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Russia on Move in Syria from Land, Air, Sea; Dick Morris Talks House Speakership Vote, Presidential Race; Doctors Without Borders Wants War Crimes Investigation on U.S. Airstrikes on Hospital. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 7, 2015 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Great concerns now amongst the opposition to Bashar al Assad that these strikes are going to allow regime forces to push forward into areas that they would not otherwise be controlling.

But remember, Russia is carrying out these various different strikes at the request of the Syrian regime. And the Syrian regime does, by and large, consider the vast majority, if not all, of the rebel groups, to be terrorist organizations. And Russia is saying that it is going to be going after all terrorist organizations.

Of course, this pits Russia directly against the United States, who have two completely different objectives when it comes to trying to overall handle the situation in Syria. But it's also positioning Russia as being a very key player in the region right now. Russia effectively muscling itself onto the very complicated board game that is the war in Syria and in Iraq.

Turkey also expressing its grave concerns because of various airspace violations carried out over the weekend by Russian jets. And also perhaps what is a bold move by Syria, Turkey saying that eight of its fighter jets were harassed by surface-to-air missiles as they were patrolling the Turkey/Syria border.

And of course, none of this bodes well for the conflict in Syria that has already seen way too many killed and way too many Syrians displaced. The big question right now is, what is, if anything, the U.S.-led coalition going to do.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Kimberly Dozier, you have sources all through the military establishment. What are they telling you that they think Russia is doing? How far do they think Russia is willing to go? And if, or maybe when will it involve Russian ground troops?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: They think what they're seeing is a replay of Ukraine all over again, that Russia has moved limited ground troops in to shore up Bashar al Assad's main areas of either contention or areas where he still holds sway. They've watched multiple rocket launchers and other types of Russian equipment move all along the border of Assad's influence with rebel-held areas from Homs all the way up north. You can also see that's where a lot of the airstrikes have taken place. They say it's a little harder to track where Iranian troops have gone because they use the same equipment as the Syrian troops. What they think they're seeing is Russia settling in for the long haul, especially around also the port of Tartus and the stronghold of Latakia to keep Assad in power and essentially create facts on the ground before they move possibly against ISIS.

Now, it is worth noting that some of the areas where they have hit are also areas where the al Qaeda-linked group al Nusra Front is located near rebel groups. So some of the strikes could be going at the militants that Russia tells the Americans it's aiming at.


DOZIER: Sorry, I was just going to say the difficulty for the Pentagon is that they don't have people on the ground, so they can see an exPLOsion, but they can't always tell where it came from.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And real quick, Kim, tell me, defense secretary said today in new comments to reporters that the United States now is not ready to coordinate with Russia in terms of the airstrikes that they are -- the airstrike operations that they're putting in place. This gets to that de-conflicting question. What does that tell you that Ash Carter comes out to say that?

DOZIER: Well, that he doesn't like that the Russians are doing what they said they wouldn't do, which is to target rebel areas. It also signals that they're probably going to go with the barest minimum of de-confliction, say a hotline in each control, air control location rather than having possibly change officers, saying we're going to hit here if you hit here. The level of trust just isn't high enough for that right now.

BOLDUAN: Surely.

BERMAN: Barely exists at all.

Arwa Damon, Kimberly Dozier, thanks. Really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, he says Jeb Bush can't be president, Kevin McCarthy shouldn't be speaker. Famed political strategist, Dick Morris, burning bridges with the establishment. He joins us next.

BOLDUAN: And their colleagues and patients were killed in U.S. airstrikes. Their hospital destroyed. We're going to have a live report coming from Afghanistan as international -- as an international charitable organization issues new calls now for a war crimes investigation against the U.S. military.


[11:38:54] BERMAN: A huge vote for house Republicans tomorrow. They will make their pick to be the next house speaker. House conservatives met last night with the three Republicans fighting to replace John Boehner. The front-runner, the current house majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, told them, "I'm not John Boehner! I'm going to run things differently."

BOLDUAN: McCarthy also continues to try to clean up after his recent remarks, crediting the committee investigating the Benghazi attacks for Hillary Clinton's declining poll numbers.

Let's discuss this and much more with Dick Morris, former adviser to Republican Senator Trent Lott and to President Bill Clinton.

Dick, it's great to see you.

We were looking at some of your recent writings, and you write a lot about who shouldn't be. McCarthy shouldn't be speaker. Jeb Bush shouldn't be president.

Let's focus first on this house race. You wrote that "the House leadership needs to stop eating its young." Why is Jason Chaffetz the answer to that?

DICK MORRIS, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: I think there's been a fundamental dichotomy between the people who got the Republicans the majority, who are for the most part conservatives from the class of 2010, and those who run the House, who are people who have been there Forever, who are from the mainstream Republican party and who probably would still be in the minority. And there needs to be some accommodation and leadership for them to not eat their young but promote their young to positions of power. And Chaffetz probably isn't the best example of that.

[11:40:24] BERMAN: Chaffetz has been in Congress longer than McCarthy, right? Neither have been in very long. I mean, both of them are pretty young.

MORRIS: Yeah, but he's clearly acceptable and supported by the conservatives that have been ousted and kept out of power by Boehner. Look, there are two Republican parties in the House. There's the mainstream establishment party, and there are the conservatives. Conservatives are somewhere between 40 and 100 people, depending on what issue and what vote you're talking about. Both have to be represented. Otherwise, you're going to have situations where it's a shutdown or nothing because nobody will credit the deal that the leadership negotiates with the Democrats. And to do that, you might have one speaker and the other is the majority leader. That probably makes the most sense. But to think that you can unite the Republican caucus behind McCarthy is ridiculous. It's just a prescription to either surrender or a shutdown, depending on which you wish.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the broader fight for the Republican nomination for president. When you look at these latest poll numbers, I mean, Bush is still in it, but these latest numbers in swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania out of Quinnipiac, not necessarily good for Jeb Bush, who was once thought to be the front-runner, and you say Jeb Bush can't win. Why?

MORRIS: Well, he's lost three-quarters of his support since he announced, for heaven's sakes. And he looks like, even though he's got a three-inch height advantage over Trump, he looks so much trivialized standing next to him in those debates. I think that Bush needed the momentum and the consensus of a front-runner, just like his brother had, but he's lost that. When a famous name runs for office, the problem is -- and Hillary has

the same problem -- is we focus not so much on who he is but who he's not. You know, Hillary's not as likeable as Bill. Hillary doesn't have Bill's political instincts. And by the same token, Jeb doesn't have the strength of his brother, doesn't have the stubborn conservatism of his brother. And people really look at your shortcomings as much as your assets.

BERMAN: So let's talk about the front-runner, then, Donald Trump. Your former boss, Bill Clinton, was with Stephen Colbert last night. And this is what he attributed to Donald Trump's success. Let's listen.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It may have a short half-life, his campaign. I can't tell yet. But he's a master brander, and there is a macho appeal to saying, I'm just sick of nothing happening. I make things happen. Vote for me.


BERMAN: The macho appeal, is that why Donald Trump is leading in all these polls, especially today?

MORRIS: He's doing about as well among women as among men. It's not that. It's that there is a no-man's land in our politics. On the one hand, bounded by what we know to be true, and on the other hand, bounded by what the media says is politically correct. And that's where Donald Trump lives. And it's our failure to admit what we all know to be true in the guise of political correctness that fuels the Trump candidacy.

BOLDUAN: Dick Morris, always great to have you. Always great to hear your opinions. We'll test them out as this campaign continues. Great to see you.

BERMAN: Come back soon.

BOLDUAN: There's a whole lot of good news in new polls out for Hillary Clinton. We'll talk about the good news and the bad news in the polls just out this morning. We're going to talk about that with her director of Latino outreach to see what the campaign is saying today.

BERMAN: And a call for an international investigation into the U.S. military strike that killed 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital. The organization just finished a press conference. We'll tell you what they're saying, next.


[11:48:35] BOLDUAN: New demands for a war crimes investigation into that U.S. airstrike on a hospital in Afghanistan. The medical charity, Doctors Without Borders, is calling for an independent panel look into the bombings that killed 22 people including medical staff and patients over the weekend.

The head of Doctors Without Borders insists that it cannot be dismissed as collateral damage or a mistake. Here's the group's director just moments ago.


JASON CONE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: The attack on the hospital in Kunduz was the biggest loss of life for our organization in an airstrike. Tens of thousands of people in Kunduz can no longer receive medical care now when they need it most. Today, we say enough. Even war has rules.


BERMAN: Even war has rules.

The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan has called what happened a mistake.

CNN's International diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, joins us now live from Kabul.

Doctors Without Borders clearly not satisfied with the admission that it was a mistake and we're investigating. They want more.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They do. And they put it very simply and said, look, we are not going after this from a legal perspective. We just need to know what are the rules of engagement. They say several years of setting up the rules, and they abide by the rules of engagement with the U.S. forces, Afghan forces and the Taliban. They saying let's have this investigation, put the facts on the table, and if your interpretation of the rules of engagement has changed, then we have to reassess if we can operate in that the environment. They go into the war zones to help people in the war zones. They go in with their eyes wide open. These are doctors who have often been in the professions for many years and decades, and they don't do it lightly.

Here's a straight forward comparison right now. Doctors Without Borders are operating in Syria. Let's say a Russian plane strikes a Doctors Without Borders hospital tomorrow, and the Russians said, you know what, don't worry, we will investigate it. This is what Doctors Without Borders are feeling the situation they are faced with. This investigation has to be independent, and has to be with an outside body, otherwise, they will be faced with situations where the bad actors hit their hospitals, say we will look into it, and get back to you later. This is what worries these professional doctors who put their lives on the line to help wounded people in bad situations -- John?

[11:51:08] BOLDUAN: Nic Robertson, on the ground there for us. Nic, thank you so much.

Coming up next, more than one in six Americans are Latino, and those votes could absolutely change the election in 2016. Coming up, Hillary Clinton's director of Latino outreach is going to join us to talk about the candidate and the upcoming debate and the new poll numbers out today.


[11:55:45] BERMAN: Less than one week now from the first Democratic debate. Where? Here on CNN. And new polling has Hillary Clinton leading in battleground states. The poll from Quinnipiac University shows the former secretary of state with strong numbers against Bernie Sanders and Vice President Biden in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

BOLDUAN: But there is trouble news as well that could worry the Clinton campaign. A majority of voters in those states polled say that the Hillary Clinton is not honest and not trustworthy, and so there could be some problems.

Joining us to talk about this and much more is Lorella Praeli, the Latino outreach director for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Lorella, thank you so much for joining us.

We want to talk about all of that, but first, this just came into us that the Arizona congressman, a long-time member of the Hispanic Congress Caucus, Raul Grijalva, is going to be announcing his endorsement for Bernie Sanders.

LORELLA PRAELI, DIRECTOR OF LATINO OUTREACH, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: I will let the Bernie Sanders campaign speak of that. But I can tell you that we are proud of the support we have from the Congressional and Senate Caucus. We're proud of Joaquin Castro's endorsement, and Congressman Becerra's, and we'll focus on doing our job and running our campaign and running our strategy. That's what voters want. They want to know what the answers are. They want to know what the solutions are. That's our focus of the campaign

BERMAN: Part of running that campaign and part of that strategy over the last few days seems to be the former secretary of state at some differences from the Obama administration, including illegal immigration. The secretary said she that she would be much less harsh than President Obama was during his administration. And do you believe that the president has been harsh in his policies of immigration?

PRAELI: I think when we look at immigration -- and I just start by saying this is an issue very close to my heart. My mother would benefit from the president's executive action on immigration, called DAPA, being held up in the courts because of republicans. So when we look at the next four or five years, we have to ask, who is the best person to get us a comprehensive immigration bill, and with a full and complete immigration bill, and who can protect DAPA and DAPA and build on the executive actions so we can keep families together. I know there's a lot of people wanting to analyze what the administration's deportation record was and what their strategy was, but what I want to be focused on is how do we build a program that is speaking to the Latinos and to the immigrant community and that is offering real solutions, and that is why I am here today. BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And, Lorella, what do you say to the voters, as

they are trying to understand the positions, how to build those programs, the distinction they want to know between President Obama and Hillary Clinton when she says she is going to be much more harsh, especially on the deportation. What do you say when they're saying, are you saying that President Obama was wrong here? What's your answer?

PRAELI: Well, I focus on what my candidate has to offer, and Hillary Clinton is for making sure that families are not being held in detention centers, and she is for making sure that the 6,000 dreamers who have DAPA continue to have protection from deportation, continue to have work. Hillary Clinton is for making sure that my mother has protection from deportation and is able to go to Peru to see her father before he passed away. So I'm going to focus on what my candidate believes in. I want to make sure we have enthusiasm on the ground. So I am going to California and Colorado Texas and Virginia. And what I'm hearing when I meet with people is, tell me more about what your plan is. I'm there and I'm ready to knock on the doors and make the phone calls. And we are singularly energized to tap into that energy. And that's why we're rolling out Latinos for Hillary. We started last week. We have an aggressive comprehensive strategy that is bilingual, that speaks to our Spanish-dominant audience, that speaks to our English-dominant audience. And we launched at the Marc Anthony concert, and there was tremendous enthusiasm. So that's really our focus as a campaign.

BERMAN: Lorella Praeli, thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: A lot of questions, a lot of the focus will be highlighted in the big debate coming up.

The first Democratic debate is less than one week away, Tuesday, October 13th, only here on CNN. And we will be there live to bring you special coverage starting Monday.

Until then, thank you for joining us at this hour.

BERMAN: Before then. We will be back tomorrow.

BOLDUAN: We might be back tomorrow.

BERMAN: Meanwhile, "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.