Return to Transcripts main page


Sanders Sweeps Hawaii, Washington, Alaska; Security Concerns Cancel Brussels Peace March; Syrian Forces Take Back Palmyra from ISIS; Pope Celebrates Easter Sunday. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 27, 2016 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:02] ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Thirty-seven points on this one, eight three-pointers. Oklahoma dominating the entire game against Oregon, winning 80-68. They're going to their fifth final four, first since 2002.

Two more games on tap today in our sister station TBS at 6:09 Eastern, number one Virginia taking on number 10 Syracuse. And then at 8:49, we're going to get to North Carolina, taking on Notre Dame.

And before we go, I have to say, I am number one in the CNN standing --


SCHOLES: Victor, you are not number one. We'll leave it at that.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Up 19, up from 22 yesterday. I love how the teleprompter says, ad lib bragging.


BLACKWELL: Ad lib bragging.

SCHOLES: That's what that was. I nailed it.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You did it well.

KOSIK: Thanks, Andy Scholes.

SCHOLES: Have a good one.

KOSIK: All right. Thank you for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: Next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.


KOSIK: Good morning, everyone. I'm Alison Kosik, sitting in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Happy Easter to you. We're beginning with the dominating performance by Bernie Sanders in

this weekend's Democratic caucuses. The Vermont senator going three for three, notching wins in Hawaii and Washington and Alaska.

KOSIK: All right. Let's go ahead and take a look at the numbers. Bernie Sanders grabbing about 70 percent of the vote in Hawaii. In Washington, the biggest prides of the day with 101 delegates at stake. Sanders got 72 percent. And in Alaska, he won more than 80 percent. Now while celebrating his big night, Sanders told his supporters the political winds are shifting.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have I think it is hard for anybody to deny that our campaign has the momentum. You are the momentum. Look around you tonight.


And what we are seeing and what momentum means is in state after state, huge voter turnouts.


BLACKWELL: Despite a shutout on Saturday, Hillary Clinton is maintaining her lead over Bernie Sanders in this all important -- of course, the only important thing here, delegate race. The latest CNN estimate has Clinton at 1,733, Sanders there at 1,039. These estimates include both pledged and super delegates.

KOSIK: All right. For more on Bernie's big day, let's talk with CNN politics digital reporter Eric Bradner.

Good morning. So, big night. Explain how Sanders, how is he able to run up those big margins.

ERIC BRADNER, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL REPORTER: So, this was sort of Sanders geographic counterpunch to Hillary Clinton in the south. He's all along argued these Western caucus states where party activist, loyalists play a sort of bigger role. The people further to the left, would be where he would really run up the score. And he did that. Perhaps by surprising margins, especially in Washington, a state that both campaigns had really spent a lot of time focusing on.

So, this is the part of the race where the map shifts in Sanders favor a little bit. With Western states coming up, they are rural, they are largely white. And so, he's going to have to repeat this performance. But he's going to have to do it a lot.

The race goes back East here after Wisconsin and he's going to have to beat Hillary Clinton up and down the East Coast. And just like Washington, he's going to have to run up similar margins in Oregon and California if he's ever going to catch her delegate lead, which is a really, really tall task at this point.

So, this is a part of the race that Sanders has been waiting for though. He knew he would co-well in the west, if he could just survive the south. So, he was really -- his campaign has sort of identified these contests as three he could pick up and he did by a big margin.

KOSIK: Is it even possible, do you think, for him to have a repeat of last night? I mean, look, math doesn't lie. Hillary Clinton, she still got this sizable lead in the delegate count. I mean, do you really think that the Sanders campaign is going to go ahead and fight all the way to the convention for the nomination at this point?

BRADNER: Well, they say they will and after wins like this, it's hard to argue that he needs to drop out right away. But you make a great point. At this stage of the race, Sanders basically has to do what Barack Obama did in 2008. He has to start winning states in sort of a surprising fashion. And then he also has to argue to super delegates there that they should sort of follow the will of the voters in their districts and in their states and abandon Hillary Clinton or at least back off their pledge to support Clinton even if they don't endorse Sanders.

Now, for the guy that's been running the anti-establishment campaign, telling the establishment to give up its power is a tall task. But without doing that, there is no real path for him to get to the nomination.

[07:05:02] KOSIK: All right, I hear you.

All right. Eric Bradner, thanks so much for coming on the show.

BRADNER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. For some analysis now, I want to bring in CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, along with Democratic strategist, Nomiki Konst, who is a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Ladies, good morning to you, and happy Easter to both of you.



BLACKWELL: Nomiki, I want to start with you.

I'm sure you heard what Eric just said there. That he's got to convince these super delegates co-abandon Hillary Clinton, defy that allegiance and come to his side? Can he do it? Will he soon?

KONST: Well, I think he has to do it. I mean, there are certain rules in the DNC or advisory rules that will know how enforceable there are. But the super delegates do have to reflect the will of the voters.

And the problem here is that no matter who would have run against Hillary Clinton, they would have faced this dilemma because she had 290 super delegates not just pledge but endorsing her in August of last year. And now, they have to -- as party leaders, as elected officials, some of them are lobbyists, as investigation by CBS just exposed, you know, these people have to reflect the voters' will.

Now, if you think about it, one super delegate equals 10,000 voters. That is a huge margin there. And with the numbers that Bernie Sanders has been winning in the last five out of six states, they have to start looking at those numbers and saying, we need to answer to the people.

Now, I understand Hillary Clinton has this -- she likes to say that she's winning the popular vote right now, but that margin is closing. With margins like an 80 percent victory over 20 percent, she's got to start looking at these numbers and saying it's not just about the white vote anymore.

BLACKWELL: These are big margins.

Let me come to you, Maria. Why is Hillary Clinton in these states -- I mean, we've discussed at length why Bernie Sanders lost by such large margins in Louisiana, in South Carolina, in Florida, in the Southeast.

Why is Hillary Clinton losing so big in the west and in the center of the country?

CARDONA: Well, I think right now what you are seeing is exactly both what the Clinton campaign had expected as well as the Sanders campaign had expected. This is terrain that has been always more favorable to Bernie than to Hillary. It's a very progressive electorate. Majority white and these are things that have been expected.

Now, right now, what we're looking at though is the math, and the math is still very much in Hillary Clinton's favor. And in order for Bernie Sanders to really close the gap both in the more than two million votes that Hillary Clinton is ahead, as well as 230 pledged delegates that she's ahead. He's going to have to win the upcoming primaries, which again, caucuses were much favorable terrain than primaries for Bernie. He's going to have to win the remaining large states that are primaries by these same or similar margins and that's going to be a very difficult --

BLACKWELL: Let's look ahead to one of those, Wisconsin coming up on April 5th. If we have the map, guys, let's put it up.

So, Sanders has won Michigan to the East, Minnesota to the West. Clinton has won Illinois to the South and kind of Southwest there, Iowa.

Nomiki, to you, can he win Wisconsin? It seems like this is possibly a toss up.

KONST: You know, I think they are investing a lot of energy, the Sanders campaign is investing a lot of energy in Wisconsin and Wyoming. I mean, you saw him speak --

BLACKWELL: That wasn't a yes.

KONST: Yes, absolutely. OK, there's a yes for you. He's doing well in these states.

BLACKWELL: All right.

KONST: And something to keep in mind is these there states that Democrats win. Unfortunately, the states Hillary is winning by wide margins are not states the Democrats win in general elections. So, this will make him the most --

CARDONA: Florida, Barack Obama won Florida twice.

KONST: True. It is a swing state. But, you know, South Carolina --


KONST: Very important swing state, I'll give you that. But the rest of the math is not looking favorable, and that is a real problem for Hillary Clinton. And just to push back on that all white vote count. Hawaii is not an all white state. Neither is Alaska.

He's doing very well with Native Americans. He's doing very well with Latinos. He's very close in Arizona. He became very close in Nevada.

So, these aren't these old classic white states that everybody keeps saying. He's doing very well and those margins are closing.

BLACKWELL: Maria, let me come to you with some reporting that was in "The Washington Post" about Sanders going to sharpen his criticism of Hillary Clinton ahead of the New York primary. Now, the Clinton campaign, it's been telegraphed that she wants to pivot towards the general election. That means bringing along the Sanders supporters.

How does she walk that line of still fighting what could be a contentious primary against Bernie Sanders without alienating that Sanders supporters as she needs to turn toward possibly Donald Trump in the general?

CARDONA: Well, first of all, it is disappointing to hear that the Sanders campaign is planning these personal attacks against Hillary Clinton. But I think what she's going to do is continue to focus on the prize and the prize being winning the nomination, which again she has the math to win, and secondly to focus on the bigger prize I think for Democrats in general, which is making sure that we beat whoever the Republican nominee is.

[07:10:07] And at this point it looks very likely that that's going to be Donald Trump. I love it when Bernie Sanders turns his fire on Donald Trump. I think that's great for the party. I think that's great for the country.

It will be very disappointing if the only way he thinks he can win New York is by going after Clinton personally. It is something that he has said he's not going to do. So, I think he needs to be very careful about that. And Clinton is not going to go personal against him, because she does

need his supporters. And as you have seen nobody from the Clinton campaign is looking for Bernie to get out. And I've always said, he's good for her. But again, the math is in her favor.

BLACKWELL: We have seen that there is one unifying figure for the Sanders supporters and the Clinton supporters and that is Donald Trump.

CARDONA: That is exactly right.

BLACKWELL: And we've seen Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeting out that there are bigger fish to fry. I'm paraphrasing here.

CARDONA: That's right.

BLACKWELL: Than them going after one another.

Ladies, thank you so much.

CARDONA: Thank you, Victor.

KONST: Thank you. Happy Easter.

BLACKWELL: To you, too.

Later this hour, we'll take a look at the GOP race and Donald Trump's foreign policy plan as shared with "The Washington Post".

Also this programming note, Bernie Sanders will join Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION" today at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

KOSIK: All right. Also ahead on NEW DAY, a peace march in Brussels has been canceled because of security fears. Could more terror attacks be imminent? We're going there live for an update on the mood of the city and the manhunt for bombing suspects.

Plus, Syrian forces have recaptured Palmyra City from ISIS militants. A military expert is going to weigh in on what this means for the war against ISIS.

BLACKWELL: Also, the pope just completed Easter celebrations there in Vatican City. We've got a live report straight ahead on his address to the city and to the world.


BLACKWELL: Quarter after the hour now.

A peace march scheduled for today in the Belgian capital had been postponed due to concerns that another attack could be imminent. The investigation so far has led to the arrests of an Algerian man in Italy. He is suspected of supplying fake documents to the Brussels attackers and in Brussels, a man identified by Belgian authorities only as "Faycal C" has been charged with terrorist murder.

Michael Holmes is live in Brussels with the latest on the investigation about "Faycal C".

But also, Michael, I hope you touch on the mood there. Because behind you, there have been these flowers laid there, moments of reflection. But I wonder if it's changed now on Easter Sunday, resurrection day, what we're seeing in that square?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Easter Sunday being marked here. Easter means a lot here to people in Belgium. And they have been at the churches today, and they are starting to come down here to the square. It is more in the dozens than the hundreds that's been in past days.

You mentioned that parade and, you know, people were trying to get together to have this peace march today -- a march of solidarity. And then the police asked the organizers to cancel it. And they did. It does remain to see if people will still turn out here, at least at this square.

Authorities said they had security concerns and the problem was they have so many place involved in the investigation, there just weren't enough to secure the marches. So, you have this sad irony of a march designed to show defiance to terrorists, to send a message to them called off because of fears brought about by those very terrorists, the ones still at large. Around the square this morning, we saw a lot of military vehicles blocking vehicle access to the square, and this very sad and very strange sight in this beautiful city of armed soldiers patrolling historic streets and squares. Took a photograph of one standing guard fully armed in camouflage outside of a cafe.

The streets, it had to be said, have been very quiet the last few days and locals tell us that people are just staying home. Businesses fear they are going to take a hit as summer season and tourist season approaches. We went out to dinner a couple of nights ago. We were the only ones in the restaurant. The people are still stunned. They were also apprehensive because as I said, there are still suspects at large despite the arrests and there is also that element of anger at the government and security and intelligence lapses that have been revealed by all of this -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Michael Holmes there for us in Brussels, as we saw just from a shot a couple of moments ago that although that peace march was postponed, there are people who are coming for a moment of reflection and to pay their respects to the people who were injured and killed in those attacks. Michael, thank you so much.

KOSIK: All right. Let's go a little deeper and find out where the Brussels investigation goes from here.

Joining us now, counterterrorism expert Joseph Ruffini. He's the author of "When Terror Comes to Main Street". And CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes.

Good morning both of you.

Tom, let me start with you and ask you this. I'm a little confused. It kind of makes you scratch your head. Belgium's terror alert, its level was lowered from four to three, yet they think there may be another attack. So why lower that threat level when we've got the threat of another attack in the air? Explain that for us.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think, Alison, they just feel they can't keep that alert level at those high levels indefinitely. They don't have enough information to go on to keep it up but they don't have enough information either to cancel it all together. So, I think it is just really more of a political reason to lower it than an actual reason that it's safer or they feel that the streets are safer at this moment.

They still don't know what they don't know. And they are well aware of the fact that people are running around that pose a threat, and they don't even know who they are yet.

KOSIK: All right. Joe, what do you think is going on with this terror network? Do you think it's been broken up? Or do you think it's taken a big enough hit that they are going to have trouble regrouping? Or have the terrorists just gone under ground for now?

JOSEPH RUFFINI, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: You know, we are going to have to wait and see how this plays out. If ISIS is exercising good security, it's going to be very hard to find out if there are other cells being activated.

Normally -- and let's take the example of the men that perpetrated this attack in Belgium. Normally, they would have no knowledge of any other sleeper cells or any other operational cells or any other operations that were planned, and that's done intentionally so that when they are picked up they can't say anything about what they know because they don't know anything.

So, as Tom said, we're just going to have to let this play out. We're going to see if some of these folks do talk. And we're just going to so to see what happens in the days to come.

I think in this day and age between ISIS and al Qaeda, Boko Haram, al Shabaab, we can probably say that a terror attack somewhere in the world is unfortunately always imminent. And we just need to be prepared, especially in this country, because I think Americans get the feeling that we are immune to these types of attacks and we need to be vigilant not paranoid.

[07:20:09] But we need to teach Americans what to look for and to be mentally prepared for this happening within the United States.

KOSIK: Joe, what kind leverage do investigators have? They've got Faycal C. They've got Salah Abdeslam in their hands. Do they have any leverage to get any information out of these guys?

RUFFINI: Well, you know, as Tom said earlier, they can question them. They are certainly not going to torture them. Or I assume they're not going to torture them. It's regular interrogation techniques and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.

And frankly not being in the room where the interrogations are taking place, it's very, very hard to say if anybody is cooperating or we're getting any intelligence. And remember, Alison, there's a difference between intelligence and what we call actionable intelligence. We can know where somebody is. For instance, the finance minister of ISIS that we just killed last week, knowing where he is and being able to take him out are two different things.

So, what the authorities are looking for actionable intelligence. Is there another cell in Belgium? Are there other cells in France? Can we find out enough to break that cell up before they execute the mission?

KOSIK: All right. Joe Ruffini, Tom Fuentes, thanks so much for coming on this morning.

RUFFINI: Thank you.

FUENTES: You're welcome.

KOSIK: And thousands of people in St. Peter's Square this morning as Pope Francis just wrapped up Easter celebration at the Vatican. We're going to go there live for highlights.


BLACKWELL: The sounds of Easter mass at the Vatican.

[07:25:00] Thousands of people there, at St. Peter's Square, watching Pope Francis there delivering his messaging and blessing. The pope spoke about the terrorist attacks in Belgium at an Easter vigil, and also said what happened in Brussels should not imprison us with pessimism.

KOSIK: Delia Gallagher is live for us in Rome.

Delia, was his message today similar to what it was yesterday?


The pope's Easter message is a message which tends to revolve around events that are happening currently in the world. And, of course, on everybody's mind in Europe and throughout the world, are the dramatic events that happened in Brussels. And the pope this morning made reference to the victims of the terrorism, calling terrorism a brutal and blind violence.

He also remembered armed conflicts throughout the world, and basically every country experiencing war at this time. He mentioned Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and many other countries besides, saying that today is the great day of hope. Today, of course, Easter is the resurrection, and symbolic for Christians of the good winning out over evil, or life over death.

So, this is the pope's main message at Easter time, and to those countries and those people who are affected by war and by violence.

Alison, the pope also made reference to refugees, those who are displaced because of war, the great mass of migrants that we see coming through Europe and other countries around the world. On Holy Thursday, we saw him washing the feet of refuges. Not just Catholics. Not just Christians. Hindus and Muslims as well.

So, a very inclusive message which by now we are used to seeing from Pope Francis with a special message of hope for those effected by terrorism, Alison.

KOSIK: OK. Since you are there, have you see any extra security concerns ahead of the Easter mass there at the Vatican?

GALLAGHER: Yes, I have. There has been beefed up security. That's happened before. We've seen after the Paris attacks, an increase in security. But, of course, this being one if not the most particular Christian holiday, it is a time when pilgrims from all around the world come.

The Vatican said they wanted to be as normal as possible, that people can feel safe and move freely. I have also seen that free movement of people this morning in front of St. Peter's, but certainly an increased security awareness here in Rome, Alison.

KOSIK: All right. Delia Gallagher, reporting live from Rome, thanks very much and happy Easter to you.

GALLAGHER: Thank you. And to you.

BLACKWELL: Turning to politics now. A big night for Bernie Sanders. But will the senator be able to catch up the Hillary Clinton's pledged delegate lead?

KOSIK: Plus, Syria claiming it's recaptured Palmyra City from ISIS militants. Why this is a big win in the war against ISIS, straight ahead.