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Democrats Spar in Debate; Sanders Apologizes. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired December 20, 2015 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:01] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We've got much more ahead in the next hour of your NEW DAY, and that starts right now.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I worry greatly that the rhetoric coming from the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump.

MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTILA CANDIDATE: Fascist pleas of billionaires are big mouths.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Somebody like Trump comes along and says, I know the answers. The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they are criminals and rapists.

CLINTON: He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter.

SANDERS: Our staff found innings on our computers from the Clinton campaign. 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.

MODERATOR: Secretary Clinton, do you accept?

O'MALLEY: For crying out loud. We are listening to the bickering back and forth.

SANDERS: Let's calm down a little bit, martin.

CLINTON: Yes. Let's tell -- let's tell the truth, Martin.

MODERATOR: We believe Secretary Clinton will be coming around the corner any minute.


I think it's great standing up here with the senator and the governor talking about these issues because you're not going to hear anything like this from any of the Republicans who are running for president.

O'MALLEY: She tried to hide her cozy relationship with Wall Street big banks by invoking the attacks of 9/11.

SANDERS: Now this is getting to be fun. O'MALLEY: This is fun. This is democracy at work.


AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. I'm Amara Walker, in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: And it is good to have you in for us this morning.

WALKER: Good to be with you.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. Good to start your Sunday with you.

Plenty of verbal sparring you saw at the Democratic debate last night, including Bernie Sanders apologizing to Hillary Clinton and this morning, he is staying true to his word about this investigation within his campaign over the data breach.

The Bernie Sanders campaign suspended two more staff members amid this ongoing probe into their campaign's DNC data breach.

WALKER: Sanders' campaign manager also says they are looking into a half dozen of accounts that may have been in wrongly accessing voter data from Hillary Clinton's campaign, but that doesn't necessarily mean half a dozen staffers, since one person can sometimes have more than one account. We, of course, will continue to follow this throughout the morning.

In the meantime, CNN's Athena Jones joins us more on the highlights from the Democratic debate.

And, of course, one of them was this apology that the debate kicked off with.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It was interesting to see the debate kick off that way, kind of diffuse that issue at least on the candidate level.

But I've got to tell you, compared to the GOP showdown from earlier in the week, last night's matchup was polite, even warm at times. So, there were some stark differences on policy and approach, especially when it comes to fighting terrorist groups like ISIS.


JONES (voice-over): The Democratic presidential candidates in their final debate this year -- arguing over who has the best plan to take on the terrorists, lead the nation and defeat Republicans this fall.

SANDERS: On our worse day, I think we have a lot more to offer the American people than the right wing extremists.

JONES: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Standards face-to-face for the first time since a dispute over a breach of private voter files exploded in public. SANDERS: As soon as we learned that they looked at that information,

we fired that person.

MODERATOR: Does Secretary Clinton deserve an apology tonight?

SANDERS: Yes. I apologize.

JONES: The debate comes as the focus of the 2016 race increasingly shifts towards national security and terrorism.

CLINTON: We need to be united against the threats that we face. We need to have everybody in our country focused on watching what happens and reporting it if it's suspicious, reporting what you hear.

JONES: Sanders, standing firm on his view, that the U.S. should not send troops overseas to fight ISIS.

SANDERS: To tell Saudi Arabia that instead of going to war in Yemen, they, one of the wealthiest on earth, are going to have to go to war against ISIS, to tell Qatar that instead of spending $200 billion on the World Cup, maybe they should say attention to ISIS, which is at their doorstep.

JONES: And Martin O'Malley taking on his fellow Democrats on terrorists and gun control.

O'MALLEY: 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 stage have represented there.


JONES: But all three candidates zeroing in on a presidential hopeful who wasn't on stage -- Donald Trump.

CLINTON: I worry greatly that the rhetoric coming from the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump.

O'MALLEY: Fascist please of billionaires with big mouths.

SANDERS: Somebody like Trump comes along and says I know the answers. The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they are criminals and rapists.


[07:05:03] JONES: So a lot of mentions of Donald Trump. He was the only GOP candidate to be mentioned by name last night.

And one more point I want to bring up: there was an interesting divide that emerged on stage when it comes to America's involvement in overseas conflicts. We saw Sanders saying that Clinton was more of a proponent of regime change than he is while he argued that the U.S. doesn't have to be policemen of the world. This is very similar to the divide we saw on the GOP stage earlier in the week between candidates like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and also Donald Trump. Trump has even used that same language in interviews, saying that the U.S. doesn't have to be the policemen of the world.

Back to you, guys.

WALKER: Also similar to the divides that we're seeing in the United States, when it comes to interventionism.

Athena Jones, great reporting. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: All right. CNN politics senior reporter, Stephen Collinson, joins us now, along with CNN political commentators Errol Louis and Maria Cardona.

Good to have you with us, all three back this hour.

And I want to start with you, Errol, about this database breach.

Has that been now neutralized after the apology and the acceptance and the candidates are going to move, or do you see this raising its head again?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'd say probably, Victor. I think the only reason we are not entirely sure we can put this behind us is that these new names came out. Apparently, the database, from what I can figure out from digging into this is one in which everybody who accesses it can be tracked and traced.

And so, when you can find out exactly who saw what and exactly what they did, once that investigation is completed, it might be more than a few people who actually sort of snuck a peek at some data they were not supposed to see. They weren't able to export it and reserved for the highest level of the people in the campaign, but even getting a peek at what your opponent has already compiled can be helpful and we won't know for a while until they tell us exactly how many people saw that.

BLACKWELL: All right. Maria, let's talk about Donald Trump. I knew you were waiting for me to say that.


BLACKWELL: Let's listen first to what the candidates said last night and we'll talk on the other side.


CLINTON: I worry greatly from the rhetoric comes from the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump.

O'MALLEY: Fascist pleas with billionaires with big mouths.

SANDERS: Somebody like Trump comes along and says, I know the answers. The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they are criminals and rapists!

CLINTON: He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter.


BLACKWELL: She went on to say, speaking of Secretary Clinton, that "they are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists." CNN's reality check shows that that's just not true.

Should she clarify? Should she apologize to having said something that is just clearly not happening?

CARDONA: Well, I think what the fact checker actually said is that the videos hadn't been found, but there was a report by ABC news that said this is something the jihadists were saying and were using to recruit people.

But I think her overall message is right on, because this is exactly what ISIS wants. They want the United States to be at war with Muslims. They want to be able to say the United States doesn't like Muslims and, therefore, use it as something to continue to recruit people from all over the world.

So, her point is that what the Republican rhetoric is doing is feeding right into what ISIS and the terrorists want and that Democrats need to be very careful to make sure that we don't alienate the exact communities that we need in order to fight terrorism, not just globally, but here at home. So I think that is a very strong message that resonates both with the people here, who understand that this is a problem in their communities, as well as around the world.

BLACKWELL: Stephen, let me come to you about Martin O'Malley. The exchange at the very start and Senator Sanders apologized and called for an investigation. The secretary accepted and said let's move on. Then we heard Martin O'Malley saying this is the bickering that voters don't want to hear.

I thought they weren't really bickering, maybe that was a canned line that didn't work. Is he doing himself a disservice? Later in the debate, he was swatted off like, calm down, Martin.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: Right. I think that early exchange kind of spiked Martin O'Malley's guns a little bit, if you like. He would like to see Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton go on it on a prolonged basis on this issue and that line might have had more resonance.

I think what it gets to really is the fact that Martin O'Malley who was seen as quite a, you know, a top prospect in the Democratic Party many years and has not had much luck in inserting himself in this race. I think that he possibly could have emerged, had Bernie Sanders not been in the race as sort of a liberal challenger to Hillary Clinton. But the fact that Bernie Sanders is in there and has proven so popular with the grassroots of the party has made it very difficult for Martin O'Malley to get in. I think there is a lot of frustration and you can see that in these debates.

At one stage, he said, he mentioned the debate as something that he was -- the Democrats were allowed to have take place.

[07:10:05] There's some frustration in the O'Malley campaign that there were only five Democratic debates and it's not really given Martin O'Malley much chance to get into this campaign.

BLACKWELL: Maria, let me ask you something that kind of stood out, again. There have been three primary debates and for the second time, Secretary Clinton is not at the podium when they come back from break. What is happening? I mean, not literally what is happening, but what is happening, not being back?

CARDONA: It takes a little bit longer for the ladies to use the ladies room! But it's interesting, because that moment last night was also a moment that got a lot of chatter on social media. A lot of people saying that it was kind of bad forum by ABC to show an empty podium and to not to go to some sort of analysis and wait for her.

But you know what? I think it was a small moment. It did not endanger in any way the kind of debate that the Democrats had which I think was fabulous. I think they all did really well. I think secretary Clinton actually won the debate. But, overall, Democrats won and the American people won because the contrast with Republicans was so stark and going into a general election, that's exactly what we want the American people to see.

BLACKWELL: All right. Maria Cardona, Stephen Collinson and Errol Louis -- thank you all.

CARDONA: Thank you, Victoria.


WALKER: They are back. Overnight, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler revived their classic Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin characters on "Saturday Night Live."

Take a look.



TINA FEY: Oh, geez! Looks like I went through time in space again!


FEY: What the heck. I landed in the bedroom of a lesbian couple!

AMY POEHLER: We are not lesbians! We are Hillary Clintons!

FEY: Oh, right. We ran for president together. Oh, you poor thing. I heard that after you lost, you had to become a secretary!

POEHLER: Of state!

FEY: Oh, God. That was a real fun election. I was paired up with that cute little John McCain fellow. May he rest in peace, I'm guessing.

POEHLER: He's alive.

FEY: I remember he had a funny saying. He said, Sarah, you're the worst thing that ever happened to me!


WALKER: Tina Fey's impression is spot-on. Very impressive.

BLACKWELL: "SNL" is the best during the political cycle.

WALKER: They all are.

BLACKWELL: We're going to have more on the debate coming up, including this.


BLACKWELL: Bernie Sanders says he is on the verge of pulling a historical upset. We'll talk about that next.

WALKER: Also ahead, a 15-year-old high school football star dies when he uses his body to shield girls from gunfire.



[07:15:58] SANDERS: I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.


WALKER: And that is a CNN reality check on last night's debate. We will have more throughout the morning as we have been mentioning.

By the way, Bernie Sanders kicked off last night's Democratic debate with an apology to Hillary Clinton and all his supporters amid the ongoing investigation into their campaign's DNC data breach.

But is the fight over between the two Democratic rivals?

Jonathan Tasini is joining us now. He is the author of "Essential Bernie Sanders and his Vision for America."

Jonathan, the apology came as Sanders campaign suspended two more staffers. Is this all over or is it going to haunt the Sanders campaign?

JONATHAN TASINI, AUTHOR, "ESSENTIAL BERNIE SANDERS AND HIS VISION FOR AMERICA": Oh, I don't know. I think the campaign is doing quite well in dealing with that, and I think the investigation will go forward. But I think what was more interesting was your clip that talked about the question of foreign policy and the big differences between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on foreign policy and dealing with ISIS.

Remember, as this campaign goes forward, I think we out in the grassroots are going to remind every Democratic voter that Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq war, sided with George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, which essentially created ISIS and the crisis we face. Whereas, Bernie Sanders showed a lot of wisdom. You could see this on YouTube and look at his opposition to the war, his speech on the floor of the Congress. He was then in the house, opposing the Iraq war.

And every single thing he said, every single thing he said about his opposition to the Iraq war came to pass, including forces foreseeing the creation of something like ISIS, that if you fractured Iraq, what was going to happen, what was going to come in that vacuum?

I think that showed, that moment showed how Bernie Sanders is far more likely to be a much better commander in chief and protect the American people than Hillary Clinton.

WALKER: How is he going to set himself apart from the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who has a lot of experience in foreign policy? Because as you know, Bernie Sanders rose to popularity, you know, with this message that resonated with a lot of people on income and equality and corrupt campaign finance.

TASINI: Well, again, let me make the point that Bernie Sanders, in the most important vote, the most consequential vote in foreign policy the last 15 years, Bernie Sanders had the wisdom to vote against the Iraq war and not believe George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

I will ask every single Democratic voter out there, would you have believed Dick Cheney and George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld? The answer probably would be no. Hillary Clinton believed them and sided with George Bush. That war devastated Iraq and cost the American people $3 trillion in tax money. Not to mention the cost in human life.

That alone in my view says that Bernie Sanders is far more prepared to be commander in chief than Hillary Clinton. Frankly, I think this idea that Hillary Clinton has got foreign policy is a myth. She flew around a lot as secretary of state. It's not clear to me exactly what she accomplished.

If you compare that, for example, to the current secretary, John Kerry, who completed this amazing deal with Iran and kudos to him and the president, compare that to what Hillary Clinton accomplished, and it's hard to see any record other than flying around as secretary of state. I grant that she has enormous amount of celebrity but in terms of actual accomplishments it's a big question.

Now, on ISIS -- this is a very important question. Bernie Sanders has been very, very clear. He believes that the Muslim world and he praised a number of times the king of Jordan, praised him numerous times in citing the fact this is really a problem for the Muslim world. The Muslim world needs to take hold of that with support from the United States in a broad coalition, including Russia and that goes to the point that Bernie Sanders is very hesitant to put boots on the ground to risk American lives.

[07:20:00] Hillary Clinton, I think her impulse is favor regime change and I think it goes back again to her support for the Iraq war. And I think that is a very risky thing for the American people and I think that difference is going to continue to play out in New Hampshire and Iowa.

WALKER: But on ISIS, you're saying the Muslim countries have to take more, you know, take a forward step on this, but isn't that what we are seeing especially with the Islamic coalition being formed in the Saudi-led coalition saying, hey, we got 34 nations coming together to fight ISIS? Is that not enough according to Bernie Sanders?

TASINI: Well, I think what Bernie wants to do is expand that and make it a much more global coalition, including Russia and some countries that we don't agree with on every issue, his point is that it must be a global coalition, that it can't be, that it's the United States that's the policemen of the world. That's got to stop because it puts at risk not only our -- the lives of our troops, our men and women who go to fight and die in those wars, but it's an enormous cost to the American taxpayer, money we should be using for Medicare and all lower prescription drugs and pass Family and Medical Leave Act which Hillary Clinton does not support because she is against the dollar and change increase in taxes that will give family medical leave.

All of those things, we should spending money there and not fighting wars in Middle East and creating more opposition and hate toward the United States which emboldens that kind of radical Islamists like ISIS.

WALKER: Yes, you as a Bernie Sanders supporter, along with Bernie Sanders sound optimistic and quite confident. We heard from Bernie Sanders the campaign is on the verge of a historical upset. But when you look at the poll numbers, I mean, he is more than 30 points behind. How is he going to make a dent in Clinton's lead?

TASINI: Well, the fact is if you look historically just six months ago, Bernie Sanders was an afterthought. He would have been 3 percent in the polls. So, I don't put much stock in the polls.

I'm out there. I've been in all the four early states, traveling in Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina and now in New Hampshire. I can tell you the excitement and the energy and the thousands of volunteers, the incredible staff that Bernie has is going to bring victories in Iowa New Hampshire and forward.

Take one instance, when the Democratic Party, under the leadership of what I believe is an incompetent Debbie Wassermann Schultz, tried to tip the scales. In under 24 hours, over half a million people, half a million people signed petitions, that data be given access back to the Sanders campaign. That is unprecedented, and that would not happen if you did not have the strong support on the part of grassroots, on the part of voters who support the Sanders campaign.

I think you will see that in Iowa, coming into January and I believe we are going to win Iowa and New Hampshire. WALKER: All right. Jonathan Tasini, great having you. Thank you.

TASINI: Pleasure to be here.

WALKER: All right. And when we come back, an Air France flight headed to Paris making a emergency landing after a suspicious package was reported on board.

BLACKWELL: Also, a high school football player loses his life to protect the lives of three girls from gunfire.


[07:26:26] BLACKWELL: All right. Twenty-six minutes after the hour now.

And this morning, an Air France flight, we know that it was headed to Paris, had to make and this emergency landing in Kenya after a suspicious device was reported on board.

WALKER: Police say the plane departed Mauritius Saturday night with 473 people on board. It requested permission to land in Mombasa after a passenger found the device in the rest room. Everyone was safely evacuated. Bomb experts are trying to figure if the device contains explosives.

BLACKWELL: Hezbollah says an Israeli airstrike in Syria has killed one of its senior members for the murder of three Israelis. Samir Qantar had been convicted and sentenced for the 1979 killings but was later freed as part of a prisoner swap. This past September, the U.S. placed him on a terror black list for his rule in helping build Hezbollah's infrastructure.

WALKER: A Knoxville, Tennessee high school football player is being remembered as hero for saving three classmates. Police say 15-year- old Zaevion William Dobson was killed Thursday when he jumped on three girls to shield them from a spray of bullets. They say the three suspects in the shooting all have gang ties.

BLACKWELL: Country music star Reba McEntire and her husband Narvel Blackstock have divorced after 26 years of marriage. McEntire announced on social media this week that the divorce has been finalized in late October. The split became public in August. They have a son together.

Blackstock is also McEntire's manager. She says they are friend and will continue to work together.

The backlash continues from the DNC database breach. Two more Sanders campaign staffers were suspended late Saturday night after the debate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The greatest Christmas stories told by the senator who once read "Green Eggs and Ham" from the Senate floor.


WALKER: Also if you live in Iowa, you might have been able to catch Ted Cruz's parody ad. If not, we have it here for you. Was it funny? You'll have to watch and see.

BLACKWELL: We are going to be talking with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She was at the debate last night in New Hampshire and she was mentioned during the debate. Her thoughts when we come back.