is. i give him my opinions many times. >> you do. >> yes, and i don't agree with everything he says. but that's his normal. i am my own person, i tell him what i think, standing strong on the ground on my two feet and i'm my own person and i think that's very important in the relationship. >> can you say something where you disagreed with him on? >> oh, many things, some language of course. >> language. >> yes. >> language you hear on the campaign. >> i was in new hampshire when the woman was shouting out the inappropriate word and i was
there, and i'm thinking don't repeat it in my head for him, don't repeat it, don't say it because the next day, media, all they will talk is about that. but he repeat it. he is with the momentum, he goes with the flow, he goes with the people. they're having fun. everybody were cheering. he said it. and the next day, but he repeated the word. that was not his word. >> he heard from you about that. >> yeah, i told him that, yes. >> you can see more of melania trump's conversation tonight at 8:00 eastern on cnn. she gave up her leadership post to democratic national committee to take sides in the race for the white house. why one democratic congresswoman and veteran is not supporting hillary clinton. that story is next. welcome to opportunity's knocking, where self-proclaimed financial superstars pitch you investment opportunities. i've got a fantastic deal for you- gold!
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welcome back to the lead. primary season in full swing, a new poll out today shows most democrats want hillary clinton to be their party's nominee. she leads senator bernie sanders 55% to 38%. clinton comes off a huge win in south carolina saturday where she dominated sanders. had 73% of votes, and significantly more than 80% of african-american voters. jeff zeleny is with the clinton ca camp. the former secretary of state expects a big win tomorrow. doesn't look like bernie sanders will go anywhere. >> reporter: that's right, jake. she's expecting a big win in virginia and elsewhere. i can tell you yesterday you could feel the momentum shift in the democratic campaign. one adviser to secretary clinton
said the aircraft carrier is starting to turn toward the general election. clinton for her part is operating on dual track strategy, keeping one eye on sanders who will raise nearly 40 million this month and the other eye on trump and whoever the republican nominee may be. >> tomorrow is super tuesday. massachusetts is right in the middle of it. and i need your help. >> reporter: hillary clinton is riding a wave, hoping her south carolina landslide becomes a bigger super tuesday victory lap. >> i will work as hard as i can every single day. i will get up and go to work for you and fight for you. >> poll it cli, it is a long race ahead. >> remember the little box that used to be on your kids' report
cards, play well with others. i have to put a big no. democracy requires that we play well with others. >> reporter: shifted focus from sanders to republicans, one in particular. >> yes, i don't think america has ever stopped being great. what we need to do now is make america whole. >> reporter: in battleground virginia, the potential fight starting today. >> bernie sanders is over, unless she gets indicted. >> we got decimated, george, we got decimated. >> reporter: but he says the race is just getting started. he draws big crowds from oklahoma to colorado to minnesota, with thousands of supporters answering his call for a political revolution. sanders made clearest far from finished with clinton. >> we are listening to the american people and their pain and their needs rather than hustling all over the country collecting millions of dollars from the 1%.
>> reporter: he is getting notable endorsements, including a hawaii congressman. on cnn's new day, said sanders has better foreign policy judgment. >> not only was she champion for the iraq war, she was architect for the war in libya which we have seen resulted in tremendous loss of life. >> reporter: one of the first female combat veterans in congress who stepped down as vice chair woman of the national committee to support sanders. >> look to dick cheney for experience in foreign policy, but to me the real question is judgment. >> reporter: a new cnn orc poll shows democrats favor clinton 55 to 38% over sanders. but the poll also had warning signs. 59% say sanders is honest, trustworthy, compared to 36% who say clinton is. those honest tee, trustworthy are concern to the clinton
campaign. they're focusing on march to march. they believe they'll have built enough delegates for insurmountable lead. we can't say it enough. democrats elect delegates differently. it is proportional throughout. even if bernie sanders doesn't win as many states, he will win as many delegates, nearly as many, and this will go on for months to come. >> thanks. and entirely possible that bernie sanders will have a good night tomorrow night. moving to the next story, new attacks test the tenuous cease-fire in syria. cnn is one of the few western networks to travel inside. and the pentagon is sending some of the most elite fighting forces to iraq. what's the mission they're going to have once they get there? we will tell you after the quick break. dad, you can just drop me off right here. oh no, i'll take you up to the front of the school. that's where your friends are. seriously, it's, it's really fine. you don't want to be seen with your dad? no, it's..no..
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the two week break in violence, concerned it will only allow the regime to regroup and tighten a grip on power. more than 400,000 have been killed and millions more displaced since the civil war began five years ago. clarissa ward was on the ground when the truce took effect, one of the only western journalists to travel to rebel held areas in over a year, filed this report from the frontlines. >> reporter: we are in the heart of rebel held syria and this entire area has seen some of the most intensive bombardment in the past few months. we have been traveling all around here for nearly a week now. certainly it is fair to say since the cessation of hostilities began there's been a dramatic decrease in the number of air strikes. having said that earlier, we visited a town on the outskirts of aleppo. people there told us that about 30 hours after the cease-fire began there was an air strike on
a house. we were able to capture video of the aftermath of that air strike. there have also been reports of clashes in other parts of the country, but certainly does feel quite a bit quieter here. what's interesting is that you won't find anybody here celebrating about the cease-fire. that's for a number of reasons. firstly, in the run up to cessation of hostilities, there was a dramatic increase in russian aerial bombardment. secondly, the people here who live in rebel held territory simply don't trust the regime of bashar al assad. they see the cease-fire as a trick or ruse designed so that the regime can take more territory. and for that reason many people we have spoken to are, in fact, actually against the cease-fire. just a few days ago we attended a protest where people were carrying signs that said this cease-fire is a betrayal of our martyrs, of those who have died for the cause. they were chanting over and over
again we must keep on fighting and we must unite. even the imam in his weekly sermon was urging people not to heed the cease-fire and to continue fighting. >> clarissa ward joins us live from the turkish, syrian border. the russians say they're targeting terrorist groups like isis, which are not included in the cease-fire. is there any evidence of that that you saw? >> reporter: well, i should just say all of the areas we spent time in, jake, have no isis presence whatsoever. so targets that were being hit certainly could not be isis targets. the al qaeda affiliate does have a strong presence in the areas that we were in, and indeed it enjoys a great deal of support from many syrians. but targets that we saw, hospitals, clearly not a military target. we were there and witnessed a
russian air strike on a market that was filled with civilians. again, not a military target. that's not to say that russian air force is not hitting any terrorist targets per se, but certainly they're hitting civilian targets with impunity. >> all right, clarissa ward, thank you so much. stay safe. we turn to iraq. there's breaking news in our world lead. super soldiers are going in. cnn learned the u.s. army elite delta force is preparing for special operations to target, capture or kill top isis leadership in iraq, including setting up safe houses, informant networks. it comes as the self proclaimed islamic state takes responsibility for twin suicide bombings in baghdad yesterday killing almost 70 people. let's get to barbara starr live at the pentagon. barbara, how significant an escalation of force is this? >> reporter: it is significant,
jake. these are troops that have the ability to operate covertly, and if it all works, what the pentagon hopes is they will score significant gains against isis. in secret locations across northern iraq the army's elite delta force is now conducting its first operations cnn has learned. today at the pentagon defense secretary ash carter outlining what delta and the expeditionary targeting force, etf, has been ordered to do. >> seizing places, freeing people, hostages, prisoners of isil, making it such that isil has to fear that anywhere, any time it may be struck. and the only thing i'll say is the etf is in position. >> reporter: the timing and location of all operations remains classified. there are about 200 troops in northern iraq. they have been setting up safe
houses, establishing and paying off informant networks, and gathering intelligence. the plan, attack compounds, not just to capture or kill isis, but grab laptops, cell phones, anything that provides more intelligence and leads to more raids. >> special operations forces i have vast experience in iraq and afghanistan using these kinds of tactics and techniques. >> reporter: new techniques as well, with surprising openness, the secretary of defense detailed going after isis in cyberspace. >> to interrupt, disrupt isil's command and control, to cause them to lose confidence in their networks, to overload their network so that they can't function. >> reporter: the ultimate goal, drive isis off the dark web that the u.s. can't monitor. >> sometimes we drive them to
other means, but it cuts both ways. sometimes the other means are easier for us to listen to. >> reporter: it could have unintended consequences. >> you're going to end up basically not knowing what they're doing. they could be using everything from couriers to carrier pigeons to get the job done for them. >> reporter: all of this as carter is considering sending more troops for the upcoming iraqi operation to retake mosul, iraq's second largest city. >> because of our strategy and determination to accelerate our campaign, momentum is now on our side and not on isil's. >> reporter: so why telegraph so much information about special forces, cyber operations? one analyst said this is now a pr war as much as anything. the pentagon has to show progress in all of it. jake? >> barbara starr live at the pentagon, thanks so much. special recognition for a
war hero in today's national lead. today president obama presented a navy s.e.a.l. with the medal of honor. they helped rest due dr. dilip joseph who was captured and held hostage in afghanistan in 2012. chief edwards and legendary s.e.a.l. team 6 which he was part of used night vision goggles to navigate the mountains, eventually reaching their target, taking on enemy fire. he used his body to shield dr. joseph from taliban attacks, called the rescue mission a no fail mission. today president obama echoed that thought. >> whenever americans are taken hostage in the world, we move heaven and earth to bring them home safe. we send some thunder and some lightning. our special operator forces, folks like ed byers. >> reporter: that was not
completely successful, s.e.a.l. team 6 lost one member. he embodied the essence of what it means to be an american hero. we thank s.e.a.l. team 6 for their bravery and service. breaking down into tears, telling the world he committed a hostile act. is that north korea's story, not his? what does that mean for his release? that story after this quick break.
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welcome back. more on the college student detained in north korea, making a tearful, desperate plea in his first public appearance. >> please, i made the worst mistake of my life. >> otto frederick warmbier, a university of virginia student has been in north korean captivity for two months for allegedly committing a, quote,
hostile act. bring in cnn correspondent will ripley in beijing. will, what is this monday exactly accused of doing? >> reporter: that hostile act, jake, is what many americans would consider the equivalent of a college prank. north korea says he snuck into a staff holding area at the hotel, he went to the staff area looking for a dprk propaganda banner, poster he could fold up and take home in his suitcase. when he took down the banner, he realized it was too big, left it on the floor, went back to his hotel. he was at the airport, about to get on the plane to go home when he was arrested and has been detained for more than two months. goes to show how seriously north korea takes any actions, especially by american citizens, and now this emotional confession. >> i wish that the united states administration never manipulated people like myself in the future
to commit crimes against foreign countries. i entirely beg you and the government of dpr korea for your forgiveness. please, i made the worst mistake of my life but please act to save me. >> reporter: we have no way of knowing if he made that under duress. north korea says he was doing this after prodded by the cia through his hometown church and university semi secret society at the university of virginia. reached out to all those agencies who said they're not involved in this, jake. >> will, are efforts being made to bring this young man home? >> reporter: we reached out to the state department. we know they're working through diplomatic back channels. the u.s. and north korea have no official diplomatic ties. swedish embassy works in these
areas. state department said the department strongly recommends against all travel by u.s. citizens to north korea. to reiterate and highlight risk of arrest and long term detention. also hearing from his parents, fred and cindy warmbier in ohio, who say, quote, i hope the fact he conveyed his sincere apology for anything he may have done wrong will now make it possible for dprk authorities to allow him to come home. we urge them to consider his youth and make an important humanitarian gesture allowing him to return to loved ones. his parents tell us they were pleased to see him apparently in good health after the two months in north korean custody. >> will, quickly, why was he in north korea? >> reporter: he was in north korea on a private tour with a tour group and he was detained just a few days before north korea's purported h bomb test, then subsequent satellite launch several weeks later.
now he essentially is a valuable political pawn for the regime as they try to gain leverage, about to get major new sanctions slapped on them, unprecedented sanctions that here in china the chinese government says they will carry out. north korea is facing harsh penalties, and a young american front and center could faces criminal charges, prison time, hard labor as a result of trying to steal a political sign. >> will ripley. thanks so much. that's it for the lead. turning you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now. breaking news. huge lead. our new poll is out, and it shows donald trump favored by 49% of republican voters nationwide. more than 30 points ahead of marco rubio, despite a stumble over disavowing white supremacist support, growing concern with the gop establishment. is trump now unstoppable march to the nomination?