Return to Transcripts main page

ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Obama: Very Difficult to Detect Lone Wolf Plots; Feds Release New Details About Killer's Friend; Ted Cruz Holding Campaign Rally in Georgia; Trump: Bush is "Dumb as a Rock"; Schools Close Over Islam Homework; Sanders Campaign: DNC in the Tank for Hillary Clinton; Mother Teresa to Be Named a Saint. Aired 7-8:00p ET

Aired December 18, 2015 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next, President Obama telling Americans, if you see something, say something, calling it the best defense against terrorists. Is that really America's best chance?

Plus, Donald Trump confident the nomination is his but could Ted Cruz steal it away? We'll show you how Cruz could Trump the front- runner.

An outrage over a homework assignment about Islam, shutting down an entire school district. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, terror fears. President Obama trying to calm a nation on edge admitting the United States cannot stop terror attacks referring to the San Bernardino massacre to explain why terrorists are harder to track than ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: It is very difficult for us to detect lone wolf plots or plots involving a husband and wife. It's not that different from us trying to detect the next mass shooter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: He's on his way to San Bernardino at this hour to meet with families of the victims. But the President's comments are the latest in a series aimed at reassuring Americans his ISIS strategy is working. He made no mention though about reports that he admitted he had been slow to recognize the fear in the country following the Paris and San Bernardino attacks.

Our Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT live in Washington. Jim, the President reportedly admitting in and off- the-record meeting with columnists that his messaging on ISIS wasn't strong enough, that he had wished he had been more forceful and more quick. But today it didn't sound like he said anything different.

JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. You heard the President say once again today that the U.S.-led coalition will continue to hit ISIS harder than ever. We'll continue to go after its leaders, continue to conduct air strikes. There was no offering of a new strategy today. You're not going to hear that from this president because they are convinced they have the right approach. It is not an invade first and ask questions later approach. It's one that they think is smarter and more risk averse, quite frankly. But as for whether the President has been tough enough on his messaging, as you said, Erin, this is really about the optics and the message coming out of this White House after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks.

And I have talked privately with aides who acknowledge that, yes, it could have been stronger in those days after those attacks. You were called the President was bristling at those questions about his strategy after what happened in Paris. So in the last two weeks, he's amped up the bully pulpit, speaking from the Oval Office, the Pentagon, the National Counterterrorism Center, today's press conference, he's going to San Bernardino later tonight as you said to meet with the families of the victims out there. All of this is to say essentially we've got this. And so, you know, the problem for the President in the coming weeks, you know, he's going to be on vacation in Hawaii but when he comes back in 2016, you heard him say earlier today, he's going to leave it all out in the field.

He's not going to be a lame duck. The problem, Erin, is that this has the potential to really overshadow the last year of his presidency if he can't take out ISIS in this last year that he has left in office. But, you know, I'm told by officials that he is determined as ever to crush ISIS. You may not have heard it rhetorically in the last couple of weeks. You may hear more of that in the coming weeks. He has a State of the Union Address, remember on January --

BURNETT: Right.

ACOSTA: -- 12th and I'm told National Security and reassuring the American people about their safety will be a big part of that.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim Acosta. And right now, the President is on his way to the San Bernardino to meet with victims of the terror attack. The President's visit coming as we learn new details tonight about the only person charged in the massacre that killed 14 people. Enrique Marquez is the killer's neighbor.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Enrique Marquez seen here in federal custody on a terrorism charge. A man who posted Facebook pictures of himself in goofy grins, called himself anti- social, who friends saw as harmless and naive. Plotting to unleash terror, says the FBI. Years before Marquez would become a central figure in the San Bernardino attack, he was a suburban California kid, childhood neighbor to Syed Rizwan Farook. Farook first introduced Marquez to Islam ten years ago. Marquez began attending a Corona, California mosque, telling people there that he had converted. According to the criminal complaint in 2010, Farook introduced Marquez to radical Islamic ideas, Farook showing Marquez the lectures of American al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al Awlaki.

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It always comes down to that basic issue that it's disenfranchised youth. He felt an issue where he wanted to feel part of something and, unfortunately, being part of something, in his view, was being part of radical Islam.

LAH: Investigators say, the men soon began discussing carrying out their own terror attacks. Marquez telling investigators he purchased two AR-15 rifles instead of Farook because his appearance was Caucasian while Farook looked Middle Eastern. The men aimed to use their new gun in a rush hour attack. The 91 Freeway, one of the most congested highways in Southern California. Marquez telling the FBI they discussed this hill, the lack of exits to detonate pipe bombs. Farook would then move along, stop vehicles, killing trapped drivers.

[19:05:33] Court documents say, they also plotted to bomb the community college they both attended. Targeting the library or cafeteria to kill as many as possible. But the arrests of Ralph de Leon and three others in 2012 on terror charges spooked Marquez and he stopped plotting with Farook but the men remained connected by marriage. Marquez married this woman, she is the sister of the woman married to the gunman's brother. The FBI says, Marquez was paid $200 a month to marry the Russian woman for legal residency. A sham. Visible to neighbor Brittani Adams.

BRITTANI ADAMS, NEIGHBOR: You could tell that they were close but I would never assume that the sister and him were married.

JERRY MORGAN, MORGAN'S TAVERN: I had never seen him with a woman in three years. I don't know. White shirt and a pair of pants and he looked like a Pillsbury dough boy.

LAH: Marquez was living a lie say co-workers at the bar where he worked for three years. As Marquez wrote on his Facebook page last month, he was leading multiple lives. Marquez wrote, "Involved in terrorist plots, drugs, anti-social behavior, marriage, might go to prison for fraud."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: Now, Marquez is also charged with purchasing those two AR- 15 rifles that were used in the attack, purchasing them for Farook. There were also some undetonated bombs that were found in that room where the massacre happened and the unexploded powder that was inside those bombs, well, they trace back to a purchase Marquez made as well. Erin, tonight Marquez is being held here in Los Angeles in a federal lockup -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kyung.

And OUTFRONT now, Chris Swecker, a former assistant director of the FBI, along with Tim Clemente, retired FBI counterterror agent. Tim, you heard the President again say, if you see something, say something. I mean, in a sense, that's the obvious but it's also is concerning. I mean, should people be calling about every abandoned bag? I mean, what do you actually call in about? What is seeing something?

TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI COUNTERTERRORISM AGENT: Seeing something is anything out of the ordinary, Erin, I mean, the abandoned bags or something that people have to call about if it's in a particular place. If somebody puts it down and turns they get a drink from a water fountain, don't call 911. But if they put it down and they get a drink from the water fountain and they walked away and are gone for two, three, four, five minutes, that's an indication that they probably either don't care about what is in that bag or there's something in that bag that could be a danger.

Obviously when incidents like what happened in San Bernardino happen, the individuals there had a particular plan, a particular target. That party, that individuals in that party and then possibly first responders after the fact, there was probably going to be a secondary attack. But somebody walking into a crowded bus station, walking into a theater and leaving something behind is very much out of the ordinary.

BURNETT: Yes.

CLEMENTE: I just wish that the President would have a little more passion about the subject when he's talking about it.

BURNETT: Yes. I mean, he's very calm. He's very measured. I mean, Chris, this issue of seeing something, saying something, you said people who knew Farook definitely noticed. I mean, you know, we've talked about this. There were pipe bombs all over that apartment. His mother was living there. She never said anything. Why didn't anybody say anything?

CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR: Well, what we have heard is that one neighbor saw some things that they thought were suspicious, decided not to report it because they didn't want to stigmatize their neighbor. We know that Marquez actually posted something very interesting on the internet or in a private chat with someone about being involved in terrorist plotting and other things, fraud, et cetera. The person on the other end should have reported that.

BURNETT: Right.

SWECKER: That's enough. I think most of the time the -- you know, active shooters -- let's just expand it beyond terrorists. Most of these people are flashing red to the people that are close to them. They demonstrate actions and do things that are very obviously abnormal and suspicious.

BURNETT: So, Tim, you know, to this point, though, that Chris just said, some people are afraid to sound racist if they call in. I mean, should they be? CLEMENTE: No, they shouldn't worry about that at all. The fact

is, that when you make an accusation to the law enforcement agencies you're calling by dialing 911 or by calling the FBI directly. You're not accusing anyone in a form of a court where you're standing there by saying, they're guilty of this. You're not convicting them. All you're doing is alerting law enforcement that there's a possibility, a potential, that there's something going on here. And that's utterly the most important thing an American citizen can do is stay vigilant by watching.

BURNETT: Right. But on the issue I know when you were talking earlier to our producer, you said, you know, if people are worried about calling in on Muslims? And you pointed out, look, this is not a problem that existed with blond Presbyterians.

[19:10:08] CLEMENTE: Yes. It's not. The fact of the matter is, Erin, that this group, the group of radical Islamic extremists come from the group of Muslims as a larger population and they have vocally and physically demonstrated that they are at war with us. And so we can't ignore the fact that they are coming from that pool, that population of people. So to ignore that or to not look in that direction at all is ignorant. I mean, if you were an antelope and you keep getting attacked by lions and all the antelope around you are being attacked by lions, you're fearful of lions and that's reasonable. So, we have to be fearful of some people, small minority possibly from the Muslim population but we have to be cognizant of the fact that that's who they are.

BURNETT: Chris?

SWECKER: Yes. A good point that Tim is making is the Muslim community themselves and in the case of Farook, noticed some unusual things about him when he came back from Saudi Arabia. He was very different. He was growing his beard. He was acting much more devout. He was sticking to himself more. I mean, I saw three or four interviews where they noticed something changing about him and I think the Muslim community is going to have to step up and their religion is being hijacked and they need to step up and start working with law enforcement, working with the FBI. And I was the primary liaison person with that community when I was head of the criminal division. We didn't get much cooperation.

BURNETT: A pretty damning statement. All right. Thanks very much to both of you.

OUTFRONT next, Ted Cruz about to speak live to supporters in Georgia tonight. He is surging in the polls. We'll going to show you how the nomination could be his for the taking.

Plus, who is Donald Trump calling dumb as a rock tonight?

And Virginia school shutting down today, thousands of students out all because of a homework assignment. What sparked thousands of threatening e-mails?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:15:14] BURNETT: All right. These are live pictures. This

is a Ted Cruz rally in Georgia at this moment, part of his eight state, 12 city tour. Cruz is trying to beat Trump at clenching the nomination. A new poll tonight showing him in second place. And we're going to show you in just a moment how quickly he can make up all this ground, right? Because it's a distant second but it can be done.

First, Sunlen Serfaty is live at the Cruz rally tonight. And Sunlen, this new poll is all post-debate. He's still far behind Trump but in second place. What are you hearing there on the ground?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Erin, when you talk to supporters of Ted Cruz, they say they're painstakingly aware of this poll numbers that he's still is well behind Donald Trump but many of the supporters say, they are not that worried about that. It's an interesting strategy here by the Ted Cruz campaign. One that the candidate has been at times painstakingly obvious in kind of a telegraphing that he's not going to take on Donald Trump, he's not going to take on the front-runner, at least publicly. We saw that again in this week's debate and that's because the Cruz campaign is really looking at the poll numbers beneath the main lines. They see a recent poll found that 26 percent of Trump supporters said that Cruz would be their second choice, and more than any other candidate. So it's a very specific strategy by the Cruz campaign, not so very well masked that they will want to try to woo these Trump supporters over to their side -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much, at that rally tonight. So, how does the map work? Can Ted Cruz win the nomination? The answer is, yes. And the south is key where he's on this massive tour.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT. And Tom, what exactly is the ground game for Cruz to get the crown?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, think about this. Let's talk about the earliest of the early voting. Iowa which we talked about a lot. Our latest numbers show that if you have the voting right now, Ted Cruz could win there, walk away with more delegates than anywhere else. Move over here to New Hampshire though and that's where the trouble begins. Because Trump has a big, big lead there. You see Cruz down here duking it out with Rubio and Carson. Same thing if you come down here to South Carolina. Same thing. There you have Carson and Trump up top.

Look, there's Cruz and next, Rubio and over in Nevada, even worse, here right now, Cruz isn't even showing up in the top four so why does he hang around? He hangs around because of exactly what Sunlen was laying out there. Look, when you move into the next wave, into March, suddenly you have a bunch of other states light up. Thirteen states in one early day there. Hundreds of delegates up for grab, including some of those southern states, including Texas, his own home where he should do very well. So his idea is just stay in striking range and he's got the ground game out there, Erin, to make it happen in a lot of places. BURNETT: So if he, though -- when you go through the ground

game, right? You get a lot of second, I mean, that's good. Right? I mean, that gets you right in the running. But if you're still behind Trump in the overall delegate count, he still loses, right? I mean, it's close but no cigar?

FOREMAN: That's exactly right. However, there are several ways in which that may not be the way it plays out. First of all, what if Trump does stumble in all of this. We talked about it a long time ago. Sunlen mentioned a minute ago, Cruz is a big second choice for a lot of people. If Trump gets into trouble, he's positioned to grab all of those voters. What if Cruz gains momentum? What if he has some big win somewhere? And he could. And suddenly people say, what, he looks like the guy right now. That changes it. And again, being in position everywhere helps and here's a really key one. What if no one runs outright? What if they get to the convention, and with all of these candidates out there, nobody has enough delegates to claim the prize right then. Then you get into a floor fight, Erin, and in that floor fight it's up for grabs and someone could Cruz could absolutely wheel and deal their way into a win.

BURNETT: Well, all right. Thank you very much, Tom Foreman.

Let's go straight now to our political commentator, the former Romney campaign adviser and Press Secretary Kevin Madden and The Family Leader President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats. He is a Ted Cruz supporter has formally endorsed him. Okay, Kevin, you just saw Tom's report, right?

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Right.

Cruz has a very realistic paths of the nomination. I mean, you know, some of it may involve a likely scenario on the campaign floor but it absolutely could happen, he could get there fair and square well before that. Does that concern you when you look at the general election?

MADDEN: Well, I think it is difficult when you have somebody like Ted Cruz who has largely defined some of his positions on issues by what he's against instead of what he is for. If you look at some of those traditional states that are going to be battlegrounds in the general election, places like Florida, places like Ohio, Arapahoe in Jefferson, County, which is critical to winning a place like Colorado and getting to that 270 that you're going to need to win, it could prove more problematic for him as a general election candidate.

[19:20:09] BURNETT: Bob, what do you say to that? I mean, I know you love him but don't you want to win the White House?

BOB VANDER PLAATS, CONSERVATIVE LEADER ENDORSING CRUZ: Well, we definitely want to win the White House and that's why we're endorsing Ted Cruz. Where I would disagree is that this is going to be a base election and Hillary Clinton has got a huge problem with her base and Bernie Sanders. Ted Cruz is going to inspire his base. If it was up to Independents, Mitt Romney would be the candidate today. He's not. I think Ted Cruz, the more people see him, the more they like him. He'll inspire the base. I believe he wins.

BURNETT: Do you agree with that, Kevin, that Independents don't matter and that Mitt Romney's failure proves that that this really is -- because all we heard about for the past five years, it's about the center, it's about the center, don't go too far to your base.

MADDEN: Yes.

BURNETT: And to Bob's point, that's the opposite of what we're seeing here with Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders but with Ted Cruz.

MADDEN: Bob has a theory on the race that I think is one that is interesting. I would love if we could meld the two, which is inspire our base but also have an ability to go out and win and some of those areas, some of those suburban swing counties and some of these key battleground states. But for Ted Cruz to win a general election, to be much more viable in the general election, he's going to have to do two things. He is going to have to do a broader appeal beyond just the base and win over some disaffected Democrats and some Independents. But also, he's going to have to appeal to a larger demographic base.

And one of the reasons that Mitt Romney had a problem in 2012 was that we got crushed amongst Latinos, we got crushed amongst Asian- Americans. And when you have an immigration program or even an economic argument that doesn't appeal to Latino voters, we, unfortunately, will fall below that 40 percent threshold that we're going to need if we're going to win a general election. So, I would love to see a Bob Vander Plaats and Kevin Madden to come together to build the much more formidable general election strategist.

BURNETT: So, Bob though, Ted Cruz, to the point that Kevin is making has said things that could be very problematic -- for moderate Republicans and certainly for Independents. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain who told the British people except the Nazis and in America there were voices that listened to that.

This deal is consummated. It will make the Obama administration. The world's leading financier of radical Islamic terrorists.

Here's the simple and undeniable fact. The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. The media doesn't report that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, Barbara, is that going to be a problem form him again? With independents and the general election, comments like those?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, I think, first of all, what Kevin is saying about Bob Vander Plaats and a Kevin Madden coming together in regards to a general election strategy, he also needs to see that there's a country that's on edge right now. They are very fearful about their security.

BURNETT: Yes.

VANDER PLAATS: Both foreign policy wise and domestically wise. As I think Ted Cruz has top into that emotion that you need a real bold leader who you can trust today. And so, I think in a general election people are going to rally around a Ted Cruz versus a Hillary Clinton with the Benghazi and e-mail scandal. I think Ted Cruz wins. I really do.

MADDEN: I think that's a good point. I think if Ted Cruz were going to continue to draw really hard contrast with Hillary Clinton in a general election, on the issues like that, there are certainly going to bring together more Republicans and, as well, as some disaffected Democrats and a larger degree of independents.

BURNETT: Does that get you there Kevin though? Does that get you over the line, if you get all of the Republicans but not Independents, not people on the center? Is that enough anymore?

MADDEN: Look, I believe it is. I think that there are better candidates right now. One of the reasons I think so many people are drawn to a Marco Rubio candidacy is because he is probably better positioned to bring together two factions inside the Republican Party. The Tea Party element as well as the element that believes we need to be a party that expands our base and expands our appeal. So that is why I think ultimately you're going to see this race start to shift away from nontraditional candidates like Donald Trump who, in my mind, is not really a Republican and folks like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. We're going to have a good, honest battle for the direction of the Republican Party and ultimately will be able to bring the party together in a general election.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks to both.

And OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump tonight calling Jeb Bush dumb as a rock. Is it helping Bush?

And Virginia schools closing today after a teacher assigned homework on Islam. Why parents feared for their children's lives. Our special report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:28:43] BURNETT: Tonight, Trump on top by a huge margin in a new poll, the first taken since this week's debate. All right? Let me emphasize that, this is post-debate. So, it includes their performance. Trump leading with 39 percent of the Republican primary vote, up 11 points from one month ago. That is a surge by any definition. And it's more than double his nearest competitor, Ted Cruz at 18 percent, followed by then Marco Rubio and Ben Carson. But it is Jeb Bush who is in a four-way tie for a fifth place with three percent of the vote who Trump focused on today. Tweeting late this afternoon, Trump said, "The last thing our country need is another BUSH! Dumb as a rock!" And "@JebBush has embarrassed himself and his family with his incompetent campaign for president, he should remain true to himself." These are among the many tweets Trump fired today at Bush. Now, just to be fair though, Bush did start it. He took the first swing today when he tweeted, quote, "Does Donald even know Putin backs Iran/Assad? Does he care? We must stand up to Putin not coddle him #chaoscandidate."

Jeff Zeleny has been following both this campaigns closely. He's OUTFRONT. Jeff, there is something about Twitter which I kind of demean the entire political process, totally separate conversation. But let me just ask you this question. Why is Trump focusing on Bush instead of the other candidates like Cruz and Rubio who obviously are bigger threats to him right now?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Erin, I don't think it's about who is threatening Donald Trump here. I think it's about the kind of applause and rise he gets out of this. I mean, the reality is, Jeb Bush is not popular in this type of Republican primary base. Donald Trump knows that. So when you send out a tweet like that and you kind of make fun of Jeb Bush or make fun of the family even, never mind, you know, it's a revered Republican family, you know, you sort of get a lot of likes and retweets. So, Donald Trump is more controversial in conservative circles, certainly on talk radio to go after Ted Cruz. So, he's going after Jeb Bush instead.

So, it's all strategic and I think he also gets under his skin just a little bit. We saw that at the debate in Las Vegas, when Jeb Bush was saying things Donald Trump didn't like it. But mainly, it's a simple thing to do and he will not make angry those talk radio hosts who are also important to Donald Trump.

BURNETT: That's right. Now, in terms of the poll that I just talked about, the new poll today, obviously, he's on top by a huge margin. But there's something else significant within that poll, and that is that that number is very solid and strong, right? Those are loyal voters.

ZELENY: Right. Let's look at those newer numbers in that New Hampshire poll -- 71 percent, seven in 10 Trump supporters say they are die hards. They are true, true believers. Bush supporters only three in 10, only 33 percent they are true supporter.

I'm not surprised with these numbers, of course. We see all the people who are attending Donald Trump rallies. But that is the reason Donald Trump is still soaring and staying on top because his supporters love him. So far, nothing he has said or done has turned him away from them -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

And OUTFRONT now, Jeb Bush supporter, Will Weatherford, the former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and also here, Trump supporter, Jeff Lord, who served as Ronald Reagan's White House political director.

Jeff, why is Trump going after Jeb Bush so furiously, which I think is a fair word when you describe someone as dumb as a rock? JEFF LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, for better or worse

for Jeb Bush, is he a symbol. He's not just Jeb Bush the person. He's become the symbol of the Republican establishment and Donald Trump is the anti-establishment candidate.

BURNETT: Right.

LORD: And, unfortunately, Jeb Bush is riding along in this latest poll at 3 percent. He's not a threat to Donald Trump but he is very much a symbol. So, by going after the symbol here, you know, he does score some points and remind everybody what's going on.

BURNETT: Which, of course, is very smart from that perspective.

Now, Will, I will note, again, Jeb Bush started this fight today. He was the first one to tweet it. It wasn't Donald Trump who started it.

The question is, is it hypocritical of Bush to do this? He keeps saying Trump isn't a serious candidate and takes to Twitter to insult him.

WILL WEATHERFORD, FORMER SPEAKER, FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well, he's not a serious candidate. I think everybody knows that. He's a chaos candidate. You listen to the things that Donald Trump has said and he's just not serious. Anyone who thinks that it's good to be friendly with a guy like Vladimir Putin who is a thug from Russia and act like having a friendship there or something positive when this guy has serious -- caused serious problems in Eastern Europe and now in the Middle East, he's not a serious candidate.

Let me tell you, I'm proud of Governor Bush and the fact that he stepped up.

BURNETT: All right. Thirty-nine percent, though, of -- I mean, that's a huge margin. Ted Cruz is second at 18 percent, 71 percent of Trump voters say they won't vote for anyone else. I mean, that's a serious candidate.

WEATHERFORD: The national polls don't matter and everybody knows that. What is going to matter is Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada in the early states.

What we know is that Jeb Bush has the courage and guts to take on Donald Trump, while other candidates like Chris Christie, Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Cruz seem to be avoiding the confrontation.

Someone needs to step up and Jeb Bush seems to be the only person willing to do it, to tell Donald Trump that he's not serious, this is not a game. America has real challenges and he is the man who is capable of leading us forward, and that is Jeb Bush.

BURNETT: Jeff Lord, does Donald Trump need to listen to this in part that he should be seen as a more serious candidate that, yes, you can do all of these things, you call someone dumb as a rock, but he shouldn't be doing it?

LORD: He is a serious candidate, Erin. Obviously the polls show it, the American people are reflecting it and, to be perfectly candid, Jeb Bush is very late trying to take on Donald Trump. Governor Rick Perry tried to take He's out of the race. Governor Jindal is out of the race, he tried to take on Trump. Governor Walker tried to take him on, he's out of the race. And Jeb Bush is now taking him on and he's now at 3 percent.

So, I wouldn't think that this is the best approach for him but he's going to do what he's going to do and riding along at 3 percent, I don't think he's getting very far.

BURNETT: All right. So, Will, Trump was not just insult, he's offering advice. This advice actually very interesting, also on Twitter. "I have an idea for Jeb Bush who's campaign is a disaster. Try using your last name and don't be ashamed of it."

[19:35:01] I mean, there is something to this, right? I mean, for a long time --

LORD: Yes.

BURNETT: Will, I wouldn't even say for a long time. Right now the headline is J-E-B-! Right? It's kind of like the last thing you wanted to do is mention the Bush name. Should he just have embraced it and owned it the way that Donald Trump would have?

WEATHERFORD: Nothing could be further from the truth. There's no question. Jeb is his own man. He's running as his own man. He was a phenomenal, transformational governor in our state of Florida.

But let me say about the Bush family. People can think the way they want about the Bush family, but one thing I know for sure, they know how to hunt down and kill terrorists across this world that are posing a threat to the United States of America. And the Bush family, I believe the American people care about the Bush family, respect the Bush family and Jeb Bush is just another person who I believe the Americans, when it comes time to vote, are going to be looking for someone who can lead this country and is not scared to take on the terrorists, to take on people like Vladimir Putin and lead this country forward and make us safe.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

And if you missed the Republican presidential debate on Tuesday night, which had, among its highlights, some moments between Trump and Bush, you can watch it replay tonight right here on CNN, 10:00 Eastern.

OUTFRONT next, an entire school district shut down by threats of violence, e-mails, charging students were being indoctrinated into Islam by a teacher. Our special report.

And breaking news, Bernie Sanders suing the DNC, charging the party is sabotaging his campaign, in cahoots with Hillary Clinton. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Tonight, a homework assignment about Islam shutting down an entire school district.

[19:40:02] Students studying world religion were asked to try and copy the Arabic text that you see here. It's an Islamic statement of faith and you'll hear more about that in a moment.

Parents, though, were angry, and the local sheriff tells OUTFRONT that tens of thousands of people from across the country flooded the school's phone lines with hateful and threatening messages, including pictures of beheadings.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT (voice-over): Schools shut down across Augusta County, Virginia, today, some 10,000 students told to stay home out of an abundance of caution. The reason: on the district's Web sites. Voluminous phone calls and electronic mail objecting to the world geography curriculum. Outrage spreading after students were asked to copy an Arabic phrase which translates to, "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger."

LAUREL TRUXELL, AUGUSTA COUNTY STUDENT: Why couldn't we just learn to write hello, you know, normal words?

BURNETT: The stated goal to gain an appreciation for the beauty of the calligraphy.

Some angry parents saw it as preaching Islam to their children.

KIMBERLY HERNDON, AUGUSTA COUNTY PARENT: I will not have my children sit under a woman who indoctrinates them with the Islam religion when I am a Christian, and I'm going to stand behind Christ.

BURNETT: The school district says the course has been taught for years and in a statement insisted the phrase, quote, "was not translated for students, nor were students asked to translate it, recite it, or otherwise adopt or pronounce it as a personal belief."

But many were not buying that. In fact, Sheriff Randy Fisher told OUTFRONT that the district has been inundated with emails, telling us they were, quote, "very hateful, very threatening and profane, including pictures of beheadings."

COREY SAYLOR, SPOKESPERSON FOR CAIR: It shows the level of anti- Islam hysteria that what is essentially unremarkable school assignment becomes something that people feel the need to threaten and forces schools, of all things, to be shut down.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: It's a pretty stunning development.

OUTFRONT now, James Zogby, the founder and president of the Arab American Institute.

All right. What happened here, James?

JAMES ZOGBY, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: Well, you had fear trumping learning and it's something that is not new. I actually wrote a book about it back in 2010 called "Arab Voices" about what we don't know and why we don't know it and, therefore, how much we fear Arab and Muslims because we don't know.

And fear and ignorance are a very lethal brew. We've seen that play out in our country on many levels before and we're seeing it play out in this school. I mean, thank God no violence occurred but the anger that is born of fear and ignorance is troubling.

BURNETT: So, did the school district do the right thing in closing the school when they were receiving emails of beheadings and other things? And was that an action in and of itself?

ZOGBY: Well, look, I can't speak to that because I was not privy to all of the communications that they received. My office got threats after 9/11, and we actually were under police protection for several weeks. But in this case where the school district responsibility is, has to be is to educate parents.

Educating the kids about world religion is critical. Look, we've been in the Middle East now engaged as a country for decades. We've sent more troops, lost more lives, fought more wars, spent more money. I mean, we're so invested in that region we can't afford to have a generation of kids grow up who do not understand the first principles about that region and to say "I stand behind Jesus," that's real nice and I appreciate that because I'm a Christian, too.

But you must understand Islam. You need to understand Buddhism and Hinduism, otherwise, we can't function in a world environment.

BURNETT: So, who do you blame for this? I mean, is this as broad as Paris and San Bernardino, or is this as specific as Donald Trump?

ZOGBY: Well, it's a little of everything but Donald Trump certainly feeds it. He's -- we're releasing a poll that shows that the partisan divide on the issues of Islam and Arabs is about what gay marriage was 15 years ago, almost like a mirror reflection of each other.

It's pretty scary out there. But, look, we've had a situation in this country for the last hundred years where we have not understood or taught about the Arab world or Islam.

You know, when we went into Iraq in 2011, "National Geographic" did a survey, asked people -- I'm sorry. In 2003, asked people to identify Iraq on a map, and only 11 percent could find it on a map. And --

BURNETT: Yes. ZOGBY: -- four years later, after we've lost a few thousand

young men and women there, it jumped up to 37 percent. We don't know the world and yet, we are heavily engaged in the world.

If you can't find it on the map, if you don't what their religion is all about, if you don't understand what they are saying but think you know, then we are in real trouble and that's the situation we're in.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz act as if they know about Islam. They don't know the first darn thing about it, and they make mistakes every day and they are leading a nation into more hate and more division.

[19:45:03] BURNETT: James, thank you very much.

And next, the breaking news on Bernie Sanders suing his own party, saying that the DNC is protecting Hillary Clinton in cahoots with her, a major allegation tonight.

And Pope Francis confirming what many have long believed about Mother Teresa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Breaking news tonight, moments ago, Bernie Sanders filing a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, accusing the party of being in the tank for Hillary Clinton. This war broke out after the DNC cut Sanders off against a crucial database because the Sanders' campaign reviewed confidential information collected by Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Sanders campaign manager doesn't deny it, but turned the tables on his own party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: The leadership of the Democratic National Committee is now actively attempting to undermine our campaign. This is unacceptable. Individual leaders of the DNC can support Hillary Clinton in any way they want, but they are not going to sabotage our campaign, one of the strongest grassroots campaign in modern history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:50:01] BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, our senior political analyst and former presidential advisor to four presidents, including Reagan and Clinton, David Gergen.

David, does Bernie Sanders have a point, that the deck is stacked against him? That the dean see and Hillary could be essentially in cahoots?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a nasty fight, Erin, and both sides actually have a point. The Clinton campaign has a valid objection to the fact that the Sanders campaign, when given an opportunity, a glitch -- they went into files, Hillary's files, and got information that was valuable, and that was wrong and the Sanders campaign has fired people as a result of that.

What the Sanders campaign has not done is ensure that whatever advantage they gain from going to Hillary's files has been erased and they're not using them anymore. They need do that.

At the same time, Erin, the Sanders campaign has a very valid point, too. The agreement that the Sanders campaign had with the Democratic National Committee, if you read the brief, makes it very clear that the DNC should have given written notice and given the Sanders campaign 10 days to cure this problem.

BURNETT: Right.

GERGEN: And they didn't do that. They just suspended them and it locks them out of extraordinary valuable information. In my judgment, Erin, the people who have the most to gain from resolving this quickly are not the Sanders campaign, it's the Hillary campaign. She's going to win this nomination, but it's very, very important to her she win it fairly and squarely, and not win it -- not be seen by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party as having done something that was rolled over their candidate.

BURNETT: Adding to the issues she's had a perceptions but of dishonesty.

GERGEN: And people being angry and staying home.

Absolutely, absolutely. So I think she has a strong interest in getting this cleaned up as quickly as possible. She's going to win the nomination. She doesn't need this.

BURNETT: So, David, tomorrow, Democratic debate and a lot of people are shocked there's a debate tonight six days before Christmas on a Saturday night. In fact, half of the Democratic debates -- and only six of them -- are on Saturday nights.

Does that smell fishy to you? People aren't going to want to watch.

GERGEN: Absolutely. And this is part of what Bernie Sanders and his people have been arguing all along, that the Democratic National Committee has stacked the deck against them by scheduling these debates in such a way that very, very few people will watch.

There are four Democratic debates before the New Hampshire primary. New Hampshire primary, of course, is critical to Sanders. Four Democratic debates before the New Hampshire primary. Three of them are on weekend nights, on Saturday or Sunday with small audiences.

There's been one Democratic debate that -- during the weekday, it got twice as many people as the debate on a Saturday night. So, the Sanders campaign has a point here.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, David Gergen.

And next, one of the towering figures of the last century soon to receive one of the highest earthly honors. We have a report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:04] BURNETT: She was one of the most accomplished and beloved people of the 20th century and the Catholic churchgoing to declare Mother Teresa a saint.

Delia Gallagher has tonight's "I.D.E.A."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was born Agnes Bojaxhiu, into a middle-class Albanian family in 1910 in what was then part of the Ottoman Empire. She left home at 18 to become a Catholic nun, calling herself Teresa and traveled to Calcutta, India, to serve the poorest of the poor.

In Calcutta, she received what she later described as a call within a call. Mother Teresa left her position as the headmistress in a convent school "to follow Jesus into the slums," she said. She sheltered orphans abandoned in garbage dumps, comforted the insane, cleaned the ulcers of lepers. She rescued the destitute, the old, people dying in the sewers.

Many called her the "saint of the gutters". She believed there was no disease worse than the disease of being unwanted.

MOTHER TERESA: People are not hungry just for bread, they're hungry for love. People are not naked only for a piece of cloth. They are naked for the human dignity. People are not only homeless for a room made of bricks, but they are homeless being rejected, unwanted, unloved.

GALLAGHER: With a world-celebrated beauty, Teresa was small and plain, just 4'11", 150 centimeters. Where possessions were worshipped, she owned just three saris and a prayer book.

And yet she became a global figure, a friend to the most celebrated of celebrities, as well as the poorest of the poor.

When she won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she persuaded organizers to scrap the banquet and give the sayings to the unprivileged. She founded the Missionaries of Charity, a congregation with branches in over 100 countries to carry on her cause.

Her forceful personality and her unswerving beliefs put her in conflict with some. Many criticized her opposition to contraception, divorce, and abortion. But she was not to be turned.

MOTHER TERESA: Abortion is a terrible evil. And if you do not want a child, I want it. Give it to me.

GALLAGHER: Mother Teresa died in 1997 at the age of 87. She was beatified in 2003 by the late Pope John Paul II. Beatification, which requires one miracle, is the last step before sainthood.

With this latest announcement from Pope Francis, the woman known as the "living saint" will be officially recognized as such.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: And thank you so much for joining us, have a wonderful weekend. Be sure to set your DVR to record OUTFRONT, so you can watch the show any time. See you back here on Monday.

"AC360" starts right now.