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THE SITUATION ROOM
New CNN/WMUR Poll: Trump 20 Points Ahead in Key State; Trump & Palin Slam GOP Establishment; Jeb Bush Weighs in on Campaign; Watchdog: Clinton Server Had Info Above 'Top Secret'; Pentagon: More Troops Needed in Iraq; ISIS "Jihotties" Recruiting Brides Online; 50 Million Brace for Weekend Blizzard; Aired 5-6p ET
Aired January 20, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Rene Marsh, thank you so much. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's got some hot new poll numbers from New Hampshire. Thanks for watching.
[17:00:12] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, stumping with Trump. Sarah Palin hits the trail with the GOP frontrunner. But they seem to be attacking the Republican establishment nearly as much as the Democrats. Is that a smart move?
Pulling ahead. Breaking news, our brand-new poll shows Donald Trump way ahead, but Jeb Bush is moving up in New Hampshire. Can he revive his campaign? I'll speak to Jeb Bush live this hour.
ISIS jihadis. ISIS fighters are aggressively recruiting young Muslim women online with promises of romance and an idyllic life, promises that are soon shattered. How many western women have been lured from their homes to join the terror group?
And snow escape. 50 million Americans are bracing for a major winter storm, and Washington could be facing a blizzard of historic proportions. Airlines already preparing for a travel nightmare.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
The breaking news: our latest poll shows Donald Trump stretching his big lead in New Hampshire, but it's getting crowded in the middle of the pack. And Jeb Bush is pushing his way into a tie for third place. My interview of the Republican candidate just moments away.
Fifty million Americans could soon be buried in snow, and many of them may have more than two feet to shovel. Parts of the East Coast could face a blizzard of epic scale. There could be widespread power outages. Plows are on standby, airlines already scrambling to get ready for a travel mess.
Our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's get to the breaking political news in New Hampshire. Our just- released CNN/WMUR poll of people who plan to vote in the state's Republican primary, that poll shows Donald Trump with a commanding lead. He has 34 percent. That's 20 points ahead of his closest rival, who's now Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Marco Rubio, who is second to Trump in our last poll in New Hampshire, he has fallen into a third-place tie with Jeb Bush, who's now on the rise.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is in Hollis, New Hampshire, where Ted Cruz is about to hold a rally. Sunlen, what's the latest there?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Ted Cruz here in New Hampshire trying to recover from a rough 24 hours for his campaign. But again today, the center of attention out on the campaign trail was not with him but focused squarely on Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. Donald Trump and Sarah Palin with an encore performance today.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody wanted her endorsement. She said, "What you're doing, Donald, is amazing."
SERFATY: The duo hitting the campaign trail together in Oklahoma.
TRUMP: We have a movement going on, folks. We have a movement. This is not -- this is not a normal situation. People are sick and tired and fed up. And, yes, we're angry. We are angry.
SERFATY: Rallying supporters at the conservative Christian university, Oral Roberts.
SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: And here we got a redhead from the big Red Apple running for president. And yet the GOP machine, all of a sudden, they're saying we're not red enough. We're not conservative enough. And I say what in the world do they know about conservatism?
SERFATY: Palin's support a boost to Trump's conservative credentials and a potential momentum killer for Ted Cruz, threatening to undercut his main argument against Trump, that Trump is a closet liberal.
Trump is flying solo this morning in Iowa, despite a campaign announcement that Palin would travel with the GOP frontrunner to both of today's events.
TRUMP: How can you be running with a cloud over your head?
SERFATY: Giving Trump the spotlight to himself to unload on Ted Cruz...
TRUMP: With being a Canadian citizen, he said, "Oh, I didn't know that." How did he not know that? Then he said with the loans, "Oh, I didn't know that." Smart guy. He doesn't know that? That's worse than Hillary when you think about it.
SERFATY: ... and twist the knife a bit.
TRUMP: You have a great governor in this state. Terry Branstad came out yesterday, and he said, "You can't have -- you can't have Cruz." And I think it has to do with more than ethanol. SERFATY: Cruz today in New Hampshire launching a fresh attack at
Trump for favoring big government when it comes to energy policy.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump promised not only to protect the ethanol mandate, but to expand it to have the federal government do even more picking winners and losers by mandating ethanol be a larger part of the marketplace.
SERFATY: Amid this battle there are no signs of wear for Trump. A new national poll showing Trump way out in front, with more than twice as much support as his closest rival. And in a CNN/WMUR New Hampshire poll, Trump tops the pack 20 points ahead of everyone else.
[17:05:13] Facing these headwinds, Ted Cruz making a big point today to show he's trying to keep his spirits up.
CRUZ: Style matters. Look, would it kill Republicans to crack a joke? Actually, some of them, I think it might. You know, have a little fun, for Pete's sake.
SERFATY: And Ted Cruz today here in New Hampshire was forced to cancel two campaign events to return to Washington for votes in the Senate. This is the kind of deviation that really knocks him off his message at exactly the time, Wolf, that he needs to be focused on using each and every moment out here on the campaign trail to recapture the momentum.
BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty in New Hampshire for us. Thank you.
Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Today he's on the campaign trail with Donald Trump and Sarah Palin.
Jim, they're attacking the Republican establishment almost as much with a passion as they're going after the Democrats. Tell us what happened today.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're attacking everybody, Wolf. And this tthihis seems to be a match made in Tea Party heaven. Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, they were dishing out the conservative red meat and wooing evangelical voters at the same time at the Christian conservative-founded Oral Roberts University here in Oklahoma State. Palin touted Trump as the only candidate, quote, "ballsy enough" -- her words -- to take on the Washington establishment like Trump.
The former Alaska governor tore into the news media and said the GOP frontrunner, meaning Trump, is strong enough to go rogue, no matter the consequences. Here's what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: His candidate, Trump's candidacy, this movement, this force, this strategy proves that, shoot, as long as that establishment, as long as they get to keep their titles and their perks in D.C., and their media ratings, they don't really care who wins elections.
Believe me on this. I've kind of been there, and I see how they treat those who go rogue, like Mr. Trump does, in order to do the right thing.
You want to know proof of that? Even today the GOP machine, they're attacking their own frontrunner and his base of dynamic, diverse, very patriotic supporters. They're attacking you, because they can't afford for the status quo to go. Otherwise the gravy train, it stops, and they can't keep slurping from it. Not if things change the way that Mr. Trump and all of we know needs to change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: As for Trump here in Oklahoma, he slammed Democrats, as well, went after Bernie Sanders as a, quote, "wacko" and a communist. And the billionaire tycoon said he is determined to win Iowa, adding it won't mean much if his supporters don't turn out on caucus night.
Here's more of what Donald Trump had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are going to win so much we're going to have win after win after win. You people are going to get sick and tired of winning. You're going to say, "Please, please President Trump, we can't take this much victory. Please stop. We don't want any more wins."
And I'm going to say to you, "We're going to win. I don't care what you say. We're going to make our country great again. We're going to win. We're going to win. And we're going to win!"
ACOSTA: Now, it's worth noting when Palin was not at Trump's side earlier today, he ripped into Ted Cruz. But when she was at this event here in Oklahoma, Donald Trump declined to go after his arch rival in Iowa.
But, Wolf, as for this chemistry between Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, it is clearly there. He sees a lot of himself in her. And I think vice versa. I think that's why they perform so well out on the stump, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta reporting from Oklahoma for us. Thanks very much.
As we reported our new poll shows Jeb Bush on the rise in New Hampshire. He's now tied with Marco Rubio in third place. Still, though, far behind Donald Trump. Jeb Bush is joining us now live from Manchester.
Governor, thanks very much for joining us.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Wolf. BLITZER: You've been calling yourself the anti-Trump. But some --
some of the pundits out there think it's too late for a comeback. What do you say to them?
BUSH: Well, we're making good progress, because my message of hope that we can change the things in Washington, rather than just describing how bad things are, seems to be working.
I have a proven record as a governor of the state to disrupt the old order in Tallahassee, Florida. And I can do the same in Washington, D.C. And I have proven ideas to lead our country going forward. And so it's a tangible result that people are looking for. I have the leadership skills to do this.
Donald Trump is neither a conservative nor a leader. And while he's a great entertainer -- and I respect Sarah Palin, as well -- he is not a conservative. And we need to have a conservative be nominated to defeat Hillary Clinton.
I don't think that Donald Trump can beat Hillary Clinton. I believe I can.
BLITZER: Listen to what Donald Trump said about you today at one of his rallies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: How about Bush? Look, the guy spends -- now he's up to $79 million. Now, I wouldn't even mention this, but a lot of it's ads against me. He does these negative ads against me. Otherwise I wouldn't mention it. Maybe I would. But $79 million. And he's bing, down in the basement, right?
The first thing he should do is he should get rid of the Jeb stuff, get rid of all of the nonsense that he's going through with, "I can fix it." You know, his new slogan, "I can fix it." He can't fix anything. He's a low-energy person. Low-energy people don't get things fixed.
But if he were a real politician, he'd be careful when he says, "I can fix it." Because where I come from, that's dishonest. When you fix it, you're dishonest. He shouldn't say, "I can fix it."
Now, I think he's probably an honest guy, but a stiff. There's no question about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I want to get your reaction to that. But it seems those kinds of attacks in almost every speech he refers to you, they seem to be having an impact.
BUSH: Well, Wolf, look, he's not going to win the presidency by tearing me down or tearing women down or tearing the disabled down, more importantly, or calling John McCain a loser because he was a POW, or tearing Hispanics down. That's not how you win. That's how you lose.
We need to have an uplifting message, applying conservative ideas in the right way. And that's what I'm prepared to do.
Look, Trump's an entertainer. He's not going to be commander in chief or leader of the free world. He's not -- he's not going to lead us to a safer and securer and freer America. And so I'm going to stay the course.
The reason why he attacks me is he's scared of me. He's insecure. He doesn't believe that -- that he can take me on. And while I'm doing worse than him in the polls, the simple fact is why would he spend his time tearing down someone who's so low compared to him? This is -- this is because we're moving up. And I believe that he believes that we're the real challenge for his winning the nomination.
And the tragedy of this is we have a Democratic nominee, likely nominee who's under investigation by the FBI. The only chance that she could become president is if we nominate a guy like Trump.
BLITZER: You've said that Donald Trump -- and I'm quoting you know -- "He's a junkyard dog, that's for sure. I seem to be the focus of most of his attacks."
Then you said at one point, "Just one thing I need to get off my chest, Donald Trump is a jerk."
So you've said Donald Trump is insulting his way to the presidency, but it sounds like you're insulting him, as well.
BUSH: Yes. Hey, did you just hear the -- in our interview he just went through about a minute-long diatribe? Is that a junkyard dog or what?
Look, this is politics. It's not bean bag. I totally get it.
And the simple fact is people are hurting in this country. The main reason why I believe that he's the wrong candidate isn't that he attacks me. It's that he attacks women, Hispanics, the disabled. Across the board, he finds ways to tear people down to make himself look like the strong man. And that's a sign of weakness. That's not a sign of strength.
We need a president that has a steady hand, that has a servant's heart, that has conservative principles and a proven record to lead this country forward out of the mess that we're in.
BLITZER: Why is he doing so well in all of these polls?
BUSH: Because people are angry about Washington, D.C. And what I'm saying is I'm angry, too. This system is not working right now. Our democracy is imperiled. We need a president that stops pushing people down to make himself look better. And to have the ability to work with Congress to fix how we tax and regulate, fix the mess that exists in Washington, change the culture so that we could have rising income again for the middle class for people to be lifted out of poverty. And as important, we need a president who will be a commander in chief
that will have the back of the military to keep us safe. And that's my advocacy to turn this angst and frustration into a force that will change the culture in Washington so we can move forward.
BLITZER: Sarah Palin, as you know, endorsed Donald Trump. You call that laughable.
BLITZER: That was your word. But she's saying Donald Trump is conservative enough. Your response?
BUSH: Look, I didn't say that her endorsement of Trump was laughable. I have -- I have a lot of respect for Sarah Palin, particularly her commitment to the life issues and to protecting the disabled. We share a passion about that. I respect her.
But for her to say that Donald Trump's a conservative when he was pro- abortion in the most recent past, he believed in higher taxes, he thought Hillary Clinton would be a great negotiator in Iran, he's been all over the map in foreign policy, certainly not a conservative. Rush Limbaugh and others are now questioning his conservative credentials, and I think they're right.
BLITZER: Governor, we have a lot more to discuss. I want to take a quick break. Much more with the Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with Republican presidential candidate, the former Florida governor, Jeb Bush.
Governor, a just-released poll shows you tied for third with Marco Rubio among likely voters in New Hampshire's Republican presidential primary. That's not that far down the road.
I want to play for our viewers a new video your team just put out. The setting hypothetically November 8, 2016. Watch this video with our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. With almost all of the vote now actually counted, we can now project that Hillary Clinton will win.
[17:20:07] CHRIS MATTHEWS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm watching Hillary Clinton receive the victory tonight.
GRAPHIC: Donald Trump Concedes to Hillary Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They look at Donald Trump as the greatest gift from heaven. But he's an easy person to beat in the general election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then she'll become the next president of the United States.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all. God bless you. May God bless America.
GRAPHIC: Don't panic. It's not too late to change the future. Vote Jeb.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: At the beginning of that video, that was my voice when I projected she was the winner in a race for the New York State Senate. But you believe that Donald Trump -- Donald Trump will guarantee Hillary Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton will win? Is that the point of this?
BUSH: Look, most of the polls suggest that. And I believe it to be true, because he's not a committed conservative. He's all over the map on foreign policy issues and all over the map on domestic issues. He's not a conservative. He hasn't been a consistent one. He's supported Democrats more than Republicans.
And, yes, he's the big personality on the stage. But that's not how you win elections. And we need a committed conservative that has a proven record to take on Hillary Clinton.
The Clinton hit machine will be fierce. And you need to have someone that actually has a proven record that's been thoroughly vetted that can take her on and take her on directly, not just -- not just as a candidate but based on issues, as well.
And I believe the proven record that I have matches up well with her lack of a record. Or whenever she's had a chance she says she's focused on her personal ambition at the expense of policy, at the expense of lifting people up, at the expense of keeping us secure.
I mean, there's a serious problem when you're under investigation with the FBI. And I think that we need to go after her. And Mr. Trump is not the candidate to do that. He will be flailing away, changing his views all the time. And I think we need a consistent conservative to be the conservative party's nominee.
BLITZER: Why are so many conservatives, though, aligning themselves with Donald Trump?
BUSH: Why is it that a majority of Americans, when asked on the head- to-head polls, that Donald Trump does the worst? There's a reason for that. Because in order to get to 50 percent, you have to draw people towards the cause. And you can't draw people towards the cause when you're disparaging large groups of people that you need to count on when you're going forward.
Look, that's the way you win. You win by getting to 50. You don't win by dividing. And I think our nominee has to have a solid conservative record that unites our base, but then moves forward with an aggressive policy that says that all will be better if we apply conservative principles. Everybody can be lifted up. We can create a more secure America. We can deal with people's angst and their fears. That's the -- that's the way to win.
And, gosh, Donald Trump is not that guy. He's a-- he's a great entertainer for sure. And we've spent now ten minutes of having an interesting conversation about him, and that's the way it works right now. But at the end of the day, people want to know, "How is my income going to be lifted up? The student debt that I have on my back, how can it -- how can it change so that I have a chance to get a job? What are you going to do about dealing with ISIS? What are you going to do about rebuilding the military?"
Those are the issues in town-hall meetings, where real people have a chance to ask questions. That's what they ask. In that realm he does not fare well.
BLITZER: Those are excellent questions. And we'll, of course, have opportunities to ask those questions.
But Trump keeps raising questions about Ted Cruz and his natural-born citizenship eligibility to be president of the United States. Do you believe that Ted Cruz is a natural-born U.S. citizen?
BUSH: I do, but I'm also a little bit more concerned about $1.2 trillion of debt that exists on the back of students that's doubled since the Obama administration has expropriated the student loan program.
And I've offered a proposal to eliminate the student loan program and replace it with an income repayment system that is more flexible and more focused on the 21st needs of young people. And across the spectrum of policy, we've offered detailed plans. Ultimately that's what matters a lot more than this he said/she said stuff that's going on right now.
BLITZER: Let's talk about a major issue out there right now in foreign policy right now. It's very, very disturbing. I know you're passionate on this issue, as well.
There are reports that ISIS now has razed, has destroyed the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq, St. Elijah's in Mosul. ISIS, as you know, has specifically been killing thousands of Iraqi Christians, displacing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians. Christians used to have a beautiful community in Iraq for hundreds and hundreds of years, but that community is now in danger.
As far as bringing in Iraqi Christians into the United States as refugees, you're open to that, I assume, right?
BUSH: I am open to that, because Christians cannot go to these refugee camps, because it's not safe for Christians.
Anywhere in the Middle East right now, religious minorities are -- will either be enslaved, raped or beheaded if they're in controlled -- in ISIS-controlled territories.
It is a tragedy that mass is not given now in Mosul for the first time in 1,500 years. And I think the question is but for us who? Who but the United States will stand on behalf of those that are being killed because of their faith?
So, yes, I think there's a distinction between oppressed Christians that will die if they stay in place. And I think there should be some special treatment for that.
Ultimately, we need to deal with the refugee crisis in -- by dealing with -- destroying the caliphate. And I'm the candidate that has laid out the detailed plan to do that. I'm honored to have the support of Lindsey Graham, because he, too recognizes that we have to take this fight to ISIS in the caliphate rather than wait for an attack on our own country.
BLITZER: All of us are outraged by what's going on. The Christians are not only in Iraq but Syria and elsewhere, as well.
Governor, thanks very much for joining us.
BUSH: Thank you. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: A quick programming note: later tonight, 10 p.m. Eastern on "CNN TONIGHT," Don Lemon will be interviewing Donald Trump.
Coming up, a new warning from the Pentagon, more U.S. troops may have to go to Iraq to help prepare for a major offensive against ISIS.
We're also keeping our eye on the weather forecast. A major storm could bury millions of Americans under heavy snow and bring travel to a standstill.
BLITZER: A government watchdog report says the private e-mail server that Hillary Clinton used while she was secretary of state contained classified intelligence, some of it rated beyond top secret. Clinton's campaign is disputing that assessment. Let's get some more from our justice reporter, Evan Perez.
[17:31:04] What's the latest, Evan, you're hearing?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what we're talking about are some of the most sensitive programs in the U.S. government. They're classified, and there's a special -- there's a special access program above classified. And according -- according to the inspector general for the intelligence community, there were dozens of such e- mails that were found on the private server that was owned by Hillary Clinton.
Now, the question remains what exactly are these e-mails? We still do not know. They may simply be someone forwarding a newspaper article on programs that we've all reported on. For instance, if someone has carried out -- if the CIA has carried out a drone strike in Pakistan, this is a program that is still considered highly classified by the U.S. government, even though we've all reported on it. Still do not know exactly what these e-mails contain.
And for the Clinton campaign, they say that it absolutely has nothing to do with -- with her sending any sensitive e-mails on the server. And it really amounts to what -- this entire controversy that began back in August, Wolf, when the inspector general first referred this to the FBI.
We know the FBI is still investigating this issue. And we'll wait to see what -- what they find.
BLITZER: We certainly will. All right, Evan, thanks very much.
Joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM, CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston; and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Mark, Hillary Clinton just addressed this question about these top- secret-plus e-mails that supposedly were found on her private server in an interview with NPR.
Listen to this.
Well, let me read it to you. "How a 'New York Times' public article that goes around the world could be in any way viewed as classified or the fact that it would be sent to other people off of the 'New York Times' site I think is one of the difficulties that people have in understanding what this is all about."
Having said all of that, how troublesome is this whole e-mail question, the private server to her campaign?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: It's extremely troublesome in the fact it's something we continue to talk about; it has been dogging her campaign now for months and months and months. And look, if she's able to get through the primary, she's able to beat Bernie Sanders, it's going to continue into the general election. Republicans are going to try to use it to batter her and say that she's untrustworthy.
Whether there's anything there, who knows? We'll have to wait and see if there's any legal angle. Jeffrey can speak to that directly, but politically, it's not a good thing to have, heading into a primary and, certainly, a general election.
BLITZER: You were once a U.S. -- a U.S. prosecutor, Jeffrey. I want to play for you and for our viewers what Donald Trump had to say about this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know if Hillary's going to make it. She may not make it with the voters. She may not make it legally.
And you notice how positive she is about the president? You know why, right? You know why? She wants to stay out of the clink. That's why. OK? Believe me, that's why. She's a hundred -- I mean, every single thing, "Oh, the president's wonderful." She never thought the president was wonderful before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you think, Jeffrey?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the real issue here, is the FBI going to move against her? Is there going to be a prosecution? And that issue is based on Hillary Clinton's intent.
Now, what her campaign has been saying all along is that none of the information on her server was marked classified, had classified markings on it. Now, under the rules, information can still be classified, even though it's not marked classified. And that's what appears to be the conclusion of the people who've looked at these documents after the fact.
The FBI almost certainly will not prosecute her if she is simply dealing with information that, after the fact, turns out to be classified.
If there is information that she knew or should have known was classified and turns out -- and she turns out to have sent that around in an unclassified way, then potentially, she's in a lot of trouble. But we don't know that that's the case. And there is no evidence that she did use classified information in an improper way.
[17:35:14] BLITZER: Mark, in our new CNN/WMUR poll in New Hampshire, Democrats in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders, the senator, 60 percent; Hillary Clinton, 33 percent, almost -- he's doing almost twice as well as Hillary Clinton is.
But then the question is asked: which Democratic candidate is least honest? Hillary Clinton 55 percent, O'Malley 5 percent, Sanders only 2 percent. Not sure, 36 percent. The whole questions of the e-mail, other issue seems to be hurting her, even among Democratic primary voters, potential ones, in New Hampshire.
PRESTON: It is. And she's handicapped by one of her greatest strengths. One of her greatest strengths is that she's known by the Democratic Party, and she's known by grassroots activists. She's been on the Democratic Party and certainly one of the strongest building blocks.
Having said that, when you are in the public spotlight and you are a politician, you are going to see your negatives go up and your positives go down.
When she was the secretary of state, if we remember, her favorability rate at that point as a person was extremely high. When she came back as a politician, it started to go low. But when we had the e-mail server constantly in the headlines, that is going to chip away at your credibility with Democratic voters.
But that doesn't mean that she's still not the frontrunner right now for the nomination. Because in many ways she is. She's just doing poorly in New Hampshire, and quite frankly, Sanders is doing well in Iowa. BLITZER: Mark Preston, Jeffrey Toobin, guys, stand by. We want to
let our viewers know about a big event that's coming up Monday night in Iowa. It will be seen only here on CNN. Exactly one week before the Iowa caucuses, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley will go face-to-face in a CNN Democratic presidential town hall live from Des Moines that Chris Cuomo will moderate. It's a unique opportunity for Iowans to ask questions of the three Democratic presidential candidates. That's Monday night, 9 p.m. Eastern, live only here on CNN.
Coming up, the Pentagon chief says more boots are needed on the ground in Iraq to help Iraqi forces get ready for a major offensive against ISIS. But the terror group is opening a new front in yet another country.
And 50 million Americans are bracing for a blizzard. It could be a storm of historic scale. Airlines already scrambling to prepare.
BLITZER: The Pentagon says the United States and its allies may need to send more troops to Iraq to help Iraqi forces get ready for a major military offensive against ISIS. But there's also growing concern over the new front ISIS has opened in Libya.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
Barbara, Iraq first. We're talking about, what, more boots on the ground for the U.S.?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it almost certainly will mean just that. The biggest test of the U.S. effort is about to come.
STARR (voice-over): There may be up to 10,000 ISIS fighters keeping an iron grip on Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. Now hundreds of additional U.S. and coalition troops could soon be nearby.
COL. STEVE WARREN, SPOKESMAN, OPERATION The reason we need new trainers or additional trainers is because that's really the next step in generating amount of combat power needed to liberate Mosul.
STARR: The U.S. and Iraqi government calculate 24,000 highly trained Iraqi forces are going to be needed to dislodge the terror group and retake the city.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter urging other nations to contribute more troops at a Paris meeting.
ASH CARTER, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I will not hesitate to engage and challenge current and prospective members of the coalition as we go forward.
STARR: But while the battle for Mosul looms, ISIS is working to build a new power center in Libya. A senior U.S. defense official tells CNN fighters are increasingly going there when they can't get into Syria, and others are traveling there from Syria to avoid coalition airstrikes.
In November the first U.S. airstrike against ISIS in Libya killed Abu Nabil, a senior operative. Tonight CNN has learned the U.S. Is privately pressing the allies to consider new action against hundreds of ISIS fighters now in Libya, even as more continue to stream in. The U.S. is already looking at more drone operations.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CHIEF MILITARY: The threat in Libya, the classic failed state is growing by leaps and bounds. In essence what ISIS has done is they've transferred their operations from Syria and Iraq into Libya.
STARR: the U.S. Doesn't think ISIS will fully abandon Syria, but the worry now: ISIS will make a grab for Libya's oil, because the organization needs cash. Newly-released video shows the U.S. Bombing this ISIS money storage site near Mosul, the ninth time cash sites have been hit. Tens of millions in currency destroyed, the U.S. believes.
ISIS is now moving money around to smaller, more disperse sites. And in what appears to be a leaked document issued by ISIS, the group says it's cutting the salary of its fighters in half. The statement reads, "No one is excluded."
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't pay the troops, the troops wander off.
STARR: And in Afghanistan now U.S. troops for the first time have been given the authority to directly go on the offensive and attack ISIS fighters in Afghanistan.
[17:45:06] Now it has been declared a foreign terrorist organization in that country. That paves the way for this additional U.S. action -- Wolf.
BLITZER: ISIS clearly spreading from the Middle East to North Africa to South Asia. This is a very worrisome development, Barbara, thank you.
ISIS fighters, they are also taking a cue from the popularity of online dating websites to recruit Western women as brides with powerful propaganda promising romance and an idyllic life. But for hundreds of women who've already traveled to Iraq and Syria, those dreams are quickly shattered.
CNN's Brian Todd is working this story for us.
Brian, this is also a very disturbing development.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very disturbing indeed, Wolf. Tonight counterterrorism officials are again focused on ISIS recruiting. And what's getting a lot of their attention tonight is the recruitment of young women to be ISIS brides.
The recruiters themselves are often women. And some of them draw on what they claim are their own personal experiences to lure others.
TODD (voice-over): She writes in flowery detail of her first meeting with her future husband.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After a few minutes, I flipped my niqab, he looked at me. Our eyes catch each other's. I had palpitations that's faster than the speed of light.
TODD: This is a blog written by a woman who calls herself Shams, and goes by the handle "Bird of Jana." Analysts say this blog is a recruitment tool for ISIS targeting mostly women in a Match.com style.
PROF. MIA BLOOM, AUTHOR, "DYING TO KILL": Where it's about romance, it's about the perfect life, it's about making everything bad in their past go away because now they're going to have the perfect future.
TODD: Experts say there's even a catch phrase circulating, "jihotties."
KATHERINE BROWN, LECTURER IN ISLAMIC STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: The jihotties refers to men who are displaying their masculinity, showing what heroes they are and how amazing they are as good Muslim men who appeared, who are willing to fight.
TODD: It's part of an explosion of online recruiting for ISIS that's eye-catching and inviting. Young women are promised free housing, health care, cars. Men are promised beautiful brides, true to the faith. And in many cases it seems to be working.
It's been estimated that more than 500 Western women have left their families to travel to Syria and Iraq and join ISIS.
(On camera): Part of what entices them is the glossy presentation online, right?
LORENZO VIDINO, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY PROGRAM ON EXTREMISM: Yes. It appeals to the demographic, which is people in their teens, early 20s. So it's a presence online, on the platforms that people of that age use, Instagram, Twitter. But it's also very well done. It's a lot of pictures, not a lot of words.
TODD (voice-over): Analysts say when the women actually get to ISIS controlled territory, they're placed in female dorms for indoctrination. Often don't have a choice of who they marry and in reality they say housing, water and electricity are scarce. The stories often don't end well.
A U.S. counterterrorism official tells CNN ISIS' use of foreign fighters as, quote, "cannon fodder," suggests many of these marriages will be short lived. It's a badge of honor for a woman to be widowed, but then -- BLOOM: In many ways it's hugely disappointing because the women are
treated like chattel. They are gifted to the foreign fighters and then they are recycled when the first husband dies they'll be recycled again.
TODD: Western officials are trying to entice young people, especially young women, to return home. One police commissioner in Britain says as long as they're not connected to terrorist offenses they can return to their families. But analysts say ISIS has issued so-called fatwas to prevent young brides from leaving. If they try to leave or someone helps them leave, experts say that is a sin punishable by death.
Wolf, it is very tough for young women to get out of that situation once they're in it.
BLITZER: ISIS is offering these young women another incentive to have children.
TODD: That's right. They're trying to cultivate the next generation of the caliphate. Analysts say they often offer a woman a certain amount of money each month for every child that she has. It's almost like a jihadist welfare system. But with the news this week, Wolf, that ISIS is cutting the salaries of some foreign fighters, clearly they're having trouble keeping some of those promises.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. That's a really worrisome report. Thank you so much.
Coming up, major winter storm is bearing down on 50 million people. And for many it will be a blizzard of historic proportions, we're told. We'll have the latest forecasts just ahead.
And Sarah Palin hits the campaign trail with Donald Trump. And she's all fired up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Are you ready for a commander-in-chief? You ready for a commander-in-chief who will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS ass?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Fifty million Americans are bracing for snow as the odds are growing that a major storm will hit the mid Atlantic states and the northeast starting Friday, and the Washington, D.C. area could be slammed by a blizzard of historic proportions.
Let's go live to our meteorologist Tom Sater at the CNN Weather Center. What's the latest forecast, Tom? TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, unfortunately, Wolf, whether
records in D.C. go back to 1884 and that 132-year period there's only been three storms that have dropped 18 inches or more. If this doesn't get in the top three I think it could surpass it. Blizzard watch in yellow. Look at all of the area of concern in blue. This is a winter storm watch. They'll all going to change to warnings in the next couple of hours.
Now we have a precursor event. Just a little dusting on the radar just to let you know, hey, old man winter is serious here, prepare and get ready. The storm is moving out of Colorado. Until it really forms, we won't know the track but computer models have been consistent like I've never seen before. Significant icing shapes up tomorrow in Arkansas, western Tennessee, southern Missouri.
[17:55:05] We're going to see significant ice then set up across the commonwealth of Kentucky, maybe a third to half inch of ice in the Carolinas but the snow fall projects easily one to two feet across Virginia and then the winds picking up gusting to 50, 55, 60 miles per hour, Wolf.
We could easily see some of the models want to drop 32 inches in the D.C. area. 65 million Americans under this concern. We could see well over a million lose power for several days.
SATER: This is serious.
BLITZER: It's very serious, indeed. We'll stay on top of this story as well.
Tom Sater, thank you.
Coming up, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump hits the campaign trail with Sarah Palin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: How about the rest of us, right-wing and bitter clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our daughter, and our religions and our Constitution. Tell us that we're not red enough? Yes, coming from the establishment. Right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)