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State of the Union

Interview With Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina; Interview With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; Panel, Rep. Dave Brat Talk Election Countdown; Trump Ready to Spend Big; New Year, New Promises. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 03, 2016 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Bill and Hillary. Will his past become her problem on the campaign trail? Donald Trump says, you bet.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going right after the president, the ex-president. She has got a major problem. Happens to be right in her house.

BASH: Is a new round of attacks coming?

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course Bill Clinton is fair game. He's a former president.

BASH: Carly Fiorina will be here live.

Plus, Trump amps up in Iowa, promising to blanket the airwaves in the final days before voting.

TRUMP: I will be spending a minimum of $2 million a week and perhaps substantially more.

BASH: Is it a show of strength or a sign of panic?

And Bernie Sanders says he's Trump's worst nightmare, touting his ability to beat the Republican front-runner.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And let me tell Donald Trump, it's easy to talk about being tough, but it's more important to be smart.

BASH: Is he really stronger than Clinton when it comes to taking on Trump? He will join us live.

Plus, the sharpest political minds will be here with insights from the campaign trail.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, filling in for Jake Tapper, in Washington, where the state of our union is waking up to an election year.

With just 29 days until the first votes are cast, the race is speeding towards a conclusion, and the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, has his sights set squarely on Hillary Clinton.


TRUMP: They created ISIS. Hillary Clinton created ISIS with Obama.


TRUMP: Created with Obama.


BASH: This comes after the debut of a new terrorist recruiting video by al Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab that features Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday, America was a land of slavery, segregation, lynching, and Ku Klux Klan. And, tomorrow, it will be a land of religious discrimination and concentration camps.

TRUMP: So, remember this. So, listen. Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States...


TRUMP: ... until our country's representatives can figure out what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is going on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The West will eventually turn against its Muslim citizens.


BASH: Joining me now is Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

Good morning, and happy new year to you.

Let's start with that video. What...

FIORINA: Good morning, Dana.

BASH: Good morning.

What message do you take from Trump's appearance in it?

FIORINA: Well, first, no one is responsible for ISIS ideology.

I find it pretty rich that this ISIS propaganda tape talks about the cruelty of the West. These are, after all, people who crucify, behead, subjugate, rape anyone who doesn't share their radical Islamist ideology. So, let's get real here.

On the other hand, it's also true that Barack Obama called ISIS a J.V. team, that Hillary Clinton, along with Barack Obama, declared victory in Iraq and withdrew all of our troops precipitously, against all of the military advice at the time, because of political expediency, thereby giving ISIS the opportunity to conquer territory and declare a caliphate, which meant that ISIS has become stronger. They are indeed not contained.

So, I think what we need to focus on is how to defeat ISIS. Frankly, near Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, nor Donald Trump have a plan to defeat ISIS, because they don't understand the nature of the threat. I do, and I have a plan.

BASH: Well, speaking of the Middle East, I want to ask about an escalating situation going on right now.

The Sunni-run Saudi regime executed a Sunni cleric. And the Saudis say he was a terrorist. But the ayatollah in Iran quickly condemned it. That has led to violent protests, as you're seeing there on the screen.

Are you concerned that this whole exchange could inflame sectarian violence and, of course, tensions in the Middle East?

FIORINA: Well, of course, it's not at all helpful.

Again, I take the Iranian condemnation with a huge grain of salt. This is a regime that tortures its own citizens routinely, that thinks nothing of executions, that still holds four Americans in jail. And the Obama administration has done nothing about that.


On the other hand, we need to be clear that our role here is to try and tamp down this conflict. Saudi Arabia is our ally, despite the fact that they don't always behave in a way that we condone. Iran is a real and present threat, not only to Saudi Arabia, but to our other Arab allies, and, indeed, to the United States' interests.

And so our role here is not to inflame tensions. Our role is to try and help calm the situation.

BASH: So, if you were president right now, how would you do that?

FIORINA: Well, I think we need to understand that Saudi Arabia and the rest of our Arab allies are looking to us for leadership and strength and resolve.

This administration has not provided it. We need to provide it. I will provide it as commander in chief, because we need the Saudis' help, the Jordanians' help, the Egyptians' help, the Kurds, the Emirates, the Kuwaitis, the Bahrainis, to defeat ISIS. We also need to be clear with our allies that Iran is not our ally,

nor is Russia. And so when Russia and Iran combine together in an unholy alliance, we cannot, as, for example, Donald Trump suggests, outsource leadership, our leadership in the Middle East, to Russia or to Iran. They're not our allies. They are our adversaries.

BASH: Let's -- let's turn to what is happening here at home.

President Obama is preparing to issue an executive order that will expand background checks on high-volume gun dealers. Is that something you could support?


President Obama has been lawless in his use of executive orders, whether those executive orders are around immigration or whether those executive orders are around gun control. And it is delusional, dangerous, not to mention unconstitutional, for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to continue to talk about climate change and gun control in the wake of a Paris terrorist attack, a San Bernardino terrorist attack...

BASH: But...

FIORINA: ... instead of talking about how they plan to defeat ISIS.

BASH: Let me just...

FIORINA: The thing that this president -- the thing this president should be doing on gun control, Dana, is enforcing the laws we have.

We have long lists of criminals who own guns, who routinely purchase guns. We know who these people are, and we are not prosecuting any of them. Actually, we're prosecuting less than 1 percent of them. And that's why you get a situation like, say, Chicago, where you have very tight gun control laws and incredible levels of gun violence.

It's how you get a situation like South Carolina, where someone who never should have been permitted to purchase a gun got to purchase a gun, because, somehow, they dropped in the cracks.

BASH: So -- so...

FIORINA: Let's enforce the laws we have.

BASH: OK. So, just to clarify quickly, you're saying that you oppose the executive order, the way that he's doing this, and the policy itself. You don't think background checks should be expanded?

FIORINA: I think we need to enforce the laws we have.

And we are not doing so. And what that means, because we're not enforcing the laws we have, we have people like Dylann Roof in South Carolina who never should have been sold a gun. And we have loads of criminals running around with guns and perpetrating violence with those guns, and we're not prosecuting them. Meantime, Barack Obama has not presented the American people with a

clear plan to keep this nation safe.

BASH: OK. So..

FIORINA: We learned two days ago that our own Homeland Security doesn't even know the people who are in this nation who have overstayed a visa. That's a big problem, given what we now know about San Bernardino.

BASH: OK. We're finally in 2016. Let's get to some -- some politics.

FIORINA: Yes, we are.


BASH: Donald Trump this week promised to go after President -- President Clinton's sexual history.

In response, you said, "Of course Bill Clinton is fair game."

Which parts of Bill Clinton's past do you think Hillary Clinton needs to answer for?

FIORINA: Well, listen, I said Bill Clinton is fair game. I also then very promptly said going after Bill Clinton is not going to defeat Hillary Clinton.

The way to defeat Hillary Clinton, which Donald Trump cannot, but I can -- the way to defeat Hillary Clinton is to go after her track record, her lack of accomplishment, the reality that she has gotten...

BASH: Right. And we -- and we have heard you...

FIORINA: ... every single foreign policy challenge wrong, and also to deny her what she wants to run on. She wants to run on the historic nature of her candidacy.

BASH: And we have heard you say that on many occasions. We have heard you say that on many occasions.

FIORINA: That's right.

BASH: But you also said that Bill Clinton is fair game.

So, what did you mean by that?

FIORINA: Well, so -- so is George -- what I meant is that any former president is fair game.

Donald Trump threw George W. Bush under the bus several months ago. Any former president is fair game. The question is, how do you beat Hillary Clinton? And, in my opinion, that's not the way to beat Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump will run his race, and I'm going to run mine. And we will see who wins.

BASH: Let's talk another -- about another one of your opponents, Senator Ted Cruz.

He said this week he thinks he will have the Republican nomination wrapped up by the end of March.


BASH: You were quite critical of him during the fight of Obamacare, which led to a government shutdown.


Let's take a listen.


FIORINA: There's no honor in charging a hill that you know you can't take, only casualties, although Ted Cruz maybe got name recognition and money along the way.

But President Obama wanted this shutdown. And Ted Cruz played right into his hands. And...


BASH: So, do you think Ted Cruz would doom the Republicans' chances in November?

FIORINA: Well, first, let me explain why I said that, because, at the time, we didn't control the Senate. And we didn't have historic majorities in the House.

And so, without controlling the Senate, there was no way that Obamacare was going to be repealed. Thank goodness the Senate has just finally used the same reconciliation technique to repeal Obamacare that the Democrats used to pass Obama.

We will see if Ted Cruz has the nomination locked up. But I would say that Ted Cruz is just like any other politician. He says one thing in Manhattan. He says another thing in Iowa. He says whatever he needs to say to get elected, and then he's going to do as he pleases.

I think the American people are tired of the political class that promises much and delivers much of the same.

BASH: You just gave me an unfortunate segue to my next question, talking about the political class, and saying one thing and meaning another when you want to get elected.

Stanford University, that is where you went to college. They played Iowa Friday.

FIORINA: Yes. It is my alma mater.

BASH: It is.

They played Iowa Friday in the Rose Bowl. Before the game got under way, you tweeted this. You tweeted: "I love my alma mater, but rooting for the -- for a Hawkeyes win today. #RoseBowl."

Now, I'm sure you have seen this. When Iowa got creamed, people started tweeting about the #CarlyCurse.

Is this exactly the kind of pandering that you were just talking about one second ago, why people hate politicians?

FIORINA: Oh, for heaven's sakes, Dana -- for heaven's sakes, can't a girl ever have a little bit of fun?

That was a tongue-in-cheek tweet, which the people of Iowa understand, because I was asked over and over again in Iowa, having attended a Hawkeye tailgate, I was asked. They knew that my heart was torn.

You would think, based on this reaction, that I had some -- said something really controversial, like, you know, ISIS is a J.V. team, or this demonstration was a result of a video.

Let's just say, if the biggest mistake I make is a tongue-in-cheek tweet about a Rose Bowl, the American people will sleep safely when I'm president of the United States.

BASH: OK. So, it was a joke, not real?

FIORINA: Yes, it was tongue-in-cheek. For heaven's sake, a girl needs to have a little fun sometimes. I guess it was a slow news day for the media.

BASH: Well, it was New Year's.

Carly Fiorina, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

FIORINA: Thank you.

BASH: And who needs Ryan Seacrest, when you have got Bernie Sanders? The Democratic candidate rang in the new year with supporters and celebrated a record-setting fund-raising haul.

Bernie Sanders joins us live next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper.

As President Obama leaves Hawaii and makes his way back to Washington today, he's set to unveil new executive actions he hopes will curb a seemingly endless string of mass shootings in America while he's been in office.

The president has been candid about his frustration with Congress for refusing to tighten gun control laws.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know we can't stop every act of violence. But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something, anything, to protect our kids from gun violence?


BASH: Now he says he won't wait for Congress, and he's planning his own measures to expand background checks.

Following his announcement, President Obama will join Anderson Cooper for an exclusive one-hour live town hall event on the issue of guns and gun control in America. Anderson and the president will talk about this controversial issue from all sides, and President Obama will take questions from the audience.

A live town hall with President Obama, "Guns in America," 8:00 p.m. this Thursday right here on CNN.

Now let's talk about gun control and much, much more with Vermont Senator and Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders.

Thanks for joining me. And happy new year to you, Senator.

As a United States senator, are you OK with the president acting alone, bypassing Congress on guns?

SANDERS: Dana, I would prefer that we could have bipartisan support, but the truth is, Republicans are not interested in doing anything about gun safety.

I think the vast majority of the American people are horrified by the mass shootings that we have seen. They want action. Overwhelming consensus understands that people who are criminals, people who have mental issues should not be owning guns or buying guns.

And what the president is trying to do now is to expand the instant background check by closing the gun show loophole. And I think he's doing what the American people would like him to do.

BASH: Now, you are a senator from Vermont. As you well know, there's a lot of support for gun rights where -- where you're from. Do you think your constituents will object to you supporting these expanded background checks, especially done without Congress?

SANDERS: Well, I -- look, look, gun safety issues are very, very controversial.

We are a divided nation. But I think most gun owners in this country understand that people who should not own guns should not be able to buy them. And we do need to expand the instant background check. I don't think that's an onerous burden on anybody. And, by the way, from what I have seen, the vast majority of the

American people agree with that sentiment. Obviously, bipartisan activity in the Congress would be preferable. But we're not seeing the Republicans doing anything on this issue. And I think the president is doing what the American people would like him to do.

BASH: OK, let's talk a little politics.

You have been going after the working-class supporters of Donald Trump. For people who scratch their heads and say, wait a minute, how can liberal Bernie Sanders possibly attract Trump voters, who tend to be quite conservative, what is your answer?

SANDERS: Well, in my last election -- reelection effort in the state of Vermont, we won about 25 percent of the Republican vote.

And working-class Republicans are also seeing their wages going down. They're seeing almost all new income and wealth going to the top 1 percent. They can't afford to send their kids to college. They're seeing their jobs going to China.

And I think they want a president who has the courage to stand up to the billionaire class, to raise the minimum wage, to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, and, by the way, to address a corrupt campaign finance system, where millionaires and billionaires and corporations are now spending unlimited sums of money to buy elections.


That's a pretty across-the-board sentiment. The American people want change. And I believe that I'm a vehicle of change, being prepared to stand up to the wealthy and the powerful and create an economy that works for all Americans.

BASH: Now, of course, you differ vastly on how to address that change and help working-class people.


BASH: One of your signature proposals is Medicare for all. You said recently you would only support one new tax on the middle class, to fund paid family leave.

But how are you going to pay for this massive new health care plan without taxing the middle class, except for that -- that narrow tax?

SANDERS: Well, first of all -- first of all, you can do it.

We have massive income and wealth inequality. In the last 30 years, trillions of dollars have flown from the hands of working families to the top one-tenth of 1 percent. You have major corporations in America making billions of dollars a year in profit who, in a given year, pay nothing in federal income taxes.

So, I believe in progressive taxation, asking the large corporations and the wealthiest people in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes.

In terms of guaranteeing health care to all Americans through a Medicare-for-all single-payer program, the truth is, we will save the average middle-class family thousands of dollars a year in health care costs, because, today, by far, we are the most expensive health care system in the world.

BASH: But...

SANDERS: We pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

So, my proposal will cut health care costs for the middle class by thousands of dollars a year.

BASH: OK. But, Senator, you -- your health care proposal, "The Wall Street Journal" estimates would cost $15 trillion over 10 years.

You really can pay for that without raising taxes on the middle class? It just seems hard to -- hard to believe.

SANDERS: Well, what we can do -- there are a variety of ways to go forward, Dana.

But, at the bottom line, what "The Wall Street Journal" forgot to tell the American people in that article is, people will not have to pay a private health insurance, and the cost of prescription drugs are going down.

At the end of the day, we pay -- not even close -- we pay almost three times more per capita on health care than the British, 50 percent more than the French, much more than the Canadians.

Our proposal will save the average middle-class family thousands of dollars a year in health care, lower prescription drug costs.

BASH: OK, but it sounds like you're not ruling out a tax to get there.

Let's talk about the tax plan. We haven't seen it yet. We're pretty close, 29 days, until voting in Iowa. Do Iowa voters and voters in New Hampshire and elsewhere deserve to see your full tax plan before they vote?

SANDERS: Well, you -- they sure do. And they will.

But it -- that's not a -- kind of a fast statement, Dana. We have issued a number of tax plans.

BASH: Right. Right. I said full tax plan.

SANDERS: For example, what we have said -- well, what we have said is that, in the year 2016, public colleges and universities should be tuition-free, and we should lower interest rates on student debt. And we do that by a tax on Wall Street speculation. That's a plan. What we have also said is that, unlike the Republicans, who want to

cut Social Security, I want to expand Social Security. And we do that by lifting the cap on taxable income for people earning above $250,000 a year. That's a tax plan.

What I have said is that I want to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure, create up to 13 million jobs rebuilding roads and bridges, and we do that by doing away with the ability of corporations to stash their money in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. That's a tax plan.

So, we have been very specific. We have more to do. And we will be doing that in the very near future.

BASH: Before the Iowa caucuses?



Donald Trump says that Bill Clinton's sexual history is fair game. Do you agree?

SANDERS: I think that Donald Trump might want to concern himself with the fact that he's dead wrong when he says we should not raise the minimum wage, he's dead wrong when he says that wages in America are too high, he's dead wrong when he thinks we should give huge tax breaks to billionaires like himself, and he's dead wrong when he thinks that climate change is a hoax, when the entire -- virtually an entire scientific community thinks it's the great environmental crisis that we face.

BASH: Senator...

SANDERS: Maybe Trump should worry about those issues, rather than Bill Clinton's sex life.

BASH: Only Bernie Sanders can segue from Bill Clinton's sex life to climate change. That was impressive.

SANDERS: All right.

BASH: But what is the answer to the question? Is it fair game or not?

SANDERS: No. I think we have got more important things to worry about in this country than Bill Clinton's sex life.

BASH: We will have to end it there.

Thank you very much, Senator Sanders. Appreciate it. We will see you on the campaign trail.

SANDERS: Thank you.

BASH: And it has already been a wild ride, and this is only day three of 2016. But the presidential politics of 2015 will probably look tame compared to what is coming next -- the drama, the uncertainty, the intensity of the 2016 campaign when we come back.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.

It is a new year, and, by the end of it, we will have a new president- elect. Getting there, however, is a long road. And if you thought this presidential campaign was already crazy, buckle up.


BASH (voice-over): For some of us, it has felt like 2016 for a while now, but the race for the White House is about to start moving fast, very fast.

TRUMP: I would like to have the election tomorrow. I don't want to wait.


BASH: Even before the first votes are cast in Iowa, the January calendar is jampacked, first up, an appearance by the guy currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Remember him?

OBAMA: And the state of the union is strong.

BASH: President Obama will give his final State of the Union address in just a few days. Could his agenda motivate Republicans or divide the Dems?

Then there are more debates dotting the calendar. January alone will see three more face-to-face confrontations. Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus engineered the 2016 calendar to try to coalesce his party around a single candidate.

[09:30:03] Here is what he said this time two years ago:

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I think we've got a six month slice and dice festival that is destroying our party. And so the first thing I want to do is shrink that six months down to 60 to 70 days.

BASH: February first is the critical day, the Iowa caucuses.

TRUMP: This is the big (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: Shaping up as a battle between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Cruz might have the better ground game.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to date over 500 volunteers. Volunteers between now and February first to come from all over the country to Camp Cruz to relive life in a college dormitory.


CRUZ: I'm told they're having a keg party next week.


BASH: But Trump could lure new voters, if they turn out for the complicated caucus process.

TRUMP: If we win Iowa, I think we're going win everything after that.

BASH: The winners and losers from Iowa will face each other again for another debate wedged in just before the next vote in New Hampshire.

TRUMP: I love New Hampshire.

FIORINA: I appreciate the men and women of New Hampshire.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's great to be in beautiful New Hampshire.

BASH: A win by an establishment Republican in New Hampshire could set the stage for a South Carolina show down. The Palmetto state's GOP primary is just days later, February 20th.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's great to be back in South Carolina. A place that believed in me.

BASH: Don't forget the Nevada caucuses for the GOP just three days later. It's exhausting just thinking about it, but no rest for the political weary. One week later, the first day of March super Tuesday, when no fewer than 13 states will cast their primary votes.

CRUZ: There is a very good possibility that the Republican primary will be decided by the end of March. Starting tomorrow morning, we're in a 90-day sprint to win this nomination.

BASH: So with the pedal to the metal, the race to the White House is full speed ahead.


BASH: A new year's message for Trump written in the sky. Who is responsible? It might surprise you. Stay with us.



BASH: Trump is disgusting. Anybody but Trump.

You see there that was the message written in the skies over Pasadena during the famous Rose Parade. The message brought to you by Stan Pate. A real estate developer who's also a donor to Marco Rubio's campaign. Clever marketing move but does it say anything about the state of the race?

We're going to talk about that with the Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, Republican congressman from Virginia, Dave Brat, CNN political commentators Bakari Sellers, who is supporting Hillary Clinton, and Ana Navarro, who's rooting for Jeb Bush. Thanks all of you to coming in especially on this post New Year's weekend.

What do you think good marketing move?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I just like to see the inner party fighting, first and foremost. But we believe that Donald Trump is the standard bearer in the Republican Party.

Donald Trump is a bigot. Donald Trump is a xenophobe (ph). Donald Trump has offended Hispanic voters, female voters, those with disabilities, African-American voters. The list goes on and on and on. If Donald Trump is the standard bearer then I am finally glad to see that somebody in the party has stood up against him. And Marco Rubio actually did that. I don't know if that's going to fair well for him in the primary in the long run but I'm glad somebody at least stood up to him.

BASH: Congressman Brat, do you think that he's right? I mean, obviously the most intense thing that you just said is that Donald Trump is a bigot.

REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA: Yes, I don't get into the name calling. I think the ruling class up in D.C. is just not listening to the American people, and the ruling class up here needs to get the message straight. There's huge American anxiety problem out there when it comes to the economy, when it comes to foreign relations, when it comes to domestic terrorism.

The economy we have $18 trillion in debt, $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Folks can't find jobs. The median family income is down $2,000 a year over the last eight-year cycle. On foreign policy we have a disaster from China to Russia to Syria to Iran shooting missiles at us and straight (ph) to (ph) horror (ph) movies (ph) -- straight out of the movies. And most importantly terrorism is a number one issue right now. And so the American people want a strong voice to speak to the Syrian-Iraqi refugee crisis -- we have complete open borders is a disaster.

BASH: Congressman...

BRAT: Yes.

BASH: ... a lot of your colleagues, I'm sure you hear about it in the cloak room and maybe, you know, elsewhere on the House floor are really worried about Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. What it would mean for the party, would it would mean for races like yours and others.

BRAT: Yes. If they're really worried they need to listen to the American people. And the ruling class up in D.C. needs to get hearing aids so they listen better.

If you look at the budget we just passed it's a bipartisan travesty. We broke the budget caps, didn't do anything on the national security in the budget and that's the issue.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Congressman, what was your resolution this year just to start us off with all of this doom and gloom?


BASH: Let's go back to the initial (INAUDIBLE) before we get to that. Go ahead.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It (ph) was (ph) a good marketing? Absolutely.

We're talking about it two days later.

SELLERS: Exactly.

NAVARRO: You know, it --

BASH: It's kind of ironic because it's against the marketing king, right? Donald Trump is an expert in that

NAVARRO: If we have learned anything from Donald Trump in the last nine months is the value of earned media, of free press, and how to manage that, how to manipulate that, how to take advantage of that.


NAVARRO: And I think what you're seeing is the reality that we are in the midst of a very tough, very heated and we are in the final sprint of a very heated Republican race (ph).

BASH: Thank you for leading me to the final sprint.



BASH: ... is the place where Senator Ted Cruz is leading. He said that he might have the nomination wrapped up by March.

Listen to what he told supporters on a conference call on New Year's Eve.


CRUZ: I want to tell everyone get ready, strap on the full armor of God, get ready for the attacks that are coming come the month of January. We ain't seen nothing yet.


BRAZILE: Wow. He's quoting scriptures --


SELLERS: I know --


BRAZILE: Yes. Yes. I mean, the full armor of God. Oh, my gosh.


NAVARRO: He is part Cuban and the man has a flair for drama.

BRAZILE: Well, let me just say this. This is -- this is the part of the campaign where if you've been involved in the Iowa caucus, you have to get serious because you have to get people out of their homes from work to go to a caucus to stand in a room, to hear speeches -- what -- From 11 Republicans.


I mean, Democrats only have three. Hallelujah. To hear from the 11 Republicans and then you have to take a stand.

NAVARRO: Are we down to 11?

BRAZILE: You're down to 11. (INAUDIBLE). So Ted Cruz knows retail politics. So one thing about Cruz is he's been on the ground. He's been signing people up. He has pledge (ph) cards (ph). Donald Trump has a lot of flair. Donald Trump understands how to command a crowd. And to speak to that noisy inner voice of the Republicans which -- you know what? We don't know if Donald Trump can really...


BRAZILE: ... caucus.

NAVARRO: I think Ted Cruz is absolutely right. I think he is about to get a lot of attacks. I think he's very viable in Iowa. He's been smart.


BASH: Do you think he's right that he's going to wrap up the nomination by March?


NAVARRO: Well, I think we could call it optimistic. I think -- well, you know -- we might be headed but I will tell you --


BASH: Wow. You (ph) didn't (ph) --

(CROSSTALK) NAVARRO: Had he -- if he defeats Donald Trump in Iowa after nine months of Donald Trump leading...


NAVARRO: ... Ted Cruz comes out of Iowa as a dragon slayer.


SELLERS: And also I think -- I think one thing that is going on though is I think that a lot of people, a lot of Republicans are falling into the same trap that Hillary Clinton did in 2008. Where they under estimated the turn out power of Barack Obama at that time. But I think they're also under estimating the turn out power of Donald Trump.

BRAT: Yes --


SELLERS: If those people show up -- if those people show up to the caucus...

BASH: Yes, that's true.

SELLERS: ... primary in Iowa . The way that the Barack Obama voters did in 2008, then Donald Trump may surprise you.

NAVARRO: Barack Obama had a seasoned team of political veterans who put together an incredible team on (ph) the (ph) the (ph) ground (ph).

BRAT: When 70 percent of the American people think the country is going in the wrong direction. 70 percent people don't think the president has incredible foreign policy, a national security strategy -- some of these candidates -- we talk about 11 on the Republican side. But the outsiders have amassed about a 70 percent lead versus the rest of the field. That is important. And why is that? Because they're addressing the concerns of the American people.

We have thousands of terrorist cases open across 50 states domestically, according to the head of FBI. What are we doing about that? A couple of the candidates are talking about that. Most are not. The Democratic candidates debated us on the budget so we couldn't put any of the Visa Waiver Program, the visa overstay program, no solutions on the southern border, and ISIS is threatening to use all those venues to come in and infiltrate our own domestic security.


BASH: OK. Hold that thought. Hold that thought everybody. We've got a lot more to talk about.

NAVARRO: But people want to hear about the, you know, Egyptian pyramids and (INAUDIBLE). BRAT: (INAUDIBLE). What did we just do in the budget? The leadership. We're not doing anything. And the American people want to see result --


BASH: Hold those thoughts. Hold those thoughts. I like this energy here.

But we're going to turn to Ana Navarro's favorite subject. Bill Clinton he is hitting the campaign trail this week. Hillary's husband starts (ph) something for her tomorrow just as Donald Trump pledges to remind people of the ex-president's sexual history.




TRUMP: The husband wants to come. And she wants to accuse me of things. And the husband is one of the great abusers of the world. Give me a break. Give me a break.


BASH: That was Donald Trump this week promising to go after Bill Clinton just as the ex-president plans to hit the campaign trail for Hillary starting tomorrow. But will the president's past hurt her?

Well, back with me to talk about that Donna Brazile, Congressman Dave Brat, and CNN's Bakari Sellers and Ana Navarro.

So Ana, I'm going to start with you because I know you love talking about Bill Clinton.


No. Do you think that this actually could be a good political strategy for Republicans to bring back up the problems that he had 20 years ago?

NAVARRO: Dana, let's be fair, it's not Republicans bringing it up. It's Donald Trump.

And as we know this is his modus operandi. He knows that if he says something outrageous he says something controversial it will lead to media coverage and he will continue getting (INAUDIBLE) media being -- you know, which helps him be on top of the polls. It might be good for him short term. Certainly there are some people in the base. There are some people who like Donald Trump who may like that idea of him taking it to Hillary.

You know, no, I don't think it's helpful. I think it's helpful to Hillary Clinton in the long-term. It's an old issue. In fact, you know, I would say Mr. Trump gave Bill Clinton's foundation $100,000. Invited Bill and Hillary Clinton to his wedding maxed (ph) out (ph) in donations...


NAVARRO: ... to Hillary Clinton after all these allegations, after all these scandals (INAUDIBLE). We all know Bill Clinton has had his issues. There's a lot of things to go after Hillary Clinton -- scrutinize (ph) her on. I think her husband's personal issues is (ph) not a fair game.

BASH: Congressman --

BRAZILE: Also a misconduct -- of course, the Republicans are going to use it. Some people in media say it's a fair game. Absolutely. Some others have said that --


BASH: Do you think it's a fair game?

BRAZILE: As a Democrat...

BASH: Yes.

BRAZILE: ... I've known about this issue. Hell (ph), I had to work through the issue.

BASH: As a political operative, do you think it's a fair game?

BRAZILE: You can't put this under the rug. It's out there. So yes, deal with it. But you know, we can also say it's an old issue. Election is about the future.

Hillary Clinton received 18 million primary votes in 2008. She came up short on delegates -- 18 million. And Republicans know it. Democrats know it. Independents know it. So, if Donald Trump want to go into the sewer and play this game, do it. Because that's what Donald Trump enjoys doing.

SELLERS: But more importantly, as we say back home in Denmark, South Carolina, Bill Clinton ain't (ph) the (ph) one (ph) you (ph) wanted (ph) with (ph) -- Bill Clinton -- I say this as a Barack --


NAVARRO: ... Denmark, Bernie Sanders has been referring to --


SELLERS: No -- definitely (ph). I will tell -- I will tell you -- I will -- and we'll get you, professor. But I will tell you this as an avid Barack Obama supporter, there is no better politician in the history of the United States than Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton can handle his own. Bill Clinton versus Donald Trump is a mismatch. And we'll take Bill Clinton --

(CROSSTALK) BASH: I want to put you -- what Ana just said which is, it's not Republicans. It's Donald Trump. But news flash Donald Trump is still the Republican frontrunner and could be the Republican nominee.

Do you want your Republican nominee -- you talk about sort of the appeal the working class people.

BRAT: Yes.

BASH: But this is different. This is -- this is raw politics.

BRAT: No, I want the Republican Party and the conservative party to talk about values for real. This is all bigger part of a values conversation.

President Obama, unfortunately, has been critiquing and using the New Testament to make demock (ph) Republicans saying we don't care about widows and orphans lately. On immigration he says we need to have, you know, concern for sojourners (INAUDIBLE) -- quotes Hebrew scripture. But the Hebrews had 600 additional laws. I wish he would invoke the entire Torah --

BASH: OK. Can I just say -- you are so already in congress. Because you just took my question and took it in the exact direction I wanted to. That was impressive.

BRAT: Good. Good.

BASH: That was impressive.


BRAZILE: ... 1945 (ph) it's (ph) not a bad thing --



BRAT: Donna just helped me out.

So, President Obama and the Democrats they're all too willing to use the Judeo-Christian tradition to invoke the power of the federal government.

I just watched the -- Moses the other night. Batman, now Christian Bale, as the new Moses, a great new movie on the Exodus, and I don't think Moses was best buddies with pharaoh and I don't think Jesus was best buddies with Pilate. And so if you want to get serious about first principles, go back to James Madison, from my district, Thomas Jefferson right next door, these guys set up the constitution and the bill of rights to protect us from the government.

So, when it comes to values, keep it state and local and in the church, good. But don't use the power of that tradition to get a bigger central government.


NAVARRO: Let's go back to the point which is when we began talking --


BASH: Hold on -- hold on. Go ahead -- go ahead, Donna.

BRAZILE: Seriously speaking, you know, we're not throwing any book at the country. The constitution is the bedrock of our democracy.

BRAT: Good (ph). Good (ph).

BRAZILE: And I don't need to speak to President Obama. He's very eloquent. I want to go back to Bill Clinton. I think he's an asset. He's a tremendous asset.

BASH: But Donna, you didn't use him when you were campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000 --

BRAZILE: We used him very strategically -- we had to use him strategically because --

NAVARRO: You didn't bring him into Florida. You lost Florida.

BRAZILE: We won Florida. We didn't get all the votes (ph) --


BASH: All right -- all right. We can't go down that hole.

BRAZILE: Here's the thing. To make a closing argument in a campaign when you need to generate more enthusiasm, I couldn't -- I couldn't -- I mean, Bill Clinton is an asset.

BRAT: I went to church with Bill and Hillary 25 years ago down at Foundry Methodist Church. Bill would come in with a big old Bible, that's great, but the Democrat party last year with their platform almost got -- ejected God out of their party platform. So, which way is it? Are we toting a Bible to win votes or --


BASH: Bakari --


SELLERS: I think -- I mean, I think that's pretty asinine (ph). I keep the Bible and the constitution in pretty much everything that I do.


BRAT: ... for the Democrats it's (ph) a terrible (ph) move (ph).

SELLERS: I think that if we're going to -- since on Sunday morning we're talking about the Bible... (CROSSTALK)

BRAT: Yes --

SELLERS: ... and all of these other things, we do know that there's one person who the standard bearer for your party which doesn't live those words and that's Donald Trump.

NAVARRO: I absolutely reject your idea that Donald Trump is a standard bearer for the Republican Party. He is --


NAVARRO: There are 17 that were running for president. There are divisions and factions in the Republican Party.

BRAZILE: You have to deal with the fact that Donald Trump has been a presence. He's been a strong presence. He has led -- he has led...


BRAZILE: ... since July.

NAVARRO: Absolutely.

BRAZILE: And you know what? He's going to lead a long time.

BASH: OK. Stand by -- stand by. This so did not go the way I thought it was going to -- the conversation but it was amazing.

SELLERS: Let me get my Bible --


BASH: Hit the gym, quit smoking, move into the White House. The crop of 2016 contenders may be making slightly different resolutions than you are. What they're promising in the New Year after the break.




BUSH: I haven't really come up with one other than winning. That's my new year's resolution. Is that a good one?


BASH: That's Jeb Bush with his new year's resolution. I guess he's already ahead of all of us because he's already lost a lot of weight.

Welcome back to our panel. We're going to ask each of you for your resolution for one of the candidates.

NAVARRO: You're too skinny to talk about new (ph) year's (ph) resolutions, OK?

BASH: Congressman?

BRAT: I just got one in general for all the candidates. Listen to the American people and put your promises down on paper ahead of time. That's ethics. Put your promises down ahead of time so we can hold you accountable to something.

BRAZILE: Well, Donald Trump, try humility, it's virtue. It will go a long way. And Jeb Bush, stay in the game, spend all your money, and I think you'll do better.

NAVARRO: Well, you know, I think Carly Fiorina's resolution, as a Miami Heat fan, I'd like for her to root for every team that plays against the Miami Heat.


SELLERS: And I have Hillary Clinton. I want her to continue to be the candidate we saw last cycle in New Hampshire, be the strong candidate we've seen in the debates, but please no more Hillary as mi abuela. No more happy Kwanzaa (INAUDIBLE). No more Rosa Park (INAUDIBLE). Be organic in your thoughts and no more pandering to specific groups.

BASH: Wait -- that's for Hillary Clinton?

SELLERS: That's for Hillary Clinton.

BASH: Wow. That's pretty -- I mean, as a Hillary Clinton supporter that's (INAUDIBLE).

SELLERS: Yes. And some of those things were a bit overt. So I'm glad that she -- you know, she has to be who she is. That's the person that we support.

BRAZILE: We call that love.

SELLERS: We call that love.

BRAZILE: We call that love.

NAVARRO: (INAUDIBLE) 140 characters on Tweeter I think has taken pandering to a new level.

SELLERS: Well, you're right about that.

BRAZILE: Well, the other resolution is that viewers continue to tune in to CNN all year long because we're going to have the best political panel --

SELLERS: We're going to rock it -- we're going to rock it all year.

BRAZILE: We're going to rock it. Whether it's the constitution or the Bible, we got it going on.

SELLERS: We got it covered. Ain't that right, professor?

BRAT: That's (ph) great (ph).


BASH: Congressman, I like the fact that you said that people should write down their promises...

BRAT: Yes.

BASH: ... because, you know, politicians are a little skittish about doing that.

BRAT: Yes, way skittish.

BASH: Because -- we in the media and their constituents...

BRAT: Yes.

BASH: ... they hold them to it. Are you speaking as a political novice?


BRAT: (INAUDIBLE). My people are giving me good reviews back home because I ran on six principles and I'm sticking to them. And they like that. And they can hold me -- believe me they hold me accountable. And that was a big issue.

NAVARRO: I'm all in for Dave and politicians writing down their promises but can we lay people not right down ours?


SELLERS: But I will tell you, Dave, you are a really good guy, a great congressman. What people have portrayed about you or the media or whatever, big government and big media, you're not that, so it was a pleasure (INAUDIBLE) --

BRAT: Oh, it's a pleasure with you guys too.

BASH: Wow.

BRAT: You see that, happy new year --


BASH: Yes.


BRAT: Sunday morning, too, right?

BRAZILE: People get out and vote this year. We need -- we need more energy in both political parties.

BRAT: Yes.


BASH: Be careful with that kind of endorsement. Eric Cantor might come back and run against you in the primary.

NAVARRO: I promise you, I won't say anything nice because I really --



BRAZILE: Yes. Well, me too.

BASH: OK. Well, here at CNN we are gearing up for a big week in politics, and you're not going to want to miss it.

President Obama will join Anderson Cooper for an exclusive one-hour live town hall event to talk guns and gun control in America. That's Thursday night at 8:00 eastern only on CNN.

And tomorrow on "NEW DAY" Donald Trump, he's going to be Chris Cuomo's guest. You want to watch that 7:00 a.m. eastern.

And then at 4:00 p.m. eastern Jake Tapper sits down with Dr. Ben Carson to talk about his campaign shake-up.


That's all for us. Thank you so much for spending your Sunday with me and everyone here.

I'm Dana Bash.

"FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS" starts right now.