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THE SITUATION ROOM

Cruz Mocks New Trump Allegations; Clinton, Sanders Spar Over 'Progressive' Label; Sanders Weighs in on Debate Prep; Fatal Blast Aboard Airliner. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 3, 2016 - 17:00   ET

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


SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- it appears they're treating this more as a public relations crisis than they are as a public health crisis, and that's something that the people are very aware of, too.

[17:00:09] JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Very upsetting. Sara Ganim, thank you so much.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I'm Jake Tapper. Tweet the show, @TheLeadCNN. That's it for "THE LEAD." Turning it over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Trumper tantrum. That's how Senator Ted Cruz describes Donald Trump today in what's become an all- out war. And now Dr. Ben Carson is being drawn into the fray. Trump throws away his subdued tone accusing Cruz of stealing the Iowa caucuses. Cruz is heaping insults on Trump's claim, and now Carson is chiming in, as well.

Progressive enough? Just hours before tonight's CNN town hall, a bitter personal fight erupts over what Hillary Clinton stands for. Senator Bernie Sanders says she's only progressive on some days. Clinton says she's disappointed with Sanders and is defending her record. My interview with Sanders, that's ahead this hour.

And blast on board. Stunning pictures of the chaos onboard an airliner after an in-flight explosion blew a hole in the side of an airliner. One passenger was sucked out and died. Miraculously, the plane landed safely. Sources tell CNN investigators have confirmed explosive residue. So who's behind this horror?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

We're following breaking news on both sides of the presidential race. Donald Trump is accusing Ted Cruz of stealing the Iowa caucuses by fraud, letting caucus workers spread false reports that Dr. Ben Carson was dropping out of the race. This afternoon, Cruz dismissed the accusation -- and I'm quoting now -- as a Trumper tantrum.

And Carson compared the spectacle to ancient Rome citizens watching gladiators fight while the nation fell apart. While the Republicans brawl, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders are getting personal. Clinton says she's disappointed in Sanders for questioning her record

as a progressive. Sanders says just look at that record and her timing. Both candidates face the voters in a CNN town hall tonight.

We're also getting new information about that explosion that blew open an airliner in flight. One passenger died after either falling or getting sucked out of the hole in the cabin.

Our correspondents are working sources close to the investigation, and our analysts and guests are standing by with full coverage of all the day's top stories.

Let's start with the increasingly nasty three-way fight among Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson. Our Jim Acosta is awaiting a Donald Trump rally in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Jim, what's Trump's latest accusation against Ted Cruz all about?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Donald Trump is back on the attack, accusing Ted Cruz of stealing the Iowa caucuses. Cruz fired back, saying Trump is acting out of desperation and throwing, as you put it earlier, and as the Texas senator put it, a Trumper tantrum.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump is demanding a do-over in Iowa. In a Twitter tirade, Trump says, "Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa; he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad."

The real estate mogul's accusations come just hours after discussing his gracious concession speech on Monday.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via phone): I decided to be a little bit more understated and statesman-like. Some people like that; some people don't.

ACOSTA: But Trump was clearly already stewing over false claims disseminated by the Cruz campaign, while people were caucusing on Monday that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race, a potential boost to the Texas senator.

TRUMP (on camera): When they said that Ben Carson was out of the race and come vote for him, I thought that was terrible.

ACOSTA: "Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa caucus," Trump tweeted, "either a new election should take place or Cruz's results nullified."

Cruz fired back. "Bernie Sanders is contesting Iowa results," he tweeted. "Maybe Donald should go back to Iowa and join the Democrats. Bet they'd love."

The Texas senator admitted his campaign made a mistake, then later dismissed his arch rival as having "a Trumper tantrum." SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is no surprise that

Donald is throwing yet another temper tantrum or, if you like, yet another Trumper tantrum. It seems his reaction to everything is to throw a fit, to engage in insults.

And I understand that Donald finds it very hard to lose, that he finds that very difficult for him. But at the end of the day, the Iowa people spoke.

Donald Trump guaranteed a victory in Iowa, and then he lost. You know, my girls are 5 and 7. And I've got to tell you, Caroline and Catherine are better behaved than a presidential candidate.

ACOSTA: The noise coming from the latest Trump-Cruz feud threatens to drown out the rest of the GOP field. Both Rand Paul and Rick Santorum announced they are dropping out of the race as a battle among the party's establishment contenders rages on. Marco Rubio is taking punches from both Chris Christie...

[17:05:18] GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hear Marco Rubio is here. Heck, he does, like, one event a day.

ACOSTA: And Jeb Bush.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He gave a victory speech in Iowa. He came in third. You can't -- you're not going to be coronated.

ACOSTA: Just what Rubio expected, he told CNN's NEW DAY.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Both Jeb and Chris have had a tough couple days and, obviously, sometimes people don't react well to adversity.

ACOSTA: Bush is struggling to gain traction not only in the polls but even in front of his own audiences.

BUSH: I think the next president needs to be a lot quieter but send a signal that we're prepared to act in the national security interests of this country, to get back in the business of creating a more peaceful world. Please clap.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now getting back to Donald Trump, he suggested on a radio show earlier today that he might file a lawsuit over what the Cruz campaign did in Iowa. When I asked the Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, whether or not that might actually happen, he said stay tuned.

And even though Trump is trying to make a comeback in New Hampshire, he is here in Arkansas tonight. And Corey Lewandowski said Donald Trump may well weigh in on this Cruz controversy one more time later on this evening, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're standing by, and we'll wait to hear what Donald Trump actually says over there where you are in Little Rock. Thanks very much.

Now to the Democrats. We're awaiting tonight's CNN Democratic town hall, where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they face New Hampshire's voters. It all comes just as they're sparring over whether Hillary Clinton is a real progressive.

Our Jeff Zeleny is joining us now from Derry, New Hampshire. That's where the town hall will take place. So how did all this start about this feud over whether she's progressive enough, shall we say?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it all started yesterday when someone asked Bernie Sanders if Hillary Clinton is a true progressive. He said, "Some days." Those two words have touched off the biggest, fiercest fight in this escalating Democratic race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to win!

ZELENY (voice-over): It's becoming a central question six days before the New Hampshire primary. Is Hillary Clinton a true progressive?

CLINTON: It was kind of a low blow when Senator Sanders said, in response to a question, "Well, you know, maybe she's a progressive on, you know, some days."

ZELENY: She was responding to Sanders, who questioned her progressive record.

SANDERS: Some days, yes. Except when she announces that she is a proud moderate. And then, I guess, she's not a progressive.

ZELENY: Their sharp exchanges exploded on Twitter. Clinton took exception, saying, "A 40-year record of progressive results boiled down to 'some days'."

Sanders quickly responded, pointing supporters to this Clinton speech last September in Ohio.

CLINTON: You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center. I plead guilty.

ZELENY: Sanders held his ground in an interview today with Wolf.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can be a moderate; that's fine. You can be a progressive. But you can't be a moderate and a progressive.

The second point, Wolf, is that most progressives I know really do not raise millions of dollars from Wall Street.

ZELENY: He said his rival has been far from progressive on trade, gay marriage and the war in Iraq.

SANDERS: I applaud the secretary for her work on kids and for many, many other areas, but I think in terms of comparing records, you're looking at the guy who took on Wall Street and opposed deregulation.

ZELENY: It's a deep rift, and Clinton fired back.

CLINTON: I think it was a good day for progressives when I helped to get 8 million kids health care under the Children's Health Insurance Program.

ZELENY: She said she's been fighting for progressive values for decades.

CLINTON: So I hope we keep it on the issues. Because if it's about our records, hey, I'm going to win by a landslide on Tuesday.

ZELENY: It's a fight likely to continue tonight, where both candidates face voters at the CNN presidential town hall in New Hampshire.

Sanders has long held a double-digit lead here, but Clinton is fighting hard with the help of that famous Comeback Kid who made it to the White House after winning here.

When asked if Sanders' surge minds him of Barack Obama, President Clinton didn't hesitate.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Barack Obama is not Bernie Sanders. Let's don't play cheap games here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Now, as President Clinton campaigns in South Carolina tonight, a sign that the Clinton campaign believes this race is going to continue from here, Bernie Sanders at this hour is holding a press conference here in New Hampshire. He is going to point out again that he believes Hillary Clinton is not a true progressive on trade.

So, Wolf, throughout the day he was offering issue after issue about why he believes this. So that is going to be the central question, the central focus tonight at that CNN town hall meeting -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jeff, thanks very much. Jeff Zeleny reporting.

Joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM, the press secretary for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, Brian Fallon.

Brian, thanks very much for joining us.

[17:10:03] BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Hi, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Let me play a little bit more of my interview that I did today with Bernie Sanders when he questioned Hillary Clinton's claims that she's a progressive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDERS: Most progressives that I know really do not raise millions of dollars from Wall Street. Most progressives that I know are firm from day one in opposition to the Transpacific Partnership, the TPP agreement. They didn't have to think about it a whole lot. They were opposed to the Keystone Pipeline from day one; didn't have to vacillate on that issue.

Most progressives historically were against the war in Iraq. Most progressives were against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act way back in 1996. Those are issues that, you know, Secretary Clinton has not been all that progressive about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: OK, Brian, so is she a progressive or is she a moderate?

FALLON: This is such a silly line of attack from Senator Sanders, Wolf.

You know, increasingly, we have seen Senator Sanders depart from the pledge he made at the beginning of this campaign to run as a different kind of candidate and steer clear of personal attacks. In the last couple weeks, you've seen him liken Hillary Clinton to Dick Cheney, which was a pretty low blow. You've seen him question her integrity when it comes to her commitment to financial reform.

And now he's questioning her commitment to progressive values when she spent her whole career fighting for women and children: working at the Children's Defense Fund right out of law school; on ensuring that schools in Alabama were desegregated; and registering Latinos across Texas; as first lady of Arkansas creating an early childhood education program; as the first lady of the United States, fighting for universal health care and, when that failed, getting 8 million kids insured through CHIP. This has been the cause of her life. And for her to come under question from Senator Sanders on her progressive values, it's -- it's chutzpah on Senator Sanders' part.

And to Senator Sanders' point, you know, I don't think it was very progressive for him to side with the NRA five different times, voting against the Brady Bill. I don't think it was very progressive of him to vote to give immunity to gun manufacturers. I don't think it was very progressive of him to allow guns to be brought onto Amtrak and in public parks.

But we've seen a consistent record on his part of supporting the NRA on issue after issue. I don't think that speaks to a very progressive record.

BLITZER: So will she go on the attack tonight if this continues during the CNN town hall?

FALLON: So, Wolf, I think that -- I actually don't think that this line of attack is going to be very successful for Senator Sanders. It doesn't ring true to voters in New Hampshire or elsewhere who know Hillary Clinton's commitment to these progressive causes.

I think it's just representative of the fact that, increasingly, the Sanders campaign has come under scrutiny, are not standing up that well in the spotlight. They're obviously doing well here in New Hampshire. They have a bit of a home-field advantage as a neighboring state senator.

But I think after our victory in Iowa earlier this week, a lot of the pundits are being questioning of what Senator Sanders' path is to the nomination in the long run, and I think that, increasingly, they're lashing out and trying different lines of attack on Hillary Clinton. I don't think this is going to ring true to the ears of voters.

BLITZER: The other main point that he makes, Bernie Sanders, about Hillary Clinton is that her campaign is funded by Wall Street. He says the super PAC that supports Hillary Clinton took in $15 million from Wall Street alone. First of all, is that true?

FALLON: Well, Wolf, we are proud to have support from millions of Democrats across the country.

And in terms of Wall Street, this line of attack is another one that is not going to hold water or ring true to the ears of Democratic primary voters.

Look at President Obama. In his two campaigns he had a great amount of grassroots support, but there was also contributions that he received from various industries. And then he went on as president to pass the strongest financial reform effort that we've seen in decades in the Dodd-Frank Act.

And what that proves is that just because you receive contributions, it does not water down or dilute in any way your ability to go off and toughly regulate those same industries. And that's what Hillary Clinton's record has been.

As senator she spoke out against derivatives and against the mortgage- backed securities that helped beget the crisis in 2007 and 2008. And in this campaign today, she's got the toughest comprehensive plan for further regulating Wall Street of any Democrat in the race, tougher even than Bernie Sanders, according to Paul Krugman and other progressive economists who have assessed the plans side by side.

[17:15:12] And if you look at who's spending money against Hillary Clinton, you have hedge fund billionaires running ads against her now, because they're afraid of the tough approach she will take to them if she's elected president. She is the one that they fear, not Bernie Sanders.

So again, I don't think that this line of attack from Senator Sanders is going to ring true with Democratic voters either.

BLITZER: Brian Fallon, we're counting down to the Democratic presidential town hall later tonight that CNN will be hosting. Hillary Clinton will be there, Bernie Sanders. They can continue this exchange face to face with New Hampshire voters.

Stand by. More of my interview, by the way, with Bernie Sanders, that's coming up later this hour. We have a lot more news. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're counting down to tonight's CNN Democratic presidential town hall, but we're awaiting a Donald Trump rally where he -- we expect him to have more to say about his accusation that Senator Ted Cruz cheated, cheated in order to win the Iowa caucuses.

Just a little while ago, Dr. Ben Carson weighed in, telling reporters he thinks the results of the Iowa caucuses were, in fact, affected by Cruz staffers telling caucus goers that Dr. Carson was actually quitting the race, which he was not.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is following the Cruz campaign for us. She's joining us now live from Amherst, New Hampshire. Cruz spoke to reporters, Sunlen, this afternoon. How is he responding to the latest Trump attacks?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Wolf. Senator Cruz and his campaign, they initially today really tried to use humor to downplay all of this, brush it aside, you know, coining that new term that this is a Trumper tantrum. His communications director even suggesting, a little tongue-in-cheek, that Trump needs to check into a Twitter addicts local support group.

But he did take a sharp turn, Senator Cruz, when he was peppered with question after question about this from reporters here in New Hampshire; and he launched into a ten-minute rant of his own, really directing a lot of fire at Donald Trump over all of this. Here's in part what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: I wake up every day and laugh at the latest thing Donald has tweeted, because he's losing it.

Look, we need a commander in chief, not a Twitterer in chief. We need someone with judgment and the temperament to keep this country safe. I don't know anyone who would be comfortable with someone who behaves this way having his finger on the button. I mean, we're liable to wake up one morning and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark. That's not the temperament of a leader to keep this country safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: And Cruz later went on to call Donald Trump immature in that press availability with reporters and imply that he's a sore loser, really saying that this is all a way, a tactic that Donald Trump is using to try to redirect attention on him, redirect focus back on his campaign after his loss in Iowa on Monday -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty, wow, the words getting very, very tense out there.

Let's get some insight into all of this from our experts. Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Republican strategist, former Mitt Romney senior advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom; CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp; CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger; and CNN political commentator Peter Beinart. He's a contributing editor to Atlantic media.

Gloria, Cruz says Trump is losing it. Could his loss in Iowa -- he came in second -- really rattle Donald Trump? Is he getting off his game?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think this is Trump's game. I don't think he's getting off of his game anymore. What he's trying to do is turn this whole question of who won and who lost and whether Cruz's campaign was trying to get Carson supporters to abandon Carson as a character issue against Cruz.

And Cruz is trying to use this as an issue of judgment against Donald Trump. This is a man, he says, you can't trust.

I would remind you, Wolf, that it wasn't that long ago that it was Cruz and Trump who were best buddies and having the bromance, but suddenly, now they're in a fight. They're in a real fight here. And so they've turned on each other, and each has his own reason for doing it. At this point we don't know who's going to succeed, but they're both clearly feeling the heat.

BLITZER: They certainly are. Peter, Trump now saying Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa. In his words, he stole it. He's also calling for a new election out there. He said this on a radio program. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said that everybody is, but have you or will you?

TRUMP: Well, I probably will, yes. No, what he did is unthinkable. He said the man has just left the race, and he said it during the caucus. And then when the clarification, when a statement was put out by Ben Carson saying it's untrue, they got the statement and they didn't put it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So does he have any legal resource -- recourse, Peter, to do anything about this?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not a campaign lawyer, but it seems to me this would be one thing if the media had come up with the story and pushed it. But Donald Trump has zero credibility on questions of campaign honesty and integrity. I mean, you know, going back to, you know, what he said about Muslims cheering 9/11 and on the and on and on. Is anyone seriously going to think that he is -- he's the apostle of integrity in campaigns here?

[17:25:06] I think, you know, it's one thing to be blustery and kind of act like a jerk when you're winning. That's -- you know, that's been his M.O. for the whole -- for the whole time. I think the problem now is that he's doing it while losing. And I think it comes off as desperate in a way he hasn't been desperate before, even a little bit pathetic. I wouldn't imagine that the next week is going to go so well for him.

BLITZER: Eric, you know New Hampshire and you worked, obviously, that campaign four years ago for Mitt Romney. Could this kind of behavior be a turn-off to voters in New Hampshire just a few days before the primary?

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, I don't think so. I think the Republican nominating contest is the best soap opera on TV. The viewership is through the roof. Iowa participation at the -- at the caucus was off the charts.

Look, with regard to this episode that happened with Cruz, there's an old saying in Boston politics that you don't write when you can speak, you don't speak when you can nod, and you don't nod if you can wink. Cruz's crime or his staff's crime was putting this down in writing. This gamesmanship goes on all the times at caucuses, conventions, straw polls.

I think what's interesting here, it didn't have a material impact on the outcome. I don't think anybody seriously believes that. There's not going to be a redo.

What's interesting is we have Trump once again as the master of the media. He loves to throw stink bombs to distract the press's attention. And in this case, he has taken the focus off of his underperformance in Iowa and put it squarely on Ted Cruz.

We saw this happen last week, by the way. On the day that he pulled out of that Iowa debate, it's no coincidence that you had a group of anti-abortion leaders go out in an unprecedented move, band together and urge a vote for anybody but Trump. But nobody covered that, because they were chasing the debate story.

BLITZER: Gloria, there are other claws coming out in New Hampshire right now. Jeb Bush, as you know, he says Marco Rubio shouldn't have given a victory speech for coming into Iowa in the Iowa caucuses in third place. Governor Christie says Rubio only does one event a day and basically is not energetic, sort of is lazy, I guess that's the implication. Is New Hampshire really a race to be the top, so-called establishment Republican candidate?

BORGER: Yes, I'm not sure I know what the establishment is anymore, but I do know you've got three governors who were in New Hampshire during the Iowa primary night -- I mean, caucus night, for example. And these -- these governors, Kasich, Bush and Christie, all of them had the same goal, which is to score really well in New Hampshire.

And now you've got Rubio, who's trying to straddle here. He is quickly becoming an establishment favorite, particularly among the donor class, and he's also a Tea Party conservative favorite. So he's trying to straddle that.

And I think what you see from Jeb Bush and more recently from Chris Christie is like, "Get out of our lane, buddy. You don't belong in our lane. It's the three of us. And one of us will emerge. And don't claim victory when you just won that -- those caucuses in Iowa. That's not what New Hampshire is about."

So they're all struggling to get ahead of each other among -- you know, among a certain group. And they're very happy, by the way, to let Trump and Cruz kind of battle it out on their side of the ledger.

BLITZER: Yes, the battle is becoming even more intense. I suspect it will even further intensify in the coming days leading up to the New Hampshire primary.

Guys, stand by, we have more to discuss. We're getting some live pictures in now from Little Rock, Arkansas. You can see a huge crowd gathering there. Donald Trump will be speaking. I expect he will be offering some additional words about Ted Cruz, maybe some of the other Republican candidates. We'll stand by live for that.

Also coming up, we'll take a closer look on what's happening on the Democratic side. More of my interview with Bernie Sanders. That's coming up, as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A very large crowd, you can see it there, gathering in Little Rock, Arkansas. They're awaiting Donald Trump. He's getting ready to speak there. We'll see what he has to say. Stand by for that.

[17:33:49] We're also counting down to the CNN Democratic presidential town hall in New Hampshire tonight, where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will field questions directly from voters in the nation's first primary contest.

I spoke with Senator Sanders today, and I asked him how he plans to separate himself from his rival at tonight's event.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: The presidential Democratic contest right now, Senator, is down to a two-person race between you and Secretary Clinton. What's the main difference between you and Secretary Clinton that you hope to convey at that CNN town hall later tonight?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, there are a lot of differences.

You know, Wolf, when the middle class of this country is disappearing, when we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, when the 20 wealthiest people in this country own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent. We need leadership that stands up to the billionaire class and says to them, "You know what? You guys can't have it all." We've got to rebuild the middle class.

And second of all, let's be frank. We have a very corrupt campaign finance system which allows Wall Street and billionaires to buy elections. And here's the difference between Hillary Clinton and me. I have

received 3 1/2 million individual campaign contributions, averaging $27 apiece. Hillary Clinton recently announced the results, the take from her super PAC, $25 million coming into her super PAC; $15 million of that came from Wall Street. That is a very significant difference. Our campaign is funded by the people. To a significant degree her campaign is funded by Wall Street and big money interests.

[17:35:28] BLITZER: Some people say that politically, strategically that could be a mistake on your part, not having that super PAC. You probably could raise a lot of money, but you're unilaterally, they say, disarming. Is that a problem?

SANDERS: Well, I think you're right. That is what a lot of people have said. But that's what we are taking on. That's what my campaign is about. It's to say, yes, I can raise a lot of money if I had a super PAC. But I don't represent the interests of the billionaire class. I don't represent corporate America. I don't represent the very, very wealthy.

So I'm going to let them keep their money. We are not going to have a super PAC. And what we are going to do is reach out to the American people at BernieSanders.com.

And Wolf, I've got to tell you, I have been overwhelmed that up to this point in the campaign, we have received more individual campaign contributions than any candidate in the history of the United States of America. And that indicates to me not only the kind of grassroots support we have, but that also tells me that people across this country, and by the way, across the political spectrum, are sick and tired of super PACs. They're sick and tired of Citizens United, and they are sick and tired of billionaires buying elections.

BLITZER: So are you suggesting that Secretary Clinton is beholden to Wall Street and big money?

SANDERS: No. What I am simply saying is a fact. She recently reported that her super PAC received $25 million, $15 million of that came from Wall Street. I will let the American people determine what all of that means.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: More of our interview with Bernie Sanders coming up later in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also, we're standing by right now to hear from Donald Trump himself. Once again, he's in a campaign rally in Little Rock, Arkansas. You can see a large crowd gathering right now. There's been a sharp change in tone from Trump today. He's unloading on his rival, Ted Cruz, accusing him of actually stealing a victory in the Iowa caucuses. So will Trump step up his attacks? We'll stand by to hear that.

We're also getting stunning new pictures of a commercial airliner just moments after an explosion blasted a hole in the fuselage. One passenger is dead. Was terrorism involved?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:13] BLITZER: We're just hours away from CNN's Democratic presidential town hall in New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, they're preparing to make their case before the voters of New Hampshire as the nation's first primary contest draws near.

Tonight Sanders is attacking Clinton's record, questioning her progressive credentials. We're back with our political experts to discuss.

Peter, Bernie Sanders says Hillary Clinton needs to choose between being a moderate Democrat or a progressive Democrat. How difficult is it for her? Could it pose some issues for her down the road if she gets the nomination in a general election?

BEINART: You know, this is why Bernie Sanders hanging around so long is tricky for Hillary Clinton because he pushes her to her left. There are a lot of Democratic voters, especially in places like New Hampshire, that want a more left-wing message. A more left-wing message than Hillary Clinton had in the 1990s. A more left-wing message than she had when she was a senator in New York.

She needs to compete with Bernie Sanders in that regard ideologically in the primaries, but it could be a little big dangerous in the general election, and so this is the path she has to walk.

BLITZER: Remember when her husband was running for president back in 1992, he ran as a so-called New Democrat, a DLC New Democrat, a more moderate Democrat that helped him, certainly, in the general election.

Eric, looking ahead to tonight's town hall, do you think Bernie Sanders should go directly after Hillary Clinton on this issue of whether or not she's progressive enough to be the Democratic nominee?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you're going to see both candidates, Wolf, mix it up more. More -- I mean, Bernie is just killing it with young people, which is an important part of that Obama coalition.

If you look at the entrance polls that were done in Iowa, he's crushing her on who's more honest and trustworthy. She leads on experience and ability to lead. But those aren't the things that members of the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party are looking for. Right now they feel very passionate, very idealistic. And the person that they identify with is the 74-year-old socialist from Vermont. Not Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: That's pretty amazing when you think about it.

Gloria, you remember this moment eight years ago, 2008, when Hillary Clinton got emotional in New Hampshire after she lost in Iowa. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is very personal for me. It's not just political, it's not just public. I see what's happening. And we have to reverse it. And some people think elections are a game. They think it's like who's up or who's down. It's about our country; it's about our kids' futures.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Gloria, how different is it this time around?

BORGER: ell, it is different this time around. First of all, she won. She's -- she knows she's the underdog in New Hampshire.

[17:45:02] But she's got a great organization in South Carolina.

Bernie Sanders is a very different candidate from Barack Obama as you head towards the south. But I do think, to Eric's point, if you look at those entrance polls from Iowa, her weakness not only on the honest and trustworthy issue, which Eric mentioned, but there's another weakness and that is the question about cares about people like me. And Bernie Sanders beat her three to one on that.

And so what Hillary Clinton has to prove to the voters of New Hampshire on issues of income inequality, that she does understand their problems. And you have Bernie Sanders who says, look, I want to give free college tuition for everybody. And you have Hillary Clinton saying, how are you going to pay for it? And young voters want to hear free college tuition for everybody because that's where their head is right now and they believe that she cares about that.

BLITZER: All right, guys.

BORGER: That he cares about them.

BLITZER: Good point. Stand by. Everyone, stand by. Coming up, Ted Cruz, he says his Republican rival is throwing a, quote, "Trumper tantrum" as Donald trump accuses cruz of stealing the Iowa caucuses.

We're awaiting a Trump campaign rally. There you see the crowds gathering in Little Rock, Arkansas. How will the billionaire respond in the coming moments.

Plus an explosion aboard an airliner kills one passenger, injures two others. We're getting new pictures of the chaotic aftermath.

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[17:50:56] BLITZER: We're getting new details about an explosion aboard an airliner that killed at least one person and injured two others. Authorities haven't officially named a cause, but initial forensic testing raises very ominous possibilities that a bomb was somehow planted on the aircraft.

Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Brian, you've been looking into this. What are you learning? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, new information from

CNN's sources. Officials, analysts here and in Somalia giving stronger indications that this was probably a bomb. The way the metal is contorted right there at the blast point, the location of the damage on the plane, all point to the likelihood that this aircraft was a terrorist target.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Terrifying moments after an explosion rips a hole through the fuselage of this passenger jet. A flight attendant shouts for people to move to either end of the plane. Passengers are confused, shell shocked, but their pilot, with herculean resolve, steers the jet safely back to the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

The explosion on an Airbus operated by the Somali carrier Daallo occurred shortly after takeoff on Tuesday. A source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN tonight one passenger was blown out of the hole at about 12,000 feet. Two others were injured.

(On camera): Objectively, based on the evidence we see here, what do you think happened?

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: Well, this has all the hallmarks of an explosive device. You have the skin of the aircraft tearing outwards. You have sooting back behind the source of the explosion. It looks as though the major part of the explosion was below the window level. Perhaps underneath the seat where the life preserver is kept. It's been used before.

TODD (voice-over): A source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN initial damage tests show there was explosive residue. Exterior pictures show other possibly crucial evidence.

GOELZ: The explosive device was strategically placed because directly beneath this area is the center wing tank of the aircraft. That's the center tank for fuel.

TODD: The pilot, in a Serbian newspaper, said, quote, "I think it was a bomb." Airline and Somali government officials say it's too early to say what caused the blast, and no group has claimed responsibility.

Experts say if it was terrorism, the group Al Shabaab would be the likeliest culprit. The al Qaeda affiliated group, fighting a vicious decade-long war against the Somali government, has targeted civilians before. Killing 67 people at Nairobi's West Gate Mall in 2013.

Shabaab hasn't targeted aviation to this point but some say they have the skills and want to compete with ISIS for the attention.

J. PETER PHAM. ATLANTIC COUNCIL: They do have bomb-makers. Shabaab actually allowed and ran training camps for jihadists from other areas, some of those who actually now operate in the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula at one point were trained in bomb-making in Shabaab- held territory.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Another indication that a trained bomb-maker might have been at work here the possibility of a timed explosive device. According to a report sent to airport officials, the plane was delayed in taking off. Then the explosion occurred at only 12,000 to 14,000 feet. A timer could have been set to trigger a blast when the plane was much higher in the sky, which analyst Peter Goelz says would have made that explosion catastrophic, Wolf. It would have killed everyone on board.

BLITZER: Pretty scary. What about security at the Mogadishu airport? What are you hearing about that?

TODD: We hear that it's dangerous and security there is porous. Part of the airport is occupied by U.N. and African Union forces. Now that part is secure. But the rest of the airport is wide open. Analyst Peter Pham who's been there several times says no airlines actually keep any planes at that airport, not even that Somali carrier, Daallo. They keep their planes in the UAE.

Pham says until a couple of years ago whenever he landed there, he was tossed a set of body armor that he had to put on before exiting the plane. Shabaab militants, he said, would take pot shots at passengers when they deplaned.

BLITZER: Wow. All right, Brian, thanks very much. Very, very worrisome development.

[17:55:01] Stay with us, we're following a Donald Trump rally that's just getting under way. Expect another blast at Senator Ted Cruz. There you see the crowds gathering in Little Rock, Arkansas. Will Donald Trump stick to his demand for a redo of the Iowa caucuses.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Happening now, trading insults. A bitter new feud erupting between Republican presidential rivals Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Trump accusing Cruz of fraud in his Iowa victory. Cruz dismissing what he calls a Trumper tantrum.

We're standing by for Donald Trump's first public comments since launching a new barrage of attacks.

CNN town hall, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, facing voters in New Hampshire tonight, where Sanders holds a strong lead just days before the nation's first primary.