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THE SITUATION ROOM
Democrats Back on Trail After Debate Clash; Kasich Builds Up Ground Game in South Carolina; Trump Threatens to Sue Ted Cruz for Not Being Natural Born Citizen; Machete Wielding Man Attacks Ohio Restaurant; Video Shows Laptop Bomb Gets Past Security; Aired 5-6p ET
Aired February 12, 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: That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper. Tune in Sunday morning at 9 a.m. Eastern for "STATE OF THE UNION." The guests, presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Turning you over now to Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.
[17:00:12] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, natural-born lawsuit. Donald Trump threatens to sue Ted Cruz over his citizenship if his rival doesn't clean up his act and stop running negative ads. But Trump is trying to clean up his own act by cutting down on vulgarities. Will he watch his mouth in his next event? We're standing by.
Embracing Obama. One ran against him. The other has criticized him, but Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battle for minority voters by seeing who can hug the president more tightly.
Machete attack. Four people are wounded and a suspect is dead after a terrifying rampage in an Ohio deli. Was this a case of lone-wolf terrorism?
And plane explosive. New evidence in the bombing of an airliner. Suspects are seen handling a sophisticated laptop bomb used in the attack. Were they later targeted to keep them quiet?
Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: Breaking news. Donald Trump is threatening to sue Ted Cruz for, quote, "not being a natural-born citizen" if Cruz doesn't stop his negative ads.
Trump is also questioning Cruz's faith, asking how he can be an evangelical Christian when he is, quote, "so dishonest." That comes as Cruz and other candidates appeared in an evangelical forum in South Carolina. Perfect timing for Cruz to drop a campaign ad that features a former erotic film actress. That's right.
Meantime Trump is taking heat for his steady stream of vulgarities. He's promising to drop the foul language. That may be put to the test shortly as he holds a campaign event that we're standing by for. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, well, they got on the trail today,
hours after trading potshots in their own debate, following her crushing defeat in New Hampshire. Clinton trying hard to paint Sanders' policies as unrealistic.
But both Democrats seemed to be playing to minority voters in their upcoming showdown states of Nevada and South Carolina, clashing over immigration and who's more loyal to President Obama.
Our correspondents, analysts and guests have full coverage of the day's stop stories. We begin with the Republican race. As most of his rivals today focus on faith and values, Donald Trump is focusing on watching his mouth. CNN's Barack is live from Tampa.
Jim, do you think Trump can vanquish his vulgarities?
BARACK, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I think we'll have to wait and see on that one, Brianna. Donald Trump is taking some time off from the campaign trail in South Carolina. Instead, Trump is on the hunt for votes down here in Florida, where he says he's going to start doing something he hasn't done much before. That is bite his tongue. But he is not changing his style on Twitter. As you said, he is threatening to sue Ted Cruz if he does not halt his attacks.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to knock the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of ISIS.
She said he's (EXPLETIVE DELETED). That's terrible.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Notorious for shooting from the lip, get ready for the softer side of Donald Trump.
TRUMP: I won't use the foul language; I'm just not going to do it. They're all saying, "Do it, do it." No. I'll never do it again, actually. And I'll never even copy somebody, what they ask me to say.
ACOSTA: The foul-mouthed front-runner is promising to use rhetoric that's more suitable for younger viewers, like the mini Trump-looking baby whose hand he signed in Louisiana.
Now that the race has swung down to the Bible Belt, Ted Cruz is reminding voters in South Carolina of the brash billionaire's sometimes salty language.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't listen to Donald Trump. Really, don't listen to Donald Trump. Or if you do, you may have to send your kids out of the room.
ACOSTA: Marco Rubio complained he couldn't even one recent Trump vulgarity to his children.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They wanted to know, "What was the word? What did he say?"
I said, "I can't tell you."
So I never -- I can't tell you. I never want -- I never want to be a candidate that does anything like that.
RUBIO: Even though he's trying to tone it down, Trump is still firing off on Twitter, saying, "If Ted Cruz doesn't clean up his act, stop cheating and doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural-born citizen."
John Kasich is banking on a more positive campaign.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How do you ever get anything done long-term if you're operating on the dark side of the street, as opposed to the sunny side of the street?
ACOSTA: Jeb Bush said Trump's shtick is a reflection of the real- estate tycoon's deep insecurities.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have an entertainer, a guy who is a reality TV star, who has been successful in his own life, but he also pushes people down to make himself look better.
ACOSTA: Another potential problem for Trump down South, his continued mocking of the Bush family. Bush surrogate Senator Lindsey Graham argued that's a liability.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If anybody in the press is wondering, South Carolina, we like the Bushes. We like these people. We like this family.
[17:05:07] ACOSTA: Trump is also getting pounded by ads, including spots from special-interest groups like the anti-tax Club for Growth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing conservative about giving money to the Clintons. There's nothing conservative about Donald Trump.
ACOSTA: The ad wars are heating up in ways the candidates didn't imagine, like this Cruz spot that was pulled after the campaign discovered it starred an exotic film actress.
AMY LINDSEY, ACTRESS: Maybe you should vote for more than just a pretty face next time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you guys have room for one more?
ACOSTA: The irreverent Cruz ad team is also having fun at Hillary Clinton's expense, depicting her smashing a computer server, a scene that seems right out of the film "Office Space."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Damn, it feels good to be a Clinton, a famous politician who always plays her cards right.
ACOSTA: Now Donald Trump did fire back at that Club for Growth ad, saying that there's nothing conservative about that anti-tax group, claiming that they once came to him for a million-dollar contribution that he didn't pay it.
And Brianna, getting back on that threat against Ted Cruz, to take him to court over his Canadian birth, Donald Trump has been retweeting his supporters' tweets all afternoon about this. So I think that's a pretty good indication of what we're going to hear in about a couple hours from now in Tampa -- Brianna.
KEILAR: I think you're right. Barack for us in Florida, thank you.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton wasted no time returning to the campaign trail today after trading jabs in last night's Democratic debate.
I want to turn now to CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny. So this debate was in Milwaukee, but it really seemed like the candidates were trying to address voters elsewhere.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Brianna. In Nevada and South Carolina, no question, as this Democratic electorate moves into a far more diverse set of voters.
But South Carolina, where in 2008 some 55 percent of Democratic voters were African-American, is central on the minds of both candidates. That's why Hillary Clinton headed there today, to find friendlier terrain.
ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton had South Carolina voters in minding at last night's debate as he tried to make her case that she's the true supporter of President Obama.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not the first time that he has criticized President Obama. In the past he's called him weak. He's called him a disappointment.
ZELENY: The message aimed squarely at South Carolina Democrats. More than half are African-American and hold the president in high regard.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Madam secretary, that is a low blow. One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.
ZELENY: Sanders had the final word. But it opened a new chapter in a primary fight that's just beginning, as Clinton works to regain her footing in the wake of Sanders's commanding New Hampshire victory. ZELENY: Another flash point: money in politics. Clinton again tied
herself to Obama and rejected the suggestion she could be swayed by campaign donations.
CLINTON: So let's not in any way imply here that either President Obama or myself would, in any way, not take on any vested interest, whether it's Wall Street, or drug companies, or insurance companies or, frankly, the gun lobby.
SANDERS: Let's not insult the intelligence of the American people. People aren't dumb. Why, in God's name, does Wall Street make huge campaign contributions? I guess just for the fun of it. They want to throw money around.
ZELENY: Again and again, Clinton portrayed her rival as a politician who offers big dreams but few specifics for how he would pay for universal health care and more.
CLINTON: This is not about math. This is about people's lives, and we should level with the American people.
ZELENY: Sanders took exception to the criticism.
SANDERS: Secretary Clinton, you're not in the White House yet. And let us be clear that every proposal that I have introduced has been paid for.
ZELENY: But Clinton argued her rival has too narrow a vision to be president.
CLINTON: We agreed that we've got to get unaccountable money out of politics. We agreed that Wall Street should never be allowed to wreck Main Street again. But here's the point I want to make tonight. I am not a single-issue candidate, and I do not believe we live in a single-issue country.
ZELENY: Now, those three words, "single-issue candidate," rubbed a lot of supporters of Senator Sanders the wrong way here. But the hard fact of the matter is they know that he has to expand his appeal and broaden his reach a little bit more.
Now, both candidates are actually sharing the same stage at different times at a dinner tonight in Minneapolis and then they're -- both of them will be campaigning in Nevada and then Colorado. So Brianna, this race is going national in a huge hurry. And the dynamics last night did not change that much, so this race is still as tight as ever.
KEILAR: It sure is. Jeff, thank you so much for us in Milwaukee. And joining me now to talk more, Tad Devine is a senior advisor to Bernie Sanders. Thanks so much, Tad, for being with us.
TAD DEVINE, SENIOR ADVISOR TO BERNIE SANDERS: Good to be with you.
[17:10:02] And so you look at the landscape now, this terrain that admittedly is a little more advantageous to Hillary Clinton when you look at the demographics in the Democratic Party that gravitate towards her over your candidate, Bernie Sanders.
Is this something that he needed to do sooner, trying to appeal with his policies to African-Americans and Hispanics?
DEVINE: No. We've been working hard for months now in Nevada and South Carolina. We have people on the ground in every March 1 state and beyond that. They've been talking to voters, knocking on doors, getting our message out. We've been on television advertising in Nevada since the 23rd of December. We went on television first in South Carolina. We've been on television in four states right after the New Hampshire primary.
So I think we're getting our message out, and I think it's a very powerful message. Voters are responding to it. America's economy is rigged. It's sending too much wealth to the top. It's held in place by a corrupt system of campaign finance. It's a powerful message, and it's resonating all across the country.
KEILAR: As Bernie Sanders does try to talk to these key constituencies in Nevada, in South Carolina, is he approaching this in the way we've seen him approach other voters, white voters, generationally? I look at that ad yesterday with Erica Garner, Eric Garner's daughter, who has endorsed him. Erica Garner's grandmother has endorsed Hillary Clinton. It seems to me there's a generational divide. Is that how you see it?
DEVINE: You know, I think that's something we've seen in Iowa and New Hampshire. It's -- young people were the first to get excited about Bernie's candidacy. But if you look at the exit poll in New Hampshire, you'll see that he won every age group under 65, OK. So we've been pushing -- you know, by not as big a margin as we're winning the younger people, but nevertheless, winning across the board.
So I think the message is resonating all the way up the age spectrum. But I do think -- and we're very excited about the fact that young people are coming into the process because of Bernie Sanders. We think that's the key to victory in November for the Democrats.
KEILAR: It's a really good moment for Bernie Sanders right now as he's neck and neck with Hillary Clinton. I think we know that could change here in the near term going into Nevada and into South Carolina where he may not have the advantage.
Then we move into Super Tuesday. There's a lot of southern contests where I think people think Hillary Clinton may have the advantage. If he does experience some losses there, do you feel that you can push through with momentum beyond Super Tuesday or will you perhaps have lost too much?
DEVINE: I don't think we will have lost too much. Listen, we feel good about Nevada where we are right now. There's a public poll that came out today said the race was tied. We were 30 points behind there just a few months ago. I think people are going to see in South Carolina we closed some ground, too. I think they're going to see in a lot of these early states, places like Colorado and Minnesota, Oklahoma even.
You know, the Clinton campaign went on television in Oklahoma today. We went on television there about a week ago. I have a funny feeling they went on television, because they're concerned about losing Oklahoma. So -- so we feel really good about where we are. We think our message is resonating. It's getting out all across the country.
KEILAR: Why is he saying, though, that if the vote were today in South Carolina, he wouldn't win?
DEVINE: Well, I think we're realistic about where we are on this path. You know, the momentum of New Hampshire is just really beginning to build.
You know, voters have been told for months that this race was over and Hillary Clinton won. They found out in Iowa that was not the case. They saw in New Hampshire that Bernie Sanders' message was very powerful to quite a discriminating group of voters, the people who live in New Hampshire. And I think they're really interested in Bernie Sanders. They're paying a lot of attention to the race right now. And I think we're going to get through to them. Hopefully, we will before election day.
KEILAR: All right, Tad. Stay with me, because we had a big debate last night, a whole lot more to talk about. Hillary Clinton accused Bernie Sanders of being a single-issue candidate. We'll talk about that when we get back.
KEILAR: We are back now with Tad Devine of the Sanders campaign. And Tad, one of the critiques that Hillary Clinton labeled -- or leveled against Bernie Sanders was that he's a single-issue candidate.
KEILAR: He certainly is having a lot of luck talking about Wall Street, talking about a rigged economy, but what do you make of this critique that he doesn't have the breadth?
DEVINE: Well, she should come to one of his hour-long stump speeches, OK? I mean, this is a guy who talks about such a broad range of issues. What we're going to do to have universal college education in America, how we're going to reform health care so 29 million who don't have health care today can have it, how we're going to deal with climate change, how we're going to rebuild our infrastructure. I mean, he has a broad cross-section of issues that he talks about all the time.
Now, it's true. It's all within a very powerful frame that we can't fix these problems, these economic problems, particularly the problem of income inequality, unless we do something about a corrupt system of campaign finance. He talks about that a lot.
But his breadth of issues that he talks about in this campaign are very comprehensive, and he usually goes on for an hour or so when he talks to people.
KEILAR: When he is talking about foreign policy, obviously Secretary Clinton has a lot of experience here, but he sees her vulnerability as what he describes as her judgment. He brings up her Iraq War vote, for instance. He voted against it.
But he's also characterizing himself as someone who is on the forefront of being against this war. And we actually did a fact check on this at CNN. Was he at the forefront of the opposition.
Our fact checkers found we can't find much evidence of that, at least to the point of other congressional opposition leaders on the issues, such as Russ Feingold, who gave several speeches against the war and introduced legislation to cut off its funding. What do you say to that? Was he a leader on the forefront of this?
DEVINE: Yes, he was. He spoke out repeatedly. He spoke out in a number of different places and occasions. His speech that he delivered on the floor of the United States House of Representatives is available for anyone to see at BernieSanders.com.
In that speech he describes exactly what happened. That if we went into Iraq, we would -- it would cause instability, and the region would be left in turmoil. That's precisely what happened. So yes, Bernie Sanders helped lead the opposition against the war in Iraq.
KEILAR: And he had some votes, obviously, from 2006 on, four funding bills after 2006 for the Iraq war.
DEVINE: Well, yes. We have servicemen and women in Iraq and he supported them and fought very hard as the chairman of the veterans committee to the opposition against the war in Iraq.
And he had four funding bills after 2006 for the Iraq war.
DEVINE: Well, yes. We have servicemen and women in Iraq, and he supported them. And he fought very hard as the chairman of the veterans committee to deal with the issues of health care and taking care of our veterans. So yes, Bernie Sanders has supported our veterans, but he opposed the war in Iraq, and he did so in a very public way.
[17:20:17] KEILAR: He took aim at Secretary Clinton as being an interventionist when it comes to foreign policy. She leveled back at him what about your vote on Libya. He seemed -- he seemed to struggle a little bit on that.
DEVINE: Well, I don't think he struggled. Listen, first of all, there was no vote on Libya. There was a consensus resolution that was a voice vote in the United States Senate. OK, so...
KEILAR: But the point is even a vote that is nonbinding, right, is still a vote they take to make a point.
DEVINE: And the point they were trying to make is that they supported democracy in Libya. You know, to characterize that as something like the Iraq War vote, where there was a debate about whether or not the United States should go in is a complete mischaracterization.
And unfortunately, Hillary Clinton on a lot of these things, particularly the attacks that she's trying to level against Bernie Sanders by saying he's attacking President Obama. She's really distorting his words and what he's saying, so it's unfortunate.
KEILAR: What is the difference between a voice vote and -- you're saying there's a difference. A war authorization is entirely different. But taking a stand, Bernie Sanders is someone who, clearly, one of the things that appeals to so many people about him is they feel like he's principled. If you're taking a stand, even if it's a voice vote, how is that not taking a stand on principal?
DEVINE: Because -- because that blank vote was not for an intervention in Iraq -- in Libya, OK? It was a completely different situation. It was saying that we support democracy there, that we supported, you know, not a United States intervention, which the United States use of force there, so it's a mischaracterization of a vote, which was a consensus vote that basically said, listen, we're from a democracy in Libya, but we're not for a massive United States intervention.
KEILAR: The headline out of this debate last night was a bit of who could hug President Obama the tightest, no one really wanting to create space with him.
Bernie Sanders has been critical of President Obama, saying that he didn't use the bully pulpit enough. How would Bernie Sanders approach using the bully pulpit differently?
DEVINE: He would massively organize people to support his agenda as president. Listen, if you know Bernie Sanders, you've got to go back to his election as mayor of Burlington by ten votes. And when he went into office, the powers that be tried to obstruct everything that he did.
And the way he reacted to that was to go out in the next election a year later to organize people and to get rid of half of the city council through a democratic process. After he did that, he had enough to sustain a veto, and then progress began in Burlington.
That's the approach he would take. He would go out and if the Congress refused to cooperate -- and by the way, no president, I think, in recent times has been obstructed by the Congress more than Barack Obama.
Once the Democrats lost control, all they did was obstruct full-time. So what Bernie would do is say, "Listen, if you won't meet us halfway and you won't be willing to come towards our agenda, then we will go out, and the midterm elections of 2018 will become a referendum on the future of the Republican Party." That's the way he operates.
KEILAR: Tad Devine, thanks so much for being with us. We know -- you probably have had no sleep, and we appreciate you being here. And a note to our viewers: if you did miss last night's "PBS NewsHour" Democratic presidential debate you can watch it right here on CNN at 10 p.m. It is really worth watching.
And coming up, Donald Trump threatens to sue Ted Cruz over his citizenship if his Canadian-born rival doesn't stop running negative ads towards Trump.
Meantime Cruz unleashes another attack ad. This one, maybe it reminds you of something. It is aimed at Democrat Hillary Clinton. We'll talk about this coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): ... they're entitled, they don't get to know what they do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:28:07] KEILAR: After a strong showing in New Hampshire, Governor John Kasich is trying to build up his operation now in South Carolina.
Let's go live now to CNN's Sara Murray. She is in Bluffton, South Carolina. And you are at a Kasich event right now. Tell us what you're hearing about their efforts there to expand their ground game.
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, I think after that second-place finish in New Hampshire, the big question was, OK, now what does he do? He's here in South Carolina. He has hundreds of people at this event, a much bigger crowd than he's used to, but the challenge for him is how is he going to build a national organization, a campaign that can play at multiple states at once?
They're starting here in South Carolina, where they have about a dozen staffers, but they also have staff in 11 other states. What they're still scrambling to figure out is where do they deploy these armies of volunteers, the people who made this New Hampshire finish possible.
And we've heard them talk about states that are further down the field, states like Michigan, but they're saying even a state like Nevada, one that votes much sooner, could be in play.
So lots of stuff still in the works here. We'll have to see if they are able to get the kind of momentum they saw in New Hampshire -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Are you hearing people there very receptive to John Kasich? Are these people who are undecided? Are they just curious after his win?
MURRAY: I think that he definitely has to make the sell in a place like South Carolina. People we're talking to here, they like him. They think he sounds like a reasonable Republican. There are Democrats at this event who are here thinking about voting for John Kasich, but he has not closed the deal by any stretch of the imagination.
And he's even said he doesn't have to win in South Carolina, but you certainly need to have a strong showing in some of these states even if you don't win there in order to keep any kind of momentum going.
KEILAR: All right. Sara Murray in Bluffton, thanks so much.
And we do have some breaking news, Donald Trump threatening to sue Ted Cruz over his citizenship if he doesn't drop the negative ads. Joining me now, we have CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
We have CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash; CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson; and CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod. He is a former Obama senior advisor.
[17:30:12] OK, so, Dana, you have this attack. He's saying be nice to me or I'm going to sue you for being Canadian, essentially.
KEILAR: What is -- what? What?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Very well put. I like the way you boil that down.
KEILAR: What is happening here? What is his point?
BASH: You mean Donald Trump's point?
BASH: Donald Trump's point is that he sees -- I mean, let's just boil it down even more. He sees Ted Cruz as his biggest threat in South Carolina. Donald Trump is at this point doing pretty well in the polls in South Carolina.. But Ted Cruz, you know, has a lot to gain and a lot to lose. So that is why you are seeing, even though it was just yesterday we were on this program talking about how Donald Trump promises that he's going to be more positive, he pulled a negative ad against Ted Cruz for that reason, he can't help himself.
I mean, he had just went on a Twitter tirade all day today against Ted Cruz, calling him a liar, questioning whether or not he really is a Christian.
KEILAR: How is he evangelical if he's so dishonest?
BASH: How is he evangelical --
BASH: Right, right, and then the whole, you know, lawsuit thing. I mean, this is harkening back to Iowa when he first brought up -- when he first even insulted or went after Ted Cruz in any way, shape or form was about his eligibility to be president.
KEILAR: And David, I want to ask you about this because, you know, you worked for a guy who faced some sort of birtherism, I guess you could say. So when you watched this happening on the right, having worked for someone where there were people, including Donald Trump, questioning whether he was really born in the U.S., I mean what is your perspective on how this is playing out?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think -- it obviously didn't hurt Ted Cruz that much in Iowa. I think what's interesting here is Ted Cruz is running an ad about Donald Trump's eminent domain attempt to take a woman's house away. And I think he's very sensitive about that in part because that did hurt him in Iowa. That was a serious issue. So I think he's trying to bully Cruz into taking his ads down. I think it's less about being on the offensive than being on the defensive. And whoever said tirade or tantrum I think was right on the money there.
KEILAR: So, Gloria, yes, what do you think? Trump said he was going to get past this with Iowa. Here it is again.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know. I don't think he's going to get past it. I think what's so odd about Donald Trump is that he behaves very differently from most political candidate I've seen, which is normally the candidate tries to take the high road and you let the super PAC do the negative advertising and take the low road. In this particular case, the candidate himself takes the low road and sends out all these tweets threatening to sue, questioning whether Cruz is really an evangelical, and all the rest, and he has a positive ad up on the air, so he's doing it just completely the opposite from what we're -- from what we're used to. And I do think he's really threatened by Cruz.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And does this come up in the debate? Because oftentimes we've seen from both of these candidates, maybe they'll say something on Twitter, maybe they'll say something on the stump, but then when it comes time to face each other --
BASH: Just tomorrow night.
HENDERSON: Yes, tomorrow night, when it comes time to face each other, they sort of pull their punches, or as Gloria once said, pulls the Pawlenty, which is talk -- you know, talk smack offstage but then not be able to follow through onstage. So it'll be interesting. But --
BORGER: He'll follow through this time.
HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, he almost has to. I think, you know, Donald Trump has been able to perform pretty well among evangelicals. So if he's able to peel off a few here and there evangelicals in South Carolina, I mean, it's a real big deal for Ted Cruz.
BASH: And can I just say one thing that as we were talking, Betsy Kline, who's our embed with Ted Cruz, just sent out notes he just talked to reporters about Donald Trump's tirade against him. He said, I will say there's a little more than a little irony in Donald accusing anyone of being nasty given these amazing torrent of insults and obscenities and vulgarities that come out of his mouth on any given day.
BORGER: Well, the vulgarities --
KEILAR: I have to ask you -- I do want to ask you guys about this Ted Cruz ad, I have to get this in. So this is a Ted Cruz campaign ad that attacks Hillary Clinton, and I'm going to get your reaction afterwards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn it feels good to be a Clinton. Damn it feels good to be a Clinton. A shameless politician who always plays her cards right, got a crew for the fight on the airwaves. Left dogs in the press keep their mouths tight. Because if Clinton ever needs to explain --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: OK. So you probably -- if you haven't seen the movie "Office Space" thinking what is going on here? OK. Well, let's play the scene from "Office Space" that this is modeled after.
All right. Sort of similar song, different lyrics. What do you make of this? Who's the target audience, Nia?
[17:35:01] HENDERSON: I mean the Cruz ad is a song by the Ghetto Boys, "Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangster." And I mean, when I looked at that, I think Hillary Clinton looks kind of boss in that ad, right?
HENDERSON: I guess it's supposed to make her look like a crook or something, but it's hard to say. I mean, she looks kind of fierce.
BASH: I also love how he's -- Ted Cruz and the campaign, they're like primary? What primary? I mean, they're going straight at -- you know, at the Democrat way before they've even gotten to that point. One actually a little bit of interesting insight is that, David will know this because he's been involved in lots of campaigns, most campaigns have one ad firm that does their ads. The Cruz campaign, they don't. They have, I think, three and they kind of bid and they come up with ideas.
KEILAR: Give me your best stuff.
BASH: And your best stuff, which I think is why they've had some of the most clever ads of the campaign.
KEILAR: David, what do you make of Cruz going after Hillary Clinton at this point? Smart?
AXELROD: You know, there are two kinds of ads, Brianna, they're the ads that you put on television to try and influence voters and then there's the ads that you put out online to try and get TV to run them. Cable TV --
KEILAR: Can she perhaps political panel?
(CROSSTALK) AXELROD: This is in that second category. I think this is a cheeky kind of ad to get attention, send a signal that Cruz is getting ready to face off with Hillary Clinton. I don't think it has anything to do with the South Carolina primary.
BORGER: Right. I can't imagine that this ad is going to appeal to evangelicals in any way, shape or form.
KEILAR: Why do you say that, Gloria?
BORGER: I don't know. Just guessing.
KEILAR: Well, it is definitely some fish bowl fodder there. All right, Gloria, David, Dana, Nia, thank you guys so much.
And a reminder to our viewers, you can watch last night's PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential debate here on CNN at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
And coming up, police shoot and kill a man in Ohio after he rampages through a restaurant with a machete. Was this a case of lone wolf terrorism?
Plus new airport surveillance video appears to show a sophisticated laptop bomb just before it was planted on a passenger jet. Are investigators closing in on suspects?
[17:41:46] KEILAR: Four people are injured and a suspect is dead following a terrifying machete attack in an Ohio deli. Investigators haven't confirmed a motive for the attack but they also haven't ruled out terrorism and they say it's possible that the attacker was a so- called lone wolf.
CNN national correspondent Deb Feyerick has been following this story. What's the latest here, Deb?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We can tell you, Brianna, that one of the reasons the Columbus Police Department reached out so quickly to the FBI is because there were certain red flags that were raised that caused significant concern. First of all, this was a lone individual, a machete was used, and it seemed to be a random attack in a public place.
FEYERICK (voice-over): The attack happened at the Nazareth Middle Eastern restaurant in Columbus, Ohio.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some guy pulled out a machete and started stabbing people. I ran out with my kids.
FEYERICK: A man with a machete attacked and injured four people, one of them critically. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: it was the table right in front of me. He just
started attacking people.
KAREN BASS, WITNESS: I thought it was a personal thing and then he just started down the row hitting everybody with something. I don't know, there was -- people were bleeding.
FEYERICK: Officials say the attacker is 30-year-old Mohamed Barry. He's of Somali origin and has a drug-related criminal record. The FBI is looking into Barry's recent travel and any potential links to jihad. The restaurant is owned by an Israeli Arab Christian. Hany Baransi tells the "Columbus Dispatch" the attacker was apparently inside the restaurant asking an employee about him.
HANY BARANSI, OWNER: I understood that he left, came back 30 minutes later and attacked a person and then start slicing up people down the booths.
FEYERICK: People inside the restaurant fought back, some of them throwing chairs. Another confronting the suspect.
SGT. RICHARD WEINER, COLUMBUS POLICE: Nobody inside from the people that we've spoken to, whether it be some of the patrons or the employees, nobody said that they knew him.
FEYERICK: The suspect fled, driving off with multiple police cruisers chasing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trying to get out of the vehicle. He's getting ready to go again. He's moving in.
FEYERICK: Police say they got the suspect to stop. He tried escaping out of the passenger door with his weapons.
WEINER: He had a machete and another knife in his hand and he lunged across the hood at the officers. Another officer in a cruiser fired a couple of shots at him and put him down.
FEYERICK: One person initially critical was rushed into surgery and is now listed in stable condition.
FEYERICK: And the FBI is investigating this as a possible act of terrorism, but they haven't ruled out the possibility that it could also be a hate crime -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Deb Feyerick, thank you for that report.
I do want to dig deeper on this now. Very disturbing story. We have our law enforcement experts here to discuss this. We're joined by CNN justice reporter Evan Perez and we have CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, he is a former FBI assistant director.
Do we know anything else, Evan? Are investigators learning anything more about the motivation behind this? EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the more
interesting things about this is the fact that about 30 minutes before this attack, Brianna, the attacker, Barry, went into the restaurant and apparently asked about the owner. Apparently the restaurant is decorated with the Israeli flags. The owner is Israeli, but he is an Arab Christian, and so one of the possibilities that investigators are pursuing is that the attacker thought that he was attacking a Jewish- owned business, an Israeli Jewish-owned business.
[17:45:11] It turns out it was an Arab Christian business that he was attacking and it may have just been a case of mistaken identity. So that's one of the avenues and one of the reasons why they're looking at this as possible terrorism.
KEILAR: So where does that leave investigators, Tom, between looking at this as a hate crime or as a lone wolf terrorist act?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, in the beginning, Brianna, they're not going to have a theory to go on. I mean, they don't want to be, you know, tainted in any direction so they're going to obtain the Internet records, the phone records, talk to friends, neighbors, work colleagues of his and try and find out if there's any indication of what the true motive was. So for now they're just investigating trying to see what it is. As Evan said, it could be -- that could qualify as a terrorist act, it could qualify as a hate crime or it might be a garden variety psychopath and we have plenty of those running around.
KEILAR: Yes, certainly we've seen that. All right, Tom, Evan, thank you guys so much.
And coming up, investigators are digging into a chilling new video that shows a sophisticated laptop bomb moments before it was planted on an airliner. How did the explosive get through airport security?
[17:50:41] KEILAR: Tonight, there is chilling new surveillance video that appears to show how a sophisticated laptop bomb made its way through airport security before being planted aboard a passenger jet.
Our Brian Todd is learning new details on this developing story. What have you found, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, this is really astonishing. It is very rare when you can actually see a critical moment of a terrorist plot unfolding before your eyes. But tonight, we've got this extraordinary closed circuit video from the Mogadishu airport and it captures this moment right here when two alleged plotters actually hand that laptop bomb off to the actual bomber.
And we've been working our sources from Washington to Mogadishu and tonight we've got new information on the three suspects and an apparent effort to silence two of them.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): Crucial new evidence in a horrifying terror attack. Closed Circuit TV footage from the Mogadishu airport. On the right side of the screen, two airport employees who are now suspects. One of them is holding what appears to be a laptop computer. Just seconds later, one of the men hands the computer to a third man. The computer, a source says, was packed with explosives.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It's chilling, frankly, to see this, you know, because this is -- you know, if you and I were in this lounge right now, you'd see these people and you can see them handing off that laptop, you wouldn't think twice of it.
TODD: The man the laptop bomb was handed to, Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh. And what he did with it, according to Somali sources, was try to blow up the Somali passenger jet.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, the moment the Somalis clearly suspect that he was a willing participant, that he planned to be a suicide bomber, that he positioned himself on the aircraft at a place where he could create the maximum amount of damage.
TODD: The bomb ripped a hole in the fuselage. Borleh was killed when he was blown out of the hole. His right hand and right foot are missing. The pilot made an emergency landing. Amazingly, no one else was killed in the February 2nd attack. Tonight a source close to the investigation tells CNN correspondent Robyn Kriel the laptop bomb was sophisticated and got passed a fairly advanced x-ray machine at the Mogadishu airport.
CNN has told, one of those airport employees who were suspects placed the laptop on an x-ray belt before it was handed to the bomber in the departure lounge.
O'BRIEN: The capabilities that they would have to get through security by doing a little bit of social engineering, just distracting or saying, hey, I got this one, open up all kinds of sinister possibilities.
TODD: U.S. officials tell CNN they believe al-Shabaab, the vicious al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, is behind the attack. But the plot has gotten thicket. Just three days after the plane bombing, the two airport workers were in a car in Mogadishu when it exploded.
CRUICKSHANK: One was killed because he was still in the car. The other had got out of the car to go to a shop.
TODD: Now tonight a Somali official tells me investigators believe the two men may have been targeted to prevent them from talking to authorities. The official says the suspect who survived this car bombing is now in custody and he's giving information. The official would not say what information that is -- Brianna.
KEILAR: This bomb, is it something, Brian, that authorities think al- Shabaab could have crafted? Is it sophisticated? TODD: It is sophisticated, Brianna. It's possible they could have
done it themselves, but they have not use a bomb this advanced before. We are told, a major concern tonight is that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, another al Qaeda affiliate, may have helped al-Shabaab. The two groups have exchanged personnel and training. And AQAP has this man, its master bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri, who Western intelligence officials say he is developing a new generation of explosives that can be concealed in electronics. He is believed to be behind the underwear bomb and the printer cartridge bomb plots which targeted planes heading for the U.S. He's constantly working to evade airport security.
KEILAR: All right. Brian Todd, thank you so much.
Coming up, Donald Trump threatens to sue Ted Cruz over his citizenship if his rival doesn't clean up his act and stop running negative ads.
And a new Pentagon report warns that North Korea's special operations forces are not only well-trained and well-equipped, but in a country that struggles with hunger, they're also well fed.
KEILAR: Happening now. Trump's threat just days after declaring he'd seek a more statesman like tone, tonight Donald trump says he'll sue Ted Cruz over his citizenship if Cruz continues to attack. We're standing by for the first comments from Trump since he threatened that suit.
Born again? Ted Cruz pulls this ad after learning it features an actress who once starred in soft porn films. Should the evangelical candidate have offered her forgiveness instead? And why does his newest ad feature a parody of a profane rap song and Hillary Clinton wielding a basketball bat?
Pope in danger? We have new details about why Homeland Security is raising red flags about the Pope's safety just days before he visits an area near the U.S. border. Could he be the target of a lone wolf attack?
And Russian roulette. Serious questions remains about a potentially historic truths in a civil war sending shockwaves around the world. Why are the Russians still bombing even after agreeing to a truce.
We want to welcome --