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Lamar Odum's Privacy Being Violated?; The Evangelical Vote; Axelrod "Skeptical" About Biden Run. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired October 17, 2015 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:00] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish. Welcome to the program. Big show today.
NBA star Lamar Odom out of his coma, while the owner of the Nevada brothel where he was found unconscious is giving lots of overly candid interviews. But I'm going to ask him questions that nobody else has.
Also, has the power of evangelical Christians in presidential elections been undercut because they have too many good choices? I'll ask Ralph Reed.
And post debate, is there any path left for Joe Biden? David Axelrod knows and doesn't paint a pretty picture.
Speaking of picture, what one former centrefold thinks about "Playboy" magazine deciding to give up on nudity? She's here too.
First the latest on the condition of former NBA start Lamar Odom. Found unconscious in a Nevada brothel on Tuesday, in a coma in a Las Vegas hospital for several days. Odom woke up yesterday and spoke to his estranged wife and reality co-star Khloe Kardashian.
Here's what is bothering me. The hospital and the police didn't release any information. And yet somehow many sordid details are all over the news. Allegations of drug use and debauchery. The specific escort package that he ordered at the Love Ranch in Crystal, Nevada, even the price tag. How did this happen?
One reason was the frequent media appearances by the owner of the Love Ranch Dennis Hof who had a long running reality show on HBO called "Cat House." Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNIS HOF, OWNER, THE LOVE RANCH SOUTH: He spent $75,000 and that was his number, what he wanted is two girls 24 hours a day to take care of any of his needs. He told the girls he had done some coke that Saturday before he came.
Reload, well, that's a sexual enhancement pill that you can buy at convenience stores. Girls told us they thought he took eight to ten of them over the four day period.
Did get a call on Sunday afternoon or evening and seemed a little upset about a TV show that he was on with the Kardashians.
The girls came back at 3:15 and he was unconscious foaming from the mouth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Whew. I worry about Mr. Odum's right to privacy, and so I've invited the brothel owner on this show.
SMERCONISH: Joining me now is Dennis Hof. Mr. Hof, you've been all over the news this week.
HOF: Boy, it's not the way I like. I'd rather be promoting my book. "The Art of the Pimp." But the bunnies love your show and they watch every day.
SMERCONISH: So for how long has Lamar Odom been your client?
HOF: Well, we can't confirm or deny that he's ever been there before, but he did know to give me a call on October 5th and arrange a driver and every day he kept pushing it out and finally on the 10th he said "come get me, I'm done partying, I want to relax."
SMERCONISH: Don't you feel that he's entitled to are more privacy than he's been afforded in the last couple of days?
HOF: Well, absolutely. And my business is built on privacy and discretion. Been there 60 years. I've owned it 23 years and have thousands of big celebrities and politicians that come there and we don't talk about any of them. But when the ambulance pulls out and five minutes later TMZ calls me, you have to deal with it.
SMERCONISH: But why not tell TMZ to go pound sand? I've always thought that the escort-client relationship was like a penetant- preacher relationship. Absolutely nothing gets discussed outside of what takes place in that relationship.
HOF: Well, you're talking about an illegal world that I don't know anything about. In the legal world, absolutely, we don't talk about our clients until something like this happens and I'm not going to let the Kardashians talk about me or what happened there. And that's what they want do.
SMERCONISH: But it would seem to me, Mr. Hof, in a circumstance like will this, this is precisely when you shouldn't be saying anything, nothing about his drug use, nothing about what women were with him. Nothing - I wouldn't even confirm if I won the establishment that he had ever been there.
HOF: We're talking about his lack of drug use, we're trying to defend Lamar because we don't believe that he was doing drugs on our property. He was told when he came out there, you can't bring drugs, Lamar. And he agreed to that. "I've been doing coke in Las Vegas, I want to relax and get away." He was going to sleep every night, he was eating properly and we felt like he was just looking to get away and we want the world to know that, that we don't think Lamar was doing cocaine at our facility.
SMERCONISH: I know that many condemn the type of business that you run. That's not where I'm coming from. You're involved in as I understand it a lawful enterprise. My beef is that this man is a client, he comes there for several days for whatever purpose. That's his business not ours.
And then when everything hits the fan, all of a sudden you're the spokesman telling us why he was there, what he was doing when he was there, from his predilections were, what his interests were. And I'm saying this poor of son of a gun has been in a coma for a couple of days, thank god it now looks like he's taken a turn for the better.
HOF: That's absolutely right. But you're not - I'm not going to let the world put a negative spin on everything about this guy because I like him and I don't think he was doing what the world is saying he's doing. Just because he's had a 20 year of problems doesn't mean he was doing it when this happened.
SMERCONISH: But how do you justify when TMZ calls even taking the call and releasing any information about him whatsoever?
HOF: Because they already know. Don't you understand that every hospital, all the paramedics, everybody has got Harvey Levin's phone number on speed dial. They get information so fast it's unbelievable. And I got a long term relationship with them. I'm not going to lie to them.
SMERCONISH: But who is coming back to your establishment the next time if they say, "geez, if I get jammed up at Dennis Hof's place, you know, he's going to spill the beans about what I was doing there." Don't you worry about the long term business model?
HOF: You know, our business is very busy. That ranch happens to be busier than it's ever been now because of the notoriety that has been put on it because of this.
SMERCONISH: I know that he married in to the Kardashians. I know that he participated in reality television. But fair to say he never signed up, he never volunteered for the kind of disclosures that have been made about him for the last couple of days?
HOF: Well, the disclosures are coming from everybody. They're coming from all kinds of people, unnamed sources, he's doing cocaine with the hookers. Well, guess what, he wasn't doing that. And the unnamed sources, they all got these ideas. The father immediately said these girls drugged him. Lie. Am I supposed to sit back and take that? No, Michael, I'm not going to do it.
SMERCONISH: So as I hear Dennis Hof, what you're saying today is that you've been speaking in an effort to protect the man's reputation. HOF: And my own. I'm not going to let a father who is known to sell
stories talk about my girls drugging him. I'm not going to talk about let people talk about him using cocaine at my facility. The 911 call got all twisted around and it was said that he did cocaine Saturday. Yes, before he got there. Before he got there he was partying in Las Vegas. Not when he was at my facility. And that's the word we need to get out there. Zero tolerance at the Bunny Ranch, at the Love Ranch. Zero tolerance.
SMERCONISH: OK. So in your bid to protect his reputation, what is that you want Americans to know?
HOF: What I want them to know is that he was in a good frame of mind when he drove out there. Talking about his family, his mother, his father, his mentor, the person that got him into basketball. He said that Khloe Kardashian was very vindictive and he was happy when he got there. He picked a couple of girls and he's having the time of his life.
SMERCONISH: Dennis, come on, man, you just said, he picked a couple of girls and he had the time of his life. The guy -
HOF: Everybody knows it.
SMERCONISH: No. They know because you said it. The guy is in the hospital. I'm sure he's horrified or he will be to find out that you've confirmed that he came and paid for a couple of girls.
HOF: And he also told the manager he had the best night's sleep he said in a long time. So my point is when you're sleeping properly and you're eating lots of food, I don't think you're doing drugs and I don't think Lamar was doing drugs at my place and I'm going to support him until I know different.
SMERCONISH: All right. And to me, it sounds like, respectfully, that you violated the hooker code for the last couple of days.
HOF: Well, you know about about the illegal world. This is the legal world.
SMERCONISH: But isn't the same? I mean, even though it's legal, I would presume people still don't want their business talked about when - almost like going to see a lawyer and then having the lawyer say let me tell you about the client.
HOF: In the criminal world, they just go away. You're dealing with criminals, you're dealing with a legal facility that has a right to protect its reputation. It's been around 60 years. We didn't see anything like this happen. And we're not going to sit back and let people throw rocks at us because we're doing this or we're doing that just because it's a hooker. Well, guess what, these hookers are all making huge incomes and most have better educations than I do. They're professional working girls.
SMERCONISH: All right. And my argument is that whatever the terms of the transaction that Lamar Odum had with your establishment confidentiality was an important part of it and that's been violated.
SMERCONISH: You want to respond?
HOF: Well, we agree to disagree. I'm going to protect my business and I'm also - I'm not going to let the world tell - say that he was doing a lot of drugs at my place. Because it makes him look bad and he wasn't doing that. I mean, it's not a secret that he was at the brothel and that the ambulance took him away and they couldn't fit him in the helicopter. It was all out in the public within a few minutes.
So it's my job to protect my business and Lamar's reputation. He's already - they know he's at a brothel. That's out there. It's our job to make sure and let the world know that we don't think Lamar was doing a lot of drugs at our place or any at all. And I'm going to stick to that. And if people don't like me saying it, too bad.
SMERCONISH: All right. I think your obligation was to say yes he was here, he ran out of gas, the poor guy showed up and we were just giving him some assistance and he dropped over and that's all we know.
HOF: Yes, after the paramedics already told the police he was in the bedroom in a VIP suite? Yes, sounds good. Got a good beat but you can't dance to it, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Dennis Hof, thank you, sir.
HOF: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Do you agree with me that Lamar Odom was owed more privacy? Tweet me your thoughts @smerconish. I'll get to them later.
Coming up, she's a lawyer, a clinical psychologist, a mother of three. And a former "Playboy" and "Penthouse" centerfold. What does she think about the news that "Playboy" is giving up on nude photography?
Also, has time run out for Joe Biden. I'll ask David Axelrod. And Reince Priebus is saying that if the GOP loses in 2016, it's "cooked as a party." So will the evangelical vote still be able to anoint the next president? I'll ask one of their top leaders, Ralph Reed.
SMERCONISH: Here is something you might not know. A quarter of Americans say they are evangelical Christians. Good reason for presidential candidates to pay close attention to them this year. This year evangelical voters have lots of candidates who would be acceptable. While that might seem like an embarrassment of riches, it could also be a problem. Could so many good candidates split the evangelical vote and dilute their influence? Who better to discuss this with than Ralph Reed.
He's the founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and was a senior adviser to George W. Bush's campaigns in 2000 and 2004. Ralph, thank you so much for not walking out as you were in the greenroom while I was interviewing a pimp. I appreciate that.
RALPH REED, FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, FAITH AND FREEDOM COALITION: No problem, Michael. Good to be with you.
SMERCONISH: Do you have an embarrassment of riches that is actually problematic? There are so many individuals on that Republican stage who are acceptable to evangelical Christians.
REED: Right. You know, it's a problem, but it's a good problem to have. I mean, it's the kind of problem that most constituencies would love to have where you have in this field and I hesitate to start naming names because I'm going to leave somebody out, but at the beginning, of course Walker has gotten out. You had Scott Walker, who is the son of an evangelical preacher. You have Ted Cruz who is the son of an evangelical preacher, Mike Huckabee who is a former evangelical preacher, Bobby Jindal and Jeb Bush, who are Catholic converts. Marco Rubio who is a faithful and devout Roman Catholic. And you know, I could go on and on. I don't want to leave anybody out.
I hesitate to even begin naming. But I would argue, Michael, and this is my 10th presidential cycle of engagement that you have more committed men and women of faith, devout faith, either evangelical protestant or faithful observant Catholic in this race, this one field than in all previous fields since the so-called religious right broke on the beaches of our political system in the late 1970s.
And what you're seeing is decades of work and engagement and building grass roots networks and energizing people is now bearing fruit and we'll have to let the dust settle. We don't know who the nominee will be. But it's probably going to be somebody that not only will be acceptable to this constituency, but they will be excited about.
SMERCONISH: Well, will you let the dust settle or will you encourage coalescing around a particular candidate and if so whom?
REED: Well, that's - for me personally, I'm happy to answer that. I can't answer that for every faith-based leader obviously. But I'm not a big fan of smoke filled rooms or attempts to annoy presidents by any particular issue coalition. And I don't want to particularize it to the faith community. I think that's true for labor unions, I think it's true for the hunters and sports man lobby. I think what you ought to do, this is my own personal view, is be about the issues. And for us that's the sanctity of life, the sacrament of marriage, the premacy and central importance to our culture and economy of the family and the need to relimit government so that it's confined (INAUDIBLE) purposed. That's what we are interested in. That's what we ask these candidates to speak to and my argument would be rather than make it about the person, make it about the platform and the issues and then let the voters decide which person is best able to rally people with that flag. SMERCONISH: I showed some footage at the outset of Donald Trump
praying with some evangelical leaders. What is the extent, if, any of skepticism in the evangelical community about Donald Trump? You know, he's fond of saying that his favorite book is the bible, followed only by "Art of the Deal."
Are you comfortable with what you see in terms of Trump on these issues?
REED: Well, we have certainly had a good relationship with him and he has come to a number of faith and freedom events including one a month ago in Iowa where he was very warmly received. And again, without making it about personality, and I certainly don't deny that this is a riveting spectator sport, and Donald Trump is an oversized personality but for these voters, it is about the issues and what he has said, and you probably saw, Michael, I guess there was a clip this past week where he was in - I think a no labels conference and a woman asked him a question about the life issue and he said I'm pro-life.
So what he does is he goes to these forums where he's speaking to faith based voters. And keep in mind 50 percent to 55 percent of all the voters who whose shadow darkens the threshold of a voter booth in these primaries is going to be a self identified evangelical Christian.
So you cannot ignore this constitutency and he says "I'm for tradional marriage. I'm pro life, I support Israel and I'm for religious liberty."
And if you say that no matter who you are, you're going to get a hearing, he's going to get a fair hearing. We'll see how the vote settles out.
SMERCONISH: Did you disagree with Ben Carson? I won't roll it because we've all seen it. When Ben Carson said that he personally was uncomfortable with the idea of a Muslim being elected president?
REED: Yes, he's a friend. We think very highly of him. But that is not something that I would subscribe to. You know, I think a voter can choose to vote for or against somebody based on their religion. It's a free country. If that's what you want to do, you can do that.
But for me, it's not about somebody's faith, it might be about their ideology, but I personally know Muslims who are devout Muslims, who oppose the agenda of radical Islam, they oppose the perversion of their faith by people like Al Qaeda and terrorists and radical jihad. And I think Dr. Carson, in fairness, I think he did subsequently clarify that and say that it wasn't about the faith, it was about whether or not they favored using violence to advance their views. And I'm not a spokesman for Dr. Carson, but I think he said he would be against that whether that person was a Christian or a Jew or Muslim or Hindu. And I think that's what he was trying to say.
SMERCONISH: Ralph Reed, thank you. Next time we'll give you a different lead-in, I promise.
REED: No problem, Michael. Good to be with you.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, sir.
Donald Trump has said several things that you'd think would alienate the GOP base, but haven't. Will his new 9/11 comments blaming President Bush finally change that?
SMERCONISH: Donald Trump again under fire for something that he said this time it's about President George W. Bush and 9/11. And here's something really unusual, on the campaign trail in Massachusetts last night Donald Trump was uncharacteristically silent when reporters pushed him hard on his remarks earlier in the day. This is what he had to say on Bloomberg TV about Bush and the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I have a bigger heart than all of them. I think I'm much more confident than all of them when you talk about George Bush and say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hold on, you can't blame George Bush for that.
TRUMP: Well, he was president. OK. Don't blame him or don't blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Jeb Bush angrily responded Friday afternoon tweeting "how pathetic for Donald Trump to criticize the president for 9/11. We were attacked and my brother kept us safe."
Joining me now, anchor from the Blaze Amy Holmes and Ellis Henican, a liberal commentator, columnist and author. Ellis, so often I've been wrong about the Donald. I thought for sure when he said what he said about John McCain, we like who don't get captured, going after Megyn Kelly on Fox, I thought this is the death knell within the hardcore of the GOP and yet it wasn't. Does this finally harm him or not?
ELLIS HENICAN, AUTHOR: No.
SMERCONISH: Why not?
HENICAN: Listen, if can he get through Megyn Kelly, right? Which is ground zero to the GOP, he's going to get through poking at the Bush family who are not all that popular. SMERCONISH: Amy, it has to be deliberate that he's willing to go
after these icons of the Republican establishment and yet his numbers remain constant.
AMY HOLMES, TV ANCHOR "THE BLAZE": Well, I don't know how deliberate it is, but he's not suffering. And I don't think he's going to suffer from these remarks. Look, the GOP does not want to relitigate Iraq even if Donald Trump does. But at the same time, they don't seem to ever make him pay for these types of remarks. Ellis and I were talking before the show that GOP voters at the moment seem to value strength and that is the characteristic that they are seeing in Donald Trump right now.
SMERCONISH: Is this fair game? This sent me scurrying to my computer yesterday to reread the August 6 PDB Bin Laden determined to strike in the United States and then I say to myself "if it really were a legitimate issue in the minds of Americans, W. would never have been re-elected in 2004.
HOLMES: Well, as you just said in your intro when Jeb Bush turned to Donald Trump in the first Fox debate "look, my brother kept America safe." He got a huge ovation from the crowd.
SMERCONISH: I want to show that. Can we roll that tape? Play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Your brother's administration gave us Barack Obama because it was such a disaster those last three months that Abraham Lincoln couldn't have been elected.
JEB BUSH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what, as it relates to my brother, there is one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe. I don't know if you remember - you remember the ruble, you remember the firefighter? He sent a clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: These thing don't ever seem to hurt Donald Trump, but I think it is hurting him in a different way. Yesterday Donald Trump had a huge victory over CNBC when he threatened to boycott if the next GOP debate lasted three hours. CNBC they acceded to his demands. They waved the flag that CNBC called mercy. But now he's stepping on his own message and it's all about attacking Jeb Bush over George Bush in 9/11, something again the GOP primary voters had no interest in relitigating.
SMERCONISH: Let's go to your side of the aisle. Big debate last Tuesday. CNN debate in Las Vegas. Was it as significant a victory for Hillary Clinton as is now being memorialized? I mean it seems to be growing exponentially at least to me how well she did.
[09:30:01] HENICAN: It was big. Don't discount it.
SMERCONISH: She had a good night. Don't misunderstand me. HENICAN: It isn't that she was so brilliant, but think about the two
or three months that came before that, right, where Dems across the spectrum are saying, is she woman wounded? Can she ultimately succeed? Is there an opening for Joe Biden here? All of that stuff has been damped down, along with the implosion of the Benghazi committee. It has really turned her from looking like a weak potential nominee to an almost imaginable nominee.
SMERCONISH: But isn't part of that -- Amy, isn't part of that, I'm going to put up on the screen how the world of social media looked at this. What you're going to see is that Bernie Sanders, look at some of those numbers, and these are not all left wing sites. I mean, "Drudge", "Time", in addition to "Slate" and "The Daily Kos", they all saw Bernie Sanders as the victor.
To me it seems like the media woke up Wednesday morning, he's already shaking his head.
SMERCONISH: The media loves the revival narrative. And so, all of a sudden, Hillary, she had a hell of a night. She had a great night again, don't get me wrong.
AMY HOLMES, TV ANCHOR, THE BLAZE: She did.
SMERCONISH: But was it that big a night?
HOLMES: Well, she won the pundit class, that's for sure.
HOLMES: But if you look at the polling data, Bernie Sanders won a lot of the grass roots and young people. He was the most tweeted name of the night. He was the most Google searched of the night. Facebook said he was the most mentioned of the candidates of the night.
And even Barack Obama's own close campaign advisers, Dan Pfeiffer and David Axelrod from 2008 and 2012, they pointed to Bernie Sanders really having more of the heart and soul of the Democratic Party at this point.
SMERCONISH: Bernie Sanders last night was on with Bill Maher and Bill Maher questioned him about the salability of socialism. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, TV HOST: They hear socialist, they think herpes, Bernie. You have -- we have to get this --
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Then what we do is we have to make the movement, if you like, to correlate what we're talking about. Because on every one of the major issues I'm talking about, the American people agree. Do the American people agree that public colleges and universities should be tuition free as they are in many other countries? (APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: And then he gave other examples of what socialism, Democratic socialism. Are we sticking around long enough for the explanation? We Americans.
HENICAN: No, probably -- I mean, listen, it's a powerful negative slogan today. It doesn't help in the long run. But particularly if Hillary is having well-timed victories, I know you're saying it wasn't that big, I am telling you it came right when she needed it and it truly turned the conversation.
SMERCONISH: Well, I'm saying perception becomes reality.
HENICAN: It's politics.
SMERCONISH: One final question about Secretary Clinton. This is the front page of "The New York Times" today. Here's the lead: Hillary Rodham Clinton has spent more than twice as much as any other presidential candidate on campaign staff, more than three times as much on office space and millions of dollars more on advertising, according to reports filed this week with the FEC.
Smart strategy or is she going to run out of money?
HOLMES: Well, it sounds like the Clinton campaign is trying to have the shock and awe strategy really to keep Joe Biden from entering the race. But we saw how that worked with Jeb Bush. He's falling way behind will the other candidates.
There was -- according to that story that to me really highlighted that, which is one of her campaign people saying, look, you can't just parachute in and expect to win these early states. Isn't that exactly what Joe Biden is contemplating doing? I think that was the Clinton campaign trying to frighten their competitor.
SMERCONISH: Yes, I agree with you on that.
Ellis, thank you. Amy, thank you. Really appreciate both of you being here.
Coming up, has the trial balloon of the Biden candidacy finally burst? I'll talk to David Axelrod.
And can "Playboy" magazine survive without nude pictures? I'll ask a former centerfold now sex therapist and mother of three what she thinks.
[09:38:08] SMERCONISH: Well, we had an extra podium ready for him at the debate in Las Vegas just in case. And now Joe Biden's will he or won't he presidential run is becoming the joke literally. The headline of this piece on "The New Yorker's" Boro which report says it all, "Biden to decide on 2016 bid by early 2017."
Just one of the many campaign topics that I want to discuss with President Obama's former adviser and CNN commentator.
Joining me now is David Axelrod.
David, I'm eager to question you about Joe Biden perhaps getting into the race for the presidency. And here's what I noticed. There is a tendency of people to talk about the likelihood of him getting in, and tying it to the outcome of the debate on Tuesday night. Are the two necessarily connected?
DAVID AXELROD, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: Well, I don't know what his reasoning is. If you were just gauging this on the basis of politics, you'd have to say yes because part of the urgency that people felt in trying to nudge him into the race was that the frontrunner was weak and getting weaker. I don't think that's true after the debate on Tuesday. Hillary Clinton had a great night and therefore the market for the white knight coming into save the party is no longer there.
But that may not be the standard by which he's making this decision. You know, he may simply just feel that he would be a better candidate and wants to give it a go. I'm still skeptical about it. I think these emotional issues that he's talking about, the trauma his family has been through, are such that he'll ultimately resolve not to get into the race. But I think this drama is going to go on for a while.
SMERCONISH: I'm hearing you say I think that David Axelrod doesn't see the path to the nomination for the vice president.
[08:10:01] AXELROD: Well, look, I can't predict -- you know, there are unpredictable events that could happen that would open this race up. But right now, what I see is Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders together holding about three quarters of the vote. And with Joe Biden getting about a fifth of the vote, and nothing in the debate changed that dynamic. Both of them had very good nights particularly for their base supporters.
And so, you know, I think it's a tough row to hoe. Just looking at the number, you'd have to say it's a tough race.
SMERCONISH: Let's talk about the Republicans for your brand new podcast "The Axe Files", you had an interesting sit down with Governor Mitt Romney. I want to play a portion on that interview and ask you to react.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Donald Trump has said a number of things which are hurtful and he has said that they were childish in some respects, and I think will be potentially problematic either in a primary or in a general election if he were to become the nominee. And they relate to things he said about women and things he said about members of the news media, things he said about Hispanics. (END AUDIO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: So, the 2012 standard bearer doesn't seem too psyched that Donald Trump is thus far leading in his party.
AXELROD: Yes. Well, I think he was speaking from experience because as you remember, he got kind of dragged into some debates that were harmful to his candidacy in the general election, to talk about self deporting immigrants and so on, that really lived into the general election. And think he learned some lessons from his own campaign.
The interesting thing was it wasn't just he said that Trump would be damaged if he were the nominee, but he feels that Trump may be damaging the party brand generally by taking the debate down this road.
SMERCONISH: We're at a stage of the campaign that candidate families have not yet played a role, but you paid a compliment to Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka. He retweeted it, it caught fire in the blogosphere. Speak to the strength of Ivanka Trump as a factor in this election.
AXELROD: Yes, I mean, I think she -- first of all, I tweeted it because I was so impressed by her. I sat next to her a few years ago at a dinner party and I was just completely surprised because she is not a lot like her dad in the sense that she's very thoughtful, you know, she's very -- she's not impulsive in what she has to say. And she just was completely impressive to me.
And the fact that she's now come out and started doing interviews and so on along with her brother, I think that helps humanize Trump in a way that he needs it and obviously given some of the things that he said that have offended women, having this very poised, very bright, very thoughtful woman who is his daughter come out and affirm him is helpful to him.
SMERCONISH: Ivanka, 2032.
One final question to David Axelrod. I'm sure you took note of the fact that the spending reports came in this week and Donald Trump's largest expenditure in the last three months, $825,000 spent on paraphernalia like those hats "Make America Great Again", you got to give him credit for his return on investment. He's spending nothing and he's still number one in the polls.
AXELROD: He has maximized the earned media in a way no candidate has in our lifetime. And so, he has not had to spend a lot of money which has to be frustrating to some of these other candidates who have spent millions of dollars on television and have nothing to show for it.
SMERCONISH: But in an unconventional year, will it nevertheless catch up with him if he hasn't built a traditional organization?
AXELROD: Well, I think so. First of all, I think he is doing more organizing than people suspect. Not everywhere. In Illinois, for example, we have very complicated ballot rules and he's well behind in terms of getting himself on the ballot.
But I understand that in Iowa, New Hampshire, he's doing real organizing and he's spending some money on that, but not on the big television dollars. I think that's always been the question about Trump. He's an improvisational politician, but at some point, organization really matters. And, you know, I don't know over the long run whether he can organize this entire country, but in the early states, he seems to be doing so.
SMERCONISH: David Axelrod, thank you so much.
AXELROD: Good to be with you.
SMERCONISH: No more nudity in "Playboy" magazine? Will it survive? I'll ask Victoria Zdrok, one of only two women to be both a "Playboy" Playmate and Penthouse Pet of the Year. Now she's a lawyer, PhD and mother of three.
[09:49:22] SMERCONISH: Guys, you remember when we used to say that we only bought "Playboy" magazine for the articles? Well, the 62-year- old publication is about to put us to the test. Founder Hugh Hefner, now 89 years old has announced that next year, he'll stop publishing nude pictures, the distinctive aspect that has defined the brand since its first issue when this ran a centerfold of Marilyn Monroe in the buff.
Why are they doing this? And will the radical move succeed?
Joining me now is somebody who knows something about this, a former centerfold Victoria Zdrok was the Playboy Playmate in October of 1994 and Penthouse Pet of the Year in 2004, one of only two women to be thus featured in those competing publications.
[09:50:04] She's now married with three kids. She's also quite accomplished, has a law degree and PhD in clinical psychology.
Why are they doing this?
VICTORIA ZDROK, FORMER PLAYBOY PLAYMATE: I think it is a really wise rebranding move, because they are trying to appeal to the younger male who no longer wants to hide "Playboy" under the bed. They want to read their magazine on their morning commute. And in this way, they can get mainstream advertising, they get celebrities to pose in provocative photos and they don't have to pay as much to women to pose in lingerie versus nude.
So, overall, I think it's a really wise move. Remember, "Playboy" keeping their explicit Playboy channel. So, what they're doing is market segmentation. Their pay-for format will be non-nude but they will have the Playboy channel, which is explicit.
SMERCONISH: Is part of this that there's no market channel available to them because if you want porn, the Internet has made it so plentiful and "Playboy" can't compete with that because it really isn't hard core important, right?
ZDROK: Exactly. I think men became desensitized. So, it's not shocking anymore. It's not titillating to look at any of the women. And research shows that about 30 percent of high school students take nude photos now and I think the "Cosmo" survey said 9 out of 10 women under 21 have texted a nude photos.
So, why bother with paying for a nude magazine when you can get your girlfriend to simply --
SMERCONISH: So, you think now, they are going after the "Maxim" segment of the market, beautiful women, scantily clad, but clad nonetheless.
ZDROK: Yes, provocative but something you can read on the train without offending anybody.
SMERCONISH: It really is about the articles now.
ZDROK: I think the articles, I think it will still show the female pulchritude. I think it will still feature hot new celebrities. And I could see how it will be exciting but without -- you know, it won't appeal for the autoerotic orientation. It will be really more for your morning commute.
SMERCONISH: Here is some of your clothed work for "Playboy", OK? You are a mom. You are an attorney. You possess a PhD.
ZDROK: I have no regrets. That was the only way I could afford the expensive education. I had a very nice run as a glam and pin-up model. I made a lot of money and I also made some great friends, some lasting friendships with the women.
And I think there's a lot of misconceptions with centerfolds as being maybe dumb, but there are a lot of the women that I have posed with went on to have great career and accomplish great things.
SMERCONISH: How old are your kids?
ZDROK: They are 13, 9, and 2.
SMERCONISH: Have you broached the subject with them? I guess with the 13-year-old, you'd kind to have to. Hey, mom has been a pin-up model?
ZDROK: The funny thing is that I was always a little bit afraid to see their reaction. But one day, my 13-year-old just came home and said, oh, yes, somebody pulled out some naked pictures of you. But it was like a nonevent.
The next thing, she was discussing something else. Because the current generation was very desensitized to this. So, in that way, it really -- it's not a big deal to them. SMERCONISH: What about her friends? I would imagine that, you know,
among the guy friends, that your daughter is going to be known as having the hot mom.
ZDROK: Yes, but it just doesn't seem all that interesting to them. Partly kind of disappointing to me. I thought it would be shocking. It is sort of an everyday thing, kind of amazing.
SMERCONISH: So, what I'm hearing from Victoria Zdrok is you think that this is a smart move from "Playboy". It's about going after market share that right now they can't compete with and that it will work.
ZDROK: It's about rebranding their very well-known logo so that it could go mainstream, and attracting the younger, hip male that can read it anywhere, any time, and being completely non-offensive, being very appealing to celebrities, and in the same token, maintaining their Playboy Channel, which would be explicit.
SMERCONISH: I get it.
Thank you, Victoria. I appreciate very much you're being here.
In just the moment, the best and the worst tweets are coming up.
[09:58:27] SMERCONISH: I always say you can follow me on Twitter if you can spell Smerconish. Let's take a look at some of what has come in during the course of the program.
This from Shoq, "Laugh out loud, Dennis Hof, owner of the brothel Odom was found in, tells Smerconish, quote, 'the girls watch your show every day'."
I don't know why that is so amusing. Among escorts 25-54, this is the number one Saturday program in the nation. Thank you, Jay.
Number two, Scenes by Jax says, "Thank you for calling out the pimp. What he did was a total invasion of privacy when he assumed Lamar wasn't going to make it."
A great observation and one that I didn't make. All of those revelations about Lamar Odom in the last couple of days were while he was still comatose and thank God the man now appears to have taken a turn for the better.
Number three, where are we? Justin Garfinkle, "Trump is a block of granite. He won't be taken down, you pathetic hater. Where did you get your suit, the Trump section at Macy's?"
No, actually from Paul Stewart. Thank you very much.
And, finally, from Jazz Shaw, "Bravo to @smerconish for finally figuring out legit reason to have a Playboy bunny on the show." Victoria Zdrok is an attorney and a PhD, and a mom and, oh, yes, a Playboy funny. And I thought that she was terrific, making excellent points about how the move by Playboy is really to go after market share that right now is not available to them.
Keep the tweets coming @smerconish and I will see you next week.