tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN March 4, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PST
critics say there's a risk for lost funds and potential failures. >> that's what we're calling out is the accountability piece, and we have to do better so as we do exploration, as we do innovation, we're also accountable with the funds. >> reporter: our show comes to andy with a performance from the san francisco mime troupe. recipients of more than $100,000 taxpayer dollars from the national endo youment for the arts. so congressman russell, which of these programs do you think is the most wasteful, the worst? >> it's just all worst when it wastes your money and mine. >> that's it for "the lead." i'm jim sciutto. i turn you over to wolf blitzer, he's in "the situation room." happening now, breaking nws. reversal of torture. donald trump does a 180 on how he'd deal with terrorists as
commander in chief. after suggesting that he would use torture and target the families of terrorists, trump now insists he would not order troops to violate international law. trash talk. after another debate brawl, trump and his rivals are back on the campaign trail with no let-up in their vulgar attacks as they rip into one another. are they also ripping apart the republican party? flint fight. on the eve of super saturday, the democrats are tuning up for sunday's cnn presidential debate. and the delegate-rich michigan primary that follows. can bernie sanders find a way to rebound against hillary clinton? and blade stunner. a new twist in one of america's most sensational murder cases. los angeles police now say a knife allegedly found at the former estate of o.j. simpson now undergoing testing more than 20 years after simpson was acquitted in the killings of his ex-wife and her friend. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room."
the breaking news, a dramatic turn-around from donald trump today on how he would handle terrorists as commander in chief after suggesting as recently as last night's debate that he was in favor of torture and would target terrorists' relatives, trump now says he would not order the u.s. military to violate international laws and treaties. meantime trump's gop rivals with backing from 2012 nominee mitt romney are teaming up to try to take down the front-runner. from the debate stage to the campaign trail, they're carrying out a bruising assault on his honesty, his character, his business dealings and maybe even his manhood. trump is hitting right back and hitting back hard, lashing out especially at the candidates that he calls little marco rubio and lyin' ted cruz.
meantime an extraordinary development in the murder case that gripped america. los angeles police are examining a knife said to be found at the one-time estate of the former football star o.j. simpson who was acquitted in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife and her friend. police say a former officer received the item back in the '90s and kept it. forensic tests are now under way. our correspondents, analysts and guests will have full coverage of all the day's top stories. we begin with the republicans and donald trump's sharp reversal on torture. cnn's athena jones is up first. athena, trump's turn-around comes less than 24 hours after he appeared to double down on torture so what happened? >> wolf, trump has been talking tough about torturing and taking down terrorists an even their families for months. he's also been criticized for months about his changing positions on key issues. today's reversal marks yet another shift by trump. >> we should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding.
>> tonight donald trump reversing his stance on torture. the brash billionaire releasing a statement saying he understands that the united states is bound by laws and treaties and i will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. that after trump was pressed on his campaign promise to target not just terrorists but their families, in violation of international law. >> i'm a leader, i've always been a leader. i've never had any problem leading people. if i say do it, they're going to do it. >> on the trail today, trump not letting up in his criticism of his rivals. >> you know that in florida, they hate little marco rubio so much -- >> and not letting go of marco rubio's comment about the size of his hands. >> so when little marco spews this crap about the size of my hands, which are big, those hands can hit a golf ball 285
yards, right? >> after lacing thursday night's debate with locker room innuendo. >> he referred to my hands, if they're small, something else must be small. i guarantee you there's no problem, i guarantee you. >> trump and his rivals engaging in a raucous insult-filled face-off. >> donald, please, i know it's hard to interrupt. breathe, breathe. >> lyin' ted. >> ted cruz and rubio unloading a series of attacks on trump's temperament, his business dealings an and his immigration proposals, a concerted effort to stop the unseemingly unstoppable front-runner. >> i think the american people understand that yelling and cursing at people doesn't make you a tough guy. >> he has spent a career convincing americans that he's something that he's not in exchange for their money. >> wrong. >> but later all three contenders standing by their pledge to back a man they spent the entire night arguing isn't
fit to lead the country. trump announcing he will skip an appearance tomorrow at a major conservative gathering outside washington adding a campaign event in kansas instead. rubio took the opportunity to tweak trump. >> he really doesn't pe long at a conservative gathering. donald trump is not a conservative. >> and despite pledging to support the businessman, rubio is still making the case that trump is hurting the party. >> we can't win if we have to spend six months convincing our own. if we don't win, that means we'll wake up to the news of president hillary clinton. >> cruz is throwing cold water on the prospect of blocking trump at a contested convention, calling the idea a pipe dream. >> in my view, a brokered convention ain't going to happen. and if the washington deal makers try to steal the nomination from the people, i think it would be a disaster. it would cause a revolt.
>> and we know that trump has bought ad time, tv ad time in states coming up this month. michigan, which votes on tuesday, and florida, where voters hit the polls the following tuesday. these are his first ad buys in these states. trump has only spent a total of just over $12 million on tv ads. that's a fraction of what his rivals and the super pacs supporting them have spent. >> certainly is. athena, thank you. let's bring in barbara starr. barbara, what do you think -- why do you think trump released this statement reversing apparently totally reversing his position on the use of torture? >> well, look at what's been happening the last several days, wolf. trump has been talking about waterboarding in fairly general terms. but last night he really shifted ground on this. he basically said he would order it and that the u.s. military, the troops, will do what they're told, that they would not refuse him. but this is potentially setting up a huge battle between -- you
know, if he became commander in chief and the troops he commands because waterboarding is illegal under u.s. law and international law. if troops get an illegal order even from a commander in chief, they are obligated to refuse it. if they can't carry out their orders, they have to next face the possibility of resigning from the u.s. military. one official i talked to early this morning after listening to the debate last night said he believed there could be a wave of resignations if this had all gone through. trump, of course, has backed off now. but what you saw is something very unprecedented. a potential commander in chief setting up a real conflict with the troops saying until he reversed himself that he would order the u.s. military to do something that is illegal. wolf. >> barbara, have officials at the pentagon, military and civilian, been taking what trump has been saying seriously or do they tend to brush it off as
simply politics? >> well, you know, the u.s. military, the top commanders, they have a very firm rule. the u.s. military does not get involved in taking positions, especially in presidential elections. the u.s. military is apolitical. so technically you've been seeing a lot of eye rolling. nobody wants to talk about it. people don't say what they think very much when they are in uniform because they're not supposed to. but i will tell you i think there was a shift after what donald trump said last night. i talked to a lot of people in the pentagon all day long. when i came in to work this morning, you began to hear a very different tone. you heard a tone of concern that if he became commander in chief, they would be pressed into doing something illegal and they would have to decide every troop, every soldier, sailor, airman, marine, would have to decide whether they could continue to serve. that was what trump set up until he changed his mind today. >> barbara starr at the pentagon, thanks very much.
joining us now is katrina pierson, the national spokeswoman for the trump campaign. thanks for joining us. >> great to be here. >> this was a major reversal on the part of donald trump, right? >> technically this was not a reversal. mr. trump still supports waterboarding and going after terrorists. what he said in this release was basically clarifying because he was taking literally when he said he would make an order and they would follow it, he was verifying that he would not violate any laws or treaties. >> because he said that he supports not only waterboarding which is regarded as torture by many people but also go one step further and do even more. that's what he said in the past. today he said i'm only going to do what the law allows me to do. >> exactly. he still supports those measures. but he is saying he will follow the current laws and treaties in place. >> as you know, the u.s. military never even wanted to do waterboarding, that was a cia-led operation but it was completely stopped during the bush administration.
he supports waterboarding. it looks like he's made a 180-degree flip on this. that's what people are suggesting. >> that's what's being reported. but again, mr. trump is very serious when it comes to combatting terrorism. they are drowning people in cages and chopping off christian's heads and selling their children into slavery. so for us as a country saying, no, we're not going to do anything to them so he is clarifying. >> why didn't he originally say i'm only going to do what international law, treaty obligations and u.s. law allows me to do. i'm not going to order u.s. military personnel to do anything illegal. he could have said that early on and he didn't. >> mr. trump is not a debater, he's not a politician, he doesn't give canned speeches, which is why you see the clarification that night. you get 60 seconds to answer a question and he gave the answer he gave -- >> because even in the debate last night he said if i order them to do it, if i say do it,
he said, this is a direct quote, if i say do it, they're going to it. and you heard the anger that was developing among senior u.s. military personnel who were saying, you know what, they should not and they don't have to, they won't do anything that's illegal. >> well, absolutely, which is why he realized they took him literally, which is why he put out the statement. >> let's move on and talk about this other notion that, yes, go of aand kill, as the obama administration does, they target terrorists but he has gone one step further and said maybe their families, women and children, it's okay to go after them as well. now he's backing away from that as well. it looks like another reversal. >> it's all within the guidelines of the law. every administration gets with their team and security council and discusses what can we do and goes to congress and gets the approval. mr. trump wants to go after terrorists as rough and aggressively as they go after the united states. so he wants to go after them with the full force of everything that we have, but still keep it within the
guidelines of the law. >> because the terrorists are using totally illegal acts of terror. he doesn't want to engage -- he doesn't want to do to them what they want to do to us. >> no. but he dechgtfinitely does want hold them accountable. >> but not necessarily the children of these terrorists or as far as i know nobody else has been arrested yet. >> that's what mr. trump was talking about. when we know that there's a possibility that a relative or family member was involved, then we need to go after them as well. >> there's another issue i want to get to but let me take a quick break. this whole issue, apparently he's been making some changes on his position on immigration as
well. stand by, katrina, we have a lot more to discuss. we'll take a quick break right after this. we danced in a german dance group. i wore lederhosen.man. when i first got on ancestry i was really surprised that i wasn't finding all of these germans in my tree. i decided to have my dna tested through ancestry dna. the big surprise was we're not german at all. 52% of my dna comes from scotland and ireland. so, i traded in my lederhosen for a kilt.
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see car insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance. we're back with katrina pierson, the national spokeswoman for the trump campaign. katrina, there seems to be some confusion where he exactly stands, donald trump, on immigration. he's referred himself to what he calls tug and pull as far as negotiations are concerned. he says he's willing to negotiate on the issue of immigration. how far is he willing to go? >> well, in the art of the deal, mr. trump always talks about leaving yourself room. with immigration he talks about whether the wall being 10 feet tall or 25 feet tall. what happened in the debate last night is a little bit confusing because mr. trump's website does not classify highly skilled
workers with hb-1 visas. when mr. trump received that question, he was asked about highly skilled workers, which he wants more of and that requires being able to pay your own way. however, megyn kelly was asking about hb-1 visas. mr. trump wants to eliminate hb-1 visas but wants to include highly skilled workers. >> but he's hired hundreds of these workers to work at his hotels. >> those are hb-2, seasonal workers. >> so he's okay to hiring seasonal foreign workers as opposed to people living here in the united states. he's willing to give the foreigners preference over the american? >> i've heard that there were 300 applications sent into this club. the hb-2 visas are seasonal. they come in and go back. >> they say there's 300 applications but they don't say there were 300 applications for seasonal work, just for jobs in general. mr. trump and other businesses
do utilize these concepts when they can't finding enough work for seasonal workers. mr. trump does 100% support bringing in highly skilled workers but not expanding hb-1 visas. >> explain why he won't authorize "the new york times" to release that off the record interview where supposedly he has a totally different view on immigration than what he says publicly. >> you have to know when this first came out, that was the day before the election. this was just another attempt -- >> before which election. >> before the last primary election, super tuesday. and this is just another way for people to try to put doubt in the minds of voters. in case you haven't noticed, mr. trump supporters don't doubt him. he's not going to succumb to the public pressure of the media or his opponents. the tapes will not be released. >> if he has nothing to hide, why not release it and end it? >> there's nothing to show. mr. trump has been very specific. even byron york sat down and did a specific interview with him where he talks about some things
being negotiable, not everything is in stone, with the exception of the core parts of his policy, which is exactly why governor jan brewer and sheriff joe arpaio and senator jeff sessions have endorsed mr. trump. >> listen to marco rubio because he remains adamantly angry at donald trump. listen to this. >> nothing surprises us anymore. this man is -- as i told you, he's injected a level of vulgarity into the political discourse that we've never seen. as far as action you know, what i -- i said something -- first of all, i didn't say what he's saying and i said it one time. he's personally attacked a disabled journalist, i mean everyone basically. there is no one that he has not personally attacked, sometimes in the most vulgar of ways. >> your reaction. >> this is a candidate that is really struggling. he's won one caucus. he was supposed to be the gop's golden boy this cycle and it's just not working out for him. he's out there calling mr. trump a con artist. he promised the voters of florida he would not back
amnesty and as soon as he was elected, not only did he back amnesty, put his name on it and stop showing up for work and now he's in trouble. >> but yesterday donald trump promised that if marco rubio is the nominee, he'll support him. >> mr. trump was the first one to sign that document saying that he was going to support the gop. now we see the elites doing exactly what they do every time and it's do as i say and not as i do. >> katrina pierson, thanks for coming in. >> great to be here. we've got a new interview with mitt romney. our gloria borger sat down with mitt romney and he speaks about a possible contested convention and a whole lot more. we'll be right back. sales event is on. with extraordinary offers on the exhilarating is... the thrilling gs... and the powerful rc coupe. ♪ this is the pursuit of perfection.
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there's more breaking news in the presidential race. today mitt romney sat down with our chief political analyst gloria borger to discuss the 2016 race, the possibility he could end up as a republican nominee, and especially why he decided to take on donald trump. >> i wanted to remain as a neutral umpire, if you will, calling balls and strikes and some fouls. i've done that along the way. but over the last several weeks, some of the things donald trump has said and done, both on policy as well as temperamental things have suggested i just couldn't wait any longer. >> do you think it's too late, though? >> you know, i don't know what impact these things have politically. but i do know that when my grandkids say what did you do to stop donald trump, i want to be able to say something. i wasn't going to sit on the sidelines until the very end. >> at the debate, the other candidates said that they would support trump if he became the nominee. is there any circumstance under which you would?
>> well, i can't imagine supporting donald trump for president or hillary clinton for president, either one. i'll hopefully be able to finding a conservative on the ballot who i can vote for. >> did party leaders looking back, and i guess yourself included, misread their own voters in the republican base by betting on the fact that perhaps donald trump would simply implode of his own free will? >> oh, i don't know about other people. i certainly paid attention to donald trump. i didn't expect him to do so well. >> right. >> but he has tapped into an anger which is very much understood. what he's done with that anger, however, is not to build it into resolve and high purpose but instead to take it down a very dark alley. and that, i think, is unfortunate. but i don't think you can write off any candidate. i thought jeb bush would do better than he did. i like jeb a lot, thought he would be able to gain a lot of momentum but that didn't happen. donald trump has. at this stage we say, all right,
he could easily become the nominee, probably most likely to become the republican nominee at this point, but i think there's a better choice out there. >> who is it? >> well, marco rubio is the right person in florida, john kasich is the right person in ohio. >> here we go. >> and ted cruz is right anywhere where he's leading or closest to donald trump. >> when are you going to choose one? >> well, it depends in part on how the process continues. i expect that after march 15th, it may be clearer who is going to be the, if you will, the person who opposes donald trump most effectively. and so i would anticipate endorsing at that time. let's say all three are doing about the same. >> then what? >> i'd probably encourage whoever is doing best in a particular state to get the support there and do that state by state. that would lead to an open convention where you'd see the delegates selected make the final decision. >> so this contested convention, is this a scenario that you're actively looking at?
>> oh, i think it's a realistic scenario. a lot of people have thought that for some time. >> likely? likely? >> you know, i think it's more likely than not that we will have a nominee before the convention that's donald trump. i think he has a much stronger shot of getting the 1237 delegates than not. but the debate last night was not good for donald trump. he showed that he cracks under pressure, and i think that may begin to open the door for some people who are looking for a different path. >> are you referring to a contested convention which has a first ballot, then people are unbound after that, second ballot? >> well, i'm going to begin by campaigning for people who i believe in and encouraging people to vote for folks who i think would be a better nominee than donald trump, but at a convention, sure, i'd be one of the people encouraging delegates to get behind someone who i thought could win in november. >> if there is a contested convention, would you allow your name to be put into nomination? >> that's not going to happen.
what's going to happen in a contested convention is the people running for president and who have delegates are going to be able to battle with one another. you know, to be nominated even, to have your name put in, you have to have eight states that nominate you. >> but they can change those rules. they can change those rules at the beginning -- >> it's one of a million scenarios and maybe, gloria, they'll nominate you. but i don't think -- you may be out of 100 million, i'm one out of 10 million. >> but would you allow it? >> i'm not going to go there. i have no interest in talking about that. i'm going to talk about the people running for president and who have the best shot of actually becoming our nominee. >> so you are effectively the leader of the stop donald trump movement now. i have to say that you are someone who sought his endorsement in 2012. i don't have to remind you about that, and then you tweeted that you sort of regretted that and that you said that four years ago, quote, the things he says now about the kkk, muslims,
mexicans, disabled, i would not have accepted his endorsement. but when he endorsed you, he was kind of the godfather of the obama birther movement, wasn't he? wasn't that bad enough? >> no, i think that's very different than calling mexicans rapists, than saying muslims are not going to be allowed into the country as immigrants, that mocking a disabled reporter, that going after women and saying, oh, she asks tough questions because she was in her menstrual cycle. this is highly offensive. >> well, the birther thing was offensive. >> he had a belief president obama wasn't born in this country. i disagreed with him. there are political views where we're going to disagree. but what he has said during this campaign, that george w. bush is a liar, that john mccain isn't a hero? he said some things that are completely, totally outrageous. >> well, i think obama would think it was offensive that, you know, that trump was saying he wasn't born here.
>> the funny thing about donald trump's whole birther thing is it would have made no difference. barack obama's mother was american. it was a whole ridiculous thing that donald trump was pursuing and it's i think characteristic of what you see now. >> cnn has done a report which says that he is now going to -- for a general election should he become the nominee start raising money. >> it's amazing, isn't it? all during the primary he has criticized his opponents by saying, oh, they're raising money from folks and they're going to have to respond to and report to those folks. he's self-funding. well, now we learn, no, he's not really planning on self-funding. only he's been loaning money to his campaign which he can get back if he's the general election nominee. it's a form of hypocrisy that i think people will find shocking. >> do you regret you didn't run? >> no. as i looked at that stage last night, and i spoke with my wife, she's on the other side of the country, we talked by phone. she said aren't you glad you're not up there with the kinds of things that are being said? it's so degrading, so demeaning.
mr. trump has taken this campaign in a very deep gutter, and i hope somehow we're able to come out of that gutter. >> gloria is with us right now along with real clear politics national political reporter rebecca berg and ana navarro. gloeria, excellent interview. there's a lot to assess based on that interview. let's take a quick break. much more right after this. i use what's already inside me to reach my goals. so i liked when my doctor told me i may reach my blood sugar and a1c goals by activating what's within me. with once-weekly trulicity.
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we're following breaking news in the presidential race. mitt romney continuing to reed the stop donald trump efforts. gloria borger is here along with rebecca berg and ana navarro. gloria, he didn't completely, completely categorically rule out the possibility of a contested convention, he could step in. >> well, he said i don't want to go there. you know, i don't want to talk about that, i have no interest in it. he started his speech yesterday boy saying i'm not a candidate
for president. you know, i specifically said would you allow your nomination to be raised on the floor and he just sort of pushed it aside. so it's clear to me that his first choice would be maybe one of those other guys. the second choice might be paul ryan, whom he loves, who's the speaker of the house. so i don't think he's actually running for something, but i do think that he and his spokes are looking into this. he said it was realistic that a contested convention was realistic, although he thought trump is likely to be the nominee. >> do you agree that trump is likely to be the nominee, that that trump train has left the station and it's not going to be stopped? >> i agree that the trump train has left the station, but i do think that there's going to be a lot of attempts to stop it. >> could any of those attempts succeed? >> well, wolf, you know, he might not get to the magic number of delegates that he needs. that's also a very realistic option. and then what happens? then you have no choice but some sort of brokered --
>> rubio has to win in florida, otherwise he'll drop out. is he going to win in florida? >> he hasn't said. john kasich said if he doesn't win in ohio, he will drop out. but i have not heard marco rubio explicitly say if he doesn't win florida, he drops out. >> it's pretty humiliating if he doesn't win his own state. >> it's devastating. i think it's the end of the rope. you can't make the argument if you don't win the state that you're going to win nationally. i think it's a litmus test for the other three nontrump candidates. ted cruz passed that test already. john kasich and marco rubio are facing it march 15th. i think that's why you're seeing marco is treating the florida race as if it was a state race, not a national race. >> rebecca, after the debate last night all of a sudden we see donald trump walking back some of the statements, doing a 180 on torture, telling the military you're going to obey my orders, whatever those orders are, even if they're not legal. today he's saying i would only
order legal orders. what do you make of this? >> i would think that his supporters have a high tolerance for those sort of things because donald trump has not been consistent throughout the campaign on his policy positions, nor are his positions in this campaign really consistent with the policy positions he has expressed over the course of his very long career and his long career in the public eye. so of his supporters, this probably doesn't matter very much to any of them because this is kind of what they expect of donald trump. they think of him as someone who will shift his positions based on what is convenient for him politically and what is most advantageous. but for people who are undecided, if they are undecided at this point, if there is anyone left, that's going to matter. and so anyone taking a look at donald trump might think twice. >> gloria, there's an important cnn presidential debate sunday night, you and i will be there in flint, michigan. bernie sanders, hillary clinton, how tough does he have to get to start scoring some points? does he have to really go after her on the e-mail server, fraor
example, or does he layoff on that sensitive issue? >> we heard him talk about release the transcripts of your speeches of the problem that bernie sanders has is that his entire narrative is as somebody who is not a politician. what a politician would do would be to attack her on her e-mails and to attack her on the transcripts of the speeches. and what he says he wants to do is just draw the contrasts on the issues, which is what he's going to continue to do. but he kind of has boxed himself in as a candidate because who he is is unconventional. i think if he were to move off of that, he would start looking authentic and his whole pitch is i am who i am. so i don't expect him to really start attacking. he will do the contrast, as he calls it, but i don't think you're going to see him start saying, oh, by the way, you're under investigation by the fbi and that's going to kill you. he's not going to do that. >> they'll debate substantive
policy differences but they're not going to get personal, for example. >> and when you compare it to what's going on on the republican side, i think the contrast is just dramatic, right? you've got two folks and they are debating policy. they're debating policy very strongly at times and very heated debate. but it is nowhere near the deterioration of the process, the disrespect for the process that is going on, embarrassingly, on my side of the aisle. >> this democratic contest, rebecca, is going to continue. he's got $40 million ready to go. >> he does. we talk a lot about the republican contest and how this could potentially drag on to the convention, but i don't think we should dismiss the idea of the democratic race carrying on until their convention as well. >> it's interesting, they have been bringing out his wife lately. i saw her on your show yesterday, i saw her on "the lead" today. i think that's a very smart move because he softens up his rough
edges. >> maybe bill clinton will start doing tv interviews as well. all right, guys, thanks very much. the big cnn democratic presidential debate live from flint, michigan, this sunday night, 8:00 p.m. eastern only here on cnn. coming up, donald trump's latest flip-flop. we're looking at why he just revised something he said during last night's debate. also coming up, a major surprise in the o.j. simpson case. has the murder weapon turned up at last or is it all just a hoax? i drive a golf ball.
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o.j. simpson. brian todd is here in "the situation room" with details of the stunning new discovery. tell our viewers what happened. >> the lapd is investigating whether they may finally have the murder weapon in their possession. they have had several leads on the weapon that went cold and finding it is reported to have been an obsession with the lapd. now they're now they are examining every microfiber on a knife. >> not guilty of the crime of murder. >> reporter: it may have been the most crucial piece of evidence missing from one of the most remarkable criminal trials in american history. the knife used to kill nicole brown simpson and ron goalsman. a shocking revelation from the l.a. police department. police are examining a knife allegedly found at the rockingham estate where o.j. simpson lived at the time of the murders. >> a double homicide that is still open and ongoing. it's being treated as we would all evidence. >> reporter: police say the knife was found in the 1990s by a construction worker, possibly at the time the rockingham house
was being demolished. there was an l.a. police officer working off duty nearby on a movie project. the construction worker they say gave the knife to the former officer and told the officer he'd found it on simpson's old property. the former officer, according to police, held on to the knife until very recently. >> i was really surprised. i would think an lapd officer, if this story is accurate, as we are being told, would know that any time you are -- you come into contact with evidence that you should and shall submit that to investigators. so i don't know what the circumstances are why that didn't happen. >> reporter: o.j. simpson was acquitted of double murder in aucts 19 october 1995. during the trial the fact no knife had been found was a major setback for the prosecution. >> six-inch blade, with a blunt edge up to 1/8 inch in width and 3/4 inch wide. >> reporter: the revelation
comes as there's heightened interest in the 20-plus-year-old case. >> the bronco is gone. >> if this knife has evidentiary value, and i suppose that would be a fitting capstone to this race in the intersection of the entertainment meets real life in our culture. >> reporter: tonight police are not saying what kind of knife they now have, where it was found on the property or how it was kept over the years. but they are checking it for blood, fingerprints and dna. >> how much could the dna have degraded in that time and how tough to recover decent evidence from it? >> blood stain, well preserved, can last for many, many decades. whereas if it's human -- if the environment is humid, a lot of rain exposes to varying temperatures, that decreases the chances of obtaining a dna profile. >> l.a. police are not revealing the name of the former officer
who may have held on to the knife for all those years. if he knew this was potentially crucial evidence in a case that is still open, legal experts say he could face criminal or civil charges. one person who will not be facing new state charges as a result of this is o.j. simpson. since he was acquitted of double murd ir in the case. the laws of double jeopardy apply and he cannot be tried again. maybe a civil trial in federal court. maybe. >> during the trial, brian there was a knife that the defense team had at one point, right? >> it was a 15-inch knife with a retractable blade. at one point prosecutors thought that it might be the murder weapon. o.j. simpson had purchased it at a cutlery store just a few weeks before the murders. after the defense produced that knife, forensic tests revealed it was in pristine condition, no scratches or blood stains. prosecutors never introduced that knife as evidence. we'll see if they have the real weapon tonight. let's bring in our cnn law enforcement analyst tom fuentes and cnn senior legal analyst
jeffrey toobin who covered the o.j. simpson trial and wrote a book about it. so jeffrey, what do you think about this development? you really think it could be the knife? >> well, it is certainly tantalizing information. you know, the key fact is whether there is any biological dna evidence of the victims on the knife. even if there was evidence of o.j. simpson's dna, that wouldn't prove anything if it was, in fact, found on his property. the key issue is, is there any evidence related to the victims? and even then, you would have to determine the chain of custody which after two-plus decades will certainly be very difficult. >> the simpson estate, tom, was demolished in 1998. the murders occurred in 1994. how long could a knife like this potentially contain clues that forensic scientists would look at, dna, blood stains, fingerprints that might be useful? >> it can be a short time.
it can be maybe up to a couple of decades. if it's in the soil, the soil would degrade it very quickly because of acid and other material in the soil. you know, the chain of custody is important. where has that knife been. was it in the soil until the demolition of the house in '98. who is this construction worker? did he have it and put it in a secure location snd then give it to the police officer at the time who put it in a secure location? we don't know everybody that's handled it. every time it's been handled or put in a box or wrapped up in any way that's going to remove skin particles, hair follicles and possibly the blood degrading as well. so i think it's very difficult that it's been preserved all this time. >> do they know for sure, jeffrey, the type of knife that was used to kill those two people? >> well, the medical examiner who did the autopsy made several general conclusions about the kind of knife. but it's not like other kind of
forensic evidence where you can pinpoint exactly the kind of weapon. they know the kind of knife, they know generally what kind of knife it was but they certainly can't pinpoint a brand or how many inches the knife was. there was a lot about that at the trial. >> i remember that. you remember a lot better than i do. jeffrey, thanks. tom fuentes, thanks to you as well. we'll stay on top of this story. coming up -- donald trump does a sharp reversal on how he'd deal with terrorists as commander in chief after suggesting he'd use torture and target the families of terrorists. trump now says he would not order troops to violate international or u.s. law. with extraordinary offers on the stylish, all-new rx... and the dynamic nx. ♪ this is the pursuit of perfection.
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happening now -- breaking news. torture twist. donald trump changes his stance on torture, less than 24 hours after saying in a presidential debate that military commanders would follow his orders to waterboard terror suspects. now trump is vowing to obey the u.s. law banning waterboarding. what's behind the dramatic reversal. below the belt. astonishing exchanges between the gop candidates in their latest face-off being described as vulgar and a new low in american politics. the candidates are back out there on the campaign trail. we're standing by to hear from donald trump. after last night's slew of insults, why are his rivals vowing to support trump if he wins the nomination? flint face-off. hillary clinton and bernie sanders preparing to go head-to-head in the cnn democratic presidential debate in flint, michigan. but first, they'll be battling for delegates in the super saturday primaries and caucuses. who has the advantage as
nebraska, kansas and louisiana prepare to vote? and dirty tricks. the bitter republican battle for the white house echoing another campaign that gave rise to the attack ads that dominate modern politics. after more than half a century, is political history repeating itself? 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. >> breaking political news tonight. a sudden and dramatic reversal by republican presidential front-runner donald trump on torture. trump now saying that if he's elected he'll follow the law banning waterboarding by u.s. forces. but on the debate stage last night, less than 24 hours ago, he was vowing to order military commanders to subject terror suspects to waterboarding and even more. insisting that officers would follow what would be an illegal
command. it was one of a number of jaw-dropping moments in the debate which was marked by shocking, insulting and what some call vulgar exchanges. we're also following the democrats. hillary clinton and bernie sanders vying for voters in three states tomorrow. and on sunday they'll make their cases directly to the entire country in our cnn democratic presidential debate live from flint, michigan. we're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including republican congressman daryl issa, a member of the house foreign affairs committee and/or koerncorrespon and expert analysts are also standing bye. let's begin with the race for the white house among the republicans. sara murray is in new orleans for us. trump is holding a rally there in a little while. what's the latest? >> reporter: donald trump will be here in just a little while. but the big news coming from trump today is that in the face of backlash from foreign policy experts and national security
experts, he is changing his tough talk on torture. >> we should go tougher than waterboarding. >> reporter: that opinion is changing tonight as donald trump backs off his position on tortsure. releasing a statement seeing he understands the united states is bound by laws and treaties and i will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws. the slip comes after trump was pushed on his pledge to target family members of terrorists. >> i'm a leader. i've always been a leader. i've never had any problem leading people. if i say do it, they're going to do it. >> reporter: today on the trail, pressing issues like national security are taking a back seat to another top concern for trump. >> when little marco spews his crap about the size of my hands which are big. look at that. those hands can hit a golf ball 285 yards. >> reporter: trump still making the case that's size matters which might be true if you were talking about the size of his delegate count. but, of course, he's talking
about his hands again. >> little hands. little hands. >> reporter: fresh on the heels of a surreal and at times vulgar debate -- >> he hit my hands. nobody has ever hit my hands. look at those hands. are they small hands? and he refers to my hands, if they're small, something else must be small. i guarantee you there's no problem. >> reporter: a debate that appeared to leave john kasich looking on in disbelief. >> i have never tried to go and get into these kind of scrums that we're seeing here on the stage, and people say everywhere i go, you seem to be the adult on the stage. >> reporter: today the candidates are showing only passing concern. voters might come away revolted. >> nothing surprises us anymore. this man is -- i told you. he's injected a level of vulgarity into the political discourse we've never seen. >> reporter: trump continues to defy political convention. backing out of cpac, a prominent conservative conference this weekend. instead holding his own political rallies.
all as trumps rivals slam his brand of conservatism. >> when a politician tells you he's going to be flexible, that means he's getting ready to stick it to you. >> donald trump is not a conservative. >> reporter: the anti-trump crowd continues to splinter struggling to craft a path to 1237 delegates to wrench the nomination from trump's grasp. >> ted cruz's is hard, mine is hard. but we'll see how this plays out. >> reporter: ted cruz warns a contested convention spells disaster. >> a brokered convention is a pipe dream of the washington establishment. >> reporter: the vote will be splintered among fewer candidates. ben carson did not show up for that debate saying he did not have a path forward. he's made it official at cpac saying he's dropping out of the race. he's going to lead a christian group set on getting the christian vote out in november. >> where is the supporters of ben carson, where are they going to go from here? we'll find out obviously beginning tomorrow when the
super saturday contests. thanks, sara. all of this is being watched very closely at the pentagon where trump's comments on torture have been raising significant concern. barbara starr is standing by. trump doubled down on torture. the killing of terrorist families on the debate stage last night. today making a sudden reversal as we just heard. why do you think he released this statement today? >> i think something very different happened last night. donald trump said that u.s. military troops would basically do what they are told by him if he was commander in chief. they'll do what they're told. they won't refuse him, and he was ready to order waterboarding. that is an illegal order. the u.s. military does not obey illegal orders. in fact, under law, under military regulation, under practice, they have an obligation in fact, to refuse illegal orders. waterboarding, torture, illegal under federal law against the geneva conventions, against the laws of armed conflict.
one can only suppose perhaps that donald trump's campaign became familiar with those facts perhaps leading him to make the statement he made today. if he had not reversed, u.s. mltd troops, service members would have faced the prospect of refusing an illegal order from a commander in chief and the prospect at the pentagon of military personnel resigning rather than refusing their orders. that's the kind of language i heard around the pentagon today. >> you walk around the corridors over there and talk to top pentagon officials, military and civilian. have they been taking trump seriously or just brushing all of this off? >> well, i think, you know, until last night, again, something really changed with his language last night. saying that they would do what they're told even if it was an illegal order. the military is apolitical in presidential elections in particular. they absolutely want to stay out of it, individual people cast their votes, have their views.
but to be told you'll do what you're told even if it's illegal, i think after that, there was a lot of concern up and down pentagon hallways. >> let's get more on all of this. republican congressman darrell issa of california is joining us. a member of the judiciary committees, a supporter of marco rubio. congressman, thanks very much for joining us. first of all, what do you make of trump's reversal on this sensitive issue of torture, ordering u.s. military personnel to engage in torture? >> well, i think it's an example of somebody who is not ready to be the commander in chief. he likes saying things and just having him happen. the reality is that, first of all, the military never did the waterboarding when waterboarding was done at guantanamo. second of all, this is a man who mocked and said unconscionable things about john mccain, a man who not only understood torture
but led the fight against even the cia being involved in what could be deemed in the minds of our enemies as torture. and somehow donald trump wasn't paying attention to that. and it's one of the problems. he calls it flexibility. it looks like his flexibility is based on not studying and then when he makes a gaffe saying i'm flexible and going to the other extreme. it's a real question about whether or not he's done his homework to be president. >> we got a letter today from senator lindsey graham. he wrote general dunford asking about the legality of trump's earlier comments. is there a question, first of all, about whether trump as commander in chief would have had the authority to tell u.s. military personnel to engage in what are clearly illegal activities? >> i don't want to belittle or anything, but we have had presidents who have given unlawful orders. right now president obama claims
that he's going to close guantanamo which is directly in violation of laws that have been signed, one of them by the president. presidents may give unlawful orders and they are sometimes obeyed. but they are not to be obeyed. every member of the military raises his or her hand and takes the same basic oath that the president takes. and uphold and defend the constitution and obey the laws, the civilian laws if you will. my belief is they would not have obeyed the order. i suspect that the joint chiefs would have resigned before they would have accepted that order on its face. let's remember, we're quite a few votes from donald trump being the commander in chief, and this may be a good example for military men and women to say i really like what trump says sometimes but is he the right guy to give the nuclear codes to? >> as you know, more than 50 former national security leaders, republicans, they've come out and signed a letter
saying they can't support donald trump as commander in chief. here's the question to you. would you be concerned for the safety of the country should he become president? >> based on what he's done so far, yes. i think that's a real challenge, wolf. this man, if he wants to be president, has to show very quickly the kinds of things that my candidate, marco rubio, has showed. a willingness for years to study foreign affairs to be very, very able to carry on detailed conversations and understanding of the issues. donald trump has gone out of his way to not get into details. it's an art of his. but at some point, details matter and an understanding matters, and if this is an example of his understanding of what the commander could order, then i think his supporters may think again. >> as you know, senator rubio, the man you want to be the next president, he said some really awful things about donald trump in recent days calling him a con man, saying he makes promises he
can't keep. last night said, though he would vote for him if he were the eventual nominee. and a lot of people point out just like the other republican candidates said if trump is the nominee, they'd go ahead and support him. it sound s like they are being hypocritical. >> well, to be honest, it sounds like they are giving the only answer they can give which by the way is not vote. it's will you support the nominee. and that, you know, that's one of those terrible things. there's no other answer other than yes. i'm not sure i believe donald trump wouldn't bolt the party if, let's say, he gets 44% of the electorate, of the delegates and then somehow doesn't get the nomination. but having said that there was only one answer to give when asked that question. they all gave it. but you didn't see any excitement. if you said would you like to be the vice president to a president trump, would you be
willing to be the secretary of defense, some of them might say, it's premature and duck that answer because a trump administration right now doesn't appear to be one that would be on a steady course, positive and bringing america together. and all of us, whether you like marco rubio, which i do, or one of the other candidates, we should be looking for somebody that's going to be a uniter, not a divider. somebody who has enough detailed knowledge to oversee a very large government. $4.2 trillion, a couple million direct employees. thousands of political appointees that's have to make this bureaucracy do its job. that's a big job. not a job for somebody who glosses over details. >> let me ask you this question because you didn't sign any pledge. if trump is the nominee, it looks like he's got a good chance to be the republican nominee, could you support and vote for donald trump? >> i have serious doubts about whether or not i could stay -- i won't vote for hillary.
that's for sure. but i'm not going to commit that i'm going to go into that voting booth and cast the top of the ticket. i have serious doubts about whether donald trump would be a huge mistake. i will tell you as a member of the house, i have real doubts about whether he understands that the problem with barack obama is that he doesn't respect the other branches. he thinks he can just write orders. and a new president of my party and maybe a little bit more my direction politically who does the same thing would be no better. what we need in america is somebody who understands that's the president administers laws. he has the bully pulpit, but he has to earn the american people's support. he can't simply bypass congress and even the supreme court. something that i've lived with for seven years under this president. i don't want to live with it for another four or eight years under a president of either party. >> congressman stand by. there's much more to discuss. lots of breaking political news happening right now. much more with congressman darrell issa when we come back.
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breaking news. donald trump reversing his position on illegal torture less than 24 hours after vowing to order u.s. forces to waterboard terror suspects and even go further. trump now says he'll obey the law against torture if elected president. we're back with republican congressman darrell issa of california, a member of the foreign affairs and judiciary committees and also supporting senator marco rubio for the republican presidential nomination. congressman, listen to what trump had to say about rubio today. listen to this. >> you know that in florida, they hate little marco rubio so much. it's true. because of the fact that he never votes. he never shows up to vote.
so when you think, i mean, actually, if i'll use a word that he uses. he has conned the people of florida into voting for him, and i'll tell you what. they are angry because he never shows -- he has the worst voting record in all of florida. he has the worst voting record in the united states senate. and one of the worst voting records in the history of the united states senate. >> congressman, is rubio effectively dealing with trump and all these attacks? >> you know, he may not be and it's one of the concerns i have is that marco, in spite of the fact he'll jab at donald trump, some things he just lets, you know, sort of roll off his back. one of them is the fact that he and senator cruz have to miss votes if they're going to be out there campaigning. in the case of senator cruz, of course, he will continue to be a
senator even if he's not elected. in the case of senator rubio, he made a decision to step down. he made a decision that he would complete his term, not cause any disruption, but he would only be there for critical votes and, remember, we're in the majority. if mitch mcconnell wants hum back for a vote and schedules a vote, he'll be there. but in the meantime, he and senator cruz and senator lindsey graham will miss a lot of votes. it's part of running for president all over the country. do i wish he would jab back? you can't jab back at everything that trump does because the nature of donald trump, even if you are a supporter of him, you have to understand, every time he opens his mouth he's demeaning everybody he talks about. it's the strangest thing that i've never heard him say a good word about people that after he becomes president he would have to work with successfully. who is it he says good things about? >> you agree that rubio has to win his home state of florida on
march 15th, just like john kasich has to win his home state of ohio on march 15th, winner take all, two states, in order to stay in this race, right? >> i certainly think that each of these candidates should be their favorite son of their home state. and i believe marco rubio will win florida. i'll be going to florida later next week. the reality, though, is that john kasich and ted cruz and, of course, marco rubio have one problem, which is all three of them are still in this race. and that's really the only way that donald trump gets to be the nominee is if we continue as we get to winner take all states, dividing by three, two-thirds of the vote, dividing by one, one-third of the vote. and this is the real concern that i think we all have is that, yes, i believe each of those candidates will win their home states and then we have to figure out if they all continue or we make the realization that
trump could win a lot of states by 36% and ultimately be the nominee of the party. that's not earning the nomination. that's gaming the nomination in a multiway race. >> what if trump does really well but doesn't get that magic number of 1237. that's the magic number of pledge delegates he needs going into the convention. could you see a contested convention, someone like mitt romney or paul ryan emerge as the nominee? >> it's a good question, wolf. and it's one that i have thought a lot about. could it happen? of course, it could happen. but, remember, each of these groups of delegates loves their own candidated. and if they give up their own candidate, is their next favorite somebody else that already earned a lot of delegates? and i think when you look at the amount of people who are rubio first and kasich second or kasich first and rubio second, and all the other combinations, what you see is in that second
and third round, for example, if john kasich has the smallest amount, his delegates are not likely to go to somebody that isn't at the table. they are more likely to say, my second choice always was. and so i think it's a long shot to look at somebody who hasn't earned a lot of delegates and who wasn't likely the second choice of many of these delegates. and, remember, this is not a smoke-filled room. the delegates picked by the candidates will ultimately have to give up their candidate in a brokered convention at some point. and i don't think they give it up to somebody untested. i think they more likely give it up to the best of the alternative candidates, which i think, in a two-thirds, one-third would end up being one of the three candidates, not donald trump. >> darrell issa, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you. thanks for covering this important issue in a very adult way, wolf. just ahead, as donald trump's lead grows, so does the sense of panic among
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the breaking political news this hour, the republican presidential front-runner donald trump reversing his position on torture less than 24 hours after strongly advocating it during a presidential debate. let's get more on all of this. joining us our cnn anchor don lemon, cnn politics executive editor mark preston and ron brownstein. the senior editor of the atlantic. mark, listen to trump last night advocating waterboarding. >> what do you think of waterboarding? i said it's fine and if we want to go stronger, i'd go stronger, too. because frankly, that's the way i feel. can you imagine -- can you imagine these people, these animals over in the middle east that chop off heads sitting around talking and seeing that we're having a hard problem with waterboarding? we should go for waterboarding, and we should go tougher than waterboarding. >> mark, and then since then, only a few hours later, he reverses himself. issues a statement. i understand the united states is bound by laws and treaties
and i will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. i'll not order a military officer to disobey the law. i will be bound by laws just like all americans, and i will meet those responsibilities. pretty major reversal for donald trump right now, isn't it? >> is it the growing up of konld trump as a candidate? he was asked not once but several times whether he'd ask god for forgiveness. if you are an atheist i could say, okay. but even if you have some inkling of faith or religion inside of you you would say you have. in this case he's acknowledging that he says something wrong and it was really a brave thing. we've talked about donald trump's anatomy in and the silliness of that during last night's debate. his comments on waterboarding was the most serious thing. >> last night i had the former governor of minnesota on, jesse
ventura. and he said what you aren't saying, this is during the debate, is what he's proposing is a war crime. waterboarding is a war crime and anybody running for president of the united states should know better. now he's had to reverse. >> were you surprised, ron, by that dramatic reversal on the part of trump? >> he also reversed himself on his reversal on high-tech immigrants. where he put out a more moderate line and then immediately put out a statement after saying, no, no, i didn't mean it about h1b visas, which is a target for the right. donald trump is facing the limits as this goes forward. it may not be enough to matter. facing the limits of trying to campaign at 30,000 feet. the other candidates are forcing him to get into more specifics about his agenda, how he'd implement his agenda and he is stumbling repeatedly on that. he's been much stronger that broad strokes and camping out a few positions like mass deportation and building a wall.
doability is questionable as well, but i think he's being forced into more specifics and the theme is he's having some trouble with that. >> you think he doesn't really understand these sensitive issues, is learning on the job? that's what's going on? >> i think it's more -- it's not so much he doesn't understand them. he doesn't understand the history and politics and the playing field on them. i think that trump has done well by painting as ronald reagan said, not pastels but in bold colors. what he hasn't done is translate that into a doable agenda. take the idea of mass deportation. you look at the cost estimates that have been done by that, it would be an enormously expensive undertaking and difficult to imagine that paul ryan with his views on immigration is going to give donald trump the money to do that. he really hasn't been pressed so far effectively on how you would do many of the things he has painted in these broad brush strokes. now as he's being pushed into
that, it may be too late but it is, i think, it is showing he's not had the depth of understanding, not necessarily the choice, but all of the politics and history that surrounds those. >> all three republican presidential candidates at the very end of that debate pledged if he is the republican nominee, they will support him. >> yeah, they will support him. it's interesting because the member -- certain members of the establishment are saying, we're not going to support him in so many words. and mark can answer this. they are trying to devise a way to take donald trump down which proposes an interesting prospect. >> what does that do to that plan b if you will, if the other republican presidential nominees say if he's the nominee, we're going to be with him. >> i think they support him now when they are on a stage with donald trump and he's a front-runner and they are trying to make up ground. but there's no sureness in statements in politics.
they can turn around and say donald trump has been a terrible candidate up to this point, saying egregious things. he's not part of the republican party, certainly not a republican. we're not going to support him. >> could you see that happening? that would be a violation of the pledge they made. >> i agree with mark. i don't think that's the last word on this issue. the republican party is heading for an extraordinary few months either way. on the one hand you have trump who almost certainly now is going to get to the convention with the most delegates. whether with the majority is something else. and, wolf, the dog that didn't bark on super tuesday, yes, he showed a lot of geographic reach, unquestionably impressingive, but he has not moved this up into another gear. we're not seeing the consolidation of officials or elected officials around him. he's a plurality front-runner facing a series of candidates all who have limits of their own. that's why you're hearing more and more talk of this plan b which is less about any one of these candidates getting past him and individually beating him but whether collectively by
petitioning the country they can hold him below that first ballot majority and open up the convention in some way. darrell issa said it would have to be one of these others. if i had a bet it would be somebody not in the playing field. it's a long shot but may be the only shot for those critical of trump in the party. >> a contested convention. a lot of people are talking about that. if trump wins some of these big states, winner take all starting march 15th, whether florida or ohio and moves on, that may all be moot. >> it may be moot. depends on the math. 1,237. depends on that math. when you -- by the time you get there, as you said, it's a long time to get there. if you do have a brokered convention, you basically have the republican party, the establishment of the republican party going against what the voters of the country want which shows, you know, how fractured that party is. and i don't know if it can be the end of the party but it could definitely be a death
nail. >> and it is worth noting if marco rubio or ted cruz or john kasich or any of the 15 others that's were running for president couldn't get the support, then why all of a sudden in july are they going to be the savior of the party? and it's worth noting if trump gets close, they are able to deny him 1,237 but to 1250, say, he's right on the doorstep and republican establishment prevents him from getting that nomination, cleveland is going to erupt in flames. there's no way that thousands of supporters are going to back -- are going to go for that. >> millions already have voted for trump and presumably millions more will. a quick thought, go ahead, ron. >> i was going to say, mark, either way, though, you are heading -- ordinarily if you have someone who comes in on the brink of a nomination and the delegates and deny him the nomination, that's a recipe for civil war. it increasingly appears and you heard from darrell issa that nominating trump is also a recipe for civil war.
wolf referenced the letter from the dozens of former republican national security and domestic security officials saying they'd not support him. mitt romney and john mccain criticizing him in language we haven't seen. so either path here leads towards intense fissure within the party. republicans, it may be moot if trump gets over the top, but if it isn't, there's a choice between kind of short-term damage and whether you believe there would be long-term damage from trump imprinting the party in a way that is damaging the brand to the growing populations of millennials, minorities, socially liberal whites, all of who might view the republican party as a party of backlash if it nominates trump. there's more coming in. stay with us tomorrow for the super saturday primaries. primaries and caucuses. i'll be anchoring our coverage. that will begin at 3:00 p.m. eastern. continues throughout the night right here on cnn.
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michigan, where a water poisoning crisis is angering residents raising serious questions about government negligence. our senior political correspondent brianna keilar is in detroit with details. what's the latest? >> reporter: hi there, wolf. as hillary clinton and bernie sanders get ready for the cnn debate on sunday night, we're getting a preview of the critiques they'll make against each other but also hillary clinton's attacks on donald trump. today hillary clinton was in the motor city laying out her plan to create jobs and taking aim at donald trump. >> i'll tell you, when i hear people running for president who spend all their time bad mouthing america, it really upsets me. you know what? we've got work to do. instead of complaining, let's join hands. let's lift ourselves up. let's get going together. >> reporter: but as she turns her attention to the potential republican nominee, she's taking incoming fire from bernie
sanders. also in michigan, slamming her past support for trade deals that many in this labor stronghold oppose. >> the people of michigan want to make a decision about which candidate stood with workers against corporate america, against these disastrous trade agreements, that candidate is bernie sanders. >> reporter: but clinton is also courting unions. >> i hope they do the patriotic thing and stay in morning. >> reporter: today at a car parts manufacturing plant she railed against outsourcing. >> if you desert america, you'll pay a price. but do the right thing and invest in your workers and your country's future, and we will stand with you. >> reporter: as the sanders campaign seeks to undercut her appeals to union workers, highlighting these comments clinton made about outsourcing while on a trip to india in 2012 as secretary of state. >> i think that, you know, there are advantages with it that have
certainly benefited many parts of our country, and there are disadvantages that go to the need to improve the job skills of our own people and create a better economic environment. so it's like anything, it's got pluses and minuses. >> reporter: some democrats think his attacks will only weaken clinton for a potential general election. >> secretary clinton has a number of superpacs. but sanders has millions still in the bank to finance his campaign and is promising to push to the convention this summer. >> we're in this race to win. we're doing the best we can do. i think -- i don't run negative campaign ads but i do think it is a appropriate that in a campaign you distinguish your differences with your opponents. otherwise, why run? >> reporter: for bernie sanders, this is a chance to create a splash. this debate on sunday night. as hillary clinton opens up her
delegate lead over him and, wolf, the clinton campaign is expecting bernie sanders to come out swinging. they've seen these critiques he's been making when it comes to trade issues which should play big in this union-heavy state. and she is preparing for more of that. >> brianna, thanks very much. i want to get back to our political experts, mark preston, talking about jobs, the economy in detroit, michigan coming up next week. obviously that's a pretty smart strategy, right? >> not a better place for if. certainly a city that's been left behind by the economic collapse. we saw back in 2008 and even before that with the automobile industry not doing so well. in many ways, not a bad place for her as being part of the obama administration. barack obama went into michigan and did save the auto industry, many would say, and was able to at least try to keep that propped up. but a city that is really hurting as is flint, michigan. >> we got some interesting poll numbers on a woman president in
the united states, don. we asked, is america ready for a woman president? in our cnn/orc poll. 80% said yes. 19% said no. is it important the u.s. elects a woman in your lifetime. 31% said yes. 50% said no. 19% said they're not -- the u.s. is not yet ready for a woman president. what do you make? >> it says is the u.s. ready for a u.s. president? doesn't mean they're going to vote for a woman president or they want a woman president to be in office. it says to me, as it could be reflected in the polls come election day is that hillary clinton stands as good a chance as anyone at this point in history of being elected president. it doesn't matter so much that she is a woman. they would elect her almost with the same probability as they'd elect a man. that's a good place to be. >> ron brownstein, donald trump said he'd be hillary clinton's worst nightmare in a general election. given what we know about his appeal and obviously is doing well among the republican
contest, do the numbers show that the democrats should really fear donald trump as the republican nominee? let's say in a hypothetical matchup against hillary clinton? >> well, so far not. but donald trump has proved that he is a destabilizing force in politics. he'd be a destabilizing force in the general election. he's been a master communicator. donald trump's great strength is his enormous appeal among working class whites. it's possible if he was the nominee, there have been polls that have put him as high as 69% among white men without a college education in a matchup against hillary clinton. that's the number ronald reagan hit in 1984 against walter mondale. those noncollege white mail are about half the electorate as they were in '84. if you look at the groups growing, millennials, college educated white women, donald trump is looking at unfavorable ratings in all of those groups in the 70s. it could be half of all the voters in 2016. so trump would be a test of this
conservative theory that the way back is to increase turnout about millions of culturally conservative, mostly blue collar whites. he'd be running against the headwind of a changing country and an agenda and message that's largely alienated the portions of that changing electorate that are growing the to be part of the debate sunday night in flint, michigan. anderson cooper is moderating, but you're joining in the questioning. this is a really important debate for these two democrats. >> here's why. there's few things more motivating than fear and anger. i think on the other side, on the republican side, these people are angry. people are upset. you may say non-educated white men is fewer than when ronald reagan is, but they are animated and want to go to the polls. i think it is important for democrats in this election to try to get some animation behind their voters as well. republicans are turning up at the polls more so than democrats. >> this is history unfolding.
just to be asked to questions presidential candidates, it's an important responsibility. i know you're going to do a great job. >> thank you. >> i'll be in flint helping to cover the lead-up to that debate. flint, michigan, still suffering from this water crisis. cnn is donating 500,000 bottles of water to flint, michigan. you can help as well. be sure to watch the cnn presidential debate sunday night 8:00 p.m. eastern live from flint, michigan. anderson cooper will moderate. don lemon will be asking tough, but fair questions at the same time. all of you should watch this presidential debate. i know i will as well. much more news right after this.
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♪ we can't let you download... uh, no thanks. i have x1 from xfinity so... don't fall for directv. xfinity lets you download your shows from anywhere. i used to like that song. the 2016 race for the white house has been nothing short of brutal so far, but the anger and antics are apparently nothing new. american politics has a long blistering tradition of dirty attacks. >> we're looking at one in particular, wolf, from which flowed every tactic you're using today used by every single candidate. it dates back to the tail end of the 1950s. >> worst spray tan in america.
>> trumper tantrum. >> little rubio. >> insults mexicans. >> low energy. >> this is robin hood over here. >> reporter: amid the scorching words and sharp elbows of this race, every candidate claims to be about the future, but presidential historians know this fight was forged in the past. >> you can't help but think of 1960 with nixon and kennedy with what's going on in 2016. ♪ >> reporter: 1960, pop culture, vietnam, the arms race, sex, drugs, and rock and roll were all heating up and the first modern war for the white house was going nuclear. what made it modern? number one, it was dirty. >> every republican politician wants you to believe that richard nixon is, quote, experienced. >> reporter: in what is widely seen as the first television attack ad, john kennedy used
words to damn richard nixon. >> if you give me a minute to think, i don't remember. >> reporter: kennedy targeted blocks of voters with specific messages, especially minorities. [ speaking spanish ] >> reporter: kennedy used good looks and celebrities to generate buzz. nixon's campaign fought back of course. >> i think the voters will want to have in the white house the man who is the most experienced. >> reporter: they had dirty tricks of their own. >> nixon wanted to paint kennedy as being young and inexperienced. he tried to exploit the fact that kennedy was catholic. >> reporter: but then came that first infamous televised debate where kennedy's makeup and wardrobe reduced nixon to a
sweaty mess. >> which party do we want to lead the united states? >> mr. nixon, would you like to comment on that state? >> i have no comment. >> reporter: kennedy triumphed and his strategy of attacking microtargeting voters and carefully crafting an image. >> i've been very successful. everybody loves me. >> reporter: has shaped every campaign since, morphing into a simple message. >> it's not about outfoxing your opponent. it's about destroying your opponent. >> reporter: this type of campaign was so effective it wasn't entirely embraced. we didn't see television debates until carter/ford because both sides said this is a great immense power. >> it hasn't stopped since then. good report. thanks very much. to our viewers, you can relive some of the most ruthless campaigns in american history
starting this sunday night. "race for the white house" from kevin spacey. sunday night 10:00 p.m. eastern right after the democratic presidential debate. i'm wolf blitzer. thanks very much for watching. "erin burnett outfront". next, a trump 180. the gop frontrunner changing his position on torture. trump the businessman. how he wheels and deals behind closed doors. an insiders exclusive story. more than 20 years after o.j. simpson was acquitted of two murders, has a crucial piece of evidence been found buried at his home? let's go "outfront." >> good evening. i'm erin