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Video of U.S. Sailors Taken into Iranian Custody; Upsets and Counterpunches at Republican Presidential Debate Tonight; Ted Cruz Scrutinized on Loan Disclosure; New Iowa Poll: Clinton Losing Support to Sanders. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 14, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:33] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

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

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

We're beginning with breaking news. Exclusive new details about those 10 Navy soldiers whose vessel strayed into Iranian waters leading to their capture. This is the video we've been talking about the moment it happened when they were taken into custody by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

BERMAN: The sailors, nine men and one woman, they were held for several hours before being released unharmed.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has the exclusive new details on their condition as well as what officials are now learning, Barbara, about how and why they were captured?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. And you can only imagine how exhausted and upset these young sailors may be ach going through this ordeal.

A defense official has now told me that they have a much better idea, there may be more details, but they have a much better idea of what happened. As these two small Navy boats were moving up the Persian Gulf, one of the boats began to experience engine trouble. Basically, it wasn't performing correctly. And it was to some extent slowing down their movement. At the same time, they didn't realize perhaps they were drifting. And they drifted into Iranian territorial waters. In fact, they came within three miles of Iran's Farsi Island. That is a very sensitive military site for Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. That's when the Iranians came out on their boats.

Here's what is so interesting. The sailors may not have even realized at that point how far they had drifted off course into Iranian territorial waters. But when they did, they really had no ability to get away to basically gun the boat and the engine and move away very quickly because they were having this engine trouble. And in fact, one of the sailors who spoke on Iranian television, we believe to be the commander of the unit, he hinted at this problem. Have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SAILOR: The Iranian patrol boat came out when we were having engine issues and had weapons drawn so we tried to talk to them until more boats came out and took us in.


STARR: What we now know is that the U.S. sailors were badly outnumbered by the Iranians. They really had no choice. They had no ability to defend themselves.

Now, look, the Navy investigation is going to try to determine exactly what happened, how much was mechanical, why did it go off course, all of that. But how seriously did the Navy take all of this as it was unfolding?

We also now know that the U.S. Navy search-and-rescue party before they realized they were inside Iran and in Iranian hands, went to look for them and entered -- a U.S. Navy ship then did enter Iranian waters once again to look for the sailors. They were worried that basically some catastrophe had happened and they were overboard in the water. The U.S. Navy told the Iranians they were coming in to look for them. There was no trouble there but, in fact, what happened is very quickly it came to be understood that the Iranians had them.

I just want to add one thing. Inside the highest circles of the U.S. Navy, there is a good deal of dismay about this video you are seeing. No one is happy at seeing U.S. Navy sailors on their knees at the hands of another country.

BERMAN: Indeed. It's propaganda pure and simple no matter what success they might have had diplomatically getting those sailors.

BOLDUAN: And the apology they're running on Iranian state TV as well.

BERMAN: Indeed.

Barbara Starr for us, interesting new details for us. Many questions still remain.

Thanks, Barbara.

STARR: Sure.

BOLDUAN: It is game day once again, folks. Republican presidential candidates taking to the debate stage for the first debate of 2016 facing off after weeks of attacks. Counterattacks, punches, counterpunches, Twitter feuds, the ad war heating up the air waves -- I wish I could do that for a while longer. This time that Trump-Cruz bromance may be a thing of the past already.

BERMAN: On the main stage tonight, Donald Trump in the center, flanked by Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich. The undercard will include Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Rand Paul essentially said, take your under card and shove it. He is boycotting, and still pushing for a spot in primetime.

CNN's Sara Murray, who is primetime, is live for us in North Charleston, South Carolina, where this debate kicks off in a few hours.

And we have less than three weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, Sara, this is serious.

[11:05:06] SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: It is serious. That's why you are seeing the claws come out. We have seen Donald Trump needling Ted Cruz over the fact that maybe he's not even eligible to be president because he was born in Canada. And Ted Cruz basically in the span of 24 hours went from "I will not reciprocate" to throwing every attack in the book, it seems like, against Trump saying he's too cozy with Democrats, saying that Cruz would be a better general election candidate, and saying that Donald Trump embodies New York values. Now, the big question is whether that fight is going to spill over into the debate stage tonight. In past debates, Donald Trump has kind of hung back and let other people go up against each other, tangle on their own. We'll see if he sticks to that same strategy.

The other fight you want to look for is the fight for the establishment lane. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, all of those guys are fighting tooth and nail to win New Hampshire. And we have seen them going after each other on this stump and on the air waves. So you're going to want to watch there to see who takes on each other within that establishment lane. All of them are angling to get on top once the race moves out of Iowa and into New Hampshire -- John?

BOLDUAN: Sara, you've been following many of these campaigns. You've been following the Trump campaign closely. Do you think the bromance is over between those two? Trump has made kind of routine he'll attack at a rally, and then it seems in debates Trump kind of sits back and waits to see what's coming at him before he goes out there.

MURRAY: I think the bromance is absolutely over. Even if you don't see it boil over on the debate stage tonight, I think you'll see Ted Cruz and Donald Trump go right back to the campaign trail and keep hitting each other. The funny thing is Donald Trump will say, you know, I'm just raising this issue because other people are raising it. And the Cruz campaign will say these are attacks, we're just stating the facts. Donald Trump used to be a Democrat. And Donald Trump is not as strong against Hillary Clinton.

But make no mistake about it, these two campaigns are going head-to- head, they are deadlocked in Iowa. And this is a battle.

BOLDUAN: Just trying to help you, that's all they're saying.

BERMAN: That's right. Donald Trump, and he will be asked I'm sure, about the Canadian birth, and Donald Trump will answer the question. He may not bring it up without being asked, but there you have it.

Sara Murray, in North Charleston, thank you so much.

Some other news about Ted Cruz I bet gets asked tonight. Ahead of tonight's debate, he's facing new questions, not about his Canadian birth but about his personal finances. "The New York Times" reports Cruz failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans in 2012 when he was running for the Senate.

This is how he responded to Dana Bash last night.


SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those loans have been disclosed over and over and over again on multiple filings. If it was the case that they were not filed exactly as the FEC requires, then we'll amend the filings, but all information has been public and transparent for many years. And that's the end of that.


BOLDUAN: That's what he says right now.

Let's talk about this and much more with CNN political commentator and former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz, Amanda Carpenter; and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee, Brad Woodhouse.

Hey, guys.

So a big day ahead. So put citizenship aside for a second, Amanda, now we're focusing on Ted Cruz's personal finances. He says this is settle and much ado about nothing. Can he really make that decision on his own?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I happen to agree with him. Working in the Senate I know the process that goes into filing these Senate financial disclosure forms. You have to do it every year. He disclosed this loan multiple times, multiple years, in compliance of Senate ethics. He happened to not put it on the FEC's campaign forms. This is routine. A lot of people amend their campaign forms, have to pay a fine potentially, and take care of it. So to suggest he didn't disclose this, as many media organizations are saying, is patently false.

BERMAN: Well, but he didn't do the FEC filing, "The New York Times" says, as he was supposed to. That appears to be a fact.

CARPENTER: Yes, but to say --


BERMAN: To whether or not that's a big deal that's a different story. It may not be a major deal as you said. Other campaigns have done it before. But he did not file that as he was supposed to.

Brad, though, there is this other issue about appearances.


BERMAN: This was part of his campaign narrative. That he used all of his liquid assets to pay for his campaign. Now it turns out we're only learning now this didn't come out during the campaign that he took this loan from Goldman and Citibank. The question is, does this change the image of Ted Cruz he was portraying during that campaign?

WOODHOUSE: Well, look, I think it does. It gives his opponents a big club to hit him with. I mean, he's going after Donald Trump for having whatever New York values are. But then, you know, he's taking this huge loan from Goldman Sachs to fund what he would have you believe was a Tea Party infused campaign, that he went, you know, way down into his pockets to fund himself. I mean, Goldman's a big New York bank obviously. So it really does undermine part of his narrative. The question is whether or not, you know, someone's going to really use that as a club against him in the primary.



BOLDUAN: Go ahead.

[11:10:02] CARPENTER: I would be very curious to see how Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio would come after Ted Cruz on the subject of shady personal loans. This wasn't shady at all. He borrowed against his own personal assets. This is like borrowing against your 401K.

WOODHOUSE: Amanda, Amanda, it's not about --


CARPENTER: -- taking that loan and paid it back in full. I think it also speaks well for Cruz's finances that he would qualify for a million dollar loan.

WOODHOUSE: It's not about being shady. It's not about being shady.

BOLDUAN: I think we are steering the counterattack a little bit when these attacks come at him.

But Brad mentioned New York values, Amanda.


BOLDUAN: So Ted Cruz, he said that Donald Trump he has New York values, he should be using "New York, New York" as his music at his rallies. Donald Trump has now responded to that charge. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: If you would have been there, and if you would have lived through that, like I did with New York people, the way they handled that attack was one of the most incredible things that anybody has ever seen. And you want to knock New York, you got to go through me. New York is an amazing place with amazing people.


BOLDUAN: He's not shying away from having New York values. He says you got to go through me if you're going to take on New York.

What are New York values and why is Ted Cruz saying this?

CARPENTER: This is what I think is so interesting about this line of attack because it allows people to read into it kind of whatever they want. When I hear New York values, you know, I think maybe money above all, someone else maybe think they're not good on marriage issues. Really people can read into it what they want. I think it was somewhat masterful of Donald Trump to come back and say, you know, it means being tough and brash. That's a selling point for some people. It's not a selling point for other people. I think this is kind of a brilliant line of attack.

BERMAN: Well, I thought it was a pretty smart response.

Brad, when I saw Donald Trump's response, I said here's a guy who actually is learning how to be a politician.


BERMAN: He's turned a negative attack into a positive there.

WOODHOUSE: Well, first of all, to Amanda's point, I kind of take the other side. I think it's a horrible attack because no one really knows what it means. It can mean different things to different people.

But here's what Ted Cruz is in for. You know, he went a long time trying to have a bromance with Donald Trump. Now he's aiming fire at him and the fire is going to come back. And every single person that has done this so far with Donald Trump has not fared well. We've seen Cruz's numbers fall in Iowa, for example, after Trump raised the birther issue. But let me say this. As a Democrat and to coin a phrase, if it's Cruz and Trump on the stump, for us it's Christmas all yearlong. I mean, the fact that these are the people that we're talking about being the nominees of the Republican Party is a gift to Democrats. It's a horrible situation for Republicans in the general election. These are the two most bombastic, angry and extreme candidates that the Republicans could possibly nominate. And one of them will be the nominee of the Republican Party.

BOLDUAN: Amanda, to the point about the bromance, if it exists and even if it matters at this point, I mean, can Ted Cruz continue to say that he's -- he doesn't want to get into the mud? He's going to stay above it and he's going to talk about the issues. He's not going to attack Donald Trump, because he is. CARPENTER: Without question there's going to be -- he's going to have

to address it in some matter on the stage tonight. What I'm interested in seeing what happens is Donald Trump going to man up and own the attacks that he's leveraged against Ted Cruz and say it to his face? Or is Donald Trump going to do what least done in every previous debate where he shrinks into the shadows and goes back to Twitter in the dead of night to say what he's really thinking.


BERMAN: We'll see. I mean, I think if Donald Trump gets asked about the fact Ted Cruz is born in Canada, and he'll probably answer the question as he has.

I'm curious, Brad, how the other candidates on stage will answer that question. I know Jeb Bush, for one, has come out and said he doesn't think there's any issue here at all. But I don't know -- I just don't know if Marco Rubio's been asked. I'm curious if he'll take up the bait there, Brad. Do you think it's smart if he does?

WOODHOUSE: Well, look, if I were them, I would let Trump be the one to make this attack. First of all, Trump is the most -- is the best at doing negative attacks in this field. Everyone he's attacked from calling Bush low energy, from going after Rubio, going after Cruz, everyone that's come in to Trump or to fight Trump has suffered as a result. So I'd let Trump make that argument.

I think the big problem for all of those others is how do they shine in this debate and become the third person in what right now seems to be a two-person race.

CARPENTER: And the Trump thing, I think Trump is going to be the only birther on stage. Marco Rubio said it's a nonissue, so does Jeb Bush. I doubt anyone else is going to want to join Donald Trump and birther conspiracy theories on national debate stage.

BERMAN: That will create an interesting dynamic on the stage tonight to be sure.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, exactly. Maybe they should do a show of hands. That went over well.


BERMAN: Show of hands always goes over well.

Amanda Carpenter, Brad Woodhouse, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

WOODHOUSE: Thank you.

BERMAN: On the other side of the aisle, a new headache for Hillary Clinton. The gold-standard Iowa polling shows her slipping in that key early voting state. And support for Bernie Sanders, it looks a little bit like a candidate from the past named Barack Obama.

[11:15:04] BOLDUAN: Hello, Iowa. Did you buy a Powerball ticket in Tennessee, California or Florida? Here's hoping you did. The world record-breaking jackpot has three winning tickets. We'll be right back.


BERMAN: Breaking news this morning. It is the gold standard in Iowa polling, but there is little golden about it for Hillary Clinton. A brand new poll from the "Des Moines Register" and "Bloomberg Politics" shows her with the tiniest of leads over Bernie Sanders. Just two points. Clinton is at 42 percent compared to 40 percent for Sanders.

BOLDUAN: And Clinton led Sanders by nine points in the same poll just last month 48 to 39. Important here, the numbers show this isn't Sanders gaining. This is Clinton losing support.

Let's bring in Kathie Obradovich, a political columnist at the "Des Moines Register."

It is great to see you.

Important numbers to be talking about today you guys put out. Talk to us about that important context here. Is that what you are seeing in this poll is not Bernie Sanders gaining support necessarily. It's Hillary Clinton slipping.

[11:20:18] KATHIE OBRADOVICH, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, DES MOINES REGISTER: It is Hillary Clinton slipping. And there are two important things here. One, Hillary Clinton not losing support necessarily to Bernie Sanders or Martin O'Malley. Some of her support is going to the undecided camp. There are more undecided voters in this poll, 14 percent undecided, and it was closer to 8 percent in December. So it's not necessarily that Hillary Clinton's people are peeling off to another candidate. They're going -- they're sort of going to a little time-out and saying, OK, I was for Hillary Clinton, am I really? And she could get those people back on caucus night or they could go to Bernie Sanders or somebody else.

BOLDUAN: Time-out is not what you need right now.

BERMAN: Yeah. I don't think Hillary Clinton wants to give those voters a time-out.

One of the interesting dynamics inside that poll is the shape in just who the voters are now supporting Bernie Sanders, because it's beginning to look a little bit like the coalition that Barack Obama built in 2008.

OBRADOVICH: John, it looks a lot like the coalition that Obama built in 2008. Bernie Sanders beats Hillary Clinton in this poll with first-time caucus goers. Barack Obama killed with first-time caucus goers in 208. He's also winning with political independence. And this was a slippery thing that really tripped up a lot of pollsters including Hillary Clinton's pollsters in 2008. People thought Independents wouldn't necessarily go caucus for the Democrats. Well, in fact they do. And they can change their party registration at the caucuses. So Independents is important block of voters. Also with young voters. And, of course, we know the story of Barack Obama and how well he did with young voters. Bernie Sanders is also leading with that group over Hillary Clinton. It looks a lot like 2008.

BOLDUAN: Kathie, I want your take on this. I found this fascinating. In these new numbers, Bernie Sanders is doing really well with voters who say this election is about the issues. Hillary Clinton is doing well with voters who say this election is about leadership.

OBRADOVICH: Yeah. So in part, it is an establishment issue. Bernie Sanders all along has been attracting people. And that is what he's been talking about is the issues, the Wall Street regulation, income inequality. He's not focused necessarily on his own qualities. Hillary Clinton has been talking about her experience, her ability to get things done.

BERMAN: You're there. We're here. We keep hearing that Hillary Clinton's organization this time is better than it was in 2008, that she has the organization to pull people to caucus night February 1st. Can that make a difference for her?

OBRADOVICH: Having a great organization does make a difference. And with Bernie Sanders, the kinds of people who are polling for him are harder to get to caucus, younger voters, people who've never done it before, they're harder to get to caucus. I think he has a good organization. I think the question is he's probably not going to have as big an organization as Hillary Clinton, but can he outhustle her? Will he have more enthusiasm with his people?

The other thing you have to watch is it's dangerous to concentrate all your support in various geographic areas in the state. You need to have statewide support. And a better organization can help with that.

BERMAN: Kathie Obradovich, great discussion. Thanks for being with us. Look forward to seeing you in Iowa.

OBRADOVICH: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Kathie.

BERMAN: Want to bring in CNN political director, David Chalian.

David, I'm going to start with the Martin O'Malley factor.


BERMAN: This might be the most important moment for Martin O'Malley and his voters --



BOLDUAN: He's not going to like what you're saying. BERMAN: If you look at the polling right now, he's at 4 percent. You

know well on caucus night in Iowa if you have less than 15 percent support in any one of these caucuses, that support goes away and those voters get to go vote for somebody else. Well, if there's only a two- point difference in the polling right now, that 4 percent matters.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, right. But as you just pointed out, John, remember that's caucus site by caucus site that he has to meet that threshold, or his voters have to realign into another group. We're looking at a two-point race across the entire state. So I'd be careful about over-interpreting that Martin O'Malley support can throw this one way or the other to Sanders or Clinton. But you raise a good point, which is that if 4 percent of the electorate is parked somewhere else right now, that is not likely going to stay there and go to one of these two front-runners, you do kind of want to know about those O'Malley voters and who they might be more inclined to support.

BOLDUAN: I'm going to over-interpret it. I'm going to tell you that right now, David Chalian. Absolutely.

One of the things she was talking about is where the Hillary Clinton support has gone, it is fascinating. She says in this new poll, David, the support didn't necessarily peel off to another candidate. They peeled off and went back into the undecided category. It was 8 percent undecided last month. Now it's at 14 percent. It just seems on its face surprising that more people are getting more undecided the closer they're getting to the caucuses.

[11:25:19] CHALIAN: And I think that that factor, Kate, is exactly playing out on the campaign trail with this new mode that Hillary Clinton was in that she's all in this contrast mode now. Yes, because she's trying to knock Bernie Sanders down a peg or two because she senses the competition, but also because the electorate is still clearly persuadable to these arguments. I think what you're seeing right now from the Clinton campaign is that they see an electorate in Iowa that is still open to an argument. She's making that argument in strong contrast to Bernie Sanders. And I think that's why they're in that -- what did she call it now? Past generalizations, time for specifics. That's exactly because there's an O'Malley electorate there.

BERMAN: It's interesting, David, inside this poll you see high favorables for both candidates, like 86 percent for Hillary, 89 percent for Bernie Sanders. So there are risks doing these contrasts too much.

BOLDUAN: If you go too far.

BERMAN: When it goes from contrast too negative that could be a risk here.

CHALIAN: No doubt. And the Sanders campaign is pointing to how much money they've raised since she started drawing these contrasts on the campaign trail. It makes his group all that more enthusiastic, donates money. There's no doubt that there's a risk. And you're right, they are both really well liked. Hillary Clinton has to be really careful about sort of calibrating these contrasts because if she goes too far she may start offending some people she really needs in the long run.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. And in the long run, you mean super, super short run right now in Iowa.



BOLDUAN: How do you dial it back really quickly?

Great to see you, David.

BERMAN: All right. Not one, not two, but three people, or three holders of these winning tickets, will split the world record Powerball jackpot of $1.5 billion. They're not the only ones raking in some serious cash. Go run, check your -- you know what, I'm sure you already know. If you don't know if you won, shame on you.

BOLDUAN: I haven't checked my ticket yet. Obviously, I did not fly to Florida. But anyway.

Also this ahead, Rand Paul, he is not so happy. He did not win the Powerball for one, and he's also not happy about failing to make the main stage for tonight's GOP debate. He says he deserves to be part of the main event. We're going to ask the RNC if there is still any chance that they could be adding another podium on the stage tonight.