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SMERCONISH

Epic Snowstorm Hits Eastern Corridor; Gov. Cuomo Declares State of Emergency; Interview with Bob Dole; Interview with John Kasich; Interview with Art Garfunkel. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 23, 2016 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:00:13] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish.

Right behind me, out the window is Columbus Circle, in the center of midtown Manhattan. As you can see, or maybe barely see, the storm has hit here full force. Big snow, big news today.

I'll have the latest on this epic snowstorm that's paralyzing the northeast. Leaving eight dead and 9400 flights cancelled as well as updates on several big stories.

My exclusive reporting continues on the legal mess in Bill Cosby's criminal prosecution in Pennsylvania. And the newest reason why it may all fall apart.

Plus, the rift in the GOP exploded into civil war this week and 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole is here to explain his dislike for Ted Cruz and where he stands on the rest this year's hopefuls.

And a classic Simon & Garfunkel song turned into a memorable Bernie Sanders ad. I've got Art Garfunkel here to talk about it.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SMERCONISH: First, the latest on this brutal snowstorm, dumping 18 to 40 inches of snow in the northeast that has already caused eight deaths and the cancellation of 9400 flights, leaving 160,000 people without power. Ten states and the District of Columbia have declared states of emergency. To give you the sense of the scale we're talking about, Virginia State police reports last night, they responded to 989 traffic crashes. There are 33 million living in areas under blizzard warnings.

Kentucky state police working to free travelers stuck on Interstate 75 on top of everything else. Now tides on the rise putting shore towns at risk. Joining me now, CNN's Boris Sanchez on the Jersey Shore. Boris, what's the very latest?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael, good morning to you. There is some serious flooding here. This is Margate City, just south of Atlantic City, we're on Vidmer Avenue. Very rapidly this entire area has come under water. We are standing at a harbour that's about three or four blocks from here. Not very far at all and within minutes, water overtook that harbour coming into this area of the town. You can see businesses all around. Some of them were smart enough to put sandbags up. Many of them did not.

We asked the neighbour yesterday why that was, a man that had been here for Sandy. He said that the water is going to do what the water's going to do the sandbags don't help that much. Right now, we can't really tell the extent of the damage and whether or not the sandbags are helping. Certainly, is this a precarious, dangerous situation. I've seen at least two cars come down the street, stop and turn around and go back. There's another car down the street that's approaching very slowly. It appears to be a police vehicle. But this water is not going anywhere. It's moving ice sheets down the street. And it's continuously moving closer and closer into the city.

I should tell you we're basically between two giant pools of water. To the east, it's the Atlantic Ocean. To the west, there's a bay. So this is a barrier island. As this water keeps moving in from the bay, it's going to be very difficult how this entire island may not get flooded, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Boris, of course, you mentioned the Jersey Shore to me, because I grew up in that area, generally speaking, spent all of my summers there. We immediately think of Superstorm Sandy. How does this compare?

SANCHEZ: It's very difficult to compare the two. Superstorm Sandy came toward the end of October. There was much less precipitation for this storm. I think in general, superstorm Sandy was about two feet more water than what we're seeing now. So, even though this could have the potential to cause a lot of damage to some businesses and vehicles and homes, it doesn't really stack up to that level of Superstorm Sandy where we saw devastation for many, many miles and a recovery that took years.

SMERCONISH: When is the next high tide?

SANCHEZ: Well, it comes every 12 hours. The last one that we saw is just before the water peaked over the harbor. That was at roughly 7:40 a.m. or so. You can expect another one coming this afternoon. And, again, the ocean areas are not as big of a concern because there's plenty of room between - you know, where the waves are crashing and homes but it's really the bay. The inlets, where there's nowhere for water to go but to continue to come in to these neighborhoods. Moving ice around and potentially causing a lot of trouble.

SMERCONISH: Boris Sanchez, thank you.

[09:05:00]

Right now, there's a serious situation on Interstate 75, heading north in Rockland County, Kentucky. There's at least a 17-mile backup on that highway. Thousands of people are stranded, many people stranded since 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time yesterday afternoon. They're beginning to move, we're told, but slowly. On the phone with me is April Gilliam-Montesinos who has been on that highway for 2o hours in the car is her diabetic husband, her husband, and her two children, one of whom is just four years old. They've run out of food. They've run out of water.

April, thank you for being here. Most importantly, how's your dad?

APRIL GILLIAM-MONTESINOS, STRANDED: He's good. We're actually moving - actually, we're on 75 south - I'm sorry, north. And we're almost - we're completely out of that. We're going the normal speed now. A lot of the road is actually cleared. We just got out of that probably 15 minutes ago. The roads were pretty bad.

To me, it seemed like they didn't plow all night last night. They just started doing it this morning.

SMERCONISH: I'm a father of four. How were the kids and how did you keep them calm? Give us the secret.

GILLIAM-MONTESINOS: My 14-year-old, she pretty much wanted to go home and my four-year-old played on her tablet most of the time. She's pretty good and then she sleeps. (INAUDIBLE) about 4:30. (INAUDIBLE) Everybody else is pretty good.

SMERCONISH: Did you keep the car running? I mean, what did you do to protect yourself and at the same time make sure you didn't run out of gas?

GILLIAM-MONTESINOS: We did. We kept it running. We would turn it off a little bit and then when we got cold, we will turn it back on. But we didn't run out. We had a whole full tank of gas, were just a little bit under a full tank. So we did really good on gas.

SMERCONISH: When you're stranded for 20 hours on a roadway like that surrounded by other motorists, I guess I'm kind of wondering, what is the drill? Do you get out of your car and talk to other folks?

GILLIAM-MONTESINOS: We did. My dad got out. We had to walk around. I got out, and had to walk around because after sitting there so long, your legs get stiff. We got out and walked around. (INAUDIBLE) of course.

SMERCONISH: April, we're thrilled that you're moving. We're thrilled that you're all safe. We wish you godspeed in getting home.

GILLIAM-MONTESINOS: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

The political fallout of the storm has created at least two huge stories. The Hillary Clinton e-mails that were supposed to be released and resolved the questions hanging over her have now been delayed because D.C. shut down early Friday.

Also how politicians respond to storms can make or break careers. This storm forced New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to scramble. First, he said he was staying in New Hampshire to campaign for president and leave the situation to his lieutenant governor. Then he decided to return home and was attacked for flip-flopping. Here he is yesterday on CNN talking about coming back to New Jersey for the storm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So the reporting that I wasn't coming back was fully inaccurate and didn't put into effect the words that I used. Am I coming home? I have no plans to come home. The circumstances got worse and clarified.

As soon as it did, I came home. But if the storm blew out to sea and I came home, I'd look pretty stupid. So, the fact is you make the decision when you have clarity on what the circumstances are going to be. I had clarity this morning at 11:00 after that briefing, that the storm was going to come here and was going to be of some measure of significance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Joining me now, the author of a new book about Governor Christie is titled "American Governor." He was part of the team whose coverage of Bridge-gate won a Peabody Award. I speak of Matt Katz. He's covered Chris Christie for the "Philadephia Inquirer" and public radio.

Matt, welcome. As you well know, it was his handling of Superstorm Sandy that I would argue that led to such a strong re-election for Governor Christie, meaning he did so well in the eyes of residents of the garden state in that issue, I'm sure that's why he came home for this one, meaning he knew he had to get ahead of it?

MATT KATZ, NEW JERSEY POLITICAL EXPERT: That's certainly right. He was talking about his leadership after Sandy on the stump in New Hampshire. So it just made political sense for him to drive down from New Hampshire back to New Jersey, last night before the first snowflakes hit the ground so he can demonstrate sort of the same leadership he did after Sandy even if the storm is not on par with that one, the worst New Jersey ever seen in the district.

SMERCONISH: The front page of "The New York Times" today and other publications. This one noting that Governor Christie spent 191 full days out of New Jersey last calendar year because he's running for president. Has that caught up with him on a local level at home?

KATZ: Absolutely. His approval ratings are down in the 30s. They were up in the 70s after Superstorm Sandy. There's just a lot less governance going on in the state right now. There's several cabinet members that are serving in acting capacities. There's a missing supreme court justice. There's a seat empty in the Supreme Court, Christie hasn't even nominated anybody. So people in New Jersey have noticed.

[09:10:16] They've noticed he's not around as much. That was another reason he really just had to come home. I mean the story about him missing from New Jersey was starting to seep into the national consciousness in getting up to New Hampshire. And he's making the most of it. I mean, he came home, but he's doing a media blitz while here. Obviously, he was on your airwaves earlier today. Not only talking storm response. Also talking a little bit about the election. So, he's going to use this time, that the northeast is crippled right now, he's going to use this time to get out there as much as possible to try to reclaim the image that he is in charge of New Jersey.

SMERCONISH: It could ultimately be to his political advantage if he's perceived as being a strong leader in this instance as he was with Superstorm Sandy. Let me talk about the democratic side of the aisle, Matt Katz, because I mentioned, and this is a CNN story, after misplacing about 7,000 of pages of documents for several months the State Department is now asking a federal judge for more time to release former Secretary of state Hillary Clinton's e-mails blaming the blizzard currently slamming Washington.

I'm sure that's not going to go over well on the Republican side of the aisle. Folks will say this is just further delay and (INAUDIBLE) Iowa caucus attendees and those participating in the New Hampshire primary don't see those e-mails until after they've cast their ballots?

KATZ: For sure, she's going to face a lot of criticism, as will the Obama administration over this from Republicans. But I don't see it necessarily hurting her in the democratic primary. This hasn't been a huge issue. Bernie Sanders hasn't really been talking about it. But you're going to hear Republicans gripe about it. You're going to hear reporters gripe about it.

I mean this is something I've experienced before, government officials blame weather for why they can't provide documents or information. You know, they can get around, they can use the weather to their political advantage. And that's going to be the criticism here. But I don't think it will matter too much for her immediate issue which is getting through the democratic primary.

SMERCONISH: I think it's a fair question to ask, why a one-day, maybe two-day storm necessitates a 30-day delay in the release of those e- mails. And I would argue she's not well served by it. And the party is not well served by it. Because if there's anything there, best it be discussed before Americans cast their ballots.

Anyway, the book on Governor Christie is titled "American Governor." Matt Katz, thank you so much for being here.

KATZ: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: For more developments on blizzard conditions throughout the hour and weekend, stay tuned right here.

Still to come, new reasons why the criminal prosecution of Bill Cosby may fall apart. An update on my exclusive reporting and the GOP is being torn apart over who is worst for the party, Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.

I'm going to ask former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole what he thinks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:16:19]

SMERCONISH: I have news now about the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby in suburban Philadelphia. As you may recall, it's my hometown. I'm an attorney there and I'm in close contact with some key figures on both sides of the case.

Here, last Saturday, I broke the news that three months before Cosby was charged with sexual assault in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, the former district attorney e-mailed his successor to warn her against charging Bill Cosby.

The former DA Bruce Castor said that back in 2005 he made a deal with Cosby's lawyers promising not to charge the comedian if he agreed to testify fully in the civil case against him. Castor has said that he made that deal because he didn't believe he could meet the criminal burden beyond a reasonable doubt but that he wanted to help Andrea Constad get justice in a civil suit.

That's unusual, especially when it's not in writing. But such a deal would be an explanation as to why Cosby incriminated himself in the deposition with statements like this - question, when you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes with young women that you wanted to have sex with, Cosby's answer, yes.

Here's what's new, we learned that the D.A. who went on to charge Cosby last month, (INAUDIBLE) Fuhrman claims she had no knowledge of any such deal. Fuhrman who is now a judge responded to Bruce Castor's e-mail two days later by saying "the first I heard of such a binding agreement was your e-mail." And then there's Andrea's Constadt's attorney, who told me, she too, knew nothing of this deal to let Cosby off the hook.

Attorney Dolores Triani said it never happened. If it never happened I asked her why wouldn't the D.A. have charged Cosby at the time. She said she didn't want to speculate and then said, "back then, he'd have been taking on Dr. Huxtable, not the man portrayed in the media today."

So the D.A.s disagree and the accusers' lawyer says there was no deal. There will be a showdown coming up very soon when the only criminal charges Bill Cosby is facing anywhere could implode before trial. And this just in, just yesterday, the judge in the case declared this alleged agreement will be the only topic discussed at the initial hearing.

So circle the date, Tuesday, February 2nd. That's when all eyes will be on a courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Joining me now, local defense attorney William J. Brennan and civil rights attorney, Areva Martin. Bill Brennan, why do you think the judge, Judge O'Neil, decided this is the only thing he wants to hear on February 2nd?

WILLIAM J. BRENNAN, PHILADELPHIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Michael, because it's by far the most important issue in the three issues raised by Mr. Cosby's defense lawyers in the pretrial submission. If in fact, Mr. Castor made that deal and is willing and ready to testify in open court under oath that he made the deal and the deal was binding on his successors, this case to be over on date of that hearing.

SMERCONISH: But Areva Martin, I'm holding the letter that was sent by (INAUDIBLE) Furhman to Castor two days after his e-mail and she says, "hey, this is the first I'm hearing about it." How can a judge make a determination between competing district attorneys?

AREVA MARTIN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I have to tell you, Michael, with all due respect to the great lawyers in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania, I'm just shocked how messy this deal is. You have this really important agreement that was allegedly made by your former district attorney. And now you have your current district attorney and the then district attorney when the alleged deal was made both saying they knew nothing about it. You have Constand's lawyer saying she knew nothing about it.

[09:20:10]

You know as lawyers the first thing we want to see is where is the document. And apparently there is no document. It's a little mind- boggling to I think to the rest of the legal world and the public watching this as to how such an important doesn't exist. And how an agreement involving such incredible constitutional rights wasn't reduced to writing.

With that being said, I don't see how this judge can let this case move forward. The fundamental constitutional rights that Bill Cosby gave up, gave that testimony. Gave those statements. I don't see how he can ever get a fair trial if his very words are used against him in this criminal prosecution.

SMERCONISH: But, Bill Brennan, isn't the easier thing for the judge to say, "I 'm going to let a jury sort all this out. I'm not going to be the one to cut it short here."

BRENNAN: The easy thing may be to do that. But Judge O'Neal is not one to take the easy road. He has a long history -

SMERCONISH: You know him, you practiced in front of him?

BRENNAN: Absolutely. He was a fine lawyer when he practiced as a public defender in Montgomery County and he's a terrific innovative judge. He won't take the easy road. He'll take the road less traveled. And I predict that if Mr. Castor walks in that courtroom, frankly, Michael, with all due respect to his successors, (INAUDIBLE) now a judge who I have tremendous respect for, and Mr. Steele, it wasn't their call to make.

Mr. Castor was the chief local enforcement officer in Montgomery Country, he made an agreement not to prosecute. The law cited by Mr. Cosby's defense lawyers, ironically is civil law that governs this. It's contract law. The essence of a contract, it's valid as offer, acceptance and consideration. The consideration was Mr. Cosby on reliance upon this deal gave up the most valuable right that a United States citizen has. The right against self-incrimination. He can never get that back. That bell can never be unrung. And Judge O'Neal, I believe, has the intrepidity to enforce the deal that was made and throw this case out.

SMERCONISH: Areva, I want to ask you this. In the Castor e-amail, he said to his successor who was his first assistant, I'm paraphrasing, hey, I never did anything without you, you were always at my side. Then she writes back, I wasn't in this loop. How unusual that a first assistant, because you know the role of a first assistant to a district attorney. How unusual that a first assistant wouldn't have been in that loop?

MARTIN: Very unusual, Mike. Even going further than this, what she's also saying, is I never heard anything about this, and I was the person who had immediate and closest contact with Constand's attorney. So very contradictory statement from this first assistant to say she didn't know anything about this deal. It raises incredible credibility questions, about are we to believe. Are we to believe Castor who as William said, and I agree, had the authority to make these kinds of deals. Or are we to believe his first assistant who says I was dealing with this case on a day-to-day basis yet I had no knowledge or information about this alleged deal.

It puts all three of these D.A.s and former D.A.s in an incredibly precarious position. And most importantly, I'm thinking about the citizens in this county who are to rely upon deals and statements made by their prosecutors. Now we have this mess really where no one is to be believed because we have these contradictory statements. So a lot for this judge to sort out on February 2nd.

SMERCONISH: It's really amazing and my takeaway is whichever of the two of these accounts the judge accepts will determine whether Bill Cosby faces any criminal charges anywhere in the United States.

Areva Martin, William J. Brennan, thank you so much for being here.

SMERCONISH: I'm sure we'll be talking again in the coming weeks.

BRENNAN: My pleasure. Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Up next, the latest on the mega snowstorm as it continues to blanket the eastern seaboard. And with the GOP race evolving into who is worse, Cruz or Trump, I'll ask Bob Dole to weigh in.

Plus, Bernie Sanders makes a grad great ad thanks to this classic Simon & Garfunkel song. Art Garfunkel is here and I'll ask him what he thinks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:28:22] SMERCONISH: A major winter storm continues its attack up the East Coast. 18 to 40 inches of snow at least eight dead, 9400 flights cancelled. Flooding on the Jersey Shore. And lots of plans upended.

Originally, it was thought that New York would not bear the brunt of the storm. But snowfall estimates here have now been upped significantly. For the latest, we go to CNN's Martin Savidge, downstairs, outside CNN here in Columbus Circle.

Martin, when I went to bed last night at about 9:00 p.m., nothing was happening, I thought well maybe we'll dodge the bullet here. But that's not the case.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, it's not even when I woke up at 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning made my way here, still not much snow. I thought, uh-oh, here was all this hype and maybe it's not going to deliver. Well, I'm eating my own words right now. In fact, unfortunately, much of the city of New York is facing now the brunt of this storm.

You're right. The forecast here has changed a lot. I'm not blaming anybody. I'm just saying that this is the storm that originally they thought maybe a few inches for New York City. Now, they've added maybe a foot or more. And it also seems to have caught civic leaders by surprise. I talked to the governor just a short while ago. And he broke the news that he's declaring a state of an emergency. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Well, martin, they upped the forecast on us to about 16 to 24 inches. So far, so good. The eye of the storm is supposed to hit New York about 11:00, and we're afraid the continuation start to deteriorate from there. I declared a state of emergency in New York this morning.

[09:30:03] The state of emergency gives the governor more control to contract, close roads, et cetera.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: The interesting thing about that, Michael, is that even though the governor says he's declared a state of emergency, there's actually been no formal documentation or press release coming from the governor's office to say that is in fact the case.

So, we'll be waiting and watching to see how it develops as we wait to see how this storm develops. You heard him say 11:00 a.m. is when he expects the eye to go by. This is very much kind of like a hurricane in that you've got the building of a storm and then the eye going over. At some point, it is going to end, I promise you that, Michael. But it's going to be a hard slog until it does.

SMERCONISH: Martin, what worries the governor the most?

SAVIDGE: You know, very much, he was concerned about the coastal flooding. I mean, we all, of course, can see the snow, and it's something you got to plow and it's something you've got to shovel. But water coming ashore, that is a really serious problem. It's a serious problem because of the destructive force that it delivers, but also, the long-term impact. We already know that from Sandy.

Now, this is not a Sandy-type situation by any means. But it is a problem, and in the winter, to have water come flooding into businesses and homes. It is a mess, it's miserable, and it is a long- term devastating problem. So, they're keeping on that very closely -- Michael.

SMERCONISH: Martin Savidge, thank you so much. I'll see you soon.

Now to politics and who's worse for the GOP, Ted Cruz or Donald Trump? That question divided the Republican Party this week. Terry Branstad, the governor of Iowa usually neutral slammed Cruz. And then "The National Review" took an editorial stand against Trump, so strong that the Republican Party dropped them, the magazine, as a co-sponsor of the debate upcoming in February.

I asked my SiriusXM Radio listeners on the POTUS Channel which candidate poses a greater risk to the Republican Party. They voted on my website at Smerconish.com, 61 percent said Ted Cruz, 39 percent said Donald Trump. More than 1,200 people have voted so far.

My next guest, 92-year-old Bob Dole, a longtime GOP heavyweight, was the first to jump into this fray.

Bob Dole was the former Senate majority leader from Kansas. The Republican Party's 1996 presidential nominee and the Iowa caucus winner in 1988 and 1996. And he joins me now on the telephone.

Senator, I hope you're riding out this storm?

BOB DOLE (R-KS), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER (via telephone): Oh, yes. I want to stay out of the storm's way and politicians' way.

SMERCONISH: Well, you didn't do that this week when you said that Ted Cruz would be cataclysmic for the GOP. How come?

DOLE: Well, I don't think Ted is a Republican. He's a conservative extremist. You know, he doesn't get along with anybody in the Senate or 54 Republicans and none are supporting him. And I don't believe the people in Iowa, the caucus-goers, are extreme conservatives.

I'm a Jeb Bush man. But if it comes down to Cruz and Trump, I'm a big Trump supporter.

SMERCONISH: Wow. Senator Dole, it became a "which is worse" this week, because you said that Ted Cruz would be cataclysmic for the Republican Party. And then a group of conservatives under the umbrella of "National Review" got together, and they said, it can't be Donald Trump.

Which of the two is worse? DOLE: We've got 25 senators running for re-election. And I think it

would be havoc to have Cruz as our nominee. I think we would lose senators, governors, state officers, state legislators, and members of Congress.

SMERCONISH: So, tell me how you see Donald Trump as president of the United States?

DOLE: Well, I see Donald -- Donald probably knows 20 senators, I don't know how many House members, and probably contributed to many of them on both sides of the aisle. But he would be able -- in my view, he has the right personality to work with members and make, as he said, let's make a deal.

I don't mean to give away the store. But sometimes, you have to compromise. I don't care how far right you are.

SMERCONISH: They've turned the word "establishment" into a dirty word in this cycle. Does Bob Dole think "establishment" is a dirty word?

DOLE: No, I've never had anybody come into my office and say, "I'm Joe from establishment." No. I don't know what the establishment is, except it means you've had experience.

SMERCONISH: Senator Dole, how do you explain Bernie Sanders' success on the other side of the aisle?

[09:35:00] DOLE: Well, they don't like Hillary. They don't trust her. They don't think she's honest. And everything she passes, she blames on Republicans.

And, Bernie, I don't -- I don't believe the Democrats will nominate a socialist. He's going to give her a scare in Iowa and New Hampshire. I don't know where it goes from there.

SMERCONISH: Hey, I'm sensing a spring in your step. I'm thinking Dole 2016.

DOLE: Yes, I thought if I got a little older I'd run again.

(LAUGHTER)

SMERCONISH: Hey, Senator, may I say one other important thing to you. I recently had the experience of touring the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. It's spectacular. I know that you still spend a lot of time there and that we have Bob Dole and others, but you're at the top of that list to thank for that national treasure.

So, thank you for your service. And also, thank you for what you did for other World War II veterans.

DOLE: Yes, well, I go down every Saturday and greet veterans all over the country. We can tell lies to each other because nobody is around to prove anything.

(LAUGHTER) SMERCONISH: Thank you, Senator Bob Dole.

DOLE: Good luck. Thanks, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Thank you, sir.

Great American, right? Wow.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, he's trending up in New Hampshire. It's a critical primary for him. Donald Trump leads in the Granite State. But several recent polls show Kasich in second place.

And this week, "The National Review" even touted him as a possible running mate for Trump, one who could make Trump more palatable to the establishment.

Governor Kasich joins me next.

Oh, right now. Pardon me. My mistake. I'm thrilled to have him now.

Hey, Governor, great to see you.

So, Ohio has dodged this bullet, but you know the role of a governor in a crisis like weather presents. What was the worst that you ever faced?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we -- I'll tell you one thing that really bothered me is we had tremendous heat. And we lost our power. And so, our seniors were trapped sometimes in high-rises with no power, no ability to use their oxygen. And we had -- we had to mobilize everyone from the National Guard. And we even -- we got students to be able to go up and make sure that we could check on people.

And it was, by and large, very successful. But there had been so many -- you know, when you're governor, you face so many different crises. And what you do is you plan ahead. We always plan ahead for weather that we think is coming, or anything else.

And the key is, you gain confidence. You stay calm. You build a good team and just monitor it until the time that the crisis has passed.

SMERCONISH: Governor, in Flint, Michigan, there's a lot of finger- pointing over the water problem. Government ineptitude is being blamed. As I watched those events unfold, I'm watching infrastructure.

I know it's a subject you've talked about. Is this not an example of our crumbling infrastructure? And what are you preparing to do about it?

KASICH: Well, look, I'm a believer, Michael that we should stop spending our money to Washington to manage infrastructure like our interstate. And I'm a believer that we ought to be able to keep those dollars right at home. Yes, we want to maintain the interstate. That will only take a couple pennies from each state. But the rest of the money can stay in the state to begin to deal with the crises that you have.

Also in our state, we were, you know, creative. We bonded against the tolls from our turnpike and we used the turnpike tolls to pay down the bonds, but it gave us an extra billion dollars, an extra billion dollars, to deal with things inside of our state.

And I think people just have to be creative, and oftentimes, the federal government will handcuff you and prevent you from doing things that you need to do to make sure that you can stay on top of this. So, a lot of this authority needs to be sent from Washington, from a small committee that divides up what we have, and a bunch of special interest with their snouts in trough back to the states. And I know in the states, special interests will put their snouts in the trough, but it's easier to get them out there when you're local than when they're far away.

SMERCONISH: Six polls this month say John Kasich is now in second position in New Hampshire. Our own CNN survey is an outlier, doesn't agree with that assessment. It would appear that independents in New Hampshire are rallying to your side. But as you get further into the process, it will be strictly Republicans that you have to appeal to.

Comment on the latest trends in your race in New Hampshire.

KASICH: Well, you know, we built this campaign, really, from the bottom up slowly. I'm going to -- by the end of business tomorrow, I will have done 75 town hall meetings, which is really remarkable.

[09:40:01] And, you know, the fact is, we have a great -- a great team on the ground. Former Senator Gordon Humphrey says it's the best ground game he's seen in 40 years.

And in a crowded field when you have people knocking on doors, when you have people making phone calls, when we touched a voter, that's really significant and I always felt that it would pay off. But, you know, we still have, I don't know, 17 days to go before we get here.

And, you know, in politics, anything did happen. It usually does. But we feel very, very good about where we are.

In this independent poll -- I haven't really looked at it but my folks have told me, we're actually among independent voters and there's a lot of independent voters that vote up here, I think it's as much as 40 percent of the turnout -- I'm actually at this point running even with Donald Trump, which is particularly interesting.

So, we'll see. It's a long way to go. But I'm having an absolute ball, Michael, talking about while our problems are serious, they're solvable. You know, I've seen so much.

I saw Reagan revive America. I watched him stabilize Social Security with Tip O'Neil. I watched the Berlin Wall fall down. We've got a budget deal where we pay down a half a trillion of the debt of which I was involved with. And then, in Ohio, we've had, you know, up now, over 400,000 jobs. I'm a believer that these things can be taken if we work together, if

we're Americans before we were Republicans and Democrats. And there's reason to be optimistic, greatly optimistic about the future of our country. And that's my message out here.

SMERCONISH: Governor, thanks so much for being here. We'll be back in touch soon.

KASICH: OK, Michael. Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Be sure to watch the Democratic presidential town hall. It's Tuesday night.

Coming up, it's the ad Charles Pierce of "Esquire" magazine said may be the best ever seen. The large part of it, the music, a heart- tugging Simon & Garfunkel classic "America". And Art Garfunkel is here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:45:41] SMERCONISH: Hey, I think I said Tuesday is the Iowa Democratic presidential town hall. That's a mistake. It's Monday. You'll want to be on CNN Monday for that.

The Bernie Sanders launched an ad this week for the Iowa primary that may actually change minds. Charles Pierce, the hard to please "Esquire" columnist, wrote, "It's so welcoming and positive that it makes the old Reagan 'Morning in America' ads look like death metal videos."

What sells is the imagery combined with that amazing timeless song from the 1968 album book ends by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

With so many trying to co-op classic rock songs, it's significant that they let it be used this way. And I am thrilled that Art Garfunkel -- that's a mouthful like Smerconish, right?

ART GARFUNKEL, "SIMON AND GARFUNKEL": Isn't it? Isn't it?

SMERCONISH: Yes, but we both keep our names, didn't we?

GARFUNKEL: We're Americans. We come from everywhere.

SMERCONISH: This is so cool, can we watch it together?

Let's roll the Bernie Sanders ad and watch it together.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS, BERNIE SANDERS AD)

SMERCONISH: The commercial.

GARFUNKEL: I like Bernie. I like his fight. I like his dignity and his stance.

I like this song.

SMERCONISH: You know, we're so used to hearing artists say I never gave permission for that song. You gave permission. Why?

GARFUNKEL: I think legally, finally, it comes down will you allow this. They come to Paul and me. It's the moment I say, am I Bernie guy? Yes, I am, you can use it.

SMERCONISH: Why a Bernie guy? Why not a Hillary person?

GARFUNKEL: I like that Bernie is very upset by the gap between the rich and the poor. I think that's central. The power of money to -- when Bernie says, Hillary gave a speech, he got $275,000 for that speech. You got to give a very good speech to earn that money. He's winking at we know the power of whoever backed her and she's beholden to them and that's how America works until somebody says, not with me.

SMERCONISH: Does the purpose of the song, if you read the liner notes, and I'm one who still know what is liner notes are, does it match the message of that commercial? Or is it that we just love seeing the faces and we love hearing "America"?

GARFUNKEL: I think we love hearing America. I don't think -- you know, so much of the news is what happened after the fact and making a story. I just acquiesced and let Bernie use my song that I'm so proud of. And, I don't know if there's a specific thing except for we've come to look for the country and we don't really know who we are.

We really know who we were. We're still working out what Alexander Hamilton was working out. How do we fuse in becoming United States and not southern planters who want states' rights? In the very Constitution, we're working out the fusion of the nation. We're still doing it.

SMERCONISH: When I think of you with Paul Simon, I think of brothers. Brothers usually get along. Not always do they get along.

Was this an easy call for the two of you? I mean, apparently you see eye to eye on Bernie Sanders?

GARFUNKEL: I guess we're both liberally -- we're liberals on our inclination, and so, yes.

SMERCONISH: The storm, you were able to make it here. We're right on Central Park. I can't look at Art Garfunkel without thinking of that iconic concert in 1982. Of course, the park is filled with snow today.

When you go by the park, snow or otherwise, do you think about that day?

GARFUNKEL: Well, I'm right near the big oval, the big lawn where I put up the stage. When I walk my 10-year-old Beau into the park and I say, this is where daddy had this very big night, honey.

[09:50:02] Picture the whole oval, filled with people and in the trees. I get a memory of that great night, finest night of my work life.

SMERCONISH: My stage manager Jay was there, but he only remembers 30 percent of it. I'm not sure why, but we might want to ask him.

Do you anticipate getting increasingly active as this unfolds or is Art Garfunkel done by saying you, Bernie, may use the song "America"?

GARFUNKEL: Well, it's a tough question. If I say the latter, I'm disappointing the Bernie Sanders people, but it all started with my acquiescence to the fact that Bernie wants to use that lovely song.

SMERCONISH: Their idea, not yours?

GARFUNKEL: Yes.

SMERCONISH: It's not like Art said or Paul said, "Hey, guys, this is a hell of a song"?

GARFUNKEL: It's their idea. I say yes. Now we'll see what happens next.

SMERCONISH: Jon Anderson from Yes among many, many others covers this song. Is there a particular cover before we leave that you like apart from what you did?

GARFUNKEL: Of "America"?

SMERCONISH: Yes.

GARFUNKEL: Not that I know of. No.

SMERCONISH: Only Simon and Garfunkel?

GARFUNKEL: Well, I like our version, I love ending. I thought I hit a high upper suspension at the end.

SMERCONISH: Very cool to have you here. Thank you.

GARFUNKEL: Thanks, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Art Garfunkel, safe travels home.

Up next, the latest on the storm and a look at the flooding going on down at the Jersey Shore.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:55:01] SMERCONISH: Now the latest on this brutal snowstorm dumping 18 to 40 inches of snow in the Northeast. Tides are on the rise putting shore towns at risk.

We go back to CNN's Boris Sanchez in Margate, New Jersey, where we saw earlier flooding.

What's the latest, Boris?

SANCHEZ: Michael, somehow, the water continues to move and rise and pull ice sheets with it. There's a lot of ice out on the street right now. As you can see, we're standing on Vintner Avenue. This is in Margate

City, just south of Atlantic City. This was an area that was hard hit by Sandy.

And they're very different elevations on this barrier island. Some parts it appears that the water is subsided, that there's not as much water. Obviously here on Vintner Avenue, it is pretty high and it continues moving as it carries ice and debris down with it.

There are some police officers down the street, but it does not appear that the street is closed. I just saw two cars passing through here, so people are braving the elements to try to come to a grocery store that's right here behind us, a convenience store. Probably a better idea to stay home considering the wind continues to pick up.

A short while ago the snow had slowed down. Now it's like a rain, slushy mix. But, again, the high winds are really the problem here, specifically with power lines. Power lines are brought down, that would create major problems. Not apparent that this is going to be taken care of and cleaned up in the next couple of hours, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Boris Sanchez, thank you for the report. Stay safe.

Everybody else, stay safe. I'm headed home to Philly, maybe.

CNN's continuing coverage picks up in just a moment.