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Democratic Debate Analysis; Bergdahl to be Court-Martialed. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired December 20, 2015 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] AMARA WALKER, CNN HOST: You just heard it there with a lot of confidence, two candidates claiming victory after last night's debate. Bernie Sanders celebrating even after this week's controversy about spying on Clinton campaign data.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yeh, but that topic was not a central point in last night's debate. The Senator cleared that up in the first five or 10 minutes with an apology. Watch.


DAVID MUIR, ABC MODERATOR: But, Senator, you do mention the DNC, the vendor, but you've said of your staff that they did the wrong thing.


MUIR: Does Secretary Clinton deserve an apology tonight?

SANDERS: Yes, I apologize. (APPLAUSE) Not only do I apologize to Secretary Clinton, and I hope we can work together on an independent investigation from day one, I want to apologize to my supporters. This is not the type of campaign that we run and, if I find anybody else involved in this, they will also be fired.


BLACKWELL: He cleared it up, he cleared it up, but it's not over, as you heard there from the Senator. There is the investigation that's going on. Also the Sanders campaign announced after the debate that two more staffers have been suspended. But then, after the apology, the candidates moved on to issues, and that's what we're going to tackle here. We're going to talk about the gun control policies, immigration, foreign policy as well. We're joined now by our CNN political commentators, political anchor of Time-Warner Cable News, Errol Louis, and we've got Democratic strategic Maria Cardona. Good to have both of you.



BLACKWELL: So let's start with gun control. Hillary Clinton called out Bernie Sanders and then there was back and forth between the -- amongst all the candidates. Watch.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would hope, Senator Sanders, that you would join the Democrats who are trying to close the Charleston loophole, that you would sponsor or co-sponsor legislation to remove the absolute immunity. We need to move on this consensus that exists in the country.


CLINTON: It's no longer enough just to say the vast majority of Americans want common sense gun safety measures, including gun owners. We need, and only the three of us will do this -- nobody on the Republican side will even admit there's a problem.


BLACKWELL: We heard that from Senator -- from Secretary Clinton, and then we heard from Governor O'Malley, going after both Sanders and Clinton. Watch.


MARTIN O'MALLEY, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ISIL training videos are telling lone wolves the easiest way to buy a combat assault weapon in America is at a gun show, and it's because of the flip-flopping political approach of Washington that both of my two colleagues on this have represented there for the last 40 years.

SANDERS (?): Whoa, whoa, whoa.


BLACKWELL: You heard the whoa, whoa, whoa there, and that started something there between the, the candidates. This is getting a lot of attention, but let's talk about the issue of gun control. In the latest CNN WMUR poll, it ranked fifth among Democratic voters in the primary amongst most important issues. So is there traction here, is this going to be a single issue for any of the voters potentially, Maria?

CARDONA: I don't think that it'll be the deciding issue, Victor, but has always been an issue that has been top of mind for Democratic voters and progressives in this country and, frankly, most Americans do believe that common sense regulations do need to be approved, and there should be legislation on expanded background checks, which is exactly what Hillary Clinton was talking about. So I think, as a whole, this is a winner for the Democratic Party, even though we saw Governor O'Malley trying to challenge both of, of his opponents that were on the stage on this. And he needs to do that because he's so behind in the polls. I think this is something that unites the Democratic Party and, as Hillary Clinton mentioned and underscored, it is something that is a huge differentiator with Republicans because we know all of, all of the Republican contenders are absolutely against any kind of additional common sense gun measures. And when you can point to specific instances where additional common sense legislation or reform would have helped, for example, Hillary Clinton uses the South Carolina example where that, that massacre could have been avoided if expanded background checks would have been in place, then I think it really rings true to American voters. And that helps the Democrats.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk about foreign policy, specifically Libya. Clinton, Sanders went back and forth over the issue, specifically regime change. Errol, listen to this.


SANDERS: I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.

CLINTON: You voted for regime change with respect to Libya. You joined the Senate in voting to get rid of Gadhafi, and you asked that there be a Security Council validation of that with a resolution.


BLACKWELL: So the Secretary there saying, listen, if you're criticizing me, we're in the same boat, you supported this policy. Obviously, Libya going to come up in the general, so will Russia, so will Iraq and Syria, of course, Errol, but again is this going to be enough to start to shift votes and change a narrative in the primary?

LOUIS: Well, I, I think that this, unlike some of the other issues, actually does resonate with primary voters. I mean, if you remember, the reason ultimately that Clinton started to fall behind and ultimately lost to Barack Obama back in 2008 was over that vote she cast for intervention in, in, in Iraq. And so, to the extent that this issue comes up again, and Bernie Sanders has a really good issue to sort of push on her because they're clearly different on it, and it is something that I think we've, we've seen demonstrated that primary voters don't want endless intervention. Primary voters are split about what is the best way to go after ISIS. Do you put boots on the ground and plan to stay for 20 or 30 or 40 years, or do you do something else? And so Hillary Clinton has a lot to answer for. I mean she and Samantha Power and Susan Rice are believed and often described as the architects of the decision to take the actions that this administration took in Libya. She's got to answer for that, she's got to own it. Bernie Sanders represents a very powerful, rather large wing of the party that thinks that it has been mishandled, and that intervention is a huge mistake.

BLACKWELL: Maria, let's talk about one of the lighter moments, and really a role that some people I'm sure have considered or questioned, what would former President Bill Clinton's role be if Secretary Clinton becomes the next President. Here's her characterization of what his job would be.


CLINTON: With respect to my own husband, I am probably still going to pick the flowers and the china for State dinners and stuff like that, but I will certainly turn to him, as prior Presidents have. For special missions, for advice, and in particular how we're going to get the economy working again for everybody, which he knows a little bit about.


BLACKWELL: How much of that rings true? Do we really expect that the would-be President will be still picking out flowers for the State dinner?

CARDONA: You know, this is so interesting, Victor, because last night that got a lot of reaction, both good and bad on Twitter, and a lot of my own progressive girlfriends were sort of upset at that answer, whereas my reaction was so what? This is a woman who, if and when, she becomes President is going to be so competent and so confident in her competence that she will be able to take care of China and pick out the china. And so...

BLACKWELL: Well done there, well done.

CARDONA: So I think it was... Thank you. And so I think it was one of those lighter moments that underscores that, you know what, she is just like everybody else in a sense, right? And this is something that she enjoys.

BLACKWELL: Well it certainly, Errol, a different tone from what we say in 2008. I don't think we would have 2008 Hillary Clinton talk about picking out china and flowers for State dinners.

LOUIS: Well, that's true. I mean she's certainly trying to arrive at the right combination of strength and warmth and accessibility. Although I did have a flashback when she talked about picking out flowers and china, I had a flashback to the specter of the Jimmy Carter, you know, allegedly arranging who was going to play on the White House tennis courts, this as we had hostages over in Iran and the bottom was falling out of the economy. It's, it's a -- I thought it was a bad idea, not for any sexist reasons, but I don't want the President of the United States worrying about flowers and china. Just as Leslie says, we want her to deal with -- Maria says, that we want her to deal with big China, not the china in the closet.

BLACKWELL: All right.

CARDONA: You know what? She could do both.

BLACKWELL: OK. Errol Lewis, Maria Cardona, thank you both. We'll see you next hour.

CARDONA: Thanks, Victor.

WALKER: Held captive by the Taliban for years now, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl faces court martial and possibly life in prison. We'll have the details on the charges against him. Also, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" raking in record amounts at the box office this weekend. Did you know there are things hidden throughout the movie we need to be on the lookout for? I tell you what some of those items are next.


BLACKWELL: New this morning, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl will be arraigned for his court martial next week. He'll face a military court on charges of desertion and endangering fellow soldiers. You'll remember Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban for nearly five years until the U.S. released five Taliban detainees in a controversial swap. CNN's Nick Valencia has more for us.


NICK VALENCIA, REPORTER AND PRODUCER, CNN, ATLANTA: By now you've probably seen this video. A U.S. Blackhawk helicopter lands in the middle of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. With each passing second, U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl takes a step closer to freedom. After five years in Taliban captivity and torture, he is finally going home.

BOWE BERGDAHL: It's like you're standing there screaming in your mind. In this room you're standing like in this blackened dirt room and it's tiny and just on the other side of that flimsy little door, wooden door that you could probably easily rip off the hinges, is the entire world out there.

VALENCIA: That's Bergdahl describing his captivity in an interview with a popular podcast "Serial." In it we get a chance to hear from Bergdahl for ourselves, a man who was discharged from the Coast Guard for psychological reasons, only to land in the U.S. Army, under what he calls inept leadership. Bergdahl says, as a 23-year-old private, he didn't feel like his concerns would be taken seriously.

BERGDAHL: All I was seeing was basically leadership failure to the point that the lives of the guys standing next to me were literally, from what I could see, in danger of something seriously going wrong and somebody being killed.

VALENCIA: But what awaited back home was anything but a homecoming. The celebration in his home town of Hailey, Idaho, canceled amid controversy of Bergdahl's release and questions surrounding his disappearance. The frustration was especially expressed by some of Bergdahl's platoon that were part of the initial rescue mission.

DARRYL HANSON: If we would have found him, I think a lot of us would have shot him, if that tells you anything. ... I truly say that with sincerity that I -- we had that much hate towards him.

VALENCIA: Despite a military investigator's recommendation that Bergdahl not face jail time, the Army announced this month it will court martial Bergdahl on charges of desertion and endangering fellow soldiers.

BERGDAHL: You know, I made it through the last five years. It just kind of seems stupid to lose whatever it is that's been keeping me going. VALENCIA: If convicted, he could face life in prison, but the court's decision may not matter much to those who already see Bergdahl as either a hero or a deserter. Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


BLACKWELL: Well, Bergdahl's defense attorney, Eugene Fidell, slammed the decision in a statement saying that he had hoped that the case would not go in this direction. And he said also quote we will continue to defend Sergeant as the case proceeds, noting that the decision to charge him did not follow the advice of the preliminary hearing officer who heard witnesses. Amara.

WALKER: All right, Victor. A question for you. That in a second, but we've talking about the Democratic debate this morning, but Republicans have been busy as well. Next hour we're going to take a look at candidate Ted Cruz's new ad.


VOICEOVER: Imagine the greatest Christmas stories told by the Senator who once read "Green Eggs and Ham" from the Senate floor.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: 'Twas the night before the shutdown, and all through the House not a bill was stirring, not even to fund a mouse.

WALKER: But first the critically-acclaimed chef Rene Redzepi has been at the very forefront of the new Nordic movement. Here's a look at how his innovative dishes turned his fine dining establishment into one of the world's best.


VOICEOVER: Copenhagen, the Danish capital often held as the standard bearer of green living, is also at the forefront of the new Nordic cuisine. The undisputed king of the local culinary scene is Noma, and it's creative force two-Michelin star chef, Rene Redzepi.

RENE REDZEPI: To me, walking into Noma is like stepping away from reality in a sense to this universe of our own, where people are pushing and I have this energy. We're working towards foods, better plates, and to understand how to cook in this region, exploring the seasonality, exploring the ingredients, trying to find new flavors, trying to build a new tradition.

VOICEOVER: By pioneering the notion of foraging, Redzepi has revoluntionized Nordic cuisine, using raw, seasonal ingredients that are plucked directly from the wild landscapes of the north.

REDZEPI: It was really an amazing discovery to actually see the food stuff that's around you and connect yourself to every single root, and every single berry, and every single tree, and figuring out to how do -- how does this taste, how do you cook with it.

VOICEOVER: Pushing the boundaries of cooking, the chef encourages creativity, experimenting with flavors that are distilled into unique, seemingly simple creations.


WALKER: And you can watch the full show at,



HARRISON FORD: The dark side. The Jedi. They're real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Force is calling to you.


BLACKWELL: Well, the Force apparently called millions of people and million more of their dollars to movie theaters over the weekend.

WALKER: Yeh, the seventh installment of the "Star Wars" series is shattering records left and right. It brought in a whopping $120.5 million at the U.S. box office on Friday, the highest single-day ticket sales ever, and it's predicted to earn $220 million in it's opening weekend, which would claim the title from "Jurassic World." Senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter is in New York, and Brian some predict "The Force Awakens" could become the highest grossing movie of all time.

BRIAN STELTER, SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Absolutely. It's certainly on track to do that, and the reason why it certainly could reach that point is because, you know, even though it feels like everybody's seen it, most people haven't seen it yet. There are weeks, and weeks, and weeks to come where more and more people will be seeing the movie. I think the hardcore fans have all seen it by now. They've sold out the early showings. In fact, this has been so popular Disney's had to reassure people that there are still tickets left this weekend. So they've been trying to get that message out. You mentioned that "Jurassic World" record, $208 million is how much that movie earlier this year in its opening weekend. It looks pretty, pretty likely that the "Star Wars" will top that later today with around $220 million. We'll get those final numbers actually around 11:00 am during my show "Reliable Sources." So we'll pass those along when we get them. But it does look like "Star Wars" will beat that record. It already beat the opening day record, which was set by "Harry Potter" back in 2011. That was an opening day record of like $43 million. Well, "Star Wars" had $57 million. So what we can see here is just a, just a continuing record pace by this movie. It goes to show that Disney was right. This was the right time to reboot this franchise, and they're doing it with the right people, director J.J. Abrams behind the camera, they're bringing back old stars like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher from the original movie, and of course new stars as well.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Brian, this is one of the things that really has me excited. I, I don't really go to movies, but knowing that...

WALKER: You don't? BLACKWELL: I don't, I don't. But this I'll go and see because apparently there are things hidden in the movie.


BLACKWELL: I like the scavenger hunt element of it...


BLACKWELL: ...that fans should be looking for.

STELTER: Yes, Easter Eggs they're called. And the director I mentioned, J.J. Abrams has put these all throughout the movie, really making you have to go and see it a second time perhaps for some of these fans. Daniel Craig, the star we all know from, from the, from the James Bond movies, he makes a cameo. Also Simon Pegg making a cameo, some others as well. And there're some other examples of "Star Wars" legends from the past, you know, from the 1977 original. There are little moments in this movie that look like the original movie. I don't want to give them away but, if you're a fan of the original trilogy, there are lots of moments in this movie that are homages to, to that, to those. So it'd be cool to see those when you're in the theater and, by the way, even if you don't love "Star Wars," there's lots of other good movies out for Christmas. This is the kind of movie that's making all these kind of people go to the box office. Even if they don't see "Star Wars," the entire box office season is going to be strong in the next two weeks, thanks to "Star Wars."

WALKER: So go watch a movie, Victor.

BLACKWELL: I will, I will.

WALKER: For the New Year, make that your resolution.

STELTER: I'll send you some recommendations.

BLACKWELL: Thank you very much. Thank you, Brian.

WALKER: Brian, thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right, so coming up at the top of the hour, we'll have more on the Democratic debate and the big issues the candidates tackled.

WALKER: Also new at seven, we're taking a look at the growing number of jabs between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. Will it hurt or help their campaigns? That and more straight ahead. But first, we want to show you the gorgeous sunrise over the nation's capitol, the bright orange sky. Wow, look at that there this morning.

BLACKWELL: Ahhhh. And here's a look at the Jefferson Memorial and the Potomac there behind it. Good morning, Washington.


O'MALLEY: Well, we have invested nowhere near what we should be investing in human intelligence on the ground. And what I'm talking about is not only the covert CIA intelligence, I'm also talking about diplomatic intelligence. You know, we've seen time and time again, especially in this very troubled region, of nation state failures and then we have no idea who the next generation of leaders are that are coming forward.

WALKER: And that was another CNN fact check. We'll make sure to have those throughout the morning for you. Well, just minutes after the Democratic debate ended last night, you may have caught a replay of this week's Republican presidential debate. Well, at least "Saturday Night Live's" spoof of it. Darrell Hammond returned to play Donald Trump rattling off insults as the nine candidates took to the stage. Check it out.


ACTOR PLAYING JEB BUSH: If we work together, we can stop Donald Trump. If you combine my numbers with yours, yours, and yours we'd almost win.

DARRELL HAMMOND AS DONALD TRUMP: Hey, Jebra, shut your pie hole.

BUSH: OK, you know, what, you're a jerk. You're never going to be President, Donald.

HAMMOND: Yeh, no kidding, none of us are, genius.


BLACKWELL: Darrell Hammond, classic. No one (inaudible).

WALKER: Political season giving comedians a lot of fodder, right? Thanks so much for starting with, starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: We've got much more ahead in the next hour of your NEW DAY, and that starts right now.