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GOP Candidates Gear Up For High-States Debate; Clinton Sharpens Attack on Sanders; Pope Kicks Off Mexican Visit; Jeb Bush Looks For Boost from His Brother in S.C.; Kerry: Deal to Stop Fighting Reached on Syria; Saxophonist Dedicated Album to Late Daughter, NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 13, 2016 - 07:30   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: If you have to go out, bundling up because these are dangerous, possibly life-threatening cold conditions.


PAUL: So, we need to sit at home and grab some nice hot coffee.

BLACKWELL: Stay inside. Stay with us.

PAUL: Chill out a bit.

Yes. We are here for you. And our next hour of NEW DAY actually starts now.


PAUL: So, elbows out, sharper tones ahead. The six remaining Republican presidential candidates gear up for a primetime high stakes debate in South Carolina.

BLACKWELL: Hillary Clinton is on the attack and she's tying her campaign to Obama's legacy as she and Bernie Sanders are getting increasingly negative towards one another.

PAUL: And 20 million Christians visit the Basilica of Guadalupe every each year. No visit maybe bigger than today's -- you see it there -- by the pope.

Wishing you a good morning on this Saturday, no matter how chilly it might be where you are. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Always good to be with you.

Let's start in battleground South Carolina. In just a matter of hours, six Republican candidates will square off on the debate stage. It's in Greenville. Another make or break moment in the race with just one week until the South Carolina Republican primary.

Now, last night, the GOP front-runner Donald Trump, he wasn't campaigning in South Carolina. He was in Tampa, Florida, holding a rally with thousands, 10,000, maybe 11,000 supporters there. PAUL: And here's how he characterized his campaign, saying he's

running an optimistic campaign, yet he said that hours after issuing this warning to what appears to be an arch rival at this point, Ted Cruz, and this was on Twitter. Trump tweeted, "If the 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."

Well, Cruz is now firing back.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will give you this. He is not boring. My approach consistently has been; I'm not going to respond in kind. So, he can launch whatever insults he wants. My focus is going to be on the substance and issues. And there is a reason that Donald engages in attacks because it's all a smokescreen to hide from his record.


PAUL: CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now live from Greenville, South Carolina, with the preview of what we can expect tonight.

So, Ryan, we have reason to believe this will come up during the debate.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi. There's a good chance that Donald Trump will use this attack line he's used on him for Ted Cruz for quite a few months on the campaign trail. He's actually stopped talking about Ted Cruz's birth place, but now as Cruz comes here to South Carolina, which is in a state rich with socially conservative voters, voters who might not necessarily be ideologically aligned with Donald Trump, that he is now trying to plant a seed of doubt with the voters, trying to remind them that there's a chance that Cruz might be sued if he was somehow elected.

But, you know, Donald Trump is not only focusing on his fellow opponents. He seems to be looking ahead to the general election and even talking about the Democrats in this race.

Listen to what Donald Trump had to say latest night about Bernie Sanders in Tampa, Florida.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love to run against a communist. I never thought -- I never thought I'd see a day in our country when a communist, because that's really you think about it -- when a communist is the leading Democrat -- we're going to have a communist against an entrepreneur. I like the entrepreneur, right?


NOBLES: And it's not just Ted Cruz we should keep an eye on tonight, but also Marco Rubio. Remember, he had all of what was thought to be the mainstream momentum after the Iowa caucus, leading into New Hampshire and then he stumbled in that debate, ended up finishing fifth in New Hampshire. Rubio has promised a much stronger debate performance tonight. We'll have to see if that happens -- Christi.

PAUL: No doubt.

All right. Ryan Nobles, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: But we know Trump is using every opportunity he has to go after Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, threatening as we heard there to sue Cruz, also calling Bush vicious and gutless.



TRUMP: And, you know, in his own way, he's a vicious guy. You know, he's got that little vicious streak, because he's a gutless guy. He's got a vicious streak.

He's taking ad -- he's taking ads, $20 million worth of negative ads on Trump. What the hell did I do to him? $20 million worth of negative ads. And I say -- you know the funny thing? If he didn't, I would never hit him.


BLACKWELL: All right. Let's bring in CNN political commentator Errol Louis, Justin Sayfie, Republican strategist and Jeb Bush supporter, and also, Barry Bennett, former campaign manager for Dr. Ben Carson.

Gentlemen, welcome to you all.


BLACKWELL: Hey, Justin, I want to start with you. Can Jeb Bush win South Carolina?

JUSTIN SAYFIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, right now, he's got momentum actually coming out of New Hampshire and he's got the support of Lindsey Graham, the U.S. senator from South Carolina.

[07:05:04] And his brother's going to campaign with him on Monday and his brother is very popular there.

And Governor Bush has also defended the honor of Senator John McCain who Donald Trump viciously attacked for becoming a prisoner of war in the Vietnam War. So, I think that Governor Bush is the only one that's taking on Trump directly in the debates. I think you're going to see that tonight. I think if he has a good debate performance, if his conference appearance with his brother goes well on Monday, I think anything's possible.

BLACKWELL: Anything's possible, but you set the table there. He's got a former president coming out. I mean, the Bush name is golden. I saw it when I was there in South Carolina. And he wins in '88 and 2000. He's got four offices, 20 staffers. He's got the staffers there.

If he can't win in South Carolina, what does say about the viability of his candidacy?

SAYFIE: Well, look, it's still a crowded field. You still have six people running. I don't think winning in South Carolina is a necessity for him to continue his campaign.

The people right now, about a third of the Republicans there are supporting Donald Trump. Two thirds are not supporting Donald Trump. I think once the field calls down two or three people, if Jeb Bush is still in that mix, he'll become the main alternative to Donald Trump for mainstream Republicans around the country.

BLACKWELL: Barry, let me come to you. Dr. Ben Carson was in front of that group of 14,000 people last night at that Christian rock concert. Of course, we know the importance and value of the evangelical vote there. Where does he need to finish in the South Carolina primary to, I guess, convince voters that his campaign is still viable?

BARRY BENNETT, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR DR. BEN CARSON: Well, I think you've got to finish in the top four or five. You know, I mean, Ben has got an amazing fund-raising list. He'll be in it as long as he wants to. He's not going to run out of money. He has a strong affinity, the portion of those Christian South Carolinians. I think they're going to turn out and vote for him. I don't know if he's going to finish in the top three, but he'll do pretty very well.

BLACKWELL: Errol, with just six candidates in this race, is fifth place enough for Dr. Carson enough to continue on?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, right. As Barry says, you know, if you're not in fourth or fifth place, that means you're dead last. He needs to finish some place other than last I think is probably the right way to think about this.

But let's keep in mind also he's got a secret weapon in the form of one of his top advisers. Armstrong Williams is from South Carolina, and not just from there, but used to work for Strum Thurman, and has a real sort of deep network as well as some TV stations that he owns in South Carolina.

So they've got quite a network down there and to the extent we use that overused phrase "ground game," Ben Carson may have one there that we're not perceiving just yet.

BLACKWELL: Barry, let me come back to you with this threat from Donald Trump to sue Senator Cruz. Why do you think he's bringing this back up, this Canadian birth. It didn't win him Iowa.

BENNETT: Well, you know, I think it's played a big part in the minds of people. You know, Ted Cruz did have Canadian citizenship. I mean, it's not like John McCain was born in Panama. I think there's an undecided issue there.

You know, I don't think Donald Trump is going toto sue Ted Cruz, but Ted Cruz is pulling an awful lot of dirty tricks, mainly on Ben Carson so far. I think he was trying to put him on notice that you may want to play dirty, but other people can play dirty as well.

BLACKWELL: What do you make, Justin, of this vacillating from the Trump campaign, you know, saying that we're not going use any more vulgarities and he's held to that, but then attacking on Twitter, pulling the negative ad, but still calling people vicious. What do you make of this swing in the Trump campaign?

SAYFIE: Look, Donald Trump's record as a candidate speaks for itself. He has been the most personally negative presidential candidate, I think, in American history. If you look at the number of people he's personally attacked from his own mouth, I think that exceeds what any other candidate has done in terms of personal attacks both electronically, on social media, through Twitter, and also in his debates and campaign speeches.

If someone were to quantify the number of times he's personally attacked other candidates, I think he'd set a record. So, for him to say he's running a positive campaign, I hate to say it, but it's absolutely laughable.

BLACKWELL: But Jeb Bush called him a happy warrior. He called Donald Trump a liar, a loser, and a whiner in his stump speeches going after exclusively Trump. I mean, is he getting down in the mud if that's your characterization?

SAYFIE: Well, I would say that governor Bush -- since Donald Trump is the front-runner, Governor Bush knows you can't win the nomination unless you taken to front-runner, and that's what he's doing. He's taken him on the debates. I think you're going to see that in tonight's debate. I think you're going to see Donald Trump and Jeb Bush mix it up a little bit.

It's interesting that Donald Trump is attacking Jeb Bush because, you know, Governor Bush is the one who's stood up to Donald Trump in those debates. So, I think you're going to see a good show tonight.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let me come to you, Errol, quickly, on Governor Kasich and what we expect to see tonight.

As we've seen there, is this appetite in South Carolina and I guess broadly across this cycle for these attacks. This positive campaign he's running, is that going to work this cycle without the 106 town halls he did in New Hampshire, time to do those, as he moves through the calendar?

LOUIS: Well, he hasn't got time and he hasn't got money. So, whether he's positive or negative, if nobody hears about it, it won't make much difference. This debate performance is essentially Kasich's South Carolina's strategy. He won't have time to put together a real organization or a whole lot of money in the remaining days.

So, you know, as an evangelical, he will resonate with a certain section of the voters. He's going to try and keep his momentum going and look forward to Super Tuesday but I don't know if he can do that tonight or in the time remaining between now and South Carolina.

BLACKWELL: All right. Errol Louis, Justin Sayfie, Barry Bennett -- thank you all.

LOUIS: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Programming note for you: CNN hosts a post-debate special tonight with Erin Burnett immediately after the debate. So, join us for that.

PAUL: Still to come, more about that family support with former President George W. Bush returning to the campaign trail. Trump has said that he will have some choice words for George W. Bush once he does so. We'll find out what that means.

Also, Bernie Sanders may have more firepower against Hillary Clinton as she gets major boost of financial support from a super PAC funding.

And it is a rock star welcome for Pope Francis, making his first ever visit to Mexico.



HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he's shown a great presidential leadership in dealing with the implacable opposition of the right wing and the Republicans of the Tea Party.

[07:15:07] I think millions of Americans are better off because of his presidency. So, I, yes, will build on the progress he's made because I am a progressive who actually likes to make progress.


PAUL: Hillary Clinton tying her campaign to President Obama's legacy there as she sharpens her attack on Bernie Sanders.

Sanders, though, may have a bit of firepower against her. The "Washington Post" reporting this morning that a super PAC backing Clinton will spend $5 million on her behalf which, of course, could be seen as strengthening his argument that she is too tied to corporate money.

Democratic strategist and Bernie Sanders supporter, Nomiki Konst, joining us, as well as Miami Beach mayor and Hillary Clinton supporter, Philip Levine.

Thank you both for being here. Appreciate it.

Philip, I'd like to start with you and the super PAC report that Clinton wasn't supposed to be this money wasn't supposed to be spent until the general election. Are you hearing viability of her campaign at this point?

MAYOR PHILIP LEVINE, MIAMI BEACH: Absolutely not. The only concern we're hearing is from the Republican Party that desperately does not want her to be the Republican nominee. They would much rather have the gentleman from Vermont who's been espousing a socialist revolution all over the world, Senator Sanders, because I think as you heard Donald Trump and all the rest of them, that they love to run against someone like that. They do not want to run against Secretary Clinton.

So, the concern is really from the Republican camp. Definitely not from the Democratic camp.

PAUL: All righty. Nomiki, she certainly sharpened her attack against her rival. She's calling Bernie Sanders a one-issue candidate, talking, of course, about income inequality. Do you feel that he needs to broaden his message for a wider audience at this point?

NOMIKI KONST, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I mean, listen, his message is exactly, he's targeting the root cause of a lot of the other injustices. He's talking about universal health care. He's talking about education reform and prison reform and criminal justice reform, and, of course, Wall Street reform.

And those are issues that, frankly, Hillary Clinton does not have the strongest record on, with the exception of universal health care in the '90s, which she has since reversed her position on.

So, if we want to be real about this, going back to the mayor's point, Hillary Clinton is frankly very scared of Bernie Sanders. He's raising more money than she is, and none of her -- barely any of his donors are maxing out with an average donation of $34. She's got to find money somewhere so she can go up against him. In fact, she put up more ads because she didn't have as much cash on hand.

He's a real threat to Democratic establishment and it's not over social policies. It's about saying, guess what, we need to regulate Wall Street again. But it's very hard for her to make that message when she's accepting more money from Wall Street than any candidates, including the Republicans.

PAUL: You know, we understand that Hillary Clinton may have a hard time, Philip, really grasping those college day students, those college kids who are flocking to the campaign. Is there any way she can change that going into South Carolina and Nevada next week?

LEVINE: Well, I think, first of all, you're going to find in South Carolina that Secretary Clinton is doing a great. Of course, the African-American community and, of course, we're going to see nationwide in the Latin community.

You know, when you're out there and I live in Florida as you can see in Miami. When you're espousing a socialist revolution, I can tell you I know a little something because I'm from Florida, we know something about socialist revolutions, you know, we had one in Nicaragua, we had one in Venezuela, we had one in Cuba, and I know a lot about it because those people that went through that socialist revolution actually all live in Miami right now. It hasn't worked out too well for them. So, as you know, Senator Sanders is espousing a socialist revolution. And, by the way, when you say, of course, that you want to give away, you know, health care, you're going to give away education, you're going to destroy Wall Street, I understand now he's giving away free Uber and free Starbucks and I think free Netflix or something like that because -- of course, you're going to appeal to everybody who wants free stuff. But the reality is --

KONST: Are you a Democrat or Republican because you sound like a Republican's mouth.

LEVINE: As you know, it's too good to be true, it's always too good to be true. As an entrepreneurial businessperson, I know that from many years of experience. So, we understand what's going on.

PAUL: Go ahead. I want to let you to go if you have something to say.

KONST: Mayor, I mean, we have to be fair here. You're sounding more like a Republican side than a Democratic side. We all know that there's no socialist revolution.

Democrat -- he's a Democratic socialist. He has some socialist policies. Listen, the military is more socialized than our government is, and what Bernie Sanders policies.

All he's saying is he wants to tax the people who have not been paying taxes over the past several years, over the past several years, which is Wall Street. He wants to cut the loopholes so that we can pay for education, because the reality is millennials are hurting.

You want to talk about the debt? You want to talk about how high the debt is right now? What happens when an entire generation is dependent on social program because they don't have jobs, because they're in debt because of student loan? Those are fiscal policies that were determined in the '90s. So, I understand you're defending Hillary Clinton but it doesn't sound very Democratic.

LEVINE: So, the fact of the matter is, we understand. And once again, it's OK if you're espousing a socialist revolution. You should stick with that and own it, it's OK. Don't be defensive about it, OK?

But the fact of the matter is Senator Clinton wants to clamp down on the 1 percent.

[07:20:02] But what she doesn't want to do, different than Senator Sanders, she does not want to choke the entire middle class and make the middle class pay for this bill. That's what the difference is.

She wants to go after the 1 percent. I'm the 1 percent. And you know what? I have no problem paying our fair share to make sure that our economy and all our people are doing well. That's what Secretary Clinton is about.

PAUL: All right. Nomiki Konst and Philip Levine, thank you so much for your conversation this morning. We appreciate it. KONST: Thank you so much.

PAUL: Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right. Ahead, bone chilling temperatures. We're talking 40, maybe 50 below. It's coming up this weekend, so get ready. The forecast straight ahead for you.

Plus, he's pretty popular, but can he bring the votes? George W. Bush about to help his brother on the campaign trail in South Carolina.


BLACKWELL: Pope Francis arrived in Mexico City this morning after a stopover in Cuba. He'll be in Mexico for six days. There's a formal welcoming ceremony that's happening at the national palace. That's in a few hours. And tonight, the pope will hold a mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico.

PAUL: In Ohio, the FBI is assisting police in Columbus now to determine the motive of a man who attacked several people in a restaurant with a machete. Police are investigating it as a possible lone wolf terrorist incident.

[07:25:00] Now, four people were injured, including a man who is still in critical condition. Police shot and killed the 30-year-old attacker following a car chase.

New York City, you're on alert, I'm sorry to tell you this morning. The mayor is cautioning you to stay inside. Make sure your friends and neighbors are OK as well. Wind chills could make it feel as though it's 15 degrees below zero and other surrounding cities, the wind chill could get as low as 45 degrees below.

Meteorologist Allison Chinchar following the story for us.

Allison, how widespread is this cold snap, how expansive?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We are talking nearly two dozen states that are under some type of wind chill warning or wind chill advisory.

And here's look at the map. It goes basically from the Midwest. But the focus really is on the Northeast, because in this particular portion of the country, no state is without some type of advisory oar warning. Yes, we're talking wind chills as low as minus 45 degrees.

The Northeast in February is cold, but not that cold. We've got a deep trough set up with high pressure in the northwest pulling down all of that cold arctic air down into the Midwest and Northeast. And the irony of it is it's actually warmer in the western part of the country.

So, right now, it's actually warmer in the western half of the country. So, right now, it's actually warmer in Anchorage, Alaska, than it is Atlanta, warmer in Barrow, Alaska, than it is in International Falls, and it's also warmer in Fairbanks than it is in Chicago right now.

Here's a look at the temperatures we're talking about. It's not just the air temperature. It's also the wind that has to get factored in. We're not talking terribly strong winds. In a lot of places, it's 15, 20, 25 miles an hour. But when you already have such cold temperatures like minus 13 in Burlington, that makes it feel like minus 36, minus 5 is a temperature in Boston tomorrow morning. It's going to feel like minus 29.

And in New York, the temperature will be 2 with a feels like temperature of minus 17. Overall, tomorrow morning, we're looking at possibly 18 record low temperatures across the eastern half of the country. High temperatures today, we could end up having some that get to the coldest high temperature they've ever had, about 20 of those.

New York City, for example, on Valentine's Day, forecast right around 1 degree. The record low, two. So, again, a rather chilly day for Valentine's Day, Christi. Who knows? Maybe nine or ten months from now, we'll have a whole new baby boom.


BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: I was thinking the same thing, Allison, but I'm glad you said it.

Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

Stay inside.

BLACKWELL: You've got to stay warm somehow.


BLACKWELL: All right.

Let's talk politics. It's been more than a decade since George W. Bush has been on the campaign trail. It's a big deal for him to come now and campaign for his brother. But what difference will it make here? Of course, it will make one, but how.

And is Russia bonding civilians there in Syria? A French government thinks so -- or the French government, I should say. Now, Russia is responding. That's ahead.

PAUL: First, though, here are this week's mortgage rates -- in case you're interested. Here's your look.


[07:31:29] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Guess who you're going to get to see again? George W. Bush on the campaign trail. The former president is making his debut in support of his brother Jeb. It happens Monday in South Carolina. This is the first time the two brothers have campaigned together after

coming fourth in New Hampshire, of course. It's a critical week for Jeb Bush.

Our Athena Jones looks at how his big brother could offer a bit of a boost.



ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George W. Bush is back.

G.W. BUSH: Experience and judgment count in the Oval Office. Jeb Bush is a leader who will keep our country safe.

He respects the military, he honors their families.

JONES: And Jeb Bush couldn't be happier about it.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's the last Republican that was president. He's the most popular Republican alive.

I'm a proud brother of George W. Bush.

JONES: Bush, whose campaign logo doesn't even include his famous last name and who begin his run as, quote, "his own man", has been embracing his family more with each passing day.

J. BUSH: I'm Jeb, exclamation point. Proud to be a Bush.

JONES: His mother Barbara Bush joining him on the stump in New Hampshire.

The brothers will be campaigning together for the first time Monday. Until now, W. has been helping out behind the scenes.

J. BUSH: This is the first time he's really kind of stepped out in the political realm since he was president. I think there'd be a lot of interest in what he has to say.

JONES: It was once thought that the younger brother had the head for politics but his older brother beat him there, winning a governorship first, and later, the White House.

G.W. BUSH: I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear --

JONES: Eight years during which Jeb Bush has said he never disagreed with his brother on policy.

INTERVIEWER: Not one time did you call up and say, you know what, don't do that?

J. BUSH: I'm not going to start now. It's just -- till death do us part.

JONES: The assist from W. won't come without criticism.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Your brother and your brother's administration gave us Barack Obama, because it was a disaster those last three months that Abraham Lincoln couldn't have been elected.

J. BUSH: You know what? As it relates to my brother, there's one thing I know for sure, he kept us safe.

JONES: Donald Trump has repeatedly bashed the elder brother's decision to go to war in Iraq, and the GOP front-runner says he'll be ready with some more choice words for the Bushes in the coming days.

TRUMP: Now, he's bringing in his brother. I won't say anything. I'm going to save that for after his brother makes his statement, because there's plenty to say about what happened.

JONES: Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.


BLACKWELL: All right. Let's bring back, CNN political commentator, Errol Louis, Justin Sayfie, Republican strategist and Bush supporter and Barry Bennett, former campaign manager for Dr. Ben Carson.

Justin, I want to start with you.

Former President Bush will be on the trails at the start of the week. What do you expect his role will be beyond, you know, supporting his brother, especially on national defense? Will he go after any of the opponents directly?

JUSTIN SAYFIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't expect him to do that. I expect George Bush to talk about what he -- the man he knows to be his brother Jeb Bush.

As was mentioned in that opening piece there, George Bush is very popular in South Carolina. I think it's very risky for Donald Trump to start attacking as he did Barbara Bush last week and now if he's going start attacking George Bush.

Look, Jeb Bush is his own man, he has his own record. He was an incredibly successful governor in the largest swing state in Florida. His record speaks for itself.

He's a member of the Bush family. His brother is going to come campaign for him there in South Carolina.

[07:35:00] I don't expect George Bush to be attacking other Republicans. I expect to see him talking about the man that he knows Jeb Bush to be.

BLACKWELL: Errol, I was at a Venus Restaurant, a Bush event in Florence, South Carolina. There was a man who heaped the Bush love and praised the family and Jeb Bush but then said he was a Trump supporter because he was tired of Republican politicians coming cycle after cycle saying the same thing and doing nothing. Is the love in South Carolina strong enough for the Bushes that it outweighs that sentiment that we're seeing not just in South Carolina but in all the states of the cycle?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: (AUDIO GAP) picking somebody and there's voting for somebody. As you're suggesting from that story, it's not always the same thing.

I mean, the level of frustration that people have with Republican politics, with compromise, with trying to sort of see the promises that are made, the lavish extravagant processes that are made generation after generation of Republican politicians without it really being seen through -- I mean this is what one of the pivotal points of this whole campaign is about.

There's a real interesting theory. E.J. Dionne talks about it in his new book where for many, many years, even long before this cycle, you've got tea party conservatives, far right conservatives that say they're going dismantle the Department of Education, saying they're going to get rid of the EPA and all kinds of ridiculous promises that, of course, don't come true. And now, this is when the bill comes due when voters are saying, we don't believe anything you say and this is part of the appeal of a Donald Trump.

BLACKWELL: Barry, before winning the nomination, you've got Rubio, you've got Kasich, you've got Bush who are trying to win this primary within the primary, the more traditional, the establishment vote. Is there a front runner in that lane now?

BARRY BENNETT, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR DR. BEN CARSON: You know, I don't think there is. I think they're all kind of bunched together every time we have what we think is a front runner in that lane, something happens. I mean, Marco Rubio came out of Iowa as the front- runner. Kasich comes out as the front-runner and I don't know what will happen here.

BLACKWELL: So, Barry, what are you looking for tonight?

BENNETT: In the debate, I mean, you know, look, this is the eighth or ninth. I don't know. I'm losing count.


BENNETT: I think the very deaf information of insanity is to do the same thing and expect a different outcome. So, I don't think there's going to be much movement coming out of the debate tonight.

You know, the vote here in South Carolina is surprisingly settled. The public polling that I've seen recently, the undecided vote is very small. It's not like New Hampshire where there's a lot of breaking at the end.

It's going to be a turnout game, it's going to be a ground game, and, you know, you've got to love where Donald Trump is living right now. He had 13,000 in Baton Rouge the other night, 11,000 in Tampa, over 100,000 people in South Carolina have come to a Trump rally. He's doing something right.

BLACKWELL: Justin, Governor Bush has -- who is that trying to jump in there? Was that you, Errol?

SAYFIE: That's right, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Go ahead, Justin. Go ahead.

SAYFIE: I just wanted to say, look. We saw what happened to Marco Rubio after that last debate. And four years ago, Newt Gingrich won the CNN debate and ended up winning the South Carolina primaries.

So, I don't want to set expectations too high for the debate tonight, but we have seen both four years ago in South Carolina and last week in New Hampshire, the debates can be impactful.

BLACKWELL: So, what does Governor Bush have to do tonight?

SAYFIE: Well, I think Governor Bush needs to continue to talk about his record, talk about his vision for the future. He has the most extensive policy plans on his website,, and he needs to take on Donald Trump and show that he's -- and show Donald Trump for what he is. I think that's what you're going to see, because you can't win the nomination unless you're willing to take on the front- runner.

BLACKWELL: Well, you're certainly going have some incoming from Senator Rubio who said this week that your candidate, Governor Bush, doesn't have any foreign policy experience.

SAYFIE: Yes. Well, that's interesting to come from Marco Rubio who's been in Washington.

And, look, Governor Bush has assembled a terrific panel of foreign policy experts, and his plan that he gave at the Reagan library to defeat ISIS, I'll put up against other over candidates plan to defeat is.

Let's let the voters look at the plans they have to address foreign policy challenges like defeating ISIS.

BLACKWELL: Justin Sayfie, Barry Bennett, Errol Louis, thank you all.

We are counting down the hours until the, we're keeping track, ninth GOP debate tonight in Greenville, South Carolina.

LOUIS: Thank you.

SAYFIE: Thanks, Victor.

PAUL: It's not going to look like anything we receive before because we have whittled down candidates here.


PAUL: All right. Diplomats working to secure a ceasefire in Syria today. Will it be too late to help the folks in Aleppo? We have a live report on the site of those talks.

Also, he wrote all those songs on an album while he was grieving the loss of his daughter.

[07:40:04] She died at Sandy Hook elementary. Well, Monday, Jimmy Green, could be a Grammy winner. We're talking to him in just a moment.


PAUL: Forty-three minutes past the hour right now.

And an important diplomatic development in the works at the moment to end the long bloody war in Syria. High-level diplomats are meeting in Munich, Germany, and have agreed to a tentative framework for what Secretary of State John Kerry called, quote, "a cessation of hostilities". Kerry said the goal was to end fighting within the next week and to begin shipments of humanitarian aid to the embattled civilians there.

Let's bring in CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson, who is in Munich.

Nic, I'm wondering -- what are you hearing about the progression of these talks?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, they've come to a point now where they've said in these talks, it's now up to the sides on the ground in Syria to implement what's been agreed here. The humanitarian access, the U.N. has already had a meeting, already sent out a request to get the access to these key areas inside area. They believe and hope that they're going to be able to do that over the coming days. That's supposed to sort of set the groundwork for this cessation of hostilities, which is hoped to come into effect in a week's time for now.

But, of course, the major concern right now and the reason for these talks, the reason for the talks is to get the peace process, the talking between the Syrian government and the opposition groups, get them talking again, create the conditions on the ground where there's a favorable environment for that.

[07:45:06] The reason the talks in Switzerland, Geneva, two weeks ago stalled was because of the Russian bombing on the city of Aleppo. And the concern is right now that Russia is continuing to back President Bashar al Assad's forces around Aleppo, continuing a military offensive there, taking more towns, even though they sat here, the Russian foreign minister sat here two nights ago, and agreed that in a week's time, there would be a cessation of hostilities.

So, a lot of concern about that Russian and Syrian offensive around Aleppo right now.

Secretary John Kerry, Secretary of State John Kerry, when he was speaking here in Munich a few minutes ago, said that the Russians have to stop bombing the oppositions. It's how he put it.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We will work through where the targeting should take place, where it shouldn't, how we work together in order to be effective so we don't drive people away from the table because, obviously, if people are ready to be part of the political process are being bombed, we're not going have much of a conversation.


ROBERTSON: We heard the French prime minister today telling the Russian prime minister here that they should stop that bombing as well.

So, while there's hope of a cessation of hostilities in a week's time, there's a real concern that what Russia is involved in right now is heavy bombing because they think they can make strategic gains or the Syrian government to make strategic gains on the ground, there's real concern that that might unravel all the good work that was put in place here a couple of nights ago, Christi.

PAUL: All right. Nic Robertson, appreciate the update, thank you so much, sir.


BLACKWELL: All right. Still ahead on your NEW DAY, the father of a Sandy Hook victim is nominated for two Grammy Awards this weekend for the album that he composed and dedicated to his daughter. He joins us live to share how much helped him to deal with that grief.


[07:50:30] BLACKWELL: Musician Jimmy Greene used music to turn the devastating loss of his young daughter into a celebration of her life. Green lost his daughter, Ana Marquez Greene, in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

PAUL: Twenty kids died that day and his daughter was just 6 years old. His album is called "Beautiful Life" and it paints a picture not of how she died but of how she lived. Listen.


BLACKWELL: Well, Mr. Greene joins us now from Monroe, Connecticut, and this weekend is nominated for a Grammy Award for best jazz instrumental album of the year.

Mr. Greene, thank you so much for joining us. I know it's been more than three years, but we still offer our condolences for your loss.

JIMMY GREENE, FATHER OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me on.

BLACKWELL: Certainly. I want to start with why an album to pay tribute to your daughter?

GREENE: Well, I'm musician and music is the way I learn how to communicate my whole life. I'm a recording artist and saxophonist and music is just like English is a language, and for me, music is a language that can convey certain things that are sometimes more difficult to convey with words. So, I really felt like me as musician, that is an appropriate way of expression, and even more so, Ana and my son Isaiah and my wife Nelba and both sides of our families are extremely musical.

We've all played and shared music together for our whole lives. Ana was extremely musical. She loved to sing and she loved to dance and she loved to sing along with songs on the radio. She loved to sing along with her brother when he was playing the piano. So, she loved to sing just by herself.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we saw that photograph of her.

GREENE: Music is the appropriate response and to pay tribute to her life, doing it through music is pretty right on.

PAUL: And don't you have a song that includes her voice in it? So we actually get to hear her; is that correct?

GREENE: Absolutely. The first track on the album is a hem that my kids would play together at the piano. My daughter was sing and my son would play and thankfully, my wife captured it on video one day and I wanted for the world to hear Ana's voice because she had a beautiful voice and loved to sing and I don't doubt had she lived longer, she would have recorded on her own because her talent was just that special.

I felt like the first track of the album should have her voice.

PAUL: So, when you listen to the music now and as you were writing it, help us understand what images were in your head and what you were feeling.

GREENE: It runs the whole gamut of emotions, Christi. I mean, from the depths of despair and pain and anger, and frustration and grief, to happy, joyful memories of my little girl and our family when we were all intact. It runs the whole gamut. So, a lot of emotions during the preparation and performance and even listening back to the album.

BLACKWELL: Mr. Greene, I've got one question, it's a bit unorthodox but do you still talk to Ana?

GREENE: Well, I'll give you the long answer. I have great faith that Ana is in heaven, and I do my best to talk to God every day, multiple times a day, and I thank him for keeping her safe with him until we can rejoin her again.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jimmy Greene, nominated for two Grammys this weekend -- thank you so much for sharing some time with us and congratulations on the nominations. GREENE: Thanks so much for having me on.

BLACKWELL: We'll be right back.


[07:58:35] PAUL: So, for basketball fans, tonight's three-point dunk and more are almost, almost as big as tomorrow's all-star game.

BLACKWELL: Andy Scholes is in Toronto with a look ahead in this morning's bleacher report.

Andy, good morning


You know, we're inside the media headquarters for all star weekend, why are we inside? Well, it's negative nine degrees outside right now in Toronto, so standing outside the arena not an option.

Now, tonight is my favorite part of NBA all star weekend. You got skills competition. You got Zach LaVine competing in the dunk for the second straight year. He put on an absolute show. He will be defending his crown once again tonight.

Steph Curry will also be defending his three-point shootout crown tonight. I spoke to Steph yesterday. He told me the guy he's most worried about this year is his Warriors teammate Klay Thompson, and Thompson said last night during the celebrity game, he's gunning for Curry. So, it should be lots of fun watching those two guys go at it.

Now, arguably, the biggest story line of the season has been the dominance of the Golden State Warriors. They have the best first half ever with the record of 48-4, and I sat down with Steph Curry and asked him if going for that '96 Bulls all-time best record of 72-10 is what drives the team.


STEPHEN CURRY, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: There is not many opportunities you probably have to go after that record. You know, they were on a mission that year and ended up winning the championship, as well, so that's kind of where we want to be. But when you have a shot at history and being the best regular season team in the history of the NBA, I think you got to go for it.


SCHOLES: And you can see much more from my interview with Steph tomorrow afternoon.