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Death of Antonin Scalia Raises Stakes in Presidential Race; Pressure on Russia to End Air Campaign in Syria; Front-Line Look at Syrian War; Israeli Prime Minister Headed to Prison; Pope's Visit to Mexico Spotlights Needs; Pope Francis Visits Chiapas, Mexico; Scalia, Ginsburg Good Friends; Love Stories of Past Presidents, Presidential Hopefuls; Bitter Cold Grips Parts of U.S.; Race Takes Center Stage as Winners Announced at BAFTA Awards Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 15, 2016 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:51] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

A very good day to you. We begin this hour with the race for the White House and the political storm that is brewing in the United States. With less than a week before voters cast ballots in the states of South Carolina and Nevada, presidential candidates from both parties are very busy on the campaign trail trying to sway voters in contentious races.

And now the death of a Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, it has raised the stakes, with both parties keenly aware that filling this vacancy could tip the balance of the court.

Democrats are vying for support from African-American voters. Republicans continue courting evangelicals. Now the big question that is looming over the campaigns: Who will President Obama nominate for the court? And what will Republicans do about it? That is especially true in the state of South Carolina where Republicans have just come from a very contentious debate there.

Phil Mattingly reports from the primary battleground.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Marco Rubio, one of the only candidates on the trail here on Sunday, just a little bit after that rousing debate that was equal parts brawl and exchange of ideas. Rubio's team thinking he did very well in that debate. That's no small thing in the wake of New Hampshire where a disappointing fifth- place finish was due in part to a very poor debate performance.

The issue on the campaign trail on Sunday, no different than the leading issue in that debate, who will be the next Supreme Court justice and who will get the pick?

Here's what Rubio said in South Carolina.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no way the Senate should confirm anyone that Barack Obama tries to appoint in his last year in office to a lifetime appointment.


RUBIO: So the next president of the United States will fill that vacancy.


MATTINGLY: Rubio sounding just like the rest of the Republican Senators in his conference, saying President Obama will get no chance to move his nominee, whoever that may be, through the United States Senate.

Now Rubio has a very important week of campaigning ahead. The South Carolina based campaign team, a lot of pros according to South Carolina analysts down here. Still a lot of ground to make up. Donald Trump with double-digit leads not only in South Carolina but across the country. Rubio hoping to cut into the lead this week. A strong performance in South Carolina his team hopes will bolster his campaign forward as this campaign moves along. Rubio trying to get back the momentum he had in the wake of the big Iowa finish.


HOWELL: That was Phil Mattingly reporting for us.

As for the Democrats, even though the president says he will nominate a replacement for Antonin Scalia, the issue will still play a very heavy role in Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy moving forward.

CNN's senior political analyst, David Gergen, reports.


DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's the responsibility of both branches of government to move quickly to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court. That's what's been done in the past. It should be done again. There is no reason for delay. He is going to find the best qualified person to do it and he is going to put it up there and he's going to fight for that person and he's going to try to win. And he ought to go for the victory. If he doesn't get the victory, though, he wants the issue in the campaign. In other words, you either get the victory or you get the issue, one or the other. That has to be the president's strategy so he can use it to add -- let's say, Hillary Clinton has an enthusiasm gap and she is the nominee of the Democratic Party. What the president wants is something that will draw a lot of people out to the polls because they think it's important to vote for the Democrats in order to make sure the Supreme Court doesn't remain and become more heavily conservative. That could be an issue that brings out voters, especially when you're trying to close an enthusiasm gap.


HOWELL: That analysis from CNN's senior political analyst, David Gergen.

It's still not clear who the president with nominate to take over Scalia's vacant seat but Republicans have made no secret about their strategy, a strategy to delay or possibly block the nomination.

We get more from CNN's Manu Raju on the Republican game plan.


[02:05:12] MANU RAJU, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: President Obama said he would wait until next week potentially or maybe after to choose the replacement to Justice Scalia. But that doesn't mean the battle lines aren't already being drawn, particularly in the United States Senate. On Saturday night, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who sets the schedule, decides which nominees will be voted on and who will be confirmed, decided the next president should nominate the replacement, not the current president. Clearly, the current president, President Obama, did not listen to Senator McConnell and is planning to move forward.

Now the big question for Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republicans is will they allow a vote on the floor of the Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee to confirm or deny the next Supreme Court justice. This is something they have not fully decided yet, largely because Senator McConnell wants to take the temperature of his conference. You have various camps forming. You have Republicans who are dead set against any nominee being confirmed right now. Then you have moderates who are uncertain about what to do. Then you have probably the most influential group, members of the Senate Republican conference who are up for election in blue states and purple states. At the end of the day, those members, how they do, will determine whether the Republicans will stay in the majority next year. Those Republicans will be targeted aggressively by the Democrats, by the White House, by groups on both sides to vote the way that they want them to. We'll watch Senators from Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and so forth. Those are the key to going forward.

Right now, if you are the White House and you are the Democrats, you know you have a very uphill battle to climb to get your nominee confirmed.


HOWELL: CNN's Manu Raju reporting for us.

Much more ahead here on NEWSROOM on how the fight over the Supreme Court is reshaping the race for the White House. CNN political analyst, Ron Brownstein, will join us in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM. International diplomats are pressuring Russia to end its air campaign

inside Syria but there is no indication that that pressure is achieving results. While delegates debate the terms of a ceasefire agreement, new video on social media purported to show more bombs falling on Sunday. You see it here.

At the security conference in Munich, U.S. Senator John McCain accused Russia of using Syria as a live-fire exercise for its military.

The Kremlin revealed that Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama held a, quote, "frank and constructive phone conversation" on Sunday. Each side underscored their very different points of view about the Syrian conflict.

CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, reports many delegates in Munich feel that Moscow is in the driver's seat.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: That phone call between President Obama and President Putin seems to highlight sot some of the concerns expressed here in Munich. The Kremlin focusing on one aspect of the call, the White House focusing on another aspect. The Kremlin saying it's important for the United States and Russia to work together to fight terrorists. Of course, it's the definition of terrorists that has been at issue here. The Kremlin seems to consider anyone that's against President Bashar al Assad, considers them a terrorist. The White House, for its part, takes a different view. It's ISIS and al Qaeda that are the terrorists inside Syria. The White House, for its part, emphasized in the phone call that Russia should stop bombing the moderate opposition. We've certainly heard from the moderate opposition here saying they are monitoring the situation very carefully, though they are prepared -- and, of course, this is all about getting those peace talks up and running again -- they are prepared to get back into those peace talks if they see that Russia stops the bombing.

But the leader of their delegation here, a former prime minister of Syria, spoke to what he saw is actually happening on the ground, Russia creating facts on the ground. This is what he told the conference in Munich.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translation): Since its intervention in January of this year, I ask you that we have 58 clear massacres committed by the Russian military against Syrian civilians alone. In the last 10 days, the Russian air force and its army have intensified and maximized their attempts to punish the Syrian people for their position in demanding their rights. Even before I came here today, I have news that they are seeking to extend Assad's rule south to the Jordanian border.


[02:10:08] ROBERTSON: So President Obama and President Putin's phone call is really to try to move towards this cessation of hostilities that was agreed a couple of days ago. It's now less than five days away to when this is supposed to be happening. The United States and Russia are supposed to be leading a taskforce to create the modalities to make this happen.

But I have to say listening to the delegates here at the security conference in Munich, there is concern here. They don't see the United States has leverage over Russia at the time. They see Russia creating facts on the ground, Russia in a position where it can push its offensive mode not only in Aleppo but also in the south of Syria. And really, the delegates here at the conference consider that really the peace can only come when Russia has done essentially what it wants to do on the ground in Syria. Then maybe says it's time for peace. The United States at the moment still a big hope -- that's the words at the conference here -- a big hope that peace talks can get up and running. But a lot of people concerned and doubting that actually can happen.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Munich, Germany.


HOWELL: You have doubts about the fact that the Russian air strikes have shifted the momentum in favor of the Syrian regime, the army says Russian support has helped to push back ISIS militants.

We take you to the regime's front line against ISIS in Syria. CNN's Fred Pleitgen was given exclusive access.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the eastern Syrian Desert, on the fringe of ISIS' self declared caliphate, the Syrian army readied its artillery cannons, tanks, and armored personnel carriers have dug in.

(on camera): We are on the front line in the Syrian military's battle against ISIS. The soldiers tell us that ISIS positions are literally only a few miles away from this position.

(voice-over): The top commander for this area tells CNN his forces constantly clash with ISIS here. He didn't want to appear on camera because of Syrian military rules, and instead designated a civilian working with him to speak on his behalf.

"Over there is the village of Gerbaht," he says. It's considered to be the alternative capital of ISIS.


PLEITGEN: The Syrian military recently launched a major offensive in the north of the country, winning back some territory, but also causing tens of thousands to flee towards the Turkish border.

(EXPLOSION) PLEITGEN: The U.S. says Syrian forces, mostly combat moderate rebels, have put very little effort into fighting ISIS. But the troops here say that is not true.

"For three months now, ISIS has not been advancing," he says, "they have only been retreating."


PLEITGEN: And Assad's army acknowledges that Russian air power has had a big impact.

"Everything is much better since our Russian friends came in," he says. "They gave us the capability to conduct preemptive strikes and also aerial surveillance to warn us in advance about ISIS attacks."

And they vow to continue their push eastward, deeper into ISIS heartland.

(on camera): The commanders here say they are on the move forward. And one of their predictions is that if nothing else goes wrong, they think they can be in Raqqa by the end of the year.

(voice-over): But they are still far away from achieving that goal, and in the past, ISIS has shown it can rebound after being pushed back.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, eastern Syria.


HOWELL: Moving now to Israel where the former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is headed to prison this day to serve an 18-month prison sentence. He was convicted on bribery charges in 2014. Olmert, who led Israel from 2006 to 2009, will be the first former Israel prime minister to go to jail.

We go live to Jerusalem this hour. CNN's Oren Lieberman is covering those developments for us.

Oren, good to have you.

So this is the man who held high office in Israel, who knows government secrets. Will he be mixed in with the rest of the prison population? Are their special plans for him?

OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Because of him holding the high office, in fact, the highest office, he will be kept separate in what's known as Ward 10, a recently renovated section of the prison, which is actually fairly close to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport. We just saw that he left his home outside of Jerusalem. It's a about a 45 minute drive to that prison. He has to report by 10:00 this morning, according to the Israel Prison Authority, so he should be there just a few minutes before this deadline.

As for Ward 10, it is a small ward. It has room for 18 prisoners. But with Olmert it will only hold four prisoners and that's because they need to be separated from the general population. Olmert, as a former Israeli prime minister, has state secrets, so the prison service won't allow him to be mixed in with people who come from backgrounds of organized crime or other criminals. That's why he will be kept separate.

Other than that, the Israel Prison Authority says he will be treated like any other prisoner, given the same allowances, the some allotments of items he is allowed to bring from home. He will have a TV and a desk in his cell. Other than that, he will be treated like any other prisoner.

But because of his states a former Israel prime minister, the first Israeli prime minister to be in prison, he is separated from the rest of the prison population for his prison sentence -- George?

[02:15:30] HOWELL: And, Oren, as we see there, 9:15 your time. And Olmert is set to turn himself in before 10:00 a.m. local time there.

He was originally sentenced to six years for bribery charges but this was reduced to 18 months. Can you explain to our viewers how he ended up in this situation?

LIEBERMAN: Absolutely. And this all goes back to what's known as the Holyland Affair. This has been more than a decade in the making and in playing out. It goes back to the mid '90s when Ehud Olmert was the mayor of Jerusalem, a position he held for years. There was a real estate developer working on the Holyland development that got a false assessment on the value of the land he was building on to give him tax benefits. That all led to an investigation. And years later, Olmert was finally charged along with a number of others for taking bribes essentially for corruption. The legal process drew out and just recently wrapped up in December, going all the way up in the Israeli legal system. That's when his sentence was knocked down from six years to 18 months.

Olmert released a video this morning before leaving for prison saying he insists he is innocent, insists he did nothing wrong, saying he made mistakes but those mistakes were not criminal, and he has paid a heavy price for those mistakes. He suggests, perhaps, too heavy. He does insist he made no mistakes or didn't do anything wrong during his time as the prime minister. This goes back to his time as a mayor of Jerusalem.

Now he could serve even more time in prison and that's because of what's known as the Talansky Affair, where he took envelopes full of cash as a bribe. That is still dragging out in the legal system. That could lead to another eight months prison.

So, George, before all is said and done, the former prime minister may spend more than two years behind bars.

HOWELL: His legal problems far from over.

Oren, as you point out, due to turn him in by 10:00 a.m. your time there. We'll stay in touch with you. Oren Lieberman live from Jerusalem. Oren, thank you for reporting.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still ahead, Pope Francis, he is in Mexico bringing his message of hope to the nation during his trip there this week. He is also planning to visit one of the poorest regions of the country in the coming hours, even getting some personal encouragement along the way. We'll explain that.

Plus, bitter cold weather, it is gripping parts of the United States. We'll check the effects of what it's doing to temperatures, how low they could drop. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.







[02:21:51] HOWELL: A very touching moment for Pope Francis on Sunday during a visit to children's hospital in Mexico City. A patient sang for him as he passed through a hallway, you see here. The pope kissed the girl on the forehead and offered a blessing. At mass, he urged followers not to succumb to evil.


POPE FRANCIS (through translation): Jesus doesn't answer the devil with any proper words. He answers him with the words of the scripture. He does not answer with his own words because, brothers and sisters, you do not dialogue with the devil. You cannot have a dialogue with the devil because he will always beat us. Only the strength of the word of God can beat him. We have chosen Jesus and not the devil.


HOWELL: As the pope travels throughout Mexico, he is already helping to put the spotlight on the urgent needs of many of its citizens. The five-day trip includes stops at some of the country's most violent cities.

CNN's Shasta Darlington has more.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pope Francis helicoptered into one of the most dangerous places in Mexico on his second full of this trip, a sprawling suburb outside of Mexico City, notorious for poverty and violence. In fact, the pontiff's decision to visit ruffled more than a few official feathers. Of course, it thrilled the hundreds of thousands who lined the papal route hoping to just catch a glimpse of Pope Francis on his way to celebrate mass.

The mass itself was surprisingly critical. He lashed out at what he called the temptations of wealth, fame and power. During the angelus (ph), he was even more direct. He called on Mexicans to try and create a land of opportunity instead of a country where young people are destroyed. Listen to this.

POPE FRANCIS (through translation): I want to invite you today again to be on the front line, to be the first in all the initiatives which help make this blessed land of Mexico a line of opportunities, where there will be no need to immigrate in order to dream, no need to be exploited in order to work.

DARLINGTON: Back in Mexico City, he visited a children's hospital. Many of the patients suffering from cancer. There were some tender moments, for example, when he gave one boy the rosary and asked him to pray for him.


DARLINGTON: Another girl sang "Ave Maria."

On Monday, he's off to Chiapas, Mexico's poorest state, also the main entry point from Central American immigrants trying to reach the United States.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Mexico City.


HOWELL: As you heard Shasta point out, the pope's schedule Monday will put him in one of Mexico's poorest regions. He will spend the day in Chiapas focusing on indigenous people.

A lot of work has gone into preparations for the visit and the expectations and hope for change is evident.


HOWELL (voice-over): Putting on the finishing touches in the poorest state in the Mexican federation, preparations are underway for the pope's arrival to the colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas, a city some believe the Mexican government would prefer he keep out of the spotlight.

"The fact that he's coming to Chiapas is a very important and historical sign because it is here where the Bishop Fray Bartolome de las Casas was. Don Samuel Ruiz Garcia was also here, one of the most important theologians who chose the poor, the marginalized."

With the pope's set to arrive later today, security has been stemmed up. Federal police and soldiers on duty at key venues in the city. And there is excitement in the air.

[02:25:39] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): We're full of hope, full of joy, full of faith because he's coming. I think it is a new inspiration for Mexico, which is a little sad and depressed. We've been through a lot of social economic issues recently and security. I think that Pope Francis's visit to our country will undoubtedly leave us with new hope.

HOWELL: Esperanza, hope in a state where little more than 76 percent of the population live in poverty even as work continues to spruce up the city's picturesque 17th century cathedral.

For the pontiff's visit, Pope Francis, in his typical fashion, has chosen to celebrate mass with indigenous communities, some of the state's poorest, at a humble sports center in the city.

Two decades ago, the Zapatista movement, an insurgency by some of Chiapas' indigent, highlighted the plight of the region's impoverished Mayan Indians. The guns are silent today, but rights activists say the age-old issues of development, poverty and discrimination remain. They are hoping the pope's visit will shine further light on the realities in Chiapas.

For others, though, they just want a chance to be part this historic visit.


HOWELL: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. There is a big change underway in the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court. And it is reverberating throughout the United States. More on the political fallout ahead.

Plus, we take you to the red carpet and Britain's biggest night in film, the BAFTA Awards. Find out which film swept most of the top prizes.

Broadcasting from Atlanta and seen around the world this hour, you are watching CNN worldwide.


[02:30:39] HOWELL: I want to welcome viewers here in the United States and around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Good to have you with us. I'm George Howell.

The headlines we're following --


HOWELL: Republicans in the U.S. Senate are concerned about the vacancy in the U.S. Supreme Court following the death of Antonin Scalia. Many of them say they will not accept whoever President Obama nominates to replace the court's conservative icon. President Obama says he will name a nominee when the Senate returns from recess.

Earlier, my colleague, Isha Sesay, spoke with Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. She asked him about President Obama's resolve to name a nominee sooner rather than later despite the Republican's vow to block it. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN TURLEY, LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: I think many presidents would make this move. You know, Wayne Gretzky, the famous hockey player, once said he missed every shot he never took. This is a shot that all presidents would like to take. Whether they make it is another question. The general rule has been that nominations that occur within two years of the end of a term are problematic. This is much closer than that and during a very contested, very heated and very passionate political race for the presidency. So the odds are against this president that he could get this through a Republican-controlled Senate.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: And you said it's not just the issue of the amount of time the president has on hand. There are other issues that make this problematic?

TURLEY: Well, that's right. I mean, first of all, the greatest problem that the president faces is that Nino Scalia is a conservative icon. He was, indeed, the intellectual force of the right on the court. He was legitimately viewed as an intellectual, someone that had great depth and scope in his opinions. There really isn't anyone on the court right now that -- on the right side that is -- would be viewed at his equal. For that type of iconic figure to be replaced by President Obama, for conservatives, is perfectly nightmarish. It is unlikely, highly unlikely that the president would ever nominate anyone that would be able to fill Scalia's shoes from the perspective of conservatives. And so if he even nominates a moderate, as opposed to a liberal, it would significantly move the center of gravity of the court to the left. And that's the reason it's unlikely that this is going to be anything but a battle royale with this nomination.

SESAY: As you take a look at the battle royale that is shaping up, we've heard the rhetoric from those on the campaign trail hoping to take the place of President Obama in the Oval Office and from other members of the legislature. I mean, as you hear the rhetoric and the heat of the rhetoric, the tone, can you remember a time when it was ever this -- this -- this -- divided or divisive when it comes to picking a Supreme Court justice?

TURLEY: Well, there is certainly more heat than light that's coming out of this. Unfortunately, that is not unprecedented. You know, we often forget that when the Constitution of the United States was written, it was written not just for times like this, but in times like this. You know, Jefferson referred to his predecessor as "the reign of the witches." This was a pretty poisonous time even back then.

But the problem you have in any democratic system is it requires compromise, and sometimes there is not a compromise in the offing. Sometimes the parties are too far apart. That may be this case. There is very little runway left to get a compromise and there is also very little interest on either side, it seems, of reaching a real consensus on a candidate.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [02:35:35] HOWELL: For almost three decades, Antonin Scalia was considered the conservative icon of the U.S. Supreme Court. And on the opposite side of the spectrum, his colleague, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is among the more liberal. Despite that, the ideological rivals had a very close relationship. Their families vacationed together. They even shared a love of opera.

Pamela Brown has more on their unlikely friendship.


ANTONIN SCALIA, FORMER U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Why don't you call us the odd couple?


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, two polar opposite legal minds, with the closest friendship on the bench.

SCALIA: You know, what's not to like?


Except her views of the law, of course.


BROWN: Sharing a laugh about Ginsburg's sleeping habits at the State of the Union.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The audience, for the most part, is awake because they are bounding up and down all the time. And we sit there stone faced, sober judges. But we're not -- at least I wasn't 100 percent sober because before we went to the State of the Union --


-- we had dinner together. And Justice Kennedy --

SCALIA: Well, that's the first intelligent thing you've done.


GINSBURG: So I got a call when I came home from one of my granddaughters and she says, Bubby, you were sleeping at the State of the Union.


BROWN: The sharp-as-a-tack 81-year-old even admitted she has had occasional help staying awake from now retired Justice David Souter.

GINSBURG: He had an acute sense of when I was about --


So he would give me a pinch.

BROWN: Ginsburg, nicknamed Notorious RBG, and Scalia, known as Nino, long vacationed together with their families. Scalia admiring his pint-sized partner's taste for adventure.

SCALIA: Ruth, honest to goodness, went up behind a motor boat in one of those --

GINSBURG: Parasail.



I mean, she's so light, you would think she would never come down.


BROWN: There are political differences an elephant in the room they aren't afraid to confront or ride, as they did in India.

GINSBURG: That was a rather bumpy ride.


SCALIA: And some of her feminist friends gave me a hard time --


-- or her a hard time, because she rode behind me on the elephant.


Big deal.


I'm not kidding.


GINSBURG: That's what you -- it was -- the driver explained it was a matter of distribution of weight.


BROWN: Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Here is a sort of post Valentines political story. You could look at it that. As American voters try to fine the candidate they love, we are looking at the politics of love on the road to the White House. Finding the one and making it last is just as mysterious and surprising for those who hold high office as it is for anyone else out there.

CNN's Dana Bash looks at the love stories of some past presidents and current White House hopefuls.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It doesn't have to be Valentine's Day for Jeb Bush to wear his heart on his sleeve.


BASH: He talks constantly about his whirlwind romance with his wife, Columba.

BUSH: When I was 17 years old, on the town square in Mexico, lightning struck. I met the girl of my dreams. I didn't know it at the time. It took me about 1.5 seconds to know it.

BASH: Ted Cruz has Jeb's brother to thank of his marriage. Cruz met Heidi in 2000 working on the George W. Bush campaign.

HEIDI CRUZ, WIFE OF TED CRUZ: It was love at first sight. Ted seemed to be interesting. He was a good-looking guy. He greeted me with a smile.

BASH: John and Karen Kasich, well, they keep it real.

JOHN KASICH, (R), OHIO GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not one of those adoring wives, where they're like, oh, my husband. Are you kidding me? She's not like, oh, isn't he so great. It's like, would you pick up your socks.



BASH: On the Democratic, Bill and Hillary Clinton famously met at the Yale Law Library.

HILLARY CLINTON: I was sitting in the library and he was standing just outside the door. And he was looking at me and I was looking at him, and I finally thought, this is ridiculous because every time I saw him on campus I couldn't take my eyes off of him and he was always watching me. I put my books down, I walked out, and I said, you know, if we're going the keep looking at each other, we should at least know each other. I'm Hillary Rodham.

[02:40:13] BASH: And Bernie Sanders dated his wife, Jane, at his first mayoral debate in Burlington, Vermont. They dated for eight years, but then broke up for a year because he wouldn't get marriage. When he changed his mind, he proposed in a Friendly's parking lot.

JANE SANDERS, WIFE OF BERNIE SANDERS: I immediately fell in love with his ideas and, shortly thereafter, fell in love with him. BASH: Not exactly JFK and Jackie. He proposed at a famous Georgetown

restaurant, Martin's Tavern, where booth 3 is sill coveted by politically savvy young Washingtonians for popping the question.


BASH: And how about Michele and Barack Obama? The story of their first date was so romantic they made it into a movie.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You think I'm cute?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Our first meal was a lovely lunch, very nice.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And then we went to see "Do the Right Thing."

MICHELLE OBAMA: Spike Lee, just came out. Showed all the signs. Hip, cutting edge, cultural, sensitive. The fountain, nice touch. The walk, patient.

BARACK OBAMA: Take tips, gentlemen.



HOWELL: Love is in the air. That report from CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

Record cold is moving along the eastern U.S. and some cities are getting below zero temperatures, not seen in decades.

Plus, a lack of diversity at this year's Oscars was a hot topic on the red carpet at the BAFTAs in London. Coming up, what the stars had to say about that controversy.

You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.




HOWELL: Bitter cold temperatures are gripping parts of the United States. The video you see here comes from Boston, Massachusetts. It shows sea smoke drifting over the water. The fog is formed when very cold air moves over warmer water. Boston hit a record low of negative 9 degrees on Sunday. And now take a look at the city of Chicago. Wow. So cold there in the Windy City that chunks of ice were seen floating around Lake Michigan.

It is some of the coldest weather seen in decades, shattering records around the northeast in the United States.

Let's bring in, Pedram Javaheri, our meteorologist.

Pedram, I remember when I was in Chicago and we saw that floating ice. So cold there. But it was worse -- seemed like it was worse a couple of years ago.

[02:45:29] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. In some places like Chicago it was colder actually a couple of years ago. This time around, what we saw happen here, George, is the coldest air actually was in the northeast, the most densely populated corners. For them, it was certainly the coldest in decades.

We'll show you some images. This one is fascinating. This is Astronaut Scott Kelly. He always shares spectacular photographs from outer space. We are going to miss him when he comes back to earth. Those are alto cumulus clouds. It tells us the atmosphere is very cold, unstable in some cases. Notice the dry air back behind it. The snow cover across portions of the northeastern United States. He even said the cold air looks brutal from space as he put it across that region.

Two dozen records shattered across northeastern portions of United States. Look at the observation points. Minus 1, that's what it got down to in Central Park in New York. Coldest temperature observed since President Clinton's first term back in 1994. Minus 9 in Boston, Massachusetts, coldest since 1957. Worcester, Binghamton, temperatures as cold as 18 below zero. Look at the bottom of your screen. Watertown, New York, down to minus 37 when they woke up on Valentine's Day morning. North of the Arctic Circle, the town of Alert, Alaska, that particular town actually is the northernmost town in the world that is full-time inhabited across that region. Population, several dozen people living across that region that far north. Again, temperatures farther to the south colder this go around. When we get this cold, motor oil freezes at 14 degrees Fahrenheit and anti-freeze freezes at minus 35 degrees. The perspective widespread over this region.

The good news of all of this is, notice the dramatic warming trends. These are the overnight lows for Monday to Tuesday and Wednesday and beyond. Boston goes 1, up to 35 for their lows. High temperatures, New York, soars up above average up to 54 degrees. Eventually, it starts to cool off. But if you are wanting warm air, this is the long-range forecast for this coming Saturday into the following Wednesday. Looking six to 10 days out. Expansive area of warm expected across literally the entire lower 48 states of the U.S. The warming trend looks like it's going to rebound. Across the Western United States, the opposite end of the story. We have record heat. I try to talk about how weather wants to balance itself out. Extreme cold in one part of the world, often has extreme heat in another trying to balance itself out. Precisely what's happening. Temperatures soaring up close to 90 degrees in southern California. It cools off to around average and then heads back up heading towards the latter pouring of the week. Some places if you are tuned in around the western and southwestern -- Phoenix, Arizona, is forecast to get up to around 90 Fahrenheit on Tuesday and Wednesday. That will be the earliest ever to get up to 90 degrees. About a week.

HOWELL: 90 degrees in L.A. I'm not feeling bad for Isha and John Vause.

JAVAHERI: I think they go to beach a couple times week.


HOWELL: They're doing pretty good.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still ahead, movie stars walk the red carpet in Britain's biggest night in film. Coming up, a look at all the glitz and glamour of this year's BAFTA Awards. Stay with us.




[02:52:39] HOWELL: Welcome back. Sunday was Britain's big night in film with the BAFTA Awards handed out. The biggest winner of the BAFTAs this year, "The Revenant." The survival drama won in five categories including best film. It starred Leonardo DeCaprio, who won best actor. And the director also won best director. Brie Larson picked up the best actress for her role in "Room."

The BAFTAs are often an indicator of who will win at the Oscars. As movie stars walked the red carpet. The controversy over the perceived lack of diversity in Hollywood took center stage.

CNN's Nima Elbagir has more on that.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This year, the glitz and glamour of awards season has been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the lack of diversity on the Oscars short list. For many nominees, the question has been less, who are you wearing and more, who do you stand with?

As one of the few, one of the very few black actors who gets to call himself an Oscar winner, how did that feel?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Amazing. Amazing. You know, in terms of diversity I think the director of "The Revenant" said it best. Award shows in general are the end of the chain. I think to tackle diversity it has to start at the executive levels.

KATE WINSLET, ACTRESS: The lack of black acting nominees at the Oscars, it's not right, you know, and I think everyone feels that and feels that we do need to keep these conversations going and make them positive and make changes. When the scripts are written it shouldn't say male, 37, white, or female, 18, black. It shouldn't specify the color of a person's skin.

JOHN BOYEGA, ACTOR: I think the conversation happening is very important. I'm glad to play a small part in the movement.

ELBAGIR: When you say the conversation, you are talking about the Oscars diversity?

BOYEGA: I'm talking about diversity across all boards. Oscar, everything. All these discussions need to be had. Because the world needs to be portrayed for what it is and we are not going to sit down until that's done.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I have sympathy for the diversity problem that's happening not only with the academy but throughout the United States right now. We're talking about an issue that's in our justice system, our educational system, our economic system, and so the Academies are just kind the tip of the iceberg.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We, as artists, as actors, we hope in a true sense to reflect society's hopes, dreams, fears, wishes. And we represent the people that are watching these stories. And we hope that in our representation, some little black boy, some lesbian little girl, some Hispanic male can find common ground in our portrayals. The more we look like them and act like them, the better that can happen.

[02:55:34] ELBAGIR (on camera): Of course, the real question will be next year when the award show red carpets are rolled out again and the dresses and tuxes are pulled out once more, whether any of this will have resulted in real and meaningful change, not just in what names are called out on the night, but in what names are called to headline those films in the first place.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, the BAFTA red carpet.


HOWELL: With that, we wrap this hour. Thanks for being with us. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. I'll be back after the break with another hour of news from around the world.

You are watching CNN, the world's news leader.