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Sixty Two Dead After Plane Crashes in Southern Russia; Paris Terror Suspect Leaves Hospital; France To Request Terror Suspect's Extradition; Protesters Try To Disrupt Trump Rally; Democrats Head West Ahead Of Tuesday's Vote; Trump To Campaign In Arizona Today; Will Donald Trump's Rhetoric Backfire?; Obama's Historic Visit to Cuba; Inside Rebel-Held Territory in Syria; March Madness Upsets. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired March 19, 2016 - 06:00   ET


[06:00:00] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christi Paul this morning.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. The breaking news we are starting with is the passenger plane that has crashed in Southern Russia, all 62 people on board are dead.

The flight crashed after repeated attempts to land in the city of Rostov-on-Don. And so far, emergency crews have found one of the two flight recorders from the plane.

PAUL: Take a look here at the surveillance video. That's the flight. Russian state news says this shows the exact moment of that crash. CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of that video.

But we want to bring in CNN's senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance. Matthew, what's happening there right now?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They found both of the flight recorders, the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder as well, which means they're going to be able to piece together quickly what exactly happened to this Boeing 737-800. It's a very modern aircraft, just five years old.

It was operated by an airline, which up until now has a very good safety record although it's a relatively young airline. But of course, there were very bad weather conditions in the area when this aircraft tried to land unsuccessfully.

It tried to land once and aborted that landing in the early hours of morning because of the weather conditions. It then circled Rostov for two hours, which is quite incredible when you imagine doing those loops that you do when you wait for the right opportunity to land.

Two whole hours before it tried to land again unsuccessfully. Those images which you've shown already of that fireball as the 737 plowed into the area around the runway. Actually fell short of the runway some 200 meters, 800 feet or so short of the runway. Everybody on board was killed, 62 people, seven crew, 55 passengers, all of them dead. And, of course, there were terrible scenes now in Rostov as the authorities try to clear away the debris and, of course, retrieve the human remains.

PAUL: Again, we know psychologists there are on the scene as well to help these family members with what they're seeing today. Matthew Chance, we appreciate it, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Let's turn now to the other breaking story we are following this morning. The sole surviving suspect of the Paris attacks is now out of the hospital. Salah Abdeslam and four other people were captured in a dramatic raid in Belgium. This happened after an intense manhunt that started after the November attacks in Paris.

Now French President Francois Hollande is urgently requestion Abdeslam's extradition so that he might stand trial in France. CNN, of course, is covering this story from every angle.

We have CNN senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen in Brussels and CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson in Paris.

Fred, I'm going to start with you. Abdeslam's physical condition, what is it right now? And where he's even taken after this release from the hospital?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor, one of the things that we heard when this raid took place here in the Molenbeek District of Brussels was that Saleh Abdeslam had been wounded when the police raided the area.

It was later said by the Brussels Police Department that apparently those wounds were only very light and as you said this morning, he was discharged from the hospital.

The latest information we're getting is that he's going to be brought to a detention facility apparently at some point. He's going have to be brought in front of the judge who then is going to decide whether or not to keep him in detention obviously as this investigation goes on.

There seems no doubt at this point in time that that is something that will happen, that he remains in detention because at this point in time he's still the main focal point of the biggest terror investigation here in Europe.

And one of the things that the authorities are, of course, hoping to get from him is how exactly the Paris attacks were planned. As you said, he's the last sole remaining survivor of the actual attackers that conducted those attacks on November 13th in Paris that killed more than 130 people.

How those attacks took place and even more importantly, who else might have been involved. One of the things that the French authorities have said is that as this investigation has gone on, they found out that many, many more people were involved than they had initially thought.

So to try and cut through that web is going to be something that's going to be very important. You have to keep in mind also, Victor, that in the four months after the Paris attack took place.

There have been 100 raids that took place in Belgium alone that netted some 58 suspects. So therefore, it's a huge investigation. He's going to be the main focal point now.

BLACKWELL: Ongoing indeed. Let's go to Nic now. Nic, we just said a moment ago that French President Francois Hollande is requesting extradition to France. How long could that take and what's next in the process as France gets involved in this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Victor, all the indications are this is going to a fairly speedy process, legal of course, so it may take a few weeks. Right now, President Francois Hollande is having a defense council meeting.

[06:05:03]Of course, cold because of this -- the second time they've arrested Saleh Abdeslam. In that meeting will be the interior minister, prime minister, justice minister, foreign minister, defense minister, and head of the military forces here.

And we have just learned here in the last couple of minutes that we can expect a statement from France's interior minister that may shed light on that question of how long the extradition process may take.

The interior minister is expected to speak within the next few minutes. But I've got to tell you the mood here in Paris about this arrest is quite one of jubilation, if you will, subdue if you will.

But still, look, this is the front page of the "Parisian" newspaper, it says quite plainly "Captured" and this one says, "Locked up." here, the headlines, a victory against terrorism.

So you know, the mood here in France, this is something people have been waiting a long time to see the possibility that they could get answers, and this is what the French president has indicated here with the capture of Saleh Abdeslam.

This could really begin to unlock and answer some of the questions about how the attack took place, how it was planned, and of course, all that wide network of people involved that the French president has talked about -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Crucial and important capture for the people of France, but broadly the people across Europe around the world. Fred Pleitgen in Brussels and Nic Robertson in Paris, thank you both.

PAUL: Let's bring in terror expert, Sajjan Gohel and CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes.

Tom, I want to start with you. Now that they have him in custody it seems extradition is all but certain. What kind of information do you expect they'll be able to extract from him and how might the U.S. assist in this?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The problem is, Christi, in many of the cases the individuals arrested and interrogated don't give up much information. They don't have a lot of maneuvering ability and plea bargaining and some of the issues we're able to exercise in the U.S.

So many of these expects are taken into custody and then say nothing. I will say that Europe has a process called the European arrest warrant and under that system probably within a month or two, he'll be back in Paris.

If he doesn't cooperate, if he starts talking, they'll probably leave hem there to not upset the goings-on. If he doesn't talk and doesn't cooperate, they'll have him back in Paris within two months, I guess.

PAUL: Here's the thing, Sajjan. He could have died in the Paris attacks for one in that apartment. He didn't blow himself up for jihad, which is what was expected that he was ordered to do and he did not. So ISIS wouldn't see him as a martyr at this point. Would he speak at all? How likely is it that he would give up any information if perhaps he is in danger from ISIS?

SAJJAN GOHEL, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY DIRECTOR, ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION: It's an interesting question that you raise, Christi. He will probably give up some information. He's put a very high value on his life.

As you mentioned, he didn't carry out the attack directly in Paris to the extent that the others were killed in battle. He was more interested in preserving his life subsequently hiding in Brussels.

He could have carried out subsequent plots, he didn't. So this individual has placed a high priority on living. He may want to cooperate now because he is probably in fear of what ISIS will do.

There are going to be a lot people nervous than ISIS as to what information he could potentially reveal in terms of how they operate in Europe, logistics, safe houses, other particular individuals that might be operating.

So this is a positive story, but there's a lot more that needs to be done to extract the information that is required.

PAUL: Sajjan, are you surprised that he was still in that neighborhood because it was on the authority's radar since the attacks four months ago.

GOHEL: Well, on the one hand it's audacious, the fact that he felt so comfortable in the suburb in Brussels which is actually where he's from. But I guess also terrorists in the past have stayed where they feel comfortable and where they believe they have sanctuary.

Osama Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad near a military academy. So sometimes when you have that support and refuge and sympathizers, it's easier to stay where you are used to.

PAUL: I want to ask you, Tom, about these four other people who were arrested. Three of them, we understand, are family members who are facing charges of just sheltering him. What do we know about these people? Are they suspected of simply hiding him, or were they involved in more than that, do we know?

FUENTES: I think we don't know at this point. You know, that's going to take investigation to find out.

[06:10:02]But I completely agree with Sajjan's comments on what's happened and what will happen. If I could add, one of the great items of leverage that the authorities will have to interview him is going to be that you are a coward.

You had a suicide vest on in Paris and took it off so that you would live. You could have fought it out with authorities in Brussels, but you decided to surrender and lived. That's very difficult for somebody -- they don't have to threaten him be in any kind of torture.

All they have to threaten him with this we are going to tell the whole world you're a coward and that won't sit well with his group.

PAUL: Sajjan Gohel and Tom Fuentes, they are going to be with us next hour as well. There's so much to talk about with this. Gentlemen, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: We're just getting started this morning on NEW DAY. Turning to politics, Donald Trump in Utah where anger and protests boiled over outside of his rallies there in Salt Lake.

PAUL: And Donald Trump heading to Arizona later today. There has been a spike in immigrants applying for naturalized citizens and there's been a strategy for that.

Also looking ahead to President Obama's trip to Cuba. The welcome signs are up. The mat figuratively rolled out. What does this visit mean for the Cuba/U.S. relationship? CNN is live in Havana.


BLACKWELL: There you see they tried to rush the door. These are protesters outside of a Donald Trump rally in Utah last night. The group you see here attempted to storm the hall where Trump was speaking only to be stopped by Secret Service officers who then shut the doors.

[06:15:05]Inside, Donald Trump brushed off the attempted interruption.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a lot of love. There's even some love for the protesters. Do we have love for the protesters? You know what? Honestly, they're doing their thing.

I don't quit get the thing, but whatever it is, they're doing their thing. Let me just tell you. I do have love for the protesters and I have love for the people standing outside, the thousands of people that wanted to get in here. I love you people out there. I love you.


BLACKWELL: Reportedly no protests inside that event, but you saw the melee outside. Trump is now turning his attention to Arizona today, holding two rallies in the state, first in Phoenix and then in Tucson.

PAUL: Arizona is front and center for one of Trump's most talked about campaign platforms, the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. But the Democrats are trying to make sure Trump can't make good on that promise. Bernie Sanders is going to be in Phoenix later today as well.

CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, has more.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, the eyes of the Democratic primary fight are now out west this weekend as the Arizona primary, and the Idaho and Utah caucuses are just three days away.

Now Bernie Sanders hopes to jump start his candidacy in each of these three states. He campaigned aggressively in all three of them on Friday.

He's heading back to Arizona for a rally tonight. He has the campaign trail to himself all weekend long. Hillary Clinton is taking a few days off, secure in her delegate lead over Sanders.

But increasingly Donald Trump is the center of conversation on the Democratic side of the race too. The Democratic machine is turning all of its attention to him. And Sanders is even taking a shot at his rival Hillary Clinton for her connection to Donald Trump.


BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me say to you a word or two about my good friend, Donald Trump. Just kidding. He's not my good friend. In fact, I never even went to one of his weddings.


ZELENY: Of course, that's in reference to Trump's third marriage, which President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton attended back in Florida several years ago.

Now the Democratic race has quickly becoming a referendum on which candidate would be the strongest to take on Trump in a general election campaign.

Both of them are making that argument. That's what they're going to be continuing do as the next election night in this long campaign is on Tuesday out west -- Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right, Jeff, thank you so much. We have with us now political science professor and politics editor at the, Jason Johnson.

Jason, I want to pick up, and good morning to you first. I want to pick up something that Bernie Sanders said at that rally, I never even went to one of his weddings. Is that going to be a problem for Hillary Clinton moving toward the general election as she prosecutes that case against Donald Trump?

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR: I don't think so, Victor. I think that the connections between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, they hurt Trump more than they hurt Hillary Clinton. You know, Trump who has been much more aggressive about the Clintons, about politicians in general, about hobnobbing too much with the political elites.

I think makes him look like a bit of a hypocrite. I think it was really important a couple of weeks ago when Ted Cruz mentioned that Trump gave money to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2008. So I think those connections are worse for him than they are for Hillary.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk about Bernie Sanders now, the math difficult for him moving ahead trying to get to the magic number of delegates to secure the nomination. Not insurmountable but pretty tough.

At what point does this continued campaign stop being Sanders making her a better general election candidate, you know, offering a really strong message that Clinton has to respond to into hurting her chances in the general election?

JOHNSON: Honestly, Victor, I think that this is the best thing that can happen to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for that matter. Here's the thing. I know I'm probably in the minority about this, but I thought the same thing in 2008.

A long primary campaign is actually beneficial for a lot of candidates and even the Democrats and here's why. It's forcing them to go to states that they're not going to be campaigning in, whoever the nominee is, that they are not going to campaign in, in 2016.

OK, if Hillary is a nominee, she's not going to spend that much time in Arizona, in Utah, in Idaho. So because of that competition, she and Bernie are going to be meeting with supporters, donors, and volunteers in places that they won't get to see them later on.

I don't see how it's anything but a benefit to both campaigns for them both to spike this out as long as they can and eventually will find out who the nominee is at the convention.

BLACKWELL: You acknowledge that you're in the minority there.


BLACKWELL: There are many who admit that the long primary process for the Democrats in 2008 made Barack Obama a better candidate, but that was his first run for national office. This is Hillary Clinton's second and she was, of course, part of the effort to get her husband in '92 and re-elected in '96.

Quickly, let me turn to the Republicans, though, and we heard from Donald Trump at that rally yesterday in Salt Lake City. He questioned whether Mitt Romney was a Mormon probably jokingly.

[06:20:11]But if you remember when the pope a couple of months ago questioned his Christianity or saying that anyone who says or espouses these things, is not Christian or those things are not Christian, he bristled. Does this hurt or help Trump questioning one's Mormonism, if that's a correct term, in Utah?

JOHNSON: It doesn't help him in Utah, but it doesn't really matter given who is support base is. I mean, Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear. There's nothing he can say. In his own words he could shoot someone in broad daylight in the middle of Times Square.

There's nothing he can say that will harm him with about 20 percent to 30 percent of the Republican supporters who are going to come out and vote for him. So I don't think it's going to hurt him in Utah or any other key states.

But I do think that every single time he makes one of these statements, he makes it easier for whoever the Democratic nominee is, probably Hillary Clinton, to show that he's absolutely incapable rhetorically and personality-wise to be a functional president of the United States.

At this point, he should really be thinking about he is looking as a general election candidate because these comments don't help.

BLACKWELL: There are some signals that he is starting to turn toward the general election. We'll talk about those in the next hour. Jason Johnson, thank you so much.

JOHNSON: Thanks, Victor, anytime.

BLACKWELL: And of course, we want you to stay with CNN for a three- hour primetime event with "The Final Five Presidential Candidates" this Monday. Republicans Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich, and also Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, will all be interviewed. Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer are hosting. That's Monday night beginning at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

PAUL: You know, a huge spike in the number of Latino immigrants can become naturalized citizens before November. Why they say being able to vote in this presidential election is so imperative.

BLACKWELL: We're just getting this in. Details about an explosion. It happened in the past few minutes at a shopping mall in Istanbul. We've got some video in. We'll bring you this and more details right after the break.


[06:25:38] BLACKWELL: We've got new video in of police responding to an explosion in Turkey. This was a suicide bomber we're told in a busy shopping district in Istanbul. At least 14 people are confirmed dead, 20 others wounded.

Today's blast comes just days after, you remember, a car bomb exploded and 37 people were killed in the capital of Ankara. We'll keep you posted as we get more about this explosion there in Istanbul.

PAUL: And Apple and the FBI will face off in court on Tuesday in a hearing aimed at forcing Apple to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. A federal magistrate judge will hear their arguments and make a ruling soon after.

The FBI believes the phone may hold information about the December massacre that killed 14 people and wounded 22. Apple's refused to unlock that phone on the grounds that it violates privacy rights.

BLACKWELL: The Baltimore Ravens today are mourning the death of cornerback, Trey Walker, 23 years old. He died Friday of injuries after a traffic accident. He was riding a dirt bike. It was in Miami and after dark and police say he did not have a light on that motorcycle.

Walker collided with an SUV. Now the investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed. If you don't know Walker, let me tell you, he was a standout player at Texas Southern University and was drafted by the Ravens just last year.

PAUL: A Florida jury has sided with Hulk Hogan in his lawsuit against Gawker (ph), awarding the former professional wrestler was awarded $115 million. Hogan sued the tabloid website for invasion of privacy when it published a two-minute sex video of Hogan with another man's wife.

The jury meets again next week to consider punitive damages. It could further increase Gawker's financial liabilities.

BLACKWELL: Up next, reports of Latino immigrants rushing to get the citizenship to qualify to vote in November against Donald Trump. What we're talking about is a substantial number here. What's the possible impact on his campaign?

PAUL: Also, is Bernie Sanders now hinting at a convention fight with Hillary Clinton?


[06:30:00] PAUL: Thirty-one minutes past the hour right now, we have some new details for you on the two breaking news stories that we follow in this morning, first of all in Southern Russia. 62 people are dead after a passenger plane crashed after attempting to land for a second time.

I want to show you this video here, new video we have from the crash site this morning, small pieces of debris scattered everywhere. Very few large pieces, we understand, are being found. Emergency crews have, though, found both flight recorders from this plane and investigators are looking into whether crew error, technical failure, bad weather could have caused this.

A Boeing the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates are all sending teams to Russia to help with the investigation.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the stall (ph) surviving suspect of the Paris attacks is now out of the hospital after being captured in a dramatic raid in Belgium. He was also injured. Investigators will now interrogate Salah Abdeslam and already the French President is saying that they hope he will be quickly extradited to France to stand trial.

PAUL: So Donald Trump is holding a rally in Maricopa County, Arizona in a couple of hours.

BLACKWELL: And of course that's right in the backyard of long time Sheriff Joe Arpaio who has endorsed Donald Trump. Now, the sheriff first gain notoriety for his use of Tent Prison in the Arizona desert 2011. A Justice Department report found his county engages in racial profiling of Latinos.

And here's CNN's Kyung Lah to look at how the rhetoric of Trump and his allies could maybe backfire at the ballot box.


Donald TRUMP, (R) Presidential Candidate: Number one with Hispanic.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Visible and loud, the ubiquitous protesters at Donald Trump's rally, many of them Latino holding and wearing their outrage. More subdued but just as powerful (inaudible) protest, a native of Colombia and legal resident for 10 years, it's only now who fulfills the need to naturalize in time for November.

Do you have Donald Trump to thank for bringing you out here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): If I could become a citizen, I can vote against him, he says. Across the U.S. from Florida to Nevada to Illinois to North Carolina, Latinos once content to carry green cards now seek citizenship because when Trump heed off his presidential candidacy with this ...

TRUMP: They're bringing crime. They are rapists.

LAH: And this ...

TRUMP: And who is going to pay for the wall.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Mexico.

LAH: The federal government says, naturalization applications jump 14.5 percent compared to the same six month last year to this year.

If all of those is green cards become naturalizes, what happens politically?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to a cliche, it's a game changer.

LAH: The numbers reveal that political power, swing state Nevada has 73,000 eligible Latinos who are eligible to naturalize, Arizona holding its primary next week, 146,000, Florida, 637,000. Nationally, the U.S. is home to 4.5 million Latinos eligible to naturalize.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The very same group that he has been attacking is the one that's going to stop him from getting to the White House.

LAH: There is no love lost between Univision Anchor Maria Elena Salinas in Trump Univision, a powerful media organization owned by Hillary Clinton donor has joined with Grassroots Groups to get out the vote in November. The national response, overwhelming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You feel it. You know that Donald Trump is your enemy because he declared war, because he's the one that declared us enemies.

[06:35:01] LAH: That's the main motivator why Cuban born Jessel Roach (ph) her approach is getting her citizenship after 22 years in the U.S. When we bring up Trumps name, this reaction.

JESSEL ROACH (PH), CUBAN NATIONAL (through translation): I can't stand him. He's like a punch to the gut, she says. Donald Trump's unintended consequence, a pathway to their political power.

The Trump campaign says his proposed immigration reforms, the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants, the wall, will actually end up benefiting legal Latino immigrants. No one we spoke with who believes that.


BLACKWELL: Now, let's turn to the Democrats now. And before Hillary Clinton and her allies can face Trump, but she has to win the fight against Bernie Sanders, first, and that is not over. It's not cooling off. Take a look at the tweet here Clinton announces her 1 millionth donor and says, "94 percent of her donors contributed $100 or less but then Senator Sanders he hit backs with $2 million, average amount, $27.

Joining me now is Bernie Sanders supporter Nomiki Konst and Hillary Clinton supporter Maria Cardona, ladies good to have both of you.


BLACKWELL: So, let's talk first about the Sanders/Clinton race. And Nomiki, I want start with, you know, we all been enthralled by possibility of contested a convention for GOP but I want you to listen to what Senator Sanders told Rachel Maddow late this week.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it is probably the case that the candidate who has the most pledged delegates is going to be the candidate, but there are other factors. And the other factors will be the strength of each of us in taking on the Republican candidate.


BLACKWELL: So possibly, he says, or probably the candidate with the most delegates will be the nominee. But there are other factors, what is he telegraphing here, Nomiki?

KONST: I think he's essentially hinging at exactly what the Republican are dealings with right now. You know, they have a candidate that they know can't beat a Democratic candidate and he's saying if the candidate Donald Trump then he is the one who does best against him.

And a lot of that has to do with the white working class vote. The longer that Bernie Sanders is in this race and hopefully he will in the nomination. We have solidified the white working class, Reagan Democrats, that Donald Trump is horrifyingly stealing from us now and he's not doing it fairly.

So the longer Bernie is in this race, the more were able to top into that vote, keep them in our corner. And I think it's very smart of him to say so.

Now, you know, to go back to the delegates and we all know what's going on with the delegates. Now, Hillary had half of the super delegates back in August blocking out any others viable candidates from coming into the race.

And I think the most Democrats know what's going on and they're willing to take us in the convention and that's why he's able to have so many small dollar donations.

You know, on the other side if you look at Hillary Clinton's fund. And while she has $2 million, she has this sneaky little Hillary victory fund on the side which is that SHAH Organization. And what that SHAH Organization does is, it solicits small donors through -- Washington Post reported this. She's been very sneaky with their donations. It's not 2 million small donors, is not 1 million small donors, it's about the percentage. She's loading money to her account. She's creating allusion that its small donors, but it's really her money and fund this -- this other victory fund that's being funded by people like Alice Walton who put in $350,000 in the fund.

BLACKWELL: Let me bring Maria into this. Maria, is the Clinton campaign expecting as Nomiki said, Sanders to take it to the convention? Are they expecting a floor fight?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICL COMMENTATOR: I don't think so. But, look, that is up to Senator Sanders. I'm glad he's going to continue in this race. I have been -- one that has said from the very beginning, this is good for the party. It's good for the country. Its good for the Democratic process and ultimately it will be good for Hillary Clinton. I think he has made her a better candidate. He has made her more prepared the same way that she helped Barack Obama become a much stronger general election candidate. And, you know, he has to say this right now. Because he wants to make sure that his supporters continue to come out and support him. And I think it's smart.

And I agree with Nomiki on the issue of we want to make sure that all of our voters are out there being mobilize, being motivated to come out and vote. We want to make sure that there is that energy on our side. But if you want to look at numbers, let's look at numbers that really matter.

Hillary Clinton is ahead by a very significant percentage of pledge delegates, much more so than Barack Obama was ever ahead of her in 2008. And it is almost mathematically impossible for Senator Sanders to your take her on the pledged delegate count, not counting super delegates, pledged delegates.

[06:40:00] But, look, he should continue. More power to him. She has gotten more votes than any other candidate in this race including Donald Trump. She has almost 2 million more votes than Bernie Sanders. But let's do this. Let's go till the very end.

BLACKWELL: Let's me ask you about this New York Times article. President Obama as I'm sure you read it. I spoke with his group of Democratic donors and he told them that, he understands some of them are not excited, you brought up excitement about Hillary Clinton because she's not seen as authentic.

And here's a line from this write up, but he also reminded the Texas donors and in the room with Mr. Bush speaking of George W. Bush was considered authentic when he was running for president, suggesting that being authentic did not necessarily translate into being a good president. But it deed impart translate to winning twice.

I mean, how does Hillary Clinton get over this hump and this lack of what appears to be a lack of excitement what we're seeing in the lower turnout as it relates to the Republicans and in primary season.

CARDONA: Well, I think I just mentioned that what it's going to take to get voters out to the polls. It's exactly what Hillary Clinton has demonstrated she has. She has gotten more votes than any other candidate in this primary process thus far including Donald Trump.

Her rallies are actually full of people who are excited about having her be the one fighting for Democratic values and fighting for the country.

BLACKWELL: However, she was never running against 15 people. I mean ...

KONST: Exactly, exactly. I mean this is ...

CARDONA: But that's fine. I mean, the numbers are the numbers and the excitement is there. And if he lose the ...

KONST: The excitement is from an over 55 demographic. It's not very reflective of the entire party

BLACKWELL: Nomiki, Maria, unfortunately we got to wrap it there. Thank you for being with us and of course we'll continue this conversation throughout the morning.

CARDONA: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL All right.

PAUL: Well, it is being called a new beginning between nations. We're taking you live to Havana Cuba for details on President Obama's historic visit.

BLACKWELL: And an exclusive look inside the front lines therein Syria. See how aid workers risk their lives and things here and citizen caught in this bloody ongoing civil war.


[06:45:32] PAUL: Forty-five minutes past the hour right now and President Obama making history tomorrow when he arrive in Cuba on an official visit. He will be the first sitting president to visit the country since Calvin Coolidge back 1928. Our Ed Lavandera is in Havana right now.

It would be interesting, Ed, I think not only to see the president going there but how he'll be received as well.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a trip that many Cuban people have been expecting, highly expecting for some time. It's also a trip that will be highly scrutinized by the Cuban exile community back in the United States. So it's very much a delegate situation.

The president will be here in have Havana for about 48 hours arriving in the afternoon and leaving on Tuesday afternoon. He's coming with the first lady and their two daughters as well as a massive U.S. delegation which is really straining the hotels here in the city of Havana. But the U.S., the White House administration saying that they hope that this is a step in reconciliation and continuing and cementing this processing this kind (ph) of relationships between the Cuban government and the U.S. government.

President Obama will meet with Raul Castro on Monday and they apparently meet with the reporters. It's not clear whether or not they will be taking questions but the White House official say there are no plans in the works for President to meet with Fidel Castro, the older brother of Raul Castro.

And then, obviously, one of the big things that many in the Cuban exile community and the United States will be looking closely at is, who will the president meet other than Cuban government officials. And the White House says there are plans for the president to meet with political activists here in Havana as well as dissidents and they expect that the Cuban government won't do anything to obstruct those meetings. But, you know, one thing that is interesting, Christi, is we've been around the Syria, arrive here yesterday afternoon. We were here back in September when Pope Francis came and there was always welcoming banners for Pope Francis throughout the city. We haven't seen much of that along the major streets here in Havana where the president will be driving down.

But when we did land one of the surreal scenes the advance team for the president a massive U.S. air force plane on the Tarmac there of the airport in Havana, but you know, one of those sights that many people never thought they'd never see. Christi?

PAUL: Yet, but that's a really good point Great perspective there. Ed Lavandera, thank you so much, we appreciate it.

Up next, CNN goes undercover in the rebel-held territory in Syria. In this exclusive report, we're getting a look at the civilians under siege and aid workers risking their life to save other people. Look at some of this coming in. We're going to really get down into the dirt with all of this.

Also, in just few minutes, Pope Francis is going to post his very first Instagram photo and people around the world are waiting anxiously to see what would it be?


BLACKWELL: Five years now into Syria's civil war, CNN Senior International Correspondent Clarissa Ward went undercover into rebel- held territory where virtually no western journalists have gone through more than a year.

PAUL: This is an exclusive report and I want to warn you there are some disturbing images in this but she met with an aid worker and he dodged air strikes trying to help civilians were trapped at the violence. Take a look.


CLARISSA WARD, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It's a Tuesday in Syria. A British aid worker Tarquir Sharif making the dangerous drive to Aleppo.

TAQUIR SHARIF, BRITISH AID WORKER: It's really important that we drive with the windows open because any kind of explosions that land close to us, the last thing we want is shrapnel of glass and so on and so forth, you know, landing in our face.

WARD: He is traveling to the devastated city to deliver an ambulance but it isn't long before he's diverted. Four air strikes have hit. Sharif runs into the wreckage to see what's needed.

SHARIF: There was a house right here. Look. It's all houses.

WARD: Remarkably no one has been injured or killed, but the sound of another jet means it's time to leave. SHARIF: Everybody out. Let's go. Let's go. They say the plane is

in the sky, we can hear it. They say a tactic that it uses when ambulances turn up, they'll hit the same place again, so we're just going to try to get to a safer place.

WARD: Sharif is one of just a handful of western aid workers living in Syria.

SHARIF: The most that a big aid organization is they don't want to go into the line of fire in a sense. This is something that we have to do. This is something that is a human response. If we don't do it, then who will?

WARD: In a relative safety of an olive grove near the Turkish border, he told us that religious conviction played a big part in his decision to come here three years ago.

SHARIF: We need to look at what do the people really want and if the people are Muslims, this is not me saying it. If the people are Muslims and they want some form of Islamic governance, and it's important that we help them to establish that.

WARD: Is that what they want?

SHARIF: In my opinion, that's what I believe. And you can ask, you can ask, you can go and ask the people what do you want. I don't think the people will settle for anything else especially after all of this bloodshed, the right to self-determination.

WARD: For many of the 6.5 million displaced people in Syria, there are perhaps more immediate concerns. Most live in sprawling tent cities along the border. Conditions in the camps are brutal. There's a lack of food and clean water, and they become more crowded every day.

SAHRIF: We've just recently done a survey of this camp, just this camp here alone which is a conglomeration about these 40 camps, it's around 80,000 people.

WARD: 80,000 people.

SHARID: And this is just one on this border, there's another one not too far from here, another 65,000 to 70, 000 people.


[06:55:05] WARD: Sharif's favorite project is this smaller camp that houses roughly 100 widows and their children.

Syria is now a country full of widows and orphans. Some still too young to understand what has happened to their country, others who have seen too much, all of them dependent on the mercy of others.


PAUL: Oh boy, all right. What a vision that is, Clarissa Ward reporting there. And the thing is, we're going have more of her exclusive reporting a little bit later this morning. There's a whole series that she's done.

BLACKWELL: And as you'd expect, food, resources there, medicine are scarce in Syria. To find ways you can help, go to our website,

PAUL: We're taking you live to Moscow for an update on the plane crash in Russia that's killed all 62 people on board.

BLACKWELL: And we'll take you back to Belgium for the developments there on the capture of the only surviving suspect in the Paris massacre now out of the hospital and in police custody.


BLACKWELL: Coming up at the top of the hour now and just a few minute from Pope Francis is expected first post to his very first Instagram picture. A spokesman of Vatican Radio this week that the Pope would post his debut photo at about 7:00 a.m. Eastern, his handle will be @franciscus. This is his second social media account. His Twitter account has still 9 million followers.

PAUL: I just looked it's not up yet, but we have a couple of seconds to go before 7:00.

If your March Madness bracket is ruined, don't feel bad. Several upsets Thursday and Friday ruined so many brackets for us. The NCAA said their last perfect bracket was busted when Stephen F. Austin beat West Virginia the last night and the last two perfect brackets in the ESPN Tournament Challenge busted after 5th seed Maryland win over 12 seeded South Dakota State.