Candidates Barnstorm Iowa Ahead of Caucuses; Candidates Hustle To Excite Caucus-Goers; Governor Takes Responsibility For Flint

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To Excite Caucus-Goers; Governor Takes Responsibility For Flint

Crisis; Detroit Pistons' Owner Helps Flint Residents; 22nd Screen

Actors Guild Awards Tonight. Aired 5-6p ET - Part 2>

This week, I went to Michigan to sit down with the man in charge, Governor Rick Snyder, to ask him that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Why not just immediately replace all of the lead pipes?

SNYDER: That's a question you can ask across the country. The challenge of that is, that's not --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: I'm asking you because Flint --

(CROSSTALK)

SNYDER: That's not a short-term project.

HARLOW: Flint has had people --

(CROSSTALK)

SNYDER: That's not a short-term project in terms of ripping up all of the infrastructure, replacing all that. That can take an extended period of time.

[17:35:10] HARLOW: So, say we're sitting back here in five years, will those lead pipes be replaced?

SNYDER: I hope a lot of work has been done on that topic. It's too soon to tell. I can't tell you how many pipes and where they are. But as a practical matter, we should e working on that.

HARLOW: But wouldn't you do the safest thing, Governor, I mean, given what they have been through?

SNYDER: It's the safest thing. It's the question of how to work through it and the best fashion to make sure we're getting all of the resources. I view this lead infrastructure -- the water system is --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Well, what would stand in the way of that, other than money? What would stand in the way of replacing them?

SNYDER: Well, we've got a statewide issue, too, in terms of lead pipes. We need to make sure we address all of Michigan. That's why I'm calling for a review of all of that.

HARLOW: Your former spokesman wrote an e-mail in July of 2015. Here's part of it, "I'm frustrated by the water issue in Flint. These folks are scared and worried about health impacts and they are basically getting blown off by us."

You have said, since then, that you knew about that e-mail. And that you were made aware of that. Why not ask then?

SNYDER: The experts came back from both the Department of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services to say they didn't see a problem with lead in the water or lead in the blood and --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Folks here did. They were getting rashes.

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Their kids were having rashes. The water was discolored.

SNYDER: Let me finish, Poppy. That makes me feel terrible. I wish we'd have done something different. That's the tragedy of this. That's I part revisit all the time. You wish one more thing could have happened that it would have gotten caught. This is awful.

So, when you say that, I appreciate in hindsight it's always hard to say, but there are all of these permutations, and that's something I'll have to live with. But we're focused in on solving the problem today.

HARLOW: When it comes to the money to get this done, to get it all done, the money to invest in the children's future, the money for the pipes, all of it, you're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. You have a $500 million surplus now in the state. You cut corporate taxes by about $1.7 billion a year. How do you square it all?

SNYDER: Well again, it's helped generate Michigan's economy coming back in terms of making the state stronger. We have places we need to work extra efforts. Flint is clearly one of those places.

HARLOW: Do you feel like, Governor, looking back now, the cuts were made in the wrong places? That perhaps with $1.7 billion in corporate tax cuts, maybe more could have gone to, say, Flint, to fix stuff like this?

SNYDER: Actually, it's not just about moving money. This is a case of a handful of government officials making extremely poor decisions that had massive consequences for people. This raises a cultural question.

HARLOW: You bring up culture, and you said, in a recent interview, one of the problems was, quote, "not having the culture of asking common-sense questions." Doesn't that culture come from your office down?

SNYDER: I'd say we've got a lot of wonderful people in many parts of the state governments that are common-sense people. This was a place common sense was missing.

HARLOW (voice-over): As this scope of the crisis has grown, residents have rallied demanding the governor step down.

(on camera): A number of residents I have spoken with said ultimately they want accountability. Governor, will you resign?

SNYDER: No! Again, I think it's normal that right action is, if you have a problem that happens from people that you were responsible for, you go solve it. You don't walk away from it. You take it head on. And that's what I've been doing.

HARLOW: To those that say, we trusted you, we trusted those you hired, you let us down, let someone else lead the fix, what do you say to them about why you believe you should keep your job?

SNYDER: Because I believe I'm the best person to do that. I'm focused in on this. This is something that happened on my watch. And I want to take responsibility for addressing it.

This is just -- this is a terrible tragedy. This is a disaster in the sense that a handful of people let people down. This could have been avoided in many steps. And this is something you always second guess. What could have been done differently or how we ended up here. And that's why I apologized. In my State of the State, I made it very clear that when someone's working for you, that doesn't do the right thing, you're responsible, and I am. And I am truly committed, both short, intermediate and long term, as long as I'm governor, to solving this problem.

HARLOW: A number of the people that you appointed or worked for you that are responsible, have resigned. But you're keeping your job. Explain that to people.

SNYDER: I want to solve this problem. And again, I got bad information, I addressed it quickly. There is more to be done and I'm going to focus on commitment, committing to solve it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[13:40:07] HARLOW: My thanks to Governor Snyder for sitting down to talk to us about this. We'll stay on this story.

Now the key is solving the crisis. Is government help enough? The billionaire owner of the Detroit Pistons says, no, the private sector has to step up. He is pledging to raise millions for his hometown of Flint. He joins me live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: The outcry over the desperation in Flint is not confined to the city or even the state. It is striking nerves throughout this country and is driving people to take action. This "Time" cover of a boy covered in rashes after bathing in toxic water moved a firefighter in Chicago to raise $20,000 to help. And the funding site, GoFundMe, says, as of last night, nearly 9,000 people donated money to help Flint.

One of those people moved to help is the owner of the NBA team the Detroit Pistons, a Flint native, Tom Gores. He's pledged to raise at least 10 million.

He joins me now.

Thank you for being with me. TOM GORES, OWNER, DETROIT PISTONS: Hi, Poppy. Thank you.

HARLOW: Look, this is so close to your heart. You moved to America from the Middle East. You were born in Nazareth. Your mom came, didn't speak a word of English. Your father opened a store. Flint is where you guys sort of realized the American dream. Now you're a billionaire owner of an NBA team. What is it like for you to see Flint go through this?

[17:45:11] GORES: Well, it's been hard, Poppy. And the best thing that I could think to do about it was to use it as a catalyst to bring Flint back. Flint's had a hard time in the past years with the auto industry and so on. It has been an important city I think to America, given manufacturing and auto. It's been tough to see. But I really want to use the crisis as a catalyst to revitalize Flint. It has been very close to me and my family. I grew up there, played sports there. My brother started a business there. I worked for my dad at a grocery store. So, it's been difficult to see. I want to do something about it.

HARLOW: So you've said, look, we're going to raise $10 million, we're going to help in any way we can. I understand that a big bank called you today offering to help.

GORES: Yes. We had an outpouring. I think they like the fact we're organized and we want to go after this. Today, we had a big bank out of Michigan call us and talk about maybe potential business loans, new mortgages. This is beyond now the water crisis. Of course, that's at the forefront. But really, there's going to be many, many problems coming out of this, and I think we've got to prepare ourselves.

HARLOW: When you think about this crisis -- and we're looking at images of the kids, all these kids being tested for lead poisoning. I was there. It breaks your heart to hear from these mothers and fathers who don't know if their child has been poisoned yet or not. Is there one image, one story, one thing, Tom, that affected you so much to say I got to do something?

GORES: Interesting, I was there about six months ago and, you know, at the time, obviously nothing was out on this, but it really did impact me how Flint was not moving forward. And then this crisis and seeing the pictures with the kids and so on, that could have been me 20, 20-some years ago. I think Flint has been so good to me and my family that it's an opportunity for me to give back. And if there are going to be kids struggling, I want to be there for them, like Flint was there for me.

HARLOW: It's interesting you say that because when I sat down with Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan he said to me, look, Flint has been challenged for a long time. When you look at the numbers, it's just -- it's so evident over 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. They have been struggling for long. They lost a ton of that auto manufacturing. Do you feel like having been from there, knowing it well, still having family there, that Flint in some ways has sort of been given the short end of the stick or forgotten or not helped as much as it should have been? GORES: Maybe, Poppy, "forgotten" is not a terrible word. It's really been an important city to our economy in the auto industry and has been decimated over the years economically. Then to have this happen to them is really, really difficult to see. I think just bringing Flint to our attention is a good idea. And what I want to try to do, not mobilize just myself, but mobilize really important people to come in and help I think a city that's been good to our country.

HARLOW: Where is this money going to go, $10 million? Where does it go? How does it help? A lot of the folks there, they are getting the bottled water, et cetera, but that doesn't help the mother who told me she still takes the kids to the church to shower everyday because she is scared to have them shower in the water, even though she is told that's safe. Where does --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: -- the long-term solution?

GORES: I think mostly to the economy, education, and kids. The state and our government have to really fix the water problem. We're not going to be able to fix that problem. I think we're going to be able to help with the problems that come out of it. But I think the state has got to move a bit faster in fixing that problem first.

For us, we're organizing ourselves right now. We -- on Friday, I think we did the United Way, and the doctor there that uncovered all of this stuff on Friday. And, look, I don't limit this to 10 million bucks. I actually think we're going to do a lot more. We're going to combine the money and the resources we have with the care and emotion we have for the city and attempt to revitalize it. I'm not going to be able to do that alone. I think --

(CROSSTALK)

GORES: Sorry.

HARLOW: So quickly, before I let you go, 30 seconds left, how can people help?

GORES: I think we need some hope. We need some energy. We're in a crisis. And I know Flint people well enough that they should step up. They got to get -- somehow step up here and get their energy, keep the kids having hope. And I think people around the country understanding how important Flint has been and, you know, do something for Flint.

[17:50:00] HARLOW: Help their fellow Americans.

And, folks, go to -- Flint Now is the name of the fund, #flintnow.

Thank you so much for what you're doing.

Tom Gores, I appreciate it, sir.

GORES: Yeah. Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Good luck to you.

A quick break. We'll be right back.

GORES: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: All eyes right now on Iowa, but if you're in Hollywood, maybe you're taking your eyes off Iowa and you're watching the Screen Actors Guild Awards. They are tonight.

Here's our Isha Sesay.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's actors honoring actors.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It's a bunch of actors getting together and drinking free booze.

SESAY: The 22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards will be handed out Saturday night, celebrating the year's best performances in both TV and film.

LEONARDO DECAPRIO, ACTOR: It's very rewarding.

SESAY: After a best actor win at the Golden Globes and the Critics' Choice Awards, all eyes are on Leonard DeCaprio to see if he can claim his first SAG trophy for "The Revenant."

(SHOUTING)

SESAY: The Oscar nominee is up against Bryan Cranston in "Trumbo," Johnny Depp in "Mad Max," Michael Fassbender in "Steve Jobs," and last year's winner, Eddie Redmayne, this time, for "The Danish Girl."

EDDIE REDMAYNE, ACTOR: It's kind of a --

SESAY: "The Big Short" is up for best cast in a motion picture, joining the likes of "Beast of No Nation," "Spotlight," "Straight Outta Compton" and "Trumbo."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Refuse to dream.

SESAY: On the TV side, it's "Game of Thrones" versus "Homeland."

With three nominations apiece, including best ensemble in a drama series, alongside "Downton Abbey," "House of Cards," and a final nomination of the cast of "Mad Men."

[17:55:17] UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I'm really nervous.

SESAY: "The Big Bang Theory" is for best ensemble in a comedy series with SAG favorites "Modern Family," "Veep" and "Orange is the New Black," as well as first-times nominees "Transparent" and "Key and Peal."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yo, you can do anything! Anything is possible! The world is yours!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Take a look at this, because it is the final push in Iowa ahead of the big day, the big night, caucus night, Monday night. You have Marco Rubio there speaking to voters, Hillary Clinton addressing voters, her husband, former President Bill Clinton; Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, all of them making that final push in the key state of Iowa.

I'm Poppy Harlow. I'll be back in one hour with breaking news out of Iowa. The last poll before the caucus, the "Des Moines Register," those numbers coming out in one hour, considered the gold standard. These numbers that give us a sneak peek of who will win, come Monday night. One hour from now, 7:00 p.m. eastern.

Before that, "SMERCONISH" starts right now.

(Byline: Poppy Harlow, Brooke Baldwin, Patti Solis Doyle, Ana Navarro, Isha Sesay )

(Guest: Tom Gores )

(High: To politics now, the all-important Iowa caucuses, the countdown to the very first votes of the 2016 presidential election happening just two days in Iowa. To politics now, the all-important Iowa caucuses, the countdown to the very first votes of the 2016 presidential election happening just two days in Iowa. That's where virtually every candidate is this weekend. That's where virtually every candidate is this weekend. Investigations have been launched, lawsuits have been filed. A federal official with the EPA has resigned as for Governor Snyder he is apologizing to the people of Flint. Even after officials acknowledged that water from the Flint River was not safe to drink, there is still not a long-term solution, and the problem, untreated corrosive water flowing from a river that caused the pipes to leech lead into the drinking water, putting blame aside, we know the problem, but why is it taking so long to fix it, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder talks about that, saying he takes responsibility, and he says he will fix the problem, and is not resigning from office. The outcry over the desperation in Flint is not confined to the city or even the state and it is striking nerves throughout this country and is driving people to take action, and a "Time" cover of a boy covered in rashes after bathing in toxic water moved a firefighter in Chicago to raise $20,000 to help, and the funding site, GoFundMe, says, as of last night, nearly 9,000 people donated money to help Flint, but one of those people moved to help is the owner of the NBA team the Detroit Pistons, and Flint native, Tom Gores, pledged to raise at least 10 million. The 22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards will be handed out Saturday night, celebrating the year's best performances in both TV and film.)

(Spec: Politics; Elections; Rick Snyder; Flint, Michigan; Water Crisis; Flint River; Families; Children; Lead Poisoning; Health and Medicine; Tom Gores; Detroit Pistons; NBA; GoFundMe; Screen Actors Guild Awards; Hollywood; Celebrities; Movie Industry; Television and Radio; Entertainment; Government)

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