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GOP Campaigns Head to South Carolina; Hearing Underway on U.S. Fight against ISIS; FBI Struggles to Unlock San Bernardino Killers'



Fight against ISIS; FBI Struggles to Unlock San Bernardino Killers'

Phone; Tracing Cruz's and Rubio's Cuban Roots. Aired 10:30-11a ET>

[10:29:47] MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, that remains to be seen, Carol. But I have to tell you, talking to the Bush advisers over the past week, we knew this was coming. South Carolina is the state that is very welcoming to the Bush family. Now, we saw Jeb Bush's mother up here in New Hampshire on the campaign trail -- another person who is beloved in the Republican Party.

Now, Jeb Bush hasn't used his brother at all very much during this campaign. He has done some fundraising for him and quietly has, you know, of course, done some advising behind the scenes. But having him in this radio ad shows that there's a shift in strategy in many ways for Jeb Bush's campaign, embracing the family name and trying to use that to his advantage.

And we'll see that and we are already hearing that now down in South Carolina -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Ok. So the other big development today and you broke this news in the last hour of the NEWSROOM is that Chris Christie will suspend his presidential campaign. How might that help Jeb Bush or will it?

PRESTON: Well, in many ways, there was a hope among establishment Republicans that there would be a consolidation of the centrist candidates, meaning we would see at least one perhaps two of them drop out of the race and by doing so they would be able to bring together the disparate parts of that centrist coalition behind one.

What they don't want -- the GOP establishment doesn't want -- is to see Donald Trump or Ted Cruz with the nomination right now -- Carol. So with Chris Christie expected to drop out of the race today, he's huddling with advisers in New Jersey what does that is it removes one of the building blocks.

But John Kasich's strong showing here up in New Hampshire last night, coming in second place and Jeb Bush coming in fourth place might not seem super strong, it is still strong enough for him to head to South Carolina. And of course, there's Marco Rubio now so there is a bit of a pile-up in this middle lane right now for the establishment candidate.

On each side of them, of course, Ted Cruz on the conservative lane and Donald Trump has his own lane. So heading into South Carolina, we're looking at five candidates now vying for the Republican presidential nomination -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Mark Preston reporting live from a very chilly New Hampshire this morning -- thank you.

With me now to discuss this further, CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp and the Independent Women's Foundation executive director Sabrina Schaeffer. Welcome to both of you.



COSTELLO: Hi. So S.E., I want to start with that ad that we just heard done by George W. Bush touting his brother's campaign, do you think that will be helpful to Jeb Bush?

CUPP: Yes. Look, especially in South Carolina, as Mark Preston mentioned, the Bushes are beloved. Jeb Bush in recent polls has been on the rise in South Carolina and, look, that's not a general election ad. That's a primary ad meant to remind Republicans that the last eight years under President Obama have been a disaster where terrorism is concerned. And whatever you think of George W. Bush's decision to go into Iraq, you know, a lot of people feel as though the country was safer before the threat of ISIS was underestimated by President Obama.

And so reminding especially older Republicans in South Carolina of that legacy, of that feeling of safety and security and attaching Jeb Bush to that, I think it's a pretty good strategy for South Carolina.

COSTELLO: So Sabrina, will we hear Jeb Bush come out and say that invading Iraq was really good idea? I mean how is he going to answer that question now since he had so much trouble before?

SCHAEFFER: Yes. And I'm actually -- I'm in disagreement with S.E. here. I don't think that this is a strategy that is going to be effective as much as I think that foreign policy is something that we ought to be talking about but this is an election that is all about anti-establishment fervor.

And even conservatives are not supporting Trump because he's a conservative. And so I just don't think that this is going to resonate with enough voters.

I think that we're just seeing Trump is leading in the polls, Cruz is coming up at about 20 percent and Jeb Bush is at about 10 percent right now. I just don't think that this is going to be sufficient to bring him up in a competitive zone.

COSTELLO: Because what seems to be resonating, as far as military might, S.E., is Donald Trump that, you know -- I can't even say it on television -- but you know what he said he's going to do to ISIS.

CUPP: Yes.

COSTELLO: And then Ted Cruz is going to make the sand glow and Jeb Bush has a more reasoned approach.

CUPP: Yes. Well, the question wasn't, is this going to help Jeb Bush overtake Donald Trump. That's certainly not what I suggested in South Carolina or anywhere. But Jeb Bush isn't running really against Donald Trump right now. He's running against the other so-called establishment -- I call them electable -- candidates in the field.

That was Chris Christie, that's John Kasich now for sure and Marco Rubio. So I think against those guys reminding older Republicans of the legacy of countering terrorism that the Bushes have, I think it's a very smart strategy to distinguish Jeb from the rest of those establishment candidates.

He's never going to talk the way Donald Trump does on terrorism or anything else. So he's not trying to out-Trump Trump. He's trying to out-Kasich, out-Christie, out-Rubio those establishment candidates.

COSTELLO: Ok. So Sabrina, will that work because word is that it's going to be a blood bath between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and that could hurt all of the established candidates in the end. What is your take on that?

[10:35:07] SCHAEFFER: Well certainly S.E. is right in the sense that Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio especially can go up against one another in terms of, you know, who has the better bona fides on foreign policy and that he could give Rubio a run for his money and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I think that this is an important issue that voters do need to have some thought on. And it could perhaps also chip away at some of that Trump support. We will have to see.

Perhaps more importantly, it could also make, you know, sort of undermine Hillary Clinton a little bit. We know from research that she's vulnerable on the issues of Benghazi and foreign policy. Perhaps this is a way of actually saying some voters who are on the fence may say I want to come over to Republicans and remind them that and prime them that guess what, Republicans generally are stronger on national defense. So that could be a good thing for the GOP all around.

COSTELLO: We'll see. I have to leave it there. Sabrina Schaeffer, S.E. Cupp -- thanks to both of you.

CUPP: Thank you -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, a stark warning from U.S. intelligence officials ISIS is the number one terror threat facing the United States and the group could be poised to strike right here at home.


[10:40:32] COSTELLO: We have an update in the case of Bowe Bergdahl, the army sergeant accused of deserting his outpost in Afghanistan. A military judge has granted a delay because of a dispute over sharing classified evidence with the defense team. Bergdahl was captured after leaving his post. The White House approved a controversial prisoner exchange to free him.

And also happening right now on Capitol Hill, a House hearing now underway to discuss how the U.S. will handle ISIS threats in Iraq and Syria. This after intelligent officials gave sobering testimony yesterday about just how serious a threat ISIS poses.

Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon with more. Good morning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning -- Carol. This is Brett McGurk, the President's special envoy for counter-ISIS policy and strategy testifying this morning -- very sobering indeed. What McGurk is doing is laying out what the next year or so may look like and when you think about it that means the situation that the next president of the United States after the election, is going to face in dealing with ISIS.

McGurk talking about what the strategy is to take back those key strongholds -- Raqqa Syria, Mosul Iraq -- back from ISIS but that it may take months to do it at this point putting it right in the lap of the next president of the United States. So if it all takes months what is ISIS up to in the meantime shifting strategy, looking at external attacks, looking at the possibility of attacking even directly in the United States and that takes us right to the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency who just yesterday laid out that case to Congress.

Have a listen.


LT. GEN. VINCENT STEWART, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: As the Paris attacks demonstrated, ISIL has become the most significant terrorist threats of the United States and our allies. ISIS will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in Europe and attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016.


STARR: Attacks on the homeland this year, possibly down the road as well. Of course, that is what everyone is facing right now and it takes us, again, to this evolving situation in Libya, which is now beyond Syria and Iraq, where air strikes are having an impact on ISIS, to some extent.

ISIS moving to Libya in North Africa, establishing that as its third front, looking at trying to plot and plan from that country external attacks possibly into Europe, possibly into the United States, leaving the U.S. also looking at trying to develop a Libya strategy again that could take, we are told, more than a year to really fully put into place -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Barbara Starr reporting live from the Pentagon -- thank you.

Months after a massacre in San Bernardino, California left 14 people dead, federal agents are still searching for clues about the actions of the couple who carried out that attack. One device that could answer their questions -- their cell phone; there is just one problem -- the FBI cannot unlock the encrypted data on that cell phone.

CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown has more on this, this morning. Good morning.


That's right. Two months after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, FBI director James Comey testifying on the Hill yesterday said FBI technicians working at Quantico still cannot unlock one of the devices belonging to the terrorist couple because of encryption.

So there were two cell phones we know that were recovered near the scene, Carol, and one of them, due to encryption, James Comey is saying that the FBI has been trying to unlock it, they continue to try but so far they haven't had any luck. And Director Comey is saying that this has hindered the FBI's ability to be able to track the suspects' movements around the time of the terror attack.

We know about a few weeks ago, one of the FBI directors said that there is 18 minutes missing in the timeline. They haven't been able to piece that together and part of the reason why is because of the fact they can't get into one of the cell phones.

Also, this is the second time James Comey has come out and said that that encryption has hindered the FBI's ability. You may remember the Garland attempted terrorist attack where one of the men had exchanged 109 messages but the FBI wasn't able to see what was in those messages because of encryption.

[10:44:55] It's unclear in terms of San Bernardino, Carol, what kind of cell phone it was but we know that certain models, such as Apple, automatically scramble data. So presumably that's what the FBI is up against but this will only bolster the FBI's argument, Carol, that encryption is a huge problem.

COSTELLO: All right. Pamela Brown reporting live for us this morning.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, they are up and comers in national politics but their family's roots run deep on foreign soil. Just ahead a reporter in Havana traces the Cuban history of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.


COSTELLO: Senator Marco Rubio changing his tune about his most recent debate performance that many say contributed to his lackluster finish in New Hampshire.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama is deliberately carrying out a strategy to change America. He wants to redefine this country. It's one of the main reasons why I'm running and it's one of the reasons why I feel so good about our debate performance despite, you know, whatever the media people want to say. It was the biggest fundraising night we've had.

I want you to understand something. Our disappointment tonight is not on you. It's on me. It's on me.

[10:50:02] I did not do well on Saturday night so, listen to this. That will never happen again.


COSTELLO: He'll get another chance. As you know, though in the New Hampshire primary Rubio finished fifth, Ted Cruz finished third. Not only are the Republican senators fighting to be the party's future, they also common roots -- both are Cuban American.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann traces their families' origins in Cuba.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio spend a lot of time talking about Cuba on the campaign trail.

RUBIO: My parents weren't born here. They were born on the island of Cuba to poor families. They have very limited education, no access to power. They came here in 1956. They had no money. They didn't know anyone. They barely spoke English at the time.

And yet somehow working hard as a bartender and a maid, my parents owned a home in a safe and stable neighborhood. My parents retired with dignity. My parents left all four of their children better off than themselves.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To my dad -- a man who came from Cuba at age 18 with nothing, with $100 in his underwear. He doesn't carry money in his underwear anymore. A man who was imprisoned, who was tortured, who washed dishes making 50 cents an hour, who has lived the American dream.

OPPMANN: Cruz's father Rafael grew up here in the seaside city on Matanzas. In his memoir Rafael Cruz writes about fishing for sharks and how he initially backed Fidel Castro's revolution before fleeing to the United States. A schoolmate of the elder Cruz we spoke to who fought to bring Castro to power and later retired with the rank of colonel said Cruz supported but didn't play a very active role in the revolution.

"I don't remember him", he says, "throwing Molotov cocktails or planting bombs or putting up revolutionary signs against the tyranny."

Today the streets of Matanzas are covered in propaganda supporting the revolution that Rafael Cruz says he once fought for but now opposes.

In Havana much has also changed since the 1950s when Marco Rubio's family lived here. This is the store where both Marco Rubio's parents once worked. According to his book, his mother worked at the cash register and his father as the store's security guard and it's here where they actually met.

Of course, (inaudible) revolution, the store just about like all private property in Cuba, was taken away by the government.

On Tenerife Street where the Rubios once lived, no one we talked to remembers the family. Resident, Julio Fabian, said he has a message to critics like Cruz and Rubio of the new U.S. policy of restoring ties with Cuba.

"Why break relations now that we are just starting," he says, "if both sides keep talking I think we will arrive at an even better understanding."

If Cruz or Rubio is elected president, that's not likely a conversation either man would be willing to have. Both have said they won't engage with Cuba until the island changes its leadership.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, high drama on the high seas. A cruise ship hammered by giant waves is heading home. The latest on the Anthem of the Seas.


[10:57:50] COSTELLO: Checking some top stories for you at 57 minutes past the hour.

Adding insult to injury in Flint, Michigan the city is now under a "boil water" advisory following a water main break. City officials are urging people to boil their filtered water just as a precaution. In the meantime, the Flint's mayor says she needs $55 million to replace the city's lead pipes and she's is asking Governor Rick Snyder to partner with her to get the money.

Two automakers announcing massive new recalls to replace potentially faulty airbags. Daimler says it's recalling about 800,000 Mercedes-Benz cars and vans made from 2005 to 2014 and Volkswagen is recalling 680,000 cars including the Gulf, EOs, (inaudible) and Jetta sports wagon. All of the recalled cars have Takata airbags. Inflators made by the Japanese company were found to be defective causing some airbags to explode on impact.

In just a matter of hours, the director of the CDC will testify before the House foreign affairs committee on the Zika epidemic. President Obama has asked Congress for $1.8 billion to fight Zika in part to develop a vaccine. The number of cases in the U.S. continues to rise.

The cruise ship that was damaged in a so-called extreme storm is heading back to its port in New Jersey and is due home tonight. Four passengers were injured aboard World Caribbean's "Anthem of the Seas" when giant waves overturned furniture and smashed glassware. The cruise line says passengers will receive a full refund for the canceled voyage.

Sports illustrated just got a little more real. Meet Ashley Graham. Last year, the size 16 model was featured in an ad but this year she's one of the swimsuit models. Graham is thanking everyone who, quote, "stood up for her curves". She looks great.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

"AT THIS HOUR" with Berman and Bolduan starts now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: And I'm Kate Bolduan. Good morning everybody.

Game on in South Carolina. In the next few minutes, both Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush will be holding their first events in the key southern state following the stunning of the finish in New Hampshire. This is the kickoff for this 10-day scramble --

(Byline: Mark Preston, Carol Costello, S.E. Cupp, Barbara Starr, Pamela Brown, Patrick Oppmann)

(Guest: Sabrina Schaeffer)

(High: The 2016 race is on to South Carolina and Jeb Bush is trying to turn a fourth place finish in New Hampshire into a winning bid for president in South Carolina, he's tapping brother George W. for help. A House hearing now underway to discuss how the U.S. will handle ISIS threats in Iraq and Syria; this after intelligent officials gave sobering testimony yesterday about just how serious a threat ISIS poses. Months after a massacre in San Bernardino, California left 14 people dead, federal agents are still searching for clues about the actions of the couple who carried out that attack however, the FBI cannot unlock the encrypted data on their cell phone.)

(Spec: Politics; Elections; Policies; Defense; Terrorism; Telecommunications; Immigration; World Affairs)