Return to Transcripts main page

State of the Union

Interview With Presidential Candidate Donald Trump; Previewing Tuesday's GOP Debate; Leaked Audio of Senator Ted Cruz; Historic Climate Change Agreement; Frank Sinatra's 100th Birthday. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired December 13, 2015 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): On the campaign trail one on one with Donald Trump. After the Republican front-runner's call to ban Muslims from coming to the U.S. is called bigoted, unconstitutional, and worse, how does he justify it?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a group of people. It's a problem. Everybody knows it's a problem. And nobody wants to talk about it. But a lot of people agree with what I'm saying.

TAPPER: Plus: Iowa earthquake. Ted Cruz pulls way ahead in a brand- new poll, and a fresh rivalry is born.

TRUMP: He's been so nice to me, but I think the time will come to an end pretty soon.

TAPPER: And with just two days until the next debate, we will reveal who made it to CNN's main stage and who's been bumped off.

Plus, the top political minds join us live from the Las Vegas Strip.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper live in Las Vegas, where the state of our union is cruising towards a showdown.

Two major new polls out this morning showing Senator Ted Cruz mounting a major challenge to Donald Trump.

In Iowa, Cruz now leads, beating Trump 31 points to 21 points in a "Des Moines Register" poll, nationwide, Trump still on top, but Cruz is biting at his heels, trump at 27, Cruz at 22 in a brand-new poll hot off the presses.

Now, Trump leads more substantially across the country as well. Recent polls in New Hampshire and South Carolina still show him leading. And the CNN poll out of Iowa shows him in first place, but make no mistake, Cruz is surging and mounting a major challenge to the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump. Now, until now, the two have played nice with each other, but even

before Cruz officially pulled ahead in Iowa, according to that "Des Moines Register" poll, Trump seemed to be previewing a new line of attack, perhaps designed to play to the state's religious conservatives.


TRUMP: We're doing really well with the evangelicals. And, by the way -- and, again, I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba, in all fairness. It's true. Not a lot come out.


TAPPER: I sat down with Mr. Trump that night in Des Moines, and I asked him about his newest rival and much, much more.


TAPPER: Ted Cruz, it was just reported that, behind closed doors, even though he says only nice things about you publicly, behind closed doors...

TRUMP: And he did after he made the statements.

TAPPER: Yes. But he didn't deny that he said it.

He said that Paris and San Bernardino had given a seriousness to the race that, in his view, would hurt you because of -- quote -- "the question of judgment," which he says is a challenging question for you.

TRUMP: Yes, well, I will tell you what. My judgment and great. I built a multi-multi-multi-billion dollar company, some of the greatest assets in the world, tremendously big, number one bestsellers, including "The Art of the Deal," which may be the biggest and best in terms of the business books, tremendous television show called "The Apprentice" that lasted for 14 seasons.

And, by the way, NBC came -- they would beg me to do it again, as you can imagine.

TAPPER: Right.

TRUMP: And I said no, and they're going to sign or they signed Arnold Schwarzenegger.

TAPPER: Well, I don't think he's questioning that you're -- you're successful.

TRUMP: No, but -- no, no, no.

You don't make that kind of success without judgment. Don't forget this. I was against the war in Iraq. I told everybody. And you have all the documents back...


TAPPER: In 2004, yes.

TRUMP: Yes, in 2003 and 2004. But I was against...

TAPPER: Couldn't find anything in 2003, but 2004.

TRUMP: I was against going into Iraq. That's good judgment. I was for bombing the oil long before anybody else thought about it. That's good judgment.

I have good judgment. I have great judgment. I would say I have far better judgment than Ted, and I think I have really great temperament. It's a strong temperament. But, you know, when they chop heads off of Christians in the Middle East, and other people also, when they chop off heads and when they treat people the way, when the world -- we're like medieval times. Having a strong temperament is good.


TRUMP: Jeb Bush said his tone is very tough, about me.


TRUMP: My tone is very strong. I said, isn't that a good thing?

TAPPER: But Ted Cruz is really your -- one of your chief competitors right now. Jeb Bush has really fallen off the map.

And he's -- he's taken these shots at you behind closed doors, even though, in front of the cameras, he's only saying nice things.

TRUMP: Well, I hope he -- I -- look, I expect to get it on, because I'm leading by a lot. I'm leading him by a lot.

TAPPER: Why -- why should voters go for you over Ted Cruz?

TRUMP: Because I'm more capable, because I have a much better temperament, because I actually get along with people much better than he does.

You know, people don't know that about me. I actually have a great relationship with people. In fact, I was criticized at the beginning, because I get along with Democrats and liberals and Republicans and conservatives. I get along with everybody.

TAPPER: And he doesn't?

TRUMP: Because, as a world-class businessman, that's what you have to do.

No, I don't think he does. And I like him. He's been so nice to me. I mean, I could say anything, and he said, I agree, I agree.



TRUMP: But I think the time will come to an end pretty soon, it sounds like.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the reason why a lot of Republican leaders are -- say they're expressing such anxiousness these days, and that is your call Monday for a -- quote -- "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S."

There's now some polling information -- and you cite polls all the time. You say, what can you go by if not the polls? And a majority of Americans, 58 percent, reject this call, reject this proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

Now, I know your supporters agree with you, but this is a poll of the American people writ large.

TRUMP: Jake, I didn't do it for polls, so I don't even care what the polls say. I didn't do it for polls.

Now, my polls happen to have gone up a lot since this announcement. A lot of people thought it would go down. I didn't do it for that reason. But, with that being understood, when you're getting a phone call from a polling agency, and they're saying, well, do you support, you know, the banning of Muslims, et cetera, do you think you're going to say -- who's going to say yes?

I don't think the polls are accurate. At the same time, I have many friends that are Muslims. And I will tell you, they are so happy that I did this, because they know they have a problem. There is a problem.

TAPPER: Your Muslim friends are happy -- are happy?

TRUMP: Radicalized -- I have many friends, and at the highest level. And they -- I have partners that are Muslim. I have unbelievable relationships.

TAPPER: And they support a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.?

TRUMP: They said -- no, they said, it's about time that somebody spoke up as to radicalism.

You have radicalism in this country. It's here. And it's trying to come through. I just read where ISIS has gotten ahold of a passport- printing machine for the migrants to get them into the United States.

Now, maybe that's true, and maybe it's not. It's an early report. But how crazy are we, allowing ourselves to be subject to this kind of terror?

TAPPER: Well, I don't think anyone doubts that radical Islam is a big problem. But I think the question is, is your proposed solution a good thing or not? Let me just...

TRUMP: Well, you know -- in my solution, you know it's a temporary -- it's a temporary solution.

TAPPER: Until when?

TRUMP: And, obviously -- well, until we get our hands around the problem. We have a real problem.

We have people coming into the country, getting into airplanes and flying them into the World Trade Center. Look at Russia. That was a problem. I mean, we -- with the airplane coming down. We have, all over -- you look at California, this woman comes in, this horrendous woman comes into the country, radicalized. She gets through on a fiancee passport.

I never even heard of a fiancee -- a fiancee visa. And she comes in. She's with the guy, and they just killed 14 people, with more to come, because there are people so badly hurt that they're going to be dying also.

So, we have to get our act together. Again, my relationship with the Muslim community is excellent. I have had people call me at the highest level, saying, you're doing us a favor, because they know they have a problem very well. I mean, they really know they have a problem.

TAPPER: But they don't support the ban, you said. They don't support stopping all Muslims from...

TRUMP: Look, they just like the idea that somebody's talking about it.

You know, nobody talks about it. It's not politically correct. It's like the guy that saw all the bombs lying on the floor of the apartment in California. He didn't want to do it. You know why he didn't want to do it? He didn't want to report them, which is nonsense. He said it was racial profiling.

TAPPER: Well, I think that was a story about -- it was from a local CBS about a woman who had seen a lot of young Arab or Muslim men.


TRUMP: I didn't see...


TRUMP: Do you believe -- honestly, do you believe that racial profiling...


TAPPER: But that was about a group of...

TRUMP: Because they didn't want to be accused of racial profiling.

TAPPER: But they didn't see bombs, is the point. It was because they saw a lot of young Muslim men. TRUMP: They saw something. They didn't want to call because they

thought -- they didn't want to be accused of racial profiling. It sounds like a lawyer gave them that idea.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about this from a national security perspective, because I was talking to an official who said, look, suppose there's a 22-year-old Muslim American out there who is already feeling alienated, and he turns on the TV, and he sees the leading Republican presidential candidate by far saying total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S., and the room goes crazy.

TRUMP: By the way, it's not total and complete. And it's temporary.

But let me just tell, we're going to have exceptions.

TAPPER: But that was a quote, total and complete.

TRUMP: No, no.

You're going to have exceptions. You're going to have people coming in, and you are going to get people in.

TAPPER: OK, but let me just finish my question, which is, this 22- year-old sees that. And what the official said to me is, do you think that 22-year-old, seeing Donald Trump saying that, with all those people cheering, do you think that disenfranchised, disaffected 22- year-old Muslim American is less or more likely to turn to ISIS?

TRUMP: Jake, we have got to stop the problem.

We can talk about it. We can talk about it forever. There's a real problem. And it's called radical Islamic terrorism.

TAPPER: But are you making it worse, is the question.

TRUMP: Wait a minute.

And we have -- look, what's worse? Is it worse when they shoot 14 people and kill 14 other people and many others laying in the hospital? What about in Paris, where they have hundreds of people dead in Paris? Same thing. It's Paris, but same thing -- and many more people going to die. They're laying in the hospital practically dead.


We have got to stop the problem. There's a real problem. Now, since this, you know, Paris has been very tough on the mosques. They have been very tough on surveillance. All of a sudden, they're becoming tough. But we have got to stop the problem.

TAPPER: So, there...

TRUMP: Now, we can be politically correct, and I could say, oh, well, no, there's no problem, and we will go on forever. Why are people...

TAPPER: Look, I'm not -- I'm agreeing with you there's a problem. I'm agreeing.

TRUMP: Jake, why are people blowing airplanes out of the air?

TAPPER: I'm agreeing with you.

But my question is, is potentially alienating 1.6 billion Muslims, is that a solution to the problem? Or does that create more problems?

Let me put it this way. I read a story today about women of accomplishment in 2015 who hadn't gotten much press attention. Two of the first listed were women I'm sure you would admire. One is named Niloofar Rahmani. She is Afghanistan's first female pilot in the air force...

TRUMP: Good.

TAPPER: ... since the Taliban fell.

TRUMP: Good.

TAPPER: The other one was Kubra Khademi. She walked through the streets of Kabul wearing metal armor to protest the harassment that she and other women would go through in Kabul on a daily basis.

These are two women who do more to combat Islamic extremism than I do, than you do. And yet they would be banned.

TRUMP: How do you know that? How do you know that? Who told you that?


TRUMP: Who told you that? I mean, you just tell me about one is a pilot, one is -- who told they do more than you do...

TAPPER: Well, I'm just saying, I see it on what they do. One of them is fighting insurgents.


TRUMP: Because you read it. Good. I think that's good. I think it's good.

TAPPER: But you would ban them from coming into this country.

TRUMP: Look, look, I don't know anything about the women you just mentioned.



TAPPER: But the point is, they are...


TRUMP: When the woman came in -- just so you understand, when the woman came in as the fiancee...

TAPPER: Right.

TRUMP: ... everybody said, oh, isn't that lovely? She's a fiancee. She came in. She was radicalized.

Whether she radicalized him or they were both -- I think they were probably both. But all they had is bad intentions. I'm only saying this. There's a group of people. It's a problem. And everybody knows it's a problem. And nobody wants to talk about it.

And a lot of people agree with what I'm saying. If you read a lot of the papers, especially the international papers, where they do have massive problems with this, I'm getting a lot of support.

Now, it's temporary, but we have to get our arms around the situation.

TAPPER: Who are you getting support from?

TRUMP: Let me just tell you -- well, take a look. Read the newspapers. Read international newspapers.

TAPPER: I did. But I saw Netanyahu put out a statement distancing himself from you. David Cameron did.

TRUMP: Well, when you -- no, not distancing himself. I had a meeting with Netanyahu, who I could be at the meeting right now.

TAPPER: But he condemned your remarks, is all I'm saying.

TRUMP: He did. And that was sort of interesting.

He modestly condemned them. And I thought it was somewhat inappropriate that he condemned them, but that's OK. He wanted to condemn them. That's what he does, OK?

But we have a problem. I'm not looking to be politically correct. I'm doing this to do the right thing, this and other things. When I say this, I'm running to do the right thing. I'm doing the right thing.

Our country has a problem. People are in fear. They're waiting for the next attack. We have a president that won't even mention the name of the problem. He will not utter the words. It's ridiculous. We have a president that...

TAPPER: You know why he won't, though, right? It's the same reason Bush was reluctant to.

TRUMP: I don't believe that...

TAPPER: Because they...

TRUMP: I don't believe that -- he's not doing it. And Hillary Clinton won't do it either.

TAPPER: But their explanation is that it feeds into what ISIS wants, which is this to be a showdown between the West and Islam. And so...

TRUMP: OK. And I say it differently.

You have to identify the problem, OK? It's a real problem.

TAPPER: I call it radical Islam too, but I'm just saying, that's why he does it.

TRUMP: Well, he's wrong.

You have to identify the problem. He's not identifying the problem. He's wrong. She's wrong. Hillary Clinton is wrong. She's been wrong about a lot of things. But she's wrong. And if you don't identify the problem, you're never going to solve the problem.

TAPPER: I just want to ask you one more question about that, and then I want to move on to some other topics, which is the question about whether or not this is constitutional.

Two-thirds of the American people, 67 percent, says that banning Muslims from entering the country would go against the founding principles.

TRUMP: Well, first of all, they're not citizens, OK? I agree if you're in the country.

And, as you know, if you're in the country, I'm not talking about that.

TAPPER: Right.

TRUMP: Although I am saying you have to surveil. There has to be surveillance.

TAPPER: But courts have found that constitutional principles do apply to people who are not American citizens.

TRUMP: Hey, look, I'm about security. I'm about safety. I'm about borders.

One of the reasons I'm sitting here and one of the reasons I'm so high in the polls is because it all started with the borders. And let me tell you, when I came out and announced that I was running for president, I took much more heat when I said illegal immigration and the borders, the southern borders, and the wall, and all of that, than I ever took for this.

And I think you will probably see that, but maybe a lot of people don't remember that. Within four weeks, all of a sudden, everyone started saying, you know, Trump is sort of right.

Then time went by, and you had the killing of Kate and Jamiel, and the -- you had the female, incredible woman, 66-year-old veteran...


TAPPER: Right.

TRUMP: ... who was raped, sodomized, and killed by an illegal immigrant.

All of a sudden, they're saying, wow. And you have thousands of cases that are a disaster, and jobs and economy and everything else, people pouring across the border.

Now, when I first came out, you said, and everybody said, wow, that's heat. I took more heat than anybody who is -- that was much more so than this. Now it's become everybody's trying to get in on that whole thing.

TAPPER: So, do you think your Republican colleagues are going to be sounding like you on this issue in a few weeks?

TRUMP: I think they are.

And I think that maybe different -- in different ways. But I think they are. And I think it's something that had to be brought to the forefront. I think it's a very important thing to do. I don't like doing it, but I think it's something that had to be.

It's temporary. You have exceptions. You're going to have people -- we want to -- we want to find out what's going on.

Here's what I want to ask. Why is there such hatred? Why is there such death? Where does this hatred come from?

TAPPER: But that -- when you get the answers to those questions, that's when you're going to...

TRUMP: No, no, but where -- I want to at least know where it's coming from. Why is it happening?

And it's from a group of people. It's from a specific group of people. OK? Why is there such total hatred? We have to know the answer, or we're never going to have a safe country. And if we continue to be politically correct and we don't want to talk about, it's something that has to be talked about. And...

TAPPER: You said you were all about security.

TRUMP: And we should -- listen, when my friends call me up, and they call me up very strongly and they say, it's something -- and these are Muslims. And they say, it's something, Donald, that has to be talked about.

TAPPER: But they don't support the ban?

TRUMP: Not really. I mean, why would they support the ban?

But without the ban, you're not going to make the point. You're not going to be able to make the point.

TAPPER: But can I just make one last final point on this issue, and then I do want to move on to others, which is you, said -- I was asking about the Constitution, and you said you're all about security.

So, you're all about security, even if it's against the Constitution?

TRUMP: No, no, no.

I'm the biggest believer in the Constitution. But the Constitution also provides security. I mean, we have -- we have a Constitution that says, as an example, we -- Second Amendment. If you...

TAPPER: Yes, but I'm talking about the First. I know you like the Second Amendment, but I'm talking about the...


TRUMP: I love the Second Amendment. And I love the First Amendment.

But I love the Second, because, if they had -- as an example, in California, if a couple of people like me had guns taped to their ankle or their waist, and these two horrible people came in, you wouldn't have all the death. You wouldn't have it.

So, look, I'm a big believer in the Constitution, OK? But, I'm a big believer in safety. We have to have the right people coming into our country. We can't have people coming in. When I hear that ISIS has now a passport machine to make false passports, counterfeit passports...

TAPPER: Syed Farook was an American citizen, born in this country.

TRUMP: Well, they -- he got radicalized. Why did he get radicalized?

How about the Boston bombers? They came in, they very young, and they were radicalized, OK? And they did the horrible thing with the Boston Marathon. The point is, there's something really bad going on. We have find out why. And it's with a very specific group of people.


TAPPER: Coming up next: A meeting of top Republican officials with talks of a possible brokered convention, it has Donald Trump rethinking his pledge to support the party's nominee.


TRUMP: I have been hearing about these closed-door meetings, and I don't like that. That wasn't the deal I made.

If it's that way, they're going to have problems.




TAPPER: Welcome back. I'm Jake Tapper live in Las Vegas, where we are just two days away from the final Republican debate of 2015.

This week, top Republican officials met for a regular dinner, but discussed an irregular topic, a possible brokered convention. With polls divided among the top candidates, a split convention to pick the Republican nominee is now a real possibility.

Candidates such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson are threatening to bolt the party and take their supporters with them if Republican officials try to subvert the will of the voters, in their views.

I asked Trump about this when I caught up with him on the campaign trail in Iowa.


TAPPER: Big week for you. And I know there are a lot of polls out there showing you still have a commanding lead.

As you know, the Republican establishment seems more distressed about you than ever, Speaker Ryan saying behind closed doors that he thinks your rhetoric could doom the party.

And now there's this story out there about Republican bigwigs talking about, you know, a brokered convention and trying to keep you from becoming the nominee.

What's your reaction? Do you listen to their concerns, or is this just something that you reject altogether?

TRUMP: Well, they're going to have to live with it.

We're doing fantastically well. We're up by 20, 21 points, 25 points. One just came out where I'm 42. And that's pretty big. You know, when you have 15 people in a race and you're at 42, it's been amazing.

CBS just came out with "New York Times," and that one's at 35. And it's up very substantially. So, I think they are going to have to get used to it.

You know, I was disappointed when I heard Speaker Ryan. He said a little stuff. And, you know, frankly, I'm disappointed that he's weak on immigration, he's weak on the borders, and he's in favor of amnesty. So, I have my disappointments with him.

But, overall, I think we're getting a great response. And what's really important, you see the big crowd here. It's always sold out. And what's most important is, the crowd likes me and the people like me, and they want to see our country be smart again and great again. And that's what's going to happen.

TAPPER: What do you think about the idea of the brokered convention? When Dr. Ben Carson heard about it, he got very upset, said it sounded like people were trying -- people in power in the Republican establishment were trying to subvert the will -- will of the voters.

TRUMP: Well, you know, I watched what Ben said. I agreed with him 100 percent. I even wrote him a little note. I thought it was excellent.

And, frankly, he may be right. I haven't seen it yet. I have been hearing about it. I have been hearing about these closed-door meetings. And I don't like that. That wasn't the deal I made.


I signed a pledge, but the pledge was a double deal. They were supposed to be honorable. So, we're going to find out. If it's that way, they're going to have problems. But I hope it's not going to be that way. I hope it's not going to be that way.

TAPPER: During oral arguments at the Supreme Court this week, Justice Scalia raised the issue of whether it might be better for some African-American students to go to a -- quote -- "slower-track school where they do well" -- unquote -- as opposed to a more elite college.

Now, you have said that you're fine with affirmative action, though it is coming to a time when maybe we don't need it. What did you think of Scalia's remarks? And where are you today on affirmative action?

TRUMP: Well, I thought his remarks were very tough.

I mean, I don't comment on them. They -- you know, he's a respected Supreme Court judge. But I thought his remarks actually were very, very tough.

TAPPER: Tough in a bad way or in a good way, or...

TRUMP: Well, I think they were very, very tough to a certain community. There's no question about it.

TAPPER: To the African-American community.

TRUMP: I thought it was very tough to the African-American community, actually.

TAPPER: That sounds like you're not supporting what he said.


TRUMP: I don't like what he said, no. I don't like what he said.

I heard him. I was like, let me read it again...


TRUMP: ... because I actually saw it in print. And I'm going -- I read a lot of stuff. And I'm going, whoa.

TAPPER: So you still support affirmative action?

TRUMP: Look, I have great African-American friendships. I have just amazing relationships.

And so many positive things have happened. One thing I will say -- and I will say this, and I say it to everybody -- Barack Obama has done very little for the African-American community. You look at unemployment. You look at all of the problems.

But, yes, I was very surprised at Scalia's statements, actually.

TAPPER: Interesting.

Donald Trump, thank you, as always. You always sit down. You always take the questions. Appreciate it.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Thank you so much, sir.


TAPPER: Lots to chew over there, a surprise split with the Supreme Court.

Let's break it down with our panel. We have with us conservative talk radio giant Hugh Hewitt, CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, both of whom will be asking questions during Tuesday's debates, as well as -- CNN political commentators Ana Navarro and Van Jones are joining us here as well.

Interesting stuff from Mr. Trump.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't even know where to start. There's so much to unpack there.

Just where you ended, with the Scalia comments, for a Republican, for a conservative to criticize Scalia is like anathema, right? I mean...


HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, it is. And I don't think he understands oral argument, because you can say anything -- Van will confirm this -- you can say anything in oral argument. It doesn't mean you believe it.

BASH: Right.

HEWITT: So, I think that was a little bit odd.

BASH: I don't think -- right, but I don't -- I'm guessing he wasn't going there to like sort of break down the concept of oral arguments at the Supreme Court.

It was more about African-Americans. And it's just when you think that, you know, from the perspective of his opponents, he can't get more -- you know, they call him bigoted. They call him -- you know, name the label.

But on African-Americans, he says, whoa, whoa, whoa. I read that.

I mean, you really had to push him to get him to explain what he meant, that -- and he thought that Scalia's comments were wrong. And he sounded a lot like Harry Reid sounded there.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, but, Dana, you know, Donald Trump has done this over and over and over again, said things that are, you know, opposing views to what conservatives feel, to conservative ideology, whether he is mocking communion, whether he is calling Iowans, you know, stupid in their own state.


NAVARRO: I mean, he's done this over and over again, and it's has had absolutely no effect. In fact, his numbers have gone up.

So, I think that's what people expect from him, this kind of political incorrectness. I will say what I think. I will think what I want. And, you know, just deal with it.

BASH: But he didn't do that there.

TAPPER: But he was doing the opposite here in this instance.

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: Van, I mean, he was basically suggesting that Justice Scalia shocked Donald Trump.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the comments were shocking.



JONES: Let me finish. Let me finish. Listen, you have had your turn, sir.

I mean, here's reality. In fact, in oral argument, you can raise hypotheticals you don't agree with. Unfortunately, this is a consistent pattern with Scalia. He never raises the other side of the argument, so I do think he is speaking in some ways for his views.

And I think it was welcome for Trump to point out, this is -- was a little bit shocking. At the same time, listen, the stuff that Donald Trump was saying, even when you, I thought, did a great job of trying to point out that there are great Muslims who are around the world, some of who have been interpreters for the United States, who have risked their lives for the United States trying to get here, having helped us in Iraq.


JONES: And he wants to keep them out. He didn't respond to that at all.


HEWITT: Well, here's his genius. His genius is, he has made a position. He doubled down on it, triple down on it, quadrupled down on it with Jake.

The Afghan pilot, nice story, Jake. Great. I'm glad for her, but we're not -- we have a problem in the country. Afghan woman walking through the streets, great story, Jake. We have a problem in the country.

That -- he is...


JONES: Now, why is that genius?

HEWITT: He has tapped into the fear. He has tapped into the fear.

JONES: Why is that genius?

TAPPER: If you go back and look, what he did was, he took the subject of Muslim women and then immediately took -- started talking about Tashfeen Malik.


TAPPER: But I was talking about women who are on the front lines in Afghanistan fighting Islam extremism, risking their own lives, one a fighter -- one flying a plane for the Afghan air force.


HEWITT: He is a marketer extreme. He hits his point, he stays on his point, he does not move from his point.

NAVARRO: Now, I want to go back to the brokered convention...


NAVARRO: ... point that you brought up in those interview. I have got to tell you. I just don't buy this story. OK?

I know Reince Priebus pretty well. I'm pretty sure you all do too. You know, Reince Priebus does not have a stupid bone in his body. I have a very hard time thinking that he would go to a dinner with 20 blabbermouths who haven't even left the dinner when they're already talking to "The Washington Post" and discuss this openly. If Reince Priebus was actually thinking of this, it would not be discussed openly in this setting. I think this is a premature talk. I just don't buy it.

TAPPER: Dana will back me on this.

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: Every four years, around this time, people like us start talking about a brokered convention...

BASH: Right.

TAPPER: ... whether it's the -- eight years ago, it was the Democrats. But it's what political junkies love.

NAVARRO: Four years ago it was the Republicans.

TAPPER: Yes. Exactly. But this year, Republican officials are talking about it as a possibility in a way that I've never seen before.

BASH: Absolutely. Totally agree with you, Jake. And of course, I don't think that it unfolded the way people think of doing so in Hollywood.

TAPPER: Right.

BASH: Like Republican Party chair goes in with a cigar in the back room and you know over steak and plots this. Absolutely not.

My understanding in talking to some people who are familiar with the dinner, is that it was a regular dinner. They do it every month and it came up. And it's not so much about Trump or about this one or that one, it's because the field is so big. And they're thinking, OK, Cruz wins Iowa, maybe Christie or somebody wins New Hampshire, go down the calendar, and we don't have somebody with the number of delegates that --

NAVARRO: Absolutely. But my point is, Reince Priebus is nothing if not discreet. The man has a legal department --


BASH: Exactly and from my understanding he came up, Donald Trump, are you ready if this happens --


BASH: ... that was it.

TAPPER: Hugh, true or false? There is real angst in the Republican Party right now and if Donald Trump, let's say, is getting 40 percent of the delegates, that there is -- there is a real movement inside the Republican Party to keep him, even if he has the plurality, to keep him from becoming the nominee.

HEWITT: Both true and false. It takes 1,236 delegates to be nominated in Cleveland. The best thing in the world. (INAUDIBLE) Iowa has 30 of them. New Hampshire has 23. South Carolina has 50. Nevada has 30. And so by the end of February, we will have decided like one-tenth of one percent of the delegates necessary.

Ana's completely right. I have a source inside the RNC. So, Reince is in (INAUDIBLE) because my son works there. And it is a regularly -- it is a regularly scheduled dinner. And someone said, what happens if no one's got 1,236 delegates and they said, we'll figure it out (INAUDIBLE). And Sean Spicer came on with you, I think, Jake, and said, hey, we're just talking about what happens, because you've got to win. It's not an open convention. We don't have a Thomas Platt from New York or a Lorimer (ph) (INAUDIBLE) from Chicago or the quiet (INAUDIBLE) from New York. They don't exist anymore. You've got to get 1,236 delegates.

TAPPER: How much -- Van, how much did Democrats want Donald Trump to be the nominee?

JONES: You know, I think it's changing. I think at first, people really want him to be the nominee, because he is, you know, outrageous, so offensive, this will destroy the Republican Party. I think his turn against Muslims and to complete demagoguery, you know, a leader describes a solution, a demagogue describes a problem over and over and over again and tries to scapegoat a group. And I think this is -- People are now beginning to wonder, is he going to poison not just the Republican Party but the American electorate against Muslims and make it possible for a kind of hateful, fearful, demagoguery to be possible in governor's races?

NAVARRO: Van is the only pure hearted Democrat out there. Everybody else is downright giddy about the idea of a Donald Trump burning bridges -- and Latinos burning bridges and Muslims are burning bridges --

TAPPER: You say that -- you say that but in the polls in the head-to- head matchups, Donald Trump does often beat Hillary Clinton. Stay right here. Don't go anywhere.

Coming up, Will Ferrell back on "Saturday Night Live," politics on the menu. A mix of past and present for your enjoyment, coming up next.




WILL FERRELL, ACTOR, COMEDIAN: I made a big decision. I'm entering the race for president of the United States of America.


FERRELL: The field of Republicans out there is so messed up, I figured, it makes you miss me, doesn't it? And that's saying a lot.


TAPPER: Well, we definitely miss Will Ferrell. And that's him reviving his infamous or famous role as George W. Bush on "Saturday Night Live," taking many, many digs at the Republican candidates, including Donald Trump. I don't think that's going to stop the comedy show -- stop on the comedy show anytime soon.

Let's bring in our panel, conservative talk radio giant Hugh Hewitt, CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, both of whom will be asking questions during Tuesday's debates. We're also joined by CNN political commentators Ana Navarro and Van Jones.

Let's dive into the poll that we're all really interested in, "The Des Moines Register" poll. Very respected poll. Has a strong history of accuracy, although we should point out, we are still a long way, in political terms, from the Iowa caucus.

Trump is in second place. Cruz is in first. Cruz, 31, Trump, 21, Carson, 13, Rubio, 10, Bush at 6. And then everyone else is at 3 percent or lower. What does this mean?

HEWITT: It means that Ted Cruz has long developed a social media network and a deep grassroots in Iowa that a lot of us have known about for a long time.

He has contacts at (ph) the (ph) level (ph) through Facebook and Twitter et cetera that other people are simply unaware of. So, he has built an extraordinary new age organization for Iowa that they haven't seen before. I do think he is the front runner.

He said he didn't want --

TAPPER: The front runner in Iowa or everywhere?

HEWITT: In Iowa. He says he doesn't want a cage match with Donald Trump.


But if you end up in a cage and someone closes the door, which is probably what's going to happen on Tuesday night, it's a cage match.


TAPPER: Well, you know, but here's the thing. Ana, he says he doesn't want a cage match but Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) these comments he made behind closed doors. And as we know there's no such thing as behind closed doors these days which he took a shot at Donald Trump. It was veiled and guarded but he still was basically saying judgment -- who do you want with their finger on the button, me or Donald Trump? Me or Ben Carson? I think that's a -- that's a content I'm going to win.

He's going to be called to that on Tuesday.

NAVARRO: He is so (INAUDIBLE) astute, Ted Cruz, wildly astute and he's trying to have it both way. He wants his cake and to eat it too.

He wants to be in a position so that Donald Trump at some point drops out, he can inherit those supporters. He does not want to antagonize the Donald Trump supporters who are very committed to Donald Trump. He does not want to antagonize the Ben Carson supporters.

I think we've saw Ted Cruz have a very good last couple of weeks. He's been solidifying the base. You see conservative media coming out in his defense, constantly. He got two important endorsements in Iowa. And frankly, he's a much better fit for Iowa, when you take a look at it, than a Donald Trump, a man who's been married three times, who has had corporate bankruptcies, who's, you know, had a hard time quoting the bible. This is, you know, Ted Cruz is a guy who goes out and quotes the bible every time he's out there. TAPPER: And the argument for Ted Cruz that he -- that he's -- the

elections are no longer about winning the independent voters in the middle. He says he is a conservative, he's a real conservative, unlike Romney, McCain, Dole, et cetera, get him on the ballot against Hillary Clinton and conservatives will come out to vote.

JONES: And that's the same argument that Bernie Sanders is making on the other side.

I think Ted Cruz is brilliant. I agree with you. He's been able to walk right alongside Donald Trump. He never has tried to (INAUDIBLE). He has never tried to make an issue. He understands that at some point, maybe these people are not going to be able to get what they want, and he could be the second best choice.

Rubio has been trying to be the second best for everybody. Cruz has been the second best for Trump.

BASH: And if you just look at this poll, it worked. He is now the choice for now former Carson supporters. I mean, a 21-point jump is unbelievable.


BASH: And with his jump, was Carson's fault.

The other thing that I saw in this poll that I think is very telling about the long-term strategy, because as we know, recent history, you win Iowa and then you don't go anywhere else with Santorum and Huckabee. But Ted Cruz not only has the money for the long haul, he also is winning not just among evangelicals in Iowa, but among Tea Party supporters. And the way the Republican Party has been going in recent election cycles, those are the people who are fueling not just, you know, the caucuses in Iowa but primaries all around.

HEWITT: And he got a big bump yesterday from of all places, Paris, where 195 people decided what the law of the United States will be. Ted Cruz has been in front of the Supreme Court nine times. That doesn't happen because you're lucky. He is going after that climate deal and he is going the rise with it.

TAPPER: When we come back, new details about one suspect in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks. Social media postings, which the government missed. More on that, next.



TAPPER: Welcome back. I'm Jake Tapper.

There is lots happening around the world and we want to bring you up to speed.

"The New York Times" is reporting now that U.S. immigration officials failed to catch social media posts praising violent jihad and written by Tashfeen Malik, the female suspect in the San Bernardino terrorist attack. She passed three security checks while her writings were openly praising extremist Islamism. They were discovered only as part of the investigation into the attack.

An historic climate agreement was reached by almost 200 countries yesterday in Paris. The accord hopes to limit average increase of global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which scientists say is a breaking point for catastrophic events, such as mass extinction and mega floods. President Obama hailed the deal last night.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What matters is that today, we can be more confident that this planet is going to be in better shape for the next generation. And that's what I care about.


TAPPER: There are no mandates for countries, avoiding congressional approval in the U.S., which almost certainly would have failed.

And terror at a Pennsylvania Walmart after a man came into the store pointing two guns at customers. Police shot and killed the man after he refused to drop his weapons. No one else was reported hurt.

Coming up next, Frank Sinatra with Vegas celebrating his 100th birthday this weekend, it made us wonder, who would Sinatra be rooting for on the debate stage? His long history in politics. Old blue eyes, as he turns a hundred, when we come back.



TAPPER: Scooby Dooby Doo yesterday would have been Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday.


TAPPER (voice-over): Here in Las Vegas old blue eyes is still very much alive. This year an impersonator sang his hits to sold out crowds. An all star cast showed up to pay tribute to the chairman of the board but Vegas was also part of his political life.

Here is JFK visiting Sinatra and the Rat Pack on the set of the original "Ocean's 11." All of this, Sinatra and politics it's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

Vegas, baby. A town where politics is alive and not just because of the Senator Harry Reid, the former boxer, who's mother washes the sheets of a local bordello and once sat on the Nevada Gaming Commission. Politics is alive here also because of the omnipresence of the chairman of the board, Frank Sinatra, who's support for JFK in 1960 may have proved pivotal. Is (ph) short lived after the FBI learned that Kennedy, Sinatra, and a mob boss were all in contact with one particular 25-year-old woman. [09:55:02]

And FBI boss Hoover shared that information with Attorney General Bobby Kennedy. Well the JFK-Sinatra relationship cooled. Kennedy cancelled the visit to the Sinatra estate.

Poor old blue eyes. All those high hopes dashed. He reported took a sledge hammer to the heliport he had installed.

Sinatra later found another political home with Ronald Reagan. In 1978 Reagan participated in Dean Martin Celebrity Roast of Sinatra.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Scientists at his urging have developing an intercontinental ballistics missile that is not a weapon of mass destruction. It only hits photographers.

TAPPER: And in 1981 when Sinatra applied for a gaming license in Vegas Sinatra listed President and First Lady Reagan as references. That's something all the Republican candidates would like as they hit the Vegas strip this week stepping up to the table and hoping for a jackpot.


TAPPER: Don't forget to tune in Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern for the final Republican debates of 2015. Thank you so much for watching.