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tv   At This Hour With Berman and Michaela  CNN  January 19, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PST

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good morning, everyone. i'm john berman. new arrests reveal a widening web of suspected terror cells all across europe. in belgium, five more people now charged with participating in a terrorist organization. several arrests also in greece. among them an algerian man wanted in connection with jihadist cell that belgium police raided last week. belgium is seeking his extradition. in france two others are in custody arrested while trying to cross into italy and french are looking for two other people whose dna was found on a gun
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magazine and a car belonging to amedy coulibaly, the man who killed four people at the kosher grocery store in paris and killed a police officer. we'll start with new information about yemen this morning. cnn learned the u.s. military is prepared to evacuate the american embassy there on short notice. why? right now a fragile cease-fire is in place in that country although there are still sounds of gunfire. clashes erupted outside the presidential palace this morning. the government in yemen says it's battling a coupe attempt. they say al qaeda could take advantage of the chaos and there are signs it already has. the al qaeda in yemen has claimed responsibility for the attack on "charlie hebdo," the satirical newspaper in paris, and there are fierce that al qaeda in yemen could be gaining recruits by the day. we want to go to barbara starr live at the pentagon. the u.s. does have an embassy in
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yemen. there have been moments of chaos in the streets there. how high is the level of concern? >> the left of concern is extraordinarily significant today. this cease-fire may or may not hold. it may hold for a while. that doesn't really lessen the concern. let's be clear. there's no order to evacuate the embassy. the state department has not asked for military help. nonetheless, with the situation in yemen, the u.s. military for the last several weeks has kept a warship off the coast. it has helicopters, other aircraft that could quickly get to the capital, evacuate the embassy if the state department wanted that to happen. no sign of it yet. the embassy appears to be relatively calm in the area around it. firefights across the city in many sections as she's shia houthi rebels challenge the government there, a fragile
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government for control. if the government cannot hold on, if the cease-fire doesn't hold the concern of course is the country disintegrates and then al qaeda elements there have much more room of course to maneuver and to plot and plan. the houthies not clear they want to take control of the government but they do want to have unrest and violence and instability across that country. that is very clear. if that continues to happen that is all to the plus column for al qaeda there. john? >> of course we have seen in the past terrorist groups love a power vacuum. it allows them to set up inside a country and almost run unchecked. we saw it in afghanistan over the last 15 20 years. we've seen it in syria. how concerned is the u.s. government this could be happening as we speak in yemen? >> i think the belief across most of the u.s. intelligence committee and pentagon and state
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department there is a great deal of concern and unrest is so bad that if you ask the pentagon is there anything you can do can you offer the military of yemen any help can you give them equipment? can you give them training? they'll tell you that the country is in such unrest and such turmoil, they can't send in u.s. troops to help train, advise and assist. what we've seen in so many other countries, the level of violence and unrest is so bad there right now, the u.s. is finding itself with its hands tied. there's one other element and we're not revealing anything here. there are u.s. commando teams in the region and they are able and ready to move in if a disaster were to strike the embassy there. the feeling is the embassy is well protected. if they want to pack up and go and the order comes to shutter,
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embassy, can they get them out quickly? >> barbara, thank you so much. appreciate it. let's go to belgium. a country described as having more jihadist per capita than any other nation in western europe. belgium authorities arrested five terror suspects. i want to bring in phil black from brussels. phil what's the latest there? >> reporter: greek sportsauthorities arrested two men. of the two men, the belgian investigators say they want one of them. want to bring him back and extradite him to belgium because they believe he was involved in the terror plot they disrupted last thursday while conducting raids across the country. a 33-year-old algerian man. investigators are not saying what role they suspect he played in the plot. you're right. five other people here in belgium have been charged. one of them was a man who survived a shootout with police in the town of verviers.
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we learned more about the survivor who was arrested. he's a 25-year-old belgian man of moroccan descent. his client says he has nothing to do with the terror plot and he was only in that property at the time because he was doing a favor for his mother. he was dropping off a pair of shoes to one of the men in that property. one of the men who was later killed by police in the shootout. he says he was there. the shooting started. he claims police started shooting first. he escaped only by jumping out the window where he was then arrested and insists he has nothing to do with international terrorism, never been to syria, anything like that. he remains in custody and like five other people in this country, he's been charged with preparing a terror attack. john? >> phil, there was a high level of concern when the arrests were made at the end of last week
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that there could be operational cells planning to attack police or perhaps others inside belgium. what's the level of concern today and what precautions are being taken? >> reporter: the authorities here are still concerned. that's why the threat terror level remains elevated. that's why we have belgium shoulders on the streets. brussels as well. numbers are not huge. 300 or so are being deployed. compare to that thousands of soldiers being deployed in france. it's still a very striking image here on the streets of this european city. they are guarding european union institutions government buildings and key jewish sites as well. it is thought they could be a threat. the investigation is still very much ongoing into the plot that's been disrupted. it would seem authorities are still looking for individuals they believe were involved and so we are seeing this elevated level of security for at least the coming weeks before it will be reviewed. john? >> all right.
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phil black for us live in belgium. thanks so much. now, we'll move to the new developments in paris. police are looking for two people whose dna was found on the belongings of the kosher supermarket gunman amedy coulibaly. we'll check in with our reporter jim bitterman as soon as we get them. i understand now we do have jim bittermann live for us in paris. jim, amedy coulibaly, investigators have been poring through his belongings and his apartment looking for any connection to anyone else who may have been involved in that attack either planning or logistics of it and following up on dna traces found on at least two people here. what can you tell us? >> those are two people unknown to police at this moment. they'll be looking for them because they found dna on the gun magazine that was used by coulibaly. they found dna in the car that coulibaly used to go to the
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kosher supermarket. there was dna in the car. they are not clear exactly on what the link might be whether these people were directly involved or had acquaintance can coulibaly but they want to know everybody involved at this point. they have had as you know since friday morning first 12 and now down to nine people who have been in custody of police and they're being questioned thoroughly. those remaining nine that are being questioned by tomorrow morning they're going to have to either be charged or released. the police have under french law 96 hours in which to talk to people without a lawyer and can hold them in custody in terrorism cases. we'll know tomorrow morning whether there will be further charges in this case. some may be released. some may be charged. we don't know at this point. >> this morning there are new questions about the missed
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signals from french authorities on the kouachi brothers over the years. they had them under surveillance. they drop surveillance. they had information given to them by americans and didn't follow up on it in the right way. what are you learning this morning? >> exactly that. one of the tips about the kouachi brothers came from the united states back in 2011 and so they did begin surveillance of the two brothers in 2011. only on their cell phones apparently according to our sources and not on their computers and not on their wives and girlfriends' cell phones. they weren't getting a complete picture. and then they watched them from 2011 to 2013 younger brother's case 2014 in older brother's case and surveillance was dropped. understand how this works in france. there's a number of different intelligence agencies. sounds like the united states. a number of different intelligence agencies and there's one agency that's charged with actually doing the surveillance and it's supposed
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to turn over the information to everybody else. well in february of 2014 they in fact got information that something might be up from one of the kouachi brothers' cell phones and information was not passed along until june of 2014 and by that time they dropped off the radar of the domestic intelligence agency. >> sounds like silos of information that the u.s. dealt with after 9/11 and that france will have to deal with in the months ahead. what is the u.s. doing to stop a possible attack before it happens? plus what is it like to be part of a terror cell? we'll speak to a former jihadist next. sir, we're loaded and getting ready to go... ...we're going to need you on the runway. (vo) don't let a severe cold hold you back. sir? (vo) theraflu starts to get to work in your body in just 5 minutes. (vo) theraflu breaks you free from your
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european leaders gathered in brussels focused on increased law enforcement cooperation among allies and cooperating with arab nations as well. this comes as soldiers line the streets of belgium along with police to counter potential terror attacks. security has been stepped up across europe in response to sweeping counterterrorism operations in france and belgium. this all following the attacks in paris. now officials are looking for connections between the terror cells across europe. want to bring in cnn terrorism analyst paul cruickshank. you are focused on a man on the run and authorities are looking for him as a possible link between these cells in belgium and isis itself in syria. >> i've been told by senior belgium counterterrorism
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official that there is a big manhunt for this official described as an operative who traveled from syria to greece and when he was in greece he was running the cell in belgium. he was in touch with them and he's believed to be in touch back to isis leadership. belgians think this is isis directed plot and this guy in greece is the key guy running the show from there. they brought the cia and the greek police in to try to find him last week but not able to find him. greeks have one person in custody who has been extradited about a k back to belgium. big manhunt for this guy. a key middle man link person organizing this. >> that's one of the key questions here. everyone is looking for possible links to isis behind these groups in belgium mostly and one question is how directly are they running the show right now? how directly is isis running these cells inside belgium and
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other countries inside western europe? any clue? >> there was a person in greece who was in touch with isis leadership and with this cell in belgium suggested there is command and control from isis leadership. that's a surprise from quite a few people. they thought they may get these european recruits. they have 1,000 in their ranks to travel back. >> send them a gun and go attack people. there is someone actually directing them on the ground? >> that's more of an al qaeda style international terror plot kind of model here that isis is following. that's a game changer. european intelligence agencies have detected a pivot from isis toward encouraging these europeans to return back to europe to launch attacks in retaliation for the air strikes against isis. those countries probably particularly believe they are groups of young men back in
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europe who have come back from spending time with isis in syria who may go operational. they're not sure what plans, if any, they have. it's all about fragments of information. more of an art than science. they are scrambling to understand the nature of the threat. >> the isis threat and also al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. the threat from yemen right now and right now before our very eyes we look at chaos in the streets. ? something that feels like a civil war. terror groups love that. that's an environment where they thrive. >> they thrive. aqap the group connected to the "charlie hebdo" attack are thriving. complete political chaos throughout yemen. the government is not focused on the al qaeda threat there. the shia rebel group took control and there has been fighting right now and al qaeda are making use of the shia sectarian issue for recruitment
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among sunny tribals expanding ranks and getting more powerful and what's the biggest priority? attacking the united states. they'll have more resources to attack america. >> a crucial pivotal time and signs the situation on the ground is getting worse. paul cruickshank, thank you very much. tonight cnn will look at the battle against terrorism. two special reports. at 9:00 p.m. eastern, inside the paris attacks and at 9:30 the war within islam, and what can be done to quell violence extremism. these are important, interesting specials i encourage you to watch. what's it like to be inside a terror cell? one man who knows, a former jihadist now on the other side. i'll speak with him next.
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europe on high alert with spreading concern over the threat of terror cells. officials are afraid as many as 20 have been activated and ready to strike. people i speak with say there could be more than 20 cells operational in europe right now. the question is how do these cells work? where do they get their orders and what is it like to be on the inside? joining me to discuss this is someone who knows. a former jihadist now a counterterrorism operative and author of the book "undercover jihadi." i'm curious. is there anything really like a typical terror cell? what is a typical terror cell? >> it's difficult to know exactly. even if you say there are 20
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cells, as soon as those cells are known cells and there are unknown cells. as clint watts talked about, network attacks, directed attacks and inspired attacks. with the network attacks, you have people bringing their shared expertise coming together from different groups and launching their attack. you have directed attacks, which are a person brings in guys and trains them and funds them and selects a target and selects them to do the target and then you have inspired attacks that we've been seeing a lot from isis types. message is put out that attack these targets or these people and some want-to-be or lone wolf decides to act on that messaging. you have groups from all three of these categories. >> what we see in belgium are groups of people who perhaps return from isis and may get orders. how many people are in a cell?
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what is it made up of? is there a leader? are we talking 5 to 10 people with one leader and one middleman? >> you can have any kind of combination. there's a nice useful chart put out who looks at how they operate online looking at their accounts and how you have bought accounts and fake accounts and you have accounts linked to known isis accounts. on the ground in the world, those unit sizes could have a two-man unit a ten-man unit you could have within that unit two other units. ul have a support network logistics, operational, division responsibilities. >> and what do these cells do on a day-to-day basis? do they try to blend in to society around them? >> of course.
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the idea is to not be a heat score. don't get caught. don't raise any issues that might draw attention to members of your own community or members of non-muslims around you that are living with working with. almost like a professional level of denial and deception of intelligence works. spies do the exact same thing. they pretend they are employees, academics, journalists, whatever it is and the point is to hide out of course. >> a professional level of denial and deception. do these groups for the most part -- what's going on in europe right now in belgium and france do they take orders from somewhere or right now is there a greater fear they are more autumnought
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autumn autumn news. some may be touch with leaders or direct handlers. you will see a mix of these two categories. >> thank you so much for this insight. a man on the inside and outside providing key perspective. really appreciate it. attacks in paris, terror cells in belgium, a key question facing u.s. officials, could it happen in america? does the same threat exist here? that's ahead. we come by almost every day to deliver your mail so if you have any packages you want to return you should just give them to us i mean, we're going to be there anyway why don't you just leave it for us to pick up? or you could always get in your car and take it back yourself yeah, us picking it up is probably your easiest option it's kind of a no brainer ok, well, good talk
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happening now the u.s. military preparing to evacuate the american embassy in yemen on short notice. a battle has been raging between the houthi movement. we heard a cease-fire has been reached but a reporter says attacks have not stopped and is still hearing gunfire. the big concern for the u.s. besides security of the people inside the embassy this morning is that al qaeda could take advantage of the chaos in that country. there are signs that it already has. al qaeda affiliate there claiming responsibility for the attack on "charlie hebdo" in paris and there's a sense that that group inside yemen could be gaining recruits by the day. new arrests reveal a widening web of suspected terror cells
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across europe in belgium, five more people are now charged with participating in a terrorist organization. several arrests also in greece among them an algerian man wanted in connection with a jihadist cell that belgium police raided next week and in france two others are in custody arrested while trying to cross into italy. while that's going on french are looking for two people whose dna was found on a gun magazine in a car belonging to amedy coulibaly. that's a picture of him right there. he of course is the man who killed four people at the kosher grocery store in paris. they're following up leads right now. forensic evidence that could lead to two people who may have been helping him. now, president obama is convinced the u.s. has an advantage over europe in dealing with the threat of radicalized muslim extremists. let's listen to why he says that. >> our muslim populations feel
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themselves to be americans. there's an incredible process of immigration and assimilation that's part of our tradition that is probably our greatest strength. doesn't mean we're not subject to the kinds of tragedies that we saw at the boston marathon. that, i think, has been helpful. there are parts of europe that's not the case and that's probably the greatest danger that europe faces. >> want to bring in the editor in chief of. do you agree with the president? is it a different situation for muslims in america? better assimilated than in europe? >> i actually completely agree with the president. america in comparison to europe is a much younger nation. not to say europe is a nation.
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people are immigrating to america and america prides itself on being a nation of immigrants. we also have higher rates of education in america, higher income bracket rates. a large number of muslims are in the six-figure income bracket. there is a 40% unemployment rate amongst european muslims so that right there gives radicals and extremists a large pool to recruit from. >> when the president made that statement last friday he was standing with david cameron who disagreed with the president and the attackers in england from 2005 that they were largely assimilated. the president himself put an example up saying tsarnaev brothers in boston of course that happened in the united states. so is he perhaps making light of the situation?
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>> i wouldn't say that. of course cameron is going to disagree. he's dealing in a different environment. he's dealing with the european grounds. that being said i think that people are immigrating to america so it makes a really big difference because we pride ourselves on being a melting pot versus i feel like european muslims still have to choose. it's difficult for the french. when you have muslims coming in the algerians, which make up a large part of their muslim population they have to choose. are you north african? are you french? are you muslim? they don't really have the sense of belonging that americans do. we can't make a blanket statement but i definitely understand why cameron would disagree with the president. he's not making light of the situation but the fact of the matter is the environment for muslims in america is very different. >> you bring up an interesting
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point. i just got back from france. you get a sense that muslims feel they have to choose between islam and france. two don't walk hand in hand. is that different in the united states? you do not have to make that choice to live and to operate as a muslim in america here. >> we're characterized by ethnicity but muslims are referred to as muslim americans but not referred to as buddhist americans. for the french i mean that's what france is built upon is secularism. i think that makes them incredibly uncomfortable with muslims because for us it's a big part of our culture and our identity. if you tell us that we're not french because of one aspect of our identity it really gives you a sense of displacement and that's why the french have had such a big issue with banning the burqa and not wanted to see
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it in public spaces because it butts religion in a big context for them that they are uncomfortable with. >> there's a discussion on another front that's been going on for the last ten days or so. what responsibility do moderate muslims have now to speak out against terror? where do you come down on that? >> we do have a big responsibility to feel it. i also have big issue with this statement because i feel like we are being asked to speak on behalf of extremists and apologize for their actions and in many ways i feel like we're their greatest hostages. we have to pay the racial ramifications of their actions. we're the ones that have to go through increased security. we're the ones who have to deal with islamaphobia. backlash falls on moderates. we're just as much of a victim
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of islamic ex-tremeismextremism. they are fundamentalist actions as much as anyone else and we can't all be lumped together. there's 1.7 million muslims in the word. i can only speak from my perspective. i will say one thing that there might be this big difference between european and american muslims but everything is notrosy in america. the one thing that unites is islamaphobia. >> you speak for yourself and we're glad you do. promise you'll come back to the show. loved having you. for the first time, boko haram insurgents attacked a village in cameroon. they killed three and kidnapped 80 including many children. now, regional governor is telling cnn that 24 of those abducted have apparently been freed by the cameroon military.
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this latest attack comes as thousands of troops from neighboring chad are beginning to arrive in cameroon to help in the regional battle against boko haram. an extraordinary tale of survival. fog and icy roads triggered a huge pileup in oregon on saturday. look at this. we'll show the picture. that's a chevy pickup truck crushed and sandwiched between two semis. that's the driver pinned in between. amazingly, he walked away with just a few scratches. he spoke to "new day" just a short time ago. >> when things like that happen and what i have come to realize is that it is miracle and that i need to take that into my life and remember it and now i need to kind of figure out who i need to be in this life and what things i need to accomplish because how many people don't get a chance a second chance at escaping a situation like that. >> we know -- >> it's time for me to figure
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that out. >> this man says he was trapped for about half an hour. he has a pregnant wife and a 2-year-old child. wow. five people in pennsylvania and connecticut died yesterday because of the icy conditions. clearly this man very very lucky. so a scandal involving the new england patriots. a potential scandal. did the patriots deflate the balls in the afc championship game the nfl confirms they are investigating whether the patriots did that. took some of the air out of the balls used in the game. some people call it deflate gate what would that do? if you take air out in bad conditions and conditions were awful, it makes them a little easier to grip. what i don't understand is how that would benefit one team more than another? i'm not sure it would make up for the drugging the colts suffered at the hands of the patriots. if the nfl does determine that the patriots acted improperly there will be fines and patriots could lose some draft picks.
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all right. right now in washington, d.c. the ninth annual martin luther king jr. peace walk and parade. yesterday oprah winfrey and co-stars from recently released film "selma" returned to the city. they joined hundreds in a walk across the iconic site of attacks on civil rights marchers 50 years ago. today will be marked with protests against racism and issue of police violence. there will be protests in ferguson missouri. protesters will again gather at the site where michael brown was killed and they will march to the ferguson police department. scary moments for delta passengers on an overseas flight. we'll show you what happened and why the faa is now investigating. stay with us. when the flu hits, it's a really big deal. the aches. the chills. the fever. an even bigger deal? everything you miss out on... family pizza night. the big game. or date night.
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calls. first, a near disaster on the runway at new york's jfk airport and then a delta flight from atlanta to japan was forced to dump fuel and return to the airport after smoke was detected coming from the landing gear. our rene marsh joins us live from washington on both incidents which both sound very frightening. >> the first incident two passenger jets they were about a half mile away from disaster on the runway at jfk airport. the pilot of a jetblue flight was forced to stop short and abort takeoff when a caribbean airlines flight crossed the runway. listen to air traffic controllers as they avert what could have been a deadly collision. luckily this all ended without any injuries but the faa is
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investigating. they want to know how this happened. was this pilot error? was it controller error? it's unclear at this time. meantime take a look at this amateur video. a delta air lines flight with 308 people onboard took off for atlanta bound for tokyo a few minutes into the flight the pilot declares an emergency after a pilot from another plane noticed smoke coming from the landing gear. the aircraft flew for less than 20 minutes to burn off fuel. you are looking at video of it burning off fuel at this point. it did land safely john. >> it's amazing to see that video right there. interesting that they got that message quickly. there's also something of a security concern at the airport in atlanta. one of the busiest in the world. a federal employee was arrested with a gun in his carry-on? >> right. this was an atlanta based faa inspector who used security clearance to bypass tsa and access a secure area of
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atlanta's hartsfield-jackson airport before boarding a flight to laguardia. the employee didn't have the same security in new york and that's where tsa discovered the .22 caliber handgun in his bag. the employee was arrested. however, atlanta hartsfield has been under the microscope. last month baggage handler was accused of using his security clearance to bypass tsa checkpoints to smuggle guns on multiple planes. john? >> rene marsh, thank you. appreciate it. president no doubt making last chances to his state of the union address as a surprising new poll shows a huge move in his popularity. which direction? we'll tell you next. you get sick you can't breathe through your nose suddenly, you're a mouth breather. a mouth breather! well, put on a breathe right strip and shut your mouth. cold medicines open your nose over time, but add a breathe right strip and pow, it opens your nose up to 38% more. so you can breathe and do the one thing you want to do
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this morning is and you are pricing new poll on the president's job approval ratings. those approving of the president, 50%. that is up 9% from a month ago and the percentage of thoses can s can disapproveing, a 10% drop. that is a big move. let's talk about this. 50% from the president. that is a far cry from these underwater ratings that we all saw during the midterm elections.
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does this change things for the republicans? they're no longer up against a wildly unpopular president. >> everyone needs to calm down. just last week reuters had a poll where he was 37% approval rating. polls are snapshots in time. so right now what the president has going for him are a couple things. he has gas prices which he had nothing to do with but he gets the credit. he also has the fact he's been running around the country giving out promising free stuff. we have free college tuition, we'll do tax cuts for the middle qulas. so all of these things are very populous, so people say, oh, that's great. but what is absent in leadership during paris and terrorism, they want the president to focus on terrorism, that's a different story. >> maybe we have a couple facts here. for example, 55 months of progress after job growth. largest since the late 19 '90s. the fact we're seeing a dramatic decline in our deficit.
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largest since world war ii. the fact we're seeing an economy begin to turn away and people are around. mitt romney said by the end of miss first term, he'd bring unemployment down to 6%. it's 5.6% midterm. the state of the union gives him great momentum. it's not good free college giveaways, it's about it's the best economic investment we can make. for example, in california, if you increase community college degrees by 1% you're creating 174 new jobs. sxwlnd >> and who will pay for that? and let's talk about other facts. the reason why the unstraight so low, labor part daysicipation is at a allow. wages have been stagnant. you don't impose more taxes and regulations on small businesses who create the jobs and
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burdening people. more people are -- >> can i jump in? >> more people are on welfare. >> the reality is it's creating salaries by job training. you mcsalaries by creating new skill opportunities. that's what's worked time and again. >> you take the boot off the neck of small businesses. >> let me jump in. robert if we believe these numbers, and there are a loth of polls. i can see democrats around the country saying a little too late too late. where were you mr. president proposing these things people seemed to like three months ago when we needed this democrats did heading in to a midterm election. >> there is no question democrats very frankly have themselves to blame. many of them running away from the economic news. so they may blame the president, but midterm elections really are about you how the local races are run. we're moving into a new era and the final two years. you're seeing the fact that the country is rallies around his economic agenda because it's
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working. >> i want to change the subject here again while i still can. mitt romney you may have heard says he might run for president again. and there are a lot of republicans who publicly announced say tlaging that's not such a great idea. but a new poll 59% say mitt romney should which is more than jeb bush or mike huckabee. so does that justify his new interest in being a candidate again? >> that's probably why he has such an interest. i think he has name i.d.. people have buyer's remorse. republicans are looking and going, oh, my god, what happened why didn't you win last time around. look at the state of the country. contrary to what robert thinks that the country is rallying around the president, no they're not. they're sending a definite tipive message that they have rejected this president's policy and everything else. republicans are i think at a point where you have so many people jumping in the race, mitt
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romney has the biggest name i.d.. and i would hope that he reconsiders. we need fresh blood. i don't think mitt romney is the answer. >> so you're signing your name up to that list of people who don't want to see him go. thanks so much for being with us. it gave me a break from talking so much. >> we do our best. >> you didn'ton't want to miss our coverage tomorrow night starting at 7:00 eastern. thanks so much for joining us. legal view with ashley banfield starts right after this break.
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hello. i'm ashley banfield. welcome to legal view. from france to greece, there is a manssive manhunt under way. two responsible suspects with possible ties to a plot to attack police officers now in custody after trying to gros france into italy. french investigators also looking for two more people whose dna was found on the belongings of amedy coulibaly and the man behind the deadly kosher store siege in paris. a source telling cnn some of the


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