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THE SITUATION ROOM
U.S. Confirms ISIS Use of Chemical Weapon; U.S. Embassy Reopens in Cuba; Bin Laden's Son Urges Attacks on West; Bush Stumbles as Trump Campaign Gets Serious; Former Supermodel Could be First Lady. Aired 5- 6p ET
Aired August 14, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:10] PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. ISIS chemical attack. The U.S. confirms forces used a mustard agent weapon on the battlefield and possibly other chemicals, as well. What does it mean for the U.S.-led fight against ISIS?
Historic sight. The American flag flying in Cuba above the newly re- opened U.S. embassy for the first time in more than half a century, but tensions remain as Washington and Havana re-establish relations. Can they move forward with the U.S. embargo still in place?
And bin Laden warning. A chilling message believed to be from the son of the notorious al Qaeda founder, unseen since he was a child. Now he's calling for terror attacks in Washington and other world capitals. Is the son claiming his father's deadly legacy?
Political thrill ride. Donald Trump offers children at the Iowa State Fair free rides in one of his private helicopters. The Republican frontrunner poised to make a dramatic entrance to this critical campaign stop. Will he steal the spotlight once again from his rivals?
We want to welcome our viewers to the United States and around the world.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Pamela Brown. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROWN: We are following breaking news. U.S. military sources are telling CNN that tests have confirmed that ISIS forces have used chemical weapons, including a mustard agent, and possibly chlorine on the battlefield.
Also, the son of Osama bin Laden apparently surfacing, after being unseen by the public for years. He's calling for terror supporters to wage jihad to launch attacks in cities around the world, including Washington.
And we're also following historic events nearly unimaginable just a year ago. The American secretary of state presiding over a flag- raising ceremony at the American embassy in Havana. After 54 years it's once again open for business as the U.S. and Cuba re-establish ties severed during the Cold War.
Congressman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is among our guests this hour, and we also have our correspondents and analysts standing by.
But let's begin with the breaking news and CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. Jim, what are you finding out?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, the U.S. government has test results from an attack inside Syria two weeks ago that show that ISIS used a mustard agent as a weapon. They are now investigating two further attacks in the past week against Kurdish forces for the possible presence of chemical weapons, including chlorine. They have not in those attacks confirmed the presence of a mustard agent. But the U.S. now believes that ISIS has in its possession a mustard agent that is weaponized. It is used in -- on the battlefield. It is a worrisome escalation.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): When Kurdish soldiers arrived at this northern Iraqi hospital this week with blistered skin and difficulty breathing, Kurdish commanders feared the worse. ISIS had attacked them with chemical weapons, one of two attacks this week now under investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): These are traces of the weapons. Almost 45 rounds in 40 minutes.
SCIUTTO: The U.S. military will now test samples from the patients and weapons to determine if they included mustard gas, a horribly powerful chemical agent that the U.S. now believes ISIS has obtained. Multiple U.S. officials tell CNN the U.S. has already determined that ISIS fighters used a mustard agent during a separate attack weeks ago inside Syria.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This would be a new and worrying report if it's accurate. I have no doubt that if ISIS could get their hands on this stuff they would use it. No level of violence is too great for this group. They glorified in the terror that it creates.
SCIUTTO: U.S. officials say it is possible the more recent attacks used chlorine, a less serious but still horrible chemical agent that ISIS has used before in battle. Or possibly, precursor chemicals, the building blocks of mustard gas. Some commanders downplayed the battlefield effect of the limited use of chemical weapons, but some weapons can spark a new level of fear. Kurdish forces already locked in a stalemate with ISIS.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), FORMER AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Their M.O. is basically strike fear into the hearts of everybody, no matter what the tactic or technique is.
SCIUTTO: The U.S. has not yet determined where or how ISIS obtained a mustard agent. It is possible they overran stockpiles not destroyed under the 2014 agreement to rid Syria of chemical weapons.
It's also possible, U.S. officials say, that ISIS has developed a limited ability to manufacture them crudely on its own.
Regardless, the introduction of chemical weapons into the war with ISIS presents the U.S. and its allies with a new and difficult challenge.
[17:05:06] LEIGHTON: I think it's very important for us to send a signal not only to the Kurds but to ISIS, as well, that we are going to support the Kurds in any way that we conceivably can.
SCIUTTO: We know the Kurds have not been fully satisfied to this point with the weapons that they received from the U.S. and the speed with which they've received those weapons. Question here: do they ask for further support to head off chemical attacks like this one?
Also, of course, Pamela, this is a question for that question that's been hanging out there some time now. Do U.S. forces get more forward deployed in the fight against ISIS, whether it's forward deployed advisers if ISIS now, indeed, has a chemical weapons capability. That would, of course, put those U.S. troops in greater danger, as well.
BROWN: Jim Sciutto, thank you so much. And let's talk about some of those questions that Jim just raised with Congresswoman Ileana Ros- Lehtinen of Florida, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Thank you so much for coming on, Congresswoman.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: Thank you, Pamela.
BROWN: First off, if you could, what can you tell us about these chemical weapons attacks that Jim just reported on? Can you confirm there have been others?
ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, although I serve on -- not only on the Foreign Affairs Committee but also on the intel committee, we don't confirm nor deny. We go with whatever the administration says is the public record.
But I will say that it's very disheartening that we have an administration that said very clearly early on that the use of chemical weapons would be a red line, that we would not accept it if anybody would use it. We were discussing then Assad's use of chemical weapons against his own people. Then it was confirmed that we had -- he had, in fact, used it time and time again, and then we chose to look the other way.
So now we have this new development. What is the United States prepared to do? What will the administration do? What will they bluff and say they will do and not accept, and yet end up doing nothing at all? It's disheartening to say the least.
BROWN: And Congresswoman, I don't know if you can see these images we're putting up right now, but we're looking at video now of what was reportedly an ISIS chemical attack on Kurdish Peshmerga. Congresswoman, when you look at these pictures, they're so disturbing. And you brought up what you said, the red line, as the president said, with al-Assad. What should the U.S. response be here? Should we do more, shift our strategy, and help Kurdish fighters counter what ISIS is capable of now that we see?
ROS-LEHTINEN: Absolutely. You know, people have said we don't want to be drawn into another battle. And although that's understandable, it really depends on how you ask that question.
But we have natural fighters who say, "We want to beat ISIS. We want to eliminate ISIS." Not only does Jordan want to do it. Egypt wants to do it. The Kurds want to do it. Yet we're very slow in supplying them with the ammunition and the hardware they need to wipe out this cancer.
And the only reason that Iran is helping at all in this fight is because Iran wants to establish the Islamic caliphate, and they don't want ISIS to do it. So when we used to say the enemy of my enemy is my friend, no. They are still our enemy. We need to help our allies destroy this menace. The administration is just not willing to do that.
BROWN: OK, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, stick around, because it was a historic day in Cuba. We're going to talk about that right after this quick break.
[17:13:07] BROWN: And we're back with Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. And we want to talk to her in just a moment about today's historic events in Havana, where the U.S. flag is once again flying after 54 years.
Secretary of State John Kerry and members of Congress were on hand for the reopening of the U.S. embassy. It's the latest remarkable development as the U.S. and Cuba re-establish ties that were severed in the Cold War.
CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is in Havana. And Elise, you sat down with Secretary Kerry. We're going to hear your interview shortly. But first, tell our viewers about this historic event.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, you can't downplay the historic moment as the U.S. anthem played, as the flag rose above the embassy for the first time in more than 50 years, but the real question is how is this going to affect the Cuban people?
And a lot of talk today about ending the embargo. The Cuban government basically saying that the relations between U.S. and Cuba aren't really going to improve until that embargo is lifted. And they're looking for John Kerry today, saying they want the U.S. president, Barack Obama, to use more of his executive authority to do more things like he's done: lifting restrictions on business and travel. But the real question is how is this going to improve human rights on the island, Pamela?
As you know, the government -- U.S. government, Barack Obama, and John Kerry have argued that increased engagement with the Cuban government will help improve the very poor record for human rights, the very poor record for Cuban dissidents on the island.
And I said to Secretary Kerry, "You argue about this engagement, but since this has been announced, detentions have actually increased. Just last week 90 dissidents arrested, and it seems to be business as usual for the Cuban government. Take a listen to what John Kerry said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[17:15:05] JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We remain convinced the people of Cuba would be best served by genuine democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders, express their ideas, practice their faith; where the commitment to economic and social justice is realized more fully; where institutions are answerable to those they serve, and where civil society is independent and allowed to flourish.
There is a certain amount of habit and it's playing out. And that's what has to change. And we will confront those situations. And we had a very direct conversation today about human rights. They're ready to engage on these issues, and let's see what progress can be made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LABOTT: And he said eight months is not enough time to make a judgment. I said, "How much is enough time before you can really grade whether this policy is working?" He said he hopes that in the next several months, as the U.S. engages the U.S. -- the Cuban government more, they'll have a better handle on how to move forward.
And Secretary Kerry said he will be back here within the next year to follow up, particularly on the issue of human rights, Pamela.
BROWN: Elise Labott, thank you so much, and we'll hear more of your interview with Secretary Kerry later in the show.
And Kerry's visit marks the symbolic end of one of the last messages of the Cold War, but signs of mistrust still linger. After half a century of hostilities, how quickly will things change?
CNN Washington chief Washington correspondent and the anchor of "THE LEAD," Jack Tapper is also in Havana. So Jake, how is this historic day playing out on the streets of Havana?
TAPPER: Well, I would say that there is a lot of hope, that this might mean something. In the last few weeks, we have seen the Cuban government allowing some Wi-Fi hot spots, about three dozen of them, to spring up throughout Havana. Normally, Internet is not readily accessible anywhere. But that has happened, so that's at least one small step. There have been other small steps seen here and there. But quite honestly, I think a lot of people are really just waiting to
see what happens. We spoke with dissidents yesterday. We ran the interview on "THE LEAD" earlier today. And he actually thinks that things are getting worse, that the Obama administration policy, this recognition, the restoration of diplomatic relations, is bringing the Cuban government cover and international credibility, allowing them to repress dissidents all the more so.
I mean, this is a country that does not have freedom of the press, does not have the right of assembly. You can go on and on.
So I think a lot of people in Cuba are thankful that the U.S. is back but also worried about what it might mean. Some have hope. Some have serious concerns, Pamela.
BROWN: OK. Jake Tapper, thank you so much.
And let's talk about what Jake just raised with Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
So we just heard, Congresswoman, what Jake said, that he'd interviewed a dissident who actually said things have gotten worse in Cuba since the U.S. and Cuba began re-establishing the relationship. What do you say to that? What is your reaction? Do you agree?
ROS-LEHTINEN: Absolutely, that is true. Antonio Rodriguez is a human-rights activist who said that. And we have confirmation. This is the 17th consecutive Sunday where the Castro regime has beaten the heads of dissidents. And why do they do it? They feel emboldened by the Obama administration has given the green light to keep on harassing and detaining and beating the Ladies in White, which is a very peaceful group, trying to call attention to human rights.
And what a missed opportunity for Secretary Kerry. He could have pulled a Ronald Reagan and said, "Mr. Castro, let's have free election. Mr. Castro, liberate the political prisoners. Mr. Castro, let's have freedom of the press." That's what President Reagan did in front of Gorbachev almost 30 years ago.
Instead, we had a secretary of state to capitulate to the Castro regime so that not even one single human rights activist was invited to the U.S. ceremony, not a single one.
So the Castro regime had to scrub our list. And we said, "Hey, we won't do anything to embarrass you."
And so what does the opposition think? That the United States is no longer helping them, that we are in bed with the Cuban regime.
And let me tell you one more thing that was interesting, Pam. The press conference that the secretary of state had with his counterpart in Cuba is in the national hotel, which is an illegally confiscated property from an American property, American citizen, the Intercontinental Hotel. They actually have a certified claim against the Castro regime for stealing U.S. property. And this is where they hold a press conference. So they have
fugitives from U.S. justice. They have confiscated property, and they're going to keep on beating the dissidents. That's the truth.
BROWN: OK. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, we have to leave it there. Thank you so much for coming on. We appreciate it.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Thanks, Pam.
BROWN: Coming up here THE SITUATION ROOM, a terror legacy apparently being picked out by a new generation. Bin Laden's son believed to be calling for holy war on the west.
After igniting a series of controversies, there are signs Donald Trump may be trying to wage a more serious presidential campaign. We'll be right back.
[17:25:24] BROWN: We're following a potentially dangerous development in the war on terror. One of bin Laden's sons appears to be trying to follow in his father's footsteps. CNN's Brian Todd has all the details -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, tonight I've been corresponding with a U.S. counterterrorism official who says it's no surprise that a weakened al Qaeda would broadcast the bin Laden name, given the fact that the group's been decimated and has so many challenges, reclaiming the leadership among Sunni extremist groups like ISIS.
Hamza bin Laden is one of Osama bin Laden's 11 sons, according to analysts. This is a picture of Hamza when he was around 10 years old, around the time of 9/11. He is now in his mid-20s.
Now in this audio message, translated by the site intelligence group, Hamza bin Laden calls president Obama, quote, "the black chief of the criminal gang in the White House."
He praises the Boston Marathon bombers, the Ft. Hood shooter, Nidal Hassan. And like ISIS has done so effectively, he calls for lone-wolf attacks on the west.
Quote, "Take the battlefield from Kabul, Baghdad and Ghazal to Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv. And to take it to all the American Jewish and western interests in the world.
Now analysts say this message is a crucial signal right now that al Qaeda is grooming Osama bin Laden's son, a son he is believed to have been very close to, to take over a leadership role in the terror group. They say al Qaeda really needs younger charismatic leaders to compete with ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It is Baghdadi and ISIS who've been winning the recruiting war, Pamela, using social media and online videos so effectively.
But analysts say it is believed that Hamza bin Laden could turn that tide, since the bin Laden family is so much better known than Abu Bakr al-As in the words of our analyst, Paul Cruickshank, the bin Ladens are still, quote, "the first family of jihad" -- Pamela.
BROWN: Brian, what more do we know of Hamza bin Laden and where he might be right now?
TODD: Well, like his father did for many years, Hamza bin Laden has disappeared. The best estimate among our analysts he may be in Pakistan's tribal region.
Our Peter Bergen says after 9/11, they got him out of Afghanistan. He spent several years in Iran. The paper says Hamza moved back into the tribal region around the summer of 2010, about a year before the Navy SEALs killed his father.
Peter says that Hamza was the lead by intelligence officials to be at the Abbottabad compound when the SEALs went in, but he wasn't there.
BROWN: OK, Brian Todd, thank you so much.
And with us right now in THE SITUATION ROOM, CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA official, Phil Mudd; our law enforcement analyst, former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes; and Joshua Walker, former aide to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Thank you all for being here with us.
Phil, I'm going to start with you. What more do we know about Hamza bin Laden's sons. We know bin Laden had several sons. He's one them. Now he's sending this message. We've only really seen these pictures of him from when he was a young boy; I think from 2001.
Why is he speaking out now, and what do we know about him? We know that he is one of 20 kids bin Laden has. And we talked about earlier. It looked like he might have been killed in the compound in 2011 raid. He wasn't there.
A couple things you ought to know about him. He was very close to his father in the communications that were captured in that compound; and he wanted to return to the side of his father.
Also, remember, he lost not only his father in that raid, but he's lost a couple of brothers to U.S. raids, so he has motivation to talk about places like New York and Washington.
Let me close, though, by saying there's a rare day when I say there's a good news story in counterterrorism. This is a good news story. This is the B-team. They've lost the entire upper echelon in the organization. You've got to dip down to a guy who was born circa 1991, and that's the best you can do to compete with ISIS? This is a good day for people like me.
BROWN: The B-team. I think someone once thought ISIS was the B-team, and look what happened. I think that was J.V. team.
MUDD: All right. I'll take the risk. BROWN: So it could be the "B-team," but Josh, he's got a powerful last name, let's face it. Osama bin Laden's son, could he be a strong recruitment tool for al Qaeda? What role might he play with the new organization?
JOSH WALKER, FORMER AIDE TO SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just echo what Phil said in many ways. I think that this is the B-team. They are trying to compete tooth and nail for a kind of ISIS jihadi war. ISIS is beating al Qaeda in all senses of the world right now.
So being able to bring in a fresh face, somebody that has a storied last name but is able to galvanize the troops, using social media, using other areas to try to attract forces, not just in Syria and Iraq, where they really lost all their ground, this is going to be a much larger struggle. The question is, "Can they turn it around? Can they attract those forces. That's why they are targeting the specific western areas, whether it's Washington, London or Paris. They're trying to bring western Jihadis to their side, not just ISIS.
BROWN: And what do you think about this, Tom? So you think that we be concerned that this is a call to the lone wolves here in the U.S.?
TOM FUENTES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, everyone else is calling everybody to arms.
[17:30:01] I don't see it as anything more than just, you know, additional coming from a young punk basically. But, you know, for the jihadist, the father had credibility because he helped the Afghan people, the mujahedeen, defeat the Soviet army, who forsake, you know, living a life of luxury with all the wealth he had been and went in the mountains and helped fight.
But where's his kid been for 15 years? Has he been living a little bit more luxurious or secret life? Has he been on the battlefield? Has he paid his views? So the question is whether or not people will follow him just because he has the name doesn't mean everything.
BROWN: And we're learning now that the U.S. has confirmed test that ISIS did, in fact, use mustard gas, chemical weapons against the Kurdish fighters.
Phil, what's your reaction to that?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Not a game changer yet. Look, the big story in Iraq is where the Iraqi military will continue to fight. The Kurds have done a great job up north. They've been the victims of these attacks. I think what you have in this situation is in Syria, probably. The ISIS guys found chemical weapons, they might have been able to use them with the assistance of military guys that they work with, who might have defected from the regime. This is a disaster in humanitarian terms but it's not a game changer on the battlefield yet.
BROWN: But, Josh, how were the fighters that the U.S. is trying to help right now supposed to counter chemical weapons that ISIS is using? JOSHUA WALKER, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SENIOR ADVISER: I think that
the trouble here is the fighters that the U.S. is training have been very small in number. They've not been very effective. The folks on the ground have been the Kurdish fighters, they've been the most effective, so this is not a game changer but it's concerning. And the way in which chemical weapons can be used to change the international perception, and I think this is going to be a bigger story as we move forward.
BROWN: And the question is, what else do they have in their arsenal.
OK, Phil Mudd, Tom Fuentes, Joshua Walker, thank you so much. We appreciate it.
WALKER: Thank you.
BROWN: Coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, she could be the next first lady of the United States. Meet the former supermodel who is married to presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
Also ahead, Jeb Bush heads to the Iowa State Fair only to run into new questions about Iraq.
[17:36:40] BROWN: We're watching new developments in the 2016 presidential race. Both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are in Iowa today and Donald Trump will be there tomorrow. Tonight he is campaigning in another crucial state, that's New Hampshire.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is there -- Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pam, tonight it seems that the Donald Trump campaign seems to be trying to dig in a little deeper in the earlier states -- early states, for instance, tonight here in New Hampshire, he is not just holding a big campaign rally but he's also meeting behind closed doors with state party activist.
Also, tomorrow in Iowa, we'll see Trump do something he just hadn't done that much of -- retail politics.
SERFATY (voice-over): Riding high in the polls, Donald Trump will make a dramatic landing. On Saturday, Trump will fly in on his trademark helicopter for his trip to the Iowa State Fair and sources say he'll take supporters up for free rides. And while it may all seem like fun and games, tonight there are new signs Trump may be trying to mount a more serious campaign, beefing up staff in Iowa, laying ground work for a potential longer campaign and promises for policy specifics. But when asked today for some of that substance, Trump said not yet.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't do a plan, I go in and get it. Too much talking and not enough action.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm doing well. How are you doing?
SERFATY: Meanwhile, a less dramatic entrance in Iowa today from Jeb Bush.
BUSH: I kind of like the way we did. We went in from the Hampton and right across the street, walked in here.
SERFATY: Himself trying to win voters at the fair.
BUSH: Here's my deal. I'm a Republican and I'm a proud conservative.
SERFATY: But still trying to find his own footing. His brother's legacy continuing to cast a wide shadow, still tripping him up on the trail. After finally saying he wouldn't have gone into Iraq based on today's facts --
BUSH: It was a mistake. I wouldn't have gone in.
SERFATY: Bush is now saying this.
BUSH: I'll tell you, though, that taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.
SERFATY: And trying instead to focus on the sampling and serving up his own red meat, going after President Obama --
BUSH: It's time we had a president that accepted responsibility for the duties of the presidency. If there's a problem, don't say the dog ate my homework.
SERFATY: And Hillary Clinton.
BUSH: I just gave out my e-mail address. It's exactly what I did when I was governor of the state of Florida. I released all my e- mails. I'm writing an e-book about my e-mails. I think we need a lot more transparency is politics today.
SERFATY: Struggling in the polls in Iowa, Bush has a lot of ground to make up.
BUSH: Oh, I'm so worried. No. None of this. It's a long haul. Last time around there were candidates that were winning at this point that never even made it to the starting line.
SERFATY: And Jeb Bush later went on to say that he believes that slow and steady will win this race. Now one thing that will slow down Donald Trump, though, he has been summoned back to Manhattan on Monday, Pam, for jury duty.
BROWN: OK. Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much. We appreciate it.
Let's get some insight now from our political experts, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and CNN political director, David Chalian who is in Iowa. Gloria, I want to start with you here because it seems as though Jeb
Bush's brother's legacy, if you will, with the Iraq war continues to haunt him.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BROWN: It seems he just doesn't know how to answer these questions or handle this but --
BORGER: You know, it's amazing, because of course this is the question you would expect right out of the box, and the first time he got asked that he had to be asked it over four or five days until he finally answered it and said no, the Iraq war was a mistake.
[17:40:11] And I think look, it's personal, he doesn't want to throw his brother under the bus, but what he's trying to do is take a turn and pivot and we saw in his foreign policy speech this week that what he said was the rise of ISIS is not due to my brother, but the rise of ISIS is due to the fact that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton didn't support the surge as they should have, and if you had more troops there you wouldn't have had the rise of ISIS.
So he's trying to pivot away from that, but at the same time 17 of his 21 foreign policy advisers are people who worked for his brother, so it's a little difficult path for him to navigate.
BROWN: And he was actually asked about that by someone on the ground there in Iowa.
BROWN: And he gave a little bit of an awkward response and try to pivot the conversation. It's clear --
BROWN: -- that he's in a tough spot.
BROWN: David, what is the mood there on the ground about Bush? He clearly has a lot of ground to make up in the polls there. What are people telling you?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: He does, in our latest CNN/ORC poll he's tied for seventh place, so he does have ground to make up, Pam. But I was with him earlier at the State Fair in Des Moines today and talked to the folks that came out to hear from him. And listen, as Gloria was just saying, the Iraq thing is tricky. You can clearly see Jeb Bush is now trying to talk prospectively, looking into the future as to what his strategy to combat ISIS will be. That's where he feels he's on firmer ground.
If he's looking back, either attacking Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, or looking back at the initial decision for his brother to get in, he's on much shakier ground. So now you see him wanting to talk about this stuff, his strategy moving forward is the politically stronger position for him to be in, but I've got to tell you, a lot of these voters in Iowa who have not made up their minds yet are not as off put by the Bush name as we may think. Several of the people came out to hear him said, listen, I love his dad. I -- it is because of the Bush name that I'm here to listen to him today.
BROWN: OK. And, David, we can't have a political conversation without talking about Donald Trump, of course, who plans to be there in Iowa tomorrow and apparently he's going to give helicopter rides to children at the Iowa State Fair in his personal helicopter. Is this real life? Is this happening?
CHALIAN: It is actually happening. It is great political theater. The question is, can Donald Trump move tomorrow from the great political theater of landing his helicopter in Iowa, offering free rides to kids who are attending the state fair to actually doing the retail politicking on the ground, shaking hands, meeting with voters, or if he's going to be in such a bubble of interests, if you will, the media circus around him, that he's not going to be able to do that very important work of interacting with voters. That's what's going to be key to watch tomorrow.
BROWN: And very important work to lay out some specific policy proposals which we haven't seen yet, Gloria.
BROWN: Do we know that's going to happen?
BROWN: And frankly do voters even care? Supporters of Donald Trump?
BORGER: Well, yes, I think voters will care and I think the other candidates -- if we don't force Donald Trump to do it the other candidates will start attacking him from the right as we've already seen, with Rand Paul saying you're not a conservative, but so far I'd have to say that the rules don't apply to Donald Trump. People like the fact that he is an anti-politician. They hate politicians so much, that when they see somebody who's not one of the above, and Donald Trump is definitely not one of the above, they like him, but the question is how long will this last?
And you know, we just don't know. Donald Trump says he doesn't need policy papers because he builds policies as you go along, like he builds buildings, but you still need an architect, I would argue. And you know, we just don't -- we just don't know the answer to that question. You can be sure everybody is going to continue to press him and I think eventually the voters will, too.
BROWN: That's yet to be seen.
All right, Gloria Borger and David, stand by. We're going to be right back. We have some more news including a possible first lady. In a minute the one-time "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit model, who is Mrs. Donald Trump? We'll be right back.
BROWN: Former supermodel, one-time "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit model. Those are two resume lines you probably wouldn't associate with the would-be first lady of the United States.
CNN's Brian Todd is back with a look at Donald Trump's wife Melania -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, a few weeks ago no one would have dreamed a former supermodel from Slovenia would have a legitimate shot to become first lady. But tonight there is a lot of buzz around Melania Trump, a woman who had a career in her own right before they met.
TODD (voice-over): She's as hard to miss as he is. Melania Trump, the former supermodel, married for a decade to the man now crushing other Republicans in the polls. She's said to be the quieter of the two. But she once told CNN's Larry King she had no problem with Donald Trump's bluster.
MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S WIFE: The way he is in the board room and he tells what he thinks. And people love -- they love that.
LARRY KING, FORMER HOST: But he's popular and he fires people that people like.
M. TRUMP: Yes, I know. But you know, people like tough people. So -- they like to see how he will do it.
TODD: Melania Knauss-Trump, 24 years younger than her husband, was born in Slovenia, started modeling at 16 years old.
[17:50:04] She moved to the U.S. in 1996 and a few years later was featured as a "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit model. In 1998 she met Donald Trump. He says he was supposed to meet another supermodel at the event but was captivated by Melania.
M. TRUMP: It was a great chemistry and energy. We had, you know, great time, we start to talk. And you know, it was -- something was there right away.
TODD: They married in 2005 and now have a 9-year-old son Baron. She's appeared on Trump's NBC show "Celebrity Apprentice."
M. TRUMP: I cannot believe they spelled my name wrong.
TODD: She's now got her own line of skin care products and a line of affordable jewelry she markets on QVC. Promoting the show, she talked about how understanding her husband is. M. TRUMP: If I say I need, you know, an hour, I'm going to take a
bath, and I'm having massage, he doesn't have nothing against it. He's very supportive in that way.
TODD: Melania Trump's tastes for her own fashion are a little more upscale than what she hawks on QVC. She famously posed for "Vogue" magazine in her wedding dress from Christian Dior, priced at more than $100,000. The wedding was a grand affair in Palm Beach. Among the guests, Bill and Hillary Clinton. Her Facebook page is full of pictures of the lavish Trump apartments and houses, of her on Trump's private plane.
LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN TIMES: Her big challenge is connecting with everyone because she lives a life unimaginable for even the 1 percent. You might say that she's the 1 percent of the 1 percent.
TODD: When Melania Trump has spoken out, as she did in the QVC promo, she's shown a playful sense of humor.
M. TRUMP: I hope you tune in or call me. Call me -- not good.
TODD: Analysts say Melania Trump is going to need that sense of humor for the grueling campaign road ahead. They say despite the glamorous reputation and their lifestyle she might be able to connect with a wide section of voters if the campaign plays up the fact that she started working as a teenager and forged her own career before meeting Donald Trump.
Now the Trump campaign would not respond to those comments about their lifestyle and those challenges that present with average voters -- Pamela.
BROWN: But do you know how the campaign is going to present her? Is she going to be traveling to places like Iowa with Donald Trump?
TODD: That's going to be a challenge. You know, I asked the campaign about that. A Trump campaign official would not comment. We get the sense they're still trying to figure out how to present her on the campaign trail. As everybody knows Donald Trump very obviously has a lot of challenges winning women voters right now.
BROWN: All right. Brian Todd, thank you so much.
And let's bring back our political experts. CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and CNN political director David Chalian who is in Iowa.
All right. Gloria, what's your reaction?
BORGER: Well, wives are the character witnesses for their husbands. And we saw that in the last campaign because both candidates needed some humanizing. And Michelle Obama did it for her husband and Ann Romney did it for Mitt Romney. And I guarantee you if Donald Trump goes the whole way, that is the role his wife is going to play. The challenge is to let the public know that they don't just live in this bubble, that they weren't born in lifestyles of the rich and famous, right?
That, yes, she did work her way up as a teenager, she started working, and that they understand the problems of ordinary Americans. Hillary Clinton has had a problem with that in relating. If Hillary Clinton had a problem, how are Melania and Donald Trump going to do it?
BROWN: Melania, who is a gorgeous supermodel.
BROWN: "Sports Illustrated."
BORGER: Right, right. Likes to get her massages and, you know, everything else. And you know. Housewives in America, she's going to have to relate to them. And she might well be able to as she does on QVC, we just don't know.
BROWN: So, David, what do you think? How do you think she can become relatable to voters and how do you see her role evolving in Trump's campaign?
CHALIAN: Well, listen, obviously the voters are not begrudging Donald Trump his wealth or living up in Trump tower or being famous and a celebrity. They are still excited and enthusiastic about his candidacy because of the way he is speaking truth and what they believe is this brash style and willing to take anybody on. So even though he lives a completely different lifestyle than the voters he's sort of tapping into, they still feel he's giving voice to their anger. If she can do that similarly on the campaign trail, then Melania will be a huge asset for him.
In addition to being the character witness, as Gloria is saying, which spouses always are, it's also, if you have a successful spouse, somebody who can really get out there and bring the message, you double the time on the trail, basically, of the candidate. So she could be in New Hampshire while Donald Trump's in Iowa. That -- when you get to the candidate resource of time like that, it's extraordinarily important.
BROWN: Yes, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out there.
Thank you so much, David Chalian, Gloria Borger, we appreciate it.
[17:55:00] And breaking news up next. The U.S. confirms that ISIS has chemical weapons and has used them on the battle field. We're learning new details.
Plus the U.S. embassy in Cuba open for business tonight. But serious hurdles remain as Washington and Havana try to normalize relations. CNN goes one-on-one with Secretary of State John Kerry.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: Happening now. Hostage horror. Shocking new information about Kayla Mueller's treatment by ISIS before she was killed. And how the terror group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was involved.
Chemical attack. We have new confirmation that ISIS used a mustard agent as a weapon. I'll ask an intelligence insider Congressman Peter King what he knows about the investigation.