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Buchanan, Voice of the Silent Majority; Ted Cruz's Citizenship in Question; Interview with Marcus Luttrell; Interview with John Kasich. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 9, 2016 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right.

Thanks, Andy. Good luck.


PAUL: Good luck.

VICTOR BLACWELL, CNN ANCHOR: See you back here at 10:00.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish with lots to talk about today. Bernie Sanders finally takes the offensive against Hillary Clinton by going after her husband's love life.

And at Donald Trump's rally last night, this Muslim woman was ejected, and with the Iowa caucuses just weeks away, new polls have Ted Cruz solidly in first, despite new attempts to cast doubt on his U.S. citizenship.

Plus - I'll ask GOP candidate John Kasich about the nightmare of trying to run as a more moderate Republican in the era of Trump.

But first - terror came to my home town of Philadelphia this week. Today's "Philadelphia Inquirer" tells the story. On Thursday night, a police officer was on patrol and ambushed by a man who said he was inspired by ISIS. While law enforcement is still investigating exactly what that means, what we do know is this is a remarkable story of grit and heroism.

Jesse Hartnett, a 33-year-old cop who served in the Coast Guard was on patrol in West Philadelphia just before midnight when Edward Archer wearing Muslim garb approached his vehicle, weapon drawn and began firing. Watch this amazing video. In which Officer Hartnett shot three times at close range, bleeding profusely, nevertheless gets out of his patrol car and gives chase. Ultimately shooting and wounding his assailant. The officer's emotional radio call provides further evidence of his bravery. I'm shot. I'm bleeding heavily.


JESSE HARTNETT, POLICE OFFICER: Shots fired. (INAUDIBLE) I'm shot. I'm bleeding heavily. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All cars standby. We have an office shot 6-0 and Spruce. Repeating in the 18th district, assist the officer. 6-0- 3. We have an officer down.

HARTNETT: I'm wounded.


SMERCONISH: The shooter's mother told police that her son had mental problems and had been recently hearing voices. Thus far, there have been no confirmed reports of any ties between the shooter and terror groups. But new reports say that the man traveled twice to the Middle East.

Now this is the very first week in office for a brand new Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner. The mayor, Jim Kenney said, "in no way, shape or form does anyone in this room believe that Islam or the teaching of Islam have anything to do with what you've seen." The new commissioner Richard Ross saluted Officer Hartnett.


COMMISSIONER RICHARD ROSS, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: The bravery he demonstrated was absolutely remarkable. His will to live undoubtedly saved his life.


SMERCONISH: The same night as the Philadelphia shooting, two Iraqi men who entered the U.S. as refugees were arrested on terror charges. Neither man is charged with planning an attack on the United States, but those arrests have already become political fodder causing presidential candidate Ted Cruz to call for "retroactive assessment of refugees already here." Cruz is currently leading Donald Trump in Iowa, the nation's first presidential contest.

To unravel all of these political ramifications I've invited the perfect person.

He worked with three U.S. presidents, he won the 1996 GOP New Hampshire primary, he coined the phrase "silent majority" and to quote the economist, "before Donald Trump there was Pat Buchanan." Pat joins me know. Thank you, Pat, for being here.


SMERCONISH: Thursday night a cop in my hometown of Philadelphia was shot by a guy who said he was acting in the name of Islam. For political purposes does it matter if he's tied to ISIS or is a one off?

BUCHANAN: Well, I think the political effect of that, of course, is going to be to strengthen candidates who are perceived as very tough on illegal immigration, very tough, if you will, on immigration from the Islamic world without vetting. And so I think it tends to help Donald Trump and I would say to some extent Mr. Cruz who both have been very hard line on the issue.

SMERCONISH: Interesting that earlier this week, in fact, I'll show you a brief clip, Ted Cruz commented on two individuals both refugees from the Middle East who were arrested in connection with terror charges. Roll that clip.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One, in California, and one, in my hometown in Houston, both were Iraqi refugees. Both came in through the vetting programs that President Obama tells us are perfectly effective for vetting terrorists. One is charged with providing materiel support to ISIS. The other is charged with having travelled to Syria to fight alongside radical Islamic terrorists.



SMERCONISH: Why does Pat Buchanan think that Ted Cruz is less able than Donald Trump to take advantage of these issues?

BUCHANAN: Well, I think this basically - that I think Trump is tremendously identified with the issue, Michael, for the basic reason that, you know, no Muslims are coming into the country. They're all going to be vetted. Now, that was a statement that's going to have to be qualified. No doubt about it, but it puts Trump out front on the issue so that when folks think of something like that, they think of Trump, but I do think they would also think of Cruz, but look what happened when those two Syrian refugees came through Greece and turned up in that Paris massacre?

That turned a whole country around, Michael. Now, these two individuals who have been caught that Cruz mentioned have not been apprehended doing some horrible atrocity, but you get people doing those atrocities in this coming year and there's no doubt it will drive the United States strongly to the right the way Europe is being driven to the right.

SMERCONISH: You like Trump, because he is the Buchanan campaign of '92 or '96 incarnate. It's all about border control, it's about immigration, trade. Free trade. And non-intervention. Was your timing off, or is he just the better, no disrespect intended, but he is the better messenger on these things?

BUCHANAN: Well, let me say on these issues, Trump has raised the very issues I raised in the early '90s, 1991-92. I said these trade deals are going to be terrible. We're going to lose manufacturing jobs. We're going to lose factories abroad. The real wages of Americans are not going to rise. People are coming across the border. It's got to be stopped.

What we've got now 25 years later, Michael, is proof that what we predicted has come to pass. So Donald Trump and others who are taking up these issues can point out and say, "look, here's what's happened." I mean, even Bernie Sanders. He was back there with me on these trade deals and, of course, he's running now, and doing extremely well, I think, for a fellow on the far left of the democratic party.

SMERCONISH: So assuming arguendo that you were ahead of your time. The question then becomes are there enough remnants of the so-called silent majority left to take Trump all the way to the White House?

BUCHANAN: I think Trump is a, is a very interesting candidate in this sense ou're - I think he has cross-party appeal. Now, let me give you an example. If I were running this year and I were in Trump's shoes, I would go into Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan, and I would say, you want to know why your factories left this country? Because of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton with NAFTA and GATT and the WTO.

All those jobs and factories are in China now. Some of them are in Mexico, but they're the ones that did it. They're responsible. Now, that's the appeal of whom? Bernie Sanders. Right now. So this has a cross-party appeal, the issue of, you know, free trade is out, and quite frankly, protecting jobs and protecting factories and these issues are very much in today.

SMERCONISH: When people make comparisons between the campaigns you ran and Donald Trump today, I mean, do you revel in that, or do you say, I'm a deep thinker. People can disagree with Pat Buchanan. Trump doesn't have the coherence and the logic behind those viewpoints. Or am I wrong?

BUCHANAN: Well, to a degree, yes, you are. In this sense - look, Donald Trump comes out of a different world than I do. He is a successful businessman up until about six months ago. But I'm elated, first he's gotten into this race, raised issues, shaken these things up. You got 25 million people watching a Republican debate, for heaven's sake, in the summer of 2015.

Look, my time has come and gone, Michael. You know, it's a while ago and we did as well as we could at the time, but there's no doubt he's doing well and I congratulate him, what he's doing well on the issues that I really admire.

SMERCONISH: Hey, don't sell yourself short. You're tan, you're rested and you're ready. Let me ask you one additional question about the democratic side of the aisle.

BUCHANAN: Buchanan for county supervisor!

SMERCONISH: You reference Bernie Sanders and you know a thing or two about New Hampshire. What happens if Bernie Sanders captures Iowa and New Hampshire? Does it end there? Or all of the sudden is that race entirely recast?

BUCHANAN: I think if he captures Iowa and New Hampshire he's got Iowa and New Hampshire. The democratic party is too much behind Hillary Clinton. She's got too much money. Too much of a base out there, but I will say this - it will be an issue where Hillary Clinton's going to have to start addressing these trade deals and inequality and the loss of jobs they produced, and he might be able to pull her to the left. I mean, she's pulled a little bit to the left, but I think basically, look, the only one that, that can take this nomination away from Hillary Clinton, I think, is a special prosecutor in D.C..


SMERCONISH: Well, Joe Digenova, you heard this week, Digenova said within the next 60 days she could get a knock on the door. Who knows if there's anything behind that.

BUCHANAN: I'll believe that when I see it, Michael.


Pat Buchanan, thank you, sir.

BUCHANAN: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: So what do you think? Tweet me at smerconish. I'll look them over and read some of best later in the program.

Up next, too painful to be called a gaffe. That's what's being said of Ben Carson asked a fifth grade class and the political ads, they're getting nastier and nuttier. Do you think this one works?


UNIDENTIFED MALE: But I can tell you, it is a very personal economic issue.



SMERCONISH: Last night Bernie Sanders was pulled into the debate about Hillary Clinton's husband and his actions as a town hall in Toledo, Iowa. Sanders was asked by an audience member if Hillary Clinton lacked moral authority to be president based on her husband's affair with an intern when he was president. Listen.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton, but Bill Clinton did, I think we can all acknowledge, it was totally, totally, totally disgraceful and unacceptable.


SMERCONISH: Just one of many things to talk about with my political panel. Bob Beckel managed Walter Mondale's presidential campaign in 1984. E.D. Hill is a conservative analyst. Nice to have both of you right here.

Mr. Beckel does that work in a democratic campaign? BOB BECKEL, MANAGED MONDALE'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: No. And it's

amazing to me he that would follow Donald Trump. I don't know any democrat that followed Donald Trump but Bernie has. Part of the reason, his numbers has gotten soft in New Hampshire. He's trying to bust him - he has to win New Hampshire.

SMERCONISH: I don't know Eddie, that he went looking for it. He was asked by an audience member and I think I should underscore that distinction.

E.D. HILL, CONSERVATIVE ANALYST: (INAUDIBLE) Bob earlier, you know, whether you love or hate Bernie Sanders, usually whatever he said you believe is what he truly thinks.


HILL: I don't think that this is his style. Going out and bashing people, frankly, but I think it was brought on him. I don't think that there's anyone, Republican or Democrat that says the way Bill Clinton behaved was graceful. But that's kind of old news now. There are a lot bigger issues.


SMERCONISH: A week ago here, Mr. Beckel, you had this to say to my audience. Let's watch.


BECKEL: I would love to have the Clinton campaign. They won't do it. There's stuff on Trump that is almost worse. I wish they'd push it out. They don't want to do it, because of propriety. If it were up to me and I may do it anyway, I think Trump's got more problems on sexual issues than you can possibly imagine.

SMERCONISH: Sounds like you know something, Beckel.


SMERCONISH: I want to --

Do you care to share it here?



BECKEL: And if I share it anywhere, I'll share it here, Mike, but not now.


SMERCONISH: Give me something. What do you have on the Donald on this issue?

BECKEL: Look, first of all, in your show last week must have been watched by a lot of reporters. Because I got more phone calls one of whom is now staking me out down in your lobby here. I believe and the story's been written, Donald Trump was fascinated with Princess Diana and wanted to date her, as did a lot of rich men around the world. Nothing wrong with that, except there is information that is potentially damaging. That's all I'm going to say about it.

SMERCONISH: That's linked to Diana? Or his interest in Diana?

BECKEL: I'm flying to London on Wednesday and on Thursday, I may know more. The people who have or what they have were very protective of Diana's legacy and my point to them is this is big time politics in America and a letter to somebody who has been dead for a long time that could potentially alter the landscape here is something you should think about.

SMERCONISH: OK. A letter from Trump to Princess Diana?

BECKEL: Michael, I told you, I'll say it on this show. I'm not going to say it now.

SMERCONISH: Certainly this is more than we knew a week ago. It's between the two of them?

BECKEL: I would say, yes, it probably is. Sure.


HILL: Bring it on. If I'm Trump, I'm saying, want - you want to hit me with women issues? He's dealt with that his whole life and has still come out of it with people obviously accepting it and accepting him. Now if you've got something current, I think that definitely does make a difference, and would change people's minds. But old news?

SMERCONISH: Well, if Donald was married at the time, though, and chances are he was. To which wife, we don't know?

HILL: Yes, Donald was married to the first one, too, when the second one came along.

SMERCONISH: Let me ask you about another woman in Trump's life. A Muslim woman, who last night - can we roll the tape, was escorted out of a Trump rally.

E.D., look at the faces of those who are taunting her as she's leaving and here's the question I want to ask you - did the optics of this today. Because I look at it and I'm appalled, especially when she starts to walk out the aisle, she's escorted out of the aisle and people are getting in her face. But the question is, do the optics actually help Trump in -


SMERCONISH: But it's primary season, E.D..

HILL: I don't care. Primaries aren't about -- SMERCONISH: Look at this. Check this guy out.

HILL: Yes, it's unfortunate. However, what the heck is she doing playing the victim? You want to go and show people what a Muslim looks like? First -

SMERCONISH: Look at the guy in the aisle. Blocking the aisle and giving her the thumbs down.

HILL: And the visuals are bad. But if you're a protestors and you go and you decide to stand up, every political rally now, they're looking for people who are going to cause issues and those people are taken out. There were other people in there, you can see them. With the same yellow badge on, Muslim. They weren't removed. This woman asked for it. She wanted the attention. You know, the funny thing is, she's a flight attendant. Try not following rules while you are on her flight. You want to go to the bathroom after the light goes off? You know, that's the only time you can go. It comes back on, she's telling you, you get in your seat. No. I'm just going to stand here.

SMERCONISH: I think, E.D. is convincing me, the optics of this in primary season helped Trump.

BECKEL: Well, I mean, E.D. also said that the optics are not good. She's right about that. In his base vote, does it help him? Yes, but that's a relatively small number of people and in Iowa, by the way, it's a lot of evangelical voters who actually believe in the Christian good works and would not like this very much, and you know, some of the people in there, pushing her around.


BECKEL: I don't understand. In a general election that's the kind of things that come back and haunt a presidential candidate.

SMERCONISH: Agree. But in Iowa it might actually help. Let me show you both some numbers, this is the most recent Fox poll relative to Iowa. You'll see that Ted Cruz has now edged out the Donald, he's at 27-23. Cruz, E.D., all week long on the defensive on questions as to his eligibility to run.

Now, this I know. I know that he had to spend several days talking about an issue he'd rather not have to talk about. Whether Trump drew any blood on this, I don't see. Your thought?

HILL: As a Texan, I finally realized why he never seemed like a Texan to me. It's the Canadian roots. I don't think it makes - I don't think it make as difference. Definitely took him off topic. He didn't get a chance to put his message out there. But did it help or hurt anyone? No.

SMERCONISH: John McCain, of course, injected himself, I think wanting to tweet Ted Cruz on this issue. When McCain said I think it's a legitimate issue but I'm not a constitutional scholar. So I asked a constitutional scholar, that would be Neal Katyal at Georgetown. Here's what he told me about this issue. [09:20:08]


NEAL KATYAL, FMR. ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: That our constitution doesn't define terns just uses them. The First Congress said that the children of the United States that may be born beyond sea or out of the limits of the United States shall be considered as natural born citizens. Open and shut case.


SMERCONISH: He's the expert, Beckel. Open and shut case. What's the political significance of all of this?

BECKEL: Well, you know, when I was at Harvard Law, I didn't - no. Listen, it's fine John McCain had the same problem because he was born in Panama canal zone. If you remember that? I agree with E.D., I think this is a ridiculous issue. The constitution is clear, but for Cruz who is not that off message. Let's keep this in mind. He spent a very smart on-message candidate, this was a bad week for him.

HILL: It is kind of ironic, though. I think that Obama's spokesperson says it best.


SMERCONISH: Josh Earnest said, how ironic, if this Republican who was born in Canada ultimately becomes the nominee.

HILL: A great line.

SMERCONISH: It's campaign commercial season. Marco Rubio has a particular ad up in Iowa that I think is worthy of some analysis. Can we roll that?


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our goal is eternity. The ability to live alongside our creator for all time. To accept the free gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ.

The struggle on a daily basis as a Christian is to remind ourselves of this. The purpose of our life is to cooperate with god's plan. To those who much have been given much is expected and we will be asked to account for that or your treasures stored up on earth or in heaven.

And to me, I try to allow that to influence me in everything that I do.

I'm Marco Rubio and I approve this message.


SMERCONISH: I'm sure that works in Iowa, but man, that first amendment, is freedom of religion, freedom from religion. You know? Over the top?

HILL: I don't disagree with the things he's saying. But again, in a general election you're the president for everyone. Regardless of their religion, and I just - I don't think it's a good ad. I don't think it helps him.

BECKEL: It looks to me like he just read the new testament for the first time. I don't think you will find Marco Rubio when you go back to his campaign for the senate, I will defy you to find an ad like that in Florida.

SMERCONISH: Beckel, I want to show you a pair of boots that I think you'd look good in. These are Marco Rubio's boots that got a lot of attention. I have a theory about this. It's the sort of thing you get for Christmas and you wear them once. You know, your wife gave them to you, or your friend gave them to you and then they never come out of the closet again. Your thoughts?

BECKEL: Well, I owned a ranch in Montana and slo I used to wear them a lot. E.D. knows a lot about this. Actually, I have 15 pairs of cowboys boots and I wear them. I can't now because of my leg, but I think they're fine. I love it.

HILL: High heeled cowboy boots, I'm for those all the time. However, that looks very booty-ish.

BECKEL: It does look a little bit like John Travolta, but, you know.

SMERCONISH: And "Saturday Night Fever, right?"

HILL: I think that is funny. It will be kind of sweet if his wife did get them for him and he's wearing them.

SMERCONISH: Come on. Did you not get something like that for Christmas and all of a sudden you feel obligated? Maybe even like it -

HILL: Absolutely.

SMERCONISH: Jeb Bush. So it hasn't gone well for Jeb thus far. Gallup had some interesting data about is favorability, unfavorability. Can we show that, his rolling just over the last - take a look at this. The favourable percentage on the decline, the unfavourable on the right.

By the way, E.D., what has he done to drop -

HILL: Nothing.

SMERCONISH: To drive up his unfavorable?

HILL: He has done nothing. The biggest issue that he has right now it seems is that the favorability among men is dropping. That's because men, I believe, like guys who are strong. Who they look at and think, oh, they're self-assured.

SMERCONISH: Trump is kicking sand in his face.

HILL: Yes and he just comes across as weak. He's a nice guy. Everybody agrees on that, but he's certainly not coming across as very presidential.

SMERCONISH: OK. You ran Walter Mondale's campaign. Do you like being reminded of that, by the way?


SMERCONISH: Every week, I introduce ... how should I introduce you?

BECKEL: Mike, I was going to say something in the beginning. In your show, you always ask good questions. Could you leave that one go?


BECKEL: I did 103 campaigns, I'm remembered for that one but I got words of beef out of it.

SMERCONISH: All right. I want to ask you this question. So it's not going well for Jeb. Why not roll the dice and bring out W? What do you have to lose?

BECKEL: Well, he's done that, but -

SMERCONISH: No, he really hasn't. W hasn't come out and done it. Why not send W to Iowa?

HILL: Here's why. Because Jeb has a kid who really could run for president and possibly could win. I think it's irresponsible of Jeb -

SMERCONISH: Wait, what would that be Bush 53?

HILL: I think it's irresponsible of Jeb to stay in this long. He can bring out his father, his brother, his mother, everybody, and it's not going to change this. I think he needs to take an exit.

BECKEL: It boils down to two things. His father and his brother ran wars and I don't think people perceive him to be a commander in chief.

HILL: I don't - I don't know anybody who walks away, though, still having - I don't remember the latest number. E.D., 50 mil? At least his Super pac? You know, he's not going without spending it. Right?


HILL: He's got the money, but at a certainly point it gets embarrassing.

BECKEL: There's going to be three people with a ticket out of New Hampshire. Just three, maybe four, and maybe Bush --

SMERCONISH: Can John Kasich, he's about to come on here live from New Hampshire, can he be one of them?

BECKEL: He could. New Hampshire always --

SMERCONISH: You agree? Agree?

HILL: I would like to see that but I'm not sure that we will.

BECKEL: New Hampshire always has a surprise. Invariably does. So four guys come out of New Hampshire, with all due respect to the woman in the field, she will not, but here's Jeb's problem. He's got to win Florida. If he can't win Florida and he loses it to Marco Rubio, he's gone.

SMERCONISH: Ben Carson. We haven't even said anything about Carson. But he made a fifth grade mistake this week. He goes into a fifth grade class, and he said who's the dumbest kid in class? He was trying to make a good point which I once was regarded as the dumbest kid in class but before he can deliver that line, everybody points to a particular kid.

HILL: He was back pedaling because he saw that. Look, I think that the reaction, "People" magazine said he shamed a fifth grader. Baloney, if you listen to this kid. He wasn't shamed. He's a kid who wasn't raised in the age of everybody is a winner, everybody gets a trophy. It's like, it's real life. Then maybe he's not the smartest kid in the class.

SMERCONISH: Come on, E.D..

HILL: He said at the end of it, if I could, I'd vote for Carson. His mother said first, he's not the dumbest kid in the class and he's a really resilient kid. It didn't bother him.

SMERCONISH: I don't give my sons trophies for everything. I've got three of them, one daughter. I'd be pissed if my kid was the one that everybody pointed to.

HILL: Well, the mother's not.

BECKEL: Listen, as the dumbest kid in my fifth grade class, I can say this that I agree with E.D. completely. This was taken out of context and Carson - listen, Carson has got a Facebook. Look at his numbers. He fell 23 points.

SMERCONISH: It's all about selling books now for him. Come on, his wife has got a book out now as well. He knows.

BECKEL: He's a little cynical.

SMERCONISH: I'm entitled.

HILL: I don't think he meant to do it. But when it came out, he tried to make the best of it.

SMERCONISH: Go get your boots on and you get a new intro (INAUDIBLE).

BECKEL: I'm going to bring my boots next week.

SMERCONISH: E.D., thank you. Bob, thank you.

Great to see you both. I really appreciate it.

So many great subjects. Tweet me @smerconish. I will read the best later in the program.

I see Donald Trump has already tweeted about my Buchanan interview but forgot to add @smerconish.

Still to come, as we head to Iowa and New Hampshire, the most moderate GOP candidate is fighting to keep his campaign relevant. John Kasich is here, live.

And also, Mark Wahlberg played him in the movie "Lone Survivor." now Navy Seal Marcus Latrell is back in the public eye as a big supporter of the NRA but he has some opinions that might make them think about pulling this ad.


UNIDENTIFED MALE: My freedom is more powerful than anything you can possibly do and I will never, never surrender by rights to your terror. I will say what I think, worship according to my beliefs and raise my children how I see fit and I defend it all with the second amendment of the constitution of the United States.



[09:31:04] SMERCONISH: My next guest, one of the NRA's most outspoken supporters is known us because of what happened on a fateful day in Afghanistan in 2005. Marcus Luttrell was one of the small group of Navy SEALs deployed an a secret in addition to take out a Taliban leader.

But as detailed in Luttrell's book, "Lone Survivor" and the 2013 blockbuster movie played by Mark Wahlberg, they were spotted by a group of goat herders.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way I see it we got three options. One -- we let them go. Hike up, probably found in less than an hour. Two, we tie him up. Hike out, roll the dice. They'll probably be eaten by wolves or freeze to death.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We terminate the compromise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot do that.


SMERCONISH: The SEALs debated whether to kill the locals including a child then decided to let them go. One of the locals revealed their location and all the SEALs were killed except Luttrell. He earned a Navy Cross.

Marcus Luttrell is back in the public eye because of his story being one of the episodes of the new history documentary "Live To Tell" and because he starred in this pro-gun ad with almost a half million hits on YouTube.


MARCUS LUTTRELL, RETIREND U.S. NAVY SEAL: I know you're watching so pay attention. You hate my freedom, my religion, and my country. You hate me for speaking my mind. You try to control me with violence and intimidation.

You think you can muzzle me with fear? Don't ever confuse me for my politicians or my media. I am an American, free born and free bred. And I will call you out for who you are -- an Islamic extremist who would kill me for my beliefs.

You don't intimidate me. My freedom is more important than anything you can possibly do and I will never, never surrender my rights to your terror.

I will say what I think, worship according to my beliefs and raise my children how I see fit and I defend it all with the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

I cower to no one because I am the National Rifle Association of America, and I am freedom's safest place.


SMERCONISH: Marcus Luttrell's real-life story is also one of the episodes of a new history channel series titled "Live to Tell", executive produced by Hollywood heavyweight Peter Berg, and both gentlemen join me mow.

Marcus, we'll talk about the new series in a moment. What did you make of the president's town hall meeting the other night?

LUTTRELL: In my opinion, you start messing with what this country was founded on, and our baseline is what we call it, it opens up too many -- too many doors. You start messing with that, people can say religion kills people. So, let's start messing with that. Well, the stuff on the news, or social media, it affected, it killed somebody.

So I think if you're going to make a decision like that it can't be a one-man deal. It's got to be both houses and the people coming together in unanimous decision when you start messing with the Constitution.

SMERCONISH: Peter Berg, "Lone Survivor" when it was published I brought Marcus to Philadelphia --

LUTTRELL: Let me put this out to you, man. I applaud him for trying to do something, all right? Something has to be done. I mean, I think that should be said, too.

Everybody takes jabs at him. He's trying to do something. I get that, and I'm not 100 percent on this, but didn't they open up that if you get a psych eval and the doc thinks you're crazy, he can turn you over to the fed?

SMERCONISH: I don't know if that's Internet lure -- I don't know if that's Internet lure or part and parcel of this? My understanding, I've read it. He's trying to identify who is a hobbyist at gun sales and to make people subject to background checks.

[09:35:01] That's the bottom line. It seems pretty modest, frankly.

LUTTRELL: Yes. I don't see, why is that a problem? I mean, people get driver's licenses and -- I don't think that's an issue. 2016, I don't think that that's a problem.

SMERCONISH: Marcus, they may yank you off that NRA ad, if they hear you say that.

LUTTRELL: To have people with -- with psychological problems have a background check before they can buy a weapon? I don't think the NRA would pull me off for that one. If they do then I need to be pulled off. You got to -- you can't give a weapon to somebody that has mental issues, right?

SMERCONISH: Peter Berg, when "Lone Survivor" came out. I brought Marcus to Philadelphia, 1,000 people lined up to hear him, could a dropped a pin. It struck a cord.

And then along you came and you wrote and you directed "Lone Survivor," the movie, it was a sensation, and now, in the new series, one of the episodes. My question to you is, why has this story, his story, struck such a cord with so many Americans?

PETER BERG, DIRECTOR, LONE SURVIVOR: He's just a remarkable man who speaks for a culture of similarly remarkable men. Special operations community, and I think it's pretty obvious that we as a country respond very well to men like Marcus Luttrell and his brothers.

SMERCONISH: Marcus, we know, I think most of us, basic facts of "Lone Survivor." This is different. This now is the story of the men who came to rescue you. Speak about them. Speak about their role.

LUTTRELL: When they first walked in the door, I mean, the thought on my face was, man, they look upset. And they looked beat down. I mean, Good Lord. They'd been looking for me for as long as I'd been missing, all wearing body armor and I'm pretty sure one had a heavy weapon, and just no food, no water.

And about three minutes into it, after they started to patch me up, if you want to cuss me, do anything like that, go ahead, because I know on the way out here, you guy have been looking for me, it's been miserable and it's OK, you can let it on me, I'm sorry you had to come get me. That kind of stuff. We started kind of joking around a little bit. I never got a chance to thank each and every one of them for what they

did, but we definitely one heck of a time out there. That's for sure.

SMERCONISH: What I like about Peter's work on this project is I'm a believer now 15 years into this war on radical Islam, that's the word choice that I use. I think it's the word choice that you use as we.

I believe we're living in the midst of and you're a part of this, the greatest generation. You say the greatest generation and we tend to think of the World War II guys. But you want to say a word about the men, the women, with whom you've served in the last 15 years and the credit they're due?

LUTTRELL: Obviously, the World War II guys, that's where we, we learned everything from those guys. And then we hopefully, what we learned we pass down to the newer generation.

But for the people who are in the sandbox and slung lead during my generation, I mean, it was a tough one. No uniforms, fighting in a ghost army and on two battlefronts, and we -- we held them at bay for 15 years. We did that. We kept them out of here for the most part and over there, and took the brunt of it. And that's what we were supposed to do.

And for everybody who went over there and did that, man, I -- I respect you and I honor you. It was an honor to serve with you. Truly, walked among giants. The way I have to put it.

SMERCONISH: A final political question for you, Marcus, if I might. I saw you at Rick Perry's announcement. I think you were there with your brother. I've got to believe that your endorsement is something a lot of folks want in this 2016 race.

Have you picked a new dog in this fight?

LUTTRELL: I haven't, man. Rick Perry is my family. I love him. And they got me through a lot of stuff. And it was an honor to be up there with him and be a part of that.

It's so early. It's funny to watch everybody bicker, yell, tear everybody apart this far out. I mean, granted now, it's important, getting down to it, but they've already been through a fistfight. Good Lord. I don't watch early on like this. It's too ridiculous.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Peter, congratulations. I think it's important that you told this story. I know you're in demand. You could go do a big Hollywood $400 million picture and I have to believe this was a labor of love for you?

BERG: My two fellow executive producers are both veterans, one is an ex-Navy SEAL, one is an ex-Army Ranger, and they did 90 percent of the heavy lifting on this. It was remarkable to see veteran who have really kind of identified what they wanted to do and did an outstanding job.

And hopefully, you know, another aspect that this show, an aspect of this whole big situation we're able to shed light on, is making sure we don't forget that these men and women are coming home, and they're trying to reassimilate into civilian life and they're just generally incredible assets to any company and were sure an asset to the making of this show.

[09:40:02] So I'm very happy with that.

SMERCONISH: Marcus Luttrell, Peter Berg, thank you both so much. Good luck.

LUTTRELL: Thanks, Michael.

BERG: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: You know, I think Marcus Luttrell just made some news here in terms of giving credit to the president for what he's trying to do relative to guns and the fact that Luttrell who's cut that NRA commercial embraced background checks I also find to be very significant. And he is an American hero.

So, the most mainstream GOP candidate only has one problem, and that there might not be a sufficient mainstream left in this party. I am eager to chat with the adult in the room, John Kasich. I wonder if he knows who's watching, because Donald Trump has already tweeted about this broadcast.


SMERCONISH: When it comes to picking presidents, as Ohio goes, so goes the nation. And yesterday, Ohio Republicans who will host their party's national convention this summer broke with historical precedent and delivered an early endorsement to their governor, John Kasich, in his bid for the White House.

Residents of the Buckeye State won't vote in a primary until March, but they want it understood now that they're standing with their man. And today comes the announcement so, too, is their Senator Rob Portman.

I happened to see John Kasich as the type of Republican best suited to wage a general election campaign, but the same attributes that make him attractive in a general, mainly experience and bridge-building, might hinder his ability to compete in primary season.

Governor John Kasich joins me now from Columbia, South Carolina. Are you now trying to convince what I just said of Republicans, "I'm a winner, I can beat Hillary"?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Michael, I do talk about that, but I'm also telling them about what I think and who I am.

[09:45:03] And look, a lot of Americans think they're being ripped off, that the rich and powerful run everything and the son of a mailman, which is what I am, and a grandfather who has a coal miner who's died of black lung, and a mother whose mother couldn't speak English, all of my career, I've been fighting for people who don't have a voice.

And, Michael, I have to tell you -- we are rising. I mean, in New Hampshire, you're finding us virtually tied for second or moving up to third place. No, I think that as people focus more on experience, reform-oriented and take a good look at you and they see whether you think you're a leader, whether you've got good qualities and we're very, very pleased with where we are in New Hampshire right now.

SMERCONISH: Why not flat out make the pitch and say to Republicans, "you might be angry about the status quo, I'm angry about the status quo, but Donald Trump can't win the general election, I'm the guy from Ohio"?

KASICH: I might want to hire you as a campaign manager. Are you available to go out on the road?

SMERCONISH: No. No. Jeff Zucker wouldn't allow it.

KASICH: Will you take a leave from CNN and come on out with me?

SMERCONISH: No. I just don't hear you express it that way, but I hear it from my radio, I hear it from my radio callers. My radio callers say, "You know, give me Kasich. Give me Rubio. Give me Florida and Ohio. We win this thing."

KASICH: Well, look, you know, I think -- I think it's important to tell people how you win, and there isn't any doubt I'd win a general election. You said at the top of the show, I'm the strongest general election candidate. I have to get through the primaries.

And the way I do that Michael, to have an opportunity for people to hear me, see me, poke me, smell me, see what they think about me. That's exactly how it works in New Hampshire.

If I come out of New Hampshire as one of the big stories, I believe I will be the nominee and I think I can beat Hillary Clinton, because Hillary's kind of a typical political type without a vision.

And, you know, all of my career I've been able to help create an atmosphere of job creation, been able to help people to rise, give opportunity to people who have traditionally lived in the shadows, and I think as you know, I've been very difficult for people to define, because, you know, I think with my head and my heart.

And Ohio -- the story in Ohio is incredible. We're up a 385,000 jobs with rock solid pensions. We have running a surplus. We've cut the movie taxes of any governor in America today.

And then those who have mental illness or drug addiction, the working poor, the developmentally disabled, we are the minority community. We reach out to all of them and help them to have a voice and help them to have an opportunity to rise.

SMERCONISH: Governor, you're in South Carolina. Last night at a rally in South Carolina, something occurred that I'd love to get your comment on and that is that a Muslim woman stood in silent protest of Donald Trump. She was then escorted out of the crowd. Things got a little nasty.

I'm going to run that image and hope that John Kasich will react to what he sees in this video. Go ahead.


SMERCONISH: You'll see the way in which she's heckled on the way out the door. What do you make of this, Governor Kasich?

KASICH: Terrible. You know, we are not a country that -- you know, a country that feels good about insulting or yelling at people, or demeaning people. So, you know, maybe it was a Friday night, and who knows, but -- look.

People want to come to my rallies, they want to come to my town halls, they're welcome. I mean, I've had people disrupt, but that's all part of America, right? I mean -- but I just don't like the tearing apart of the country, because if we want to fix the border or if we want to fix Social Security, if we want to create an environment for job creation, we're not going to get it done by tearing one another apart.

And I also have to tell you that, Michael, we've just seen -- we've just seen this North Korean situation, and one of the great things that troubles me is the ability of a country like North Korea to be able to give very dangerous materials or weapons technology to non- state actors. That would be people like Hezbollah, ISIS, Hamas, and the entire world is going to have to stop that, because if that's not the case, we're going to see -- we could potentially see horrific things happen in this world.

And we have many Muslim countries that are moderate in nature, and they respect women and civilization and history, and we don't want to be alienating people like that, because you remember the first gulf war where both Arabs and the westerners went and drove Saddam out of Kuwait? That's what it has to look like again when we go after ISIS, and if we're attacking Muslims, they're not going to -- you know, we just drive them farther away.

[09:50:01] We'll get through this. We'll get over that. That's just not the way to behave.

SMERCONISH: Here's the serious point John Kasich is making. Governor Kasich, you're saying that that video that we just showed is being shown around the world. And how is a former, pardon me, a future commander in chief going to be able to build the necessary Arab coalition to fight radical Islam if those that we want to attract on our side are watching the way that woman was treated. That's the point, right?

KASICH: Well, Michael, I don't want to overreact to it, because, you know, one rally, one guy, one situation, but it's not helpful, clearly.

Here's the thing, I've got two daughters that are going to be turning 16 years of age in about seven days. I treat them to show people -- to show other people respect. And to be yelling and screaming at somebody because of their religion, that -- well, I just can't keep carried by it, because that doesn't reflect who America or Americans are.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Governor, I just got 30 seconds left with you. Is it all on the line in New Hampshire for John Kasich?

KASICH: Well, not really because we're all over the country. I mean, we are in South Carolina organized, in Nevada, we're organizing in the South with great people like Senator Trent Lott.

But we have to be a good story coming out of New Hampshire, and we will be. I mean, people -- you know, I'm like the little engine that can. People say, how is he going to do? You can see, I'm rising in the polls. And that's what really matters.

We have the best ground game in New Hampshire with positive commercials on the air right now. I'm predicting a very significant surge forward.

So, Michael, always a pleasure. Good to be with you.

SMERCONISH: Thank you, Governor Kasich. Appreciate your being here.

Still to come, I've been reading your tweets. My favorites, like this one, when we come back.


SMERCONISH: You know, I always say you can follow me on Twitter if you can spell Smerconish. Guess who can spell Smerconish? That would be one Donald J. Trump who acknowledges having watched my interview with the beginning of the hour with Pat Buchanan. Notice, he gives no credit to @smerconish.

I remember after this show launched, he went on FOX News and he said, "CNN has some guy named Smerconish who I've never heard of", and that he pronounced my name correctly. Well, thank you, Mr. Trump, you are good for my demographics. We are now number 2 in men 25 to 64 who are billionaires.

There was also this from Osej Serratos who says, there might be a possible link between Princess Diana and Donald Trump. What? Info from Bob Beckel.

Yes, Beckel dropped a bombshell on this program today, talking about some -- he suggested that it was impropriety, not that just Mr. Trump was interested in Princess Diana. A lot have been interested in Princess Diana.

And this is just great stuff. Super Fun Happy Slide tweeted this, "Luttrell's reluctance", meaning Marcus Luttrell, "to deviate from the Second Amendment but kudo to the president for trying is refreshing. Maybe compromise is possible."

Marcus Luttrell was awarded the Navy Cross. He is a bona fide American hero. He is, of course, the focus of the book he wrote, "Lone Survivor" in that blockbuster movie. And I thought that he too made news here because he came on having been the feature of this NRA, pro-Second Amendment ad. What did he do? He patted the president on the back for trying to do what he is doing. So, thank you for that.

I'll see you all next week.